Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014, Week One Play-By-Play

So, Happy New Year everyone!

2014 is here, and for me, it's been pretty awesome.  If you're wondering why, check it out:

January 1st--No School.  Holiday.
January 2nd--Return to school.  Kids were out of their minds with excitement.
January 3rd--No School.  Snow storm.
January 4th--No School.  Saturday.
January 5th--No School.  Sunday.
January 6th--Return to school for a rather smooth-sailing Monday.
January 7th--No School.  Excessive... cold.

Anybody notice a recurring theme, here?

Now, I love my students.  Truly, I do.  But, like many human beings (I'd imagine) if given the choice between working and not working... well, you probably know which one I'd go with.

Which is why 2014 has been EPIC thus far.  The first week of the new year has included a ratio of two days of school to five days off, which, I have decided, in all my wisdom, is EXACTLY how we should fix the broken educational system.

*Note--This post, for these next couple of paragraphs, is not intended to be taken seriously.  I understand five days off per week would be a nightmare for working parents (And those who don't like their kids... just kidding, just kidding...).  I am merely entertaining a fantasy.

Think about it.  We spend BILLIONS of dollars on state and nationwide testing, on standardized measures to hold the teachers (rarely the students) accountable.  If we took all the money we spent on testing and hired a gajillion more teachers, we could get those class sizes down to, say, eight kids a class.  Furthermore, if we closed school five days a week, then it would be easier to keep those children focused on school, as opposed to on everything else they tend to focus on such as:

1) what everyone is wearing
2) what the other kids in the class are currently doing
3) who is going out with whom
4) what is for lunch
5) what is outside
6) what they want to do after school
7) any other issue that happens to cross their minds other than what they should actually be learning.

We could keep them focused because every time we saw a pair of those sixteen eyes glazing over, we could slap a ruler down on the desk and yell, "Hey!  Peggy Sue! You only have TWO DAYS to get this right!  That's it!  If you don't want to end up scooping ice cream for tourists your whole life, you need to get with the program!  Do you want to work at Candy Kitchen at age 40?!?!"

Of course, this is a flawed philosophy because no one on the Eastern Shore will ever eat ice cream again.  Not after this so-called "Polar Vortex."  I'm sure that in states that deal with this kind of cold all the time, they are rolling their eyes in disbelief that we've closed the schools due to a little wind and cold...

But, um, it's nine degrees outside.

With a wind chill below zero.  Which, you see, is not something we're used to dealing with in Delaware.  Even so, even I have to admit that I was a bit shocked at the school closings.  In my tenure as a teacher I've seen us shut our doors (or delay opening them) for just about everything:  Snow (even a dusting of it), threat of snow, heavy rain, fog...

But never before cold.

Having said that, I understand how serious the weather conditions are and feel glad to have a day home with my family.  I worry about some of the less well-to-do students in our population, and hope that they are staying warm and eating enough today.  In all seriousness, I know that some of them most likely are not.

I am spoiled in many ways, and I'd venture to say that perhaps many of you are, too.  I have a job.  A roof over my head.  No concerns about where my next meal is going to come from, or whether or not my family will be warm enough through the winter.  I am, compared to many people in our state, our country, and throughout the world, rich beyond measure.

I know this, and I thank God for it everyday.  Seriously--did you ever consider:  you have WON the birth lottery?  To be alive in this country, with all of our freedoms and opportunities, during this time period, with the incredible advancing technology and modern comforts?  Whatever your biggest problem at the moment (and I'm not saying you don't have one, because believe me, I know, that the rain rains on everyone without discriminating)... have you ever considered how amazing it is, that you are here, in this particular moment, at this exact time, perhaps even dealing with this specific problem, for a history-altering purpose?  That who you are and what you have in front of you were designed to intersect in a way that will impact all eternity?

Think about it.

So I pledge to make my 2014 as meaningful as possible.  Not just because I won the birth lottery (or got five days off from work out of the first seven of the new year).  But because I believe I'm here, and you're here, and we're all here, for a reason.  I no longer believe in accidents or coincidences.  I do believe in a sense of humor (see my earlier proposed two day school schedule), but I also believe that it all matters.  And I plan to make this year count.  Maybe I'll start by extending kindness to someone who seems to have a bit less to be thankful for, at this current moment, than I do.  Is that somewhere you could start, too?  What can you do to make this year matter?

And on a lighthearted note, 2014... thanks so much for the extra time off.  But I'd rather not be teaching in July, so, if there's any way we could calm down with this whole Polar Vortex thing...

That'd be great.

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