To Be or Not to Be Part of the Solution? There Is Only One Answer to That Question.

If asked to be, the answer is ”Yes.” If not asked, that is still the answer.

Isn’t it weird how Shakespeare still entwines himself into our collective consciousness through lines such as those from Hamlet? After being dead for centuries, William Shakespeare still has such a profound influence on us. We are still able to take almost any play he wrote, update clothing and props for the times in which it is performed, and make an impact. It is profound for two reasons. The first, because it demonstrates the lasting power of his arrangement of the alphabet. Second, it shows how little has really changed in the human psyche, and how much we are more alike than we are different, among nations and across time.

This year, it is difficult to find precedents for most things until we start digging a little.

We rely now on historians, with their treasure trove of information, to lead the way. We rely on authors and teachers of literature to help us make sense of things, too, as they scour works to find the right quote, plot line, character, or other element to ground this situation in the “human condition.”

Politicians with a sense of decency and who serve the public are relying on millennia of rhetoric and logic to help them navigate this narrative that seems to spin out of control, sometimes on an hourly basis.

Science relies on the past to inform the present. What worked before? Will the same process work now? What do we have in our arsenal of remedies that might help us heal others? Where is our foundation?

One historian who influenced me greatly in college was Sister Patrice Fehrer of Holy Family University (then Holy Family College). One day, as I was speaking with her, she said to me, “Heather, all of us are absolutely necessary, although none of us is indispensable.”

I have gone to that line hundreds of times since 1992 or 93. Most of the time, it comes to mind when someone declares they are the current Messiah, whether they say that, or use another term.

It speaks to our interdependence. Each human needs the others. We cannot survive unless we all work together. Since we are all fallible, each of us brings to the situation a gift someone else doesn’t have.

Together, we become part of the solution. If we try to go it alone, we often become part of the problem. If we dismiss the good advice of others, we become part of the problem. If we refuse to hear others, we become part of the problem. That is how we end up on what has been called, “the wrong side of history.”

If we want to be part of the solution, we must – to paraphrase the great Maya Angelou – believe people when they reveal their character to us, embrace those who are ethical and humane, and reject those who are not. We must also recognize our interdependence and trust the trustworthy.

We need to stop giving oxygen to the words of those who consistently think they know better than anyone else and who do not act for the good of the rest of us. If someone reveals to you, time and again, that they are narcissistic, I say you need to run. One who is confident and knows his or her capabilities will help the rest of us. One who believes that only they can fix “it” should be avoided. Cult leaders should be avoided at all cost; cult leaders never serve their people, only themselves. History tells us so. Dictators gain followers by presenting their intentions falsely. Once their followers believe him or her and relinquish their power, that person can do almost anything and get away with it. We cannot let that happen.

As teachers, we need to lead the charge to lasting, sustainable change. We need to continue questioning everything and teach our kids to do the same. Look at the history of the world. Prove me wrong.

I Did It Again. I Made Something Too Complicated.

The novel study portfolio project I have planned needs a lot of work to be effective for the students. The project should be fun, thought-provoking, and memorable – not painful.

Holy Post-It® Notes! This is what I did to a very good book.

To introduce the novel study portfolio project to my AP® Lit students, I decided to create one of my own. I’m glad I did because I saved myself and my students a great deal of frustration. I saved myself a good deal of embarrassment, too. In the image above, I captured how the book I’m reading, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, now looks after I used almost an entire pack of Post-It® Flags to help myself remember everything. My husband actually laughed at me when he saw the book.

My husband said, “Heather, your kids aren’t in graduate school, and you aren’t either.” He still remembers my days on end in front of the computer, researching, writing, and having NO FUN AT ALL.

Fair enough. We are supposed to help students find joy in reading great literature, not induce panic attacks. Besides, my hand hurts and the image below shows why.

My hand hurts from writing and rewriting these notes.

I love this book. I posted in an AP® Lit teacher’s group that I’m exhausted thinking about it, but that I am in love. My approach to these things, however, is not going to work for 16 – 18 year olds. I will end up making what should be transformative into something that reaffirms why they don’t want to read: It’s too hard.

What Was I Trying to Do, You Ask?

AP® Lit is hard and there is not a lot of time to do anything. To expose the students to a variety of novels, I created the novel study portfolio project that the students will complete three times, once every three units. Meanwhile, in class, we will complete units on short fiction, poetry, and longer fiction. The longer fiction units will focus on drama instead of novels, because it is better to work on drama together, I think. At the end of the longer fiction units, students will submit their portfolio.

