How Quickly the Years Pass

I awoke at 2:37 AM. I know because I looked at the clock next to my bed. I heard the shower running in our bathroom, and Debbie was no longer lying beside me in bed. I stretched out my ankle like I always must after sitting or lying for a long time, then I went to the bathroom and poked my head inside the shower to ask Debbie if she was okay.

“I think my water has broken,” she said calmly. She’d been through this before three different times.

“What should I do?” I questioned.

“Go get dressed, pack your bag, grab the baby’s diaper bag, and get her dress and blanket.” My wife is always very patient with me.

I shot back into the bedroom, threw some clothes in a backpack, dressed, then changed clothes again before returning to the bathroom to ask Debbie if I should wear pants or shorts to the hospital. I was afraid it might be cold in the delivery room.

She replied, “It doesn’t matter, but you need to call Mom and Dad to come watch the boys while we go to the hospital.”

I dashed back to the bedroom, called my father-in-law, then continued scurrying about gathering belongings and throwing things in the mini-van. After a few minutes had passed, I noticed Debbie leaning against the van.

“If Mom and Dad don’t get here soon, we’re going to have to leave the boys alone.” Her voice was serious. Her look told me she was in a great deal of pain. I ran back into the house for one last item, and as I returned her parents had just arrived in the driveway.

I jumped in the driver’s seat, and Debbie climbed in the front seat next to me. I noticed she had placed a towel on the seat beneath her. I backed out of the garage and sped down the driveway. Debbie told me to call the hospital, so I dialed information for Germantown Methodist Hospital as I raced through our subdivision. From our door to Highway 70 is approximately one mile. When we reached the highway, Debbie told me I had to HURRY! I stepped on the gas, and we careened westward toward Germantown Parkway. I spoke to the hospital, and they told me they would be waiting at the door. At the light at Highway 70 and Germantown, I barely braked to make the turn, and Debbie was annoyed that I slowed at all.

Less than .10 mile down Germantown, Debbie informed me that we needed to change our plans. We weren’t going to make it to Germantown Methodist; we’d have to go to St. Francis-Bartlett instead. I again picked up the cell dialing 9-1-1. Then, I accelerated to approximately 90 MPH and turned on my hazard lights. There was only one other car on the road, and it was heading toward me. I knew it was a Bartlett police officer, but Debbie warned me not to slow down for ANYTHING! We were NOT GOING TO MAKE IT! The cop passed me, made an immediate U-turn, and chased me with lights flashing (I don’t know about the siren). I never slowed except to turn.

The 911 operator was less than helpful. (You don’t ever want to have an emergency in Memphis!) As I explained my wife was in labor, we were switching hospitals, and I was presently being chased by the Bartlett Police, the operator told me I’d have to call the hospital myself to let them know we were coming. There was nothing she could do to help me. I thanked her for not being at all helpful and promptly hung up the phone. MEMPHIS!

We slowed slightly to make a curve in the road, and then raced across the parking lot to the St. Francis-Bartlett Emergency Room entrance. I slammed the car in park and dashed through the hospital doors screaming, “Come help! Come help! My wife is in labor, and she’s having the baby now!”

Nobody moved. Apparently, husbands tend to overreact when their wives are in labor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t overreacting. What Debbie had failed to relay to me was that while we were racing to the hospital, the baby had crowned.

“HURRY!” I screamed. “She’s having the baby NOW! This is her FOURTH baby!”

Suddenly, everyone moved. Three or four nurses came running out to our mini-van. One was pushing a wheelchair. (Behind my van sat the Bartlett police officer. When he saw me enter the emergency room door, he patiently waited in his car. When I returned with medical staff in tow, I yelled to him that my wife was in labor. His only response was “Okay then, I’m gonna go.” He put his cruiser in reverse and was never heard from again.) A nurse instructed Debbie that she’d have to get in the wheelchair. My wife’s response was that she couldn’t–the baby was already crowning. The nurse told my wife that she had no choice, and they would look at her as soon as she got inside.

The nurses helped Debbie into the chair and wheeled her inside but not before getting the chair stuck on the door. They rolled her directly into triage. A nurse lifted up Debbie’s dress to see how far along she was and shrieked, “THE BABY”S COMING NOW!” (Duh!) They rolled her behind the first curtain, and the admittance attendant asked me to go with her to get Debbie checked in.

As the attendant and I made about five steps down the hallway, I heard a nurse scream, “OH, MY GOD! She hit the FLOOR!” I turned to see nurses scattering in every direction. One, in particular, had her hand covering her mouth as if she’d  just witnessed something awful. I raced back to see what had happened. I didn’t know whether Debbie had collapsed, the baby had been dropped, or a nurse had fainted. My heart leaped. It was 3:04 AM.

Reaching the curtain, I saw my daughter, purple and crying, on the floor in the corner of the room. Blood was everywhere. Debbie was crawling onto the gurney, and the nurses were frantically trying to move the wheelchair out of the way to get to the baby. I ran to the other side of the curtain and jumped over a trash can to try to get to Debbie’s bedside. I shouted, “Are they okay? Somebody, tell me they are okay!”

Nobody said anything. They were as panicked as I. They looked at me, and someone gave instructions for somebody to get me a chair, but I leaned against the wall and declined. I just wanted them to take care of Debbie and the baby.

The attendant, who had followed me back to the curtain, reached out, grabbed me by the arm, and said, “Dad, we have to get them admitted. Can you please come with me?” I reluctantly obeyed.

