Saturday, November 22, 2014

Carrying on

I didn't get the job of testing coordinator, I was sure I wasn't as qualified as I could be and that turned out to be the case. And that is ok, it is always disappointing to stick your neck out and have it rejected. But I knew going in that while I would do fine with the high school portion of the position, the K-8 portion, not even close.
I am accepting the continuation in the ILC with a bit of trepidation. I set about reinvigorating myself to be up to the challenges put to me. I will still be affected by the climate, but I think if I set myself to working for the students I can overcome the stress that hits me every single day.
I am excited about going home, the last time I was in the valley was in June. Miss my family and even the weather. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

To devour

I was listening to Sunday Morning on CBS this morning and the interviewer said that Mark Ruffalo devoured his acting. That line really resonated with me. I have been in such state of flux lately that I have been unable to enjoy teaching, coming to work, creating curriculum over the past months. I have lost the ability to devour what I love the most, teaching.
Applying for a job that involves teaching adults, as opposed to teenagers, doesn't excite me all that much. I hope that I will at the very least get an interview, because when it comes down to it I'm still not sure I'm actually qualified for the position. For me, the real fear would be to accept this position and leave my students behind. Ok, one of the other fears is going to an interview with the mucky mucks.
I guess the question is, do I, if I am offered the position, accept it? Can I devour being a Testing Administrator like I once devoured teaching? Can I excise the toxicity in my professional life and begin to crave and devour my passion of history if I don't get offered the position or don't accept it? Another question is of course if I don't even get an interview what does that mean? My friends have said that it will mean they want me in my current position because I am doing such a fine job. Sigh, I don't know. Back tomorrow with an answer to some of my questions.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Doing what we fear

Yesterday I applied, or more accurately, requested a transfer from my current position to a temporary position. My current teaching assignment has me co-teaching with a man who has not been teaching alternative students as long as I have. The new position is basically a fill-in until the end of year for the District Testing Administrator.
The new position would be working solely with teachers and administrators in implementing the statewide assessments for students ranging from 3rd grade to high school. No teaching of students involved. I have always maintained that moving into a position that takes me away from students is a nonstarter. However, this year while I am loving teaching my students as I always have, the environment is toxic. I have been stressed nearly from the get go by an increasing negation of my expertise by my co-teacher. Partially, this is my fault because I suck at self-advocating. I won't accept the entire weight because well, just because I don't advocate for myself doesn't mean that all of my ideas are unworthy.
My ideas and methods are negated on a daily basis and have been since I began working in my current position. This year the newest challenge for me is watching my ideas being used as if they have sprung whole cloth from my co-teacher's mind. Sometimes he does a most excellent job, and others not so much. Just like when I or any other teacher presents material to our students. Sometimes you feel great, other times you just want to crawl into a hole.
The other issue has been talked about by us, sort of, in a meeting a few weeks ago. My co-teacher brought up how he was feeling unsupported in a certain aspect of our program. This aspect, while discussed briefly as a team, is never a collaborated effort. As a team we discuss  some things, as in dates and times, but very rarely content. We are expected to support his decisions and follow his lead without discussion. Because when we discuss the whys he becomes defensive and treats the rest of us as complete imbeciles. I must admit, that sometimes I become so exasperated during discussions that I will do or say something that is demeaning. So I do know what it feels like to being talking with the team and have a member of the team seeming to not paying attention to what is being said. However, I think we all pay attention to what is said, but when we question or disagree tension rises and we are made to feel as if we are not getting it. I get it, team building is important to him, but dodge ball where everyone is out for themselves is not team building and I won't participate in it. I will not make students doing a team building exercise that they feel uncomfortable doing. This is what he means when he says we don't support him.
But we are not a team. Those things that interest him are nurtured and paid attention to, everything else is not worthy of cultivating. This means that the mundane every day running of the program is left to the assistants in the morning and to the assistants and myself in the afternoon. He takes little notice of what is going on in the evening. I, unfortunately, must take care of business for all three programs in regards to the computer curriculum and the GED students. Actually, by doing that I know it is being done correctly. In the past four years when I have not made sure about such things by only telling him and not the assistants they don't get done.  Subversive, yes it is, but even when I say to make sure something is done, he still doesn't do it himself or tells the assistants to do it.
So, since testing interests me I have applied for the open position. I am not even sure I want the position or if I'm qualified for it. I feel relief and extreme fear because I have opened myself up and that has come back to bite me in the past. Fingers crossed, that I have the right decision.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Rabbit holes have pulled me back into the light....