The portfolio has several components:

  • Reader’s journal (the second image in this post shows my attempt at a reader’s journal)
  • An annotated bibliography for three articles about the book . These articles need to be from peer-reviewed journals.
  • Two responses to Free-Response prompts. We have a document of prompts used in past exams from which the students can choose, which is cross-referenced with a list of novels used in past exams and the years in which they were used. These responses will be drafted, revised, and edited. Peers will then evaluate the responses and use the rubric to assign a score. Before turning in the responses, the students will create a final draft using feedback from their peers.
A Refocus on the POINT of This Exercise

What’s the POINT?

As I was bike riding today, I revisited this assignment and asked myself what I really want the students to do and WHY. I was thinking about the unit planning acronym I’m using this year called POINT (Purpose, Objectives/Standards, Indicators of Learning, Negotiables, and Tasks/Steps). Thinking about what and why also reminded me of literary analysis and annotation of texts. What are we looking for when we annotate a text? We are looking for the WHAT, the HOW, and the WHY.

A new reader’s journal idea was born, and I think it’s better. A sample entry shows in the image above. Below, I have included an image of a blank chart. Students can hand write or type their notes. I prefer to take notes by hand. Students may actually want to take notes by hand, too, if only to take their eyes off the computer for a while.


WHAT – What happened? Briefly describe what happened that struck you as important.

HOW – How was the “what” conveyed? Include your “quote jimmies”! I’m from Philadelphia, so they aren’t sprinkles. “Quote jimmies” are a few words, not entire sentences or paragraphs that can be woven into an analyst’s original sentence to prove a claim.

WHY – Why is it important to remember and process the WHAT and HOW? In other words, try to answer the question, “So what?”

At the top of the page, I included the codes for the Big Ideas of AP® Literature: Character, Setting, Structure (Plot), Narration, Figurative Language, and Literary Argumentation. We will be visiting these Big Ideas continuously.

What Do YOU Think?

Am I on the right track? Will this new format help students deepen their love and appreciation of literature, which will help them better understand the human condition and their place within the human family? Please feel free to comment below.

Teaching a Hybrid Class? Bell Ringers Might Save Your Sanity.

Last year, bell ringers featured prominently in my instruction for about a month. This year WILL be different. Right? 

What Are These Bell Ringers of Which You Speak?

Most teachers will already know the term, but the explanation below is for those who might know it by another name. Please comment below if you know it by another name. I would be willing to adopt a new term, as I am not a fan of this one. I am, however, a fan of the idea, so please read on.

A bell ringer is an opening activity that students complete without assistance while teachers are transitioning from class to class. Teachers need time to take attendance, for example, so they fill that time with something that will keep the students productively occupied. Each minute is precious in live instruction, and teachers try to fill each minute with something pertinent to the curriculum.

Bell ringers in ELA could include reviewing the previous day’s instruction, vocabulary activities, grammar exercises, or mini-lessons on topics like theme. Last year, I used sample questions from the Keystone exams as bell ringers, vocabulary learning, and grammar exercises. I will do that again this year and use the rest of the instructional time to address more particular student needs and the curriculum. Diagnostics and benchmarks will tell me what those needs are.

Plan Your Bell Ringers 

A Google Slides or PowerPoint presentation would be perfect for this. Create one slide for each bell ringer, share the slide within the conference, and use a projector. If all your students, no matter their location, join the conference, you do not need to project. (On a side note, teachers already in the classroom are finding that students cannot hear them over the HVAC blower and because of the mask they have to wear. They are asking all students to bring earbuds with them and join the conference, thereby eliminating this problem. It sounds odd, but I recommend you try it.)

Here is an example of a Google Slides bell ringer I used last year.

You could also use a service for vocabulary and grammar instruction There are numerous flashcard services available now. Students can work on vocabulary during the bell ringer using a link provided or by signing into your LMS (learning management system) classroom. Some services make grammar exercises fun. Well, as fun as grammar can be.

Another idea is to produce a video of yourself introducing the topic of today’s lesson. Students will get to see you without the mask. There is recording software available, free to teachers forever. Other software is low cost. Students would sign into the LMS, play the video using their earbuds, and then be ready to learn. At some point, I will edit this post to include an example of a video introduction.

