Showing posts from August, 2011

AZ- A Year in Review

My summer days of leisure spent "basement" blogging and just doing anything my little heart desires have been temporarily sidelined by a serious need for income and the educational pursuits of some local youth. It has been three weeks of very, very long days in which I've maintained my sanity via a steady stream of creating and then crossing off items from my "to do" lists.

But I can't just let August 11th go by without recognition. Tyler, Leah, and I have officially lived in Arizona for a year. Originally, a "let's try it for a year and see what happens" kind of adventure, has transformed itself into a "we kind of really like it here so let's see how long we can function in the summer heat". And while I'm not sure where we will end up in the future, I am pleased with our choice right now. I even have an Arizona license (good for some 50 years), just in case we decide to stay.

Arizona's exposure to sun most days out of the …

Dear 2011-2012 School Year

I just finished reading a Huffington Post article about facing one's fears. The idea is that you can help overcome your fears by writing a letter to your fear, allowing a connection with it in a more rational manner-- hopefully avoiding overly emotional responses that may otherwise feel suffocating and/or debilitating.

And that is why I'm writing to you, 2011-2012 school year. You begin tomorrow and I'm a little apprehensive. You will be my eighth year teaching, and my second at this school. I think it is perfectly natural to have first-day-of-school jitters, mostly because I deal with it every year, but for some reason this year feels different. I'm not nervous about the usual stuff that used to plague me like meeting one hundred and fifty new students, and hoping that most of them like me and actually learn something. Instead my worries are more on a professional level. 

I drove away from last school year feeling elated that I had a contract and wouldn't have to jo…

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a boy soldier by Ishmael Beah...a review

Ishmael Beah was forced to leave his childhood at the age of 12, the day that his and surrounding villages were attacked in Sierra Leone. Ishmael's family was broken, split by the initial raids. He and some other young boys in the same situation attached themselves together as they struggled to figure out what was going on and how they were going to survive. While the exact time line of Ishmael's experiences are not documented day by day, it would be impossible for the reader to misunderstand the overwhelming severity of what Ishmael and so many others in his position went through. 
More than half of the book shows Ishmael just trying to survive in his upturned world. He went from practicing rap and dance routines with his friends one day to raiding villages for supplies and killing rebels. He, and so many other young boy soldiers, were brainwashed and functioned on a concoction of cocaine and gun powder in order to be exactly what the "army" expected, without quest…

Calling all Extraordinary Teachers!

I'm a good teacher, and I don't think it is cocky of me to say. I don't have any crazy visions of teaching grandeur, but I know I am an asset to any building I work in. I'm knowledgeable of my content area and then some...because I really am a life long learner. I seek out familiar connections with my students and effectively break down curriculum so that it is attainable and connects to their lives. I am a hard worker who misses very few, if any, days of work. I was a coach, back when swimming was still in the budget. I have edited so many essays that when deep in the crux I am certain my own spelling has become worse. I say all this because right now, Arne Duncan, our Secretary of Education, believes that being a good teacher is just not good enough.

According to Duncan, courtesy of "The Myth of the Extraordinary Teacher"(LA Times)(link below), all that is needed for our students to succeed is an extraordinary teacher. This belief apparently comes in direct…