From where I sit: Taking research a bit further…

20120802-141021.jpgI have been in public education for five years and I feel the constant need to analyze data almost daily. I know that sometimes data is a naughty word in education. However, I don’t always believe it to be so. I have worked in a few different fields. I started working at Dominos Pizza as a teenager and I worked with data there. At 16, I started as as a neighborhood knocker. We went to neighborhoods that had high order yields when we left coupons on their doors. We also analyzed orders and how often they came in and when they came in. That is using data and no one really poo poos that. It is good business.

I then worked for my dad in his business. He used data there to determine the amount of time it took me to clean an apartment or clean up a common area of an apartment complex. If we took too long he had to make changes or if we went too quick he had to check quality. Again, that was good business.

Then I worked at flower shop where I did all the accounts payable and receivable and that whole job was data. Who has paid their flower bills, who did not? When do most orders come in and from who? And what wire service do you use most? Or what credit card service do you use? Can we get certain things cheaper? I then carried a similar position with Delta Faucet eventually moving into customer service where I was responsible to handle point of purchase printed materials so I analyzed orders and shipments and usage there too. It is just good business.

The one thing that is different in my job now is that we are dealing in humans. We are placing data on humans which sometimes gives the false idea of manufacturing and this idea that we are manufacturing a learner and doer. And yes in a sense we are. But humans are so very complex that really that data is only a snap shot in time and in the next minute it can change. I see it daily and by the minute.

But what is important here is that I get my students who are almost considered adults to do something with the data they retrieve. A lot of my job is about teaching kids how to say the things they want to say. That may be in writing a research paper, a literary paper, a speech or a presentation. For so long that has meant finding statistics and and plopping them in a paper and citing it and then trying to explain it.

Well in my classes this semester I have taken it a step further. I chose to do this because you have too! Students can longer be prepared for college and/or jobs and just give someone an answer they found on google. That doesn’t work. They need to see rhetoric as more than a commercial or  putting words out into the universe. They need to understand why they are and how they are.

infographic

I have chosen to do that this year with infographics. I rolled it out with my student publications kids first because it is a smaller section of kids and I have a bit more freedom with the curriculum. The first part of our unit focused on what an infographic is and rhetorically analyzing so very many infographics. They loved the visual rhetoric and analyzing it. They truly became experts on the visual aspects of what appeals in an infographic, but in turn they also became experts at looking at the sources (or lack there of with some) from the creators of the infographics.

From there they had to do some sort of research on whatever they wanted. It had to be both primary and secondary research on their topic and then create an infographic containing their information. Essentially, they had to put words into action. Their critiques above assisted in creating amazing infographics. They were achieving something that they had no idea. They were not only analyzing data, but they finding their own data and doing their own primary research and thereby becoming the experts on their topics. The project was such a success that I know I want to carry it over into my other classes.

I know some people dog this generation of students with being lazy and I truly don’t believe that to be true. I think they are innovators and want to and can see more than the generations before them. For an analogy, they understand the research paper, but see it as 2 dimensional. They don’t just want that 2D version of research anymore. They want to see the 3D version.

Yes data is bad sometimes. I would never argue that when dealing with the real lives of students who bring all sorts of stuff to my classroom. But they also need to understand that data has a value. They just need to be shown that it is just a number. It is a point in time and represents that time and not them.

A different sort of year in review…

Every year in the blog I do some sort of year end wrap up. This year is different. This year my blog has served a very different purpose than it ever has. It hasn’t documented the every day hum drum of life. It documents some things and some things get left unsaid, but if I do this review right most of the important stuff will easily be remembered.

I saw this on pinterest and thought it was a really interesting take on the year in review and hoping it serves as a walk down memory lane for me.

