Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Better Today

Thanks for letting me rant a bit yesterday. I am much better today. I'm off my high-horse and back on solid ground. Whatever happens with this teaching thing will happen or not. Maybe I was over-thinking yesterday. Maybe I got to see a glimpse of reality or a reminder of what really goes on in public schools.

My father, who was the most wonderful, best teacher of all time, gave me good advice. Several times when I was struggling with the politics of public schools, Dad would say, "Figure out what they (the schools) want, give it to them, take your paycheck, and go home. If they want you to teach the kids, then teach them. If they want you to pass the kids, then pass them. Take your paycheck and go home.

Now my dad never took this advice. He was a rebel of sorts. He taught kids and he loved them. He did what he thought was best for those kids no matter what the school district said. Of course that meant discipline. As a principal he ran a tight ship. His teachers and students loved him. And when the schools no longer let him do his thang, he quit.  That is what I want - good discipline, good fun, good teaching, etc or I won't do it.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Second Thoughts

Maybe I spoke too soon. Maybe I don't have this teaching job after all. Pardon me while I sort through my thoughts and maybe rant a bit.

Last week, the principal of the high school called me to see if I was interested in teaching art half a day. That would be four classes. Since there are seven periods a day and most teachers have a prep period, teachers normally teach 6 classes a day. The principal kept saying I would be paid on a 4 to 7 pay scale. Based on my teaching experience and the classes I would teach for him, he gave me an approximate salary. Okay, whatever.

Yesterday I went in to visit with the principal and see the classroom. This may sound funny, but years ago, when I went in to interview for a teaching position at Questa, when I saw the classroom, I knew I could teach there - it was mine. Same with Taos - I was not sure about taking a teaching position in Taos, but when I saw the classroom, I felt at home. It was my domain. When I saw the art room yesterday, I was not impressed. It was going to take lots of work. Seeing the classroom did not give me warm fuzzy feelings, but it was more like the room was a step-child and I would have to work to love it.

In talking with the principal, I shared my thoughts/fears on planning and keeping kids occupied. He poop-pooed my fears saying that "art should be fun" and that I would "have free reign." "Art was not like English." I agreed. English is structured - you have curriculum - open a book and teach. How hard could it be? But art is not structured. There is no book, no ready-made curriculum. Everything would have to come from my head. Everything would have to be planned from the ideas for projects to the buying of supplies to teaching to oversight to finished project. That is why it is such a big challenge. It's not like I get to walk in each day and say, "Let's draw a pig today. And tomorrow, we might throw a pot on the wheel. Hey you there, be careful with that exacto knife; you could cut yourself or someone else..." This art stuff is serious business to me.

So this morning, I called the principal and said, "Okay, I will take the job." He offered and I accepted. He said I needed to visit with the superintendent and the business person to get my paperwork done. So I said lets do this now and went in to meet the Super. The Super seemed nice enough, but he had the attitude that I had not been offered the job. Once again he talked as if art was not important - not like English. English teachers have to deal with testing, etc. Pffft! I told him I could handle that easily if he offered me an English position. He then told me I would be paid $1000 less than what the principal had said. Hmm, so I would be teaching four classes of high school aged kids with no prep time except my own time. That seems more like a 4 to 6 pay scale rather than 4 to7.  And I pointed that out to him. Well, he said that maybe they could get my pay up a bit. Now I have a lifetime Texas Teachers Certificate and 6 1/2 years experience teaching in public schools. He then said he would need to call the State and see about  my teaching certificate. Maybe the State would give me a waiver for a year - they give lots of them. Later I might have to take a test or something to get an OK teaching certificate. He would have to see. He would get back with me in the next few days.

So lets get this straight - art is not important, you can just have fun, our kids are good kids, it won't take any extra time, very little planning, etc. But art is important enough that you have to have the right teaching certificate. Texas must not be as good as OK. I tell you now, I'm not taking a stupid test to prove I can teach art - ever! Either go to bat for me, or forget it.

I'm feeling a little queasy today. I'm thinking they don't take teaching nearly as serious as I do. Or maybe they don't expect much. And yet they are all about stupid rules. I told you I was hormonal.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A New Challenge

Sometimes in life, you need a challenge. I've been needing something challenging in my life for a while now, and I may have come up with the answer.

