a sad realization​…

Try as I might to blog on a more regular basis, school has really been ramping up and when looking for ways to squeeze extra minutes from the daylight hours, small spaces like this one get pushed to the back burner, then the broom closet, perhaps put in the trunk with the clothing donation I still need to drop off…

Applaud if you can relate…! =)

I am enjoying my cross-cultural education class, as well as the inquiry-based technology class this term. But I have a small seed of unease growing in my tummy, right nest to the watermelon seed I accidently ate last summer… As I turn further away from the mechanics and beauty of the written and spoken word to focus on hypothetical classroom scenarios that will apply to, at best, 10% of the graduating teachers who land sought after spots in affluent districts, I realize a little more of my spark is extinguished each day. I am most emphatically NOT looking for that cushy job with a Keurig in each of the 4 teacher’s lounges; instead, I am searching for the poorest school, the one in which the children desperately need every moment of instruction that I can dole out, until I finish the Doctorate program, after which I can live my passion by relocating and working for a Tribal school out west, where my heart resides and is whispering to me still…

Here is a statement that is going to break the internet… but I need to say it, because I am exhausted by the now-familiar undertone that my professors and classmates alike have when speaking to my specifically. It is not my fault I am white…

I am a 40soemthing, white woman. I did not order this body or these life circumstances, but I am in possession of them, and like people of every other color out there, I am trying to live my best, authentic life within the confines of said life. Every suggestion I make, no matter if it comes robbed shamelessly from the professor’s textbook itself, is met with “Well, ok, but the kids REALLY don’t need another white teacher to go in and save them.” Ok, valid point, but I do not want to SAVE them, I want to EDUCATE them. Maybe then, with a solid background and degree, they can go back to their towns and teach their children in a way that I cannot because I do not share their cultural similarities. Additionally, I am not looking at a “me versus them” scenario, instead I see myself as a resource that ALL my students can utilize to reach their own, best potential. I have to say it just one more time, I am not white because I tried to be white, I am because I was born this color, and no amount of tanning will erase my Scots lineage. And I am exhausted beyond belief from constantly apologizing for myself, and trying to smallerize my big and happy self in order to appease other students, who are getting a mere fraction of my GPA. Perhaps if more time were spent in studying and pursuit of the A, and less time criticizing my innate desire to push forward equality, everyone would have the grades I work so hard for, and the opportunities and scholarships these hard-won grades have EARNED me. But today, these “perks” are not seen as my hard work, but as something I was handed, due to my skin color. What no one in class sees is my anxiety over how I am going​ to pay rent without working and thereby making myself ineligible for thousands of tax-free scholarship dollars, or how my insurance tax credits got revoked, cancelling my policy, because I earned $499 more dollars, for a total of $17,620 in 2015. Or the fact that I take care of my car because it is an affordable lease that I am trying​ to keep spotless so I do not pay damage fees when I return it, even though it has a smooshed front bumper from a trip to the grocers. They do not see that I am a part-time mother​ who sees her child on the weekends only, during which time I am frantically working to keep that GPA up in my 6-7 classes a term, while my contemporaries take 4 classes and live on campus. I do not wear fancy clothes or have a nice haircut not because I am “old and lazy,”but because I simply cannot afford​ them. Funny… were my skin ANY other color, I would be told I am being marginalized. But I am white, so I am merely complaining.

And this group of “peers” is the ones who I will be spending the next 3 years with. No, they are not the teachers and families I will be interacting​ with in South Dakota, or New Mexico, but it is a long, hard road to that point, and I am tired. So let’s just say that skin color has nothing to do with one’s​ ability to be exhausted by the bullshit that life throws our way in the form of small-minded people. And maybe, in the future, we can celebrate our differences, and when we see someone trying to help those who have been given less-than, we can support them, regardless of their age, color, or pant size.

in theory…

So we are aware that I am officially an ED major now, and as such am beginning to realize there are more questions than answers when thinking about education policy and procedure in our fine country… (snort).

Teachers and even professors are bound by myriad rules put in place not to harm but to ensure the leveling of a playing field as crooked as a politician during election season. Unfortunately, plans that often are sublime on paper fail miserably when one adds the imperfect human element to the mix.

SO… there are rules and regulations, and there are humans with many different levels of education and experience interpreting them. Add to the mix each instructor’s input, desires, quirks, and ulterior motives, and one sees it is damn near impossible to actually create any semblance​ of fairness or equitability in a single classroom, let alone when multiplying by each school district times county times state… gulp. A formidable​ task to say the least.

