Monday, February 29, 2016

tall poppy

Tomorrow is my meeting with the district science people, with 20 minutes set aside for my proposal.  I have literally no idea how it will go.  The email with the agenda implied we could actually make a decision, and that surprised me.  Perhaps it's true.

I don't want to be perceived as an agitator, but there's a pretty good chance that's where I'm headed.  I'm distressed because two teachers that I had expected to be allies have decided not to come back next year, and so I am feeling very much alone.  No one has given me any feedback on my proposal at all so far, even though they've had it for almost two weeks.  I just hope they've read it.

Meanwhile, I did nothing but sleep after school all last week and Saturday.  My fever finally broke Thursday night but I still have residual crud.  I'm trying to wean myself off all the medication but then I end up swimming in post-nasal drip and dealing with an annoying little tickle in my throat all day long -- guess I'll go back on the meds at least for the meeting tomorrow.

Of course I still have all that work to do: grading, writing, my Reading to Learn in Science course, and very little energy after school to do any of it.  Being sick is the worst!

Amazing to think that a week from Friday I'm flying out. Time to clear the deck of all those tasks!

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Monday after school a fever and related crud settled on me, and I haven't been able to shake it yet.  I'm on a steady diet of mucinex+cough suppressant and ibuprofen that are keeping me relatively comfortable, but my voice is horrible and I feel horrid.  The flu is sweeping through Arizona at an alarming rate, it's remarkable how many students we have absent.

Of course I've gone to work every day in spite of being sick because writing sub plans is miserable and getting substitute teachers is difficult.  Plus both classes had labs scheduled which they can't do with a sub, so, there's me at school, even though I'm sick.  Hoping that resting up this weekend will help me kick this thing.  Sleeping four hours after school every day doesn't seem to be doing the trick quite yet.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

springtime everywhere but in my heart...

I wonder when I am going to feel like I can relax, like everything and everyone is OK.  I feel as if I have not been in that state for so long I can't remember what it's like.

It is absolutely gorgeous here, in the mid-80s every afternoon.  Technically it's too warm for this time of year, but I'll take it.  Especially after last weekend's trip to Savannah for my niece's wedding.  My brother-in-law and his wife rented a gorgeous mansion and we all stayed there, and Savannah is a lovely little city.  But it was unseasonably cold there, with the high temperatures in the 40s.  I had looked at the forecast and knew it was going to be colder, but somehow I didn't think it was going to be that cold.  I'm sure the humidity there made it feel worse to me than it was, but I don't think I felt warm the whole time I was away, unless I was snuggled under the covers of the enormous four-poster bed in our room. (There was a little 2-step stair to help get into and out of the bed!)

The wedding was small, simple, and beautiful, and we had a wonderful time.  It was great being with all of DH's family, too -- we so seldom get to see them, and this is probably only the second or third time we've ever all gotten together. It's always a little sad when we leave family, because I like being with them so much, and then we come home to AZ where we don't have any relatives even in the same time zone.  I know, I know -- it was our choice to come here, and I wouldn't move unless I absolutely had to -- but sometimes I wish at least some family would join us out here!

Our travel both to and from Savannah was delayed by mechanical issues and weather, so we got home very late on Monday (the holiday), and then stayed up later to watch the Gravity Falls series finale that DD and I had awaited for months now.  We told ourselves we were too wound up to sleep, and that was probably true, but in retrospect I wish I had tried.

I stayed up even later, really, working on my curriculum proposal for my district meeting on March 1.  Then I stayed up late again working on my grading, and a lesson plan for my formal observation.  I am not happy with my principal's evaluation of me, and I'm trying to shrug it off, but part of being exhausted and strung out all the time means I have no emotional resilience.  Everything feels like a kick in the head and I can't just shake it off.

