Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Slice of Heaven and a Touch of Grey

I went on a little mini-vacation these last couple of days and discovered one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I hung out with my buddy Tim and his uncle. We rented a primitive cabin in a place called "Steep Ravine" just south of Stinson beach in Marin County.

Before going there we camped on Mt. Tamalpais

Tim made special labels for his double IPA (really strong) homebrew

Tim and Greg outside the Steep Ravine Cabin

Self-portrait with window and sun

mmmm, can't you taste the mate (its south american tea)

I think I could live at Steep Ravine for awhile. Hope you enjoy these photitos

Listening to Ani Difranco Educated guess

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The intrigue of the road

I listened to This American Life this morning and it was about the road and all of its subtleties, expectations, and disappointments.

There has been so much American literature, film, and music that is based around the freedom and excitement of the road, and because of this we Americans have a preconception that taking to the road has all of the possibility of changing the way we think and live. These preconceptions only sometimes come true though.

The transitory nature of the road is a strange thing. One of the stories from this american life was by a zine writer named Dishwasher Pete and he talked of traveling on greyhound buses around the US and about the strange transitory community that develops in the in-between. He eventually comes to realize that some of his idealistic fantasies are just that, idealistic and unrealistic.

I have a drive to explore the world, and I have many of those same misconceptions-- and my drive brings up so many more things:

Why do I get to explore the world?

What is the real outcome of living in transit or transition?

After all of my travelling I usually come to the realization that the most important things are my friends and family and the community that I am a part of, so I guess I am trying to figure out why I continue to do it.

Expectations from media?
Cultural drive?
Journeys away from suburbia only to return?

As usual, I have many more questions than I have answers, but if anyone has any thoughts or ruminations on travel please post them.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I am taking a break, not a complete and total break, like I should probably be taking, but I'm not going in to school

One of the other teachers told me, "enjoy the day off, you should take more days for yourself."

She wasn't trying to be mean, I think she was just supporting the fact that sometimes even teachers need a little r+r. I am going to My sisters graduation in Chico, but a day away from school is like a breath. Some time to inhale before the last few weeks of school.

The only problem with leaving for a day is, someone has to cover for me, I have to set up lesson plans, make phone call and be sure that I am covered and cross my fingers and hope that everything turns out.

I saw a bumper sticker that I need to post in my classroom:
"Change is inevitable
Growth is optional."

The name of my school, Delta means change, and that is our goal. I see kids change, but I do hope that they are able to take that growth into consideration.

My neighbor mentioned something that made me really think:
Sometimes kids need to make a really big mistake, before they are able to learn and mature. I see so much truth in that, but its also kind of scary.

Rambling cut.

Listening to Workingman's Dead

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

new post

this is a test

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Empathy for a teacher

My sister just told me that High school kids don't have empathy, and the reason they don't have it is because their teachers don't read to them. I don't see the exact connection but maybe I need to start reading to my kids, because many of them seem to lack empathy, both for teachers and for other people living in this world.

I am working on this debate project in class and I want student to get as much work done in class as possible, so I give them a lot of time. The biggest problem with this, is they dont use the time. I try to structure it as much as possible to support their progress, but it still usually turns into social hour, and I've kindof given up on being the authoritarian teacher who allows no talking during work time.

About the empathy thing, its teacher apreciation week and I feel gravely underapreciated by my students. They are rude, inconsiderate and loud. I want to teach them some things about courtesy and ettiquite, but there seems to be wery little that gets through to them. I also find that when I talk, they don't listen, when they do, then they learn... a little bit.

Other heavy thing on my mind:

A student will most likely be expelled for threatening another student. I heard him do it, so of course all of the students now think that I expelled him.

I want my studetns to succeed, and I want to support students who have a lot of difficulty in school or at home, but sometimes students go to far, and they lose the chance to grow and learn. This student did it, and it's disheartening, but he did it, and he needs to learn from consequences.

Wow I sound like a dictator. I hope this teaching thing doesnt turn me into a cold-hearted cynic.

listening to Soundtrack to Amelie

Friday, May 4, 2007

Post Traumatic

One of the teachers at my school brought in a Iraq veteran to speak in his urban studies class yesterday and it was an utterly moving experience.

