Monday, February 28, 2011

13 out of 24

There was a lot of strategy talk last night at our annual family Oscar party, mostly centered on whether we should choose what we personally liked or rather select what conventional wisdom predicted as the winners. It was my sense that most of us adopted a hybrid approach; I know I did.

After seeing more of the nominated movies and performances than ever before, I found myself a little hog-tied at the decision making-- it was almost too much information. If that sounds like an excuse, I guess it probably is; I certainly don't intend to see any fewer movies next year. I finished right in the middle of the pack, way behind the winner who scored 18 right. In fact the money went to a colleague who entered our pool on a whim late Friday afternoon before we both left school. "I know I'm throwing my money away," she protested as she blithely filled out the scorecard.

"How could you fall for that obvious ploy?" my nephew berated me last night as his former guidance counselor took us all to the cleaners.

Next year? Well, we bandied about the idea of a hi-low split, or a hi or low winner take all decided by the flip of a coin, or maybe even two ballots per person, one to vote your preference, and the other to win, baby, win. Any of those would be fun, but who cares, though, really? Last night, as every year, the company and conversation and food were way better than the show (my oldest nephew was even on skype from college the whole time), so as long as we get together, it'll be awesome.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Oscar Picks

Leading Actor - Colin Firth
Sup. Actor - Christian Bale
Leading Actress - Natalie Portman
Sup Actress - Hailee Steinfeld
Animated Feature - Toy Story
Art Direction - Inception
Cinematography - True Grit
Costume Design - King's Speech
Directing - Social Network
Documentary Feature - Exit through the Gift Shop
Documentary Short - Strangers No More
Film Editing - 127 Hours

Foreign Language - Biutiful
Make up - The Wolfman
Original Score - How to Train Your Dragon
Original Song - If I Rise
Animated Short - Let's Pollute
Live Action Short - The Confession
Sound Editing - Inception
Sound Mixing - Inception
Visual Effects - Inception
Adapted Screenplay - Social Network
Original Screenplay - Kings Speech
Best Picture -  King's Speech

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Woe is Us

We went to see the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts this afternoon. This collection of five films between 35 and 40 minutes at first seemed to be a catalog of the world's woes: a Jordanian Muslim man who lost 27 friends and family members when the Amman hotel where he was holding his wedding reception was bombed by terrorists launches a crusade to put "jihad" into its proper Islamic perspective; because their atoll is being consumed by the rising sea, 1000+ people living in the Carteret Islands must find a new home elsewhere, despite the fact that their ancestors have lived on those there with a cash-less economy for 1000 years; the residents of a small village in China must take on local officials to resolve the damages that the local chemical factory has inflicted on their air, soil, and water since the early 1970s; and a former cheerleader struggles with PTSD after her tour of duty in Iraq. Even the last documentary, which was easily the most uplifting of the five, was not without serious adversity-- a public school in Tel Aviv works hard to offer its students everything they need to learn, despite the high proportion of immigrant and refugee kids-- not surprisingly, there were some heartbreaking stories in that one, too.

What is one to do when confronted with such information? There was a part of the last film that really resonated with me-- it was the last day of school, and the audience was invited to celebrate the great gains that the students we had followed had made. It was very moving, and in a voice-over, one of the teachers said something like, each of these kids has experienced the support of at least one adult and has been successful because of it. We hope that they will carry that notion into the world with them and become people who reach out and help others.

When we talk about education and learning, let's not lose sight of that.  It's not enough to fill kids' heads with facts and figures; the feeling that the people in charge care about them will engender the compassion that they will need to face the uncertain future of our planet.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blame it on the Farmer

The winning joke this week was a model of understatement:

Q: What did the farmer say when he lost his tractor?
A: Where's my tractor?

Personally, I found it very humorous, but there were some kids who expressed considerable dissatisfaction at the selection. One outspoken young man had submitted a "yo mama" joke that was in his estimation a "million times" funnier than that.

His joke went like this: Yo mama is so fat, that when she wears red, people call her Mr. KoolAid.

As the class listened in on our conversation, we set aside the inherent offensiveness of that type of joke, and I tried to reason with him from a language point of view, suggesting, for example, that maybe including the "Hey Kool Aid!" slogan from the commercials would have made his joke more successful, but he wanted to hear nothing of it.

