Breaking Up with a Job You Love

Creative, Education, Journalism, Portfolio, Thoughts, Writing

After teaching for six years (two in high school), I made the choice to leave secondary education. In retrospect it became emotionally similar to ending a long-term relationship…

It’s 10 p.m. and one of my best friends and I decide to compulsively go buy about thirty dollars’ worth of flowers.  We did this often–impulse buying after stressful days at work.  Flowers are practical. And so is that nail polish with a self-imposed misogynistic names.

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How I Used Google Classroom with my Kiddos

Audio/Video, Education

We used Google and WordPress in my classes the last two years and loved it. This is a walk-through of how my students setup Google and WordPress blogs in our writing class.

Arm Me With… (From an educator to the system)

Education

Arm me with the ability to successfully teach; give me a task that is not impossible. Hire me in a position where I really do act as an educator instead of a babysitter or cog in a wheel. Allow me to make decisions and change in education, and take that ability away from people who have never stepped foot in the classroom. Respect me enough to trust my opinion and treat me as a professional. Stop giving us tasks that, at first brim with a tempting frothy hope, but then fade into hopelessness. My heart was so full before I took this job, and now it is simply bitter and angry at the field of education.

The Balancing Act: Teaching Openly in the Humanities (Part II)

Education

One of the hardest things about teaching is the acting.

When you have a weekend, or even just a night, where certain situations push you to emotional exhaustion, or even go so far as changing you, putting an eternal dent in your identity. And then, you suddenly find yourself sitting in front of a class, wondering how to bring the pieces of your mind together. How to convince them that you’re okay when a rush of thoughts are occurring in your head, and your heart sinks into your chest. When you have to remain in the present for them, but the sensation of falling is pulling you back towards stagnation. Grief weighs the most when you stop.

Day Zero: Timber to an Open Flame

Thoughts

Airplanes are amazing; humans can fly while watching movies and accessing Wi-Fi. Emphasis on the flying part, because we are literally defying the limitations of our own biology by doing that. How freaking cool. These are my ever-so-eloquent thoughts as I sit staring out the window, watching the other planes dance a spiral in the approach to Heathrow; I’ve grown up in a family associated with planes and the airlines, and regardless of how much I fly, I am still very much in awe of these flying machines. The moments at dusk when you cannot tell which direction the sky is in. The descent through layers of clouds. The curve of the earth.

New Growth (New House)

Thoughts

Just weeks after moving into a house for the first time, we had to take down a massive Sweet Gum tree that stoically stood in our front yard. It’s large branches stretched across the front of the house, providing shade and privacy. While previously, my sense of appreciation for the forest was tied beauty and ecosystem support, it was now tied to utility: cooling the house in the summer heat, shading the office, creating a sense of seclusion from the streets.

Dear Students: Ask Questions

Education

The question mark is, perhaps, the most powerful syntactical mark that exists. The nature of the interrogative clause or phrase is that of thought–you inquire as a response to a problem. You draft, you adjust, you adapt, you grow, you think, you try, you test, you risk–all thanks to a question mark. All thanks to a question. What is inquiry but a hypothesis waiting to be tested? What is testing a hypothesis but progressing towards something extraordinary?

It always starts with a question:

Lazy Mind and Body: the Need for Kinetic Activity (in One-to-One Schools)

Education

 

I love movement. Running. Galloping. Dancing. Walking. Climbing. Movement is freedom. It is the release of anxiety. It elevates my thoughts. It makes me aware of my entire body. It is tangible progress towards something. It is also, sadly, something our westernized culture seems to have forgotten.

Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, outside of traveling around the country, was one of the reasons I left my government job in Washington. Prior to finishing my Master’s, I knew that a cubicle/office job would not be a sustainable option, but the temptation of random recruitment and the combination of idealism with an opportunity to affect the politics of our country were enough to seduce me. And there I was, in a future I did not predict. Sitting in a cube. Wearing my suit. Drinking my coffee.

