I may just be your problem.

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I don’t need research reports to tell me how to feel on this one. I don’t need to take some sort of grad seminar to convince me differently. I have been in the classroom for over 8 years at this point. All of that time I have been teaching college writing. I also have raised three girls, so I see it from a parent’s perspective.

Kids don’t need hours upon hours of homework to prove they are worthy of the high school diploma. I think sometimes we forget they are kids. And yes I say we because I have been that instructor. I have been it regularly.

Yes I may ruffle feathers, but is our goal to take every ounce of their childhood time left over at the end of the day even at 16, 17 and 18? Because if this is your goal then nope. Nope I don’t accept it.

Students are spending 8+ hours with us in our classrooms and then coming home and doing 2+ hours of homework (this is definitely on the lighter side) for us. Do we need to teach them material and work ethic with our assignments? Heck yes! They need to understand the importance of working for what you need and want. They do need to understand it takes hard work to get there. But I think we may have been skewed in methods of getting there.

Burying them in work so that they are forced to become mini-adults and machines pumping out work for us that in the end sit on our desk for assessment. I respect my profession way too much to tell others what they should be doing in their classroom. Basically, I won’t presume to know the best way to teach math or social sciences or any other course than my own. Heck I would even venture to tell my English colleagues what they should and need to do.

But what I will say for the last two years I have changed the way I teach. I teach dual credit college writing, dual credit college speech, dual credit children’s literature, English 9, Mass Media and SAT Prep. I find that smaller assignments in class with me and often partially carried over at home are more beneficial.

For example, in my college writing course we recently had a lesson on analysis of scholarly writing. In class, I taught them how to break down an author’s arguments in a table. You know argument as table top and the supporting evidence as the legs of the table. I taught it like a mathematical formula. We called them artistic proofs and centered around the rhetorical language of academe. This took about 1 and half class periods. No homework and lots of working with one another and lots of working me as a guide and observer.

Then I gave my students about half of the class period to write a one and a half page MLA formatted response paper for me. It wasn’t enough time to finish in class, but was enough time to let work with me for awhile, work with their partner for awhile and we did this all in google docs so I could see it all. They had a little that required them to work at home, but it didn’t bury them.

Can I tell you how many kids felt like that process was helpful. They mostly taught themselves how to break down academic language. I gave them the tools and they did it. Does giving them an hour worth of homework every night achieve the same. Maybe it does.

But in that weeks time they probably had 20-30 minutes of work from me and made progress as college writers that me assigning a 5 page paper and letting them go at it at home alone would not accomplish. I didn’t bury them. It was chunked out in class with me directing, me observing and then on their own.

Just the same when we are reading for my course. Anyone else struggle with students that don’t read? Yea if you don’t, I don’t believe you. There is nothing worse than that observation that inevitably happens when someone hasn’t read. So yea I do a lot of our reading together. If we read together then I spend less time in the battle of teaching to students who don’t know what is going on. I end up frustrated and they end up frustrated with me.

The reality is that I sometimes have to assign reading because I do teach college classes and English classes, but I set up my classes so that required reading is imperative to do because if not you won’t be prepared and stakes are too high to not. But they also know that the more we get done in class the better off their homework load will be. It is a pact we make and so far it works.

I have results teachers. I have positive results. I am doing something right because I have the evidence to prove it. Now I understand and will make the statement that college is a very different thing. It requires work and it requires tons of self discipline, but I will say I am teaching high school kids college courses, so I am consistently striking an odd balance between you are a college student, but also a high school kid. I teach juniors in high school who are basically freshmen in college. This works for all of us.

To be in MR’s classroom….. – MR

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It is a terrible day.

So you you all know I have them. Today is a terrible day. My mood is terrible. It all feels terrible.

Nothing I do is lifting me up. I am fighting numerous battles in my head. I want to eat. I didn’t want to work out (but I did.) I thought crying would help (it didn’t). I thought getting mad would help (it didn’t). I even tried a nap thinking I was tired.

I am in my own head massively.

