Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weird time to make a statement

In an attempt to preserve my sanity I resolved that, by gum, I wasn't going to take any work home with me this week. Hmmm. That's right. Every day it'd just be my lunch pail and new toy (the Chromebook) going back and forth.

I guess I should've re-thunk the plan in light of Caroline's dance practice. Here I am, at dance class, with no grading with me (but knowing that a pile awaits me back at school). Heck, even my son is done his homework. What do I do now? Write about random things. Here we go . . .

My son's math assignment struck me as somewhat obnoxious. One task called for him to find four different pencils, measure them, then report on the data. Doesn't the Common Core realize that kids sometimes do homework at dance studios where pencils are a bit hard to come by? I guess the true cost of relevant assignments is obnoxiousness. I guess I didn't have to wait to become a father on a rainy day in April to realize that; my students could have told me that long ago.

Talk about costs: we are finishing a grueling stretch of work and school, the cost of a winter filled with interruptions and storms. There is a three-day weekend coming up. A brief pause in operations before the final push for the school year. I've noticed my enthusiasm for lessons sag, that I've procrastinated in designing my one class's lessons, content to put it off until I have no choice but to come perilously close to winging it. I'm worn down by the one-offs: tests that are missing due to absences, work that is missing due to apathy, assignments and grades that are poor due to lack of focus. Ugh. I really can't tell if the work load is too high right now or if I'm too fatigued to keep up with a flow of work that isn't unusual. I'm fatigued.

I'm having trouble focusing on vacation planning for this summer. I've already reserved three nights at Mackinac Island for August. But now it's time to figure out what to do before and after. I thought we could hit the sights in Detroit on the way home easily, but there might be more to do there than I expected. Michigan itself seems to offer more than I expected and there are some really tough choices: Do we go to the UP or stay on the mitten? Do we keep the trip oriented outdoors or do we see more civilized locations? Do we plunk down in a rental property for a week or make it a road trip? Should we consider camping? I guess these are good choices to have.

I bought a new toy, a Chromebook. My experience with it is mixed but mostly positive. I guess the biggest issue with it is being reinforced right now: the keyboard is a bit too cramped and in a long typing job it's not the most comfortable. But in other respects it's quite excellent: ridiculously light, great battery life, more conversant with my applications for school and the network there than I expected. I love how quickly it boots, restarts, and shuts down. I'm surprised at how good it is for media: easily plays from Play and Netflix through reasonably loud speakers. It's a ridiculously good machine for when you need to quickly hop online and find something out or to do some online business. For $240 this is a pretty helpful tool to have for life as a teacher, for my short-order cooking duties as a father, and for satisfying my curiosity about random elements of life.

I must laugh at myself and my tendency to leap before I look. I was so excited about the arrival of spring I couldn't wait to reserve camp site #2 at Hickory Run for the weekend of April 25-27. Now it looks like I'll have to cancel my trip. Since reserving the site, I've become aware of conflicts involving dance, my son's triathlon, church, my daughter's school's church, and the imminent arrival of a niece. Reminds me of the old Tim Keller rule: if you want to do something with other adults you better plan it six weeks out. Any time in the next six weeks, there's stuff to do.

There has definitely been less school work to do this year what with the end of AP U.S. History as part of my schedule. I miss it terribly, though, and plan on returning next year. I'll probably leave the co-taught world behind, acknowledging that my skills don't lend themselves as well to that teaching as they do to motivating the AP student toward excellence in that arena. That's where I need to specialize.

On the bright side, today's dance lesson gave me a chance to relax and my son a chance to read a book which inspired us to find this video.

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...

I never saw or even HEARD OF a capibara before. They certainly are odd-looking creatures. Clearly they need tails, and their heads seem strangely incomplete, though I'm not sure what I would add . . . .