Friday, July 27, 2007

wheatley and lisa delpit

i have a terrible migraine today, which is upsetting b/c i'm supposed to be in a wedding in a few hours and i can't go outside - the lights are too bright. will i be standing there in my dress, with sunglasses on? probably. hot!

anyway, i've been thinking ahead to my placement a lot lately. i haven't yet met with my mentor teacher because of this wedding and general craziness and she lives in novi, but i will very soon - we are both incredibly excited to begin and i definitely get the sense that she will let me lead pretty early on... but my research topic for 695 and much of the reading on adolescent literacy we've been doing (i'm loving speedreading, by the way!) is really causing me to shape my inquiries on two things: engagement and classroom management.

i feel that i can have a strong grasp on engagement, i see myself experimenting all the time with new activities, new projects, new designs, in order to keep my students interested and engaged in the material. i know already that it will be generated from them. and that there is much planning and scaffolding that must go into a lesson plan so that choice can be implemented and done WELL. i am not just looking to teach some surface level factual thinking, i'm trying to teach for understanding, for critical thinking, reading, writing skills, i'm trying to teach to question. there needs to be a generation of active questioners.

i have been blogging back and forth with mr. shannon wheatley, a high school history teacher in houston, texas. his blog, (education noir) is about his thoughts around education, adding a voice to the teachers of color perspective. and a strong voice! i am honored to read his writing, and look forward to the opportunity to dialogue with him about our experiences. mine the first time in the classroom in awhile, his at a kipp (knowledge is power program) school. i'm interested to learn more about these schools of choice.

shannon makes me think about lisa delpit, in an article she wrote about how black educators are often scolded by the (very white) progressive education community for being too stern... but their teaching is often more affective for urban students than alternative education. teachers need to understand how to communicate with their students; part of knowing them is knowing their cultural backgrounds, traditions and codes. and i am going to be a difficult teacher. but hopefully a class with me will be a memorable experience!! ha. i'm getting a little nervous for the fall.


Friday, July 20, 2007

shoes!! oh my god shoes... just testing out the lovelies of gliffy.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

r.i.p. sekou sundiata

my poetry mentor passed away yesterday. i just found out today, and i have no words for this. this wreaks violent havoc on my heart. there is nothing to mute the sound. but at least the sound is his beautiful, deep, velvet tone pulling at my heart strings. i wanted to share sekou with you. and this too.

"where is my witty?
where is my sovereignty?
and where the hell is my cool?"

women like that need an inside job. you can't take them from without.

(i'm trying to talk back to you now. this is a slow process of trying to form the words, the sounds that will shape your memory. i take this seriously.)

hearing you again and again in my dreams. i live in the past, but it makes sense in the future. i can't count the colors on your hands. and tonight, we were small and intimate, we burned bright coals on your legacy. i told your story, keep another inside the frame of my skull. there are some things that are always secret. but only dancing makes her clean and i wanted to be washed free of it all. start tomorrow a fresh body and breathe you blue into my mornings. i take it you're there. and i go there everytime. the place where rain brings thickness to the air and i can calibrate my movements to your breath.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

where is my mind?

i apologize in advance for this post's lack of technological pondering, i need to vent.

i am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but i am highly critical of myself. in thinking about this afternoon's in-class assignment and my frustration with it, i found myself nearly in tears about not being able to easily come up with 19 questions that stratified the cognitive and knowledge dimensions. i realize that it's difficult to come up with questions that are diverse in their knowledge type and grasping different cognitive utilities... and i guess i've always thought of myself as someone who thinks of great questions. we are all stressed and tired, i don't want to blame my visible outbursts on that because i am not the only one feeling that stress. but as hard as we worked, we were struggling to come up with ways to relate the text to meaningful questions.

what i was really impressed by was how people started to come over to help us, but i think it was an ego hit, because i'm not used to being that person who needs help. i don't deal with it well; i'm used to being the one who helps others. it was also about the fact that i do love the synthesis between theory and practice, but was struggling to ground the theories into the text. and struggling further in thinking about how to do this in the fall and spring. i am imagining the look and feel of the classroom already and i think that teaching lessons for 695 will be the beginning of where i feel the application. i think we need to hold class outside. i think we need to change the shape of what we're doing sometimes and i realize how my mind sometimes turns off in front of text books, still. i have unlearned how to see them as useful...

but, as liz de groot pointed out yesterday... we will have to use them despite what we think about text books, politically. how can we use them as a resource that is not frustrating to us and to our students? in the process of moving from student to teacher (and always remaining student, too), i need to ground this in the body. my brain is really feeling rocked and it's a beautiful inquiry into its capacities, but really difficult to grow so much so quickly. and to never be able to stop thinking about it.

part of this is also that i don't have an outlet for this language at home. i have to break it down, de-code the language to my family (which is exactly how i'll have to break it down for my students), so i feel like when i go home, i'm teaching, too. in all of this, i'm trying to find the space for me. holding onto the creativity and trying not to get bogged down in the details.

