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I started to write up this as a comment by someone on a friend's LJ, but it was getting very personal very fast--and therefore a little weird to be putting someone I didn't know well in the position of having to reply to it--and I thought it'd be better here. I somehow ended up talking about kids being bullied by teachers, and this opened a floodgate for me, some thoughts I've been wanting to put down for a few weeks now and finally have a moment to do so.

I know the person I appear to be. I remarked something about feeling inadequate a couple years ago and was told by a good online friend--someone who knows me better than most of the people here, in RL as well as in fandom--that it was hard to believe. That I don't appear to be that person. And most of the time I'm not. I've worked very deliberately to lock up my demons in ironclad prisons. I know I project a lot of confidence and competence. Most of the time, I feel a lot of confidence and competence. Sometimes I even fool myself. I think, "It's over! I'm normal now!" The reminder, when it comes, that some things don't just go away is sharp and sudden and painful.

One of the questions teachers often get asked is if we had a teacher who inspired us to pursue the profession. I do, but it's more of an anti-inspiration. It's a person that I imagined, through my presence in the profession, being unable to find a job because that job went to me. I know it doesn't work that way! But I like to think that if more smart, kind people became teachers, then we might run out the bullies and leave no room for them.

Because, for five years, I was bullied by a teacher. Read more... )

(I'm taking a risk and leaving this entry unlocked.)
Bobby sent me a really interesting article that breaks down how one's college major translates into various measures of intelligence and academic aptitude. The hard sciences come out on top in every single measure and no surprises there. And on the bottom?

Education majors.

Dawn Talks Shop )

Good Stuff :)

Jul. 6th, 2014 06:30 pm
dawn_felagund: (yavanna earth)
I want to apologize first to my flist for that long, uncut vacation post with pictures yesterday! (At least I didn't curse too much ...) I initially posted to DW, as I always do, to crosspost to LJ. I messed up the LJ-cut, went back to edit and fix it, and instead of editing the LJ post, DW crossposted a second copy of the entry, which meant that the first one sans LJ cut was left up with my realizing it. Sorry, y'all.

This weekend has had some remarkably good stuff, despite the fact that I'm back from vacation and staring at impending work tomorrow. (I probably wouldn't mind going back to work if we had one more day without the students, but when they give us our summer schedules and shove us out the door on the last day of school, that doesn't leave much time to plan when we walk back into the building again at the same time as the students, and there are things I will not get done because of it. I spent most of today on planning, but some things I just have to be in the building to do.)

First of all, we confirmed today that our bee swarm did indeed successfully move into the hive that Bobby hastily constructed for them, so getting stung on the nose was worth it. We now have two honeybee colonies. \0/

This is the wonderful time of the year when it is possible to find fresh and local pretty much anything you want to eat. The garden is crazy-productive this year; we front-loaded a lot of effort this year into properly preparing the soil and mulching while the plants were small, and the payoffs look like they are going to be huge. Bobby picked our first tomatoes today, and we have reached the point where we are leaving zucchini on the vine because we've picked so many. (The one bad point: We have squash bugs again this year. Ugh. Picking eggs off the plants and squooshing larvae and adults every day is not a chore I look forward to. If you've never dug around in squash leaves, they are very prickly; my arms are quite marked up right now.) Bobby harvested our garlic yesterday, and we had our biggest harvest ever. Our bramble fruits are doing ridiculously well; we harvested almost a quart of blackberries today, and Bobby has made jam with entirely our own berries for the first time ever. Everything is doing really, really well. I need to take and post pictures.

Last night, I went back to the gym after a two-week hiatus. Two weeks ago, I must have twinged my knee--I'd increased my weights on that night--and the next day, while sitting for a long time working with my leg twisted under me, I stood up to discover that my knee really hurt. I ended up missing almost a week of dance and gym, and our vacation followed immediately on the heels of it. I was not looking forward to going back last night, after two weeks of indolence and almost a week of eating horribly down the ocean. But I actually managed the same level I was doing before my two-week hiatus (600 calories in 45 minutes on the elliptical). My legs felt crazy when I was done, but I did it.

