Saturday, July 07, 2007
Thursday, July 05, 2007
I want to apologize to all of you for my delay in blogging (reading and comment on your stuff) this week I realized I was very behind when my bloglines reflected that I had 61 posts to read. I guess I’ve been enjoying my vacation and I haven’t posted as many comments as I normally do and I haven’t responded to many of you who have commented on my blog. So, here are my apologies & responses in one big swoop. (After writing it I realized, it is also a shameless post of blogs I LOVE to read. I guess I'm hoping that you will discover them & enjoy them as much as I do!)
1. Thirteen Favorite Movies by Eric
2. Thirteen Places In America I Have Been To by Toni
(Leave your link in the comments & I'll post it here)
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Wednesday, July 04, 2007
My Blogiversary Present: I am unveiling my new blog title (Its your fault, Eric)
The URL will not change. I may eventually go there, but I don't want to confuse people.
- Went to school and accomplished nothing. I tried but discouragement set in after only 10 minutes.
- Visited with Miss CF. As I shared my thoughts with her on incentives for successful teachers, she said I was sounding more like a Republican everyday. I’m still not converting! LOL.
- Visited several books stores and teacher stores looking for books on manipulatives. Figured out I’m going to have order what I want online and that stinks b/c it means I have to wait.
- Went the post office, only to find the line hanging out the door. All I could do was get back in my car.
- Took a nap until 8:30 pm which is why I am up at 3:30.
- Went to get a veggie burger from fast food. Decided to order onion rings. Bad idea. Apparently, since I’ve decided to go meatless, I’ve lowered the amount of fat in my diet. I couldn’t eat more than two. Those two little onion rings have spelled disaster for my digestive system. If this is what it will feel like when I start eating meat again, I don’t want it. It’s painful and somewhat disgusting. So now I’m sitting here thinking, I’m really not going to miss all that much this 4th. BTW, Miss CF, did you think I’d last this long? I've surprised you! I refused to give up chocolate. . . You're asking for too much.
- Oh, and Happy Blogiversary to me! I started this blog ONE YEAR AGO, today. I’ll think about a special post for later today.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
This year (Y3) my focus is on content and teaching strategies. Following the pattern of Frumteacher, I started with setting my goals. As I talked with TeamTeacher this morning, I outlined some of my major goals for this year (World History, mainly):
- Including literacy component to my World History. This means that we are going to try and read several books this year. She set a limit of 3. I would love to do four, so that I can include something from Black History. Right off, I know we will read Escape From Slavery by Francis Bok. We are looking at reading an account of the Holocaust—I picked The Hiding Place. I’m looking for a 3rd Book, I think I would like a fiction book that deals with Islam, possibly Islam and women. . . Any suggestions, all you readers out there?
- Increasing the writing skills of my students. If our district’s motto is to prepare our students for college, as I explained to Team Teacher, we MUST start working with their writing skills before the tenth grade. I want them to be able to write at least a 2 page essay by the end of the year. The problem is our 9th grade English teachers DO NOT focus on this. They do in the honors classes, but not in regular. So, our dilemma/debate/issue is that we have to teach them how to write this type of paper. As we discussed this, we honestly DO NOT know how to this. Again, I am coming to all of my faithful readers, writers & ENGLISH TEACHERS: Is there as website or resource we could use so that we give our children basic instruction on essay writing for our classes? These should be brief lessons. Like 5 or 10 minute lessons, which we could build on weekly AND by the end of the year they should be able to write their own essays.
- I am also looking for strategies/lesson ideas in which the kids get to use their hands more often. My games are always successful in reiterating what we have taught. The kids get to move, chat with each other and usually end up moving their hands. It is rowdy, but it works. I’d like to find more activities (independent or pairs) that cause the children to use their hands or bodies that would help them with retention and comprehension. I want to decrease the amount of time that I spend lecturing. I won’t eliminate it b/c in history it’s just necessary, especially with a mixture of reading levels and abilities in the classroom.
- Finally, I would focus on connecting the present with the past. I want my students to see the relevance of the major events we talk about. I would like them to see how it affects them now. Honestly, I really don’t think that I will get to this in Year 3. But it is a goal.
