Saturday, February 26, 2011


I love it when my life in the classroom and outside of the classroom become indistinguishable.  I have been asking my students to think about their One Little Words in different ways and this week we connected our words to art.  We chose a work of art we felt represented our word and then wrote a piece explaining that connection.  I chose a collage by Charles Farrell and wrote the following piece:

Charles Farrell, Bullseye
First, I see red.  Letters, splashes, fruit skins and flowers.  The red draws me in. The heat of the color makes me feel aggressive, uncomfortable and alive. Next, the white between the images calms me.  It gives me hope.  I see that there is space and deliberateness and order, even in chaos. The white allows me peace. Finally, I begin to see relationships.  The women, the birds, the flowers and the fruit – they frame each other.  They form an unnerving feminine argument, something about beauty and maybe something about fear. I am not completely sure. I begin to like the way I don’t understand.

Discovery is like this for me.  Discovery is a step into something new, something previously unknown.  Discovery is a willingness to recognize one’s own ignorance, but also an opportunity to make one’s self more complete.   Discovery is what makes me hold my breath, but also what makes me want to breathe.

As I pursue discovery, I want it to look like this collage.  I want it to aggravate me into action.  I want it to be messy but precise, eclectic but connected.  When I look at this collage, I see something each time that was not clear before -- part of a word, a lone feather, a bicycle wheel – and this makes me see the art in a new way.  That is what I want in my life – for each discovery to inspire another.

I love collage art. If I had known that one could choose collage artist as a career, we might have one less English teacher in the world! I am so drawn to the relationships between the pieces and the unity that comes from a jumble of "random" images. That's life. All these pieces, all these moments -- scraps of assorted colors, pictures, words, and patterns -- they somehow stitch together and become our days and our memories. And when we look back at them, we see meaning, even if we did not see it at the time. It makes me feel okay about not understanding every little thing that happens. I can hold out hope that eventually the moment will find its way into the photomontage of my life and that when arranged with all of the other moments I didn't understand, there will be beauty and truth.

PS: I wrote my first "teacher" post at my new site, A Thicket and Bramble Wilderness. If you want to know more about the nitty-gritty of my teaching practice, check it out!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Thicket and Bramble Wilderness

I promised new stuff soon and here it is!  Soon, right?  Funny thing is, the something new is actually nothing new here, but something new somewhere else. That sounded a bit confusing; let me explain:  I have been maintaining a class blog for about three years now -- a place to list assignments, describe what we did in class in case kids were absent, store handouts, provide links to helpful resources, etc.  Recently, however, my school district has adopted School Loop, a communications system which will meet all of the needs I have for a class site.  Therefore, my previous class site ( was days away from becoming irrelevant and unnecessary, which caused me some pangs of sadness. Grief, perhaps?  But then, I noticed a post on The EC Ning from a teacher interested in collaborating with other teachers to create a group blog entitled 101 English Blogs.  Intrigued, I sent the founder an email.  I wasn't sure that More Than I Should Bear was really an "English blog" since I cover all sorts of topics besides teaching.  So, I decided that my contribution to 101 English Blogs could be a blog strictly about my teaching practice, and now that the space is available, I created my new blog there with a new title, "A Thicket and Bramble Wilderness".  The new blog (as if I can even keep up with this one!) will feature specific lessons, activities, assignments and experiences from my classroom.  I am excited about this new endeavor and hope it challenges me and strengthens me just as More Than I Should Bear has.  Wish me luck!