teaching

All posts in the teaching category

It’s News to me.

Published June 9, 2020 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I love crime drama. I’m not a big fan of the news these days. ( Today it is June 9, 2020 so if anything survives this is a point of reference.) Every single day for the last four years I have stuck to a routine: Wake up. Drink Water. See what horrifying thing is happening today.  This has been since November 9, 2020. At the time, my SO was living with me so he got to witness me falling to my knees, weeping, actually weeping in fear.  This is the kind of fear that you get when you are a person of color. (As a Mexican-American, that color is beige, but that’s still a color.) At the time I was teaching at school that was in a sketchy part of an equally sketchy county. I fully expected some kind of riot or protest or some other stance. I did have an incident at that school when a parent mumbled about his child being taught by a dumb beaner. I responded with a smile through gritted teeth and, “But sir, this beaner is quite bright and very educated.” 

I am slightly less afraid these days. I love the district I am currently in. It is in a large district that has a small town feel. I like my colleagues and most of the parents I have encountered have been supportive. The kids are great. I miss them every day. I have had a few minor incidents involving racism towards my particular ethnic group. 

On September 11, I took a few minutes to give my students a little information (Brain Pop for the younger students, Jon Stewart’s monologue for the older ones.) I took the time to tell them that on September 12, 2001, no one was black or white we were all American. In one class,  a student piped:”What about the Mexicans? “ I just looked at her and said, “Yes, Ms. Rodriguez, what about the Mexicans?” I then told her it wasn’t an issue on that day. 

Later in the year I was checking on group work when I overheard a student talking about the necessity of building a border wall. The other group members saw me approach and started telling him to stop talking. The embarrassed student turned to me and said, “It’s for protection.” I said, “Yes, we need a wall to protect us from the scary Mexicans.” He said, “But you’re not dangerous.” I said, “Not that you’re aware of.” 

These are the only specific incidences that happened to me and I documented them and sent the info to Admin. While I am not litigious, I’m not taking any chances.   

All of this seems so long ago. And it seems a whole lot less important. I think that almost four years of impending terror have desensitized to me. I still check the news every morning, but it’s filtered through comedians.  (John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyer and Stephen Colbert)  

We are still in a pandemic. We, as a country, are suffering from generations of racism. I am personally trying to deal with the general anxiety about all of the above and doing a deep dive into my psyche to improve my mental health.  Writing helps. I am trying to shake the mindset that everything has to be perfect.  If you looked at my living room, you wouldn’t think that this was an issue.

Eighty’s music will show you the way.

Published June 5, 2020 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Blondie was right;I know but I don’t know. I just wrote this text to my kid, “ If half of the country wasn’t on fire with hate and the other half on fire with fever, I would drive up there to see you on Sunday.” On Sunday, my kid is hosting a drive-by canned food drive. (He’s not just independently  awesome, he is a first responder because he disseminates information for the Four Corners region via the radio, an actual station 92.9 the point, in case you are picturing some mildly insane guy in a trail huddled around a ham radio.) 

I have been on the verge of freaking out, and I mean a full-blown gonzo, run up and down the street screaming that I am the commander of the boo-boo parade.  (I know parades don’t have commanders, but it’s my breakdown, ok?) 

I miss my students. I miss them for so many reasons, not the least of which is that I have to be calm so I don’t needlessly disturb the herd.  I miss them because I want to know that they are safe. It concerns me that they know they aren’t safe. We had seven weeks of quarantine (Our spring break was a week later than everyone else’s so technically we had one week less of quarantine. Six of one . . . )  During this time, our district lost a teacher and two students. I am unsure of the details of two of those, but one of them was a student who took his own life.  I am worried for all of my kids. 

Our last day of school was a week ago, before the new measure of madness in our country was meted out.  For our class good-byes, we had a scheduled web-ex  conference with each of our classes.   All year I have told my students that I will bring cupcakes if/when we are in an Extinction Level Event.  During one of the good-byes, one of my darlings asked if I was going to bring cupcakes. I said, “It’s not the Apocalypse.” This child looked straight at me and said, “It’s not?” 

