teaching

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“ipsa scientia potestas est” Parmegeddon, the cheese continues

Published January 11, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have often heard that  knowledge is power, or so sayeth (probably) Francis Bacon, and who doesn’t like Bacon?

The last few days have felt off, at least from my perspective, and how else can I feel things, hmm? I do feel a bit better, now that I know that Oprah is poised to save us, or at least preovide us with a taco fiesta, and since when were things not made better with tacos?

In the years prior to MBH, I was frantic and often poised to flail. Post MBH, I am very well medicated mostly to prevent any new surprise attacks, and I haven’t spent the last fourteen years repairing brain cells (you can’t say that doesn’t happen! No one knows!) and re-routing neuro transmitters to have it all go, literally kerflooey)  One of the medications is an anti-seizure pill that was initially prescribed to because there was a lot of dried blood working its way out of my brain, but I now continue to take to prevent migraines.

My prescription expired several days ago and I just got my refill about an hour ago.  I think the brain chemistry was a bit skewed.

The last few days have felt odd. I still think we are  circling the drain of this stage of our civilization and I will quote and surmise and make fun, pithy comments, citing chapters of recently read tomes, but I need the brain juice to settle a bit.

It’s possible  my students have noticed things are a bit hinky. I have over programmed my cherubs and have been keeping a tight schedule so that there is little time for my brain to wander.

Today I had a bit of slippage.

I was going word by word through a study guide for a chapter in the seriously dry and uninteresting Social Studies book.  My objective was to demonstrate some research skills.  No one could feign interest in this madness so as their minds wandered, I loudly lamented the efforts of the Sumerians who invented the paper that the book and worksheet was printed on and the efforts of  the Mesopotamians to perfect the written word, not to mention poor old Gutenberg who invented movable type, all of these who have gone before us to make this lesson possible and eight nine year olds couldn’t be bothered to at least keep up.

It was in this moment that I realized my students would report some of this at home and  I would either come across completely insane or totally brilliant.

I can live with either

I know, it’s because I want things to make sense

Published December 21, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

My brain is a little flustered today. I have a million things to do and some of them are not  important, some of them are. The fluster comes from trying to figure it out.

As per BatBeard’s recommendation, I’m trying to remain calm, particularly about the news. I have been trying to stay away from it all but the best I can do is try to distract myself by finding the weird little side points in the stories.

For example, on CNN’s page today there is a story about a FSU Fraternity pledge, Andrew Coffey, died due to alcohol poisoning. Unfortunately this is not an uncommon event. I am saddened by the time, money and brain cells that are being sacrificed in the name of Greek Life.

Now, I don’t wish to take away from the sadness of this horrific affair but I really must ask why CNN’s staff writers found it necessary to refer to preface the meat of the article with:

“On November 2, Coffey was attending Big Brother Night, a party to celebrate pledges joining a mentorship with a “big brother.” The members, pledges and two hired strippers attended the party at an off-campus home, according to the presentment.”full article here

Now, was it really necessary to point out that the strippers were hired? Are there a number of strippers wandering around Florida hoping a gig will just appear. I know this isn’t the point of the article, but really?

And now, It appears that Ivanka Trump dropped in at a High School in Connecticut to promote STEM programs. Some parents are upset because they did not have the option to keep their child out of school that day.  I have no idea how I feel about that.  Now if Ivanka showed up at my school, which would be interesting because the socio-economic world in which I work is so far below the Trump radar, and I would probably choke to death so as to appear gracious and not point out the many, many areas where extra funding could be used, except of course ,we are not eligible for public school funding, and even though we are a private school, the kind of vouchers that the Secretary of Education touts will in no way help or effect the kind of students my school serves and I would have to press on my miraculous medal in hopes that hand of God will reach down and Deus ex Machina me right out of there and now I’m freaking out about something that didn’t even happen to me or is likely to ever happen to me.

And that’s why I need to spend most of time watching videos of kittens sleeping. In the background I’m listening to Lorelai Gilmore complain about the kind of proposal she just got from Max Medina. (I have been rewatching the first season of the Gilmore Girls, and I’m starting to wonder if Lorelai is a narcissist, and why it’s so important to me.)

What truly makes me flurb is that even after the mega tantrum Lorelai throws where she complains about her proposal because a proposal should have a 1000 yellow daisies. And the FOOL ACTUALLY SURPRISES HER WITH 1000 YELLOW DAISIES. That’s about 800 dollars.  And the Prep School teacher who loves her ponied up the cash for that and next day delivery.

