Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halftime Huddle

Ain't we a motley looking crew?

Photo Credit: Jill (from her Facebook album)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10 Things Tuesday: Lines Unbidden

I was reading something from a student yesterday that contained the phrase, “...then he did something unexpected...” No sooner did I read that line than, into my head, unbidden, came the phrase, “...and then something happened the Ring did not expect.”

Have you ever had that happen to you?

I mean, there I was just minding my own business and -- Pow! Right out of nowhere it came and, once it was in there, it was all I could think about. It got so bad that I was nearly to the point of loading up The Fellowship of the Ring just to watch that part so I could get it out of my head.

This got me to thinking of other such lines or quotes from movies that come into my brain like that. Once I started thinking about it, I realized there were quite a few. I've picked 10 from among them to share. Some of them are from movies you probably know. Others, maybe not. Test yourself! I’ll give a prize to someone who gets them all (don’t ask me what, though).

1. This pops into my head every single time my wife starts the blender for her smoothie in the morning.

“Oh, yeah. You blend.”

2. How many times do you tell kids to watch what they’re doing? Very often, this line follows such an admonition on my part. (and it comes with a particular Chicagoan accent)

“You’re being careful, aren’t you.”

3. It doesn’t happen often that I lose my keys anymore, but every time I go looking for them this plays in my head. Maybe it’s an unconscious incentive to find them quickly.

“Haven't you ever lost your keys, Dr. Bronx?

4. Although not strictly from movies, this quote often comes into my brain with the image of pointy ears and a raised eyebrow.


5. No one from the generation of my students recognizes this quote when we’re playing games like Pictionary, but I’m reminded of it a lot.

“Baby fish mouth! Baby fish mouth!”

6. I don’t know why, but I hear this in my head a lot whenever my students come into the classroom sniveling about their weekly exam. Perhaps it’s because it’s said in a snivelly voice.

“But I was going into Toshi Station to pick up some power converters!”

7. This quote follows any song by the Rolling Stones, but also any time someone says something unintelligible to me twice in a row.

“Speak English, Mick!”

8. Related to #7, this pops up whenever I can’t hear someone well, even after they’ve repeated themselves. It’s best repeated with an Hispanic accent.

“Ah, Jonathan! You sound so far away!”

9. Back when I had Max on my soccer team, this quote came to mind every time I yelled to him from across the soccer field. I don’t have Max now, but it still comes regularly when I’m trying to get someone’s attention during a game, especially (and for no particular reason) during corner kicks.

“Max! Follow that frog.” [Car zooms off ...] “Max!” [Brakes screech. Car reverses...] “Follow that frog, with me in the car!”

10. Finally, before many endeavors runs perhaps the most famous lines ever uttered from Billy Crystal and Carol Kane.

“Bye bye, boys!”
“Have fun storming the castle!”
[whispering] “Do you think it’ll work?”
[whispering] “It would take a miracle.”
“Buh bye!”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Meme: Stolen from Stolen

Judd, over at Sunday Stealing contacted me a while back to say that he’d “stolen” my Monday Meme from a couple of weeks ago. I checked out his site and found lots of other memes with lots of other bloggers’ responses, which is great because I’m always interested to read what other people have to say. What you’ll read below was originally(?) stolen by Judd from Emily Barton’s blog Telecommuter Talk. I’m stealing it from her, through Judd, to use today.


Emily's rules state the following to get you started:
-- Depending on your age, go back 10, 15, 20, or even more years.
-- Tell how many years back you have traveled and why.
-- Pretend you have met yourself during that era, and tell us where you are.
-- You only have one "date" with this former self.
-- Answer the questions below.

0. Okay, as we start, what year is it and how old are you? My younger self is 21, and it is the same date twenty years ago (or as near to it as I can recall clearly). My younger self is living in New Hampshire and working at a budget hotel chain near the seacoast. He is newly married, recently graduated and feeling much like he's starting out on an adventure. Ironically, this is not far from the truth, but his adventure--like many adventures--will take him places he would never have imagined. I think the best place for us to meet would be a little breakfast place right in downtown Portsmouth. It's no longer there but, twenty years ago, it was a wonderful place to sit and converse over eggs and coffee. He would know it well.

