I’m not quite sure when I first heard about my brother, it was either in late high school or college. My sisters had informed me that they thought my father had a child when he was in France named Franz. The only information I could ever find was a picture in my father’s collection that had the words “Your Franz” on the back of it. I’m not sure if the picture was of a woman or of a baby. I never confronted my father about this child, because I didn’t know if my sisters where just joking with me or not.
My parents died many years ago. My father in 1982 at the age of 78 and my mother in
1998 at the age of 84. Both deaths were relatively quick; my father in a nursing home
and my mother at a hospital following a heart attack at my sister’s house. My memories
of the their deaths and the events surrounded them have passed over time into the dark
recesses of my mind leaving me with just the memories of the lives that they had led
and our times together. Continue reading Black Memories…
When I was young I couldn’t wait to get older and do all the things that adults do. Then I got older and reality set in. I had to become responsible (not that I wasn’t responsible before); I had to make decisions that affected the direction of my life. In that regards I chose teaching as that direction. I’ve stated this before, my mother wanted me to become an engineer, my oldest sister was a social worker and my other older sister was a teacher. I sort of gathered all of that together, graduated from college with a double major in Education and Psychology and continued to have a fascination with math, logic and technology. I became a collection of most of my family’s aspirations. My father was a shipping clerk who at one time even had his own business, Walter De Paris, importing little knickknacks from France. His desire was to have a great professional sports athlete as a son. Though I liked sports and played them, the closest thing that I did to follow that dream was playing an ice hockey game at Madison Square Garden while in college and an indoor soccer game at Nassau Coliseum as an adult. I still watch sports.
I think more and more about the aging process. Continue reading Thoughts of growing old…
I had started keeping the names and classes students were in back in the late 1990’s when I was the teacher of the gifted and talented in our district. I found it useful when doing record keeping for testing in grades 3-5 that identified those students that would qualify for the program. The district did have a system on their network where secretaries in each building could input student’s names and who their teachers were in any given year. They would printout class lists that way. I was given paper copies of those class lists and then made my own spreadsheet, using Excel. I was the keeper of the informal school spreadsheet.
I grew up in New York City in the Bronx. We lived in a section of the Bronx called Riverdale. Now growing up I was always encouraged to say that I was from the Bronx not Riverdale. My sisters and I didn’t grow up poor, but we certainly weren’t similar to the wealthier people and better housing that Riverdale was known for. So growing up I was from the Bronx. We didn’t want others to get the wrong impression as to our status in the world. At least that is what I was told. If you want a job (as a teenager) say you’re from the Bronx. Which was like when I moved out to Long Island and was told “if you want a job say you’re a Republican.” Continue reading Growing up and finding stories…
As a storyteller I get to experience a number of different types of audiences from very young children to adults. As such, I get to see many different types of reactions and behaviors attached to those different audiences.
Spending time recently as a substitute teacher has allowed me to practice my storytelling craft with captive audiences that are just kids. I’ve been telling to Kindergarten and first graders as well as 4th, 5th and 6th graders. I’ve discovered that as I tell stories to these groups with no adults around, that I generally get full attention as the students get involved in my tales. I even get applause when I complete a tale. Students are excited when they see that I am going to be their teacher. I’m sure the storytelling piece is part of it. Continue reading a tale of audiences…
As a storyteller and a technology integration specialist, I get to go into schools and classrooms and see all the changes that have occurred since I retired from classroom teaching in 2006. There are times that I wish that I was back in the classroom and then I look at the stress that teachers today experience as they try to cope with the new core standards and teacher evaluations. I see these excellent teachers work to figure out how they can maximize their individual strengths to prepare students to be innovative thinkers not just good test takers. The multitude of mandates and requirements placed upon them make that difficult. It was much easier, way back then. We didn’t all have to be the same.
Through all my years of teaching I never stopped writing about what teaching was like. My reflections on what was going on in my classroom were very helpful to me as I thought out problems, analyzed choices I had made, and built upon the foundations of learning that I had forged as a teacher. Every year I would start my journals the day before the school year began. I would focus on expectations, fears and goals for the upcoming year. For the most part, I never looked back on my writing in any particular year, until after the last day of teaching, whereupon I would re-read the entire journal and then summarize what the year was all about and project some thoughts about the summer and possibly the following year. My first dozen years of teaching were pre-computer, so I hand wrote in notebooks. Once I started word processing, the journals became all typed. I even took a few summers to transcribe all of my handwritten journals to the computer so that now I have all but one of my journals saved digitally. The number of pages in each journal ranged from the low teens to as high as mid-forties.
How does one end a conversation or talk? Are there any clues that the end is coming?
In high school I was taught that good speakers should just conclude naturally and not need a pronouncement. Stating that you are about to conclude is superfluous. However that is not always the case. In some formal situations such as presentations and speeches I’ve noticed that there are a number of catch phrases and words that creep in to talks as a signal to the listener that the end is near. Some of these are very straight forward, as in: “In conclusion…” or “Let me finish by saying…” These ending clues though informative to the listener are unnecessary. I must admit that they are sometimes welcome and needed. If I’m totally bored with what you are saying and you’ve been droning on for a while, announcing that the end is coming gives me something to look forward to – immediate relief.
But how about informal conversations. Listen to yourself and others when talking and see if there are key words that pop up when you are interacting either in person, on the phone, or through another audio/video device (Skype comes to mind).
In my family the word is “anyway.” If you are in a conversation and there is a lull in the talk and the word “anyway” comes up, you know there is nothing left to say and “Goodbye” is coming soon. I don’t think we intentionally do it, but at this point it is a habit and will always comes up before we end our conversations.
I’m sure we say other things, but “anyway” stands out like a tune you can’t get out of your head. Once you’ve noticed it, it’s hard to miss. Sort of like the arrow in the Fed Ex sign.
Anyway, that’s about all I can think of to write about today. If you have any different words/phrases that you use, I’d be interested in hearing them.
I am convinced that I live in a neighborhood where the local wildlife have engineering degrees, do weight lifting, and roam at night with tool belts loaded with enough equipment that they can dismantle anything.