Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Have you ever fallen in love...

with someone you just couldn't have? Years ago, during a college astronomy class, I fell head over heels in love with the constellation, Orion. That gallant hunter who fills part of the winter sky with his presence....

At the time, young and working my way through college, I felt a connection with Orion. I considered him a guardian watching over me. Even now with the passage of time, I find myself waiting for that first glimpse of him during late fall and early winter. Soon, he will be gone again, watching over someone else in another part of the world. But I know that as soon as the nights lengthen across the shadows of day, he'll be back to watch over me. And I'll send another kiss his way.

I wrote the poem during college and remember it still.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This is when I stop and wonder...

if all of the hard work will pay off. Today is the big day.... The day my students get to show me and show themselves how they have progressed as writers this year. And, oh, how I've worked them! I see myself through their eyes.... glasses perched on the tip of my nose, imaginary whip in hand as I have them write one more time... as I have them add details one more time... as I have them re-read that sentence to make sure it makes sense... one more time.

Since August, I've graded between 450 and 500 essays. The last batch over the weekend after my students had put pen to paper once again for a practice writing test. And as much as I love to write and enjoy seeing my students mature as writers, I'm ready for the push to be over. I'm ready to redirect our efforts toward literature and poetry. Toward rhythm and rhyme.

I bet you can hear the relief in my voice.

And hope.

Hope that my students remember what they've learned so far this year as they face the final prompt tomorrow.

Hope that they will capitalize the first words of their sentences and put periods at the end.

Hope that they will craft interesting phrases and call on imagery and figurative language to help them express their thoughts, their ideas.

That they'll know the difference between persuasive and expository.

And that they'll proofread their papers one last time.

I've been reminded more than once that our scores on the writing test don't affect our Adequate Yearly Progress. That they won't hold us back. That I really could get by without grading so many essays each year... without teaching so much about writing. But, you know what? My students will have to pass the 11th-grade writing test to graduate from high school. And I want them to be ready for it.

I want them to face a blank page with confidence and assurance, and then...

I want them to get out their pens and write.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Looking for Fulfillment...

It's time that I put 'fulfillment' to work for me. That means, today at least, fulfilling a promise to myself and to my students. I have to finish grading my students' essays!

Funny how we put some things off and let them hang over our head like a dark cloud. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy finding out what my students wrote, but having to do something, is what often makes me procrastinate the most. And essays take a.lot.of.time to grade. On the upside... I can choose from a rainbow of colored pens to mark with... I'm using one of my blue Staedtler triplus fineliners for today's grading marathon. And I can sit in my comfy chair in front of the fireplace as I work.

My husband is already up and at it with a full day of activities on his schedule... a work-out, some work at the office, drop off his dry-cleaning, a small bit of shopping as he prepares for a trip. I, on the other hand, have had a leisurely morning although I, too, have a full day of activities to mark off my list. I think this happens when you use January 1 as a day for yourself... doing what you want to do instead of what you need to do can pretty much fill the next day to the brim. (I can almost hear the school uniforms call to me from the laundry room in their wrinkled-sort-of-way... "Don't forget us. We need our wrinkles smoothed away before Tuesday!")

So, I'll be back late today to see what's been happening at your place. Until then, I'm on a quest for fulfillment. And it's got to come from accomplishing a few important tasks today.

Friday, January 1, 2010

And my word is...

That's the word I chose to focus on during 2010. Fulfillment. It doesn't actually roll off the tongue. It's a little awkward to say. But that one, simple word carries with it a lot of possibilities for the new year.

It's about "making full." Being fulfilled in all areas of my life. Relationships, work, creative endeavors.... It's about "meeting requirements." Fulfilling responsibilities as a wife, mother, teacher, and human being.... It's about "measuring up" and feeling a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. Not trying to be perfect, but feeling at peace with the effort I put forth and the choices that I make. It's about "converting into reality" the dreams, desires, and plans that I would like to achieve. And, perhaps my favorite definition of the word, fulfillment is about "developing the full potentialities."

I like that.

Developing my full potentialities. Ending each day with a sense of satisfaction.


I first got the idea of focusing on a word from Caroline. The idea is to let go of resolutions that never seem to make it past mid-January and instead let a word help direct your life for an entire year. Last year, I chose "faith" and "joy" and teamed up with several other blog friends to post reflections each month. That experience was profound, as I unconsciously began to incorporate my friends' words into my own life while intentionally looking for joy all around me. Wendy has already chosen her word for the year, which you can read about here.

If you haven't chosen a word before and would like a little inspiration, I have two places you should go. First, visit my friend, Caroline, an amazing writer and photographer who inspired me to choose a word for 2009. You should also visit Christine Kane who, during the entire month of December, focused her blog on Word-of-the-Year to inspire and encourage others to explore this idea.

And then, come back and tell me about your word! I want to hear all about it and would love for you to share your journey with me this year. I'll continue to post reflections each month and hopefully provide a link to my friends' reflections. I'll be glad to include you on this journey, too.

Happy 2010! Let fulfillment begin!