Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Laundry Days

I'm sorry that I forgot to check your pockets before I put the clothes

into the dryer
and for the
Chapstick spots
that are now on
your shirts
and jeans.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You are playing a DVD?

"How did the dvd player get hooked back up to the TV?"

"Oh, I did it," said the littlest one with the dangling front tooth - her first lose tooth ever.

"How did you figure out how to do that?!"

"I did it like you showed me."

"I showed you? I don't even remember doing that."

Well, I'll be. I guess when you want to watch Care Bears, you find a way.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

buzzing crescendo -
cicada symphony lilts;
twilight serenade.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Current status: EMPLOYED!

And that is a relief. It's a long story, but I did get a teaching job. The past few weeks have been a blur, and the full story is actually hard to believe. Nevertheless, seemingly insurmountable obstacles eventually fell into place. I am now an elementary teacher, and I am teaching something other than English to boot. It's definitely not the path I ever thought I would traverse, but it's the path I am on now regardless - and it's a fun adventure so far. The best part about this adventure is that I am working with an *amazing* group of people and for an *amazing* school.

Thank you so much for sending your positive thoughts and prayers my way. Let the adventure begin!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I wish I had news. The only news I have is that our stuff is in storage and we are in Oregon. And Poetroad is in Haiti helping build a house for someone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Attending a teacher job fair is like...

a cross between fishing, Disneyland and speed dating.

Last week I flew into Austin to attend a regional job fair. The reasons for going to all that trouble are simple: we would consider moving back to Austin and vicinity, and, unlike in California, there aren't 20,000 people competing for jobs in education. Although I could be wrong about that. I knew that over 800 people attended this job fair the previous year, and when I drove up to the building and saw that people were parking in the empty field across the street, I figured that that number was about double for this year. Nothing says "fair" like parking in a muddy field and praying that you won't need to elicit the help of Bubba and his half ton truck to pull you out of the mud at the end of the day.

I arrived at a quarter until 10 - fifteen minutes before the job fair began - only to find that I had to stand in a line that stretched from the front door all the way to the parking lot. When I finally got inside, I had to stand in more lines. Lines that circled half the room. Lines that took 30 minutes to get to the front. And then when I got to the front, I had a seconds to cast my expertise and virtues into the glassy eyed administrator or human resources person who made a few notes and placed my resume into one of several stacks of resumes each about ream of paper thick. It was daunting.

I overheard a girl say she flew in from Bend, Oregon, so I'm guessing there were many other people who, like me, flew in from out of town just to stand in line after line after line for the minute possibility that we might impress someone in 30 seconds or less.

All in all, I applied for jobs in about 8 different school districts. No bites yet, but I'll keep dangling my line in here and there regardless.

Friday, June 11, 2010

You know the old adage...

"if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." I've been trying to live that for the past three months since my husband and I were both laid off (well, if I'm going to be completely honest, my husband was "let go"). Ironically, we both were put on notice the same week in March and our jobs ended the same week in May. Go figure. We've been job hunting since March, but no luck so far. I attended a job fair yesterday, so I'm hoping to get some bites there. Next week we move out of our rental home because we don't have an income to sustain that rental rate. Who am I kidding. We don't have an income! So while technically we will be homeless (at least in the eyes of the law), we have a place to stay with friends and family until we both find work.

Funny - never in a million years did I think I would find myself in this place. As a matter of fact, when I earned my Masters in Ed. all those years ago, I distinctly remember my husband and I saying to each other in an effort to justify the cost, "teaching is a great career - they will always need teachers!" Turns out they don't need teachers after all. At least not in California.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cue the stupid movie quote...

"We have no food! We have no jobs! Our pet's heads are fallin' off!"

~Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber

Only our pet's heads haven't fallen off. Yet. And we still have food.

So three weeks ago I was RIF'd. (Reduction In Force) I feel like everyone knows since it's been my reality for the past month, but I realized when I looked back at past posts that I *haven't* mentioned it. Weird.

So here is how it went down. On March 8, a fellow teacher (who was also RIF'd) called me earlier that day and said, "She's calling us in today to give us the news." By 1:00 PM, the principal's secretary called and let me know I had a 3:30 appointment. I was glad to have a few hours to prepare myself, although knowing what was coming was sort of distracting.