Be Consistent

Considering the rollercoaster ride we are going to be on most of this year, I am imploring myself to be consistent. A former supervisor of mine gave me sage advice: Make sure that everything you plan to do is sustainable. Therefore, the question I put to myself is, “Is this plan sustainable?” Since I lasted a month last year, can I last longer this year?

Be Helpful

The next question I’m asking myself: “Is this going to be helpful?” Is the activity relevant, or just busywork? Reconsider assigning busy work at the beginning of class, as it might tire or bore the students. That does not bode well for the rest of the period.

Be Concise

When planning your bell ringer, be sure to plan something that is short, well-explained, and within the students’ ability to complete independently. 

What Do You Think?

Please comment on the post. Thank you for reading!

What’s the POINT? Important Considerations for Unit/Lesson Planning during the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond

POINT is another acronym for unit and lesson planning. You know, we needed one more to beef up the alphabet soup of educational jargon.

Created by me using VideoScribe

In a previous blog post about practical considerations for teaching and learning during the COVID-19 crisis, I mentioned yet another acronym for teachers: POINT. We all need another acronym for teaching and learning, right?

I know that answer as well as anyone, but please hear me out.

POINT stands for

  • Purpose (Goals)
  • Objectives (SWBAT/Standards)
  • Indicators of Learning (Diagnostic, Formative, Summative)
  • Negotiables for Differentiation
  • Tasks/Steps

A Little Background: UbD and HyperDocs

I have been inspired and motivated by Understanding by Design (UbD) for a long time. A site called TeachThought features a number of articles on UbD, and its founder, Terry Heick had many conversations with Grant Wiggins before he, sadly, passed away. (ASCD also offers numerous texts on the subject.) My main takeaway from UbD is that we need to know WHY we are teaching something before we dig into the planning. If our purpose and goals are not aligned to meaningful learning, then what’s the point?

More recently, I have been influenced by a method tied to virtual and online learning: HyperDocs. Their virtual lesson template library is intriguing. You can the library here. Their lesson plan templates, when complete, are “meant for students to use.” They guide the students through the process, one step at a time.

A basic template includes the following checkpoints.

  • Engage
  • Explore
  • Explain
  • Apply
  • Share
  • Reflect
  • Extend

I was drawn to the “Explain” aspect immediately. Do we spend enough time explaining why students are doing something? Do we keep the standards and big ideas mysterious, or do we share them? Can we adequately address why the lesson is important, WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) questions, and how the outcome of the lesson is going to make their future explorations more meaningful and fulfilling?

How to Use POINT

POINT is actually a cyclical process, in my opinion. For example, a purpose could come to mind immediately and then as I work on the other checkpoints, my backward interrogation could lead me to believe that my purpose is “meh.” When I created the video linked to this post, I added arrows that point backward and forward. That is because I feel it important to interrogate (love that word) each checkpoint backward and forward to ensure that everything is in alignment. If we are to teach with intention and ask our students to learn with intention, then I think it’s important to ensure the lesson’s intentions are excellent and that everything the students will do harkens back to the Purpose.

An Example

Suppose I am teaching a literature unit called “Eye-Opening Short Stories.” I decide that the purpose of the unit is to examine characters within the context of a moment in which they make a big discovery about themselves, about life, and about living within the human community.

By the end of the unit, students should be able to recognize the textual details provided by the author to indicate character, contrasts with other characters, and that character’s values and beliefs. Those details could be conveyed through the narrator, dialogue, etc. How do we know that the character has made a big discovery? Where in the text do we find that out? What are the effects on the structure or plot? Why is that important? What was the author’s purpose?

Now I have to interrogate my original purpose against the SWBAT items. I find the purpose lacking. I can ask myself, “So what?” In other words: “What’s the point?”

I can add something to the purpose, to make it more relevant to the students’ lives. Something like, “As teenagers, students are in the throes of developing their worldview. Mentor texts such as these can lead to an exploration of events within their own lives (prior knowledge) that have led to growth and maturity (new perspective). We can make connections between the chosen texts and their own experiences. Students can take away from this exploration methods and techniques for making future discoveries about themselves.”

I’m “spitballing” here on purpose. I want to show you my thought process.

This examination of the first two checkpoints informs the next checkpoint: Indicators of Learning. How do we know the students have learned something? What diagnostics should we employ before learning? What formative assessments should we perform during learning? What does a summative assessment look like?

Next, how do we differentiate learning so that each student benefits from the lessons in the unit? Some students will be more prepared for discussion and writing than others. What do we do to support those who need that extra help; what scaffolding do we use? When do we release some responsibility to them?

