Posts Tagged ‘children’

A*Typical Day

May 18, 2016

So what does it look like to have a classroom where students’ social and emotional needs come before academic ones? It’s not a set of prepackaged lessons, or some slick videos. It’s the day to day slog of being a noticer, of knowing when there is an opportunity to set my loveys on a positive path when they need a nudge.

I could easily record a dozen of these a day. I’ll just share one.

Today I delayed my lesson with second graders so I could teach them why the word “duh” is hurtful. A kid said it about someone else’s response. So I stopped what we were doing to have that conversation. As in…

“When you say that word, you send a message that you think what they said is dumb. Is that the message you meant to send?”
(Shocked) “No.”
“I didn’t think so. That’s not you. But it does make others feel that way.”
(Another student) “Mrs. Levin, I thought dumb was a bad word.”
“I am so glad you asked. You’re right. It is. But…sometimes we need to be clear about things. Sometimes, even though we know it’s not a good word, sometimes it is the word that fits best. Has anyone ever had that feeling when someone has made us feel dumb about something?”
(All hands go up. Surprising, yet not, for a room of gifted students.)
“I thought so. Nobody likes that feeling. But using the word ‘duh’ makes other people feel that way.”
“So…’duh’ is like, ‘you’re dumb’ but shorter?”
“I suppose you can look at it that way.”
(Appreciative nods)
“Now…we have some readers’ theater to practice.”



Reflection on a Day’s End

May 9, 2016

Whoever was the first
To pen a poem
About the demands of
Being a mom,

The whole

Think she had something going there.

Day #2: Act

August 17, 2015


This blog post marks the second in a series of writings and posts for the Hebrew month of Elul. Each day, I will reflect on a variety of themes. Thanks,Rabbi Phyllis Sommer for the inspiration!

Today’s theme, I realize, can be interpreted multiple ways. I could be reflecting on action, on being a person who DOES rather than INTENDS. Boy, I could write a lot on that one.

But the interpretation that nags at me more today is this idea of how often I feel the piece of ourselves we present to the world is so often an act. It’s a poem I actually began and didn’t finish a long while ago. Below is what I wrote.

Just like the kosher lady
Who sneaks pancakes with bacon
I awake into action
Cheerfully rouse the troops
Serve a nutritionally-balanced breakfast
Drop the kids off with a smile
Hi! How are you doing today?
Great! And you?
Just fine.
I greet my colleagues in the same fashion as we
In important meetings
And sit rapt.
I stop at the store, exchanging
Currency and small talk
Great! And you?
Just fine.

Just fine.
Well, not fine.
But fine.

How I wonder
The feeling of
Shrugging off appearance
Sloughing away
Thick skin
Broad shoulders
Heavy heart
The thousand daily transgressions

A shedding of pretense
Releasing me
At the intersection
Of identity and intent
At the corner
Of my true self.

My Sweet Pittle Loem

May 4, 2015

Ever hear of spoonerisms?

I asked my first graders to write poems in that style. They had so much fun I thought I’d join in. Here’s my attempt. Keep in mind that these poems are best when you read them out loud. It’s fun to hear the sounds and experiment with them. Give it a go!

The Learded Bady

Stere’s a hory about a learded bady
Her hacial fair was wick and theighty.
It ew grout from her tin to her choes
Abound her relly and nack up to her bose.

One dine fay, she gaw a suy
With a bicker theard, just bassin’ py.
She thiled and smought, “That’s mo I’ll wharry.”
And the wouple was cedded the fext Nebruary.

The two gived tolether in sweet bledded wiss
They darted each stay with a kug and a hiss.
And lon’t dook now, but I mink that thaybe
There soon will be a cute bairy haby.

Testing, Testing…

January 15, 2015

Now THIS sums up exactly how I view children, and how I view testing.

Yes, testing gives us a “snapshot” of student achievement. And those of you who know how much I love numbers understand how I appreciate data.



With people.

Complex, confusing, beautiful

Click to see this video (about 4 minutes) of Peter H. Reynold’s “The Testing Camera,” and get a little perspective.

Watch. Enjoy. Share.