Within five minutes, Debbie’s paperwork was in motion. She and the baby were moved to room 228. The attendant asked me a few really important questions like: “Is Church of Christ still your religious preference?” and “Do you know if your insurance covers our hospital?” Meanwhile, I still needed to know whether the two most important women in my life were okay.

Soon, we’d finished. The attendant led me to Debbie’s and the baby’s room, and Debbie quickly reported that she was okay. The nurse was examining the baby who appeared to be undergoing her first tanning appointment. I asked the nurse if my little girl was okay, and she responded that as far as she could tell the baby was fine.

For the next 30 minutes, I bounced between Debbie’s bedside and the side of my tanning newborn. Debbie explained that when they tried to move her from the wheelchair to the gurney, the baby had entered the world by falling to the cold floor and sliding under the wheelchair into the corner. The umbilical cord had snapped. Apparently, my daughter is a natural break dancer. Over the next two hours, the baby was thoroughly poked and prodded, and Debbie finally delivered the placenta and was feeling much better. By all accounts, mother and child were doing just fine. In fact, one nurse mentioned they were perfect.

Debbie was ready for another shower. So as the grandmothers, who had just arrived, together with the nurse and my bride made their way to the shower, I sat in the window seat, held my daughter close to my chest, thanked God in my heart, and bawled like a big ol’ baby.

I’d love to say that in the middle of all the chaos I had the faith to immediately drop to my knees and pray, but I don’t have that kind of faith. My faith is more of a “do-what-you-can-as-best-as-you-can-and-trust-that-God-is-here-somewhere” kind of faith. Saint Peter wrote, “In this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by pure fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” I have no idea why my heart and soul were put through the ringer during that little girl’s birth. However, as I hold her, I am trusting God will watch over her because I KNOW there’s no way I can. That’s already proven true.


I first wrote this post on August 22, 2007, following the events of August 21. I’ve shared it several times before, and I’m sure I’ll post it again. Today, Evelyn turns 10. I’m amazed at how quickly the years pass. Happy birthday, sweet girl! Your momma and I are pretty crazy about you!

No Victory Lap

birth storyI awoke at 2:37 AM. I know because I looked at the clock next to my bed. I heard the shower running in our bathroom, and Debbie was no longer lying beside me in bed. I stretched out my ankle like I always must after sitting or lying for a long time, then I went to the bathroom and poked my head inside the shower to ask Debbie if she was okay.

“I think my water has broken,” she said calmly. She’d been through this before three different times.

“What should I do?” I questioned.

“Go get dressed, pack your bag, grab the baby’s diaper bag, and get her dress and blanket.” My wife is always very patient with me.

I shot back into the bedroom, threw some clothes in a backpack, dressed, then changed clothes again before returning to the bathroom to ask Debbie if I should wear pants or shorts to the hospital. I was afraid it might be cold in the delivery room.

She replied, “It doesn’t matter, but you need to call Mom and Dad to come watch the boys while we go to the hospital.”

I dashed back to the bedroom, called my father-in-law, then continued scurrying about gathering belongings and throwing things in the mini-van. After a few minutes had passed, I noticed Debbie leaning against the van.

“If Mom and Dad don’t get here soon, we’re going to have to leave the boys alone.” Her voice was serious. Her look told me she was in a great deal of pain. I ran back into the house for one last item, and as I returned her parents had just arrived in the driveway.

I jumped in the driver’s seat, and Debbie climbed in the front seat next to me. I noticed she had placed a towel on  the seat beneath her. I backed out of the garage and sped down the driveway. Debbie told me to call the hospital so I dialed information for Germantown Methodist Hospital as I raced through our subdivision. From our door to Highway 70 is approximately one mile. When we reached the highway, Debbie told me I had to HURRY! I stepped on the gas, and we careened westward toward Germantown Parkway. I spoke to the hospital, and they told me they would be waiting at the door. At the light at Highway 70 and Germantown, I barely braked to make the turn, and Debbie was annoyed that I slowed at all.

Less that .10 mile down Germantown, Debbie informed me that we needed to change our plans. We weren’t going to make it to Germantown Methodist, we’d have to go to St. Francis-Bartlett instead. I again picked up the cell dialing 9-1-1. Then, I accelerated to approximately 90 MPH and turned on my hazard lights. There was only one other car on the road, and it was heading toward me. I knew it was a Bartlett police officer, but Debbie warned me not to slow down for ANYTHING! We were NOT GOING TO MAKE IT! The cop passed me, made an immediate U-turn, and chased me with lights flashing (I don’t know about the siren). I never slowed except to turn.

The 911 operator was less than helpful. (You don’t ever want to have an emergency in Memphis!) As I explained my wife was in labor, we were switching hospitals, and I was presently being chased by the Bartlett Police, the operator told me I’d have to call the hospital myself to let them know we were coming. There was nothing she could do to help me. I thanked her for not being at all helpful and promptly hung up the phone. MEMPHIS!

We slowed slightly to make a curve in the road, and then raced across the parking lot to the St. Francis-Bartlett Emergency Room entrance. I slammed the car in park and dashed through the hospital doors screaming, “Come help! Come help! My wife is in labor, and she’s having the baby now!”

Nobody moved. Apparently, husbands tend to overreact when their wives are in labor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t overreacting. What Debbie had failed to relay to me was that while we were racing to the hospital, the baby had crowned.