Maybe it’s time for some disturbance.

Ten Minutes til Good-bye

Published May 27, 2020 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Good-bye is not a new word for me.

Ten years ago I found out I would have to say the forever good-bye to my good friend Steve. It was hard, even with 92 days to get used to it. It still feels like a punch right in the feelings. 

Today I have to say good-bye to my One-Act Play Cast. In my world (Texas) UIL One-Act Play Competition is a big deal. This is my first year at my school.  I wanted this to be a great experience for everyone. I assembled a fine cast; so fine a cast that other students said, “Wow. That’s going to be a great show. (It’s really hard for actors to be happy for each other.) 

I picked a great play, dark and twisty and shorter than the allotted time. 

And then the pandemic happened. Initially all UIL events were cancelled, but in my region, Middle School UIL is its own thing, so all was not lost. At the end of April we thought we might be back in Mid May. Now we know that we are not going back to school until the fall. 

Most of my cast was willing and able to rehearse via WebEex. 

Then I talked to a friend of mine who knows absolutely everything there is to know about local theatre. Not only does he know where the bodies are buried, he probably brought the shovel. 

I asked him when he thought, realistically speaking, that live local theater would be back. 

He said 2021. 

 

I can’t keep kids dangling on hope for seven months. I am having a hard time scrounging up hope for myself. 

 

My son is a first responder because he delivers the news. I have spoken to him and I know it’s all he can do to keep it together because a screaming maniac would not do much to calm an entire region down. 

 

I fully expected to be spending this week winding down the school year, taking a few days to put my brain back together and then plan my road trip to see my kid. 

 

Tomorrow is still the last day of school. I am saying good-bye to my classes via WebEx. I will be finished with that tomorrow. 

 

I won’t be planning my road trip because my kid lives in Aztec, NM. Aztec is about an hours drive from Shiprock. Shiprock is part of the Navajo Nation. There are now more cases of Covid-19 in the Navajo Nation than there are in New York. A week ago, the entire Navajo nation was on lockdown. As in no one goes anywhere, not to the store, not to get gas and certainly not to a restaurant. 

 

Farmington, the town between Shiprock and Aztec, is not on a lockdown of any kind. The San Juan County commissioner says a lockdown wouldn’t be legal for Farmington.  

 

So it doesn’t look like I will be heading that way anytime soon. 

So now I go say good-bye to my cast. Some of whom are moving on to another school next year, some who are moving out of state. My heart feels like someone is pinching it. 

 

I can’t be ready in ten minutes. 

In case you were wondering

Published April 28, 2020 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been unconscious or even under the weather or  hiding under the bed. (I would be there but with two cats and the occasional shoe I can’t find, it’s a bit crowded.)

I’ve been working, following my district’s distance learning policy, and staying in touch with my colleagues and students as best I can.  I may have mentioned that the theater people had a working plan days before the official quarantine orders came.  I have been away from my students for five weeks now.  I have been away from my sweetheart even longer than that. I have only seen my Amanda Friend from a the distance of six feet and on Zoom.

I haven’t been writing because it hurts too much. It is really painful to reflect on no reflection. I don’t mean to say that I don’t have any thoughts or feelings on any particular subject. I can’t do the things I love without some kind of distraction because when I sit and write and try to create, I access my soul (I know that sounds really douche-y.) and right now it hurts.

I hurt because I can’t see the 158 kids who collectively drive me bananas, but love individually.

I hurt because I don’t know when I will see my kid or my sweetheart again. I hurt because my grandmother will be 90 next week and I don’t know if I will ever get to hug her again and thank her for surviving.

I hurt because I need a hug and know I can’t get one.

I haven’t been writing because it hurts.

Learning from a distance

Published March 24, 2020 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

 

I am a teacher. In these days of social distancing, that is usually followed by sigh and a “bless your heart. If you are truly committed to the social distancing you will be making your remarks  to a spouse, small child or curious pet. 

 

As of right now, I am in the planning stages of teaching my classes online. This is because my school district is about a week behind everyone else, so we just had spring break and this week begins our distance learning. 

