Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's baaack to school time

Summer is a memory. And it's a lovely one since it involved several trips - the East Coast, a Texas beach, Seattle and Alaska. School inservice officially starts for me tomorrow, though I've already completed 30 workshops hours in the past two weeks. The college coed is safely ensconced in her new high rise apartment near campus since rush preparation began on August 4. And the 8th grader has attended orientation to receive her class schedule. We've hit the big box store for binders, dividers, notebook paper and writing utensils. Now it's just a waiting game until we all kick off a new school year/semester.

I'm currently unmotivated to post anything informative or meaningful from our summer travels, so I'll just babble about my thought for the day. If money were no object and my every possible care or worry was covered by a cook, maid, gardener, driver, personal assistant, you get the drift…

I would totally own a big farm with lots of these guys to pet and keep me entertained with their antics. Anything in mini form is just too danged cute for words. Admit it, they are beyond precious and you know you'd like to cuddle up with one and speak in nothing but gibberish baby talk all day.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Long time, no see

I've been busy. And maybe a bit lazy about getting over here to the blog for another riveting post. Since my last entry, school ended. Woo-hoo! Plus the coed returned home from her triumphant freshman year. An overall 3.83 GPA is nothing to sneeze at and sure as hell better than I did my first year away from home. To fulfill the requirement for a three hours fine arts elective class, she spent the May minimester in west Africa, teaching art to school children in Ghana. 

Ghana was greener than I expected. The coed had a good time. Sure, there was an active ebola outbreak in the neighboring country to the east. School-aged girls were being kidnapped in droves in the neighboring country to the west. And everywhere she looked there was great poverty as well as the ever present threat of disease carrying mosquitoes. It's one of those trips that changes your perspective and I believe that's a good thing for anyone at any age.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

All the cool kids are doing it

In an effort to shake up my elliptical rat workout routine and shed the last bit of my England weight, I signed up for private Crossfit sessions at our local box. I wasn't an initial fan, especially when I realized there is no AC in the place. Plus they do these torture moves like burpees and push ups. And they use a lot of weights, too. All of this is sooooo outta my comfort zone.

But a month in, I'm starting to see some results. I've grown comfortable with the initial wimp weights and my CF trainer upped them this past week. After hobbling around the first couple weeks with pretty much sore everything, wobbling out to my car on legs limp as wet noodles, I'm starting to feel stronger. And less like throwing up or passing out once the workout ends.

I've still got a long way to go, but it's a start. Once school ends, I'll have to switch over to classes since I'll be gone too much this summer to keep working with a trainer one-on-one. I'll modify and do the best I can and hope to see continued improvement with the upper body strength, muscle tone and endurance. Most days my tongue practically drags the ground and my eyes sting from sweat rolling into them. Remember - no AC, just fans… which is kinda cruel for the middle aged lady crowd in the Texas heat. I never look forward to the workouts, but always feel better afterwards. The humiliation of crying uncle keeps me chugging along rather than falling onto the mats in a heap and refusing to jump up onto the box one more time.

I hope I'll be successful with this, long term, because I'm not trying to regain the body I had at 25 or even 35. For me, it's all about committing to a healthier lifestyle. Now I just need to tackle that little matter of my coconut cupcake addiction. It's all about baby steps, like pretending the yummy local bake shop that I adore has burned to the ground and no longer sells their sinfully sweet creations.

Seven more days and I'll be through

At least I'll be through until August when the whole process begins anew with professional development and teacher inservice. 

There are seven remaining days in the current school year. And really just 6.5 because the last day is early dismissal. Since those days are punctuated with fun stuff like a swim party, talent show, dance and graduation for our 6th graders, there are only about three more actual days of regular science classes for me to teach. 

Honestly, my year felt complete on Friday once I had taught our sex ed abstinence based program to the girls. I have been dreading this lesson for weeks and was so glad to get it done. The girls giggled just as I had anticipated when I was going over slides in the Powerpoint with words like erection, wet dream and penis. There were no pics or graphics to accompany these terms, praise the Lord. Thankfully, the students are still separated by gender at this age. Both boys and girls hear the same information, but in separate classrooms. Another teacher on my team volunteered to deal with the boys for their lesson. I just don't think I could have looked those young men in the face after mentioning anal sex. This is why I shouldn't be teaching 6th gr science.

Our local big box store was running a special on boxed wine, so I stocked up to make it through the final days of school. Let's be honest - it's all about crowd control, keeping them from hurting each other or tearing up my classroom once they get the bit of summer vacation in their teeth and charge full steam ahead with it. Overall, I've had a great year at this new-to-me campus and look forward to the possibility of another great adventure next year once I see how things play out with a possible shift in faculty. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dear Karma- I've started this list...