For African American history the goals are different.
- I will also include a literacy component. We are going to read Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Native Son by Richard Wright
- They, too, will do A LOT of writing. I won't teach it b/c the class is for 10-12 grade students.
Because its only a semester long class, I can't go beyond this in my planning. But we are definitely looking at race, ethnicity and identity. It will be a challenging year.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Apparently, this doesn’t make her a good candidate for southern Black men. I’m exactly the opposite. I LOVE Black Men and can’t see myself with anyone else, but I’ve dated all sorts. But that “ain’t” the discussion.
The discussion is: How do you act White? I’ve been asking this since my days in college. My kids tell me all the time that I talk White or “proper.” I explain to them that I speak correctly in appropriate situations. You’ve got know when you can act “hood.” You can act one way with your friends, but in public and on the job you must act in manner that is appropriate. You must act “civilized” to be acceptable in our society. You must speak correct English to be understood. Moreover, why is unacceptable for a Black person to like or sing opera, dance ballet or ski. I don’t even understand why this is even a problem in America. I think it has a lot to do with poverty and the invisible class system that exists here.
I don’t think my kids know that my family is from the same “hood” that they are growing up in. I didn’t grow up there, but my mother did. I am a “mound” girl. Thus, I can be “down” with the best of them, but I choose to be “lame.” I choose to be “proper.” Miss CF says that I’m ghetto and I don’t talk “proper.” She’s right because when I’m with her I let go of societal norms. I don’t have to been an example for anyone. Conversely, Miss CF is White and Lord knows, she is super ghetto. If they saw her with me they’d say she was “tryin’ to act Black.”
I don’t know why there is so much pressure to be ghetto if you are Black. It is a stereotype that African American’s should not have. I think that these stereotypes are what continue to breed and sustain racism. Unfortunately, this blog ain’t gon’ haf to much o dat hood o country stuffs cause I wanna be propa xample for da chirrens AND I ain’t green, really, I ain’t. I’m out cause I gotta go to da Durry Queen.
Yes, my friend is hurt b/c she is thought of as an oreo. But, I get the sense that she is used to it. It doesn't sting as much. It doesn't sting when I'm told, "you're acting White" anymore. I generally laugh and say, "how do you act White?" No one ever has an answer. These are hard social issues. Especially, here in the South.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
- I’m lonely. This is causing me to miss my ex-boyfriend. He is a “preacha,” but a jerk at the same time. He’s looking for a “preacha’s wife.” By all accounts, I’m a perfect candidate. . . except, as a result of him, I really don’t want to step foot in a church again. Maybe, that’s not completely true. You can only understand this if you’ve seen some of the ugliness that takes place behind the scenes in churches. Nevertheless, I miss him, but I refuse to any contact with him. Living that life is really difficult. And he’s too controlling, but according to him, I’m too controlling and don't want to let a man "lead," I just don't want to be someone's servant. Help mate, friend, lover, YES, those are titles i'm willing to accept. . . .I’m rambling. I think God has something better in store for me. . . for those of you who know me, could you really see me in a hat like this EVERY Sunday?
- I’m hungry.
- I’m sleepy, but I don’t want to take a nap. I don’t want to be up until three in the morning, again.
- I’m tired of looking at the mess I’ve created this week in my apartment. I’ll get around to cleaning up this evening.
- Maybe, I should just get out and do something instead of sitting here and be bored by daytime tv. Although, I love HGTV’s “Designed to Sell” and "Mission Organization."
- I should really be saving to buy home of my own. But what’s the point when I’m trying to move overseas in the next year or two. I think it would be absolutely wonderful to live in Europe for about 5 years.
- It is thundering outside. That always makes for a good NAP. . . ah, that’s the good life.
- I've got to find a new title for my blog. Eric brought it up and now I'm mad at him! I won't change the web address. Just the title b/c technically, I'm entering my 3rd year of teaching. Thanks, Eric! I hope you can read the sarcasm ;-)
- I can’t wait for my license to get here. It’ll be official, when it gets here.
I was really bored, so I took the following web quiz and it is now OFFICIAL. I already knew I was addicted to blogging b/c I have 65 feeds on my aggregator.