 

I am ready. I have the technology and the discipline to make this happen. But because we are a week behind, the platform isn’t ready. So what am I to do, all amped up and ready to go? 

 

I switch hats from distance teaching to distance learning. Several months ago, I lost the run of myself and purchased a few courses on Udemy.  These are 

 

-Managing Student Behavior

-Editing Mastery

-The Geography of Globalization 

-World Geography and Cultures 

 

All of these things are to help me with what I am already doing, thus enhancing my life and career. It is also giving me a chance to see what my students are going through. (Walking a mile in their shoes is not apropos of this situation.) 

 

I love learning. Right now the course I am listening to is lead by someone whose methods might not be applicable to my situation. Of course, now that all sense of normal has gone all higgledy-piggledy, who knows if it will eventually grow in relevancy. 

 

Something that I personally have noticed is that taking time to send an individual message to each student in my “homeroom” (we don’t have an actual homeroom at my school, just a class in which we report our attendance.) The message was to reassure the students that in this strange time their teachers are thinking of them. 

 

I have 32 students in my homeroom. As I recorded each message- doing so on my personal Macbook, was infinitely easier than on my school issued Dell (I am not receiving payment for this.) I thought about my daily interactions with those students. I know a little bit about each one. I wish I knew more.  

I end every class with “I love you all; get out.” Now I’m ending my video messages with “I love you all; stay inside.” 

 

I do. I really love them all. I’m thinking this every moment when it seems that I may never see them again. Because regardless of how you feel about this new experience, nothing will ever be the same. 

 

I love you all; stay inside.

Not Bradley Cooper Again!

Published June 7, 2019 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

The school year has ended and while the madness never truly ends, it has at least, slowed down. I have today off and I’m supposed to be cleaning and writing and otherwise being productive, but, instead I am discovering new (to me) movies and shows, because, as you know that teaching thing has really been getting in the way of my leisure activities.

I have been watching hidden gems on both the Hulu and the Amazon Prime.

Yesterday I watched “Swearing Allegiance” this gem is a renamed, but not at all polished Made for TV movie about the Texas Cadet Murders. No cadets were murdered. On the contrary, David Graham a cadet at the Air Force Academy and Diane Zamora, a cadet and the Naval Academy, murdered Adrianne Jones. But no one every mentions that part. The movie, while in and of itself hamfisted and does no justice to Dee Wallace Stone’s talents and does in fact make Holly Marie Combs look horse nostrilled and shrill, is mostly inaccurate. It also leaves out the part where the Jones family insisted on dropping the death penalty so that the Grahams and Zamoras wouldn’t have to grieve the death of a child. The movie insinuates that Adrianne had sex with David thus prompting the rage of Diane who insisted Lady Macbeth-like, that the only way to win this situation was murder.  They also left out the facts as stated by Graham post trial that he “made up” the brief affair with Jones.

So a child was murdered by two other children over a complete lie.

The other movie I watched was quickly cobbled together simulated reality movie about bullies.  This is what happens when I misplace the remote.

So today, I sat down to work on some articles. I am keeping up with my free lance gig because if someone doesn’t force me to write, I apparently just won’t do it. I absolutely can not work without background noise and I can usually work quite efficiently with the TV on. Today, my heart and mind just weren’t committed to churning  out articles on psychic healing, so I cruised around on the  Amazon Prime app and wandered in to a movie called Case 39. I had never heard of it before and it stars Renee Zellweger who didn’t look too bony in the trailer, so I gave it a look. It is about a social worker who, like many of us who work with children, gets too invested in the life of a client and winds up being terrorized by a child who is not at all what she seems. (I don’t want to spoil it for you.) Imagine my shock and amazement when Bradley Cooper popped in. I think he  plays a psychiatrist. It does not end well for him.

I don’t mean to verbally trounce Cooper, especially since the Buzz feed tells me that he and his lady love, Irina Shayk have split. Judging from the amount of hotness Shayk shows in most pictures, she will be just fine. (Seriously, the pic of her the gold dress, if my boobs looked that good I would just whip them out at the deli counter. well, I still want to teach on this planet, so probably not.)

