Sunday, January 1, 2017

All the Books

I read a vast array of books this year.  Most of them I really enjoyed.  A few were meh.  Here is my list:
  • Little Bee​ Chris Cleave
  • Maus I & II​ Art Spiegelman
  • Mercy​ Jodi Picoult
  • Eleanor & Park​ Rainbow Rowell
  • The Martian​ Andy Weir
  • Nectar in a Sieve​ Kamala Markandaya
  • Cinder Marissa Meyer
  • Scarlet Marissa Meyer
  • Cress​ Marissa Meyer
  • Everything I Never Told You​ Celeste Ng
  • Six Characters in Search of an Author Luigi Pirandello
  • Winter​ Marissa Meyer
  • Home: a Memoir of My Early Years Julie Andrews
  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home​ Carol Rifka Brunt
  • Fairest​ Marissa Meyer
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain Garth Stein (reread)
  • Me Before You​ Jojo Moyes
  • Everland Wendy Spinale
  • Unbroken ​ Laura Hillenbrand
  • My Lady Jane Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
  • PS I Like You​ Kasie West
  • Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez
  • Fangirl​ Rainbow Rowell
  • The CAP Equation, A Foolproof Formula for Success in Sales Jay Buzzello
A total of 24 novels and 1 book on sales.  Many of them are young adult fiction, some tested my soul and some strengthened my love of reading beyond measure.  I am not sure I can pick a favorite of the year, but I really enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles series and Tell the Wolves I'm Home.

Books bring me joy and center my life to be a bit more grounded.  My reading subsided in the last few months with the hectic nature of a new career, but I am back and there will be more reading, because I love it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Finding Me One Book at a Time

I have always loved to read.  I love to read more than most other things.  I would actually choose reading over practically anything else in the world.  Reading brightens your soul and opens your mind.

I have already read three novels, this year, just for the fun of it.  I have also been reading for school.  I am on my second novel of the year for that as well.

Literature allows me to escape from my world.  It gives me the opportunity to explore other places, cultures, and times.  Mostly it allows me to turn off my brain to the outside world and the endless details in my mind.

Reading helps me remain calm.  I am in control of who I am and the world around me, as I read.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Escaping My World

Some days feel an eternity long.  Some mornings appear to pass in the blink of an eye.  This morning I arrived to work about the same time as always.  I began to prep for class and the next thing I realized it was almost time for my first group of students to walk in and I was no where near ready for them.

I don't know how some days seem to drag on forever while others pass in a moment.  The things I find most disconcerting is when the day begins in a whirlwind and then slows down a couple hours later, to pass at the slowest rate possible.  The mysteries of time will probably forever vex my mind.

Yet while I am dwelling and seemingly inconsistency of the time space continuum, I am left to day dream about escaping the worlds that being me warmth and comfort.  I long to sit and absorb myself in another's problems and issues.  I want to escape that which is around me always and delve into the unknown.

Is there a way I could simply stay home and read books all day every day?  Will somebody pay me to do this?  or really simply pay my student loans while I read?  Either way I desire to escape the mundane and live in a world of fiction.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Books of 2015

I read a lot.  I have to re-read a lot for my job though.  In 2015 I read 17 novels.  Some were for school and required annotating (marked with an *).

Here is the list of books I read during the course of 2015:
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain*
  • Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad*
  • Night Circus Erin Morgenstern
  • Go Set a Watchman Harper Lee
  • Storyteller Jodi Picoult
  • Lone Wolf Jodi Picoult
  • The Things They Carried Tim O'Brien*
  • Still Alice Lisa Genova
  • Wild Cheryl Strayed
  • Why Not Me Mindy Kaling
  • Nectar in a Sieve Kamala Markandaya
  • Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe*
  • Humans of New York: Stories Brandon Stanton
  • The Shack Wm. Paul Young
  • Farewell My Concubine​ Lillian Lee
  • Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte*
  • a nervous wreck faking fine​ Dakota Wint

The annotated novels took much longer to read than the others.  Although this is the case,  hands down Jane Eyre is the best novel I have ever read.  I love it.  I love everything about it.  I am literally obsessed.  I am currently teaching this masterpiece in my senior English classes.  I get to relive the wonder countless times.  

