Sunday, August 14, 2016

To Teach or Not to Teach, That is The Question!

With each school year comes challenges that leave me questioning my purpose: "Are my students learning?" "Am I a good teacher?" "Is it time to move on in my own personal quests?" "Am I ready for the helicopter parents and the bull dozer parents?" "Can I keep up with this spiraling technology mandate and the constantly changing school board initiatives?" It can be a mentally and physically exhaustive job where the rewards are small. As the students move on, your only measure of success comes from tests created by a company that measures their own success by the number of your students' failures. (ie: If too many of your students actually understand the middle school grade level questions, it has nothing to do with your ability to teach, it means the test must have been too easy! So the company then changes it to be a test of endurance with 12 year olds either giving up or sitting there for four to five hours.) However, just when I decide that I can't take much more bureaucracy and "parentacracy ;-)," and decide it's time to go, God hears me and sends a little angel with a direct message.

I found this in my inbox today :-) ...

"Hi Mrs. Smith! You probably don't remember me but I was one of your students 3 years ago! Today I was working on my AP Lang summer assignment where we had to use and define rhetorical made me think of you because I already learned all of these in your class. I just wanted to let you know because it meant a lot to me to have a teacher who really cared if I understood the material. Also, R----- ------ was in that class...we are still friends and we always reminisce on how great your class was. Thank you, so much."

Message heard loud and clear: Teach!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Gas at a Premium

So I finally needed to feed my brand new baby. I had noticed I was low, but was not expecting the gas pump icon to pop up and stay there at a little less than 1/4 tank. My cool graphics were replaced with a consistent message first urging me to fill up, and then asking if I needed "her" to find me a gas station nearby -- over and over again. I would return to my cool satelite graphics screen and, two minutes later, it wanted to help me find "food."

I must admit, it felt a little like being nagged by your mom or a loved one who was annoyed that I didn't do something fast enough. I wanted to shout back, "Alright! I heard you, and no I don't need your help. I know where the gas stations are."

I pulled into the next station I saw, a small Sunoco that was cramped, packed and awkward to manuver around. One island was completely taped off with yellow caution police-like tape leaving everyone jockeying for position at the other four. a man in a mail truck gave me the evil eye because I beat him to a pump. Great, I thought, I will be in and out in no time or so I thought.

First I could not figure out how to open the little door to my gas tank. Then I got out and found myself standing in thick coarse gravel that covered the entire area. Next, an attendant came over and told me to wait a moment because he had just reset the pumps, or I could move over to the taped off pumps which had been just cleared for use, which I did.

I swiped my card and it was declined, then accepted, then declined, then accepted. The oh so helpful attendant got it working, but next the hose wouldn't readily go in, he played with it a little and got it in. (I guess she was still a virgin.) I then proceeded to select my fuel when, "AHH!!!" I realized $3.00 too late that he had started the pump already... with low grade gas in my premium only tank. We immediately stopped it and canceled the transaction. I swiped my card again to add to appropriate fuel,,, and it said declined.

At that point he added how he had had a crazy day. The gravel on the ground was covering a huge gas spill from someone who drove away with the pump still in their tank. I looked at my tires  now embedded with gas gravel and knew that I would be also tracking it inside on my shoes. So, when he offered to go inside and reset it for me, I said no thank you, I couldn't wait anymore, I had a meeting to get to, and I was sure I had enough in my tank to get me there.

As I peeled out of that horrid little station all the while praying it takes more than three dollars worth to start an engine knocking, I watched as my cool graphics disappeared only to be replaced with a message, "Your gas is low. Do you want me to find a station nearby?"

Friday, January 1, 2016

Jumper Cables and S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Happy New Year! Three simple words that we shout at the drop of a ball. We celebrate next by hugging, kissing, and toasting because in a mere 10 seconds the world has changed for the better and we will now have a new lease on life that will irradicate at the wrongs of the past year or years. Or, will it?

The reality is that New Year's Day is a time of reflection, and a time for renewal which is why we get excited when the ball drops. We each have our own demons plaquing us and have decided what we need to do to change and we cannot wait until December 31st when the last year will be wiped from our slate and we can begin again. because New Year's Eve, more specifically, the Countdown, is this big gigantic symbolic celebratory Jumper Cable that will kick start us on our journeys to self realization.

As for the resolution themselves, the biggest reason for consistent failure year in and year out is the lack of a plan. Thus, this year, I am being "smart" about it - literally. I am using the same system that we use at my job. I will be treating my 2016 resolutions as S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. They will be specific enough to guide me to my success, but broad and without unrealistic daily expectations. Maybe this time they will last past January... and by the way, returning to my writing is one of them, so I guess I am off to a good start.


1. This year, I resolve to be a more patient, compassionate and caring person who is thoughtful of others, my community, and the environment (by more volunteering, donating, recycling, and gardening.)

2. I resolve to take better care of my body in regards to what I put in it (by eating more non-gmo food and using more single ingredient products in my house and on my body.)

3. I resolve to enrich my mind by reading more, doing more crosswords, and engaging in more intellectual activities (which includes less mindless time wasting websurfing.)

4. I resolve to make time to love myself so that I can truly be a better selfless person. I will do so by making time for the things I used to love to do: traveling, photography, painting, reading, writing, going to the museum, working out, and getting spa treatments.

5. Lastly and most importantly, I resolve to be an even better wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend by continuing to bestow love upon my family.