Although I’m sure that a teacher in a prep school in Connecticut makes far more than the average 47K per year (Hint, I make no where near that, but as I said I’m in a below the radar school)  An $800 layout on a pre-posal is pretty extensive.  The ring is featured in another episode.  Which reminds me, I seem to have misplaced my engagement ring.

It’s the centerpiece of my “You can have it when you pry it off of my cold dead hands collection.”

So now I have to clean. And I will not watch the Gilmore girls.

Condolences to the Coffey family. And to the Fraternity that let this young man die, I hope you all have the life you deserve. But you probably won’t.

f

 

 

 

What side is this?

Published August 2, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

About a million years ago, back when I was in the middle of my other career, I attended Graduate school for a M.A. in Performing Arts. (I was still young and had hope.)

I wrote a paper in support of my proposal for my final project.  I could not get my graduate committee (The three faculty members who were like some kind of three headed hydra.) to tell me what format my paper needed to take, so I just free formed it.

The paper was subsequently rejected and I was directed to a variety of academic papers written to support modern dance projects. (I, too, was surprised that such a thing existed.) I read the papers and noticed that they were written in the traditional MLA format.

I rewrote  the paper using the format and was commended on the amount of scholarship I had demonstrated.  I wanted to snort with the laughter and direct the Hydra to my undergraduate transcript which stated I was a McFadden Scholar.  I have no idea why people are so shocked and amazed to find out that I do have a fine mind nestled snugly under the crazy.

Anyway, they accepted the paper and approved the project.  After I put  200 plus hours into the project, including written and photographic documentation, the Hydra said they were not going to approve my project because, “We don’t do that here.” They didn’t want to align their Drama department with a public service theatre project that brought together Developmentally Disabled adults and At-Risk youth. Both groups met weekly to design puppets and develop a script that was then performed for school age children throughout the city.

I can’t expect a State University to get behind that. I don’t know how I could be so foolish.

I told them I needed some time to regroup, so after a full blown tantrum conducted at a high speed ride home and face down on the floor at home. I debated and discussed with everyone and finally asked the universe for a sign. (At this point I only lacked a final project to win the race and get my MA) In the meantime, I still had grants to write for my ongoing programs.

One of my friends from the ARC, the organization that worked with my kids in the hood, was a McDonald’s employee. At the time there was a supply grant available through the company, but you needed an employee’s endorsement. I helped my friend, Michael, write the letter and I asked him what he wanted to use for his closing signature. I explained that when I finished an official letter, I signed it, OutReach Director.  I asked him what title he wanted.

He said, “Your Friend.”

It took me a moment to recover and process and when I did, it became clear that this was my sign.  I didn’t want to be on the side of a group of people who would deny credit for hard work because it didn’t jibe with their perception of art.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because I recently had a similar crisis of conscience when dealing with the problems at my previous job.  I did what I knew was right.

Because when it’s all over, and our current world/political situation indicates it will be soon, I know where I will stand.

Because I’m Michael’s friend.

 

I had no idea they were interchangeable.

Published July 11, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I got an email saying that my Glow in the Dark T-Rex was out of stock.  The email was very apologetic, as I guess one would have to be when stating the obvious, after all, the actual T-Rex is permanently out of stock (although to be honest, I would not at all be surprised to see one totally dominating the Starbucks drive-thru.)  I was offered the option of waiting for it’s eventual return, or selecting another creature in exchange.

I think waiting for the return of the T-Rex is too spot on a metaphor for most of my life, so I selected a Blue Kangaroo (How could you not? It just sounds delightful)

Before someone alerts the nut-wagon to come and shake me out of my tree, I am referring to a prize that I won playing Total Trivia. Yes, yes, I did get bored enough to click on a Facebook link (an enterprise akin to picking up a bottle that says, ” Drink Me.” and taking a big glug.) and have subsequently played. To date, I have won a bracelet, a necklace, a laptop sleeve, two tote bags and the aforementioned T-Rex.

Why?  Well, I have jewelry, I have tote bags, but I don’t have a glow in the dark creature. I don’t need anymore of the above, but my new classroom will definitely be enhanced by a blue kangaroo.  It will fit right in with atmosphere of acceptance and  creativity.

