challenges


So I happened upon this video the other day, and it prompted a writing idea…

Watch:

Here’s my take: these babies are my sister and me. I posted the vid on Facebook the other day and asked her if she knew why these babies are us. She did the quick take, surfacy answer: “Because you’re always messing with me.” However that is not the reason.

Nope, these babies are us because I’m the one always trying to laugh and find the bright spots in life, while having to deal with her emo-ness. (Watch those babies again and tell me that you don’t think that dark headed baby is emo!). My little sister has always been so much more emotional than I am. I’m not saying that I’m the good-mood girl and she’s not — because she’s the “good time girl” — but the fact is, I’ve always felt like I had to help her stay happy. When she’s gotten mad at me, that madness lasts and lasts, and sometimes feels like it will never end. And, I have to laugh, pretending that the madness doesn’t hurt. I’ve become so good at it, that it’s second nature now; an unconscious act that I don’t even pay attention to.

Until this past week when she really hurt me, and I can’t find the “sunny,” bright side of the situation. I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually, and I won’t hold it against her. But right now, I can’t. I love her more than life itself, and I’ve only ever wanted to take care of her. When we were little, I was her translator because no one could understand her speech. We got through our crazy-mama’s craziness together; we lost a brother together.

But through all this, I’ve always known that I had to be the “happy” one. If I was too sad about something, it made her sad, and I didn’t like it. (I still don’t). Back to the baby video, though….the dark-headed baby is fussing some, and the light-headed baby keeps laughing, totally ignoring the moaning his/her counterpart. The conversation probably goes something like:

Baby 1: Don’t leave me.

Baby 2: Haha…I love you. We are best friends forever.

Baby 1: I will always be afraid you don’t love me.

Baby 2: I will never stop loving you.

Baby 1: Even if I do stuff to make you mad or hurt your feelings? Or if I make you feel left out of my life most of the time?

Baby 2: Yes, even then. I will never stop loving you. I might get mad at you sometimes.

Baby 1: You will get mad at me?

Baby 2: Yes, look how you’re eating my arm? I will get mad at you. But I will always love you.

Baby 1: Forever?

Baby 2: And ever!

Baby 1: heehee….

So, for my baby sister….here is some musical advice from me to you:

Keep on the sunny side!!

I won’t be breaking your heart!

I wish for you to know this about yourself and how much you mean to me:

But this is probably what she wants to say to me:

All in all….sisters fight over silly things sometimes. Our feelings get hurt, and it’s always the “last straw.” This tiff will pass and I’m sure we’ll learn something about ourselves, but the hurt I’m feeling right now is pretty strong. Maybe the songs are really for me and not for her. Maybe I’m trying to say that I’m still laughing, but look in my eyes — I’m just too stupid to cry.

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sols_6I haven’t posted in TWT in a while, and I miss this community. I’m especially glad to be writing today, as I’m having existential angst with my writing instruction. My sophomores and juniors are so apathetic right now that I’m finding it difficult not to scream every day and pull my hair out!! Sounds drastic, right?

It does until my 2nd grader brings home her work from last week, and in the packet is a story she wrote about a girl named Alex who feels like other girls at school are bullying her because she doesn’t have the right kind of clothes. I have no clue what the assignment was, but the only feedback she had on the paper was a minuscule check mark at the top of the page. When I ask her about it, she says she just wrote something down because she “doesn’t have any stories in my head.”

After this exchange, all I want to do is cry. My high school students feel like my Lily. For so long, their voices haven’t mattered, except for a check mark that they did something. I see them just want to get an assignment finished — not write for an authentic audience or get feedback from me or share with classmates. Writing is something to hide — and to whisper in my ear or on a post-it note that they used to like to write, but now they don’t because there are “no stories in my head.”

My angst comes because the more I try to be mad at the apathetic teenagers sitting in front of me more concerned with their cell phones than my grand lesson plans, the more I see a room filled with tall Lilies….begging me to bring their stories out no matter how much they whine and complain and pretend that they have nothing worth saying.

Why can’t I just be mad?????

