Saturday, October 18, 2014

October Love List

In an attempt to restart an earlier monthy series from earlier in 2014, I'm po For October a very special one issue, that of a decision made in NC last week.

On Monday last week the Supreme Court reconvened for the 2014 docket.  Expected was the decision to make a wider decision by taking up a group of cases on appeal.  What was not expected was in the middle of class, one of my students said, "Mrs. Vinson, Mrs. Vinson... breaking news from the first day of the docket." Yes, we were using our phones in class for an activity, yes I know that they were also scrolling Twitter... and yes I am happy that they suscribe to news on their feeds.

We immediately stopped what we were doing in class, pulled up SCOTUSblog on my LCD projector and watched as a class as the news they were allowing lower court rulings to stand.

Not the decision expected at all and as the week unfolded we dissected what the ruling mean for states like NC that had an appeal tied up in Federal Court.  Throughout the week each day brought more news that states were extending the right to marry to same sex couples.  On Friday afternoon on the drive home in carpool came the call from the federal appeals courts that Amendment 1 passed two years ago in NC was unconstitutional.  YESSSS!!! I screamed out my open window at the news.  YESSSS!!! to my local friends Karen and Kelli and their triplets who can finally marry, YESSSS!!! to my students who openly feel comfortable being out and embracing their true selves in my classes, YESSSS!! to my boys whom I hope will find love and a forever relationship when the time is right.

As we has dissected this past week in class through the lens of how, why, what does the SCourt's decision mean for the 30 states where same sex marriage is legal and how is this a perfect example of Federalism.  We've had SO, SO many meaningful discussions from both sides of the argument this past week.  For a teacher, these are the weeks you come back to on the hardest of days.

I played my usual party line of moderator not on either side as I continue to want the number one thing you learn in my class is to pick a side and become politically active. I want my students to care as much about their community as much as their lives online.

I am so, so happy that after all the setbacks from our state government, that this time I am proud to say we are on the right side of an issue.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Over the summer we transitioned Ian into a big boy bed and room.  As sad as I was to see those custom framed favorite children's books be packed away oh-so-carefully to be given one day for grandchildren.  But,it was time.  Complete with Lego movie themed bedding and a puppy and soccer ball poster (yes, Ian asked for both and Bill worked his magic.)

Bill did a fab job checking out options and settled on a bed that can grow with Ian over the next 5 or so years.  Without hesitation the bed will not be used for a while as a bunk bed as to keep hospital co- pays at bay.  We opted for light wood and have a stone colored stick on panels we purchased to be custom fit to the bed and dresser.

We also replaced his baby furniture dresser with an IKEA storage unit.  This allows for book, minimal allowed toys, plus clothes.  Ian (and Ben) are responsible for sorting and putting up their own clothes each weekend.  Having marked drawers helps as I tape a picture with printed words on the correct drawer for Ian on his chore day.  To keep him from playing with them I take them down each weekend. So far he "loves" to be doing a big boy job like Ben.

The other night I went to check on Ian before I went to bed and found this set up with all the animals, pillows, books all laid out. Before you ask, "uh, Heather could that be some of your OCD tendencies being passed on?"  When I asked Ian the next day, he told me while he was sleeping they must have gone on a picnic.

How cute.

How perfectly four years old cute

How much did I want to capture him retelling what happened in his sweet voice.  Note *Ben is about to go to bed as well and come read to Ian and me as well as remind me that tomorrow was "taco Tuesday" and he wanted to eat school lunch.  What a average bedtime at Casa Vinson.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Yesterday I took a day off to chaperone Ben's 3rd grade field trip to the NC Art Museum.  I was assigned to a group of 11 kids including 7 boys. I asked Ben ahead of the trip if he wanted me to come and assured him I wouldn't embarass him. He later told me this was his favorite piece, a giant "fabric" wall hanging that was made completely of recycling. Go figure, my make-it and take-it boy.

