Friday, August 29, 2008

5 things that teachers do when they are in all-day workshops

1. Listen attentively for 10 minutes
Presenters: welcome to your worst teaching nightmare. Teachers learn how to be antsy from their students. If you have a lot of middle school teachers, expect them to act like middle schoolers, ADHD disorders and all. You have 10 minutes to hook us and we want to get up, move and be active every half hour.
2. Talk to our neighbor while the presenter is still talking
This practice is a natural way for teachers to use each other as a sounding board for the connections they are making to their own teaching (or they're just gossiping). If you can't tell the difference between productive noise and idle gossip, you need to go back to the classroom and practice.

3. Text and read posts
When speakers talk about another author, or another concept, we get on our smart phones and look up the links so we can expand our knowledge immediately. (Or we're blogging or catching up on our email). Don't be offended. Only kick us out if we don't realize that it's really our own phone that's ringing, and then we don't even know how to turn it off.

4. Doodle on any available surface area
Some students learn more effectively when they are able to doodle to either make connections, assist with comprehension, or even just calm their mind down. Don't fight it, just supply us with supplies and we'll listen 10 minutes longer.

5. Keep our body well fed
Snacks are the staple of staff development days. The key to smart in-servicing is to sit by the female (it's always females) that brings the best snacks. Isn't it ironic that we don't allow kids to eat in class, but we can't function in workshops without our snacks? If you want to get on our positive side, encourage snack breaks and make sure our planners supply us with soda, coffee, and other sugary, caffeinated drinks.

So for the next presenter that is brave enough to try and engage us in an all-day workshop, come prepared, know your audience, and don't treat us like adults. We really are pent-up kids - that's why we teach. ;-)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hawaii's own Sports Factory

Summer Olympics 08 is over and there's definitely a hole in our TV line up after 2 weeks of sleeping late and waking up early to watch the Olympics. I'm not really a sports junkie, but I do love the drama, the personal stories and the beauty of exertion, triumph and sorrow. Yes, I'm proud to be an American, but I'm more proud of being a Hawaiian (I mean in location, not in koko).
It seems like Hawaii has its own sports factory. Perhaps it's our year-round sports-playing weather, but I think it's a tribute to these moms and dads who volunteer to coach in all-play programs like AYSO, little league, bobby sox, etc. For a small group of islands with limited access to outside competition, we do really well on all levels - from little league to the Olympics.
     Maybe we won't do as well in the 2010 winter Olympics in Whistler, but let's support our athletes, buy the kalua pig tickets, watch the high school and pop warner games, so that when the 2012 Olympics come to London, we can say, "I knew them when. . ." I mua Hawaii.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Everything I Needed 4 Know. . .

Diva shoes
Ken trying on my diva shoes surrounded by my other diva shoes. No fit!

People around me this week have been having really bad days, bad seconds, bad hours, bad weeks, bad months, bad years. . .bad decades! So what if you have to work with morons, or some idiot keyed your car, or the neighbor's dog keeps pooping in your yard, or no one seems to know how to change the toilet paper roll except you. . .life's tough! After years of taping the Oprah show, subscribing to O Magazine, listening to the podcasts, I've learned a little bit about not getting your panties in a bunch over the stupid things that other people do. I realize, after thousands of dollars worth of biblio and tv therapy, that I already had the solution for all this strife.
Everything I needed to know, I learned on the Olomana Girl's Home softball field. Lesson one, when you have pilikia, never take it personally. You are AWESOME and people are HATERS! Like crabs in a bucket, people will always try to drag you down when you're on the top.
Lesson two, if you are sure that the person(s) hating on you are not related to anyone you know, beef it out. I realize that lesson two will not work in this day and age. First it's illegal to attack someone physically, and second, in this age of youtube, no one wants to see two old futs trying to throw blows and taking inhaler breaks every 5 seconds. Lesson three, if you can't beef it out, outstyle them. What that meant for us back then was rocking the braids. My mom, as our team mom for the Koolau Bobby Sox all-stars, braided the whole team's hair before every game. We had options. French braid, centipede braid, French braid with centipede braids on the bottom, ribbons, no ribbons, fresh plumeria, etc. Well I can't braid my hair anymore, and I've kind of outgrown calling my mom to do my hair every morning, so how can I calm myself down and outstyle those people that give me grief without looking silly? Diva shoes.
Diva shoes are the answer to all the world's problems. Diva shoes are the universal symbol for peace on earth and goodwill toward men. You can have the most conservative suit on, but if you have your diva shoes on, no one will mess with you. Men will stay away and women will come up to you to be near those diva shoes. Not only that, you will tower over your competition. Mind you, diva shoes are not hoochie shoes. No, no, no. Diva shoes are made specifically for bringing joy and gladness to the darkest corners of the world. Diva shoes are like drag queen shoes, only smaller. Men, you too need to wear diva shoes. Believe me, it will balance your life.
Although, as you see from the other picture, men cannot wear their wive's diva shoes. Go buy your own before you stretch it out!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Fever