1. Would your younger self (YYS, from here) recognize you when you first meet? Well, I have shorter hair and a beard now, but I’m about the same body type (though I’m much fitter now than my younger self would be). My eyes are, I think, as distinctive a feature as they were then (this was pointed out to me this past weekend when, not once but twice, people looked at me with recognition after having not seen me in several years). I'd probably look a lot like my dad to his eyes.

2. Would YYS be surprised to discover what you are doing job wise? No, but I think my younger self would be very surprised by the route I took to get there. He would undoubtedly wonder why it took so long, and why the hell I’d moved to Las Vegas. To explain to him that I fell into a short-lived career in graphic arts in Sin City before finally becoming a teacher would require some time to do well, and to do it without telling him things he shouldn't know about his near future would be challenging.

3. What piece of fashion advice would you give YYS? Fashion advice?? From ME?? He’d know better than to accept it, I think. He'd already know that he could wear more colors than black, white, blue and grey (something my 16 year old self was afraid to explore), but since my wardrobe now is much like it was then, I'd have little to offer. I only thing I can even come up with to go with footie (below-the-ankle) socks sooner. He'd appreciate that. Oh, and I'd tell him to stock up on Champion® 90/10 sweatshirts whenever he can. They get harder to find.

4. What do you think YYS is most going to want to know? Is there a Community School yet?

5. How would you answer YYS's question? With a sigh. I'd explain that it's moving forward, if at a glacial pace. I'd explain that, even though it's not established yet, more and more building blocks are in place. I'd explain that there's a lot to learn first because no one else has done such a thing before (he would not believe this), but that I'm feeling more and more confident of late that, when it's off and running, it will succeed well. That's truly what both of us want.

6. What would probably be the best thing to tell YYS? Start studying Buddhism now. It’ll make a lot of sense to you and will put you in the right mind to do life well as you get older. Don't be afraid to do what you need to in order to realize the the potential of your life. Your fear will cost you valuable time and make things much more complicated.

7. What is something that you probably wouldn't tell YYS? What’s going to happen in the next few months. It’s important that it happens, but, even though it will be painful, it’s important that he not know it’s coming. He'd try to change it, and that would just make it that much more frustrating. It's supposed to happen. It needs to happen for all that follows to come to pass.

8. What do you think will most surprise YYS about you? That I’m married to my wife now and not my wife then. That story would be most interesting to tell my younger self, but only after he’s a little older. Lots of people have heard the story of that time of my life, but only he would understand and appreciate all the nuances. There's just a lot about that story that can't properly be shared.

9. What do you think will least surprise YYS? That our kids are the wonderful brand of weird that they are. Seriously, he knew that train was coming back around to the station sooner or later.

10. At this point in your life, would YYS like to run into "you" from the future? It is my hope that I'm modeling well the people in my world whose way of being is patient, compassionate, wise, strong and centered. I know that I have always appreciated those qualities in people. I’d be very interested to hear from my younger self (and any of you) if I’m modeling those qualities well.

Happy Monday! Thanks, Emily for a wonderful meme (I really enjoyed thinking about how this meeting might have gone), and thanks again, Judd, for bringing me into your circle!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Week in Quotes (if nothing else)

It was a busy, hectic week. Far too busy to find the time to post anything of substance. For the record, it wasn't a bad week; it was just really full. I was, however, able to collect enough quotage for a post today (in the interest of full disclosure, many of this week's gems came from Karla's birthday party Saturday. I will have just enough time to post before I have to get up and make pancakes. Happy Sunday!

“I embrace my weirdness.” Arry.

“Yes, ma’” Jake, to me.

“How many people got the midget card?” Molly, recounting the statement of a student in her class.