"You know," I said, "that other joke is a good example of what we're working on in our writing. It really reveals a lot about the character of the farmer. Clearly he's a no-nonsense guy who doesn't mind stating the obvious."

He shook his head in disgust and walked back to his seat.

"Wait," I called after him. "I know how to fix your joke! What did the farmer say about yo mama?" (Is it necessary for me to say that I did not mean his actual mother? We all know that, right?)

He whirled around suspiciously and narrowed his eyes at me.

"She's fat." Everyone laughed, even him.

That farmer could come in handy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Prom Night in Mississippi

I have a conflict tomorrow after school; I'm double-booked. The Tolerance Club is showing a movie, Prom Night in Mississippi, and the literary and art magazine staff is supposed to judge the entries for our Dark and Stormy Night contest. I'm sure I'll work it out tomorrow, but tonight, the mash-up amuses me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What a Character

As we gear up for a little fiction writing in my class, I had the students fill out Main Character Questionnaires today about the protagonist of their stories. They are in varying stages of conceptualizing their stories, but the questionnaire is a good way in for many young writers. It's very concrete, but allows them to use their imaginations.

The class was buzzing as they brainstormed and bounced ideas off of each other. As they worked, I overheard one of my students deciding to write his story about the big stuffed dolphin that hangs from the ceiling in my classroom.

Our sixth grade team is called the Dolphins, and I inherited it from a departing teacher 11 years ago. It's been missing an eye as long as I've had it, and since it's been up there for such a while, it's could certainly use a good cleaning, but rather than bother with that, I just call it Dusty the One-Eyed Dolphin.

I thought it was very cool, kind of funny, and super-original to choose Dusty as the main character for a story; as much of a conversation piece as it is (Believe me, we talk about Dusty ALL the time), no one's ever thought to imagine its history or life.  I was astounded, however, when my student announced its full name:

Dusty Dolphina McGee.

No lie.

(You really have to click the link!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Precipitation Aggravation

Turns out, we had a delay this morning. Despite a solid forecast of all the ingredients for an icy mess sufficient to close schools for the day, evidently we were the victims--or the beneficiaries; I suppose it's how you look at it-- of something called a "snow hole".

Even though that phrase sounds like an epithet, rather, it is a random occurrence of nature: like, literally the clouds just opened up, right over us, in the middle of the storm and stopped producing precipitation. This, despite my inside out pajamas. Hmphh, stomp, stomp, stomp! Snow hole indeed!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Inclement Weather

When I was a kid, I don't remember ever doing anything in particular to bring on a snow day, but these days, there are all sorts of crazy superstitions that are supposed to raise the odds of a school cancellation. Probably the two most common are flushing an ice cube down the toilet and wearing your pajamas inside out. I have also heard that doing all your homework is another good guarantee.

The weather people are predicting a sloppy sleety snowy mix tonight that could accumulate to three inches or so by morning. That would probably be enough to make this into a four day weekend for us school folk. Sometimes I'm indifferent to such a prediction, but not this time-- I really want a snow day tomorrow, even though all my planning and homework is done. How badly you ask? Well, let's just say that some of the ice cubes around here aren't going to make it until tomorrow, and I don't care how uncomfortable those pjs might get.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Progress is Relative

I've mentioned before that I got Epic Mickey, a video game for the Wii, for Christmas. Make no mistake about it, I do not have the skill set to be particularly successful in such a game. I blame it on my age: when I was a kid the only video game was Pong. I was in college when Space Invaders made the scene, and an adult when the Pac Man craze swept our nation. I never owned a game system until 2007, and let's just say I had better things to do with my quarters.

My five-year-old nephew loves all things Mario, and his dad, just 5 years younger than I am, grew up playing the game. Those guys have some skills. My older nephews had Gameboys before they could read, so joysticks, A, B, C, Z, triangle, square, whatever, buttons are second nature to them. The same is obviously so for the vast majority of my students, but not me, oh no.

