Been there, done that, Got the T-shirt

365.165

It was cold. It rained. We believe it snowed or hailed. But we made it to the finish and actually finished around the end of the runners and the beginning of the walkers which is far better than we normally would. We started literally dead last in a sea of walkers and we set out to pass, pass and pass some more.

What I love and hate most about this picture is what it says about that stupid fat girl. Clearly the shirt is too big. But I refuse to move down because I am convinced I am still that size when I know I am not. And all the reasons are cleverly planted there via the Fat Girl! She needs to shut her mouth!

But I don’t like meatwoahf.

365.164-It is meatloaf night in this house. I needed a homecooked meal as I have hardly cooked at all this week. But I needed it quick because it was grocery run night, I wanted to work out and well it sounded good. So I whipped up my meatloaf.

#3 says when it is time to sit down to dinner, “What dat?” I say, “Meatloaf sweetie.” She starts screaming and crying immediately and says, “But I don’t like meatwoahf.” And while she stopped fussing, she didn’t eat much. But that is okay. It is an acquired taste I suppose. #2 and #1 thought it was pretty good and cleaned their plate. Or maybe it was the drumsticks they were offered after that enticed them? We will never know.

Saturday Sharing…Momma Has a 5K

So I am up this morning working on some homework/papers to distract me from the 5K I am running today. I am super stoked to be doing it. It has been over a year since my last one. But running is a strong word, I will likely be walking. My goal for these things is always not to be last. That is all I really care about. Today’s run is in honor of this organization raising money for them. The last time I did it my #1 did with me. Today I didn’t really give her that option because she has softball practice. When she realizes we shall see what she thinks because she loved it. Anyway….MommyJargon and I are hitting the trail quite freezing I am sure because it is supposed to be freakishly cold today. Wish us luck!

Big Brother Sharing…

Anyone that knows me knows I am a huge Big Brother fan and even more so an even bigger Jeff and Jordan fan. Well guess what folks…they are taking their relationship to the next level. They are moving to LA to move in together. Jordan wants a regular job, Jeff wants to be a reality start or host of some sort. Does he possibly have a job already? Or is he using his good looks to fight evil? Whatever he does or they do, I will be always be a fan. Even though haters are trying to get them, they really do care.

New TV watching and sharing…

Well I sat out to watch one of the latest dramas, Scandal on ABC, and it is okay. I know when it makes the DVR rung in the first few episodes it must not have tickled my fancy quite enough.

But you know what shows I kind of really like? This one and this one. The first one I guess is my pulling for a star from my teenagedom. Remember Party of Five? Another that I was the biggest fan of and Ghost Whisperer didn’t do much for me. Although shamefully I always watched. I also shamefully admit I have never watched Mad Men until this season. Although I spent the better part of the month before it started back up catching up via On Demand. I love this show for all that is wrong in it. It is fun and sexy and just WOW!

Vague Sharing but I gotta dress up…

You will notice around here this week that something is happening, but I am gonna remain on the down low about it. I promise to share more later and I am not trying to intentionally be vague. Well yes I am. But soon my readers, soon. I will share because I have some exciting stuff happening here and most of all it has to remain on the down low, not because I don’t want to share but because I am required to do so. So that has me dressy clothes shopping: I love this dress, And this one, the simplicity of this one, alongside the craziness of this one. But I love this look but what about this look? Oh, I am so not a girly girl. I should have just picked one of those random ‘whole outfits‘ from pinterest and bought the whole damn thing.

50 Shades Sharing…

Well I finished the first in the trilogy.  Yes, I know it took awhile but I am graduate student and teacher and mother and so on. But I have to say I quite liked it. What I didn’t quite like was the criticisms that women are getting for reading it or the shocking aspects that women are enjoying it and people are scrambling like it is a bad thing. It is NOT a bad thing if it is flying off shelves, helping relationships and provoking reading, thought and action. Maybe some of the sting was taken out of that this week by Dr. Oz? He had a whole show dedicated to this trilogy. It was filled with experts in every field: psychology, gynecology and I can’t remember the last field. But basically, all these women are telling women IT IS OKAY to read this book and enjoy it.

I kind of don’t know if I will move on in the series right now. Not because I hated it but because I share my kindle with the my children and it became hard at times to keep their prying eyes away. As well, I have a reading list a mile long for this summer. We will see how it pans out.

All I can say about this book is while parts of it were shocking and maybe crossed the line further than I would in aspects. I did enjoy it and that is all I will say.

