Thursday, October 30, 2014

Flawed people running for office

Our Founding Fathers (maybe with women behind the scenes) wanted an educated citizenry (at least men with land) to hold office, to serve the public good, to be citizen leaders. We've gone so far beyond that to become a country of office holders who serve their own private good. I'm suspicious of most who run for office. Too often they go in intending to serve and come out rich beyond their fellow citizens. It's too bad for them and more so for the rest of us.

But we're all flawed. In our current mayor's race  I'm left with almost no one to vote for. There are two viable candidates, both black, one male and one female. I received in the mail a flyer just days before the election, leaving almost no response time. It's about the woman, on the edge of calling her corrupt and incompetent. Supporters of the male candidate are the PAC behind this smear. Shameful.  

Last Saturday, another candidate hit the campaign trail at the local Farmer's Market. In his chat with me, he pointed out how another of the candidates had a melt-down at one campaign and has a history of mental breakdowns. In the middle of his pitch, he inserted this embarrassing information. I say embarrassing information because I mean it for him. I did not appreciate this campaign smear.

The most interesting piece of information is that many of the several candidates running for mayor chose no party affiliation. What are they saying? That they want nothing to do with either party? That they are afraid to declare a party because of the dirty deeds attributed to both or current officeholders?

What makes a person think she or he is capable of holding office? That takes a certain swagger, a lot of ego and self-confidence. Imagine holding yourself up to light and really seeing a person who can hold power, who can control events, who can handle a lot of taxpayer money?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What's up, Doc?

You know the old cartoons with Bugs Bunny rolling up to another character and asking--characteristically--"What's up, Doc?" He reminds me of my new principal, Ricky Carson, who hosted, emceed, --what word fits here?--our professional development day on Friday. Students were out, enjoying their first day of fall vacation. The staff was in, enjoying (more or less) their day of development.

I say "development" and mean it. I was inspired (not every minute because some minutes were devoted to less interesting topics). I was particularly inspired by the assistant principal's (the one in charge of discipline) promotion of the High Five. Now here is something new and I perked up. With High Five the teacher picks five students who are not particularly fond of school or its staff. It's a positive promotion thing: the teacher is kind and thoughtful and generous in spirit toward five generally "difficult" students with the idea of positive enhancement.

I knew immediately who my Number One would be (whose name I will hold secret here). Then I continued through my memory banks until I finished my list of five. The moment I turned it in to the assistant principal, I was committed. There's no turning back now. Besides, every child needs at least one adult to care, to actually show tenderness, respect, and loving kindness. I will be those things to five students until the end of next spring. Will it make a difference? We shall see.....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Teaching the gifted...

"Teaching the gifted..." appears to be the beginning of this blog. It is and it isn't. What do I mean? Let's see...whoa, I'm using a stall tactic. I teach all three grades, 6th, 7th, 8th, of middle school. That's six preparations each night!!-- two for each grade: one hour of English (grammar, spelling, vocabulary, punctuation, and the like) and one hour of reading: all things related to reading and writing. If I did a worthy job in preparing for each hour, I would spend six hours per night. I take up two or three papers per grade, so that's another two hours grading. The total: eight hours per night. I've done that a few times, but mostly, I spend about four hours each night and go to school feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared. The students can tell it, too (they're gifted that way).

Just recently, we had a heart-to-heart. I shared my doubts and stress; they shared their complaints about me. I'm a free person--I work on the edge of the box, just inside it, and even outside the box. Nearly all the students in this class wanted routine, organization, structure. Well, I've before taught a class of structured students. Usually, it's half and half. The next day I came to class prepared to be structured. I was, and it worked. Students were  lot more cooperative. I think their blood flowed better, knowing that they had an agenda. They knew exactly what we were going to do that class period. I'm thinking, yuk, I like surprises better. But they outnumber me, so I'm going with the flow--their flow. Everyone was more settled and calm. Amazing.

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.