I am already a good way through my first 2016 novel, Little Bee Chris Cleave.  I am captivated.  Although the beginning of this year has been particularly rocky, I at least have the love of literature to maintain my sanity.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Thing about Teaching...

Everybody thinks they can do my job.  Everybody thinks since there is so much scheduled time off, my job must be easy.  The things is not.  It isn't easy.  And chances are you could not do it, unless you too have been trained in education.

Just because most everybody has gone to school and been in a classroom at some point does not qualify most everybody to be a teacher.  I have been in a variety of court houses but I don't claim to know how to be a judge or lawyer.  I have been in a myriad of hospitals but I would never consider myself capable of being a doctor or nurse.  I have even experienced six different surgeries.  I guarantee I cannot be a surgeon.

So why is it that everyone believes they are capable of being a teacher?

My job is hard.  I am tired.  I am sorry you think you could do it better but I doubt it and I also doubt your would survive 180 days with over 200 teenagers every day.  It is simply hard.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Agonizing through Teacher Professional Development

I know every career has professional development and trainings.  I don't particularly know how often others need to attend trainings but I am fairly positive it isn't every few months.  I am constantly in training as a teacher.  Today is the fifth professional development I have attended since August.  That is more than one PD a month.  If I only teach about 20 days a month missing one to two days is very significant.


Isn't is better for the students to be in class with their trained and certified teachers?  Wouldn't students learn more if they were given more instructional minutes instead of less?

Beyond the 5 days of training, students have also tested a total of 7 other days.  Meaning, about half a month, so far this year, has been sacrificed and stolen from the students and their understanding.  Why is this ok?

According to a recent tweet from President Obama, testing needs to be reduced and eliminated when not appropriate for true assessment.   Students should be in the classroom and they should have educated teachers there to instruct and engage students.  

I am passionate about the education of my students.  I find I am more concerned about their education than the students.  It is painful to be a teacher.  I just want to be in my classroom and teach my students.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: The First "tweet" Against Racism

Teaching any controversial text is difficult.  Teaching a controversial text in a school that is comprised of mostly minority students is an extremely delicate process.  I have come to find the community where our school resides in an area that has a flashy exterior, but a troubled underbelly.  Many of our students are very low income, homeless, gang members, and dealing with more than many adults face daily.  Most of my students also don't have a solid educational support system at home.  Each of these issues combine to increase tensions and place students on edge when dealing with sensitive material.

Tensions rose very quickly when students were assigned to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I was somewhat appalled by a phone call I received where a parents voiced concerns over book choice.  This parent was concerned that Huck Finn contained derogatory and harsh commentary of African Americans.  The parent was concerned about their student's feelings and self image as the class discusses such inflammatory material.  My favorite remark from the parent was: "It is fine and good for a WHITE kid to read Huck Finn but this novel is seriously degrading to all your black students."

Has this parent even read Huckleberry Finn?!  

Mark Twain was an innovator of language, dialect, and social reform.  Twain argued against the societal views of 1840.  As Huck continues down the Mississippi River he is grappling with the pulls of an 1840 "civilized" society and his own moral compass of human decency.  

Mark Twain used The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a way to show the world how to treat other people.  Twain fought against the societal norm of slavery and degradation.  Although we, as a world community, still have  SO MUCH to do to truly eradicate racism and defeat the ignorance that reigned in our nation, Twain demonstrates just how far we have come from the time where slavery and racism was rampant everywhere.

Twain used his novel to "tweet" to the world the significance of accepting others and finding the humanity of individuals, despite societal norms and ignorance.