Sunday, October 23, 2005

King of night vision, king of insight...

(If you recognize the quote, yes, there's something about Galileo in this post, but you'll have to wait...)

The fella is recovering from a bout of something that he thinks was a stomach inflammation brought on by mixing burritos and Cinnastix, and I think was a flu bug. His mother thinks it was bird flu, but since the parakeet seems in good health and spirits, I'm tending to dismiss that possibility.

He threw up a bit, and the fella does not deal well with bodily fluids. He did, however, FEEL better after throwing up, and began to refer to this as 'post-vomit euphoria'. I'm afraid I've now got a bulimic on my hands. Following this, he became nervous that I would mention all this on the blog--which honestly, I hadn't thought of doing up until then. He said he didn't mind having the detail of his life (anonymously) on this blog, just asked me to make it funny.

There's only so much funny you can do with a flu virus, but we're working on it...

He was off work for four days while recovering, and did not eat for three. He did try to eat. He asked for white rice, and for chicken and rice soup, and for chicken broth, and for various other bland foods. He ate about two bites of each. Today I've been slowly clearing the house of small, bland, uneaten meals, which have been scattered all across the fella's living space. Mostly soup and rice in various combos, although he also tried with oatmeal and Golden Grahams. Night before last, though, he ate scrambled eggs and a Hebrew National hot dog, and last night we went to friends and ate a small amount of tortellini and some salad. So far, so good.

The friends in question have a puppy who is going to be (they swear) a Christmas present for her father in Montana. There may be something cuter than a two month old beagle, but I'm not sure exactly what. He fell asleep upside down on the fella.

In other news, yesterday I had to go to a teacher induction 'Saturday Seminar'. This is a hideous thing I have to do six times a year, inflicted by my district's state mandated teacher induction program.

It takes place on Shabbos.

It takes place on Shabbos and I have to get up at five thirty to get there on time.

It takes place on Shabbos, I have to get up at five thirty, and then I have to take a cab from the Lafayette BART station to St. Mary's College in Moraga because buses do not run to Moraga that early on a Saturday morning.

Also, the usefulness of the workshops is pretty hit or miss.


But I got there, and there was a pretty good keynote speaker, and I stayed for her workshop. This was a massive improvement over last year's October keynote speaker, an incredibly earnest young woman who had been national teacher of the year after saving a bunch of urban teenagers no one wanted by making them read Anne Frank's diary. It was not what I needed at that point in my career, especially the parts where she would pause (twice, this happened) and tearfully ask "If Shakespeare could write, 'a rose is a rose, is a rose', isn't a child, a child, a child?" Sadly, Shakespeare didn't write that, and, well, I wasn't in a forgiving mood.

This keynote lady was very good, and I was even able to deal well enough with the horrible lunch that followed. Sadly, I was not able to deal well with the breakout session that followed, but never mind...after that I had to go deal with the woman who is theoretically in charge of the homework assignments for this farce.

Things pretty quickly went sour. The problem with my teacher induction is that no one seems entirely clear on what the requirements are, and they always tell me to talk to someone else. There were six homework assignments last year for the St. Mary's extravaganza, and by the end of summer I had only completed/passed three of them. I needed to know if I could make them up this year, or if I was in real trouble.

The blue-suited lady in charge (theoretically) of all this, told me that I should get to work on this year's homework.

I asked about LAST year's again.

She told me that my incomplete had been changed to an F. I was mildly surprised to hear this, since no one had told me I was being graded.

Shortly after that she realized that I was not taking the classes for credit, so actually, no, I wasn't being graded on it.

I explained that my understanding was that I needed to finish all the homework assignments for St. Mary's.

She said that NO, my district decided what I had to do.

I told her that my district thought St. Mary's decided what I had to do.

She refused to believe that this was possible, since, as she explained, "We provide you with opportunities for professional development and an chance to meet the state requirements." She said this four times in the course of the conversation.

Basic problem: my district has NO CLUE what the requirements are, and assumed St. Mary's would explain it to us. St. Mary's has no jurisdiction, and refused to believe my district had not made this clear. She also suggests I might, if I am so stressed and short of time, like to NOT take the St. Mary's classes. I explain that I didn't want to take the St. Mary's classes, but my district made me. She says that my district did not make me. I assure her they did.

At this point we began to descend into what I like to call a 'Galileo conversation'. A Galileo conversation occurs when there is a difference of opinion or perception of reality between you and the person you are talking to, and not only do they disagree, but they won't allow the conversation to end until you submit to their interpretation, and possibly do some form of public penance for having questioned it to begin with.

We are standing in the middle of the Moraga Room, under lights, surrounded by chairs, and I am starting to get slightly panicky, and am trying to break off the conversation. I explain that clearly, I did not get good information from my district, and I will need to e-mail some people with the new information. She says that she would NOT advise e-mail, I need to sit DOWN, right away with my support provider, and find out exactly what the requirements are.

I say that e-mail is probably the best place to start, and I will need to find out who has the information. She informs me that my district has the information. I say I'm not sure, they seem to think she does. She repeats the policy statement about providing me with professional development opportunities.

I am now desperately repeating that I need to check in with my district again in light of the fact that they gave me bad information, but for some reason this woman is now the defender of the Unnamed Unified School District, and won't back off this point. She tells me with enormous condescension that people from my district are doing this work, 'successfully', and maybe I need to look at their portfolios.

I tell her that's not the issue, I need to know what is required. She repeats that people from my district are doing this work successfully.

I eventually sort of peel away. It was not a good experience.

But now I want a copy of "Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites", and I have a cool idea for teaching vocabulary. And leads about how to work out what the heck is going on here...not a total loss.

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