Monthly Archives: January 2013

risky business

2013-01-30 10.36.10 amYesterday in my Teaching Composition class, my colleague Antero Garcia and I had a conversation, as two experienced teachers, to discuss issues related to privilege, positionality, and culturally responsive teaching. I shared an excerpt from Allan Johnson’s book Power, Privilege, and Difference about the riskiness inherent in discussing issues of privilege (that’s the slide above). Allan acknowledges the tensions and defensiveness that these conversations can provoke while at same time asserting that they need to happen. Although Johnson’s book isn’t aimed directly at preservice teachers, Antero and I agree with him that the conversation is also a necessary precursor to students’ involvement in a service-learning project we’re asking our students to complete this semester.

The Saving Our Stories (SOS) Project will require our preservice teachers to create culturally responsive curriculum that will allow students to capture the stories of Latinos in Fort Collins. This population has been historically marginalized in our city, so the impulse isn’t something we pulled out of thin air. Antero’s students will focus on creating reading curriculum, and mine will focus on writing curriculum. We’re defining text broadly in the project to include digital and multimodal texts. Our students will pilot their curriculum at a nearby alternative high school with the intent that it will be adapted for use this summer in a digital storytelling summer school class for ELLs at a high-needs school.

We decided that it was important to frame the SOS Project theoretically with a problem we also know exists–the very real challenge that the majority population of teachers–white, middle-class—face in acknowledging that their increasingly diverse students’ culture (even in Colorado) may not map neatly on their own. So here’s how we did it.

Prior to class, students had read for homework a chapter in Johnson’s book called “Getting off the Hook: Denial and Resistance.” This Keynote will take you through the rest of our sequence privilege, positionality, culturally responsive teaching, but basically it went like this:

  1. We normed.
  2. We wrote to unpack the language around the terms privilege, positionality, and culturally responsive teaching.
  3. Antero and I, in the role of experienced teachers, had a conversation about our own discomfort and uncertainty in dealing with these thorny issues in our own teaching.
  4. We wrote some more to process and prepare for discussion.
  5. We drew on all of the above to inform our class discussion.

I’m still processing the discussion (you can listen to it here), but I do believe it was honest and brave, and I’m eager to hear how it unfolds in the rest of the semester. A few snippets: During norming, one student expressed her desire to really know what others thought about these issues. During discussion, some students admitted frustration with the reading, and another posed the beautiful question, “What’s at stake for our students?” Several students said nothing at all. How it all went remains to be seen, but I took it as a positive sign that students wanted to know about next steps and solutions.

What I’m doing next: In tomorrow’s class, I want to see what their thoughts are since last class. I want to share some solutions that Johnson suggests in a later chapter that they didn’t read, “What Can We Do?: Becoming Part of the Solution.” I want to hear what the students in Antero’s class are talking about today (since we share about half of our students). And I want to tackle the question of what’s at stake in light of their new reading assignment, “Warm Demanders” from Lisa Delpit’s new book Multiplication is for White People.

How I’m feeling now: I’m working from the assumption that my students want to do right by their future students. I’m a little worried that Antero and I, by taking the bull by the horns this early in the semester, may be accused of pushing our own agendas. (Are we? Is it possible not to do that a teachers? Don’t we do that every day in safer pedagogical territory?) And I’m determined to move beyond steeping in frustration to learn together with my students, in practical terms, about why this hard work is so necessary.

I’ll try to keep you posted on the results.


RWB365 log – 1/4/13

read/write/breathe365 continues to move along. Here’s the log for this week so far:

1/2/13: R = walk Lucy/Pilates; W = William Stafford rant; B = finished puzzle

1/3/13: R = elliptical/weights; W = service-learning grant proposal; B = read Anna Karenina

1/4/13: R = walk Lucy/yoga; W = ; W = journal entry on stairsteps; B = watched 3 quarters of an extremely disappointing Cotton Bowl

RWB365 update – 1/2/13

read/write/breathe365 Update

R = walking Lucy, Pilates

W = yesterday’s blog post

B = approximately 800 pieces of a 1,000-piece puzzle

Best of 2012: Pt. 2

Today’s RWB Log:

R = elliptical + weights

W = yesterday’s “Best Of” blog post

B = read Vogue (which undoubtedly will have zero impact on my fashion choices for 2013, but color-blocking–still in!)

Happy New Year!

I have a toast and a wish for you. The toast: This year, may you enjoy being yourself. You must read to the end for the wish.

My rule yesterday was one pic per month to document the best of 2012. After reviewing potential applicants for the last 6 months of the year, I am modifying (i.e., breaking) this rule in 2 ways:

  1. Some months, one picture just will not do.
  2. “Best” is a relative term; sometimes it won’t translate to “happy.”

The first case in point is…


This was the month of the CSUWP summer institute (happy-best) and the High Park Fire (brutal-best).


