Something to think about…

Well my mother in law (a retired teacher) shared this article with me and of course it irritated me a little. Okay, well a lot.

Neal’s idea that our state still wants to radical reforms and that teachers are so far off their mark in what they believe they should be evaluated on. Especially Neal’s claim that teachers are too blame for this all, “Bennett’s defeat can be blamed on two forces. One is the strong word-of-mouth network that teachers operate in this state. That network was solidly behind putting a colleague in the superintendent’s seat. The other was a faction within what should have been Bennett’s conservative base. These are folks opposed to Common Core, the new curriculum and testing initiative coming to Indiana thanks to Bennett’s and Gov. Daniels’ somewhat surprising support for nationalized standards.” Really that was all? And some how she makes it sound like a bad thing that teachers wanted a teacher as superintendent.

How many times even before I was a teacher did I wish, hope and pray that the leaders in my own school board, district and higher ups making decisions spent large amounts of time in the classroom and really understood how it worked in the classroom. In my own opinion that might just be one of the biggest problems in education. There are too many non-educators/parents of school children in their respective schools making the decisions.

But I didn’t come here to really diss Neal. I think she has an agenda which I discovered after just a little ol’ google. But what I did find interesting is the comments on the article above that highlighted Finland’s education system. This is not the first time I had heard of it being stellar either. And what was presented once I decided to dig in was pretty hard to argue with.

There were specifically two parts that stuck out to me and that is the respect that being a teacher gets you. Their status is right there with doctors and lawyers and the lack of emphasis on testing. In fact, only one state mandated test at all in their education at the age of 16. I certainly do not believe that there is one magical answer. But what I do know is that there is a better answer.

Someone said to me, “I hope the field is worthy of you.” And when I heard it, it struck me. I stopped for a second and thought about it even longer. I tried to figure out what it meant because it seemed to suggest maybe another profession was suitable (and yes I know it was a compliment) but the comment was more based on the climate of education. Choosing to be in education is choosing to be placed firmly in the cross hairs of a educational society that in this moment seems in a larger scale broken.

But I do work in large scale. I work in my classroom with my students on a small scale and it works.I can’t tell you all the fancy data that says it works but I feel it in my bones which I know is not a resounding “this number says you are success and a great teacher.” But for me, it is my measure. At times, I feel hardly worthy of the profession because of the rewards I get and being able to do what I love to do. But I have said all of that before. I won’t bore you with it.

So Ms. Neal…I truly believe that you believe what you write. But I also truly believe you are mistaken. I also believe that you have an agenda and that agenda is to support the radical educational reforms that our state politicians want to write their name on because if it goes, it will go big. Even if it goes just a little it will warrant them larger paychecks with big educational firms that have nothing to do with education. So yea…I am gonna hit ignore and keep doing what I am doing.

Not a whole lot to say tonight.

But heck ya, I am done with one rough draft of one of my papers. I am quite proud of it. Once I put all my “drama” aside (keep in mind my drama was a self created diversion) it was amazing what happened. I sat down and wrote about 8 pages since 7:15.

I have no idea why I fight it so hard other than putting the extra pressure on myself. I am struggling a little bit with the direction because I am not sure it is as focused as it needs to be but I am quite proud of it.

The quick and dirty version of it is I am writing how important it is in teaching in an early college program to have relationships that support the academic environment and the student. And no I am not arguing that it is not happening other places. I just merely am arguing that college curriculum when you are a 9th grader is hard! That the relationship a student has with a teacher has to exist and support that student and my 2nd argument is that it HAS TO BE relevant.

This can and does happen at all levels and I guess I am arguing for some magic potion that may or may not exist. It is so new…who knows but I am excited to be a part of it. And even more excited that I have that rough draft out of the way. So I can work on the next.

Just Write: We are here again.

