Friday, August 30, 2013


With apologies to Peter Reynolds, here is a first week of school poem.

English German
beamish teamish

begin again
hot and sticky meish
becomes a ragged weish

tearish clingish screamish
ac busted steamish
oops a trigger:
nothing ish
about this fit!
this afternoon feels
I love you please go home

ac fixed relaxish
cryish calmish
routine is a balmish
hey an anchor:
nothing ish
about this song!
listen to us sing

Friday, August 16, 2013

first day feast

This amazing and delicious school-supply buffet by Jamie from Setting the Mood.  Suddenly I'm starving...

It's that time again.  In large part because of a course I took which required me to log 100 hours of "Preparing Effective Curriculum,"  I've been thinking about school all summer, and I knew because of the pattern of our family activities that this summer would feel particularly short.  But here we are on the morning of my first day back (yes, one ahead of the general schedule for special staff development) and I could say:  my summer's over.

As Daisy reminded me, Summer itself is not over, not by a long shot, but it's hard to remember that in the perennially pleasurable flurry of newness.  I participated in the exit interview for that course yesterday and sat with three other teachers who appreciate, as I do, the chance to Begin Anew each year, to rethink and improve and correct and refresh and embark and attempt.  We also appreciate the break that allows us to do this each summer.  I don't have to tell most of you that teachers have summer breaks because they NEED them to recover and regroup--ours is one of the most continuously intense kinds of work there is. 

[I believe in this annual New Beginning even though I also believe that we here in the US need to rethink our whole school schedule and move to the European one of just-about year-round school.*  It's the only thing that makes sense in our modern culture, and it's better for children and working families as well as teachers.]

So here's a Begin Anew poem.

First Day Feast

"Fresh" is a word I hear about food,
like "crisp" and "juicy" and "ripe."
But things feel fresh on the first day of school:
my new clothes are crisp,
my markers are juicy,
my brain feels ready and ripe.
All the stuff I learned last year
has sunk in deep and wet,
like feet in the sand and me in the pool.
Now I'm hungry!  Now I'm set
for a feast of the first-day type!

HM 2013

The round-up today is over at steps and staircases on tumblr, with our new host Lisa.  I hope I'm doing the right thing to post my link...

*In England, where I taught for 5 years, there are three terms of 12 weeks.  Each term is broken into two 6-week chunks by an entire week of half-term break, and there are 2-week breaks between terms.  School thus finishes around Wimbledon time each year, mid-July, and the summer break is "only" 6 weeks or so, but since teachers have not been driven sniveling into the ground by endless weeks of school punctuated only by the occasional Monday off, they don't need quite so much time to recover and regroup--that process is more ongoing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

whole group lesson

I've had occasion this week to think about the characteristics of extroverts and introverts.(Sometimes it's spelled extrAversion, sometimes extrOversion.)  In my own words, extroverts draw energy from being with other people; being alone tends to drain them and leave them feeling a little limp and empty.  Introverts, however, charge up their inner batteries during alone-time; interacting with the group is what tends to wear them out.

Being mainly an extrovert myself, for a long time I was confused and believed that "introverted" meant "shy;"  I know now that introverts can be confident and outgoing, but that doing so is hard work and requires recharge time.  I've also learned that if I don't get sufficient time alone to recharge, it's hard for me.  The children in our classrooms also have these characteristics.  I hope I respect them.

Alone in the Crowd

I have a seat
I have a spot
I have a place in line between my buddies.

But what I wish
that I could do
when it gets wild is hide inside my cubby.

HM 2013
revised draft

Friday, August 9, 2013


I have the luxury of visiting my folks this weekend out near the beach in Delaware, by myself.  One of the pleasures of being here is getting on the fat purple cruiser with the bouncy seat and riding in circles around the nearby neighborhood called Warwick Park (which curiously is made of streets called Comanche, Apache, Sioux and Lenape).

I wouldn't ordinarily enjoy not going *somewhere*, but there's something light and pleasurable about just going aheadaheadahead without thinking too hard, just enjoying the different trees and porches and garden ornaments (!).  It made me think about "laps."


The laps I know are made of legs--
tight together flat and straight
or criss-cross cradle on the floor.

But when I run around and round
from room to room on rainy days
tagging chairs and knobs on doors,

they tell me I am "doing laps."
I guess my laps are made of legs--
but mine are moving much much more!

HM 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

[OIK] Tuesday: the best part of the day

I'm working on my vow to write for kids, little ones, for a while...I have no kindergarten voices to draw on right now, so I'll be the 5-year-old for now. (This chart is not from my classroom, but it's nice, right?)

A Reason to Rejoice
Some of my friends are scared to choose-
all they can think of is what they'll lose.
But being the boss makes me rejoice:
My favorite time of day is Choice.
HM 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

a roller coaster called kindergarten

As I return to "real" life after a long and fantastic trip to the France and Italy of our extended family, I'm grateful to Mary Lee for wisely reminding me that control is my favorite illusion:

It's the same feeling you get
just after you've nudged the sled
over the shoulder
of the hill.
Movement becomes momentum
and quickly shifts
to catapulting and careening.

You relinquish control
and hold on
for the ride.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

I'm also grateful to my father for sending me this poem that he found in the pages of the always stimulating Christian Century magazine.  It reminds me that it's not about the weight of the papers and planning and posters and pencils; the joy in this ride comes from the small mammals strapped in next to you on the roller coaster.

If I become like you, I will write about a roughed grouse | Brian Doyle

If I become like you I will write about a roughed grouse,
Says the boy, five years old, with a face like a chipmunk
Storing up winter browse. We are at his school, where he
And the other small mammals have written things for me
On bright scraps of paper. He hands me his paper and I’ll
Carry it in my wallet the rest of my life. Mister Brian, the
Sun is raining all around, another child says to me. It is up
And down sun, she says. I want to be a cookie when I’m
Your age, says another child. Once we were all monkeys
In skirts made from the skins of trees, says a boy with an
Icicle tattoo. It’s templorary, he says, explaining it to me.

I laugh and he laughs and every kid there starts laughing.
I think I am going to fly up gently into the air over a tree
From joy, as saints used to float when gripped by ecstasy.
That happened to Saint Joseph Cupertino, you remember,
Seventy times, it is said, and now I know why: no gravity.

I hope to make this the last poem written for adults for a good while and challenge myself to do that thing I like best, which is write for kids.  I thank Margaret over at the round-up at Reflections on the Teche for reminding me what a supportive community this is; I think I'm going to need it.

For now, I will lower my expectations a bit.  The title is for the grown-ups, but the poem works for little ones.

On Rearranging the Classroom, Again

It really matters where you sit,
whichever way you look at it.
Choose the middle of the middle;
that way you see it all a little.

Heidi Mordhorst 2013

                                  And here's a photo I came across that I just need to share...