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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sprinter Fever

Welcome to March-April in Alaska, or as I refer to it: 

Okay, okay, so it's not a word (for a season anyway), but in Alaska it should be! We have a glorious summer, a funky cold Fall, Winter, and Spring with negative temps and 10 inches of snow! This is what I am calling Spring-Winter or Spr-inter. It's driving me nuts already! I am so excited by the sun and gorgeous days. Sun up at 7:30am and sundown around 9:00pm it is difficult to stay inside for work and even tougher on the weekends!

I am glad to see the signs of spring though, even though it sprinter is a menace when you freeze your tail off playing outside. Spring also means that school is wrapping up, which is always a surprise no matter how well you plan for it. Working in the Bush provides so many wonderful opportunities to get out and play like last weekend's manaqing trip:

I am thrilled at the possibilities for next year and look forward to another school year!

A quick reflection on the last school year leaves my head spinning.
  • Not counting “weather days” I have estimated 87 days at sites. This means 87 days spent in classrooms working with teachers and students around the district. 
  • Hoping to better serve the schools by making myself available to staff first thing in the morning, I have travelled an estimated 30 evenings. These evenings are always outside of  contractual obligations, and many times on Sundays. 
  • Not one to travel to and from a single site, the afore mentioned stats mean that I have spent the night in a school 60-70 times this year. (Many times I have been welcomed in the homes of staff in their guest rooms)
  • I am so appreciative of everyone who has cooked me dinner, welcomed me to a guest room, and generally entertained me while on the road.

This summer will be nothing short of spectacular I think. My sister is getting married so I will be heading to Louisiana for a bit in July. It won't be too long before I am back, too, as she just informed me that she and her to-be-husband are expecting a new baby! So excited I don't even know what to say! My father and step-mother are planning a trip to come visit Alaska in July as well, so I have a lot to look forward to...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Price of Innocence is Impotence

There are only two ways to look at problems and events in your life: those events within your control and those events out of your control.  If you believe something is in your control you are powerful. If you believe something is out of your control you are innocent.

Working in the bush has shown me that there are some pretty amazing teachers, staff members and students working in rural schools. What makes them effective? Why are some looked to as leaders? How do certain teachers get so much out of their students?

I say it’s because they are in control… or at least they think they are.

I read recently:
There are two types of causes: those within and those beyond your control. You have a choice about where to focus. The latter makes you look innocent. You are not to blame. The former makes you powerful. It is your “response-ability.” Being “response-able” means focusing on what you can do to respond to a challenge. It’s about taking ownership, rather than assigning blame and playing the innocent victim. As I wrote here, the price of innocence is impotence.

Teachers are a great sample of the population in general, but especially so when one considers the task before our nation and the role of the American teacher. In the Bush, for example, there is an unending thread of negatives that must be overcome before a teacher can succeed (or so it would seem).

“Well we don’t even have water in the village so I…”
“These kids don’t do homework so how can I…”
“The community isn’t supportive enough so I…”

I am not saying it’s teachers’ fault, I am one of them after all. What I am saying is that when you add up all those statements at the end of the year do you have more that you can’t control or can?

Maybe I am lying to myself, but I choose to take responsibility. I WILL do. I WILL be held accountable. I WILL succeed. I will also fail, come up short, and accept consequences.

I recently bench pressed 335lbs. 
When I lifted it I felt strong, before I could I said it “was too heavy.”
Lots of other guys could lift it though, so what I meant to say was “It was too heavy for me”  So… will you “be strong” or will you say “it’s too heavy?”

If you hear me say “it’s too heavy” remind me to add “for me.”