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Sitting all day, ironically, is exhausting–but not in the manner of exhaustion that envelopes you, cushions you, after a long day of physically exerting work. It is a droopy exhaustion. Lethargy from nothing. Perhaps from preventing a rhythmic flow of blood through your body, or from your spine being contorted over itself. Science-y stuff.

Practice and Preach

Thoughts

 

I write this stricken with a tinge of guilt on my shoulder, wondering if I still can. Wondering if I should. And then ultimately realizing that the wondering is simply a manner of coming up with excuses not to.

“Don’t compose this sentence,” the backspace beckons. My finger reaches for the key. It’s impulse. You haven’t written anything in a while. You’re not a writer anymore. Probably not good enough.

The mind can be SUCH a jerk sometimes. So can whiteout. And the backspace key. And those really chalky erasers. And fights against the Arkham Knight in the Bat Mobile. Moral: lots of things are jerks.

Though despite my guilt, I write this in happiness and contentment. I’m starting to grow and snuggle into a career field I see myself pursuing for the long-haul. One that I am optimistic and passionate about. I am also in a place that allows me to be in nature, work with wildlife and horses again, and open up to the idealistic identity I thought I lost for a little while; though, I think I prefer the term under-construction as opposed to lost.

It’s been ages since I’ve written in this blog, or really written anything outside of a class syllabus. It’s been ages since I’ve poured my time, experiences, memories, and moments into something that was both professional and personal to me. Teaching, in many ways, can be personal, but it is also inundated in connections and social interactions. Teaching at this point, consumes most of my thoughts. How will my lesson plan go tomorrow? What creative activity can I have my kids do to emphasize a point? What do I want my kids to learn? How can I help those who need more assistance? Does this material make sense for multiple intelligences? How is this going to tie in later on? How can I make sure my students are learning at all? What do I need to grade? How can I grade fairly? These questions are never easily answered, and when they are, their answers change. I love dwelling on these things, in the space of ambivalence and creativity.

But I think I’ve gotten to the point where I need to take time to separate my life from my career–a concept that I think is foreign to most who are in or have recently finished grad school. And ideally, that’s what getting back to writing will help me do. Reflection is sometimes the best of teachers… and as an English and writing teacher, I feel like I should probably practice what I preach. So my goal, is that once a week, I will have a piece up on this blog again. It might be an article I’ve recently published, an interview, a reflection, a story, an idea, a blurb, a recipe, an independent clause. I can’t guarantee what it will be, but it will have words. Beautiful, meaningful, fulfilling words.*

*I’m not saying I write beautiful words, I’m saying words in-and-of-themselves are beautiful, and might actually be made less beautiful in the context of this blog (RIP words: thanks for being useful). But it’s still pretty mind-blowing to me that symbols can carry emotional meaning with them. Carl Sagan uses them real good.

The Rhetoric of Video Games: How Game Design Makes Meaning

Academic, Games and Media, Portfolio

(This article was written as part of my graduate thesis and is part of my on-going research in education, rhetoric, and games.)

A few weeks ago I took part in a panel at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco that explored the relevance of video games—of what scholar James Paul Gee calls a “problem of content,” in which we only value an artifact as educational if it provides tangible content (22). At the conference major developers and game designers gathered together to talk about what the medium of games was to become with the incessant invectives of games being “a waste of time” or “a phase to grow out of.” If that’s all games are, then what’s the point of working in them? As a field, we need to find a way to elucidate these claims. We need to shine light on video games as a medium that has the potential to serve alongside traditional artifacts accepted in an artistic and academic setting, while also realizing that some games are simply meant to be used as entertainment or escapism. Regardless, the level of interactivity games allow have proven to provide profound effects on cognitive enhancement, but we can only use them progressively if they are taken serious both by their audience and their creators.  Ian Bogost argues that games should be discussed alongside “traditional media subjects,” and that “teaching games alongside reading, writing, and debating them as argumentative and expressive practices” can help evolve the way we look at rhetoric in new media (136). Thus the aim of this project, inspired largely by this conversation, is to explore how video games create meaning through their design—ultimately looking at how games apply and use multi-modal rhetorical devices to influence players in a manner that other mediums may not be able to.