Unmuting myself

           I haven’t lost any family to COVID-19. My home was not ravaged by floods or blown apart by a hurricane. I did not have to escape a wildfire with just the clothes on my back. My school district has (mostly) listened to teachers and kept students home doing online instruction. I am fully employed. I feel grateful for good health and enough food to eat. But an unsettled feeling of restlessness, tension, and anxiety keeps me tossing and turning at night. 

           The combative tone set by the White House and uncertainty around the November 3 presidential elections permeate every daylight hour. Teachers are working harder than ever – learning new platforms, new apps, new instructional models, adjusting to new schedules, and adapting curriculum. We are juggling our own family responsibilities on top of four+ hours a day of mandated live Zoom meetings, each of which requires additional prep time. Yet we are being torn apart in the media for being “lazy” because we fought to do virtual-only learning until it is safe to go back into school buildings.

Where society is failing, teachers are getting it done. The Board of Education seems to think that regulating our every waking hour will justify our salaries. We are the professionals – we need to determine how our own time is spent. I can guarantee that teachers will put in extra hours to get the job done, no matter what the Board says. Schools are distributing meals, providing mental health counseling, and reaching out to families who need tech support. Schools provide a safe space and a community for the children we teach. Nobody knows better than classroom teachers how important it is to get kids back into the building. Online instruction is far from ideal, but it is better than putting a single life at risk due to COVID-19.

This year, for high school ESOL teachers in my district, there’s an added layer of complexity to our jobs. Instead of small, self-contained ESOL classrooms, we are now coteaching Honors English classes – we have no on-level English courses. My English Language Learners (ELLs) are now in classes with 29 students. Am I supposed to deliver ESOL services via Zoom chat while the regular teacher is talking? I’m struggling with this model. Coteaching is really hard. So much harder than teaching alone. It requires patience, diplomacy, careful dialogue, and mutual respect. I appreciate that my colleagues are so open-minded and hope that I am not stepping on their toes or pushing my ideas on them too much. It’s supposed to be a collaboration, but I feel marginalized. Just like my students.

All I want is for our leaders to recognize how hard it is to be a teacher right now. The students are showing up for class, ready and willing to learn. They need the structure and the opportunity to engage with peers. Even though I rarely see the students’ faces on Zoom or hear their voices, I know they are participating in this new way of doing school. When I lose sleep over the workload or the direction of the country, I remember the students. And I feel grateful for the best job in the world.

Jump! How high?

Teachers are by nature long-range planners. So when the school district says “Jump!” they usually respond, “How high? How far? How often? By what measure? Where do we record our progress? Using what platform? When is it due?” But this year is different. In the state of Maryland, Governor Hogan announced that buildings could reopen – two days before school started. Teachers are asking, “Why?” and not getting good answers back. So we have taken to collective action to protest the reopening physical schools, and I’m happy that it seems to be working.

In my district, teachers wrote thousands of letters to the Board of Education before their vote. One member said she’d never felt so much pressure. Good! How can administrators, politicians, parents, and Board members fail to think about teachers when they make decisions to reopen schools? Nobody wants to teach to a computer screen full of little black tiles with microphones muted and cameras turned off. We all want schools to reopen – but it has to be safe. School officials must address teachers’ “what if” questions. 

What if students refuse to wear their masks? What if a student gets sick? What if a teacher gets sick? What if she has no more sick leave? What if we teach Special Education and have to help students with personal care? What happens during lunch when students take off their masks to eat? Who cleans the classroom? What if the ventilation is 40 years old and inadequate in the best of times?

We just finished the first week of online school and I’ve been inspired by my colleagues. We’re adapting to the virtual world like superheroes! In the last few weeks, teachers have turned spare corners into classrooms with professional lighting, microphones, sound systems, and props. Teachers have become the stage crew for their own superhero productions. I think some of my colleagues have even mastered CGI special effects. 

Those in my professional learning community have shown the power of collaboration — helping one another implement a new instructional model, master a dozen new apps, use a new platform, navigate a new database and grading system, adapt a new curriculum, and a live a new schedule. We’ve got multiple laptops open, countless training hours logged, we’ve prepped and met, and it was all worth it, even if we couldn’t really see the students. I have never appreciated my colleagues more.