“But I’m having a constructive conversation in Spanish!” Max, interrupting my French class.

"Ow! That hurts!" Juju, after saying, "Como se escribe quelquefois en franc├ęs?"

“I ran for 3 and a half minutes! No, they were not all at once.” Suzanne.

“So, I’m like a squirrel in six different ways.” NiNi, in what easily ranked as the most random comment of that particular day.

“Don’t try to make sense of it. It’s a, it’s a... It’s GOLD!” Dennis Gardman, from an NPR story on what draws people to buy gold. (you can listen to it [HERE]).

“I just had a vibe.” Lexi, who looked up just as I was in the act of throwing something at her because she wasn’t paying attention.

“Don’t talk about brownies while I’m cleaning the toilet.” Eric.
“Was I reading it from a text or something??” Ruth, who never swears, attempting to explain why I might have heard her do just that at one time.

“Well, at least it wasn’t as bad as ‘skateboard’.” Wheeler, on Ruth’s now legendary choice of card in Apples to Apples®.

“Your mother’s absurd...” My wife, attempting to use a “your mom” retort during the same Apples to Apples® game.

“Having all the people in the house brought the temperature up 5 degrees!” Karla, looking at the thermostat in the dining room. It registered 65°F.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Meditation: An Excellent Life

How can a person create an excellent life? This is the meditation I’m carrying around as I take care of the myriad domestic duties that fill my to-do list on this Monday.

What makes an excellent life? Certainly one part of the answer involves understanding what we, as humans, can experience. We are, to be sure, constrained by the limits of what we can do and feel, and to ignore these limits inevitably leads to frustration, denial and, eventually, to feelings of failure and helplessness. Yet, out of fear of experiencing these things, we often turn away from the process of exploration that helps us discover concretely just exactly what those limits are. In many ancient myths, someone who wanted to find happiness, love or enlightenment had to travel first through some version of hell. Dante did it most literally, I suppose. Before he was allowed to contemplate the splendors of heaven, Dante had to wander through the horrors of hell so he could understand what kept humanity from passing through the pearly gates. Frodo Baggins’ journey also illustrates this point, even if the hell he experienced was somewhat more metaphorical. I think there’s more to be said on this, but I save it for later. I have laundry to do today.

My point, I guess, is that we can and should be active in our efforts to understand what our own limits (that is, our own definitions of what makes an excellent life) really are. Although we are wise to accept that some of the main parameters of life are fixed--we can’t truly avoid sleeping, eating, interacting with one another and doing, on occasion, at least some work we find distasteful--there is a great deal of room for variety in the way we approach our lives. I believe that this flexibility allows enough room for people to take initiative and make choices to make a real difference in their lives. One of the greatest things we can do as people, I think, is to reflect on, and then act in, ways that make our lives excellent.

Paul Graham (2006) offers this statement, “‘Always produce’ is ... a heuristic for finding the work you love. If you subject yourself to this constraint it will automatically push you away from things you think you’re supposed to work on, toward things you actually like. (It will help you) discover your life’s work the way water, with the aid of gravity, finds the hole in your roof.” I am continually dismayed by how little time we devote in our society to trying to connect with the work we love. Consider the three major activities that make up how most of us spend our free time: Watching television, conversation and hobbies. Of these three, the one that takes up most of our time and, ironically, most of our psychic energy, is the one that is the most passive and, for many of us, the most addictive. That we are not taught to look at our lives through a lens of doing is made clear to me every year by the blank stares I receive when I ask my students if they have any hobbies. I once received a response from a girl in my class, “Is watching American Idol a hobby?”

In holding Graham’s statement up as one of wisdom, I don’t mean to say that life must be all work and no play. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I believe quite strongly in the value of play. Play is a great way to get to know yourself and, through that, your vision of an excellent life. “Always produce” is not meant to remove play and leisure from our lives; it’s meant to give it some sense of purpose. By making our leisure active, we continually zero in on the understanding of what makes us happy.

