Archive for the ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ Category

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I Believe…Help My Unbelief…

June 3, 2006

Mood: Trepidation

Song: "1-2-3"

Decisiveness has never been my forte.  Doesn't everybody fourth guess themselves?  Charles, on the other hand, makes decisions with an ease which astounds (and sometimes terrifies me too, I'll admit).  In our first year of marriage I've discovered that he often works out ideas by communicating them with his best friend/wife; thus, I know that with him the thought isn't always the deed, so I can hear him without immediately reacting by spiraling into a tailspin.  On the other hand, while I may may not seem thrilled initially, he recognizes that I simply need time to adjust and that I'm sure to see the logic in a little bit of time.  Thus, we balance each other, as marriage is intended to do. 

2005 was a year of change; 2006 has been comparatively tranquil.  Now I am faced with a further moment of challenge and I find myself unable to see beyond the immediate present to a successful resolution.  I became a teacher with the best of intentions, but I wonder whether or not I can survive another year with my ability to feel compassion unscathed (much less 30 'til retirement).  It is not that I fail to care about my profession or my students; it is that I care too much.  Ideally the educational system would value individuals (we're a nation founded on individualism, after all); the reality of a classroom of 30 students, however, the reality is that it becomes exceedingly difficult to find more than a few seconds to spend with each student before the rest of the class descends into nefarious acts of malfeasance.  To teach or not to teach:  that is the question.

I am an educator; it is more than a job…it defines who I am.  I know that I will continue to teach whether or not it is my profession.  I wonder whether the needs of specific students (particularly those at either end of the learning spectrum) are served at all by the public school system.  I've even dreamed of founding my own school for those who are not cut out to be "like stalks" so that they are not either stretched beyond their capacities or cut off to make the less able feel "special".  Unfortunately, our public schools are almost forced to see their precious students as numbers.  Don't even get me started on accountability (or No Child Left Behind); what sense does it make that teachers (and schools are judged by an arbitrary test that doesn't impact students?  How am I supposed to motivate them to care about what doesn't count (especially when legislators are too afraid of lawsuits to put teeth into NCLB by actually prohibiting students who don't meet the standards from graduating)?  It is no wonder teacher burnout is so common; I don't believe that I'm burned out yet, but I don't know what else to call this exhaustion of body and soul.  I've listed the pros and cons of job hunting outside of education.  I'm also practical enough to realize that just about anything else lucrative I could select will require more credentials (and we can't afford for me to take classes with Charles's school bills as well).  What to do, what to do? 

PROS:

1.  After the first year of teaching, everything else is downhill.

2.  I have a contract (unsigned as of yet-I don't want to breach), equalling security. 

3.  Good student aides make life much better.

4.  Charles is encouraging me to continue using my gifts (and credentials)

5.  Teaching gives me a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that I've never been able to reach anywhere else.

6.  I am an effective teacher, whether my low self-image will allow me to acknowledge that or not

7.  Eye lyke Ynglish ande amm pashunate aboute itt. 

8.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

9.  My school (and my district) does value excellence.

10. I already have ideas for next year

11. It would be wonderful to see where my amazing students end up

12. I do care about my kids (all 150 of them)  

CONS:

1.  Stress, stress, stress

2.  After a year, I still feel like an outsider in my department

3. As previously mentioned, education in the public school system is far from ideal

4. It would be nice to come home and BE home, and teaching is far from a 9-5 job

5. I am interested in pursuing other options, in particular Library Science

6. Charles will finish with his Paramedic training in November and both of us are ready to leave Arizona; signing another teaching contract would keep us in Mesa through May of next year.

7. Parents of students can either build you up or destroy morale

8. It's difficult to be judged by how my students perform, particularly because I'm a bit of a control freak

9. 150 students = 150 essays to grade :(.

10. Not teaching would allow me to put in extra hours moonlighting (like tutoring 1-2 nights per week) which would definitely help with our finances

11. Teaching would mean taking further courses (about 45 hours) in Secondary English Immersion, which costs money we don't have

12. We want to start our family in the next couple of years; I respect those who put in the hours teaching requires with children but I don't want to attempt it myself.  Thus, if I do anticipate changing careers, now's the time to try before becoming a mother

Lord, I believe you have a plan; I don't necessarily see where I am headed, but I trust that you do.  I believe…help my unbelief.

JRW

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“Yo ho, yo ho…”

May 26, 2006


"…a teacher's life for me!"

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…That's what I SHOULD be doing! My classroom is packed up (99% at least-I just have to double-check 🙂 ) and I just finished entering and bubbling in my final grades for this year; even better, I actually have about 4 hours to devote to sleep :D. Thus, with a feeling of accomplishment, I am going to introduce my head to my favorite soft pillow-they've missed each other :).