We started out tour with an amazing docent who got the kids to sit on the floor with her looking at a work of art from different angles.  She passed out cards with things like "perspective, line, color, texture..." all the tools in the artist toolbox.  As expected, she was a retired teacher enjoying working with kids in a different classroom.

We looked at lots of great works in the museum including the sculpture walk outside.  It was gorgeous, warm outside and once released the kids ran en masse up a giant hill.

We had lunch outside enjoying the sun on our faces.  It was a great day and for the time being I hope Ben will keep telling me to join him, that he wants me around his class and school friends.  There has been such a shift to having a best friend this year, keeping parts of his friendship to himself, basically becoming a young man and no longer a child.

After the buses departed to take the kids back to school, I had a few hours before soccer practice, so I took myself to a favorite place for lunch, hit up Trader Joes minus kids, picked up hay bales for our outside pumpkin palooza display, arranged a giant arrangement of flowers for myself, and came home and took a long walk with the dog  What did I not do?  A speck of work!


The funniest part of the visit was when we were walking out through a Greek sculpture display. Ben's teacher looked over at me as I rounded up the back of the line and said, "I don't think they will notice anything if we move quickly, Me- "Uh... these are 3rd grade primarily boys in our group."

Famous last words


Insert your favorite 3rd grade humor here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tales from the Missing Persons Files

Have you seen me since I last posted a MONTH ago?

Look closely and you may find me among those 73 public policy journals that I grade over most weekends to stay on top of grading during the weeknight. P is for PARTY (not really, it's for PUBLIC POLICY!)  It's also for the essays AP Gov't writes during the week to be graded, the brand new US History II (Gilded Age to Obama) class I'm lead teacher to collaborate with 7 other US History teachers over this year to plan, tweak where needed, and test. It is also college rec season and with seniors in the fall, many of whom I've taught Civics, US History or even Freshman World History before coming back for AP Gov't, I've been hit up for recommendation letters frequently.  I wish I could tell my 18 year old self to be so much more grateful to those teachers I asked to write for me a gazillion years ago. My guess is if they ever thought I would be teaching students one day, they would have laughed and said, nope I'm not helping you get to that profession. Needless to say I really spell check and edit what I write on behalf for student's.

This year I've also a mentor to two new, 1st year teachers both of which I wouldn't trade places for a a million dollars.  I've been supplying them in candy on Fridays and discount school supplies to round out their cabinets.

In addition I've taken on a a new position as AP Dept Chair. If I had the time to convey my excitement I would.  I hope it will be a great legacy to leave behind when I finally get to retire.  Really, I wanted to add on some responsibility as for the last few years under "school leadership" I've gotten marked way down on not being involved enough at my school.  As part of our annual review, and pay is tied to our performance evaluations, I needed to fit myself in where I'm already doing stuff like mentoring and teaching AP classes to hopefully count more fully.

Our school is one of 150 selected for a new program run by College Board that is a special honors diploma called AP Capstone.  Over the next year I am helping develop and bring a Senior research methods and a Sophomore seminar class to our existing AP course load.  In the spring I will be visiting all our our feeder middle schools to sell why students and their families should buy into this program as a Freshman!

Added responsibility is all good stuff and I'm honored that after interviewing to be the AP Dept Chair, they picked me among the other candidates.   Add to it that I'm also in my national board certification year and I'm basically living work right now minus the couple of afternoons I'm trying to steal to work out.

Never since I started this little space other than a 30 day, self- imposed media fast back in 2009 have I ever gone this long without a post. Between the usual amount of hours in a given work week, Ben's amount of homework per night, 2 soccer weeknight practices, and 2 Saturday games I'm doing good to keep us in clean underwear.

I've also had some horrible, horrible issues with sleep related to working up to going to bed and then having insomnia.  So when I can, I'm trying to get to bed as early as possible.  Just know that I'm still here and doing fine and basically choosing sleep other than updating the mundane.

I hope to return again during my favorite month of the year.  In the meantime, eat some candy corn and peanuts in my honor as I have banned both from my house.