Michael Phelps,
Beijing Summer Olympics '08

I am an Olympics freak. I love the Olympics, from badminton to basketball, synchronized platform diving to singles synchronized swimming. Yes, there is synchronized swimming singles. The Olympics captures all our athletic dreams. When I was in high school, I watched the '84 Olympics and decided that in order for me to be an Olympian, I would need to find a team handball club in Hawaii. I looked it up during my senior year and the national team practiced in Oregon. I never did get to Oregon, but when I watch the Olympics, I still think maybe I could have, if I would have. . . right.
Now that I'm older, unless hanafuda were an Olympic sport, I don't think I could qualify for anything. How about full contact origami? I have anger issues, I could succeed in that. Actually, I've been more interested in watching the parents of the Olympians. I notice that when Michael Phelps wins (so far he has 11 gold medals), he looks for his mom. Maybe I could be a mom of an Olympian! When my kids play sports, they look for me too. Of course they only look for me when they screw up, mostly because despite my passing the mandatory classes in positive coaching alliance (no put downs, no verbs like run, move your *&%, suck it up, etc.), I believe that as long as you're ONLY yelling at your own child, and not someone else's child, that's positive. What did Michael Phelps' mom do to become an Olympian's mom? Whatever it is, I'm willing to do it. I can yell and cheer loudly. I can take people to practice. I can cook special meals. I am an expert at getting stains out of uniforms with naptha soap. I can cut oranges and mix them with li hing mui powder for energy and sustenance. And most of all, I can give very inspiring pep talks (just ask my sons). For example, I personally made my middle son into a better hitter just by my motivating pep talks. It usually started with, "you mean I pay $30 every week, 48 weeks a year, for all these years just so you can get up there and strike out?!Are you kidding me? What are you waiting for? Don't move out of the box, let the ball hit you, take one for the team!" I'm proud to say that my inspiring verbage helped him to move up from 9th batter to 2nd batter. That's good stuff. As soon as the Olympics are over, I'm investing in synchronized swimming singles lessons for Pono. See you in Chicago in 2016.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Battle of the Sexes

Ok, it's not a battle, but after being married for 20 years, I realize that there are some things that fall into the "mom's job" category, and there are some things that are strictly dad's domain.

Mom's job is to find things. For 20 years I have lived in a male dominant household. The fact that the majority of the toilet seats in my house remain in the down position is a testament of the power of the one and only alpha female. However, what I can't do is teach my children (and my husband) how to do what I call "mom looking" versus "man looking." I don't need to explain this for the moms. They know exactly what I'm talking about. The guys are slower to catch on. I'll type s-l-o-w-l-y. Here's a typical "man looking" conversation:
"mom! (or Cat!), where's the ______ (insert anything from socks to the car)?"
"It's in the _________ (insert my instructions like refrigerator, garage, on the kitchen table, etc.)."
After a quick glance around, "Where?!"
My answer "Right in FRONT of you. Look around! Move things around."
Man looker answer, "It's not here. . .I can't find it. . . where?" (Mind you nothing has been moved around, just clueless male species looking around the thing that is literally right in front of their face.
My answer, "If I have to stand up and get it for you I'm going to ______________ (insert horrible death-like consequences)."

There are other equally important mom jobs like multi-tasking (cooking dinner under half an hour while folding laundry and paying bills, all while talking on the phone to our own mothers and checking homework and signing the planners). Other mom jobs: hiding money so that we actually have money saved for a rainy day, testing the milk to see if it's spoiled, organizing the linen closet every summer, and pulling new clothes out of the closet and passing them off as something we've had for a long time.

