Celebrating Freedom

Posted: July 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

IMG_1958Today is July fourth. For those in the United States, it means a day to celebrate our nation’s independence from England. Most people just celebrate our current freedom. But how free are we really?

I took the photo of our nation’s flag while on my run this morning. Yes, it’s at half staff on this holiday in remembrance of those killed while doing their job last week. Do we have too many freedoms for some things? (That’s a whole different topic/post for another day.)

This summer I began working on my masters for curriculum and instruction. The first class I took was on public education law. It’s important to know the rules we must follow in schools so that money is not spent incorrectly or that educators still have rights and freedoms even though they are public workers. However, the thing that stuck to me was the fact that not everyone has freedoms.

Recently I wrote about how I have dealt with depression and how many people deal with mental illness on a regular basis. However, I didn’t share the full story with what I was dealing with inside. Mainly because I’m scared (to this day) how others see me.

Over the past few months, I’ve been jealous of my friend Jason. He has been sharing his life story and his journey on Twitter. Why can’t I do that? I think I’m afraid that people will look at me differently and possibly dislike me. In fact, I know some do dislike me and I shouldn’t let it bother me.

Even though we celebrate freedom, we need to remember the journey to get the freedoms we have today. Women voting, non-whites getting to vote, integrated schools, and LGBT being able to legally marry. Not everyone in the world has these same freedoms. In fact in Saudi Arabia, women finally have the freedom to drive.

I guess I need to allow myself the freedom to share my story with my students and let them know everything will be okay. I have the freedom with adults to share who I am and who I share my life with, but I need to feel free to share with my students just like my coworkers do. It’s a freedom many have and don’t realize others don’t have.

The class I am currently taking is about culture and helping everyone have a proficiency to understand and work with others who are not like them. A quote from the book is “Closeted Gay Men and Lesbians experience dualism* when they function in a straight business world in which most of the people with whom they work are straight and never imagine that their colleagues live in a world outside of work that is very different from theirs.” It’s true.

So how do we allow freedom for everyone? How can we celebrate this freedom? How can I give myself the freedom to truly be who I am at all times and not just when I’m not around certain people?

Anyway, this was really random today, but it’s something that got me thinking while on my run this morning.

*Many people integrate successfully into a new culture while remaining comfortable in their native culture. They feel unable to mesh the two worlds, so they experience a sense of dualism, moving back and forth yet never carrying one into the other. (Cultural Proficiency Third Edition)

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Whirlwind of a Week

Posted: June 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

First, I’m sorry I haven’t written this week. It was a busy week in Florida. I was there to present at Nuts and Bolts Symposium. I did 5 presentations in two days, all of which had packed rooms. By the time I had time to write, I was exhausted. I was also staying in the house of consultants where we had dinner and the wifi (or even cell service) reached my room on the third floor. I know, a bunch of excuses, but I just didn’t write.

Presenting at this conference is awesome. The attitudes of the teachers are excited and loving life! It helps me be excited and know that being in education is the best!

I am back home and my brain is fried. I need to get my paper completed and turned in by Sunday. I also have a final I now need to be studying for. So much going on, but I’m having a great summer!

Enjoy the pictures from this past week.

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Ready for Florida!

Posted: June 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

I’m sitting here at home after a six mile run this morning, a great breakfast of cinnamon rolls, and a nap. Yes, I fell asleep. But that’s okay! I’m heading to Florida soon. Well, I won’t be there until about 9:00 tonight, but I’m excited to see some great educator friends!

I’m heading to Destin to present at Nuts and Bolts Symposiums. It’s a great conference for middle level educators. There’s a lot of energy with great food and laughter. If you ever have a chance to attend, you should. Well, time to spend a little time with the dogs. My next post will be from Florida!

I Can Say What I Want

Posted: June 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

I can! I can say whatever I want to say on here. No one can stop me from saying what I want. Someone can stop me from having a job though.

You know, writing a blog is a big thing. You’re sharing your thoughts. You’re hoping for readers. You hope others will learn from you as you are also learning from others. But it all comes with a price if you’re not careful.

I know several people don’t write because they don’t want to get in trouble with their school district. There have been times I start to write something and then realize I shouldn’t be putting it out there. You’ve gotta have a filter to know what is safe out there and what isn’t.

In my Public School Law class right now we are looking at teacher speech. Yes, we are free to talk and say what we want, but there are court cases out there about teachers who thought they could say anything, but then got fired.

What I find interesting is that the teacher free speech challenges goes back to the 1960s. That’s right, it was an issue before things started to happen on the internet. When looking at teacher free speech, courts look at Pickering v. Board of Education. Long story short, Pickering wrote a letter to the editor that ended up in the local newspaper. He was complaining about the school board and he thought he was fine to do that because of free speech. He was fired, so he sued the school district and the courts sided with the district.