“HURRY!” I screamed. “She’s having the baby NOW! This is her FOURTH baby!”

Suddenly, everyone moved. Three or four nurses came running out to our mini-van. One was pushing a wheelchair. (Behind my van sat the Bartlett police officer. When he saw me enter the emergency room door, he patiently waited in his car. When I returned with medical staff in tow, I yelled to him that my wife was in labor. His only response was “Okay then, I’m gonna go.” He put his cruiser in reverse and was never heard from again.) A nurse instructed Debbie that she’d have to get in the wheelchair. My wife’s response was that she couldn’t–the baby was already crowning. The nurse told my wife that she had no choice, and they would look at her as soon as she got inside.

The nurses helped Debbie into the chair and wheeled her inside but not before getting the chair stuck on the door. They rolled her directly into triage. A nurse lifted up Debbie’s dress to see how far along she was and shrieked, “THE BABY”S COMING NOW!” (Duh!) They rolled her behind the first curtain, and the admittance attendant asked me to go with her to get Debbie checked in.

As the attendant and I made about five steps down the hallway, I heard a nurse scream, “OH, MY GOD! She hit the FLOOR!” I turned to see nurses scattering in every direction. One in particular had her hand covering her mouth s if she’d  just witnessed something awful. I raced back to see what had happened. I didn’t know whether Debbie had collapsed, the baby had been dropped, or a nurse had fainted. My heart leapt. It was 3:04 AM.

Reaching the curtain, I saw my daughter, purple and crying, on the floor in the corner of the room. Blood was everywhere. Debbie was crawling onto the gurney, and the nurses were frantically trying to move the wheelchair out of the way to get to the baby. I ran to the other side of the curtain and jumped over a trash can to try to get to Debbie’s bedside. I shouted, “Are they okay? Somebody, tell me they are okay!”

Nobody said anything. They were as panicked as I. They looked at me, and someone gave instructions for somebody to get me a chair, but I leaned against the wall and declined. I just wanted them to take care of Debbie and the baby.

The attendant, who had followed me back to the curtain, reached out, grabbed me by the arm, and said, “Dad, we have to get them admitted. Can you please come with me?” I reluctantly obeyed.

Within five minutes, Debbie’s paperwork was in motion. She and the baby were moved to room 228. The attendant asked me a few really important questions like: “Is Church of Christ still your religious preference?” and “Do you know if your insurance covers our hospital?” Meanwhile, I still needed to know whether the two most important women in my life were okay.

Soon, we’d finished. The attendant led me to Debbie’s and the baby’s room, and Debbie quickly reported that she was okay. The nurse was examining the baby who appeared to be undergoing her first tanning appointment. I asked the nurse if my little girl was okay, and she responded that as far as she could tell the baby was fine.

For the next 30 minutes, I bounced between Debbie’s bedside and the side of my tanning newborn. Debbie explained that when they tried to move her from the wheelchair to the gurney, the baby had entered the world by falling to the cold floor and sliding under the wheelchair into the corner. The umbilical cord had snapped. Apparently, my daughter is a natural break dancer. Over the next two hours, the baby was thoroughly poked and prodded, and Debbie finally delivered the placenta and was feeling much better. By all accounts, mother and child were doing just fine. In fact, one nurse mentioned they were perfect.

Debbie was ready for another shower. So as the grandmothers, who had just arrived, together with the nurse and my bride made their way to the shower, I sat in the window seat, held my daughter close to my chest, thanked God in my heart, and bawled like a big ol’ baby.

I’d love to say that in the middle of all the chaos I had the faith to immediately drop to my knees and pray, but I don’t have that kind of faith. My faith is more of a “do-what-you-can-as-best-as-you-can-and-trust-that-God-is-here-somewhere” kind of faith. Saint Peter wrote, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by pure fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” I have no idea why my heart and soul were put through the ringer during that little girl’s birth. However, as I hold her, I am trusting God will watch over her because I KNOW there’s no way I can. That’s already proven true.


This post was originally written on August 22, 2007 following the events of August 21. I’ve posted it a few times before, and I’m sure I’ll post it again. Today Evelyn turns 7. I asked her if she’d just stay six for another year and consider it a “victory lap.” After all, she’s gotten pretty good at being six. She responded, “Nope. I’m going to turn seven, but it’s okay because I still like to snuggle.” I’ll take it. Life is good. Life is most definitely good.

Bragging Rights

bragging rightsIn response to my unexpected class visitor on Wednesday, I decided to email my students’ parents to brag about the learning and interactions the boys had shared. I know the students and their thinking are the most impressive things in my room, and I deeply appreciate and love what I do and the boys with whom I work. When I email parents, I carbon copy the boys, too. I don’t want to talk behind their backs, and I always want to include them in the conversations about them.

This morning I shared with my feedback friend Jill Gough about my email to parents, and she suggested I share the letter here. Jill suggested it’s important to share how I interact with parents. The following is the message I shared with them earlier this morning:

6A Parents-

Wow. Your (our) boys are incredible young men! I have to share with you how impressive they are and tell you how much I appreciate your sharing them with me.

As you may know, we had visitors in our room on Wednesday in conjunction with the Project Zero conference this weekend here at school. Teachers from around the country and Harvard researchers spent the day observing the teaching and learning at PDS. In reading, we are in the early stages of a project-based learning unit that the boys are helping to design. The boys learning is impressive, and I was extremely proud to watch as they demonstrated their thoughtfulness and articulated their ideas to our guests. They also showed how kind and considerate they are. They were perfect gentlemen.

