Monday, April 23, 2012


Today, while my students were watching part of the (odious) 1932 version of A Farewell to Arms, I looked around at my 7th hour. They were watching intently, some annotating their Venn diagram of novel vs. film. One student was fighting sleep, until Catherine whopped Frederic across the face and everyone laughed at the overblown sound effects. I was then reminded of a quote from someone while I was visiting up in Colorado Springs for spring break. I was telling her (I think it was a her?) about TFA, and she said, "Oh, it's two years?"
I replied, "Yeah. It's two years - but you can stay longer if you want to."
"Wow," she said, "That's a big commitment."

Geez, it is. I am realizing it more and more. Far more than a big commitment to myself, it is such a commitment to a region, to a kid, to a people. But, looking at them, who wouldn't try to give them your absolute best? Your absolute, absolute best?
 Lest you think I am going soft in the head or being undone by sap:
* Today I said, "you are wasting time with your talking of stupidity!"
* Today I said, "ew. stop playing ear footsie or whatever the heck that is."
* Today I put the following picture on their vocab powerpoint:

(it was the perfect example of decoy! to be fair, I did say: "you objectify women, this is what happens!")
* Today we just named our toaster Tea Cake, due to his endearing, yet occasionally histrionic (read: hydrophobic) behavior

Okay, phew! Now I feel entitled to enjoy a little more sweetness and light.

First, I got to see some of my cheer girls after school. I have to do uniform inventory and was having them vote for Team Awards. It was delightful to see them as an excited, enthusiastic group. I heard several "I miss cheerleading!"s and I was glad to feel a similar sentiment. I am happy to coach again next year, but I had been dreading the time commitment. Again, I realize this is a commitment I am bound and happy to make.

Journalism was an excited mess. Let the record show that for the final issue, my kids wanted to write two articles (as opposed to one). I said, "How will we make this work?" And one of my editors said, "We should make a mega big 16-pager." The class cheered.

Finally, Ninja Doula is back again! One of my students is out on maternity leave, and the paper came requesting the work for her "homebound status." I had thought about this before, and so, instead of trying to paraphrase the lessons we are doing in class, I took the same objectives (writing to invoke emotion and crafting a research paper) and applied them differently. Here is the cover letter:

Hello, A____!

I hope you are having the most beautiful time with little Ryan Alexander. J
I know your first priority is on your little one, so my makeup work is focused on the same topic.
The two things I would like you to do:

·       I would like you to keep a journal of your baby’s first days. First, write an account of the birth: what you remember, what you’d like to share with Ryan when he’s old enough. Write a little every day: how are you feeling, what new things have you noticed / is he doing, what are your thoughts about being a mother or being you or whatever? Ideally, you’ll continue this journal the whole first year – or beyond! J (I will only check this off. It is, of course, yours to keep.)

·       Read the attached articles. They are from Peaceful Parenting websites, which promotes gentle mothering and disagrees with some popular ideas in our culture. After reading all of them, write a reflection paper on what you liked and / or disliked and / or have more questions about. Make sure to address: What is the birth culture in the US / Zuni? Also, how do you feel about self-soothing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and even babywearing?

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, concerns: 765-376-5786.

Come back to school when you are ready. You’re embarking on a big, lifelong journey, so make sure you have your foundation when you return. We miss you in class! J

Ms. H.

Attached, then, was a 9-page packet of the benefits (including, of course, copious amounts from Meredith Small's Our Babies, Ourselves) of these different practices. 

This reminds me of a paper I've written recently in my Issues in Secondary Ed class. Right. Am I allowed to say I have been SWAMPED from my three classes at UNM this semester? It's been manageable, but really only barely. Anywho, sometimes I'm allowed to really explore my passions with teaching. First, it was a 10-pager on the benefits of theatre in the ELA classroom (entitled "Those Glee Kids Must Be On To Something") and now "Hush Little Baby: an inquiry into student mothers and an educator's dearth of resources." Largely, I wrote about exactly that - how there are myriad pregnancy prevention programs (as there should be!), but very little prescriptive guidance for teenage mothers. This is an excerpt from the paper:

What I want to do – and have talked to the school nurse and need to start talking to my moms about – is get them to start an advocacy group for young parents at Zuni High School. I know they are frustrated and tired so much of the time, and I think it may take an organized effort on their behalf to secure the rights they are properly deserving of under Title 9. They should fight for a longer maternity leave, alternative schedules, and, most of all, recognition by the faculty. Schoolwide policy should guarantee these students such accomodations (not modifications). I feel too often the attitude is “it’s their problem and their responsibility.” It’s funny that in one sentence, such educators can denigrate their students as “children” and then, apparently, “responsible” adults. Young parents are forced to straddle a strange, liminal space between childhood and adulthood.
            How I can begin, then, is by renewing my commitment to my mothers (and fathers). Some mothers are on top of their game, but most I find highly capable writers (above average) but highly overwhelmed. It will do them no good to pity her and drop assignments / grade too easily just as it does no good to treat her as a student with the average number of commitments. I need to make sure I’m helping them figure out a time to do schoolwork, timelines for turning work in late (planned before a  large assignment is due), or alternative projects if need be. I want to make sure, especially in Native communities where young motherhood is so prevalent (and not necessarily unusual), that those students have the resources and rights they should.

There it is again, that powerful word.
Yes, it seems I'm committed.