Show me your numbers B.D.

What transpired in the last forty-eight hours is absolutely astounding, and yet, not surprising given the day in January when the government turned upside down. My lips drew into a firm line, and my left eye brow raised when I learned just whom was appointed to the highest position of education in our country. 

I would like to extend a round of disappointed applause to those in the Senate whom are absolutely tucked into the back pocket of a human being whom undoubtedly flaunts illiteracy, ignorance, and violent rhetoric about the very generation that will inherit the “thrown” said being sits upon today. I believe firmly in education, intellect, and action, however, I also believe in karmic retribution.  I believe that there will be a reckoning, and justice will prevail. The challenge is steep, the hill is vast, and yet I see glimmers of light still ahead.

One must persist.

When I sat and pondered upon the daunting decision I made in order to go into the field of education I came to a realization that it could be summed up into a matter of pure numbers, clear mathematics. 

I sat and thought more about my early days in this field of education and I asked myself, “How much time went into that year of graduate school and my first year of teaching?”  I decided to calculate rough facts, not calendar date by calendar date numbers, just to see for myself how much time actually went into my fundamental years of educational ground work.

It took me 1 year to decide upon, volunteer, pass exams, enter grad school, and 2nd year to work tirelessly seven days a week, graduate, apply to 200 jobs, interview in person for 10 jobs before I landed my first position in public education. Calculating my year of student teaching plus graduate studies work and my first year of teaching together roughly breaks down to: 24 months, roughly 720+ days, 17,280 hours, 1,036,800 minutes, and 62,208,000 seconds of teaching, planning, reading, grading, prepping, self higher educating course work, singing, collaborating, drawing, calculating, learning, sketching, growing, listening, loving, challenging, caring, counting, helping, band-aiding, smiling, cheering, underlining, circling, typing, standing, responding, hopping, skipping, whistling, herding, clapping, snapping, pointing, chanting, running, holding, IEP-ing, 504-ing, nurturing, embedding, and educating myself and students in the first two years of my education work. Multiply that times 8 years, as of now, and then I have the last decade of my life’s work in a nutshell calculated by time.

It took 1 week, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes and 604,800 seconds in order for a decision to be made that has the potential to derail the education system I have spent 10 years of master training work within.

I had continuous discussions with a mentor of mine about the current state of education as it stands today. I was continually told, “Hold on, hold out, the pendulum will swing back Rachel, I promise it will. I have seen it and I understand what you’re going through.”

I do not see a pendulum any longer.

I think it became stuck, far along the right hand side and cracked somehow. Much like the ticking hands of a clock stopped by someone’s gloved hand, as they pushed down upon the minute hand, our seconds flew by and yet we waited for the swing back or forward and it never came.

What the hell is going on? This is a common thought that goes through my brain when I pause to think about what has happened in three weeks time.

I was a child of the ’90’s. A product of public education. I experienced the push in of my peers who benefitted from I.D.E.A. I attended a public university for my bachelor and masters degrees. I am a public school teacher today. I have taught in Title 1, federally funded school programs for the last ten years. I cannot even count how many children, families, colleagues, and community members I have worked with any longer. It would make my head spin to think about all the beautiful, challenging, amazing, and ultimately human individuals I have crossed paths with.

But I can tell you one thing… not once have I had a public government official in my classroom. Not once.

Until this next month.

I invited the mayor to meet my students and read aloud a Dr. Seuss book on Theodore Gisselle’s birthday.

Chutzpah? I’ve got it. Right here. Right now.  Who are we going to befriend? Our own public official. I figured he might want to get to know some of his nine and ten-year old constituents. So why not now? Why not celebrate, and learn from his point of view, and he from ours.  I cannot wait to meet the leader of the town I live and work within alongside my 27 amazing students. He will surely be amazed by their intellect, humor, and courageous hearts. I know I am every day!

Children are our future.

As the witch said during the second act of, Into the Woods,

“Children will listen, and learn, and grow…”

Children are the generation who will inherit this great land and nation. Children are the essential component whom the country should focus upon. You know what is not essential?  Someone else’s money.  As well as someone else’s inability to understand the very fundamental vocabulary of the field upon which they will now be the head of. 

Perhaps I could send her a vocabulary list for homework? I think I will include the definitions because she’s going to need them. The first ten words will include a variety of nouns, verbs, and adjectives that one should familiarize themselves with prior to their first meeting with appraised individuals in education, and then the list for the following week will be a laminated definition sheet of ready to know acronyms used daily in the sphere of public education.

First up on her specialized non-IEP approved vocabulary list:

maieutics

Followed by:

benighted

Society, which do you truly value: education or money?

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Trees of growth

The phrase, “Hurt people, hurt other people,” rang ever so true for me today. There was once a time in my life when I would tolerate abuse, but I no longer allow that to become a part of my story. I have been the victim of one too many falsities in the last ten months. Today was the event that broke the camel’s back.

IF a person has an issue with something I have said or done, it is an expectation as a decent human being that they talk directly to the source, being me. With words spoken from truth, sincerity, and love, directly, and in person, I would be more than happy to have a mature conversation about the said concern. That, and only that is the way to speak in an honest, mature, and caring way.

I feel so disheartened that in our world today we accept as a norm that people are unable to actually allow themselves to feel and explain their thinking. Something I have learned in the last three years is that when you speak of your truths, your love, your pain; you are forced into “uncomfortable” territory. HOWEVER, once within that territory, staking claim of the feeling, acknowledging it and learning how to walk with it is possible. That, therein, is where growth begins to take root.