Our visitors were amazed. Working with the boys everyday, I sometimes forget how deep, intelligent, and mindful they truly are. In fact, they were so impressive that the primary Harvard researcher who is here decided to return to my classroom to spend the rest of the day (unannounced – yikes)! Our boys had moved on to their other classes, but I was able to spend the afternoon with Ron Ritchhart, whose work is the basis for much of what I do and how I teach. It was an honor for me, but it was really a reflection on your boys.

To the boys and to you, I want to say thank you. I am proud to be your partner and their teacher. We are two class “happy grams” away from a class party. Well, in my opinion, they earned at least a “double-whammy” and a class party for all they have accomplished these first two trimesters (and definitely over this past week)! We’ll plan to do that next Friday towards the end of C day, and this party will definitely be my treat. The guys and I will plan it out on Wednesday.

I just wanted you to know how proud and thankful I am and to brag to you about your boys. they are a wonderful blessing to me.

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you are enjoying the winter break! And thanks again.

Regards-

How do you interact with parents? What things do you share? Where does the student fit into the communication loop? Why do you do it that way? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Seems Like Yesterday

Just ArrivedIt seems like only yesterday…

I awoke at 2:37 AM. I know because I looked at the clock next to my bed. I heard the shower running in our bathroom, and Debbie was no longer lying beside me in bed. I stretched out my ankle like I always must after sitting or lying for a long time, then I went to the bathroom and poked my head in the shower door to ask Debbie if she was okay.

“I think my water has broken,” she said calmly. She’d been through this before three different times.

“What should I do?” I questioned.

“Go get dressed, pack your bag, grab the baby’s diaper bag, and get her dress and blanket.” My wife is always very patient with me.

I shot back into the bedroom, threw some clothes in a backpack, dressed, then changed clothes again before returning to the bathroom to ask Debbie if I should wear pants or shorts to the hospital. I was afraid it might be cold in the delivery room.

She replied, “It doesn’t matter, but you need to call Mom and Dad to come watch the boys while we go to the hospital.”

I dashed back to the bedroom, called my father-in-law, then continued scurrying about gathering belongings and throwing things in the mini-van. After a few minutes had passed, I noticed Debbie leaning against the van.

“If Mom and Dad don’t get here soon, we’re going to have to leave the boys alone.” Her voice was serious. Her look told me she was in a great deal of pain. I ran back into the house for one last item, and as I returned her parents had just arrived in the driveway.

I jumped in the driver’s seat, and Debbie climbed in the front seat next to me. I noticed she had placed a towel on  the seat beneath her. I backed out of the garage and sped down the driveway. Debbie told me to call the hospital so I dialed information for Germantown Methodist Hospital as I raced through our subdivision. From our door to Highway 70 is approximately one mile. When we reached the highway, Debbie told me I had to HURRY! I stepped on the gas, and we careened westward toward Germantown Parkway. I spoke to the hospital, and they told me they would be waiting at the door. At the light at 70 and Germantown, I barely braked to make the turn, and Debbie was annoyed that I slowed at all.

Less that .10 mile down Germantown, Debbie informed me that we needed to change our plans. We weren’t going to make it to Germantown Methodist, we’d have to go to St. Francis-Bartlett instead. I again picked up the cell dialing 9-1-1. Then, I accelerated to approximately 90 MPH and turned on my hazard lights. There was only one other car on the road, and it was heading toward me. I knew it was a Bartlett police officer, but Debbie warned me not to slow down for ANYTHING! We were NOT GOING TO MAKE IT! The cop passed me, made an immediate U-turn, and chased me with lights flashing (I don’t know about the siren). I never slowed except to turn.

The 911 operator was less than helpful. (You don’t ever want to have an emergency in Memphis!) As I explained my wife was in labor, we were switching hospitals, and I was presently being chased by the police, the operator told me I’d have to call the hospital myself to let them know we were coming. There was nothing she could do to help me. I thanked her for not being at all helpful and promptly hung up the phone. MEMPHIS!

We slowed slightly to make a curve in the road, and then raced across the parking lot to the St. Francis-Bartlett Emergency Room entrance. I slammed the car in park and dashed through the hospital doors screaming, “Come help! Come help! My wife is in labor, and she’s having the baby now!”

Nobody moved. Apparently, husbands tend to overreact when their wives are in labor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t overreacting. What Debbie had failed to relay to me was that while we were racing to the hospital, the baby had crowned.

“HURRY!” I screamed. “She’s having the baby NOW! This is her FOURTH baby!”

Suddenly, everyone moved. Three or four nurses came running out to our mini-van. One was pushing a wheelchair. (Behind my van sat the Bartlett police officer. When he saw me enter the emergency, he patiently waited in his car. When I returned with medical staff in tow, I yelled to him that my wife was in labor. His only response was “Okay then, I’m gonna go.” He put his cruiser in reverse and wasn’t heard from again, but I’ll let you know if a ticket arrives via the U.S. Postal Service.) A nurse instructed Debbie that she’d have to get in the wheelchair. Debbie’s response was that she couldn’t–the baby was already crowning. The nurse told my wife that she had no choice, and they would look at her as soon as she got inside.

The nurses helped Debbie into the chair and wheeled her inside but not before getting the chair stuck on the door. They rolled her directly into triage. One nurse lifted up Debbie’s dress to see how far along she was and shrieked, “THE BABY”S COMING NOW!” (Duh!) They rolled her behind the first curtain, and the admittance attendant asked me to leave with her to get Debbie checked in.

