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It’s 10:10 PM (CST) and I’m staring at this screen thinking, “What the heck do I write about?”

Writing this summer has been an issue. What should I write about?? I could write about the fact I’ve got my notebooks, but I’m not carrying them. I’m not remembering things the way I should because my routine is all out of wack. We had a great trip, then, our family has kind of imploded on each other with various things that have been sprung up creating reactionary decision making. I went for my six month cancer check up (an hour and a half drive one way), and the doctor (my third doctor in three year, mind you) forgot to order a cat scan, so got to drive to the clinic a second time in a week to have that done.

OR

I could write about the incredible podcasts I listened to in the car, one about social justice, one about ignorance, ALL of them basically saying the same thing: you have to know your neighbor and love your neighbor, regardless of WHO your neighbor is. I’m going to write about them in future blogs because, damn, they had me in tears a couple of times. I could write about the nurse I had yesterday, who had a daughter graduate from Iowa State. Or how our waiter today was a just an awesome soul, exactly what we needed at that time. Or how sweet potato fries are the universe’s way of saying, “We got you, fam!”

This has not been an easy summer for many reasons, but then, there are those things that make me see the good around me. The fact *knocking on wood* that our mortgage is so close to being paid off we can taste it. The idea that my oldest daughter will likely graduate in three semesters with zero student loans. The fact my father, 8 weeks out of his back surgery, has returned to the curmudgeon that I know and love (this is where I get my own curmudgeonly tendencies).

It’s hard to be positive in the face of all that’s going in the world right now or what’s going on in our own house, but what else is there? There’s enough negative energy out there. I refuse to give in, give up, or quit.

I may play the role of the above mentioned curmudgeon, but I’ll be damned if I let it be WHO I am.

What about you? How will you control the negative stuff in your life? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Guess I found that thing to write about tonight! 

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I’ve had this written down for a few days now. It’s gotten into my craw and is festering until I get it written, so why not now?

First, I’ve written about this twice, first in 2015 in a blog titled, A Teacher’s Voice, and again in a 2017 blog titled, Teachers, The Age of Iowa Nice Has Passed. In both blogs, I implored us as teachers, as a profession to start the conversation about what WE want I wrote about how we need to engage our parents, our communities, our legislators, and tell them, in no uncertain terms, what it is we need for our students and for ourselves.

Both of these blogs, written as the campaign season started, were well received, but yet, we shot ourselves in the foot as a collective profession. In 2016, in Iowa, we gave Republicans control of the House, Sentate, and Governorship. They proceed to begin the dismantling of our collective bargaining law, which has led to issues with bargaining all over the state. The statement, “Because we can,” was reportedly said over and over again by school boards and superintendents, creating handbooks of contracts that were worked on for decades.

In 2018, we gave the Governorship back to the Republicans, along with giving them continued control of the House and Senate. More tomfoolery (tax cuts, tax breaks) has ensued.

#insertprofanityhere

So, you’d think, it’s 2019, we’ve had four years of this nonsense, we HAVE to start coming to our senses. That’s when I read this post on Facebook from a teacher friend of mine:

I rarely ever share politics or get involved in politics on social media, because I’ve been told so many times it’s just not advised, wise, and no need to stir the pot, or open cans of worms

#poundingheadagainstthewall

Now, this teacher went on to talk about the crisis at the border, which is stirring the pot in our part of the world. However, that first statement just floors me. When will we learn that we cannot just sit back and think that our elected officials will do the right thing, we simply can’t.

However, as I gnashed my teeth, this popped up on my Twitter feed:

Education is political. All of it. What you teach, what you make, what your school has and what it doesn’t, it’s all politics. If you aren’t paying attention, you are part of the problem. When you say “I’m only here for the positive stuff” you’re actively a part of the problem.  @Maire_from_NJ

This tweet gave me hope. The teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky,

Can we just admit, if we want to see change, WE as teachers have to be that change. We can’t wait for the politicians to make the change, they will never listen and will change what the other voices are telling them to change. We can’t wait for the reformers because, again, these are people, listening to others, not us. WE have to be that voice of change, and change sucks! I hate change! I’m a creature of habit and a creature of routine.