In what ways is your leisure time active? How does it connect to your vision of an excellent life?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quotes of the Week: It's 10-10-10!

This week saw the candle I'd been burning at both ends completely extinguish. And just in time for a 3-day weekend! I'm going to enjoy sleeping in at some point! I hope you get some down time, too, if you need it. In the meantime, enjoy this week's quotes...

“Wow, you’re acting kinda saucy today.” Arry, after an exchange that started with, “Can I go to the bathroom?” and ended with, “I don’t know, can you?”

“I love that you laughed the instant you said that.” Jake, in response to Ella’s comment, “I think it’s sexist that only women get to be mothers.”

“I am bereft of sure.” Joanne. (I’m right there with you, Joanne!)

“He’s a king. His name is Duke.” SiSi, of a clay figure she made.

“I got exsanguinated by a giant tick!” Victoria, of her first roleplayed character’s death.

“It was love at first sight!” Dennise, after I noticed that she’d taken the following incriminating photo with Flor, one of my muppets.

“Do you swear in your classes?” Chili. (On the grounds that it might incriminate me...)

“You smell good! Like that restaurant we ate at.” NiNi who, in making this comment, fully refuted her earlier protestation that she did not like Mexican food.

“I’m glad you hadn’t picked it up yet,” Nana, of the very heavy air conditioner I was about to lift when she squealed and jumped, causing my heart to stop beating. She explained that she’d squealed because she’d seen a mouse.

"It feels good to get this one...” Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola, after their 44-6 thrashing of the St. Louis Rams, which represented their first win in 11 games. The Lions, who had the NFL's first 0-16 season two years ago, had won just three of their previous 44 games before today’s victory.

"What's my score?" SiSi, after her first full round of disc golf ever. She threw for 128, but she did it from the pro tees. Her papa was so proud.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday, in verse?

I stumbled home at 7:30,
No want to eat had I.
From soccer practice wet and dirty,
To bathe no will to try.

My children off to bed I sent.
We read, then off the light,
I cleaned up, then to bed I went,
My energy for schoolwork spent,
and didn’t stir all night.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I took the day off from school. I did not take the day off from school work, however. I reviewed exams and futzed around with how to best offer feedback on them that also made for easy recording in the spreadsheet that is my gradebook. I am still not happy with how it works.

The exams are showing me that the students are generally where they should be. I have a couple who are excelling wonderfully and a few who need to get up off their butts, but there’s not a wide range like has been the case in years past. I’m not sure yet if that’s because of the system I’m piloting or the students I have. Time will tell.

Some alumni from my soccer team will be by tomorrow for practice. They’ve offered to help run drills with the veterans of this year’s team so I can work with the newer bunch. Then, they want to scrimmage and show the younglings what soccer really looks like. I’m looking forward to lacing my cleats up and joining them. I do so enjoy taking it to my team from time to time! I may look old, but I can still regularly pwn them with a soccer ball.

My brain is awash with lesson plans, home stuff, letters half written, research have conducted and lesson plans half complete. I’m going to go to bed and hope that most of it sorts itself out by the morning.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ten Things Tuesday: Unique Teaching

I am an unusual teacher, and I teach in an unusual school. Here are ten (and not the only ten) things that set me apart from the mainstream members of my profession:

1. I go by my first name. Although some of my earliest alumni from my time in traditional public school still refer to me as “Mr. Wayfarer”, I am much happier being able to go by my first name. It matches my informal and disinvolto professional style, and encourages students to get to know me as a person, not just as a teacher.

2. I get, and give, a lot of hugs. This is a celebrated element of the rather bohemian culture of my school, and I very much enjoy the closeness it creates between individuals. Particularly at the high school level where everyone is hypersensitive to physical touch, to see someone in the hall, say, “Hi!” and exchange a friendly embrace just makes everyone's day go a little better. High fives are also incredibly common.