14587398123_69b593e6a3_z10 Highlights-Accomplishments and Best Memories: 1) Watching my family’s faith, love and strength grow in immeasurable ways. This is not really the way you want it to happen, but I remember in those first days several people tried to tell me if there were some good to come from it all that would be it. I had no idea how it would bond us all. 2) The absolute elation when Dr. Banas here in Fort Wayne told us, “I can’t help you, but I can set you up with the best.” I was so worried our lives would be forever spent in protein shakes ashbday10and pain that I had to sit and witness on an hourly basis. 3) And that moment wasn’t that far from the phone call from Indy from my guy after seeing Dr. Cohen-Gadol he said, “They are getting me in in a week.” 4) Not to be out done by telling my guy 247+ times that they found two compression’s on his brain that were aggravating his trigeminal nerve. It was very groundhog’s day like, but wonderful each and every time. 5) Not every good moment centered around TN, Baby girl # 1 turned 13 and we got her good with a surprise party. 6) #2 was picked to help compose a musical piece for FAME something she saw her sister do and wanted to do since. 7) Getting accepted into the Ball State PhD program. 8) Starting a masters program in communications and rhetoric and learning so many new things that I thought I knew or should know but don’t. 9) #3 starting kindergarten and doing amazing despite concerns since she was our last. 10) The massive amounts of support we received this year from friends and family is hard to utter without losing my breath. We are blessed beyond comparison. 

10 Disappointments-Failures or Missed Opportunities: 1) The biggest by far is having to defer my PhD program indefinitely and I am not sure I will ever feel resolved over this, all I know is I cannot realistically be the student I can and need to be at this point with my guy’s TN. I hope one day it won’t be a regret or missed opportunity when my life looks very 41different. 2) Getting healthier in my life. There is always an excuse for why I need the caffeine I do. This year was my best excuse yet, but I know it is just that…an excuse. An excuse I need to quit making. TN isn’t going anywhere and neither is my busy life. I need to just derive my lack of energy from what I eat. 3) I miss my family a lot. I live two hours + away from them in almost every direction and sometimes it is so hard to pack us all up to leave and go see them. I want to and need to, but I don’t because it is hard. Refer to excuse above. But then when holidays come and I don’t have my mom’s cooking or my grandma’s hugs I feel sad and lonely. I learned a huge lesson this year in the importance of my family and I feel close to them all, but I need to see them more. I realized this weekend that my nieces and nephews are almost adults and how much I have missed on seeing them because it is hard to travel and I don’t like it. 4) Softball season. The second it is over I am sad. The minute it is here I complain about the money, travel and time. I need to get over it because I love the chaos and crazy and family time we get traveling. 5) How much time I spend beating myself up for not looking pretty enough, for not being perfect enough, for not cooking enough, for not being a good enough friend, daughter, mom, wife and the list goes on. I seriously look at social media sometimes and feel so inadequate and I am not sure bf1why. I know my priorities but I still let it kick me in my side every time. 6) The opportunity to spend more time with my guy. I made a promise in the darkest days that our relationship would forever be changed and I would always know just how fragile life is and our relationship. And for the most part I do, but man is it easy to go back into being upset because the toilet seat is up and he stinks at matching socks. 7) Another year has passed and on my priority list I am about at the bottom. This reflects in my health and diet more1d84c-6a019aff3f67ab970c019affb5be14970b-pi than anything. 8) To continue to try and make our lives as normal as possible and realize TN is just another component to this crazy life, it is NOT something I can control. 9) A better garden. I love to garden, but since I have had kids I just let it fall by the wayside. When I have energy (which is seldom) I usually opt for something else beside the garden. It is an awesome family activity and something that my guy and I both love, so why would we not do it? 10) Probably the most important of all of these is to be more forgiving of myself for all the above. You know that saying, “You are your own worst critic” ? Yup that is me. I know my time is limited, as is my energy and I am only one person. I also understand that that can be an excuse, but most of the time it is truth. It is my truth. 

3 Game Changers-Three things that shifted your priorities. 1) The most obvious is my guy’s TN diagnosis. It was piano11devastating, life altering, priority shifting and heart breaking all in one and we went through it twice. 2) Seeing my guy in ICU. I will never ever forget that fragile state and what it did to me. It changed me to the very core. I imagine myself as a quilt being sewn and there is a wrinkle that you find in it after you have sewn it all. That wrinkle is not something you can get out and you just have to find a way to live with it. I feel angry, sad, happy and changed for seeing it. 3) This is a strange one to put into words. But my guy takes care of me. It isn’t in anyway where he takes my independence away from me, but he truly makes my life easier in a whole lot of ways. We have been together for a ridiculously long time and all of that time being taken care of I had to finally stand on my own two feet alone this year. I stood alone in ways I never even dreamed were possible. It was so super scary, but in the end it was so good to see I could. There is an independence within me that I never knew I had.  

