the second arrow


Sometimes I let myself imagine the classes I actually wish I had taken before they handed me the keys to my classroom. This is especially true since I’ve been in the world of teacher education. I ask myself, what was it I needed to know? What did I learn on the job in rough and tumble ways, that might have been smoother if an older, wiser person had pulled me aside and whispered, “ok, here’s the deal…”

I know there is an element of “have to live it to learn it” but, still, part of me wishes my whisper could spare someone else at least a sliver of the heartbreak of learning the hard way.

Here’s one class that everyone on the way to teaching would benefit from taking before they get the classroom keys:

Continue reading “the second arrow”


Happy little fish guy hanging from a tree in Spain- just outside of the Juan Miró museum. When James and I traveled to Mallorca, this moment at Miró’s studio was my best pause. For most of the trip, I did the thing I always do on trips, even when I try to be present. I rush, rush, rush until I feel dragged around and overwhelmed.

I am terrible at arriving. I feel an inch of discomfort and I want to run. This follows me everywhere- even on trips. It’s the run from discomfort, the pull to take something (ice cream, wine, ruffles) to make it stop. In my classroom, the run kept me moving, fast. Too fast to ever really arrive and be with my students. Too fast to allow for silent moments in a conference or conversation with students. Too fast to listen with an open heart. I talked, a lot. And I moved around the classroom like I was a waitress at brunch, just trying to get the orders to the tables, fast. I prized efficiency and accuracy. Comma goes here. Worksheet to you. Papers due on Friday. Hurry up everybody!

Years later, I asked one of my former students an important question.

Continue reading “arriving.”

curious and kind.

I’m thinking a lot about intention right now. Yesterday, on the phone with a friend, I realized we were starting to walk down a very brambly path. As I heard my voice become scratchier and louder, I suddenly remembered I could hold a different intention for our conversation, something closer to love. I shifted and we changed paths and it felt like a little miracle.

I’m remembering the way my old teaching intentions (Be perfect all the time! Really wow ‘em! Blow them away!) used to feel so exhausting. My intention was always to impress my students with the most entertaining lesson (edutainment, my friends and I called it) and to make them love my class (and, let’s be honest here, to love me). Sure, I wanted them to learn too, but I also wanted them to love every second of every hour. So, I tap danced. I spun plates. I made imovies for just a single lesson (true story). I differentiated for everyone. And I tried to get ahead of their opinions, to hustle for the worth of the class, for my worth as a teacher- maybe even for my worth as a human.
Continue reading “curious and kind.”

creating alongside.

I was listening to the Radiolab podcast about trees- the way the underground root network shares resources like water and nutrients. When a tree is about to die, it sends its extra food and water to the other trees, an act of wisdom more than generosity.

It is almost as if the tree knows it is a part of a network and it will continue to live if the whole can survive.

and i’ve been learning this lately.

if I can gather a group of writers, and write together, I can feel the pulse in the room as a kind of collective energy of creativity.

and it is a kind of electricity that spills into my writing and helps me feel honest and more willing to take risks in what I say. Continue reading “creating alongside.”