In my mind I grow a forest. In this said forest I see a vast array of trees that have grown in my thirty two years of life. Some of these trees are as tall as a sitka spruce found in the Denali National Forest, while others are mere seedlings beginning to thrive and seek the light from within. It is only when I open myself up to the possibility of healing, of love, of light, that my forest will receive nourishment. IF I were to allow another person’s attempt to steal my joy, or plant seeds of doubt, then the clouds roll in and the weeds sprout amongst my trees.

There was a rain storm before my drive this afternoon. I was filled with utter disappointment, and I allowed myself to look at a situation and become overwhelmed with sadness. Then after the rage and tears passed, the rain fizzled out, I turned a curve, and I looked up above the tree tops and I saw a rainbow. I saw it not once but twice. Once for me, and once for hope, for the future of what life can bring.

I no longer wish to be a part of a narrative in which the grounds are covered in weeds and seedlings never bloom and grow. When someone runs hither and thither and spews hatred and venom, plants angry seedlings, and waters their plants with passive aggressiveness and lies to oneself and their fellow humans the ground becomes broken, dry, brittle, a barren waste land of what could have been a thriving forest.

It takes time to grow these trees in your mind. It takes time to ALLOW healing to take place. When you suffocate thyself and never face truths or feelings, all that is being done is repeating cycle after cycle of bitter blame for these “reasonings” and or ego driven perspectives of unjust deeds. Truths are challenging. Your personal truths, the words you feed yourself, whether they be loving or not impact your mind’s conscious and unconscious functioning.

If someone no longer wishes to be a part of my truths and help sow seeds of honesty and hope, I release my hold and relinquish the desire to be tethered.

The chord has been cut.

The wound from the stab of someone else’s hurt has been acknowledged, I see it, I have felt it many, many times, I released it. I pulled out the dagger and turned it into a seed. I have chosen to plant it as one of my greatest lessons to learn from. I will watch as it grows into something more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

Beauty comes in the most unexpected ways.

Be honest with yourself, face your truths, and listen to your inner monologue. Consider the source and root of all your perceptions you hold. For, you see they are you, these are the direct reflections of your very inner core, your heartwood.  Are you growing a forest or a desert in which to dwell?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cute Opinions

Opinions

The definition for the word, opinion, according to my dictionary of choice reads as follows: 1. Considering a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. 2. Entirely probable: Or, a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

Read and Pronounced in the following languages as:

Latin: Opinio

Spanish: pienso que, (to my mind…)

The word in French: “à mon avis” (in my opinion…)

Hebrew: דעה

Italian: opinione

Opinions.  What is it about this word that weighs so heavy on us as human beings?  It seems that anyone and everyone has one, about every subject; even when they may or may not have any knowledge or authority on a particular topic that they project an opinion about.

I think some of my favorite opinions I have received in person have been about my career.

When I respond to the question, “What do you do for a living?”

I politely share, “I am an elementary educator. I teach multiple subjects at the fourth grade level.”

A few opinionated responses can be rounded up into one nice, clean, fresh labeled response: That’s cute.

Here’s my thoughtfully contained responsive dialogue that runs through my head: It’s cute that I teach classroom aged children for a living? Ok wait, are the students cute? Are you referring or meaning that I am cute? Or is what I do with my masters degree….cute? I’d just like to clarify what all that really means.

Here are my thoughtful reflections in no particular order:

I am an adult. I am not cute. I am many things, included but not limited to: intelligent, thoughtful, caring, qualified, creative, attractive, humorous, and talented. I’m not cute.

Children circa age nine to ten years of age have cute moments in time which can correlate to the equivalent of, “cuteness,” in a what our society deems appropriate.  Again with the opinions though…?  However, please do not diminish the fact that children are highly outspoken, clever, and quick witted human beings all at the same time as being, cute.

Is a higher education degree cute? Is spending 365 days pursuing a masters degree in a field of work reduced to the equivalent of being cute? Is being paid $40-$50,000 less than other masters of their field in our society really cute? Is this where the issue in value of education really lies?  It all boils down to the fact that people think it is…gulp…cute to educate?

Why is it that we have opinions about things that perhaps we have never, ever experienced? To quote Harper Lee’s wonderful novel and character Atticus Finch, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  These words struck a chord with me at age fifteen and they still do today. They are so much more applicable to what I am referring to now at age thirty one than what they were when I first read them in school.

Why is it that we all seem to have an opinion about what other people do with their lives, their relationships, their beliefs, and their families? Who am I to comment on what someone else does with their time, let alone, their body?  It absolutely astounds me that in our society we are still going round and around the mulberry bush regarding so many topics. This feels like an age old argument.  This phrase just came to mind, “Only time will tell,” this seems rather odd. Are we not at the point when, “TIME SHOULD TELL,” already?

My little experiences with responses to my line of work, which mind you are merely one facet of who I am as an individual, are very minuscule in the grand scheme of things. There are a thousand and one little pieces that make up my daily thoughts and choices in life. I feel so lucky to be granted this life in which I have choices and options. Although, that should be saved as an entirely different rantingly thoughtful blog.  Honestly though, I think the moral of my thoughts here today friends is this: think before you speak.

Think and consider the following:

Is what I am about to say nice?

Is it thoughtful, is it something that I am sharing in order to inspire, create, or empower?

Is this the right audience to share this comment with? Or is it meant for another purpose?

Does this opinion of mine really demonstrate the value of the words I am about to speak? If not, perhaps I should rethink my statement before it flies out of my mouth.

In my humble opinion life is about uplifting others up, showing and caring enough to give respect and above all empower each other to be our best selves on this earth.

I have been actively working on opening my eyes, seeking out truths, and sharing my wisdom.  Spring is a wonderful opportunity to turn over a new leaf, no pun intended.

Sparkle on friends.

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