Archives

All posts for the month June, 2014

So what’s the problem-part one

Published June 30, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Actor Boy has been in town for a few days. We have had several conversations on what we want to do over the next few years. I don’t dare say “Five year plan”, because in five years I will be fifty and the sheer concept will make me want to go on some kind of ice-cream/drinking/crime spree, and that helps no one.

I realize that Actor Boy and I have the luxury of planning and rational discussion because both have food, shelter and access to clean water. We also have a strong support system in place and have a reasonable assurance of personal safety. (The ceiling catching on fire next week is story for another time.)

We have the luxury of time and ability to intelligently discuss our plan.

This luxury, combined with my course work and job search in the field of education, leads me to the question, what is the biggest problem in public education?  Well, that depends on who you ask.

According to the Public School Review, class size and poverty are at the top of the list, closely followed by family issues and technology. (http://www.publicschoolreview.com/articles/434)

There are a total of ten things on the list all of which boils down to the facts that there are too many needs for far too few resources. In the past semester, I worked with a few elementary schools, a few middle schools and two different high schools. Class size is indeed a big problem because it limits the most valuable resource in the class, the teacher. Because there are legal issues, not to mention crowd control, a second teacher is added to the mix when there are more than twenty-two students enrolled in the class. (This is legal, but it is no secret that it is rarely enforced.)   In a high school setting, it begins to look like the world’s worst hostess party.

Full-time teachers have five classes a day. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you toss in a planning period where you must track down signatures, supplies and make copies and race back to your classroom and a “conference period” where, if you’re lucky, you will be meeting with concerned parents who want to help you help their student.  All of that when you are more than likely dehydrated because if you do have time to get a drink of water, when do you have time to use the restroom?  Sprinkle in the classroom management component which suggests that you monitor all classroom activity by strolling around the room as you teach. Much of this time will be spent dodging around backpacks or other supplies various student bodies who are trying to balance themselves in and around the desks of the over-crowded classroom. Now imagine there are two teachers trying to do this at the same time.

This is just the first problem.   I have no idea of how to try and fix it. I know I can’t help everyone, but how many will I help if I don’t try?

 

 

 

Kind of a big number

Published June 29, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

To whom it may concern: I have been compiling notes for the past few days for this blog.(Not the blog in general, this specific blog.) I want it to be especially significant because it is the 450th.  That is not to say that every other  one was a heap of word fluff. (All though most of them probably were.)  I have had a lot of interesting things happen around me lately that will more than likely appear in plays or short stories with thinly veiled characters based on these events. It is too soon to write about these. In fact, the veil will be so thin that I suspect publishing it after my death will be too soon.

So what do I want to say? That question led me to the bigger query: What do I want?  (Right now I want a big icy coffee and some animal crackers and maybe something to help me with this ADD thing that has crept up on me with my rapidly advancing age.)

The want thing is hard to pin down. There are several things that I can think of like a full-time job, so I can keep my leaky roof over my head and have some level of solvency.  But what do I really want? (I will punch anyone in the face if they start singing that Spice Girls song. A  cold glass of punch would be good now too . . . maybe I should get something to drink.)

Fairly high on the list of the things that I want is the ability to make things fair.

Now I know that there is no way that I can even up all of the odds for everyone, but I would love to be able to at least provide the resources to balance things out.

As I wend my way through the course work that is part and parcel of the Alternative Certification process, my mind floods with ideas for my own class room (and perhaps how to tone down the rhetoric a bit because really , what was that? )

According to a recent module (that’s what each individual section of the course work is called. I guess it’s the cubicle of the education world. I like to think it is a space ship full of ideas that I can maybe blast into space when I grow weary of it.), education is the key to a better life and more earning potential (Now I’m not the best person to make that argument from a dollars and cents perspective. With those diplomas and credentials I do have earning potential. I just don’t have earning actual. At least I know what I’m missing. Approximately 9 centimeters of brain. For real.  I have pictures.)

I guess what I want is opportunity. The opportunity to even the odds, to make a bit of difference to someone or a lot of someones and give them  a foot hold into more and/or better education.

