SOLC Day 19: Expectations

March 2021 SOLC–Day 19
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
www.twowritingteachers.org

He’ll get a lot of 1’s on his report card next week. 1’s for “Does Not Meet Expectations.”

He began the year as he ended the last. Quietly. He managed his daily transitions from our classroom to the Learning Lab to weekly Speech Language sessions. He shut down when things got too tough. Retreated. Quiet. 

At morning meetings, he rarely added his thoughts to class discussions, needing encouragement even to say “Pass” when his turn came around. Limited eye contact. He struggled in the classroom with math, and often refused to look at the Ed. Tech there to help him. He rarely engaged in the work. Sometimes he couldn’t sit still. Sometimes he sat and stared at his desk. 

Somewhere along the way, maybe late in November, things started to change.

He’s flowered.  An odd word choice perhaps to describe a 10 year old boy, but it’s so apt. He’s simply opened up to the world. Now he laughs more, interacts more. His language has bloomed. Perhaps that was the key. 

He’s reading at home most nights now. Remembers to check in with me in the mornings about what he’s read. Has a couple of favorite authors. A favorite series. Still, he’s reading levels below the benchmark.

In Math, his confidence has blossomed. He raises his hand frequently to participate. Sometimes he’ll try to explain and finally say, “I can’t explain it,” but most of the time he’s finding the words to share his ideas, his strategies. He’s demonstrating far more understanding. He’s participating almost every day.

Now, I have to remind him to stop chatting. To stop class clowning. I had to move his chair up to the front row to split up his new and active social dynamic.

A teacher and I talk about this and laugh, “Be careful what you wish for!” we say. But we smile. Broadly. 

Still, he’s getting a lot of 1s on his report card, even though he’s exceeded oh so many expectations.

SOLC Day 18: Report Cards

March 2021 SOLC–Day 18
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
www.twowritingteachers.org

I’m in the midst of end of the trimester grading and writing report cards. This year, more than ever, it feels so challenging and superficial to reduce a child’s school experiences to a series of numbers.

Report Cards

Building our classroom community
in the midst of a pandemic
distancing, masks, hybrid class
learning, laughing, growing
collaborating.
Express this all
in a few
numbers?
How?

©Molly Hogan

We’ve been back with our full class in-person five days a week for about two weeks now, and my students have navigated that as well as everything else that’s been thrown at them this year. They’ve triumphed in so many ways and a number tells such a small part of that story.

To my mind, these kids are unsung heroes, and they’ve simply stolen my heart.

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the wonderful Linda Baie at her blog, Teacher Dance. Be sure to visit and check out the array of poetic offerings!

SOLC Day 17: We’re Expecting!

March 2021 SOLC–Day 17
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
www.twowritingteachers.org

“There’s a woodpecker nesting in the tree above my office,” Kurt announced as he walked in. “I’ve seen it a bunch and it’s out there right now.”

“Really?! What kind?”

I think he answered me, but I’m not sure, as I’d already rushed outdoors, grabbing my camera as I went. I scanned the cluster of trees near his office, my eyes running swiftly up and down each tree trunk.

Where was it?

Was it there?

Or maybe there?

Yes! Yes! Sure enough, there it was! A red-bellied woodpecker!

Aren’t they gorgeous? That beautiful red head and black and white barred back is such a stunning combination. They actually have a faint blush of red on their bellies (Can you see it?), hence their name. (You’d think they should be called a red-headed woodpecker, but if you look those up, you’ll see why that name was already taken.)

Red-bellieds are one of my favorites and we’re lucky enough to see them regularly. Two summers ago we had a family of them visiting the feeders almost everyday. I was frequently drawn to the window to watch the parents forage at the suet feeder and bring chunks back to the three loudly-impatient babies who waited on an adjacent branch. Then they’d all swoop back off toward the trees. I never could determine which nesting cavity their tree was in, though I knew approximately where it was and I’d searched.

This past fall and winter we lost a lot of old trees during windstorms. Many of them clearly had been used for nesting cavity birds. We’d still seen the red-bellieds throughout the winter, but I’d been a little worried that they might move farther afield during nesting season. So, was this the bird Kurt had been seeing, or was it just visiting? Soon enough I had my answer.

I settled in to watch this one hard at work. Over and over he pushed his head deep into the trunk and pulled out bits and pieces of wood. (You can see some in his beak in the last photo.) He was at it for quite some time!

Since then, I’ve been doing some research and it sounds like the male excavates the nesting cavity and then tries to entice the female. Oh, I do hope he’s successful! The nesting cavity is easily visible from the driveway and I’m already anticipating happy hours watching the family grow and taking photos along the way!

So, if all goes well, we’re expecting…baby woodpeckers!

SOLC Day 16: First, Next, Last (a Photo Journey)

March 2021 SOLC–Day 16
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
www.twowritingteachers.org

First, I survived!
(You can read about my pre-vaccine anxiety here)

Next, I woke up to this! EEK! (And oh, my, the winds! BRRRR!)
Last, I ended the day by discovering this in my school mailbox:

All in all, I’m counting it a win 🙂

SOLC Day 15: In Which Anxiety Flexes its Muscles

March 2021 SOLC–Day 15
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
twowritingteachers.org

I wake with a weight in my belly. This time it wasn’t the cat

Today is the day. 

