What Was I Going To Call This? Here's Something About Ash Wednesday.

Scott told me today that he'd been greeting friends all day with a hearty, "Mortal Ash Wednesday!" and it got me thinking about the day. My recent bout with a coldish fluey thing caused me to ignore the time of year completely (Despite a friend telling me he was going to a Mardi Gras party..."Wow," I thought "that sounds nice". Did I connect this information to anything? No. Please don't think I have any concept of how I remember my name or drive a car or anything.) and it snuck up on me today.

I sort of had a head start, what with all my thoughts on mortality lately.

I read Susan once I got home today. Her thoughts on Lent and focus have me thinking on the beauty of this whole lesson; how our joyful Palm Sunday party decorations become the death ashes we mourn with later. I've come a long way in the last nine months, I used to weep at any of the happy memories of my father, now I can smile. I smile quietly and get a little reflective. Susan is giving up multi tasking for Lent and her commitment reminds me of my resolve from the summer to live in the moment. I think the two ideas are very much the same. For every moment we fully enjoy, we are probably prepared a bit better for pain that comes later and for every hour of pain to which we fully give ourselves over, we can better feel the joy we will once again feel.

As I still find myself blinking to adjust my eyes from exiting the grief cave, I found another step and perhaps a similar wish for myself for the next 40 Days: I will trust myself. I won't be disappointed in myself for this lingering illness. I won't worry about the people I have lost touch with, but will work to renew the friendships again. My classes who never seem to score well on vocabulary aren't doing this because I haven't taught it well; they don't do well because they won't study. I'll do my part to remedy my health, my friendships, and my teaching skills but when things don't work out, maybe they just didn't work out. I will accept these moments for what they are.

And I think this entirely justifies doping up on antibiotics and going to bed at nine.

Ms. Educat Removes Something From Her Craw (As We Say In Oklahoma)

I am advisor to a group of Seniors this year. I've had most of them for four years and it's been quite a journey to watch them figure out High School and (to the extent that they have)life. This year has been a victory lap for us. Yeah, we're scrambling to do college and finanical aid applications, but the hard work is done. Most of these kids are headed to schools that are right for them. The rest have job or military plans and I bug the other two every week, encouraging them to get a future.

This week, a speaker came to talk with them about the ASVAB. The speaker is not much older than them and seemed smart and articulate. I welcomed him happily to our meeting, knowing he'd enjoy his time with a great group of kids. After our greeting, Terrell (oopsies! Did I just use his real name?? Read on and discover it's the least I can do...) begins his speech.

"Raise your hand if you're going to college,"

It's a slow day for attendance, and of the ten kids in the room, seven raise their hands.

"Of those of you raising your hands, 2/3 of you will not finish your first year"

I bite my lip, watching for the kids' reactions, and allow Terrell to continue his talk.

Later in his talk, a goregeous blonde who just dumped a crappy boyfriend and decided to begin college next year rather than putting it off to get married, shared that she'd made a
93 the first time she took the test.

"The guy who gave me the test called me Blondie and acted surprised that I'd done so well."

The plainclothed recruiter replied (without a hint of irony),

"Wow. We usually don't see scores like that in Oklahoma."

Excuse me, Internets, I need to speak to someone.

Terrell, baby, you are on Ms Educat's nerve. I'm going to speak just to you for a moment, if I may.

If I pretend your statistics are true, you are still the crappiest motivational speaker in the land to look into the faces of kids on the verge of their futures and tell them such a thing. Furthermore, even if your statistics are true, these kids aren't a part of the statistic. Count 'em up, Terrell, of the ten kids you spoke with, half are in the top quarter of their class. It's not like the kid who only plays street ball going to the NBA, this is the dream my kids have prepared for.

But can we examine your statistic, Terrell? Pretty please? Where'd you get it? Because even if that was true five years ago, our State tuition assistance program promises to narrow that number. Check the link for New Funding News, Terrell. Several schools are footing the bill for books and fees to bolster the State tuition. More kids than ever have their college covered, Terrell.

And now, Terrell, I know you dih-dunt talk to my little Blonde girl that way. Do you think you can charm anyone into taking the ASVAB by insinuating that my room full of Okies are unintelligent by virtue of their geography? I do hope you'll spot the kids from my advisory as they take the ASVAB, Terrell. I suggested they show up for testing in Billy Bob teeth. Don't think I am joking, either, you've thrown down the gauntlet and I'm not above picking it up.

Before I let you go, Terrell, go and check out Ms Cornelius' thoughts on Military Recruiters in our High Schools. It's quite intelligent, and she's an Okie.

The good news is my kids heard all these thoughts after you left the room. After I finished, those Seniors looked at me wide eyed. One girl spoke up.

"Dang, Ms. Educat, you really do believe in us"

I do. If I didn't, I'd need to go job hunting. You have the future ahead of you and you can have the dream for which you have prepared. I hope those kids never forget that.