Still, there is something about this Disney game that I find interesting and even engaging. (Maybe it's that I heard a series of stories on it on NPR. Now it's beginning to make some sense, isn't it?) So, I play it, even though I know I suck at it. My Mickey staggers through each level like a drunk: the poor guy can not run in a straight line to save his life (literally), and he randomly hops about like he has a bad case of the hiccups. Add to that, that he is saddled with my own anxiety about heights. My palms actually sweat anytime falling might be a possibility for him; that makes the whole jumping thing a lot harder.

It's good for me to do things I'm not good at. As a teacher, I'm always on the look out for the slightest glimmer of improvement in any student, and lately, despite the steep learning curve, I do think I see some hope in my game. I'm reminded of a story that has become legend in our family. When my sister was five, she and my mom flew to California for a week to help a friend of the family who had just had a baby. Every day my sister asked my mom to help her put on a pair of roller skates. After a little while, she would call my mom again to help her get them off. After several days, she called my mom earlier than usual. "Watch me!" she said.

My mother was a little confused. "Courtney, you've been roller skating all week. Why do you want me to watch you today?" she asked.

"Because I can move now!" my sister answered.

See Mickey? There's hope, yet.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hard Sell

Earlier in the week, a students asked me to recommend a book for her. I made several suggestions, but none of them sounded quite right to her. As we talked, it turned out that she had just finished a series which she really loved, and she was still in that doldrum period where nothing else could possibly measure up. I understood exactly what she was going through. "I just finished a book I really liked, too," I told her, "and I can't really get into anything else, yet, either." (For the record, it was Moon Over Manifest, the latest Newbery Award winner.) She thanked me and left, empty handed.

Another student overheard the conversation. "Have you read So B. It?" she asked me. I said I hadn't, but I remembered that she liked it enough to write a letter to the author, Sarah Weeks, when we were doing our Letters About Literature assignment. "You have to read it," she insisted." It's the best book ever."

Unfortunately, our library system was being upgraded, and there was no borrowing for two days. On the strength of her recommendation, though, I ordered a copy online. I needn't have bothered though; the next day she brought me her own copy to read. After school, she stopped by my room to see how far I was. I laughed and told her I hadn't had a spare minute to start reading, at which point she picked up the book and read the first chapter to me. It was awesome.

If truth was a crayon, and it was up to me to put a wrapper around it and name its color, I know just what I would call it-- dinosaur skin... The truth is, whether you know something or not doesn't change what it was. If dinosaurs were blue, they were blue; if they were brown, they were brown whether anybody knows it for a fact or not.

This morning I finished the book, and I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't with a big old lump in my throat. More than anything, though, I'm moved by the adamance of the recommendation, and how right my student was.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thick as Thieves

Yesterday, when it became clear that certain of my students were stealing the keys from the laptop computers, I was supremely irritated.  Six out of fifteen were missing one or more of their keys. Of course, I took immediate measures, signing out each computer and checking it back in at the beginning and end of each class, but I felt resentful that the kids were being cheated out of those five minutes of productive writing time.

Today, I had a heart to heart with a few of my classes. "Be honest," I said, "and speak from the point of view of someone who has stolen something. Why did you do it?"

Some kids confessed to taking things because they wanted them-- they were attracted to the shiny and cool and so they took whatever it was for themselves. Maybe a computer key qualifies as that; I don't know. Most kids, though, admitted to stealing from their siblings or other relatives specifically to hurt those people or make them angry. For them, it was personal.

One of my students adamantly told me that it was my fault for trusting them. She practically mocked me for my naive disappointment. "Face it," she said, "you should have checked up on us more."

I refuse to adopt her level of cynicism, but after hearing their stories, I feel like I do have to accept some of the responsibility for creating an atmosphere where such a thing would happen. That kind of vandalism is a symptom of disregard for our classroom community and lack of respect for me as the authority of that group, and that's on me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Where Did YOU Come From?

My students are going to write fiction next, and I'm working on a fiction piece, too. I wrote a little of it today to bring to my writing group. I have about 1000 words about a boy named Ned and his mother. They are working as the cooks on a ship, which is something I have a little experience with. Anyway, as I finished the bit that I was working on for tonight, I had a realization about the main character, something I did not know until a few minutes ago.

No matter how many times I read or hear authors tell about how their characters take on lives of their own and literally reveal themselves to the writer, it just seems like so much mumbo jumbo until it happens to me. And THEN it seems almost spooky, like communicating with the Ouija board or something.

