Hear Maya Angelou recite her poem “Phenomenal Woman” while you see images of her colorful life!
This last Wednesday, May 28, 2014, American literature lost a treasure. If you’d like to read about her life, I suggest that you click on her photo and you will be directed to her official website. What I’d like to reflect on is a particular story that I have the pleasure and honor to teach every time I teach 9th grade English. It’s very short and it’s called “New Directions”. The short story is about her grandmother who had the intelligence, determination, fortitude, and perseverance to create a thriving business in the early 20th century. I particularly love Angelou’s crafting of sharp detail with poetic detail. In fact, I often use this short story (only about a page or two) to illustrate how those two elements of voice (diction and detail) work together, but are not the same. At the end of the story, Angelou tells the reader the moral of the story when she writes, “Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.”
This quote speaks to me. It tells me that I have the right and the responsibility to move in a new direction. This is what I’m doing with my life right now. Unlike Annie, Maya’s grandmother, I have a wonderfully supportive husband and my 3 children aren’t “toddling sons” but beautiful girls (17, 15, & 7). I am not poor and I am not an African American women in pre-Civil Rights America. Yet, I feel a kinship with Maya and her grandmother. I think she felt a kinship with any woman who tried to fly. She will be missed.
First, you should know that this post is going to be an interactive brainstorming session! Which of these strategies would have the most impact with high school students? Which element of feedback is most lacking in their lives? Even if you’re not an educator, how could you integrate feedback like this in your life? In your family? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or two, please! By the way, like a good teacher, I’ll repeat these directions again at the end of the post 🙂
As I type, ironically enjoying a box of Godiva chocolate that a lovely student gave to me, I ran across an article from a blog called “Hello Healthy”, part of a social media app that my sister and I use called MyFitnessPal. The article is about the importance of relevant and motivating feedback, which, according to Coach Stevo is “one of the most important components of long-term motivation.” I’m posting the link here, but here’s the gist on the 4 motviating ways to measure progress… for a diet. I’m brainstorming how these four feedback strategies could be translated to my students, my Humanities Dept., and even my doctoral program. Scale Got You Down? 4 Motivating Ways to Measure Your Progress
- Take Before & After pictures -Rather than hopping on the scale every Monday, whip out a camera phone and take a selfie instead.
- Use a tape measure – If your waist or hip measurements, the circumference at the widest points, are going down, you are losing fat—which is usually someone’s actual goal, and possibly replacing it with muscle weight. Just keep doing what you’re doing.
Play with your kids – Set a time to play with them every week. If it’s getting easier to do week after week, then you’re making progress!
Keep track of what you’re doing – Good things take time, and always more time than we think they should. Keeping track of healthy things you are doing. When you start doubting yourself, just look at all the little things you’re doing and remind yourself you’re on the right track! You just have to keep moving forward!
Now, here’s the repeat! Let’s make this post an interactive brainstorming session. Which of these strategies would have the most impact with high school students? Which element of feedback is most lacking in their lives? Even if you’re not an educator, how could you integrate feedback like this in your life? In your family? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or two, please!
Last week my AP English class took their AP English Literature Exam… WHEW!… and for these last few classes I decided to show The Legend of Baggar Vance (2000). I love this movie! Have you seen it? I love the lessons that it teaches… I love the cast… I love the golf metaphor for life’s journey. There are many messages for my students in this film, but today I received two new messages. The first is to just keep swinging that club. In this doctoral journey, in my journey as a mother, in all my journeys, sometimes I just want to stop swinging because I am tired, frustrated, or both. But that leads me to the second lesson – see the field. Looking at the big picture, seeing the field for it what it is and where I’m going, can be daunting but exciting as well. This is my round, my life, and I need to take it one swing at a time. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should!