Monday, November 24, 2008

Dating Panel

Tonight I got to go to Family Home Evening because my professor decided to conduct an asynchronus online class. The title of the FHE activity was "Men, Women, and the Eternal Perspective". I admit that despite my initial reaction of, 'What a totally singles ward thing to do,' I am always intrigued every time a dating panel activity occurs. What will be said? Who will speak up?

Well, tonight was no disappointment. In fact, I'd say I enjoyed it more than most other such activities I have attended. It was interesting to hear what people had to say, and nice to be able to say a few things myself. The panel did a great job of sharing thoughts, impressions, experiences, and advice. Many of the answers offered by both the audience and the panel were things I needed to hear. Some of them were even things I have been told before, but I needed to hear them again.

The end result was that I felt calmed and reassured. Interestingly, this is exactly what I have been praying for lately. Heavenly Father so directly answers my prayers so often, it's scary. :) He really loves me. He constantly puts people in my path to help me, lift me up, and validate me. One day maybe I won't need so much constant validation - it's something I'm working on - but He helps me while I get there. Tonight was big progress. It's as if through all the words spoken tonight, directly to me and indirectly, ultimately sent the message: You are loved, you are liked, you are great, and you are often right. Trust yourself. Trust others. Trust the Lord.

I realize I have blogged about this type of topic a lot lately, but it's what I have been in the middle of for months now - this effort to understand and to be directed and guided when I don't have all the answers. I guess that's life. We never completely understand things, so we go forward being the best person we can be, letting faith be our strength and guide.

Well, it was a good activity. I once again have a renewed perspective, smile, and positive attitude. I am okay.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Wish List

Here is a list of the things I would love to get for Christmas, but don't expect to get:
World peace
Dance Dance Revolution (and an X-Box to play it on)
An analog to digital converter box for video and audio tapes
A new and improved digital camera
A kiss under the mistletoe ;)
A Cooper Mini Convertible

Here is a list of the more normal things that I would like:
A hot pink, black, purple, and teal blue hoodie
Wonderful, comfy socks, a variety of colors, that are long enough to keep my legs warm, thick enough to be cozy, thin enough to wear with nicer shoes, that don't make dents in my legs and make them itch, and don't slip down and bunch up around my ankles
Color Stay lip stuff
A plant to replace the dead one in my polka-dotted pot
My house cleaned and windows washed
Alias DVDs
Heros DVDs
Veronica Mars DVDs
Colloidal Silver
iTunes Music
Theater Tickets
A sleeping mask
Cute Jeans

I'll keep adding as I think of more things.

What do you want for Christmas?

More 6th Grade Test Answers

Here are the latest entertaining answers to my students' 6th grade science test.

Question: Ben notices the milk he poured on his breakfast cereal is lumpy and tastes sour. What inference should Ben make?
Answer: He should make pizza.
Answer: The milk is warm and soggy.

Question: A group of students wonders if pond water smells bad because it has microorganisms in it. Describe a way they could find out.
Answer: They could look in a telescope.
Answer: They could send it to a lab.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Falling Apart

A couple weeks ago I purchased some shoe closet organizers to use in my office closet. Instead of shoes, I put my CDs, DVDs, computer equipment, etc. into them. Apparently the audio/visual/computer items were too heavy for the cheap, plastic shoe holders because just a couple days after I had gotten things organized exactly the way I wanted them, the shoe holder broke and all my belongings went crashing to the floor, scattering everywhere in my office closet. Of course I was frustrated and discouraged. In fact, I couldn't even stand to look at the closet for weeks knowing I was going to have to sort through everything! I knew I would probably find things had been broken. It just should not have become such a disaster!

Today I finally tackled the mess. As I sorted through it all, I realized that things were not as mixed up and broken as I thought they were. And as I sorted throught the things that had gotten mixed up, I found many things I had forgotten were even there. One item I found was a CD I had been searching for. In fact, I need that CD for a performance tonight! Nothing like things working out just in time. If my closet organizer hadn't completely broken and fallen to pieces, I wouldn't have found what I had been searching for. I got exactly what I wanted exactly when I needed it. It just took longer than I thought it would. And it certainly took a strange event to help me find it.

