Surviving Teaching and Finding Joy

Not surprising, the amazing schoolteacher, Jennie, writes of her attitude shift in teaching and her subsequent ascension to perfect preschool teacher. ūüôā

A Teacher's Reflections

Times have changed.  Teaching has far more demands than it used to.  Required paperwork, overcrowded classes, and lack of support begins to take its toll.  At first it all seems manageable.  That fire of wanting to teach keeps the motor running.  Then bit by bit, as demands and expectations increase, it becomes more difficult to keep the fire burning.  The love becomes lost.

Teachers are quitting.

Children have changed, too. ¬†Their lives have less (or little) room for play. Most of their waking hours are structured ‚Äď from school to sports to after school activities. ¬†Oh, and then the homework. ¬†Frankly, homework in the early grades should be reading. ¬†Period.

Children are often coming to school feeling everything from anger to being overwhelmed. They may not know why, they just know they aren’t feeling happy.

Is it any wonder that America’s children are ranked 26th in reading  among the world?

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What is the Beat of YOUR Creation?

After delving into lighthearted topics like Life After Death, I thought it might be time to hit a heavier subject today. Let’s discuss music.

Do you like music? Do you listen to music when you write? How about if you do other creative things; like painting, sewing, singing, dancing, acting, etc? I feel like creation comes in so many forms and even tried to capture that idea with poetry. I, myself, delve into other arts besides writing. I sing, play, paper-craft, paint, draw, and do not dance.

And I need music.

A friend¬†of mine told me she doesn’t listen to music much because it affects her. That is precisely¬†why I listen. Yes, with the mental and emotional issues I deal with, I am affected as well. I am moved to tears, anger, fear, resolve, sadness, or elation. Not only that, but I am moved beyond the slip of a shadow those two-dimensional words convey in print.

Take this angry piece I’ve listened to today:

I have played it fifty times because, when music influences me, I have to hear it over and over and over …till whatever feeling it ignited within is appeased and I can move on.

That’s not to say I’m a grunge rock groupie. Before Blackbriar, I swam the soporific currents of Chopin. This piece, in particular, was on repeat for a few days:

I haven’t talked to my husband much about my Chopin infatuation because he’s already a little sensitive about how much into¬†The Awakening I was in high school. Chopin has brought me to new heights, however, even 169 years after his death.

In my defense, I am not the only author who has attributed inspiration to music, nor even to specific tracks. Stephenie Meyer, who wrote some sort of romance book you may have heard of, even lists the songs she¬†“hear(s) in (her) head while reading the book.”

I’ve written two or three blog posts with a certain song playing. One of my favorites,¬†Let‚Äôs Stay in Bed Today¬†I wrote while listening to “Defcon 5,” by Book on Tape Worm:

And, another of Blackbriar’s songs, “Preserved Roses,” plus Faith Marie’s “Antidote” were responsible for depressive works like It’s All in Your Head, Are You In There?, and It’s All a Lie.

I hate to end on a downer, so you’ll be happy to know that Wilhelmina Winters is often fueled by The Piano Guys:

So, is music your muse? What are some of your favorite jams?

—–

Here’s what transpired this past week:
Wednesday, December 5: Should I Stay or Should I Go?, just my pondering on what comes after death.
Thursday, December 6: Skinwalkers, XLIV
Friday, December 7: Winner of The Fourth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest announced. Congratulations, Michael B. Fishman.
I also re-blogged Susanna Leonard Hill’s children’s story contest. She does another around Valentine’s Day, so try again then.
Saturday, December 8: Beginning of The Fifth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest (Enter it!).
Also, The Little Shepherd’s Lullaby.¬†I wrote part of this as new lyrics to a song the children our local church ward (parish) are singing. I added, tweaked, re-worked, and submitted it to the contest with a minute to spare.
Sunday, December 9: Livelihood, a flash fiction entry for Carrot Ranch Literary Community. I put on my angry music, thought of the theme, and pictured paint gushing like blood onto a brick wall.
Monday, December 10: Inspirational Quote by e. e. cummings.
Tuesday, December 11: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Five,
and The Bedtime Routine¬†over at my motherhood site. My second son’s picture is in that article, though I generally prefer to use stock photos.
Wednesday, December 12: This post.

In Which Ways Do You Art?

At one point as a child, I thought I’d become an artist. These aspirations began at quite a young age, though we’re not counting the impressionist feces wall-art I made before I could form complete sentences. We may, however, begin where my memories do: around age 5.

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I remember finger fists with flying fingers. I remember front and back views of subjects. I remember trying to replicate illustrations I saw in stories.

 

My grandmother was an artist. She illustrated, painted, drew, sculpted. She was my idol, though I was far from her favorite grandchild and I knew that. Still, I wanted to be like her. I hurt that I wasn’t that good, not realizing that her childhood work probably looked like mine.