CS Lewis quote

nerdlutiont555I’ve been very addicted to Twitter lately — it’s almost all I do except read very important books!! ūüėČ ¬†The other day, I creeped into a conversation where some important people wanted to re-commit to personal goals. There’s a hashtag, round of blog posts, and a picture to make this all “official”! Here is one blog I read that explains #Nerdlution better than I ever could: Sharpread

I’m making a commitment that for the next 50 days, I’ll do a few things I’ve been neglecting. Here’s the short list:

1…blog each day. It can be here or maybe in my daybook, but writing is a must!

2… SOME sort of exercise. The best way to do this is to follow that blasted Fast Metabolism book!! Just do it, please!

3…have Game Night with Lily once a week. Wednesdays sound good (and with Jake when he’s home).

 

That’s probably all the resolutions I need to make. Hell, I’m already behind on the first day’s…it’s after midnight. Maybe Dec 1 will be the start date…now if I can just do the math to see when the 50 days are up! haha…

Good news is I’ve read 2 1/2 books this week: One Night That Changed Everything; a skeery book from the WL library (that I can’t remember the name of, nor can I find it!); and half finished with The Sea of Tranquility, a creepy book that Donna told me to read.

I also started another website to house my teaching “stuff” — I’m being horrible by keeping resources in a million other places, so today, I tried to put websites and ideas and documents in one spot. We’ll see how long that lasts! For now, though, I have 4 pages…but the Home page is my favorite. I’m really struggling with staying with teaching, so I added a cute WeeMe avatar (where I’m holding my old Blackberryand a Starbucks coffee),3 videos that inspire me, a poem, a quote by Ghandi (for when I’ve feeling really bad) and, a Spotify

Avatar Me2playlist of 13 songs that should definitely inspire me (or, at least, define how I feel about teaching — when I love it, not now when I’m pissed).

¬† ¬† I know…cute, huh??

That about does it for today’s episode!

sols_6So, I’m trying to find different ways to address argument, common core crappy standards, NC high school English test-prep, and technology without boring my students (or me) to tears. In my unit on storytelling right now, I have planned on using two TED-Ed talks: Sir Ken Robinson’s on education killing creativity and Dan Pink’s on motivation. Well…

This morning, on Twitter, I followed a link to a TED talk (but I can’t find the link at the moment). Once at the site, a tab tells me to “Flip this lesson”!! I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon working on this activity that might be a total BUST!!! But I’m a tad excited about it. Rather than use a paper version of my Article of the Week assignment, my students will watch these two videos and complete test prep and extended writing about them. I know I don’t like the test-prep part, but that’s the nature of my job at the moment.

Anyone up for completing the activities — or really just looking at them — and giving me some feedback? If so, go here — my class website. I would definitely appreciate it!!

Happy Sunday!

sols_6We’re having visitors this week at school. Every five years in NC, teams of educators evaluate schools to make sure they are…educating people, I guess. Anyway, we (my faculty) have to dress-it-up while the team is here. Everything from¬†de-cluttering¬†our classrooms, hanging up student work, and cleaning up the roach families, to not sending the unrulies to the office! My administration has gone somewhat crazy. They are even making us wear our staff ID badges –something I haven’t had to do in six years!

It’s the badge that has me in a funk today, for life is a lot different this year than last. Last year, my hair had just started falling out — chemo treatments, the ones I thought I was going to get out of, were in full swing. I couldn’t see through that rough time to the part where cancer wasn’t in the forefront of my mind. I think I need a new badge, though. The one I have now shows a person I don’t recognize: long hair, easy smile, confident demeanor. My new badge should reflect the new (not particularly improved) me: crinkle-cut-fries hair, second-glance-in-the-rearview-mirror brows, too-much-belly-below-not-enough boobs.

I read somewhere the other day a person who wrote, “I will always have had cancer.” It’s my new normal — the one where I just don’t feel quite like the ¬†me I used to be. It’s very hard to put into words — and as I’m writing these now, I can see the holes in my thinking and how I’m not able to put the words in the right order. Even a year later, the badge I wear doesn’t fit.

sols_6Being a high school teacher toughens a girl up. I’ve come to believe that without some toughness, a girl can be doomed. Teenagers treat their teachers like a girlfriend they can’t dump. First they act like you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. You think everything is going along fine: they are reading, writing when you ask, talking about their literacy. Then, it’s time for checking papers and assigning grades, and BAM!!! Where did the love go?

