Showing posts from May, 2010

The mother bear always protects her cubs

I subbed four days this week, my most this year. Mostly because of that exhaustion, I have been sitting on a post (in my head) since Monday or Tuesday, trying to decide if I should flesh it out and post it. Since I feel neglectful to this blog, I decided to do it.

Earlier this week Jordan told me that when she tried to sit next to a certain girl, whom I will call Dee, at lunch, Dee told Jordan that her mother does not want her to sit by J.

Yes, I said that. And as I write this, I am getting angry all over again. What kind of a mother, in a Catholic school no less, says something like that to her kid?! And my kid, although goofy, is honestly one of the kindest kids in the school. Believe me, I am there enough to see this and I certainly hear about it.

Here is my take on why this happened. Last fall, I subbed a gym class that Dee was in. A few of Dee's classmates told me that Dee was cheating (that is, when the ball hit her, she would say it did not), and Dee ran off, pouting. When …

And the answer is?

I have no idea what the answer is. But here is the question: How do you "fix" poorly performing school districts? I ask this as much as an educator as a taxpayer and a parent.

For many years, the Pittsburgh Business Times has published the "Guide to Western PA Schools." I have been following this guide since 2005, when the school district I live in ranked 91/105 districts in the area. This year, my district stayed at 98, although it has now dropped to 104/105 in the overachieving rankings, which takes into account the economics of the area. In other words, if you live in a district where people don't make a lot of money but the kids school high on standardized tests, then your school will rank high on this list. In my school district, the kids did just as poorly as you would expect considering the economics. Sigh.

What is going on? How can things keep getting worse when my school board has raised taxes a handful of times in the eight years I have lived here, a…

More random ramblings

I don't have any one big thing weighing on my mind, so here are the handful of thoughts swimming around my head. And by a handful, I mean close to a dozen.

A deer probably runs in front of my car three or four times a year, right in suburban Pittsburgh. But for some reason, the instant I see a deer (and in yesterday's case, it looked like a fawn), I immediately think dog. Giant dog, usually. I have no idea why; it is not as if I never see deer. As I was driving down a hill near my house this morning, a PennDot worker must have thought it would be amusing to keep switching the "Stop/Slow" sign back and forth, while three other cars were coming up. What a jag-off. C'mon, how hard is your job that you cannot or will not do it correctly? What if I would have started to drive down the hill as soon as I saw the sign switch to "Slow"?!When I voted yesterday, I showed my driver's license, as I always do. I don't understand why everyone should not have t…

Trying to save the world

One of my favorite quotes is by George W. Bush. He said this near the end of a speech during which he declared war on Afghanistan. I was at the very first game every played at Heinz Field (delayed several weeks because of 9/11), and we got to listen to this during halftime. My mentioning this quote is not to say that I thought Bush was a great president, because I did not. This post isn't even about Bush. It is about how this quote relates to my tough week of subbing.

We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.
I subbed for the same class two days this week and was very tired by the end of the day Tuesday. In some ways, I felt like a failure. I had trouble controlling a few kids in the class. It was almost beyond my comprehension that I would have to tell some of them over and over again to be quiet. I get that it is late in the year. These kids are young and full of energy. I don't necessarily blame them for talking when they should not. But I should not have …

It was not meant to be

I am a big believer in destiny and a little bit of one in karma. Although I am not sure how this works with my religious beliefs, I go with it. (For the record, I considered lighting a candle while at church yesterday for the Pens, but decided not to.)

Last year, at the start of the playoffs, I believed and hoped (and, yes, even prayed to some extent) that the Pens could bring home the Cup. The main reason? The 2009 NHL playoff commercial that had various players, including Mario Lemieux, hoisting the Cup. It ended with the quote, "It weighs 35 pounds except when you are lifting it." Seeing the Pens savior Mario holding the Cup, I could not help but picture Sid Crosby doing the same thing. That commercial still gives me chills, more so than this year's playoff commercial.

This year, however, I did not have any big feelings. Sure I was thinking the Pens could go all the way. And again, I was hoping. But when the first three seeds were knocked off in the first round, two o…

Let me explain this

I get grief from people (both to my face and via other people) about my receiving unemployment compensation. Believe me, as a conservative (well, really a Libertarian, but I refuse to give up my opportunity to vote in the primary, so I have remained a registered Republican), taking this money is not an easy thing for me to do. So let me explain myself for those of you who are wondering or those who may have forgotten my story.

I worked at the same company, loyally, for 13 years. The company paid into unemployment on my behalf for those 13 years. I did not ask to be laid off. I was not one of those people, some of whom are still there, who complained relentlessly about everything that went on and how they could not wait to find another job. I was not one of those people who actually tried to get another job but decided they had it better where they were. This is not to say I never had a negative thing to say. But I realized quite some time ago how good I had it. I have applied to numero…

Still searching my soul

I admire people who know exactly what they want to do. Maybe it is a long-term plan, but they know that someday they will get there. Or perhaps they have known since they were kids that this is what they were going to do, and they ended up doing it (this pretty much describes my brothers).

But me? I am still searching my soul, just as I have been doing, whether consciously or not, for years.

The substitute teaching thing is going okay. Most days I think this is what I want to do. I still want to make a difference, leave someone's (several someones, really) life better than it was before I came along. But I have some moments when the kids are so incredibly disrespectful that I think there is no way I can do this full time. At the very least, I am glad that I don't get called more than three days a week, because sometimes even two days feels like five. Seriously. And on days like yesterday, when I have nary a lesson plan to follow and I am forced to make it up as I am going alo…