teaching

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How are we supposed to have a cult with these personalities?

Published November 21, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Logan Paul. Jake Paul. Rebecca Black. Kardashian. Kanye and all of the other Jackasses and Catfishes

I wonder what song Living Color would write if they were to reboot their song.

I have been compiling some research about this culture of rudeness that I see springing up all around me. This is just a preface to the longer blog that I will be posting. I just wanted to get this down because I am furious.  Twenty minutes ago, when I went to pick up my students from the gym, one of them, the hardest working and sweetest one of them was crying. Because at 10 minutes til eight, someone had already teased him to the point of crying.

I have no idea why.  After this, all of my boys commenced to talking about the latest Logan or Jake Paul video.

It’s really making me angry..

Now is Now part I

Published October 16, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

It’s been awhile (Great. Now I have that Staind song stuck in my head.) Since my return to the Mother Ship, I have been inundated with paperwork, lesson plans and learning the ropes at a new school.

I am on a mission that is very very very important I not screw up.  This is giving me a bit of anxiety, loads of happiness and some damn terrific moments.  It also takes a lot of my focused, coherent thought time (I know, it was news to me that I had ANY of that. )

It is half past early in the morning and I have a eight luxurious minutes before I have to blaze out of here and jump in the line (New, better song, my favorite version is by a little Austin band called Schrodeniger’s Cat. ) of a Monday.  A lot has been happening, most of which I can’t specifically talk about, but I did kick off a weekend of the whumps (A term coined by Esther Hembree to mean something on the sad side of grumpy) by watching The Green Mile.  Great movie, not much of a knee slapping comedy.

It didn’t do much to lighten my mood.  BatBeard wants me to stop watching the news. I can’t, because I promised my students that if we are on the verge of apocalypse, I would bring cupcakes.

Which brings me to Now. I’m writing this in pieces because I don’t have a lot of time.

Now it’s time for my mission.

It occurred to me a few days ago that a large part of my job is to teach my students how to be kind.

And sharpening pencils.

Sometimes it IS just the pencils.

Published September 17, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have been teaching for twenty-six years and in that time I have the need for pencils. (I know this sounds weird, but it’s true.) When I taught theatre, pencils were imperative for preliminary sketches for storyboards or first drafts as well as for taking blocking notes.  For some reason, actors never have their own pencils.

When I began teaching full-time and I was having to push a mule uphill while trying to teach 160 students per day and communicate to the administration that a Theatre classroom looks different than other classrooms and trying to shove us all in the same size box was damn near impossible, I had a hell of a time keeping up with pencils.  Kids don’t bring their own pencils, and due to some very bizarre verbage in the FWISD manual, no student should be denied the lack of education because they don’t have a pencil. (No one is at all interested in my retort that the students can’t keep track of them because they don’t have any motivation or real commitment to their own education. Ah, that’s a can of worms for another time.)

Last year I worked at  a charter school that was striving to be a paperless campus. I say striving, because, really, nice idea, but how, exactly does that work if you are trying to differentiate education and there are so very many students who are tactile learners who need hands on choices and it’s hard to be hands on with one eye on a computer screen. It’s even harder when some of the kids don’t know how to type.  Seriously. Nice idea.  But either way, I needed pencils for the percentage of time that the computers didn’t work. And kids who were told they are on a paperless campus NEVER NEVER NEVER have a thought about where pencils come from.

Now I am in a more traditional classroom and the mountain of necessary supplies are provided, but I have been blessed with a group of cherubs who take five minutes longer than the rest of the world to do anything, anything at all. I’m comforted by the fact that I will get to live five minutes longer because nine fourth graders will make all of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse wait for them to get a drink of water and use the restroom, or go back for their sweater.  Except it will dawn on someone that Armageddon is likely to be toasty warm, so then everyone will have to take off their sweaters and fill up their water bottles.   Something tells me I’m going to spend that last few seconds of my earthly life shrugging at Conquest and War while Famine and Death roll their eyes at me.

So we have the pencils, but since I don’t have the extra hour a day it would take for 9 students to decide at differing times that they need to wander about the room trying to decide if they should sharpen their pencil, or should they maybe use pen, unless it’s math or a rough draft and then they need their pencil and if the pencil doesn’t sharpen to rapier’s edge, they  have to stare out the window while the mangle the wood , yet somehow do not manage to sharpen the pencil into a workable instrument.

That is why I spent most of last weekend and all of my test monitoring time. (Yes, we had that already) sharpening well over fifty pencils. I started with three for each student, and then that accelerated into sharpening the pencils that were on the floor in the room at the end of the day, because why would it ever occur to a child to pick something up?