As the attendant and I made about five steps down the hallway, I heard a nurse scream, “OH, MY GOD! She hit the FLOOR!” I turned to see nurses scattering in every direction. One in particular had her hand covering her mouth. I raced back to see what had happened. I didn’t know if Debbie had collapsed, the baby had been dropped, or a nurse had fainted. My heart leapt. It was 3:04 AM.

Reaching the E.R. curtain, I saw my daughter, purple and crying, on the floor in the corner of the room. Blood was everywhere. Debbie was crawling onto the gurney, and the nurses were frantically trying to move the wheelchair out of the way to get to the baby. I ran to the other side of the curtain and jumped over a trash can to try to get to Debbie’s bedside. I shouted, “Are they okay? Somebody, tell me they are okay!”

Nobody said anything. They were as panicked as I. They looked at me, and someone gave instructions for somebody to get me a chair, but I leaned against the wall and declined. I just wanted then to take care of Debbie and the baby.

The attendant had followed me back to the curtain. She reached out, grabbed me by the arm, and said, “Dad, we have to get them admitted. Can you please come with me?” I reluctantly obeyed.

Within five minutes, Debbie’s paperwork was in motion. She and the baby were moved to room 228. The attendant asked me a few really important questions like: “Is Church of Christ still your religious preference?” and “Do you know if your insurance covers our hospital?” Meanwhile, I still needed to know whether the two most important women in my life were okay.

Soon, we’d finished. The attendant led me to Debbie’s and the baby’s room, and Debbie quickly reported that she was okay. The nurse was examining the baby who appeared to be undergoing her first tanning appointment. I asked the nurse if my little girl was okay, and she responded that as far as she could tell the baby was fine.

For the next 30 minutes, I bounced between Debbie’s side and the side of my tanning newborn. Debbie explained that when they tried to move her from the wheelchair to the gurney, the baby had entered the world by falling to the cold floor and sliding under the wheelchair into the corner. The umbilical cord had snapped. Apparently, my daughter is a natural break dancer. Over the next two hours, the baby was thoroughly poked and prodded, and Debbie finally delivered the placenta and was feeling much better. By all accounts, mother and child were doing just fine. In fact, one nurse said they were perfect.

Debbie was ready for another shower. So as the grandmothers, who had just arrived, together with the nurse and my bride made their way to the shower, I sat in the window seat, held my daughter close to my chest, praised God in my heart, and bawled like a big ol’ baby.

I’d love to say that in the middle of all the chaos I had the faith to immediately drop to my knees and pray. I don’t have that kind of faith. My faith is more of a “do-what-you-can-as-best-as-you-can-and-trust-that-God-is-here-somewhere” kind of faith. Saint Peter wrote, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by pure fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” I have no idea why my heart and soul were put through the ringer during that baby girl’s birth. However, as I hold this little girl, I am trusting that God will watch over her because I KNOW there’s no way I can. That’s already proven true.

Evelyn

This post was originally written on August 22, 2007. I’ve posted it a few times before and I’m sure I’ll post it again. Today is Evelyn’s 6th birthday. Wow. 6. I told her I don’t really want her to grow up–that I’m afraid I’ll miss my baby. She responded, “Well, don’t worry. I’ll always be your baby, but I’m still gonna grow and grow and grow.” I hope so. I really hope so.

Creating Headlines and Capturing the Essence of Our Family Vacation

Family Vacation HeadlinesGood newspaper headlines capture the essence of an event or story. Great headlines draw a reader in and make him want to read more. While headlines don’t share everything in a story, good ones express the most important aspects of a plot. Often, the best headlines not only inform readers, but also entertain them.

One of my favorite thinking routines for helping students’ capture the heart of what they are reading is Headlines. This routine asks students to write newspaper-type headlines to summarize and express the crux of the matter at hand. We use this routine often in my 6th grade reading class, and I have found it a useful tool to help me formatively assess my students’ understanding.

In my class students create original headlines after each chapter they read in a text. We sometimes share these aloud in class. Often, we ask the writer the follow-up question: What makes you say that?” Occasionally, I ask students to write a headline for the days’ learning as their “ticket out the door.” We’ve also used the routine as a way for small groups to report to the class on the core their group’s discussion. It’s a useful tool, and I recommend you give it a try to make your students’ thinking visible. Students need practice summarizing and identifying main ideas, and headlines are a good way to practice

My school has eagerly embraced the Project Zero thinking routines, and my sons’ teachers use this routine in their classrooms, also. Creating headlines has spilled over from school into our home as well, and I love to hear my children ask each other for a headline after a family outing or event.

We are on spring break this week and have traveled to Copper Mountain to ski. At the end of the day Monday, as we were riding back from the slopes, my second grader Andrew chimed in with his “headline” for the day. We liked his so much that Eric, Sam, and I added ours as well. I shared them on Facebook as a way of keeping friends and family updated on our trip. The headlines really do capture the heart of our family vacation. So, we added our girls’ headlines and continued writing them at the end of each day. Here they are so far:

Monday, March 11

  • Philip: Where’s the Ibuprofen?
  • Eric:  Up Down Turns
  • Sam: First Day – A Success I Say
  • Andrew: Cold Cold Colorado

Tuesday, March 12

  • Philip: No Longer 25
  • Debbie: Not As Bad As Yesterday
  • Eric: The Journey to the Top Continues
  • Sam: Family Fun Skiing ‘Till the Day Is Done
  • Andrew: The Fast and the Furious
  • Evelyn: Getting to Ski with Dada

Wednesday, March 13

  • Philip: How Did They Grow Up So Fast?
  • Debbie: She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain
  • Eric: The World of Turns
  • Sam: Bittersweet
  • Andrew: Tree Trouble
  • Evelyn: Skiing Is Fun

Do you think you have a good idea of what our trip has been like? How might you use this with your family or your children? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about writing headlines as a method for capturing the heart of an event, idea, or concept.