So how do I do that?  Well I can start by teaching. I am taking baby steps in that direction. I can only go as fast as my brain and time will let me. I have already applied for four different teaching positions. I know that new postings will come up in the middle of July, and most teaching positions don’t start until August. I have six more modules to complete and then I have to take the appropriate tests.

Once I have done all of that, all I can do is wait. And because Writer Chick hates that, I spend my time mulling over what  specifically I can accomplish.

I know there is only so much one person can do, particularly when all occasions do inform against me. (Hamlet might as well have been talking about public education for all of the sound and fury signifying nothing. I know, that last one was from the Scottish Play.)

That certainly was a long way to go to say something without actually saying anything.

I promise I will make an attempt to make sense. I make no guarantees, but I will make the attempt. I will be back soon with the fact based five year plan.

A big thank you to Actor Boy, Amanda Friend, Sara Killer, and all of the others who have supported me in the creation of this and other long-winded blurbs from my very tired keyboard. (Seriously, the X , N, J, and P have decided they want to work on flex schedule. This will get interesting.)

 

Oh, Die, Chotomy!

Published June 8, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I’m wending my way through the online course portion of my Alternative Teaching Certification. I AM getting a lot out of it and I am not nearly as stabby as I thought I would be. Note how I said, “Nearly.”

I was very excited and eager after doing the course on technology. There are amazing things happening that will ultimately help our children learn in forum that they understand. Teachers will be able to maximize their time in the classroom to better serve the educational process overall.  (I know! Imagine the possibilities.)

The key to this seems to be the Flipped Classroom.

Take a minute to check it out; It’s pretty damn cool

http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/

I would wax poetic about it, but then I wouldn’t be able to continue my rant. You can see the bind I’m in.

The next course was on different populations. That means the ESL, the Learning Disabled, ELL, At-Risk, Gifted and Talented, and a whole other alphabet soup of labels.

Essentially the courses went from What Cool Things You Can Have to What You Are Probably Going to Get.

I know that education is a privilege. I know that a lot of the time you have to create an environment that  provides an oasis where learning can happen, because many students are hungry and anxious, and not just in a “Well, that’s Middle School for you.” way.

I am the last person you have to tell that life often isn’t right almost always isn’t fair.

If you really want to angry up your ownself, Check out anything by Jonathon Kozol. Or if you are an HBO documentary fan, The Motel Kids of Orange County http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/homeless-the-motel-kids-of-orange-county#/ Or Google “Food Insecurity in Children.  In my course overview I was startled but not shocked to hear the statistics on students who are homeless.  So yes, the flipped classroom seems to be away to reach this generation of students and get them excited about learning, but what are the chances that technology can be provided to everyone when we can’t get food and shelter for most of our kids?

I live in the area of one of the largest school districts in the state. In my course work I was able to work in a variety of schools throughout the city.  I am sad to say that there were only three schools where the students seemed to have any hope and enthusiasm about learning. (One school was filled with potential but limited resources. The teachers were beginning to lose their zest at mid-year.)

The superintendent of this district resigned suddenly.

No one in the entire city gave a heartfelt, “Oh, No!”

This makes me shudder, not because   the job is vacant, but because if we can’t keep someone with a near six figure income to stay interested in our public schools, how can we expect the poor, the at-risk, the homeless, the hungry and all of the other Alphabets in the soup to hang in there?

It’s a puzzler. I need to think on that.

Pretty? Sure.

Published June 6, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

A patronette of the library (small female patron), let’s call her Czarina, was having a very important and vexing problem yesterday. She asked for my advice. I am never one to turn away a child in distress, so I agreed, hoping that this wasn’t going to turn out to be some kind of underwear thing.

It wasn’t. It was a mostly benign issue that came about because of  one girl wasn’t talking to another so Czarina invited the girl to sit with them and there was a minor seating issue that got resolved by one girl sitting on the other’s lap. Some folk looked askance at this and Czarina was concerned that she had done the wrong thing.

I assure her that she had in no way done anything wrong and that she should just relax and ignore people, and everyone would forget all about it soon.

Remember when things were that important?

It made me think about what I valued at that age.