Mingle2 - Online Dating
Why can’t I just sit and do nothing and think about nothing? My mind just keeps going and going and going. I normally don’t complain about breaks I get as a teacher, but my mind is still working. I want to veg out . . . somebody please make the noise stop. . . Internet monopoly here I come.
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Today was supposed to be my leisure day. I don't have to go to school if I don't want to. I could sleep in. But here is what has happened: I awakened at 8:30, daytime tv seems to suck, I'm bored, I'm caught up on my blog reading & emails, laying in bed is not as fun as I thought . . .
So, I'm getting my big butt up and heading to school to sort through my stuff for my new classroom. When will get enough of that place? Why can't I stay away? Do I have summer ADHD? It is like I MUST be doing something. Why can't I just rest? Do I know how to rest? It sucks.
Maybe, I can talk Miss CF into Indian food for lunch.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
- She left me with NOTHING in the room except student desks.
- She didn’t even have all of her things packed for easy moving
- She’s been in that room more than 10 years, so she had accumulated a lot of HEAVY stuff.
- Her file cabinets were packed to the brim with papers and we moved those, too
- My back has been aching since the time I got up this morning AND I still went and moved her stuff
- Her desk wasn’t even cleaned out!!!!
- Because she is not leaving me file cabinet, I have to spend $50 of my supply money to order a file cabinet for my room. Although, Mrs. Finance has said she would help by looking at the cheer account for extra money, so I wouldn’t have to spend the supply money
Long story, short: I’m really grumpy right now.
And I’ve learned a lesson: Nice things won’t always be appreciated. Sometimes, you learn to appreciate other people’s help when you have to do it yourself. In the future, there will be no pitty from me—do it yourself. It seems that people are only looking out for themselves anyway.
In response to Betsy's comments: There are only 5 custodians working this summer. The District refuses to pay their part time workers for full time hours during the summer, so most took the summer off. In addition, 3 of the people working are women--they asked us when school let out to try and move as much of our own stuff as possible as it was only 4 of them really working. Each week, 1 of the 5 takes their summer vacation. One of the men who is working with them, says he's got back problems and refuses to move anything. (Although, I caught him sleeping in the lounge one day) Their primary job in the summertime is to wax the floor. Apparently, all other stuff is secondary to that. So that is the deal with the custodians. If you want it done, you do it yourself. If want to be ready on Day 1, I've got to start now, otherwise, it will be like last fall. Where I stayed at school until 10 every night.
1: Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves which others do not know about them.
2: People who are tagged need to write in their own blog and post these rules.
3: At the end of your 8 random facts post, you must select 8 more people and leave a message at their site that they have been
8 facts about me:
- I’ll be 30 in two months and I don’t feel that old. It feels like I just graduated college.
- Christmas music is my favorite genre of music. I can listen to it year round.
- I’m getting to point in my life where I can’t stand too much noise. This has shocked my mother b/c I could have the radio and TV on while talking on the phone. In the car, I’d rather ride in silence than listen to music. Which leads me to #4 . . .
- I have become a serious “book on tape” fanatic. I listen to them in the car. It’s peaceful.
- I had the privilege of living in Italy when my mom got transferred there for her job. I was a senior in high school at the time and I hated her for it. I didn’t make the most of this experience. I now regret that.
- I can hear my neighbor snore through the walls at night and but, tonight I hear a repetitive banging. I wonder why?
- I am extremely insecure . . . especially about my size. I am finally doing something about it. I just wish it was a quicker process.
- I think there is some truth to Monique’s book Skinny Women Are Evil. Forgive me, skinny friends, it’s just the way I’m feeling tonight.
Now, I don’t like forcing someone to complete this activity. However, I will list people that I’d like to hear from. But I’m NOT notifying them they have been tagged--which technically means they haven't been tagged. If they read it and do it, fine. . . if not, fine.
