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Archive for January, 2008

5 Letters.

Back in my younger days, when I was in college. Does that make me sound older than 22? I promised myself something when I came to South Dakota. I promised myself that I would write 5 letters a day. Up until now I have kind of interpreted this a lot differently than originally intended.

When I made this vow of sorts, I wanted to do a better job of keeping in touch with friends and family. Up until now I have only met that goal by saying letters means only 5 l-e-t-t-e-r-s. Pretty lame I know. Today though, I was frustrated with myself. You know that feeling you get when you have let yourself down and you have no one to blame by yourself. It is the worst, because you are mad because of something that you have failed to do.

I had a stack of letters from people that I wanted to write back and I have been very lackluster and lazy at responding. I had some funny stationary, envelopes and stamps. I was pretty much good to go. Although I was missing one crucial element. A wax seal. Luckily one appeared in the mail several days ago. I say appear so that I don’t sound really lame and mention that it took me over an hour online to find and order exactly what was needed. I’m pretty pleased although it took me a good hour of messing up before I could properly, melt and seal the wax onto the letters. Now that I have done it several times I am practically a pro.

Next I just need to look towards buying some ridiculous stationary and a quill pen and my pretentiousness shall be complete. After that I am simply in need of calligraphy classes, a couple month stint in England to get a phenomenal accent. In other words, I’m almost there.

Tomorrow I will be sending out a good handful of letters and I am actually quite pleased with myself. It has taken me long enough, although hopefully I can continue this trend. It wasn’t incredibly hard to do. I just sat down and wrote letters for a little more than an hour and that was that. There are tons of people that I want to stay in touch with now it is a question of whether or not I make the time to do it. I don’t want to be frustrated with myself and I don’t want to lose contact with my friends so it is likely that a little wax seal, which I’m not going to tell you about, because you will hopefully receive a letter with aforementioned seal on it.

Please do enjoy….and oh yeah. Write back.

D.

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The Finger Game

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

-Colin Powell.

One of the games that people love to play in life is what I call the ‘finger game.’ It is a very simple game, you simply try and avoid blame for anything that happens. This is most easily done by pointing the finger at someone else and making various accusations about how that person isn’t doing their job. Everyone does it.

It happens at my school all the time, my students are crazy because I can’t ‘control’ them. It’s like people forget about the 2 years before when they were crazy and disrespectful and implicate all problems to me. It’s frustrating, because you feel not only helpless, but also unsupported. My class room has issues and there I’m trying to make it better, but it’s not going to happen overnight, it’s a process.

I even catch myself doing this sometimes. There are a lot of things that I could be doing to improve things in my classroom and I don’t always do them all the time. Instead I place a lot of blame on my inability to plan on the fact that my students still won’t behave when I do plan more. It’s a very detrimental cycle.

I don’t plan as well and I am exhausted from dealing with discipline issues in class. I plan more and I am more exhausted from working harder and dealing with the same discipline issues in the classroom. As a rational human being what choice am I going to make? If the behavior is largely similar regardless of how much I plan, and I’m already super stressed out the answer is quite obvious.

That being said, I think that as long as we are cognizant of these things it is okay. A lot of the reasons I don’t have the energy and motivation to plan is because of being exhausted from dealing with my students. I need to find that ability to plan more and do so with little to no stress being involved.

I could very easily blame my students for not doing anything and running around. That wouldn’t be fair, because they react to my teaching. In the same venue, they have had similar behaviors for numerous years, so it’s not anything new and it shows that other teachers haven’t been able to figure out how to help them. I don’t want to blame my kids for everything, but often feel at a loss for what to do.

We’ll see what I can  think of, something I’m sure will come up.

D.

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Pipe Dreams

Yesterday morning when I went to take a shower the pressure was incredibly low. I thought nothing of it, because it was hot water which is better than I can usually wish for. I went about my normal daily routine. Shower. Golden puffs. Cup of tea. Prepare lunch (string cheese, snack pack, apple sauce, granola bar, betty crocker gummy snacks, pb&j, pepperoni and orange). Grabbed my things and got in my car to go to school.

