So good to be back…hello friends…

It has been about two years since I last posted and let’s just say that I have been gainfully, though not necessarily happily, or full time-dly employed.  But here are the positives:

1) I lost about 20 pounds

2) I have been working out regularly since 2009

3) I have made and kept new friends.

4) My relationship with family has gotten better (baby steps)

5) Mr. Looneybin was asked to leave his position

6) I finally went on dates with men I respect.

7) I am still alive

8) I am still breathing

9) I am still alive

10) I got a new car – which was my belated graduation present (from my 2008 semi-useless master’s degree) with no financing – paid for it with cash!

11) ALL CAPS – I PAID OFF MY ENTIRE CREDIT CARD BALANCE – I AM NOT IN DEBT ANYMORE!

I decided to come back after reading a few blogs I really enjoy: First Tier Toilet, Esquire Painting, Temporary Attorney, and Cupcakes and Cashmere.

For those who celebrate Christmas – hope you had a great one and that you will have a fabulous 2011!

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Granny Smith’s Plan of Self Care

I feel best when I have structure in my days and when I have plenty of fresh air.  Here is my daily plan for Monday through Friday.

1. Wake up at 6:00 a.m. – Central Standard Time

2. Turn on the slow computer. Brush teeth, wash face, put on street clothes.

3. 6:15 -Make breakfast and coffee (yum)

4. Finish breakfast and coffee – Complete a chapter of Search for Significance devotional with Bible for about 30 minutes.

5. Do the Crossfit work out of the day or go for a long walk

6. Launder clothes on Tue, Wed, or Thur morning at 7 in place of working out.

7. Check Email/Pay bills

8. Check job alerts – Apply to job

9. Check Email – Follow up with contact people of places I applied to.

10. Lunchtime/ Go out for a walk by the lake or river area (I like water and fresh air)/ Personal spa treatment (I will brag – I can create a beautiful french pedicure on my toenails!)

11. Finish applying to job/jobs

12. Write three previous problems I solved at a previous job (doesn’t matter which one) or complete one whole exercise from What Color is Your Parachute, by Richard Nelson Bolles

13. Check email before 5 o clock whistle blows – including handling correspondence related to extracurricular activity

14. Go out with friends or go for a nice long walk to my favorite park.  Take the car to a neighborhood I like and go grab some ice cream, a drink, etc.  Enjoy a glass of wine somewhere in the mix.

15. Go to bed at around 10. 

Yes, I am very very structured.  I am a descendant of a family that is very detail oriented, driven, meticulous and uncharacteristically easygoing and hilarious. My father and his father are very structured.  My mother and her family – well, let’s say that we changed a restaurant reservation 3 times over the phone and ended up not going that night.   When I do not have a predetermined structure or routine, my day is not a very happy day and it contributes to my depression – especially in this season. 

I think that the clue I have gotten from the Good Lord – is it is best for me to schedule in times to leave the house – and to LEAVE the house.

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Ready to throw in the towel

Yesterday, I had my second interview in six months of looking.  I practiced the typical questions on a tape recorder over the weekend, but it didn’t prepare me for the questions I received yesterday.  I was so nervous and sweaty, I don’t remember what I said, but it was difficult to come up with a concise and clear answer for each question.  I clearly noticed that I sounded far less competent than I am and that my responses had little bearing on my ability to actually do the job I interviewed for. 

I have to admit that the stress of searching for full time employment with a very uncertain knowledge of who my support system is has really played a major factor in my interview skills.  In fact, I usually do well when I interview for a job when I am not in great need of one.  I suppose that it is a better idea for me to consider creating a routine for myself that will involve taking better care of me and putting my mental and spiritual health before finding a job. 

I have been at my part time job and worked an odd job, so I am not starving or on the brink of losing my shirt.  I am just grateful that I haven’t started drinking heavily or trying to score some recreational drugs.  The uncertainty of a season of searching for employment, especially full time employment is a lot more nerve-wracking than it may appear.  It is the test of a person’s character and what they rely on in order to get through the day. 

My faith has been shaken ever since I started graduate school.  It was not a pleasant experience.  Had it not been for my internship experience at another university, I am not sure if it would have been worth it.  Coupled with a difficult experience at school, I also had a hard time adjusting to the “do it yourself” mentality at my new church.  It is one thing to talk about the sovereignty of God, but actions speak much much louder than words.   When you are around successful people and you are lumped into the category of being affluent, successful, intelligent and an achiever – much greatness and togetherness is expected out of you – even when you are not told directly. 

My title means that I am ready to throw in the towel of doing a, b, c, d, e, f, g, ….of everything I have to do….and to really begin focusing on God’s sovereignty and taking care of myself over finding a job.  Jobs have positive and negative aspects to them.  Employment openings come and go with time.  People can only bring in a limited amount of support and comfort. 

I do not know how I am going to take care of myself because I have denied myself of any break, or grace.

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Dysfunction Junction

This post is dedicated to a good friend and colleague.  I’ll call her Mrs. Cool.  Mrs. Cool and I met at work. She is one of the most enthusiastic and talented educators in my field of teaching.  Our jobs are hourly, with no full time opportunities looming in the future and of course, benefit-less. 

