Almost There……

imagesCA174ACFIt has been a long semester.  Between working 40 hours student teaching, I’ve been trying to fit working in anytime I can, so I’ve been doing about 60-70 hours and working 7 days a week is getting a little old.  I just have to remind myself, I’m almost there.

Graduation is May 4th.  I’ve been accepted by Clemson University in their Graduate program with a scholarship and assistantship.  Yes, I’m jazzed, just to pooped to jump up and down.  I have to say that my respect for teachers has risen.  I’ve been teaching, preparing lesson plans, dealing with classroom management, speaking to parents in parent/teacher conferences and so forth.  It. Wears. You. Out.  Plus there are children who just are difficult to help.  They are their own worst enemy and it takes a lot of energy not to give up on them.  I’ve found that some students don’t like my teaching style because I’m not entertaining.  (Sorry, I want you to learn not be entertained in school.)  But it makes it worth while when there are the few who say “thank you” for teaching me something, because I know I’m my own worst enemy and its my fault that my grades aren’t up to parr.

I’m almost there.  I say this because going into student teaching I had a much different idea about what I should be doing with teaching.  It’s been reversed.  I can’t give you all the reasons, except to say that it’s not what I expected and I found that my level of care for their education has grown.  I’ve seen a lot of things that I never thought I would have to deal with.  Young people whose own parents give up on them, others who don’t have parents who care and live with someone else and those who just don’t have anyone at all; these are the ones who slip through the school system, without really having someone look them in the face and ask questions about who they are, what they want, what their plans are….there is so much more to being a teacher than people realize.

I’m almost there.  I think this experience is preparing me for something great, I just don’t know what it is yet.   I have found my true calling and it is – Teacher.

I want to wake up: A Reflection on the recent Newtown School Shooting.

gabriel04It was weird, but the same morning that this tragedy happened, an hour and a half before the gunman made his way into the Elementary school, I stood in the shower wondering to myself what would happen if a gunman entered the high school where I would be student teaching.  I asked myself what I would do? How I would act? Would there be time to react?

I’ve already stared at the barrel of a gun.  Back in 2000 when I lived in Houston, Texas, I was followed home one night after work and car-jacked and kidnapped in my driveway.  It wasn’t a pleasant situation.  I remember thinking to myself, preparing to die, “I didn’t get to tell my children I love them.”  Long story short, I survived.  It made sense several months later when they caught up with these boys who did this.  They were high school kids who did this to lots of other women, and they lived on the good part of town.  It was all a game, just for kicks.

But this shooting…this shooting makes no sense.  Most of the victims were 6 and 7.  Babies.  The adults who perished were teachers and administrators who devoted their lives to these babies.  They gave their lives trying to protect the youngsters.  How could anyone shoot babies?  It’s evil of the blackest kind. Only a mind totally disturbed and overtaken by darkness would venture to do this.

Two nights before this day, I had one of those nights where I didn’t sleep well.  I was constantly fighting something in my dreams that was evil and dark.  I remember dreaming that I was awake, and yet, knowing at the same time that I was asleep and dreaming.  In the corners of the bedroom was a dark shadow and it kept moving around. I remember praying for protection.  I called Kevin’s name over and over again trying to get him to wake up.  Then this thing and I were at the end of the bed.  It threw me off, but before I hit the floor, I made myself rise up and lunge for it.  Suddenly I was over Kevin and he was awake but it wasn’t him.  The voice wasn’t his.  Whatever this thing was, it only masked itself as Kevin.  It asked me what I wanted.  I said “I want to wake up.”  This Kevin look-like sat up and turned to me.  It’s eyes were black and the evil that came from them made me so afraid that I did wake up, as I cried out in my sleep.

When I saw the news about these shootings, I thought about that dark thing in my dreams.  Was this something of a warning?  Is this the type of darkness that took over that young man who murdered those babies and women?

