Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Time flies

Five years ago, we visited the local high school to see the projects of students who participated in a class called Independent Study and Mentorship.  They study careers, interview and get interviewed by professionals and ultimately study under a professional in a career of their choice.  We saw so many varieties of careers, and this mama was impressed.  I had a first, third and fifth grader and was hopeful for the future and so excited about the opportunities that our district provides.

We went again tonight, this time at the invitation of one of Charlie's friends.  Charlie was looking at it from the perspective of someone who had been accepted into the program next year and who was watching what his friends had done.

The wide-eyed kid and mama are gone, and now we are looking at it from a more practical perspective.  Wide-eyed is so much more fun.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

STAAR scores from a teacher perspective

I am not a fan of standardized testing.  I tell kids all the time that the tests don't measure their value.  I tell them that their scores don't change what I know about them.  That I love them no matter what and that my goal is to teach them what I know they need to know, not how to pass a test.


When those scores come out, I judge myself as a teacher.  I feel that they measure me and my worth as a teacher.  No matter how hard I try to convince myself, I can't help but feel like I failed these kids.  I love these kids and I love my job, but I question my worth and value as a teacher when I see those scores.  They'll never be good enough.

I can tell myself that a student has a learning disability or is just learning English.  Or maybe they are having a personal struggle.  But I still feel deep I my heart that I didn't do enough.

I can look at the successes.  The students who fought right along side of me and together we beat this test against all odds.  I can feel joy at the names that are not on my list of kids who failed the test.  I can think about making those phone calls to parents.

It doesn't matter.

I judge myself as a teacher based on the failures.  The state could give me a financial bonus or not based on their scores, but what breaks me and my teacher spirit more is those failures.  And not even just the failures, it's the ones that aren't as high as they could be.  The ones that you know don't show what that child is capable of.

So, kids and parents, know that your child's teacher takes the burden and the weight of those scores even more heavily than you do.  I know we need to measure them, but I feel like you are measuring me too.  And I'll never measure up to the highest expectations.  Those don't come from the state, the school board or the principal.  They come from me.  

It's not that your child isn't enough or didn't do enough.  They are perfect.  It's me who wasn't enough for them.  And I'm sorry.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Philmont, Day 1

We arrived this morning, already smelly, tired and sore.  An all-night bus ride will do that to you.

The slow process of check-in has started.  The boys don't seem to mind a bit - they sit down and play cards at every opportunity.  We have two crews, one loud and one quiet.  We always know where both are - the loud one is easy to find because they are so loud.  The quiet one is easy to find because they are always where they are supposed to be.

Philmont is about mental toughness.  Between the beeping every three seconds for eight of the eleven bus hours and the waiting with no end in sight and no sleep, the mental toughness is already required.

Altitude is 6700, hiking is just around camp today.  Backpacking starts tomorrow. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The witches

I had a substitute teacher the other day, and I asked her to read a chapter "The Witches," as it's what I've been reading to my students.  Thought nothing of it.

About three days later, completely off topic (I'm pretty sure it was during math, because that's the way this little guy rolls), one of my kids says, "I didn't like it when the substitute read the witches.  She didn't do the voices."  Do you like it when I do the voices, I asked him.  Yes, he said, it's so much better that way.

I told him that the only reason why I did the voices was because I could still hear my mother's voice reading me that book.  And I always will.  I bet my sisters hear her voice that she did, too, especially when she would say "dogs drrrroppings!"

"Mrs. Fortenberry, are you crying?  Why are your eyes all watery?"

Ugh, yes, little one.  I'm the teacher who does the voices in the books and then cries at the end.  And when I have a sweet memory of when I was nine.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mom blogger vs mommy blogger

I read an article recently about the lack of people blogging about parenting children that aren't toddlers or new babies.  The bloggers whose kids no longer call them "mommy."

I have lots of thoughts about why, possibly these people are too busy at baseball tournaments, camping with their Boy Scouts, or too busy being annoyed with their children for not washing their dishes.  They just aren't cute any more and their issues are bigger and messier.

It's been years since I've hung out with a crowd where it's socially acceptable to tell your birth story or talk about your child's bowels or even getting those picky eaters to eat.  I'm in a phase where we talk about how often we check our child's text messages, how to keep enough groceries in the house and "holy crap, that kid's voice in changing!"

