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updates for 01.16.2012

3 new posts today


Why I Teach for America?

As mid-year approaches, I can think of all the things that I would like to change. I think about all the kids that I have not reached or I have not taught enough. I recently read my letter of intent of why I want to teach of America. There are a million reasons why I do not Teach for America. I do not Teach for America for the following reasons.

  • To complete meaningless paperwork which my school district finds effective to help "student achievement".
  • To watch one selfish student steal from me (even if it is just candy from my prize closet)
  • To be micro-managed by co-workers
  • So I can listen to principals power trip during an after school meeting
  • To teach to a program that is generic and scripted which makes kids HATE reading
  • To yell over a room-full of hormonal teen-agers
  • To have to force one of my students to sit at the teacher's desk because in a class of 33 students in a room with 32 desks
  • To cry in frustration on a daily/weekly basis
  • To work countless hours on lessons that NEVER go as planned
  • To spend countless dollars on books for my book-less classroom
  • To watch 60+eye-rolls, 70+ gum sucking, 100+ OMG,really Miss O'Brien's before a days end
But at the end of the day, I teach for America for one reason...
  • I teach for America because my kids DESERVE an equal education with a teacher who fully believes in their ability to succeed in a world that tells them they can't.
Because of that one reason, I will continue to teach for America despite all the reasons why I do not.  This one reason will be my driving force as I push through the next 95 days with my lovely students.
 


In which there is French philosophy and metaphor

In the following blog post, I will attempt to be scholarly and philosophical.  I will create an extended metaphor involving Enlightenment Age texts.  Please try not to be alarmed, I'll go back to self deprecation and puns soon enough.   Once upon a time, I was a college student who did silly things like studying for exams and reading works of Literature (capitalization intentional) and writing Documents (also intentional).   This was a recurring pattern for the years and years of my life spent in Academia (the capitalization parade continues).  It gets even sillier when you consider that, as a French major, I read Voltaire's Candide three times and therefore wrote three Documents in two different languages about said singular piece of Literature. Candide is a weird book.  Really weird.   It's the literary equivalent of Murphy's law, set to a litany of, "All is for the best, in this the best of all possible worlds." Le meilleur des mondes possibles. For those not fortunate enough to have spent their undergraduate years with Monsieur Voltaire, I'll summarize.  Bad things happen to Candide, he tries to stay optimistic, more bad things happen, tries a little harder to be optimistic, more bad things happen, starts questioning ye olde optimism, even worse things happen...  Und so weiter. And at the end, surrounded by the surreal results of his travels and travails, Candide looks around and says, "Il faut cultiver notre jardin." We have to tend to our garden. I am not an overly spiritual person in the talkin' about that old time religion sense.  My faith is mine, and it is my best understanding of what there is, based on being blessed enough to grow up as the child of an interfaith couple.   But today in church with Voltaire running through my mind, I started to think about what it meant to tend the garden that you've been given, and what it means to cultivate peace in whatever ways are meaningful. I won't waste pixels on the current on goings in my school community or in my classroom; they are ugly and violent.  When you're cultivating peace, you pull out those weeds and put them to the side. You focus on what you can change, face what you can't, and try your best to know the difference.

 


Praxis Praxis Bo-Baxis, Banana-fana fo Faxis...and Discipline

Yuck.  That was excruciating. 50 multiple-choice mathematics questions within a two-hour time limit didn't seem like too bad of a thing.  I thought I paced myself well, but took a bit longer than expected or recommended on one problem.  That sabotaged my poise for the remaining ten or so questions, and I had to rush through them without really thinking.  It would be  a RELIEF to find out next month that I squeezed right through.  Here's to hoping! Besides that, the luxury I was awarded in taking it so early was the option to re-take it if necessary in the springtime.  I'd much rather have done it correctly the first time, though. Anyways, enough of that talk.  I found an idea recently that really resonated with me regarding a lot of things in life, but mainly the journey to "success": "There are two kinds of pain.  Pain from discipline and pain from disappointment." We've all experienced both kinds of pain.  BUT the pain that is most reassuring and brings with it the highest reward is the one that comes through the work itself, the discipline.  After more than 18 years of learning and learning and learning, I have only just begun to take that idea seriously and consciously enact those ideals in my own life. Discipline is definitely key and it will help in so many situations.  Whether that is pushing through that moment in a workout where you're just about ready to give up, or re-focusing your energy and mind on an exam, or, in a broader sense, skipping through the times in life where things are not as easily falling into place, discipline allows people to gain a solid base which they can use as reinforcements when the time and need comes. THAT is what I'll strive for: building and beginning a continuous process of ongoing "discipline".  The correct pieces to the puzzle will undoubtedly and inevitably follow. That kind of pain is something I will try and strive for everyday, right now and as a teacher, so that when that dreaded pain from disappointment so inevitably comes, I'll be ready with a chock-full of discipline and belief. In between those times, however, I'll be anxiously awaiting my Praxis II results...eh. G'Night, TheBigPR

 


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