Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I am back from my whirl-wind trip to Anchorage for the ASTE convention.  It was a great experience to get out there in the tech/ed world of innovation.  So glad to hear that teachers aren't trying to reinvent the wheel, but they're simply digitizing it.  Everything from blogs to podcasts to iMovie versions of book reports was being displayed with pride.  Who would have thought 100 years ago that in Bush Alaska there would be this type of technological advances?  Amazing.

I was proud just to have been able to make it to the event!  Friday, our island lost power - literally the entire island experienced a blackout.  We found out later that there was a short in the system - no kidding!  We were without power for close to 6 hours.  By the time they fixed everything, our flight was long gone.  Next time, add the runway lights to the backup generator.
Saturday rolls around.  We were hoping to be able to get on a flight that was schedule for 8:30pm, but due to the entire fleet of PenAir being grounded because of contaminated fuel, we were stuck for yet another day on St. Paul Island.  Sunday offered yet another opportunity for our faith to be tested.  We were put on standby for the 4:30 flight, but either way we could leave at 12:30am.  Standby means to literally standby the ticket counter because it doesn't seem to matter that a phone call says you aren't on the flight.  Our trusted leaders were at the airport and were able to be put on the 4:30, despite us being told that there was no room at the inn.  Thanks for looking out for us.  

12:30am turned into 2am take-off time and 4:15 landing into Anchorage.  We slept a few hours, cleaned ourselves up and made it to our presentation on time.  Yahoo.  I returned home on Tuesday afternoon, arriving at my from door at 9pm.  Was it worth it?  Probably not.  I could have gotten the same information in a podcast on iTunes, but the fact that I got my name and face out there was a plus.  

My darling husband is still in Anchorage, attending yet another conference until Friday.  It'll be nice to have a quiet house, but then again, I'd rather a little noise be there along with him.  A three-day work-week and then conferences on Saturday just about wraps up my week.  There will be a union meeting as well as a pep rally before the last basketball game for our SeaParrots.  Just like having an MIA husband, I like the quiet of an eventless week, but I would take the chaos 100 times over.  It means that there's a purpose for all the hard work that we put in everyday.  The joy and progress of our students, that's what I live for.  So bring on the hectic schedule - they're worth it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011 - Plan Ahead to Reschedule

I was supposed to be in Anchorage for THE technology conference for teachers in Alaska.  I should have been there for two days already.  The one thing that I have come to realize about living in the Alaskan Bush is to never assume that the best laid plans are going to actually workout that way.  You can't.  It's never because of one reason.  I have had my travel plans altered for so many reasons:

  1. No crew to fly the plane
  2. Too much fog
  3. Blizzardy conditions
  4. High Winds
  5. No power on the island = no runway lights
  6. Contaminated fuel
But this is just part of the new lifestyle.  There are a lot of things that we don't have to deal with that were pains in the neck in Michigan:

  1. Traffic jams on 96
  2. Trying to find a parking spot downtown
  3. Waiting in lines - Movies, Restaurants, DMV
  4. CROWDS at the mall
  5. Pantyhose
  6. High Heels 
  8. Paying $20 to watch a bad movie in a theater
It is an inconvenience to have to wonder about your travel plans, but the things that have been left behind are definitely worth the uncertainty.  I'm not sure if I'll make it out to our conference, but if I stay, I'll make the most of it and know that there is a reason why I was supposed to stay.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday, February 15th - Muddling Through the Middle of Meh

Don't call me a hater, but when is February going to be over?  I"m working my tail off trying to keep my Pollyanna outlook on life going.  February is the month of just, meh.  By now we're used to the weather of snow, melt, rain/ice, snow, plow, drifts, cold, wind, coats, hats, gloves, muffler, scarf, boots, trudge, slip, stumble, fall, spin, twist, and pout.  ENOUGH ALREADY!  WHERE'S SPRING???  Even the sunrise was only using half it's strength lately.

And my students are feeling it too.  They are in the middle of the slump with their boredom, their complacency, and general disdain for anything educational.  And there's nothing more that we can do as educators but keep our chins up and shove on...sometimes shove a student now and then.  Accidentally.  Sheesh.

But how do we keep up our chins?  Aren't adults allowed to fall into a slump as well?  Well sure we are.  Because are adults, we can do whatever we want to.  But who wants to be in the doldrums?? They're icky and depressing and downright awful.  So I pose the question again - what do we do? Anything that breaks up the "same old, same old."

This morning, I downloaded a bunch of old Disney songs on my iPad - juvenile, yes.  A quick listen and out of my "gray phase"?  Yes, ma'am.  So today when I am down in the muck, I will listen to a little bit of "Trashing the Camp" from Tarzan and "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story.  Don't judge me.

