It’s the end…

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It’s my last weekend of summer vacation. What am I going to do? Not a whole lot. I’m working my way through the Harry Potter series right now. I’m having fun experimenting with my new coffee machine. I have no idea what I’m making, but they’re sure yummy. I didn’t completely finish my purge project, but what’s left is manageable while I’m working.

There are lots of things that I should do this weekend. But right now, I’m not all that concerned. I’m just going to enjoy the time to relax.

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Random Act of Kindness

The last few days I’ve been doing some union training.  Part of what we often talk about is our narrative about education vs the public narrative.  I’m not going to go into the whole discussion here.  But it’s basically the difference between what we believe (as educators) about education vs how we’re portrayed and demonized in the media.  Our schools are failing and it’s the fault of the teachers and in particular, teacher unions. Ugh.  I’m so tired of that story.

As part of our workshop, we participated in the new teacher luncheon.  There were 100+ new teachers at a training today.  Our job was to insert ourselves at a table and direct the lunch conversation so we could find out about these new colleagues and introduce them to the union.  For me it was a very positive experience.  It was fun to hear why they all got into education and their hopes for their careers.  All in all, I think it was a positive way to introduce them to our union.

On my way home I stopped by Costco to get a few things.  I actually forgot that I was wearing my union t-shirt.  As I was loading my stuff into my trunk, an older gentleman read the back of my shirt that says which union I belong to.  He asked if I was a teacher and we had a nice conversation about the respect he had for my job and the important work that teachers do.  I can’t remember how many kids he had, but I do remember that he said he had 67 grandkids!

I was completely surprised by this conversation I had with a complete stranger today.  It was such a nice reminder that there are lots of people out there that do appreciate teachers.  And think, he never would have stopped me if I hadn’t been wearing my UNION shirt!

My New Toy.

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My new toy arrived today. Do I really need a really cool coffee machine? Probably not. But I got one anyway. Both my sister and brother have one. So I’ve been suckered in by both of them. It’s so nice to just be able to make one cup of coffee – however I want to make it. Latte, Espresso, Cappuccino, I can make whatever I want. I no longer need to pay $3.50 or more for a gourmet cafe. When you think about it, the machine will eventually pay for itself. I don’t quite have the coffee shop ambiance, but I can work on that…

I ordered this from the Jura Capresso site and got a refurbished machine. That means that it has been used before and returned for some reason. They have a year long warranty that comes with a refurbished product. My brother told me to look on the memory to see how many cups had been made. When he got his machine there had only been about 300 cups made on it. Guess what mine said? FOUR. When you set up the machine you throw out the first 2 cups so it can get set up properly. I made a few cups after the set up, before I checked the “cups made” feature. I GOT A BRAND NEW MACHINE FOR THE PRICE OF A REFURBISHED ONE! WOO HOO!!!!!

I’ll keep you posted as I learn to use it and become a coffee snob…

Flatlined

When I was in Colorado last week I read an article that made me a little surprised and slightly smug.  It was about how the CSAP scores had flatlined.  The CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program) is the test they use to measure progress for NCLB (No Child Left Behind).  Here I was in the land of education reform and the scores had flatlined.

My district has hired consultants from Colorado and act like they’re the next best thing since sliced bread.  Last year I even had one of the so-called experts in my room to observe me.  The guy was there for about 10 minutes and wrote a glowing review of my work.  Great.  He thought I did wonderful stuff.  C’mon.  He was there for 10 minutes.

So there I was, reading the Denver Post about the disappointing scores of the Colorado students.  All of this effort has been put into education reform and it’s not working.  To me, the reform seems to be directed at the teachers and how they do their jobs and get paid for them.

I’m not saying that the education system doesn’t need some kind of reform.  Everything needs to evolve with the changing times.  But placing the responsibility solely on teachers for how kids perform is not the answer.  Education is a societal issue.  Society has to value it.  It is a cooperative effort between the parents, teachers and the community.  Success is going to be elusive unless we can incorporate everyone into the equation.

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The Purge Continues…

Up next: my closet.  Ugh.

I’ve actually made some really good progress this summer.  I’ve had a break from the project for about 3 weeks.  My classes, conference and travel were probably a good diversion.  Before the respite I did the “den” and guest bedroom, part of the living room and part of my bedroom.  I have lots of bookshelves that have been receptacles for stuff I didn’t want to deal with.

The guest bedroom was a pretty big deal.  I’m a Mary Kay consultant [very part-time] and I’ve got supplies and products that have accumulated over 11 years.  The company has revamped a lot of products since I started.  Needlesstosay I threw a lot of stuff.  I have a few boxes of samples ready for donation to a women’s shelter or somewhere similar.  I’ve got some really old product that needs to go too.  The rationale used for purging that room was pretty easy: If I wouldn’t want to put it on someone’s face it’s out the door.

My closet is a big project.  I already took out some stuff that I’m going to bring to school.  I’d rather give a sweatshirt to a kid that could use it.  Plus, if it has my school name on it, kids would probably be cool with it.

Do any of you have a suggestion for organizing jewelry?  I’ve got a lot of cool stuff that I’ve accumulated from my various travels.  I like to wear it, but it gets put aside and I forget about it.

It feels good to get rid of all of this stuff.  So I’ll keep plugging away…

Moving slowly…

When you watch golf, it doesn’t really look like a strenuous sport.  Swing a club, tap in a put.  How strong do you really need to be?

Today I’m feeling like a wimp.  I played 18 holes yesterday at Pole Creek near Tabernash, CO.  It’s a long course.  I don’t even play the whole thing!  I pick up my ball and move it when I feel like it.  Sometimes I do a tee shot, pick up and then play in from 150 yards out.  Considering I hadn’t golfed in like, a year, I played ok yesterday.  I chipped in for the first time ever.  I had a legitimate par even.  But today…

My entire right side is stiff.  My whole arm and even both of my hands.  I can feel the muscles in my back and my hips.  I didn’t think I was in that bad of shape!  Maybe it’s an age thing…

I have 3 days to recover until the next golf outing.  But this time it will only be 9 holes.  Whew…

Side Trip

I figured that I ought to check out Lake Geneva while I’m here. It’s only about 10 miles east of Delavan. You drive through areas of lush vegetation and mature trees. The town of Lake Geneva only has about 8000 residents. But the main drag was bustling with people. The centerpiece of the town is the lake.

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The lakes around here seem to be very well-developed. I was surprised at the concrete walkway around the lake where I’m staying. I guess they don’t have to think about erosion of the shoreline. But I do think there are issues with chemicals from fertilizers making their way into the lakes.

On my drive back, I was at a stoplight and noticed the sunset over Lake Delavan. Yes, I took the photo from my car… But it still was a cool sunset.

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Lastly, you can’t go to Wisconsin and not get any of this…

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I know I can’t get this beer without driving over the border, so I may as well get some while I’m here. I’m going to have to have a party or something. I’ve got way too much beer at my house.