Song: I gave you a hint with the title of this post :).

Mood: exhausted but accomplished.

The picture, by the way, represents me in about 10 minutes 🙂 🙂 🙂

SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER!

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Does Alex Trebek Make House Calls?

January 24, 2006


Mood: Horrified
Song: “Battle of New Orleans” (50 years early, I know, but my students wouldn’t 😦 *sigh*)

***Also titled: Why We Ought to Be On Our Knees or Composing Songs of Praise in Honor of the [Lindsay] Marshall Plan***

Today’s Assignment:
Write “I am a dedicated professional” 100 times

Poston’s lowest scores on last year’s AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards-read, the ridiculous standardized test that determines our school’s earnings but does nothing to keep students accountable) test were generated in the area of “Historical and Cultural Aspects of Literature.” Not to nitpick, but the total number of questions classified in this area on the AIMS test: 2! However, my entire English department is racing around attempting to insert lessons focused on this miniscule portion of AIMS. I am a team player (plus I genuinely believe that literature wasn’t written in a vacuum, making history essential to the understanding of text) leading to this discussion as I was giving background notes on O. Henry’s “Twenty Years After”:

ME: 1862-1910. Those are the dates of William Sydney Porter’s (O. Henry’s) life. Please write them in your notebooks, since you most likely (ahem…will) be asked to recall them. Now, what important event in American history was going on when O. Henry was born?

STUDENT #1: The Great Depression!

ME (secretly pleased that a student is actually familiar with Black Tuesday): Well, interesting idea, but you’ll have to think earlier. The depression started in 1929.

STUDENT #2: Ummmm…The Revolutionary War?

ME (thinking that at least they’re getting warmer): You’re right about a war, but we’re looking for something later than the late 1700’s.

STUDENT #3: Oh! I know-World War II.

ME (inwardly sighing): Almost, but that happened after the Great Depression.

STUDENT #6 (students 4 and 5 listed Vietnam and WWI, respectively): Is it the Civil War?

ME (thrilled but concerned at the same time): Excellent! The Civil War. Who can tell me the name of the President of the United States during the Civil War?

***Side Note: the quote of the day, written on the board, happened to be by Abraham Lincoln***

SHOW OF HANDS-I RANDOMLY CALL ON A STUDENT IN THE BACK OF THE ROOM

STUDENT #7: Franklin Roosevelt, right?

ME (counting down the minutes until I can sprint to the school nurse for aspirin): *sigh* Close.

The worst part? I watched Ken Burns’s ENTIRE Civil War documentary in my 5th grade class and have been a diligent student with the War Between the States ever since. I am proud to say that I resisted the temptation to list all the major battles of 1862, including the generals. Fredericksburg, anyone?

My students constantly amaze me by what they know and are able to recall (I don’t even remember what I wore last week), but there are days when I just have to recall the quote, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Go home tonight and call your history teacher to say thanks.

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*I’m Not Really a Waitress*

January 22, 2006

But that IS the nailpolish color I'm considering painting my fingernails right about now. It's a Sunday evening, I've got all of my grading finished, and I even have lesson plans complete for this next week! Being home this past week HAS had it's advantages.

In other news, I've been spending entirely too much time on myspace. If you're on myspace, look me up :). I love finding old friends and new. If you're not, then by all means back away from this page and open a myspace account :). Then you can look me up, etc. Since so many of my students are on myspace, I'm not mentioning this blog there. Some parts of a teacher's private life should clearly be kept private.

By the way, do you think anyone would notice if I drove this to school tomorrow?


Mood: Quixotic
Song: "We Didn't Start the Fire"-Pun very much intended, thank you 🙂

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Lifestyles of the Underpaid and Medicated

January 17, 2006

Mood: cozy
Song: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"-all in good fun, of course 🙂

Since I'm home sick today (apparently acute bronchitis-possibly pneumonia doesn't mix well with trying to corral a batch of seventh graders 🙂 ), I've had a chance to play catch up on my reading. My loving daddy sent me Teachers Have it Easy *just the title, as you can imagine, sent me into gales of laughter*. The book even had an endorsement from Lemony Snicket on the back (an unfortunately fortunate event 🙂 ).

*pauses a moment to whip out the ever-present portable soapbox*

The author's premise is SHOCKING! He suggests that teachers may not be renumerated as they should be and that this might actually impact schools' abilities to attract qualified professionals.