So how does a neophyte address these issues? I have been gleaning small tidbits of how and why to do things based on my own classroom experiences. Sadly, I report that I have more items listed in the “NEVER, EVER DO” column than in the “OOH, GREAT IDEA” one. But it is a start, and we must start somewhere…

One thing I am thinking of doing for “warm-up,” which we have as allocated time for our own resources, is 4 level sentence diagramming. One interesting sentence on the board, from classic literature, pertainings somehow to our daily work. We discuss, and if they write it in their comp book, which I supply, then the next day when we discuss another sentence, I walk around and put smiles or checks on the previous page. Simple way to motivate, and no actual grading. Can be added as points toward final grade, and has the added bonus​ of… wait for it… actually encouraging deeper reading and explication skills!!! In an ENGLISH class!! WOOT! =) =) I am learning it does not take moving mountains, but rather small insights, to create a better and more inclusive classroom. Thoughts by my more illustrious​ betters? Gotta go study not, peeps. Namaste, and thanks for being here. =)

personal responsibility…

Or lack thereof, as it were. I remember growing up and being instructed that for each right we claim, there is an attached responsibility that goes along with it. Yin/Yang, Sun and Moon, falling down and getting up. Opposite forces… get it? =) There was literally NO POINT in which the adults in my life stopped, looked around, and said “Ok, I’m here, now I can rest on my laurels.” Apparently, they were a dying breed and as I gaze at the confusion and pain around me, I realize how few people hold themselves to the standards that were imposed upon my childhood self, and that I happily impose upon myself today.

I will never be the rock resting in the sun, happy in mossy contemplation. Instead, I am a wave, constant motion and planning to get to the next shore. It is not good or bad, it simply IS.

I received an email today from a professor who is too sick over the election results to come to class. Of course, The Fates being the utter bitches that they are, this is after I spent 3 HOURS yesterday preparing for class today. Yes, 3 HOURS!! I did not leave material for the last minute, but you know how those Tues/Thurs lectures go… one can become swamped by a professor’s bright idea. SO… I prepared myself, took the requisite 2 pages annotations (both sides of course), read the book in its entirety,created study questions, entered the day’s work into my “grade book,” created the rubric… list goes on.

Get up this morning, PING… this professor will not be in attendance this morning. I still have to show up, check in with the TA, and then work on the group project. The one we were supposed to start NEXT WEEK. The one that concerns a book none of us has even OPENED, let alone READ. This will be a very productive two hours, I am thinking… sighs in frustration.

This leads me back around to the theme​ of personal responsibility. While I can understand disgust for the electoral process, I do not think this is a reason for him to check out for the day. I pay a LOT of money for this​ “free” education I am getting, and if I need to be prepared, can’t​ we ask the same of someone making $125,000. per annum?

There are approximately a million things on my to-do list before Spring, 2020. That is when I graduate with the double MA and SEC Ed Cert. 3 years and a semester. Half-way there. Perhaps, as a very unmotivated person once whined to me, I should not hold others to my high standard. I argue that perhaps we could all put on our big girl panties and face the day, no matter how daunting the prospect. “Embrace the Suck” for all us ex-military types. “Just Do It” for all you runners out there. You get my drift…

Lest you think I am an unfeeling wench, I CAN sympathize with his plight. I simply cannot afford, mentally or realistically, to take time to grieve for what might have been. I decided to stay up late, work hard, maintain my GPA, contribute to the class in a meaningful way, and accomplish my goals. This, in turn, helps my entire group forge ahead, as we ALL decided to do what we were tasked with. Perhaps discounted college costs are my RIGHT for serving my country. But my RESPONSIBILITY is to show up, do my best, and make something of myself with all those tax dollars I (and you) have invested over the years. I owe it to myself (and my future students) to get the best possible education and be the best instructor I can be. Will​ I have a need for sick days in my future? Of course. I only hope that I choose to use them sparingly, and not on days when my students are counting on me to navigate them thru tricky​ waters of my own creation.

Go be your best today. That may not be your all-time best, but aim for the BEST you can manage​ today. If someone is counting on you, show up. If someone needs you, be present for them. I realize humans learn through trial and error, but we only have one life in our current form. Make today count. If not for yourself, for those around you. We do impact everything around us, like that proverbial butterfly. Go be excellent! The smile on your​ face at the end of the day will be reward enough. If not, treat yourself to some ice cream. “Just Do It” says Nike. I agree.

the reset button…

It was a no good, really awful, bad day in Little house in the Big Wood. Nervous pacing, financial strain, Uni trouble, the death of a classmate, transfer applications, phone meeting with the tax man and scholarship committee…

Frazzled does not even begin to describe yours truly. More like Bill the Cat dancing in a drug-induced haze while in flames. Seriously. My day did not go well.

After breathing my way through anxiety that had me shaking like a leaf, I remembered something that Hubby No More told me. He was cautioning me not to “press the reset button just yet.” I know that in most instances, emotional or knee-jerk responses are contraindicated when trying to make the best decision. But as I mulled this over for a while, I began inexplicably to calm. Running away is not a real option. Or is it…?