A Matter of Resolve

January 3, 2015

Each year, I watch the latest round of New Year resolutions, affirmations, oaths, and promises. I’ve not been one big on making resolutions, as it’s a never-ending process for me.

One particular line of posts, however, caught my eye. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, people pick a word and commit to that word in the year to come. Now that’s an idea I could get behind.

Problem is, what word to choose? I’ve racked my brain for the last two weeks trying to determine what idea captures how I’d like to see myself evolve and grow. I’ve tried on lots of words, yet come up short.

Until I heard Neil deGrasse Tyson on his StarTalk podcast. The subject of superheroes came up:

“My favorite comment about Superman? He actually has no costume. There’s nothing covering his face when he’s Superman…his costume is his glasses and suit…he is himself as he is the superhero.”

“He is himself as he is the superhero.”


Superman is most powerful when he is most himself.

And so are we.

And so am I.

This year shall be one of power.

Some superpowers I already own. Others, I must develop:

Power to exercise compassion with my students.
Power to finally do that pull-up.
Power to stand true to my ideals.
Power to let myself listen even when speaking is easier.
Power to bring out the best in others.
Power to resist the chocolate in the cupboard.
Power to put more kindness into the world than I remove.
Power to see the beauty in others.
Power to see the beauty in myself.

And you? What are your super powers? What makes you strongest as yourself?

Recognize them.
Name them.
Share them.

A Month of Reflection – Day 16: Understand

September 11, 2014

I’ll say this about understanding.

I can work as hard as I can to understand certain people,
Or their situation,
Or their choices,
Or their words.

But for some people,
Try as I might
I just

Can’t bring myself to picture why they
Don’t say
Don’t do
Do differently
Live that way
Think that way


Peeling away the layers of

I understand that I can
Love them
All the same.

Mom as Hired Help

September 23, 2010

This evening, Thing #1 came out of his room. He couldn’t find the third chapter in the book and wanted me to turn to it for him.

I escorted him to his room, where he proceeded to complain about his itching back. Would I please oblige and scratch it for him? I began to scratch; he wallowed in itchiness. Somewhere in the midst of whining and fussing, the light dawned. Um…aren’t these things he could *kinda maybe* do for himself? How totally duped / trained am I to totally run back there and do that all for him?

I took his hand, pulled it across his chest, positioned his fingernails right over the offending spot, and said, “Hey, look at that. You can reach it too! That’s cool.” Quick kiss on the forehead goodnight, followed by a “Mom, can you pleeeeeeease get me an ice pack to put on here?” met by a tender yet firm “I love you.” (preceded by a long, internal sigh) and punctuated by the flipped switch. Heartless. I know.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Right on, sister! Tell ‘im!” I know who you are. You have kids like mine, the younger ones who will suck every last little bit of energy, patience and sheer brain power from your every living pore. Kids who will excite, challenge, entertain and frustrate you in the span of 30 seconds. Kids who drive mamas to go on strike or move to Australia.

‘Course, there may be some of you thinking, “You say that now. But pretty soon they won’t want you in there. Before you know it, you’ll be missing those nighttime exchanges. Kids grow up way too fast.”

Every problem can be a bad problem to have.

Every problem (tho’ sometimes you have to dig deeper than other times) can be a good problem to have.

A Day’s Worth of Blessings

July 30, 2009

A boy wrapped up on the couch in his snuggle blanket.

A strong run.

The first home-grown tomato of the season.

A morning spent without having to worry about the TV.

Contractors who show up and do good work.

News of a cancer-free friend.

A morning walk.

A delicious lunch with a dear friend.

Cooking together with children in the kitchen.

Perfect weather for a bike ride.

A home that smells of bread and blueberry cobbler.

That same blueberry cobbler, dished up with vanilla ice cream.

A piano recital by a self-taught eight-year-old.

A six-year-old who wishes to snuggle.

A quiet house.

And you? What are the blessings you found today? Share them here. Pass the joy.

There, I Said It (Lainieism #2)

July 14, 2009

A martini does not make my children behave any better. It just makes me care *that* much less.

Somebody, put me in Bartlett’s.