At this point, we should interrogate the indicators and negotiables against the purpose and the objectives, right? Are they really going to demonstrate learning as it relates to the purpose of the unit? Are we just doing assessments to do them or do they align? Are our negotiables truly going to help students progress and learn?

The last step of the process, in my opinion, is to examine the tasks and steps involved. We have decided our purpose and our objectives. We have assessments in mind and negotiables. Now, how do we execute all that through specific steps? After deciding that, we again need to interrogate (still love that word). That’s why this is cyclical. Do the tasks and steps align with the purpose? Do the tasks and steps reveal something to add to the purpose and objectives? Do we need to tweak our assessment ideas? Will the differentiation work for OUR students? Finally, do our materials work?

What Do You Think?

Thank you for reading!

Social and Emotional Learning: A Critical Need in the 2020-2021 School Year

Today’s bike monologue video is my second attempt to create the video today. The first time around, I went down a rabbit hole about not intending to assault feminism and defend the literary canon of dead white males. Feel free to contact me if you would like to hear more about that.

Our nation’s body politic has endured a lot of damage recently. It lays upon the ground, bloody and bruised, gasping for air while the angry and disenchanted lean in on it. Bystanders stand by with their smartphones with 512 GB of storage, video recording the scene as they scream at those perpetrating assault upon an innocent. As the videos are posted to Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube, people express their rage at the perpetrators and everything they represent.

Meanwhile, the body politic is dying.

We Need the Madness to Stop

This is not going to stop right away. What is this? I can only sum it up as a lack of empathy, an inability to communicate effectively, a lack of confidence that translates to lashing out, and selfishness overcoming any sense of our interdependence. This aggregate attitude toward everything and everyone has to go disappear, dissipate like a chemical fog that has been hovering within our line of vision for way too long.

Just like the Portland Dads brought their leaf blowers to the protest to protect the Moms who risked themselves to protect the protesters in that city, teachers can provide students the “leaf blowers” that dissipate that chemical fog in our brains that clouds our ability to see what is happening around us clearly. Social and emotional learning strategies and curricula can help.

Students need support from teachers, parents, and the community to approach our nation’s issues more productively. Teachers cannot make much progress with students who go home to parents and community members who dismiss what they are learning. We cannot work on restorative practices, for example, only to have that student try something they’ve learned while they are home and face opposition instead of cooperation. If we are going to implement social and emotional learning, it needs to have the full support of everyone concerned or it might not work.

Some concepts that SEL supports include:

  • Empathy
  • Empowerment
  • Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence, Self-Discipline, Self-Control, Self-Defense, Self-Respect (Thank you, Hoover Karate Academy, for teaching me these; I will not forget them, nor you.)
  • Respect
  • Relationship Building
  • Decision Making
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Respectful Dialogue
  • Restorative Practices
  • Social Justice
  • Civil Rights
  • Citizenship
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Anti-Racism
  • Anti-Bullying

That is not an all-inclusive list. What we focus on depends on what our students need. This article is a good primer.

We May Need to Sacrifice Content to Support Our Students’ SEL Needs

Teachers don’t want to hear that they need to put aside their beloved content. We English teachers have to do this all the time, so we are used to it. Instead of teaching a novella, teach the college essay. Instead of working with students on a literature research paper, teach them how to write about their chosen career. Instead of fostering a love of poetry, proctor their senior projects. Here comes one more thing, but this time it’s critically important.

Just like COVID-19 is a life-or-death situation, so it is that the lack of social and emotional skills among many in this population is creating life-or-death situations on an almost daily basis. Which is more important? Every teacher knows the answer to that question.

Please Watch My Monologue

I don’t normally ask this, but today I am going to. I would love it if you would watch the monologue I created today. It’s not perfect; I will get better. But today my passion comes through. I got a little emotional, and it is hard to convey that passion through text.

Thank you for reading.

The Featured Image of this post is an example of the great work of Gabriella Clare Marino, who posted this photo on

COVID-19 and The Five Conflicts

The last time I wrote in this blog, I had no idea how much my life was going to change shortly after I published a post about Moodle. Since then, I have entered the life I have always wanted: I have become an English teacher. This is my first year in public education, and it has been cut short by COVID-19. I offer this blog post as a reflection on that reality.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

From Meditation 17 by John Donne

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

From “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman

Why Do We Have to Read Literature?