However, Pono, our almost 11 year old just reminded me the other day that there are some things that only dads can do, and one of them is to have very erudite and well thought out, philosophical answers to their sons' most pressing life questions. Case in point: we were watching the movie Dodgeball during dinner and the characters are trying to raise money to save their gym. One of the characters suggests that they sell their sperm.
Pono: "what's sperm?"
Mom: (suddenly has the urge to check on the jello)
Dad (after quickly pondering that great philosophical question and deeming the question a rite of passage teachable moment kind of question): "it's semen"
Pono: (nothing, he keeps eating).
And that is what only a dad can do.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Am I creating a monster?

I'd have to recheck with my mom, but I'm pretty sure I was a good kid, even as a teenager. I never got detention except a few times in the hs dorms as a freshman until I figured out the system. I never got suspended and I definitely never had the principal calling my parents from school. In fact, I think I was quite angelic as a teenager, and the pride of my parents' eyes. I played sports, drove responsibly, made curfew, had honor roll grades, and was basically a gift.

I'm only saying this because I just got a call from the principal and my son, a junior now, already has detention for his hair color. It's not that he's never had detention for his hair. He's quite a regular at the cafeteria for his hair being too long (bangs over his eyebrows, or touching his collar, or covering his ears, or color, etc.) The difference is that this is the FIRST day of school.

OK, so I knew when I got the message from the principal that it would probably be his hair. See, I work at the same school (I won't say what school, but it's got a royal name), so I know what the rules are, have enforced quite a few in middle school myself, so as far as the handbook, I'm very familiar with it and have made these calls to parents myself. I'm actually trying to figure out why I feel the need to enforce the rules and let my son break the rules at the same time? Why am I rebelling now? And what is keeping me from just sending him to school with all his ducks in order instead of letting him push the limits on things I feel are silly rules, but as an employee I am forced to uphold?

See, sometimes he gets detention or gets sent to the office for his shoes too (which I bought for him). Shoes must be athletic type, they must be PREDOMINATELY blue, grey, white or black. They were hauling kids into the office in December for shoes that were white with too much black on them (like on the heel). It doesn't matter that they've been wearing those shoes from August, or that the other less dominant color is still one of the four acceptable, they still get sent to the office. Ok, true confession, I actually bought my son brown plaid shoes, and it's the girls in his advisory that got sent for their mostly acceptable but not acceptable enough shoes, but he was wearing those brown plaid shoes from August too and no one called him on it, so I didn't get him new shoes. I'm not a negligent parent. If the school is going to be consistent, then of course I'm going to follow the rules. So what does that make me? A rebel or just a fairness freak? I did notice that they took out the word PREDOMINATELY this year so my son has all white shoes, like those Keds shoes, but hmmm, is that athletic enough if they don't have shoe laces?

Back to the hair issue. He likes to dye his hair on the day that they get out of school. His hair was purple this summer, so in order to do that on dark hair, I had to bleach it. Hair has to be a "natural" color, but I always see these girls on campus with the totally bleached out hair with dark roots, so I figured "natural" meant not purple, blue, etc. Therefore, I cut his hair before school and I got all the purple out, leaving the bleached brown/yellow color. It's natural on someone in the world. Nope, not good enough. I still have to dye his hair this weekend. See natural on boys, I guess, has a different connotation at the high school than natural on girls. And if I wanted to pay the $100+ to get his hair highlighted, that would also be "natural" on girls, but iffy on boys. We get rid of that at middle school by saying no dyed hair of any kind.

Just some mana'o, but my son said that the Hawaiians believed that when you go to "school", the 'ike, the knowledge you gain is absorbed into your hair, so the longer your hair, the more 'ike, which is why you see halau dancers with long hair. But hey, we don't go to a Hawaiian school, we go to a school of Hawaiians.

The long and the short of it is that I have created a rule-pushing monster who nitpicks the semantics of all this verbage (ME), but today's the first day of school, so maybe they'll be consistent this year and I can go back to modeling rule following for my children. First days are always so hopeful! :)