The Swamp

Feb. 20th, 2014 09:09 pm
dawn_felagund: Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. (little red riding hood)
There is this awful virus going around school that, as far as any of us can tell, originated with a student that was sent to school sick by his group home. (A common occurrence.) That student was restrained last Wednesday, and most everyone involved in the restraint become ill over the snow break and/or weekend, including Bobby. One of the other teachers was floored with a 103-degree fever; one of the one-to-one aides who spends a lot of time in class with this student was relegated to bed Wednesday through Saturday with chills, fever, and body aches. The teacher went to the doctor, and it was pronounced not to be the flu, so my colleagues on the self-contained side of the building have nicknamed it The Swamp.

Well, I have been successful in resisting The Swamp but pushed myself too hard on Tuesday. I was tired when I got home but had a lot to do and so jumped right back into work and worked until 10 PM with a break for supper. Stupid stupid stupid. By second period the next day, it was very obvious that I had likewise come down with The Swamp. I was miserable yesterday. Luckily, it seems to be a minor case with me, and I was much better today, although still tired and achy. I have been taking it easy, as much as I can. I am finally finished with my Enlightenment class, so the lack of coursework is a welcome reprieve. I did have a pile of IEPs that came suddenly due. Because of all the time we've missed due to snow (seven days so far), a bunch of IEPs had to be rescheduled, and it seems everyone is backed up or behind, with some IEPs past due even. This was the first time that I had to cry "uncle!" and request an extension on my IEPs. Most of them were, thankfully, seniors, so I didn't have much revision to do in terms of goals; I usually leave the goals alone for students who are going to graduate soon, although I may tinker with the objectives to better reflect that student's progress. As of about five minutes ago, the last of the overdue IEPs is done. The next isn't due until March 5.

This winter has been awful for sickness. I have been sick with three colds and one case of conjunctivitis. Bobby has been sick with three colds, one of which left him with an awful cough for about a week. Both of us usually get one cold, which lasts no more than a day or two. The best we can figure is that with the kids cooped up in group homes because of the snow, they are spreading germs even more than they already do. We've both been sanitizing the desks in our classrooms, but we have so much contact with the students that it is hard to avoid picking up what they bring to school with them, especially since they are often sent to school sick.

Cold & Ice

Feb. 6th, 2014 09:26 pm
dawn_felagund: The Pillbury Doughboy looking angry as he's poked. (doughboy)
Well, now on top of our winter woes, I have a cold. Bobby has been fighting one off for days, and it was inevitable that I'd catch it, and I did.

It was back to work today; Baltimore County schools opened regular time. (Carroll County schools remained closed since we got hit with the worst of the storm.) The drive to work this morning was quite startling. Branches and trees are down everywhere. The damage is substantial. It looks worse than the tropical storms of the past few years.

Everything here is still coated in ice. Drive even just five minutes south, and most of the trees have thawed, but it doesn't appear to have gotten above freezing here today. We lost another branch in the yard from one of the maples that took down part of the chicken run. Luckily, the damage was not bad, and Bobby was able to repair it this afternoon.

Freyja was due to be spayed today, so we loaded her into her carrier to drive her to the vet's office this morning. Ten minutes on the road and they called to cancel her appointment because the office is still without power. So we turned around and drove her home. She is spared again! She was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but we had to reschedule for today because the after-school program started up Tuesday, and we would have had to pick her up right in the middle of it, which was impossible. Hopefully three is a charm and her next appointment will actually happen.

I am almost ready to start writing my final paper for my current class. I really drag these things out ridiculously. I have one more article to read; I have written a draft thesis statement and a quick outline, so it will just be a matter, this weekend, of writing each section. If I can do two or three sections a day, then most of the paper will be done this weekend. Those who think I work too hard will be proud that I downloaded another book by Rousseau yesterday (my Kindle has 3G--dangerous because I can continue to download books even without Internet or power) that I do not actually intend to read for my paper. I decided against it. I have already read three books by Rousseau in excess of what I was required to read for the class, plus the usual collection of articles and book chapters, so I decided to give this one a pass.