That saying, “Don’t judge you never know the battles one is fighting.”

No truer words. -MRIMG_0622

Saturday Sharing – Keto Life (Otherwise known as the Bacon Life)

16.5 Inches – 13 Pounds WOAH!!!!

Yes you guys…these are my month and half of keto stats. Those inches are INSANE and I am so glad that I looked at this. Most of those inches are in my waist and hips. As well, I feel like my body is beginning to heal better. I feel it and can tell. I will try and update this post with a picture later today.  While you wait here is a visual chart of my weight loss and my chart to my actual goal over the last six weeks.

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Top left is today and top right 6 weeks ago and yes I have lost much my tan. Bottom right was today and bottom left was 6 weeks ago. I don’t know why I did them opposite.

But I am not gonna lie sometimes I lack the inspiration of the diet. I just use my standard go to of eggs of some variety and bacon. So much bacon. When I grow tired of these two things I am worried for what that means.

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I do find that I need more and more fat. I am not getting enough and you have to be super careful about not all of your fats coming from proteins because higher proteins can turn into glucose which can mess with ketosis. This is the stuff I am slowly learning.

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So I have been trying to find more fats like this while joking soon I will just need to chew on a stick of butter. While I hope it doesn’t come to that I did try an experiment this week. Last week I had very little change as far as weight (I even gained and lost two pounds a few time) and inches were minimal I sat back and thought about what I did. The difference I believe was that I ran every single day. I was also burning almost 3000 calories and eating about 900-1200 calories.

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Keto makes you not hungry. Like at all. I seriously cannot eat enough and I am going hard running or working out I know my weight loss will stall. It also stalls when I am doing that eating that calorie range. I try and eat more and feel pukey. But something unique happened last week. I ate this!

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Admittedly I didn’t eat it all, but I woke up the next day thinking I would gain a ton of weight and be knocked out of ketosis and I was for less than a few hours. But nope…I woke up feeling terrible, but I lost a pound and was in ketosis again by lunch. I cannot say I got so lucky this week with a treat I had that my co-worker bought for me. I am just now getting back into ketosis after a little over a day. (BTW…I have no regrets. Life isn’t about deprivation and being miserable).

As well, I am at a place in my keto journey where I need to start playing around and seeing what makes my ketones ebb and flow and what I can handle and not handle. I am having to use more dairy than I would like to keep my fats up, but I would like to not. I also can mess with some of keto friendly flours like coconut and almond. I would also like to try some variances on carb cycling. But before I do that I need to identify how my body responds to certain carbs.

I feel seriously super good. I will tell you working out on keto has been my biggest struggle. I lack the stamina, but I know for a fact if and when I add more fats into my diet my stamina perks up. I also know when I can figure out how my body processes carbs then I can carb up to aid in working out. I also would like to find a fat bomb to help with this. Fat bombs scare you a little though, but it does help balance out macros if you need it.

I am going to get a blood test soon for hormones and the rest to be sure that my body is handling this alright. I will also give you a small update about last week’s post about the cyst. I have had a ton of a pain this week especially the last few days which likely means it is disintegrating. That is good news. So we continue to wait and hope it goes away on its own.

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Ketoing On Over Here – MR

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Saturday Sharing is a weekly post where MR covers the latest in her life.

 

I didn’t really ask you what you thought.

I remember being a little girl and traveling to my Grandma’s house in Downers Grove, IL and every time we would go she had this special cabinet that held all of the pictures she had taken over the course of her life. Every visit I always was sure to stop by the cabinet and see any new editions and even sometimes peruse through the older ones. There was something so sweet about my time spent there sprawled out on the floor with pictures of my family all around me.

032F1DB1-AA3E-4F32-AFC1-21F23E1C84D7Since marrying my husband my mother in law has the same thing. A cabinet full of a life time of memories and sometimes we like to pull them out and see the vast difference’s in my guy’s looks over the years. An all over blonde, to a glasses wearing teenager with bangs to a married man, a married man with kids, a married man that had brain surgery to a married man who is losing all that precious hair and definitely no bangs now.