Everyone wants to get back to school – we yearn for the relationships developed in person. I miss my students so much, and I know they miss school. But here we are, teaching and learning in a global health pandemic, working harder than we’ve ever worked before, doing the best we can.

When politicians make decisions about my working conditions without considering our legitimate health concerns, I just have one final question: what if none of the teachers agree to go back to school? 

Lost and Found

So many people are mourning their losses this spring and summer. A killer virus lurks around every corner – or every person not wearing a face mask – and we have lost the ability to do almost anything normal. We can no longer go to work, gather in large crowds, sit indoors at restaurants, or attend parties. Virtual cocktail hours have replaced the real thing. Political divisions and raw emotion have replaced civil discourse. When I most need a friendly hug or a collegial conversation, the best I get now is an elbow bump or Zoom. I miss my colleagues, my students, and my friends. I miss my mother.

With almost at 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the US, I think about Mum sitting alone in her assisted living apartment, safe from the pandemic for now. She is recovering from hip surgery and will probably never walk again, due to her advanced dementia and the fact that no physical therapists are allowed into the facility. She can barely hear, so a phone call is frustrating. I feel like I’m losing my mother bit by bit. However, I know that she is still here physically, and am thankful for that small grace, when others have not been so lucky.

Yesterday I found a little moment of happiness when I went to visit her. I expected to sit outside her window and communicate through the glass. Instead, the Activities Director wheeled her out to the front porch, all bundled up in a blanket, and allowed us a precious 30-minute visit. Just hearing her voice was a salve to my heart. She reminisced about her life as an Army nurse during World War II, about how they gave her so much responsibility, even though she was very young. I wanted desperately to hug her and warm her hands in mine.

Small moments of success like this take on new meaning during a global pandemic. My mother is a fighter, and she has passed down that optimism to me. In spite of the mounting losses in the world, I can feel grateful for this brief human connection.

 

Little Black Boxes

Each black square represents a student who has logged in to our ESOL 5 Zoom class. Their video is turned off and the microphone is muted. I stare at my face in its own little box as I pose the circle question to get started. “If you could create the ideal society, what would you be sure to include?” One at a time they unmute their microphones and speak. “Free health care for everyone, equal opportunity, no race discrimination, free university, and free food.” We were reading a short dystopian fiction piece, and I was pleased with their thoughtful responses. It was before George Floyd and the marches for racial justice. It was in late April, a long time ago, and students were worried about COVID-19 and getting their next meal. They were still engaged in online learning. I was still wearing lipstick and earrings to class.

Now school is finished and I’m heartbroken that it was so anti-climactic. I didn’t get to return their Reflection writing from the first week of school and have them comment on their goals. We didn’t have a party. I didn’t get to send the seniors off with a final celebration or watch them march across the stage to Pomp and Circumstance. I didn’t get to remind the ESOL 1 students how much their English has improved. We didn’t talk about summer plans. I’ve been so focused on getting to the finish line, that I didn’t expect the rush of emotion that came with the slow fade out.

As frustrating as it was to conduct classes with my computer screen, I relished every single contact I had with students. Breaking with my 15-year policy of not sharing my personal cell phone, this spring I routinely gave my number to every student. I cringed in anticipation of abuse, but it never came. Students were super respectful of this new relationship and never contacted me too early or too late. On Sunday I got a message in Spanish from a newcomer: Are we finished with school? I think you said yes. Another student asked for a second supermarket gift card for her family. A third student wanted to confirm his new address so that he could get his diploma mailed there. These are not normally things I would have to address.

Some students fell off a cliff after March 13th and I never really heard from them again. I spent hours trying to reach them, documenting every call, every email, every U.S. Mail letter that I sent. Bilingual counselors got involved. Administrators followed up. Three students moved back to their countries. I logged every contact in the system. I excused missing assignments and graded with compassion, assuming hardship. When students turned in work, I found something positive to say. When students showed up for Zoom, I talked about my cat, my neighbor, my son, or what I was reading before I reviewed the week’s work. I never “wasted time” like that before, and it felt like a much-needed mindshift.

If there’s anything good that came out of this COVID-19 crisis teaching, it’s that I’ve built new relationships with students. I feel much closer to the ones who stayed active. We know each other better in a different way than we would in a classroom. I know who has noisy little siblings and who has tension with her parents. In spite of this, the ESOL students have given thoughtful, mature, philosophical answers to questions that I posed for discussion. In part, it’s because they’re well-rested and there’s little else for them to focus on. Another part is that they actually crave a connection to school and learning.

