columella: (columella)
I really needed today.  Lately I have questioned if I wanted to continue teaching - especially high school.  The frustrations can be overwhelming at times.  When I started teaching (15 years ago) I LOVED my job.  I was excited to go to work every day.  But lately I have felt like I have been worn down like a rock in a river.  It sounds whiny, but I have felt unappreciated.  By students, by parents, by the administration and by the other teachers.  And it is a bit whiny, some of it is very true, some of it is build up of frustration.  I have felt my passion slipping away.  I have put less effort in to my teaching because of it and I believe it shows.

Which is why today is so important.

Today I got to spend time with some former students who reminded me why I do what I do.  Who are self confident.  Who have achieved (or are working on) their goals.  Who have stuck to them even when things haven't gone the way they would have liked.

Any who insist I am the one that inspired them.

Now, I know it is not all me.  They are the ones who have put in the work and are making their lives successful.  I don't take credit for that.  Yet, if I have been able to be some small part, a cog in the machine that has brought them to where they are, then what I am doing is truly worthwhile.

YOU inspire me.

I needed this.  Thank you for returning the favor.  Thank you for taking the time to SAY it.  Keep going after your goals, your dreams.  I have great faith in you and revel in your success.

For everyone else out there - if someone has been a positive influence for you, remember to tell them.  It may sound simple.  You may think they know.  But nothing replaces you saying it.  And I am a little biased, but especially say it to your teachers.  Those who have not taught, do not understand (although I know many of you try) how challenging teaching is.  And one of the biggest challenges - especially in today's culture - is the lack of appreciation.  So many think teaching is something you do if you can't do anything else.  Or that you teach so you can have the summer off and get out of work early.  I work longer hours than I ever worked in the 10 years of office work I did before I became a teacher.  I have to continue with my own education - for the rest of my career.  This isn't a "get your degree and that is the end of it" kind of job.  I have to renew my certificate every 5 years which requires constant classes/training.  And the state is always adding requirements on top of that.  I have to get training to teach students who don't speak English as their first language.  I have to get training on teaching Special Education students who are placed in my classroom.  I am expected to give input on every IEP for those students.  I am supposed to call home every time a student is not achieving - I have app. 150 students every year.  That is a lot of phone calls.  And they can't be made during my work hours as parents are at work at those times.  So much for getting out of work early.  If I am going to connect with my students I need to attend their games when they play sports, and their performances if that is what they do.  I seldom eat lunch at lunch time because someone needs my time.  I not only help students with their work, I counsel them when they are having trouble at home, or with another student, or have broken hearts.  I help them print out their work for other classes.  I write letters of recommendation so they can get into college.  I advise multiple organizations because our clubs and sports are what motivates many of our students to stay in school.

And I love doing all of this.  But like that rock in the river, it wears you down.  I begin to feel tumbled along.  I begin to wonder why I work so hard.

And then a day like today happens.  Then you get reminded why you work that hard.  Your motivation returns.

So thank you.  Thank you for helping ME be the best teacher I can be.  Thank you for reminding me why.

Now, we all need to pass it on.
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Just got around to checking my LJ and made the realization that it has been over 6 months since I last posted.  I had resisted facebook for so long, and now it has taken over!!  I don't think I like that.  Let's see how successful I am at changing it.
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As promised, the saga of the car wreck.  :)