Part of this change, we have to get political, period. Since 2016, I’ve seen organizations by teachers like I’ve never seen. Our Republican legislator made the rule (totally to screw with unions) that each time we went to renegotiate, we had to recertify. The best part of this, we had to have 50% +1 vote to for representation to be done by our local associations. If someone did not vote, it would be considered a “no” vote.  These are the things our legislature and ones all over the country are doing to our profession. We HAVE to continue to organize. We HAVE to find education friendly candidates. We HAVE to get out to talk with the public about what we need. We HAVE to build those relationships that will help us get our collective voices heard. Now. All over the country, teachers continue to push forward with fewer dollars, less respect, and more work. If we continue down this road, more of our young teachers will have a look at the profession and jump ship, leaving at a time where we need them. We have to right our profession, and now is that time.

This is our time to rise above the fray and really get our voices heard. We are adept at social media, many of us blog, but we need more. We have to have more or we’ll spend more time wondering “how did this happen” when we have elected more people who don’t care about us, our students, but only the money that can be made.

This has gotten ranty, so I’m going to close with the last two paragraphs of that 2015 blog. I challenged Iowa teachers, then, but now, I challenge all of us. I believe in that challenge  more now than at any point in my career. Not political? Nope, we have to be and if you aren’t part of this solution, you are part of the problem.

I challenge you Iowa teachers: get your blog up and going, use the voice that social media gives us to make a stand, to create a statement.  And don’t stop.  Just like we tell our students, just write.  Write about your classroom, your co-workers, your school.  Bring your classroom out to the public so we ALL can see the damage that is being done.  I challenge you to make your voice heard. If you do it and I do it, that’s two.  Let a few more join in and suddenly, we have something.

I will say this as well, until we stop thinking about “best for the party (Democrat or Republican) and start thinking “best for Iowa” all the writing and stories and attention will mean diddly squat.  If we don’t put that aside and do what’s best for Iowa, this last year will seem like a dream.

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We’ve been averaging about 5 miles of walking a day, so we woke up sloooowly today! It was another glorious, hot, humid day in South Carolina, and we have loved every single day of it. It’s shown me, dude, you need to lose some weight. Carrying twenty extra pounds just amplifies the heat, but yet, it felt good. My wife said the same thing, that the heat just felt natural to her.

Anyway, after our slow rise and shine, our breakfast in the magical courtyard, we started walking. The plan, a water taxi across the harbor to see what we could see! $12 a day for all the rides back and forth you wanted? Sign me up! It’s a pontoon boat, so nothing too luxurious, but it suited our needs quite nicely. As we crossed, a container boat was coming down the river, stacked 10 high (semi containers) at least 10 across that we could see. That’s a lot of stuff! As we crossed the river, we came up on Patriots Point, home of the USS Yorktown, an Essex class aircraft carrier, the USS Laffey, a World War II era destroyer, and the USS Clamagore, the only remaining Balao class diesel powered submarine.

#merica

So, we plopped down our money, and took a step back in time, to World War II, The Korean Conflict, and Vietnam. The USS Yorktown was used in battles during World War II, given the name after another Yorktown was sunk during the Battle of Midway. She was refitted twice, one to play in role in the Korean Conflict, a second time to play a role in Vietnam. She’s been in movies, picked up the Apollo 8 astronauts, and it was a thrill to see her in all her glory! We got to go through several different self-guided tours, see WWII era fighters, jet fighters, and attack helicopters, getting a sense of just how big she was.

Next, the Laffey, better know as “The Ship Who Wouldn’t Sink”, was first used during D-Day to as a support vessel. She was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, and was part of a sea battle that saw her absorb four bombs, six kamikaze hit, and various strafing runs. She was involved in the Korean Conflict, and was in the Mediterranean Sea during the Cold War. It was a treat to see where the captain sat, how small the bunks were, and just be a witness to this ship’s history.

The final stop, a tour of the Clamagore, Balao class submarine. She didn’t see any action in any conflicts, but was part of NATO exercises in the 1960s and did a tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. The cool this about this boat, how small you had to be. My wife is 5’4″ and myself 5’11”. We struggled through some of the cabin areas and doorways. It gave you a sense of how tight the quarters were for these men, and when underwater, how much more confined they must have felt. It takes a special kind of person to be a submariner, this is for certain!