Portfolio Grading Sharing…

I have tinkered every semester with grading with portfolio which in my classroom means the whole equals the sums of its parts. Meaning my students have multiple chances to work on drafts, work with me on those drafts, get feedback both from peers and myself. As well, I offer incentives along the way to do such. Some I know don’t believe in extra credit but in my little experience I have found offering extra credit provides a greater opportunity for learning. At the end I am always pleased with the results, as are my students and they learn. It works similarly to a job, you get what you earn.

This semester my students portfolio’s look so professional and just great. I am super pleased with the results and the work they did. I have always toyed with varying ways to do portfolios. Digital Portfolios are what I prefer but my students and campus aren’t there yet. This translates into I always have 3-4 students that lack the social income to have immediate access to the internet. And while our campus is fully wired, I hate placing that burden on them because they are often families with full time jobs and I know that importance of being home. I have had semesters where I offered both options and I found it cumbersome for me to work.

This semester my approach was full on paper with only the work they deemed worthy of a portfolio which basically says to me it went through peer review, instructor review and possibly writing center review (which would qualify as a variance of peer review). As well, they have a reflection paper due with it where they review what this portfolio means and how it represents them and their work in my class. I am just super pleased and finally think this semester I can think: I am a teacher, I know what I am doing and I am confident in it. I don’t have spend every moment contemplating changing, proving to myself and others I do know what I am doing and my students know it. I am not sure if my arrival there took me awhile or if it just happened as it should.

Teaching On the Brain and Sharing…

And as all of you know, I had teaching on the brain this week. Remember? “Help In the Most Unlikely Places” & “I am a teacher: Just Write!” The second one has now turned into my most popular post. I am not sure why but this week my blog has taken a large jump in views for some reason and I am so grateful because apparently I am saying some that you guys can relate too when it comes to education and pedagogy. Check out my teaching archives for more: Education and Pedagogy which after hyperlinking you to both I should really just put in one category. But alas, another project for another day.

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Get a glimpse of where I surf regularly? Go to Saturday Sharing.

365.163-Frog Dissection

365.163-My # 1 got to dissect a shark last week and then today my # 2 got to dissect a frog. She cleverly avoided all the work and just watched and ohhhhh’ed and ahhh’ed over the whole event. She wasn’t totally grossed out just enough that she let MommyJargon’s little boy do the work and she got to observe. This is a program courtesy of Science Central. Have you been there? You should go.

Help in the most unlikely places.

So I am having this inner conflict where do I belong in the professional world? In the classroom, yes. In what environment? I don’t know. I have gut feelings, I have thoughts and then I have doubts. It is easy to get a perspective as I teach in college. I get to talk to my profs, I can talk to those I teach with in the graduate teaching program and my guy he is a high school teacher. But at the end I still feel conflicted.

Yesterday I took my #2 to her piano lessons and her teacher just happens to be a high school English teacher of many, many years. You could tell she wanted to ask me about my current position and my future endeavors. A conversation I had never really thought of since she is my daughter’s piano teacher. I never thought of her outside of that despite knowing different and having taking a previous course with her in my graduate program (our Master of Arts program runs closely with the Masters of Teaching program at our campus).

The conversation was nice for several reasons. One, she had a perspective I hadn’t thought about. A long time English teacher having seen a whole lot of students, administrators and just the whole of education change. Two, what the teaching profession of English consists of in her field, high school. What I realized that while the two arenas of college and high school are vastly different by standards and regulations much of the problems they see are similar. My naivety is hardly masked in my hopeful dreams of being that teacher that changes the world. Her experience tells her  those things happen every day.

The conclusion to be a good teacher doesn’t require certain experiences and education. And while those things certainly enhance the classroom in a variety of ways, but the one and only true method to make a great teacher is dedication. Dedication to the idea that we will get through and we will teach to the best of our ability always.

We talked awhile about my qualms with personal responsibility and her issues were just the same. She said, “things have drastically changed the last two or three years.” We giggled and talked about this incessant need to feel like you have to do cartwheels to keep them entertained and engaged. Later, I drove away.

I thought long and hard about what has changed? Why are things so different? Or is this just a phase of education because as with any professional field things are always changing. But with education it just seems so prevalent and consistent like the tides. It feels like you board the tide or you get left on the beach.

