Tuesday, September 01, 2015

So Far

School has been going on now for two weeks. So far, so good. I don't have anything exciting or really all that interesting to tell you about my school teaching. Many times over the years with my art classes, I get the feeling that the students just are not picking up what I'm laying down. Sometimes I get depressed over it. I spend lots of time wondering how I could get my art across to the kids and sometimes adults. But the truth is that some people will never get art. They just don't see it. That's okay. I will keep trying to get the rest of my students to understand. I want to see the light come on.

We've been working on line and drawing and value or shading. I know that some of the kids are bored with it. Dang it! Even I want to move on, but this is important. If you can't count to ten, you probably won't do well in math. So it is with art; you need to be able to do the basics before moving on to algebra.

And the kids themselves, well, I'm working on relationships, learning names, and getting to know them. Most of them do not care about me. I'm sure they see me as an old lady teacher. Too bad. I don't feel old. And I have lots of useful and un-useful knowledge to share.

Over the weekend we went to Wichita Falls. Toby and Jes rode in the Hotter n Hell. They only rode the 25 miles. I bowed out this year. We had lots of relatives coming in to spend Saturday in WF. I did not want to be tired and worn out and sore. So I went shopping while they rode. They had lots of fun without me. After they finished the race, they drank a little beer and danced a little at the finish tent. Part of the race takes you through Sheppard Air Force Base. The Air Force puts on a good show - setting up an alley of planes for the bike riders to ride through, serving hydrating drinks and such, and cheering the bikers on. I have posted such stuff before. It is great. This year one of the pilots at the planes looked a lot like Maverick. Jesse said the women were lined up to take their picture with him. She got in line too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Day One

One day down and 174 to go - so my father used to say about his school year. It went well. I was standing in the hall with  two men teachers whose rooms are near mine before the first bell. We are suppose to stand in the hall when the kids change classes. Anyway the two men teacher/coaches pretty much ignored me other than me putting in my two cents from time to time. They seem like nice enough young men, but a bit standoffish - kind of surprised every time I said something. An older man came down the hall and held out his hand to meet me and introduced himself as Gene. I think he may be a counselor of some sort from down the hall. I did have the thought that the elder generation had better manners.

Everyone eventually meandered away and I went back into my classroom wondering where the students were. Was my clock wrong? Didn't the bell ring? I went back out into the hall. Eventually Gene came by again and I asked him where the students were. In a slow Okie voice he said, "Well, everyone is meeting in the gymnasium this morning. Come along." Sure 'nuff, everyone was in the gym. Gene was nice enough to come get me. It was a good thang, too. The Principal called my name and introduced me as the new art teacher. I stepped out and waved to the school. I wanted to curtsy, but I was afraid I would have tripped and fallen in front of everyone. Then the Prince introduced another new counselor. Later I asked her if she had known about the meeting in the gym. She said no and she still didn't know what was going on. So it seems that everyone is a bit laid back at this school (or possibly thoughtless, but I like to believe the best in others). When we got back to our rooms, I gave the two teacher/coaches the what-for about leaving me behind. They said the old art teacher never talked to them. No excuses, boys! If you see me looking or doing something stupid or not doing something smart, let me know. I will return the favor.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mountain Refreshment

There is something about going to the mountains that is refreshment for the soul. Not to mention the cool weather is very refreshing to the body. We spent last week in Northern NM. It was like going home. Upon arriving in Taos at my SIL's Taos House Retreat, I got that overwhelming feeling that I sometimes get when I go back to NM. It is hard to explain, but it is very emotional. I want to cry.  I get a lump in my throat and feel like I've been punched in the stomach. Yep, it hurts. And yet, I'm happy to be there and I always enjoy myself. I've never done drugs, but maybe it is like being off drugs for years and then getting a whiff of your favorite drug and it brings a longing that surprises you. Or maybe it is like seeing an old lover that you know was not good for you, but you remember the good times and long for what could have been.

I talked to my son about my feelings. He was feeling something too. He told me that not many people had a childhood like his growing up in the mountains. Such freedom and beauty! It is hard to explain to people. There is something magical or enchanting about my mountains, but I know their faults too. I know the ugly side of life there. Sometimes the mountains can destroy people. When you are in the land of enchantment, you don't always see the drawbacks until it is too late. I am glad we moved from the mountains, and I'm glad I can go back now and enjoy them.