Running Thoughts: Birthdays and Street Lamps

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I ran 4.02 miles this morning in 37:10. I completed my run before 5:45 AM, but I’m just now finding time to write this. It’s been a full day, and I’m tired so I’m going to keep this really short. You might want to listen to the embedded Audioboo (above), which I recorded immediately after my run.. Two big thoughts came out of my run this morning.

First, I am really thankful for my wife and children. Evelyn turned 5 today, and I’m a little sad. She and the boys are growing up so fast. I want to slow time down. Debbie has a unique gift for making the kids’ birthdays special. We have banners, special meals, big celebrations, and personal treats. I envy her gift for making others feel loved, and I want to do a better job of treating my students like the unique individuals thy are.

Second, our neighborhood has no streetlights! And you can imagine how dark it is to run at 5 AM. However, on our street each house has small street lamp in the yard so I start my run with a little light, head into darkness, then return in dawning light. Do you think that might be a metaphor for learning? We start with our current understanding, head into the darkness (our inquiry), then return with better understanding? Does the teacher play a role similar to a street lamp? (I don’t want to carry the light metaphor too far.)

What do you think? I need rest.

Going Deeper, an open response to @intrepidteacher and @theteachinggame

This post is a response to posts by two other members of my PLN. Jabiz Raisdana is an educator in Jakarta, who I have been following on Twitter for some time now. His blog is one of my first stops in my RSS reader. This is a personal response to his post Next Level. However, Jabiz’s post was an open response to Katie Hellerman‘s Getting What I Really Want Out of Twitter and The Connection Challenge. I didn’t know about Katie before reading Jabiz’s post, but I now follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her blog. (That’s how Twitter and blogs work together. Someone you trust shares about someone they admire, and you choose to investigate the new person’s work for yourself possibly making a new connection.) Thank you, Jabiz, for helping me make a new connection. The main reason I am choosing to write my response here rather than on Jabiz’s or Katie’s blogs is because I want to extend their challenge to a broader audience – my readers (not that my blog will increase it by much). Nevertheless, I think this is a great idea so please read the original posts (linked above) and comment there.

Dear Jabiz and Katie,

First of all I accept your challenge and I’m going to connect your work back to me, but first, let me share a little of who I am.

I am a dreamer. I’ve always been this way. While I love people and really enjoy a deep, open conversation that allows me to connect with a friend. I could also sit for hours with my own thoughts and consider all the “what ifs.” This makes me continually restless, but fortunately, I married an extremely patient woman.

Speaking of Debbie, she is the most amazing person I have ever known. She is a beautiful, brilliant, and talented, and I am grateful that I have her as my partner on this journey. Debbie was widowed with three small sons when we married, but we have known each other since middle school. I actually had a crush on her when we were younger and co-starred together in a high school musical. Our youngest is our daughter, who has total control over me.

I have been an educator since January 1999, when I left full-time youth ministry to take a brief interim as a 7th grade English teacher. I was then hired full-time to teach 8th grade English and have been in a teacher or administrator role ever since in both independent and public school settings. Currently, I am serving in both roles. While I am loving being in the classroom again (I really missed it), I am finding it a real challenge to do both roles simultaneously and do them both well. I’m burning the candle at both ends and trying not to neglect my family. I confess I haven’t struck the right balance yet, and two things I have cut back on are time spent dreaming and reflecting and time interacting online. I’ve been “marking all read” and lurking more than engaging in conversation lately.

So what does this dreamer dream? I, too, have dreams of rock-stardom, Jabiz. Okay, not really. I would love to learn how to play the guitar again. I played when I was younger but haven’t practiced for…decades. I used to write lots of poetry and lyrics, and I’d love to write some music and perform for a live audience again. I do love to sing. I also dream of writing a book – perhaps a novel, but I’m afraid it would be rather autobiographical in nature, and I’m still working on the whole “transparency” thing. I also dream of traveling, moving from place to place, seeing the world. In this way, I am really jealous you, my friend. You have lived in places about which I have only dreamed. We are very connected with our extended family (they live nearby) and our local church. While I may talk often of moving to Iowa, Colorado, Majorca, or Patmos, the thought of being far away from those we love is always a cold shower of reality.

Jabiz, if I had to pick a post of yours that most challenged and connected with me, it would probably be Life as an Open Book. It’s not that I completely agree or disagree with your post, but rather how much it left me conflicted. (Full disclosure: I didn’t read the post when you originally posted it, but found it later.) I long to be transparent and known while I also desire to be protected and distant. I am a paradox, and at times, I question my own motives for why I share what I share. (Perhaps this is why I also connect so deeply to what John writes.)

