Archive for January, 2009

Cough Cough Cough.

January 27, 2009

It’s 3am and I can’t sleep because I can’t stop coughing. (How funny that only last night I was commenting on how I’m not coughing much…)

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’m looking at the card the school newspaper editors e-mailed me last night. In the center it says how much they miss me and hope I feel better. All around the edges are photos of the editors and me. It’s so beautiful and nice and touching. (And I’ve only been out one day!)


January 26, 2009

On Saturday, I woke up and my chest started to hurt. It was achy and burning and felt tight. It got worse throughout the day. On Sunday I woke up with a fever that I couldn’t get rid of all day. I spent much of the day in the shower breathing in steam and in bed with a hot water bottle on my chest.

Growing up, I had a lot of trouble with asthma. For whatever reason, I seemed to grow out of it around the end of middle school. I still have attacks now and then (cats, allergies in the spring, or sometimes exercise) but they are so rare and end immediately after taking my inhaler. In elementary school, I took a lot of medicine for asthma, but still had regular attacks. I’d forgotten how scary it is to feel like I can’t breathe, like there’s a pressure pushing down on my chest and pushing in from my back. I take a deep breath, expecting to find relief, but it just hurts. I’m not wheezy right now, but that same tightness is there.

I stayed home from work today, even though it’s so stressful to miss school, because I couldn’t bring myself to get up. David drove me to the doctor. After listening to my breathing and taking a chest X-ray, it was determined that I do not have pneumonia! I have bronchitis, though I’m not coughing a lot.

The inhalers I was prescribed are making the tightness in my chest feel less scary. My three prescriptions cost me $60. I thought that was a lot, but then I looked at what my health insurance company paid–just one of my inhalers cost $162.99. It makes me sad to think about all the people in this country without health insurance.

David has been taking care of me. He’s made me endless mugs of tea, brought me tissues, filled my hot water bottle, and is making dinner right now. He is so good.

I was sick a lot growing up and my mom always took such good care of me. I am smiling right now, because I remember feeling my mom’s fingers running through my hair while I slept in my parents’ bed. Thank you, mom.

Scheduling & ideas for next year

January 19, 2009

Tomorrow we have a staff day. From 8-9:30 we’re going to be talking about ideas for next year: scheduling, course offerings, etc. Last spring, I created the daily schedule that is in use this year. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about what I want and hope for next year’s schedule, and have spent some time talking with other teachers.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this weekend figuring out and thinking through different ideas to bring tomorrow. I think it’s good to frame the discussion around what we want and need for different courses rather than to immediately start looking at specific schedules without thinking more philosophically first. I also think that having some samples to look at will help more concrete thinkers.

To enlarge a schedule, click on the thumbnail:

I must emphasize that these are very rough drafts and that as I went on, and realized just how many variables there are, I stopped figuring out the times of each period. Some of the schedules don’t have advisory time worked in. There are other things that need to be considered too, like if our juniors will be going to their internships and how that will be worked into the schedule. It seems likely that none of these schedules will be used, but hopefully will help facilitate discussion.

It is amazing how many questions came up as I was creating these. How many periods will we have each day? How many elective periods do we want? Which classes benefit most from longer class periods? Do all classes benefit from longer blocks? How many days a week should we have double blocks? How long should a longer block be? Do we want all courses to have the same time breakdowns, or could one class meet in two hour slots half as often as a class that meets in one hour slots? And on and on…

I am so grateful to work at a new school that is constantly evolving and questioning its decisions. I work with teachers who embrace change. My impression is that most schools use the same schedule they’ve used every year. People become familiar and comfortable with it, and it becomes difficult to suggest or even really think about change.

We are also going to begin talking about the possibility of electives. My dream for juniors is that instead of taking a generic English class, they would take elective-based English courses. Southern Literature, Postmodern Literature, Shakespeare, War Novels, The Memoir Genre (perhaps a prerequisite for Memoir Writing?), Slam Poetry, Journalism, Nature Writing, Contemporary Non-Fiction Writing, The American Short Story, etc.

I have so many ideas!!

Words I needed to hear today.

January 15, 2009

One of the teachers I was closest to in high school, who really inspired me in a million different ways, but especially with writing, wrote me an e-mail today that made a hard week at school a bit easier.

Jennifer wrote:

Teaching English isn’t about writing a perfect thesis statement about Shakespeare’s usage of willow tree imagery; it’s in the art of shaping one’s “life thesis” — living a life with meaning and purpose.