We took my son and his family - all my grand-babies! It was fun showing them around. We took them on a hike to a mountain lake. We took them to the Rio Grand Gorge bridge. They got to see the Pueblo and do some shopping at the Taos Plaza. They fished in Red River. They played in the hot-tub. And we all ate some great Mexican food.

After the kids left, Toby and I rested. We also spent time doing tourist thangs in Taos. Our friends, Jo and Gene, were in in Angel Fire, so we spent lots of time with them. One night we all met at the Taos Inn and listened to Susan Gibson, a Texas songwriter and singer. One night they came over to the Taos House and we cooked out on the grill. Then Toby and I went to Angel Fire so that Jo and I could paint together. We went up to the Vietnam Memorial to paint. It was a first for me - a bit emotional, but beautiful. I'll post my painting soon. Here is Jo's painting. 

It really was a nice vacation. We even spent some time with family in RR. Now it is back to the real world. Teacher inservice started today. That is a story itself, but I will tell it later.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Final Answer

On Thursday at 4PM, the Super called me. He said I should start the process of getting an OK teaching certificate. He gave me a number to call to find out what would be needed and how to go about getting my certificate. He thought it would be the best for me to do this instead of him working to get an emergency certificate,  since I would need to fill out applications and there was a fee involved. So, I called the State and spoke to a very helpful person. She directed me to their website where the whole process is explained and forms are available. And she went over the process with me. I would need my college transcripts, copy of out-of-state teaching certificate, copy of any teacher tests I may have taken, proof of teaching experience, application to the state along with a $50 non-refundable processing fee, and fingerprinting and background check costing $59. All of this would take over six weeks to process. In the meantime, I could teach as a long-term sub. It was at this point that I thought, "Oh hail no." Bureaucracy is not my strong point and teaching for sub wages is out of the question. I also found out that to get an emergency certificate, the Super would have to write a letter to the state school board explaining why they needed me and show proof that they had put the job notice out there and that no one else was available. And he had to do all of that by Tuesday.  Hmmm.

As for the bureaucracy: Getting the proof of teaching experience is difficult since I have taught in three districts in TX and OK, and all of my public school experience was over 25 years ago. Still, I could fill out the forms and send them to the districts and see what happens. I can certainly get my old transcripts, although it seems redundant - if I have a teaching certificate and teaching experience, obviously I graduated from college. Why do they need transcripts?Will anyone really be interested to know what my grades were 35 years ago? Spending $59 dollars on fingerprinting and background check is also redundant. I have a conceal/carry license so I have already done fingerprinting and background check - why can't they just tap into that info in this day of computers and such? When the helpful person told me to send any teacher tests, I laughed and told her that I became a teacher back in the day when all you had to do was go to college and graduate. And really - why is that not enough? Are colleges producing teachers who pass college, but not teacher tests? Hmmm?

As for the sub pay:  Ten years ago, I did some substitute teaching for this same school district. After showing my TX teaching certificate, they paid me $40 a day to sub/teach all day and be responsible for high school students. At the same time I was subbing there, Jesse did some subbing for her vocational class in Duncan. She was 19 years old. All she had to do was unlock the door and lock it at the end of the day and they paid her $50 a day. Maybe in the past ten years the money has gone up, but I doubt it would be worth my time and effort to make the drive and teach.

It all seemed a huge hassle and certainly not for sub pay.  I had no peace. On Friday morning I called the Principal and very nicely told him that, and that maybe he should hire one of the other persons whom he told me he had also considered. After all, it was "just art."  But he went to work on me, promising that the certificate process was not a big deal and that they really wanted me. Then he called the Super who called me and said me all was good and that I would get paid a regular salary - not sub's pay.

When all was said and done, I really want to have a purpose and goals, and a challenge. I really like kids and art. So, I said, "Okay, I'll do it." Final answer.

Update on Moms:  Earlier this week Toby's mom fell and broke her hip - a really bad break. The hospital in Wichita Falls loaded her into an ambulance and sent her to Plano, because WF does not do broken hips. In Plano, the doctor said that the surgery was really difficult and she might not survive it. With or without surgery the recovery time was the same, so she should not have surgery. She should just go home and stay off her hip for 12 weeks. They kept her in Plano for three days so that she would qualify for special care when she returned home. She is home, in special care, but things are difficult. I can't believe they had put her in an ambulance and shipped her off to Plano, just to have them turn around and ship her home! Now get this! Plano wants to see her in three weeks and again in six weeks, which means putting her in an ambulance again! And you know they will do an x-ray and say, "It is healing" or "Not." In this day of technology, is all that really necessary?

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.