Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Franciscan Spirit in Poetry


This morning I joined the sisters at the Capuchin Ministry house to hear about "The Franciscan Spirit: A Poet's View." Jerry Schroeder is one of the brothers well known for his poetry and work in the arts. He shared some of his writings and how to approach spirituality with the heart of a poet.

Much of the beginning centered on a poem about Wind and leaving again and again on this wind to loose yourself on the wind. As the Franciscan sisters, brothers, and associates (oblates) discussed this ideal of following the spirit, I was struck at how other this idea was to me. They went on to share about poverty in following the Wind and being obedient to the Wind...and it was beautiful...but so very other.

One of the brothers said, "We respond to the Wind according to how we are made." Here was were I found my entrance back into the morning. The Wind blows through the Benedicitne life too, but we are made differently and may not fly about wherever the wind may blow, but it does lead us to dance were we are rooted.


Friday, January 30, 2009



The Teaching Analysis Seminar class had a boat load of reading this week:


Study 1--45 pgs

Study 2--30 pgs

Study 3--8 pgs

Study 4--10 pgs

All of this reading was to illustrate this one lesson: Teachers become experts through expereince and a willingness to continue learning.

I believe I could have learned that lesson after the first 50 pages of reading...or maybe I had a similar idea before the reading! Ah well, I have a new book to start Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed or Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare Teach. Both options for a book review due in the class. They are both challenging reads both in my technical understanding and my current practice; however, I think that there would also be a great deal to learn there as well.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy New Year!


Happy Chinese New Year! The sign of the Ox is a sign of power through prosperity and fortitude. The Franciscan sisters held a supper to honor their sisters from China to celebrate! The sisters remembered their community history in China. The community had been built up to 23 Chinese sisters as well as several Amercian sisters. When communism took hold, the American sisters were put into camps. The Chinese sisters were given two choices; they could either leave the community and stay in China or leave the country to stay in the community. Amazing...

The supper started with Chinese song and prayer lead by the remaining sisters from China. Before the meal was served there was one more element of celebration...Firework Sparklers In The Dinning Room! WhooHoo! The fireworks were followed by soup, pot stickers, egg rolls, pork stir fry, dessert dumplings, and fresh fruit! A great meal shared with some wonderful women.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Tidbit from Class


The Prof. in my "Teacher as Leader course" brought this song from Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim to our first class and read it to us. I thought it was a wonderful reminder of our role as teachers, mentors, or parents.
"Children Will Listen"

Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see.
And learn.
Children may not obey,
But children will listen.
Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.
Careful before you say,
"Listen to me."
Children will listen.

Careful the wish you make,
Wishes are children.
Careful the path they take--
Wishes come true,
Not free.
Carful the spell you cast,
Not just on children.
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you....

Careful the tale you tell,
That is the spell.
Children will listen.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Library Lesson Learned


I love the is a wonderful place to read, sip a cup of coffee in a non-spillable cup, and review notes over assignments or lectures. However, I learned a very difficult lesson at the library today.

I went to campus early to sink into one of the library's comfy chairs and finish some reading for my night class. After reading, I decided it's never to early to get a jump start on the 25-30 article literature review for another class. I sorted through abstracts about mentoring and teacher induction for about an hour and a half. By this time I had "marked" approximately 20-25 articles as possible items. I clicked print preview to make sure all the neccessary citation and abstract information would print...all was good. Next, I clicked on the button to indicate front- back printing (save the earth)...and the page reverted to my general search page. I lost the last 90+ minutes of work and eye strain. I tried "undo", I tried "go back", I tried silent prayer to St. success.

I shut the computer down exited very quickly stage left and called Kara. She was very understanding (thanks Kara!) and helped me laugh a bit. I shook off the bad karma with a cup of coffee and a stroll around campus. It was above zero, the sun was peaking through the clouds, and the snow was still pretty. By the time my evening class rolled around, I was back in good spirits.

Oh yeah...the Lesson...print first and save the earth tomorrow! (But don't tell the Franciscans!)


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cattle & College Kids


I was striding down the sidewalk to Joan of Arch when I noticed some tracks in the snow. Students had deduced the route of least resistance and had made their own paths through the snow. As a kid, I would follow the cattle paths on my Grandfather's farm since they were the easiest way up a hill or down a creek bed. I wonder if these college kids know they have this engineering gene in common with cattle? They cut between buildings and through the center of the 'green' slicing seconds or feet off the sidewalk route. Mind you...they are cutting through snow...I wonder how wet or cold feet figure in the equation?


