Paul Harvey

03/02/2009

Paul Harvey died the other day. He and I did not agree much on politics, but I did like his broadcasting style.

I liked his style so much that when I had a radio talk show on WCOD-FM in Hyannis, MA in the mid 1970s, I blatantly imitated it. I “borrowed” his pauses to set up the kicker line, the little rise in pitch for impact, even the type of stories he would pick. I, too, looked for the odd or unusual item to pique interest.

I still use some of the tricks I learned from Paul Harvey in my classroom delivery.

I haven’t listened to Paul Harvey much in the past 30 years, and this morning, when I heard of his passing, it took me back to being a 23-year-old novice trying to sound like the old pro, but I never really got close.

Never got close at all.


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Sharing

03/02/2009

I am the oldest of the four children in my family. At an early age I learned to share… and share…. and share, and that was just with my siblings. When I got to kindergarten I learned to share some more. I didn’t always like to share, but I eventually understood why sharing was necessary and I adopted sharing as a major part of my life plan. I didn’t call it a life plan at the time. I’m not sure I called it anything. I just knew it made me feel good to share.

These days I share a lot of resources with other teachers. My friend and colleague Phil Panaritis, Teaching American History Grants Project Director in the Bronx, maintains a huge email list of teachers, principals and others that he uses to fertilize our minds with articles, advisories, event notification and links to history and/or science websites. It is not uncommon to get as many as two dozen emails from Phil a day, all of them interesting or useful to sat least some of the people on that huge email list. Phil likes to share. Some of the people on that list send links to Phil for him to distribute. They like to share. In telling his email list about this blog Phil wrote that I send “more interesting stuff to the TAH Grant dist list for sharing with you than any other 17 people combined.”

Like I said, sharing makes me happy.

I even like to share my happiness. I’d like you to feel the joy of sharing, too. I’m sure you can think of things to share and ways to share them. But if you can’t, I’m going to make it easy for you. Starting with this post, and on every future post that I remember to paste the code into, you’ll see a little button with an orange plus sign. Click on it and you’ll be able to share these posts in a whole bunch of ways. I realize that not all my posts will be gems, this one for example fails the gem test, but feel free to use this to experience the joy of sharing as often as you want no matter the quality of the post. Its not what you share, its just that you share that counts.

Everyone should be able to feel good this easily:

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Surprise!

03/01/2009

This has been a week of surprises, three to be exact. Starting with the most recent…

Thursday evening, as I was waiting for parent to arrive for Parent-Teacher Conferences, my principal engages me in conversation and, in the midst of it and not pertinent to the rest of the conversation, drops the bombshell that all the special education classrooms would, within a month, be outfitted with wall-mounted interactive white boards. This is HUGE. SPED teachers in my school are used to not getting resources the general ed teachers receive. For us to get something before them, and a big something at that, blew me away.

Surprise number two arrived on Tuesday evening. It was the news that a new series of high-interest low-level books from Nox Press will be dedicated to my students and me because of the success we’ve had using their Junkyard Dan series. Junkyard Dan books start at the 1.0 grade level and rise to 2.0 over the course of ten fast-paced novels. Elise Leonard, the author of the books and a former teacher, had set up the dedication of the new series, comedies this time, with my principal and sprung it in an email she sent me. The dedication even mentions one of my students by name (first name only) because these are the first books he, an 8th grader, had ever read through to the end.

The first surprise in the week was the biggest: a student punched me. In the back. Hard.

That I’d been hit was surprising enough. I’m sure there are some students who wanted to hit me, and when they threaten I put my hands in my pockets, remind them that I’m a pacifist who will not hit back, and urge them to take a good shot.  I’m over six feet tall, have very broad shoulders and weigh about 270, and my students don’t quite believe I’m not really going to hit back, so their threats end up being only macho bluster. Maybe that’s why I got hit from behind, the way a coward would do it.

I’m okay. I was stiff the next day, but there have been no lasting pains from the attack other than the one I know I will never shake. You see, the boy who hit me wasn’t one of the ones who makes threats. He is a boy who is usually jolly, smiling and a little silly. He’s the boy I least suspected ever would do such a thing. It seemed like neutral Switzerland had declared war. And that’s the problem; if you can’t trust Switzerland to be peaceful, who can you trust?

I never really liked surprises. I still don’t.