It also helps me out to try and mentor my poor husband, God bless him.  I'm working my tail off at trying to stay positive, keep a silver lining going at all times, and not let the blues find a home in my heart.  I find that if I use him as my motivation, I am much more successful.  Isn't it funny how we are more willing to do for others than for ourselves.  There's my silver-lining: By helping Dan, I am helping myself.  And by helping myself, my day is bright and the end of the tunnel of "meh"tunnel.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday, February 8th

Hello Dear Blogger,

Today's entry is all about me.  What I learned is what I would do if I had the house to myself.  Dan took off for his class in Anchorage and won't be returning until Sunday.  I will head out to join him on Friday for a Valentine's Day getaway, but until then, the house is mine.  Pajama party!!!

 I am able to choose whatever TV show I want to watch, when I want to watch it.  A marathon of lady-oriented shows is currently in progress on our TV.  The View, The Ellen Show, Grey's Anatomy reruns, and Biggest Loser.

DECISION #2 - SUSTENANCE I was able to choose whatever I wanted to have for dinner.  It started off with steamed veggies and a turkey sandwich.  After that, I thought a pear would sound delish, as well as two Peppermint patties.  Well balanced right?

I am torn.  Do I stay on my side of the bed or do I wear the crown and sprawl out in the middle of the bed?  Sprawling = luxury, but also more covers to wrangle with when making the bed in the morning.  Decisions, decisions.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday, February 7th

Dear Blog Reader,

Today was a pretty typical day for a Monday on St. Paul Island: the kids were tired, I was a little groggy, and a little more prodding to get work done was required.  What was different was that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel for the current novel we're reading, A Distant Enemy.  It's not that I find myself "caved in" by the novel, it's just that my students find themselves uninterested in the text.  The plot isn't as exciting as a movie, a video game, or even walking around the island and standing in front of the store.  Fair enough.  Fair enough.  Nothing really competes with scamming on AC Store patrons to a newly released student on a school day afternoon, let alone the story of another kid who could be sitting across the table from them.  I suppose I wouldn't be jumping for joy to read a story about another middle class, white girl who attends a boring school where nothing catastrophical happens.  But then again, I was that white yuppy who loved reading just about anything that a teacher put in my hand.  I trusted their opinion of literature because hey, they were the teacher. I suppose wanting a little of that in return isn't such a huge request.  But I digress...

So today was spent making the final decision on what my students would be reading next.  The nail is in the coffin for a few titles, but there are some that are still up in the air.  They are:

8th Graders
High School ELA II
High School ELA I
7th Graders
Possible title for High School ELA I

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saturday, February 5th

Dear Blog Readers,
Working on the weekend has become a way of life for us.  I was resistant at first, but then it finally clicked that you when you ask for a change, you have to be willing to.  I know am a fan of the more consistent work schedule, only because it keeps me motivated and on task.  Anyway, today was a meeting for a grant team that I'm on and we were taught how to use some of the special techniques and tools of PhotoShop.  I'll post a collage that I created (not very complicated, but I like it) today.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Good afternoon, All

I apologize for the delay (as if anyone is reading this with baited-breath) but I ended up workout out this morning and ran out of time and energy after grading a million papers.  So that's the good news of my day: I worked out properly for the first time in a week.  I was able to get in a warm up and level one of Biggest Loser's Bootcamp series and 10 minutes of elliptical afterwards.  GO ME!

Another bonus is that I was able to spend some quality time with my 7th graders in the kitchen.  It was a two-fold bonus because I was also able to get my goodies made for our sales at the Family Fun Night.  Here are some pics for your enjoyment:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
-Steven Covey

"When people talk, listen completely.  Most people never listen."
-Ernest Hemingway

"The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.  To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others."
-Tony Robbins

Theses three quotes have one thing in common:  They are the focus for what I want my intention to be today - be a better listener.

I find myself falling into the trap of not really listening to people when they talk to me.  I think that my generation as a whole has a problem with this.  We are all amped up on multitasking and gadgets that make our lives easier because they don't require us to be as fully engaged.  I don't have to take the time to remember your phone number because it's saved into my cell phone, into my Contacts on my Gmail account, or you can always text it to me later.  I don't have to learn the social graces of listening to someone else when they give directions or specific requirements to a project because it's all written on this email that you sent me just before the meeting.   I rely more on my cell phone that brings in text messages and emails than actual voice-to-voice conversations that require me to be present.  Even as I write this blog now, I have my laptop open to about 5 different tabs containing different websites, the TV is on in the background, and my iPad has my twitter account constantly updating next to me.  And you want a piece of the remaining attention I have left?? What's so important that you have to interrupt my "work?"  Oh, sorry.  I love you too, Honey.

Dear God,

Thank you for another day that You have made.  Please help me to make the most of it.  I ask for you to help make me more present in my life and to put aside all the things that don't matter in order to make the things that do, helping and loving others, stand out and shine.


Daily Gratitude:
1.  My health - I am on the rebound from the flu
2.  Quiet mornings with coffee and juice
3.  Student emails that tell me they miss me/wish me better
4.  The snow has slowed down in Michigan
5.  My sister who is trying to get all of us together for a vacation

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hello Blog Reader,

This is written from the sickbed of one flu-patient.  And this will be the extent of my update.

Dear God,

Please help me heal and make it the best for those whom I cannot see today.