Monday, January 19, 2009

School work and Snow showers


School has returned with pages to read and online chats to compose. I've met with all my professors and the courses seem interesting. Dr. Scanlan teaches the Teacher as Leader course and has an energy that is readable even over the internet page! His first assignment was to set up a phone conversation or face to face meeting with him. I set up an office was a hoot. He asked alot of "Benedictine" questions and is encouraging my research direction for a leadership project in the class.

The Analysis of Teaching course also contains quite a bit of research and project development. I will be covering at least 20-25 articles for a literary review. My saving grace is that the third class Introduction to Research is a bit softer. There are actual midterm and semster tests, but the 'big' project is a 5 article literature review (hmmm, I do think it will be on the same topic as the one for Dr. Whipp's course). The course centers around learning how to find and determine the usefulness of research. I feel more confident about this.

I have had one setback and warning if you will...don't do pilates and scoop snow on the same day. After several days of self treating my lower back pain, I finally went to the doc. Lower back spasms are mean. I was treating them correctly, but he recommended some assistance with muscle relaxers and a more powerful pain medication. Finally, my back is starting to 'loosen' up a bit. However, I think I will postpose the pilates and buy a pair of long-underwear so I can go walking in the outdoors!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More from the Mission


Fr. Richard had different themes for Tuesday's Teaching & Preaching. I'm summerizing and editing down to what I found interesting.

Teaching: Aquinas' Cardinal Virtues are all about balance and moderation (stolen from Aristotle). Prudence balances judgement and decision without making a rash choice or waffling for eternity. Temperance balances the needs and wants of worldly goods without becoming a glutton or living in total denial. Fortitude balances the use of strength and power without bullying or giving up. Justice must live in a balance of right relationship in giving and recieving what is due.

Preaching: What is the cost of becoming the Beloved? Accepting the invitation to become the Beloved only costs our own ego. In accepting the call, we lay aside ourselves and live as Christ in the world. What is the cost of denying God's invitation? A life of dissatisfaction rooted in struggle. He had alot more words to go around the idea, but I think you can do without the infomercial explanation he gave of God's Grace (I could see Marielle cringing).


Parish Mission


The parish hosts a "Mission" every year. This mini retreat conists of a morning Mass and teaching time and evening prayer and preaching time. This year the mission is by Fr. Richard Fragomeni from CTU. He is quite the dramatic speaker and includes wonderful stories from his family, friends, and experiences as a priest from New York. The theme of the mission is being the beloved of God...borrowed from the Gospel reading on Sunday. I am glad this opportunity came up before the school year swings into high gear. My schedule allows for me to attend the morning sessions and the preaching part of the evening sessions.

Sunday: Fr. Richard spoke about liturgy. He emphasized that we gather and create liturgy not for God but for ourselves. We need the symbol, song, smells and bells to create an openness to God. We celebrate liturgy for ourselves so that God may find an opening to touch our hearts in the gathering. He continued that this gathering of liturgy should be approached with the wonder and awe of a child. We need to try to see the symbol, song, smells and bells as new and not the same old bore that we saw last year...keep the wonder to feed the awe that helps us stay open to God.

Monday: Fr. Richard got a bit wordy in his 'teaching time', but he introduced the seven virtues and went through the etimology of virtue, cardinal, and theological. Tuesday he will further explain the cardinal or "hinge" virtues. The 'preaching time' became quite dramatic and I must admit I sort of pulled back and tried to listen to the message. The idea was simple...we are the beloved of God (period). All of the negotiation of what makes us beloved is not of God. God loves and waits for us.

I will share more of his retreat ideas as it goes along. However, in case I have appeared to holy in this posting. On the way home from Mass on Sunday, I noticed a new addition to one of the homes in my neighborhood. The family filled the front yard (a large yard) with a framed in HOCKEY RINK! Yup, they put up plywood sides and covered the lawn with plastic. As I drove by one of the kiddos was making a drive for the goal (net goal) past the front door! Hmmm...there are some things different about Milwaukee!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Back to Work!


I've returned to Milwaukee just between blizzards! It iced in South Dakota and snowed in Milwaukee the day after I landed! The sisters were glad to have me back...I think the joy includes another set of hands to work a shovel.

The spring semester begins Monday evening. I have three courses this semster: Introduction to Inquiry, Teacher as Leader, and Teaching Seminar. I appreciate that all three are classes that meet face to face. I had one course that was online and I felt there was something missing. I know I learned from the professor and others in the course, but I ask more questions and connect better when the classes are in person. I have already trooped over to campus to purchase books and scope out where my classes will be held. Now all I can do is wait for next week...and scoop snow.