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.