And we always have to ask ourselves are these changes good? For me what I feel like I have witnessed is the politics of it all controlling the change. But here I am young. I have hardly lived a life with out No Child Left Behind. If they are bad you spend time recovering. Is that where we are?

Then all I can think about is this post written by Writing on the Margins author (a friend and mentor to me) about consequences of politics in education and the very detrimental effect it can have in the classroom. At the time when I read it I was gobsmacked that it could have such a an impact, but I was freshly graduated with my BA with sun in my eyes. I thoughtfully tossed it aside only to have have it come back time and time again when I see it.

Two years later, I see it every where I turn. Read the media, it is everywhere. Teachers are the devil because they want due pay, respect for their jobs and oh my gosh, they have summers off which rarely mean summers off (so we are all clear about that). But what you often don’t see is teachers having multiple jobs (hello we are that family), teachers living at or below poverty level (again almost that family too and have been it previously), teachers with advanced degrees but not making the pay of their advanced degree holder counterparts in every other field (oh yea we are that family too).

Teachers have rarely gotten their due respect via financial respect or public respect in my 35 years but now more than ever the profession is being attacked and that scares the shit out of me to be frank. Why would I want to be a teacher in this world right now?

Truthfully, when I left Delta Faucet in 2002 I was making without a degree what I will make if I choose a high school classroom with a masters degree in hand. If I choose to not get my PhD and become an adjunct, I will have to kill myself and teach at multiple universities with no benefits to make that (which for me is why this option is hardly viable) and really who knows because as the post above says, colleges and universities are undergoing a political change right now and I have witnessed it first hand at my campus. So the clear answer is get a Phd, right? Is it?  Those in the academic field can attest to that path having a large cost as well. A cost financially, emotionally and a cost to my family I am kind of tired of making.

Therefore, my answers are hardly clear. But in one visit with my daughter’s piano teacher reminded me why I am a teacher. Because I am dedicated and will always be dedicated to my field, to my students and to myself and this dream I have.

Then and Now…

For my 365.163 & 365.164 for the last two days I am gonna pull one from the archive to compare to one I snapped yesterday.

How in the heck did this happen? Seriously? Not only does this make me feel old but…it makes me realize just how quickly time goes. This is my special mini me if you haven’t noticed? She has my hair and sadly my nose. Since I controlled the purse strings on this one I was able to whip out the curling iron on her locks. It didn’t go well but she survived. And how damn cute does she look?

 

MommyJargon’s Incredible News!

As I started this post, I had my 3 year old on my lap.

I told him, “I have to type now.  What should I write about?”

He was very helpful, “Horses.”  

“I don’t know anything about horses.”

“Not even how to ride a horse?”

“Nope.”

“Write about snowmen.”

“It is spring. No one wants to think about snow.”

“Me.  Write about me.”

“Should I write that you say adorable things and that you are totally cute?”

“Yep, that should cover it.  I will go play until you are done.”

So off he went to play while I began to think about what I wrote last week, the slug post, and what has happened in my days since.  And that is what I found that was so “Incredible”-I could think of nothing exciting at all!  I even began to beat myself up a little, remembering how I had taken a nap on Saturday afternoon instead of doing something productive.  

Then I had a change of heart.  Why was I being so hard on myself?  Why do I think that I need to be doing great and incredible works at all times?  MommyRhetoric and I were recently talking about people who “toot their own horn” so to speak.  MR and I decided we just weren’t these kinds of “tooters”.  In fact, we fall into a group that I am going to call “the hornless”.  We don’t even think we own horns to toot.  We can toot about our kids or others, but we shy away from ourselves.  Instead we find ways to beat ourselves up and lay on layer after layer of “Mommy Guilt”.   

Well I am going to jump out of my comfort zone and try to toot a little.  Here are a few of the things that I did do in the last week (and I have to say are not slug-ish at all):

  • I was in a 5k race on Saturday morning.  I wasn’t first and I wasn’t last, but it was for a great cause and heck, who cares if I needed a nap that afternoon!
  •  I made cinnamon french toast for supper Sunday night and that was delicious.  I have also been trying out some recipes from the One Pot Cookbook from Weight Watchers that I checked out from the library. (They were not as popular as my french toast, but that was no surprise!)  
  • I finished reading a book.  
  • I spent a lot time loving on my sweet babies who say adorable things and are too cute for words.
  • I did an “Incredible” amount of laundry.  
  • I worked on PTO things and volunteered at my kiddo’s school.
  • Most importantly, I have spent time with my family and friends this past week.