“Running away” sounds so juvenile, how about we say instead “relocate?” Would it be so bad to stop fighting and let the tide carry me down south? Sure, it would mean at least a year out of school to establish residence. Sure, I would​ lose a considerable number of credits in the transfer. ​​Sure, it would set me back by 4 years total. Sure, it would​ necessitate breaking it off with the man I love. Sure, it will cost at least thrice what I would​ pay up here. BUT…

It really and for true is the reset button. And now that I see it over there, under the shiny glass bubble, can I persevere and NOT flick up the top and satisfyingly smash my palm down? Push the button or struggle ahead? They both entail a LOT of change, uncomfortable growth, and no small amount of “But I don’t want to…” Of course, what decision in life is nothing but candy floss and sunshine?

I guess what it really boils down to is this: Do I want to start over alone but dependent on family in a place of unlimited growth, or do I stay and fight harder than ever before to hold onto the place I have earned here, standing beside Paul?

Sounds silly, but I would never want to be the one to turn the key and activate nuclear launch codes. Greater people than I have stood at this precipice, wavering with uncertainty in a similar fashion. The trouble is that this is life, MY life, and there are limited do-overs. This is one of those defining moments, and by all that is holy, I do not want to deal with the ramifications of either choice today…

day 1…

Ok, actually, day 3, but I do not think anyone is counting. Or if they are, they are probably counting hours until we get an extra hour of sleep​ this Sunday, and not about my piddly little blog here. =)

I am in the process of setting up a new account for my school adventures (read: fkn kill me moments)and cannot figure out how to post an “about” page, or get anything to stick. WordPress​ used to be easier. Sighs pitifully.

At any rate, good news to report. I was dreading my group peer review Thursday morning, during which I thought I would have my ass shredded and summarily handed back to me. Surprisingly, after many midnight fits of typing, and many apologies to my team, my research was welcomed with open arms, and I was praised​. WTF just happened…?

Fast forward to today, moments ago. Sitting here, surrounded by my research packets, pages of notes, and a second computer with around 37 open windows, I go thru, line by line, and realize there are far fewer errors that I anticipated. Utilizing the formulaic approach my professor insists upon is a pain in my ass, to be sure. It limits my perspective, stifles my creativity, and does not blend well with my style or expressing myself. But… she may be on to something​.

I have some​ revisions to improve the flow toward another point I want to include. I need to format my Works Cited page. I need to remove any dangling modifiers or misplaced​ semicolons with the real thing, but all in all, things are looking pretty good.

In other news, Alice’s words must have reached the powers that be, as I am finally on the mend and can breathe. Mostly. Time to focus on death and maths. Which are interchangeable​ in my mind, truth be told. I feel quite grown up and proper now that I am focusing on my career here. Ooh… career. =) Nanaste, peeps, old and new. Have a lovely!

considering a new venue…

You couldn’t think I actually would leave for reals? I am the queen of back and forth here, as you know so well. SO…

I am thinking of starting a new blog. Or rather, changing this one perhaps, or something like that. With a change of scenery and subject matter, as I have beyond used up any interest in oversharing about my ex monster-in-law, Hubby-no-more, privacy driven teen, or sex life. Gee, sounds downright boring when I put it that way. =)

So, am thinking of turning this place into an english major’s journey along the path to her secondary education grad degree, and all the insanity THAT is sure to involve. Such as… have been in the pre-program at a new Uni for exactly 10 weeks and already working on my transfer essay to another Uni for next fall… but I am getting ahead of myself here.

If I have any followers left, or there is anyone new exploring the dusty corners, let me know if this change of topic would be of interest. If so, will work next weekend on updating the space! Namaste, peeps old and new. =)

 

i’m gonna write this…

Ah, August… almost half over already… wtf??!! I need to accomplish SO MUCH more before Uni starts again on the 29th. Trying to cram in another few chapters of the “last maths class you will ever have to take,” but hmm… you know I’ve heard THAT before. Technology for the Educator text is 600 pages without binding… sigh. Comparative Lit and History all good, so there’s that. No new computer as of yet, but plenty of post it notes and highlighters. Not so bad after all, I suppose. Just wish there was more time…

So, I am going to write THAT post. You know the one, in which loyal readers disappear as fast as ice cream at a Weight Watchers meet and greet, else they eviscerate you and leave you for dead, gleefully shouting around your larger than desired crumpled form.

