Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sorry, one more post-script, though in posting order it looks like a pre-script.

To the person who posted on "I miss my home"-- I'd love to respond to what you said, to you, but I have no way to get in touch with you. If you reply to this then I'll know you're going to read my response and I'll respond to what you wrote before on that post, or here, or whatever you choose. I haven't been on here much, so I'm sorry if you felt like I was ignoring you! I'd love to talk with you a little if you so desire :)

It's not over

[It's Not Over, Daughtry]

I thought I had so much to say, but now it all seems to have faded. Hmmm.

School has been good- I love my kids, though I'm hitting the downward slope in my desire to keep working so hard. For example, despite the greatest of intentions I just couldn't force myself to work over break. In my defense, though, I am sick. It's a weird illness. I'm a little stuffy, but mostly I have the headache of DEATH, and I ache all over, with a fever to boot so I'll go between feeling ready to boil and then freezing and shaking from (it feels like) within my bones. I know, boo. Oh, but my headache is so bad that it makes me really nauseated and has caused me to throw up twice, from simple things like walking down stairs.

I just have to say that driving is BOO on the east coast around the holidays. Today I wanted to just die. I can't handle stop and go traffic on the freeway. Grrr. Seriously, I-95 is death. But I am so blessed to have been with Becca- at one point I angrily asked why the [jerk who just cut me off] had to be in my lane, because I thought that both lanes became 295 (the loop around Richmond, VA so you don't have to deal with their traffic). Bec informed me of this- that they needed to be in that lane in order to get on 295- and I said, "Bec, I know that I'm going to ask illogical questions with perfectly logical answers, but the fact is that if you give me those logical answers my anger will become directed toward you." She's so great because she totally understood and didn't get offended and we were able to get along perfectly.

I'm amazed at how wonderful my relationships are with my roommates. I mean, Becca and I see each other every day, share a bathroom, and spent essentially a full day driving out of the four, not to mention I was totally crashing her family's Thanksgiving dinner and such. It was so great of them, I just feel bad that I was feeling yucky. Her family is great though. I love being with them, so Christmas will be awesome :) But the point here (my head in pain seems to be wandering away from my actual point) is that I spent a heck of a lot of time with Becca and we still love each other and totally get along. Amazing :)

Another amazing relationship is with my favorite man, my J-Baby :) Seriously, how did I find this guy? God is good to me. I didn't know guys like him existed. I could write about him for 86 years and hardly scratch the surface, but suffice it to say that he's wonderful and my life is so much better with him in it. He's everything I ever wanted and even more. I don't know what will happen with him, but I sure do hope that I'll marry the man. I'm seeking Christ, as is he, and we refuse to think we're meant to marry unless the Lord tells us that's His will. I don't need to know what tomorrow holds but I'm content to enjoy this amazingly wonderful man as much as I can today. I just wish I could see him and hug him and kiss him until my lips fall off :)

Ok. I need to go. But there's an update :) I do have to say that there's the COOLEST sign outside of Rochester, NY that lists three cities (I can't remember what cities) but their distances are listed as 10, 16, and 81 miles. So it says 10, 16, and 81 down a list to the right side of the sign... I just so happen to have been born on October 16, 1981- 10/16/81 :) Awesome, right? I know. I'm going to totally take a picture of it on the drive home after Christmas. Sweet, I know.

PS I wish I lived in Seattle. Here's to praying that I'll be there this summer.

PPS How about them Pats, huh? And my man Tom Brady? Mmm-hmm.

PPPS My Seahawks are hosting MNF (Monday Night Football) tomorrow! Yesssss!!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Angels fall without you there

[Black Balloon, Goo Goo Dolls]

Conferences were AWESOME last night. I absolutely love getting to meet my students' parents and guardians. Especially fun are the parents I connected with last year who stopped in to say hi. But it was so encouraging- I have two students who are repeating my class and I desire SO strongly to see them pass. One is barely scraping by and the other has been failing kind of miserably thus far. It was awesome because I met with the mother of each and we hammered out the plans to get the two in after school to get where they need to be.