So I, MommyJargon, need a serious kick in the rear if I do not think that I have had an “Incredible” week since the slug post!

I am a Teacher: Just Write!

So the end of my fourth semester is nearing, yesterday was my last teaching day. The rest of this semester will be spent in portfolio conferences with my students. The end of the semester is always so bittersweet. You are always so ready to be done teaching, you know they learned what they needed to learn and the ones that didn’t usually know too. But you hate saying good bye.

Just the other day I was trying to picture my very first class and remember their names. I could envision their faces sitting there in that classroom and the nerves I had heaped up. I was so eager to change the world to make a difference and give them just an ounce of the love that my past instructors had given me. They each brought a unique experience to my classroom.

For four months our floor to ceiling windows covered usually in sunlight and brightness. That brightness I always took as confirmation I was in the right place at the right time. Even in the coldest temps of December we sat there basking in the sun watching snow fly.

But their names are diminishing. Their faces blurry. The memories are always there and the circumstances that brought us together fresh in my mind still. But the stuff I always thought I would remember fleeting. Not all that different than parenting.  I don’t remember each moment near as vividly as I once thought I would.

I remember the student who was incredibly good at ballet. I remember his papers so eloquent and really above par for the level in which he was in for my class. But he lacked something, a maturity and understanding of the real world. That was changed by the father of four girls who had done three tours in Iraq and one Afghanistan. His paper about his military life that turned into a class presentation made each of us uncomfortably moved to understand life in a different way. He changed my ballet dancer. Enough that I know the two of them remain the most unlikely friends.

Or the student who admitted she had PICA (disorder where you eat odd things that you aren’t supposed to eat) to another student and I watched as this amazing friendship built and her get help for this with that friend. I saw them just a few weeks ago walking together. We all smiled and waved. I tried to recall names and I just couldn’t. But I didn’t forget their faces or the memories of that sunny classroom that we shared.

And my 24 year old gruff and hard to get to know student who started my first class teaching ever in the most awkward and ridiculous way announcing that he was, “Morally opposed to writing and speaking in class and sharing it with myself or his peers”. I remember my jaw dropping in fear of how to handle such a request given the very nature of my class is writing and peer work. He challenged all the stereotypes and assumptions I brought into that classroom with me. His long hair, his body clearly smelling of smoke and maybe some pot. Totally covered in tattoos and piercings. His dress. I had to try and set that aside and face the very most human parts of myself that I bring into a classroom. I asked my class to do a two minute presentation on their narratives. He got up with a guitar and he sang with just his guitar. When he was done the class all realized we had just witnessed greatness and we didn’t want it to stop.

Two weeks later this same man stayed after class and was visibly not himself and he shared that he was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the brain. As in he will die. He said his doctor told him it was not likely he would live through the year. Seeing this man cry in front of me and tell me that it didn’t matter if he passed my class or not but that he wanted to stay changed me. He went from being what I likely would have labeled my pain in the ass student to probably my most favorite that semester. There was something freeing about his cancer that changed the way he wrote. He didn’t live through the whole year. Eventually his facebook grew quiet, but I remember the lesson he taught me. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

And there are so many more stories I can share from that class and people lives who touched mine that semester. Clearly, I let myself get too emotionally involved. But I cannot figure out how you cannot. One thing I have found that often as a writing instructor your students share some of their most “private” thoughts with you. With time and experience I have become better at not wanting to solve every little missed step and really just listening. I really think that is all they want.

Over the last 2 years I have taught 154 students freshman composition. I have loved every single moment even the hard ones. I have felt and watched my students changes along with myself. I am proud of the work we do together. Next fall, I am tackling a different kind of classroom. I am eager and ready for the change and the chance to do it. I am ever grateful for the student that walks in that first day and accepts me readily for what I can bring to the classroom and to their learning. But I am even more grateful that I have the opportunity to do this at all. I am a teacher.

Almost there…

365.162-This is what my last week has looked like. I have camped out at this computer every second I could researching for my presentation and paper and now writing my paper about it all. The papers everywhere are my research. I am still pounding away and ended up writing over 12 pages in 24 hours. When I started graduate school 12 pages took me two full weeks with one full day each weekend spent writing. Now I managed to do it in probably four hours if combined total and honestly it is better than what I would have written when this journey began. The good news is after this I can finally read the three books I have waiting for me on the kindle. Hello Hunger Games Trilogy. I cannot wait.