Decisions.

When it comes to lasting ones, it takes me awhile.  Last summer is when I hatched the idea of re-financing and using extra money to make home improvements.  On Tuesday, I’m meeting with my contractor.

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Originally, when looking at tile, I was totally drawn to slate.  I love the look of slate!  When I looked at tile last fall, I decided that my best bet would be porcelain tile.  Then life got busy and I didn’t think much about it.  This spring is when I got more information.  So, I finally decided on quartzite (in the slate family) and travertine.  Personally, I love the tile.  I think the natural stone is beautiful!

It has taken me several months to make my decisions about my bathroom re-model, but I’m totally comfortable with my final decisions.  My shower will have 12″x 12″ quartzite (right 3 in pic) tile on the bottom part.  About eye-level, there will be a pencil line with three rows of .75″ x .75″ squares.  Above that, I’ll have a subway (think bricks) tile pattern of 3″ x 6″ tiles.  The bathroom floor will be 12″ x 12″ tumbled travertine (left tile in pic).  I’ll replace the vanity counter top with “butterfly gold” granite.

I still have to pick out a light fixture.  But hey, that seems pretty minor compared to what I’ve already decided.   The work will be done in July.  I’m sure I’ll be giving you updates as the project progresses.

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Sunday Nights

It’s my first Sunday night of the summer.  It’s glorious!  I am relaxed.  There is no anxiety of the week to come.  I don’t have to psych myself up for teaching in the morning.  There is no anxiety of what I may encounter during the week.  I’m pretty sure I won’t be called a bitch this week.  I won’t be verbally abused or have to break up a fight.  I can feel the descent of my blood pressure.  No lesson plans to do.

Glorious.  That’s all I can say.  It’s utterly glorious!

Upgrading. Finally…

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I’ve been thinking about getting a new cell phone for at least a year.  When I got my new car, it came with the SYNC system.  But my phone was too old to sync.  Since I’ll be making my drive to Motown next week, I wanted to get a new phone.  So as you can see, I finally did.  But there’s a funny story here…

I had a student a few years ago that was a master at any kind of cell phone.  Luis knew everything you would ever need to know about phones.  So last year when I was thinking about getting one, I emailed him.   He wrote me back and gave me three recommendations for what he thought I would need.  He even told me which store to go to.  Don’t go into the mall stores, those guys don’t know anything.  Go to the one outside the mall.

So today I went to the store outside the mall.  I was just figuring I’d talk to one of the salespeople and they could help me.  I didn’t have the time to email Luis.  Plus, I was feeling slightly like a loser since I didn’t get one last year when I asked him.

The phone dude helped me pick a plan for my basic needs.  I don’t want to be a slave to my phone, but it would be nice to have a little internet and the GPS app.  After deciding on the plan, it was time to look at the phones.  We turn to go to the wall with all of the phones, and who do I see?  LUIS!

I was so excited to see him!  The sales dude must have thought I was nuts.  Luis was there with his family.  They were getting new phones for themselves.  I ended up getting the phone that Luis had.  (He was there to upgrade).  I was able to find out what he’s studying in college.  Do you know there is now a field called nano technology?  He’s doing great!  To top it off, he gave me a business card so I can contact him if I need help with the phone.

Right now the thing is charging.  I’m sure I’ll have to play around with it.  I’m sure later I’ll be sitting in my car, reading the manual, trying to connect it to the SYNC.  Oh well, at least I’m finally doing it!

Knowing Your Contract

It’s that time again…  Time to bargain a new contract.  The last time around I was new to the game, but found the whole process fascinating.  This time, I’m more knowledgeable and have a better sense of what I can do.  I truly think that the process is beneficial for both sides.

Since it’s the beginning of the process, we’re looking at survey results.  I don’t write about our specific negotiations.  But I will occasionally ponder some thoughts that need to be addressed by all teachers.

In looking at survey results, it’s amazing to see how many people don’t know what their contract does.  For instance, in my state, when you are talking about preserving retirement benefits, it’s state law that governs the pension system, not your individual contract.  Pension benefits aren’t something we negotiate.