Later that afternoon, I headed down for my appointment. Funny how I wanted to be on time even though it really didn't matter if I was on time or not. Of course the entire school was abandoned at 3:30 on a Friday, but there I was walking the gauntlet to her office. The newly fired vice-principals (yes, as in "plural" - all three got the ax) gave me knowing, sympathetic looks. As soon as I walked into the principal's office, she was overwhelmed with emotion. Oddly, I found myself comforting *her.* She said, teary eyed, "I didn't realize how difficult this would be. You've been a fabulous addition to our school, and I want you to know how much I appreciate what you've done for our kids in and out of the classroom..." Yadda, yadda, yadda. "I'm sorry to have to give you this." And then she handed me the "Your services are not required for the 2010-2011 school year" letter.

And that was that.

I know I was RIF'd last year, but this experience was completely different. Not only did I get the letter *directly* from the principal this year, but I also had to sign for a copy of the letter that I received in the mail the next day. Last year, 80 teachers were RIF'd, and 40+ teachers were cut. This year, 91 teachers have been RIF'd so far. And they closed a middle school. That's bad news for me because those middle school teachers will bump me. So my chances of getting my job back are slim to none. Ah, seniority! Just when I was about to be tenured in this district, too. Bummer.

The great thing is that all of my supervisors have written fantabulous letters of recommendation for me. And, I still have me degree and certification in two states. Now if I can get my job applications in before the 24,000 other RIF'd teachers from California beat me to it...

P.S. I turned 40 yesterday. Never expected "40" to look like this!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I feel the wrath... where's the grapes?! Well, Mr. Joad, what's next?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It shouldn't be so difficult... get a child the help he or she needs in school. Really, it shouldn't. And, it's sad to say, I've spent much of my time and energy these past few months battling it out with the special education department at my daughter's new school. KJ has something that functions like dyslexia and/or dysgraphia. But my daughter is very confident and is a dedicated and determined student, so, ironically, it is because of those desirable qualities that we have a problem...

I could give you a play by play of the last two IEP meetings (IEP = Individual Education Plan - the document that states what the school must do for my child because she needs special education services), but there is not enough space here to give you the dirty details. What I will tell you is that California, and in particular - this school district - makes it very difficult for students with a general "learning disability" to get the services they need so that they are successful in both the short and long term.

What you should know is that in order to qualify for special ed., a student must 1. have a discrepancy between the student's IQ and performance (performance = test scores from tests administered by the special ed. teacher and a school psychologist). In addition, 2. the student's educational performance is considered (educational often is equated with academics, and they often refer to grades for that). Finally, it must be determined (at least in California) that 3. there is a processing disorder. As I mentioned, my daughter is a good student - she always has been. Even though she gets frustrated and cries and spends twice as much time working on assignments as everyone else, she somehow manages to earn As and Bs. Still, if you look at her writing, you can see that there is a problem...

Without further adieu, the highlights (or the "low" lights - which is the case here):

Meeting one:

  • I was ambushed. While very few of my daughter's test scores have changed, still they told me, straight out, "your daughter DOES NOT have a disability."
  • I noticed discrepancies in several areas in my daughter's tests. When I brought up those concerns, however, the special ed. teacher spent most of the time comparing my daughter to her non-special ed. child to minimize my concerns.
  • The psychologist straight out told me that I have to let my daughter fail before she will be reconsidered for an IEP.

Meeting two:
  • They brought in a district representative in order to further squelch my concerns.
  • I came prepared. I brought my husband and my research.
  • They had to admit this time that my daughter actually has a discrepancy in THREE areas, which is one indication that she has a learning disability.
  • The district rep. did agree that my daughter does seem to struggle in writing, but the psychologist was adamant in her conclusion that my daughter "does not have a processing disorder."
  • Both the special ed. teacher and the psychologist poured over the previous IEP designations, questioning me as if I had somehow sneaked my daughter into the system. I explained in the last meeting that she couldn't read until the third grade and couldn't read cursive until a year ago, but they didn't remember that.
To make a long story short, my husband requested that we have KJ re-tested.

Wow. Talk about running a marathon. I guess all that training prepared me for more than just running a foot race. I can't imagine how a person without a degree in education fares in this process!