Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Conversation overheard at Home Depot last week:
Concerned customer: Excuse me, sir could you help me I have some corroded nuts?
Home Depot associate: Sure, over here in aisle...
Concerned customer: Yeah, I was looking for some penetrating oil
Mr. Pete won some plastic back massager thing from this healthy competition at work. They get points for relaxing and eating fruits and stuff like that. He was really excited because in his engineer mind, this was going to add leverage to my sucky back rubbing skills. He had a particularly stressful day so he thought last night was the perfect time to try it out. I gave it the ol' college try and I could tell from his response that it wasn't very effective. We give reciprocal back rubs at our house. You give one, you git one. So when it was my turn, Mr. Pete said he would imitate my technique so I could get the full benefit of my own skills. He prefaced the whole thing with "But I won't rub the hard plastic part up and down your spine the whole time 'cause that might be painful." Point taken.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The thing I like about the Catholic wedding mass is the part when the couple takes their vows. The priest encourages all other married couples in the congregation to renew their vows with this couple who are about to take theirs for the first time. Every time, I mean every time I get all choked up thinking about the taking and renewing of vows, the sacredness of doing this in a community, and the toll these vows take from the moment we make them.
I attended a wedding near Pittsburgh recently. One of the readings comes from Fr. Pedra Arrupe, titled "A Meditation On Love":
"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what gets you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know,what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything."
I love this meditation because is so subtly suggests the toll the vow of love takes. It is overwhelming and it guides everything. There's a paradox here because what and who we love dictate our every action. It's exhausting, it's exciting, it's annoying, it's beautiful, it's boring, it's crazy, it's expensive, it's devastating, it's in everything and it's everywhere.
My first class of the day is, how do I say this politely, materially challenged. On a daily basis their preparedness for class resembles that of an army of sloths, or zombies, or something. Most of them usually arrive late, if at all, and their general attitude toward me is 'oh it's you, were you saying something?' They hardly ever have anything they need and the only questions they ask me are "Does this book come on tape?" or "Are we going to watch the movie?" Most look up at me with attitude and squinty eyes, the quintessence of adolescence.
I tried an experiment a few weeks ago. After drinking several cups of Starbucks' Breakfast Blend, I attempted to get their attention. I put everything I had into this twenty minute rant about vocabulary and connecting new knowledge with prior knowledge and I was using my hands, and I was talking miles per minute, and I was pacing, and keeping eye contact, redirecting disruptive behavior, monitoring learning, and using my proximity to them to keep them engaged...all things good teachers do. And it worked. It was almost like I had given them the energy I had. I once taught under a principal, who on a daily basis, met up with one of our more energetic students in the hallway. He'd approach her, greet her, and stick out his finger E.T. style. She would reach out to meet him halfway. He'd pretend as though a jolt of energy surged between their fingers and he'd quiver as though he had just been energized by this always perky (only sometimes annoying) student. I always thought it was an act. BUT IT WORKED. Moments later, my zombie/sloth class began to mimic my manic behavior. Their arms were moving, their mouths were flapping, and they appeared to be ready to jump from their seats. It was then I remembered this lesson I learned from a colleague a few years ago. Education is loud, it's exciting, and the learning process itself is a little unsettling.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
This morning as I entered the building before 7:30 AM, a delinquent young student asked me how long my detentions are in the afternoons. Delinquent young student (DYS) had been talking while we were watching a movie last week. When I asked him to stop talking, he shot me the stink eye and proceeded to argue with me. I upped his consequence from a loss of points to a DT. This morning's conversation was hilarious.
DYS: Mrs. Pete, how long are your DTs?
ME: As long as I want them to be.
Unsuspecting bystander: Oooh boy, you're gonna be here foreva.
ME: Actually, I can't stay long it's my husband's birthday today.
Unsuspecting bystander: It's mass people's birthdays today
DYS: Thank you husband. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Happy Birthday Mr. Pete!