It's teacher appreciation week in the US. And I usually do feel appreciated. I believe my students, parents, teaching team and administrators think I put forth my best effort for them. I don't hit every lesson outta the ballpark, but I certainly put in the before school, after school, nights and weekend time to be sure things go off without a hitch.

Be warned - I'm taking a big ol' step up onto my soapbox now, so get ready for a humdinger of a rant. Every year I have one. I'm talking about the parent who takes his/her frustration, anger, regrets and parental shortcomings out on the teacher. This parent gleefully blames the teacher for all of the child's and parent's failures. This parent wants to tell me how to do it all "right" even though said parent doesn't have a college degree, let alone any classroom experience.

Let's be clear about this. I didn't give birth to your child. I wasn't there to provide your child with developmentally appropriate activities before entering kindergarten. I don't go home with your child to make sure assignments are included in backpacks, that they put forth a solid effort, that they seek clarification as needed, that they come in for tutoring with me if they require assistance, whether they get a good night's sleep or nutritious meals, if they listen to the class directions, write the posted assignments with deadlines in their daily planners and have a positive attitude about learning. That's the part you and your child are supposed to step up and do.

I was handed a curriculum I had to supplement on my own time, with my own money. And I do it happily because I love teaching and trying to make a positive difference in the lives of my students, preparing them for the demands of middle school next year. I spend substantial time away from my own family to make sure your child gets a lovely experience in 6th grade, a year of my own child's life I'll never get back. And all you can do is be an ungrateful little s#*! to me? 

The upside - you're the only turd floating in my otherwise happy little punch bowl of learners and their families. I have the pleasure of teaching a whole lotta students who make it a joy to roll out of bed every morning and come to school with a smile on my face. I get to go home to my own children who are (mostly) well adjusted, whereas you are gonna be stuck with your helicoptered, enabled, eternal excuse making child for decades. Seems fair to me.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Incriminating Evidence

Hmmm… what's that? Maybe lime green Kool-Aid? Or a can of diet soda? 

I often think the college coed forgets we have access to her pictures on a very popular social networking site. Yesterday she posted pics of herself and her friends, with alcoholic beverages in their hands, out in front of the bars/nightclubs in her college town. It's not the first time she has done it and I know it won't be the last, either.

If I started rambling about how terrible this is, then I would be a total hypocrite. I did some of the same stuff back in my college days, though thankfully that was before the advent of cell phones and websites that are able to provide all sorts of graphic proof about your underage drinking and bar hopping. No evidence I ever had to be rolled home in a shopping cart after taking shots on an empty stomach. Nope - never happened. 

After I chuckled a bit about their duck faces and goofy poses, I found myself reflecting on how all of this is part of the process of growing up and testing the waters. After living in Europe for 2.5 yrs, it's not as if our almost 19-yr-old was an alcohol virgin. The gift of choice for most birthday celebrations of her acquaintances was a bottle of alcohol. Now she's back in a country which won't allow her to drink legally until 2016. So they buy fake IDs, get all dolled up and bat their big eyes at the bouncers of the local watering holes to get past the rope because they're pretty young things. 

So you pray a lot and hope that one of the many talking-tos we gave her about the dangers of alcohol poisoning, getting taken advantage of when you're drunk and the arrest record that will follow you now that you're an adult are still there lurking in the back of our daughter's conscience as she makes decisions which are outside our parental realm of control. Smart or stupid. Sober or drunk. It's worrisome, but you just have to trust there will be no Piggly Wiggly shopping cart rides in her future. Or that her friends will at least roll her all the way back to her dorm and see her in safely. And that she'll suffer the devil of a hangover the next morning which will have her rethinking her drinking habits in the future.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How Convenient

My internal monologue (teacher voice inside my head): Wow, Chile had an 8.2 magnitude earthquake earlier this evening. That's great. What about a tsunami? Yesss - what a lucky break for me. Eh, it was only a six foot wave that struck. Dang, that's not gonna impress the students. But a higher reading of 8.2 on the Richter scale sure beats that crappy little quake California had last week. A couple folks died from heart attacks while three were crushed to death. That pales in comparison to the Indonesian quake of 2004. Danged quake proof buildings.

You know you're a hard core educator (and maybe hard hearted, too) when you read about Chile suffering a major earthquake and then gleefully begin figuring out how to include it in 6th gr science class the next day. In a meaningful way, of course, since we're currently studying plate tectonics. There were only three folks crushed to death, so probably no gory body pics to show. That would certainly make an impression. Probably enough to have an official reprimand placed in my personnel file after some angry calls to the principal once parents heard the graphic details over supper that evening. But honestly… heckuva learning opportunity to include current events in the curriculum. Beats the hell outta boring old worksheets.