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Showing posts from 2015

Get your kicks...on highway 27?

Since my new job involves a LOT of driving, I've recently found myself reflecting on the strangely satisfying things that happen when you spend too much time in the car. 
1) When the tempo of the song lines up with the tempo of your turn signal.  2) When the guy who cut you off a mile ago gets stuck in a slow lane and you casually pass him by.  3) When two or three cars pull out of adjacent streets or parking lots at the exact same moment. (Like in a spy movie!) 4) Trying out a hidden back road or shortcut...and making it out alive! 5) Finally knowing a new route well enough that you don't need to use MapQuest anymore.  6) Actually taking a moment (or twenty) to notice the changing autumn landscape as you drive by.  7) A great excuse to try lots of different restaurants and coffee stands as you drive between locations.  8) Getting to say "yeah, I've been there" when someone mentions an obscure location.  9) When you park at your destination and the song ends at the exact …

The time is now...

After seeing how hard the SEA and our local employees fought for improvements all summer long, and now seeing that changes still haven't been made by the time school is starting, I feel inspired to voice my concerns as well.
I've served in a variety of positions as an educator for over 15 years: Express activity leader, substitute, classroom teacher, coach, mentor teacher for arts programs, college instructor...I feel blessed to have experienced education from many different angles and to have worked alongside some wonderful people. None of these jobs are easy. All of them require more hours than what people assume. One particular position I held was only paid for three months out of each year, and every year, I was told the pay would surely improve the following year…It was only after 8 years that I finally started getting paid for all ten months of that position. Sadly, broken promises and lack of support have become more widespread in recent years. And they seem to be perpet…

Teaching tips: Paradoxes of the profession

Education in America today is full of paradoxes: some are challenging and a bit disheartening; some are amusing and kind of exciting. So when someone recently asked what advice I would give to a brand new teacher, I automatically started thinking about how to use these paradoxes to our advantage! I tried to keep the list to five but teaching is incredibly multi-faceted, so I could only manage to stop at five if I added two bonus tips. I think they're worth the extra 10 seconds of reading though! 

1) Plan the long term goals before you organize the daily details, but stay flexible enough to change those plans if one or more students suddenly need something different.  2) Prepare so you'll have answers for all the random questions you might be asked in class, but be honest enough to say when you don't know an answer. (Then go home and find the answer for the next day!) 3) Speak firmly and naturally, but not until students have given you their attention. (Firm and natural eye co…

Say something...

Five suicides in the last six months, 2 of them from the school where I teach. Another from the university where I am an adjunct. I still don't know if I can find the right words to express my personal feelings or my deep condolences after these tragedies but this article convinced me that I must at least say something. 
http://m.spokesman.com/stories/2015/may/12/five-teen-suicides-have-left-whole-community/
In addition to summarizing this tragic year, the article states that "Suicide is part of the culture our kids are growing up in" and that recent suicide prevention sessions have found that adults aren't comfortable discussing suicide. I'll admit I'm not comfortable right now...but if we don't break through our comfort zones to discuss it, then who's going to help our students through it? And let's not kid ourselves, depression and suicide plague many adults too.  Who's going to help our adult friends through it when their adolescent nightmar…

Dancing (and Fundraising) with the Celebrities

As you've probably heard by now, I've been preparing for an exciting fundraiser for the Spokane Christian Youth Theatre: Dancing with the Celebrities!  I'll be performing tomorrow, April 25th at 7PM at the Bing Theatre with my celebrity partner, the uber-entertaining reporter Casey Lund.  Casey and I have taken on some fun challenges in our mashup of a routine: Salsa, aerobics, kick, swing, hip hop, partner stunts, and plenty of comedy!  You're welcome to check out our promo video for a sneak peek.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMPiNpptaRg But in addition to practicing our skills for a solid performance, we're also hoping to help raise funds for Spokane's CYT.  The couple who raises the most money will be announced as the WINNER of the competition, so any little bit you can give will help the theatre AND help US! Even if you can't join us tomorrow night, you're still welcome to donate to us on-line: Just be sure to select our name(s) on the final chec…

I want to start! But...mornings...