I have read several memes on my facebook page of late talking about negativity and falling into it's cold hard grasp. I have to agree, negativity can consume you. Yanking yourself from its grasp is difficult and I must say that when I have managed it over the last few weeks I have felt creative and content. I have decided that I like feeling creative and content and I while I am willing to recognize the negativity around me, I am going to do my best to remain within the light.
I have a couple of projects that interest me personally and I am going to make the attempt at interesting my students as well. The first is my ever-deepening rabbit hole of how race is viewed by us all; white, black, brown, red and yellow. Why we label ourselves, or more accurately, the ruling class of white males label us all. Which brings up rabbit hole number two; sexism. The recent elections cause me concern even though Oregon seems to be modeling how politics should go. Not to diverge just yet however. Women seem to be the new targets of those who wish to curtail and take away our rights. Gays and Lesbians still hold the top spot and that is where this particular rabbit hole is more inclusive than our new Congress. I could care less about sexual orientation, but it seems that those now in power are provoked by women, gays, and lesbians (yes I just said women twice, in effect). Straight women still have more rights than gays and lesbians solely because of their sexual orientation.
A provocative statement, "I don't see color, I see people."? Really, does that mean that those who see color are not as higher thinking as those who don't? I feel that this phrase is something whites say to profess their lack of racism. I am pretty sure I have said it from time to time, it is has only been brought to my attention recently how racist the phrase is. My lack of understanding what it is like to be thought of in the pejorative is complete. I have felt diminished, often in fact, when treated as a woman teacher instead of as a teacher. I often refer to myself as being a "mama bear" when my students are threatened in some way. Ever see those videos of mother bears defending their cubs? That's me when my students are treated with disrespect, prejudice, etc. think of how adults treat teenagers negatively and that's when the mama bear comes out. On occasion,  it has been to my detriment.  I am who I am. I'm more careful now about how I mama bear, but she is still there.
Back to the statement, can any of us wipe color off the table? I don't think so, no matter how enlightened you are there are always times when you see color in a friend or colleague. And that is ok, it becomes not ok when you use color to define how you treat people. It also comes into play when some deal with gender. When a male student asserts himself he is rewarded, but when a female student asserts herself in the exact same way she is punished or even worse her assertiveness is chalked up to, "that time of the month," or "she's just being bitchy." For years I have seen this happen around me and when I say anything I am dismissed as being "touchy."
Lately, this treatment of young girls and women has come into the media. The problem now isn't that it is in the public eye, but that education still envelopes itself in the negative when dealing with assertive young women. Actually, Congress and most male politicians also still think in this way. I hazard to say, because he has annoyed me, that Bill Maher has had several discussions on this subject and actually done a very good job. Not a fan of his view on Islam, but that is a whole other story. Oh and Maher brings up another rabbit hole I climbed out of and will likely reenter, Religion.
So, as I emerge from this shallower rabbit hole, I leave you with a good introduction to what white means.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Negativity still runs rampant

While I do think that part of my current apathy is that I am not going home to visit my family this weekend, that isn't all of it. I must also admit that I think part of it is menopause. And lastly, work, more specifically our continued inability to communicate effectively. We talk, sort of, but so much of it is at one another that we can't get the whole team thing going.
I figured out, or think I have, that all this team building that I hate needs to go on with us as a team leaving the students out of it. We can't just sit and talk, well we can, but it is one of us that is doing the talking and that person doesn't let a whole lot of communication happen when they are talking.
I was a total negative nelly today and the more poor Leah tried to pull me out of it, the more I dug my heels in. I saw it happening and I couldn't stop it. I will try to do better tomorrow. And now that I am home I am already feeling a weight lift.
I am really really tired of myself, but it is unfortunate that I can't ask for help. Asking for help is extremely difficult for me and has in the past backfired big time. I am tired of being tired and I am even more tired of feeling lost and negative about nearly everything that has to do with what I love most to do, teach.
It is not productive to seek on your own, I know this, but I really don't have anyone to ask for help, I have no friends here. And maybe that is also a problem too. Well enough, I am trying to blog every day and this is today's entry. I am hoping to eventually have intelligent things to say that inspire me and others. If there are any others reading my blog but me. sigh