3. I don’t grade homework. This is one of the elements of the system I’m piloting this year. The decision to do this came from an epiphany I had during the summer. In a nutshell, it started from the question of what a grade is supposed to quantify. For teachers, it usually measures a student’s ability to do and know, but often there’s a whole lot of other stuff that ends up part of the equation--timeliness, class participation and neatness of work, to name some. Most people who aren’t teachers, though, look at a grade much more simply. Is the student doing well? What do they know? What can they do? Synthesizing lots of things into a single grade really muddies the water when trying to communicate clearly about a student’s progress and performance, so I started looking for ways to make it clearer. One of the things I realized was that I was counting homework as part of their overall grade, when I really only assign homework to be practice. What is the value in doing that? At best, it forces work on a student who is overloaded and who needs different support. At worst, it hides a demonstration of perfectly good skills behind a failure to do “busy work”. Once I realized I might be able to help students better by looking at their grade as a function of skills instead of assignments, it made sense to let go the grading of anything that wasn’t a summative assessment of what they knew or could do. I’ll let you know how this change in philosophy pans out, but the early returns seem positive.

4. I tell my students to solve their own problems. You don’t have a pencil? Your notebook? A clue? Don’t ask me. I’m in charge of the cosmic, celestial parts of what goes on in the classroom, and that takes up a lot of my life. I don’t have time or energy to worry about, let alone address, your own material inadequacies. Someone, somewhere has a pencil, a copy of your worksheet for you to use, some sense of what’s going on. Ask them. Use your proletarian resources to the fullest before seeking the ethereal ones. Now, if you have a problem that is celestial in nature, you should bring that to me first. Do not suffer in silence on matters of importance. Just take a minute to think about what is and is not something that needs my attention.

5. I have an “official sniveling stance”. I will have someone pose for it later this week, so you can see it. If you want to snivel in my space, you are required to adopt the official sniveling stance. No snivels will be entertained if you are not adopting the stance. This rule accounts for a near 90% reduction in sniveling and related complaints in my classroom.

6. I use muppets and personalities in my classes. Mbungo, Isabela, Flora, Rita, Eldrin and Jesus are all part of a cast of characters in an ever-growing collection of skits and stories that relate to what I teach. I’m realizing as I write this that I don’t have pics of them all to share right now, but I’ll work on it. Not all my students respond to them in person (it’s interesting to see who will interact with a muppet and who won’t), but once they’ve learned a little about each of them, reading and hearing about them in stories seems to help them engage better.

7. I let my students listen to music when they’re studying or taking tests. There are certain people who simply focus better by having music playing. I am not one of them, really, but my classes are chock full of students who are. If it produces better learning, I’m all for it. Related to this, if they’re kinesthetic learners and need to move around to study, I tell them to take a walk and come back in a few minutes and show me that they’ve learned what they need to (this works well for vocab memorization).

8. I give my home number to my students. Believe it or not, I’ve never had this abused in 12 years of teaching. Most of my students are actually afraid to call me! Maybe it’s because I make them do it as part of one of their exams?

9. I wear jeans and sweatshirts to school. In my first year of teaching high school, I wore shirts and ties and good pants. Then I realized that nobody cared if I didn’t. I wear such things now only twice a year: Open House and graduation. This year, I didn’t even wear them for Open House because we had a soccer game that afternoon and I didn’t have time. I apologized to the parents. They were forgiving. We won the game, after all.

10. I keep in touch with my students long (in many cases, years) after they leave my classroom. The alumni from my early years are in their mid to late twenties now. Several are married and have children. Some are off on adventures. Others are quite happy to never have left home. I love all of them so much, and I am honored that they come by as often as they do to share their happenings with me and my family. For me, teaching is first about forming quality relationships. High school is so forgotten about once it’s done and, with it, any connection to the mentors that helped us through that turbulent time. Those are important relationships, and learning how to nurture important relationships is so much more valuable than anything else I can teach. It makes me smile that so many of my students know this, and pass it on to others. Thanks, y’all! You make me so proud!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Meme: Questions for Autumn

Many of these questions presuppose living in New England (or some other place that has a distinct autumnal culture), but I’d be curious to hear answers from people who live outside the northeast.

