Saturday, July 07, 2007

Goodbye, Blogger!!! If you are interested in following me, please send an email to (removed) I will forward you the new link. . . . if I think I don't know you! LOL.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's getting hot in here .. . .

I am furious with Miss CF. She gave my blog address to her mother. HER MOTHER! I’ve told her several times this blog is supposed to be anonymous. Her innocent response, “well, you put it on the internet for the whole world to see?” I explained to her that my readers don’t know me, they sure can’t TELL on me! They don’t know where I live or where I work. She said, “But it’s on the net.” We will never agree on this; my blog is private. She was one of the only real life people who knows who I am. Where I am. Before she told her mother, I’d never seen a hit on my sitemeter from my “urban city.” Some folks even thought I was from New York. Now, I’ve seen four or five hits. I’m furious! Miss CF, this is NOT stuff you can share with your mother. Now, Mrs. CF, if you are reading this you know who Miss CF is in real life. You can fuss at her for all of the crazy things she's said. I’m boiling over this one. I might have to get a new blog and this time, NO one in real life will know that I’m writing it.. I don’t like “being discovered.”
On the other end of blogging, Joel helped me with the graphic. I'm still trying to make it work in blogger . . .It's soooo me.. . Everyone give Joel a virtual pat on the back for helping me! He's AWESOME . . .and ladies, HE'S SINGLE!

TT #5: Sincere Apologies with Comments

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!)

Responses and thoughts that should have
gone out a LONG time ago.
  1. To Everone. Thank you to EVERY ONE who gave me well wishes on my Blogiversary. It made me feel good. I’m glad that you are enjoying my site.
  2. To School Teacher. Thank you for starting another important dialogue with your blog post on the Supreme Court recent decision. I try not to engage in political discussions on this blog, but I do talk about race. But something about this teacher’s post on the supreme court's ruling struck a cord with me. I have left a LONG response. Engage in this dialogue. It is SO very worth it! I think it will help everyone think about where we are at in this country.
  3. To Frum Teacher--Thank you showing me that a lot of things are universal in teaching. I didn’t realize that the educators in Europe experience the same things we do. P.S. Take one thing at a time—don’t make too many goals b/c you want to be successful at something. Classroom management was something I struggled a lot with my first year. So that’s all I concentrated on my 2nd year, I don’t think it was a bad trade off.
  4. To Frum Teacher--part 2. The US is a good example of a democracy, but unfortunately there are still racial tensions from 200 years of slavery and 50 years of Jim Crow. It is not all over the country, I personally believe that exists mostly in the South. I think the reason is still here is the economic/class disparity among folks living in the South. Please don’t stop teaching about what a great democracy we have here, it is just that we still have things we need to work on
  5. To Mrs. BlueBird. Thank you for the recommendation on Zike’s book. I tried to get it locally but didn’t find it at the teacher supply store. I will be ordering one or two of her things. I think this will help with my essay writing. I could have them write paragraphs from these things. I saw some samples of foldables at other websites—this a great strategy I’ll be incorporating this year. YOU ROCK!!!!
  6. To Betsy. Thank You, you gave me so much information! I went to the resource center at the local university and found a book about writing research papers that 11th graders in our district use. The problem I think that will be an issue is simple paragraph writing. I’ve got to start from there. I’m worried about it. But I’m going to keep looking. I remembered reading Native Son when I was in high school and I remembered how much I loved it. When I looked at in the bookstore, I was thinking about using the abridged version. I don’t know that they will give me access to my students reading scores. If they do, I will have to look them up individually, they are not kept in any type of computer system where teachers can just have access to them. I never thought much about short stories. GREAT IDEA. Now, I’ve got to get to library to find some. I might do that instead of Native Son.
  7. To Betsy part 2. I hate our district’s motto, (I can’t put it on here, b/c if I did everyone would know where I worked). We are supposed to being our kids a college prep education. The idea is that the education we give them should prepare all students for college whether they want to go or not. I like that every student is "supposed" to be getting a great education, but I hate that we don’t promote other alternatives. Not everyone is college material. However, it is all we seem to talk about. And you can get a decent / good job with vocational schools. My hair stylist makes more money than I do.
  8. To EricThanks for pushing me in a new blogging direction. A friend helped me come up with that title. I was telling her that blogging is like therapy. . .and that I was playing with Therapy for A Third Year Teacher. And I guess, in her mind, she saw me laying on someone’s couch. . . lol, telling all my business. Although, I’m giving you a hard time, I’m glad that I’m moving up in the teaching world. LOL.
  9. To Bethany—I’m soooo sorry I didn’t get to read your post b/c you lost it. I have gotten to the point where I type most of my stuff in word and then cut and paste it. Do you have a blog? I would love to add it to the list of ones I read daily.
  10. To Joel--Thanks for keeping me company on aim from time to time. I think that you are organization king. I've learned a few things that will help keep my desk from looking like "who did it and what for" in the next academic year.
  11. To City Teacher and Third Grade Teacher--Teachers hoard stuff b/c we like stuff. We are afraid that we won't get anymore of whatever it is. Or, we might use it again. Or, if we throw it away, we might have to buy a new one. We like stuff--Plain and Simple.
  12. To Leesepea--Thank you for reminding me how blessed I am. Your AC situation definitely makes me appreciate that my thermostat is set at 68.
  13. To America. I am not the most patriotic person, as you will see below. But A Belated Happy Independence Day to you.

