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Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:31 AM PST

My Shared Sacrifice

by thalli1

So I totally get the idea of shared sacrifice.  I don't have a problem doing my part to get the economy back on track.  I actually vote for policies that help people that need it, and don't mind paying my part to put them in place. But lately I've been feeling like I've already given enough and maybe I might be giving more than an average amount of this so-called shared sacrifice.  

I know there are millions of others around like me, and it feels like we've taken the brunt of the hits in the downturn, so I guess that technically makes it a shared sacrifice, but it feels to me like not everybody has had to do as much actual you know, sacrificing.  I keep reading about the rich getting richer, and record corporate profits, and although many businesses in my town have closed in the past few years, the only ones opening are banks. So it doesn't really seem fair to me.

So just to set the record straight, here's what I've already "shared" since the meltdown of the economy...

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Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 05:49 AM PST

Binders Full of Us...

by thalli1

As I stayed up too late last night watching election results, I couldn't help but see a pattern emerging.  It was very clear to me that binders full of women stood up and re-elected our president last night.  I could see that women led the way.  I've always thought that if women got their act together, we could lead the country in a better direction, and I believe that's what happened last night. We stood up to the bullies, the misogynists, and the tantrum-throwers like Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove and Donald Trump.

It was women, who put this election over the top for the president, and who threw a bunch of idiots out of the Senate last night. There was no mistaking the very clear message from our actions last night. We stood for the poor, minorities, the elderly, the unemployed, our gay and lesbian community, and the misinformed who would vote against their own best interests due to a constant drumbeat of lies.  It was we who saw through a fog of misinformation and took command.  I've always thought that women might do a better job of running this country, and last night we did.

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Sat May 07, 2011 at 11:01 AM PDT

Teacher Appreciation Week

by thalli1

      Well, teacher appreciation week is over.  While I do appreciate all the kind words and the efforts of my principal, the classified staff at my school, and the parents' club to make us feel special, I'm left with a really strange feeling after this week.  Maybe if I explain a few things that happened, it will help.

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Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 12:13 PM PDT

So. Tired. of. Belt. Tightening.

by thalli1

      I keep hearing our leaders telling us that every American needs to tighten our belt and pull together during these tough times.  I'm beyond sick of hearing people say that our country is broke and we can't continue to bankrupt it with our massive government spending.  
       My family and I have been in an austerity mode for several years now.  I don't feel sorry for myself.  I chose to be a teacher knowing full well that I could make more money doing something else. I married a teacher knowing that we would never be rolling in the dough. I do feel lucky to have a job and a home when so many people have lost theirs.  I am not unsympathetic to the idea of everybody sacrificing during the economic turmoil.
       However, I do feel that my family and I have given more than our share and it's time to try some other measures to improve our struggling economy. I'm doing more than my share and from where I sit, others are not.

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Tue Mar 22, 2011 at 09:08 PM PDT

I'm a Union Girl

by thalli1

I started my career teaching in a Catholic school. I taught there for ten years. I loved it. The students were all college bound, and parent expectations were incredibly high. My standardized test averages were out of this world, but we honestly never talked about it in our school. My husband was also teaching at a Catholic high school and still is to this day. The community found in the private school was amazing. I saw it as a way to live my beliefs. It made teaching a dream job for both of us.

It was, however, incredibly tough surviving on two private school teachers' salaries. We made about 60% of what the local public school teachers made. A friend of ours did a survey about finances for her master's program and interviewed us. She told us that based upon the information we gave her, we were classified as being in the upper lower class. We knew we were struggling, but we were shocked that two college graduates would only make enough to be considered in the upper lower class. It was a tough decision to make, but when our children were born, we made the decision that one of us would move to the public school. We needed to make sure that at least one of us would have a reasonable pension. Since the private high school paid a little better than the elementary school, I was the one who switched. It was then that I became a union girl.