Katie, your blog is new to me, but I have read through the most recent posts and will explore it more later. Your Getting What I Really Want Out of Twitter post resonated with me because I wrote a similar post last fall entitled Rethinking My PLN. You’ve also renewed my interest in a PLN road trip. Maybe we could go visit Jabiz as a start? :0)

I look forward to continuing to get to know you both (and be challenged by you), and thank you again for your willingness to share.

Warmest regards,

Philip

More Than Just Learning, It’s Friendship

(Photo credit: Stuart Seeger via Flickr under Creative Commons license)

By now you might be aware of the nightmare my family is going through as we try to get our refrigerator repaired. It’s a long story, one that is written and ready to post once I receive permission from my bride to release the hounds on Sears and Samsung. Yes, we are still without a working refrigerator, but I digress. The bright spot in this whole ordeal occurred a few days ago when a valuable member of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) offered to have my family over for a home-cooked meal.

Rabbi Akevy Greenblatt is the lower school principal at Margolin Hebrew Academy, an Orthodox Jewish school here in Memphis. It’s a school and community about which I knew very little. Over the past few months, Akevy and I had connected several times via Twitter. I subscribed to his blog and even commented on a few of his posts, but the two of us had never had the opportunity to meet in person.

After my last post asking for feedback on whether or not I should go public about our refrigerator woes, Rabbi Greenblatt left the following comment:

I’m always interested in meeting members of my PLN, so I responded to him on Twitter that getting to meet him would be fantastic and he then invited our whole clan to his home during the celebration of Sukkot. After a few more exchanges to provide me with resources to teach my kids and sort out the details, we finally had the opportunity to meet last night over a fabulous meal. It was wonderful to meet the Rabbi’s wife and daughters and to know that I’m not the only father/educator who gets grief from his family over his obsession with Twitter. I enjoyed the conversation and the stories of the Greenblatt’s  journey that brought them to Memphis. I also appreciated their sharing a little of their religious traditions with us. My oldest son was fascinated with the Rabbi’s library of religious writings. It was a fantastic evening full of great conversation, new learning, and delicious food, and I am so grateful for the hospitality of my new friends.

After returning home, I quickly sent a post to say thank you to the Rabbi for his generosity and received a message from him just as I hit send. It appears we had similar thoughts  at the same time. Funny how that happens.

As I was reflecting last night on our visit, I realized how much the Rabbi and I have in common. Sure, we come from different religions, cultures, and regions, but we are also both fathers, educators, and men of faith who are passionate about our families, our students and their learning. It was good to share a meal together. I hope it happens again soon.

Just today, Jason Bedell wrote a post about the benefits of TweetUps and meeting members of his PLN. Mark Schaefer also posted last night a story that has led him to want to get to know his online connections better. He even offered to arrange some Skype sessions. I totally agree that the face to face meetings and video calls are an important part of our professional learning and networking. While I enjoy getting to know people through what they write, it’s even better to get to shake a hand, look a person in the eye, or simply hear the sound of their voice. Such interactions, however, require time and purposeful planning. I’m grateful Akevy was so hospitable and intentional in making our meeting happen (and Mark’s already put a Skype session on my calendar).

Having said all of that, I’d like to invite you to our next Mid-south EduTweetUp this coming Friday night, October 1. You can see all the details here. If you are in the area, I really hope you’ll come. I’d love to see you and shake your hand.

So what about you? What has been your experience with meeting in person the folks you know online? What are you doing to solidify those connections? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

Repost: Welcome to Our World!

Me, Debbie, and the baby
Me, Debbie, and the baby

I decided to start this blog where my last website ended. Why? Because two years after the fact, I still get asked to tell this story all the time. The story is true and accurate as it is here, and I’m still recovering from it. I originally posted this story on Wednesday, 22 August 2007 about 36 hours after these events occurred.

I awoke at 2:37 AM. I know because I looked at the clock next to my bed. I heard the shower running in our bathroom, and Debbie was no longer lying beside me in bed. I stretched out my ankle like I always must after sitting or lying for a long time, then I went to the bathroom and poked my head in the shower door to ask Debbie if she was okay.

“I think my water has broken, “she said calmly. She’d been through this before three different times.

“What should I do?” I questioned.

“Go get dressed, pack your bag, grab the baby’s diaper bag, and get her dress and blanket.” My wife is always very patient with me.

I shot back into the bedroom, threw some clothes in a backpack, dressed, then changed clothes again before returning to the bathroom to ask Debbie if I should wear pants or shorts to the hospital. I was afraid it might be cold in the delivery room.

She replied, “It doesn’t matter, but you need to call Mom and Dad to come watch the boys while we go to the hospital.”

I dashed back to the bedroom, called my father-in-law, then continued scurrying about gathering belongings and throwing things in the mini-van. After a few minutes had passed, I noticed Debbie leaning against the van.

“If Mom and Dad don’t get here soon, we’re going to have to leave the boys alone.” Her voice was serious. Her look told me she was in a great deal of pain. I ran back into the house for one last item, and as I returned her parents had just arrived in the driveway.

I jumped in the driver’s seat, and Debbie climbed in the front seat next to me. I noticed she had placed a towel on  the seat beneath her. I backed out of the garage and sped down the driveway. Debbie told me to call the hospital so I dialed information for Germantown Methodist Hospital as I raced through our subdivision. From our door to Highway 70 is approximately one mile. When we reached the highway, Debbie told me I had to HURRY! I stepped on the gas and we careened westward toward Germantown Parkway. I spoke to the hospital, and they told me they would be waiting at the door. At the light at 70 and Germantown, I barely braked to make the turn, and Debbie was annoyed that I slowed at all.