Those memories mean something. They are always there and they tell an amazing narrative of lives being lived and small and big moments. There are the moments of every single birthday cake from 0-present that my father in law likes to take to my babies in my arms.

So the other day I had an interesting conversation with one of my daughters. She started to say something about my Instagram and I kind felt like I knew where she was gonna go because I have heard it before. It was something along the lines of “You post too much”. I stopped her and said, “Nope. Don’t say it because it doesn’t matter and don’t let people say it to you and you better not say it to others.” That was kind of the end of it.

Until later when we added in another daughter to the conversation and I asked them both, “Who wrote these rules for social media? Did you read it? Can you show it to me?” The response I got is, “Mom, how did you get so confident? I wish I could be that confident.” And then I got angry….not at her…at the society that makes up these stupid rules.

I told her it was not about confidence. I told her if she wanted to post 1000 times a day do it. I don’t care. I explained how I am not looking for validation from others on social media and I don’t care about likes or follows or any of that other BS. I just don’t. I started telling her that I have heard it before and I always respond the same. “I didn’t really ask you what you thought.”

The reality is (and I mean this in the nicest way possible) I don’t care what others think about my social media. I have never understood this idea that we are only allowed to share so much or so often. Let me be clear though I am not talking social media used for businesses though I would argue again I don’t really care what they do either. It is OUR MEDIA and no one elses. It is that cabinet for me. I use it to look back on and I love looking at with my girls. It is for me.

I usually post a work out selfie every single day. Is that too much? Who determines too much? Me and the answer is no. Until I think it is too much. Can I tell you how many times I haven’t had the motivation to workout or take care of myself and I look back on the last three years and I see how far I have come and I can? Too many to count.

If someone unfriends me because it is too much….BYE! If someone follows me but makes fun behind my back….BYE. If someone follows me and complains to myself….BYE. My social media feeds are treated no differently then my grandma’s cabinet full of pictures. I invite you to sit down and see what is going on with me. Can you imagine sitting with Grandma and saying, “Grandma, you took too many pictures of Aunt Pearl.” It is crap.

I don’t do it for you. I do it for me. If I am too much…BYE. But stop telling my girls to follow your rules. To all…be who you are and I am honored if you invite me to look but if all you want to bring into my world and my cabinet is negativity….BYE! I don’t need it or want it and my invitation certainly didn’t invite it.

-MR

Weekend Sharing: The Teacher Edition

This past week I presented to my colleagues how I have immersed myself into the online teaching community. I have been a part of it for years. However, in the last year or so I truly found my people on the internet. I would like to share those with you today. Many of these are teacher links. But a few of them are just great and inspirational people.

I am certain I have talked about this guy here before, but he has truly changed me and he lights a fire under me and in turn makes my classroom better. A few years ago my district hired him to speak with us and I sat in the audience and listened to him to speak. I expected little and got more than I bargained for. He connected with and I was ecstatic that there was someone out there that thought like I did. His name is Principal Kafele.

I have watched his video with my kiddos in my classroom about “ISMs”. He has a video for nearly every personal involved in the educational process. My favorite one though is “Hey Teacher” and the message is often centered around the idea: “How are your students lives better 10 years from now because of you?” What I think I love about PK is that he doesn’t call himself a speaker. He calls himself an educator and has goals in education that he shares about each time he speaks. He doesn’t see himself as a career speaker. He sees himself now and always as an educator first.

My second favorite teacher and friend now at this point is Laura Randazzo. She has motivated and inspired my own teaching in so many ways. We have connected via this blog and hers and since on Instagram. But she is such an amazing teacher with so many ideas. For me, she is one of those teachers and moms that I look up to and think she is doing it all and so can I. Her teachers pay teachers site is by far my most used and purchased. If you are an LA secondary level teacher you MUST check her out. She also has a YouTube channel. I have used her resources and never ever have they been a disappointment to myself or my students.

