Tuesday, March 06, 2018

New Directions

In the last few months, I've been thinking about what I really want to do. I'm so very fortunate - good friends, family, few troubles, a job I love, several passions, enough to live comfortably, a supportive and loving husband, and so, so much more.
I'm past mid-life and it's time to step up the return. Yea, there have been bumps but, with the help of those around me, I've bumped right on over them. There are going to be some changes as I look forward to the next stage in life. There are some questions I'm going to work on -
What fills my heart?
How can I truly help for others (not just for myself)?
How can I build some work that isn't in a location but anywhere and that fills my heart and puts a little in the bank?

In the last few years I'm gettin' it - It's not about me. I just need to listen to and follow THE plan, and not so much my plan.

Monday, October 16, 2017

My Tribe


I remember asking my mom about knitting when I was very young. She knit my sisters sweaters and they were beautiful. I wanted to learn. She explained that it was a chore I wouldn't have to do and showed me a book on knitting saying if I was truly interested, she would give me needles and wool, After watching her and reading that book a few times, I asked for needles and wool.  I was on my way.
As I grew, I would knit when the urge struck. Typically, I'd find some time during summer break to pick those needles up again.  It wasn't until high school when I began to make a serious effort.  I still had a lot to learn but could knit one-color mittens and raglan sweaters. I continued to knit but was slow and, I now know, lacked the specific techniques to take my work to a higher level.
I was working as a medical editor when a co-worker saw me knitting in the break room over my lunch hour. She mentioned she was also a knitter and started bringing her work in so we could knit together. 
My tribe was born. Linda took me under her wing. She showed me how to knit with two colors, one in each hand. I was a "thrower" and knit English style, like my mother. She showed me how to hold another yarn in my left hand and knit "Continental" which was FAST. I made my first two color, Fair Isle, pair of mittens. I still have those mittens 25 years later and they still look new. 
By the time I left that position, the internet was up and running. I found a knitting group and the rest is history. The last 15 years has brought knitting podcasts of all kinds by people around the world, virtual knitting groups, local knitting groups, a community that is tightKNIT (yes, I went there) and supportive.
There are conventions, professional/master level classes, and camaraderie for every knitter. I've made friends around the world and have traveled to group together. When we've been connected via the internet and meet, it's as if we've been living in the same town for years and meeting at our own knitting group. 
As I grew in my tribe and community, I learned my own family history had a fiber arts connection. My dad handed me a box of old photos and notes from his aunt about our own family history. I found a photo (see below) where three of the women are clearly members of my family. The resemblance is undeniable and one is tatting and one is knitting. I started a book about our history and it turned into a collection of knitting designs. 

​See? It's in my blood.

I Scare Myself

Teachers are scrutinized and under a microscope. That's nothing new and we, as parents, should feel we can trust the adults who spend most of the day with our children. However, teachers are people and also deserve a normal, acceptable for adults, personal life. 
Recently, I came across an article about a teacher who was told to resign or face administrative charges because she posted a photo of herself on vacation with a glass of wine at a special dinner. Her Facebook account was private with all the strictest security measures in place available. 
I've also heard of a case about a person who has allegedly impersonated a teacher and then hired as a classroom teacher. This person had all the documentation for the innocent teacher's past and credentials through the internet. Identity theft is common now and can happen anywhere.
Another important privacy consideration for teachers is the privacy of students. FERPA guarantees students and their families privacy. Teachers are often required to have an internet presence and a website for their students. Photos and classroom activity descriptions can unknowingly breech the conditions within FERPA. 
Well, no wonder I'm scared and a little paranoid! ​I decided to investigate a bit and found these articles.

 Protecting Student Privacy Legislation

 Protecting Student Privacy on Social Media

What do you think? Should teachers accept a life that is solitary and excludes social media, normal adult interaction, or legal adult activities? Is it okay to have classroom websites with photos and descriptions?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hey, Teach!

Note: This post was part of a professional website building class. I needed a separate blog and titled it "Hey, Teach!" Now it'll make a little more sense.

I wanted to find a better title for this section than "Blog." Blog is boring, blog is what everyone has and no one reads. 
I thought about where my head-space is and what's important to me now. Teaching is most definitely at the top of the list but that's not enough. When my principal and I were talking about all those worrisome things we do at reviews, he was scanning down and said "'Creates a warm, caring environment...' oh, you care so much about your students, that's not an issue..." I smiled. So, today when I found synonyms for blog like "journal," or "buzz," or "rumor," or "gossip," or a variety of other mundane terms while trying to pinpoint that extra something about teaching, that quality, that was so elusive, I heard a gentleman's voice say "Hey, Teach!" in my mind. I smiled.
I worked at the Denver VA Hospital for a few years to supplement my income, as so many teachers do.  Drill Master Sergeant Ralph Benjamin was a volunteer who worked with me. "Ben," as he preferred, was an outstanding and honorable individual who would cheerfully bark out "Hey, Teach!" every time I walked in. 
Ralph Benjamin passed on May 18, 2017. He'll be missed but I'll always hear his voice saying "Hey, Teach!" and see his bright smile in my memories.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Reddit or Tumblr?

I've heard about Reddit and Tumblr, most recently used ironically in the new Ghostbusters movie (don't watch the theatrical version, watch the extended/director's version - the difference is amazing). I'm done avoiding and am ready to take the plunge. Will I like either? Both? Neither?
Reddit - I haven't looked at it before today. My first impression was how C code it looked. It reminded me of Yahoo and it's home page. I still use Yahoo groups with one group who refuses to give it up after 15 years. I was at a loss about what to search on, drew a blank, so typed in "high school dropout." Most of my student population are previous dropouts.
I found a forum with posts from drop outs describing their experiences. Wow. It stimulated some big-time ideas. I saw some very raw posts about life after dropping out. I have a writing elective coming up. I can see lots of prompts and exploration using these forums. For me, it'll be a new resource for meaningful, provoking writing prompts.
Tumblr - I actually had a logon and had forgotten about it. I don't remember exploring it at all. My first impression was that this is a conglomerate of blogs but then tried a search, "high school dropout," and was surprised at what I saw. It resembled Pinterest with quick graphics of posts and notes. I didn't see much that offered material as a resource and clicked on "Staff Picks" and, again, was underwhelmed. I don't see Tumblr as being a resource for me, at this time.
What do you think? Which apps would you recommend to an alternative high school English teacher? Comment below.