Well dear sweet blog we are here again. I am sitting here overwhelmed by life and my choosing to work full time and go to graduate school. Maybe it is the lengthy papers I have looming in my head that just need the fingers and energy to transform themselves onto the screen. I plug away while I can. but there is just not enough time in the day.

Oh wahhhh wahhhh wahhhh. I am not a whiner but apparently that is what I am doing well today. I woke up with a migraine and the wahhhh started. I now remember how not fun it is to come back to work after a break. Today I matched the kids whine for whine. “I don’t want to be here.” “I know, me either.” “I wish I was home in bed.” “I know me too.”

Say what? Yup I don’t paint the pretty halls of education in dishonesty. We teachers sometimes struggle too. I love my job and love my students. But getting up and going back to it isn’t always fun!

So yea, those papers, they don’t write themselves. I have all the work done for them and even have a few pages into both. But I need some inspiration besides the fire underneath my but with their looming deadlines. And I know the longer I wait the more the quality of my writing drops. But when my other options from writing are being with my girls, sleep and migraine meds to alleviate the headache. The decision is tough.

And yes really what do I have to complain about? I have a tremendous opportunity in graduate school to both attend to be a active member of the community. But wahhh!
So again I find myself making my blog “purdy” and making cookies.

Which is so ironic because just today I gave the lecture to my students about buckling down and doing the work because it needed done and that there is only one way to point A. In my head I am pointing a finger at me. Buckle down and do it Mrs. E.

Oh and I got up at the lovely ol time of 5:30 to work on these papers. So this butt, my butt is tired. So tired I spent the last twenty minutes wahh’ing to you so I didn’t have to sit down and write these papers or at least hunk them out!

Here I sit again…end of the semester. A mountain I must climb. It feels pretty insurmountable. I am not sure what is on  the other side or if I will even make it. I will let you know.

I am gonna tell their story.

I have done primary research in two different ways. The first way was in my classroom and applying pedagogical theories and my own philosophies on teaching writing and reading. And then last year there was the family history project where I researched a part of my family heritage that had not been told. That was exciting because it was like solving a puzzle. But the value was a little academic (get me the grade I desire in this class and teach me the research techniques I need to know how to do as an academic). Then this semester I am doing a whole other sort of primary research.

I took this picture to the right and this little two paragraph summary of something titled “Women Writers’ Club” that appeared as a blurb in a few magazines of social note. But it was not really much more than that. That was my starting piece. From there I had to prove that they did exist, who they were, when they met, and the kind of women that participated in this club. And what happened next was amazing. The research took me in whole and had a value so far outside of anything I had ever done.

I combed through archived newspapers, magazines and diaries. I tied the women, their writing and their created community based on their occupation all together. I could prove that they met, when they met, what they did when they met and how the world responded to that. The one thing that I cannot prove is how it made them them feel and what they talked about. Sure there were the news released that say, “On this day there was a meeting of the Women Writers’ Club and they wore this…and the subject of the day was this…”

However, I can tell that their meetings caused a kerfuffle and that many women used the club and by extension their annual dinner (their fundraiser from what I gather) to assert their rights as women. I had no idea that is where the research would take me. Sure I knew that by researching Victorian women writers I would expose some resistance to the norm. But what I found was what I consider a gold mine.

An example an article written by Honnor Morten in The Sketch titled, “Where Man is Never Missed” where she spent the bulk of the article talking about how man is not missed at these club functions. That same Hannah Morten wrote one the first Nurses Dictionary and the Midwives Pocketbook. This woman was amazing and stellar for women’s rights.

She insisted on making social change with her life. Her life too big to research and I just scratched the surface. But simple search of her name in archival newspapers turns up article after article of meetings, push backs on the male gender for oppressing women.

But the other women they too continued to go and support their cause. A simple cause of a group of women gathering together to write, for the purposes of collaboration, friendship and kindred spirits. The meetings were of a very serious nature and meant to spur conversation and reform. Many of the European suffragettes found themselves actively involved and pushing for those similar changes.