Another case we looked at is Munroe v. Central Bucks School District. This was in 2015 and did deal with a blog post. Munroe was having a difficult day with writing comments for report cards and wanted to share what comments she wanted to say. (Okay, personal thoughts here . . . you can think these things, but you can’t put them on the internet!) If you want to see what she wrote, go and check out the link. Needless to say, she was fired, sued, but lost. (Just read what she said, of course she would be fired.)

During this past school year we here in Oklahoma watched as Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora said something on Facebook, which was too personal. She did resign after the post, but it is a reminder of what we say on social media is not always free speech in the public sector. (This has not reached court, nor do I feel it will.)

When going to post something online (or even on paper), remember these three points that courts will look at if you end up in trouble. These stem from Pickering v. Board of Education.

  1. Are you writing as a private citizen? Even if you are writing at home on your own device, you may not be a completely private citizen if you teach.
  2. Is this of public concern? Are you writing to share important information that everyone needs to know or are you just writing?
  3. Is it causing a disruption in the school process? This is the one that gets people in trouble the most. In the three situations I stated above, they made things difficult in schools.

Just remember, be careful when sharing. Sharing too much information (private) can get you into trouble that you may not wish to be in.

Happy writing!

School is Tough

Posted: June 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

So I’ve started graduate school . . . . it’s been 14 years since I’ve been in school. It’s tough! Trying to get back into studying and reading for a class (not for personal growth) and writing a paper?!?!? It’s tough!

What have I learned? Do the reading! Take better notes during the online meetings. Be a student!

If you haven’t been a student in awhile and you teach . . . just remember what the kids are going through. I’m taking ONE class at a time. That’s right. One class in 7 weeks. It’s not bad, but I have to think about my students who are taking 7 classes at once over a year.

Yea, it’s tough.

What am I learning from this experience? Well, that in the fall when I go back to have students (and still taking class myself) things are not easy for anyone. We’ve gotta work together and help each other be successful.

Alright, I’m tired of typing as I have written a 10 page paper today. Now to have others look at it so I can make changes. . . .

Tuesday’s Thoughts

Posted: June 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

Wow, yesterday was a busy day. I was reading for my class I’m taking as well as working on my paper that is due in less than 2 weeks. The day just flew by. The worst part? I didn’t hit my workout goal yesterday! I went running and did some other exercises, but it didn’t have my heart rate up for 30 minutes. It’s so aggravating how sitting and doing work can end your 44 day run of hitting your goal! I only made it 27 minutes yesterday. Now, just remember how kids may feel when they’re sitting all day . . .

The class I’m currently taking is Public Education Law. It’s been a great course to get me thinking about different aspects of school. I have to write a paper over a law and study court cases over that law and how the courts have sided. I have chosen to do look at corporal punishment in schools.

Now, I know that’s a strange topic to some, but I had to research it in my undergrad (14 years ago) and I found out that it is still legal in Kansas (where I student taught). Now it’s also legal in Oklahoma. The concept goes back to the 1700s when schools were charged with students’ moral welfare (American Journal of Educators). Throughout the years over 100 countries have outlawed it, the United States even stopped it, except in schools. In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ingraham v Wright that corporal punishment in public schools does not violate constitutional rights. Since then, 30 states have abolished it. (New Jersey outlawed it in 1867) There are now 19 states who still allow it. Three of those states, Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming, have so few cases in the past years, really making it obsolete.

US Map.png

I created this map myself using mapchart.net

The map to the left shows states that still allow corporal punishment in schools, but also the states that have the highest church attendance. Corporal punishment has a strong religious background, so I don’t find the correlation between these states surprising. However, when I read some of the reported data, I think it may be skewed some because of where the data is being collected, but I’ll leave that up to you to research and decide.

Some more interesting insights is that in the past 15 years, several states who ended corporal punishment in schools tried to bring it back, only to have it fail. Here in Oklahoma, a 2013 bill wanted to give the right back to teachers (only admin can give the punishment), but the bill was amended to take that out. The bill still passed though, which is our state’s bullying law. (H.B. 1661, 2013)

I talked with a friend who is an administrator (to remain anonymous) and s/he shared with me how the parents of the school want paddling to happen, but s/he does not agree with it. I never thought about how this causes administrators to be placed in an unfair position.

Anyway, I wanted to share this with you and I hope it gets you to thinking. Do you live in a state that allows corporal punishment in schools? How do you feel about it?

I’m Here

Posted: June 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

I came home after being at youth group. I was use to coming home around 10:30 pm and my parents would be in bed already. I was a sophomore in high school and I never really had a curfew, I just had to be responsible and get up for school without complaining. However, as I was pulling up to my house I noticed the living room light was on.