Anyway, it just seems like once I settle in to a good, suspense filled movie, Bradley Cooper rears his adorably shaggy head and then goofs up the place. I say this from a place of respect and curiosity.

BatBeard and Actor Boy are also goofy and shaggy and I sure would like to see them pop up on the Amazon Prime or the Hulu or the Netflix.

Maybe if I got a gold dress

My mission, should I choose to accept it.

Published October 6, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

This was a challenging week and the fact that a bunch of politicians just told all of the women in this country that there is no punishment for hysterical, unstable men is just the cherry on the cake.

I have a headache. This isn’t news nor is the fact that everytime I have a headache I have to ask myself a series of questions to ascertain what kind of headache it is and if I will soon lapse into less than sentient state.

I had a headache yesterday; I left school early. School has been such a struggle for me this week that I am seriously wondering if I can do what is asked of me.

The group of students I have this year are the first generation of children who have never known life without a touch screen. It’s interesting and there are portions of my day that I can only cope by pretending that I am an anthropolgist studying a new tribe of cheeto eating beasts with short attention spans.

Week before last I got to the point where I can anticipate the bumps in my particular educational road and veer around and keep everything on the rails.

Then last week happened and I am faced with a challenge that I don’t know if I can handle.  The challenge is something that originally made me feel bitter and resentful and now I’m just sad.  I can’t get into it too specifically right now, but I was feeling so  much better when I saw my summative evaluation from last year: Could benefit from better organization, but students feel safe and happy in this learning environment.

I don’t feel like I’m capable right now.  Yesterday  we were working on a project designing a t-shirt for a person or organization that works for the greater good- One of my students wrote this on the example I had projected on the screen43154605_10217570015311291_4390089667576332288_n

I was touched, especially since this was created by two incredibly disruptive students.

I’m trying kids, I’m trying.

 

Interrupting Flo?

Published April 5, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Ah, the routine! Many may decry the hum and the drum of a regular schedule, but to those of us who dodge the slings and arrows of the classroom, and for some of us, it’s potentially dodging actual bullets, but that’s a tirade for another time.

Anyway, the daily routine of  normal school day is what keeps most of us sane. Unfortunately there are many factors that can disrupt the average. Like the season. It is early April and some of us came back from Spring break and rolled right into an Easter Break. Now we are break free and trying to cram in benchmarks and evaluations and recommendations and weekly assessments in to the last six weeks of school. All of this while occasions such as this morning’s Easter Parade do inform against us.

My school has an Easter Parade featuring our early elementary students in their spring gear pushing/pulling carts and dressed as sunflowers, bumble-bees, etc as they walk down the street and up the driveway.  (It’s terribly cute, especially one little girl in a flower costume, holding up a window box of other flowers, and the Grand Master of the parade,  a round little boy dressed as bee, proudly brandishing his baton. My favorite was a child who refused to do anything but walk grimly with his arms down.  He didn’t see the point of an Easter Parade after Easter.  When I asked him why he didn’t want to wave, he raised one eyebrow at me and said, “Really?” )

This fifteen minute parade disrupted everyone’s entire routine.  The entire school has been in  chaos all day. So now I am the shrew because I refuse to let my kids eat their candy (Our Pre-K buddies sent us some for helping them.) because they won’t stop talking, pushing, shoving and accusing someone of having Cheez-it Farts.   True, i would have some of these problems without an Easter Parade, but part of the problem is that being outside in the blustery wind made everyone’s allergies  act up so I have mountains of Kleenex all over the place and everyone is giving me Disney Eyes because I won’t let them have candy.

My theatrical training has taught me that conflict creates the story; that no story was ever written about the day things went ok, so I should be grateful for the material.

My theatrical training has also taught me that if I had gone the performance route, and was lucky enough to be cast in a recurring role in a commercial, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about money, like every other teacher.

And we’re back.

inferiority, complex?