They even forced that no man be a waiter because they were convinced that a male writer or journalist would try and be a waiter and eavesdrop of their intelligent conversations because when the news did write about them they wrote that they were “GASP” eating alone in the company of other women without a man present. And to boot….SMOKING with headlines like, “And smoke could be seen throughout the room.”

What I believed would be research that showed that women who were writers and wanted female companionship gathered around the fire and instead of knitting they wrote was instead an elite feminist group of women that forced social change in their 16 (maybe 14 year span) with their membership at one time over 220 female journalists or writers. If that is not freaking amazing in this academic world I don’t know what is.

And even better my research has value to others besides myself. There really is no sentiment other than the sentiment I have in creating and telling their story. But all I did is let their stories come out and put the pieces together.

And their story also reaffirms my faith that women are powerful. So are men. But wow what we can accomplish when we place our differences at the door and let go of what we “think” matters we can finally get to the heart of what is important. And during this time it was finding their voice and creating their space to do it in. And I am part of that discovery. Wow, just wow!

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
Winston Churchill

Today I woke up and felt it.

Felt what you may ask. Well it. The looming of something big. I feel scared, maybe even a little hopeless. I keep telling myself the looming icky feeling I feel is tucked in bed with my massive amounts of writing that has taken place and will take place. By the end I will have written 40 plus pages. And while that seems overwhelming when you say it out loud….FORTY! It will happen and I will finally say good bye to this semester. One I cannot leave soon enough. A mom of three, a wife of one, a teacher of 120 and a graduate student taking 2 graduate level seminars.

I feel like I have failed miserably. And maybe I have. I know my expectations of myself are way lower than I ever would have considered. But something had to give. When I feel like it is too much and I could collapse under the pressure there are always those few out there that like to remind me that someone has it worse. “She teaches college too” or “At least you aren’t dealing with this.” And maybe they are well meaning.

But right now I am not afraid to admit that my plate is beyond full and spilling over the edges. I have bitten off considerably more than I can chew. Would I change it though? No. Would I do things differently? No. I spent this last year making huge commitments to my professional self all of which I have accomplished. The finishing of graduate school is the icing on the cake. The goal to do it as successfully as I can muster.

It hurts though because the people that know me and even teach me have seen me always give 110% and now they see me at 85%. I worry that they will see me different or hold that drippy overfull plate against me. I still love this time more than anything, but I am ready to make changes in the world of which I have chosen to walk through professionally. It is time. It has been time.

So I guess that parts I have felt are the grieving of leaving that academic community. The very community that helped me identify my professional goals and self. As I leave I struggle feeling like I have something valuable to say. I know I do and I have have longed for years to add my voice to the unheard. I have a tremendous opportunity to do just that! But I gotta make it past that finish line.

Therefore, I look in the mirror and I muscle through. I sleep little, I research a lot and I just chug through giving my 85% and hope and pray it is enough. I don’t have to be first or speak the loudest. I don’t need 100 publications or even accolades. I worked hard, not just hard….very hard and those that need to know it do.

I just wish I could let go of that feeling of it never being enough and wondering why people don’t take me more seriously. I say something and I often hear, “Yea, but…” And I guess that is okay. But I don’t want to be silenced anymore. My yea but is that I did this crazy, frantic schedule and life for the last 11 years. I never wavered and always continued to add more and to do it the best of my ability. That deserves a nod. Not a yeah but.

However, I don’t need validation from others to say that. I just need to learn to give myself validation to be okay with what I have to offer and know that it is enough. I worked so hard to get here and now that I am here I gotta quit looking around the finish line to see who is there. I am well aware of where I finished and it is exactly where I wanted to be.

Warning: Do not black friday shop!

And I am joking. We got up just early enough but not so early that we puked our guts up all over Kohl’s like some people! MommyJargon and I decided to brave the supposed madness and cash in some deals. Both of us hurriedly text last night worried that maybe the lack of a plan meant that the more experienced ones would eat us whole! It just did not happen.