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I once mailed a letter to my mom. She left me and my four brothers and sisters when we were kids. I had no way to get the letter to her, so I just put it in the mailbox as a symbol. In my mind I sent it to her via the universe. It helped to heal me.

Lately I've been waking up at about 4 a.m. thinking about the teachers in Wisconsin. It happened again today. Teachers are special to me not only because I am one. They saved me when I was little. They saved my whole family. All five of us siblings became educators (four teachers and a school psychologist). My husband and daughter are teachers. I was just mentally counting and we have well over 100 years of teaching experience in my immediate family alone. That doesn't even count the extended family. When teachers are hurting, my family feels their pain.

I've been feeling a need to do something, anything to help the teachers and other public workers in Wisconsin and other places where they are fighting for their livelihoods.  I can't get it out of my mind. So I'm sending this letter to them via the universe--and the internet.

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Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 08:00 AM PST

Calling out "Bob"

by thalli1

I have an imaginary student in my classroom.  His name is Bob.  He comes into the conversation whenever something is going wrong in the classroom.  I'll say something like, "Okay class, we have a problem. Bob is at it again. I know that none of you would ever leave a mess for me to clean up on the back table. But you guys know Bob. He's kind of forgetful. Could you please remind Bob to clean up his mess?"

You get the idea. Well, the weirdest thing has been happening lately. It seems that "Bob" has been going around the country trashing teachers. He's even been coming here to Daily Kos to several blogs and leaving some pretty hurtful comments. He gets into the middle of a conversation between teachers only to say things like teachers don't really have the skill set to do much else besides teaching. He believes teachers are unwilling to have any accountability. He thinks education should be about getting a higher paying job and figures that teachers are not underpaid according to their skill set. He thinks that we don't believe that all children can learn, and is disgusted by our greedy demands for collective bargaining.

I thought this might be a good time to remind Bob gently what I'm sure his mom probably already taught him a long time ago, that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

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I have used a bank many times. I have a checking account and a savings account (although I do admit I haven't added anything to my savings account for the past fifteen years since my pay has been frozen.) Nevertheless, the fact that I have made deposits, written checks, and I understand in theory the concept of a savings account makes me uniquely qualified to reorganize your operations.

Our country is at a crossroads.  What we do now will determine the future for our children. I'm sure you want to do what's best for our future, right? We are in a Race to the Top.  From now on, we need for all banks to do their part in winning that future. I've seen how you do things from my place in line, and frankly it's not good enough.  I have noticed that there are many bad bank tellers who simply aren't cutting it in my opinion. Many times when I've been standing in line, there are empty teller stations not even open. I see you bankers taking lunches, a luxury we teachers had to forgo many years ago. I see you even getting bathroom breaks. What is that about?

Based on my vast experience of standing in line at the bank, I'm hereby declaring myself an expert of all financial institutions and their operations. In a program I will call NDLB (No Depositor Left Behind) all banks will from this day on be ranked and given a grade based on their average customer bank balance.

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Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 10:50 AM PST

I Don't Want to Race to the Top...

by thalli1

I much prefer strolling slowly down a garden path, with a few hills just to get my heart rate up a little.  I can't see why everyone is so interested in making education a race instead of the journey it really is. Where did we get this obsession? Maybe it's something about getting older, I don't know.  I just can't buy into the idea that racing students ahead should be my main focus in life. I want my time on earth to be meaningful, purposeful, enjoyable and savored. That's also how a good classroom should feel in my opinion.

I don't see education as a competition either, instead a crazy, messy, flexible collaboration that happily moves in directions you as the teacher hadn't even thought about. Every teacher knows this buzz that goes on in their classroom. To me it feels like it's alive. The hum of kids excitedly sharing their stories with each other, reading together, or working on a creative project.  It's an energy that feeds my soul. I think it might be the meaning of life--that along with a book I was reading to my granddaughter this morning called Hug.