On top of all this -- more likely, because of all this -- I'm in a flare and feel like I've been hit by a truck.  Or I could, like apparently half of my school, be coming down with the flu, but so far so good, I don't have any other symptoms.  My hands are the worst, which makes me think it's a flare.  If I'd been eating wheat I'd have that to blame, but I haven't been (until today, when I had both a slice of fruit cake and a half a small spicy Italian panini -- both totally worth the consequences.)  Along with all that, I'm taking my NSAIDs so (if history is any guide) I shouldn't get any worse.

I'm booked for my trip back east in March to help inventory Mom's home.  We still have to book our summer flights.  I have a ton of grading to do, and I'm supposed to write my intro and revise my lit review this week.  I'd also like to do the next unit of my Reading to Learn in Science MOOC I'm taking through Stanford, and I have to coordinate with the other grade level teachers to arrange their visits to my classroom.  Thankfully there's literally nothing weird scheduled this week so there's actually a chance I could get this all done!

This weekend is DS2's belated birthday celebration.  He turned 15 in Savannah. We''re having his friends sleep over tonight so we can head out bright and early for the Renaissance Festival tomorrow. DH is on the fence about this; DS2 received two deficiency notices (humane letters and French, arguably the 2 subjects he finds easiest), and is now in mandatory tutoring/study hall every day after lunch as a result.  He seems, ever so slowly, to be finally getting the idea of what he should be doing.

DD had appointments with her college counselor and the doctor yesterday.  She's feeling a lot better already but we want to make sure she continues that upward trend.   One of my sisters said, with teens, there's three things that can happen: one, they can become arrogant and narcissistic; two, their self-esteem can crater for no discernible reason, or three, they can fall into the "it's not going to happen to me" category and take unnecessary risks as a result.  I suppose it's possible that all three could happen at the same time, because sometimes arrogance masks low self-esteem.  I am not a big proponent of the fake self-esteem thing where "everyone wins!"  I hate that.  But I also hate that my beautiful, talented, smart, funny daughter has apparently no idea how wonderful she is.  So we're working on that, and I'm happy that she's at last being honest with us.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

too soon to be hopeful

Today was only mildly wretched.  I am emotionally and physically exhausted, but:

- I made the spectrascopes for my 7th graders and they came out awesome.

- I had an excellent conversation with DS2 about his most recent reading assignment.  This will be a daily occurrence from now on.

- I heard back from DS2's teacher regarding his grade and it seems that there is a bit of upside potential there if he can demonstrate he actually did the work he has been docked for not doing.  He's bringing in a printout of his paper with the revision history that shows he actually did start with a rough draft and edit it.  Here's hoping he recovers those lost points.

- DS2 had a spectacular piano lesson.  He has finally started practicing the way his teacher asks him, and he's finally doing all the things she asks him to do, like using the metronome. She is thrilled with how well he's doing, as am I -- perhaps this newfound respect for a teacher's directions will filter over to his school-life?

- Another great conversation with DD wherein she finally, finally talked about the confused jumble of thoughts her brain becomes when she "fails," by which she means gets less than A.  Knowing there's a problem is the first step in treating it, right?

Data analysis proceeds apace -- I entered 111 student surveys into SurveyMonkey, but you only get 100 for free.  Guess I'll pony up the $26 for a month's access.

Not an easy day at all, today, but overall a good one.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

back to the crunch...

My students may be done with the science fair, but I'm not.

I want to present the unit at my district meeting and recommend we roll it out district-wide, integrated into the seventh grade curriculum.  The only problem with that is, my district meeting is set for March 1.  So in order for this to be given any kind of consideration, I need to write it up at least somewhat coherently this week and get it out to all the interested parties.

Sheesh.  Just when I thought I could relax.

I need some data to back up my recommendations, and I have grades from last year and this, so that's one perspective.  But I wanted feedback from students and parents, too, so I put together two surveys last night, one for the parents online, and one for the students, on paper.  I administered the paper surveys today and will spend time tomorrow tallying them.  Fortunately SurveyMonkey has great analysis tools for the online survey, if only the parents would click through and respond!

