Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pieces -> Mosaic

I just got off the phone with my buddy Kyle (Kyle, you need to read the previous Oct 14th entry).

We were talking about the differences between school and work, the changes in life. You know, reminiscing and subtly lamenting the fact that he is in Ft Wayne and I'm down in Houston.

Anyway, a moment of clarity is upon me. This life I lead, when it is fitting together, is so beautiful and joyful. It makes me want to laugh and dance and weep all at the same time while eating a big hamburger, because hamburgers are a joyful food.

Yes, it is hard to hold on to the perspective of amazement when I am in the midst of all the crap that has been documented here, but it is through those challenges that we are refined right?

Listen (okay, read) Paul's words:
"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
- Romans 2:2-5

This life gives me so much joy. Thank you to everyone who lets me laugh with them.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Life Explosion

This week my life exploded.

I think this might have been some sort of defense mechanism. Kind of like fruit rotting.

No seriously.

So fruit is one of the ways that plants get hooked up to the plant post office right? They concentrate all this energy into their fruit, hoping some animal will eat it. The trick is that the fruit contains seeds, which will grow a new plant when the animal poops it out on the other side of the mountain or whatever.

Well, if the travel portion fails, and the fruit does not spread, but starts rotting on the branch, something else happens. The plant is like "Dangit. Mission A failed. Move to mission B." So the fruit falls to the ground. This protects the plant from insects (coming to eat the rotten fruit), and gives the seeds a little bath of high energy slop to grow in.

The analogy is like this...Two weeks ago, I was in ambivalence. I was overworked and tired. I was starting to rot on the branch. Last week I was in rebellion. I read 4 books instead of doing work. I was rotting on the ground after the fall. This week, all that rotting exploded into an wash of new material, motivation and growth. I'm back in the figurative saddle (with the hopes that mixed metaphors will enrage my English friends and confuse everyone else).

On a side note, here is a thought I had.

When I get really upset with my job, I start to think about what else I could be doing with my time. Let us suppose, that I accepted a job with The Boeing Co, and the untold riches that would accompany said job. Now let us suppose that I worked as hard as I could possibly work, and develped brilliant solutions to whatever my job asked me to do. What is the net result?
  • Maybe The Boeing Co makes more money. Result: Moot. The company will lose money some day for no net gain.
  • Maybe I get promoted/accolades. Result: Moot. I will not gain any sufficient importance or change any significant practices. Accolades are waining.
Now let us suppose that I suck at my job. I suck to the point that I do absolutely nothing, except to get paid. I do not go so far as to actively destroy things, or give wrong answers. What is the net result?
  • Maybe The Boeing Co loses money. Result: Moot. Someone else will have to do the work I was supposed to do. It still gets done.
  • Maybe I get fired. Result: Moot. There is so much variability in the engineering profession that I am sure even the worst engineer could survive for a year at an entry level job doing almost nothing, and then get another job at another company and do almost nothing for his/her whole life.
Now let us think about my current position as a middle school math teacher. Let us suppose again that I work as hard as I can and do everything I possibly can do. What is the net result?
  • Maybe some students are captiviated by the field of mathematics and devote their life to the study. Result: Significant for the student, moot for the world (statistically).
  • Maybe some students begin to view education as something powerful and useful. Result: Significant for the student, signficant for the community. These people become leaders of change in their own communities.
  • Maybe some students become empowered to follow what ever their dreams may be. Result: Significant. The world is in need of passion in and for every walk of life, every job and every region.
Now let us suppose that I suck as much as is possible to suck without doing something like physically assaulting a student (that is not even worthy of a thought experiment). The net result?
  • Maybe some students belief in the education is crushed. Result: The drop out and continue the cycle of poverty in the areas we teach.
  • Maybe some students hopes of success are dashed. Result: Anger and violence. With no hope for anything better, desperation leads to very unpredictable results.
I have made THE CONTINUUM OF INFLUENCE to display these results. The blue bar is the potential influnece for education. The red bar is the potential influence in the corporate job I could be working. Please think of them as light sabers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Get you some trainin

Yesterday was Columbus Day. My students did not have school.

I had professional development.

Here's the thing about professional development. *shh* Come here.
There isn't much development. And it's not very professional.

Although we *did* watch Akeelah and the Bee, which is a splendid movie, in my humble opinion.

No, professional development is not my favorite thing. It seems that it usually is a set of hoops, with some smoke and mirrors designed to make those hoops look like something worthwhile. Oh well.

Today I get to teach again. The first 9 weeks ends on Friday.

I have already taught for 8 weeks. That is amazing!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Downward Spiral

During Orientation, Teach for America told us that there is a general trend in emotional and physical health for all first year teachers. It is shown at right.

I think I have already passed through the sharp decline and moved into the slight increase stage. But then again, maybe not.

This weekend I took it upon myself to engage in a luxury that I have not permitted myself in quite a while; I read.

I read three books written by David Brin. His blog I read regularly, but I am just getting into his science fiction work. I thought it was quite excellent. Very strong themes of ecological awareness and conservation, as well as political moderation (but not at the expense of indecisevness).

Today, I read One Day All Children.. by Wendy Kopp. Read it. It's inspiring. And it describes (obliquely) the experiences that I am going through.