A New School Year: Forwards, Backwards and Forwards

5 August 15

Another school year is a month away. Along with that comes a whole host of new opportunities and options. One of these opportunities are a chance to finish things that I started a long time ago. I am very excited at what this means for myself as well as my family and their future.

Anyone who knows me knows I operate in a very logical manner and am always “planning.” This is how we got the house well lived in in Arizona, this is how we found the job in Oregon and got things rolling here as well. It’s just the way that I work. This new opportunity I have found myself in is no different. This opportunity opens a whole host of new doors for us and I plan to take full advantage of them when the time is right.

I am being purposely vague in this post because a very few select people even know what I am talking about and there are reasons for that. At the same time, I need a place where I can write things out and let them sit and stay. As things progress I will  add more to explain and explore the possibilities. :) Be patient.


And Here We Are Again..

23 June 15

Summer vacation is supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation for teachers.. or at least that’s what people THINK. The truth of the matter is that you are always working, always planning, always looking forward to the next “first day of school… Even though I am not working this summer for the first time since I started teaching this year is no different… except that it is 100 million times more stressful.

Remember the last post? Yeah, me too. And for a short time I thought things were getting better, and then they weren’t.. and then they were again, and now we are back at weren’t. Granted, I will say this outright and up front, the issues I had with my last job, these are polar opposites. Where my last job was an existence in a micro-managed and totalitarian routine of daily bureaucracy and politics, this is just straight up passive aggressiveness, mismanagement (OK, so that parts kinda the same…), and a place where friendships and personal feelings run the show. I can not exist in an environment such as this.

One day I am told that my bosses are going to do one thing and the next week they are not sure if they can or will because they do not know if they are legally allowed to do it, or if it will affect someone else’s feelings, finances, or friendships.. I wonder sometimes how this has managed to go on for so long and not implode..

But then there is  the other part of things where my bosses have brought me in to add structure and transparency, and support, and a base curriculum… so I have done that… but no one knows how to run it. They *think* they do, they SAY they can, but the truth of the matter is when you are working with and for people who have little to no ACTUAL experience teaching authentic Montessori what the hell are we doing here?

So I do all of this work to make things more workable in so many areas… and then that’s it. No one asks for help, no one asks HOW this is supposed to work.. we even have people who have decided that EVEN THOUGH I have created a curriculum that is guaranteed to work, they are just going to do their own thing with no regard for anyone or anything.

The best part is: Remember the “passive aggressive” thing from before? Well, when people do their own thing there is NO ONE to call them to the carpet because people have created an environment of fear rather than one of support and positivity. What the hell man!

So, even though I was TOLD several times that things are going to go in a direction that guarantees stability and progression, authentic Montessori, cohesion and administrative functionality.. things are back up in the air because we d not want to affect people’s finances, friendships, or  whatever else they can toss into the mix to affect the decision in their favour. What no one (well, with rare exception of two), seems to understand or want to see is that this is not about the teachers, this is not about the high school attitudes, the drama, and the pettiness, in the end the ones it has the most negative affect on is the students and in the end this affects how we are best able to educate children. This is what kills me. When do we stop and think about them? What’s best for them? Do we even care? And if we do not, then what the hell are we doing with our time, effort, money and lives? (This is the point where I just want to scream…, so I do that in my head, and then there’s this gem of a thought:

For all my issues I have/had with my last job thesis what matters: they gave me a foundation, a useable, workable, PROVEN successful foundation on how to educate towards growth and results. I just feel as if that is just not understood, valued, appreciated, understood.. I don’t know. My boss’s favourite phrase “Nothing is set in stone.” got tossed out again today in a conversation regarding next year.. Really? Because as far as I was concerned, I’ve been waiting for 2 months for things to be “set in stone”. I had NO REASON, other than the repeat knowledge of people’s inability to follow through on what they themselves have said is the best thing to do for students and school, to think that things were not progressing in this direction.

And then add this ti the mix:

On the more personal side of things it worries me that if these changes are not enacted it is going to affect T in the long run. She is not being challenged. She is being taught that drawing ponies, (as cool as her drawing are I grant you), are more beneficial than learning basic mathematics. I could write another entire blog post in the inadequacies (as I see them from my experience) of the “end result of what MY kid is getting). I KNOW I can give her what she needs. My bosses have SAID in no uncertain terms that the thing that is lacking in the LE program is academics.. HELLO!? I can fix that. This is not about me, although that is the way it must seem at this point. I see it like this: I have tools. Proven effective tools. A foundation that holds true and allows for growth and a love of learning. I WANT to be able to GIVE that to the kids in this program, but neither of the current lead teachers are prepared nor are they equipped to do this the right way. As far as I am concerned they don’t WANT to because it is a lot of change and a lot of work.

