Saturday, November 27, 2010

Big Girl Swing!




-- Post From My iPhone

Drastic Changes

Yesterday...



And today.


-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Public Plea: Austinites, Please Read

The Austin ISD public schools are projecting a $35 million shortfall during this coming year. In less than a month, School Board members will be meeting to vote on ways in which to accommodate this deficit.

One of the proposals on the table would be, in my opinion, hugely detrimental to the Austin public schools. The members will be voting on whether or not to take away one planning period from middle and high school teachers. Logistically, this would mean that our planning time would be cut in half. For those that don't know, that time is when we meet with colleagues to create and refine curriculum, collaborate to better serve students that are struggling, and occasionally have time to actually prep for class and grade papers. In order to be effective in the classroom, teachers need some time to prepare and meet with our coworkers, just as in any other profession.

Cutting this time in half will insure a substantial decline in the education Austin students receive. It WILL be detrimental and damaging to our youth, let alone the quality of life and work conditions for teachers.

In terms of staffing, this move will also mean 1 in 8 teachers at the middle and high school levels will be laid off. 1 in 8. In a district with nearly 40 middle and high schools, this transfers to 600 people. Roughly 600 teachers will lose their jobs.

Let me say that again: 600 PEOPLE in the CITY OF AUSTIN ALONE will lose their jobs. AND THEY DON'T HAVE TO. AND IT WILL HURT AUSTIN'S KIDS.

In order to compensate for the $35 million shortfall, teachers have presented several options to that would allow us to both keep our planning periods and allow those 600 teachers to keep their jobs and maintain the level of quality of our schools. Furthermore, the district has a "rainy day fund" that holds $120 million dollars. I'd say this counts as a rainy day. The board has options and cutting teachers is only one of them.

These cuts are not necessary. We can save our schools.

So what can you do? On Monday evening at 6:30, there will be a school board meeting at 1111 West 6th Street, Room B-100, Austin, Texas. Please be present if possible. If anything, show up in solidarity with teachers. Please. Our school board members, who gain their position by votes, need to see that their voters are not okay with a move that will, without question, hurt Austin children's education. If you can't be at the meeting, contact your school board representative. Flood their voicemail. Flood their inbox. Send them letters. If you don't know who your representative is, a list can be found here:

http://austinisd.org/inside/board/members.phtml

Many of you have have supported me in my efforts as a teacher. I know that you value education and the role it plays in children's futures. Please, if you live in Austin, take this seriously and speak out. We teachers need you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On the Way to School




-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chillin'




-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, November 12, 2010

Braggy McBraggerson

I have debated sharing this because I didn't want to come off as too self-congratulatory, but I have decided that enough of you have shown interest and support in our lives that I would post this.

At the beginning of the school year, a writer from Education Week came to observe several classes at our school. They later contacted me to do a teacher profile and sent a photographer to my classroom. The article was printed in Education Week and is also featured on their website, along with the profile and a video of me. I'm trying to get my hands on a paper copy of the article, since it features a really cute picture of one of my students and me. Here are the links!

The article about the Professional Development program, Quality Teachers for English Learners.

The Teacher Profile on me. (The video is towards the bottom. The still shot before it starts is terrible!)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Three of Us

Pictures of Robin, Lydia, and I together are a hot commodity, since either Robin or I are usually behind the camera. Yesterday we got out the tripod before bringing Lydia to music class. Note her sweater: Grandma Marie and Grandpa Dale brought it back for her from Ireland!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Malia

I am a believer in shared experiences. I feel that knowing people are thinking about you, caring about you, sending you prayers, positive energy or thoughts, and all of those things eases difficult and trying situations.

For awhile, I have been following the Caring Bridge site of a little girl from my hometown. I've never met her or her family, but a high school friend posts links to Malia's site on her facebook page, so I began checking on them. I found myself drawn to this little girl and her family.

Malia is a nine-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with Stage Four cancer, and at this point, the doctors believe they have done everything they can for her. I feel compelled to share her story via the Caring Bridge site her mother so diligently updates.

Malia's Caring Bridge site can be found at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/maliapeterson. They ask that you register and provide an email address and create a password for the site, but in my past experiences with Caring Bridge, I have had no issues with junk mail or spam.

I think about how much it has meant to me during these past days to know that people have thought about Lydia, have empathized with the things that were so difficult in this blip of a medical difficulty. As this family deals with something so potentially catastrophic, I can't imagine that the same empathy would be appreciated by them.

Lydia Update

Lydia is doing much better. She is responding well to antibiotics, and we only had to give her tylenol once today for fever. Even then, it was relatively low-grade. She is acting like herself and has bounced back nicely. Robin stayed home with her today, but we are guessing she will be back in daycare on Monday.