3 Things I focused on 1) It is no secret, I am so passionate about what I do for a living. It will always remain one of my steadfast dedications of time. It is mine. I didn’t get it because I know someone. I worked hard for it and I work hard to maintain it. 2) Part of that job was something new I began to focus on. I have always loved theater. That love didn’t change
once I grew up. My love is different than the usual loves of theater though. I love the back stage, the lights the sounds and the chaos. I got to stage manage and light/sound/tech for our school play. I am doing the same for the musical this spring and I am in love all over again. I realized I will always be the silent theater type and I am completely okay with that.
3) My family. We had to really just rely on each other so much because no one can really understand what it is like to watch someone go IMG_0172through what my guy has gone through. I am so grateful for the focus on all three of them. They are amazing little people who are growing up to be amazing big people. 

3 Things You Forgot About1) How much I love to cook. I often cook to relieve stress and get a break. I need to do that more and make more time for it. I have never walked away from cooking being disappointed. 2) More time on me. I need to make time to take care of myself and my needs. It is so hard, but I have too. 3) Photography – I need to remember to take pictures more with more than my cell phone. I love photography, but doing it so much for school I often don’t feel it at home and I need to capture those moments more. They are vital to my existence. 

Reflections for Next YearI need more family time, more time for myself and more focus on the inward and less on the outward. I have an amazing job I love doing what I love doing. I need to focus more on the things that I love to do with my family and for my family. In that I will get more time with my extended family and my immediate family. As we head into TN this January I hope to deal with it with more grace and love than I did last year. I will also be more forgiving of myself if I am not and recognize that the person I love more than anything in this world is hurting and therefore I hurt. I need to be grateful for every single second of my life because I know you aren’t promised anything in life. I need to always remember that love always wins, you just have to let it. 

Me and a PhD

I don’t think I will ever adjust to this idea of myself being an academic. I mean I live, work and breath as an academic. But I feel like I will always struggle as to how my voice is valid and holds any agency. I hear other academics talk and I feel like they have the “it” I do not have. And clearly as I stare down the barrel of beginning my PhD program I gotta get over this and myself.

But it is hard. It is time I suppose to put my money where my mouth is. PhD or bust. I asked a good friend who’s sister just got an PhD in Science how long it took her. She responds, “6 years” and then adds, “But that was going full time.” And then I think crap. Crap. Crappity. Crap. And I wonder what it was that I was actually thinking.

I have to do this while working full time. So I guess if I am committed for 6 years or more than that is it. I get that baby when I am fifty so be it. I have said time and time again that I want to be a voice that isn’t being heard. I want to tell a new narrative and fill a void in my field. But then I still feel like that small town girl who got told she wouldn’t do much because she wasn’t “smart” like the other girls and boys. The one who they had to work a weird academic program out to get me to pass math.

Most of the time it is those idiots that said I would never that fuel my fire, but then we are talking PhD which is a whole other playing field. In fact, it isn’t even on the playing field. It is the suite up above the fancy seats in the stadium and I am struggling to put myself there. Yes, I know debaa112443daf283bf36741a2c30c77I can work my way there and I know I will. But I see and know many who have worked on or are working on their PhD’s and I pray and hope I have what it takes.

And eventually I talk myself into it and realize it is mind over matter and take it each a step at a time and it clicks. Then I get a three way email or phone call from some important peeps at my new university and they say all the smart things. And I don’t feel at all confident or even smart. And I suppose I am supposed to feel that way because at the beginning of my MA I felt like that. I felt Topsy Turvy and like someone pulled a rug out from me and I do now too.

And then they say things like, “We can’t wait to work with you” and “eager to see what you are going to do” and I feel the pressure. I feel an identity crisis of sorts. Like they called the wrong number or the switched my papers with others. Or I convince myself that they say that to everyone because God they could not be saying it to me.

So yea I have a meeting Thursday on campus. A meeting that I am pukey thinking about it. I am so nervous that I am dragging my whole crew with me so they can all wait patiently in the hallway. And I am just kidding on that (well maybe), but I want them there and I want to know they are there to support me and my whole guiding principle on this. Away we go to Muncie on Thursday.