    I Am 52% American

    Most times I am proud to be an American.
    Though sometimes the good ole US of A makes me cringe
    Still, I know there's no place better suited to be my home.
    I love your freedom and no one's going to take it away from me!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

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)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

One year ago, today . . . .

I started this blog with the intention of keeping track of my second year of teaching. As I reflect, I started off strong. However, as the school year started, I sort of forgot about this blog. What changed for me was a fellow teacher told me that she found this blog encouraging. I began to post more often with her encouragement. As a result, I found a network of blogging teachers who encouraged, empathized and offered solutions to this novice teacher. This blog and the “friends” I met online have changed my teaching life. Your comments, lesson ideas, suggestions have changed the way that I look at teaching. Teaching is a calling; it is transforming; it is what I do. Thank you for staying and sharing with me. Cheers, to all of you!!!

My Blogiversary Present: I am unveiling my new blog title (Its your fault, Eric)

deleted after I was outed.

The URL will not change. I may eventually go there, but I don't want to confuse people.

Is this what relaxing is about?

On Tuesday, I . . . .

  • 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

Gearing Up For Year 3: Goal/Objective Setting

Today I started actively planning and thinking about my Third Year teaching high school. This time last year, I procrastinated, but I was constantly thinking about what I would do differently. For Year Two, I was focused on classroom management. This gives you an idea of what my first year was like. Year One: I “wrote up” at least 3 students EVERY WEEK. It was terrible. The kids were terrible and they knew it. I was awful, too. Therefore, last summer I concentrated on classroom management and discipline. Classroom management & discipline was great for Year Two.

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

What is an Oreo?

I thought it was a cookie. But I called Cat today, simply to tell her “I LOVE Black men.” As we engaged in this conversation, I find out she doesn’t like them at all. She says, maybe it’s the men she’s around, but she has nothing in common with them. They don’t like to do the things she does. They call her an “oreo.” You know, Black on the outside, White on the inside.

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.
In response to Betsy's comments: Yes, being called an Oreo is racist. These are fighting words. No matter the circumstances--however, it seems that African American's can say things about their own and the sting is not so bad. This was one of the major issues with Imus a few months back. African Americans say these types of derogatory things all the time, but no one else can say it. It is funny how it works. No, these types of things should not be said. I agree with you. Its highly inappropriate, but unfortunately racism and stereotypes didn't die with Dr. King. They still live. After reading your post, it was November 6th, I realize we must stand up and say something when these comments are made. I generally stand up when these types of comments are made. I can't stand these types of words--including the N word. When it happens in my classroom, it's unacceptable. But the sad thing is that these kids go home and it is said all around them. Somehow, my students (or the African American community in general) has made these words affectionate.