I'm pretty sure there's a lesson in all this. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't Give Up

I haven't been entirely myself lately. I consider myself a cheerful, optimistic, hopeful person, but I have been letting things get me down and overwhelm me, despite the fact that I am blessed and uplifted by Heavenly Father on a daily, even hourly basis. It's not that I am in despair - I have faith that everything will work out if I continue to try my best to do the right things. And it's not that my struggles are even extraordinary - indeed, I am truly a fortunate person. I can't even understand how I am so blessed! I think that's why I get frustrated with myself for being so affected. I suppose I need to cut myself a little slack - I am very busy and overloaded with work, school, yadda yadda, and my emotions just add to it all. But, I can do better. I need to stop thinking and worrying about myself so much. I need to put others first. I won't give up. And ultimately, despite all the ways I fall short, I know I will be successful with the help of Heavenly Father.

Tonight's perfect song is "You Are Loved" by Josh Groban.

Don't give up
It's just the weight of the world
When your heart's heavy
I...I will lift it for you

Don't give up
Because you want to be heard
If silence keeps you
I...I will break it for you

Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don't give up
Because you are loved

Don't give up
It's just the hurt that you hide
When you're lost inside
I...I will be there to find you

Don't give up
Because you want to burn bright
If darkness blinds you
I...I will shine to guide you

Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don't give up
Because you are loved

You are loved
Don't give up
It's just the weight of the world
Don't give up
Every one needs to be heard
You are loved

Thursday, November 6, 2008

REACH Training Day 2

Here are y notes from my second day of REACH training:

Understanding Prejudice, Power, and Diversity

Racism is like...
•Barbed Wire - it separates us and is hurtful
•A blinding fear of something unknown
•A race - and everyone is trying to get 1st place
•Judging a book by its cover
•The fangs of a demon - marked and obvious
OR morning mist in a jungle - unseen and subtle, yet blinding, clouding our vision
•A country's borders - separates, unseen, but cross it and people get angry
•Caroway seeds - bitter, the taste never leaves
•White Water - dangerous, destructive, sucks you in
•Acid - eats away, can be volatile

"We the people"
The ideal:
•A more perfect union
•General welfare
•Common defense

How are we doing?
No matter where we think we are on the road to progressing toward a "more perfect union", we can all agree that we have made progress.
Morgan Freeman's Speech

Prejudice + Power
What institutions do we have that have systematic prejudices?
Organized Religion
Health Care

Definition of Racism
The systematic discrimination and exploitation of human beings on the basis of their...
S sex/gender
H heterosexuality/homosexuality
A age
R race, religion
E eliteness
D disability

Identity Triangle
*Individual Uniqueness - the heart of you, what makes you individually special, this level is where conversations allow us to get to know individuals on a personal level, this level takes time and effort but is so important
*Collective Identity (the groups you belong to, everyone has many at many different levels) - LDS, teacher, 6th grade teacher, tech, BYU alum, singer, musical theater, field hockey player, goalie, Blunt, single female 30+, middle child, IDET, "fatherless" child, burn victim, dancer, educator
*Common Humanity - basic needs, language, association/relationships, DNA, values system, love, emotional needs, family units, belief system (organized religion or otherwise)

If we overemphasize any level of this triangle stereotypes can happen:
"We're all individuals and we rise and fall on our own" (too much individual focus)
"isms" occur (too much collective focus)
"I don't see color." or "We're all alike." (too much common humanity focus)
Too much emphasis on one level and not enough balance causes issues develop that create conflict.

•It's a luxury to be seen as an individual.
•We are all seen as representatives of several collectives.
•There are both positive and negative perceptions given to collectives.
•Some of these perceptions may not be true for you - but are perceptions that exist for the collectives of which you are a part.
•You have choices to:
1. Reinforce the positive aspects of your collective identity.
2. Take the time and make an effort to communicate with the other person so you can also be seen as an individual.

I am co-responsible for change and I will...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

REACH Training

This week I have been out of the classroom a lot. Tuesday I had a whole day of tech work. My principal got a sub for my class so I could try to fix as many computer problems as possible. It was much needed, and it reminded me that I really do enjoy that part of my job IF I am given time to do it. What I don't like is everyone complaining that none of the computers are working knowing that the reason they don't get fixed is because I don't have any time. So, it was a good, productive day. I felt very good about it and had fun problem solving all the issues with the Accelerated Reader program, printers, Internet connections, and so on. Yes, this does confirm that I am a tech geek.

Wednesday and Thursday I attended the REACH training provided by my school district. My next few posts will be my notes from the training.

REACH stands for:

REACH Diversity Values:
Diversity awareness and multicultural education are growth-oriented rather than deficiency-oriented.
Diversity awareness and multicultural education are systematic change processes, not content areas.
Everyone is a learner / Everyone is a teacher.
We work at living our basic principles.
Time is fluid / We're in a marathon, not a sprint.
Saying "ouch" can open the conversation from the heart.
Humor heals and keeps us human.
Confidentiality and privacy are honored.

