Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baltimore, students, and making a difference

Yesterday, I wanted desperately to write about the Baltimore riots. The city that I called home for 6 years (I have lived in the Baltimore suburbs all of my life, but lived in the city for college and two years after) was experiencing turmoil and chaos after looting, property destruction, and fires were set in the wake of the Freddie Gray funeral. I decided to wait to write because it's easy to get caught up in emotions, and truly, my emotions were mixed. I put my two babies to bed with prayers for guidance and strength, but also with prayers of thanks that they are too young to understand any of what is going on. Most immediately, my thoughts turned to my students, some of whom have family members in friends who live, work, and go to school in the effected areas of the city. How would I face them with the assurance that they would need when I felt so unsure myself?

Those concerns were quickly put to rest as I listened to our students articulate their thoughts and emotions about what had happened in the city. Some felt angry and frustrated, but many felt sad and upset over the acts of violence that occurred. I was impressed by our students willingness to speak out for peace and justice in front of their peers, administrators, teachers, and community members. Our administration included community members, including parents, to the town hall held during period 1, so that they could express their thoughts, as well. I heard parents speak of how scared they are for their children. I watched small acts of bravery and courage as one-by-one students took the mic and talked. It felt safe. It felt open. It felt peaceful.

My third period class was light, only 6 students were there out of the 17 I normally teach. I didn't want to introduce Romanticism and Realism, so I decided to show them The Freedom Writer's Diary. It seemed timely as the story of Erin Gruwell and her students took place after the 1992 LA Riots. Toward the end of the section that we viewed, one of Gruwell's students reads an entry from his diary about the horrible summer that he had. He concludes the entry by saying that being welcomed back to school by his teachers and his classmates made him feel like he was home. One of my students came up to me, tears in her eyes, and said, "That part, it just reminded me of you and Mrs. Hohlfeld*. You guys make this feel like home for me, too." Well, if that doesn't just get a teacher to tear up, I am not sure what will.

My hope in all of this is that students do find sanctuary in their school. I want my students to feel included, needed, and, honestly, loved. I do value each of them for different reasons and in different ways. I hope my classroom can be that place where their voices can be heard and they can feel at home. In this time of change and turmoil, I believe that many students need this now more than ever. This is why I teach. It's why I love my job. I hope that, moving forward, Baltimore can rebuild itself and become a stronger city. I think with the voices of the kids that I witnessed it, it certainly can.

*Sarah Hohlfeld is my teaching neighbor, twin, and BFF. We have been told by multiple students that we should team teach because it would be the greatest class ever. We are certain it is really because of our awesome dancing skills.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lily's First Movie!

Today, I took Lily to see her first movie in the theater. I believe she thought Cinderella would be a live show, like a Broadway production, so she was very confused at the enormous "TV screen" in the theater. Before we went to the movie, I picked her up from school and we went to the mall for lunch. Of course, Lily barely ate anything because we needed to get to the movie, so we were very early for our 2pm showing. Lily decided she wanted popcorn because "you always eat popcorn at movies" and she also picked out M&Ms (which went untouched), while I chose Raisinets because I never eat them and I wanted her to try them (after telling me they were ick she basically ate the entire box...she also ate the whole bag of popcorn and whenever I tried to eat some, she would yell at me to stop eating).

The previews before the movie are really the thing that stuck with Lily because they previewed the movie Pan. A few weeks ago I wrote about Lily's love of Peter Pan and the preview basically blew her away. All she can talk about is going back to the movies to see Pan. The movie itself looks awesome, though I fear she might find it a bit scary. We are going to see what it's rated to determine if it is ok for her to see in the theater. She generally isn't easily scared and she loves Peter Pan so much, I think she would be crushed to not see the movie at the movies.

Anyway, we saw the live action Cinderella and we both loved it. I cried probably an inappropriate amount (because there was a lot of death and that was quite sad), but it was just lovely. The sweeping scenes were beautiful and the whole Cinderella transformation was breath-taking (seriously, I cried when she was transformed into the "princess" in the magnificent dress, but was equally impressed with her wedding gown at the end of the movie--it was gorgeous). The step-mother was awesomely wicked and the step-sisters were perfectly ridiculous and Cinderella was good and lovely. As it should be. Oh, and Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother might have been the most spectacular godmother ever! Her outfit and quirkiness were just perfect!

The thing I found most lovely about the movie was that I never felt like Cinderella needed saving. She lived on the motto, "Have courage, be kind" that her mother told her (on her death bed, I might add, cue tears...) and it truly carried her throughout the movie. Prince Charming (Kit, in the movie) didn't swoop in and save her from the wickedness of her step-family; she saved herself by being a good and loving person. She was portrayed so beautifully. The Prince finds her lovely partially for her looks (she is beautiful), but he constantly talks about how good she is. Her goodness gives her beauty.

All-in-all, Lily and I had a great time together. She did a great job during the movie and promptly fell asleep in the car on the way home. I can't wait for our next movie together!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mid-Week Confessions (and some Easter pics)

I decided I have a little time this week to do some updating, so I decided to do mid-week confessions and post a few Easter pictures.

1. I am tired of technology. Funny, since I am writing this on a computer. Really, I am mostly tired of social media, and I am considering a summer long hiatus. We will see how that pans out. I don't want to raise tech crazed kids (I see enough kids who are tech crazed at school...) and I want to take steps to make sure that they aren't worshiping at the altar of the selfie.

2. I want to simplify my life. I suppose this goes with #1. Today, the kids toys just seemed overwhelming. All of the stuff we own seems overwhelming. I want to seriously purge what we don't need and don't use. I think it would save a lot of space and probably provide enough for another family of 4.

3. I hate allergies. That isn't so much a confession, that is really just a statement (as spring is blooming (finally) and my allergies slowly begin to assert themselves).

4. I was reading an article earlier and one of the point in the article was about people who post too much about their sex life on social media. I second that. I have read blogs from married women who share details of their sex life. The whole world doesn't need to know what happens in the bedroom. Tell your best friend on girls night, not the people who you barely know on Blogger/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. I blame this on Carrie Bradshaw. Thanks, Carrie.

And now...a few Easter pictures (because two separate posts is just asking far too much right now). We had a very nice Easter-- breakfast with my parents, then to church, then back to my parents for a late lunch/early dinner with my family. Lily and Jack LOVED their gifts from the Easter bunny and had great fun with their cousins. All-in-all a very successful holiday! Oh yeah, and Jack got rid of his pacifiers!