It’s not everyday that you come home covered in green fingerpaint, but that’s what happened to my dogs this morning.
Yeah, I was also covered in paint. But it was worse for them!
What exactly were we doing at 11:30am that resulted in green paint everywhere? My two dogs were painting pictures for an art auction!
Yes, you read that right. And it was pretty awesome!
Dublin and Bailey are both certified therapy dogs with Bright and Beautiful Dogs and they do visits about once per month. Dublin recently participated in a Rutgers University study that looked at the effects of therapeutic animals on children with autism. Bailey is a big fan of reading with the dogs at a local library. Both of them love working and it’s pretty great for Chris and I, too.
Our local chapter of therapy dogs is called Furry Angels and they work with a local rescue called Adopt-a-Pet. Adopt-a-Pet is holding a canine art auction in May and some of the therapy dogs and rescue dogs are contributing paintings. This was our first time painting and it was nothing like I expected.
It sounds easy, right? Have the dogs walk through the non-toxic paint and then let them walk across the paper. Easy-peasy.
Except not at all. Because my dogs, who will roll in the mud, walk into raging waters, and run through the wet sand on the beach decided that they were drawing the line at finger(paw?)paints. Nope, not having it. Not at all.
With some gentle coaxing (aka bribing with treats) we got them to dip their paws in the green paint and create an Irish-themed painting. It was a slow and steady process but we are pretty excited about the results. Hopefully it will raise some money for the rescue dogs! Plus, we got to practice first and ended up with a fun painting to bring home, too.
Bailey was displeased with the whole process and let us know afterwards (and again after her bath). Dublin was a little anxious but you’d never know from the above photo. Both dogs were covered in green paint and then proceeded to wrestle in the yard and smudge paint all over each other. Baths were a necessity when we got home!
The Aussies will be at the auction on May 2nd, so stop by if you want to meet them!
More info on the auction/fundraiser:
“What could be cooler than a picture personally painted by a Pup? Come for a fun night! Come to meet the “Pup Artists”! Come if you’ve ever adopted a Pup! Come if you plan to adopt a Pup! Come to support Adoption of a Furry Furever Friend! Buy your very own, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork, produced solely by and with the full cooperation (well maybe with some coaxing and bribery thrown in), of our 4-legged family members! Come to watch or come to bid, or just donate if you can’t come. It’s all about one terrific cause- Adopt a Pet and Save a Life- it may be your own!”
Today was the second (and final) day of the Monmouth Junior Science Symposium. I love attending this event each year with the freshman and I always learn a lot. This year, HTHS had a lot of students presenting papers and they all did a phenomenal job. I was so proud of my seniors, who have become expert speakers and presenters over the last few years. And the research they are doing? Seriously, the world is in great hands. :) Plus, one of our sophomores took second place overall, which is just incredible!
My favorite part of today was the keynote speaker. A professor at Monmouth University, Dr. Gary Lewandowski studies relationships. His presentation today was entitled “The Science of Love” and it was so apropos! Just like the research my students have been doing alongside Romeo & Juliet, he talked about how the human brain reacts to love. It was a funny and fascinating presentation and I loved all the connections my students made to Romeo & Juliet. I couldn’t have planned it better myself! Plus, he told the audience about the best types of pick-up lines (cute ones) and the best time of day to ask someone out (in the morning, before the stress of the day sinks in). I saw a lot of students taking notes!
But two days on field trips makes for one very tired Sarah. I planned to write more about MJSS but I just don’t have the energy. Sometimes, sleep is just more important!
This past Christmas I received a Fitbit. I was intrigued and willing to give it a shot, but I wasn’t sure if it would stick.
Three months later, I haven’t taken it off. Well, it has to charge once a week, but otherwise I wear it all day and night. And it is awesome.
I’m pretty active, thanks to the dogs, so I wasn’t too worried about the step counter. However, I didn’t realize how competitive I am. I friended a few folks through Fitbit and suddenly I can’t lose to them. I find myself checking my step counter a few times each day and if it seems low I start walking around my classroom, the hallway, and even the school more. Looks like Fitbit knew what they were doing, at least when it comes to folks with a competitive streak!
But the real reason I was interested in the Fitbit was the sleep tracker. I am a night owl and I frequently think I don’t get enough sleep. The sleep tracker was designed to tell you how long you slept and how often you were restless or woke up.
The first night I used it I was impressed. Three months later, I am blown away. First, it turns out I sleep more than I thought. Still not enough (who does?), but more than I previously imagined. I used to think I tossed and turned a lot before falling asleep but it turns out that’s not true. And thanks to the placebo effect, just seeing the chart each morning makes me feel more rested and ready for the day.
I also like tracking how I feel in relation to how I sleep. Last week my average weekly hours slept decreased and I could tell even before I got my Fitbit report. But now, thanks to the three months of data that I have, I can predict when I will feel run down and I can try to prevent it. How cool is that?
Do you have any fitness trackers or sensors? How do they work for you?
I’m still knee-deep in rough drafts, but I have given feedback on 43 of them. That’s more than half! I am seriously working on them every minute of the day, but they are getting done. And I know it’s valuable and the best thing I can do for my students. But it may not have been my brightest idea. Next year I need to find a way to provide feedback and not lose a week of my life. The goal is to keep them writing and revising, rather than just turning in a “final” copy to me, only to ignore the comments I leave. It seems to be working so far!
