Thursday, September 26, 2013

T-minus 35

T-minus 35 days until my manuscript deadline. What I did not think about when I suggested November 1 was that my amazing, talented, smart agent, Laurie Abkemeier would want to see the aforementioned manuscript before I send it off to HarperCollins. She's a fantastic editor, and I am grateful for her edits, but I didn't really figure that step of the process into my mental planbook. 

This has all happened so fast, and it's all been so mind-blowing that sometimes I have to just stop and catch my breath. For all of my new readers, here's the story of how I got to T-minus 35 days in "The Anatomy of a Viral Post," Part I, Part II, and Part III

Anyway, I've been attempting to keep my sanity by doing this:

and this: 

and this. 

All of these things have helped, but I am, for better or for worse, also doing this:

and this:

and added in this

and [a lot of] things like this

So life has been a little crazy. 

Today, I'm under the weather, so while I just turned a chapter in to my agent, I'm resting with our two new kittens, Lucie and the little one (who has four names, depending which member of the family you ask). So today, T-minus 35, looks like this:

So thank goodness I had a sane moment and realized I could not also do this, the thing that started it all:

But in all the madness, a piece of my heart resides there, with my students, in that leaky, creaky, absolutely beautiful classroom. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Measure of My Days

A teacher’s year is quantified by the same measures as a layman’s year; it divides up by the same three hundred and sixty five - give or take a leap - then the smaller twenty-four, and more minute sixty, but these measures are where the similarity ends.

Our year waxes where yours wanes, when you’re in full harvest of your year, we’re just beginning to plant for ours. When you burst forth from your winter lull in vibrant, tender shoots of spring, we’re falling back to earth as exhausted, empty hulls.

It’s been fourteen years since I walked into the first classroom I’d call my own, a hot, stale room in Durham, North Carolina. Since that day, my September has become a sacred month, steeped in the woody scent of newly sharpened pencils, the ink and paper tang of textbooks first cracked open, the reassuring disinfectant cleanse of bleach and Goo-Gone. Each year, I make that room my own once again. I nest and organize and stack and wait impatiently for those first students to arrive. When they do, it’s my first day all over again, and I’m as excited and nervous and overwhelmed as I was that day in Durham. But as much as I adore those first moments with my students, what I really look forward to, the reason I teach, are the day in, day out, small moments that anchor our relationship.

This year, however, I am untethered, adrift between calendars, unsure of how to account for my time.

When I agreed to the dark, hulking deadline that looms on my professional writing horizon, I had to admit that there would simply not be enough of me to distribute among all my words and all my students.

So, for the first time in many years, September does not mark my return to the classroom, and fall is simply fall. This September, though equal in loveliness to all my other Septembers, no longer marks the beginning of my year.

But, like a phantom limb, the old rhythms persist. I’ve been thinking about what Shakespeare I would have taught this year, how I’d have approached my favorite extended metaphor in Great Expectations, and I speculate about the topics my rising eighth graders might choose for their graduation essays. I’ll be there, in the audience, but that’s hardly the same thing.

The measure of my days has shifted from seven class periods to three thousand words, and while the smell of my new cherry writing desk is glorious, without the chemical whiff of whiteboard markers, it just doesn't smell like September this year.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Missing School

It's my first September without a classroom to call home in a long time, and I'm adrift....

You can listen to my VPR commentary about it here.

Seasons of Mist and Mellow Fruitfulness

The writing life ain't bad, particularly during the early days of a New England autumn.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Great Responsibility Begins With Great Trust

Sincere thanks to the nearly one hundred teachers and parents who emailed or tweeted me with quotes for this piece. I hope it will challenge at least a few of you to turn over the keys to your child's life and education to - gasp - your child. I've been writing a lot about promoting autonomy and intrinsic motivation in kids (stay tuned, the book's almost done!) and if we could just return to a place of independence, autonomy, and faith in our kids, if we could just show them that we believe they will do the right thing, they just might live up to that challenge. You can read the article here. If you like it, share it!

Looks like it's getting read! Thanks, everyone!!!

Specific thanks for quotes go to Mindi Dench, Christiana Whittington, Elena Marshall, Lisa Heffernan, Gina Parnaby, Bryan MacDonald, and Dana Salvador.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

In today's installment of The Parent-Teacher Conference, I am both teacher and parent, asker and askee. I need your help with a piece I am putting together about PowerSchool and the parent portal that allows for 24/7 access to students' grades and attendance. Here's what I am curious about:

1. If you are a parent, do you use the parent portal at your child's school?
2. How often?
3. What, in your view, are the pros to this kind of software?
4. Conversely, what are the cons?

5. If you are a teacher or administrator, does your school offer parent access to PowerSchool?
6. Who decided to grant access, the superintendent? Head of school? Principal? Committee?
7. How's it all working out at your school?

And, of course, if you have any thoughts on the topic, feel free to use the contact me form over there ------------>
or email me at teacherlahey AT gmail DOT com.