When it first happens — not matter how long you’ve been teaching, this always takes you by surprise! — you think it’s you. You haven’t used English words. You haven’t tapped their learning style or dominant left-brain/right-brain strategy. You gave them too much freedom….You didn’t give them enough freedom. You change their seating, their assignments, their technology. Everything is wrong, but nothing works. Even your teacher friends are helpless.

Then you get mad. The students aren’t taking you class seriously. They tried to trick you into thinking they wanted a good grade; they wanted to learn. Then you yell at them, and you realize that the only ones who are remotely listening are the ones who normally do their work. You have them in tears — they don’t know what they’ve done wrong! Then you get even madder because the “bad” ones are laughing at your tirade; one of them raises his hand and says, “Hey, ain’t you acting like one of them ar-key-types you told us about? One of them shoes?” You shake your head because even though he got the word wrong (he meant “shrew” of course), he got the idea correct.

Then, being the good teacher that you are, you go on a Google search — there has to be something some smart savant has come up with to help with the little kiddoes problems. So you get an answer that looks like this:

 

Apathy search

Yeah…that says a million sites. A MILLION!!!! Now you realize that you aren’t the only teacher dealing with students who don’t feel a connection to school — the one place you could call safe when you were little. How can that be? You immediately realize this is a dumb question because there were classmates you remember from school who didn’t want to be there and who didn’t graduate. You know the problems they dealt with and are still dealing with (you have a Facebook, for crying out loud!) for not having a good education.

While you’re thinking about your students, your kid yells at the pretend class she’s teaching to “BE QUIET, I SAID! NO, WE ARE NOT GOING TO READ OR WRITE STORIES TODAY! YOU HAVE BEEN TOO BAD AND ALL OF YOU ARE IN TIME OUT! AND NO RECESS!!”

So now you know this school-hate starts from little school where we (the teaching profession) ruin little kids and their tender feelings. We have retarded their curiosity — especially if the student is male. We don’t think they can write their own stories or read books not on their “level.” We stop teaching science and social studies in favor of test prep. They move to upper grades where their teachers are trying, but aren’t able to help them get that Kindergarten love back. And we test them ALL THE TIME. AND ALL THE TESTS ARE “IMPORTANT”!

And just when you know all is lost and you start writing about your frustrations, maybe your kid sees you writing and does this:

Lily writesAnd you think that maybe you’re doing something right after all.

 

Teaching makes me so tired. Some days, I’m so exhausted by 1:30 that I don’t know if I’ll make it the rest of the day. But I do. I’m not doing any heavy lifting — nah, nothing fun like that. No, my brain has been¬†differentiating, counseling, instructing, herding cats (my students, of course), nagging, reading and writing. Phew…I’m tired all over again!

So on days like this, I need a little pick-me-up. TV? No.¬†Exercise? I wish! Nope…I think about my little children in a Proms & Potties episode!!1

Proms    travel-the-world

Okay, well, Jake is a junior in college and doing well. He’s all on his own — except he refuses to try to find a job. But…he’s finding free things to do, mooching off his friends, and living on the measly $100 I give him each month. But he wants to leave me. Yep, he called last week to say that he wants to study abroad (cue the crude “I-hope-she’s-cute” joke). First, it was South Africa; then, Ireland; my favorite, New Zealand; settled on London. Yes, I’ll let him go–that’s my job. But I’ll cry and worry every day. Wonder if he’ll call or forget his raincoat. What if he doesn’t meet any friends? Or what if he gets mugged? Or worse, what if he gets a job, loves it, and gets an offer to move there. Can I be a separate-continent kind of mommy?

Potties    

Just like Jake, Lily has started leaving me. We went to the bookstore a few days ago, and the LilyBelle said she had to go to the bathroom. I told her to wait because I had just sat down…and SHE SAID, “I’LL GO BY MYSELF”!!! Yep, I couldn’t believe it either. After the go-to-the-bathroom-by-myself incident, she spent the night with our next-door neighbor. Then, I had to take her to a basketball game with me (I had gate-duty); Lily satbag-leaving-little-girl-lost-train-running-Favim.com-469424¬†with some of my students, found a friend she knows, and proceeded to run around for an hour meeting new people, seeing one of her teachers, and hugging on the teachers I work with. I didn’t see her for the two hours I was taking up money.

 



So…even though I’m brain-dead practically from teaching all day, my sweet, sweet babies always give me much more to think about. I can deal with it. Hopefully!! ūüėČ

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