My So-Called "Teaching" Life—b/c I haven’t heard from you in a while
3 Standard Deviations to the Left
Life on the Other Side of the Desk
Irrational: A Math Teacher's Notebook
Junior High School Teacher Version 10.0
Green Eggs and Crack
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Update In response to comments: We got a new principal and he is making almost everyone move. He felt like there was no structure to the layout of classrooms. Therefore, he is placing all the subject areas in the same area for collaboration, etc. We have to go where we were assigned. I've been using a flat bed and dolly, but its still hard work getting stuff from one floor to another.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Jerks know what to say. They always know how to woo you, but then they show their TRUE colors. What am I doing wrong to attract such psychopathic men? Men that are one way one moment and another at a different moment . . . . Low expectations breed this. It takes courage and strength to stay away b/c I’m lonely for adult company. Jerks know this. Should I give up on men and dating all together? Black men? Oh, how I love them, but they drive me sooo crazy.
Lord, give me strength because I don’t the patience for this kind of drama all over again or the same stupid arguments. I know that not all men are like this. Maybe, it’s just the breed of men who are in my city. They always expect the home cooked meal & the milk on discount or for free. Nothing worthwhile is free . . .and chronic store discount prices lead to long term issues--issues you don't find out about until you get the merchandise home.
What is wrong with having high expectations for men? How hard is it to speak like a Christian AND act like one at the same time? How hard is it to genuinely listen to what I have to say? How hard is it to make time talk to me and not just on your break time? Can you take me out sometime—it doesn’t have to be some expensive date, just a thoughtful one. Why do you always expect that you can come over anytime you want? What are you hiding? Can you respect me for being curious and smart?
I’ve got to get OUT of this city. It must be something in the water. Our water supply must be tainted. Will it only be a few years before it starts affecting the women, too, with psychopathic/schizophrenic behavior? Or am I simply expecting too much?
So, its 2:39 in the morning and I’m still up. Since 9:00 PM, Sunday night, I’ve been working on cheer business. This can be added to the growing list of reasons that I will not return as to the cheer team after the 07-08 school year:
- Somehow I seem to be investing more of my money in them than on me. Reason: Mrs. Finance does not reimburse for tax paid and she choose what things she will reimburse for & whether or not they were needed
- The girls have too much drama
- I want to go overseas—I have the fever after watching my friend Jennifer spend a year in Cameroon
- Tired of making bill collection calls b/c they won’t pay their fees on time. It sucks to be the bad guy.
- Fundraising. You’ve heard me whine about this before
- It takes time away from my teaching
- Lack of parental support. Parental support does not just mean send your dollars
- I get tired of the gossiping and people who are plotting my overthrow. They fail to realize no one else wants to do this job and its NOT a requirement to keep my job. I talked with the Union Rep in detail about this. Extra-curriculars are not required to maintain your job.
- I want a social life. Meeting guys at basketball/football games has not paid off. The ones that I have talked to turn out to be jerks. Not worth it!
- Its time consuming: games, practices, competitions, summer activities, performances, pep ralleys
- Sometimes they are down right ungrateful and disrespectful
I get more and more excited b/c I know my license will get here soon and I can go just about anywhere. But, I'll be careful about the job hunting . . . especially after hearing how so many teachers are finding the job market tight right now.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
About a year and half ago, my small group disbanded. Since that time, my spiritual life has been on the downward decline. I stopped going to that church, feeling led that I should enter something new in my spiritual life and that I didn’t want make the 25 minute journey anymore, I joined another . It was not long before I stopped going to that church. It began with one missed Sunday. Then, following that I missed another. I missed so many I felt like couldn’t go back. And then I started coming up with a list of reasons why shouldn’t go to church:
I’m too fat
I don’t feel included
I can worship at home
I just haven’t found the right place to worship
I’m tired of the drama associated with church
I don’t like dressing up
You know my heart and how I feel about you
I’m scared I’ll be judged
Christians lives double lives
It doesn’t affect my salvation
Last night, I thought about going to church. Then this morning, my heart felt like I should be at church. Again I came up with another list of why I couldn’t go:
I’m embarrassed, I haven’t been in so long, my hair needs be done, appropriate
clothes for church are not clean
So, here I am spending another Sunday at home. I turned on the webcast of this morning’s service. But in the midst of “doing church” in bed, I hear Cat’s words, “the bible says we shouldn’t forsake the assembling of ourselves.” My mama says “she doesn’t know where she went wrong, she raised me right.” Lord, I know I need the body—even though it may appear to be dysfunctional. My heart longs for you. I need the accountability. But the more I think about it, it is supposed to be about you. All I’ve been saying is I, I, I. Corporate worship is beautiful to you.