This means that I am actually reading something at the moment that is not school-related! (It is still academic-related, for my "Tree of Tales" paper ... baby steps, people!) The book is called The Song of Middle-earth by David Harvey. I'm actually rather disappointed in it so far. It was written about 30 years ago, so the Silm and UT were available, but the book seems to mostly summarize the texts. How annoying! I would assume that if someone is buying a book about Tolkien, then one has actually read Tolkien. He frequently reaches the point where I think he is going to get into something deep and thought-provoking, and then just kind of peters out. He makes some good points about Tolkien's legendarium not being derivative; he starts to delve into world cosmogony but flakes out with a statement that Ainulindalë shares several themes with other world myths. Aaaaand? (He also falls into the trap that I've found to be rather frequent of stating that a particular archetype is "common" in world creation stories when reading a boatload of world creation stories has convinced me that this is not the case.) He also doesn't seem to be much of a writer, and it is hard sometimes to see how his ideas are connected. (This reminds me of an objective that I frequently include when writing Written Content goals for student IEPs: The student will use transitions to show the connections among ideas within and between paragraphs in a multi-paragraph composition. He could use that objective in his hypothetical IEP.) Since he deals with mythological themes and cosmogony in particular, then it was a book that I pretty much had to read before undertaking the next revision of my paper, and I do hope my opinion of it improves. But so far, I'm not enjoying it much more than if I'd read the other work by Rousseau, and that is saying something.
Well, it's official! My paper proposal for Mythmoot II has been accepted! *subdued and slightly terrified squeeeee* This will be my first conference presentation. However, since it specifically encourages fans, students, and first-time presenters, then I think it's as good a time as any to take this particular plunge. This means I need to double-down on preparing for it, though; I've been negligent here, in part because I think I didn't want to get my hopes up and ... :^|

The conference is in Baltimore, and I'm hoping that maybe I see some fellow Silmgeeks there ...? :D

In other good news, it is Friday, and I have survived the first two weeks of school in one piece. The beginning of the year is always the hardest part. It's lots of single-class lessons, which means more planning. Next week, I will be settling in to reading some texts with my classes that should take more than a class period to get through.

In other good news, Bobby is making another attempt at The Silmarillion and seems to be enjoying it more this time than the other two (??) times he's tried it. He has been taking Mythgard courses with me, so I think he likes being able to connect it in to the larger history and mythology ... exactly the opposite of how I did things, which was to read the Silm and then become interested in the history and mythology. He's at present pondering something that I'm nudging him to write up and post to the SWG. I'm shameless. I've been trying to get him into the Silm for years.

Okay, to close out, I have some cute pictures. Well, one is probably only cute to me, but the other is most likely cute to anyone warm-blooded.

Cute Pictures )
When George W. Bush was president, he supported the landmark No Child Left Behind federal legislation that, among other things, required schools to document student achievement by way of standardized tests. As such, U.S. high school students must pass tests in English, math, and science in order to graduate; their scores are further used to measure school performance. Each state has a different set of tests. The tests are problematic for a number of reasons--as is using just standardized testing as a measure of school and student performance--but that is not the point of this post.

In Maryland, we have the High School Assessments, or HSAs. Maryland high school students must pass tests in English, Algebra & Data Analysis, and Biology (this year's incoming ninth graders must also pass a test on U.S. Government). The HSAs are given four times per year. This week is the summer administration. Today was the English test.

Teachers generally proctor in their subject area, so I was a proctor today, as I have been for just about every English HSA since I started teaching. I generally get assigned to a student who is allowed a human reader, so I am very familiar with the English HSA by now. (Actually, anyone can look at past tests here.) The English test generally contains about a half-dozen short fiction or non-fiction pieces that the students must read and answer questions about. I usually end up reading these to at least one student.

When I was in high school myself, I heard a lot about test bias with tests like the SAT. I had trouble wrapping my brain around how that could be. I remember the example being given once with a question containing the word regatta with the point that students from certain backgrounds are unlikely to be familiar with that word, while for students from other backgrounds, it is commonplace or at least familiar. But I remember thinking that was a stretch, and most SAT questions seemed pretty unbiased.

Well now I teach kids from "certain backgrounds," meaning largely urban, African American, and low-income. And now, in the HSA stories that I read ad nauseum to my students, I see what critics of standardized testing meant when they spoke of bias.

Read more... )
It was 70F (21C) in Woodlawn this afternoon. Seventy! Seventy, in late January, in central Maryland! Seventy!!

