Monday, August 30, 2010

Hooked on wheels...

"It never gets easier, you just go faster."
-Greg LeMond

We may not have cable television, but we have found our new favorite station. Believe it or not, our eyes have been glued to Universal Sports lately. Saturday was the start of the Vuelta a EspaƱa, the last of the three Grand Tours of cycling. And, we've been hooked. Obviously Rob, but me, too. I'm a sucker for odd sports like this. We almost stayed up really late to watch the end of the stage. Tonight they were nice enough to start the coverage earlier. They are currently flying down the mountain. It's amazing!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sacred places...

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.”
-Joseph Campbell

Image by Gerard DuBois published in Time magazine, August 30, 2010.

Every morning I read a couple articles from Time magazine, hoping to get through the whole issue before the next one arrives on Friday. This is my connection to the outside world. I don't read the paper, I rarely even have time to scan the headlines at

As with many magazines I always look forward to the last article, the one in the awkward spot, neighboring the back cover. It's often a witty piece with a slightly different perspective than the rest of the magazine. Last week's Time concluded with an essay from Nancy Gibbs (whose work I sometimes grimace through...a couple of weeks ago she wrote how her family dog had helped raise her girls...gag me...) explored the idea of sacred spaces. See it here.

The essay was written in response to the NYC mosque controversy, an issue which I've been somewhat following. I find the issue interesting because I can't decide on which side I stand. It does seem a little insensitive to the victims' families, and yet I wholeheartedly believe in religious freedom and am against persecution in all aspects.

But I think Nancy Gibbs' article is particularly interesting because it asks the question, does a place become less sacred when someone else of differing or opposing views also recognizes it as sacred?

The article also made me stop and think about what places I consider sacred. And, in true Listography fashion (Callie, I'm loving my birthday gift!), here's my list:

  • The sanctuary at my home church, Noel UMC in Shreveport
  • The altar at Epworth UMC in Atlanta
  • My bedroom in my childhood house
  • My father's grave
  • My grandparents' house
  • Bobby Dodd stadium at Georgia Tech
  • Basil Garden at the Georgia Tech Alumni House, where Rob and I were married
  • Little Mulberry Park
  • Rialto Beach, Washington
  • the top of Bell Rock in Sedona, AZ
  • Each of the houses I've helped repair on mission trips
  • the Statue of Liberty
  • Vietnam Memorial in D.C.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I refuse...

“No matter how discouraged we get, God has not asked us to do the impossible.”
-George Grace

I refuse to do any school work tonight. I refuse!

I gave my first test today. I put up with 20 accelerated kids arguing that they weren't ready for their test. (Yet when asked what they did to study, they said nothing.) I sat through another awful math meeting.

The one thing that I dislike about seventh grade is our math meetings. It's brutal. The people are so negative and so inflexible. They argue with the administration's suggestions. They take everything personally, and by the time our hour-long meeting was over, you could cut the tension with a knife. These were teachers who I once admired, but now I'm having a hard time even respecting them.
I feel like I'm going to explode, sitting there listening to them. (I've been known to do such in similar situations...) I'm not sure I can work in such circumstances.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday Night Fever...

"Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing from something."
-Wilson Mizner

Dave and Busters... the only place in the world that adults go bonkers over tickets. Felt kind of silly throwing our money into these arcade machines. Come on, I know this is going to be the one!!! But we had fun out on the town with B and K. And, of course, we were sure to trade in our 1257 tickets for a singing football and an acrylic juice glass. Well earned, I might say.

Butterflies in my stomach...

"You can't wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time."
-Pat Schroeder

I always get really nervous on Sunday evenings. I always have. So nervous that I hurt.

In 3rd grade I remember my mom seeing the pattern of my stomachaches on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings. But I don't remember anything especially stressful going on at school that year.

Then in college when Rob lived an hour away, my heart would ache every Sunday night as he dropped me off back on campus, and we were apart for another week.

And now, after spending yet another weekend working on lesson plans, I worry about the upcoming week. I worry that it won't go as smoothly as it does in my head. I worry about how the kids will do on their first test on Tuesday. I worry that I haven't taught them as well as I could have.

My stomach is in knots. Another Monday approaches...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hands are not for hitting...

