Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 5): An Idea At Rest Stays At Rest

(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.)

Driving home, Friday:

my attention is broken
by an errant basketball
sitting still and abandoned
on the double yellow
dividing lines

Not a person in sight,
as my mind imagines
the possibilities of play,
an idea at rest stays at rest,
finding refuge at the end
of another long day

Peace (in observation),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 4): Impatient Icicle

(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.)

A week-old icicle hangs
with impatience
off the roof near
the front door,
sipping off a drink
from gravity’s pour;
it’s a slow-moving
race that ends
at the floor

Peace (watching in wonder),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 3): Together, Home


Two poems
I wrote
about home
gather inside
a collection
of community,
like a river
of skipping stones,
where words
flitter next to art
and photographs,
a city-wide effort
to remember, together:
not one of us
is ever alone

Peace (and home),
Kevin

PS — some context — two of my submitted poems were included in a new digital exhibit opened yesterday through our city library on the theme of “home”:

Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 2): Eyes In The Trees

(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.)

Her eyes drift up,
a dog’s curiosity piqued
by shadows in the tree,
where a huge red-tailed hawk,
talons clutching winter branch,
gazes down with hunter’s eyes,
uninterested in the attentions
of neither her nor me

Peace (in the noticing),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Poem (Day 1): The Masks Are Off


(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.)

I’m watching her talk;
the first time in the classroom
with her mask, fully off,
and there’s something wondrous
about such a moment
of clarity that comes coupled,
uncomfortably, with concern

Peace (first day with no mask requirement),
Kevin

Join Slice of Life in March/15th Anniversary

Slice of Life 2022 Comic

If you are a teacher who writes, or a teacher who wants to write more, or maybe you’re more of a writer who also teaches — ah, whatever the circumstance — consider joining the Slice of Life for its 15th year of daily writing in March.

I’ve been at it, thanks to my friend Bonnie K, since the start of it 15 years ago and I always fret: What if I have nothing to write? Yet I always do. Sometimes, it’s an observation from school. Sometimes, it’s the smallest moment imaginable, but the noticing brings it into something larger. Sometimes, I’ve done multimedia posts. Last year, I did a Day in a Sentence theme for March.

This year, I hope to do a Poem a Day theme when I can, which will be convenient for my on-going personal writing goal of writing a poem every day. But I will toggle between formats, and media, etc.

I have consistently found that connecting with other teachers and writers through comments and interactions across blogging spaces is a powerful experience, worth celebrating.

No pressure. But if you are interested, there is more information and a sign-up form, if you so inclined. I recently took part in a conversation about the Slice of Life and the energy that one can get from writing with others.

Peace (in the noticing),
Kevin

Slice of Life: To Mask Or Not

(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.)

Our School Committee members voted the other night to lift our mask mandate at our school when we return from February break next week. They had sent out surveys to teachers and parents, but not students. That got me irritated, as they seem to consistently avoid asking students what they think, so I revamped their parent survey and had my sixth graders voice their opinions. I sent it off to the School Committee before their meeting, and to its credit, the chairman shared the students survey in the meeting before any other results.

Mask Mandate Zooming
The School Committee ignored advice from the health officials on the timing of lifting the mask mandate, but the discussions – even in the public hearing section – were civil and thoughtful, a rarity in today’s meetings (even in our town).

I wasn’t surprised to see my students voting in the majority to lift the mask mandate, as this is a fairly conservative community and students are generally just tired of wearing masks, but I was curious and a little concerned about the second question, asking them whether they will still wear masks even if the mandate was dropped.

MaskPolicySurvey (student response)

A full third of the students who took the survey indicated they weren’t sure, although I know many have thought about it and talked about it, and as we approach this moment of shift in masking, I know there are going to be some students who want to wear a mask for protection, and are allowed to, but may not, due to pressure from friends, either overt or not.

I don’t know how family decisions will play into all of this either, since we are not going to be policing which students have been given permission to wear masks and which have not.