I’ve heard this question so many times. My answer, now that we are in the midst of a crisis, a pandemic: Because we need to prepare for moments like these. We need to prepare for frightening times, for joyful moments, for sad moments… for moments. We read literature to learn about the human condition, to absorb it within ourselves, to emerge from reading more a part of the human community than we were before. We read literature to learn more about our interdependence – not only with other humans but with the entire world, with all the beings, with all of it. We read literature to help ourselves admit our interdependence and to learn how to accept it. Eventually, we get it. It may be long after high school is over, but I hope that most do not have to wait that long.

What about the Five Conflicts?

We read literature for examples of the five conflicts (some might disagree on the number, but I learned of five, so I am sticking with that number) because we need to know how to cope with them. As a history major in 1993, I realized that humans can learn from the mistakes of the past. Our condition is such that we reflect on what has happened historically to make progress. As an English teacher, I have seen that we can use the five conflicts to categorize history within the context of literature (fiction and nonfiction) and make it more manageable.

The five conflicts are: person versus person; person versus society; person versus nature; person versus self; and person versus the supernatural. For each, we can find examples within literature to help us learn how to deal with these conflicts in our own lives.

Therefore, I leave you with this question (because English teachers aren’t supposed to spoon-feed the answers but rather help you to discover the answers within): What examples can you find within your literature treasure chest to address these conflicts? I bet you have read more than you might realize. While we have this time, think about it. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Be good to you, your family, and your loved ones.

27 Minutes: One Teacher’s Vision for a Standards-Based Classroom

In this presentation, you will learn more about my vision for a standards-based classroom: what it would look like, how it would be run, and how students’ progress would be recorded and reported.


This is the final presentation in a series of three.  As an aside, I will never use Adobe Presenter for presentations like this again.  Want to know why?  Please leave a comment.

At any rate, the other presentations are:

A 20 Minute Introduction to Standards-Based Education

Learn More about Standards in 11 Minutes, 15 Seconds

over the counter misoprostol online


A 20 Minute Introduction to Standards-Based Education

Standards-based education is a complicated departure from traditional education strategies.  For many educators, it creates cognitive dissonance, a discomfort one feels when trying to adopt a new view that is dramatically different from the one they have held.  By adopting this method of instruction and grading, educators are putting traditional instructional and grading practices aside in favor of teaching to standards and grading progress toward mastery.  This can be quite distressing.  Additionally, everything needs to change related to teaching and learning in the classroom: curriculum, classroom procedures, and assessment – just to name a few.


Constructive comments about this eLearning module are welcome.

Here Are The First Five Reasons Why I Love Sensei Steve’s Class

Before you start reading about the topic of this post, I want to mention that all the classes at [google-map-fb-popup id=”2″] are taught by well-trained, committed teachers who care about their students.  I wanted to focus on one class in particular, but that is no reflection on the other classes whatsoever.

Sensei Steve Turoscy, Jr. is a fighter.  I don’t mean that he is simply an excellent martial artist and an instinctive fighter.  I mean that Sensei Steve has overcome a number of challenges in the time I have known him, challenges that less-motivated human beings would have considered too difficult.   He has an internal locus of control that is inspirational.  He will not be held back by his circumstances; instead, he wants everyone to know that he is going to overcome them, and that if you find yourself in the same kind of situation, you will overcome them, too.



[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#000000″ text=”#000000″ width=”100%” height=”auto” align=”center” size=”1″ quote=”You have to aspire to inspire before you expire.” cite=”Sensei Steve” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]

Reason One: Everyone Is Welcome

I started Sensei Steve’s class as a white belt, after Sensei Kristie told me about the class and said I should try it out.  Others told me it was a very difficult class and that I should wait, but Kristie convinced me that I would be fine.  Therefore, I showed up the following Saturday morning at 8:00 AM, hoping that I would not be turned away.  On the contrary, I was welcomed.  I was also told to do what I can, and encouraged to continue to improve instead of expect to be able to do everything the first class, or even for several classes after that.  If I remember correctly, I was the only one wearing a white shirt that day.  Everyone else was a black belt.  Although that was intimidating at first, by the end of class I felt better.  I have been attending that class as often as possible since then.   Since then, too, other white shirts have joined the class.  They feel just as welcome, too.

Reason Two: You Are Always Challenged

When I think back to that first time and about how little I could actually do, and compare it to now when I can do so much more, I think it’s that Sensei Steve and the other students do not accept that a challenge is insurmountable.  What they do believe is that practice is the only way overcome internal and external obstacles to your progress.




