Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Then & Now

Inspired by this wonderful collection of "then and now" pictures with cats, I've decided to share a few of my own. It's no secret that Ms. Millie and her companions, Bella and Duchess, have been very well-documented throughout their lives...from Day 1. As was the late Harley Dude. And...every cat my family has had since I've been old enough to use a camera.

Millie, Day 1 (December 12, 1999):

 Millie, Day ??? (December 24, 2015):

Bella and Duchess, August 2005:

Bella and Duchess...a few years later (neither one of them will fit in that basket anymore, let alone both):

Bella and Duchess, October 2005:

Bella and Duchess, Spring 2006:

Harley Dude (RIP), December 2008:

Harley Dude, sometime in 2009 or 2010:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

In Which the Teacher Learns

I started my teaching career believing I could change the world, and make it better, through giving the gift of music to kids. While I've had a few harsh lessons along the way, I still believe this, though I've learned that real life is not "Stand and Deliver" and I am not a perfect teacher.

I'd love to think that my mere presence in a troubled child's life can bring good things, but I've learned over the years that I have to fight to influence kids--they're human beings like anyone else and they have minds of their own; those minds are often shaped by outside forces long before I arrive on the scene, and no amount of "but I think you're wonderful" can truly quiet the demons in their heads who tell them they're worthless.

Still, I keep soldiering forward. I do it for the kids who don't really need me, but who just enjoy singing. I do it for the kids who might only get one smile directed their way in the day--from me. I maintain my patience, I fake massive amounts of energy when I'm at my most exhausted, and I truly, absolutely, love what I do.

That doesn't mean my job is easy.

Yesterday was one of those days that called on all of the inner coping skills I can muster; there is no on-the-job-stress quite like seeing a student you care about in major distress. I can't/won't go into major details here. I value the privacy of all students, so while I'll share the funny moments and the anecdotes on this blog, I won't share everything.

But suffice to say that yesterday, I took actions on behalf of two students--one known to me, the other unknown--to ensure their safety. The result of this was for my student, one I've known for a year-and-a-half now, go through a terrifying situation she's seen before: sobbing, pleading, and handcuffed to protect her from herself. Yes, handcuffed.

I wanted to hug her. I wanted to cry. What I did do was sit on the floor next to her, a hand on her shoe, trying to talk to her calmly. At one point, I reached up to pull a lock of hair back that had gotten stuck to her mouth as she cried inconsolably. Mostly, however, I just sat there, not knowing what to do...because I'm human. I'm not a teacher in a movie. And real life is ugly sometimes.

It's ugly far too often for some kids.

Somehow, I manage to maintain some hope and optimism in the face of some of the things I have seen in this career...career? Let's call it what it is: a calling. A calling I've never been able to ignore, not through two years of total unemployment and all the career changes I considered. Everything led me straight back to teaching, and perhaps the simple fact that I am a human being, complete with flaws and compassion and hope and sometimes no idea what to do next...perhaps that is just what makes me good at what I do.

I've gotten very good at compartmentalizing, so the stresses of yesterday are tucked neatly in their box, and I'm able to relax and enjoy my weekend. I have no idea what Monday will bring, but I hope things will be looking up for my student.

My Week in Instagram (Week #117)

It was a short week and a bit of a nutty week, but overall a good week. Another week, another Instagram post.


Not a great run that day--all the walking I did in San Francisco
the day before took a toll on my legs.

But it was a gorgeous day!


New personal best: 185 on the leg press.

Short girl in the squat rack.

Teacher goes to school on her day off (dropping stuff off).

This is the tree outside my choir room, the one I documented
through the fall. It's starting to bud.

I'm so in love with these shoes.

We raised $40,000 on the Singathon!


Messy Desk kind of day.

Prizes for Junior High Choir Night.

Poor Bugs.

Eating dinner at my desk.

We were invaded by Junior High Singers. 


I still get a thrill from seeing my name under "director." 

Wednesday selfie

Occupational hazard: seagulls LOVE high schools.

Another long day at work demands daffodils for my desk.

Furby!!!!! Furby can no longer come to school during regular
hours, but Lynn can bring her to after school practices.

My own furbaby, cuddling with me.



So foggy.

Mom has started a bit of planting.

In the kitchen.


Feeling silly on a Friday morning.

My school is awesome.

Subbing made easy.

A good reminder on a difficult afternoon in which a kid was
in crisis. : (

Friday night movie.

The Crest is one of the last great movie houses.

Crazy selfie.

A bunch of Sac Choral nerds gathered to see Amadeus. So good.


A treat. : )