Sunday Salon: Rambling Through What Might Work as a Mother’s Day Piece While Beau the Cat Bothers Me

Beau the cat has come out from hiding altogether.  He’s sitting on the arm of the chair watching me as I type this.  We’ve opened the  door to his room.  He has stepped out into the hall, then run back into the room, but I expect he’ll be all over the house by the end of the week.

Clovis the Bassett watches the cat, and would love to play, but bides his time for now by staying clear of the cat’s hiss.  I kind of doubt that we’ll ever go viral with one of those cute dog/cat cuddle videos, but they should get along well enough.

We finished Common Core testing this week and all I’m going to say is that I’m glad I didn’t have to take it.  It looked really hard.  I’m not allowed to discuss the test by federal and state law so that’s all I’m going to say.  I don’t think I’d last very long in the big house.  I doubt the prison library carries many NYRB editions.  You laugh, but there’s a good size group of teachers in Georgia prisons right now because they “cheated” on their test.  How do you think they’re going to fare once word gets out what they’re in for?

I didn’t do much reading this week so nothing to report there.  Just one book which I’ll try to review tomorrow.  I didn’t like it.  Skimmed the last 40 pages, but I’ll still review it.

Yesterday, I finished the Integrated Learning Specialist course I’ve been taking.  It’s focus is on bringing more arts into the classroom which has been a goal of mine this year.  I’ve been doing it under the radar because much of it is not exactly “Common Core” and I want to get my principal to pay for materials.  I still have to write the final paper for the class, which I’m going to do later today.  (I want to read a another chunk of My Struggle first.)

As part of the class we had to write a memory piece to be performed for the class.  I read while the rest of my group acted it out as a kind of dance/pantomime.  It sounds really goofy, but it worked pretty well.  Many of the pieces  people presented were kind of powerful.  I think mine kind of works as a mother’s day piece, in a way, so I’m including it below.

Here goes:

If you see enough movies, or read enough novels,, sooner or later you find one that seems like it’s based on your own life.  This happened to me in the 1980’s with The Great Santini, starring Robert Duvall, based on the novel by Pat Conroy.

The movie’s opening scene shows a woman with her four children standing in front of an airplane hangar on a military base.  The daughter turns to her big brother and says, “I’m not going to run this time.”  They stand in the rain as a jet lands trying as hard as they can to be stoic.

It thought–Pensacola,  Florida, 1973!  I’m ten years old, my brothers are seven and three.  We’re standing with twenty or so other groups of women, officer’s wives, with children waiting.

Eight helicopters appear in the sky, the big kind with two sets of rotor-blades. They circle the field once before landing because they have to for some reason or because they want to show off for their wives and children.  My father the navy pilot was coming home from Vietnam, flying in two days before the ship arrived.

We’ve been told to wait, not to run.  We’re not allowed on the tarmac.  It’s not safe.  So we wait.

The helicopters land all at once like a motorcycle gang pulling into town.  The pilots begin walking towards us.  They’re too far away to tell who’s who at first.

Then someone runs past us.  Then someone else.  Then we’re all running across the tarmac as fast as we can.  Just like it happens in The Great Santini.

So much for stoicism.

That’s it.  It was fun to have to write something so non-academic.  My students are currently working on a poem based on a model from this class.  I’m thinking about making them dance/pantomime it in groups once they are done.

Might be kind of fun.

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6 Comments

  1. I love that you are working on arts integration for your classroom! I think of all our young reluctant writers who neeeed a different access point to finding their voice and their critical thinking abilities. The CC represents a rigor that has been absent in learning in some places for a while but it can be a bit soulless depending on how it is taught. Again, good for you! And I’m entering our final weeks of PARCC testing. I feel your reservations. About both the test and prison. 🙂

    1. To be honest, Common Core has reduced the overall rigor in my district, but the overall testing debacle has given me a window of opportunity to bring in more arts, so I’m doing it while I can.

  2. Teresa says:

    John Oliver did a very funny piece about CCSS testing last week. If you haven’t seen it, you should look for it. I’m glad not to be in the classroom anymore, as a student or a teacher. The standardized test mania was just getting started in Virginia when I quit teaching. It didn’t have to do with my quitting (teaching just wasn’t a good fit for me), but I’m still not sorry to have missed out on it.

    1. I saw the John Oliver piece. I wish people with the power to make decisions paid more attention to it. Meanwhile, we’ll have to muddle through somehow.

  3. Lisa says:

    Just so you know, I will watch any & all cat and/or dog videos, and also admire pictures.
    My sister is going back into the classroom next year, after some years working in the school’s tech lab – where she was free from the tests.

    1. Good to know. I’ll have some cat pictures to post next Sunday. 😉

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