Have you turned the heat on in your house yet this fall? Nope. It’s only just begun to get cold enough to bring the plants in, and it’ll be several weeks before frost really settles in the valley. We have time--and plenty of blankets!

Do you allow your pets on the furniture? She can’t get up on anything but the couch now, but our cat has always been welcome on anything that people sit on.

What were your final words for September? Man, you went by fast!

What are your first words for October? Please be gentle. There’s a lot going on and I'm working right on the edge of burnout.

Do you think you’ve ever seen a ghost? Seen? I don’t think so. Felt? Perhaps.

What is the one color that represents this time of year? I’ll say orange, since it’s the one I can see best. It’s the color of pumpkins and candy corns!

Which of your senses do you think is most sensitive this time of year? My sense of smell is awash this time of year with the scents of apple cider, pumpkin muffins, wool sweaters, dried grass, decaying leaves and the enigmatic yet immediately recognizable smell of approaching winter.

What is your favorite thing to do at the county fair? I love the food. There’s a booth at the local event that does the most amazing corn chowder! And then there’s the obligatory dog dish of French fries, followed by local peach cobbler for dessert. After that, I really like to watch the horse pull competition. Something about it evokes wonderful memories of farm life for me.

What do you like when you have a cold? I’m blessed that I don’t get sick like that often anymore (although this year I did manage to pick up a bug for a couple of days). I supposed I like best just to curl up under several layers of blanket and vegetate to mindless video entertainment. It takes my mind away from the feeling of miserable.

Are you willing to spend over $100 for a piece of winter clothing, like boots or a coat? I think $100 doesn’t go as far as it used to a couple of years ago, but I’ll spend what I must to feel the right kind of comfortable. Having said that, my favorite winter coat is a simple affair that Wifeness bought me several years ago for less than $50. That coat and a wool sweater underneath will do me just fine in sub-zero weather. It’s like magic!

What do you have too much of in your kitchen? Our kitchen is a resting area for many things. It was apples a couple of weeks ago, and Mason jars yesterday. It will be laundry tomorrow. Today is sort of an in-between day and there’s a decent balance of everything. There’s fresh bread cooling on the island, but not more than we’ll eat this week. There’s chicken being cooked down for broth, but that’s not really in the way. There are rather too many raincoats on the coat pegs right now, but those will make their way soon to the coat rack the front hall.

What gripes do you have about this time of year? That it can be simultaneously hot and cold drives me nuts! I need it to be one or the other, so I can dress properly!

Other than yourself, are you responsible for getting anyone ready in the morning? Wifeness and I tagteam the readiness duties for the two elementary schoolers in the house. In most other ways, the members of the house do for themselves.

When was the last time you cleaned your gutters? Pfft! That’s what a good, strong rain is for!

So, it’s after Labor Day. Will you still be wearing white? The only white I routinely wear is on my socks and my t-shirts. I’m still wearing socks. The t-shirts are being herded to the bin for the Great Clothes Switch.

What shows are you most looking forward to this Fall? I only really follow 3: How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory and Nova (including its spinoffs Science Now and Secrets of the Dead). I just don’t have time for the rest of what’s on.

What three things have you just not gotten around to from the summer, but probably should do before snow flies? I really need to finish painting the bulkhead doors, I need to finish cleaning in the basement and (although this is mostly Wifeness’ project), I’d like to see the dining room painted. I don’t like doing home improvement projects in the winter. Winter is a time for small projects that can be done in front of the (metaphorical) wood stove, not ripping wallpaper off the walls and refinishing floors.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The (so busy) Week in Quotes (that I didn't write them all down):

It was a great week for quotes in my world, but it was also really busy and, for all that I tried to carry them all in my head between moments at the computer, I ended up losing far more than I could retain. Maybe I should just carry a little notebook around. Here's what managed to make it this far:

“Because he’s not Spanish.” Meredith, during French, in reply to the question, “Why is there no “e” in “grand” for Harold?”