Remember, folks, that global warming is a hoax created by liberal scientists with, of course, the help of the liberal [gotcha] media. In fact, if I had set up a video camera outside last night, I bet I would have seen some clandestine climatologist fiddling with the car thermometer while Bobby, the Goldens, and I slumbered naively. Really, it was about 40F today. But why did it feel like 70F? (I couldn't keep the students out of the damn door today, not that I could blame them.) Why, because brainwashing embedded in liberal print and television media has cleverly convinced you that it is actually warm outside when, in fact, it's pretty cold. That's how that works, if you were wondering.

It's raining like crazy right now and thunderstorms are predicted for later tonight. Thunderstorms! (Actually, it's Jesus bowling with the angels in Heaven, but that damned liberal media has also brainwashed us all to think it's thunder and treat it as a weather anomaly rather that a proper celebratory occasion.)

My legs and feet hurt like hell right now. The school got its money's worth out of me today. All of my classes were firing on all cylinders (which happens less often than Jesus bowling with the angels in Heaven!), and so I was on my feet all day, running around like a goof, being properly erudite and entertaining. Last period, during the twerps' class, it must have sounded like a small riot was going on in my room, but we were actually doing a cooperative activity about indirect characterization. It was fun, albeit noisy. It was the twerps, so there was scuffling for a place at the board and much outshouting of each other. I also discovered that one of my 9th graders--ADHD and presently off his meds--reacts like a cat to a flashlight beam when I shine my laser pointer on the floor. By last period, yes, yes, I will admit that on at least two occasions I used that to keep him semi-focused.

Tomorrow morning, the seniors are watching a documentary about King Arthur and the 10th graders are going to do at least a little independent work, so the Ms.-W-T-tap-dance-for-the-students routine is going to be somewhat turned down. Maybe I'll do a nice, soft, interpretive dance routine instead. (Hey, I do act out vocabulary words sometimes.) For the afternoon classes, all bets are off. They're my most energetic groups, and a lot of times, it's tap-dance routine or get-trampled-like-a-scatter-rug-in-an-elephant-stampede.

Okay, the weather alarm just went off ... we're under a tornado watch in Carroll County. I'll let y'all figure out the conspiracy theory behind that one. I'm beat.
Thursday, I will have been teaching for two years, because I started student teaching on the 31st two years ago. Growing up, a year did not pass without a single snow day. The first day with students for my internship was closed for ice; an auspicious beginning? mrrrrp! Not! More like a jinx! Since then, we haven't had a single snow day. I feel I should apologize to fellow Maryland teacherkind for jinxing one of the best perks of the job. We live in a magical place that generally gets snow every year but not enough to invest in what it takes to send kids to school during our couple-few annual snowfalls. Last year, we didn't even get a single snow delay or early dismissal. Boo!

Things are looking up a little on that front. Last Thursday, we had a two-hour delay. Friday, we had a two-hour early dismissal, both due to inclement weather. This morning, another two-hour delay. Baltimore County, the district our schedule usually follows, was closed for students today, as were most local school districts, so there was a rather puzzling "two-hour delay for nonpublic bus service" this morning, which translated to nonpublics (like us) going in two hours late. Had schools been open for students, we probably would have been closed, as it didn't get above freezing here until late morning. The jinx strikes again!

The delay couldn't have come at a better time. I woke up at about 1 AM last night and didn't fall back to sleep till about 4:30 AM, so the few extra hours were very welcome.

It's third quarter, starting today, believe it or not, so the year is halfway over. In my two years of teaching, this is the best I've done in getting my grades done on time. Yay me. I have a few loose ends to tie up and that's it; they're ready to go in. No crunching them on the day they're due at 4 PM with Bobby tapping his toe in the doorway to the teacher resource room! Grades always seem to come due at the same time as multiple other obligations.

Speaking of Bobby, he took and passed his first assessment for National Ski Patrol this weekend. He went on a "ski along" (he's a snowboarder, but the National Ski Patrol tends not to be very PC in their inclusion of boarders, I guess!) on Saturday and took some skills tests and got invited to the next stage. It will be a pretty intense year if he makes the final cut--they're accepting 12 new candidates this year, and he thinks he has a good shot--but it sounds like a hella cool part-time job once all the training's done.

