Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Feeling Stuck

I'm experiencing an interesting time in my career. This year has proven to be intellectually stimulating and also frustrating.

Here's the short of it: It's my second year at my school--not the new kid, but also not totally taken seriously; I am really excited about what I have learned in grad school, but it's kinda like I'm dressed up with no where to go; Since I teach all periods, I really don't have time to look for leadership opportunities; I'm not ready to be a vice principal, necessarily, but I'm treading water as a teacher right now

Today my overriding emotions were impatience, anxiety, and feeling trapped. While I LOVE my students, the overall environment of my school is limiting. For example, we all have to have the same instructional calendar, assessments, and strategies within our grade levels. I see the value of collaboration, but I've never been a follow-the-leader kind of gal. I can think for myself. What's worse is that we are told that we are respected by administration, but everytime I leave a meeting, I feel the opposite.

So my questions to myself are

1.Am I really ready to leave teaching or is my school just NOT the place to be?
2.Can I lead?
3.Why do I want to lead?

So, yeah, I am stuck. I love the new ideas I am getting and I really think I can lead a school. I want to move on, but there's no path for me. So I wait. Sigh.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's been entirely too long

The last time I went out with my husband was in July to watch the Batman movie. The last time we went out to dinner was for Mother's Day. In fact, we spend 80% of our time together on the couch.

I decided to take the couch out of the equation.

My dad was already planning on coming over this weekend, so I called him up and asked if he would mind watching Em while Justin and I went to dinner. That wasn't our original plan, and I felt bad cause I never really get to hang out with my dad, but he totally understood.

So last night, after a riveting day spent in class, I came home, put on makeup, changed into a top that shows cleavage (well, it would on most people), and got ready to go out. Justin and I left my dad and Em in the back yard playing "1-2 Kick-the-ball" (Em's favorite past time), and we headed to a Mexican restaurant.

It was lovely.

They sat us by the water fountain. I ordered a margarita. I didn't have to cut up anyone's food. Fantastic.

After, we went to a wine bar in downtown Sac that was very obviously a first or second date place. We giggled at all the nervous people who were struggling to make conversation.

Driving back home, we laughed and talked. It was a great evening. Even better, I was asleep by 10:30. Perfect day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Making the world a better place

Yesterday, I had a frustrating experience. It was frustrating for two reasons: 1. Because of someone else's behavior, and 2. Because of my behavior.

Here's what happened.

I had to sell tickets at our football game last night, and I was partnered up with another English teacher. This teacher and I haven't had the best beginning to a relationship, not that she's necessarily aware of that. Last year, she reported something I said at a staff meeting directly to my supervising principal. Not cool. I had this whole stupid situation to clean up, and I did not appreciate it.

So I don't really trust her. Not exactly thrilled to spend 3 hours in a booth with her.

We're selling tickets and I'm trying to make the best of it, chatting, trying to have an open mind. And then she's a complete butt head, and a rather racist one at that.

My school is mostly African-American and Latino. We have less than 100 white students at our school. Our football team is mostly black; since their families attend, our football audiences are mostly black.

Last night we were playing a school not in our immediate area, and it became quite clear that this is a mostly white school, or at least, a white football team. Whatever, not a big deal.

Well, I thought it wasn't a big deal.

I started to get peeved when every time a white family came up, my partner said "You're from the guest school, right?" And to any minority family she'd say "Our school, right." Not necessarily racist, but just rude. (The best part was when this older, black man called her on it: "Why did you assume I was from your school. He was just messing with her, but it was awesome. She totally floundered.)

Then I got real mad when she noticed two youths, both black, standing by her car. She said, "I'm glad I can see my car from here."

And this is where I got mad at myself.

I didn't say anything.

I felt so weak afterwards. How can I expect to make the world a more accepting place where all kids from all backgrounds can excel if I don't even have the backbone to call someone out on their racism?

I need to work on this. I've had this hollow feeling in my gut all morning. I mean, for goodness sake, I'm in a class on equity and diversity in school leadership. Talk about not practicing what you preach.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Harvest Festival Pictures

Last weekend, my mom, husband, Em, and I went to our town's Harvest Festival. Besides paying $12 for a train ride (yikes), we had a good time. Emerson loved the petting zoo and picking her own pumpkin. She had a nice long nap afterwards. Fall is awesome here in the Sacramento area!

Taking Time

When I started teaching 8 years ago, I had a great mentor. She helped me with so many things: putting together lessons, dealing with tricky kids, and learning how to organize myself as a teacher. The most important thing she taught me was to take time for myself.

I remember when we were planning my first six weeks. She sat me down and said, "Plan a day to take off in October, a mental health day." I was shocked, but she had a good point. She said I needed to know that my classes could exist without me. It's a piece of advice I give all newer teachers.

So when I can, it's not always possible, I try to schedule a mental health day in October. Again, it's not always possible, especially the last couple of years. I have been saving my sick days for things like maternity leave, Em getting sick, and job interviews.

This year, though, I'm good. So I took a day today.

Everything this week has been coming to a head. Justin has a nasty, lingering cold (the best kind), Em's two-year molars are coming in (therefore, she's not sleeping or eating well...yay), and I have a group project to work on in my grad class (double yay.)

And I came to a new conclusion yesterday as I was considering doing this. Unlike when I was single and taking days off for myself, these mental health days are for my family too now. Em needs a relaxing day at home as much as I do. And since I have class tomorrow, I won't be much help to Justin in terms of chores, so today I can do my part to help him out.

Today our list includes cleaning the much abused kitchen, going to a park, doing some art, and of course, laundry. I know it'll be over before I know it, but I'm going to try to enjoy this slower, more gentler version of Friday.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

September: the month that would not die

I remember September 14th this month. I remember thinking: "It's only half over...No way!" This past month may have had the same number of days it always has, but it seemed so much longer than its 30 days.

Here's why:

1. I started teaching again. Yes, this began in August, but it started to feel real in September. And this year I have no prep, which means more students and even fewer restroom breaks.

2. I began grad school and my husband started his credential program. So far I have one class down and we are getting a rhythm but it was a long time coming. Our family dynamics have shifted dramatically. I cook now and somewhat clean. While having Justin not work last year wasn't exactly perfect, our house certainly was. This housekeeping stuff is ROUGH.

3. Exercise is my middle name. In August, I got the news that I am indeed pre-diabetic. I had 20 pounds to lose, so I got really disciplined about working out. I'm down 10 lbs. This is all great, but anyone who's been down to her last 10 pounds knows how much work that will be. Ugh.

4. Em's transition back to daycare was not as smooth as anticipated. She had spent the whole summer with Daddy and was used to low-key mornings, lots of personal attention, and, most painfully, sleeping in until 8. She's back to her usual easy-going, social self, but she was downright prickly for a large portion of September.

Almost needless to say, I am very happy it is October. The weather today is beautiful: very cool and rainy. We are planning on going to our town's Harvest Festival this weekend and I'm very excited. It's been a long time since we've done something this. I can't even remember the last time we took pictures.

There's so much to look forward to: Halloween, my niece's birthday, the first holiday of the school year, and of course, many busy, adventure-filled days with my small, precious family.

Whoo-hoo to October!