Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ending and a New Beginning

I am finishing an extended journey. I have been living and breathing an incredible time with a courageous group of twelve. We have struggled, cried, triumphed and learned more in 15 months than can be easily put into words. We have been through two weddings and a baby, countless hours of work away from our families, and mountains of books and papers.

We have been reading, writing, pursuing understanding of new concepts and the integration of those already slightly familiar into our existing schema. We have been writing and reading and researching. We have been questing to find what it takes to make sense of the material for all of us. We have been learning.

I have learned that what makes me a better teacher is also being a continual student. Whereas some instructors inspired through example, as Miles Horton put it, some of my best teachers were the worst teachers. I also learned what NOT to do and what it must feel like when I am not clear with directions, when I change requirements at the last minute, have no clear goal for assessments, other than as a grade to put into a book, and what happens when the experience of my students is TOTALLY ignored and make no attempt to start from where my students are rather than with the same lessons the same handouts, the same method of attacking the material.

I have seen this incredible group of intelligent folks become behavior problems out of self-preservation, so we would not lose our minds in classes that did not adapt to our needs, our experience, our collective knowledge and find a way to push us to learn more. I have seen those who have struggled meet the challenges of technology and wrestle with concepts that are the antithesis of their core values and come through as more enlightened educators.

I have also learned that through it all, I can perserve -- one page, one paper, one assignment at a time. I learned that I can rise to a new level of expectation and meet it even when I have only had three hours of sleep. I miss the time to spend with family and nature and I know that this too shall pass and soon those simple pleasures will be available to me again.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Task: Read "No Sweets, Please" about a girl who shares food with a friend who has a pre-existing condition that on a restricted diet. The goal is to finish the story taking into consideration Marsha's concerns that she may have contributed to an adverse reaction and what she would do to change her behavior to help her friend.

Marsha decided to go to the library and do some research on diabetes to find out if the food she had been sharing with Jergen might have had an impact on his condition. When she found that diabetics need to monitor their blood sugar carefully and that Jergen was known for not following those directions, Marsha decided to change her ways.

Part of Marsha's plan including starting to say "NO" to things that she really didn't feel like doing, but did anyway so that people would like her. Marsha let her friends talk her into many things that she didn't quite feel right about, but again, she didn't want to make anyone mad at her or to upset anyone.

When Jergen returned from the hospital, he once again, asked Marsha for her desserts. However, Marsha was prepared. Since she didn't like sweets anyway, she had asked her father not to put any sweets in her lunch. She explained that she didn't eat them anyway and that they usually got squished in her lunch bag.

So, when Jergen asked for the dessert that he knew Marsha would not eat anyway, he was suprised when Marsha told him, "Sorry, Jergen. I don't really like sweets, so I just asked my dad not to spend the extra money on them. Instead of the Twinkies and other sweets, I am getting the money that would have been spent buying those things that I wasn't eating anyway in my allowance.Why don't go and take a lap when we are both done with our meals and after you have checked your blood sugar."

From then on, Marsha's friends noticed that she was a "pushover" no more. She only did what she really enjoyed and often offered alternatives rather than just going along with whatever anyone tried to get her to do. Marsha and Jergen made walks at lunch a regular event and eventually set up a walkathon fundraiser for the whole school for the American Diabetes Association and donated the monies in Jergen's name.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 picture source
I long for the mountains! The last one that touched my soul was Mt. Whitney that I climbed with an honored group. It was incredible to see the sunrise , to hike higher and farther than I ever imagined that I would ever be able to achieve. I have yet to summit -- there was blasting that day and I had many issues including battery issues (when you start at 12:01 am it is a bit dark). It was incredible.

I am so happy to be able to get back to the mountains and to get to the outdoors yet again. Soon!
WAVE PROMPT: What do you like most about yourself? Least about yourself? Why?

I listen. I have a natural ability to pick up on where people are in their life's journey and a means of connecting to the person on the inside, behind the mask. I see the core and am able to filter out the manifestations of protection that occur when one has been hurt along the journey. I enjoy that I can be a great listener, although lately, I haven't been able to process much or take the time to listen to the lives of others. I like that I "get" people and look beyond pretense and bad days, knowing that the people who are in my life are there for a reason. I have something to learn from them and if I am willing to truly slow down and listen, I will be given an invaluable piece of the my life's puzzle.

Right now, I least like the fact that I have to say "NO" and focus on myself more than I ever have at any time in my life. I am coming up on a major deadline, with parameters and requirements that seem to change daily. Frustration is the least objectionable and most politically correct term that I can use to describe the process of trying to meet the ever-changing, and rapidly-approaching deadline. I want to be able to sit and reflect and to ponder the universe. I miss having time to listen for the messages that have been left for me. I miss my time for reflection.