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

Boredom = Random Thoughts = Blogging

I actually decided to vacation today. I had intentions of running errands, but they can wait until tomorrow, but as I’m sitting here doing nothing . . .these are my "vacation" thoughts:
  • 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.

70%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

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.

Thursday Thirteen in Pictures

I decided that I had a lot of pics on my camera that I never get to share with anyone. So I selected Thirteen of them and decided to comment on them. Most of them deal with school. But you can get an idea of what my life is like in these pictures. Enjoy a twist on the Thursday Thirteen. You may click on the pictures to make them larger if you can not see the text.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
2. Leave your Link in comments and I'll post it.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Something is wrong with me!

Really, maybe eating vegetarian means I'm ingesting more pesticides or something. Maybe, I that garlic seasoning has crack in it or something. Maybe, when I was taking my evening walk I stepped on a needle with something in it. . . Whatever it is, my brain has been affected.

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

Gettting Reading for Year 3: Moving

Pictures of the process. Yes we moved all of it! With the stuff on the tables.

Have you ever done something for someone and then they seemed ungrateful? Moving my co-worker’s stuff feels like that. I called her to let her know that the students and I had completed the job. It was a quick “thank you” and that was it. It was like I was inconveniencing her. I wasn’t expecting her to bestow honor after honor for doing this, but I expected sincere gratitude. What I got was not sincere gratitude. So, now that makes me grumpy. Let examine the facts on my side:
  • 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.

I was tagged. . . .a bitter Insomnia respnse!

I got into the bed over an hour ago. And now, I’m back at my computer. INSOMNIA! It stinks. I was all prepared to go to sleep b/c I moved furniture today. I even went to the gym earlier this afternoon for my regular exercise (Yes, I’m exercising now) I’m surprised at how much I enjoy it. There is no reason I should be awake. I didn’t even take a nap today. So, I take this time to respond to a tag by Bowrag.

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:

  1. I’ll be 30 in two months and I don’t feel that old. It feels like I just graduated college.

  2. Christmas music is my favorite genre of music. I can listen to it year round.

  3. 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 . . .

  4. I have become a serious “book on tape” fanatic. I listen to them in the car. It’s peaceful.

  5. 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.

  6. I can hear my neighbor snore through the walls at night and but, tonight I hear a repetitive banging. I wonder why?

  7. I am extremely insecure . . . especially about my size. I am finally doing something about it. I just wish it was a quicker process.

  8. 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
NY Teacher
Dolce Bellezza
Green Eggs and Crack

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Getting Reading for Year 3

With the help of two guys from summer school, I spent over an hour moving my classroom things this morning. It really wasn’t that bad b/c I’m a new teacher w/o a lot of stuff—most of its cheer stuff. The problem is that the classroom I’m moving into has not been cleared out. And to boot, she is taking EVERYTHING in the classroom except the student desks. When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING: the teachers desk, all the file cabinets, even the computers. I will be left with nothing. But here is the kicker: Tomorrow, the boys and I will tackle moving all of the rest of her stuff down to her new room. We don’t mind moving her stuff b/c she has a disability, but I am NOT looking forward to it. Her file cabinets still have stuff in them—so it’s going to be heavy and hard to move all of this stuff. I’ll show pictures of the move tomorrow.

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

Men Rant!!!

For all of those men out there who read my blog, this may be the day you DON'T want to read. I'm UPSET and SCREAMING MAD, so sorry if this offends you.

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?

Another late night working . . .

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

Dear God: The Church

Dear God,

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

TT #3: Words of Warning

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.

