Sunday, November 16, 2008

Change in POV

Twitter emailed me today, letting me know Heart_song was following me. So I followed back. And I found these two blog posts of hers, which I feel need to be shared:

Stop the Perfecution!
I don't want to be a groan up anymore!

I think I've slowly gotten over my perfectionism (I probably have NaNo to thank for that), but I could always use more help in letting it go. Now, the groan-up issue... this one is a bad weed. In early college, I think I was reading Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and read the chapter on negativity, where the guy suggested for every negative thought you have, you have to think of a positive one: if a guy cuts you off on the freeway and you call him a jerk, you have to think of three positive things to say about him. "He drives a fuel-efficient compact car, which is better for the environment;" "he might be late for work;" "his car is a pretty shade of blue." Yes, it can be hard to come up with three, but after a while your brain starts to think more positively (either that, or it learns to not think negatively, because then you have to pay for it with three nice things). I remember doing this and it working, but then I stopped... and went back to being my regular grumpy self.

The groan-up/grin-up thing is the same idea - replace your negative thought with a positive one. This is my challenge to myself. Lately, I've been griping about my job a lot. And it's easy to do, when other people gripe with you. But I like my job. I have fun there, most of the time. I like working with the kids, and I'm lucky that I do not teach a TAKS-tested subject, so admin leaves my department alone most of the time.

At times like this week, when grades are due, it can get hectic and stressful. Kids coming in Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, asking if there's anything they can do to bring their grade up... when the six weeks ends Friday at 3:45. Parents can see their kids' grades online, but not all of them know this or have signed up for it, so I need to call parents and let them know Johnny never turned in that big assignment. Do I have enough grades this six weeks? Do I have enough test grades? Did I call that parent to make sure she knows her daughter is failing because she sleeps in class or, when awake, plays Tetris on her computer? Why is it my resposibility to keep up with these things, when I have 179 students but the parents only have 2-4 kids each? Shouldn't it be the parents' responsibility to keep up with the kids' grades?

I get to work by 7:00 and usually don't leave until after 5:00, most of the time it's closer to 6:00. We do have meetings all the time (2-3 a week, most weeks). This cuts into grading/lesson planning time. There is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do... Freddy and I had a more concrete (ie: we've set a tentative date) conversation about having kids; how's all that going to work, working this much (and still not getting it all done) and having a newborn? Will I be able to handle it? Will things get better next year, after I've taught a full year in this school, in this subject (I have a nasty habit of jumping grade levels or subjects every few years, which is starting over all over again)? Or am I just telling myself it will be easier?

It's easy to drown yourself in a glass of water... especially for me. I like drama. And personal pity parties. And I like to complain about injustices in the world, percieved or otherwise. The science department has to contact 2-3 parents a week, and TeleParent (and automated calling system with pre-recorded messages - student didn't turn in major project; sleeping in class; made an A on a test - doesn't count); the math department has to offer tutoring every day from 4-6 (don't know if they're getting paid extra; our contracts end at 4:00). My department doesn't have to do any of that, but I'll sit and whine about how unfair it is that they are required to do that - which is unfair, on top of everything else. And why doesn't TeleParent count as a way to contact parents about their kids' progress? The district is paying good money for it, we should use it! It's a great system/tool! Uh... but do I use it? It would be very easy to keep up with those parents (or cover my butt about keeping up with parents) if I used it, but I don't. Then, at the end of the six weeks, I complain that the parents should be checking up on grades, I shouldn't have to call each and every parent... when, really, all I have to do is click a few buttons on the computer. I focus on whining about things, instead of looking for solutions or focusing on the things that are going well.

And so we arrive at the end of my rambling. I should read over all this and check it for coherency, but I have to finish grading a few assignments for my level 3 classes, and I would like to hit 40K by tonight (probably won't happen; I'm at 34,356 at the moment). I'm still about a week ahead of schedule, but I want to keep my lead!!! (Have I mentioned how much I love my AlphaSmart? Because I love it lots.)


  1. Keep in mind that the parent may only have 2-4 kids to keep track of, but they also have jobs, kids' activities, housework, helping with homework, etc, to keep up with. I'm not making excuses for them and YES parents should be involved in their kid's schooling, but I can also see how they might not get around to checking grades always especially if their kid's telling them that school's going fine.

    Good luck with the grin-up thing. I know there are days when I get stuck in self-pity mode, focusing on all the sucky parts of life, and those days, well, suck. Attitude may not be everything, but it has a huge influence in how you see everything else. There's been studies that show that when you're in a bad mood, it's so much easier to remember negative things and forget the positives... and vice versa.

    In an unrelated note, the word verification that blogger's showing me is "panis." Hah.

  2. Anonymous11:26 AM

    It seems like you should see if you can't use the tools you have at your disposal like TeleParent, even if it's 5 - 10 minutes and try to get those parents (yes, we all have jobs, but we all decided to have kids and they should be our priority) involved. Not every kid needs a message every day...maybe, just maybe...

  3. @Anonymous: Exactly - that was my point. I gripe and look at (and for) the negative, instead of noticing and using the positives. Yes, contacting parents is time-consuming (and, oftentimes, futile), but I have such an easy way of contacting parents, I need to take advantage of it. My goal for this six weeks is to use TeleParent at least once weekly to let parents know how their kids are doing.