[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#222222″ text=”#000000″ width=”100%” height=”auto” align=”center” size=”1″ quote=”Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” cite=”Sensei Steve” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]

Reason Three: You Never Know When Sensei Will Break the Routine

We have a format that combines PT, traditional martial arts, and fighting, and there is a certain rhythm to the class.  You never know, though, when Sensei Steve will say he wants to try something different.  He’s very creative, too, so those “different” things could be almost anything.

Our current schedule is:

– First Saturday: Regular Class
– Second Saturday: “Creative” Class
– Third Saturday: Regular Class
– Fourth or Last Saturday: Technique Class

Still, you never know if that regular class is going to turn into something you weren’t expecting.  Sensei Steve can add something much more challenging when he is in the mood.  He is also an observant teacher and knows when to change the routine to accommodate those of us whose achy joints and bones just can’t handle the regular routine that day.  He has also been very kind to me personally, allowing me to modify as I must when doing some things.  The point is: Sensei does what every good teacher should do.  He reads the room and acts accordingly.

We often have more students join us the fourth / last Saturday of the month for Technique Class.  It’s a great class!  It gives us a chance to work on the techniques and kata that we need to know for our next test.  I wish more people would come to the other classes, too.  I’m sure they would find them enjoyable.

When I was training somewhere else, our classes were all the same.  It was cookie-cutter curriculum that had to be followed by every teacher, handed down from corporate headquarters to the franchise owners.  It was boring.  So, it’s special to me to have teachers be able to try something new to get their point across.  Additionally, Sensei Hoover is not one to sit back and let the curriculum get stale.  He is constantly thinking about it, it seems.  Changes to the curriculum happen all the time, in the hopes that our techniques will become more effective and efficient.

When you come regularly to a Saturday class at the North Dojo, you learn so much – about yourself, about the practice, and about dozens of absolutely wonderful people.

Reason Four: He Has Welcomed My Son into Class

My son is 15 1/2 years old, and this class is for adults.  However, when he started working last May, I asked Sensei Steve if my son could come to class so he wouldn’t miss training on a Saturday.  He agreed without hesitating.  Recently, my son has been a regular in class, and in just the short time he has been coming regularly, I have seen a change in my son, both in practice and in spirit.  He works very hard in that class; as a result, he is stronger, a bit more confident, a bit more strategic in his practice, and a lot more skilled as a fighter.  My son has always been my best teacher, but now he is my teacher in martial arts class, too.  Being able to train with him on Saturdays (as well as on Tuesdays) has been a blessing.

He isn’t the only young adult who has been able to train with us on Saturday, and those who do are special kids.  They are bright, talented, and mature.  We who are able to train with our children have been given a special gift.  Sensei Steve would be the first to tell you about how much that gift meant to him while he was training with his own son, also named Steve, who now teaches at the West Dojo.  One day, he told Lucas and I about how important those years were to him.  Having seen the senseis interact, I know they were special to his son as well.

One of my favorite stories comes from another Mom who trains on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Her daughter often trains with us on Saturdays now.  She says that at times she will think of a technique or a kata and struggle to visualize it properly.  Usually, her daughter is on the bus going to school when this happens.  So, she will call her daughter and ask her about it, which always leads to her daughter asking her in an exasperated voice why she is thinking about that now when she has work to do.  Nonetheless, her daughter has the answer!   Training with her child has added a complexity to their relationship, and another stretch of common ground upon which they can stand together.

How cool is that?

Reason Five: Class Starts at 8:00 AM

For the longest time, my workday has started at 5:00 AM when I first shuffle down the stairs to make coffee.  Some days, I do start working at about 5:15, but more often, I am trying to wake up and ease into my day.  Therefore, a class that starts at 8:00 gives me a chance to sleep in a bit (till 6:00!), but still get in a class early enough in the day that the rest of my day is mine to do with what I will.  That usually involves a nap!

Because of the early hour of the class, my son is able to attend and still go to work on Saturdays.  He loves that.  Those of us who go to that class all agree that it is an ideal time, for any number of reasons.

[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#000000″ text=”#000000″ width=”100%” height=”auto” align=”center” size=”1″ quote=”Come in at eight, punch your ticket, and the rest of the day is yours.” cite=”Sensei Steve (paraphrased)” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]




These are just some of the reasons I love Saturday’s 8 AM class so much.  I’m sure that my classmates have many more to contribute as well.  Please leave a comment using the form below.  Thank you for reading.