Last year our adventures in Peru included ziplining across the canyon and roaring river five times.
Here we are on the platform. - kind of panoramic view.
If you can find the dot, that is one of us out on the zipline. There is actual video of each of us zipping across the river, but I seem to have trouble posting videos. I'll just tell you that my face is white and my eyes are wide and I'm frowning or concentrating on not dieing. Whatever! It was not a pretty picture.
When all was said and done, we had to walk out across the bridge, which was similar to walking on bungee cords bouncing all around.  Three times we had to stop and unhook our safety hooks and rehook them around structure poles - wearing welders gloves - all the while dipping and swaying. It took such concentration that I did not smile until I was on safe ground, and then only after I wiped the sweat out of my sunglasses and could see again. But I met those challenges as well as the four day trek and the 30 mile bicycle ride down through the Andes. Not bad for fat, old girl!

Now I am taking on a new challenge, and it may be the scariest yet. I have been offered a half-day teaching job in Comanche - teaching art in the high school. So why is that scary? After all, I have taught in public schools before. I have taught high school kids (twenty years ago!). I have taught art girls for the last 15 years. But I have never taught art in public school. When I think that I will need to do lots of planning and prep time - that I will need to keep the kids on task and busy, I freak a bit. The worlds greatest procrastinator just put herself on a time schedule with lots of deadlines. But it is just half a day - right?!

The principal actually said that he had a couple of other people wanting the job, but he liked my "maturity." I probably should have pointed out that I am hormonal, which is not exactly like postal, but close. It is funny that back in my college days, I started out thinking I would teach art. For different reasons, I switched my first teaching field to English and my second teaching field to art. I loved teaching English - it was very structured. Art, well, not so structured! And that is the challenge.

When I texted Jesse and told her about the position and offer and asked her opinion, she texted back, "Pros and cons?"  I texted, "Pros - purpose in life." She texted, "That is an important one."  Then she started giving me lots of positive feedback. Thank you, Jesse, for understanding that and being positive. Toby was also positive. He knows my struggles with purpose. Bo was not so positive at first, but then he gave me the thumbs up. I appreciate that too. I need encouragement at this point in life...as well as a challenge. Hopefully I will be able to do this and smile at the same time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Fun

The Duncan Dehydrator is coming up this weekend. Last year I was recovering from my Peru trip and did not ride in the Dehydrator. This year Toby wants to take the GGs and ride the ten mile section of the ride. In the past, he and Jesse have ridden the 60+ mile section. I usually ride the 25-33 mile section. I know my limits. Well, I usually know my limits - the Peru trip would have been okay for me, but the blisters on my feet were my downfall. More on that later. In the meantime, Toby had the GGs out to the Lazy B on Sunday to prepare for the bike ride. His plan was to ride them around a section (four miles) on Sunday evening when it was a bit cooler out. Bo went with Toby and the GGS. They had not ridden a mile before Bo had bike troubles. Toby stopped to help him. The GGs came riding back to where Bo's bike had broken down at the bottom of a hill. GBN2 came flying in and hit her brakes too hard, then hit a stick in the road, and did a flip over her handlebars. That was the end of the ride. Fortunately, she was okay except for some road-rash. 

On Tuesday we had some cloud cover, so Toby brought the girls home with him to ride again. This time I went along. It reminded me of the days when I used to ski with Bo and Jes. For years I would wait at the top of the ski run and let them get a ways down the hill. Then I would catch up to them and start the routine again. This way, if they fell or had problems, I did not have to climb the mountain to get to them. So it was on the bikes. I had to wait and give them room to ride ahead and then catch up to them. They made it the four miles and made it home before the rain started. They thought they had really ridden far. One of these days, like Bo and Jes skiing, they will get better at their bikes and leave me way behind.

Back to our Peru trip: Shay recently posted his photos of the trip on the internet. I picked out a few photos to share today to show you some of the hike.
What goes up...

High on the mountainside.
 Must come down.To the river. And then we crossed the river in a basket on pulleys. I tried to download a video, but it does not seem to work.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I Am the Mom