Change is the big issue here. It is a HUGE struggle and roadblock for this school. Staff, administration.. the only people who seem on board with it are the parents, and they have NO IDEA what it even looks like, they just know they want it. Well, that’s not true, my students going into 4th grade and THEIR parents know what it looks like and that was another fear voiced about my moving: “What about those kids and those parents?”

For me the choice is simple. I gave them the same thing I’d give the new students. They now have that as a growth point. If I can set this as the foundation for the 1st thru 3rd graders across the board then we can keep the growth going. Right now there are parents wanting to run for the hills because plays and ponies are just not cutting it.. and I don’t blame them. However, we can build on this, we just have to start somewhere.

My boss is supposed to call me at some point. Could be tomorrow, could be August, who knows. When he does I’ll know more. I just do not know what things look like long term. I want stick it out and SAY that I took this job knowing what I was getting into and that I was willing to take this on.. but the support I thought I had in this is gone. I have what I believe to be a better, stronger, more focused support, but with all of the behind the scenes conversations (because no one wants to take responsibility and be the adult here and say THIS IS WHAT’S HAPPENING!”) The whole ordeal is just draining me of energy.

All I can do is take things one day at a time and see what the end result is… but at this point I do not know how much faith I have in that result being actual results..


When Expectations Come Crashing Down

13 May 15

It’s sad and depressing when you make a huge life decision based off of information you are given by others and then less than a year later the bottle is uncorked and everything you thought is no longer.

The feelings you are left with are hurt, betrayal, anger, disappointment, frustration, and in the end the last thing you want to think about is: “What the hell do I do now?” Even more difficult than all of that is when the answer you get in return is: Nothing.

In the end i feel as if the only option I have left is to deal with it, suck it up, accept it for what it is and live each day knowing that the people you thought were on your side are just weak and not willing to go the distance to say what they mean and do what they say. There are the myriad of beautiful speeches extolling their vision and the things they want to see and do, but in the end the are not willing to take the struggle on and be true to that vision. The easy way seems to be the only way and the strength you thought existed in this person is just a front for the fear that holds them back from their true potential.

The weak will never inherit the earth (that’s meek..) and in the end they will only support the things that allow them to continue to live in their safe and comfy illusions.

I get the fact that change is difficult. I’ve been there. held fast by fear and the ‘what if’ of a situation, but in the end what is life, if it is not change and growth? Maybe the truth of the fact is that some of us are stronger than others and our experiences in life allow us to accept change and  see the benefits without being paralyzed by the fear that others see as all-consuming.

There is no answer to find, no solution to divine from all of this. In the end all I can do is walk forward and see what happens. In the end I have made it this far and giving up is never a real option. I am just faced with the repercussions of others and trying not to change the way I treat them regardless of their choices. I do what I do because I love it and it is a part of who I am. If others do not see this the same way then this is their issue to deal with. There is only so much I can do for them.

Not that that makes it any easier.


A Daddy’s Letter to His Little Girl (About Her Future Husband)

6 April 14

Father Daughter Dance

Dear Cutie-Pie,

Recently, your mother and I were searching for an answer on Google. Halfway through entering the question, Google returned a list of the most popular searches in the world. Perched at the top of the list was “How to keep him interested.”

It startled me. I scanned several of the countless articles about how to be sexy and sexual, when to bring him a beer versus a sandwich, and the ways to make him feel smart and superior.

And I got angry.

Little One, it is not, has never been, and never will be your job to “keep him interested.”

Little One, your only task is to know deeply in your soul—in that unshakeable place that isn’t rattled by rejection and loss and ego—that you are worthy of interest. (If you can remember that everyone else is worthy of interest also, the battle of your life will be mostly won. But that is a letter for another day.)

If you can trust your worth in this way, you will be attractive in the most important sense of the word: you will attract a boy who is both capable of interest and who wants to spend his one life investing all of his interest in you.

Little One, I want to tell you about the boy who doesn’t need to be kept interested, because he knows you are interesting:

I don’t care if he puts his elbows on the dinner table—as long as he puts his eyes on the way your nose scrunches when you smile. And then can’t stop looking.

