July 1, 2014
OH MY GOD.
Back in the Pumps the Pump era when I lived for throwing obstacle course parties in the backyard of 1410, I tipsily waggled my finger up and down at a first time guest in my home and said the worst thing I’ve ever said to another human being.
“This whole thing,” I slurred, gesticulating at his outfit, “screeeeeeams douchebag.”
I am not proud of this- I’m not. I’m shamefully amused every time I see him and he’s dressed like a normal person (lookin’ good, jg… lookin’ good) and I have to hang my head and kick my feet at the ground to prove that I’m adequately contrite, but I’m not proud.
I am, however, overjoyed at the aftermath, which I just found and which set me into peals of delighted laughter in my hotel room just now.
See, the day after said party, a group of survivors hit the beach for some UVA therapy. As evidenced by the note I just discovered in my repurposed “Philippines Notebook”, we also tried our hand at writing a romance novel. “Pine Point Passion”, it’s entitled, by Bethany, Liza, and Carrie.
Probably I’m going to chalk that 24 hours up as amongst my most artless ever.
Oh! Here we go. After paging through some years-old communication with John and some weird notes on a Paul McCartney/Spice Girls collaboration which I’m assuming never happened, I’ve finally happened across my jottings from today:
A Hero’s Journey (I wrote…)
If you were a colleague of mine in the mid-2000s, your gag reflex has probably already been activated in remembrance of some just horrible required staff reading. I got about three pages into the mythological mumbo-jumbo that was interspersed with Oz allusions and, strangely, Superman, before throwing it in disgust off the sunporch at Round Pond and declaring that I’d rather be fired.
The hero’s epic journey is the subject of this seventh grade English lecture, but thankfully it’s a grand departure from my preconceived notions. For starters, this teacher is super engaging. I find myself evaluating him Danielson-style and I sort of want to give him a hug for proving that distinguished teaching exists.
Side note: it has been a professional privilege to work with district and union leaders on the new evaluation system in Portland. I think people would universally agree that it’s been sorely needed, but the pleasure lies not only in being a part of creating something necessary, but also (and mostly) in being able to look behind the scenes at a group who is uniformly keeping kids at the forefront of its action. This is not designed to be one of those scary “gotcha” systems that are dotting the nation. The intent, rather, is to provide an effective reflection tool for educators, to identify master teachers in order to celebrate and share best practice tools, and to support and coach those who struggle. If a teacher can’t hack it after that? Sorry/not sorry, as the kids would say. Nobody is in this to protect a bad apple.
Anyway, this woman named Charlotte Danielson came up with some rubrics for teaching, and they’re great. Honestly, just reading them and self-assessing made me a better teacher, especially since I can’t in good conscience promote the system if I’m not doing my best to be on top of it. I even changed them to kid language and had my classes fill them out for me as a sub plan one day, and boy, did I learn a lot. I was sort of annoyed that I hadn’t done it early enough to change my practice with that particular group.
So, right- missed opportunity- but the point is that I was consciously evaluating this teacher today and he was phenomenal. On a topic that was for me- an adult reading a professional publication- straight torture, this guy managed to engage his entire class and purposefully lead them, via the Incredible Hulk and connections to their daily existence, through the six elements of a hero’s epic journey.
At the close of class, he had them ponder: how can you make your life epic?
And I said thoughtfully to myself, “Carrie… it’s neither finger-waggling nor beach-born porn.”
ADDENDUM: I swear to you that we did not actually write anything even vaguely pornographic… it’s just that it rhymed and once I thought of it, I couldn’t not say it! After something terrible about “glistening body” we definitely gave up and went swimming.
Oh, and since I sort of ruined the flow of my ending with that addendum, I’m not going to feel badly about an out-of-context picture. Here’s a pretty one I took of a house today: