Tag: storying

i believe

believe in….

Trust and time.

And listening. And relationships.

And belonging. And sharing stories with kids.

Their stories. My stories. And listening

to their stories no matter what.

The cat stories, the lunch stories, the suicide stories.

Staying late, arriving early. Showing up.

Saying I love you and I am proud of you, and meaning it.

Reading aloud to high school kids. Often. Writing with students.

Sharing with students. Admitting I’m wrong. Saying I’m sorry.

Putting aside what I’m doing when a student comes up beside me, to listen.

Knowing that every shared note, every piece of writing, every hello,

Is a love language.

As are the crumpled pages, stomped feet, long tears, and reluctant hugs.

Be gentle and listen deeply.

Ask questions. Remember details. Remember names.

Notice when the room settles into a silence.

Remember then to wonder why, to ask how.

Read cumulative folders.

Stand at the door. Say hello and say goodbye. Text HEY.

Ache at the so longs. Check in.

Drinking coffee, together, honoring them all.

Be open. When a student pulls me off task; do all I can to find the function.

See past the tapping, the staples, the Snapchats, the swear words, the rule-crossings.

Listen.

Trust.

Ask questions.

Sit in silence. Share stories.

Eat the left-over food the kids bring, made in Home Ec, and the baking brought from home.

Laugh loudly. Laugh often. Smile widely.

Display student work.

Say thank you. Mean it.

Cry with them. Get tired.

Get to the end of the semester, June 30-degrees-with-no-air-and-resounding-pride.

Say sorry.

Love my kids. Explain my thinking. Explain it again. And then differently again.

Let kids design the space, even if it’s messy and asymmetrical and might smell.

Try new things.

Teach what excites me.

Share what I read. Go on field trips. Explore.

Learn in a multitude of settings. Question my work. Challenge the norms. Challenge each other.

Challenge oppression.

Respond with kindness.

Ask the kids, about my instruction, about them, for feedback.

Plan with others.

Seek criticism. Reflect.

Rest.

Be grateful. Be mindful.

Share my students’ successes. Share mine.

Trust deeply.

Be irrationally crazy about kids. Breathe deeply.

Repeat.

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An Earned Prize

When I graduated from high school in that section in the yearbook where graduates share their future dreams, I wrote that I hoped to someday win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

My dream to change the world through story.

I published a bit of poetry, wrote my thesis as a narrative, dabbled in prose, but I know deep in my bones the euphoria of living alongside students as they come to know themselves as writers.

This week a student of mine earned the Currie-Hyland Prize for poetry, one of the most prestigious awards given to a high school student in Saskatchewan. And he earned it.

He writes well. Words that ruffle our rootedness.

But the award was messy. He has trouble accepting praise. When the magazine arrived I told him I would be sharing his honour the next day publicly over morning announcements.

And I did. And the sharing still bothered him. ~He is bright. And I am honest. The sharing wasn’t only for him. It was also for me.

The sharing of the award conveyed, in some small way too, that through my student’s challenges to navigate traditional senior ELA courses there lives a brilliant mind, brilliant poet, and most importantly, a capable learner.

And this, I know, is my Nobel Prize. It always has been. When students achieve success. When students achieve belonging, independence, mastery, & generosity, my inner world steps up to cheer.

So. Now we educators run full-out towards June. We find creative ways to help students meet outcomes with fidelity, and I wonder, in all of our work, what is our hope for students? And is it a poetic-run towards their Nobel or ours?

One Final Wind-Song

17 years ago this spring my daughter, Jessy Lee, and I moved into our home in the Avenues.

Tomorrow she comes home from university for what may likely be her final summer at home. And, two weeks from now, my partner, Alan, and his dog Felix, move in.

My home/world changing forever. I could not be more happy.

Tonight though, my final night alone, in many ways, and certainly in this home, I remember the past 17 years.

