Saturday, March 12, 2011

brace yourself

I don't know if anyone still reads my blog. Probably not, considering there's nothing to read anymore. Sorry. My life has become student teaching. When I am not teaching, I am preparing for teaching, talking about teaching, dreaming about teaching, or rushing through meals and chores so that I can get back to my lesson planning. Once in a while I try to escape and do something different, but even while squatting in weight lifting class this morning at the YMCA, I was putting together a list in my head of everything I wanted to accomplish this weekend in order to be prepared for Monday. It consumes me.

My family has also been dealing with the fact that my Dad was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. That word. Cancer. It's like a punch to the gut. The situation is good though. He was proactive and caught it very early. The issue now is not the cancer itself, but the getting rid of it. I think he is leaning towards surgery, but either way, treatment has its own risks and side effects. My plan is that he will be totally back to normal in no time at all. My Dad is a very healthy guy and we don't have a history of cancer in our family. That, along with the fact that I am willing it to happen, is why my plan is going to work.

Scary- but did you know that one in six men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime!? Yeah!! Really! So go tell all the men you know to go get checked. Guys are a little more shy than us women. We've got our 40-mile walks, hot pink ribbons and booby bracelets all over the place - but it's time to raise awareness about prostate cancer. Go. Now. Tell someone. Then send some good vibes my Dad's way.

So, if you've hit your quota of emotional reading material for the day, it's time to quit. There's a lot that I would love to share about student teaching, but just like the actual experience, it's a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down, up, down. Throw in some screaming, barf, and that feeling of being out of control and that pretty much sums it up. You don't know why you keep getting on, but something about it is just so satisfying.

Let's start with some ups...

- The student production of "Grease the Musical."  SO MUCH TALENT.

- Community Day where organizations and businesses from the Northside came to talk to the students about what they do and how to turn their interests into careers.

- The incredible talents of the Step Team, Breakdance Club, Tumbling Team, and Hmong Dancers.

- The showing of the film "Bullied", followed by a guest appearance and discussion with Jamie Nabozny himself.

- Student comments like "You icy Ms. Westby. I like you."

- Kids who have been in this country only 5 months using the term "first order heterotroph" correctly in a sentence.

- One of my special ed students suddenly outperforming most of the regular ed students in class.

- Spring break! Only a week away and my chance to finally catch up with life :)

And then there are the downs...

- Several students are leaving because our interventions are no longer effective. Their behavior has gotten out of control. I worry about where they will end up and if they will ever get the help they really need.

- A star student losing his head and the resulting media attention. So many of my students look up to him as a role model. The situation is incredibly disappointing and upsetting for everyone.

- Scary politics. Would you support a law that made it easier to become a doctor, lawyer, or police officer? Do you think that it would attract more people to the profession? How do you they would do with less training? What type of people would you expect to be attracted to this new easier, alternative route? So why is it okay for teachers? Is that what we want for kids? And where is this teacher shortage you speak of? Teachers are being laid off every day because of cut backs and school closings. Get real.

- Wisconsin deciding to take away collective bargaining rights for public workers. Take away public workers rights and call it "balancing the budget" and then turn around and offer tax breaks to the rich. Real smart.

- Looking over teaching contracts and the legal issues of being a teacher, mandated reporter, and public employee. The accountability and responsibility is HUGE. The salary and benefits... not so much. The highest salary on the chart for a teacher with a PhD and over 15 years is less than the starting salary of a pharmacist. I know this because one of my friends in class is a pharmacist trying to become a math teacher. God bless her.

Did you make it to the end of my post!? If so, thanks for reading - I know I unloaded a lot this time. Maybe over spring break I'll have a chance to do something lighthearted or crafty and then blog about it. Fingers crossed!!!


  1. Oh, Kate. I miss you. And I'm so sorry about all the stress in your life — especially your Dad's health. It sounds like things have been crazy good and crazy hard and just plain crazy...but in reading your words I can tell you're right where you're supposed to be doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing and that makes me happy. Even though it's not here with me... :) Hang in there, my friend.

  2. I love you buddy! We need to catch up REALLY soon, better than we did 5 minutes ago. Look up John Hayes for a radiation oncologist. He's my uncle and a great source to talk to if your dad hasn't already decided on an option. My uncle specializes in prostate cancer + he's an amazing guy.

  3. Thanks!!! My Dad will be having surgery at the Mayo Clinic at the end of April and I think he's really comfortable with his decision. We're very optimistic about things, except for maybe the bills ;)

    I think I am getting better at handling this school stuff too. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and I'm feeling myself becoming stronger and more capable. I'm definitely getting my tuition's worth! All the awesome supportive people in my life like you guys really help keep me positive too - you rock!