As an eventual Professor who needs to feed herself in the interim, I am also a Secondary Education major, doubling in English/Comp Lit and Sociology. This means I will likely spend a few years teaching at the high school level until I can get enough of the PhD completed to warrant a faculty position at an institution of higher learning. This means young adults. With me. In a classroom. Gods help me… how anyone can NOT grasp literature and comprehensively read anything thrown their way at that age escapes me, but THAT conversation is one for another day. I will be in the weeds enough here shortly without opening that can of worms…

So, young adult literature. In my day, when the earth was new and I had to fight dinosaurs to walk to school, uphill, both ways mind you, there was no such genre. We read Dickens, Dumas, Melville, Dickinson, the Bronte sisters, and all manner of others, from Vonnegut to Cather, Hughes to Kerouac and pretty much anything classical or intriguing in between. Sure, we sometimes had to battle the librarian and the principal in order to check out those books if not being read in class, but they only had our best and innocent interests at heart, you remember…?

Now we are inundated with not 1 or 2 or even 4, but 6 shelves of these brightly colored (or vampire and wraith adorned) books in the local library. Out of necessity, I checked out a slew of them, in preparation for the YA Lit class I will be taking this coming January. Anticipating a glimpse into the inner workings of the adolescents I know, you can imagine my surprise at content, story line, and vocabulary level staring back up at me in defiance…

I KNOW, many of you love this genre. I KNOW, many of you would rather your kid read these books rather than comics. I KNOW, some of you are secretly applauding your suspicions that I was an elitist all along, but just listen for a sec, please. I chose them completely randomly, simply by shelf and alphabet, bottom to top. I came away with 14, and have gotten through 8 of them. I may be making correlations where none exist, but I was left a little stunned. Has anyone else noticed that a large percentage of the subject matter seems to romanticize problems such as cutting, anorexia, or pregnancy? One could offer that these books provide a safe space for a child to feel not alone, and to gain hope for themselves. BUT… I saw some alarming trends toward the reinforcement of the “Broken is Best” ideal that this generation seems to be clinging desperately to. One book in particular read like an instruction manual for eating disorders, including calorie counts and purging cycles that best help one attain one’s goals. WTF??!!!

I am also deeply disturbed by the racial implications, surely picked up by this impressionable age group. In three, yes, THREE of these random books, middle class white girls binge and purge, slice happily away at their taut skin, proving to the world, and therefore themselves, their inner strength is immense. The books I read by African American, Latina, and Native American authors had no such subplots. Including the 16 books I read last semester for SOC class on this exact topic, not one eating disorder to the bunch… maybe that is because for the most part, in the books I have read, they are already hungry. Sherman Alexi famously says, and I paraphrase here, that “Indians already have eating disorders… that’s what happens when you can’t afford food.”

So White Privilege rears its ugly head once again… and yes, I am aware that people who scream “ALL Lives Matter, not just BLACK” will take me to task over this. I am just wondering why, when from a cognition standpoint, morality is a social construct and we literally and collectively create the world around us and what we deem acceptable, WHY these themes persist to SUCH a degree in the literature designed for an age group who already is struggling to develop their own identity? WHY does it seem** that we are encouraging our kids to embrace the nasty bits of life, where I was encouraged to break the chains that bound me and FIGHT for every shred of self respect, decency, and moxy I could muster so I could just fucking get on with my life already??!!

**seem to me, and several educators I know, who are of varied racial identities**

I feel the need here to iterate that this post is NOT meant to marginalize anyone struggling with anything I mentioned above, or any other issues. I have my own child who is struggling greatly with identity, and I found out recently that a specific behavior that he and 3 close friends were exhibiting last year came directly out of a book they had to read for health class. Upon reporting that to the principal, I was told that this is “what kids do at this age, they copy behavior that is interesting to them.” Sigh.

I have spent 2 weeks debating the posting of this one, and discussed with 5 professors in 2 countries the trends of what we purposefully expose out youngsters to. Additionally, that is NOT to say there are not great series and single books out there for this demographic. The “Wrinkle in Time” series, for example, or even Harry Potter, that flawed and still great Boy Who Lived. Betsy’s Wedding, To Kill a Mockingbird, Flowers for Algernon, The Book Thief, and Thirteen Reasons Why specifically come to mind. Don’t forget anything by Tolkien, John Green, Douglas Adams, S. E. Hinton, L. M. Montgomery, and Scott Westerfeld, off the top of my head. So why on earth am I even writing this, if there is so much else out there? Because you know as well as I that flash is what gets the attention of adolescents today. And If one small group of girls whisper that this or that certain book “srsly changed my life, kwim?!” and sends the title to a couple thousand of their twitter BFF’s, then by next week Facebook and Instagram will have exploded under their praises…

But I digress. All I wanted to say is that this genre has a collective power rivaled only by the GOP’s. And if we want our young adults to know there is more out there, we have to find a way to entice them with it. And I don’t think Charlie and the wonder-mouse will stand a chance against ways to exert power over adults, get away with bullying, or even how to lie more creatively. Thoughts, peeps? Thanks as always for keeping it real, and if you have a series or book that is exemplary within the YA genre, please chime in… I am already creating my Grade 10 Eng/Comp book list. =)

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