Less that .10 mile down Germantown, Debbie informed me that we needed to change our plans. We weren’t going to make it to Germantown Methodist, we’d have to go to St. Francis-Bartlett instead. I again picked up the cell dialing 9-1-1. Then, I accelerated to approximately 90 MPH and turned on my hazard lights. There was only one other car on the road, and it was heading toward me. I knew it was a Bartlett police officer, but Debbie warned me not to slow down for ANYTHING! We were not going to make it! The cop passed me, made an immediate U-turn and chased me with lights flashing (I don’t know about the siren). I never slowed except to turn.

The 911 operator was less than helpful. (You don’t ever want to have an emergency in Memphis!) As I explained that my wife was in labor, that we were switching hospitals, and that I was presently being chased by the police. The operator told me that I’d have to call the hospital myself to let them know we were coming, and there was nothing she could do to help me. I thanked her for not being at all helpful and promptly hung up the phone. MEMPHIS!

We slowed slightly to make a curve in the road, and then raced across the parking lot to the St. Francis-Bartlett Emergency Room entrance. I slammed the car in park and dashed through thew hospital doors screaming, “Come help! Come help! My wife is in labor and she’s having the baby now!”

Nobody moved. Apparently, husbands tend to overreact when their wives are in labor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t overreacting. What Debbie had failed to relay to me was that while we were driving the baby had already crowned.

“HURRY!” I screamed. “She’s having the baby NOW! This is her FOURTH baby!

Suddenly, everyone moved. three or four nurses came running out to our mini-van. One was pushing a wheelchair. (Behind my van sat the Bartlett police officer. When he saw me enter the emergency, he patiently waited in his car. When I returned with medical staff in tow, I yelled to him that my wife was in labor. His only response was “Okay then, I’m gonna go.” He put his cruiser in reverse and wasn’t heard from again, but I’ll let you know if a ticket arrives via the U.S. Postal Service.) A nurse instructed Debbie that she’d have to get in the wheelchair. Debbie’s response was that she couldn’t–the baby was already crowning. The nurse told my wife that she had no choice and they would look at her as soon as she got inside.

They helped Debbie into the chair and wheeled her inside, but not before getting the chair stuck on the door. They rolled her directly into triage. One nurse lifted up Debbie’s dress to see how far along she was and shrieked, “THE BABY”S COMING NOW!” (Duh!) They rolled her behind the first curtain, and the admittance attendant asked me to leave with her to get Debbie checked in.

As the attendant and I made about five steps down the hallway, I heard a nurse scream, “Oh, my God! She hit the FLOOR!” I turned to see nurses scattering in every direction. One in particular had her hand covering her mouth. I raced back to see what had happened. I didn’t know if Debbie had collapsed, the baby had been dropped, or a nurse had fainted. My heart leapt. It was 3:04 AM.

Reaching the E.R. curtain, I saw my daughter, purple and crying, on the floor on the corner of the room. Blood was everywhere. Debbie was moving onto the gurney and the nurses were frantically trying to move the wheelchair out of the way to get to the baby. I ran to the other side of the curtain and jumped over a trash can to try to get to Debbie’s bedside. I shouted, “Are they okay? Somebody, tell me they are okay!”

Nobody really said anything. they were as panicked as I was. They looked at me and someone gave instructions for somebody to get me a chair, but I leaned against the wall and declined. I just wanted then to take care of Debbie and the baby.

The attendant had followed me back to the curtain. She reached out, grabbed me arm, and said, “Dad, we have to get them admitted. Can you please come with me?” I reluctantly obeyed.

Within five minutes, Debbie’s paperwork was in motion. She and the baby had been moved to room 228. The attendant asked me a few really important questions like: “Is Church of Christ still your religious preference?” and “Do you know if your insurance covers our hospital?” Meanwhile, I still needed to know whether the two most important women in my life were okay.

Shortly, we were done. The attendant led me to Debbie and the baby’s room, and Debbie quickly reported that she was okay. the nurse was looking over the baby who was apparently undergoing her first tanning appointment. I asked the nurse if my little girl was okay, and she responded that as far as she could tell the baby was fine.

For the next 30 minutes, I bounced between Debbie’s side and the side of my tanning newborn. Debbie explained that when they tried to move her from the wheelchair to the gurney, the baby had entered the world by falling to the cold floor  and sliding under the wheelchair into the corner. The umbilical cord had snapped. Apparently, my daughter is a natural break dancer. Within the next two hours, the baby had been thoroughly poked and prodded, and Debbie had finally delivered the placenta and was doing much better. By all accounts, mother and child were doing just fine. In fact, one nurse said they were perfect.

Debbie was ready for another shower. So as the grandmothers, who had just arrived, together with the nurse and my bride made their way to the shower, I sat in the window seat, held my daughter in my arms, praised God in my heart, and bawled like a big ol’ baby.

I’d love to say that in the middle of all the chaos I had the faith to immediately drop to my knees and pray. I don’t have that kind of faith. My faith is more of a “do-what-you-can-as-best-as-you-can-and-trust-that-God-is-here-somewhere” kind of faith. Saint Peter wrote, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by pure fire–maybe proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” I have no idea why my heart and soul were put through the ringer during that baby girl’s birth. However, as I hold this little girl, I am trusting that God will watch over her because I know there’s no way I can. That’s been proven true.