On our way back to Charlestown, we saw another porpoise, which made the water taxi worth the cost right there! As we got back, talk to turned to supper. Where do we go and how do we finish off our time here in Charleston? Our first stop, though, the City Market at Night. The City Market, on Market Street (duh), is home to a whole bunch of local artists, weavers, and sellers of stuff. I looked long and hard for something to remind us of our trip, but couldn’t find anything, however, that’s not to say there wasn’t a bunch of neat things! We did get our daughters, sterling silver earrings, with the design of two different church gates which were neat. We walked down the market just as it was getting started, and made a point to stop back later.

A decision was to head back to the waterfront and try Fleet Landing, another local hotspot, know for their seafood. We wandered down the waterfront and found Fleet Landing with a gazillion people running around and a 50 minute wait. No problem, so went up to the bar, ordered drinks, and decided to have a half pound of “peel and eat” shrimp. We’d tried to find a place that had a bucket of these shrimp, like what was ordered in A House on Tradd Street, but alas, we failed. The two places we ordered them, they came chilled and neatly arranged, not they didn’t taste good. Goodness, they were delicious, but that’s one of the things we’d hoped to to do.

As we sat there, we struck up a conversation with another couple, and suddenly, our table was ready, and we weren’t! We continue to talk (they both grew up in the area) about local spots, our kids, and it was just nice (they were on their first “date” in a year and a half). We parted ways feeling good about the food, the drinks, and the company we’d kept today.

It was getting dark, we had to be up early as our flight left at 9:00 Saturday morning, so our stroll took us all the way down to Battery Park, then up Meeting Street. We’ve got some awesome pictures of the older houses in the twilight hours, and we just wrapped ourselves up in each other and the humidity and the history of what was around us. We stopped at the hotel quick, then went down to the market one last time as well. Things had livened up considerably, with live music and just a different crowd than during the daytime. The vendors smiled to their customers, and we heard more Southern accents and “y’alls” which made us smile.

It was last, we were tired, so it was one last look around and back to our hotel.

The trip home is will be the final chapter in this saga. I’ve gotten behind because of stuff happening here, but it will be published on Monday.

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Here I am, in our local repair shop, typing this on my phone because my data is all used up, making my phone a big paper weight.

#profanity

But, my phone is a “new to me” phone (I’m a cheap person who buys his phones used off of eBay) and I can actually see what I’m typing, so it’s all good!

#firstworldproblems

I’ve openes my notebook up and much of what I’ve written are observations about my surroundings. I’d like to share a few of those with you:

* We went on a field trip to a environmental education center, and we had to be outside. I was stunned how many of my students were uncomfortable, either with just being outside or with the various activities we did outside. There’s something to be said for telling your kids, “Go outside and play!”

* I was just as surprised on that trip with how coddled our students act. “I need my ….,” or “Why can’t I do….,” were the questions of the day. They expected us as sixth grade teachers to drop everything for them, as if we had done that at all during the school year!

#gigglingattgatmemory

* Yesterday, my wife had an appointment in LaCrosse to see an obgyn (no, nothing like that!), and I noticed how many women come to those appointments alone. True, I didn’t know what they were there for, but a pregnant woman at clinic, usually means something about a baby. For both of our kids, I was at many of those appointments, so it was worth noticing how many men were not.

* At that same appointment, I noticed a group if young Hispanic children running around the waiting room, having a ball! The youngest (I noticsd his name as Diego) was all over the place, but much his time was spent by the huge windows, overlooking a busy road. “Where is Diego,” was uttered easily a half dozen times! He’d wave at me everytime as he ran by, saying “Hola!”

#meltingmyheart

* Finally, the parade of people I’ve seen the last couple of days and the way they’ve been treated has given me hope. True, a clinic and business won’t work if they are not kind, but both if these places seem to treat people better on another level. It makes me smile and lifts my spirits to watch the women in the clinic and the people here in the shop do what they do best!

Now, if the shop manager could bring me some good news! A $500 bill is smacking me in the face!

#ouch

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