TMC – My Musings

Good morning.

I have read some of the blog posts occurring at the conclusion of TMC, I will read others as I am able. The ones I have read caused me to reflect on my time at TMC, and my experience and reaction to that experience.

I began to be active on twitter approximately one year ago. It was last summer after I had done all my planning that I began to lurk and wonder on twitter, to see if it would be of any use to me. It didn’t take me long to get drawn into a conversation and make a couple of comments, from there it has been “full speed ahead.” I love the people I have met on twitter, and some of them I have yet to meet in person, but I feel as if I know them better than some of the people I interact with face to face. The “passion” and energy with which they approach teaching and life is what drew me in, and continues to draw me.

I too felt a little overwhelmed at TMC, not because I felt I was nothing in a pool of greatness, but because I realized very quickly that the people there were every bit as real as I had hoped they would be. I was afraid that the energy and passion that I saw on twitter would quickly disappear in person, that it wouldn’t have the substance that I experienced in chats and conversations on-line. I was relieved to see that it did.

I was somewhat torn about how much interacting I could do. My husband was with me and I felt awful about leaving him all day and wanting to sit and talk with my new found colleagues in the evening, so I didn’t spend the socializing time that I really needed to with them. I am not very social, yet I know that I would have been easily able to socialize with the people at TMC. My husband, however, felt very out of place, and inadequate for the conversations that were taking place. He is not an educator.

I have been passionate all my life, about everyone and everything. It is what makes me the educator I am, and the person I am. It is that passion that drives me to be the very best I can be in whatever I am involved in. The passion that I have comes from the God that I know intimately in my life, it is what makes me feel that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, and drives me to work so hard at it. Because of that passion and drive, I have often in my life run into people who are drawn to me, and want what I have. Because another one of my strong characteristics is to give, I often give so much of myself and my passion to others that I am “sucked dry” by them, and then need to refill. Ayn Rand refers to this type of person as a “second-hander” in her novel “The Fountainhead”. BTW, for all you passionate people, I highly recommend both “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”. They gave me a very personal and enlightening picture of myself and why I do what I do.

The educators I have become involved with and consider my PLN on twitter are also very passionate and driven people. Not only do they not suck me dry, they fuel the passion that I already have, and drive me to desire to learn, grown, and create even more. That is the energy that I felt this past week in Jenks, OK; and the energy that I will continue to strive to be a part of this coming year as I shift gears to a district level leadership position and work to create that passion in other teachers in my district. I know now that I will definitely need to look to my twitter PLN for the energy and fuel that I need, and realize that most of the educators that I will be working with on sites will need me to be that fuel and energy for them. Thank God, I know where to go to get what I need to continue to do my work.

While most of this post has been a response to what I was hearing about TMC, I need to give another shout out to a very special and important twitter group in my PLN. The Christian Educators have been a life-saver for me this year! I have gone through some of the toughest experiences ever this past year at school and personally, and my weekly chats with this group, as well as the constant encouragement from very special educators such as Rik RoweDavid GeurinWade Stanford, and many, many others too numerous to name, I made it through and have a renewed desire to create some greatness this year.

I am meeting today with my new immediate supervisor to get some insight into where to begin, and to see my new corner of the world. I am hoping to come out of that with a better idea of what the district expectations are, and begin my own creative process on defining myself and my position. This is all because of the passion I have, and the PLN I have which renews this passion in me constantly.

Thank you all more than I can ever say or possibly show. You are all the bomb! Keep up the good work.

July Challenge – Life’s Lessons

I need to rant a little today. This is actually my post for July 4, but I was too tired when I got home to write.

I spent the day helping my sister-in-law, along with my husband and brother-in-law, whose sister she is. This was a very emotional day for all of us. Pauline is 74 years old. My husband is the youngest child by quite a few years of 5 children, Pauline is the second eldest. We spent the 4th of July compacting her life into an 8′ x 8′ x 12′ storage unit. She has lived in the same home for 47 years, most of her life. This home is in a part of CA where it has quite a bit of value, even though it is old, however, circumstances have left her without her home and needing to get out of it in a hurry.

