Labor of Love: Puzzles and Presentations
Hello blog! I took a month away from you, not because I have given you up, but because I have been immersed in something much different. It was a puzzle, but not the kind that used to sit on the kitchen table or shelf at school. In some ways, I suppose those were practice tools for this adventure. Let me tell you a bit about it, and see if you’ll understand!
Since November I have had an idea percolating in my brain about holding a day long conference for my whole school, based around the concepts of literacy and the ELA standards. I wanted my students to hear from a variety of voices about why literacy is so important to their everyday lives, and hopefully to inspire as well as entertain. Well, the concept got some roots during a few early meetings, and my passion kept growing. Could we really pull this off? It would be based on conference formats that I had attended and helped manage before, but with enough elementary twists to keep it school based and functional. I pictured an opening and closing assembly with three breakout sessions in between. With this skeleton format in hand, I began to work of filling in the faces and voices that would make the day count.
The goal was to incorporate reading, writing, storytelling, and listening skills. I had a few people on my short list, and began reaching out to them first for interest. Then I expanded my search to include local connections, teachers, and businesses. Parents came on board, and other activities merged to make for a true Read Across America celebration. As the idea starting sprouting branches and leaves, I could feel the energy in me growing. Often I am known as an idealist with concepts and procrastination as my vague tools. But this time I laid out a game plan, modified it as needed and kept the ball moving. Determination mixed with good fortune and good company has brought this whole idea into reality.
Puzzles are often built in the same fashion. Piece by piece, sometimes in spurts and sometimes left idle until a key part develops. The big picture is there, but all the pieces must come together as one. I could see the picture on the box in my head, but slowly I shared it with others and watched as they laid the pieces in place with mine.
Our School’s first ever Lit Fest will be tomorrow. There are mystery readers such as retired teachers, school board members, and parents, writers local and skyped, librarians (of course!!), and a host of skilled presenters who are sharing their time and talents with our students. We are mixing in science and math along with drama and poetry. It is a lovely mosaic of interests! The logistic concerns never seemed insurmountable; rather, they were puzzle pieces waiting to be shifted and placed. Even the last minute obstacles and switches have been manageable – mostly either because of my blind optimism or sheer luck!
The last obstacle may be the toughest to bear though. The weather forecast for today is calling for steady snowfall, followed by some light freezing rain. It could easily cover my puzzle with a blanket, making it invisible and irrelevant. I know the work that went into this project was worth it regardless, but seeing the completed puzzle would be much more fulfilling. There is no remaking the board if school is delayed or cancelled tomorrow, though I might be able to start over again next winter. Sometimes there is a delicate agony in the practice of puzzle-building.