The day I get the first dose of my Covid 19 vaccine.

The day I’d been simultaneously fighting to schedule and trying to not think about.

Now, I’m the first to admit that I can have issues with anxiety. Well, actually, maybe my family is the first to say it, but I can’t disagree. I’m pretty sure the “Worst Case Scenario” brain is a genetic trait on the paternal side of my family. (Hey, on the plus side, Dad had no side effects from either shot, so maybe that’s genetic, too?) So, while I’ve been trying to submerge my upswells of panicky thoughts, (I’m so tired today. Maybe I have Covid and just no other symptoms. What happens if they give the vaccine to someone who has Covid already!?! Do they test you beforehand? I don’t think they do! OMG, I’m a goner!) it’s been tough.

I’ve tried positive self talk. I keep telling myself that millions of others have already done this. I tend not to have issues with side-effects. I’m young-ish. I’m healthy. I don’t have a history of allergic reactions. (There’s always a first time. How far away is the closest hospital anyway? In my head, I calculate the miles.) 

Still, I’m a nervous wreck. It’s clearly not a rational thing…

And now, it’s almost time to go. I run through the list one more time:

completed form—check
insurance card—check
school ID–check
confirmation e-mail— check
water bottle (in case I feel faint)—check
short sleeve shirt (dark to hide the nervous sweat)—check
Kurt (for hand holding, reassurance, and total emotional support)—check

I take a deep breath.
“Ok,” I say to Kurt. “We should get going.”

I walk outside as he gathers up what he needs. As I step off the deck onto the driveway, something catches my eye. I turn and freeze.

Looking at me from the middle of the field is a single deer. The door slamming shut behind me hadn’t fazed it one bit. It stands there looking at me. Staring at me. Calm. Cool. Collected. Everything I am not, right then and there.

Somehow that calm gets through to me, and I can feel the tendrils of anxiety loosen their hold…just a little. It feels like a sign that everything is going to be okay. Ridiculous? Yes. But undeniably, I feel just a bit more centered. A bit less panicky. Like I said, none of this is rational.

I watch the deer a bit longer until it turns and ambles away into the woods. Then Kurt comes outside, we get in the car, and we drive off to get my shot.

SOLC Day 14: Morning Visitors

March 2021 SOLC–Day 14
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
www.twowritingteachers.org

“Molly, the deer are here!”

“Really?” I turned from my computer.

“There are at least three of them,” Kurt said, peering out the window.

“Oh!” I pushed back my chair and rushed over to look. It’s not unusual for deer to visit us, but they don’t often come in full daylight, and regardless of when they come, we’re always delighted to see them.

“They’re over there–in the clearing to the woods,” he said, pointing.

Peeking out, I scanned the side meadow and the edge of the woods. Where were they?

Finally, a flicker of movement, perhaps a flash of tail, drew my eye, and two deer materialized, as if by magic.

I watched, entranced, as they delicately picked their way through the brush and desiccated weeds. Stopping to graze, then moving on again.

“I’m going to sneak out and see if I can get a picture.”

Not stopping for a coat, I grabbed my camera and moved out to the mudroom. I eased open the door, wincing at its squeak, then pushing it gently shut behind me. I edged around the house, easing my feet down step by step, hoping I could move into position before the deer noticed me. 

CRUNCH!

I looked down in dismay. My foot rested on the broken edge of a large piece of gritty, icy snow.

The deer froze, tilting their heads in my direction. They stared directly at me.

I stopped. Slowly lifted my camera. Clicked a photo. Held my breath. 

Would they stay? 

Would they go?

For long minutes, we stood together, still in the cold spring breeze.

Finally, they dropped their gazes and lowered their heads to graze again. I exhaled and settled in to watch them, every so often carefully raising my camera to take a few more pictures.

Eventually, the deer worked their way off into the trees, and I went back in doors to warm up.

It was a lovely visit.

SOLC Day 13: Consolation Prize

March 2021 SOLC–Day 13
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
www.twowritingteachers.org

I’ve spent most of last weekend and the past week indoors, so I’ve been yearning to be out and about. I’d tentatively planned to drive down to the marsh this morning. I really needed to get out of my own frazzled mind. To lose myself in nature and photography.

Juniper, my cat, dutifully woke me at 4:30 am, so I could make it for sunrise if I was motivated and willing to forego my morning writing. But still I hesitated. It’s a 45 minute drive down to the marsh which meant I’d be gone for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. It was supposed to be cloudy, not partially cloudy, but full on cloudy. Also, there was a nasty blowing wind icon on the forecast, and when I checked, it said the wind chill was 20˚F. That wouldn’t be awful except that yesterday’s temperatures in the high 50s apparently drained my tolerance for even the thought of cold.

Not going anywhere sounded enticing. Relaxing.

But getting out sounded healthy. Rejuvenating.

I dithered.