Now, I dabble. I scribble on children’s lunch napkins, create over-the-top door decorations for teachers, and practice elaborate snowflake patterns. I seem the best at paper cut-outs.

 

And this is art.

 

At another time in my life, I thought I might be musically gifted. I asked to learn piano. I tried trombone. I envied my sister for learning violin. I also sang in a school choir.

My husband is a very good singer. He’s even released some YouTube videos. He’s part of a rather impressive choir at the moment.

Given that people frequently tell me how good he is (but do not say the same to me), I tend to restrict myself to showers and cars.

Still, music moves me. Music is art.

Tell me you aren’t moved by the chorus of¬†that.

 

These days I mostly write. Maybe you’ve noticed.

I thought this writing thing was a more recent expression, but my diggings to find early drawings uncovered …interesting stories I invented in grade school. Granted, I worried much more about handwriting those days. I was more concerned about everything being ‘just right’ than about allowing my imagination to run wild on me.

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Nowadays, I care less about formalities. My exposure to many varied writers and styles and my practice of writing almost daily have unfettered old writing restraints.

Writing is not my first choice of expression after trying others, but it is the most accessible. When the creative itch creeps up my spine, I run to record my thoughts. I feel anxious at any barriers or delays. When I hit The Muse just right, the result is extremely satisfying.

And this, too, is art.

 

Speaking of art, there are many creative ways we are able to express beyond the three I listed. What of dance? Theater? Speech? Display? Organization? Rap? Cooking? Baking? Psychic sensing?

Awhile ago, I wrote this poem:

Shade the negative space of a lone woman;
Daub the dying sun’s embers behind her,
Then soliloquise of heartbeats echoing sunsets.
Charcoal, paint, poetry.

Commit her uplifted hand to a memory-keeper.
Film her swirling hair against swirled light,
Harmonize with deep wind-flutes of regret.
Photograph, film, symphony.

Beat softly to echo the oboes’ cry
And pulse sorrow through interpretation,
As patrons study her angles solemnly.
Rap, dance, art in 3-D.

Feel her dramatic, poignant tears.
See Earth’s brilliant display at days-end.
Then turn, and show us what you see.
Myriad media, expressed endlessly.

We have so many means of expression, and sub-means within any category of these. Clearly, most of us choose words -but, how do you feel about the subject?

Do you agree that we have many arts?

Which do you prefer?

Strange Room, Strange Bed

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I don’t know what was up with the world this morning.

I was enjoying one of my favorite dreams: the one where I’m all alone on an island and my dishes and laundry disappear when dirty, and magically reappear all clean.

Instead of a blue-sky island dissolving to the usual wake-up call of pattering feet and yelling children, however, a far-off rooster’s crow drew me back. Hesitantly, I opened my eyes. A low, dark ceiling loomed above me, supporting a broken, swinging fan.¬†Where did¬†that come from?¬†I wondered. I’d never owned a fan in my life, nevermind attaching one to my ceiling.

In my usual calm fashion, I sat up and looked around the room like a panicked rabbit.¬†This isn’t my room. This isn’t my bed.

A shadowy object in the corner was the only other piece of furniture besides the strange bed beneath me. Gingerly, I slid off the dark covers and walked a barefoot tread across a dusty wood floor to investigate.

It was a vanity. I think. Given that ceiling fans were considered a luxury, I’d certainly never seen a vanity in person. The low desklike part, spindly stool, and oblong mirror fit some mental¬†idea from my subconscious of its identity.

After such profound musings, I did the logical thing and sat before it. I glanced in the mirror, and inadvertently proved the stool to be more sound than it first appeared.

It fell to the floor as I rapidly fell off of it, causing echoing clatters of wood-on-wood in the tiny room. I warily approached the mirror again. It reflected the exact shock I felt, but the similarities ended there. Someone else’s disjointed, enlarged nose and blood-encrusted lips stared back at me from widened eyes -widened, bruise-circled eyes. Some other girl’s bumpy, hair-shorn head felt suddenly cold; then had the hand I raised caress it to be certain of its authenticity.

Just as I began to hope this new person was also prone to fainting, I heard the sound of carefree singing from somewhere beyond the wall I faced. Besides the off-key tune, I realized a regular, even tread of footsteps. Each noise seemed associated with the other and both drew nearer by the second.

Assuming nothing worse than a tone-deaf singer lay beneath the bed, I scurried over to it and quickly scampered into the clouds of dust and dirt it hid under its mattress. None too soon: a creaking sound and spreading triangle of light announced The Singer’s entry. Fortunately, he/she/it had stopped his/her/its identifying noise.

Right when I realized the obviousness of my hiding place, a weight pushed down on the bed and a large, green, ferocious, upside-down face leered directly in front of my view. Just before I released the loudest scream this side of Kentucky, the monster asked, “What are you doing under there?”