As I walked into the house, my parents were sitting in the living room and asked me to sit down. They turned off the television and help up some notes. I lost it. How did they get those?

See, those notes were suicide notes. They were notes I had written to my friend about how I was going to end it. My pastor came over, we talked and made a plan. Part of that plan was giving my car keys to my parents for awhile. I couldn’t be trusted with them because that’s how I described it in the notes.

I wish I could say that was the end of the struggles and all my problems were solved, but it’s not that way.

With the talk of several celebrities lately taking their lives, it reminds me each time about myself. It’s not as simple as “get help”, “call the suicide hotline”, “be happy.” It’s a tea struggle.

How have I dealt with it? Find a passion. Find great friends to be around. Yes, that isn’t always easy, trust me. Keep track of all the good in your life.

I know what it’s like to be so low that you can’t see anything else. When you’re dealing with depression you can get so dark in the tunnel that you can’t see a way out. Yes, I’ve had police at my door to check on me because a friend called my house. It’s scary.

Is my life perfect right now? I have a fantastic job, I have a wonderful partner, I have great dogs. All of which I love with my heart! But yes, I still struggle. But I know it gets better and I’ve learned how to dig myself out of the tunnel.

All I can say, is that I’m here if you need me. If you ever need to talk or just have someone next to you, I’m here.

Well that’s a first

Posted: June 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

Yesterday was great to connect with math teachers across Oklahoma. For the first time in my presenting, I used Keynote! I was so excited to use that and not be on Google slides. However, once I got there I found out that I couldn’t use my personal computer and had to use the PC that was there. I was devastated and frustrated. I started downloading my presentations and uploading them into Google. I shared my frustration with my partner Nick, in which he reminded me I could access my presentations online. He keeps me grounded a lot.

As I presented on Standards Based Grading in a Traditional Grade Setting and then on Stop the Worksheets (ways to take boring 30 question assignments and make them more fun) I had great participation. I don’t ever claim to know everything while I’m presenting, so I love it when people speak up and share what they do. I came home with a few ideas from them! It was a great morning.

Then in the afternoon, I was ready to do a two hour session on badges. I was going to share why I started using them and also allow time for participants to start creating their own. . . but no one showed up. I started to get disappointed, but then I got to thinking that two hours is a long time for a presentation so that could have scared people away. I also thought how I was in a different building (4 presentations in this building, the other 12 in another building) and I really didn’t see anyone come to this building. So did people know where to go? I was hurt, but I packed up and left. Once I got home, a friend contacted me and said there were very few people in the afternoon sessions she attended, so maybe a lot of people left.

IMG_1526It was a great week, but I was so happy to see my dogs when I got home. Cooper and Baxter were happy to have me home again as well. I have a midterm tomorrow for my class Public School Law. I also have a 10-12 page paper due in two weeks, which I need to get close to finishing this next week.

I have 8 days until I leave for Florida for Nuts and Bolts Symposium in Destin, Florida. You should check it out! I love this conference. It is for middle school teachers. So many great ideas and laughing happens during the conference. Oh, did I tell you people win MONEY at this conference. That’s right, we hand out money to people just for fun!

What are your plans this weekend? Anything exciting?

Friday Morning

Posted: June 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

Good morning all!

Yes, I know, I didn’t write yesterday. I thought about it, but I was just so tired.

Doing great professional development really works your brain and you get tired!

Anyway, today I’m doing three presentations at the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference. This will be my first run through of these three presentations which I will do again in a couple weeks in Florida.

How’s your week been? I hope to write again this evening or tomorrow morning to give you highlights form today.

Wednesday Already?

Posted: June 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

First, I have to say sorry to my awesome friend and coworker Tommie for the Red Robin idea yesterday. She was also at dinner and I forgot to mention her. It’s strange how we can forget about people we see on a regular basis. Please don’t be upset with me.

img_1740.jpgToday was a great day of learning again! Check out the photos I took today. One activity I loved comes from Mathematics Assessment Resource Service (MARS). It is a great activity to help students match fractions, percents and decimals while really looking at percent of increase and decrease. You can check it out here.

I did get my run in today. I also completed my homework that I was asked to do before we meet again tomorrow. I still have a presentation that I need to put together for Friday. Oh yeah, I also have a mid-term for my class on Sunday that I should be preparing for.IMG_1742

On a good note though, I know the topic I’m going to research court cases in order to write my paper that’s due on June 24. I’m going to read up on corporal punishment and how courts have ruled when this happens in the schools. There are 19 states who still allow corporal punishment in schools. I’m excited to research and find out more about it.

Well, as you can see, I have a lot I need to be doing. How is your summer going? Are you on summer break yet?