Words of Warning for Ms. A's 2007-08 classes
from her 2006-07 students
  1. Don't walk around. I admit it, I can't stand students on the floor, especially when I'm teaching. It is distracting to everyone in the class.
  2. If you do not do the work, you will not pass the class. In my best church voice: AMEN!! SPEAK TRUTH, SISTA . . . the student who wrote this was mainstreamed into my class and managed to get no grade below a C on her report card (she had very few modifications)
  3. Don't fail! Many students wrote this. . . none of them offered solutions to not failing
  4. Don't make her mad or Don't get on her nerves. Again, many students said this. I guess they didn't like my lectures on misbehavior or inappropriate attitudes. One person could affect the whole class and the "fussing" for the day. I've really got to work on that one!
  5. Get on Ms. A's good side. What more can be said about this? It works for every teacher. However, this does not mean talk to me all the time; specifically during my lunch--I need peace and quiet.
  6. You will get a bunch of minus tens if you don't do what you are supposed to. This is my feeble attempt at classroom management. But it works. Students are aware that participation is worth 10% of their grade. If you are off task or not participating appropriately, you could loss 10 points. Conversely, if you amaze me, you can gain 10 points. "Minus 10" adds up at the end of the term.
  7. It's boring. I'm really trying to do better. Sometimes history/law isn't that interesting.
  8. Bring a jacket because it stays cold!!! She even put the explanation points. I always tell them that the temperature in the room is for me, not for them. And I even warn them to get a uniform compliant jacket. I can't stand the heat and I move around a lot. Therefore, I'm ALWAYS hot. This will never change; but EXCELLENT words of wisdom.
  9. Don't eat food in class. I got tired of seeing roaches in my classroom. So, depending on my mood: I'd eat it, I'd crush it; I'd put it in my drawer, I'd put it in the trash, I'd dance on it.
  10. Tuck in your shirt. I absolutely CAN NOT stand to see a slouchy young man. Droopy, baggy pants are my worst nightmare. Students could not enter my classroom until I stood post. I would check the guys clothes there. Guys would have to have their shirts tucked in a pants pulled up to there waist. "Start over" or "You look nice, today" were my favorite words. I hate this hip hop trend b/c you can't go into the real world and get a job looking like that.
  11. Have your notes. Sometimes, I'd give pop quizzes in which they could use their notes. Students quickly learned that the notebook and notes were important as their books.
  12. DON'T SLEEP! She wrote it in all caps. When people fall asleep, I sing loudly next to them. The singing is bad and the students get a good laugh. Sometimes, I let them pick the song. I can't sleep on the job, neither can anyone else!
  13. Be Quiet and Listen to the Lesson. Smart Girl!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Thirteen Reasons Your School Should Hire CaliforniaTeacher Guy

2. Thirteen Things Lara Needs, According to Google

3. (Leave your link in the comments & I'll post it here)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

History & Sociology . . . adequately competent

As many of you know, I submitted my licensure paperwork about a week ago. I got confirmation today that my application was approved. I love the recommendation statement that school officer had to sign for the state:

I certify that the above stated individual is 18 years of age and possesses good moral character. This applicant has satisfactorily completed the approved teacher education program including required practical experience . . . . .and
is recommended as having adequate teaching competencies in the certified area.

I don't know how they judge my moral character . . .I thought as I read the recommendation statement. But, I am soooo excited to be licensed in History and Sociology by my state. Now, I just need to finish my Master's degree. I guess I will work on that this fall. . . although, I really wanted to take a year off. School is so stressful; however, the additional money might be worth it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summer School: An easy credit

I think I have explained that the cheerleaders are running the concession stand for summer school/extended year and an arts camp at the school. For about 3 hours of work, we make $130 per day. Not bad, hunh? Except that I do most of the work. Next year, I may run it on my own for summer money. But that's not the discussion.

As I was talking to my cheerleaders about summer/extended year school, they made some interesting comments. One of the girls recognized a lot of the students b/c they were they were the "smarties" who realized they could go to summer school if they failed. Cheerleader R said, "That boy never did any work. He was planning on going to summer school."