Monday, October 20, 2014

Another Monday and another try at trying to pull down my negative wall

I like Mondays, it is usually my first attempt for the week to settle my brain matter and try to think up some good lessons. I have failed at this for the last four weeks. Every time I try think up ways to coach/encourage/inspire my students I hit my negative wall.
At the start of the year, only two short months ago, I was excited by the new way we were to present and coach our students. To date with my night school students I have reintroduced the new grading plan and way to gain credit three times. Tonight will be the fourth.
I am so proud of my GED students, most are progressing through the official tests and I have already had one student complete her GED! I have five others working hard, the not good thing, I have 20 students working, supposedly, on their GED prep. We even had access to the official pretests for free and while all but two completed at least one pretest, those who didn't complete all four got mad at me because they didn't have enough time! They from Sept 22 to Oct 10, how is that not enough time. One of the complainers was even in class every day and didn't sign up for the website until the last day. What that meant was that he couldn't take the pretests, because he wasn't approved. I wanted to tear my hair out.
I'm not at school yet, so I am hoping introduction four will the kicker and I will these guys working on their projects. They even get to pick their project, with some guidance, I would have ripped through the 12 proficiencies and had my half credit of Comm. and half credit of History before Christmas. But then learning about History and Literature are two of my passions.
The project idea was designed with tapping into students' passions in mind, but I have found none of them are passionate about anything except doing as little as possible.
One student comes and is "bored" by the online class she must take, "bored" by the Comm. class, "bored" by the book she is reading for Comm., which she recently changed so there is hope, and "bored" by History class. She is loudly bored and belligerent about being told what to do in class. Sigh. The others do nothing quietly. But since I have new influx of students, another thing that makes teaching class hard, I will go back over the introduction. I am in the process of redoing the powerpoints and my notes to try to encourage the students to select a project. This time, two days to choose a project before I choose one for them. Not a good thing, but then not getting a grade is even worse.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Team Building

I was hoping to blog every day, didn't happen this week. My birthday was Wednesday and I am creeping ever closer to my next decade of life. I'm neither happy nor unhappy about getting closer to my 6th decade. Three years to go and then, well, hopefully my life will be a bit more settled. Retirement is not something I think about often. One of our assistants will be retiring come Dec. and she is only 5 months older than me.
The week was sort of weird. I kept feeling as if I was tilting, two steps behind, unable to think or create. It was maddening. And then Friday hit, Team Building Fridays. My co teacher's idea of connecting with the students. I did not participate. One of the things that drives me crazy is that he plans these, or actually does no planning really, days and then gets angry with the kids when the exercises don't turn out the way he had planned. Yesterday was a really good example. It isn't that the the exercises or games are dumb, they aren't really, but he doesn't explain to them what he wants to them to do. When the outcome is not what he wanted he gets really angry with the students. These are teenagers in alternative school, they aren't going to subtlety. So yesterday he wants the students to accomplish a task that has them all reaching the goal. But he doesn't explain that and as one of the students told him, he broke them up into teams and also didn't tell them that they could use the other teams successes. The point of the activity is for all of the students to reach the opposite side of a series of blocks. He creates the route and then it is like a game of mine sweeper on the computer, if you make a wrong step your team has to start over. He gave them no strategies to complete the task and never once told them that the object was to help EVERYONE get to their opposite sides of the tarp.
When he debriefed with the students they were angry that he didn't tell them the strategies and he was angry at them for not getting the subtlety of the activity. Drives me nuts and is why I don't participate in those types of activities. Previously, he had a full on mutiny when the activity required students to carry each other across a "lava field." Carry each other! Really? We have trouble when we do activities that require the students to hold hands, the boys don't want to touch each other and so he chooses an activity that requires them to carry each other? I just don't get it at all.
We don't teach any life skills and then he expects the students to use life skills they don't have and gets mad when they refuse.
I have tried in the past three years to explain this to him, but he just doesn't get it or doesn't want to because then the team building requires some actual prep work over the week. Argh.....