She does have a share of the responsibility. She allowed her child to take out a mortgage on the home which was paid for completely, and her child did not pay the mortgage and lost the home. The difficult part is that since her child took over the home and has been living there, it has not been cared for or cleaned, and she has been living in a portion of the house while this is going on. We have been out there twice to help her make decisions about what pieces of her life to save, and what has to go. The emotions are running the gamut from anger to despair.

I have to believe a portion of this is good. The house and grounds are large, and difficult to work with being on a hillside. She cannot handle it herself, which is why having her child move in to help and eventually take over seemed like a good idea. She is moving to a mobile home park, where she will have a smaller home to care for, and people around her. This should be good.

As for my niece and her husband, I have no idea what their plans are. I know that it is good they will no longer be living with Pauline, that has been an extremely stressful thing for her. I pray that she can now relax and have the “golden years” she has been hoping for. After 74 years of living, teaching, nursing and serving others, she certainly deserves it. BTW, my niece is a math teacher. I think this hurts me more than anything, to know that she has the knowledge to have made different decisions and didn’t.

This makes me think again about my part in teaching. It is so imperative that we teach not only our subject area, but the “life lessons” that our students will need to be aware of in order to survive. Content area is important, and as a math teacher I feel we teach an important subject matter just for daily living. The problem solving and critical thinking are life skills which are important in daily decision making and survival. So many of our students don’t have adults in their lives teaching them live skills. It is something that we owe them, and I have a renewed commitment to this after yesterday.

Thanks for listening.

Moms and Learning

On this Mother’s Day I am finding myself thinking of my mother. She passed away just about one year ago after a lengthy struggle with alzheimer’s. I had the opportunity to care for her during her last four years, two in my home, and the last two in a memory care home. The changes that occurred in my mother caused me many different emotions, some pain, some joy, some anxiety. There is a lot of emotion tied up in a relationship with a mother, and caring for them as they decline can cause many lines to be crossed, and a struggle ensues over having to step up and “mother” your mother.

I really struggled with this at first. Having to become a parent to the one who raised me, loved me, encouraged me, disciplined me, and generally was the strongest force in my life was very difficult. Making decisions for her, having to tell her what she needed to do, when she needed to go to the doctor, what she needed to eat, caused a terrible struggle within me. It felt so wrong to be making these decisions for her and to be the one taking charge in her physical care. I finally came to grips with this mainly due to the help and support of the alzheimer’s association. They are a wonderful, caring group of counselors, and people like me, who have experienced the devastating effects of this disease in their own homes and lives. Watching someone who was a very vital part of life become so childlike and dependent is extremely difficult.

I was reading Audrey’s blog this morning about her mother. I found myself identifying with this completely. My mother also loved books and when we had to move her to the memory care facility, I felt the most important thing to make sure she had with her was her books. Due to spacial considerations we decided only one bookcase could go. It was difficult to decide which books to place on this case, it was important that we chose every item sent with her with extreme care. The things around her needed to give her a sense of peace and home, things that gave her the good memories and safe feelings. Some things can create such anxiety in someone with alzheimer’s and it is important to avoid these things as much as possible. One thing we did make sure to keep with her was a doll given to her by a friend. This doll gave her someone to care for and often was the one thing that would calm her in times of extreme anxiety and stress.

I miss my mother. She was a amazing person. She raised my sister and I, worked her way up in the hospital from a medical records technician to an administrative position, encouraged my sister and I to go to school and become successful people, volunteered in many enterprises in the community through her sorority and personal interests, was an energetic and active grandmother to four grandchildren, painter, singer, and dancer.

The dancing kept her joyous at the end. She could often be seen dancing around the halls and the dayroom in the memory care facility, and often the care workers would dance with her. Even in her confusion, she brought smiles to the faces of many.

I miss my mom.