Thursday, May 18, 2017

REAL FRIENDS- Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

We are currently suffering through a rash of "mean girl" syndrome at my school. I feel like I have spent the better part of my recess duty for the last couple of weeks helping kids resolve conflicts, talking to the social worker, calling families, etc., etc., etc. I'm really glad, then, to have discovered a brand new graphic novel.

REAL FRIENDS by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, is a graphic novel, a biography, of Shannon's intermediate grade experiences. It includes stories of friends who become "not friends," being part of groups, and not being part of groups, getting glasses, bullies, loneliness, making new friends. All of those intermediate grade experiences that are so much a part of kids' lives, and so, so, so hard.

On a teaching note, REAL FRIENDS includes a lot of short, episodic stories. I can see myself using it during a unit on personal narratives. Kids could tell their friendship stories in graphic novel format, then move to a more traditional personal narrative.

I'm thinking this is a book I'm going to be replacing pretty regularly. I suspect it's going to get read a lot!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Mother's Day. I'm feeling a little down. There will be no cards or flowers or dinners out or even burgers on the grill at home. My boys don't do holidays.

I do holidays, at least a little, and I'm going to Colorado Springs to have brunch with my mom. I grab my keys, head out the door, and then I see him. David.  He has mowed my lawn for years. His mom lived down the street for over half a century. He lived with her, at least most of the time. Recently, she moved into assisted living, and he's living on the streets. This morning, he looks like he has probably been out all night. He is more than a little rumpled. Wearing a backpack. A sleeping bag hangs from the handlebars of his bike.

I never know what to say to him. Everything seems so trite when he is so lost and so alone. We talk about the lawn. It needs cut. I ask if he will see him mom. He tells me he won't. I think it's probably a pretty long bus ride across town. He tells me he wants to find a church to try, and I tell him there is a new one at the school down the street.

I want to do something, but I don't know what that would be. We make plans for the next yard work, and I tell him to take care. Wave goodbye.

I have to make a quick stop on my way to Colorado Springs. I have some boxes that need recycled. They are too big for my bin, so I want to drop them off at a recycling dumpster at a park not too far from my house.

And then I see them. The car is from out of state, and loaded down with boxes on the seat and a luggage rack on the top. A woman is in the driver's seat, small children are in the back. She looks old to be their mom. Maybe her grandchildren?  I wonder if they are living in the car.

I drag my boxes out of the car and walk around the back of their car to put the boxes in the dumpster. I almost run into a man, pulling a royal blue shirt over his head. I know those shirts, they are the uniforms for a local amusement park, and many of our parents work there. I wonder if this man is trying to support his family on the barely above minimum wage pay most of the workers earn.

And again, I do not know what to say. I make small talk. Say it's a beautiful day. Say there will probably be lots of people at the amusement park. He wishes me a happy Mother's Day.

I drive away, wondering how I could be so ungrateful when I have so, so, so many blessings in my life. Starting with a roof over my head.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Tomorrow, I am triple booked.


Before noon.

We have faculty meeting tomorrow at 7:15.

Like we do every Wednesday.

Except my principal retired midyear and we kind of haven't had regular meetings for the past few weeks. So this morning, when someone asked me if I could attend another meeting, I said sure, I could come.

And then I found out we really are having a faculty meeting.

An then I also remembered I had said I would help with playground coverage, because we are doing teacher appreciation this week. And tomorrow morning we are having a breakfast for the paras.

Except the paras do morning recess duty. So the leadership team offered to cover the duty.

And I'm on the leadership team.

So now I'm triple booked.

Before 8 a.m.

And then again at 10. I have a regularly scheduled meeting at 10:10 on Wednesdays.

And I'm supposed to be testing kindergarteners, which is taking way, way, way longer than I hoped it would.

And then my new principal emailed and I told him sure, I could meet at 10:30.

So I'm triple booked twice.

Before lunch.

I really hate this time of year.