As I prepare myself for a complete shift in methodology, (I’m ever so smart!) as I will be teaching a fourth grade in  self-contained environment, I am reading and researching a lot. I know my weakest area is Classroom Management and I am most comfortable teaching three of the four core subjects. I want to be effective in all areas so I do have a lot of prep work to do. (This will also be the first time in 26 years that I haven’t taught Theatre.)

Something I have run across is that the first impression to students and parents is what they will carry through for the rest of the year.  I know I need to appear professional and pulled together, especially since I’m don’t look my age. (I have actually had more than one person look at my resume (Twenty plus years teaching, five endorsements on my certificate, two Master’s Degrees, etc.) and say, “I thought you would be an older teacher.”  I AM an older teacher.  The polite thing is not to mention it. At least no one has said to me what they said to Laurie Notaro, “I thought you would be prettier.”

So what impression will a Blue Kangaroo make?  Maybe I should get him a coat and tie for the first day of school.

Because it’s Friday, November 4,2016

Published November 6, 2016 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I am having a relatively calm day. Mostly because a horrible orange psycho is trying to get into The White House and as a Mexican American, I have a genuine fear for my safety post-election.

Some people have been trying to soothe me by saying, “You don’t have to worry; you’re a citizen.”

Um, I think there were quite a few members of the Jewish faith who not only were German Citizens but were also German Army veterans.

I didn’t get to finish this on the 4th because, you know, sixth graders.  This is when I would stop creeping up on the slightly dead horse and move on to another topic, because things move fast.

This morning I got a phone call from someone asking for Actor Boy.  Actor Boy has my number listed in a few places as his because he knows I can track him down if I have to. Anyway it was cold call for a Disabled Veterans fund raising campaign. I explained that as a school teacher, I have limited funds but might be able to do something after the first of the year. I agreed to accept an information packet. (I was planning to have it sent to my PO Box; I’m twitchy, not stupid. )  As soon as the caller heard my last name, Rodriguez, he told me to have a nice day and he hung up.

This was odd. And a bit startling.

I don’t know if some organization is starting a clandestine Spot the Beaners campaign, but it shook me up.

Because this is how it starts.

I have been told that I speak very well (for a Mexican.)

I have been stared in grad school because I was the only Mexican in the building who wasn’t also cleaning it.

This elections scares me. A lot. Not just because Donald Trump is so crooked they are going to have to screw  him into the ground to bury him.

I’m scared because there is a very real chance that this psycho will win the Presidential election. And then  the real nightmare will begin.

I can’t believe that we, as a society, are so far removed from the genocide that happened seventy years ago, not to mention the genocide that is continuing to happen all over the world, that we don’t see death when it staring us in the face (or grabbing us by various parts, depending.  I don’t think I’m pretty enough, and I’m damn sure not thin enough for the Donald to consider me attractive, so I’m probably safe there.)

I think we don’t understand how big of a number six million really is, when you think of people instead of a number.

Let me break it down for you using a quote from The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Little

“Imagine ,if they can, 13 people from their circle of friends killed in one minute.”

Now imagine that cycle perpetuating until all of your friends are gone, and the only people who are left are either THEM or US.

I realize that it’s easy for me to think about this in the abstract because I am at home, a cat snugly nestled in my chair (trying to shove me out of it, actually) writing on a computer that cost me about a month’s living expenses. I have a job that I love and am mostly solvent.

But my fear is real. And I want to share it with the blog-o-sphere.

Because I speak so well.

Dis(associative)

Published July 10, 2016 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Have I mentioned lately that I am not a big fan of being told what to do?  Well, I am not. It is in that spirit that I approach teaching the legions of  balky, high spirited and clinically quirky children who have made up most of my classes and tutoring clients.

(I realize that being a resident of North Texas I might be ignoring a band wagon and/ or soap box by not speaking about the horrifying  events that happened last week leaving scores of people terrorized and five Dallas Police Officers dead, but I am numb and I am trying not to think about it so, instead I’m going to focus on the good parts of last week.)

I am back to tutoring the same two children I worked with last spring.  I am reading the Phantom Tollbooth with one and A Little Princess with the other.

What I am enjoying is introducing both children to a whole different universe. A world that makes sense in itself and a sensibility long gone.

I am, however, finding it challenging to help a modern child understand the concepts and historical significance laid out in A Little Princess.  How to you tell a child who is a very literal thinker and whose most challenging literature to date includes the books in the Dork Diaries series? (I am in no way slamming that series, Rachel Renee Russell has hit  upon a very clever, and may I say addictive thread of fiction.)  The inciting incident in A Little Princess involves the British occupation of India. The school Sara Crewe attends does have a similar social stratta to that of Nikki Maxwell, but no one in at Nikki’s prep school gets their ears boxed for being slow to perform a task.