This is one of my favorite assignments of the year. After reading Romeo & Juliet we study adolescent brain development and the effects of love on the brain. Students do research and decide who (or what) is to blame for the deaths in the play. The rough drafts are fascinating because every student approaches the essay from a different angle. I’ve read about placing the blame on the nurse, the friar, the prince, and the parents. But most of the students place the blame squarely on Romeo and Juliet. About half of them excuse the couple for their actions because of adolescent brain development and/or loves effect on brain function. But the other half? They show no mercy! Romeo and Juliet should have had the common sense and knowledge to avoid suicide, and the students are very convincing.
Last night, I felt the crash coming. The past two weeks were finally catching up to me. I was cold, I kept coughing, and I was losing my voice. Because my life never slows down I decided the best decision was to call out today and try to let my body rest. So I did just that.
The plan was to sleep late, rest, have some chicken noodle soup, and hopefully kick this cold’s butt. I did do some of that, thankfully. But I forgot that the dogs don’t take sick days, so we still took 3 walks. Then I remembered I had to leave feedback on freshman rough drafts. The students are writing their Romeo & Juliet and adolescent brain development essays a little differently this year and it requires more work from me. The students just submitted rough drafts and rather than grading just the final draft, I am providing feedback on the rough drafts.
Eighty rough drafts.
Three to five pages.
And a works cited list.
I am crazy. I realize this.
Thank goodness the essays are really interesting and most of them are well-written. But I spent a good 5-6 hours reading and providing feedback today and I only finished 25 essays. I know this is worthwhile work. I know this is the best thing I can do for my students. But oh my word. So.many.essays.
See you all in 14 more hours.
Pondering big questions lately. Is it unrealistic/unfair to expect teaching 2 be your passion? Can/should it be “just a job?” or fallback?
— Sarah Mulhern Gross (@thereadingzone) March 24, 2014
I work with a lot of amazing, passionate educators every day at HTHS. I’m also lucky to have a PLN full of teachers who are passionate and engaged, always seeking new information and honing their craft. But I recognize that passion can be consuming. It means lost sleep and bringing work home with you. It means you can’t (or don’t) leave your job at the office. It means spending money and time on conferences, books, journals, professional development. Granted, if you are passionate about a subject it doesn’t always feel like work. But it still takes a lot out of you.
My question is, should we expect all teachers to be passionate? Is that fair? Or is it ok for a teacher to be in it for the convenient schedule, steady paycheck, and reliable hours? Plenty of teachers enter the classroom for those reasons and do a fine job. And the expectation for most careers seems to be that you go in from 9-5, do your job, and come home. Passion not necessary.
Business Journal recently looked at passion in the workplace and discovered that passion is rare in more careers and workplaces.
Two recent discoveries by The Gallup Organization offer insights into why passion is rare in U.S. workplaces:
- 55% of the U.S. working population is not engaged at work.
- 16% of the U.S. working population is actively disengaged
This pushed my thinking a bit more. Then my friend Teresa and I started talking.
— Teresa Bunner (@RdngTeach) March 24, 2014
That’s where I get stuck. Part of me feels that it isn’t fair to expect all teachers to be passionate about their career or current position. But if we aren’t passionate, don’t our students suffer? If my job performance suffers as a result of not being engaged at my 9-5 job, who is affected? My company and I will have to deal with the ramifications, but odds are no one else will. But if a teacher is not engaged and passionate about their subject area or their job, then their students are the first to suffer the consequences.
So what should expectations be? Is it ok for teaching to be a way to pass the time, get a paycheck, and get to retirement? Or should we demand that our teachers are passionate about something related to their job? That could be a passion for the subject matter they teach, or a passion for learning, or a passion for fostering the best in kids, as long as the passion is related to their job. Is that the answer?
I’m not sure what the answer is, because teaching is an all-consuming job, whether you are passionate about the career or just showing up everyday. You won’t leave work at the office, you won’t be able to stay distanced from the students, and you will never be able to walk away unscathed. Even if you aren’t passionate, it will have a deep and lasting impact on you. And you can certainly teach students without being passionate, provided you are engaged in the day-to-day activities in your classroom. When we demand passion, are we demanding too much?
Could passion lead to burnout? Or does it prevent burnout? My friend Tony Keefer used the word “play” to describe what teachers can do to spark passion and I love that. You can play in a subject area, in the field, in reading, in writing, and beyond. And play is equated with fun, so that’s good!
One of my experiences in school today pushed me to think further about this topic. My awesome student-teacher set up a Skype call today for my seniors, who were able to speak with a local news anchor about her life in the industry. The anchor was so passionate about her job but she made it very clear that it’s a 24/7 job, which reminded me a lot of teaching. She said you are always “on” and always representing your company. As a teachers, we can certainly relate! She pointed out that if you don’t enjoy the job and you aren’t engaged and passionate, then you wouldn’t make it. Should teaching be the same way? Maybe it’s the responsibility of administrators to filter out teachers who are not passionate, to make sure they don’t end up stuck in a career path that they despise to the detriment of students.
All of these questions are still swirling about in my mind. I’m not sure there is an answer, but it’s fascinating to think about. I’ve been coming back to this question of passion since I wrote my post “You’re Too Smart to be a Teacher”. That post inspired conversations about teaching as a backup career and way to get by until something better came along and whether that was fair to students and colleagues. I won’t pretend I haven’t met teachers like that in the past, so I know they are out there. But that might be true in all careers, so is it fair to expect something above and beyond that in teaching?
What do you think?