Slice of Life: A Year of Papers, Gone

(This is for the Slice of Life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective and then all through March — every single day  …  You write, too.)

fire

My son, a rising high school senior, took a huge stack of papers and burned them, as a sort of cleansing ritual to end another school year. One year’s worth of effort, gone in a matter of minutes. I tried to suggest he save a few things but he would not hear of it, and so I just watched it all burn as he fed the fire.

Peace (and transitions),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Appreciative But …

Cash BonusThe public sector, at least where I work as a teacher, never gets a bonus. We negotiate a contract and that’s that. So I was surprised to see our small town using some of its federal Pandemic money to give out cash bonuses to those of us who worked in municipal buildings (like schools) during the height of the Covid surges. A check arrived recently with my regular pay.

I wrestled with this comic, though, because I fear it comes across as ungrateful (which I truly am not) and that it appears I don’t fully appreciate others who worked just like I did, and are getting nothing from their bosses. I am thinking of all those people who worked in grocery stores and restaurants and hospitals, and of those other teachers in different towns who may not get this kind of benefit.

For some reason, it was the hourly breakdown of bonus that got my attention, as if my time in the building during Covid was codified into a dollar amount of about a dollar. (To be honest, it would have been more helpful if, during the Covid year, the town had done more to listen to teachers’ concerns and valued our input more, and made us feel like we were partners. I guess unused federal cash is easier to give out afterwards than cooperation in the moment.)

Peace (and comics),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Student End of Year Reflections

Learning About Writing (student reflections)

As we near the end of this school year, I have asked my sixth grade students to “grade” me on a variety of topics, giving me some anonymous input and information about how they perceived me as a teacher of writing, reading and technology.

The first set of questions center on writing, and I wondered if they identified growth in themselves as writers, and if our regular writing activities were central to how they thought about our ELA class this year. (see chart above)

I was pleased to see that most students thought they emerged as a better writing, and that they learned new skills and new genres this year in the field of writing. My aim is always to support them as writers and then challenge them in new directions as well.

Other parts of the survey connect to reading, technology and my role as a teacher. I left a space for them to write me a comment, if they wanted, and it warmed my heart to read what they wrote. A few stood out.

When I first came to 6th grade ELA was my least liked class but, now after this year I have come enjoy writing. Thank you for all you have done for me, I enjoyed my time in your class and I’m sure that many people in the future will enjoy your class too. I think one thing you can do better as a teacher would be to allow more free write (story writing) in the year and also sometimes have a share time for people to share their work. Over-all I enjoyed being in your class. Thank you for being a great teacher.

Overall ELA class was my favorite class this year. I like when we were able to to free write in our notebook. ELA class entertaining and fun the majority of the time. Your positive mindset help with the overall vibe in class this year. I think you should keep doing writing prompts and let students explore with writing more on their own. Thanks for a great year.
This ELA class was the best one so far, keep it up Mr. Hodgson. I would not change anything

Peace (in thoughts and reflection),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Quiet At The Quabbin

Biking the Quabbin

I had to use a Personal Day, or lose it, so yesterday, I took a day off from school, and found some solitude and quiet at the Quabbin Reservoir, a state-protected space with a controversial history (Boston needed water, so it decided to flood a handful of Western Massachusetts towns that had no say in the matter and build the reservoir.)

There were only a few people around as I rode my bike over the large dam and up the roadway to the scenic overlooks of a beautiful space. The day was perfectly clear — low 70s, no humidity, and blue skies. I was happy in the quiet.

The day allowed me to catch my breath as we hit the final two weeks of a most difficult school year, one in which the end can’t come quickly enough for all of us.

Peace (outside),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Making Music Again

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective  …  You write, too.)

My band, minus a permanent lead singer (we’re in the process of auditioning some new folks), played out live for the first time the other day at a neighborhood Block Party, and while the weather was hot and the audience rather sparse, we had a blast on the lawn, and remembered again — after a long stretch of only playing for ourselves — the joy of making music for others.

That’s me on saxophone. We invited a friend to sing lead on this James Brown song.

Peace (play it),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 31): Noticed Before But Slant

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective and then all through March — every single day  …  You write, too.)

On this final day of March, at the end of another Slice of Life Challenge, my fifteenth year of writing about small moments every day for the entire month, there’s a certain sigh of relief. This year, I chose to do small poems each day, as my daily slices. In fact, these may be the first prose words I have used for a post over the last 31 days of the challenge.

I enjoyed the many moments, though, and it gave me a chance to weave my own mission of writing a small poem every morning into the Slice of Life. Now what am I going to write poems about? I’ll find out tomorrow, I suppose.

Some of my poems for the month worked. Some, didn’t. Or at least, not as I wanted. But I kept writing (see my other site for gathering poems, with the #sol22 hashtag as a gathering device) and I kept trying to connect with other Slice of Life writers each day — navigating between new folks I didn’t know but who deserved my attention and a small circle of folks who I am already close with, through past Slice of Life years, CLMOOC and the National Writing Project.

Here, then, is my poem as a slice for this last day. Thanks for visiting.

Words like these
have rhythm

They find internal rhyme
over time

Observable moments,
folding in

Noticed before,
but slant

Peace (before the calendar turns),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 30): Picking Up Sticks

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective and then all through March — every single day  …  You write, too.)

Spindly sticks gathered
off my elderly neighbor’s lawn,
remains of a storm come, and gone,
as she pops her head out
and asks, curious, What’s going on?

I’m wandering around, my arms
full of broken fallen wood,
telling her with a smile
about bonfire we’ll make,
when the weather gets good

Peace (among neighbors),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 28): Each Year, The Same

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective and then all through March — every single day  …  You write, too.)

Each year’s Slice on the blog
on this twenty-eighth day
lands in a very predictable way:

It’s my middle son’s birthday
– as before and as yet to come –
I write of it, just a bit, here, today

Peace (in celebration),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 26): The Street and Beat of Jazz

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective and then all through March — every single day  …  You write, too.)

The stage seems crowded –
the saxophonist elbow to elbow
with the flutist, standing right above
the strings – a cello and two violins –
as the drummer smiles and shines,
keeping time with the bass,
and the guitarist/conductor
criss-crossing the air with hands
commanding the band,
listening for the vocalist, in a red dress
mirroring the energy of audience,
to sing us all into New York City:
an ‘Upper West Side Love Story’
told of the street of the beat of jazz

(Watching Freddy Bryant in concert at the Bombyx Center)

Peace (listening),
Kevin