nam myoho renge kyo, and a nap - both are necessary. goodnight!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

the concept of lolo

i mapped myself out in some key identity concepts... i will add some things as this changes, ha ha. just having fun with inspiration. what i was thinking about today was myself as a person and myself as a teacher, two very different identities. while i know some teachers who connect with their students online through myspace or other social networking sites, mine is quite risque (that could be the understatement of the year... check it out -- and in thinking about proceeding into this next year, i want to navigate how to be able to keep my true self up on my page, and how to also not suggest to my students that i will be out, partying and dancing all the time and so it's not necessary for them to do their work. how do we become ourselves in the classroom in a way that can navigate this difficult terrain? i don't think it's always necessary to lie about myself or hide aspects of myself (i.e. tattoo's), i believe it's conditional, but i have to also think about being a role model and the types of messages i'm inadvertantly sending. i think it's just important to be deliberate... and maybe take the village voice photo shoot where i was on the cover of the gay pride issue off of myspace, yes?

that's another thing that i've been thinking about. i came out when i was 14 (and ironic that on the concept map above, i didn't list queer as part of my identity). i don't necessarily feel the need to come out to the whole MAC program, i think that it's been guessed or implied anyway... if you talk to me about it, you'll find that it's very complex. i don't believe in labels that are over-arching and all-determining, but i am queer. how do i use this vast community of resources and central part of my life in my language and approach to homophobia in my classrooms? to talking about and empathizing with different literacies? i was thinking about this in connection to the ways that an online space can be a place to build community within educators, as i was contacted by a member of my buddhist organization who is looking to connect with other gay SGI members on the east coast ( for more info about my buddhist practice)... ooh, one more thing. i was really excited to make a strong connection with an educator working in houston, texas. he's a high school history teacher and has very strong ideas about how to approach his classroom, we share a love for critical pedagogy, though we are in different subject areas, we have some pretty aligned approaches. we are going to have a dialogue that is rooted in our blogs, but for my ability to record it, i'll also be emailing with him, to deepen the level of exchange.

um and in other news, i'm completely obsessed with my group's wiki. like, dorkily so. and now i step back from procrastination in writing my summaries for pat... and get working. be well!!!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

this is actually a response to jon's blog, in which he was writing about hermeneutics (interpreting a text out of context, check his page for a real definition)... i just learned how to speed read and i'm looking forward to using that as a specific "technology" with which to approach texts... anyhoo...

i've been writing blogs for almost 10 years. i have ones that are more personal (i.e. not trafficked, hidden deep in the corners of cyberspace), ones that are more widely read, some with a specific intended audience, some that started off as "poetry only" or "political only", but the reality of each of these is that once i press "publish", i don't retain control of these factors anymore. i've also learned over time that i have an incredibly hard time drawing lines to say "this is for this purpose", even in this blog, i constantly ask myself "okay, is it about the class? can i post it there?" when i post something, i don't know who is reading, what they thought and because i have had a lot of blogs over time, i don't have a consistent readership that comments frequently... in this way, i am frustrated with the medium b/c i believe in its innate ability to be interactive, but often it is just musings that go unaddressed, when i'm always searching for dialogue. i think we were talking about this before with the egoism of blogging, how it can be a communique or soapbox, but it's crucial for me to get feedback, so lay it on me!

the safety of online spaces is something that i struggle with. i have never believed that there's anything "safe" about the online space... anything can be accessed by anyone. now, that there will be droves of librarians at my door for not using in-blog citations is pretty unlikely b/c it's one of millions out there... while i believe big brother is watching, not that close, ha.

i really enjoyed (jon's) post, and i too see the danger of hermeneutics. the writer's intent only goes so far... it's also about the reader's perception and the reason why i study language and communication (through English) is because i'm fascinated by the fact that every word we speak/write has the weight of our experiences in it. when i say "love", i bring to the word every time i've ever known or felt love... and to think that anyone else would understand the nuances of that is crazy. we share a language and i think it's crucial to constantly define what we mean, because definitions (as we see with trying to define literacy) are not static, and must change to reflect the culture and language we speak in. but the challenge, for me, is in trying to make those connections, so that i know you well enough to know what you mean when you talk love, hate, education, home, etc., and context is crucial.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

metacognition of a migraine

the convergence of systems in my head caused a linear breakdown. i could see the lights going out in every window along the block. used to short circuitry of this kind, i know when and how to step down. close my eyes, massage my temples. drink caffeine. there are a few strategies i've learned. perhaps now that i'm starting to understand some additional frameworks, now that i'm looking large ahead, my eyes are too small for all they're seeing. for how bright and how dark the schema is. i think big and need to sometimes remember that i am a body, i am grounded and i am not always capable of everything.

now, we all know that i need no excuses to listen to thunder. but i don't have a backup generator anaymore, my skin is showing itself to be wiser. sleep is crucial and i want to be in my dreams pretty often these days. i require time with myself to uncover what i'm really thinking about, what really grinds my gears. and let me tell you , turning inward is not usually hard for me to do, but i still have growing pains of the brain (all the time).

i will call this that. a time when i am expanding and unable to accommodate spatially what i have acquired. a reading last night said "Every book has the potential to be a teacher" (paul & elder, 15, APA citations are my life) and this is why i received 9 boxes of them today. even when my head has no room, i can always go back to them, re-introduce myself to my mentors and find that they remember me, and have silently watched me grow. just look in the margins, notice the simplicity with which i thought about things then. i used to make assertions with such conviction. how does it only get more stratified as i get older?

this too is a mark of becoming.