Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Common Core: Cite Your Source.

That's it.

I'm done.

I am over, over, OVER playing nice in the realm of Common Core.

I don't care if you're a teacher, parent, policy maker--it doesn't matter to me. I am done.playing.nice.

There is so much misinformation out there. Of course, there's misinformation on every topic ever because, well, internet. And that's fine.

The problem is when we start believing the inaccurate sources.

And you know what that makes me laugh?

Common Core would have taught you to critically analyze and question sources before blindly believing them.


My new response to every single comment on Common Core will be the following:


We are working really hard, with Common Core, to get students to answer questions with text-dependent responses. That means, if you tell me that the character in the story was angry, you must include evidence in your response: "On page 7, the character throws his book in someone's face, which shows he is unhappy with that person."


If you want to criticize Common Core, by all means, go ahead. A healthy debate is just that: healthy. Helpful. Part of the process.

But what won't happen? On my watch? Using the general words of vague sources based on no evidence whatsoever to bash a system that WE created to FIX where we have gone WRONG in the past 15 years.

Here's a quick sample.

Common Core involves more testing!

Cite your source.
Because they don't.
Here's my source: Click

Teachers weren't involved in creating Common Core!

Cite your source.
Because they were.
Here's my source: Click

I could go on. But I won't. Because I am about to teach 150 amazing teenagers all day, and they deserve me in the happy mood I woke up in.

Do not hear me wrong. Some states, districts, schools and administrators are doing this wrong. There is no two ways about it. Just wrong. That makes me sad, but that is something we can fix, if we all pay enough attention. But just like any situation ever in the history of the world, do not let the exception define the rule.

Ask questions. Do research. Critique the sources you are looking at.

And always, always, cite your source.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

5 months!

This little guy is growing so fast! I can barely keep up. 

Clayton is 5 months old! He can roll over like a champ, and does so all the time.

He currently LOVES to spit. Anyone holding him does not enjoy it as much. 

He has recently discovered his feet, which is hilarious. 

Clay loves to give kisses, and does so accurately 9 times out of 10.

He absolutely adores his big sister. She makes him laugh without fail. 

He flirts with, and loves, his teachers at school.

He is allergic to the entire world.

Wearing 9 month sleepers, 3 month shorts, 6 month onesies. 

I simply cannot believe next month will be half a year. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Parenting when Well.

When I start thinking about the similarities and differences in my postpartum experiences, there are many things I can list. We were in different houses, different cities, different places in our career, different places in our marriage. The similarities, of course, are baby needs and demands, constant changes in their development, daycare issues, etc.

However, I can identify a very large difference, a huge difference that completely stops me in my tracks.

That main difference is me.

In the weeks and months following Evelyn's birth, my world was on high alert. My PTSD had me in fear of everything, and had my physiological responses off the charts. My OCD tendencies had me regimenting my day in a strict order, and preventing any real joy. At the time, I thought I felt the joy of parenting Evelyn. I loved her. We had a strong bond.

I am convinced now how sick I was. And moreover, about how much true emotion I missed out on.

When I am perfectly honest, I am really lucky that my first baby was so easy, and it allowed me to be in that unhealthy place and still maintain a normal life. Clay is much more demanding than Evelyn. He has multiple issues we can't solve--gut issues, skin issues, reflux issues. He is very dependent and not interested on being on his own at home.

I am also taking on many new demands in my job, as is Chris. We are very, very busy, and there is a large amount of stress in our worlds.

Through it all though, I have stayed very calm and collected. I have an occasional freakout moment, sure, as I am human. But I haven't lost it. I am not breaking down or afraid. I am not nervous or having trouble sleeping. Ok I mean I AM having trouble sleeping because my baby is, but not because of my own insomnia.

Mentally, I am in a good place. The best example of this is my house. It's a mess. I mean an absolute sheer and utter mess. But for once in my life, that's kind of a good thing. It means I am prioritizing as I go, and not living my life by the strict schedule that used to dominate it. I am at ease with adjustments and comfortable with putting something aside until tomorrow.

I am parenting well. Therefore, I feel a new appreciation and love for every single blessed little aspect of Clayton.

It's not easy--I mean, is it ever? No. But I can tell how vastly different it is. And it inspires me to reach out as often as possible, because I don't want anyone to parent unwell. I don't want anyone to lose out on the emotion that I lost. I don't want anyone to suffer in silence.

Today is World Mental Health Day. So I am sharing my story, again, making my voice heard, in the hopes that someone will hear it, and take comfort in it, and reach out for the help they need. So I say to them:

You will find a place of wellness again. You will. Let's get there together.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Clayton, you are 4 months old!

Clayton turned 4 months old on Monday! I can't believe that time is going by so quickly!

As you can see, he's clearly the most difficult baby in the entire world :)

Clayton is darn near perfection. He is the happiest little guy, easy to please, simple yet deep. He remains a little observer--he wants to watch and see and hear and be a part of all things. But he's ok being in the background and just staring. 

He loves to babble and tell stories. Daycare goes on and on about his talking and they think it's just the most adorable thing ever. The expressions that accompany his story telling are fabulous.