We are looking forward to a relaxing weekend, and I'll be updating with post-dated blogs from our October adventures!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Dr. McDreamy for Us

I used to be an avid fan of Grey's Anatomy. They lost me during the whole Izzie Stevens/ghost of Denny Duquette thing happened, and when George O'Malley was was written out, it sealed the deal. However, most of what I know about hospitals comes from Grey's Anatomy and E.R. The only time I have ever been in the hospital was when Lydia was born, and that was for thirty-six hours in the labor and delivery unit.

Do you see where I'm going with this? On Tuesday, Lydia was sent home from daycare with a fever. Robin picked her up early at about 3:30, and her teacher reported that she was hot, had a temperature of 101 degrees, and was breathing shallowly during nap time. We began giving her fever reducing medicine, and I put in for a sub for Wednesday. At bedtime, I noticed that she was breathing more quickly than usual, and after a conversation with our pediatrician, had determined that her breathing was in relation to her fever. She slept well, and Wednesday morning seemed to be about the same, mostly feverish.

As the day progressed, I became somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that her breathing was still notably faster than usual, enough so that I wanted to see our doctor. I made an appointment for 1:15, and shortly thereafter, the circus came to town.

Over a period of about twenty minutes, Lydia had three "episodes" during which she began breathing more quickly, lost color in her face, and scariest of all, her lips and chin turned bluish. These episodes lasted less than a minute each (probably less than 30 seconds), and she would shiver afterwards. In a panic, I tried to call our pediatrician, but she was on the phone with another patient. I kept thinking about all of the things I've read that said to listen to my instincts, and my instincts were telling me that waiting for her appointment wasn't a good idea, and I realized that if waiting for our doctor to finish a phone call felt like too much of a wait, my instincts were saying this was urgent. I was scared that the episodes would become more severe or more frequent, and I had no idea what was bringing them on. Robin had just walked in the door for lunch, so I informed him that we were taking Lydia to Dell Children's.

On the way there, I called to see if they wanted us to go to Urgent Care or the ER. As soon as I described Lydia's symptoms, they told me to go to the ER, so we headed there. Lydia had one more breathing episode in the car, and I felt like we were making the right choice.

Back to Grey's Anatomy. I now understand why they make hospital shows about rare disease after rare disease. Why? Because emergency rooms and hospitals are not so much exciting and suspenseful as they are terrifying and stressful. We were at Dell's for about six hours, during which Lydia was suited up in a gown, monitored, poked, and prodded. She was a champ and charmed all of the doctors and nurses, but there's something about holding your screaming child while nurses insert a catheter for a urine sample or dig around for a vein to get blood that is traumatic. While we have reveled in Lydia's blossoming verbal skills, her ability to scream "All done!! All done!!!" and "No! No! No!" made the experience pretty traumatic, especially because as they ran test after test, took x-rays, and asked us questions, it became apparent that we were not going to leave with any definite answers as to what was going on and I felt like I had either been imagining the breathing episodes or had overreacted.

Ultimately, they attributed the breathing episodes to Lydia's rising fever. While they didn't find any bacteria in her blood or urine screens, her white blood cell count was high enough to warrant anti-biotics, so she was given shots in both of her thighs, and we were told to make a follow-up appointment with our doctor today.

With that said, Dell Children's did a great job of trying to make our time there more patient friendly.They had Child Life Specialists who provided Lydia with toys, and when we got hungry, they brought us a boxed lunch. The Specialist was on hand to answer questions, explain procedures, and offer comfort measures, such as positions to hold her during the blood draw, books and a hand-held movie player to distract her, etc. We never felt like we were being ignored, and while we were there for awhile, none of our waits were extraordinarily long; they just wanted to be thorough and it took time to get each test result back.

Today, I stayed home again and took Lydia in to see our pediatrician. They ran a strep culture and tested for the flu, both of which were negative. She validated our choice to take Lydia to the ER, saying she would have done the same thing. Since Lydia seemed to be responding so well to her anti-biotic shot, she gave her an extended prescription for more to fight a possible infection. Today she seemed better, but she is still not quite back to herself.

A huge thank you goes out to Jessica, who quickly volunteered to come over and sit with Lydia today. I hadn't showered since Tuesday (or washed my hair since Monday--eek!), and we were in desperate need of groceries. Mostly, I was so glad to have face time with someone who wasn't a doctor. She is an awesome friend. We have also had offers from other friends to provide anything we need, and for that we are very grateful. A co-worker stepped up today and helped my sub get in order, and lots of people have been checking in on Lydia. I get really emotional when I think of the support we get from so many.

So guess why, when trying decide what to do in an attempt to come down after the day's craziness, Robin said, "NOT watch Grey's Anatomy."