On top of that, we're heading to Savannah this weekend for our niece's wedding, so I'll be missing school Friday.  That means sub plans, which always have to be excruciatingly detailed -- finished those tonight.  I also meant to make spectroscopes for my 7th graders out of the refraction grating I bought, but I didn't get to that.

It was just one of those days.  DD has really been struggling with optimization in calculus for the last week or so and today she just had a complete meltdown.  She called me at work (nothing quite grips the heart as seeing your child's school pop up in the caller ID on your own classroom phone -- Everyone knows they shouldn't be calling me here, during school hours...) and I told her of course she could go home.  She slept, and spent an hour on the phone with her brother, and feels better.  I hope.

So that was worrying, and something that hadn't happened before, so we'll have to keep an eye on her.  She puts so much pressure on herself to get all As.  It makes no sense.

What really derailed tonight was getting yet another round of deficiency notices for DS2.  Hey, we're not going to give back any assignments or give you any feedback at all until we tell you you're in danger of failing!  That's a seriously wrong model of education, and it's the one thing I would change about my kids' school if I could.

I spent about 45 minutes composing an email to his humane letters teacher basically telling him I don't buy it.  Don't tell me my kids is failing because he missed 2 reading checks, which are only supposed to be part of the participation grade!  We'll see what happens there, but here, it was horrible, because I completely lost any hope of the kid developing any sense of self-control while he has electronics in his possession, so I took them all away, even his phone.

He says he wants to stay at his school.  He says he'll do all the work now, since he doesn't have anything else to do, except piano and reading.  We'll see.  My heart is broken again for the millionth time over this.  I wish I could be hopeful, but I'm not.

It's just too bad that this is coming before our long weekend away, too.  It'll be casting its shadow over everything for quite a while.   Adding the last straw to my already overburdened psyche?  DD and I watched this week's episode of the X-Files, and let's just say Scully's situation hit way too close to home for me.

Now it's very late, again, and it's Ash Wednesday.  Can I give up being upset for Lent?

Thursday, February 04, 2016

a night off...


I spent the day trying not to be nervous and failing.  The doctor was in surgery this morning when I called, so I just left a message to call after 3:30.  I kept my phone glued to my side but 4,5, and 6 o'clock came and went with no call, so I figured I'd talk to him tomorrow.

He called at 6:45PM.

There was some confusion because the imaging people inexplicably sent over the results of the biopsy they did four years ago, but the real news is that the lymph node mapping came back fine.

Now I can cancel my ultrasound in March and make plans to go out to Massachusetts instead!

I can't shake the feeling that there's something going on in there that will catch up to me eventually, but I'm used to that one.   I decided some time ago that I can't put anything on hold because of all the what if scenarios I imagine based on my wretched history.  If it happens, I'll deal with it then.  For now, I'm good.

I'm not doing any school work of any kind tonight. I also plan to sleeeeeeep.

(In spite of my nerves and exhaustion, the dry ice observations with the 8th graders went very well.  The only bummer was having to go to 3 different stores to find one with the dry ice in stock.  Next time I'll call first.)

moving along

Science fair was yesterday.  I had a lot of help and things went very smoothly, for once.  No drama!  I like that.

Not so nice, today, my ENT called me to give me the results of the ultrasound I had on January 6 (!).  The doctor himself called, and left a message for me to call back.  Of course when I called back 5 minutes later the office was closed, so now I have to wait until my prep hour to call in the morning and hope I can get some kind of news.  I am a bit freaked out.  If it were nothing, wouldn't that call be delegated to his nurse?

Tomorrow's dry ice day with the 8th graders and it's way too late.  But I designed a new worksheet for them, and I finished the first lesson of the MOOC I'm taking at Stanford on Reading to Learn in Science.  I just wished that deadline hadn't been quite so close to the actual science fair.

I've been catching naps on and off since getting home this afternoon, so I'm not as dead as I could be (should be).  Let's hope I've managed to accumulate enough rest minutes that tomorrow isn't dreadful.