The Business Case
•By the year 2020, white males will constitute only 37% of the workforce, yet continue to occupy over 90% of senior management positions.
•By 2020, people of color and immigrants will comprise over half of the net new entrants to the workforce.
•Next to European Americans, Hispanics are now the second largest ethnic market in the US.
•Significant regional differences in ethnic representation will continue into the 21st century, with diversification being most significant in the Western states, especially California.
•There are only 5 states that are designated refugee relocation states. One of those 5 is Utah.
•Women will continue to increase their share of the workforce (48% by 2006) and, as the nature of work changes, gender will become increasingly irrelevant as a factor in job choice and opportunity.
•By 2006 Hispanics will be the second largest ethnic group in the U.S.
(Statistics from 1998, updated 2005 and 2006)

No matter how the elections turned out last night, we have had an historic election: We would have either had a woman or an African American in office.

Due to all of this, diversity is being seen more and more in business. Advertising, marketing, etc. has a more multicultural focus and look.

The Education Case
•By 2030 children of color will constitute over half of the students in U.S. schools.
•At the close of the 20th century, whites comprise over 90% of the teaching force in the U.S. Without new concerted efforts to recruit teachers of color there is little chance we will see increased diversity in the near future.
•20% of U.S. children are born into poverty. Poverty has been shown to be highly correlated (.99) with low academic achievement.
•There is continued disproportionality in achievement, discipline, and drop-out rates along gender, ethnic, and socio-economic lines.
•In the U.S. we spend an average of $8,600 (less in Utah) per student for one year of schooling and over $25,000 per inmate for one year in prison.
(Statistics from 1999, updated 2005 and 2006)

My school district has 5 homeless shelters within the district boundaries. We have the highest homeless population of all districts in the state.

The Nation-Building Case
•The nation's Hispanic and Asian populations will triple over the next half century.
•By 2050 non-Hispanic Whites will represent about one half of the total population of the U.S.
•The African American population will rise to 14.6 % of the U.S. population by 2050.
•In 2004 there were 762 active hate groups in the U.S.
•79% of racial hate crimes in the U.S. in 2003 were perpetrated again non-Whites.
•After-tax income for the top 1% of households in the U.S. doubled over the last 25 years, while incomes in the bottom 80% remained flat.
(Statistics from 1999, updated 2005 and 2006)

The Global Understanding Case
If the World Were a Village of 100 People
(try a Google search and you'll get a lot of sites with this data.)

Points of Focus:
Multiple Perspectives
"Culture is something everybody has."
Build Cultural Bridges
Healing: Head - Heart - Hands
Be a Role Model for Co-Responsibility

Multiple Perspectives
Keep in mind that the winners write the history books.

For example, what about the "Civil" War? What perspectives are there about that war?

For example, how do the following groups view the building of the transcontinental railroad?
European Americans
Latino/Hispanic Americans
African Americans
Asian Americans
Native Americans

Even within those groups, every individual is different and therefore each has their own perspective.

Recognize all the perspectives around the table before making a decision.
Engage in conversation to understand multiple perspectives.

"Culture is something everybody has."
What are the elements of culture?
Celebrations & Ceremonies (Funerals, Weddings, etc.)
Economic Status

Surface vs. Deep Culture
Surface - easily observable - accent, behavior, customs, physical appearance
Deep - the things you don't see - "why", beliefs, values, perceptions, assumptions, emotionally charged, communication style

Build Cultural Bridges
Multiethnic --> Multicultural --> Global
Multiethnic -- you were born with this, you cannot change it
Multicultural -- these things are learned (see list above)
Global -- world culture -- every individual on the planet is unique and has their own ethnic, cultural, and global perspective

Healing: Head - Heart - Hands
Head - things we know in our head - factual information
Heart - attitudes & feelings
Hands - activities & actions

It takes these 3 steps for the healing process to begin.
We want healing to occur - healing a person, a community, a situation

Be a Role Model for Co-Responsibility
We need to be willing to stand up against social injustices we see.
This can be a hard thing to do, but we need to be brave enough to stand up for what is right.
Don't bring bias and prejudice into your classroom.
If we realize we have pieces of us with prejudices or bad feelings based on past experiences about certain cultures or ethinicities, we need to look at them, recognize them and change.
Don't let things go if you have an opportunity to stand up and teach respect.