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.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dealing with my Anxiety & Depression

I have yet to figure out how to perfectly deal with my anxiety and depression within my everyday life.  Some days are fantastic and I have no issue; other days it takes all the power within my being to make it all the way through the day.  There are times when I cannot even get dressed or function in the same room as others.  I can literally feel the anxiety building within me and yet I am helpless to do anything to stop the problem.

I am currently sitting in another educational summer training.  As I listen to others talking around me I can feel the anxiety boiling under my skin.  I can feel my heart racing and my hands beginning to shake.  How can I possibly handle being here all day for the next three days?  

Some days things are ok.  Other days I am helpless to stop the runaway train of my emotions.  

Today is a runaway train day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Remember when I said that "Summer Vacation" was a misnomer?  Well for the last few days I have been sitting in a conference room in training more than 8 hours a day.  It is painful.  Day one I thought was never going to end.  As the days continued to unfold, the workshop became better and better.  Despite the fact there were a few helpful aspects, spending four days in a hotel, away from my family was painful.  

I just want to go home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Vacation

I honestly think the term "summer vacation" is a complete misnomer.  Once you reach the age of 16, summer is really no longer a vacation.  If you are an academic student you are starting to take AP/IB classes and more than likely that requires some sort of summer work to prepare.  About this age students are also getting jobs and trying to earn money so the need to ask parents becomes moot.  If you are a teacher "summer vacation" merely means: a ton of work to do with no students around to harass and distract.

I find myself attending to two week long trainings, analyzing/annotating/building curriculum for seven new novels, and adjusting/editing all hangouts and guidelines.  When I became a teacher I never really thought about all the work involved outside of the classroom.  I never realized the number of meetings teachers attend, or the plethora of extra duties piled on by administration because you know teaching 180 teenagers that know more than you and think your an idiot is not enough work by itself.

I have grown to truly love my time in the classroom.  I think what I love more is the summer work though.  I love reading novels and building assignments that will help students grow and analyze the world.  If somebody would pay to stay home and build curriculum all day- I totally would.  It would be like a dream come true.

I love doing this work so much, but trust me there is nothing "vacation" about any step of the process.

Summer Vacation: n. just another lie people are told to manipulate them into becoming teachers before the truth is actually revealed.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Instead of Grading

Theoretically I should have gotten up and started grading.  There is simply too much to get done and not enough time to accomplish everything.  So what did I do instead?

  • I slept late into the morning.  It was fantastic.  Between the end of the school year stress and seasonal allergies, I have been a hot mess.  I felt so ill on Friday that I took the day off and slept for over 12 hours straight.  [I also completed some grading so the day wasn't complete leisure.
  • I made bacon and coffee.  Oh I love coffee.  If I wasn't concerned about being a good wifey I would drink the entire pot of coffee every day.  I share.  At least a little bit.
  • I ordered concert tickets for my mother and me.  That is going to be one long, hot, awesome day.  Country in the Park 2015.
  • I watched the SF Giants baseball game.  Well it is currently only in the 3rd because of a rain delay but I am watching.
  • I cleaned a few things.
That is all.  I have done nothing productive when it comes to school.  I have not even gotten dressed or really gone outside [unless you count the three minutes I sat out there with the animals in my pajamas].

I love mornings such as these.  The lazy Sunday morning.  The morning to sleep in late with my husband and animals.  Snuggled up and not caring that the rest of the world is actually accomplishing out and about in the world.

I love Sunday mornings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Teaching High School

The end of another school year is swiftly approaching.  In 11 short days I will be released for summer break.  I need it this year.  It has been difficult.  Students are trying and administration is pressuring.  I have never ceased to be amazed by the difference in I feel on day one and how I feel now.  180 days of 160 different teenagers in class and another myriad in the halls, makes for a very long school year.  I am fairly positive I look like this everyday:

I have even taken to getting up at my alarm and then setting a timer as I fall back asleep on the couch.  I absolutely love the literature I get to teach and the students I touch, but dude, I need a nap.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Almost two whole years later...

It never ceases to amaze me just how much life can change in such a short period of time.  It feels as though hardly any time has passed, yet my entire world is completely different now.  

Let's recap the biggest and most recent highlights:

  • I now work at Inderkum High School in Natomas Unified School District
    • I currently teach English 10 College Prep and English 10 Scholars.  Next year I will have English 10 Scholars and English 12 IBDP.
    • It is true.  6 December 2014 I married the love of my life, Jt. See:

We had a beautiful wedding at Old Sugar Mill.  Everything was simply beautiful.
  • We rescued a dog.  His name is Divot and he is a boxador.  I am not exaggerating when I say he is beyond nuts.
    • We moved into a house to allow our boxador space to be a psycho.  See:


Summer is almost here and I am beyond excited to be out for the school year.  I love teaching but honestly by this point in the year, the behavior simply wears on your soul.  Here is to finishing out strong and beginning to blog again.