January 2014 Posts

wintery totally freezing

This was supposed to be a really big week.12

Instead, it has just been a really weird week.

This morning, I dragged myself into the cold3, disappointed that we hadn’t [yet] received a call notifying us to stay home for the day. By the time I was halfway to work, I’d passed three different car wrecks4, and it seriously felt like I was driving through the zombie apocalypse.5

And THEN I got the “bad weather 2 hour delay” phone call. Just as I was arriving on campus.6

But by that point it was pretty obvious that school was going to be cancelled altogether, but I decided to get some tacos from Smoky Mo’s and brew some coffee in my classroom and chill – literally.

I was amused that the 9:05 bell still rang, and that’s when we got the announcement.

At 9:05.

That’s about 3 or 4 hours late, if you ask me.


I haven’t seen my A-day students in more than a week, and the timing of these two freeze days — splitting the first major test of the semester across days a full week apart — could not be more awkward.7

  1. Among other things, my student teacher assumes her teaching duties this week []
  2. and actually, every week is a big week, at this point []
  3. after having stayed up too late, thinking we wouldn’t have school today due to the ice []
  4. two that were single car incidents, that had obviously spun out and crashed into concrete barriers []
  5. The road conditions were atrocious. NOBODY should have been driving out there this morning. []
  6. Thankfully I did not get into a wreck, or I would seriously be ticked. []
  7. We’ve had ice days before — Spring of 2007, 2010, and 2012 if memory serves me right — but never in a way that splintered our calendars like so. []

This is why our schools are starting 2 hours late tomorrow.

Edit (Friday Morning, 7:30am): Schools were in fact, cancelled completely today. Don’t mess with Texas, indeed.


Whoever coined the term “Don’t mess with Texas” obviously wasn’t referring to our ability to cope with a little bit of cold.

Practically speaking: My B-day students in AP Stat took a big test today… that A-day can no longer take tomorrow due to the shortened schedule.1

A younger version of me would have been a little peeved to have to push a test back and fall behind schedule… but this year’s version of me is just looking forward to sleeping in a little more. 2

  1. yes, my B-day students are ahead of my A-day students, as happens every 2nd semester. I do that intentionally just to mix things up. My B-day students get so whiny about it, it’s almost amusing… []
  2. Perhaps we’ll toss some globes tomorrow~ []

Longest. Week. Ever. EVER.

And there’s still one day to go.


“It’s about the journey, and not the destination.”

If there was ever a week to epitomize that statement, this was it.

A wonderful week it has been, surely — filled with moments that remind me of why we love what we do.1

Just… really, really long.

  1. but also filled with allergies, which need to go die a fiery death, quite frankly. []

Point of Inflection

So, tonight I attended a student-teacher orientation for the UTeach program at Painter. It was the first I’d been on campus (that I recall) in years, and… it felt strange, to say the least, being back under the shadow of the tower. 1


Yes — that means that I am hosting a student teacher this semester!

It’s exciting!!!

It’s… a little scary.

In my mind, this represents probably one of the largest responsibilities that I have taken on yet.2 To me, the passing on of knowledge from one “generation” to the next is one of the most important things that we can do as a society — and this is certainly not just limited to the field of education or to the profession of teaching.

In previous years, I think I was so focused on improving my craft that I probably didn’t feel comfortable enough to relinquish control of my classroom to a teacher-in-training, but this past year has been a bit of an inflection point in my life and career. So… that corner is now being turned (and it is an important one to turn).

. . .

On a side-note, it’s THAT time of the year:


Astute observers will notice that they changed the name back to “samoas”. Also, if you care about this sort of thing, the faux-foil wrapping has been replaced with a transparent counterpart:


. . .

It’s only Wednesday, but already this has been an absolute BLUR of a week. If you’re keeping track, this is week #19. Finals week is week #38, which means we are now at the half-way point of the year. 3 So incredibly thankful for the upcoming 3-day breather.

  1. Which, by the way, the Drag has changed. A. LOT. And the 24th street side of Painter Hall is a LOT prettier than I last remember, but that could very well be my imagination. []
  2. and one that I certainly want to avoid screwing up at all costs []
  3. Cue Bon Jovi. []

Skiing Scared

This past month, I went skiing in Steamboat, Colorado for 3 glorious days. But having not been since circa 2005, I found it… difficult at first, to find my legs1.

During the 2nd day, I sat in the cafe at Thunderhead Lodge, gulping down a pair of $4.30 Powerades, hoping for the throbbing in my right hamstring to subside, desperately trying to catch my breath, and sharing a table with a nice family from Boston. They asked me how it was, skiing for the first time in 8 years or so… and when I told them that it was “a lot more painful than I remember”, they laughed… but understood. The mother then said something that I now find poignant:

It’s so much more difficult when you’re trying to be cautious about everything. When you’re younger and less fearful to try new things, and feeling more adventurous, it’s so much easier.

For much of the first day and a half2, I was inundated with thoughts of “good gosh, why won’t my skis move the way I want them to” and “is this what getting old feels like” and “why do I keep sliding down the hill headfirst on my back” and finally — upon making it down the mountain — “I have no idea how I made it down the hill but I’m not really sure I can survive that again”.

Sigh. 3

Skiing-wise, I finally managed to find my rhythm — albeit, not until day 3 — when I remembered that I did, in fact, know how to ski, and that I had no rational reason to go pizza all the way down the hill. After that, it was like angels and sunlight peaking through the clouds in a heavenly chorus. Of course, the getaway to the mountains was all-around glorious, nonetheless.


Much like a 3-day ski trip, life is too short to allow self-doubt to creep in to screw up the ride.

