Musing of a Teacher with a Sleep Debt

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This week was one of those weeks that make me roll my eyes when people say “teachers have their summers off”; 15 hour days, lots of tasks and demands, and some really early mornings.  Of course, I do this to myself and the things I do give me joy.   So I am not really whining; I just run down.

Our We the People Demonstration night last Thursday was terrific.  A couple hundred people showed up.  Big thanks to high school sponsors Liz Paternoster and Janet Chandler for supporting my junior high program; Todd Zimmerman and Cecilia Coble from the City of Fishers; Bob Leming–the National Director of We the People judged; my friends Larry Lannon of Larry in Fishers, Kevin Stumpf and Geoff Tease; plus so many We the People students.  It was a great night.

Ally gave me a task to help with a project for her US History class…a chance to rank the Presidents.  Her teacher wants her to rank the top 18 presidents.  This should be easy for most people, but I spent 4 hours making my list.  Below is my list:

  1. Lincoln                                       GREATS
  2. Washington
  3. Theodore Roosevelt               NEAR GREATS
  4. Dwight Eisenhower
  5. Harry Truman
  6. James Polk
  7. Thomas Jefferson                   HIGH AVERAGE
  8. James Madison
  9. FDR
  10. John Kennedy
  11. Grover Cleveland
  12. Lyndon Johnson
  13. James Monroe
  14. William Taft
  15. William McKinley
  16. Calvin Coolidge                      AVERAGE
  17. Chester Arthur
  18. James Garfield
  19. John Adams
  20. Andrew Jackson
  21. George H.W. Bush
  22. Bill Clinton

The two presidents that caused me the most thoughtful review were Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan.  Philosophically they each offered so much, but in the execution both created long term harm.  The part of the exercise was learning more about James Polk.  I am not a big fan of Andrew Jackson over his treatment of Native Americans and his near destruction of the American economy.  FDR falls lower than some rankings over the Japanese Internment and the Court Packing scheme.

This week is about the Tang Dynasty Poetry project.  One of my favorites.


Musings of a Caffeinated Teacher Home Alone

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First off the girls are all gone; just me and the brother-in-law at home.  I celebrate my man freedom just as most men dream…filled the water softener, rested my eyes for 2 hours, drove to Anderson to watch some of my students perform in Winter Guard, made food that makes the girls roll their eyes and comment about the smell and presence of veggies.  I am going to round out my bachelor-life with a sci-fi film fest of some “geeky” faire followed up with an historical film.  Before I embark on my night that explains my lack of popularity in high school; I thought I would muse…

  • Friday night we had our NJHS “super, fun night” for our new 7th grade students.  We had fun…I once again established myself as the greatest “river shark” ever.  My kids are so trusting; even after I tell them not to trust me.  Watching my 8th grade officers provide leadership and support warms my soul.  Also the high school kids that come back to help represent all that is good in America. Talking with them for an hour after the night ended makes everything work the time. Once again the 7th grade selected great officers to represent our chapter.  They stepped over popularity and elected true role models to carry the torch of this great chapter.
  • I am embarrassed to watch what is going on in the Republican race.  Petty insults and vulgarity are low-brow.  Is this the best our country can manage.  School have pushed the message of “no bullying” and yet the bullying comments are carried on national media and celebrated in some circles as “telling it like it is”.  It reminds me of line from the Machiavelli’s The Prince when he writes, “For the vulgar are always taken by appearances and by results, and the world is made up of the vulgar, the few only finding room when the many have no longer ground to stand on.”  George Washington would move to Canada if he knew this was his Presidential legacy.
  • ISTEP….
  • There would be some changes if I was ever elected dictator of the world.  I have pondered if we would save money if we gave all elected officials a $1,000,000 a year salary, but did not allow them to be lobbied, vote on bills that they received a financial benefit for passing, all campaign money was donated into a blind trust that distributed the money without strings.  Would this bring back “civic virtue”; would we have a modern Cincinnatus or Washington rise to office.
  • Why are schools not rated on longitudinal data versus short term tests?  Should school be measured on what they produce? Schools get points for students who go to college, trade school, military, Peace Corps, mission trips, or enter any job that allows them to avoid government assistance to eat.  Schools would lose points for high school drop outs and graduating unemployed students.  Of course, as elected dictator, all high school drop outs would immediately be brought to the military recruiter for ASVAB testing and service selection.  It seems that is a much cheaper and more meaningful measurement.  The money that the states use to subsidize testing companies and politicians could then be used to create organic farms in schools and entrepreneurial programs at schools to teach real skills and provide income to students that need it.
  • This week started the selection process for my We the People class for next year.  This is so tough.  Thanks to my brothers-from-other-mothers the list is down to 60 names. Whittling those names down to a class of 24 will be tough.
  • Tis the start of the season of tears…electing new officers means saying goodbye to old officers, hiring new Camp Tecumseh counselors means saying goodbye to a great class of senior counselors (this year’s senior class will be especially tough–there are a lot of them and they mean a lot to me), building a We the People class for next year means saying goodbye to this year’s class (they are so very special to me…we all know it is coming…small comments are made…but we just move on from the subject), the current 6th grade students coming by for Charger Connection night means that my 7th grade kids who have grown so much this year will be soon be gone.  I hate being a teacher; I love being a teacher.
  • I am blessed to teach with folks who care about kids.  To some students are numbers and rankings.  To my teaching-brothers they are souls with futures.
  • I was inspired watching the HSE JV Winter Guard perform to convert the blue steps in my room to a faux rocky outcropping so that I could enter into the room to the song “Circle of Life” from the Lion King and I could walk up the two steps (more than that would kill my knee) and the kids could all give a little bow.  We could sing the chorus “pink pajamas penguins on the bottom” all together.
  • My no more “B’s” and “D’s” program for holistic grading is taking off like wild-fire.  Well three people have talked to me about it.  I should start branding myself a consultant and make a lot of money.  Now if only my “deportment” grade on report cards would gather such a following.
  • I drink too much coffee…
  • Sketch-noting is the real deal.  My 8th grade students stun me with their work; my 7th grade students have mostly embraced the concept.  Next year’s first 9 weeks are becoming clear in my mind.  I plan on building my class around how to learn to be a historian (and student).  Emphasizing the skills of reading, analyzing, understandings, and arguing will pay dividends for the rest of the year.
  • I am making another cup of coffee…
  • When I am elected dictator of the world my classroom will have a Chromebook lab with wireless print capability.  All software will be loaded by me.  I would like to have one day where the kids who did not do his or her work did not walk into my class playing a game on his iPad.
  • Okay that is enough musing for this week.  Time to watching Serenity and Selma.
  • If a rich benefactor ever slips me enough money to open my own school it will be called Socrates School of Quality Query.  We will be called the S2Q2’s. Latin will be taught.  Books will be read.  Recess will be had.  Songs will be written.