#celebratelu: Activism


Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get.

I have always been political, and I have always been vocal about my politics.  Ever since high school, I’ve marched for causes, signed thousands of petitions, written an equal number of letters, and done my fair share of contributing my efforts to get the candidates I’ve supported elected.  In my view, this what active citizenry looks like: you stay engaged, you participate, and you educate yourself so that you have a leg to stand on when the opposition comes at you…which they will, for that is also part of participatory democracy.

As a teacher, I wrestle with how vocal to be in my classroom, and also in my social media space: what can I write about? what should I share on Twitter?  This election has presented unique challenges because Trump was so often beyond the pale in terms of what he said and did.  There was no way to present this election in the normal way for my students, as I have for so many elections before, because he was simply not a normal candidate – no normal candidate has ever spoken or behaved the way he did, and I certainly did not want Trump to become the “new normal” for my young students.  Even watching the debates became impossible, for many parents let me know that they would not allow their children view the debates “just in case”, which was their way of saying they did want to expose their children to the language used by Mr. Trump.

After the election, there have been even more issues to contend with – the Immigration Ban, the farcical confirmation process, Trump’s Tweeting habits, and the rash of hate crimes which my students are really paying attention to, because they are in the news all the time now:

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There is a fine line between informing and advocating in a classroom setting, but I find myself having to cross it often these days because my kids are full of questions and opinions of their own: why are people racist? why does anti-Semitism still exist? why do people say hateful things? why don’t grown ups seem to ever listen to each other? why does everyone always shout at each other on the news? why are we still talking about all this bad stuff these days-haven’t we learned anything from the past?

These discussions always bring me back to something Mamie Till wrote in her book about her son Emmett’s murder: Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America:

That is, after all, how it works. We don’t come here with hatred in our hearts. We have to be taught to feel that way. We have to want to be that way, to please the people who teach us to want to be like them. Strange, to think that people might learn to hate as a way of getting some approval, some acceptance, some love.

Our classrooms and schools have to be places where hatred can be given no quarter, not even by silence:


So, even though I feel as though I am skating on thin ice sometimes, I will continue to open our classroom to difficult questions and discussions.  Truth telling is a form of activism, and I celebrate that.

Celebrate this week: Kindness, learning, and…cake!

Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!


I wasn’t going to post for “Celebrate this week” – after all, the news of the week left little cause for celebration.  Then…I thought of my students, and of the morning I spent learning from brilliant and passionate educators.  In doing so, I realized that I had cause to celebrate, after all.

We began our Friday current events discussions this week, and my kids were both curious and fearless.  They wanted to engage in the events of their world, to ask questions, to wonder.  At the heart of all they asked was kindness.  I celebrate that innate kindness, our work in all the learning we will do this year will lean on and draw from that kindness.


Author: janineharrisonphotography

I spent most of today at my desk, glued to my laptop and The EdCollab Gathering.  Chris Lehman opened with words that spoke right to my heart, and answered some of the questions my teacher self had been struggling with last week: how political can one be in these times, how political should one be in any times?  And then Chris said this: “Say the things that you believe-hold on to your humanity even when it’s scary.”  Yes. I celebrate the clarity of that truth.


And then, there were hours of learning at The Ed Collab Gathering following Chris’ remarks.  How can I not celebrate a Saturday spent in the company of so many inspiring and dedicated educators? I thank my friend Fran McVeigh for putting it best: “A day w/ is like 3 layer cake of many flavors.” I celebrate having a taste of  this kind of cake!

Celebrate @ #clebratelu : November 29th., 2014

celebrate link up

Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!

Today, I’m celebrating:

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Time with my three children.  I don’t blog much about them because their lives are not my story to tell, but I am grateful and proud of the people they are.  Spending time with all three of them in one place is hard to do these days, when they are busy building lives of their own outside the circle of our family life.  So I celebrate this Thanksgiving break, when the sounds of their voices and their laughter filled our home once again.


My memories of presenting with the Two Writing teachers team (sans Beth Moore, who was much missed) at NCTE 14. This was such an exhilarating experience, especially since it was in the company of so many of our SOL writing community.

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And my memories of meeting anew the many amazing and dedicated teachers I blog with and link up through Twitter every day.  Teaching can never be a lonely profession when it is shared with such people.


Being in the room to hear Jacqueline Woodson speak about Brown Girl Dreaming.  I was spellbound by her grace and humanity, her sense of humor and  her utter honesty.  We are fortunate to have her voice crafting stories for us today.

Celebration Sunday: Great books, rain…and October baseball

celebrate link up

Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!

A few celebrations:

1.  We are busy…too busy to be clockwatchers….


So, where exactly did this week go?!  A month into the school year, and my kids are already saying, “Wait, block is over already?! Where did the time go?”  And that is something to celebrate…there are no clock watchers in my classroom! We are busy, and time flies.

2. Great group work:

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Here are my kids teaching each other what they have learned about events leading up to the American Revolution.  Walking around the room, and listening to their conversations, I was filled with such pride and hope.  Each student worked hard to research and present, better still, they were interested in making sure that their classmates’ questions and concerns were addressed.  They are committed to their learning – which is a wonderful thing to witness.

3. Great books:

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I read and reviewed  Brown Girl  Dreaming” at the beginning of the week, and am getting ready to do the same for “Revolution”. I feel so lucky!

4. A rainy day:


A rainy Fall day in New Jersey – perfect for reading, grading, figuring out the next few weeks in sixth grade.

5. The playoffs:


My beloved Red Sox finished in last place this season. Pretty depressing. But, I’m over it and have the Orioles to root for now.  I love October baseball!

Celebrate this week @ #clebratelu :August 16th., 2014

Discover. Play. Build.

Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!

It’s back from vacation, back to school (or, getting ready to do so).  But, I wanted to take this Celebration Saturday to mark a few of my summer celebrations…before they fade into  all the “stuff” of my daily working/living  life:

I am so thankful to have been able to see my parents this summer: we live an ocean apart, and even though the phone lines are always buzzing between London and New Jersey, there is nothing quite like seeing them first thing in the morning and last thing at night again.

mother and steve

After thirty two years, my husband Scott remains my favorite travel companion. Who else could be so much fun to be with, whether we are in search of  obscure but fascinating historic sites, theater in all its forms, perfecting the at of the selfie, or a morning spent looking over ancient manuscripts?  So, I celebrate Scott.

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And finally, I celebrate the fact that I will soon be walking through my classroom door, ready to greet another crop of sixth graders and begin a year of learning and growing together.  My room has a long way to go before I can sort the boxes and recreate our learning space, but I am ready. So, I celebrate that!

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Thank you, Ruth, for giving us this lovely Saturday event – check out other celebrations here!

Celebrate this week @ #clebratelu : January 4, 2014

Discover. Play. Build.

Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!

A quick photo essay to name four things I celebrate:

1. That the holidays were filled with quite moments of togetherness – reading by the fire, story telling to the weary:

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2. That my children came home.  And that, brief though it was, the house sounded like it used to:

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3.  That I was able to wade through 45 reading journals, memoirs, assorted tests and quizzes (whew):

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4. That on Monday morning I get to walk through this door, refreshed from winter break, and start 2014 with my kiddos:



Happy 2014!!!