Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm right. That is all.

I am not one of those people who claim to be an expert on everything. Really, I'm not. In fact, I'll readily admit to my incompetence in most aspects of this world. But, there are a few areas where I truly am able. In fact, I would dare say able beyond average. So, when I am challenged in one of these areas, my usually calm, non-confrontational self sometimes feels a little riled. Because I am right and sometimes I get to be right.

This all happened on Friday night. As I have mentioned before, I work at a very small college. About once a quarter, we meet together as a faculty in one of the classrooms and go through some training with a lot of open discussion in an effort to glean ideas from each other and be the best faculty we can for our students. The focus of our training this time around was the "invitational classroom". This opened up a debate about justice vs. mercy in the classroom. One of the more vocal teachers announced that he felt there should be a school-wide policy regarding late work. In his own classroom, he has a zero tolerance policy and will not accept anything late no matter who dies or has a baby. His argument being that by accepting late work that we are enabling our students to be irresponsible and are not preparing them for "the real world."

I don't buy it. I've been teaching for a long time. And I dare say that I am a good teacher for at least a majority of the students who enter my classroom. I do accept late work. In fact if a student seems to be falling behind, rather than berate them, I usually ask to meet with them to catch them up. Because, the truth of the matter is, if I don't, they aren't going to be more responsible or be more ready for "the real world", they are just going to have one more reason to give up on school and one more life frustration and I don't want to be the source of anyone's life frustration.

And, now, just a word or two on the whole "real world" comment. The real world is a whole lot more forgiving than I think we give it credit for. I make mistakes every day and I depend on the mercy of those in my life. If my husband had a zero tolerance policy towards all of the things that I do that drive him crazy (and not in a good way), our marriage never would have lasted this long. I've also made plenty of mistakes through the years at my various jobs and not once have I been fired. This world is set up for humans - the unperfect.

So, I don't believe in it. I don't think it is good. I don't think it is the pathway to a world of responsible adults. No. Not at all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


So, it's January. January has always been a rough month for me. Since I've been alive for a number of years now, I've had quite a while to evaluate my genuine dislike of this particular month. I haven't been able to pin it down to one thing in particular, but I think I've got a pretty good handle on some of the general issues - though the solution is far beyond me.

In my earlier twenties, I liked to blame my January blues on Seasonal Affective Disorder, which has the cute acronym of SAD. Unfortunately, anyone suffering from this malady is really not in a position to appreciate the aforementioned cute acronym. I haven't done extensive research, but I believe the theory is that lack of sunlight from the short days in January cause some people to be down. The last couple of years, I've discounted this theory on the basis that I usually feel just fine in December, though I do admittedly experience holiday stress, and December technically has less sunlight than January.

Another issue that I feel comes in to play is the post-holiday fallout. After a few weeks of overspending and oversugaring (once again, not a word), I have to deal with the consequences. So, January tends to be a month of deprivation. Making the transition from Dr. Pepper to water and from watching three straight seasons of "Arrested Development" to spending my evenings putting together weeks of Statistics curriculum just seems like an extreme swing. January just isn't a very fun month.

Then, there is this third issue, which I will only admit just this once. I like to do taxes. I like to read all of the new laws and figure out how I can minimize our tax bill and I even like filling out all of the forms. So, since no company we have ever worked for has sent out their W-2 forms until the last possible moment, I spend the month of January working off of paystub totals and making estimates until the real numbers show up. The anticipation drives me insane. I've never really been a patient person.

So, those, I believe, are some of the issues. I've been working on solutions to minimize my January down time and I have found a few things that are working, but mainly, I still find January a month to endure, and it's such a long month.