Maybe i should warn the horsemen so they don’t trip.

Well, there you go, part II

Published July 17, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Before anyone goes ber-bonkers looking for part I, I won’t be posting that until tomorrow. But the follow up is fresh in my crowded head so I’m going to put that one up first.  I can explain my process if you want, but I don’t think it’s very interesting.

Today I was meandering through my errands because it’s beastly hot and I didn’t really want to get anything done. As I walked from one place to the next, a woman called out to me and said, “Did you teach at Metro?”

My first teaching gig was teaching a theatre class at an alternative high school. I wasn’t a classroom teacher, but I was part of the curriculum for a psychology/health class. I taught basic acting and playwriting.  My students ranged from an emancipated sixteen year old who was trying to graduate as quickly as possible to go to college to a lesbian couple who was bullied out of their high school. Some students were former gang members and/or returning after dropping out.  Many of my students used the class as a way to process the bizarre events of their lives.

The woman who called out to me was a student of mine about twenty years ago.  We talked for awhile; she has raised four kids, three of her own, one adopted from a family member. She has finished court reporting school and is working and investing in her future.

She told me a little about her kids and the things she tells them about education. As I listened to her, I realized that I had heard some of things before; they were things I recall saying to different classes.

I told her I remember every student I have ever taught.  (I do, I’m just terrible with names.) I do remember her. I remember wondering how she would turn out and if she would survive high school.

She did. She graduated from high school and faced some challenges and is working very hard to instill the value of education in her children.

So there you go.

So this . . . .

Published July 2, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

It is the beginning of the first full week of July and it is also the second week of my summer break.  I spent most of last week with BatBeard. It wasn’t enough time.  But as I said in regards to teaching, is there every enough? Have you ever spent weeks with a loved one and thought, “Well, that’s about enough time.”

Never.

I am very lucky to love and be loved by good, kind people. I don’t think I get enough of them.  But I’m also pretty sure I don’t get enough of me.

What, pray tell, do I mean by that?  Well, at the risk of sounding like a complete and total intellectual, elitist snob (although if you live in a house with a leaky roof and only have transportation because you have a very loving and giving mother can you really be called elitist?), William Wordsworth said it well, “The World is too much with us.” Poem is here.

A lot is being said about mindfulness and how we, as a society, should be practicing it. When did we get so damn busy and distracted that we have to practice paying attention? I certainly am guilty of losing track of the point (It’s a huge shock, I know. If I needed any more proof, not even an hour ago I was watching a movie while trying to walk across the room and stepped in the handle of a suitcase and fell, face first, into the bookcase.  Fortunately, I have a lot of practice with klutzing around, so I didn’t hurt myself, the books or the suitcase.  The cats were most entertained.

I have a month until my next teaching contract starts, so I have this time to take care of myself.  I plan to relax, organize, work out, read, relax, watch tv, relax, plan lessons, and relax (you may have noticed a theme; a recurring pattern is called a motif.)

As I focus on my health, mental and physical, I am reminded to free myself of distractions. What am I supposed to do if my mind, itself, is the distraction?

There is a lot going on in my head both physiologically and metaphorically (Are thoughts considered metaphors, they CAN weigh heavy but they are figurative. Maybe I should send my brain to a weight loss seminar.)  Even before my head blew up, my brain had a mind of its own, but it has gotten worse since my brain has healed. (There are those who say that I have just put  dab of Krazy glue on the unravelling knot of insanity)

Years ago I asked my Neurologist what I could do about my brain taking three separate sides in an argument. All he said was, “It sounds like you’re in tune with your Id, Ego and Super Ego.” That was not at all helpful.

Its nice to know, but how do I relax when my inner child is constantly in search of something new to distract her?

 

 

But everyone remembers the Frito Bandito

Published June 2, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I work with several baby teachers. Most of them are twenty years younger and this is their first full-time teaching job. I also work with a teacher who is about 15 years older than me. He also has a background in the arts, and if things had gone differently, we would be related by marriage. (Not to each other. )

The other day, my bizarro brain became obsessed with Fruit Pie the Magician. (This has happened before.) I asked my colleague if he remembered this character.  He did not. He also did not remember Twinkie the Kid on King Ding Dong.  These were the spokespastries for Hostess.  There was even a brief period when Hostess tried to shake things up by creating a chocolate twinkie, with a Twinkie the Kid of color.  This did not last long.

