AdventWord by the Society of Saint John the Evangalist

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The Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist have created an online Advent Calendar called #AdventWord. They send a word a day with a short meditation and invite us to take a picture which represents that word and share it via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m planning on participating by posting a picture and a short poem for each day’s word.

Today’s word is “Wake Up,” and the meditation they sent with it is:

Look clearly and honestly at your life–and take action. Now. For now is the time to waken out of sleep. This is the watchman’s trumpet call–the clarion call of Advent. Now is the time for you–a choice to be made, a decision to be taken.

My photo is above, and this is my short haiku to go with it:

Wake Up! Awaken
From the darkness where we sleep
Into God’s pure light.

Sign up and share your photos and thoughts!

Happy Advent!

“Coming Out for Owen” . . . Coming Out on August 25th!

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I am very excited to announce that my story “Coming Out for Owen” has been published in Kevin Jennings’s book One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium. The book will be released on August 25th. (You can pre-order it now on Amazon!)

“Coming Out for Owen” is my story about coming out to my sixth graders in my eighth year of teaching. Up to that point, “I never saw the need to tell [my fifth- and sixth-grade students] about my sexual orientation. The word sexual in that descriptor gave me pause in coming out to them: “Fifth or sixth graders don’t need to know who I sleep with,” I thought.” But, when the parents of one of my students complain that he’s being picked on because “he was perceived to be gay,” I have a change of heart.

Recalling the humiliation I felt when my fifth-grade teacher sent me to the guidance counselor to be evaluated with a note that read, “Alan is a sissy and seems to enjoy being that way,” I realize that I can’t remain silent any longer. My students’ reactions were nothing short of amazing, making us a real community, and “it made me a better teacher–and a better person.”

This third edition of One Teacher in Ten includes “voices largely absent from the first two editions–including transgender people, people of color, teachers working in rural districts, and educators from outside the United States– . . . providing a fuller and deeper understanding of the triumphs and challenges of being an LGBT teacher today.”

While “Coming Out for Owen” is my story, it also reflects the story of gay and straight allies, from the teachers and administrators at School of the Future, the public school I taught at in Manhattan, to the group of teachers with whom I workshopped the story at the Hudson Valley Writing Project. No teacher, straight or gay, should feel alone in her or his classroom.

If you are in New York City on Thursday, September 10th, come to the book launch for One Teacher In Ten and hear our stories as we read from the book! The event is from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School at 40 Charlton Street between Sixth Avenue and Varick (the high school’s location). Please RSVP by clicking this link by Tuesday, September 8.