Monday, February 19, 2018

Florida Thoughts

I remember being 5 months pregnant with our second child, our first down for his nap, when my soap opera was in interrupted by the coverage from Columbine. Tears streamed down my face as I watched kids climb out windows and run. I remember thinking, “What have we done, bringing children into a world that could do this?”

On September 11, the boys were watching Blue’s Clues when I got a call from my husband telling the first tower had been hit. By the time the show finished and I got them playing in another room, I saw the plane go into the second tower. I spent days depressed wondering just what kind of world our boys would live in.

Last Wednesday, I heard about the shooting on the way home from school, and turned the TV on when I got home. I watched the events unfold just as I had before. And while I still feel scared, and contemplate life on a deserted island, I also have a different perspective.

Let me say, I am not a fan of guns. I have never held one that didn’t squirt water. We had a friend who brought one to our house while we were in college and I made him put it in his car. I have a healthy respect for them. But I am happy our Resource Officer carries a gun. We are an elementary school and the only entrance from outside is by buzzer. The kids are rarely out and about alone to let anyone in from side doors – something they would have no reason to do anyway.

Our youngest – the one I was pregnant with during Columbine – is now a Senior. My brain believes he is safe – my heart says a prayer every time I drop him off, and I make sure the last thing I say is, “I love you.”  However, gun bans are not the answer.

Where would it end? I couldn’t begin to list all the guns that could be systematically eliminated. Those who propose a ban on AR15s would go from this gun to the next on the “list”. It isn’t the guns. Anyone who kills another person in anything but war and self-defense is, by my definition, insane.

I am so grateful that this senseless, tragic, killing in Florida is leading to more than just screaming on gun control. Those who believe in gun rights are pushing back against the easy, feel good fix. We could take away the guns, but it won’t change the killing – it will only change the method. No, this time we are forcing the conversation onto values, permissiveness,  lack of family structure, and parental responsibility.

I don’t have any answers. (Remember I send my child to school with a prayer every day.)  But I do know that real change will only happen with real conversation that includes True Values and Responsibility.


 If we stand for nothing, our children will fall for everything. I want to do more than pray it isn’t in another attack that everyone saw coming. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

In Search of Concise

There is the kernel of at least one good blog post here. It needs revising, I know. I just needed to get a rough draft out and see if I find a direction.  Thanks for indulging me.



Are we worthy of respect?

I've been thinking about this lately.

As a collective, educators lament the lack of respect for our profession.

Respect is defined as "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements."

What abilities, qualities, or achievements do we elicit? How can we expect respect from society as a whole when we don't demand it at the district level?

Teachers have college degrees, many have masters degrees, and all must have continuing education and professional development. Then we behave as though it is OK to be treated as though we are lucky to be employeed.

It is not OK to have to buy copy paper to deliver our lessons because "paper" isn't in the budget.

It is not OK to give kids 1:1 technology and then require teachers to find the appropriate material in which to meet the standards. Not supplemental items to reinforce curriculum, but the actual curriculum. Further these materials must be found outside of contract hours, because there isn't time in a contractual day. Materials must be located, vetted for standards, and be accessible through electronic filters.

It is not OK to only allow praise and bribes, but overlook disruptive and destructive behavior. It is ridiculous to expect miracles when we are not given the tools to succeed.

It is not OK to capitulate to the parents who make excuses for their children.

Some places protected teachers because of a false notion that the degree earned the right to teach. But, in an attempt to show we are no longer that entity we have thrown common sense out the window.

Some people took the quote "If kids can't learn the way we teach, perhaps we should teach the way they learn," and built it up to be THE way to engage kids. And it is, but not in the way you think.

Teaching them the way they learn doesn't mean they run the show. We have so many cute adages to mitigate our worth as teachers. "Be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage."  "You don't sit at desks in straight backed chairs, why should kids?" "Access to constant liquid and food helps them focus on learning and not being hungry."

Teaching them the way they learn is slowing down or speeding up. It is allowing them to show what they have learned within given parameters. It's listening and reexplaining in different ways until they do know the material.

My favorite nugget though "...the world they will be living in..."

I am terrified. WE are creating that "world" either by choice or by abdication of choice.

UNLESS

we stand up and say, "No More!"

UNLESS

the administrators stand in front of us... and behind us... and say, "You will not treat my staff like that."

UNLESS

we believe we are worthy of respect and Demand RESPECT from our own administration

we may as well resign ourselves to our daily quota of widgets and collect our dollar a day paycheck.






Monday, February 12, 2018

When in Doubt

Let's talk about the weather.

Today is even, so today is positive.
After a 3 day week because of weather, and a 3 day weekend because of awful weather, we had a full day of school.
The kids were acting accordingly, so on the positive I have to talk about is  the weather.