The gentleman was Latino and grew up in south central LA. He spoke of about joining the army as a way to cut costs going to school and what a mistake it had been.

He said the GI bill hasn't provided him with any money, but what it has provided for him is a shrapnel scar on the side of his stomach, a severe case of PTSD and a general feeling of dissatisfaction about the war. He also spoke of some serious racism and an instance in which he had to kill a Iraqi man and his 6 year old son.

I was so moved and proud that he was able to speak at our school and that so many of my students had a chance to hear from someone similar to them. He was a huge advocate against recruiting and against them joining the military. There are a few kids whose opinions were changed.

It brought up some serious feelings within me about the war and those involved. My first dealt with my anti-war activity:

I have, over the last few years, demonstrated some serious anti-war sentiment, in the form of demonstrations, art, poetry, teaching, and discussion.

It made me realize that I was valid in believing the things I do, but--I don't really know what it's like to be a part of this terrible war. I don't have any idea what it is like to fight for the US army or deal with PTSD, so who am I to argue against it?

I still feel like its important, but I don't want to alienate people like this man who spoke today, because I have no f---ing idea what they are going through. I am sick of this war and I truly believe that every person who comes back will have to deal with ptsd in some way shape or form. So we will once again see a nation that is not directly affected by war, but is populated by young men and women who are dealing with serious mental health issues. I also feel that by not doing anything, I am contributing to the problem, so i guess I am at a quandary. Please, Tell me what you think.

Its so frustrating and so real.

Response to a response

I don't know the correct way to do this in blog-land, but I am attempting to respond to the comment that was left about my hip-hop and race related dialogue.
I realize that running the blog kind of gives me the upper hand--but maybe that will help my case.


I appreciate your opinion, and I see some of the merits in it, but I still kind of disagree. I understand that we cannot outlaw words, and that they will continue to exist whether we accept them or not, but...

Why must we allow hatred to continue and repress anyone? If we are enlightened and "educated" individuals, then why don't we leave those hateful terms to rot with those who can't let go of them.

Stay with me. You used the example of being with a group of homosexual friends and using those words as humorous terms of endearment. That's great and fine and you have every right to do that...but... what if my student who uses the word "fag" every day for everything from a way to describe something he doesn't like to calling the one openly gay student at school that name. What if he hears you and your friends and thinks..huh well its OK if adults use it. Or he may even be more observant and say, "well they are a group of educated gay women and they use it, so why can't I?"

I just see it as a slippery slope. I understand your argument, but I think it just continues to be a hate-filled term, and until homosexual individuals are in the non-opressed majority and not discriminated against in any way shape or form-- then it is not OK and that word should die with the n word and b--tch and all of the other words that promote hatred

If these words offend anyone then they shouldnt be used.
I am offended when I hear those words and I don't care who says them.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Third Self-Portrait

This is in response to some of the behaviors that I had to deal with in class on Wednesday, but first I must say this, after many trials and tribulations the Delta Yearbook files have been sent away! So thats one huge weight off of my shoulders.

So one of the interesting things that I've come across in the last few days is a new realization about small schools. They allow for more personal relationships to build between teachers and adults, and that's great--but--they also make students slightly more disrespectful--now bear with me.

Many of my students feel comfortable at school, sometimes more comfortable than they might feel at home, and because of this comfort--some of their personal issues start to leak out. They feel like its ok to yell at their teachers because they yell at their parents, they feel like they have less impeding them from doing arguing about a lesson or work that is assigned.

Its an interesting thing, becuause when I compare the students this year to the students last year, their level of disrespect is mind-boggling, but my students last year were somewhat afraid of me, these students are not.

Its funny what happens in a public school classroom, students become a desk, or a number, and as a teacher its easy to look past them, while that seems terrible, some students revel in it. It allows them to hide in their little personal box, and not let too much out. There is a general fear, which could be argued, is not respect, but it creates a teaching environment that is somewhat easier to deal with.

I am sick of kids combating me, questioning me and debating me, and its hard to be, like my principal says, a teflon pan, one which allows things to slide off unaffected. I am human, and i take things personally, and I have some strong opinions that I am not willing to sacrafice to some of my more close-minded students.

I know,I know, Its not about me, its about them

Listening to: Rachael's music for Egon Schiele