Tick.
Tock.

Dithered some more.

Tick.
Tock.

As I turned over the pros and cons yet again, I glanced at my watch. Oops. I’d missed the window to make sunrise at the marsh. Well, that was one way to make a decision. Suddenly feeling more focused now that my options were limited, I decided to drive down into “town” to visit the river as a consolation prize.

And what a lovely prize it was!

SOLC Day 12: My Brain is Tired

March 2021 SOLC–Day 12
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
www.twowritingteachers.org

Today’s post is for both Poetry Friday and the March Slice of Life Challenge.

Last month a group of poets gathered to write a poem a day in response to prompts about “Bodies.” (If you’d like to check them out, Laura Shovan, the creative organizing force behind this group, has posted the prompts at her blog.) One day the prompt was about “astral bodies.” I looked at the linked material and simply thought, “Wow, my brain is either too tired or too old to contemplate this too deeply! … Or maybe both.”

Today, I kind of felt the same way when I thought about writing a post. It’s late in the day, we had PD all day and I was pretty whooped. I had all sorts of ideas I could write about–an amazing class Zoom visit with Irene Latham, the eagles we watched on an afternoon walk today, a recent class discussion, my vaccine anxiety, the first signs of spring, etc. –but I just didn’t have the energy or motivation.

Here’s last month’s poem from the project. It still seems apt, as I guess my brain’s still tired this month, and now it’s even a bit older.

My Brain’s Too Old for the Astral Plane

My aging brain’s
not up to speed
for making sense
of philosophy
or talk about
an astral plane
between the body
and the brain…
or is it twixt
the body and soul?
I can’t quite grasp
the nebulous whole.
Astral whosit?
Spectral what!?
Oh, sh*t, Plato, too?
A cosmic glut!
The words they orbit
but make no sense.
I can’t comprehend—
this matter’s too dense!
I contemplate it
over and over
’til my brain implodes
like a supernova.

©Molly Hogan

The Poetry Friday Roundup this week is hosted by the Mistress of Wordplay, Heidi Mordhorst, at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe. Be sure to stop by and wish her a Happy Birthday and check out some linked poems while you’re at it!

SOLC Day 11: ISO (In search of…)

March 2021 SOLC–Day 11
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.

www.twowritingteachers.org

“I’m thinking of taking out a personal ad!” I announced in a rush as I blew in the door after work yesterday. “Have you ever written one? How do they go anyway?”

My husband, pretty secure after 30+ years of wedded bliss, just looked at me quizzically. I explained, laughing, that after continued frustration on-line, frantically trying to capture an elusive vaccine appointment (see yesterday’s blog), I’ve decided to change my approach. With this context, he was 100% on board and even helped with some abbreviations. (Thanks, Kurt!) Here’s the rough draft (regretfully revised to take out those abbreviations that cracked us up but might be a bit too provocative):

ISO Good Times With A BBV*!

I’m a 50-something MWF**. A bit frazzled these days, but at my best, I’m a fair amount of fun. I enjoy large gatherings, public transportation, and touching my face. Tired of the on-line scene and compulsive hand washing, I’m seeking a long-term relationship with a BBV*. Preferably not too hot. I’m not the type to discriminate. I will consider all offers, and I’m willing to travel to meet up. I’m hoping for hugs and hand-holding, mask-less walks on the beach, and maybe even some romantic, candlelight indoor dining! No need for casual conversation. I’m looking to add some adventure to my life! Let’s make a date! Soon!

So what do you think? 

*BBV=big beautiful vaccine
**MWF= married white female

SOLC Day 10: There has to be a better way…

March 2021 SOLC–Day 10
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Everyone’s talking about it and it’s hard to know exactly what’s true and what to do.

“I hear you can get on a wait list if you call directly.”

“They said on the news there won’t be as many doses available this week.”

“You have to log in at midnight to find new appointments.”

“I hear the school is going to send an e-mail with a link.”

This past weekend, the message from a friend came in early.

“Just scheduled both doses!”

“What!? Where? How’d you do it?”

“Walgreens. It refreshes at 7am. You have to make an account beforehand and get ready to go right at 7. Have a list of zip codes and be prepared to leave your area.” This was followed up by another quick message, “Oh…and enter lots of zip code options. You’ve got to be willing to travel.”

“OK. Thanks! I’ll try tomorrow.”

Next morning…7 am…it begins.

I log into the Walgreen’s site.

04008

“No appointments available within 25 miles of Bowdoinham, Maine for next three days.”

04011

“No appointments available within 25 miles of Brunswick, Maine for next three days.”

04101

“No appointments available within 25 miles of Portland, Maine for next three days.”

After attempting 5 or 6 more zip codes, I switch over to our local grocery store chain, Hannaford.

04008

“No appointments available within 50 miles of Bowdoinham, Maine.”

04011

“No appointments available within 50 miles of Brunswick, Maine.”

I keep at it, entering zip code after zip code with no success.

Then this happens:

What!? Are you kidding me?

This process is really taxing my recent effort to “keep it positive”.

Sigh.

There has to be a better way.