We went to: Kohls, JCPenny’s, Macy’s, All over the beloved mall, and then Carters, shoe carnival and we ate at the mall and were treated a bit like royalty despite eating at a rinky dink fast food place. A place that told us over 100 times (okay exaggerating a little) “our pleasure” to serve you. Wow, just wow!

I have done black Friday exactly one time. It was before kids and with my grandma. It was so fun! I have been scared since until MJ suggested “maybe?” And I agreed. We had so much fun and got some really good deals. Nothing we had to trample anyone for despite being prepared to do just that.

And this….

Really did happen! Despite her hope that it did not post to my facebook account because my phone is an utter piece of crapola! So instead, I am sharing with my blog readers. Besides I am venturing to guess more readers here then there anyway! So Kpuff….what exactly are you doing on that giraffe? We won’t tell anyone I said, “Here, go ride him, so I can take a picture!” And you listened! I even held your loot!

So my advice for all of you maybe black friday shoppers. Don’t do it. Because next year we will take this beast much more seriously and I will knock you down!

There was turkey.

And there was stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and dinner rolls. There was some sort of cranberry something (I stay outta that stuff, it jiggles and is weird with can lines) and pumpkin and chocolate pie. And heaps and mounds of gravy. But that wasn’t the best part of this day. It was…..

This

And this…

Oh and her (#2)…

And her (#1)…

And her (3#) losing her steam fast here tonight without a nap. She is taking a stroll to her favorite song “I love you like a love song” and struggling to keep her eyes open

But she did manage to keep up and provide this memory…

But not many moments were better than this one. It was the reason we did all our hair the same (myself included) and I made each girl wear “their” finest

And if you are wondering where my guy is…that is his arm. The rest of him is covered in a big ugly shadow or I cut him out cause he is so not fun when he cooks turkey and I offer an opinion so I decided to teach him a lesson. Either way…we kissed and made up.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

A strong independent woman.

Yea yea, I am thankful for all the usual things. And they are all great. But it is the things we don’t talk about that I am thankful for most right now.

I am thankful that I am a woman. Not just a woman. A strong woman. A strong and independent women. I am thankful for the strong and independent women in my life past, present and future. I am thankful I get to raise strong and independent women. I am thankful I get to stand in my classroom and show my students what that even looks like. Some of them have never even heard of the word let alone see it.

I am grateful that I am over the stage where I apologize for being that woman. I am confident in every decision I make and mostly because I make it with my priorities in tip top shape. To quote a friend, “I am thankful I found my voice.” When she said it I thought, “YES!” I stopped listening to my inner critic and society and the need to shut that woman up and tame her down. I let her speak and say what needs to be said.

I am grateful that when I look in the mirror I am proud of what I see and I know when I go to bed at night I will be proud of what I accomplished. And wake up and do it all again! It may be a little or it maybe a lot. But I did it as a woman. I didn’t dumb down my brain, or giggle it away. Or lower my expectations of others or myself to achieve it.  I didn’t curb it to help soothe any egos.

I did and have always done it on my terms. No one said this is who you need to be or told me I needed to ask. No one demanded that I be who they wanted me to be No wait,  they did. And I either told them no or I realized no one who loves you demands you be who they want you to be. They know who you are and love you anyway.

And how could I forget to be grateful to all those that threatened my discovery of this amazing woman I have become? Yea I know you exist and you are out there. I know even more that you are bothered that I began to speak for myself and be this me. To all of you…. Read between these lines _I_!

I am who I am and I speak up for what I believe in. I do things that change the world and sometimes I elect to just stay in my world. No matter what I do. No one tells me what to do unless I made that decision to give them that power. I am a strong and independent woman and damn proud of it.

And all I can say to that and to my former self is….You have come a long way baby! Be proud. Be grateful and carry on!