Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Simple Post...

A friend of mine posted the following in her Facebook status: HOW DID WE MEET? Everyone play this game! Copy and paste this phrase on your profile, you will find it amusing to remember how you met and how you know each of your friends!! Before you do that, answer for me!

I thought it sounded fun and so I responded to her post and copied it into my status. I smiled at the comments of family members and friends. It was fun to read and reminisce about going to haunted houses and how the mother of one friend used to load us all up in the minivan to take us to ballgames, concerts and movies.

However, the most meaningful comments came from my former students and dance team members--ones thanking me for helping them, teaching them and being there for them--as a teacher and a friend. Some of them were not a surprise. After all I speak to some of them on a regular basis and remain good friends with them but some of them...I haven't seen since their graduations and only converse with online. Those were the comments that grabbed me and reminded me of my purpose.

As a teacher today, it is easy to become frustrated and bogged down in all the ... stuff. There's not enough money, and there's too much testing. Some students are out of control and the administration is out of touch. It feels endless.

When we return to school on Monday, my darling freshmen will continue to take part of a reading and English assessment as part of NCLB; while this testing does provide us with some data about their learning, they lose at least two days per testing window. They'll be assessed three times this year. They're as frustrated as I am. I've sold them on Romeo & Juliet and they're eager to start...but they have to wait.

In two weeks, the entire school will lose an instructional day for practice testing. The state requires juniors to take the ACT in March and so we practice...a lot. On that assessment practice day, the freshmen will take a practice form of a test that they will take as sophomores...again. They've already practiced once in October when the juniors & seniors took another portion of the state mandated assessment. The sophomores & juniors will practice taking the ACT and the seniors will take the state's technology assessment.

Unfortunately this is not the end of our assessment nightmare. The entire school's schedule will be disrupted in March when the juniors take the previously mentioned ACT and at the end of April, everyone but the seniors will take some form of state assessment.

Before Mother Nature so graciously gave us a four-day weekend, I was lamenting the fact that I'm now testing these children more than I'm teaching them. I was worrying that I'm not adequately preparing them for the next step in their academic lives; that I'm not helping them develop the skills needed to be good citizens and their own advocates.

Then one simple post puts it all in perspective. They reminded me of why I put up with the nonsense--it is for the kids like them. The ones in need of another caring adult in their lives; the ones who need some to teach them to read, write, interpret, think; to express who they are and who they want to be.

Overworked and underpaid? Yeah. Worth it? Oh yeah. I just needed "my kids" to remind me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year's Miracle... least that's what the dog thinks.

Let me backtrack:
The roommate's dog had a little gray sheep. Last year, Bath & Body Works sold little sheep and after Christmas, they were practically giving them away. I bought a bunch and the roommate bought one for the little black dog. He loved it literally to pieces but it lasted for a year. I had one more little gray sheep in my room in the present box that I had planned to give him once the new had worn off his Christmas toys (or after he had destroyed them. Lab & Basset mix--he has strong jaws and most toys are no match for him. The good news is that he will continue to play with the remnants for-ev-er).

As I was doing some heavy duty cleaning in my bedroom, the little black dog wandered in and imagine his delight when he spotted it--the sheep. His sheep. Restored to its former glory. Its tail still attached. Its hair still soft and not all bushy. Its stuffing still inside. He was overjoyed. He looked at the sheep and then up at me and then back at the sheep. He snatched it out of the box and bounded out of the room triumphantly to show his mama that his sheep was back.

A New Year's Miracle.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I don't usually make New Year's least not ones that I actually write down. I may think "Oh, I'm going to exercise more" or "I'm going eat healthier" but I've never made a resolution list that I can have as a reminder to make sure that I follow through. Therefore, this year we're going to try a different take. I'm going to write them down and maybe, just maybe I'll stick with them.

Resolution one:
Stay on the Weight Watchers Wagon and actually reach my goal weight (which means those Rice Krispies treats in the kitchen may have to go down the garbage disposal). I've never been skinny but back in the days when I was the dancer (instead of the coach), I was at a much healthier body weight. It is time for me to fix that.

Resolution two:
Actually use the gym membership for which I have been paying 30 bucks or so for months. This will help with resolution one and when I exercise, I feel better. It just often seems like I never have time. I am going to have to make time.

Resolution three
: Restore order to my personal space---namely my bedroom. The living room and kitchen and such gets cleaned up regularly but I just tend to shut my bedroom door---thus sparing guests (and my roommate and the dog) from witnessing the chaos of my room. (The dog, however, loves to come in and investigate my mess.) But as noted in previous blogs, I'm highly allergic to dust mites--more cleanliness in my bedroom would help me be healthier in body as well as mind.

Resolution four:
Stay caught up on my grading...or at least not fall more than a week behind. This will require better time management on my part--and even when the papers are depressingly bad, I will have to go ahead and plow through them...all of them.

Resolution five
: Take time for myself. It seems like all I do anymore is work related. I'm either making lesson plans, grading papers, cutting music, choreographing dance routines, running dance practice, attending games or competitions.
I'm tired just looking at that list; no wonder I've had trouble with resolutions two & three. In addition to taking time for my health, resolutions 1-3 as well as those doctor's appointments that I'm having trouble scheduling, I need to read stuff other than what I'm teaching; I need to write--this blog, a journal, something. I need outlets for me.

So here we go...something different this year, an actual resolution list. At this point, I am hopeful and positive. I can do these things and this list will hopefully keep me on track.