Happy Birthday, Dead Daddy. Happy Birthday To You

Today my dad would have been a year older. Lucky for him he found a way to stop aging.

My family has chosen to envision an afterlife with cable television. We do this in honor of my Grandpa who had at least one TV in every room. I am thinking both of them now, watching wall to wall Anna Nicole coverage and speculating if she'll be buried before James Brown.

We sang this song together in the hospital. It frightened me to hear his usual bass voice reduced to a shaky afraid tenor and I can only hope that this song holds some truth and that he's singing this song in the bass voice I love.

Say It Loud

I've had a classic Educat rant bubbling under for a few days now. Let's be clear on the nature of this rant: it's not about prayer in schools or diet coke with lime or most of the other million things that have stuck in my craw over the last three years. It's the reason I started this blog in the first place, and I want to get it out.

The work my colleagues and I do is good.

There is an assumption afoot that the day of the comprehensive high school is over. In the days of charter schools and magnets and the thousand other choices that any POCHHS (Plain Ol Comprehensive High School) must be a failure by definition. I haven't fully fleshed out the statistics to prove this point, but I can offer proof that it's coming.

Thank you, thank you New York Times, for proving that common education like the preschools in crappy old Oklahoma work.

Here's the deal: the kids whose parents are on top of things will get their kids into the "choice schools" (charters, magnets, etc.). I don't begrudge those parents that choice. But for the kids whose parents don't actively make those choices, they'll be schools. They'll be teachers and those teachers will be (and are) working to give those kids their best.

That's why I don't take those assumptions well. When people assume that a system made for selected kids will be the best for the masses, I don't buy in. I won't buy in. So it's time for me to reiterate.

Go ahead and call me an Educrat. I'm fine with that, but choose to add the Disney twist. Why don't you call me Educat? I'm here. I teach for the State. Get used to it.

I'm back

It's been a while, huh. Lots of excitement here on the home-front - new glasses, job interviews, garage sales, etc., and so on. Busy busy busy.

I'm going to miss teaching - at least some parts of it. I'm going to miss the students, and the energy in the classroom. I'm going to miss the light-bulb moments when my students "get it". I'm going to miss the humor and the playfulness of my students. I'm going to miss the students who are wise beyond their years, and who seem to understand the purpose of all of this even when I've forgotten.
I'm going to miss thinking about and planning lessons, studying resources, looking up information and learning new things while I'm doing it. I'm going to miss my colleagues - intelligent, sophisticated, funny, generous, gracious, and sarcastic. I'm going to miss the smell of the cedar trees in the bright, crisp morning air.

I'm not going to miss report cards. Conferences. Grade grubbers. Enabling parents. Hovering parents. Passive Aggressive parents. Parents in Denial. Mean parents. I will not miss staff development. PLCs, FQLs, CAI, POS, SOLs, and all the other county effing initiatives. I will not miss the inept and unprofessional division level department coordinator who likes only to hear herself talk, and will not listen to anyone else. Ever.
I will not miss the principal, who says things like "the die has been mixed", and "vice" instead of "versus" (as in the Bears "vice" the Colts). Who openly admits leaving the classroom because "I wasn't very good at it, so I became an administrator", and who then treats teachers like they know nothing.

Sometimes, I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I realize I won't be in the classroom next year. What purpose will I have? What will I do during the day? And then, I realize that I probably won't be blogging at 12:36 am on a Sunday night/Monday morning, attempting to forestall the inevitable morning mayhem of dragging my ass out of bed and figuring out what we're doing today in class.

Please, if you're out there, anyone, please visit www.educatorrountable.org and sign the petition calling for an end to NCLB.

Mr. T Treat your mother right

I intended to post this last week in homage to my mother's birthday. Do you really need an excuse for Mr. T, though? I didn't think so either...

The Talk Has Grown Tiresome

It's time to stop with the thinking and leap into the Year Of The Sweater.

I have three finalists. Leave any thoughts you have.

Finalist #1-Regine (clicking here will lead to you to a .pdf file, be warned) has the basic yet interesting style that would serve me well. Behold also the minimal finishing! Although long sleeved, it's thin enough to work from Fall to early Spring. Concerns? Do I really have to be the hero and knit an entire sweater on such small needles? Will it take me so long that by the time I finish, I'll hate it? And what of all that stockinette stitch? Would I fall asleep knitting?

Finalist #2-Blaze also has the "wear it every day" quality, but would take me from early Spring to late fall (provided summer wearing is inside an air-conditioned building). The wacky texturing insures that I'd seldom be bored. Concerns are similar to those of Regine, would the medal I'd get for knitting an entire sweater on small needles match my other clothes? Do I want the medal?

and now, a last minute entry for finalist #3

Invested is the exact sort of cabley vest I was speaking of. It's also made with chunky yarn and larger needles. It would take me through Fall and Winter. I wonder, however, if I am insane for thinking of a zipper. It also has a more limited window of wearing.

Thanks to all who sent and commented with suggestions. I'd love your continued feedback. Is anyone else taking on a first sweater?