To state a glittering generality, all teachers are altruistic, right, so we shouldn't expect to get paid, right? Well, then, I suppose doctors fall in the same category-maybe they can donate about 75% of their salary; then they'd make what the average teacher does.

Teachers also go into teaching knowing that they're not going to earn a significant salary, so why pay them a lot? YOU try living for 12 months on a 9 month salary…yes, I am only required to be at school 40 hours per week, but I honestly can't remember the last time I pulled less than 60-70 hours per week to feel effective.

What is the solution? The average teaching salary for a starting professional? 32,000. The average starting salary for a corporate drone? at least $45,000.

It amazes me that many people still have the erroneous assumption that teachers are mainly women whose husbands are the primary breadwinners, making thier teaching salary a moot point. Tell that to all the single parents or men with families of 4 or more who press onward through the red tape of districts and the barrages of parent phone calls, neglecting thier children to teach yours.

I'm not complaining, really…I appreciate the paycheck and went into my career with blinders firmly off. I'm just "educating" …it's what I do. Fortunately, the rewards of spending time in a classroom are priceless. I'd love to hear other (and more well-informed) opinions to comment on/balance mine :). Happy posting…I'm going to sleep and having Nyquill dreams :D.

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Manilla Envelopes

October 29, 2005

Mood: Full (Thanks to Cold Stone Pumpkin Ice Cream…YUM!)
Song: "Autumn" (I'll Treat You to Cold Stone Ice Cream If You Figure Out Where That Song is From…)

About the title:

1) what you use to send information to an absent friend in Manilla
2)items in my classroom which contain information about each of my students 🙂

I knew I went into teaching for the express purpose of corrupting…um, I mean molding…young minds. Last Thursday, my plotting reached new levels. It is still a thrill when students actually seek me out over the lunch hour just to say "hi." One in particular is a girl from my 6th hour named Rachel. During class later on, Rachel mentioned to me that she'd been inventing new words. Of course, I told her about my plan to write a dictionary; she enthusiastically agreed to participate, and we decided to make it a class project :). Here are a few entries:

"mediatious": somewhere between "beautatious" and "grotatious"

"camalious": extremely thirsty

"snail": true

You'll have to buy the dictionary to find out all the rest :).

In other news, it is finally, really, fall. It's snail. Even in Arizona, where seasons is part of a hotel chain's name only, the weather has a decided nip in the air. Pumpkin everything is available, and those aware of my pumpkin obsession know how thrilled I am. I can't wait 'til Monday, when I get to participate in the Fall Festival at my church. My mother and I have a balloon animal table (it's a little known talent of mine). Today, however, I was far too busy to practice constructing giraffes or parrots…

C.'s schedule has changed 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 :). Instead of working Friday-Monday (I work Monday-Friday) he'll begin working 24 hour shifts, giving us weekends together :). It was amazing to wake up this morning and KNOW that neither of us had to run off to work. Luxuriating in each other's company is a rare privilege, and it doesn't matter what we do as long as we do it together. Although it is easy to become sidetracked by little issues when we're apart too much, having time together reminds us of how precious our marriage is. Not that we had ALL day to just stay at home…

At 10:30 we were due at my grandparent's house in North Scottsdale to participate in a family discussion about long term solutions. My grandfather is fading away, and I weep to see this brilliant man reduced to a shell. He is undergoing radiation treatments for a slow-growing brain tumor, and my grandma is optimistic about his full recovery. While my God is the God of the miraculous, it looks as if his earthly life will be terminated all too soon. The true tragedy, of course, is that niether of them have faith. My grandmother is a mess, and it is hard for me not to become embittered when I consider that her life up to this point has been one of ease because of my grandfather's hard work; she is so resentful of what she percieves as his "stubbornness" to allow anyone to help him that she screams at him and even curses at him when she's fed up. The rest of us are filling in, of course, since my grandmother is so frail at this point it is physically impossible for her to assist him even in the simple tasks of getting out of bed or dressing. She's exhausted, but she doesn't want help either, as much as she needs it. I'm afraid that assisted living is the best option, but she's not at a point where she can even consider that. It's a bad situation all around, and I can do nothing but pray for wisdom.

What a day! Thank goodness I could go into my mental "Pumpkin" box for a while.

Yes, I realize this picture is a year late, but I couldn't resist…it's just TOO perfect 🙂

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And Then Alexander Graham Bell Text Messaged His Assistant…

September 13, 2005

Mood: Bemused
Song: "Don't Know Much About History"

My students are an endless source of enlightenment and amusement-

Our daily language activity for today involved a question on the Industrial Revolution.

The answers were quite amusing, since many actually thought that Bill Gates was a major figure in said significant historical period :).

Sigh…back to History 101.