My last and final gigantic big blurb (not because the links below are less important, just because these are my major hitters. That means that I check in with them on a regular basis and therefore think you should as well. Not all of them are English teachers. PK is a principal and working on becoming a Superintendent. LR is an secondary English teacher and Christina Costa was a middle school science teacher turned PhD student.

Now let’s talk about Christina Costa who is a YouTuber I found about a year ago. What I was drawn to her was her authenticity in the classroom. I connected with that because that is what I feel like I bring to my classroom. There are so many rules for teachers that some demand should happen. Don’t smile till December. Don’t connect with them personally. Be hard and non-emotional. Don’t get off track ever. Just so we are clear I break pretty much all of those rules every day. I found out pretty early on those rules are NOT what make me a good teacher. Christina with her students reminds me to keep that authenticity and it honestly is just fun and inspirational to watch. She started to feel powerless in her teaching and decided to go back to where she felt like she could have more power and applied for a Phd program.

This also is where I am at. If you all remember I have deferred a Phd program. I did this for a few reasons. My husband’s health and second that I was working on a few classes that I needed to teach speech at my school which I just finished up. We will see where I am headed. I am not sure where I am headed where that is concerned, but I know I am grateful to watch Christina go through it and help me decide.

Quick Links for Teachers

Hoping my inspiration inspires you all a little. – MR

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Saturday Sharing is a post dedicated to sharing information.

Recovery Week # 11 – We hit a snag…kind of.

IMG_1114So at the beginning of this week my stomach started hurting bad. Like ulcer had returned bad. Meds back on and I moved on. The week was going great and I was running about 3 miles a day. Or at least every other day.

Fast forward to Wednesday night. The goal was to come straight home and get my work out duds on and run because I was home early. As I was walking in my house I went to step up on a step and I was all the sudden struck by searing cannot talk through kinda of pain in my left side. I yelped out and dropped my work bag and purse immediately and I moved myself to the couch.

My guy did what he does….looked at me and went back to what he was doing. My # 2 did what she does put on her worried momma hat. She started asking all kinds of questions IMG_8748and I couldn’t even get the answers out. I stretched out on the couch and just kind laid there for awhile. I contacted the doctor and none of the big things to look for post surgery were going on. No fever. No blood. Nothing other than pain. I was left with contact us tomorrow.

Contacted them tomorrow and nurse decided it was best to be seen. We kind of left with a call us Friday morning and update and we will see how you are. I called in first thing in the morning. By this time the pain was not as bad, but definitely still there. I struggled with sudden movements and sitting down all centered around my left side. They asked me to do the run through again and the scheduler asked if she could talk with my doctor real quick while I waited. Her response after a few minute wait was, “Can you leave right now and get in here in 40 minutes?” Two minutes later I was out the door.

I got in and it was so clear this was the let’s see if my patients will go into labor day at the OB/GYN. I am pretty sure every at the end of their pregnancy momma was in that room. It was packed. As soon as I got checked in they called me back.

I explained to the nurse how I was feeling and I kept saying it was probably nothing and I felt kinda silly complaining with how busy it was in there. I apologized multiple times and said it was probably just my nerves healing or muscle soreness. The doc came in and she kinda agreed but wanted to check me out. She put her hand to my abdomen and pretty quickly sent me down to imaging to get an ultrasound.

IMG_3618I went to their office and again all the pregnant mommas are everywhere. I mean like I was surrounded which was oddly weird for me. I can’t explain it, but the pregnancy/ newborn thing for me now is weird. I guess in an emotional way. I barely sat down and I got called back. I commented, “Man, I thought I would be waiting awhile.” The technician said my doc wanted me to get checked out asap.

Once I got an ultrasound the tech quickly said, “Oh…” and did a few measurements made small talk about my lack of a uterus that was funny and said, “You need to head back up and see your doc.” I got up there and all the pregnant mommas are looking at their ultrasounds of their cute little babes in their bellies and I thought, “Not me. I got something going on and it isn’t a baby.”