~

Jessy Lee and I arrived here when she was 4 1/2 years old. I looked at homes while she was at preschool. I looked at 27 homes before this home chose us. Here, standing in the back yard, surrounded by five giant evergreens, the trees sang to me. Then, I had felt so lost. Still only 6 months separated, scared of everything, and certainly change, the wind in the trees sang me home.

Oh, The Song of The Avenues.

Here, Jessy Lee and I grew up. Here, she was surrounded by friends. For many years, five houses in a row with kids the same age, same grade, same school down the way. For a few years, Dad puttered, when Mom allowed days in town, I wrote and shuffled between school and soccer, and wrapped my healing tightly around being the best mom.

We grew up here. I remember my first day of orientation for my undergraduate degree, my peers brought their parents; someone asked if I had brought someone. I remember thinking that Jess had school.

I remember that I only missed one soccer game in all the years. I remember the Sukanen hauntings, and years of halloween decorating that ran 70 plus carved pumpkins strong. I remember my sister and I hosting birthday party-sleepovers for 30 eight year olds, and later, for 20 teenagers.

I remember scavenger hunts, murder parties, tent forts, movie weekends, lego adventures, clue weekends, games days, kick the can, man tracker, open mic, soccer games, practices, tournaments, playoffs, fundraisers, coaching; I remember friends and late nights, and fondu, and dill dip, and musicals, and rope curling hair, and speeches, stories and poems and slide shows, and late night reading, and patio coffee sharing, and card making, much laughter and endless love.

We grew up here. And I am not sad. Neither is Jess. The House Down the Street with the Large Mailbox has cared for us well. We grew up here. Jess and I both became independent here.

Here, we learned to know our roots. Here, we learned to know ourselves.

The trees have taught us their Home Lessons.

Thank you my whispering friends. Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you for seventeen years of fine friendship.

Tonight I honour your twinkle-light-Avenue-porch-listening-evergreen-wind-song one final time.

Home.

Red Shoes Series: fine fit

~ for Alan

Del said

When I figured things

Out, I could buy red

Shoes.

I have a pair of nearly pink

Flats. I bought them

Years ago. They pinch

My feet.

I found red runners that I wore

When I sat my ethics

Review.

The runners are candy

Apple red,

New, and they have no

Grip on my soul.

A year ago, I sipped coffee wrapped

In warm morning

Light and my heart

Understood Del’s

Meaning.

The feel of Adirondack

Chair, well worn

Home, and sand

Stone.

We are a fine fit.

Red

Keep Loving

Last week during one of my Structured Support classes, I was helping a grade twelve student analyze a poem. Together, we read the poem assigned by his English Language Arts teacher.

“Wow that’s a powerful poem.”

“I don’t understand poetry.” My grade twelve student said, pushing away from from the table.

Stoic. “It’s about finding abusive love beautiful.”

“That’s just messed.”

“Or maybe it’s really brave.” The room paused. Those moments when the florescent lights stop humming. And everyone pauses….

“It is. I have a student in my writing group who just submitted a poem for publication. The poem is about missing being in an abusive relationship. I thought her piece is one of the most honest sharings about love. Sure, perhaps a distorted sense of love, but a kind of love.”

“F**^* that’s messed up.” The grade 12 said, fidgeting.

Across from me, a grade nine boy leaned back to balance on the back two legs of his chair, adding, “Like, how would you even love a girl like that?”

“I imagine, trust would be hard for her.”

The grade nine leaned back further. Lifted his arms up behind his head and then as moments often do if you let then, our world stopped. “You’d have to keep loving her. And just not stop.”

“Yeah?”

Twelve boys, grades nine through twelve had stopped breathing. There was deep wisdom then. Teachings. They understood this. A glimmer of something perhaps beyond them, until just then.

“Well, it would be hard. And you couldn’t give up. You’d have to love her until she learned a different love. The other kind. Because that’s love. To love a woman like that. Yeah. Shit. It would be hard. But that’s love.”

To love different. ~That is love.