I further explained how the program worked:

  1. Students must be retaking a core class.

  2. 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.

  3. 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)

  4. Its only 3 1/2 weeks long (3 1/2 hours each day for each course the student is taking)

So, as I talked with my girls, they said "It's not fair." As they thought about it, they came to this conclusion:

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.

I said nothing and just listened.
However, I agree, especially since teachers are encouraged to give students grades they didn't earn.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Weekend in the Country

This weekend I went to Cat’s house. She’s a chef and beautiful person . . . a praying kind of girlie. And she came from a big family, so there are always laughs around her; especially, when her family is around. I love her family.

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

Its so hard to say goodbye . . ..

The superintendent of my school district is leaving. Superintendent just started with our district a few short years ago. Everyone is shocked. Why will no one stay with us? Our district is a mess. It was a mess before Superintendent came to us, a mess that the previous superintendent couldn’t even fix. Now, it is only going to get worse. I didn’t expect Superintendent to be a savior, but the district was making progress. It feels like yet another superintendent is giving up on us—even though Superintendent was offered a position no one could refuse. Some of us understand why. . . superintendents in this district have such a hard job—a poverty stricken community with little parental support, kids who are already so far behind that no amount of NCLB legislation can fix, battling with a combative elected school board & union . . .and the list goes on and on.

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?

A Belated Birthday Gift For Lara--a short list of odes!

Happy Belated Birthday, Lara!
I am sorry, I couldn’t give your gift on time (but I went out of town this weekend & just now able to submit it)

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 My Diligent Cheerleaders—You are such beautiful and talented ladies. I know that often give you a hard time—especially when I feel that you are being ungrateful (which is true). For most of you, I admire you commitment to this sport. I love that many of you are so polite, well behaved and are trying do your best. So many of you have made goals with regard to college and I look forward to seeing you go far! Keep up the good work. (blurry to protect their identities)

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.

Finally, to Rebecca (the sweetest and dearest online buddy a girl could have). Thanks for staying up late, to always hear the latest drama in my life and then encourage me onward and upward! You are sooooo smart and thoughtful. When I grow up, I wanna be just like you. You are the coolest Jewish girl I know!

Lara, I hope you enjoyed these birthday gifts. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A busy body's insomnia . ..

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!

Things that keep me up at night
  1. Reading Blogs. It is addictive. No matter how much I try, I can never keep my google reader empty. If I miss one day, it throws me completely off and I have spend like an hour reading. Which leads me to #2
  2. Commenting on blogs. For some strange reason I feel like I have to comment. Why can't I just be a lurker?!
  3. Planning & prepping for the next day. Cheer is a very time consuming extra curricular. You have to plan for practices, fill out paper work, order supplies, call and beg people to fundraise as well as make bill collection calls. If only people would do what they are supposed to do

  4. Those durn naps. Who doesn’t love a good nap? Well t hey keep me up at night. And if I'm not blogging. . .

  5. You guessed it. . . I'm chatting. Yahoo and Aim see me a lot during the summer months. I even taught my mom how to use the webcam and voice features. So, now, even though we thousands of miles apart I still get see her frequently.
  6. DVR. This is the best invention since the VCR. I have loads and loads of stuff it. And when I'm bored; it makes TV worthwhile, especially since there is nothing decent on during the summer. Except: The Closer

  7. Worry, I stress about everything. I stress about my finances. I stress about things I said earlier in the day. Come to think of it, today, I said something totally inappropriate and I'm stressing about the ramifications of that. I'm wondering if going on antidepressants will cure me of this.

  8. Snacks. Turtle Chex Mix is WW friendly and is often my snack of choice.
  9. Writing and formatting my own blog. Honestly, I really love some of these fancy blogs like the Tense Teacher. . . I want mine to be that pretty, but I can't figure out how to make that happen.
  10. Phone conversations with my friends . . .