So, here I was, driving down East Bay Drive, minding my own business...ironically on my way to a checkup appointment at my Chiropractor.  Traffic was the usual afternoon traffic, stop and go, moving slow.  I was going slow enough that my foot was not even on the gas pedal (it was not on the break either, the car was creeping along.)  Next thing you know, I heard a loud CRASHING sound - I immediately stepped on the break, my first thought being it was something in front of me.  It took a moment to realize it was ME!  What clues me in was the scrapping sound my car was making as it was slowing down.  I sat there for a moment kind of stunned.  Then got out and looked for the other guy - about 100 feet back from me at that point was a large white Ford F250 truck.  The glass from my back window was all over it.  The older gentleman driving the truck finally got out, it took him a while and I began to wonder if he was OK.  He finally got out and came over to me, he was obviously VERY upset (not at me, but about the accident.)  There was a lot of traffic, but no one stopped.  I got my cell phone out and called 911 and while we waited a very nice lady in scrubs came out of the building we were next to and asked if I was OK.  My back was stiff, but I said I believed I was OK.  When the police arrived they insisted on calling the paramedics as well (I had told them there were no injuries when I talked to 911.)  The paramedics came and made a big fuss over me, one standing behind me holding my head still while the other questioned me, moved my limbs around and took my Blood Pressure (170/120!)  They kept asking me if I was *sure* I did not want to be transported and said I should at least get xrays.  In the meantime I called the chiropractor to tell them I would be missing  my appointment and E called and I told him to go to the YMCA program and someone would be there later to get him.  The police also called AAA for me as my car was not drivable to get off of the road.  They brought a flat bed tow truck and cleaned up the class in the road.  While waiting for the police and tow truck to finish I called my insurance company and got that ball rolling.  They got me a rental car reservation as well.  Meanwhile, the gentleman who hit me stayed the whole time, even once the police had ticketed him and finished the report and kept asking me if I was OK as well as stating repeatedly that he had never had an accident in his life.  He was obviously very worried, I felt bad for him.  I got the impression that he was worried that he would loose his job over this - I hope he does not!  We finally finished up all the paperwork and the tow truck driver dropped me at the rental car place on his way to take my car to the house.  It was 5:30 by the time I got the car and I decided to try to get into the chiropractor right away and called them to see if I could get in - which I did.  A cursory exam and 4 xrays later it was determined that yes, I was banged up :) and that I would have to come back today, which meant taking a sick day from school.  I headed home where I promptly crawled in bed.  By that time I felt like I had done a really stiff workout and I was *tired.*  Today was back to the doctor, 4 more xrays, a more thorough exam, and an adjustment, and an interview with their insurance person - along with another appointment for tomorrow afternoon.  I also had a long conversation with my adjuster and the salvage yard picked up my car to make their evaluation of what it was worth.  Although it is not final yet, everyone involved seems to feel it is totaled.  So now the car shopping begins.  It is going to be a challenge - my little RAV4 was paid off - but it had 148,000 miles on it and was 13 years old.  So I don't anticipate getting a lot for it.  *sigh*  Here is to hoping we can find a good deal, and find it quck!

So there it is, the saga of how I ended up walking around in a neck brace.  :)
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Had a great trip to Washington, D.C. for the Organization of American Historians conference.  Truly geeked out!  Got to go to an interesting session on the AP U.S. History test and the changes they are talking about for the new future.  Another session on 4 of the modern monuments in D.C., Vietnam, Korea, WWII and the previously unknown to me Japanese American memorial.  Not only did I learn of a memorial I had not previous known about, but there was some great discussion on the modern memorial movement.  Got to rub shoulders with great historians (include my personal idol, Dr. Carol Berkin) and gt a bunch of great history books mostly for free, or at least very cheap.  Woo Hoo!  Add to that spending time with 4 of my teaching colleagues and gettign to spend 5 days wandering around D.C. and it was a great trip!  In our off time we visited most of the monuments, the American History Museum, the Smithsonian Castle and gardens, Arlington Cemetary, the Surratt House (for Chinese food!) and the street fair for the Cherry Blossom Festival celebrating the 98 year relationship between D.C. and Japan.

Now I am back home, and tired from all of the walking for the last 5 days (and the hills!) 

And a surprise outcome from the whole thing...a job!  I had not been invited to the AP Reading this year (bummer), but one of the sessions we went to was being run by the new Chief decided that it did not hurt to ask and after the session asked him if any more invitations were going out and we had a very nice conversation.  He took down my name, and lo and behold, 2 days later I had an invite!!  This is great news because the money is a big factor in our summer plans.
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I can't believe it is almost over, it always goes too fast!  Most of this week has been spent with E and a friend of his who stayed with us much of the week because his parents were working.  We started with TMT last weekend and a chance to see some friends we had not seen in a long time.  And a chance to celebrate a bunch of birthday's - including E's.  :) 

Monday was his 13th birthday and this year he chose to forgo the giant birthday bash and have a couple of his closest friends over instead.  They got pretty much the run of the place, we went to Chick-fil-A for lunch and at least got chicken sandwiches into them before the madness began.  Then on to MovieStop, where they each to go pick out a movie (with two for E as he was the birthday boy.)  Zombieland, Alien v. Predator, Poltergeist and Happy Gilmore ended up being the choices.  Next stop was Publix where each boy got to pick a bag of chips and a 2 liter (and some cookies got thrown into the mix.)  On to home, where the Movie Palooza began and I ordered pizza for them.  They switched back and forth between the projector in the living room and the TV in Edward's room - and between movies, the Wii and one of the boy's Xbox.  What more could a group of boys want?  :>  They finally wore themselves out in the wee hours of the morning and when I woke up they were already up and watching another movie. 