Change my heart, oh God. Direct me to an appropriate church. This is my prayer today. Amen!
I decided to share my spiritual journey on my blog b/c it is important to who I am as a person. I am not perfect—Christians are not perfect. And I’m realizing that the church is not perfect. I pray that as I include this part of my life someone will be touched. Mostly, I hope that someone is praying these prayers with me. Happy Sunday.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I had my students complete end of the year reflections, so that I that as I plan for next year, I could better meet their needs. Following the example of another teacher, I had my students do words of warning for the next year's students. I am going to place the 13 best here-- these were the most truthful and/or caused me to laugh. When I reflect on them, they are all classroom management issues. I may not handle them in the best way, but they helped make my second year better than my first.
3. (Leave your link in the comments & I'll post it here)
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007
- Students must be retaking a core class.
- Students must have at least 50 in the course. Remember, my school district rant of how we are encouraged to give students 50's instead of the real grade they made. (specific situations) Remember, this is not a district policy, but something some of the schools do.
- It is completely computer based. Teachers are present in the room to assist student if they don't understand a concept. But students go through it by themselves. They take a test at the end of each lesson. (Some how the grades they makes on these tests are averaged with the grade that they get in the course)
- Its only 3 1/2 weeks long (3 1/2 hours each day for each course the student is taking)
We work hard, pass the class, do the homework the first time around. They come
here for 3 hours and can pass the course after not doing anything all year. It's
NOT right. Except for cheer and my parents, there is no incentive to do the work
during the school year or even come to school. Because I can just come to
summer school and complete a years worth of work.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Cat lives in a small country town. In her town, they only have one policeman, and he gives tickets!!! Don’t play with the country policeman. Anyway, usually when I go to her house, I sit outside on their patio and read books and just enjoy the scenery. This time, I forgot to take my allergy medicine, so being outside in the country was a big NO-NO. And, it is too darn hot!
Here are some pictures of the area:
One the coolest things small town economics. There is only one movie theater with 3 screens. Guess what, we saw the Fantastic Four for only $3. THREE DOLLARS!!! And I bought nachos to snack on for $2.00. I LOVE SMALL TOWNS!
So as we were driving around her town, I noticed something that was strange to me. However, it is normal in this town. Sitting on the porch enjoying the scenery & chatting with neighbors is big in the South—it’s apart of the slower pace of life. (no, that’s not the strange part). What so strange then? The chairs that these small towners put on their porches are old recliners. Not patio furniture or folding chairs. They are RECLINERS, loungers, living room furniture! We passed many families that had recliners on their porch. Of course, I had to take a picture to share on my blog.
Monday, June 18, 2007
We will miss you Superintendent. I appreciated your work . . .the support you gave teachers. We love your caring and concerned nature. The work you’ve done here is priceless. We will remember you in our hearts. Like many others, I’m asking, is there anything we can do to make you stay?
Ode To Lara—You are such a beautiful person. Through your blog, I feel like I’ve gotten to know you personally. I love your humor and your love for people and your students. I know that once you have you own classroom, you will be an AWESOME educator. Keep up the good work!
Ode To Cat—I love you! I am so glad that God has blessed me with a friend like you. You are always encouraging me in my walk, offering solace, and giving me great smiles and laughs. I admire that you are always kind—even to people who wrong you. I love the fact that you are always sooooooo patient . . .Someday, I’d like to be that way (not so high-strung) Cool, Calm, Collected. I know that there a great things in store for you.
Lara, I hope you enjoyed these birthday gifts. Happy Birthday!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
This is my second attempt at Thursday Thirteen. After, I finished it. I remembered that my original TT was supposed to be Lara's gift, but I will come up with something else before Saturday. Happy Birthday, Lara!