School’s out for summer, but I’m not naïve enough to think that we won’t be using some form of online instruction in the fall. I know now that I will have to work hard at building real relationships with students from the very beginning – that means learning about their families, their culture, their thoughts and feelings, their music, hobbies, and interests. It means sharing more of myself with them, creating a safe environment where they can open up, and encouraging genuine reflection.

If I could create the ideal classroom, every student would have equal opportunity, free food, and universal health care. There would be no discrimination by race, gender, or other indicator. I’m optimistic that the dystopian nightmare we are living through will one day end, and my students will show up ready and eager to learn. I will have engaging, meaningful lessons matched perfectly to their interests and abilities. In the meantime, I’ll be reading, reflecting, and reaching out to colleagues this summer, hoping to rebuild a routine in the fall. I will have a new haircut and nobody will notice because we’ll all just be so happy to see each other in person.

This moment is too big

You would think that with all of this down time I’d be blogging more than ever. Instead I have been almost paralyzed by the enormity of this moment in time. Where would I even begin to make sense of it all? I’m taking an online writing class and the instructors always recommend that we “write small.”

Do I write about a newcomer ESOL student whose first day in my class was the Wednesday before school ended? The one who spoke no English at all? I got her a Chromebook to take home and she signed into my Google Classroom. When she asked why (in Spanish), I didn’t have the words or the time to explain. I thought it would be a two-week shut down and at least she could see my announcements.

Do I write about how I’ve taught myself how to use a new platform? How I’ve downloaded unfamiliar apps, selected, edited and published assignments, then performed troubleshooting tech support when my students couldn’t access the content I spend hours and hours creating? I could talk about my first Zoom meeting with 21 students. Before I knew how to use all the features and before my district blocked some of them – one of the students took the entire class with him into the bathroom while he checked his hair in the mirror. He made loud, rude noises while we all watched, listened, and laughed uncomfortably. Now I’m happy if students show up at all for Zoom class.

I could write about my ESOL 5 class, the advanced class. I’ve noticed that even with these nearly-proficient students, there’s some back-sliding. They’re making grammar and pronunciation mistakes that I thought were corrected back in January. But the good thing is that I’m focusing less on the errors and more on the substance of they’re saying. If one good thing has come from this coronavirus shutdown it’s that students are giving better, more thoughtful responses to questions I pose.

“If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” or “If you could meet anyone, living, dead, or fictional, who would it be and why?” or “What is more important, fairness or freedom?” My students have more time to be reflective. I have more time to read all their answers, to give personalized feedback, and to have the sense of real and valuable exchange. I wish we had more time to be reflective during the school year instead of running on a treadmill. This slow down is causing us all to be a little more philosophical.

Students all over the world are being affected negatively by this shutdown. But many of my students are hungry, fearful, and bored. Immigrant families are not getting a stimulus check or filing for unemployment. They’ve lost jobs and have no safety net. Every day I call the families, and they seem grateful for information about community resources, food, medical assistance, immigration centers that offer financial aid, etc. One student said she’s afraid for her mother to go shopping for fear of deportation. Another selected an image to describe for an assignment. It showed a woman walking down an empty city street. “She’s probably going shopping because there’s no food at home.”

I understand what a heroic effort it takes to learn new technology. My students are doing it in a foreign language, during a global health pandemic, often without any support at home. The ones who most need my help are not able to ask for it. One of my Level 1 newcomers sent me a message that she had deleted by mistake all the slides on Google Classroom. She hadn’t deleted anything; she had simply added 10 empty slides by mistake and didn’t know to scroll down to see them. Most can not even tell me why they’re not doing any work.

I’ve got half the students most high school teachers have. I won’t say it’s easy, but I have now telephoned, emailed or sent USPS letters to every single one of them, starting with seniors and working my way down to the ones who have disappeared. When that doesn’t work, I can ask bilingual counselors, administrators, or pupil personnel workers for help. I can also text students whose cell phone numbers I have and ask them if they know how to contact a classmate. These are not normal times, and sometimes we have to go against “the rules” to make sure our students are okay.