A Little Princess is on the summer reading list for the school Child A will be attending in the fall. She is also supposed to read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  I have no idea how to begin to approach the concepts with her over this one.

The challenge I face is directly related to the information that is accessible to children 8-12. I have been boning up on my middle grade fiction so that I may be better informed when I load books into the reading pit that I plan to have in my classroom next year.  I do enjoy the Dork Diaries, probably more than I should, but the other books in this particular genre of first person narrative fiction that also includes The Judy Moody series, Junie B. Jones and the I Funny series tend to dumb things down, IMHO for the reader.  (I will freely admit that I do not like Judy or Junie and I might actually jump out a window if either of these children popped into my classroom.  I would warmly embrace Ramona and Beezus and even Susan of the Boing Boing Hair. I have not read the I Funny series, mainly because I don’t think James Patterson needs my money.)

The other child I teach is not a reader, which is why I am reading to him.  He is very bright, kind and sensitive child, but he’s not that great about listening for detail. I am reading him The Phantom Tollbooth two chapters at a time and it is a book best heard. We discuss the figurative language as we go along and we are going to do a fun, comprehensive activity when we finish the book.

Now he understands complicated concepts and ideas, so much so that I think it hurts his perspective.

Speaking of perspective, having to speedy-quick adjust my comprehension and attitude to work with these two students has helped me put a wedge between the pointless cruelty that abounds in the “real” world.  And who wouldn’t choose to jump in the car with Milo and Tock and perhaps ask Sara and Becky if they would like to rescue Rhyme and Reason.

The choice is, as Child A would say, Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s nature, right human?

Published July 4, 2016 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

My forty-seventh year got off to an odd start (Not as odd as last year which involved my friend Choir Boy accidentally hitting me with his car and causing me to sprain my ankle. Of course the twist-jump-fall move that  cause the hurt ankle also cured fixed my aching back. I hurt my back dancing the previous day. What a drag it is getting old.)

I taught a writing class every day last week and got precious little writing done myself.  I do have some notes that I can ponder for future inspiration. I ate entirely too much sugar and slama-jammed too much coffee last week thus throwing off my sleep cycle.  So now here I am with the only things I really have to do besides die and stay Mexican (That was for you Actor Boy.) is try and stay on top of Mount Crapmore, as I am fondly calling my house, and study for the Texes Core Subjects test.  This is another endorsement that I need to add to my Certification so that I can teach Sixth Grade Science (The polite thing is not to laugh like a donkey at the very idea)

My theory on how to keep from completely melting down over this process is to simply handle five things at a time. Five pieces or crap picked up and tidied away, five practice questions for the science test.

I do have a few other things on my agenda, mostly because I can’t keep my head from engaging in the rest of the world.

As the universe knows (Universal Nose?) I have had my share of bad luck when it comes to relationships. But haven’t we all? Something I have noticed is that when someone we once trusted betrays us we immediately blame ourselves. Especially when that someone (Succubus, rat fink , Hell Spawn, Arkansas White Trash, The Absence of All That is good and Holy, it goes my many names) seems to have escaped Scot free. (Why the hell won’t Scot step up and do his job?!!)

Case in point: I am a nice person albeit not very rational and I try to do kind things and be nice to people. I love kids and I love watching kids learn. This is why I have left the glamour of show biz for the equally lucrative field of education.

About four years ago I had a procedure that would make a future pregnancy highly unlikely (because in my family, we don’t say impossible.) At the time I mentioned to EH that if we wanted to have kids the ship was about to sail. He said,” If we really wanted kids we would have had them twenty years ago.”

Fast forward to now when he is the father of three little boys, all of whom are adorable and will probably inherit their mother’s terrible teeth.  Meanwhile here I sit with a slight overbite and no kids.

When I found out that AWT was in labor with the current batch of children, twins, I ate two pieces of cake and I mountain of Cheetos.

It is human nature to blame ourselves for other people’s bad behavior.  It is not my fault that my Ex-husband decided to be adulterous. It is Actor Boy’s fault that little girls think its fun to lie, especially since his heart is so genuine he can’t imagine a world where someone he loves would be devious.

Trusting someone you love should be a given.  But sometimes you have to take it back.