This world has become full of darkness, killings and death.  Can we battle this, can we wake up from this awful dream?  I feel like I should be doing something, like an archangel preparing for battle.  I feel like I should be trying to make more of an impact in turning our world around but I don’t know where to start.  The shootings at Newtown just took the wind out of my sail.  I just want to wake up from a world where babies die needlessly, not just in Newtown, but everywhere in this world.  I just want to wake up.

What’s wrong with kids today? Disrespect and Video games!

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending two days a week in one of  the local middle schools here in the area.  This participation with teacher observation and teaching some lessons is part of my practicum experience as I get certified.  While my goal is to obtain my PhD and teach at the college level, I still want to see what is happening with students coming up through the school system, and who will be there in college just about the time I am starting out as Dr. Connie Wallace.

To the say the least, it’s been a very interesting, enlightening and enjoyable experience.  I had to chuckle over the past two semesters, because I’m hearing a familiar phrase from many of the teachers whose classrooms I’ve had the opportunity to join and observe.  “What’s wrong with kids today?  There’s no respect anymore!”  There has been some suggestion that maybe video games, technology, texting, cell phones, etc. has contributed to the downfall of our students’ behaviors.

I chuckle because as a history student, this phrase has popped up in each and every generation throughout known time.  “What’s wrong with kids today?”

Generations following their parents will always hear this familiar phrase because things are forever changing.  Nothing ever stays the same.  Those that realize this are wise.  In the 1950s, it was the beatnik movement and rock-n-roll, in the 1960s, it was anti-war movements and free love, in the 1970s platform shoes and ….polyester, in the 1980s it was big hair and punk, in the 1990s it was the home computer and video games, in the early 2000s it was cellphones and 3-D, and now, we are moving into an education system in which technology must be utilized because our children are smarter than what we give them credit for.  Toddlers are using interaction with smart boards, video games and computers, and once older will probably be able to program anything given the opportunity.

The only problem I am seeing with KIDS TODAY is the vast canyon that spreads before teachers and their students.  Those academic individuals that have been teaching for a while, are not integrating technology to their benefit.  They still want to do things the old way, and it only leads to classroom management problems – not because students are bad, but because they are not being challenged enough.  The government doesn’t get it either.  They think testing students to standards is the answer and that’s not it either.  Our students are going to be so tested out that they won’t want to come to school, and then we’ll end up being an illiterate nation.  In coping with this vast canyon between the generations, we need to develop teaching methods to hone into the skills our children have developed that we don’t have.  It’s not disrespect or video games, only the advancement of technology and our need to keep up with it.

Legacy: Reflections on Education Today

Well, it’s been about a month since I blogged.  Of course it’s because its near the end of the semester and I’ve had crazy projects and papers due this month, so there was no additional time to blog.   So this is, in part, a reflection on this past semester and my re-introduction to education classes (such as classroom observation and laws concerning education like IDEA and No Child Left Behind)

Back when I first attended college (I got married in my junior year and didn’t finish) there wasn’t such a thing as the previous laws I just mentioned above.  It wasn’t until the latter 1990s and on into the Bush administration that these were passed and enacted.  Everyone I know is familiar with them, and if you’re not, you should be.  I think they’re the worst thing that’s happened to our educational system.

There will be many who disagree with me, but there will also be a majority who will agree with me.  Because of these particular laws, I have observed this semester some frightening things about students today.  Would you like to know what I’ve seen?  Here are a few:

1.  I was told by one student that I had pretty handwriting.  She wished she could write in cursive like me.  (She was a college student)  I was floored by the fact that cursive is not longer taught to students in today’s classroom.

2.  I was asked by a professor in class if everyone knew how to tell time?  Confused for just a moment, I realized she was taking about telling time on a regular clock.  Students are not taught that either in today’s classroom, because technology has made everything easy for us.

3.  One of the History professors had extensive eye surgery, and I helped him grade papers.  All text is written not in cursive but in block lettering with hardly any paragraph structure.  It’s looks like one big text memo or email.