Let's just say it definitely puts the spirit in inspiration.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eye Witness

As the memoir unit draws to a close, I find it notable that this year for the first time ever, four students, in two different classes, wrote about the same incident. It seems that there was a big fight between two girls on the elementary school playground last year, and the kids are still talking about it all these months later. Mind you, neither of the fighters even goes to our school, but the indelible image of the one dragging the other's face through the mud was promoted along with the memoirists. Add to that all the kids who saw the fight but are writing about something else, and the topic has become a bit of a sensation-- even kids who didn't go to that school have an opinion about whether or not Lydia was justified in attacking Claire.

For the most part, the writing on these memoirs is quite good, but it is the discrepancies in the different accounts of this event, which they all saw with their own eyes, which are fascinating. Was it a torn scarf or some defaced shoes that set them off? Who was the first adult on the scene and what did she do? Was it fair for the principal to blame the whole fifth grade for allowing the fight to go on without intervention? What consequences did the girls receive?

Who knows? It sure makes a good story, though.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rain Maker

This afternoon marked the debut of our new school mascot. We have long been the yellow jackets, and we have a pretty good cheerleading squad, but we have never had an actual mascot until today. They held auditions a week ago, and a lot of sixth graders went out for the chance to wear the cute plush costume and entertain the crowd at home games. They chose six kids to make sure someone was always available, and three of the six are in my class.

The occasion of the Yellow Jacket's premiere was the last home game for the girls basketball team. Before the tip off, there was a ceremony honoring the eighth graders; the coach presented them with flowers and thanked them for their dedication. I watched the poignant moment from the stands, remembering those girls as sixth graders not so very long ago. I knew that they had never won a home game in their three years on the team, and I wished them well.

Wow. Maybe it was the mascot; maybe it was simple pride; maybe it was both, but those girls came out playing harder than I've ever seen. The atmosphere was fun-- the mascot was awesome and the fans were behind the team all the way, and in a super-close game with a fairy tale ending, they won it by one point. Yay!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Crazy Hearts

The kids were very excited about Valentine's Day today-- more so than in recent years, I think. Certainly I received more candy and cards than usual. One student also presented me with a flower she had made out of duct tape-- it was pretty impressive, and it will definitely stay in my curio collection for a while.

Right before lunch, I looked up to find another student mouthing words at me and giggling. I squinted at him and then raised my eye brows. That cheeky boy raised his brows right back at me and continued on with his sweet nothings. Fortunately, I had been tipped off about this prank earlier in the day. "Olive Juice to you, too," I answered him.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Never Mind

Today on the phone my sister told me a funny story about how disappointed her kids were when the attendants at the valet parking weren't wearing tutus and dance slippers. It made me think of Emily Litella-- What's all this about... violins on TV? The deaf penalty? Conserving our natural race horses? Youth in Asia?

It also reminded me of how excited I was on the first day of second grade when our teacher told us we were going to the laboratory, and then how confused when we ended up at the bathroom.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


The trail down to Raccoon Creek was muddy from all the melted snow. Fifty degrees in February was a welcome break from our recent frosty weather and so we decided to take a walk at a nearby wildlife refuge. The pale sun was not quite warm in the shadeless winter woods, but we had them and the blue, blue sky to ourselves all the way down to the creek, unless you count the woodpeckers and robins as company. (Welcome back, robins!)

Once at the water, we saw a couple gulls and a bald eagle, and when we made it to the marsh, we were greeted by hundreds of tundra swans wintering in the wetlands. Some of the big white birds were clamoring, some were foraging, some were basking in the buttery sunshine, and some doing that graceful swan swimming thing. It was surreal and beautiful and a little hard to turn away from, but the days are still short and so we headed back.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Back to School

I went back to work today, not fully recovered but certainly much, much better than I have been. It wasn't going to be a strenuous day: I knew my students would be busy typing during class time, and I wanted a chance to get a little organized for next week. I also figured if it wiped me out, I'd be able to rest some more over the weekend.

It was nice to be back-- many of my colleagues expressed concern and wished me well and the students seemed very happy to have me back. Too happy, in fact. It didn't take long to notice that they cheered my return without even asking about my absence beyond an occasional accusatory "Where were you?"