I think I can honestly say that most people can’t figure out the math on a teacher salary schedule.  They don’t know that taking a zero results in roughly $28,000 of lost wages over a career.  They can’t calculate that a $500 addition to each cell is more beneficial to those lower on the scale, especially when they’re getting a step on top of it.  There needs to be something at the top because those teachers don’t get step increases.  Right now, teacher pay is based on your experience and education level.  I actually am completely fine with that.  There are way too many variables to consider in the pay-for-performance idea of compensation.  People who aren’t educators don’t seem to really understand this one, but I’m not intending this post to talk about that.

When looking at the survey and you see people complaining about the last contract it makes me want to shake them.  People always want to complain about something.  We’re in a world where we play the blame game.  They have no clue what we did to get what we did the last round.  Plus, there aren’t people stepping up to the plate to bargain the next one.  Most people are really clueless about how a contract is bargained and all of the work that goes into it.  If we didn’t get something, it’s usually not for lack of trying.

So for anyone reading… before you criticize what your bargaining team has done or is doing, ask yourself what you really know about the process.  Do you know the history?  Do you know what is feasible in these tough economic times?  What have you done to support them?  Do you know what your contract actually says and your rights under it?  Are you involved?

As teachers, we tend to isolate ourselves in our classrooms.  We focus on our kids and doing the multitude of tasks that are asked demanded of us.  We get caught up in our own stuff.  So instead of just shutting your door, think about what you can do for the profession and your colleagues.  We need to support and take care of each other.

Coming Down

The first part of summer vacation is always interesting.  I always have to recover from the school year.  Sometimes I deliberately plan a trip to try to speed up the process.  In past years I’ve gone to Colorado to stay with friends.  I can always relax there and because I’m away from home, I don’t feel like I should be doing all of the stuff that needs to be done here.

This year, I’m just going about my normal business.  I don’t have anything major scheduled right away.  Next week I’ll be heading to Motown and then bringing Megan and Jack back with me.  Yesterday I signed up for two summer classes.  One is a field-trippy class like the one I took last summer.  The other is online and I’ve already read the book.  I’m planning a few other trips for later in the summer.  And lastly, I’ll be calling a contractor to line up the bathroom remodel job.

I guess I’m not making a conscious effort to force myself to relax.  I’m hoping it just happens on its own.  I’m trying to get to bed at a decent time and wake up at a normal time.  I ran this morning.  So hopefully I’ll get into a regular schedule of exercise too.  I’ve even cleaned.  Wow.  What’s happening to me?

Locker Clean Out

I think I’ve got this down to a science now.  I hire a team of kids and we’re done with the entire job in 3 1/2 hours.  And the kids like to do it.  I had my TA, Joe, help this year.  He didn’t even realize he was getting paid until were through the clean-out part.

Normally I recruit my math team kids.  This year, I found Jack and asked if he could see if Jill was able to do it.  A few days later, Jack came back with Jill and two freshmen girls Susie and Amy.  Jack also asked if Tim could help.  I was going to have Tim help last year, but he broke a bone in his hand and consequently couldn’t.  So my team was made up of 4 juniors and 2 freshmen.  The freshmen are now trained in and will be helping me for 2 more years.  🙂  I’ve never had Susie and Amy in class, but they’re total sweeties!

We found the usual stash of condoms and stuff like that.  Susie and Amy actually knew the boy whose locker had a bag of them.  “They were flavored!  Vanilla, Strawberry…”  These girls are definitely the innocent type.  Susie says to me,”You wouldn’t expect that boy to have them.  He’s kind of heavy-set…”  Then she gave me a look of why-would-anyone-do-that-with-him?

I came to check on how they were doing and found them sorting through books.  One title had caught their eye: What’s Happening to my Body?  I was informed it was a book for boys.  Amy says, “Tim, you need to take that.”  I just had to laugh.  Here is Amy, a freshman girl, telling Tim, a junior, to take that book.  Tim is one of the top students of his class, a hockey player and quite cute.  I don’t know if her intention was to flirt with him.  But I’m sure it’s the beginnings of learning to flirt at this age.

We only had three keys this year.  During the school year one of the AP’s keys broke.  So last year‘s record of 2 hours 40 minutes still stands.  I think I need a few more keys made.  Mine got bent a little.  You never know when these keys might break…  Susie and Amy are trained in and we’ll be all set for next year.  But for now, I’ve got 2 days with kids, 1 teacher day and then summer break.