These events intersected for one of our summer institute fellows, forcing her to withdraw from the SI as her house was in the path of the fire. Thanks (?) to a good dose of slurry, her house made it through still standing. Thanks to her indomitable spirit, she will be joining us again for the the 2013 summer institute.


So, this happened.

ImageTo commemorate my promotion to Full Professor, we had a Mustache Party. Why a Mustache Party? After having said event, the obvious answer is “Why NOT a Mustache Party?” (Also, this is what happens when you seize upon a party theme late at night when browsing through Evite after consuming one too many glasses of your husband’s justifiably famous sangria.)



President Obama was the first sitting president to come to CSU. Thanks to my well-connected colleague Leslee Becker, Will and I were there. That’s us–the old ones in the upper-left corner, looking a little bit crazed, behind all those kids.



The 4th of July fireworks were rained out this year, so the city delayed them until Labor Day weekend. We headed to City Park for this serene evening, and I felt blessed yet again to live in such a beautiful place.



Another month, another party. This time, it was a Bone Voyage for Lexie who prepared to sail off for her grand adventure as a Youth Activities Counselor on the Disney Dream. The food was great. The decorations speak for themselves. And the people, well, as usual, they were the best.




For the first time ever, we voted as a family in a presidential election.

ImageHere’s what happened next. He won.

ImageEddie Munster couldn’t believe it.


And these people…


were way too tired to care.







This month, I gave thanks for:

  1. FaceTime because it lets us talk to Lexie on a regular basis.Image
  2. The men o’ mine who got to see a Bronco’s game (but, obviously, not entirely up close).ImageImage
  3. This puppy, enjoying Christmas.Image
  4. And this little beauty looking fabulous in a new dress on New Year’s Eve.Image

And finally, my New Year’s wish for you:

This year, come what may, I hope you will be surrounded by people like these–people you love unequivocally–who love you unequivocally back.


the best of 2012

RWB report – 12.30.12

R = walk with Lucy; Pilates

W = yesterday’s blog post

B = read Anna Karenina, watched 80% of The Artist (Word to the Wise: Do not start a silent movie at 10:45pm while lying in a Tempurpedic.)

It is 11:05pm, and by god, I am not breaking my New Year’s Experiments already, even though there are only 55 mins. to go. I considered writing something academic today, and as I was scoffing at those who were posting academic tweets (even though I retweeted one), I decided I just couldn’t go there. So instead, I present to you photographic documentation of the best of my year. It’s important to know that the “best” could actually mean, “I’m smiling, but my heart is breaking.” Which brings me to the first picture of the year:

ImageIn January 2012, we drove Lexie to Florida for her first big-girl job away from home. She had just finished student teaching in Fort Collins, and in early December as she and I were talking about what was next for her, she regretted not having done a Disney college internship. During Lexie’s sophomore year, I’d talked to her about an internship after one of my CSU students mentioned how much she had enjoyed her time at Disneyworld. It was a conversation in passing that didn’t surface again until December 2011 when it was clear that a semester of substitute teaching was the best life had to offer. What would it hurt to see if an internship were still a possibility? She applied with literally days to spare before the deadline, and 2 weeks later, she was in. Will and I drove her to Florida at the end of January. In this pic, I’m nursing a world-class sinus infection. Our road-trip goal is to pose with a fiberglass figure in every state we cross. We’re in Alabama here with a catfish. In a top hat. There’s really not much else I can say.

So on to February. This is my son Austen who has had a serious serious streak since he was born. Yet it’s not so ingrained that he’s afraid to wear something like this to school on Valentine’s Day. And I love that about him so much.ImageI’m cheating by showing two pics in March, but they are too good to miss. The first is our awkward family photo, starring Lexie, Austen, and me at the Magic Kingdom during spring break. Will is taking the picture, and Lynley is still in school at CU, undoubtedly cursing us under her breath.ImageAlso in March, Austen starred as the skinniest Daddy Warbucks ever in Annie at Rocky Mountain High School. Lexie managed to get time off to return to FoCo to see the show. Here, she and Lynley play proud big sisters on opening night after the show.ImageIn April, my best friend from Oklahoma called me and said, “I have tickets to Garth Brooks’ show in Vegas. All you have to do is get here.” So I did, and here we are in the lobby of the Wynn. At this point in the day, I have already lost my purse on the shuttle, been locked out of my hotel room, and sweated through an outfit. And yet, I am happy. Such is friendship.

ImageMay. This is a truly horrible photo, and I am, again, truly happy in it. Lynley, Lex, and I are again in Disneyworld, this time for lunch at the Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios with another Oklahoma best friend, Clark, and his partner Jason. We laughed till we cried on multiple occasions that week, including the day we ate breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle and  our presence as the “Jobe Family” proved an anomaly to the rest of the castle crowd. But if “family” means you really, really love each other, then all week long, that was us.

And, oh my goodness, the ball is dropping, so I’ll finish the last 6 months tomorrow.

Happy New Year!