Posts Tagged With: teacher

It’s a Hard Knock Life . . . sometimes

To borrow from “Annie” – today was that moment when I felt like I was scrubbing the floor in triumph, only to find my efforts had been undone. Let me explain (and by the way, we are not off on an adventure this week, that is coming up next week).

Getting the van ready for our upcoming trip out West, we wanted to get the black grime off the roof and return it to the bright white that it should be. And looking down on it in the driveway is a daily reminder of just how grimy it has become. So up on the roof of the van I went, bucket and brushes in hand. Naturally, I didn’t want to slip on down to the driveway, so the scrubbing was done on hands and knees. Got it all scrubbed clean by lunch and left it to dry. After lunch, Jackie helped as we repeated much of the hands and knees work to apply a UV protectant to the newly clean roof.

2015-09-03 14.34.32

Sparkling clean roof!

Ok, looks great and should make it through the 6 week trip out West just fine. Except that Mother Nature had other plans. Round about 3 o’clock an intense thunderstorm rumbled through the neighborhood – no kidding, this one had very high winds, rain, hail and explosive lightning and thunder. As you can see, the result is that the very clean roof is covered in branches, pine cones, pinestraw and leaves. Arghh. Well, I guess I know what I am doing tomorrow. Sometimes it is, briefly, a hard knock life.

Arghh... just moments later after the storm.

Arghh… just moments later after the storm.

Afternoon “Relax, Refresh and Rejuvenate”

We stopped by our former middle school this afternoon to meet up with many of our colleagues and friends. They have a nice tradition (thanks to Jen, their Teacher of the Year) of getting together on Thursdays after school to wind down and catch up with each other. It was nice to hear that the school is doing well with new administrators, some new faculty and a whole new crop of 6th graders. Great job, teachers!

I mentioned that I had just read about a recent research study that had implications and some possible explanations for some of the student behaviors and performance issues many of us had witnessed while teaching. You see, sometimes you just scratch your head and wonder why it is so difficult to conduct class, convey a concept or motivate students to jump into the topic and learn all they can. You say things like “it must be something in the water” or “does everyone have ADHD?” or “this lesson always worked in the past.”

The six-year study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison indicated that growing up in severe poverty affects how children’s brains develop. Educators often hear that poverty affects student achievement, and we respond that we can’t fix poverty or be held responsible for any resulting lack of achievement. That is important to note these days, since teachers are evaluated on student achievement and may soon have their paychecks dependent on that achievement. But how does poverty affect student achievement? This study suggests that poverty affects parts of the brain that controls attention, self-control, planning, inhibition, emotions and complex learning. Those parts of the brain were 8 to 10 percent smaller for children of poverty.

Wow. That is a solid explanation for the exact behaviors teachers find vexing and frustrating – all leading to lower achievement. The study estimated that 20% in score gaps could be explained by the slower brain development. Clearly, poverty does have an impact.

Hey, we are off to Myrtle Beach next week, so look for some beach pictures to be posted.

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Monday Group Therapy

It looks like there are a lot of views for the site, so now I feel an obligation to post regularly about what’s going on, even if it isn’t a camping adventure.

Had a great meet-up this Monday with friends at Kennesaw Mountain for a walk – just about 5 miles for some of us who needed to get in the steps.  Karen, Kevyn, Jennifer, Jennifer with her dog Molly, Starr, Carla, Lynzee and Anna were there for the morning walk-and-talk.  Something of a group therapy session, since we could chat about the good and bad of the recent year of teaching.  I didn’t get a picture, but I think Kevyn did, and if he wants to share one, I will post it.  Most of the conversation was about how short the summers are for teachers and how it really has become a working vacation for most of us.  For those of you who aren’t teachers and who might be saying “hey, you get the summer off, quit complaining” our answer would be “try a year of teaching and you will understand how much you need a few weeks off” (without pay, I might add) to decompress, get caught up with your normal life and just unwind from the stress.

Unfortunately, the summer weeks have become required staff development and training, often unpaid.  Several walking with us will spend the next 2 weeks in science or math training sessions to learn the updated curriculum and new ways to teach students.  Not that math is really any different or science has suddenly changed, just that there are “new” ways to present the material, new terminology and new pacing guidelines to increase the all important student achievement.  Bit of editorializing there, but it was supported by an article in the AJC this week detailing how much is expected of teachers now, with so little in return.  I could go on about all the crazy expectations of teachers, but I will save that for another day.

Back to camping and RV adventures for a moment.  I made a little “hitch helper” for the hitch end of our tow dolly this week that makes moving it around much easier.  Essentially three caster wheels on a board with a 2″ hitch ball so you can hitch the tow dolly to it and roll it around as needed.  Right now it is rolled under the back of the RV and taking up no more space in the driveway.   (After using it a bit, I would probably redesign it to include a balanced 4 casters or cut the wood as a triangle).  Also, we just booked two weeks back in St. Andrews State Park for next June at the site next to the one we had this year — Yippee!  If you are planning to be camping in the state park next year at that time, let us know — and if you aren’t, why not?

hitch dolly

Tow dolly attached to the new “hitch helper.”

Hitch dolly 2

Side view of casters and hitch ball.

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Ready for our next adventure

We celebrated with friends and family recently – both as the end of the school year and the end of OUR school years.  Not quite sure how it is all going to work out, but we both know we will enjoy our time exploring USA in our Winnebago, with Merlin (cat) and Benji (dog) along for the ride.  Both of us feel we have been enriched by the great people we have worked with over the years, most of whom will be greeting students later this summer and working to be the exceptional teachers that they are.

First trip is the panhandle of Florida, so some pictures should soon be posted from St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach (so long as wifi and the new blog experience all work).

And you would think a former Engineering and Technology teacher should be able to figure out how to create a new blog, but it is a work-in-progress, so be patient.

Party Time

Does Paradise Await?

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