It's so interesting the way different parents work. The one mother (who son has been failing with a 40 or so percent average) was so concerned about the situation but really seeking guidance on how I could team with her and the Larry's (not his real name) father to ensure that he succeeds in my class. I shared my concerns about the fact that A) he never talks and simply doesn't communicate with me (when I try to talk to him he just stares at the ground- he's just SO quiet!) and B) his literacy level is very low and I want to work with him to teach him how to undertand what he's doing. The lack in literacy skills is HUGE in my school, but his is probably around a third grade level. The majority of what we do is over his head, but though I try to diversify for his level and explain and adapt things he simply doesn't talk to me so I can't seem to get through to him. To get to the point, though, the mother wasn't upset about his grade at all- really just there to figure out how we can get him where he needs to be. In the end, we decided his father can pick him up after school at least once a week so he can stay and get caught up and, if he's willing, get some one-on-one help. Today when I saw him I asked Larry if he spoke to his mother, and he nodded. I asked how he felt about the plan and he said, "I'll be coming after school next week." Seriously, I think that's almost as much as he's ever spoken to me in the entire 3 quarters that I've had him now. But my heart completely leapt for joy! Yay!!

The other mother was a bit more on the frustrated end of the spectrum. You can tell she's reaching her frazzled point in dealing with a stubborn and unmotivated 15 year old son. Isaac (again, not his real name) is someone I've worked SO hard to build a relationship with. I referred him to our (awesome) freshman counselor and they set him up to be able to catch up and graduate on time if he stays focused, despite failing most all of his classes last year. For awhile he was coming in after school and pulled his grade up to the C range, but then he dropped off in the last two weeks of the quarter and squeaked by with a 70 (the lowest possible score to get a D on our scale). I was able to soothe some of her ruffles and assure her that I am willing to go as far as I possibly can out of my way to get Isaac to succeed, and she said that she knows he really likes me and loves my class and that it's the one class he's willing to do the work in to pass. I spoke with him today and he fought the desire to go to sleep (his mother said he's staying up until 1-2 watching TV every night but she simply can't get him to go to bed) and he actually got some quality work done. So the road will be long but I have faith that he'll pass my class.

My goal is that EVERY single student would pass my class- and I don't inflate grades. I don't give random points so a kid will look like they passed on paper. Every single point each student has was EARNED by them. The fact is, my kids are simply the last ones anyone cares about. Inner-city kids have it rough, but at the same time a lot of people put time, money, and effort into providing resources for those kids. My kids live in the middle of nowhere, in a rural district over an hour away from the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area and the fact is that they are overlooked. Most of them are Black, the vast majority live in poverty, and the chips are stacked against them. I can't change the outside world. I can't even change the culture they live in (which contributes heavily to the problems they face). But I can ensure that they not only get the best education possible in my class and actually learn about the history of the world they live in, but also that they have a positive role model who lives out the high standards she teaches.

One quick story, then I'll get some sleep: About a month ago we were learning about the Mandate of Heaven in China, and how the Zhou (pronounced joh) dynasty conquered the Shang dynasty because of the corruption in the government of the Shang. The Zhou believed that the corruption meant that heaven had removed it's blessing from the Shang and it was their duty to conquer the Shang and replace them with a morally sound government. I explained the concept of corruption to my students, and how it involves the misuse and abuse of power by those in authority for their own gain. I used the example of myself- how if I changed grades in exchange for money that would be me misusing my power to determine a student's future in regards to their grades and college in order to bring personal gain to myself via extra cash. Some of them were like, "Yeah, right. You know you'd take the money." This isn't because they think I would do that, per se- they're just so used to the idea that money is the end all, and you do whatever you have to do to get as much as you can.