I don’t care if he can’t play a bit of golf with me—as long as he can play with the children you give him and revel in all the glorious and frustrating ways they are just like you.

I don’t care if he doesn’t follow his wallet—as long as he follows his heart and it always leads him back to you.

I don’t care if he is strong—as long as he gives you the space to exercise the strength that is in your heart.

I couldn’t care less how he votes—as long as he wakes up every morning and daily elects you to a place of honor in your home and a place of reverence in his heart.

I don’t care about the color of his skin—as long as he paints the canvas of your lives with brushstrokes of patience, and sacrifice, and vulnerability, and tenderness.

I don’t care if he was raised in this religion or that religion or no religion—as long as he was raised to value the sacred and to know every moment of life, and every moment of life with you, is deeply sacred.

In the end, Little One, if you stumble across a man like that and he and I have nothing else in common, we will have the most important thing in common:

You.

Because in the end, Little One, the only thing you should have to do to “keep him interested” is to be you.

Your eternally interested guy,

Daddy
(source)


A Dad’s Letter to His Son (About the Only Good Reason to Get Married)

6 April 14

Dear Son,

It seems like yesterday you were blowing poop out of your diaper onto your mother’s lap. Yet here we are, on the verge of the birds-and-the-bees conversation. The poop was way easier.

Before we talk about sex, though, I want to talk about marriage. Not because I’ll shun you or shame you if you don’t put them in that order—although I hope you will—but because I believe the only good reason to get married will bring clarity to every other aspect of your life, including sex.

marriage masculinity ego

Photo Credit: bengrey via Compfight cc

Buddy, you’re probably going to want to get married for all the wrong reasons. We all do. In fact, the most common reason to get married also happens to be the most dangerous: we get married because we think it will make us happy. Getting married in order to be happy is the surest way to get divorced.

There are beautiful marriages. But marriages don’t become beautiful by seeking happiness; they become beautiful by seeking something elseMarriages become beautiful when two people embrace the only good reason to get married: to practice the daily sacrifice of their egos. 

Ego. You may be hearing that word for the first time. It probably sounds foreign and confusing to you. This is what it means to me:

Your ego is the part of you that protects your heart. You were born with a good and beautiful heart, and it will never leave you. But when I was too harsh toward you, or your friends began to make fun of your extracurricular choices, you started to doubt if your heart was good enough. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us at some point.

And so your mind began to build a wall around your heart. That happens to all of us, too. It’s like a big castle wall with a huge moat—it keeps us safe from invaders who might want to get in and attack our heart. And thank goodness for your ego-wall! Your heart is worthy of protection, buddy.

At first, we only use the ego-wall to keep people out. But eventually, as we grow up, we get tired of hiding fearfully and we decide the best defense is a good offense. We put cannons on our ego-wall and we start firing. For some people that looks like anger. For other people, it looks like gossip and judgment and divisiveness. One of my favorite ego-cannons is to pretend everyone on the outside of my wall is wrong. It makes me feel right and righteous, but really it just keeps me safe inside of my ideas. I know I’ve fired my ego-cannons at you from time to time, and for that I’m truly sorry.

Sometimes we need our cannons to survive. Most of the time we don’t.

Both men and women have ego-walls with cannons. But you’re going to be a man soon, so it’s important to tell you what men tend do with their ego walls—we justify them by pretending they are essential to being a “real” man. Really, most of us are just afraid our hearts won’t be good enough for the people we love, so we choose to stay safe and protected behind high walls with lots of cannons.

Can you see how that might be a problem for marriage?

If you fall into the trap of thinking your ego-wall is essential to being a man, it will destroy any chance of having an enduringly joyful marriage. Because, in the end, the entire purpose of marriage is to dismantle your ego-wall, brick by brick, until you are fully available to the person you love. Open. Vulnerable. Dangerously united.

Buddy, people have sex because for a moment at the climax of it, their mind is without walls, the ego goes away, and they feel free and fully connected. With sex, the feeling lasts for only a moment.But if you commit yourself to marriage, you commit yourself to the long, painful, joyous work of dismantling your ego-walls for good. Then, the moment can last a lifetime.

Many people are going tell you the key to a happy marriage is to put God at the center of it, but I think it depends upon what your experience of God does for your ego. Because if your God is one of strength and power and domination, a God who proves you’re always right and creates dividing lines by which you judge everyone else, a God who keeps you safe and secure, I think you should keep that God as far from the center of your marriage as you can. He’ll only build your ego-wall taller and stronger.