First of all, do you really want to? I mean actually, truly, REALLY want to?
Plenty of students SAY they want to join a morning dance team, a 7AM weights class, a zero hour band; and plenty of adults SAY they want to start exercising before work each day. But if you don't really want it, deep down, then there's no magical inspirational talk or organizational guide that will help you follow through with it. 
On the other hand, if you truly want to dance, lift, play, or run, there's no snooze button, sleep mask, or other stock excuse that will stop you! 
So let's assume you are committed to starting and I'll give you some tips to help you transition through your early morning adjustment! 
Over the last 20ish years, I've found myself in a surprisingly large variety of 6AM activities, and these are the methods that have helped me keep up with what others might call madness.  1) Buddy up! Find a friend who has the same interest or goal and decide to tackle this change to…

Catching up: Welcome to 2015

I recently realized that it has been almost 4 months since I posted anything to this blog and to be honest, I was pretty disappointed in that. But  while deleting outdated memos from my cell phone, I discovered about a dozen pieces that I had typed but never posted. Apparently, I never made the time to revise them to the point where I felt comfortable sharing them. So in a last ditch effort to delay the still imminent return from winter break, I decided to revise and share a few of them today. 
Although the next five posts all say they were were written today (and with an impressive 35 minutes between them), they were all written in the fall of last year (and over the less impressive span of a few months).

Sometimes words

Sometimes they just flow out of me,  like they've been ready all along. 
Other times they wander and rush through my head for days, Like they're trying to find each other  In the chaos of emotions  They beat down, befriended, or became along the way. 
I am more of a thinker than a writer. I'm more of a philosopher than a poet. Half the time, I have too many words for my theories.  Half the time, I have no words for my thoughts.  But sometimes words happen.  And sometimes I call it poetry.

Starting over: The life of a teacher

It's a blessing and a curse, really. Starting a new job every single year. 

It means a blank slate, a chance to try new methods, to work with new people, to reach new goals. It also means having to rebuild your protocols, your reputation, your curriculum, your timeline, your relationships, your comfort zone.
All the excitement and anxiety of starting a brand new job--This hits me every fall as I step back into my familiar yet unpredictable classroom.  I remember the kids that reached their goals and the kids that inspired  me the year before, and I sigh a little because I wish I didn't have to change students again this year. And I remember the kids who didn't reach their goals and those who wore me down, and I wonder, "what if this year's even harder?" I wonder what goals my students will actually reach this year, if we will go deeper or farther than my classes had before, or if this will be the year we don't really succeed. I connect the targets, strategi…

To sleep, perchance to dream

Sometimes sleep isn't just a euphemism. 

To sleep, perchance to dream? For in that sleep of death,  what dreams may come? Not the death of a body,  just a day that needs to die. 
It used to be a sweet escape,  a peaceful place to hide. 

But when daylight nightmares invade your dreams,  where can you escape?

I used to dream in nightmares;  Now I dream in days.  If only I could wake  and cease to be afraid...

Jump

"If so and so jumped off a bridge, would you?"
"It's called a leap of faith.  You just have to jump."
Standing on the ledge.  Heart beating out my chest. Messages mixed and nowhere to go.  I give in, give up, take the risk.
Fear, destruction, delivery. Falling, rushing, zooming Toward me, to me, through me.
Snap.  Pull.  Reverse. 
Delivery, distraction, denial. Slipping, shrinking, gone. 
Some tell you not to jump.  Some tell you to jump and believe.  But what happens when you jump  and you believe  and you still end up  back where you started? 

The lost art of communication: Mistaking movement for progress.

Have you ever been so desperate to reach your destination that you cut through neighborhoods are back alleys just so that you don't have to stop and "wait for the traffic"? Of course, I'd never make a mistake like that, but I hear that other people do it all the time…

 I've begun to realize that our society is making the same type of mistake with our communication. In this world of endless technology, it would seem that we're surrounded by communication all the time.  However, I'm afraid that our important words are rarely written on paper or spoken into the air for an audience who actually wants to think about them, but rather they're displayed on cell phone screens and computer monitors for audiences who can turn them off and on as the mood fits. And it's making us take our words for granted. 
The social media platforms where we display our words for the world convince us that we don't need to communicate personally with anyone because we can …