(also published on Scary Mommy: Club Mid)
What do they say about the road to hell? About those good intentions…I’ve thought of writing this letter for no less than about 10 years. It’s high time I pulled this out of the folds of my brain and into reality.
You see, this really is a thank you note 25 years in the making. Let me explain.
I started listening to the Indigo Girls when I was a teenager. I’d listen on the way to cross country meets, bouncing along on brown vinyl seats through the backroads of Pennsylvania. Or on the way back, tired, covered in mud or sweat. I listened to tapes on my walkman with the buttons that sounded like “KA THUNK” when I pushed on them or rewound a sound I loved. I heard Emily and Amy sing about fake friendships. I’d had a few of those. They told me it was okay. That I would get thought it and find real ones. I believed them. They sang about using their hands, love’s recovery, about the Southland in the Spring time, and Pushing the Needle too Far.
I heard their voices singing about what is true and beautiful– nature, friendship, honesty, bravery. Now this was the 80s and early 90s and not many women were singing about those topics. It was all Cold Hearted Snake, and I Think We’re Alone now, and Don’t You Want Me. It was confusing. Be beautiful, be vulnerable, but don’t speak up. Not many women were singing like the Indigo Girls: soaring harmonies, real and true lyrics, passionate, articulate, inspiring.
We are about to embark on the new school year. Teachers everywhere are a little anxious. We know that when it starts, there is no going back and we are IN IT. We put our heart and souls into our work of caring for kids– their bodies, minds, spirits, and potentials. Here is a tribute to all the teachers out there. We are a tribe marching, holding each other up, and doing our best to help kids everyday, no matter what.
my tribe is different
they wear soft clothing
and comfortable shoes
they live love
they think children
are more important than
they stop and listen
to a 6 year old
telling about their elaborate
they search for tadpoles
in a pond
they listen patiently
to early readers
struggle with every. single. word. Continue reading
(This post first appeared on Edutopia. It features 3 new lessons from Dumbledore that were suggested by readers from the Edutopia community. I think they are fantastic additions! Did I miss anymore wisdom from Dumbledore? Please let me know in the comments and I can add more.)
One of my favorite times of the day is when I settle in with my two young daughters for read-aloud time. For several years, we have been working our way through the Harry Potter series. I had read them all before, but it has been a delight to read them again with my girls, using as many voices as possible, and seeing the incredible story through their eyes.
It has also shared many secrets about teaching and living with me on this second reading, especially when it comes to Dumbledore. The way he interacts with Harry, fellow teachers, muggles, and various magical creatures has lessons for all of us — especially teachers and parents. Whether you have read the Harry Potter series or not, there is wisdom from this character we can all learn from.
“You do care,” said Dumbledore. He had not flinched or made a single move to stop Harry demolishing his office. His expression was calm, almost detached. “You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Calm Acceptance: No matter what Dumbledore is faced with, he calmly accepts this reality. When Harry is throwing Dumbledore’s belongings around his office — devastated from the loss of a parent-like figure — Dumbledore is a witness to Harry’s emotions. He doesn’t escalate the situation by getting angry, yelling back, or sending Harry to a break or time out. He simply allows Harry to have those emotions and reflects them back, showing that he is listening. He is witnessing. He is calm. Isn’t that what most of our students want? To be heard, witnessed, and have a calm adult to help them? There are many lessons for me in this as a parent and a teacher. Continue reading