In what became a typical conversation of the day, I would answer, "I was sick," in a voice still a bit congested and punctuated by a little cough now and then.

The inevitable reply? "Well thank goodness you're better, because that sub you had was meeeeeeaaaaan!"

See? Education really is all about the students. It's all about them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Sometimes the signs all seem to point in a single direction. Several weeks ago, we saw a preview for a movie which was memorable mostly because it had one of the actors from Glee in it. A couple weeks after that, we were watching TV on a snow day when we saw another young actor badgered into removing his shirt. He was on the show to promote that same movie. Just last week, one of my students told me that her whole family was reading a particular book-- they had it in hard cover and kindle versions and they kept swiping them from each other to get a little farther along. "You should really read it," she told me earnestly, "it's that good." And then the day before yesterday, when my head hurt too much to read or watch TV, or almost anything else except lie in a dim room, it occurred to me to look for an audiobook I could listen to (turned down very low) to at least distract me a little from my misery. The first one I found was I Am Number Four, which was the very same movie and book from each of these other anecdotes.

I finished it a little earlier today, and I liked it enough to look forward to seeing the movie when it opens next week and to pre-order the next book in the series (not out until August). And, if nothing else, it saw me through to a point in my little illness where I can once again sit in a lighted room or in front of a screen for more than a couple of minutes. Thank you, Pittacus Lore. (Yeah, that's a pen name.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Not Quite on My Way

Being sick today was like being stuck at the airport when your flight has been delayed-- there's nowhere to go, and none of the food tastes good. I sat around all day drinking water and listening to an audiobook. Fortunately, my couch was slightly more comfortable than the notorious gate area seating, but I'm still waiting to hear that boarding call for my flight back to wellness.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Round Three Goes to the Flu

Down for the count, flattened, conquered, beaten. Crushed, trounced, overwhelmed, routed, white washed-- that's me today.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bring It

Today I had the opening session of the latest section of the online early adolescent development course I coordinate, and once again it was very interesting how different this group was from the other two. I guess I understand this concept when it comes to kids, but for some reason it still surprises me when it's an adult class. This group was much less freaked out by the technology details but way more concerned with the minimum amount of work that might be considered "acceptable." I gave my now standard speech about the design of the course and its reliance on participants applying the information provided to their teaching practices. I made the point that each would really get out of the course about as much as he or she put into it. Still there was a question at the end about a particular component. "What if I'm on line, but I don't post very much?"

I shrugged. "Look," I said, "it's like a pot luck. You can bring the paper napkins or you can bake a pie. You still get to eat. You decide what's best for you."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mixed Blessing

I went to bed last night with a fever of 101 and a sinus headache that felt like I'd been hit in the face with a cast iron skillet. I didn't feel any better when I woke up this morning, and nothing I took or did seemed to help. I stayed in bed until 2:30 this afternoon, and only stumbled down to the kitchen because I was craving grapefruit and a cup of tea. The steaming water in the kettle gave me another idea, and acting on that whim, I made a hot compress and placed it over the bridge of my nose, cheeks, and eyes. It was really hot, and it totally worked-- my headache went away almost immediately. I think I'm even going to be able to go to school tomorrow.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Clowning Around

So the joke box in my room is overflowing, which is an excellent reminder that kids know what kids like and we should listen to them as often as we can. The student who initiated the joke contest came up to talk to me about it the other day. "So what are we going to give as a prize? Don't say a lollipop."

I laughed and shrugged. "This is your thing. What do you think the prize should be?"

Yesterday, all on her own, she brought a little back-flipping gorilla and a better lollipop than the ones I have. "Time to judge the contest," she said and ceremoniously dumped all the jokes onto my desk. Friday is game day in homeroom and several kids set aside their connect four and checkers and came over to lend a hand. After we went through them, it was a tie. "What are we going to do now?" the jokemaster wondered, and I looked around my room. After 18 years, I have quite a whimsical collection of odds and ends. I pulled a clown's nose from a decorated tin can on the shelf behind me.

"How about this?" I asked, donning the schnoz for effect. It was perfect, so perfect in fact that we jumped on the computer and ordered a dozen more to last us the rest of the year. The whole set was four bucks and they'll be delivered on Monday. "Don't worry, I got this," I assured the assembled students.