Published April 3, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I am having the kind of day where I can’t do anything right.  I  started out feeling guilty because I didn’t let Samantha (the cat) lick my toast and she mewed piteously at me.  (What if she dies today, bereft of toast?)  Then, as I was getting ready to leave, I saw the strip of ceiling hanging loose because the entire house is running down the hill and I felt a) like a terrible housekeeper because, really, shouldn’t I get on a stepladder with a glue gun and fix it? and b) like a generally terrible human being because I should be out of this house by now because EH and the Adulteress (world’s worst punk band) picked it out and I can still see the spot of floor I stared at and counted to 100 so I wouldn’t pick up a wiffle bat and wail on both of them while they were hugging before I went to my grandfather’s funeral. I totally could have gotten away with it too.

Then I got to school and felt guilty because I’m not particularly excited to be back teaching and guiding young minds. Then I felt worse because after carefully planning my lessons, I discovered that I haven’t been putting in enough information on the plans. I am supposed to put a four step evaluation, objective and process plan into every lesson. I teach five subjects and some days the objective is to get the kids through the day with the ability to walk and talk at the same time.  The educational guilt cycle continued with a mild reprimand because I have been using the wrong copier to make the double sided copies for my class.  No one has ever told me not to use this copier nor has any one demonstrated the double sided features of the other copier to me.  (All of the other classes have workbooks for the exercises I was copying. It is a mystery to me why I don’t have a class set of these books, but since I still haven’t found the curriculum guide that last years’s teacher prepared.)  I have a heap of work still to do, but just found out I have a meeting after school.

I still have three hours left in my school day. I can’t  wait to see how I fall to the occasion.

Strange Days Indeed

Published March 11, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

“Just how does one become a professional blockhead?”-Fox Mulder

I find it strangely synchronotic (I think I just made that word up.) that as I am writing this particular bit I should hear that snippet of dialogue. You see, and how could you not, but if you don’t, I’ll tell you. There are strange doing afoot. I am officially on Spring Break and my head is fraught with worry.

I am worried about finances. Quite simply, I am not making enough money to cover expenses, and this time it is not entirely the fault of the vicious whomping my savings took last year when I worked for a school that had a shaky understanding of how the business world works.

I, and my fellow teachers, are quite frankly grotesquely underpaid and there is not a thing we can do about it.  Exacerbating this situation is the fact that my mortgage has gone up to the equivalent of exactly one half of my paycheck.  (Why yes, this is the same house that had sparks shooting out of the floor this time last year and had similar sparks shooting out of the ceiling two years ago.  For some insane reason, the property has been appraised at about $20,000 more than it was last year.)

Clearly it is time to get out of the house.  Like my fellow teachers there is not much I can do for the immediate fix, with the exception of getting a second job or selling plasma.  I already work approximately 10 hours a day, and if I sell plasma The Mom will reach into my chest and pull out my still beating heart. Plus the plasma alone won’t cover the already stretched bare spots in the budget.

I know the problem: teachers are simply not paid enough.  It is the second most senseless thing in Education, the first being that we, as a country, can not find away to keep our children safe in our schools and BTW, have you noticed that in wake of the far too many school tragedies you haven’t heard a single story of a TEACHER fleeing the scene. No, teachers understand that their first responsibility is to their students, which is why we put up with the low pay and terrible hours.

In a mostly related note, I just finished reading the book,A matter of days by Amber Kizer. I generally stay away from the “This is how the world ends” genre, mainly because I think Stephen King did it best with The Stand.

This book was a great read, kind of a The Stand, light.  It pushed forward the idea that when it does end it will be as sly and fast as an OkCupid date. You won’t see the horror coming until you are trying to get away from it. (If you reuse this phrase, please direct people to my books on Kindle which are still free through the 13th! )

Now why, you may ask, did I leap to this book review and shameless plug?

Because I have genuine anxiety about the daily circus that is our current administration.  If any of my students ran off at the mouth like that (Just go to CNN.com and check out the latest) they would miss recess for the next few weeks, possibly the rest of the school year.

And now the President plans to meet with Kim Jong-un.  I think the problem of underpaid teachers might just go away, along with the rest of us.

Because I see the horror coming.

And I’m just an amateur blockhead