And that’s the thing. Sometimes it’s all mental.

That is not to say, however, that a mental “block” is an insignificant obstacle.

. . .

Maybe it’s just the struggle of coming back from winter break, but that is how I find myself feeling as I stare down the barrel of the 2nd week of the semester.

For whatever reason, I’ve had these thoughts every evening of “I don’t actually know if I’m good enough (of a teacher) to make it through tomorrow”. Every. Day. This. Entire. Week.

Of course, this first week back was wonderful.4 Any fears that it would be otherwise were not at all rational… but emotionally-driven fears rarely are.

. . .

Three of us on the ski trip were teachers, and while commiserating during one of the evenings, we all agreed: We all truly enjoy what we do… but our jobs are hard.

I do believe — and I always have — that a number of aspects of our jobs as teachers get more difficult — not less — as we become wiser about our craft.

. . .

It is Sunday evening as I type this5, and, yes, I’m scared of tomorrow. I remember earlier in my teaching years when I not only looked forward to Mondays (which I still do), but when I was also not remotely afraid of them either (which for some reason, I now am, remotely). At times this week I’ve felt like that pilot in “Top Gun” that flipped out mid-flight and voluntarily turned in his wings after stating that he’d “lost his edge”.

As if I’m skiing scared.

. . .

Alas… it is a 38 week campaign, and we all know there will be days like these.

  1. and my lungs, and my rhythm, basically my entire skiing mojo []
  2. especially after painfully eating it repeatedly on the blues on Saturday morning []
  3. By the way. Aging stinks. Skip 8 years of skiing/boarding and try going in your thirties, if you’d like to see for yourself. []
  4. Well… aside from the fact that my brain felt glazed over and half-asleep and three steps slow until Friday afternoon… []
  5. Downton Abbey is on, which, by the way, I think may have no more than one season of life left in it. []

17 weeks ’til Glory

(but 20 ’til Summer.)

Sure, I’m overstating things a little, but “Glory” refers to the AP Statistics Exam (on Friday, May 9). 1


As I sit here preparing to go back to work this week, sometime in the next day or two, my brain will hit that switch — that proverbial switch3 that flips me into full-fledged crunch-time mode… until… well… until “Glory”.

In sports, one might refer to this as “WINNING TIME”.


That’s what Magic Johnson used to call that part of the game: that critical juncture where there are about 4 minutes left to go in the fourth; where one’s poise and experience will lead to triumph — or, conversely, where a lack of may cause one to crumble.

Overly-dramatic? Perhaps. But this is, more-or-less, the attitude I take into the Spring semester. 4

. . .

So. Here is how the remainder of this campaign breaks down:

  • 9 weeks to go until Spring Break…
  • 8 weeks after that until the Statistics AP Exam (aka, “Glory”).56
  • 3 weeks after that — including final exam week — until Summer.7
  • Along the way, we get 3 days off: MLK Day, Good Friday (which we call “Spring Holiday”), and some Monday in mid-February to honor of one (or more) of the U.S. Presidents. 89

Simultaneously, the majority of my students are seniors, and legend tells of this mythical disease called “senioritis” that is often characterized by formerly studious kids transforming into meandering zombies, bloody-red sunrises in the sky, and a screeching halt to all meaningful productivity — basically the end of civilized life as we know it.

Seriously.  Senioritis is basically a communicable disease that exhibits exponential growth with no limiting factors. -_-
Seriously. Senioritis is basically a communicable disease that exhibits exponential growth with no limiting factors. -_-

(Not that I know ANYTHING about “senioritis”. It’s not like I’ve ever had to deal with it firsthand with any of my students.) </sarcasm>

All told, there are 20 weeks to go until Summer break. Perhaps that sounds like a lot, perhaps it doesn’t, but this much I know:

These 20 weeks will fly by and be gone before you know it. And that is somewhat bittersweet, because this year has been — and surely will continue to be — one to remember.

NO.  I am NOT ready to go back to work.
NO. I am NOT ready to go back to work.
. . .

And here is one [awesome] upside of having a public blog that current students are free to creep on:

Just before the break, a student saw my last post — specifically about the part about my eye-less pet rock — and brought a NEW EYEBALL.10

He/she/it can see again!  Except... he/she/it is a rock... and rocks can't see.
He/she/it can see again! Except… he/she/it is a rock… and rocks can’t see.
  1. And I want to make this clear up front: The AP Exam is an important destination… but truly, I have always felt that the journey is more important than just the final destination. []
  2. on a side note: I seriously wonder if one day in the not-too-distant future, kids are gonna see pictures of these things and NOT know what they are… []
  3. and OH, right now, that is one TOUGH switch to flip! []
  4. Sure, one can argue that the entire year — and not just the second half — should be “winning time”, but… yeah… well… OKAY. []
  5. The AP Calculus Exams are the same week, but on Wednesday, while Stat is on Friday. []
  6. Incidentally, I hate the fact that our exam is on a Friday afternoon for the 2nd year in a row. The global proportion of “passing” scores dropped by a full percentage point last year, and while I’ll never be able to prove it, I suspect that had something to do with it. []
  7. aka, “Glory, the sequel”… or — if you’re me: HIBERNATION. []
  8. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I remember back when I was in high school, we got three consecutive Mondays off in February. Sigh. That was also before the Internet, when it cost $0.15/minute to make a phone call from Texas to California, and when Mark Wahlberg was still “Marky”. []
  9. Actually… now that I think about it, that last one might just be a day off for students, and not staff. Erghrh. []
  10. Which really begs the question… what is anybody doing with a spare eyeball?! =) []