I want to write about my Level One ELL newcomers who will barely open their mouths during a Zoom conference, even when I provide sentence starters, a model, and plenty of wait time. They prefer to speak Spanish. But I’m so happy they’ve shown up at all; I cherish every moment together, even if I’m doing most of the talking.

I want to write about how I’m working way more than 40 hours per week, and learning so much that I didn’t have time to learn before. We will come out of this shutdown stronger, I think, with more compassion for each other. I know for sure that I will change my teaching style and try to get to know my students better, faster. I will need to foster communication circles so that we know how to talk to each other (in English) face-to-face. The importance of human connection has never been brought so starkly to the forefront.

As a teacher, it is my duty to instruct English language, but in the future, I will focus more on authentic tasks that bring students closer together. The rote homework-completion tasks will have to be reduced, and the classtime spent on learning who our classmates are. This “relationship building” will not just be relegated to something to check off a list during the first week of school. I need to get better at the touchy-feely aspects of learning that I once used to be skeptical of. There is nothing more important than human connection right now.

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week

In spite of the beautiful spring flowers, we have endured one of the most anxiety-filled weeks I can remember. It started with Daylight Savings Time taking away the morning light. Most high school teachers know the effects of asking teens to wake up an hour earlier. First period was zombie land for three days.

On top of that, it was a full moon. Students are usually agitated just before a full moon, but this was not just any full moon; it was a bright supermoon that shined like a glowworm through the eyes of every miscreant. S is not usually the most focused student, but when she called me a bad name in Spanish, I pretended not to understand. I had to remind J & K not to fake chokehold each other while I was presenting literary elements.

By Thursday, the anxiety over corona virus had spread to my classroom. On Thursday, I had to stop instruction 15 minutes early to talk about it. Teachers were instructed not to “ad lib” so we went to the district and the CDC website and looked at information there. Mostly I just let students vent. My students are all from foreign countries. One student has a mother in Wuhan, China and his worry is already two months old.

On Thursday evening, the governor of Maryland announced that all schools will close for two weeks. Friday was a scramble of trying to finish work, clear out the refrigerator and make sure students could get on to Google Classroom for any information. We are NOT allowed to create new assignments for a grade or to continue instruction. I told students that I will check email every day and post optional assignments so that they can keep up their English language proficiency.

Now I’m heading outside to enjoy the spring weather. I hear that sunshine is a natural antibiotic. I plan to get a lot of it in the next two weeks.

Paperclips in my pockets

On the last day of school before Winter Break, I cleared off my desk, stuffed student papers into color-coordinated take-home folders, took down my classroom holiday decorations, cleaned out the shared refrigerator, and headed to my car before the sun went down. When I changed clothes before bed, I noticed that my pockets were bulging. I pulled out chewing gum, mints, an Advil, and a handful of paperclips. I don’t remember putting those things in my pockets, but I was clearly prepared for coffee breath, a headache, and organizing stacks of papers.

Teachers subconsciously prepare for every single school day like this. Anyone who’s been around children long enough knows to expect the unexpected. It’s one of the reasons teachers have such good auto insurance – we drive with eyes in the backs of our heads, too. As we head into 2020, it’s hard not to proclaim perfect vision for the next year just for the effect. Even though I don’t have any clue what’s coming, here are the paperclips I’ve got in my pockets. Metaphorically, that is.

Money in the bank. I’m old enough, stable enough, and married long enough to have some savings for the first time in my life. As I witness the generation before me starting to pass away en masse, I feel prepared for our next life stage – financially, at least. If I don’t blow it. I have good insurance, I own a house and a car, and I don’t have any debt except a monthly mortgage. My children have no more student debt. That is a huge relief.

A bucket list. Although many of these things are still just vaguely-formed desires floating around in my head, I have travel journeys picked out, a pile of books to read, and writing goals to accomplish. I hope to visit as many Maryland state parks as possible in 2020, to drive cross country, to publish something with my name on it (short story, memoir, poetry, curriculum), and to travel to Eastern Europe and maybe Madagascar.

Good health habits. Every day when I get home from school, I take a walk outside. I’m fortunate to live in a woodsy suburb where fresh air feels good no matter the time or temperature. As I walk up and down the hills, I feel fortunate to call this my neighborhood. I greet neighbors out walking their dogs, I see basketball games under the lights, and I recharge my energy. Since we don’t eat too many meals together anymore as a family, I usually eat something small early in the evening and finish before 6:00 pm. I’m not sure if this counts as intermittent fasting – the health trend of the year – but I like how it makes me feel.