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mondays are sometimes icky

Normaly, I love Mondays. It is a time to crank back up and get to work. But this Monday I felt hazy all day. A feeling of almost, but not quite being off balance. It's weird and I don't like it. I always feel guilty on days like this, where I can't motivate myself beyond just getting to school and not yelling at students.
It was a full house in the afternoon and it is a full house this evening. Not a day to be feeling hazy. It also doesn't help, that my co teacher had a group of students from his college come in and didn't tell me until it happened. It's bad enough that he graduated from a Christian college and has these wonderful young ladies come in and talk about how they all have a double major one of which is a Bible study thing and then a real academic major like Psychology. "So we all have two majors." Really? two majors when one of them is basically a degree in the Bible? I don't think so. God will not smite me on this because, well, it's true. English and Science, Science and Math, English and Social Studies those are double majors.
The young ladies had interesting stories, but I found the one from Alaska to be the most interesting. She didn't name the village she came from, but she did say she lived out in the bush and the only way in or out is by airplane. She wants to go back to her village once she gets her psychology degree and work with tribal women who have drug and alcohol problems. How cool is that?
One of the nice things about night school is that I can sit in my classroom and get away from the very noisy young ladies out in the large classroom. So nice, though I just heard the f word for the hundredth time today. Yes, I use that word a lot, but not so my students can hear it. I am working on having less of a potty mouth, but sometimes that all I am doing is working on it.
The f word, that brings up one of the neighbor kids at my apartment complex who used the word in every single sentence he uttered for over 15 minutes. My guess he is about 12, his mom dumps their trash on the ground by the trash cans not in the trash cans. See where I'm going with this thread? Why are people pigs? A day doesn't go by that when the dogs and I walk past that particular trash can that there isn't a bag or box of trash on the ground in front of THE EMPTY TRASH CANS. Just saying.
I am also crazy hungry I didn't bring anything to eat with me today, due to that hazy feeling. I just couldn't wrap my head around fixing something to bring to school today. Sigh... now I am even more hungry, thinking about being hungry.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I had a series of weird dreams last night. It is unfortunate that I really don't remember them anymore. The dogs were in them, my dad who has been dead since 2005 was also in them. That isn't all that unusual, I think my dad pops up from time to time to remind he was usually there for me when I needed him the most. My dogs, all of them have been in my dreams from time to time sometimes as companions, sometimes as rescuers or in need of rescuing. Weird. My horse Student is also a frequenter and something that always saddens me, in the dream and when I wake up. I miss that old horse so very much.
No night terror last night and that is a wonderful thing. I sometimes feel like I'm starting to have heart attack when I have one. Though I think I should probably call them a fibrillation because there is no pain, just my heart beating so fast that it sometime causes me to cough. I was worried I might have nightmares or a terror because I watched It yesterday. I like that movie or mini series or whatever it is called. Stephen King weaves a good scarey story, though it seems he doesn't like animals all that much. Which is why I enjoy Dean Koontz more. Every animal in a Stephen King novel is evil, ok maybe only in the ones I read. And I guess, in Needful Things the dog isn't evil but is treated in an evil way. What the heck is up Stephen? Hate animals much?
I enjoy horror novels and films a lot. But I think I am a horror snob, because the Rob Zombie-like films I do not like. I like the original Halloween and Jason films, but not the sequels. I also think aging has played a part in what I if find horrifying. Silent Hill scares the shit out of me as does The House on Haunted Hill. Mama, is scarey, but the ending is vastly unsatisfying for me. I guess I like mystery horror, the most. I'm not sure about Annabelle and I will wait for it to hit cable before I watch it. There was an episode in The Twilight Zone with a doll, a voodoo doll that carried a tiny little knife. That freaked me out and I am hoping age will make the difference with Annabelle. Possessed also scared me, a box with a curse... argh... scarey.
How did I get from dreams to scarey movies?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New blog, first post

You would think I have lots to say creating a new blog, but not really, just needing a place to be me. Not that the Rural Omnivore isn't me, just needing a new inspiration. So this post is short just to put something out there. I hope I can actually post every day, because I think posting what I think and do daily will help me understand that my life is a good one.