Can I tell you sweet blog that last time I felt out of my element in this type of setting? It has been awhile. I don’t say that to brag. But I am passionate for this field and my purpose in it. Therefore I wear my confidence sometimes, not necessarily as a sign of being conceited, but as a sign of hard work and study.

A month or so ago, I was at a party and having a great conversation with someone who I consider very important to my academic self. I see much of myself in her and her path. She knows I look up to her and respect her. I was lamenting on how I felt about leaving my Alma Mater and how sad it was making me. And I am. I have been there for 12 years studying. I worked there and honestly at times felt like I lived there.

She looks up and says, “Yea, but it is time. You need that challenge.” And I suppose the way I feel is what she meant. I need to feel challenged and tested. I need to become more firm in my passion, research and career. I need to develop my academic identity. Sometimes familiarity doesn’t let you out of that. It is comfortable. And I know she is right.

Now if someone could tell me how I will manage with 40+ hours in my job, 3 kiddos and many other responsibilities that I cannot even list because how do you? However, I so remember during my MA feeling like working full time and doing it that it was impossible, but I survived. I didn’t just survive. I thrived. They were some of my best grades yet.

Someone once told me I cannot do it all. And while I agree to extent. I would argue in that in this case I can and I will.  It is onward for me and a Phd.

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So much greatness and a little bit of a geek.

Yup that is me. There are some consistencies in my life. They always will be, too. As I have had the worst year of my life I know there are a few things I can count on. That is books. My writing. And my love of teaching and sharing that. And I love that I have shared all of that with my beautiful daughters.

This year my teaching schedule has changed. It was pretty similar the last two years. I was a freshman teacher. I think teacher speak is that I have five preps. I have had five the last two years too. But last years was so similar to the first that it was pretty easy. This year I start a whole new round of classes. I am so eager to teach them, too.

What is interesting is that most of my traditional English classes are centered around American Literature. One thing I have a love hate 5c82edcdc042c2a9347b4e46340a169erelationship with. Anyone that knows me knows that I prefer 18-19th century British Lit. Both of my degrees had a whole lot of it as well as a BA concentration. I don’t know why I just always found myself drawn to that time and place. And I like American literature and I feel very confident teaching it. I just find it funny how life throws you that. Honestly, the spot I am going into next year is where I can see myself for good. So I imagine I will fall in love with it, too. Because honestly, I love any literature.

So how about this for classics? I will be teaching The Crucible, Sherman Alexis (I feel like I may swap out him though for Erdrich), I am supposed to have a full Edgar Allan Poe unit on The Raven, but we have taught that heavily in our freshman courses that I think I will use Hawthorne and others to teach dark romanticism and transcendentalism. Then we move to Huck Finn and Black Like Me. WOW! And it keeps getting better to A Street Car followed up by Gatsby. And the final book study of Fahrenheit 451 and the study of my favorite thing….SATIRE. We end of amazing life changing speeches to them giving them their own. And those are full length. I have several excerpts from other great lit pieces. The Harlem Renaissance (which is probably one of fav american lit movements to teach) and Willa Cather are also in there heavily.

Honestly, those are the some of the great of American Lit. And honestly I shared just the larger book works. It will be a great year for those classes. The rest of my classes are dual credit courses and one college prep course. I am so stoked for this years classes. I will miss my beloved Creative Writing and reading classes. But I am ready. It is time for a change and time for me to teach what I know. And maybe somethings I don’t. I like the challenge of teaching things I understand, but I am unfamiliar with. Unfamiliarity in the sense that I value it, I have read it, but it is just not my favorite.

Now I have question for all of you. I have thought about selling some of my plans on TeachersPayTeachers….thoughts? Good idea or bad idea. I will admit sharing my things with people I don’t know feels a little emotional to me. I like to know they are good hands like they are my babies. Will that feel better when I have dollars for it? Ha ha?

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Quote credit to Tennessee Williams and it touched me. That has a lot to do with why I teach. I wanted some pretty book cover for this post, but after I saw that…I thought, “Yes!”

Should I stay or should I go?