I took the job to continue to acquire professional experience during graduate school. Mrs. Cool took the job to contribute to her family’s income.  However, we have experienced some troubling dialogues with our Primary Boss, whom I will call Mr. Looneybin.  Mr. Looneybin has taken it upon himself to manipulate Mrs. Cool in a way that rattles my bones. 

I have come to realize that after talking to friends who are employed in different industries, that the supervisor is the main individual who sets the tone for the workplace climate.  Sadly, the workplace suffers when incompetent people are hired and they by pass the radar of detecting major character and sometimes mental illness issues that slow down the productivity and ruin the morale of the employees. 

There are always going to be problems between supervisors and employees. However, toxic elements that a supervisor brings to the table can lead to problems such as high turnover, employee deviance, and unproductive practices.  A toxic supervisor in a school environment, where educational staff are providing direct services to students will ultimately hurt the students in the long run. 

I am not a certified counselor or therapist, but I have compiled a list of toxic elements in a school that can be generalized into a non-education environment.

Signs of a toxic school work enviroment

1. Administrators and staff shift blame to the wrong people on a consistent basis and receive little or no disciplinary action as a result.

2. Administrators and staff are verbally, and/or physically abusive towards coworkers, parents and/or students.

3. Administrators and staff withhold important information or resources that staff/administrator needs in order to get his/her job done.

4. There is little or no recourse for detaining, suspending, or expelling students who consistently disrupt the class.

5. Staff and administrators are “encouraged” to remain quiet about factors that contribute to a negative work environment.

6. Unions are not allowed to function as organizations that advocate for the rights of staff, but are rather secretly controlled by school administration!

7. School personnel that engage in sexual activities with students, especially minors, are allowed to continue working in that school. Big conflict of interest.

I only came up with seven, but if you can come up with more – please write some more in the comments!

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Hot for teacher? Or sizzling for student?

Mary Kay Latourneau. Debra Lafave. Pamela Smart. What do these three women have in common?  They were school teachers who had sex with students.  They admitted to what they did.  However, one case in Texas had me scratching my head.

I recently watched a two part series about Joelle Ogletree, a teacher from Texas, who was accused of having sexual relations with male students.  According to Ogletree, the boys who made the accusations were lying.  In fact, all three boys failed the polygraph test. But, when Matt, one of the boys, confronted her on the show, his story was so vivid and convincing. Ogletree did not address the sexual acts Matt accused her of, but argued about a peripheral issue, such as timing and when she did or didn’t turn off her car headlights.  Something sounded awfully fishy on her part.

Aside from this Dr. Phil episode, what drives certain teachers to have sexual relations with their students?  I teach adults at my part time job and I have absolutely no interest in dating them.  In a K-12 setting – unthinkable!

Is there any way administrators screen prospective teachers and monitor current teachers to make sure that our children are safe?  How can teachers be protected from being falsely accused of sexual harassment and molestation?

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Who’s to blame?

A couple of days ago, I saw a news clip about Michelle Rhee, the new Washington D.C. schools chancellor.

The news clip talked about how Ms. Rhee is going to terminate a lot of administrators and teachers due to subpar performance on behalf of the students. They showed a video clip of an “on-task” classroom and a video clip of a classroom where the kids were shouting and moving around. Ms. Rhee said that there is no such thing as a bad student.  In fact, the TEACHER is the reason why students engage in off task behavior.

There are a lot of reasons why classroom chaos exists. I believe that Mayor Fenty and Ms. Rhee have good intentions in mind, but terminating administrators and teachers only solves part of the problem. In my humble opinion, there are teachers who do not practice effective instructional delivery or behavior management because they do not have professional support from more seasoned teachers and/or administrators.  Then, there are educators who have no business being in the classroom because they lack professionalism, verbally abuse students, and come into the classroom without any semblance of a lesson plan for the day.

I hope that the Mayor and Ms. Rhee exercise a lot of discernment when they outline their firing and hiring criteria.

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Cast thy net and you shall catcheth

When I was preparing to be a teacher as a fledgling undergrad (I can’t believe it’s been about eight years since I graduated!), I thought that “networking” was a term only used for TV programming and fishing. I assumed that my B.S. and my student teaching would sell my abilities properly and BOOM! I would get the job I would keep for the rest of my life.

So, I have been sending my resume out to my friends and acquaintances, in order to “catch” more contacts, which may lead me to the job God has for me.  I got my previous positions through friends and friends of friends.  I am disciplining myself to wean off the internet and to let myself socialize and do things that I will not have time to do once I am re-initiated into 9-5ville.  I am thankful that I don’t have to rely solely on my wit and willpower and personality to get a job.

While I am not an advocate of passivity and lack of discipline in the job hunting/career changing journey – I am also thankful that my relationship with Jesus Christ has been carrying me through. 

I am far from the stereotypical Victorian Bible beating Church Lady, as showcased through Dana Carvey’s excellent acting skills on old school Saturday Night Live. In fact, I drink beer and bourbon and I watch Roseanne. However, the knowledge that I am loved and protected by Christ has really helped me through life’s incredibly difficult seasons.

If you are reading this and you want to learn more about Jesus, feel free to shoot me an email at sourapplesunite@gmail.com  If you are opposed to my belief system, please continue to hang out here!  This blog is designed for a diverse set of people with backgrounds in the field of education.

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