I again skip ahead to the first in line and go by all the bellies and my doctor gets me in right away explaining to me I have a hemorrhagic cyst. I have suffered with cysts my whole life but they are natural cysts and ones that cause tenderness and sometimes pain. But never like this. It is a bleeding cyst and one that we hope resolves itself on its own.

So we are in wait and see mode. We are giving it three weeks and seeing what my bodyIMG_7051 decides to do. It has nothing at all to do with my surgery and every thing to do with my luck of the draw. It wasn’t present at surgery time and is just something that popped up. She did warn me the best case scenario is it disintegrates on its own and is reabsorbed by my body which can happen. So this is what we are pulling for officially. She did warn that this will be extremely painful. I got a list of symptoms to look for should it burst. They all sound terrible. But the options for dealing with it if we don’t get the best case scenario need not be uttered cause NOPE!!! Nope!!! NOPE!!!

So per my usual personality…I will focus on the positive. I bought this birth year shirt a few weeks ago and it was too tight in my arms and I didn’t really like how snug it felt around my tummy. Well it was perfect today and I got multiple compliments on it. As well, I was last in my doc’s office July 30th and I have lost 14 lbs since then. My blood pressure was 86/60 the best it has ever been ever. You guys my hard work is working and not only do I feel healthy (minus my stupid ovary), but I am healthy.

If there is a lesson in this and I always look for lessons in life…it is definitely listening to your body. I had that nagging feeling that something was not right. But I was worried of worrying for nothing or bothering others. I was worried I was disrupting my family and my work life. I was worried about her being frustrated with me because my surgery was supposed to make me better. But it was something. We have to trust ourselves and what our bodies tell us.

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There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen. – RUMI 

-MR

Transformation Tuesday: Less of Me is a thing.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

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This is today!

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Sometimes it is so easy to lose your motivation and inspiration or even worse sometimes you feel like giving up because the changes aren’t as noticeable or as quick. So you gotta take a moment and take stock in just how far you have come. And more then anything…you need to remember to enjoy the process because it is all a part of the journey. My journey didn’t just start and it certainly isn’t going to end any time soon. But I gotta hold steady. I am worth it.

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Saturday/Sunday Sharing…A little different.

I was 24. I held my 3 week old daughter in my hands. It was my 2nd day of being fully alone with her on my maternity leave. I was really struggling with postpartum baby blues. I was watching this exact footage of the Today Show. I remember the adrenaline as this was happening and I was watching. It happened again as I was watching this morning. The footage still had the ability to instill and create fear. I remember being so very afraid. Extremely afraid for what was happening and what the future would bring after this. I called my mom. I called my husband. I cried. What followed was days of a blur for a few reasons. I had a friend whose husband was in one of the towers and missing and she had a new baby daughter just like me. That was our “in common”. We were internet friends. We were August 2001 mommas going through our pregnancies and then following raising our babies together.

The news coverage was constant for days. No shows. No DVRs to escape. No Netflix (that I remember). All news stations cable and local combined their news reporting so that everyone had all the same news and same sources. Now as a media teacher I understand just what a big deal this move was and I haven’t seen it happen since and since then our 24 hour news cycle has only increased. It literally changed the way we get our media.

The only escape from the coverage was to turn it off, but fear kept me from that. My guy would go to work. I would try and turn the TV off and engage my baby girl to just escape. I wrote. I wrote a lot. So I want to share some of what I was feeling. Some of what I wrote was so personal to my daughter or even my husband because I was trying to just make sense (like everyone else) of what was actually happening. I have pages and pages and pages of writing to her, to the world and of what I dealing with. Here are some brief excerpts:

Sept 11 11 AM- “The President said there are several planes unaccounted for and has ordered all planes that aren’t going where they should are to be immediately shot down. There are so many bomb threats that I have lost count. They are everywhere. All planes were to land exactly where they were. It is eerily quiet because we live by the Indianapolis airport.”

