Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman died over the weekend

It's a sad day for goodness. Paul Newman died from cancer over the weekend. For many people, Newman was one of the great movie actors. I didn't get to know his body of work until I was an adult. However, what I really know about Newman is all of the great work he has done as a community activist. He started an educational program about drugs after his son died from an overdose. He opened the Hole in the Wall Gang camps for seriously ill children. He worked tirelessly as a philanthropist because he believed that you had to leave the world a better place.

I'm going to miss his voice on the national stage.

And I need to go watch some his movies.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Check out this other post

For those of you in Public Purposes, check out this post. It's the one I mentioned that you can use as a guide for your own writing. Clearly, it's a lot longer than 250 words. The other site, where you can find the aforementioned post will also be our landing spot for all of us. I will be entering your blogs tomorrow.

Tally ho!

OK, I don't want to quit anymore.

Today was a great day. I LOVE going into the K-12 schools, especially the school I was in today. I find so much life there. And, I have to admit that I find high school students a trip... and in a good way.

On a completely unrelated note, I got my bike fixed, too! I was really upset yesterday when she wouldn't start. Needed to charge the battery and will have to take her back to the shop to fix a short in the brake light (actually, not a short--the darn thing won't go out until I hit the kill switch), but she's on the road again. Wahoo! Which, until I start running again, is one of the only things that keeps me calm, and pleasant, and almost fun to be around.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

There are days that I want to quit...

like today. I won't get into today's specifics, but I am glad the weekend is almost here. I need the time to get some perspective. In the meantime...

Teaching is incredibly personal business, especially if you take it seriously. I think I take it too seriously. Today was one of those days that included a series of interactions that felt like I got a knife in my gut. It left me doubting myself, my teaching, and who I am as a person. As a matter of fact, I am still so close to it and upset by it, that I can't write about it. I may never be able to. I can, however, give you some idea of the type of pain it is causing me.

When I taught public school, I was told that I couldn't fail a group of students because they met the attendance requirement. Didn't matter that they had averages below 60. I threw a fit and didn't get tenure.

I now teach at a public university. My second year, I gave a grad student a B+. It was a gift. She failed the final paper. She spent the first 8 pages of a ten page paper talking about how wonderful her childhood was. The purpose of the paper was to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of public education. When she didn't get her A, she went to the University Pres. and demanded that I be fired because I was clearly incompetent. I was forced to give her an A-.

I had a student cheat. I mean really cheat. Hand in the paper of another one of my students from the previous semester. Too bad he didn't bother to check that the midterm was a different test question. When I wanted to get him kicked out of school, the kid basically threatened me and I was told not to fight because the student was a star athlete. The coach could make my life a living hell.

I work really hard to challenge my students. I prepare them to be teachers. You would not believe the crap they give me when I make them read and then apply what they read. I teach them how to assess students. They learn how to write tests, construct essay prompts, etc., and how to effectively grade those assessments. And then they say things like I didn't teach them anything. I guess the hours and hours of out-of-class help and extensive feedback and comments was mental masturbation.

Of course I do a lot of other things with my students, and I have a lot of success with them. But it's days like today that overshadow the good, and make me forget why I became a teacher in the first place. And, it's days like today that make me question whether it is really worth it.

Like I said, today was a really bad day.