  11. Meditating, whining and wallowing in my singleness. Though its great to spend time alone and do what I want, when I want, sometimes it sad to sit here alone in this apartment.
  12. Researching things that I could use in my classroom. I shouldn't think so much about school, but I think it is that love what I do. I suppose it will wear off in a few years.

  13. Playing games on my cellphone. My favorite is Zuma

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!


2. (Leave your link in the comments & I'll post it here)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Its all MY fault. No one else to blame!

I am extremely frustrated with myself. Procrastination has put me in a lurch. The last day of school was May 31. I was supposed to turn in my application packet for my license on that day. However, when I went down to the District Office, they said that they would not fill out my verification papers until that day and then I would have to wait for them in the mail. So, I took my time gathering all of my other paperwork & obtaining signatures. I’ve been waiting on the verification forms for 2 weeks now. Still haven’t received them. So, I called down there today and the lady tells me that she sent them directly to the licensing officer instead of sending them to me. I WISH I HAD KNOWN.

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

Another discussion of Patriotism

As I reviewed my post about allegiance to my country, I realized how ungrateful I sounded. I am grateful to live in the country in this country. I am grateful to have the freedoms and liberties that are guaranteed to us by our Constitution. I'm still just frustrated with many of the economic and social disparities in this country. (Thank you, teachergirl, for helping me think more about what I meant)

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

Day 2 is complete (TMI Warning)

****TO MUCH INFO post****

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

No Meat!

Today is the day I start my pseudo vegetarian summer activities. Miss Conservative dared me a week ago that I couldn’t go vegetarian for more than a couple of days. I admit, I LOVE my meat: beef and lamb especially. But this was something I couldn’t pass up because she acts like I have no self control whatsoever—possibly evident in my 250lb body. So for at least the rest of the summer, I will have not meat except for fish & dairy.

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

Over Dinner: A Question of Allegiance

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 . . .

Trying Thursday Thirteen

I decided I wanted to get on the Thursday Thirteen bandwagon. I always LOVE reading Lara’s. With her inspiration, here goes:

I love summer break time because:

  1. I get to sleep in past 6 am. Getting up at 5:30
    or 6:00 is not a pleasure to anyone I know.

  2. There are no papers to grade. Hallelujah!

  3. My home finally feels and looks clean. It will
    be really clean by the first day of school.

  4. I take naps daily. Who doesn’t love a good nap?

  5. There is great joy in taking trips to places I’ve
    never been before.

  6. Lounging around in my own home in my underwear or
    pajamas ALL DAY LONG!!!!

  7. I get to take fun professional development courses
    that give away a load of free things!!!

  8. I get to cook a meal that is healthy as well as

  9. I do not have to discipline anyone. Well, that’s
    not completely true. Because I am involved in cheer, I feel like I’m
    constantly fussing about something.

  10. My friends and I have conversations about things
    other than school and work.

  11. My couch finally gets more use than the bed.

  12. Ice Cream sundaes. . . need I say more?

  13. Lastly, I get to plan and research for a whole new
    group of terrified freshmen!
    I love coming up with ways that will
    cause them to think, "She's mean." I like being known
    as the mean lady the first month of school.

I hope that I have completed my first Thursday Thirteen correctly. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!


2. (Leave your link in the comments & I'll post it here)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thoughts my prison time . . .pt 2

The day before yesterday, I talked about my experiences working in a prison. Again, I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to continue working with prisoners. They are people, too. People, who made mistakes. And, I think that the American society often forgets that. In my opinion, many had accepted that they were wrong and many were trying to make their amends and make their lives right. It is so hard for ex-convicts once they get out of jail. Society has every reason to be scared and concerned about these folks. Prison does harden some. However, prison, also, does rehabilitate some. That was my goal working there. I say in my teaching philosophy that “education gives people the keys to a better life.” In my opinion a good education is apart of the rehabilitation process. It WILL make them better citizens.

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

My prison time (a response to comments)

Text removed to protect the innocent.
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.