I promised them that even if someon in my class was a millionaire, and had a check for a million dollars that I knew would clear the bank, and even if I would NEVER get caught, I would not raise that grade even a fraction of a percent. This set them OFF. THE. CHAIN. They were like, "Nah, Mz. Teakay, you cuh-ray-zeh'." They of course wanted to know why, and I explained that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking, and I want to live as a woman of integrity. For one, money doesn't buy happiness, and I don't want anything that isn't rightfully acquired by me-- bribery is simply wrong and I couldn't look myself in the mirror or have any semblance of peace when I settle into my bed at night and reflect on what I've done. Plus, I personally believe that I will one day stand before my God and answer to Him for all I've done, and the choices I have made, and to accept the money would go against how His Word says I am to live.

This REALLY set them off the chain. I mean, the chain was no longer in sight. Almost the entire class, in their own way, said, "Iss a'ight, Teakay. You's just gotta ask for forgiveness after you do it, thass all."

No, I'm not making this up or exagerrating. This was coming from all students- white, black, male, female, mature, immature, those with F's, those with A's... all across the board. I had one of those moments where my heart just broke. Like I said, they've been taught that money will make their lives happy and whole and right. It's a dirty lie, but it's bought into by most everyone in their lives and it's tragic. I know that for most of my students I am their most respected and loved teacher. Some of them tell me this, many of their parents told me this last night, and I hear it from other teachers. Yet I know that I have to lock up all of my stuff and I don't dare leave anything valuable unguarded. No matter how much my students care about me, if I have something they want then a lot of them have been somehow programmed to believe that they deserve it and that it's perfectly justifiable to take it. Very rarely is a lost pocketbook or wallet in my school ever turned in. It's just understood that if you left it somewhere it's someone else's free game.

But this is why I teach- to show my kids that I chose a profession in which my paycheck hovers above the poverty line by a couple hundred dollars, even when a person of my talents and abilities could be making at least double what I make now had I chosen to pursue a field like medicine, business, or law. I can't even afford the iPod I so desire- yet I'm happy. My life is fulfilled. For one, I have my relationship with Christ. But also, I have them. I love my kids. I'm actually tearing up a little because I care so deeply about them. Some of them I wish I could just bring home and let them see that life can be joyful and complete without sex and violence and drugs and lies and cheating and treachery and the dishonest ways in which they try to get their hands on money. Some days I get tired of getting up and working my ass off every day trying to save the world one kid at at time. But then I see my kids, and I meet their parents who want so much more for them, and I remember the future that is ahead of them if I give up on working for them, and I am absolutely certain that it's worth it.

I know I've been silent on my classes and such for awhile. I've actually just felt more protective of them this year, I think, and I didn't always use the best discretion in my old blog. Mainly because where I was at this time last year was mostly focused on either complaining about my school (and sometimes my actual kids) or about just how shocked I was at the culture and such. Now that I've settled in I've kept things more to myself. But trust me, my life is still dominated by school and my kids, and I like it that way. I don't know how long I'll be here, but as long as I am then I refuse to give less than my all.

On that note, it's time to sleep. 'Night.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

List Thursday

So I know that tomorrow is Thursday, so it's unfair to call this "List Thursday". But the fact is that I'll likely not get a chance to post tomorrow, and most of you won't see this til Thursday. Plus, it's Thursday in two hours. Actually, one hour and fifty minutes. So bite me.

Here we go...

1) I just found out that next year daylight savings time will start in the second week of March and end in the first week of November.

I think that's stupid.

How will this affect computers and such? And I have an alarm clock with a chip programmed to keep track of the date and time so it automatically resets the time in the whatevereth weekend in April and the last weekend in October. Grrr.

Like I said, stupid.

2) I hate that every morning I drive to work feeling like I'm an hour late. Also, I hate that in the evenings it's DARK when I get home. I'd rather have it be dark in the morning and lighter in the evening.

3) The ONLY redeeming quality of daylight savings time is that it makes (well, now "made") October the longest month, since it has 31 days PLUS the extra hour. Now, no more. Stupid.

