before the roses

I never noticed

I never knew

the rose bush in spring

until…

I stopped

noticed

lingered

then…

I came to know

the glory of growing

leaves, red, shining in spring sun

I came to know

the rose bush

before the roses

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awaiting

vintage hydrangeas

each flower, weathered by the rays and rain, holding the history of summer

backyard hydrangea, September 2020

budding hydrangeas

each bud, flourishing, reaching, waiting to hold the stories that summer will tell

backyard hydrangea, April 2021

giving and receiving

“Teachers who publish letters to editors, write curriculum guides, compose articles, or even write books, experience untold energy.” Donald Graves, The Energy to Teach 2001

I’m always on the look out for energy – energy giving experiences, or simply energy givers.

Heading into the challenge this year, I wasn’t fully aware of the energy factor. In fact, I think I had conversations in the building that pointed to the fact that I did not have the focus or energy to be taking this on (blame The Covid, right?). But, when work with two fellow slicers (and three more in district, there’s a healthy pressure that brings you to toe the line and then just go.

Then the energy came.

It came to me as a reader.

Energy came in the form of feedback. It came in the form of a poem tweeted – thanks Kevin Hodgson!

Energy came from the Buckeye Brownie recipe compliments of first year slicer Jill Miller Lists Are Important. Every day started with a win compliments of first year slicer Cindy, a nurse in Illinois! Every post was a highlight of a “win” for the day. Even on the hard days, Cindy managed to not only find, but slice about the “win”. A Day at the Park, she captured the simple “win” of catching her granddaughter at the bottom of the slide.

Energy came from beginning to know the stories that live in this world. Stories from people, some of whom I’ve never met, but have come to care about.

Energy came from learning the stories that live within my colleagues and friends. Energy came in the form of hallway conversations with Peter and Jess. Energy came in the form of finding connections with colleagues in other buildings.

It came to me as a writer.

Energy came from throwing down the words, rereading them, deleting, crafting, molding my own thoughts my own stories so I could put them out into the world.

I’d love to say the energy was constant and that it fueled my writing every day. But we all know that would be a lie. There was an ebb and a flow to the energy. Like the tides, on the days that it was low, I knew if I read and wrote, the energy would rise again.

Thank you to Stacey, and Melanie, Kathleen, Betsy, Beth, Amy, and Therapi for creating and maintaining a space for an energy giving experience.

And finally, thank you all. Thank you for being the energy givers that you are. You exude possibility.

All Over the Place

Some days, my job has me all over the place. When I say that, I mean, I’m giving targeted OG lessons and the next thing I know I’m in a classroom watching the curriculum come to life with children.

Today was one of those days.

9:30 brought three third graders in for some targeted -cle work. Today, we would be joining syllables, reading and writing -cle words. The three settled right into the work. I was in awe at C as she finally, this year, began to use the language of identifying syllables. “That’s an open syllable because the vowel says it name”. She was focused, thinking and as a result she was expressing herself clearly. Most importantly, she was proud. I could see it in her eyes.

Later that morning, I found myself in a third grade classroom. They were reading their research writing to a partner – rehearsing. I listened in to T and J. At one point, J questioned T’s research. “Are you sure the elephant nurses for 4 years? Is it 4 months?” She went on, “When human babies are born, they drink their mother’s milk immediately, but not usually for years?” I was in awe at the research, the listening, the thinking. The rehearsing had T questioning his own research. About 5 minutes later, I found him back at his computer, searching for the book that would validate his writing. “Look, Mrs. Sherriff, here it is.” I witnessed a reader reading for a purpose and determination. We called J over and she read the page silently. “Wow! That is cool.” She questioned, he searched and shared, and I supported and witnessed the process. All our minds were opened.

Sometimes, my job has me teaching with structures, routines, and repetition because I know it’s what the child needs. But sometimes, my job is to teach and coach from a listening place.

Yes, my job sometimes has me all over the place but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every day, I’m ready, open and always learning from those kids.

Entertainment

“Megan, we’re going to Lowes!”

“Have fun!” I could hear the sarcasm in her voice. Every fifteen year old is jealous of their parents as they head off to home improvement land.

Billy and I hopped in The Beast. We were both optimistic that we’d find the carpet that would instantly transform our dining room in time for Easter Sunday.

Before we even entered Lowes, we were immediately distracted from our mission. Billy was oogling at shiny, bright red, Craftsman ride on mowers. He walked the row and when the display changed from Craftsman red to John Deere green he uttered, “Oh, I always wanted a John Deere.” His mind trailed off as I am sure he imagined himself cutting our lawn atop one of those bad boys.

With the tractors out of sight, we found ourselves distracted yet again. This time by grills and patio furniture. “Yeah, I’m getting the grill this year.” Billy assured himself and me. Last year, deep in pandemic living, we talked a lot about getting one. No action, just talk.

Then we found ourselves trying out patio furniture. “These cushions are no good – not firm enough.” he proclaimed. “Ohhh, try this one!” “We don’t need patio furniture.” I say and we both look at each other knowingly. “Let’s go look for the carpet.” I grabbed a few Easter Lillies as we strolled towards the carpets. Minor distractions.

Finally, we found ourselves standing in front of a pile of laid out carpets. I flipped the corners up one by one looking for the one I had spotted weeks ago. With each flip, I held out hope that it stayed and was waiting for us to bring it home. About 12 flips later, I found it. Without hesitation, Billy agreed that it was “the one”.

Now the task of uncovering “the one” from the weight of 12 other 8×10 rugs began. Billy grabbed one side, and I the other. We transitioned from flipping corners to folding halfway. Neatly, we folded one rug at a time. In unison we slid down to one end, rug in hand and slid back to grab another.

When we reached “the one”, we paused, admired it’s pattern and colors. We imagined it in our home. We nodded and then we rolled it halfway up and began folding the 12 toppers back the other way.

In the midst of all this flipping, folding and nodding, a Lowes employee came to stand by us. I thought for a minute that he was there to help. But he just stood and watched. Right as we were about to reach “the one” and free it from the weight of the 12 I heard him chuckle under his mask and say “What a team, yeah…that’s teamwork.”

I laughed and agreed. I think we were his rainy Sunday entertainment.