Tuesday, February 19, 2013


"I hate puzzles," I say, reaching for some blue sky.

At Christmas, when Mom sets out a puzzle, I often do late-night-puzzle-terrorism, banging in a section of the sky that doesn't really fit together, waiting until morning to hear the, 'Oooh, who did this' and then wait for it, 'Hey, this doesn't fit... Sheena, stay away from the puzzle.'"

Cathy, my principal, has caught me in my classroom at 7:15pm, doing the puzzle. "Arwen's at fiddle lessons," I say.

"But isn't this what it's all about?" She nods at the puzzle.

She tells me about her day. The interspersing of inspirational emails and rich dialogue. Highs and lows. The richness of her network, family, community and collegial. She ends by saying, "I was just going to go home and email you, and I wasn't going to say anything, I was just going to say, 'I love you.'"

Would that everyone had a principal like Cathy.

A few years ago, my sister-in-law, Janet, gave me this puzzle. Thought I might like to use it in my classroom. It has sat on my filing cabinet, in its box, until this year. It's time.

At the beginning of the new semester, I poured it out on Miss Mira's old desk, and just let it speak for itself. No introduction. No fanfare.

Kids wander by. "I do puzzles with my Kookum," I've heard a few say. Others sit down and puzzle away for a few minutes, or maybe the period. I let one girl puzzle instead of notetaking. "I'll copy the notes for you," I'd told her.

There's something going on in this puzzle. I'm just not sure what.


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