Reading Resolution: March – Part One

This month I grabbed two titles from the junior/senior high graphic novel collection. Essex County Vol.1: Tales from The Farm by Jeff Lemire, a winner of the ALEX Award, published in 2008.  The other graphic novel I chose was Astro City:  Life in the Big City – which I have yet to read.

I don’t know that I have ever read a more compelling depiction of alienation and grief, as the depiction in this graphic novel.  The artwork is fantastic, as the boy, Lester, and his Uncle,  have conflicts, the art mirrors the despair they both feel.  The use of light and dark in the drawings, as well as the frames that slowly build to tell a compelling story, are a study in how the graphic novel form works best.  The use of technique to clearly convey flashback sequences was also highly effective.

I am far from an expert in graphic novels, but I found myself thinking that the artwork in this piece was really teaching me a great deal about what works in graphic novels are done well.

Students who like to read stories of loss and reconciliation will enjoy this beautiful graphic novel, and they may learn something about composition from a clear master.


The importance of speaking up

I do like to work with other teachers, through collaboration.  I admit, I am also slow to speak up and say I can’t do something, because I don’t want to be construed as difficult to work with.  I also like new challenges.  However, there are times when it is important to speak up.

Recently, I have been trained in how to give the new stardardized tests, and I was the test administrator for one of the groups that tested last week.  It went pretty smoothly, with some hiccups along the way, and now I have a better understanding of the test.

Last week, one of the guidance counselors let me know that she needed me to sub for her with junior high tests.  I agreed, that was reasonable, and I already had the training.

Friday, everything changed for me.   It turns out that a schedule had been created, but not sent to me, in which I was giving tests every day next week, often all day long.  Next Friday is also when all purchase orders are due, and while I have been working steadily towards that goal, I still have quite a bit of work to do this week.

At first, I was just upset about it, but I wasn’t sure if saying something would change the outcome.  After all, the testing is happening all this week, and there was not a lot of time to  make changes.  After discussing with the aide in the high school library, I decided to just talk to the counselor.  I let her know that I had not been given the schedule ahead of the time, and that it was not a great week for me to be pulled from the library.  She listened to me, and was able to figure out a solution by the end of the day.  I am still a test administer for several sessions, but not  all day every day.

Had I not said anything, I would have been upset – but really there would have been no one to blame but me.  The guidance office did not make a malicious error, they are overwhelmed with scheduling for next year, and also coordinating several major tests right now.  They are working hard, and still found time to find a solution.  Speaking up and seeking compromise are still powerful.