About 10 minutes away from school (I have a 35 minute drive) when I was just nearing the range where my cell phone loses service, because I work in a desolate valley. I got a text from my roommate. Very simple. Listen to KINI which is the local radio station. I immediately turn it on and it is playing some bad pop song, so I wonder to myself what he is talking about. Shortly thereafter I hear an announcement saying that all of the schools in Mission (where I live) are closed because of problems with the water pipes. That means that Todd County High (where one roommate teaches) Todd County Middle (where my other roommate teaches) South and North Elementary would be closed for the day.

Are you serious? If it isn’t painful enough to commute every morning it is insult to injury to then make me wonder and imagine how my roommates are sleeping in and enjoying their day of watching movies and lounging around the house. Devastating. One of my roommates drove 3 hours to Rapid City got a call in dentist appointment and went shopping for much needed house supplies.

My day was decidedly awkward. One of my students was sent home before school even started because of the state that he came to school in. Let’s just say he must have thought the weekend was one day longer. That being said, remember that I do teach 7th and 8th grade students. The kicker is that I only had 2 students until noon and then a third came right before lunch.

I know what you are thinking, that’s cake. 2 students. 1 teacher. 1 teacher’s aide. They should have learned a ton. Actually the opposite is true. They absolutely refused to do work. It was ‘boring’ because no one else was there so they wouldn’t do anything. I even offered them unlimited free time in the computer lab if they finished all their work. Instead of taking me up on such a kind offer they took Benadryl and lunch so that they could fall asleep. What do you do with that?  All I wanted to do is teach them how to multiply fractions and read Island of the Blue Dolphins out loud…is that so bad?

Lack of motivation is the most demoralizing thing that I have ever encountered. How do you teach or inspire someone who is unmotivated? Further, how do you motivate someone who does not see the value of education? Education does not have immediate pay-offs it is an incredibly long term investment. You don’t reap the benefits until you have suffered through the K-12 system and then paid thousands of dollars to a university to expand your mind. How do you convince someone that it is better to make that investment instead of sitting at home hanging out with your friends having a good time?

I’m living in a pipe dream. A dream where I wish the water pipes would burst so that I could not only miss a day of school, but also show my students that college and the way to a better life is not impossible.

D.

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They Call Me Sonic

“They Call Me Sonic. Cause I am faster than sound I keep on jumping around. Blue hedgehog sonic with incredible speeds I am moving my feet.”

http://pop.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvavclgsp9k 

Since coming out to South Dakota I have noticed that I have an incredibly devastating music listening habit. I find a new song and then I listen to it incessantly. This must be pretty horrible for my roommates and anyone that hangs out with me a decent amount of time.

“What Goes Around” – Justin Timberlake

“Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger” – Daft Punk

“Apologize” – Timbaland

“Happy Ending” – Mika

“Big Girls” – Mika

“Changes” – Tupac

“Gangsta’s Paradise” – Coolio

“They Call Me Sonic”

“Dota” – Basshunter

“The Wings” – Brokeback Theme Song

It’s not even that I want to change my habits. I just don’t want to lose those songs that are awesome because I listen to them too much.  I used to listen to some Paul Oakenfold and Blue October’s “Into the Ocean” but me overplaying them has caused them to slowly seep out of my place lists.

Why do we do this? I feel like everyone constantly plays something they like once they discover it, but then it gets lost when we listen to it too often. Wouldn’t it be better to just slowly incorporate it into our play list.  More likely I am just making something out of nothing, but I think it’s a legit issue.

I say this, because my roommate was playing a song the other night and it was awesome. It was one of those songs that I had a brief obsession and quickly forgot. Hearing it made me wish that I had it and had not forgotten it. Then we couldn’t figure it out, so now I have to wait until I randomly hear it again and can hopefully remember it.

D.

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Wrestling Tournament

The season finally ended this past weekend. It was somewhat awkward ending to the season. The most wrestlers I ever had was four, three guys and one girl.  In the final day before the tournament I had 2 quit and 1 get suspended. That means I was attending the tournament with 1 wrestler.