He is almost rolling back to belly, and will have it any day. He can turn himself in circles, so I know mobility will occur very soon. 

Clay had his first real cold over the weekend, and it has destroyed his sleep. I am trying really hard to stay positive but he is making nighttime quite difficult. He has wound up in the rock n play in our bedroom for the last few nights. Which is fine, just a backtrack.

This happy little guy weighs in at 15lbs 10 oz and is 26.5 inches long. That puts him in 50% and 95% and right now, his weight for length is very low! It all explains why the 6 month jammies are barely fitting though! He's a tall guy! His reflux is getting better, but he is currently dealing with the weirdest rash ever (seen above). It comes and goes on his face and tummy with no explanation. 

Evelyn and Clay have a fabulous relationship. He really loves to watch her, and she loves to be near him at all times. They lay next to each other, her little arm around his, and you can tell that he loves his big sister. 

Being Clay's mama is an incredible gift. I am so thankful for him, and I cherish just getting to hold and cuddle him. I would prefer, however, less of that at midnight, 1, 2 and 3 am :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

To my students, on World Suicide Prevention Day

I am pretending to grade essays, while stealing a glance at the news and notice that today is an important day. World Suicide Prevention day.

Looking up from my essays, I pause to take in the flourish of activity around me. My juniors are in groups of 4, making posters to display the patterns of development they have just learned about. It is noisy, and no one is still. They are writing, drawing, looking for textual evidence, collaborating. It's a beautiful scene. I have only known them for going-on 4 weeks now, and they make me so proud.

Yet I know that one, at least one, of my students, who walks in and does their work and walks out, is hurting.

I won't always see the signs. No, the depressed are often masters of deception. I don't know if my class is a bright spot in their day, or the last fight to get through to get home, or somewhere in between.

But I know this much.

We lose 800,000 people each year to suicide--that translates to one death every 40 seconds. It is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-29.* It is far, far too many and we have waited far, far too long in order to address the problem.

These students, laughing, working together, seemingly happily building their posters, fall perfectly into that age group. We work frantically to ensure the best for them. We implement RTI strategies, teach SEL lessons, build school spirit, complete a Universal Screener to hopefully catch those students slipping through the cracks. But the truth of the matter is, for as many of these kids who may be hurting, few are easily identified. They are experts at hiding their darkness.
Master of Deception: I was far in the depth of
 PPPTSD, PPA and PPOCD here. Could you

I know how that darkness feels. I know from my teenage self, and my adult self. I have watched those I love deal with the wake of suicide, and I have been an outside observer as we lose those in the limelight to suicide.

I feel visceral reactions, now, to outcries of "HOW SELFISH" or "They had a family who loved them!" Or "weren't they thinking about how others would feel?"

Well, therein lies the problem. All you can do when you're depressed is think. It's like the page in "Oh, the Places You'll Go" where everyone is stuck in the waiting place, only with thinking. You think and you think and you think and your thoughts become so circular that they prove themselves before your very eyes. Your thoughts become so overwhelming, so powerful, that you have no choice but to believe them. Couple that with outside stressors, unsympathetic family or friends, and the "pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps" narrative of our culture, and you have a surefire recipe for disaster.  Those reactions are simply that--reactions. They are not proactive and they do not solve any future problems.

It's high time we get proactive. It's time we talk to our students, our kids, our family and our friends about mental illness. About depression. About dark times that we swore would never end. About solutions, about possibilities, about hope.

I look at these students, these precious students, all of whom are someone's baby. Someone held these kids and stroked their face lovingly and tickled their bellies, the same way I do with Clay on a daily basis. Every single one of these students matter. Every single person on this earth matters. And the fact that we have had to say goodbye to 800,000 this year, or 12 since I started typing this--it's too much to bear. We must cultivate a culture of acceptance, where people who are struggling feel safe to reach out, to cry out, to scream out, that they need help.

So, to my students, on World Suicide Prevention Day: Hear my voice. Hear me say that I am here for you. That other teachers are here for you. That our guidance staff and administration are here for you. And you, yes you, you any person thinking that suicide is your only option, you were a student once, too. You are someone's baby.

You matter. 

We need you here.

We will help however we can. Pick up the phone and call a hotline. Confide in a friend or a family member. Tell a teacher. Speak. Tell someone. You are not weak. You are strong.

To my students, on World Suicide Prevention Day: Be the light. Be a positive influence in your peers' lives. If you know that someone is struggling, reach out to them, and reach out for help--tell someone that you know they are contemplating suicide.

They may get mad at you. They might even hate you.

But you could save them. And that is worth it.

To my students, on World Suicide Prevention Day: I will not give up on you. I will not quiet my voice in a sea of apathy. I will make sure it is heard, and known, and LOUD, to show you that you are capable of the same. Let us band together, work together, and fight together. I know that together, we can protect your generation from another 800,000 losses.

"The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better."

If you need help, and you don't know where to start, start here. If you know someone struggling, you can call this number as well. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

*Facts taken from iasp