"See? This is why I love this homeroom!" said one, and I had to agree.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Word Study

I always like it when my students are smarter than I am. Let me give you an example from today: My classes are revising their drafts of memoirs, and one of the kids came up to ask my opinion about a sentence in her first paragraph. I was clinging to the red balance bar oblivious to the fact that soon I would be seeing another shade of red-- blood red.

"That's great!" I told her.

"But does oblivious sound right, there?" she asked me.

"Sure," I answered. "You don't know you're going to fall soon. You're definitely oblivious."

"But doesn't oblivious mean I should know I'm going to fall, like I'm supposed to be aware of it, but I'm not?"

She had a point about the implications of the word. Her usage seemed right to me, but I had to stop and think about the nuances of oblivion. I questioned her about the bars-- how high they were and how she got up there and whether they were meant to be climbed on as she was doing. She and two other students gave me a lively discourse on the playground design at their elementary school, even drawing a diagram of the equipment. I listened carefully.

"Well," I said when they had finished, "I think you were oblivious to the danger. You should have known you might fall."

"But I climbed them every day," she said. "Everybody did. I never thought they were... ooooohhhh! I was oblivious! Thanks!" and off she went to finish her draft.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vitamin G

I don't like taking medicine. Headache, stomach ache, cramps, aches and pains, whatever, I usually just go with it. Occasionally, an aspirin to take the edge off, but I don't even like to take vitamins-- I try to get my nutrients from my diet. My doctor and I don't always agree about this practice, but so far my blood panels have been fine.

Even so, the last time I saw her, she pushed the multi-vitamin again. "But it upsets my stomach," I grumbled.

She recommended gummy vitamins. "They're not just for kids, you know."

Reluctantly, I made the purchase and threw the bottle in my lunch bag. The next day after I finished my delicious homemade vegetable soup, all full of vitamins, and before I ate my clementine, also chocked with nutrients, I sighed and picked out two soft little orange drops.

And here I must confess that my doctor was right-- they were really good! I don't think I've eaten gummy anything since high school, but I always liked the bears back then, and suddenly I understood why my niece and nephew beg to take their vitamins each day. Yummy! I am a convert.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Fair Day

On this most unscientific of days, when traditionally we interpret the actions of a large rodent as signifying whether the weather will be wintery for another six weeks or if perchance spring is right around the corner, we finally held our school science fair.

Oh the fun I had as a wandering judge questioning random students about their experiments. They gave us a rubric and a standard set of questions that every student was supposed to be able to answer. First and foremost, they were expected to state the hypothesis and ideally cite some research to support it. Most of the kids I talked to, though, based their theory on personal experience-- they believed the battery, fire log, and detergent they used at home would perform the best. No wonder companies spend so much money marketing to kids.

Another of the stock questions was, How could you improve your experiment? My favorite answer came from a cute little sixth grader wiggling around with a skate board in hand. His display board was very stark-- all black and white with minimal text and missing the required graph. In front of it, though, were four little finger skateboards of the type that are confiscated by teachers any time they make an appearance in the classroom. The student himself wore long shorts, a t-shirt, vans and a cap turned backward on his head. His hypothesis? Skateboarding relieves stress.

"Why do you think so?" I asked.

"Because, I'm a skater and I never feel stress," he told me.

I couldn't argue with that, but his scientific method was a little iffy. He'd gone to the skate park and asked people how they felt as they entered and then again as they left. He also asked a few other random people how they felt. I began to understand why there was no graph.

"So... what would you do differently if you did this experiment again?" I asked him. "How do you think you could improve it?"

"I wouldn't change anything," he told me. "Other people might have a problem with this experiment, but personally, I like how it is. I'm satisfied."

It must have been the skateboard.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


This year I gave up my position as co-coach of the girls basketball team at our school. There was no animosity involved; it was really just my realization that 15 years was enough and the fact that I wanted to do other things with that time, like the Tolerance Club and the Literary Magazine.

Still, it's an odd sensation to watch the games from the other side of the court. I know all the players, not to mention the plays. I like to imagine that I am helpful in some way, calling out encouragement and guidance in a familiar voice from a place where perhaps the coach's voice is too faint for the girls to hear. And I am still very disappointed when they lose, because I know they are so much better than that.