What else? Life for me is 1) teaching, 2) grad school, 3) fannish projects. The usual line-up. I did actually go out the weekend before last in the evening to see my dance teacher's band perform. I had two Guinnesses, hung out with friends not my husband (although he was there too), and almost felt like a normal young person.

Speaking of grad school, if anyone knows (or is!) a practicing Hindu or Confucian who'd be willing to do an email interview with yours truly, please let me know. I have to interview both for my history of religion class, for my final comparative project. Comment here, PM me, or email me at if you can help me out; it would be very, very, very much appreciated.
Meaning I got my teaching certificate in the mail today from West Virginia! I was so happy that I made a high-pitched keening sound and kissed the paper. Hopefully the people who touched it before me were conscientious about handwashing. Oh, what a long, strange trip it's been. I look back to when I started this journey, and it's already faded into the fogs of time. I took my first classes toward my certification in August 2008. Four years, more than 50 credits, and much headache and heartache later, I have the piece of paper I've been working for.

This couldn't come at a better time. I had supervision with my principal last week, and she'd finally received my conditional certification from Maryland (for those just joining us or otherwise forgetful of my certification woes, I received my teaching certification through West Virginia, where my university was located, because Maryland and WV have reciprocity--but while waiting for WV to tell me that I'm official, Maryland had to issue a conditional certification that basically says I'm working toward becoming official). She'd requested that I be certified in both special-ed and English simultaneously. Since I teach special-ed, Maryland will only allow me to receive a special-ed certificate as my first certificate rather than English with a special-ed endorsement added. So if I'd started as a gen-ed English teacher and then moved to special-ed, I'd be fine, but because I started in special-ed, I'm not. Head spinning yet?? (My coursework was for an English certification because I had no notion that my road would ever lead to where it has. I have an endorsement in special-ed through the PRAXIS test.) However, they will often do both at once, somewhat circumventing that requirement. Well, my conditional certificate, when it arrived, was for ... English. Just English. So if I didn't hear from WV by January, I'd be looking at 16 additional credits of coursework before June to demonstrate to Maryland that I was working toward a special-ed certification. Yes, despite having an English certification already. If the low pay and long days and constant scapegoating by conservatives weren't enough to discourage one from going into education, the convoluted certification process would.

Anyway, all that's avoided now because I have the piece of paper that proves that I have indeed started as an English teacher, so the special-ed endorsement will be enough for me to get my official Maryland certification.

I'll admit that I was feeling a bit sorry for myself this afternoon, shuffling around the house, in some pain because of a health issue, cold, tired, grouchy because it's cloudy out, scared of the impending hurricane-snowstorm-combo-pack, and hungry. Woe was me! The arrival of the certificate changed all of that. (Well, I'm still in some pain and still scared of the hurricane-thingy, but generally less woebegone.)

Back when this began, I promised myself a whole bottle of shiraz in a single sitting when I finally got that piece of paper in hand (because I don't drink to get drunk, but if one thing can drive a person to that point, it's the certification process). Fate having a twisted sense of humor as she does, on the car ride home, I told Bobby that I was abstaining from alcohol for a week due to the aforementioned pain, which can be exacerbated by alcohol (which I've been drinking nearly every night after discovering the weird-sounding but delicious combination of gummy candy vodka and orange juice), so the shiraz will have to wait one more week--but more than four years after I made that pledge, I think I can hang with that.
[personal profile] village_of_geckos and her boyfriend left this morning after visiting since Monday afternoon. What a great time we had! I miss them already! Monday, we basically chilled and went to Arooga's for dinner. Tuesday was our big day: We spent the day in Gettysburg, which is about 45 minutes northwest of us, and had a firepit at night. We went through the museum, hoofed all over the battlefield and town, had dinner and beer at a local microbrewery, and climbed the tower on Culp's Hill. Last night, we had a massive cookout and crab feast with my parents. In between, we managed to solve all of the world's problems and catch up from the past three years since we saw each other last in Ireland.

I just sent off my first unit of lesson plans to my principal, so that's water under the bridge, although I'll still probably be working on materials (especially graphics, since my work laptop doesn't have Photoshop) over the next few days. I'm hoping to get ahead and stay ahead. I'd like to be able to show up at work on Monday and print out the materials for the next two weeks. How awesome that would be.