I said all of the above to my colleague and he looked at me as if I had gone quite mad. He did not remember any of it, leaving me to wonder if perhaps I was in my own special loop of the Mandela effect.  I tested this theory by asking him if he remembered Jot, the dot who had feelings.

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized how nuts this sounded, so I looked it up. Jot was a dot that interacted with children and changed color and shape out of empathy for children.   He was part of an hour long program that was on a local TV station on Sunday mornings.

In addition to Jot, one could tune in to see Davy and Goliath, a well meaning boy and his oddly judgmental dog.  There was also a guy who would read the Sunday funnies aloud to the viewers.

My colleague remembered the show and the funnies but not Jot. He did not remember any of the spokespastries, but he did remember the marginally racist Frito Bandito.

I, however, do not.

 

It’s not ok, Bradley Cooper!

Published May 17, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

And, by the way, I don’t really have much sympathy for Tim Allen.

Yes, I understand that he was blindsided by the cancellation of his hit show. I know that must be a buzz kill.  He also was arrested for trying to sell cocaine. I am also aware that he did that in 1978 before his other hit show was on the air.

What I also know in his career as a performer he has had TWO hit shows both in syndication and his provided the vocal talent for three hit movies.

As the girlfriend of one professional actor, the amazing S. Lamar Wilson and the mother of another the equally talented Dustin Kane Nolen, I know what a struggle it is to find paid acting gigs. It is also a major crapshoot just to get cast in a pilot episode, not to mention the huge gamble involved with the series getting picked up by a studio, and surviving past one season.

Getting two series that survive to syndication is amazing. Tim Allen got two bites at that apple and now I’m supposed to feel outrage at his show’s sudden cancellation?   I’m sorry Mr. Allen, I’m too busy choking on my own rage about something else.

I stopped my rant about education in mid-stream.  This is because there are things going on in my real life that are even scarier than Midnight Meat Train (starring Bradley Cooper and not really scary, although Batman would have preferred I not bray like a donkey while he was trying to watch it.)

I’m just going to lay it out as I have to both my Financial Adviser and a colleague of his.

In regards to my current employment situation.

This is the  current situation at Kauffman Leadership Academy as of yesterday, May 16.

The dates for Payroll are the 10th and the 25th.  Our April 25th paychecks were issued on on May the 7th. At the faculty meeting earlier that week, we were told that the hold up was due to an error at TEA regarding the payment in TRS. (Apparently the Superintendent of our school did not pay TRS.)

We were also told that May payroll would be honored and on time.

May 10th came and went with the excuse that there was no money to pay us and that if funds were  not available prior to the May 25th payroll, we would receive a check equal to the entire amount.   To my knowledge no effort on the part of the administration or the board has been made to get the teachers paid.

I am starting to feel like a chump because I’m allowing myself to be treated this way. I don’t like feeling like a chump. I’m talking about this now because I have made it very clear, and in a public forum, to the administration of my school how I feel.

Here is the statement I made at our faculty meeting:

This has been a very trying year. Some of it due to a new school’s growing pains, some due to a lack of communication on the part of the administration. I do take partial ownership in this because I have not always spoken freely.

That is due to the fact that the time I met with you speaking in full honesty about the perception of misdoing in the school I was met with what I felt was a defensive, dismissive tone.

From that point, I have seen a deterioration  of morale amongst the faculty and some of the students. I am watching our students grow gradually more disrespectful and have felt powerless to stop them because there are no clear cut consequences.

I have tried to stay hopeful. All of my efforts have failed and hope has abandoned me after five late paychecks this school year; the latest one the third in a row.

I am currently out of money. It is very hard to find the motivation to drive to work and teach my students. I feel as if I am being taken advantage of because I do not want to abandon my colleagues or my students.

I do not believe that I will receive partial or full payment on May 25th and I will not be able to sit with parents at the conference on the 26th and pretend that everything is fine and business as usual.

I am actively seeking other employment . Because I do not believe KLA will be able to pay me through the summer, since I’m not being paid now, I need to seek part-time employment for the summer. The problem with this is that most summer jobs begin on June 5.  We are still in school until the 9th.

I propose that you consider ending school on the 25th and use the conferences on the 26th to have the final meeting with the parents.  This way the teachers can return after Memorial Day to clean their classrooms and fully wrap up the school year.

The response I was given is that to be paid throughout the summer as per my contract, the school must stay in session until June 9 as it is in our charter with TEA (Texas Education Association). At this meeting the entire faculty was told that we would receive a full paycheck on May the 25th, June 25th, July 25th and August 25th.

And if I don’t get paid on the 25th?

That will not be ok, Bradley Cooper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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