On my sixteenth birthday I had my first real slumber party. There were probably six or seven giggling teenagers who came to spend the night. We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking and laughing and playing our favorite albums. We thought about sneaking out and wrapping the hated boy's house down the street, but we were not that brave. We saved that for another slumber party at someone else's house. I don't remember how long the girls stayed the next day, but when they were all gone, my mom took me shopping. I remember spending the rest of the day with Mom buying some really pretty clothes - including some bright colored plaid hip-hugger pants with the widest bell-bottoms ever. Mom bought an orange bodysuit (basically a long-sleeved shirt that pulled tightly over my body and snapped like a baby's onesie at my crotch). I was horrifyingly sexy in that outfit. My mom insisted that I was old enough to wear such stuff. What was she thinking?! Shopping with Mom was always an ordeal, because we never quite saw eye to eye. She had a great sense of style, but it was not my style. Most of the time, after much debate and discussion, she bought whatever she thought I should wear. So it went from puffy sleeves and lots of lace when I was small to sexy bodysuit when I was older. I was usually happy in a T-shirt and jeans or anything that had pockets. Then there was the problem of size -  that I was a short and stocky and nothing seemed to fit right. Mom was always tall and slim and everything she tried on fit perfectly, so she had no understanding of why clothes did not work on me like they did on her. We had to try on everything in the store. On this particular shopping trip, I remember getting upset on the car trip home, although I do not remember exactly what the problem was.  For some reason I could not control my feelings. But my mom just looked at me in that knowing-mom look and said, "Are you a little tired?" With that, I broke down and cried, putting my head down in the seat and Mom petting me. That was it! I was exhausted. The slumber party and the shopping had done me in. Like a child, instead of a sixteen year old, I fell apart.

Yesterday I got up early and went to Wichita Falls to run errands and take Mom to the doctor. My first errand was to stop by and see Toby's mom and pick up a check that she needed deposited in her bank. Then I went to find my mom doing well at her new elderly living apartment. We needed to be off to the doctor's, but four of her friends showed up as we were preparing to leave. It was very nice of them, but ill-timed - it made us rush. The doctor's visit went fairly well. When the doctor asked Mom how her memory was, Mom replied that it was about like anyone's. Well, if you forgot what you forgot, how can you know you forgot? Anyway, we gott'er done and went to lunch. I had taken particular care of my hairstyle that morning - puffing up my bangs and pulling them to the side a bit and not setting my glasses on my head to mash my bangs flat. Sitting across the table from Mom at lunch she looked at me and said, "You know, if I had my scissors, I could cut those bangs for you." Thanks, Mom. I felt sixteen again.

After lunch we did some shopping  to buy Mom some things for her new apartment - like a microwave. Then we did a bit of clothes shopping for her - elastic waist pants to make it easier to dress herself with this broken arm. I thought we did pretty well, but there were a few moments that were hard on me (deja vu )  I did get tickled when I was getting her medium pants and she said, "You know, I might wear a small." Now my mom is an attractive 83 year old lady, but she is not a small anymore, and she is no longer as tall as she used to be. She kept trying to pull the pants up higher and higher. When I asked her why she was doing that, she replied that the pants were too long and she was trying to roll the waist up. I laughed and said, "Welcome to my world."

After shopping we went to get Mom's hair cut by the slowest hairdresser in the west. I swear it took the girl over an hour and a half to cut Mom's hair - just a cut, not a style or wash or anything else. And the cut was not really okay, but Mom kept saying, "Well, she is just out of school." It was not a pleasant time, but Mom did well. We both got tickled and laughed lots after it was over. Then there was another ordeal with Mom's insurance and medication. We finally got home and carried all her new stuff into the apartment. It was probably 100 degrees with extremely high humidity. We were both hot and sweaty. I got Mom situated - the new microwave installed and Mom down for a nap. I had other errands to run, but I was out of time. I had just enough time to get back to Duncan and grab a bite to eat before heading to teach a watercolor class at 6:30 PM.

The watercolor class went well. It was small. two ladies did not show so I only had four students. We did something a bit different than I had planned. It took longer than I had planned. So, I got home about 10:00 PM. On the drive from Duncan to  home, I had that feeling of wanting to breakdown and cry. I didn't have any real reason. It was much like when I was sixteen. I guess I was just exhausted. I wish my mom could look at me with that knowing-mom look and understand what I am going through. I didn't cry this time. I am the mom.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Changes

This past weekend, we moved my mom to an independent/elderly living apartment. The move went well. She seems happy. I think I was more traumatized than she was. Traumatized might not be the right word; maybe concerned is the better word. She was a champ, though - telling me it was time for the move and all was would be good. There is still much to be done to wrap up loose ends, but the hard part is over.

Yesterday I took Jesse and her friend, Kat, to the airport to fly to Hawaii.  They will be staying with my cousin. I'm sure it will all be another grand adventure. She made a little trip to Wisconsin and Chicago over the Fourth of July. Ahh, to be young and single...