No, I don't have data to back it up unless you count lots of years of trying different methods to find my own voice in the classroom. To me, there are a lot of things about good teaching that can't really be measured in the traditional sense. But there's no doubt to anybody who's ever done the job that you can feel when something is working and when it's not.

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Sat Mar 05, 2011 at 07:35 AM PST

I'm an Internet Sensation? Huh?

by thalli1

Crazy. I received a message that The Washington Post wants to publish my diary called "I Don't Want to Be a Teacher Any More." To top that off I got an email from Markos with info from someone at CNN who wants to interview me about the blog.

He said that my writing had already been shared over 100,000 times and that in case I didn't already know it, I was an Internet sensation.  

I didn't already know it.

So I should feel happy with myself, right? You would think.  But the truth is all I could think was, "So there it is. This is going to be my legacy.  I'll forever be known as the face of teacher burnout.  Great." Seriously? I was wondering why nobody ever wanted to interview me when I created the coolest homework ever, or when I invented what I called Special Days for my kids. I would much rather have those things be my legacy.

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Fri Mar 04, 2011 at 03:50 PM PST

Differentiation and My Daughter

by thalli1

           My daughter has been teaching middle school for the past eight years.  She’s bright, beautiful, and passionate about her job.  She’s an amazing teacher.  She works in a very tough middle school in Oregon, which has a free and reduced lunch population of over 80%.  It is a tough, tough job, but if anybody can be successful there, I know she can.
    She could have been anything she wanted, and I do mean anything.  She was that TAG kid in your class that also happens to have leadership and people skills.  She might be the most organized person I know.  She had a 4.2 grade point average even while playing PAC-10 volleyball.  She still does all kinds of sports, including softball, volleyball, triathlons, and running marathons.  She also sings like an angel and performs in a band during her spare time.  I’m not writing this just to spend time bragging about my baby, although I could go on for days.  I just wanted to show a bit of her background to explain her view of the world.  She’s a happy, active, vibrant, and successful person.
    At the time she was deciding which career path to choose, I didn’t discourage her from teaching.  I’d always adored my job.  Both my husband and I had been teachers forever, so she wasn’t going to be one of those people who went into the profession blind. I knew she’d be great at whatever she chose.  Now sometimes I’m wondering if I did her a disservice.

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Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 12:14 PM PST

Out of the Mouths of Babes

by thalli1

Dear Caden's Parents,

Your son is a genius.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure they should give him a job at ODE or maybe as an adviser to Arne Duncan.  

We're in class and I'm giving them a pep talk because over the next few days they will be taking their second round of state tests.   I tell the class, "Remember it's okay to only do a couple of reading passages at a time and then move on to math.  I don't want you to lose focus on the reading, and the test can be long and tedious.  So if it starts to feel like blah-blah-blah to you, you could just pause the test and move on to math.  It's your choice, but you might want to take it slowly."

Then I go on and ask, "So you know what I mean by blah-blah-blah, right?"

The kids nod and their eyes roll back in their heads as they say, "Oh yeah, Mrs. H., we totally know what you mean."

Somebody says, "Why does the test have to be so blah-blah-blah?"

Another one pipes in, "Why don't they make it interesting like the book we're reading in class."  Everybody  loudly voices their agreement making my classroom sound more like a Baptist Church than a school room.

I say, "Yeah, that's true.  It would be so much better if you had the feeling like you did this morning when you begged me to read another chapter, right?"

Then Caden says (in his most professory voice), "You know, why don't they make the test this way.  I think they should give us a list of three really great books to choose from. Then they give us time to read them, and then we go back and the whole test is related to the book we chose."

Everybody in class totally agreed with Caden.  They wanted to elect him then and there as President of the State Testing World.  I told him that was a great idea, and that if they had put me in charge of the tests, that would be exactly what I'd do because I liked his idea so much.  Then I told them that unfortunately, I'm not in charge, so I guess it will have to be blah-blah-blah.

Quite a son you have there.

Sincerely,

Mrs. H.

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