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brazilian wax poetica

I remember it very clearly. I was sitting in front of the computer while Dave sat on our blue leather couch. With my approaching December graduation date from North Central, we were discussing what comes next. What do I do as a teacher who graduates in December? It’s awkward. It’s unfavorable. It’s ill-timed. And so, I uttered two dangerous words of adventure: what if? What if we move to Colorado? What if we work at a ski resort for the season? What if we just spend a few months playing? Those two words changed our lives. We moved to Colorado Read More

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storytelling using mentor texts

Inevitably, every break brings time for reflection and renewal for teaching. What’s going well? What’s hurting the team? Over winter break, I found myself desperate for a reset in my classroom. Students didn’t even know each other’s names, much less stories; I was the bad guy without enough of the connection that grounds those high expectations; I was so busy trying to collaborate in an overwhelming amount of configurations that I lost my authentic teacher compass; I was buried in systematic behavior expectations that did not align with who I am…and that didn’t work. I felt like a failure…worst, I Read More

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the ghost of grief past

I am haunted by grief. Like a ghost that fades in and out of the bedroom corner, sometimes it is silent, hovering beneath the floorboards; but sometimes it is devastatingly near, ice freezing through my veins. Recently…I shiver. Last year, I watched my cat die a long, slow death. His silky steel grey fur turned bristlecone; his oversized athletic body turned gristly; his ferocious appetite for salmon turned into aching refusal to eat; his impeccable potty and self-grooming habits turned sloppy spills all over the house. The cat who walked around the block with us could no longer hop up on Read More

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here’s to the dog

Here’s to the dog who transformed from a scared, skinny, reserved mess into a brave, athletic, playful son. When we first met you at the pound, we took you into the yard to see how you’d interact with us. As Dad threw a ball, rather than fetching, you cowered, trying desperately to disappear into yourself.  Our hearts broke at the invisible story that brought you to such a sad place. For years, we didn’t think you had a voice at all. Maybe your box had been removed? Dad would give me such shit for trying to teach you to speak. Read More

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training the monkey… the mind that is

(Author’s note: I really wanted to title this post “Spanking the Monkey,” but I didn’t want some perverts to open this post thinking it was going to be up their alley.) (Pervert’s note: That’s what she said.) Buddha often spoke of the need to train the monkey mind through meditation and mindfulness. His intention was that our life would be less about narration and commentary and more about the presence and experience itself. To me, the idea of minimizing narration and commentary and analysis and story is quite daunting–and perhaps even backwards. After all, I am an English teacher: I live and love Read More

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on energy: weapons of mass destruction

I recognize that the minute the word energy enters a conversation, visceral reactions will rise: images of granola-eating-gurus, feelings of heebie jeebies, and slippery concepts like “consciousness” and “law of attraction” and “universe.” I used to be that person. Maybe I still I am that person. But…as I find myself changing the way I view myself and the world around me and the God above (?) me, I cannot help but come back to that word: energy. I have always believed in the power of language, but that confidence is grounded in the inadequacies of language to fully capture that which matters. When I Read More

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roaring chickens: how I found my voice

One of my Mom’s many stories was about how she kicked the bucket…literally: I had a job stacking pails coming off a paint line. One of my bosses came in and told me to stack them one way, and so I did. Well, then, my other boss came in and told me to stack them a different way. So I did. Then the first boss came back in and asked: “Why are you stacking ’em this way and not the way I told you to?” Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I kicked those pails all over the place Read More

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the soul’s greatest threat: ADD

This little disease epidemic is popping up everywhere. In disgruntled hearts. In ungrateful mouths. In slanderous conversations. In the broken public education system. Beneath the broken hearts of Christians.  On job (dis)satisfaction surveys. At restaurants. In my soul. ADD: Attentive to Deficit Disorder. I first learned about ADD–though not known by that name yet, well, because I didn’t invent it yet :)–when getting my Master’s in Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Education. For students in our system who are emerging bilinguals, it is common to focus on what they lack (a foundation in English, parents who speak English, comfort navigating the American schooling principles, background Read More

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Guest Blog: The Husband’s Gratitude

So Mary asked me to write a guest blog. While I’m still not totally sure what that is, or that I can live up to the standard of a typical “Life in the Dport” post, here goes. Like many others recently, I’ve been reflecting on gratitude and what it means in my life. While it’s easy to rattle off a top ten list that can look much like I just pulled it from Pinterest, I wanted to get a little deeper. I’m thankful that I won the lottery. Not Powerball, mind you, (there’s always next year) but the social lottery. I Read More

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the puzzle of a positive learning environment: 10 pieces (glue included)

The adage goes something like this: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to play with that concept a bit: Ask me a question once and I don’t have an answer–shame on you. Ask me the same question twice and I still don’t have an answer–shame on me. Part of our district’s teacher evaluation system is how we build the learning environment for our students. I am grateful that I tend to score effective to distinguished in these categories. Once I was asked the question by my observer: how do you Read More