“So, if I were to die right in the middle of a sentence, they’d only know that I am NOT?!” Brittany, in exasperation over the fact that the “no” in Spanish comes before the verb.

“If everyone expected to get caught, no one would ever commit a crime.” Wilbur Rido, convicted felon and author of the memoir In the Place of Justice.

When you're surrounded by critics it can be hard to remember your own goals and expectations, (and) you start to judge yourself by what other people are saying.” Abby Sunderland, shortly after she abandoned her attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world.

“What’re you doing on the phone in my class?! Get off the phone!” Me, before realizing the student I was chastising was actually using one of my prop phones to practice for his exam.

“I wonder why they make women's cologne to smell like flowers. To attract men, I think you should smell like maple syrup or bacon.” Trudy.

“This is a clear case of arson!” “Arson??” “Yeah, Arsin’ around!” From Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit

“There are just muffins everywhere!” Alex, during a soccer team meeting, as he picked a half-eaten muffin up off the shelf in the room and began to eat it. He later admitted, after I nearly vomited, that it was his own.

“If it makes you feel any better, Thursday is no longer cruciferous vegetable night!” Sheldon Cooper (with many thanks to Anonymous, who posted the link to the show I missed) .

“We could rent you a 14-passenger boat instead, if you’d like. It comes with oars. Lots of oars.” The rental agent at the place where I rent the vans to take my team to soccer games, when I called to cancel the reservation because of torrential rain.

“His name’s not Dave?? I thought it was Dave.” Shayla, after being corrected for misnaming this supposedly popular animated character:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thoughts of October

Geese make their way south,
Plants come in, pumpkins come out.
Winter is coming.

[photo source]

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rain and Breathing.

It’s raining, like, a lot. I appreciate the fact that we’re getting it; we haven’t had any in a long time (months) and the local flora is beginning to suffer. The thing is, getting 4 inches of rain all at once doesn’t quite make up for the deficit. All it does is run off, cause the drains to back up and make traffic a pain in the tuckus. One positive of the weather, though, is that it cancelled the soccer game that was scheduled for this afternoon. Don’t get me wrong. I look forward to every game I coach, but I’ve been burning the candle at all three ends the last couple of weeks and I could use just a little breather.

Since I ended up being at school all afternoon, I took some time to do a little housekeeping and organizing of the mountain of paperwork I need to grade while my students were taking their weekly exams. I’ll dig into the pile a little bit this weekend, but I’m thinking it’s about time for a personal day to really make a proper dent in it. I usually have to take one in early October to catch up on things because, between soccer and all the other little projects that are part of my early fall semester routine, it’s very easy for me to fall behind in my grading.

Fortunately, the pile of stuff isn’t as bad this year as it’s been in years past. Mostly that’s because I’m piloting some new routines in my courses this year that have lessened greatly the amount of paper I see in my in-box. I’ll share more about this later. Even though there’s less paper to grade, there’s still enough work to keep me busy. The trick is to find a good time to take away from my classes to do it.

Next week presents just such a time. By fortunate happenstance, I have just one soccer game on the schedule (today’s game could be rescheduled then, but that’s not likely.). Also, I have relatively few meetings during school that week and a field trip (not mine) will take students from my afternoon classes one of the days. It seems like a good time.

I just have to figure out what to have my students do that day. I want them to have something substantive (I hate when teachers just throw a video at their classes to pass the time). They’re working on describing things, but next week is scheduled to have lots of oral practice. Maybe a recorded something for them to listen to? A dialog, perhaps? I’ll have to talk to my TAs about those options. Right now I just need to find a quiet place so I can take several slow, deep breaths and listen to the sound of the rain falling. The sound of rain often brings peace to my mind.

[photo source]