It has been made evident multiple times that I am found out. Outted here. My identity revealed. That I have discussed here before. But I must admit the more I think of my students meandering around my MR blog, the more I feel encroached upon. This is my space. I reprimand them and tell them I am not all that exciting. I do like that they get to see I am real live human, with a life, a family and cares. But I hate the idea of the easy access to me. To my family.

imagesI am a blogger. I have been for awhile. So I wondered if I shouldn’t maybe start a new blog? Do I lose my mommy rhetoric identity and create a new one? The identity that I finally feel at home in and love. Mommy Rhetoric is me and I am her. And I know that really my life is NOT that exciting that they would read and be so riveted they stay.

So alas, the break. I have taken approximately the last three weeks off (almost a month) to think. Decide. Wonder. I am not sure that decision is made. I don’t want to give up this space. But I don’t want this space to become the place students come to investigate Mrs. E. But I have made peace with the public forum of which I write. I did that a long time ago. So I guess maybe these are growing pains of a new sort.

Teaching kids is way different than teaching to adults. My identity is tied to perception. I love my job, I love our program and I worry at times that I represent something much bigger than myself in this forum. So I need to move forward methodically with great thought placed on that movement. Does this make sense?

As well, Mommy Jargon and I are wanting to do a blog together. I mean truly together. Not guest posts. One where she is herself and I am me. This is something I have always been highly interested in. But will that space be too much with this, my job and school. And school is just about over. I will be the proud new owner of my MA in English from IU this summer. I KNOW that my life will look significantly different come this summer. But that is hard for me to even contemplate considering I have not ever stopped schooling since August of 2002.

So this is where I am at. You all will be the first to know. I will blog…not sure when and how. But I will blog. For now, I am keeping this space and trying to see myself in it!

It was a bad day.

If you are my facebook friend pass on by. You likely already read this. But I am reposting for two reasons. 1) I didn’t post it here first and it accidentally became a MR post on Facebook and 2) Because I am grading finals like a mad woman. Early college high school teachers have to cram grade….WHAT WHAT? Actually, it will feel good to have it done before the holidays and so when I go back for our teacher day I can work on next semesters classes. Creative Writing, Composition and Success Strategies (part of our FYE).

I apologize for the incredibly long post, but I shut my blog down for a few days. Yesterday was rough for multiple reasons. I sat down to write a status and this is what came. I apologize for it’s length, but I feel better having said it.

Today was a bad day. One of those days that pushes you as a teacher that makes you question why you would put yourself out there in such a vulnerable way. No other career I have had have I literally felt like my heart was on my sleeve for everyone to pick apart as they choose. Most days I shoulder the burden quite well. But yesterday wasn’t one of those days. I found myself questioning my own decision and purpose in this field. And those who are teachers understand exactly what I mean when I say that.

Then during lunch I hear of the horrible tragedy and I just know it is going to be a too much kind of day. At school I can shelter myself and keep busy. But at home I know what awaits me there. Three girls who want to know why. So I came home and waited to see if they knew and thankfully they didn’t. They were full of giggles and bickering. “Momma, can we please watch the Muppet movie?” Without hesitation I squeak out yes. Buried in a movie versus every news channel running the same feed over and over. A feed I had yet to succumb to.

They are all settled and I do what I do. I turn it on. I take it in the small little five minute segments because I just can’t handle it. It is too easy. I flash to my classroom and my kids. I am touched by the vulnerability of the day I had coupled with the sadness for my unknown fellow teachers.

The bond of education is not all that different than the miscarriage club, mommy club or divorce club. Fill in whatever club you want. We all got a ticket to one or two and we know the kinship that exists there.  But teachers do this thing every day that has us bonding with your children. Spending more time with your children than sometimes we do our own. We often stand in war together against a society of politicians who want to accuse us of not doing enough or not doing it right. We collaborate about ways to help your children learn or be the best student they can be often in a climate that tells us that is just not enough. We have the funniest stories of little Johnies or “Oops I said this.” The feeling I get when your child gets it is not all that different than my own children get it.

Every occupation is rough. Every occupation has it challenges. But what is wrong in a world where a teacher is gunned down in her classroom. A principal and a leader in the school gunned down for no reason. Or in a world where teachers are so fearful for their lives and livelihood?

And we have to question why? I never question what I would do. In fact, this tragedy made me think even harder about how to do what I would do better. I would stand in front of your child and plead for their life. I would comfort your child and try and convince them they would be okay. I kind of do that already every day. But I do ask why?