4.  Students get easily confused if there is not a multiple choice test because they’ve been taught to take “standardized tests”  which is coloring a little circle.    Asking them to construct an essay answer sends many in a frenzied panic. (Witnessed by me who works as the History Tutor at my college.)

What legacy are we leaving our future generations, if education laws tell us, that as teachers, we must teach only what is “standardized?”   Have we pushed our children to mediocre learning by lowering expectations with the No Child Left Behind Act?  Teaching children with just the knowledge needed to pass a standard test has left no room for creativity and freedom in learning.   I feel greatly disturbed by the path we are leading our children down, and I feel helpless.  Is there nothing I can do about the destructive legacy we are leaving future generations, and the looming decrease of intelligence in them?

History as a Writing Tool.

My son Chase and his girlfriend, Elizabeth, helping with the tree last Christmas.

Going back to school in my mid forties was a challenge.  Maintaining a business and working a 40 hour plus week, plus full time classes seemed like an up hill battle, but I was determined to do it.  As a history major, there is a load of reading and paper writing the accompanies your classes.  Along with research and outlines, you must learn to write with an eye towards the analytical and argumentative, especially as a student aimed at obtaining a PhD.  In accordance with the required dressing of a CV Resume, you also strive to submit articles to history periodicals and journals, as well as presenting papers at history conferences.  Writing and research become your second life, next to the life as a student.

It was during the first semester that I was also finishing up Book One of my series.

I can honestly say that going back and re-reading the manuscript before I came back to school made me ill.  My writing pretty much sucked.  I used to be very eloquent and artful with my words back in youthful days when I wrote alot.  But when you do not use your talent, it grows tarnished.  History became my writing tool as I delved back into school work and writing papers.

I was blessed to find myself amidst three wonder History professors who helped me shine off the dullness.  Dr. Thomas Stearns, Dr. Natalia Starostina and Dr. Matthew Byron here at Young Harris College are very kind to their pupils, but they push for excellance, in a polite, but demanding way and make you believe its for your own good.  It is the push that has helped me pick up the pace in polishing my skill.   I can certainly tell a difference in my writing.

It took me a semester to go back over Book One to re-create the chapters.  I had my boyfriend review it, as well as my son who was in boot camp down in Ft. Benning, Georgia. (I sent him a couple of Chapters at a time with his letters.)  He is a much better writer than I, and if it passed his examination, then I know I succeeded in getting to where it needed to be for publication.

While teaching History is my career objective, writing is my passion.  With preparing History papers and articles, it is the tool I need to help bring out the skill I once possessed.

Me and my wonderful boyfriend, Kevin

Book Two is shaping up pretty well.  I was very excited as I did some additional research on the Formorian connection in the book to find some other interesting things as I studied the theory of Atlantis.  I ran across a book by Frank Joseph called “The Atlantis Encyclopedia.”  What was fascinating to me was some other connections I discovered.

During last fall’s semester, I took Dr. Stearn’s History of Middle East Studies.  My research paper for the class was centered on the Berber people of Morocco.  I do not know why they peaked my interest, but they just did.  In Joseph’s book, I found a section in the “As” that along with the theory of Atlantis being a continent or land just beyond Spain and North Africa, the Berber people hold a tradition that they are descentants of the people who were refuged from Atlantis.  It excited me because this interest in the Berber people seemed to come from nowhere, but now I believe it came from a higher power. It is worth researching further.
I am amazed at all the connections I am finding between my writings and history.  Things which at first seemed to have no connection in my mind are now coming together as I study deeper into the history of our world.  History has become not only a writing tool, but has opened me for a doorway into a much higher thinking of who I am and my place in this lifetime.  Going past the trends and lessons which we are taught from childhood, I find myself seeing a much bigger picture of my place and task here during my short span of time on this planet.
Happy writing to you, and may you find your connection also.