Tuesday they spent the night at one of the friend's house, and wednesday at the other one's house.  Thursday was our day out (me, E and his friend.)  We met the husband for lunch, visited with a former neighbor and then went to the mall for new shoes for E.  Men's SIZE 9!!!  Argh!  Bought the boys a couple of video games because they had been so good all day (including incredible patience while I visited with the neighbor.)  And then everyone went to their respective homes for the first time all week.  While all this was going on this week I worked on balancing the bank account and mortgage modification paperword.

Today has been productive around the house.  The neighbor had tree guys there to take down the tree between our two houses so he could put up a fence.  We ended up piggybacking on what he was doing and although we spent a big of money, got a lot trimmed back and cleaned up around here.  Also now have a nice pile of firewood that needs be piled up to age.  Got the boy to pull some giant weeds and finally got the flat screen TV mounted on the wall.  That really opened up the family room!  The stand it was on went into E's room and we did some rearranging (and the requisite cleaning behind things) and opened up some space in his room.  In between all that was interviewed by a former student for a paper she is writing and met our new neighbor and their dog, Studley.  :P  Now E has gone off to spend the night at his friends house again and I am working on organizing and filing receipts and bills.  Woo Hoo, big fun!  :) I also need to get some planning done for school.

And now the week is over, only the weekend left.  And I still need to plan, work on college paperwork and find a place to have an SCA event.  The fun never ends! :)
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As of today, E is 13 years old.  I just can't believe it!  In the last 6 months he has been really getting taller and loosing the "kid" look.  We are already having to think about high school plans.  Only 2 years to a learners permit (argh!) and 5 until high school graduation!  How does the time pass so fast???
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Edward's 1st round of their Soccer tournament was this weekend.  They had three games, 12:30 on Saturday and 8:00am and 2:00pm on Sunday.  They won all three! 10-0, 6-1 and 4-1 if I remember correctly.  The 1st two were great games.  Unfortunately the last one left something to be desired.  The team we played was VERY aggresive, there was a lot of shoving and tripping going on.  But where things went really sour was when two players started shoving each other and would not stop until the ref red carded them.  First you have to of the best players on our team is middle eastern (specifically what ethnicity I am not sure, but it is obvious.)  His family is Muslim and the women dress accordingly - his sister is at all the games in a long robe and scarf.  This young man was one of the ones shoving, a behavior that is highly unusual for him.  As it turns out, he says (and team mates confirm) that the boy he had the altercation with had been calling him names and had escalated to calling him a terrorist.  And he finally broke.  So now he has a red card which we are told means he can not play the next 4 games (extending into next years season) and could be fined up to $250!  The kid and the other coach are completely denying the whole thing.  And the ref says he did not hear it either.  And we are being told there is no appeal process.  The whole thing really sucks


Feb. 6th, 2010 11:18 pm
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Wow, I really haven't posted in a long time...did not realize it had been so long!  So, to catch things up...

Family - we are doing fine.  Edward is still the most wonderful kid in the world (tm) even if we have been having some recent school issues.  Working on nipping those in the bud.  For the most part middle school (and 7th grade) has agreed with him.  He is in band now- plays the clarinet.  And says he wants piano lessons.  And we have been volunteering at the Suncoast Animal League for over a year now - totally his thing, I have to go because at his age he must have a parent with him, but it is his volunteer gig. He still wants to be a vet.  Guy currently has the chest cold that has been going around that I am at the tail end of.  We have had our share of this winters illnesses, but nothing big.

Work - is frustrating.  The most so since I have been teaching.  It has been a VERY stressful year, the first since I began this career that I have considered the idea of leaving it - well, not exactly leaving it, but practicing it somewhere else.  The kids are still great, the bureacracy is not.

Education -as in my own.  Had a great 1st semester for my Master's Degree in American History.  Loved my class and love going back to being a student.  And was totally getting overwhelmed.  Managed to get through, but had to come to the decision that with my current work schedule (6 preps!!) it was not going to work without killing myself.  Dropped my class for this semester and am working on getting a better handle on the work schedule so this will all work the way it should.

Money - is still tight.  And will be unless all of a sudden one of us gets a higher paying job handed to us.  Have to remember that at least we *have* jobs which is much better than some.

SCA - work is starting on who the next Baron and Baroness will be. If all goes as planned the turnover will be in December.  We have some good candidates, it should be great!

Also we are currently in the middle of our Japanese Exchange.  Been a big deal this year as it is the 40th anniversary of the whole thing starting.  Unfortunately, we ended up not having anyone stay with us (gave our person up for a student who wanted someone with her) which is kind of a let down.  So far the visit is going well, another week to go!