Is it all for naught? Can I provide more to my field as a researcher, a voice or activist than I can as a teacher? It takes a crazy man shooting up a school for us to realize a teachers value? And even then we question, “Did they let him in?” And what does a glass window and a penetrable door do to stop someone with clear cut intentions to kill? Regardless of who is on the other side of that door? It does absolutely nothing.

I love teaching. I love the rewards of teaching. I don’t love the vulnerability I feel. The ability of knowing how easily it can happen or how easily I am at the mercy of others who it often seems like words count more than my own even though I am the one doing it. Living it. Seeing it. When I say I struggle being vulnerable I mean more than at risk of a masked gunman. I mean what I do is very public and very in the moment. I make 1000 decisions a day I question and reflect on better ways I could have done it.

There are no magical answers here folks. The answer is that we take responsibility for our actions. We teach our kids to take responsibility for theirs. Stand up and realize that education is across the board done by all of us. Not just teachers. We can’t stop what happened yesterday. But we can prevent what will happen tomorrow through education.

“Heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.” ― Jodi Picoult, Second Glance

Yesterday was a bad day.

One of those days that pushes you as a teacher that makes you question why you would put yourself out there in such a vulnerable way. No other career I have had have I literally felt like my heart was on my sleeve for everyone to pick apart as they choose. Most days I shoulder the burden quite well. But yesterday wasn’t one of those days. I found myself questioning my own decision and purpose in this field. Can I contribute to it when I am literally dealing with the other bullshit of the day? And those who are teachers understand exactly what I mean when I say that.

Then during lunch I hear of the horrible tragedy and I just know it is going to be a too much kind of day. At school I can shelter myself and keep busy. But at home I know what awaits me there. Three girls who want to know why. So I came home and waited to see if they knew and thankfully they didn’t. They were full of giggles and bickering. “Momma, can we please watch the Muppet movie?” Without hesitation I squeak out yes. Buried in a movie versus every news channel running the same feed over and over. A feed I had yet to succumb to.

They are all settled and I do what I do. I turn it on. I take it in the small little five minute segments because I just can’t handle it. It is too easy. I flash to my classroom and my kids. I am touched by the vulnerability of the day I had coupled with the sadness for my unknown fellow teachers.

The bond of education is not all that different than the miscarriage club, mommy club or divorce club. Fill in whatever club you want. We all got a ticket to one or two and we know the kinship that exists there.  But teachers do this thing every day that has us bonding with your children. Spending more time with your children than sometimes we do our own. We often stand in war together against a society of politicians who want to accuse us of not doing enough or not doing it right. We collaborate about ways to help your children learn or be the best student they can be often in a climate that tells us that is just not enough. We have the funniest stories of little Johnies or “Oops I said this.” The feeling I get when your child gets it is not all that different than my own children get it.

Every occupation is rough. Every occupation has it challenges. But what is wrong in a world where a teacher is gunned down in her classroom. A principal and a leader in the school gun down for no reason. Or in a world where teachers are so fearful for their lives and livelihood?

And we have to question why? I never question what I would do. In fact, this tragedy made me think even harder about how to do what I would do better. I would stand in front of your child and plead for their life. I would comfort your child and try and convince them they would be okay. I kind of do that already every day. But I do ask why?

Is it all for naught? Can I provide more to my field as a researcher, a voice or activist than I can as a teacher? It takes a crazy man shooting up a school for us to realize a teachers value? And even then we question, “Did they let him in?” And what does a glass window and a penetrable door do to stop someone with clear cut intentions to kill? Regardless of who is on the other side of that door? It does absolutely nothing.

I love teaching. I love the rewards of teaching. I don’t love the vulnerability I feel. The ability of knowing how easily it can happen or how easily I am at the mercy of others who it often seems like words count more than my own even though I am the one doing it. Living it. Seeing it. When I say I struggle being vulnerable I mean more than at risk of a masked gunman. I mean what I do is very public and very in the moment. I make 1000 decisions a day I question and reflect on better ways I could have done it.

There are no magical answers here folk. The answer is that we take responsibility for our actions. We teach our kids to take responsibility for theirs. Stand up and realize that education is across the board done by all of us. Not just teachers. We can’t stop what happened yesterday. But we can prevent what will happen tomorrow through education.

“Heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.”
― Jodi PicoultSecond Glance

 

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.

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