Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Playing with the zoom button....

The new chapter and I have been going on a lot of really great adventures lately, and as a result we have taken a lot of pictures. On one particular adventure we were shooting pictures on the ice when he mentioned that using the zoom button can negatively affect the quality of a picture. At first I didn't think much of it, but as of late I'm beginning to think that he might have a point and that point isn't just about photography.

Last night when we were out on the town, I overheard several very odd conversations. I wasn't trying to listen in, but for some reason the conversations caught my ear and caused me to "zoom in" on them. As I listened, I couldn't help but smile. The conversations themselves were very ordinary and even a little odd, but when I "zoomed out" of those conversations I began to realize how the seemingly odd close-ups fit perfectly together to form a more beautiful and eclectic big picture, not all that unlike the picture Walt Whitman painted in "I hear America Singing."

Zooming in can sometimes make it hard to see the beauty of an independent situation, whereas keeping things "zoomed out" can sometimes help enhance and maintain its beauty because that situation no longer stands alone-- it becomes a part of the whole. Each close-up moment plays an important role in determining the beauty of the big picture as a whole. When we zoom out, we can better see the beauty in those strange close-up moments because we can understand the importance of their roles in the big picture.

Now don't get me wrong, there are moments when I love the close-up shots. They can sometimes capture and enhance those hidden details that play an important role in big picture. There can be ineffable beauty in those moments. At the same time, when it's hard to see the beauty in those hard, uncomfortable times, it can help to zoom out of them and remember that each closeup has its role-- whether it be a tiny or a large-- in the bigger, beautiful, and eclectic big picture. In essance, knowing when and how to zoom can really help keep things in perspective. It can help us find beauty in those moments that may not seem to have any.

I'm learning that it's important to know when to use the zoom button and when to let things be. From what I've observed about life and the attitudes around me so far, there is an art to knowing how and when to zoom. Mastering the art of the zoom button yields wise and mature perspective-- a perspective I can only hope to achieve one day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Challenge...

As I was driving to work the other day I saw the full moon setting and instinctively wrote a poem in my head.... this then became an inspiration for a challenge I issued my students, which ended up to be a really cool activity.

So I'll challenge you: In 2 minutes or less, write a poem that has a subject (it can be anything), make that subject do something, and give the whole thing some sort of setting. Then, if you're feeling really brave try to incorporate and/or play around with some elements of style (figurative language, sentence structure, sound devices, word choice, etc.).

Here's what I came up with... I can't wait to hear what you can do!

The silvery moon

silently slips through

the wispy, pre-dawn clouds.





below the western horizon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

With Freedom Comes Responsibility

I'm not sure who said it or where it came from, but I couldn't agree more: With freedom comes responsibility. As a teacher, I see the importance of teaching this lesson on a daily basis. Sure, we have the freedom to speak as we choose, think as we choose, expose ourselves to things of our choice, but with that freedom comes the responsibility to think about those things and respond when necessary. In other words, we have the responsibility to do the right thing when we notice something is wrong-- even if it's hard or uncomfortable. Of course, we then have to ask ourselves what is the right thing and who determines it. I am, however, a firm believer that teaching what is right and wrong falls on the community we grow up in-- our families, neighbors, friends, teachers, schools, etc.-- and when we fail to teach responsibility people get hurt and all hell breaks loose. Perhaps, that's why our nation is in its current state??

Now, more than ever, I understand the importance as a teacher to demand that my students take responsibility for themselves, their choices, and actions. Usually the lessons of responsibility I teach are small potatoes (dealing with missing work, getting to school on time, owning up to mistakes, etc.), but if I don't teach my students how to be responsible now, it could lead to something more serious in the future. I'll be honest, I'm a little overwhelmed by that responsibility, but I won't be able to sleep at night if I don't do my part.

Unfortunately, I have found myself in a situation where I am negatively affected by someone who didn't take responsibility for his/her actions. It's so hard for me to fight my anger against this person, to acknowledge it but not let it consume me. I'm also finding it hard to know what exactly I should do-- deciding which action is the responsible action. I am in a position where I could either walk away, do nothing, and quietly deal with the consequences of this person's actions. Or, I could take the risk of holding this person accountable for what happened and hope that in some way it might teach the importance of responsibility in the light of irresponsibility.

I am left to ponder. Do I walk the talk, or do I walk away? In the mean time, I guess I'll more conscientiously do my part to teach responsibility in my classroom--I just hope this is the lesson that sticks.