2. (Leave your link in the comments & I'll post it here)
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I still need two signatures on my paperwork, should be completed tomorrow. I was taking my time because I thought the verification was supposed to come in the mail. Urrrrggghh, so now I need to call the chair of my department again to make sure she will be able to come sign my paperwork tomorrow. I hate to annoy her—and its my fault b/c it would have only taken minutes to get done before school was out. But procrastination kept saying, “you’ve got time.” I THOUGHT I HAD TIME! So, I feel like I’m annoying her by calling and asking “when can you come sign and I’ll come to you.” These are words of desperation. I am scared now that they won’t approve my license b/c I was late. However, I know this won’t be too big of an issue b/c they do licensing all year long. (As I typed this, the chair called me back saying she had already signed and stuck it in my box—sweet relief)
What irritates me more, is that I can NOT find my evaluation for last year. In all the packing a moving to a new classroom, it some how got misplaced. I kept in the top drawer of my desk because I knew it was safe there. Unfortunately, I don’t know what box it is in. When I went to the school secretary to get a copy, it wasn’t in my file! So, I’ve somehow got to hunt down a copy of it. I’ve been looking in EVERY SINGLE bag, book and stack of papers here at the house. No, luck yet. But I know that there is “a ram in the bush.” I have alternatives; but I just don’t like to bug people—especially when I’m the one who has been incompetent.
There is excitement and fear as I apply for this license! I’m going to be fully licensed. It means I can go anywhere and teach within my state. I can begin working on other things b/c stuff licensure. I get to set all new goals and benchmarks for my life. I finally feel like I’m a real adult. I know all of these things sound so girlishly silly, but after hearing from my family all the time that I will be college student forever, I began to believe it. Its probably true, b/c I’ve still got to finish my master’s degree which will probably be another year. Once that is finished, I want to shoot for National Board Certification. In my school district, they give up to a $10,000 bonus for being nationally certified. There are only about 50 teachers in the district that have gotten it. Well, I guess new goals have been set!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I try NOT to let my ideologies affect my classroom instruction. I do not share what political party I am affiliated with. When we are having discussions about current issues happening, I am often asked what party I side with. Sometime I joke about "Party of Miss A." (In reality, I'd love to have a monarchy with me as Princess or Queen) Even at the end of the year, my students are left questioning what I believe or my political party. I attempt to argue the perspectives that are not being presented in class. Because I teach World History, I attempt to emphasize looking a events from a global perspective. I want my students to be concerned about what is happening in the World, not just our country or city or state--that would make us isolationists. And our country's past leaders have history of those beliefs.
What I am concerned about: I watched the democratic debate on CNN. I heard no mention of our public education system. (But my DVR cut off the end of it so I might have missed it) I have yet to watch the republican debate. Have I simply missed it or is our education system not of concern to the potential candidates running for President? With all of this talk about the war, taxes, socialized medicine and immigration, has education been put on the back burner?
Monday, June 11, 2007
I've made it two days with no meat! It hasn't been that bad. Although, I looked in the freezer and saw that hunk of bbq brisket that I LOVE . . .but, I had to just say, "Oh, well!" Maybe some day I'll be eating it again.
As the Day2 draws to close, I am feeling some differences in my body. I notice that I'm using the bathroom A LOT--maybe thats due to all the fiber rich foods I've been eating or all the water I've been drinking. I drink A LOT of water b/c it makes me feel full. But the other part, I just can't explain. When I read about it on the internet, it said that my digestive system might have been sent into shock & it doesn't know how to react yet. This doesn't come from a medical journal or site, so I don't know how well this information can be trusted.
Now, I've just got to figure out how to add variety to my meal selections.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Honestly, I don’t think it will be that hard. I went for months w/o chicken b/c I had one bad experience. I only recently started eating it again. I’m not really worried, b/c I’m not just a meat eater. I like to eat FOOD! It is comforting—that’s where problem lies.
She will be shocked by how well I do. Meat really is not the end all, be all. Maybe, I’ll shed a few pounds in the process. So, I recite my mantra and begin: Prov 16:3 Commit your works to the Lord and then your plans shall succeed.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I had dinner with Miss Conservative Friend today. I don’t think I’ve talked about her before. To give you an idea of what Miss CF is like:
She often tells me that one day I will be “right.” This means
that b/c I have some conservative views already, with her influence I will
convert. She’s a staunch conservative who wholeheartedly supports our country,
our President and the war we are engaged in. She’s strong southern Christian
who believes that the heart of our country lies in the church.