Overall, life is chugging along.  A little crazier than usual at the moment, but working on getting it back in line.
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This morning I ran over one of our dogs.  I am completely perplexed at how it happened.  She was 16 years old and seldom moved off the cushion in her kennel.  How she managed to be out on the front driveway at 6:45am is a complete mystery.  :( 

I backed up to leave for work, I felt a thump about halfway down the driveway and immediately stopped and then heard what sounded like a scream.  I jumped out and she was behind the car - I picked her up and brought her in (Guy had run out) - she was pretty unresponsive, her eyes were twitching and that was about it.  Checked and our vet opens at 7am, so took there (after calling in to work) and found out they don't have a doctor there until 8am so they sent me to the emergency vet on Belcher.  On the way there she arched back, then her legs started twitching.  She never made a sound past the scream.  By the time I got there, the vet said he heart beat was intermitent and she passed shortly after.  The vet was very nice, and said she believed Daisy was pretty much gone from the time it happened, it took about 45 minutes for her body to figure it out, mostly electrical impulse.  She was a tough little dog!

She had been fading out slowly.  Her eyes were milky from cateracts, she didn't hear most things and would sit and bark to herself (Guy said she was singing) and when she walked her back legs kind of went sideways.  She would actually go outside about once a week - you could get her to the backdoor where she would look at the about 1 inch drop and turn around and leave.  We used puppy pads for her in the house.  She spent about 90% of her time on her big fluffy pillow in her kennel, even being fed there.

So how did she end up on the front driveway?  And half way down it, in the dark?  I am completely at a loss to figure it out. And now she is gone.  In a shoebox (she was only 8 lbs, smaller than some of the cats) and will be buried in the back yard with the gerbils and turtle. 

Busy Day

Aug. 21st, 2009 09:07 pm
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Today's stops...
Largo High
Countryside High
USF (Tampa)
YMCA office in Countryside
YMCA in Clearwater

I am TIRED!  Not a bad day though - today I went to the Orientation for my Master's program!  I am really excited about it all - enough that I am actually thinking about applying for another job.  There is a current opening on Florida Virtual School for an AP U.S. History teacher.  It would be the same pay - but more flexible hours.  I have not previously been interested in anything like this being that I like being with the students.  BUT (notice the big but :P) more flexible hours could allow me to get my Masters done more quickly which could make a world of difference.  Also, even though it is the same pay - it would be for teacher one subject instead of 6!  I don't know how many students and it is likely to be a similar amount, but there would be a LOT less preparation to teach 160 one subject than to teach them 6 different ones.

I feel kind of selfish even considering applying.  But increasingly I am wondering if I should....

6 weeks...

Aug. 16th, 2009 10:54 pm
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Can it be so long since I last posted?  Oh Facebook, you have lured me away!  :)

Life has continued to be interesting.  E had a great summer, what with time with Grandma, 5 weeks in Tennessee with his Aunt and Cousins and 2 weeks at Pennsic.  He was VERY happy to be home - and then his two best friends were out of town!  Total bummer.  One is now back and they spent most of the weekend together playing with his new gerbils.  Yes, the third time is the charm (we hope.)  He is being VERY careful about keeping the cat away from them this time.  And we bought 3 - yes 3.  I am a big softie.  We were planning on 2 (since they are social animals) but there were only 3 siblings there and that would have left one alone...and...well, as mentioned I am a big softie!  They are all 3 very neat - they are not very scared of people and are very active.  E started out by reusing the previous names, but he and his friend renamed them over the weekend to Oreo (black with white markings and a very cute white tail tip), Cinnamon (light brown but with a dusting of dark brown - I had not seen one colored like this before, it is like the hair tips are a darker color) and Frost (not quite white, reminds me of the shetland pony I had as a kid, kind of white with cream.)  The husband has declared an affinity for Frost, Oreo has been my favorite from the beginning and E says Cinnamon is his favorite.  So we have one for every family member.  :)  Over the weekend E and his friend built a house for them out of Legos and have made mazes for them out of toilet paper and paper towel roles.  Fortunately they do not seem any worse for the wear...

We all really enjoyed Pennsic.  E did not want to go, but as suspected, once he was there he had a great time.  He made several friends and this was his first Pennsic to be able to run around with parents directly in tow.  (Rules are that under 12 you have to be under direct supervision.)  He made some extra money doing Ice runs for people and enjoyed spending the money he made.  The husband got to do a lot of fighting - and found that there is now wireless at Pennsic so he was happy.  And I discovered that I REALLY like Gin.  :)  Spent a lot of my Pennsic time just lazing around and it fealt great.