As a teaching team, we’re already mulling on ways to make all students comfortable in whatever decision they make, and to accept and support any decision anyone else makes, as well. We’ve had discussions about Morning Meeting as a time to reinforce talk of respecting opinions in a larger community and we’ve talked about us, teachers, wearing masks, even if we wouldn’t otherwise, as an act of solidarity to any students feeling on the edge or uncertain. I am sure the administration has information going home, as well.

It seems as if every step of the way in this Pandemic, we keep having to learn new ways to navigate forward, and strategies to help our students do the same.

Peace (in choice),
Kevin

Slice of Life: As It Once Was

(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 … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

It’s not that I don’t ever see my students without masks — snack, lunch, walks outside, etc. — but with our state now lifting mask requirements for schools at the end of the month and my school district likely this week to follow suit at the local level (although what that will look like, we don’t quite know), I’m trying to remember what it was like to see all those young faces, to see all the smiles, to notice the full looks and emotional reactions on faces, as it once was, all the time.

In class discussions, there’s a wide range of reactions by students to this possible news of ending the mask mandate. Some can’t wait. Others seem nervous. When something lasts two years, it becomes a sort of reality, the way things are. Masks have protected, hidden and defined us in many ways.

Maybe we can step forward, carefully and guided by science, into a new reality yet again (same as the old reality) and as a teacher, I will be able to better read the room again, the way things might yet still be.

Peace (thinking forward),
Kevin

PS — the downside to loosening masks? Litter. This was my morning poem today after noticing our playground area yesterday:

Beneath this snow
and ice pack of winter,
abandoned masks
litter this place –

It’s confetti, like loose parts
and colored fabric bits,
so we bide our time
to gather on it

The ripped strings
as abandoned seeds,
but nothing here’s rooted
or anchored by trees

 

Slice of Life: Wandering Inside Immersive Art

(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 … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

My wife and I, along with a friend of ours, took a day trip into Boston the other day to explore one of two immersive Van Gogh shows in the city, and it was pretty marvelous. The show had taken over a huge cavernous space inside a building in South Boston, hung massive black curtains, and set up a stunning array of high-definition movie projectors and sound systems.

After wandering through a poster display of information about Van Gogh and the technical mechanics of the show itself, you step into the room, and it’s like stepping inside a Vincent Van Gogh field of art, and not just his most famous paintings, either. Here, we wandered through his sketches, his period of art inspired by Japanese paintings, and so much more. Although this show did not feature any VR headsets or anything, the curation was thoughtful — the paintings moved across the curtains of the huge room, in a synchronized dance of visual experience. You could sit on a bench, and let the art unfold around you, or you could wander through the room.

At Immersive Art Show

What struck me was the array and choice of colors and the brush strokes, the way this kind of different experience brings you close to the canvas, like an insect crawling along the edges of an artist at work. It’s as if every decision by the artist is there, made visible, if you can read it, and yet that does not spoil the beauty of the art, either.

Afterwards, we chatted about the experience and what lingers with me is how the scaling up of the art gave a different perspective, and opened my eyes further, to what Van Gogh was attempting to capture, even with all of his financial and mental health difficulties. It gave another glimpse of how an artist of his caliber must see the world.

I also marveled at the technical aspects of the show itself, noticing the placement of computers in the rafters and the sound system setup, and the way the choice of music fit so perfectly with the mood of each round of paintings (there were themed rotations in the room, one theme segueing into another).

Peace (wandering through),
Kevin

Slice of Life: All Here, Finally

(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 … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

I looked around the classroom as the bell range and realized: We’re all here.

Every single one of my students was in the building, at their seats, chatting and working as the first day of the week began. Full house. So unusual these days between Covid absences, regular sick absences and more. So much so that I completely forgot to do our online attendance, and got a call from the office, wondering if anyone was absent.

“Nobody!” I shouted into the phone with a smile. “Everyone’s here.”

It’s been weeks since we, as a class, were whole like this, and when I mentioned my observation during our Morning Meeting, they all looked around, as if noticing the room anew and seeing themselves as a complete package — 21 students, one paraprofessional, and one classroom teacher —  for the first time in weeks.

It was.

Let’s hope today remains full, too.

Peace (looking about),
Kevin