Do we still need support and need to hear that our issues are completely normal?  YES.  Do we need friends, virtual and real, that help us with advice for SAT's and class rankings and how to get our kids in college and out of our houses?  YES.  

Eventually, we will be blogging about adult diapers and those darn kids that won't get off our lawns.  Eventually.  For now, I just wish my kid would wash her dish that's been sitting in the sink since yesterday.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I blame the feminists

I've had a lot of time to think recently.  Not because I've been in jail or anything, though some days it feels like it, but because I've spent a lot of time baking and cooking whole, real food for my family.

Real food?  Yes, bread from scratch, marinara sauce, cookies.  Calzones, taquitos, canneloni.  I even figured out how to make beans that didn't come from a can. 

What I discovered is that this food takes a long time.  Some days I spend all day creating food for my family.  It started as a budget thing, as a health thing and as a challenge to myself.  Look, Sara, if you don't have a job, you may as well be doing something to contribute.  Like cooking quality food and saving money on groceries.  You know what's cheaper than a veggie burger from a restaurant?  A veggie burger that you make from the beans that you cooked.  All those recipes on Pinterest?  They are actually more than just a pretty face, people, they're pretty amazing, if you actually make them.

Anyhow.  Real food takes a long time.  Sometimes the whole day my kids are at school is spent cooking and freezing and baking and making.  So I started thinking that if I were to get a job, this would totally be the last thing that I would do.  My days get crazy after school lets out, and I can only imagine what they would look like if I couldn't spend the school day cooking and cleaning and getting laundry done and catching up with the Real Housewives.

No, if I were to get a job and we were to become a dual income family, some of my salary would then go to eating out and buying bread and cookies and taquitos from Costco.  What would be sacrificied in order to make two jobs and three kids work?  Time.  Where am I going to get that time?  Sleep and cooking.  Probably cleaning, too, but let's be honest, I won't be sad about that at all.

Here's where I blame the feminists.  They demanded equal rights.  Women got jobs.  Great.  Women discovered that working and raising a family sucked and that they simply ran out of time every day, no matter how much their husband promised he would help. 

Families now have more money than time.  Corporations responded.  TV dinners!  Uncrustables!  Pre-sliced apples!  Fast food! Guess what?  These corporations are in it to make money.  They will make things as cheaply as they can, and as long as people are buying them, they will keep making them.  Seventeen flavors of Doritos?  Great.  Wouldn't be on the shelves if people wouldn't buy them.  This food is made with the cheapest of ingredients, most of which are created in a chemist's lab, not from the earth.

People are more concerned about convenience than they are about serving their families real food. 

People are getting sick.  People are getting fat.  People are continuing to eat garbage and wonder why they spend all the rest of their money on medication for blood pressure and cholesterol and God forbid, cancer treatments.  They are taking sick days to go the doctor's office to figure out why they have headaches and are tired all the time.  Diabetes.  It's all there, and it didn't used to be so bad.

Women, it used to be our job to feed our families.  We are getting generations into this now where the knowledge isn't passed on anymore and we don't know how to cook and we don't know how to do this eating thing without thinking that cool whip is a totally reasonable ingredient in homemade food.

Feminism gave us money, choices and opportunity.  But it has taken away from us something that we cannot measure.  We have stopped caring for our families by giving them food to nourish them so that we can all be the best we can be.  This is an unintended disasterous consequence.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Just the title, that's all I really needed.

I read this post about a week ago, and all I really need to do is read the title. Again. And then remember it. And again.

It really was one of those hand-smacking-forehead moments. I have a really lovely kitchen, honestly. I complain about counterspace though - it's not laid out in the most ideal, wanna cook for a big dinner party sorts of ways. BUT. I wasn't helping myself with three of the five chopped up counter spaces being covered in some sort of crap of some kind. Papers, food, dirty dishes, random toys that had been there for six months. And more papers.

So, now that counter space is being viewed as work space, not storage, I find myself disliking my kitchen less, enjoying cooking in it more. And suddenly, the kitchen table falls in the category of "not storage for the newspaper" and becomes clearer. You get the idea - mess begets mess, clean begets clean.

So, we'll see how long it lasts, but boy, I sure am enjoying four out of five counters being workspace. That last one will take me a little more training...