Sept 12 10:39 PM – “I am so tired of feeling down and depressed about all of this. I tried to watch a movie, but it just doesn’t feel right to turn away from the coverage. I don’t even know what feels right at this point. I want to grasp onto the life we had before September 11th, but that isn’t even possible and no I am not being dramatic. It will never be the same; how can it? My baby girl won’t know life before September 11th and I am angry about that. My heart breaks and I know now that we will know war like my ancestors knew war. No one is thinking before they react and all I can do is pray. I don’t know what else to do.” 

Sept 17 11:56 AM – “My friend has confirmed that her husband was lost during the impact of 9/11. All I have is sympathy for her and her precious daughter. They moved from abroad for peace.”

And every single year since then on 9/11 I send love and prayers to my sweet friend Liat and her daughter Sapir. A forced anniversary. I have enjoyed seeing both of them go on to make the best of an unthinkable situation. Sapir has no idea just how many have supported her from afar.

Now I teach students who don’t even have any idea what 9/11 was. Just the other day I said something to all my girls about September 11th and my youngest said, “What’s that?” I said, “Oh yea!” And did a lame job trying to explain. How can you ever explain something so catastrophic with any sort of justice. My answer….YOU CAN’T.

Every year I mark my own memorial of 9/11 by being silent on every media. Tomorrow will be no different. I will never forget. I will never forget for Shai, Liat and Sapir. I will never forget for all the others whose lives were taken that day.

May we always remember. -MR

I miss Thailand.

How do you miss a place that you have never even been? I am not sure, but I do. Maybe it is empathy or compassion. I am a teacher to a large population of refugees. Refugees that escaped war torn lands with unjust governments, or escaped persecution for their beliefs and ideologies.

The word refugee for me was just a label I would place on people that didn’t look like me artists-respond-ban-5or sound like me. It wasn’t that I was overtly prejudice or even ethnocentric. I just had all this privilege that had just never been checked. It actually probably was never something I put much thought into not out of carelessness, but just out of ignorance.

But I do now. My personal and professional self has been changed on so many levels because of my work with my students. Of course it is, I know. But my world view has grown ten-fold. My students have traveled more and been through some of the most intense emotions known to man and all I have to offer is I have been to Canada.

I recently did a recipe project with my juniors where the goal was to tell me a personal narrative tied to a food that they have an emotional tie too. I expected quite a variance on the stories I would hear. My school is known for diversity. But what I didn’t expect was to literally feel my refugee students longing for their “temporary” homes.

This prompted a late night research fest to see what this refugee life looked like for my students and as you research you wonder how they could miss such a place. But what I instead realized that they missed wasn’t the place, but what the place meant to them. It was the simplicity of their needs, the closeness of their families and the fervor with which their beliefs withstood testing.

As I researched that and graded them I began to identify those same things and same feelings. This longing for what may have seemed more simple or the most basic parts of ourselves. We all know what it is like to long for home or simplicity. A place where we belonged no matter what. A place where the simple needs in life were all that mattered. The type of needs like cooking the food around us not the kind that you can just run to the store for, the need for human interaction so you just go to your next door neighbors or missing the simple toys that you can create from just a piece of paper.

As my students presented their recipes and their lives a common theme began to emerge and I heard over and over, “I miss Thailand.” And finally today I proclaimed, “I, too, miss Thailand” and it this wasn’t some sort of misappropriation. Instead, it was me sitting back and being the student, checking my own privilege and letting my students teach me and teaching me the way they see their worlds and what my role in it is.

I hear and see those in the world against refugees and this idea of someone’s right to our land more than another and I wonder if they sat in my classroom for just a day would they feel the same? I never saw my career path leading me this way. But my faith and my career has called me to this place, this time, my classroom, my students and I cannot walk away from that more ignorant than when I came. I refuse that injustice.

The purpose of this moment was for me to know that their missing Thailand feels an awful lot of like my missing my own home. It is familiar, it is safe, it is survival at its most basic where our main goals in life are to eat, sleep and survive and we all know what that feels like. But do we really?

Taking a moment to realize I have no idea. – MR

(Photo Credits)

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Immawhat a teaching series of posts meant to inspire, reflect on the making of MR as a teacher and a classroom.