Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dusting Off a Blog...

I took the day off from school today. It was the last day of Paideia (my school’s intercession), but nearly all my students were off on a bowling trip, so there wasn’t much to do professionally. There has been rather a lot to do personally, however, and it seemed a good opportunity to take the time to shave some items off the list.

One of the things I’ve needed to do for a while (apart from dust this blog off) is review the year and make adjustments to goals. I haven’t done this since September, and my brain is rather off-kilter for delaying so long. I have learned that I don’t do well without a clear sense of purpose. I can ad lib life for a while, but there inevitably comes a point where I lose my ability to see the bigger picture and act with intention. I’ve been at that point for far longer than is healthy for my psyche.

So, today, I devoted some time to assess what I’ve accomplished, what’s in the works and what I should be looking to—a sort of State of the Wayfarer, if you will. I’m not in the mood to write a whole speech, but I’m perfectly willing to share the highlights. Here’s some of the list:

I competed in two triathlons. Although I would not declare my training season a true success, I was able to improve well on last year’s intermediate distance times (well, the bike and run legs, anyway). I also learned that there are times that I have a predictable difficulty being productive—June (the end of school) and from late October through the holiday season. Winter as a whole has proven to be a real kick in the crotch, but the holiday season, with its busy schedule and higher than normal school stress, seems to be a particularly tough time.

I completed MELA-O certification. Federal and state laws require that students with limited English skills be assessed annually to measure their proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking English. My own political views on this issue aside, I pursued the opportunity to gain this certification for two reasons:

1. It provides an opportunity to subtly share my knowledge of learning styles and foreign language teaching methodologies with other departments. There is a real dearth of training for teachers in pedagogy—that is, how to effectively help students learn. I’ve spent a lot of time in this area of teaching practice, and I think a lot of the methodologies commonly used in foreign language classrooms have solid applicability to other disciplines.

2. It allows me to support ESL students in all their classes, not just mine. ESL students are held to the same standards as native speakers, but without an understanding of their particular challenges, teachers would (however unintentionally) cause them to suffer for something that’s not their fault. I can advocate for them better, and with more awareness, if I’m part of what goes on in their other classes.

I developed an RPG system. This would, I suppose, seem a dubious addition to any list of accomplishments on the nerd factor alone, but this was not a simple undertaking. I spent several weeks on statistics research, read a small mountain of books on the subject of RPG development and reviewed at least a dozen different published systems in preparation to create what, at its most basic, is only 10 pages of text. Hell, the actual core system is only 3 of those. It’s been playtested by grownups and teenagers, and I’m quite proud of how it has performed.

I built, then turned my back on, my school’s competitive athletics program. I created the program 7 years ago and built it from a single co-ed soccer team with just 12 players to a championship winning program with 3 sports. I was proud of not just the program, but the league I helped found to support its continued growth. A change in administration 3 years ago caused support for the project to erode steadily, to the point where I was spending more time fighting with the school’s education director than I was actually doing my job. I made a stand. I told the Executive Director that he was either going to support the project tangibly, or I was going to stop working on it. I put a lot of time and energy into the program because I felt it was important (for both me and the students), but I was not going to protect it at the expense of my full-time job, especially if all it was going to do is piss me off. He waffled (for reasons I wouldn’t find out until later, he wasn’t politically able to stick his neck out for the program even though he wanted to). I took that for the sign that it was and handed in my resignation. Make no mistake, I remain incredibly sad over this. It makes me depressed every time I think about it. I list it here because it was something wonderful when I left it, but also because I stood by a principle I believe in very strongly: You have the right to make your own choices. The administration made its choice; I made mine.

Next time, I’ll talk about some of the many irons in the fire here at Wayfarer House. Till then, I’m going to bask in the glow of one more accomplishment--the first blog post in almost four months!


the passionate hairdresser said...

It's about time!!! No, really...I've always enjoyed reading your blogs, much like I enjoy talking to you. It's part of why I blog (that and the chance to p&m about life in the salon!)

Wayfarer said...

Thanks, Bessie! I really do enjoy it. I don't know why it seems to fall off my list of things to enjoy regularly as often as it does.