A grade nine teaching

One Rock

Rocks

I love rocks. They are my favourite gifts. They whisper the finest truths. They are the best story keepers. When friends travel I ask them to return with rocks. As those I love have come to understand my rock language, I have been gifted with rocks from around the globe.

Rocks nestle in every room in my home: the kitchen. The bathrooms. The furnace room. The deck. The stairs. They sit on window-ledges and end table. They keep fine company alongside books. They are arranged in piles that, likely, only I understand. Deeply meaningful rocks pile by my bedside. Rocks that I have shared stories with rest on my dresser. They are in every room in my house. Some that loves have brought have cleared customs and are home here. Some are so large that I can curl up. Others, the ones I carry every day in my pocket, curling fingers around them to find strength and calm, to remember, and to know, are my dear ones.

My rocks.

Rocks have not always collected me, though.

17 years ago I left my marriage. And though that decision was absolutely the best for me and for my daughter, then I struggled to find my footing in the fog of recalibrating a new dream.

I felt lost.

It was the spring of that first year. My four year old daughter and I had just bought our first home. We were in the midst of painting, traveling back and forth every day from my parents to our home. As we drove the 110km one way, as my daughter slept, I cried silently.

Sometimes I would get out of the car and stand in the cold spring wind, and cry. I did not know how to reset.

I don’t even remember the lady’s name. I think I met her through grief counselling, but, honestly, I don’t remember. She was my mom’s age. I remember she lived in the city. She had stopped by our house. I hardly knew her. I thought it so odd.

She said she had a housewarming gift. She and I had met out front because I was not yet moved in. My car parked in front of hers on the street. She said she didn’t really want to see the house. She said the gift was for me more than for the house anyway. I remember I followed her around to the back of her car. She talked non-stop. Those days, I hardly spoke. The back of the car opened like a lid and she stepped back, then reached in. She had flats and flats of quart sealers and spoke about the craft projects she was going to start. There were dozens of plastic blags from having been shopping for supplies. She talked about all the places she had been, all the supplies she had found. She moved the bags, pushing the bulging plastic handles down as she searched.

I used to love to make things. I used to delight over quart sealers and candles too. Nothing. I remember the lurch in my stomach as I tried to care. My cheeks felt cold and I took a step back. I did not know how to simply stand there.

Then she handed me a sealer full of rocks.

“Here,” she said, “these are for you. I went out this morning and gathered them. There are 36. 36 exactly.”

She looked at me. She understood.

“Once a month take a rook from the jar and toss it. And while you do, give something away. Your anger, your fears. Tell a story to the rock and it will never share it with anyone. Your story will be safe.”

She turned and closed the hatch.

She turned back to me. “Cori do this. Once a month. You can do a couple for a while. Since it’s been six months. The gift isn’t the rocks. The gift is that by the time the rocks are all gone, you will no longer need them.”

I know I looked at her. I know.

Anything for a solution. No longer need them

Once rock at a time…

Before she got into her car, she patted the jar deeper into my hands.

One rock at a time. 36 rocks.

Three years.

~

That fourth toss changed everything. I was standing in the rain at the lookout near my parents’ cabin. I threw the rock hard, I screamed harder, so loudly that my body hurt. That was the first time I had made a sound from pain since I had left.

Slowlying I began to toss rocks.

Slowly.

After a while I found a deliberateness in each toss. After a while, I began to save my tosses for when I needed them. Long before the three years the tossing had turned into giving. After a while, I saw giving rocks everywhere I went.

Soon, kind-filled rocks began to find their way to me.

Years and years tipped-toed past and soon, only a few jar rocks remained. A long while ago, the quart sealer had been replaced with a much smaller one, tossing replaced with transitions, my degree, Jessy Lee’s graduation, Dad’s stroke, my thesis, so many rocks, yet one rock remained.

Rock Jar

My one rock. One.

I almost set that rock a few times. Once, I even took it out of the jar and put it in my pocket. I put it back though. I never found cause to set it down.

~

I think, I have always known what I need to do with that rock.