But if the God you experience is a vulnerable one, the kind of God that turns the world upside down and dwells in the midst of brokenness and embraces everyone on the margins and will sacrifice anything for peace and reconciliation and wants to trade safety and security for a dangerous and risky love, then I agree, put him right at the center of your marriage. If your God is in the ego dismantling business, he will transform your marriage into sacred ground.

What’s the secret to a happy marriage? Marry someone who has also embraced the only good reason to get married.

Someone who will commit to dying alongside you—not in fifty years, but daily, as they dismantle the walls of their ego with you.

Someone who will be more faithful to you than they are to their own safety.

Someone willing to embrace the beauty of sacrifice, the surrender of their strength, and the peril of vulnerability.

In other words, someone who wants to spend their one life stepping into a crazy, dangerous love with you and only you.

With my walls down,

Dad
(source)


Letter To My Daughter (From the Makeup Aisle)

6 April 14

Dear Little One,

As I write this, I’m sitting in the makeup aisle of our local Target store. A friend recently texted me from a different makeup aisle and told me it felt like one of the most oppressive places in the world. I wanted to find out what he meant. And now that I’m sitting here, I’m beginning to agree with him. Words have power, and the words on display in this aisle have a deep power. Words and phrases like:

Affordably gorgeous,

Infallible,

Flawless finish,

Brilliant strength,

Liquid power,

Go nude,

Age defying,

Instant age rewind,

Choose your dream,

Nearly naked, and

Natural beauty.

When you have a daughter you start to realize she’s just as strong as everyone else in the house—a force to be reckoned with, a soul on fire with the same life and gifts and passions as any man. But sitting in this store aisle, you also begin to realize most people won’t see her that way. They’ll see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy. And they’ll tell her she has to look a certain way to have any worth or influence.

But words do have power and maybe, just maybe, the words of a father can begin to compete with the words of the world. Maybe a father’s words can deliver his daughter through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakeable sense of her own worthiness and beauty.

A father’s words aren’t different words, but they are words with a radically different meaning:

Brilliant strength. May your strength be not in your fingernails but in your heart. May you discern in your center who you are, and then may you fearfully but tenaciously live it out in the world.

Choose your dream. But not from a department store shelf. Find the still-quiet place within you. A real dream has been planted there. Discover what you want to do in the world. And when you have chosen, may you faithfully pursue it, with integrity and with hope.

Naked. The world wants you to take your clothes off. Please keep them on. But take your glovesoff. Pull no punches. Say what is in your heart. Be vulnerable. Embrace risk. Love a world that barely knows what it means to love itself. Do so nakedly. Openly. With abandon.

Infallible. May you be constantly, infallibly aware that infallibility doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion created by people interested in your wallet. If you choose to seek perfection, may it be in an infallible grace—for yourself, and for everyone around you.

Age defying. Your skin will wrinkle and your youth will fade, but your soul is ageless. It will always know how to play and how to enjoy and how to revel in this one-chance life. May you always defiantly resist the aging of your spirit.

Flawless finish. Your finish has nothing to do with how your face looks today and everything to do with how your life looks on your last day. May your years be a preparation for that day. May you be aged by grace, may you grow in wisdom, and may your love become big enough to embrace all people. May your flawless finish be a peaceful embrace of the end and the unknown that follows, and may it thus be a gift to everyone who cherishes you.

Little One, you love everything pink and frilly and I will surely understand if someday makeup is important to you. But I pray three words will remain more important to you—the last three words you say every night, when I ask the question: “Where are you the most beautiful?” Three words so bright no concealer can cover them.

Where are you the most beautiful?

On the inside.

From my heart to yours,

Daddy
(source)


Movin’ On Up

22 March 14

Well, I decided to do it. As of yesterday (officially) I began my Upper Elementary (4th-6th grade) training in Montessori Teacher Education. This is something I have wanted to do ever since I completed my Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade) 2 years ago. Now with the opportunities available to me in Oregon I felt there was no reason to wait.

The duration of the program is 9 months, (as was the last program, and I completed it in 6 months). If you are intrigued by any of this and would like more information you can visit the North American Montessori Center and take a look for yourself. I really recommend this program because of the distance learning aspect. Otherwise I would have had to spend a lot of time away from home and across the country to complete these trainings. My first set of assignments are due on 18 June, but hopefully they will be completed before then since (hopefully) we will be out of AZ by then, we shall see.

We had an open house last night and there seemed to be some interest according to our realtor, so we will see what the next few days. I’ll keep updating.


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