4) Ok, enough complaining about stupid daylight savings time.

5) Yesterday I downloaded the following albums. Note the speedily increasing levels of dorkiness as I progressed.

Braveheart soundtrack
Crash soundtrack
Help! - The Beatles
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Titanic soundtrack

Yah. True story.

6) Ok, and this weekend I downloaded songs from the following albums...

The Lion King soundtrack
Aladdin soundtrack
The Little Mermaid soundtrack

7) Yes, I really am 25 years old.

8) Oh! It's 10:16!!!

9) Ok, I have this weird and uncanny ability to see the clock when it's 10:16. Seriously, most of the time I'll not look at the clock for anywhere from 10-45 (or more) minutes, and then I'll just randomly look at the time and it will be 10:16. I think my body is just programmed to know when it's that most awesome time of day!

10) On a more serious note... I just don't know what I want in life. Last week I was certain I wanted to move to Seattle next year. Now I wonder if I should stay here one more year. Should I go see what happens when I'm in the same place as JJ? Should I pursue this new charter school in Connecticut (aka New England, which I LOVE) that's recruiting me? (Side note: I think they're recruiting all T*F!@'ers, not just me) The problem is, I don't know what I want! Usually I just really want something and run after it.


I know I just need to pray more. The Lord has a plan for me and isn't revealing it yet for a reason.

Honestly, God has a sense of humor- "What if His People Prayed?" by Casting Crowns just came on my iTunes. Seriously, all you Christian types get that joke.

11) I really, really, REALLY want an iPod. So bad. I don't remember ever wanting something this bad that I just can't have. It's kind of a sad, sad day.

12) So I realized that my mysterious pain in my side went away, but came back precisely the same day I started PMS'ing. So I'm going to tough it out this month and see if it comes back next mont at the same time. If it does then I'll have to call the doctor. Grrr.

13) Ha- Men in Black by Will Smith just came on iTunes. I love it :)

14) I COMPLETELY cleaned my room, the basement, the bathroom I share with Becca, did three huge loads of laundry (I usually have at least two once a week and I had two weeks of laundry this time), the area where I sort of camp out upstairs, and... uh... something else I can't remember on Monday. And I put together my bookshelves, brought in my books, hung up my AWESOME quote cards from Darla, and organized and filed all of my bills (I hadn't done it since... cough... August... cough....), created a spreadsheet for my house's bills to our landlord (he pays them and then we reimburse him), created a budget for the month, and even finished writing my midterm for my classes on Monday. All in about 7 hours. I know, I'm awesome. Go me.

15) Tomorrow night is conferences when parents come in and meet me and get their child's report card and all of that jazz. I acutally love that night, I'm just not thrilled that I'll be at school until at least 7. And then there's a football game Friday night, and it's our last home game, so though teachers are free to leave at 1 pm to make up for the late night tomorrow night I get to stay at school until 10 or 10:30. Ode to joy, huh? I'm hoping that I'll actually be productive and get work done. We'll see :)

16) It's 10:28 and I get to go to bed! And tomorrow's The Office and Grey's Anatomy and Six Degrees! Oh, and my man Tom Brady is ROCKING it hard this year! Too bad my 'Hawks are struggling. I'm a true fan and loving 'em anyway. Plus, while I know way more about football than most girls, let's be honest- the Seahawks have the hottest uniforms BY far over everyone else in the league. Oh, and the Steelers have a record so bad I can't even remember it! And they haven't even lost their best players to injury, so they have no excuse! I mean, really, neither do we, besides losing the league MVP and our star quarterback, among numerous others-- we should still pull it out and overcome. We better at least beat Oakland, especially since A) I get to see it on Monday Night Football and B) it'll be IN Seattle and C) Oakland SUCKS. OOOOOHHHH- AND Gonzaga tips off in 9 days! Guh-LORIOUS!!

A'ight, I should sleep.

'Night, kids.