Tag Archives: May

At a Snail’s Pace

In my profession, May roars, leaving me windblown and mud spattered in the wake of the urgency to squeeze in every last bit of learning, every memorable project, and all the performances, displays, meetings, and endless, but somehow necessary, paperwork before school ends in mid June.


And May is rich.  Students have blossomed into their most curious, creative, innovative, and independents selves.  They seem to peak as the rains ease and the skies warm, classroom routines providing the inner rhythm, the back beat, that allows imaginations and a year’s worth of learning to come together in perfect synergy.  The classroom is busy in May, with students leading the charge…both eager for school to end and reticent leave the comfortable place the classroom has become.

But there is a week in May where time crawls to a snails’ pace.  State testing, mandated in public schools, demands that my students spend hours demonstrating their learning.  During those times I hear each click of the clock reverberate against my eardrums.  The room is unnaturally quiet as students work through question after question designed to test their mastery of third grade.  The work is not too hard for my students, but it is too long…and requires them to operate very differently from our typical classroom routine.

It seems almost from birth, our students were encouraged to collaborate.  They’ve learned to work in groups, sort out misunderstandings through discussion and conversations, negotiate roles and responsibilities, turn to each other for support and critical feedback…until it’s time for the test.  Then they are asked to be quiet, to read and understand complex questions independently, write and revise without feedback, and sit for long stretches of time.

The minutes drag as I roam the room.  I check to make sure these first time test takers are progressing through their tests rather than spending inordinate amounts of time on any one question.  I search their faces, ready to intervene when signs suggest they are ready to crumble.  I remind them to use their tools, to take a breath, to stretch, and to check their work. That clock slows to a snail’s pace, each click requiring the coil of the snail’s body to snap forward, oozing its slimy self toward its destination.


After the second day of testing I can feel the mood shift.  Novelty got us through day one and two, but day three feels heavy.  The hands of the clock are now mired in sludge.  Students need more encouragement to keep moving forward.  I need to summon some super powers to settle the boiling tummy, churning with uncertainty.  A walk and a talk helps, we are able to settle in again.

I’m proud of my students.  They did it.  All persisted, all persevered, all finished the tests in front of them.  And honestly, that is accomplishment enough at this stage of the game.  Now we can get back to the real learning–the noisy, messy, complex, interactive projects that bring joy to the classroom.  I’ll be the one who is windblown and mud spattered and reveling in the mess.

The Moods of May: An SDAWPphotovoices Photo-A-Day Challenge

In spite of being known for our mild, temperate climate and outdoor lifestyle, May is one of those months that can become monochromatic. Terms like “May Gray” and “June Gloom” describe those days when we are wishing for summer and sunshine, but plagued by a persistent gray, chilling marine layer along our coast here in San Diego. And with all that gray in mind, I’m thinking May be the perfect month to play with changing our moods. And thinking about weather and our attitudes toward it, I am reminded of a quote describing the teacher’s role in the classroom related to the climate.

I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather… Haim G. Ginott

As a photographer, I also make choices about the mood in my images. The ways I frame the subjects, how the light touches them, the composition within, all impact the mood portrayed. And with mood in mind, can we find interesting photos to capture that reflect a particular feeling? So for May, our challenge is to capture a mood through a daily photograph.  I’ve listed suggestions for each day by letter of the alphabet, with a few extras thrown in to add up to 31, the number of days in the month.  You get to decide how to portray the mood.  You can experiment with lighting, use apps to change the appearance, try different ways of cropping, shoot from different angles…the interpretation is totally up to you!  You can be literal or take liberties with the definition, let your inner artist play! After you shoot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twiiter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts. If you are game for some extra action, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, try a learning walk, or write some poetry or even a song! You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using! Here’s a couple of my experiments with mood. Vibrant: vibrant ranunculus Tense: pirate's lair-tense Optimistic (maybe only Jack…Phil seems indifferent or defeated): begging cats Hopeful: hopeful- tidepools Tranquil: tranquil So now it’s your turn, here’s our list for May: 1. Anxious 2. Buoyant 3. Calm 4. Drained 5. Effervescent 6. Frustrated 7. Grumpy 8. Hopeful 9. Indifferent 10. Incredulous 11. Jubilant 12. Kind 13. Listless 14. Mellow 15. Narcissistic 16. Optimistic 17. Pensive 18. Playful 19. Quiet 20. Reflective 21. Solemn 22. Sad 23. Tense 24. Tranquil 25. Uneasy 26. Vibrant 27. Wistful 28. Whimsical 29. E(x)cited 30. Yearning 31. Zealous Let moods get your creative juices flowing as you explore through your lens during May.  Have fun, experiment, play with the limits of your photography…May is the perfect time for testing just how far you can go in controlling the climate through your images. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!