Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Them To Stay

I was listening to the radio last week and the commentator was talking about the "bad teachers" in inner-city schools.  He had recently seen "Waiting for Superman" (which I haven't seen). He went on and on about teacher's unions protecting all the clock-punching bad teachers infesting our poorest performing schools.

I teach at an inner-city school.  I am sure it is nothing quite as rough as a Chicago, DC, or Detroit; but we have our issues.  From my experience, let me offer a  picture.

I am in my seventh year here (after teaching 13 years in wealthier areas) and there are now only two teachers in my building who have been here longer than I have.  In my previous building, after 11 years, I was only about mid-way up the seniority ladder.  Around here, I am one of the old-timers!  Since starting here, I have had 6 different teaching partners.

When I ask my students how many of them have been here since kindergarten, less than a third raise their hands. For those students who have been here from the beginning, few of their former teachers are still teaching here.  During the six  years that the students have moved up the ranks, the staff has almost completely turned over - twice.

It seems to me that getting rid of bad teachers is not our core problem.  The tricky part is getting ANY teacher to stay!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Break the Sabbath

In the tradition of George Carlin, I think it is time to update a scriptural notion; this whole idea of resting on the sabbath. I think it was premised in a good motive; people of that time were primarily physical laborers, mostly in agriculture. They WORKED a lot. It made sense to have a day when you did no work.

Now admittedly, most cultures pay this injunction no mind, but there are plenty of places that still do. Here in Utah it is very big. However, like I said, I don't want to stop it - I just want to update it. To do so, rather than being a day of rest, it needs to be a day of recreation (notice, I am sticking with an R word). The reality is that most of us really don't do that much physical labor anymore - not in comparison to the ancients. In fact, odds are in America, the less physical work your job requires the more money you are making. Most of America's top earners are eating donuts during meetings or talking on the phone. The last thing in the world they need is a day dedicated to being sedentary!

So go recreate! Get a sweat going! Go enjoy the company of your fellow human beings! People like me (30 lbs overweight) don't need a day off, we need a day ON!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dropbox Love

What?  You haven't heard of Dropbox?

Well, install this nifty little program on all of your computers, then you will have a common folder between all of those computers (and some phones too).  Save a file to your Dropbox folder, and that file becomes available in your Dropbox folder on every computer you have.

For me, Dropbox has replaced my having to email files to myself at work, or using a USB drive. In fact, I am more and more getting into the habit of using it as my main document folder, so everything is always available to me. I can also send links to people so they can get at specific files in my dropbox.  This is nice for sending big files to friends and family.

Your Dropbox is also on the web, so you can access your files from any computer.

So what is the catch?  You only get two gig for free.  Beyond that is a monthly subscription plan.

You can also get some extra free storage space when you refer people.  This is where you come in.  If after checking it out, if you like what you find, could you sign up through this link?  Every addition gives me another 250 mg.

It really is a great program.  I originally heard of it because it is one of the few ways you can get files to an Ipad wirelessly.  Once I started using it, I realized how practical it was to have it on all of my machines.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Born Racist?

"This whole thing is so ugly. Have you any idea what it's like to live with all this? People look at us and only see bigots and racists. Hatred isn't something you're born with. It gets taught. At school, they said segregation what's said in the Bible... Genesis 9, Verse 27. At 7 years of age, you get told it enough times, you believe it. You believe the hatred. You live it... you breathe it. You marry it." ~ Mrs. Pell from the movie Mississippi Burning.

You get told it enough times, you believe it.

I stared at the picture to the right for quite a while this morning. It captures so much. It challenges me as a parent.

I have written before about how I do not want to indoctrinate my children. However, as much as I try to present views outside my own, my kids reflect me in many ways.  They will learn my good, but they will learn my bad as well. The catch is, we do not tend to see our own bad traits.

Racists do not know that they are racists. Bigots do not know that they are bigots. I know a few; they say a lot of racist things, but would get offended if they were called a racist.

Kids parrot the phrases and statements made by their parents. The students who went into their high school a few weeks ago wearing shirts stating that homosexuals are "an abomination and shall surely be put to DEATH!" were not speaking their minds, they were reflecting their parents and the circles in which they travel. The boy in the picture did not come up with the idea that the president is a monkey, he is expressing the view of his parents.

You get told it enough times, you believe it.

These little girls do not hate homosexuals... they don't really even "get" sexuality yet; but they are being taught to despise. They hear a regular mantra about homosexuals with agendas to destroy the family, tear-down Christianity, corrupt our schools....

You get told it enough times, you believe it.

I grieve for these kids who will go into adulthood and have to spend years undoing the bad messages that have been drilled into their heads. I grieve more for those who will never question the messages and will pass them on to the next generation.
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