During our dinner, we were discussing the pledge and other rituals that her school does ieveryday. Miss CF stated that at her school, every morning they say the pledge, sng a patriotic song and sing the school song after the morning announcements. I was pleasantly surprised by this. I told her that we said the pledge, but you have to threaten students to make them stand for it. I explained that I always say to the students, “You don’t have to say it, but you must stand out of respect.” She was appalled at this. She felt like I should make the students say the pledge. Especially, since I’m a history teacher. I explained to her I’m not going to make them recite something that I wouldn’t say or don’t believe in.
I don’t pledge my allegiance to this country. I love this country. I will support it with my taxes. I will support the troops—the actual soldiers. I support our education system. But I absolutely, refuse to pledge allegiance to something that I don’t believe wholeheartedly in. As I have studied history, I struggle with how this land was acquired, developed and exploited. I still am struggling with this country’s ideas of liberty, equity and justice for all. There are so many gross inconsistencies in this country. I can not pledge allegiance to it, but I respect this country. I support it. What is wrong with that?
During our conversation, she asked “Would you rather live somewhere else?” I replied, “Yes, Europe.” She quickly told me to “Go live there, then.” This segment of our conversation has not left my brain. Should I not be allowed to live in a country b/c I refused to pledge allegiance to it? Should only folks would want to pledge allegiance be allowed to stay here or participate? In my opinion, it would make our country a cult. With these kind of stipulations, our country would not be a just place. Could these of things make us like the terrorists and communist nations we are so diligently fighting and condemning?
Am I wrong for these thoughts? Does this make me a less effective teacher? Would these types of beliefs not support our American Social Studies education? I never share these ideas with my children and I don’t believe they affect my teaching. I would never speak negatively of our government. As a matter of fact, I'm often defending our government to my students. (They ask all the time if I'm a republican for defending G.W.B's actions) Should my job require me to be patriotic?
Just my thoughts today . . .
I decided I wanted to get on the Thursday Thirteen bandwagon. I always LOVE reading Lara’s. With her inspiration, here goes:
I hope that I have completed my first Thursday Thirteen correctly. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.
2. (Leave your link in the comments & I'll post it here)
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I had a close friend, who after going to prison, was trying to get a job and make his life better. He is a smart and intelligent and bright guy. The more he tried, the more doors were shut in his face. No one believed that he had given up his gang banging ways. I saw him struggle for months trying to live the right life. Going to work everyday and bringing home the bacon for a family is crucial to a man’s self esteem and dignity. Society wouldn’t give him a chance. It wasn’t long before his gang friends had reentered his life. He declined their company several times. But after it seemed like nothing else was going to happen good for him, he reentered his old life. They offered him a chance for real money. He couldn’t resist this. My friends and I were heart broken. We couldn’t do anything to stop this. His family couldn’t do anything to stop him.
How did my prison experience lead me to a public classroom?
We know that down here in the South, rehabilitation and education is not a big part of the prison experience. It is strange. From my experience, they expect the church services held by volunteers, a chaplain and 3 or 4 social workers to rehabilitate an entire facility of people. I believe that this is why prison doesn’t work. It is a punishment and protects society, but how do we get to a point these people are changed and they don’t succumb to the life they had before prison? Maybe, we can somehow stop people from doing things that would land them in prison.
When I entered graduate school, I was naively idealistic with lofty goals of changing the world. Isn’t that why most enter the profession? After working with AmeriCorps, I believe that if there was intervention before adulthood we would have a better world. I accepted my calling. I wanted give middle schoolers the keys to a better future. . . a better life. (But I actually ended up in high school, so I guess I need to change that as apart of my philosophy)
I still believe these things . .yes, education can help our society. I am just having some issues with our public education system—but, that’s a different discussion. Before I entered the classroom, I never knew how much children’s environment affected their education. If the parent doesn’t see the value of education, how will the child?
