Thursday, September 29, 2011

How does one do this avoiding suffering?

A History Without Suffering  

By E. A. Markham

In this poem there is no suffering.
It spans hundreds of years and records
no deaths, connecting when it can,
those moments where people are healthy
and happy, content to be alive. A Chapter,
maybe a Volume, shorn of violence
consists of an adult reading aimlessly.
This line is the length of a full life
smuggled in while no one was plotting
against a neighbour, except in jest.
Then, after a gap, comes Nellie. She
is in a drought-fisted field
 with a hoe. This is her twelfth year
on the land, and today her back
doesn’t hurt. Catechisms of self-pity
and of murder have declared a day’s truce
in the Civil War within her. So today,
we can bring Nellie, content with herself,
with the world, into our History.
For a day. In the next generation
we find a suitable subject camping
near the border of a divided country:
for a while no one knows how near. For these
few lines she is ours. But how about
the lovers? you ask, the freshly-washed
body close to yours; sounds, smells, tastes;
anticipation of the young, the edited memory
of the rest of us? How about thoughts
higher than their thinkers?...Yes, yes.
Give them half a line and a mass of footnotes:
they have their own privileged history,
like inherited income beside our husbandry.
We bring our History up to date
in a city like London: someone’s just paid
the mortgage, is free of guilt
and not dying of cancer; and going
past the news-stand, doesn’t see a headline
advertising torture. This is all
recommended reading, but in small doses.
It shows you can avoid suffering, if you try. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Advice for Us

I love this.  I will try to live up to this.  We all have the opportunity to choose to help in some way every day - we might as well do it with as much energy as we can muster.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

To Be

We are studying the verb "ser".   To Be. 

The most important verb in any language -

Being - and what we choose to be.

This so happens to be the first verb I learned - and the first attempt of pushing kids from their simple phrases and alphabet and make a personal connection - to think of themselves other than in their small, American boxes. 

Now they can be in a bigger world. - They can be in another language - even if it requires even more thinking and work and pushing their brain in a different way than they ever thought possible. 

Last week, I told them all the important reasons why they need to know another language... and when they brought up college - I stopped pacing - and said

"I hope you don't learn Spanish because it looks good on a college application.  Learn Spanish because you'll use it for the rest of your life. Think beyond college.  Your life is more than four years of college - Learn anything because learning is good for you; not because some teacher told you to memorize it."

I'm not quit sure where that came from - but I'm glad it popped out when it did.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Second Scar

Last night during supper, I felt under my chin and was reminded of my second scar.  I had forgotten about it over the years.  I smiled and looked at the girls.

"Did you know I have a scar here?"  I lifted my head and pointed to the thin line.

They were surprised and shook their head "No"

I told them my story.

   "When Missi and I were young, Grandpa Moe remodeled our old, square, pink house.  He ripped out the carpet in the living room and replaced the floor boards with wood - you know the orange kind, speckles?"

They knew what I was talking about. 

"It was perfect for rollerskating.  I had those rollerskates that strapped on to my shoes and was rollering around the living room like nobody's business.  Only I wanted to go faster.  So I had Missi push me.  And she did.  And I fell.  The only thing I remember is the bang on my jaw and looking at it in the bathroom mirror with your aunt."

I don't remember how old I was but it was before the  dog bite. I don't remember actually getting the stitches or having stitches.  I just remember the feeling of the thud and the sound of my sister crying because "she" hurt me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

On Learning languages.

If you have a friend for a teacher, you might get asked a lot of questions.  When I knew I would be teaching Spanish again this fall, I asked my friends from high school and college how they learned another another language and how it benefited them.

I got a lot of interesting answers.  My friend, Dawn, let me include her response in my blog.  Dawn graduated a year behind me in high school.  We were both a part of "The Global Studies" experiment.  Our town took our old hospital building and made it into a dorm.  The first year and second years, there were about fifty students each year.  The first year, about fifteen kids came from Hong Kong.  The second year, about twenty students came from Mexico and Spain.  I, of course, was in the Spanish program.  Dawn was in the German program.  Our graduating classes would have had 50 students without exchange students, but with exchange students there were about 75.

Meet Dawn - Fellow Lafayette graduate and facebook friend.

Hi Bobbi!

I don't think I have anything out of the ordinary. How about getting a native speaker as a boyfriend/girlfriend? ;) Or living with a host family.

You just have to really surround yourself with native speakers, read books or magazines that you're interested, study those things, try out your new vocabulary every day, listen to the radio - tape segments of news or TV and replay them again and again. I've heard of students transcribing radio/tv segments first, and if they need help, get a native speaker to fill in the blanks.

focus on overall communication - listening, reading, speaking, writing. Go to the country if possible. And just talk your head off, don't be afraid to ask questions, and don't take mistakes personally. You're just learning something new.

When I taught ESL, I noticed the biggest improvements in the students had native friends, a host family, and who didn't care about mistakes.

When I was in Germany, there was a young man (30s?) who didn't know really a LICK of German, he went as a part of his business training. I spoke pretty well out of our group - most thought that I was a foreigner but couldn't pin the slight accent. But by the end, this guy had far surpassed me (embarrassingly so, because I was quieter and didn't reach out as much). He had a lot of drive, native friends, took more challenging classes, studied all the time. Your level of devotion will give fruit to the outcome.


In my fourth year of teaching, I've realized that I've had 340 students and 460 with the students who I taught in Student Teaching.  I never thought of the number until tonight.  Wow.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How does a Poem Pick You?

I am convinced that I need to dig into more Latin American/Spanish Poets this year for my Spanish classes.  I miss poetry in my classroom so much. 

My favorite days were when we studied for Poetry Out Loud.  Ok ok - I hated having to listen to my students whining about having to study poetry, but I was always rewarded in the final days of the program when students would recite their poetry.  

Students always found the best poems.  I remember the first time I heard this poem; I loved it.  

Sadie and Maud 


By Gwendolyn Brooks

Maud went to college.   
Sadie stayed at home.   
Sadie scraped life
With a fine-tooth comb.

She didn’t leave a tangle in.   
Her comb found every strand.
Sadie was one of the livingest chits   
In all the land.

Sadie bore two babies   
Under her maiden name.   
Maud and Ma and Papa   
Nearly died of shame.

When Sadie said her last so-long   
Her girls struck out from home.   
(Sadie had left as heritage
Her fine-tooth comb.)

Maud, who went to college,   
Is a thin brown mouse.
She is living all alone
In this old house.

I wondered how my student picked this poem to recite.  She never told me why she chose this poem to share with the other 8th graders in 6th period.  But, she picked it - and that added a layer to my enjoyment of the poem.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

On Giving Your All

This reminds me of a video our principal shared with us the first teacher day back.

He stated it was the theme of our school year - every single one of us giving 100%.  I'm so glad I work with colleagues who get pumped by this stuff.  People who want to better themselves everyday.