Today was gorgeous. The snow from the weekend was crusted over, making a smooth rippling surface the sun could warm as it rose.

As I drove to school, the sun was causing some fog to form above the the snow covering the empty fields. At one point, it was like a layer cake, with snow, a gap, wispy fog, and a reflection of sun on top.

As the buses arrived, the sun was causing fog that the cold air caused to stick to the trees and bushes in the distance like fondant.

At recess, the sun made the temperature feel warmer than the thermometer declared. The kids had a blast picking up the pieces of crusted snow and letting them fall to the ground like spun glass. And they enjoyed the crunch of the tectonic plates of snow shifting beneath their feet as they ran across the playground.

At the end of the day, the sun still shone, causing slush to form where snow stomped from boots lay in clumps.

I don't know what tomorrow's weather will bring, but for an Indiana day in February, you couldn't ask for much better.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Responsibility

When it feels like you are the only one who believes having a job requires dedication to that job -- whether that job treats you well or not.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Poem

For the month of February, I am alternating between gripes and grins. Today is even so today is positive.

I have a cold that interrupts my sleep
The kids exhaust my bones
The approaching snow could be deep
I await the beeping phone

"Hello. This is a message from your school.
 All district schools will be closed Friday February 9

Alarms turned off, it's back to sleep
Shoveling will await
For now it's just an exhausted leap
Time will tell our fate

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Communication

For the month of February, I am alternating between gripes and grins. Today is an odd day, so today is a gripe.

I am a planner. I like to know what is expected, what the plan is, and how it is to be carried out.

Our district doesn't do this.

Tonight was Senior Night for Winter activities. Youngest is a Senior and in Pep Band, so he was to be recognized as well. What we knew:
*we could be there early if we wanted a picture
*we needed to be in the gym hallway at the end of the 3rd quarter of the JV game
*...and that is it

Things I wanted to know
*what do we do until the end of the 3rd quarter
*when do we walk in
*how do we walk in
*what happens after we walk in

It all worked out, but having an assigned person to answer questions would have assuaged my stress level.

Youngest needs to have a baked good for an event this weekend as part of his Honor Society requirements.

*Store bought or homemade
* Cookies, Pie, Cake, brownies
*On a big plate or bagged up
*If bagged, how many in a bag

Please. Pretend you are addressing a person from another planet. Answer every question that could possibly be asked. Give me a list of do's and don'ts.
Please. Don't rely on my teenage son to transfer information you tell him at a meeting during academic lab. He is a bright kid. Really smart, actually, but he filters information by what is important to him.
Over communicate. Please, please, please....OVER communicate.

Pep band rocked. Our pep band is amazing-- everybody says so. And the game, when Pep wasn't  playing turned out to be pretty good too.  We won. Sadly it was our last High School Pep game. Hopefully college will afford the opportunity. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Snow day

For the month of February, I am alternating between gripes and grins. Today is an even day, so today is positive.

Growing up in La Porte, if they predicted snow... you got snow. However, that wasn't always a cancellation for everyone. Back then, we went school by school, and those of us in town-- who walked-- usually had to go regardless. Bus kids got more cancellations. I remember listening to WLOI/WCOE as the list of schools was read off, "Critchfield...Kingsbury...LINCOLN!!!!" celebration time.  A snow day was a day of playing outside in our snow suits and sometimes Mom would make us snowcream. That my childhood included the blizzards of '78 and '79 is just  bonus.

When I was a Child Care Director, school cancellations meant making sure I had enough staff for the kids whose parents worked and activities to occupy the kids until the parents could pick them up. Snow days were not a cause of excitement.

When the boys were young and up until about 3 years ago, snow days were much the same as my childhood, except the whole district closed and days were made up at the end of the year. (We didn't make up days when I was young.)

The last three years, our district has taken advantage of 1:1 technology, and when school is cancelled, the kids have e-learning. We avoid tacking on days to the end of the year this way.

Now I realize this is not a positive for all my friends who are teachers and have to provide those lessons for e-learning and also have to have "office hours" and virtual Professional Development.

Nor is it fun and games for those children who actually do their e-learning.

But, even though I lose money every time school is cancelled because I am an hourly employee, I feel like cancellations are a gift. I have around 60 unused sick days over the last 12 years because I don't get sick. I rarely use the 2 personal days I have every year. A cancellation is like God is saying, "Take a break."

The kids at school have been squirrelly lately. A blue blob approached across the radar last night and we had a day at home today.

The Weather Channel app says we are under a weather advisory from 1am until 10am tomorrow. I wonder if I need another break. 😎

Only time will tell.