Family. During the holidays, most of us connect with important people in our lives. I am grateful to have a big family that, in spite of all our differences, can come together for Christmas every year. We have a White Elephant gift-giving tradition that seems to be our “new” family model – a way that my autistic brother, my elderly mother, the unemployed young people, and the Jewish in-laws can all feel comfortable participating. Like the ever-ready teacher, I always bring an extra gift or two in case someone shows up I didn’t expect.

Friends. More than ever, I am grateful for friends. My oldest friends are women I have known since I was a teen. We have shared big moments in each others’ lives: weddings, babies, international relocations, new jobs, retirements, and funerals. We can call each other up to share moments of pain or joy, or to invite the others to join us in a new adventure. When I was younger I did not place enough importance on these friendships. But now I realize that my female friends sustain me like nothing else in my life. Just like I put paperclips in my pockets, I put my friends there without thinking. In 2020 I hope to bring more mindfulness to nourish these relationships.

As we roll into the new year, I am ready for the unexpected. My desk is clear and my pockets are full. I am bursting with plans and gratitude in equal measure.

 

Paper Clips

There’s no tired like teacher tired

There’s no tired like teacher tired in late November when Thanksgiving Break looks like it’s never going to come. On a Friday afternoon, it hits like a ton of bricks. “Sorry I can’t make it to your opening reception at the gallery,” I tell my friend whose artful photography has finally gotten some recognition. I wanted to support her but the truth is, I was out every single night last week at different union meetings. My profession is under attack, and I need to learn how others are fighting against the dismantling of my district’s flagship ESOL program. I’d been feeling demoralized and disrespected by the higher-ups making decisions about what’s best for me and my students. I was simply exhausted.

I love my job. I love teaching high school English Language Learners – all of my students are recent arrivals in the USA, and they are eager to learn English, learn American culture, and get that Maryland diploma. Their enthusiasm and willingness to do whatever I say (even though they don’t always understand it) makes me feel the grave responsibility of educating a new generation. I take my work seriously, but I also like to have fun. Lately that’s getting harder and harder to accomplish. My teammates at school are caring, supportive, creative, lively, and way more emotionally intelligent than I am. Usually they can nod and smile when being given a top-down directive, but this time they’re as outraged as I am.

From the outside, it doesn’t seem like we’re being asked to change so radically. Rolling out a new quarterly assessment two weeks before I have to administer it, however, is against my contract. A test that hasn’t been piloted may be full of errors, it probably doesn’t match what I’ve been teaching, and it’s not fair to students. Can you imagine if they tried to do this to the Math Department?!

The fact that ESOL teachers are being told to comply with a worst-teaching practice disregards our need to plan out each marking period by “backward mapping.” It’s not teaching to the test; it’s testing what is taught and not changing the objectives in the middle of the course. Then what? Someone in a district office will look at my test scores and decide that a) my students are underperforming and b) it must be my fault. This type of flawed reasoning may explain the necessity of “restructuring” ESOL.

Next year, there will be no high school ESOL in my district. It looks like all ELLs will be placed into grade-level English classes. The outstanding programs that we have implemented over the past 20 years will be gone – both the proficiency-based courses and the electives. It won’t be so bad for the students with advanced English, but it could be disastrous for the lower-proficiency students. I believe our Superintendent thinks that a lack of rigor in the ESOL classroom is to blame for poor test performance by ESOL students. Wait until he sees how newcomers who don’t speak any English handle Romeo and Juliet!

It may not seem like such a big stretch for high school ESOL teachers to suddenly start teaching the mainstream English curriculum. I’m dual certified in English and ESOL, have taught both, and love teaching Shakespeare. I’ve often questioned the disconnect between our two programs. For some of my colleagues, however, it’s daunting. There’s a huge difference between being a language teacher and being an English teacher. During this “transition” there’s been no curriculum roll-out, no training, and no support from administrators and school leaders. The questions we raise at school are going unanswered. Teacher frustration has been building since last year.

“Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions” isn’t just a slogan. Mostly, my job is really good. It is no coincidence that I work in a district with a strong union. I dragged myself to a Bargaining Session on Thursday night instead of grading papers. I got to eat pizza standing up while visiting with colleagues from other schools. When I finally looked at the handouts, I almost screamed with delight. Written in to our new contract, are six pages of ESOL-specific language, outlining requirements for treating us like professionals. ESOL concerns were Number One on the evening’s agenda. I am so lucky to work in a district where somebody gets it.

Attending those union meetings was just the morale boost I needed to get through the next few days until Thanksgiving Break. Now that I’ve had a chance to rest, maybe I’ll go check out my friend’s artwork at the gallery.

 

 

 

September glory

September was always my favorite month as a child. Now it flies by so fast that every attempt I make at capturing its beauty in writing fails. The gorgeous late days of September deserve poetry better than any I could write. The orange-yellow-pink sunrise over the Potomac River last weekend is etched in my mind and on my Facebook feed forever. The early morning air dehumidifies and greets us like an old friend. For the first time in months, outside feels better than inside. Too bad that September is one of the busiest months for teachers, and we have less time than ever to truly enjoy the changing seasons.

That’s what made my weekend trip to Maine so special.  Up north, it seems people cherish the good weather more than we do in the DC area. Maybe because Mainers live “the way life should be.” Maybe because the winters are so harsh, they enjoy the last heated rays of the sun that linger over lakes, coves, and bays. We took a motorboat into one of the many coastal waterways and saw a seal, some osprey, a kingfisher or two, and several bald eagles soaring overhead. It’s late September but my son and my husband went swimming in the Kennebec River with an old friend. I swam in a lake that I had just canoed across. Later, while I was bundled in several layers, hovering near a bonfire, true Mainers were wearing shorts and sandals, reluctant to acknowledge that summer was really over.

We spent part of the long weekend at a farm, where more than a dozen of my husband’s former Woodsmen’s Team classmates gathered. We had a tour of a self-sustaining farm, where they grow all the vegetables they eat throughout the year, and raise and butcher their own livestock. They have solar panels that make enough energy to sell back to Maine Power Company. They produce aged goat cheese and bake their own bread. They have engineered their own wheat threshers, made a fire pit out of an old tire rim, and grow peppers inside a greenhouse all winter. The farm couple clearly loved having the reunion at their place, but they never stopped working the entire time we were there. If that’s the way life should be, it is an exhausting way of life.

I think of the Great Outdoors especially fondly at this time of year as I commute 30 minutes to a climate-controlled school building where the only light I see all day is man-made. Teaching is like farm work in many ways – it’s just as unrelenting, it’s seasonal, with a schedule determined by some cycle that’s not quite in my control. The work is intrinsically rewarding, like farming, with its own harsh realities. It’s the life I chose, even though it keeps me away from the natural world that soothes me.

So now, I want to capture every beautiful outdoor moment. Because everything changes in late September, and not just the back-to-school busy-ness that takes over. The enjoyment of nature will soon become a luxury, and I’ll be happy to have an indoor job. Fortunately I have the ability to travel and see how other people live, and I have the weekends to reconnect with who I am during the good weather.

farmhouse in Maine

sheep are cool

Crossed It Off My Bucket List

As I reflect on the summer and start planning the new school year, it feels good to say that I have crossed a few things off my Bucket List. I traveled to El Salvador. Check. I went skydiving – okay, it was indoor skydiving. Check. I raced in a rowing regatta. Check. I’ve read 19 out of the 28 books I set out to read in 2019. Check. And finally, I biked 150 miles of the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. Check. School starts up next week for students – and I feel good, accomplished. I’ve got a clear model for the “What I did this summer” essay.  But I might change up the format this year.

I’m wondering if other teachers do this during the summer. When my kids were little, summer was filled with family travel and family activities. Now that they’re grown, I can focus more on my own wants and needs. It’s liberating to be at this phase of life. And I’m lucky to have friends willing to go along with me.

I’ve spent a week getting ready for the students to come back after Labor Day. The night before school starts, I usually need a quiet, calm place to gather my thoughts and run through the plans I’ve so carefully made. This year, I think I’ll change up one of the the get-to-know-you activities. For my advanced ESOL 5 students, they’re going to create a six-word memoir, like the famous Hemingway one. For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn. I’ll show slides with several examples and a short video. Then I’ll show them my model. I’ve got the perfect title, with a photo to explain it.