When I was in the seventh grade I was moderately crushed by what a number of different people thought of me. There was the boy that I had a huge crush on who basically told someone that I was too fat and ugly for him to consider “going” with. That was the moment that I actually had doubts about my appearance. I became incredibly paranoid and only wanted this particular boy’s approval. (Of course, he now looks a lot like the dad Dinosaur in the short-lived comedy of that name. He also looks like what Wyatt’s brother Chet turned into after Kelly LeBrock transformed him.)

I wish I had known how unimportant one idiot boy’s opinion was. It would have changed my life.

But then I see how obsessed the entire planet seems to be about beauty in all of it’s shapes and forms. There is this article

“Ten successful actors who aren’t very attractive.”

http://www.boxofficescoop.com/ten-successful-actors-who-arent-very-attractive/

You will notice that they haven’t included any ACTRESSES. I wonder why. Would the PR folk attack each other armed with bazookas that fire the entire eye make-up counter of MAC?  Would the lemonade-maple syrup-cayenne pepper-diet come back from wherever it has been?

I want to see the list of the truly hideous people who have had develop a personality and intellectual curiosity because they have better things to do than squash their fatty bits into shapewear and spackle over their enlarged pores so they could stand the scrutiny of people who have nothing better to do than make lists.

I have to go read something before I get any uglier.

 

My iPod has the power to save lives.

Published June 3, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

As you may have noticed, I’m a little ADD and generally antsy, this makes me a delight on car trips or long flights.  My fellow travelers usually vote to have me sedated and blocked in so I will not create a panic within myself and run back and forth shouting, “Letmeoutletmeouletmeout!

Unfortunately, I can’t do this when I am transporting myself to various places, like my job or family functions. Both of these destinations also require me to act like a  normal person. It is not ever a good idea to arrive at your destination as Ed Anger would say, “Pig Biting Mad.”

This is where my iPod comes in to rescue me. My car, the 2003 Dodge Neon that has seen better days but is completely functional and has the best of all features, it is paid for. It also came with an AM/FM Cassette Stereo. It rarely works in stereo because I think I blasted out a speaker when I was trying to drown out the noise on the boring stretch of road on 150 between Albuquerque and Bloomfield.  Now that I am back to civilization  I use my iPod either with a portable speaker or with headphones to soundtrack my various adventures.

One dark day last week I left my Ipod, Elle-fire, at work.  I was then at the mercy of the radio. Rupert Holmes’ The Pina Colada Song came on the soft rock station. I am familiar with the tune and I guess I had never focused on the lyrics until I was forced to in a ridiculous amount of gridlock a mere mile away from my home.

If you do not recall, here they are:

“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”

I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long
Like a worn out recording of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleepin’ I read the paper in bed
And in the personal columns, there was this letter I read

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight in the dunes of the cape
Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me and escape

I didn’t think about my lady, I know that sounds kind of mean
But me and my old lady had fallen into the same old dull routine
So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad
And though I’m nobody’s poet, I thought it wasn’t half bad

Yes, I like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain
I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne
I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon and cut through all this red tape
At a bar called O’Malley’s where we’ll plan our escape

So I waited with high hopes and she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady and she said, “Aw, it’s you.”
Then we laughed for a moment and I said, “I never knew.”

That you like piña coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain
And the feel of the ocean and the taste of champagne
If you like making love at midnight in the dunes on the cape
You’re the lady I’ve looked for, come with me and escape

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight in the dunes on the cape
Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me and escape

Yes I like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain
I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne
I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon and cut through all this red tape

Is anyone else screaming as loudly as I was in my car? I left the freeway because I was afraid my adulterous lyrics rage would manifest itself whilst I was operating a motor vehicle.  No where in this song does the logical thing happen, these two unfaithful flakes invest some of that disposable income to get much needed counselling. It seems that neither of them is bothered by the fact that their partner was perfectly willing to meet a stranger who enjoy tropical drinks that contain heart clogging oils.  It is possible that they would have returned from their flings with clogged arteries and a venereal disease.
I screamed all of that in the car as I meandered my way home.
If I had my iPod, I could have avoided all of this and it’s potential to make me stabby.
I do have a play list that has songs that get me cranked up because the are chockablock with faithless stupid men.  That list helps me harness my chi and take on the world.