Friday, March 13, 2015

I Wrote Down My Dream #sol15

Riding in the bed of a pickup truck, I braced myself as a friend backed us towards an empty parking space. He likes backing into spaces. A 1980s Chevy Caprice--robin's egg blue--turned into our aisle of the parking lot.

We were at our local Giant--which had lost power. My friend was a generic dream-friend, faceless and voiceless.

Before we reached the space, the Caprice rear-ended us. The old woman driving was going to steal out space by backing-in first. And she did.

Wrankled, I took a photo of her doing it with my phone. And I yelled generic dream-language, wordless and soundless.

She didn't like that I took her photo, so she pulled out and drove towards the end of the parking lot. Several police cars were pulled to the side of the road along with other cars. We followed in our truck and parked get to a policeman first. I had evidence.

The road was dark and shadowy. Patches of light created a herringbone of shadow--the moon, headlights, streetlights, stars--in places the low clouds covered sky the like grey flannel in texture and color.

Policemen and volunteers entered the wheat field along the roadside. Apprehension, tension, nerves defined their cautious steps as they disappeared from the road. Swallowed by the field. They would begin scouring the waist-high wheat for a missing child. None were interested in our dispute. What was going on was serious.

Nevertheless, the old woman garnered the attention of one policeman--all in dark blue and black. Away from me, he briefly interviewed her and then my faceless friend. He never interviewed me or asked to see the photographic evidence. But I would be the only one punished.

My neighbor--an older man who I do not get along with in real life--appeared and delivered the verdict.

For my malfeasance I would have to apologize to her.

And that is where the dream erodes and crumbles and I wake up. Still, I can recall the scraps of the dream--I was not happy about the veridct.

And I kept turning the word malfeasance over and over--saying it--thinking it.

I woke up saying malfeasance to myself. It is a word which I don't use in my daily language. And as I write I have questions around my dream:

  1. how do words (words we never use) become burned into some recess of our brain? and how was it retrieved? am I dreaming of vocabulary? if so, #nerd.
  2. what is going on with the wheat field and the missing child?
  3. I knew Chevy Caprice. How did I know Chevy Caprice? I'm not a car guy in the least, but when I Googled "Chevy Caprice" that was the car in my dream. And a robins-egg blue Caprice is searchable. Again, where does that come from in our brains? What released that image and term in my sleep into some kind of reasonable coherent narrative?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Shoot Your Cuff #sol15

So, a funny thing happened on my way home from work yesterday. I received a call from an associate professor from my alma mater. I haven't been in touch with my alma mater in over twenty years--and I have never met professor Dr. Joseph Haviland.

Dr. Haviland has been looking for a teacher who uses the writer's workshop method in class. A colleague of his suggested reaching out to me. I know his colleague, Jolene Borgese, through her teaching, writing, and work with the National Writing Project.

At the end of the month, I will lead a group of our future teachers in what writing workshop looks like in my class.

It is an honor to be asked to speak, quite frankly, especially since of three major shifts in my ethos has been finding opportunities to listen.

This opportunity would have never--never--occurred for me had I not started putting myself out there about six or seven years ago. Becoming active in professional organizations, attending workshops and conferences,  making the time to go through the process of becoming a member of the National Writing Project (PAWLP), writing, reading, and reflecting--all things I did not do much of during my first decade of teaching.

All of these changes are connected to listening--or come back to listening. Really listening to the evidence, the research, and other teachers who are engaged with the evidence and the research.

I realized that cocooning myself--in my classroom, in my building, in my district--was not healthy.

I want to invite colleagues to shoot your cuff at Temple University--to join me--to model collegiality, to encourage growth, and to encourage and support one another as we find their own ways of breaking out of the cocoon.



from A Dictionary of Victorian Slang (1909)
shoot your cuff (Peoples' 1875). Make the best personal appearance you can and come along--from the habit of wearing wide cuffs.