I've been "writing"--mentally, of course--quite a bit lately. Original and fanfic. I'm not quite to the point of putting anything to paper, although I'm considering just diving into the AMC prequel, t'hell with being prepared. After all, I didn't prepare at all to write AMC; might as well keep with the spirit, eh? I have a couple of chapters on the prequel from years ago. I'm trying to discipline myself into making room for my own time again. What a concept! I've backed off a bit from certain commitments I've taken on in the past few years, given up entirely on some and moved others lower on my list of priorities.

Speaking of AMC, Bobby is reading it. I am still not sure that was a good idea; it is very long, and he's still never made it all the way through The Silmarillion. I've been told it stands on its own quite well; I suppose this will be the test of that. Last I checked, he was at the end of Chapter Four and was--like most people who read AMC--liking Carnistir the best. He told me that he liked it, but he would.

I have registered for my fall grad school classes. I'm starting later this year, which I hope will help and give me a chance to get lesson plans and materials created well in advance of when they're needed. I'm taking two classes: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and the History of Religion. The first class is an eight-weeker; another good thing, as I'll only have one class for half of the semester and will still earn six credits.

Okay, now for some random pictures, mostly butterflies, a coupla sunflowers, and one random Phil.

Pictures of Stuff )
Those of you who have met me in Real Lifetm and remember when my hair was down to my bum--it is no longer. It was so dry and damaged that it was actually losing length; it had shortened from bum-length to reaching the small of my back without any effort from me. The ends were so split that, whenever I'd brush it, my hair would break off. Ugh. Since it was going to shorten itself anyway, then my mom cut it past the point where it was damaged, which was 5 inches (13 cm). I've been avoiding this for months now but finally agreed to it yesterday. So my hair certainly isn't short, but it's short for me. It reaches the middle of my back now. I'm hoping it grows back fast! It feels wrong to have hair this short.

The basement situation is progressing. Dispatches from Our Own Personal Swamp )
Today was supposed to be the first day of the actual school year. It was staff-only; the darlings are supposed to come back tomorrow. However, schools were closed today and tomorrow due to persistent power outages after Irene. (Baltimore Gas & Electric is now telling some people it may take two weeks to get their power restored. Ouch.) I think Bobby said that 45 Baltimore County schools were without power as of this afternoon; although we are a non-public school, we follow Baltimore County and so were closed as well. Also, as of yesterday, our school didn't have power either.

Cut to Save Flist Space )

Three Days In!

Jul. 7th, 2011 10:05 pm
dawn_felagund: Skeleton embracing young girl (Default)
So I have successfully survived three days as an English teacher in an alternative school for boys with emotional and behavioral disabilities. And I plan on going back tomorrow too. ;)

In all seriousness, I think my first week has gone really well. There have been some low points ... but there will be. Teaching--and especially teaching high-risk kids and students with special needs--tends to be romanticized in pop culture, but the reality is that real kids, teachers, and classrooms aren't Dangerous Minds or Freedom Writers. These boys are in this school for a reason; they face multiple challenges, the least of which are sometimes the diagnoses listed on their Individualized Education Plans.

This week, I have been focusing heavily on building rapport. I think it's working. One of my students told Bobby, "Yo Mr. Rob, your wife is cool as shit!" That's high praise! I've been told by another that he has my back if anyone messes with me, and another told me today, "Ms. W-T, I like your attitude!"

Success in this classroom is very different than what I called success with my honors students while student teaching. With the honors kids, success was one of those classes where everything was clicking and the students were really engaged and taking their thinking to the next level. Success in this classroom is keeping some of the guys in my room and awake long enough to get their classwork finished.

But then there are moments of surprising triumph. I have a student, J, for two mods each day. I've enjoyed having him in class because he's willing to participate and engage with what we're doing, even if I know he'd rather be somewhere else. I took in my stuffed soccer ball to use for some of our activities, and he juggles it constantly during class. Today, he came in, did his classwork, and left to go down to the weight room. Later, though, the academic coordinator told me that, prior to my class, he'd met with J because he'd just found out that J had passed the federally mandated HSA test for English. He wanted J to know that he no longer needed my class and could switch to another class if he preferred. But, no, he said he wanted to stay with me.

I'm still boggling over that. That's high praise indeed!