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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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tidings of comfort

When I think of God, I think of Love. When I think of Love, I think of Comfort. And when I think of Comfort, I think of the holidays. In the past year, we’ve lost both our pets. Our Christmas tree sits undisturbed in the corner of our living room, the sun through the windows its only companion. We don’t come home and play the game we so loved to be annoyed by: six ornaments rolling around on the ground, one broken, moving them further and further up the tree in some Jenga strategy to protect them from wagging hazards 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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welcome home to b261

The first day is everything. My students spent their summer inundated with news reports about senseless, merciless and unjust killings of people who look just like them. They are afraid. My students spent their summer working multiple jobs just to keep food on their families’ tables. They are hungry and tired. My students spent their summer wondering which of their teachers from May would still be there in August. They are insecure. My students spent their summer listening to a white man’s rhetoric about how they don’t belong in this country, how they’ll be shipped back to a place that 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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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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one reflection

Charged rhetoric. Resegregation. Terror Attacks. Cop funerals. Black lives that don’t matter enough. I weep for our world. And as tears roll down my face and pool in my heart, I see the mirrored reflection of my humanity. Of our humanity. Staring back at me is mi abuelo y abuela. Not mine by birth, but by my sister’s marriage. Growing up I remember their parties. Loud laughter; welcoming hugs; lively discussions; late night dancing under hanging lights; endless bowls of arroz con pollo y homemade mole. More than their parties was their presence: no matter what my brother-in-law and sister Read More

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14 years and counting

Today marks 14 years of wedded bliss marriage for Dave and I. In all honesty, there were many times in our relationship I didn’t think we’d make it. But I am grateful that here we are, together. When I think about the “how,” I am drawn to the insights of expectation, communication, adventure, and independence. Expectation. If “comparison is the thief of joy,” then expectation is the nuclear bomb decimating a marital landscape. Early on in our marriage, we spent the majority of our time together trying to fit into some preconceived mold of a godly marriage. Me: domestic goddess, children maker, quiet 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