So after a second year of teaching, I am left with this strange problem. I love teaching. I fall in love with ALL of my children, every year. I want to give people the keys to a better life. However, it appears that the kids do not want what I have to offer. The prisoners did. It seems that those adults saw the value in education. How do you teach children to value education? How do you make them want what you have to give them? Can we really counteract what is going on at home? Is this true on in urban communities? How can we make the urban education system work? I think about all of these things b/c I don’t just want to work a job without heart. For me, it not just about a check. Education is important to our society, right?
***The picture above is not me, just something I found on the internet to break up the monotony of the text.***
Monday, June 04, 2007
The concession stand did well, today. And turns out I didn’t have to pay anyone for today’s service there. But, I have to deal with the next Monday. I’ll put it on my “to do” list and start my hunt early for volunteers.
Now, someone asked about my stint at the prison. A few years ago, I gave a year of service to my country as an AmeriCorps worker. It was the hardest year of my life. The program I worked with worked to intervene and stop the cycles of child abuse, neglect and domestic abuse. As apart of the program, I taught parenting and literacy classes. I was the first to take our program to the local jail. We were invited first by a church group who went their regularly. No one wanted to go. But because I knew my calling was to teach, I stepped up to the plate and volunteered to go. I WAS VERY SCARED because I didn’t know how to react or how they would react to me . . . especially since I didn’t have any children.
My inaugural class had over 30 women who signed up for it! I was shocked. Then, I had an additional 10 women who just showed up hoping they could get into it. The chaplain sat in of the first few classes. We always had a guard posted by the door. I was nervous b/c I went to the penal farm by myself, no one else in my AmeriCorps group went with me. But after about the 3rd lesson, I realized the ladies had nothing better to do all day AND they actually looked forward to class and the conversations there. Many of them did the homework! They respected me. They wanted me there. They wanted to learn whatever they could. They were successful in my class. Many who had reading difficulties would work with other inmates to prepare for the next lesson. They did have incentive for passing the class and receiving a certificate, they would receive some time off their sentence. So maybe this was the reason for my success.
My term in AmeriCorps came to an end and b/c I had no other prospects, I volunteered to teach them over the summer. They knew this and shared it with other inmates and the next session of the class, I had more and more enrollment. At the end of the summer, I was so sad to say goodbye. They had really changed me. I am now more sensitive to what people really have going on in their private lives. Especially in poor communities, you never know what is going on behind closed doors.
Yeah, these women had A LOT of drama. I met women who had killed their babies. Crack addicts. Con artists. Women who suffered severe domestic abuse and fought back & killed. And lots of non English speaking immigrants. Everyone of them had a story. I really wish I had documented it all. I remember some nights while watching the news thinking, “That’s my student! Ooooohhh, that’s why she’s locked up.”
I took a year break from AmeriCorps. When I came back a year later, what I started had developed into a solid program out the prison. And there were several classes happening there. They had even started a class at the men’s prison. I signed up for the prison classes, again! I loved working with these women. They invited me to work at the men’s prison. I refused. My co-worker said that she liked it better than the women b/c they didn’t cry and were lots of fun. She said the men were adamant about protecting her. She said they wouldn’t let her get hurt over there b/c they wanted her there. I still refused to work with them. There is a tinge of regret now.
I actually looked for jobs working in prisons when I started my job hunt. But honestly, jobs teaching prisoners only exist up North. I didn’t want to move North by myself. I had just finished college and had NO money for moving expenses or even friends and family who could help me make the move. Every job I looked into did not cover these type of expenses. I was young and scared, but I knew I had made a difference. I wanted to continue to make a difference. But down here in the South, I don’t believe that educating our prisoners is a priority. So there are no jobs like that here. The only thing I could do was to sign up to be a social worker and implement classes and learning that way. That was NOT going to happen, b/c it would have meant I would have to deal with the inmates drama. I tried to sell the leadership at the jail about letting me set up a permanent literacy program through AmeriCorps, with me as the coordinator, but they kept dragging their feet and by the time they were ready to act, I had already enrolled in grad school.
Now, how does this matter to what I do now as secondary classroom teacher? I’ll save it for tomorrow’s post b/c I’m tired.