It was kind of hilarious. I had to pick my one wrestler up at 8:15am which is a lot harder than it sounds being that he lives 45 minutes away and I had to pick up the school suburban to drive him. My morning involves me getting up at the usual school wake up time, driving to the school where I drop off my car and pick up the school suburban. Drive a further 10 minutes to get my one wrestler and then we drive in silence for 30 minutes to Mission for the meet. I asked him if he wanted breakfast, but he had already had some.

From there we proceed to sit in the bleachers just waiting for his match. He lost his first, one his next two and then lost to the same guy he lost his first one to making him 2nd in the district. After the tournament we helped roll up the mats grabbed some cheeseburgers at the Starlite Grill (see sidenote about smiley fries)

Sidenote: have you ever had fries that are shaped like Smiley faces…because I have…and they are wonderful.

After that I took him home, dropped off the suburban, drove home and slept on the couch. It was a 6 hour day for 4 matches, 1 student and a 2nd place medal. Successful, but also somewhat absurd.

Now that is over with I will be returning home before 5:00pm for the next week so that I can begin regaining at least some of my sanity.

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This morning as I was walking up stairs to make my lunch, eat breakfast and drive to school in my car I got a call from my lead teacher. The message? 2-hour delay. Glorious. It was honestly like waking up Christmas morning. I ran up stairs yelling and screaming to the surprise of my roommates. When they asked what was going on I passed on the news. They too were excited. We decided to take a nap and reconvene in about an hour. I went to take a 45 minute nap and woke up an hour and a half later. I was refreshed and happy that I got the opportunity to be well rested for a day.

I know that I was super excited for such things when I was in high school, but I always remember my teachers seeming to be mad, because we didn’t have time to cover everything. Now that I am a teacher, I realize that they were just saying that. They too were excited and cheerful that we didn’t have school.

When I woke up later I noticed that I had missed two calls. Hope. Immediately I was worried, because I was tired enough to sleep through phone calls and I was going to have to leave to go to school in 15 minutes. But wait. One of the calls was from my lead teacher. Could it be? Could it be no school? I caled her back with quiet enthusiasm. Wham bam thank you mam! No SCHOOL! For the 2nd time in the day I ran upstairs. This time my roommates weren’t as excited. They were like ugh, napping, be quiet! Then I let them know the fabulous news and celebration ensued. By celebration, I mean that we got on our computers, screamed a couple times and made plans to do nothing but sit around, cook breakfast and watch movies.

Being that it is Wednesday we also have our regularly scheduled hang out at our house. We had named it ‘Wet and Wild Wednesday.’ I chose this name because it reminded me of last year and the debauchery that occurred last year in Tim’s room. We decided against it and instead call our Wednesday night movies. ‘Wednesdays are so boring I wish I had something better to do than watch a movie at Omaha 200.” The past several weeks it has been rather informal, but this week we sent an email out so hopefully people will converge and be merry on this day of snow.

D.

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Basshunter

Before reading this you must first watch this YouTube video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2tfy5NWbuQ 

It is one of my all-time favorite songs. Dota by Basshunter. It is pretty much the reason that I was able to finish my thesis. I would crank it up and then just start rocking out as I typed and typed and typed throughout all hours of the day. Surprisingly, it is an incredibly inspirational song. It just keeps you going and the beat is phenomenal. Beyond that the lyrics are hilarious. It’s about a dude playing video games.

Today I discovered this:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=qXKd7uuehlw&feature=related 

It is listed as the new Dota video. I was highly intrigued and very excited when I saw this. The video looked a lot cleaner, a lot more trendy. It starts off great and then you realize that he has butchered the song and now it sucks. Throw in the fact that the video is incredibly awkward and it makes it even more devastating. Basshunter does strange head and arm swings at seemingly inopportune times.

I’m so devastated. When I saw that it was new I expected it to be phenomenal. The song is bastardized and he sucks in the video. His dyed black hair would look cool except for the fact that his natural hair color is growing in. The original with dudes playing video games and girls just hanging out and then going to a dance party is far more hilarious. This one does feature a pretty sweet computer chair, but then you have random gyrating hip girl who blows on the ears/face of equally random people who don’t respond, because they are so involved with Dota. Oh well, c’est la vie.

D.

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