"A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds." -ChildHelp, National Child Abuse Statistics

One thing about teaching is that it certainly opens your eyes up to the world. Everyday I interact with children and parents from such a wide varieties of backgrounds. Backgrounds so different from my own.

While some days this is such a positive, multicultural, melting pot, 2+2 = 5 experience, today it just depresses me. In this one week, we've had to report 2 possible abuse situations to the administration about students on our team. It infuriates me. How can someone do that to "my" kids? How can they let it happen to "my" kids?

Just two weeks in, and those kids are already mine. It hurts me when they hurt, and these particular ones are not even what you'd call extremely "loveable" kids. But, no wonder they don't do their homework, no wonder they can't focus in class. It makes makes me mad.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Number line love!

“To love is to admire with the heart; to admire is to love with the mind”
-Theophile Gautier

Today was a good day. Almost all of my kids passed their quiz!!! Woohoo!! 'Cause I certainly remember last year's first quiz was quite an eye opener.

Today the assistant principal and principal came to my class to do walk-throughs. They're doing these quick pop-ins where they can stay no longer than 5 minutes. Both times my students were pretty well on track and those that weren't were able to be redirected.

The principal came up to me during the kids' transition time to tell me how much she loved my number line pennant hanging above the board and to ask where I had gotten it. I was so pleased to be able to say that my mom and I made it this summer. She thought it was really neat and was interested in making one for her son's bedroom.

I thought later...I should have told her that I would make her one if she'd pay for my laptop battery! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Catching up

"Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head."
-Carl Sandburg

What am I up to? Well... school, school, and more school. I am really enjoying the seventh grade. They're cuter than 8th graders and still pay attention for the most part. However, by Friday of last week, they were starting to show their true colors. I've really got to work on being stern. I just don't know how to talk so "teachery."

2nd period is by far my most challenging class... lots of needy personalities... one kid who speeds through his assignments and wants additional work, another kid who takes the whole class period to write the day's essential question, another kid who follows me around the classroom, in addition to several social butterflies.

But then, 3rd period is such a breath of fresh air. They listen, they complete their work, and we always finish with extra time to scrounge around for additional activities.

But, I still don't have a very good picture of my students' foundation levels. So it seems like I've had to rework each day's lesson in order to reteach. It's bad when you're already feeling behind on the second week of school. Well... tomorrow's another day.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Good, good, good, bummer...

"Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other."
-C.P. Snow

I had a pretty good first day. It flew by, and my voice flew away with it. Obviously it's been a long time since I talked all day. I now sound like a man.

There was only one student who made himself known as "challenge student." I found out that three of my students are younger siblings of students from last year. And, I loved ending my day with my accelerated, on-top-of-the game class.

And the second annual name-counting tradition.... 3 Jacobs (in one class!), 2 Joshs, 2 Gabriels, 2 Stephens, 2 Briannas, 2 Matthews, 2 Victorias, 2 Natalies, 2 Tylers, 2 Caitlin W.'s, and a Jasmin who's a boy.

The low point of the day, however, had nothing to do with students. During my planning period at the end of the day, I realized that my laptop battery was kaput. If I unplugged it from the wall, the computer died. I put in a tech request and got the reply, "you're battery is dead. due to budget cuts we will not be providing additional batteries. you are welcome to purchase your own." Oh... just what I want to spend my first paycheck on...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Back to School Blues

"The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet."

School starts tomorrow. Another year begins. I don't know that I've told the blogworld, but this year I've been moved down to seventh grade math. While that means another year of brand-new lesson plans, my fingers are crossed that the curriculum is a bit easier and more fun than last year's.
I've spent the last week up at the school, fixing up my room. And, after I found strong enough tape (on Friday, no less!), my posters are finally hung up on the walls. After rearranging a couple of times, my desks are in order. I have bulletin boards ready to be filled with student work and 28 chairs waiting for students eager to learn.
I'm sure this year will have plenty of challenges: I have a good number of ELL students, I'm teaching two different preps, this grade has a bad reputation, etc. But my fingers are crossed super tight, hoping that I've learned from my mistakes and will be able to find a better balance between home and school this year. My sanity depends on it!

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