right this very minute....
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thanksgiving was great! Allyson and I opened the house to other orphans and misfits this year and celebrated thankfulness (and fullness in general) with some really awesome people. I baked a turkey and some vegetables (including green bean casserole*), made some pies, and created a Geenie Jello wonder! Allyson made a few more pies and our guests brought a smorgasbord of other culinary creations and we feasted... and then ate pie... and ate some more! The ellipses refer to games, Elf, and more games. And perhaps some dozing in there, too.
my Geenie Jello wonder
The only problem was that I wasn't hungry. It was weird. I didn't eat any turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, etc. A roll, some appetizers, some Geenie jello, and a piece of triple layer pumpkin pie is all I ate the entire day.
Then to make matters even more strange... I got up and went shopping on Black Friday. I hit Best Buy (for about 15 minutes and said forget it), and Staples (was there about 20 minutes and decided against one of their laptops), Office Max (score on the projector and screen for NCSPA), Bed, Bath, & Beyond (yay for 20% off stuff I don't need), and Target (missed that crowd completely). I went home and bought a laptop online ($80 extra dollars is so worth not dealing with drama) and took a nap.
I finally reheated some Thanksgiving leftovers about 1pm today.
I just don't know what to think... I kind of feel unpatriotic... but that's a feeling I'll get over quickly as I drive my foreign car to buy foreign made products. Wait....see why I'm getting weirded out here?? I may need help.
But at the end of the day (or week as the case may be), there's just so much to be thankful for... even if it is my weird appetite.
Let the HOLIDAYS begin!!
*That's twice now... I'm officially on my way to being Southern. But I have yet to serve greens, so I'm not quite there.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
You know what I love?
I love flying on an airplane and arriving at my destination safely only 40% of the time!
I love going to a restaurant with a poor sanitation rating where I get terrible food poisoning and have to pay extra doctor bills 60% of the time! (and I go there as it's the only option for me)
I love knowing that contractors use the proper tools only 12% of the time!
These statements are, of course, facetious and asinine. No one would EVER fly with an airline that landed safely only 40% of the time. Hopefully no one would EVER want to go into a restaurant where they were more than likely going to get very ill. And I really doubt anyone would EVER want to work or live in a building that was built using correct tools only 12% of the time.
Yet... these same statistics become okay when we're talking about the number of children in a given state who can read at grade level. It's not about life and death you might say. And my answer to that is, "It's not?"
Staggering statistics are out there to show the kind of life someone without a college degree leads. It's even more depressing when you like at the lives of those without a high school diploma. It become even more depressing when a lot of those drop outs end up in prison and we the tax payers are then paying for their needs. It's especially frustrating when we could have payed far less in the beginning and prevented the problem from happening. Yet our country continues to foster drop-out factories disguising as schools.
Why the righteous indignation?* Tonight I got to see Waiting for Superman. (Thanks Tennyson for taking me!!) As I thought it would, it made me a little angry. It makes me angry that we've tried what seems like thousands of solutions to fix education... but none of them have worked. The achievement gap hasn't gone away... and it may have even gotten bigger. I work in five low performing schools and see the effects of the problems every day. It's heart breaking.
Some tidbits from the movie that made me think extra hard.
--Tenure! I hate it. I wish it would go away. Far, far away. I have it and don't want it. Is there any other profession where you automatically get a 'free ride' card? I don't think any teacher goes into the profession thinking, "Why, this will be a great way for me to pass my time without doing much of anything. I'll just make it through my first four years." Much like the national unions for teachers (AFT & NEA), I believe teachers are heroes. But heroes work really hard. There are a lot of good teachers out there, don't get me wrong, but I also have seen a lot of bad ones. And I think tenure allows us to fall into mediocrity. It's easy to become complacent when you don't have to fight.
--To avoid falling into the rhythms of status quo, why shouldn't I have to prove that I do my job well? If there is someone out there better than me, they should have the job. That's how it works in every other professional field. Especially in this job market, it makes absolutely no sense to me to not have to show that I'm being effective. (I'm glad that NC now has standards for School Psychologists and am looking forward to the performance appraisal instrument in the near future).
--Behavior is a function of its consequences. I preach that a lot. And it doesn't just apply to students. If I do a super good job, why shouldn't I get rewarded? If I'm rewarded for such behavior I'm more likely to repeat that behavior. And unlike AFT & NEA I don't think "fair" always means "equal."
--Michelle Rhee - chancellor of DC Public Schools - mentioned in the film that she believes several of her ideas failed because the adults were too busy trying to please themselves. I'm all about everyone getting along and being friends and all that jazz, but it's only cool if it doesn't hurt others. And it looks like we have the data to show it's hurting children. And there's nothing cool about that.
--Teacher education programs need to be more rigorous. They should be more selective too. If you look at programs in such places as Finland or Belgium, you will see that the top 3% of students are recruited to become teachers. They then go through a very rigorous teacher education program. The model is there. We need to emulate it.
--I need to come to grips with my dilemma over the bell curve. I'm under the belief that not everyone is designed for college. College wasn't designed for everyone. That doesn't mean higher education is not an option. I wish more community college would do concurrent enrollment with local high schools to offer 'real life' learning which would allow students to graduate not only high school, but graduate with an associates degree at the same time. What's wrong with learning geometry in the context of learning to build a home? Is there something wrong about learning algebra in the context of developing a financial plan... or writing in the context of business contracts? Cause at the end of the day I'm going to pay my plumber to fix a broken toilet way before I pay my dentist! Skill labored is not bad. But I still think high standards for everyone is a crucial point in this whole mess. I just don't know how I feel about tracking... something to ponder.
--The fact that this is a grassroots movement was just reiterated. I'm tired of waiting for the government to come in and fix my community's problems. We need to take back our communities by taking ownership for our action, being nicer to our neighbors, and giving back to our local agencies. Perhaps that's the Prius driving hippy in me... but that's what I feel. (And how that effects where I live and work is a completely different blog post)
So what do you do?? What do I do?? I need to go to my job everyday thinking that today is the day I may have to prove my worth to my school district (and in my current district, I may not be far off). I will work hard. I will attend more school board meetings, voice my concerns, write my senators, and perhaps get Old Man to give me some tips on lobbying. I will be an informed voter.
I will work to be the hero that the teacher unions think I am. I will not fall prey to thinking that I am inherently such. So check out Waiting for Superman and see what you can do to help your local schools. Come on... what are you waiting for?
*It may only be righteous to me - I understand that
Monday, November 15, 2010
Since the NC State Fair has ended I've had to brush off the powdered sugar, clean my grease covered hands, and get back to reality...
Besides catching up on mass amounts of testing and consultation at work,
*I've celebrated T's birthday in British finery
*Had a bonfire at Bishop's
*Ordered a few heads off on Halloween
*Saw Billy Elliot!
*Stood up straighter at the chiropractor
*Killed a computer at work (I don't take any responsibility for that)
*Went to an awesome rendition of Fame at Hillside High School
*Killed my external hard drive
*And declared my status as a tithe payer.
My life is so awesome!
I'd love to show you some pictures... but they're on the hard drive that died.
Some are on my Faceyface page if you're so inclined to look.