So now we are back and getting back into the swing of things.  This week I spent a day at school getting the furniture back in place and then 3 days working for the photographer.  This weekend has been a bit lazy.  Did get the house cleaned (with some help) and grocery shopped today with the family.  That was SORELY needed.  Go back to work officially tomorrow and then it becomes the mad scramble to get everything done before school starts officially on August 25th.

Add to all this that my USF class starts the same week.  On Friday I bought my books, bot my student ID and put in my tuition voucher.  Now it all is so much more real!  I am excited, yet scared witless.  It will all be great, but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed - once things get started it should be all good....


Jul. 1st, 2009 07:31 am
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Finding myself using Facebook more than LJ these days.  Mostly because it is short entries which is usually all I have time for.  Especially important when you have very limited internet connection.

So... update on the last few weeks...

1st - Graduation was June 4th.  Really going to miss some of the kids that graduated this year, it was a great group!  Went to the ceremony and immediately took off for the airport for the AP Reading.

2nd - spent a week in Kentucky reading essays.  All went well except I caught a slight cold on the way there (seemed to have done so on the plane.)  Spent the whole week doing everything I could to get rid of it because of the Japan trip.  Managed to succeed and trip back was uneventful.

3rd - was home for the weekend and then gone again - this time to Japan!  Took 9 students (along with another teacher).  Spent a day in Tokyo, then took the train to Kami City where our sister school is.  Had a great host family - for a week I had 4 sisters and 2 adorable nieces, as well as Japanese parents.  :)  Everyone cried at the airport when we had to leave and I had a 2 year old and a 4 year old attached to me.  Flew back to Tokyo and spent another day site seeing and shopping.  Got home Monday night.

4th - Jumped right into things, met with a Yearbook Main editor yesterday.  Meeting with all of the staff today.  Dr's appointments this week.  Next week will have Senior Pictures for school.  Busy Busy!

Most importantly - missing E terribly.  He is in Kentucky with the Greatest Aunt in the Whole World and having the time of his life with his cousins.  Won't be back until July 15th and I don't know what I will do! 

OK, back to work...

AP Reading

Jun. 5th, 2009 10:40 pm
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At the AP Reading.  And boy am I tired!  Got through the first day which is mostly training.  Did not start scoring until the afternoon.  Moving faster than in the past but still slow! 
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It is going to be an interesting summer.  The boy and I leave town on June 4th - me to Louisville, KY for the AP U.S. History reading, the boy for grandma and grandpa's house.  I will be back on the 12th - but it turns out that the grandparents are going to head up to the Aunt's house on the 9th - so i will not get to see the boy when I get back.  :(  And the Aunt is not planning on coming back down until July 15th...what will I do???  This will be far be the longest he has been away.  He is really looking forward to the trip and spending time with his cousins.

Meanwhile, I will come back on the 12th - but leave again on the 15th for Japan!  I was not planning on going, but circumstances have come about that another chaperon was really needed and the costs went down sufficiently to be able to afford for another chaperon to go.  So I leave on the 15th and will be back on the 29th.  Amoung other things, this means missing Res Urbanis.  :(  This will be the first one I have missed as it is an event I started. I am sure they will be fine without me!  And since the husband will be home, our humble home will still be available to those we have made arrangement with to stay for the weekend.  You will just get the man and no me!
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Gerbal #3 is now in the pet graveyard.  A real bummer because she was a pretty cool gerbil.  Came home from TMT and it seems that the boy left his bedroom door open.  :(  Gerbil was nowhere to be seen and the cage was still closed!  (Although later made the realization that the boy had not been putting the clips back on the top part which means there was nothing actually locking it down.)  He was very upset and after some consolation we went back to unloading from the weekend - I was in the garage getting the laundry started when the cry of "MOM" went out - the boy had found the remains of the beloved gerbil in dad's office.  Pretty gruesome.  A burial ensued, but it did not involve all of said gerbil as the head was missing.  After the burial we headed off to <lj="peacockharpy">'s house for the Memorial Day festivities. But, there is more to this taie.  When the boy went to bed that night he came bounding back out - as the gerbil head was in his bed! Ugh!  I have been pretty sick of Cicero's antics (one of the cats) but this about put the icing on the cake.
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My birthday went very nicely.  Got some cool cards from my students and co workers, and cake!  Dad and his wife sent a G.C. for a manicure and pedicure (that I have not been able to use yet) and the husband got me a Spa G.C. as well as a new electronic Acer Aspire One.

And I love!  It is tiny and lite and powerful and will be great for traveling!  And it is red  :)

Happy Birthday to me!
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It seems that I have not posted in a while again.  So, I am going to play catch up...but...for those who are actually still reading  :)  I think I am going to post a several small bits instead of a big long one and you can choose what you want to read!
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