Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 151: Fall Cleaning

The weather has changed and as much as I love Summer, I have to say, this chillier weather and gorgeous foliage is at least making the transition easier!  Someone posted about fall being God's grand finale of  nature!  And it truly is as if the trees have been saving up all summer for their last great outburst of gorgeousness!  

Along with this fall, came some heavy duty cleaning time for me!  I decided to finally tackle that one room of doom!  (Humor me here, and at least pretend you have one of those "areas" in your house that has become the junk drawer/pile/corner/closet catch all-I'll deal with it later, etc. )  You know, the one that is always on your to-do list, yet never seems to make it off the list.  Well, I tackled one teeny, tiny portion of the task today--a file cabinet!  It was a simple, 4 drawer cabinet that turned into an overwhelming 4 hour endeavor!!!  I'm not even kidding and when I realized I had been sifting through files and files and papers and envelopes for 4 hours......making a destroy pile and a recycle pile- it was the numbness I felt in my fingers that kind of weird-ed me out.  I mean, I didn't think your fingers could go numb.  What sort of repetitive movement could cause that?  Oh well.  I had finished and so I stopped and thankfully, the odd numbness went away shortly after, so it wasn't any big deal.  But--the thing about purging and organizing is that not only is it a huge stress reliever to sit back and admire a job well done, but it is also quite a little trip down memory lane when you filter through years and years worth of documents!  You find yourself chronicling your life in the process.  And I have to say, I came across a handwritten note that my father had written.  Hmmm  Hmmmm Hmmmm!!!  I miss him so and just seeing his handwriting brought tears to my eyes but I am so thankful that he was a list maker (like myself) because it was so heart warming to read several notes and lists that he had made......just months before he died.  He was such a planner and I admire that about him.  I adore that he wouldn't leave it any other way.  He was very sick and I know he was not up to making lengthy writings at the time he wrote these treasures, but he still did it.  He still maintained his impeccable level of responsibility, right up to the very end.  And I'm so thankful that I still have these morsels of him left to cherish.  It reminds me of where I came from.  It affirms the man he was and in a world that has evolved to where handwriting is a dying art, in a world of emails, texts and computer generated communications, it is still so nice to see genuine handwriting, especially of ones you love because you can hear them speaking the words when you read over it and it touches your heart to see their undeniably recognizable style of writing! 

And then I came across another note.   This one left me balling.  I know I've seen it before and it gets me every time I read it.  It was a note he was penning for his sabbatical.  In retrospect, I believe he knew he was nearing the end of his life and so he applied for a sabbatical from the University to do research.  He was just taking off one semester, but I think he hoped to get his affairs in order as well as continue his professional work with what little time he had left.  (When I read of the Randy Pausch story--I felt they had such similar personalities and attitudes towards their diagnosis.  Both great men and excellent role models for others)  This was a Randy Paush style act to write this note.  From the note, it was evident that my father had received some sort of communication requesting an update on the status of his research.  He was a man of impeccable integrity and he was also a pioneer in his field.  I was humbled reading what he wrote to the Dean of his department.  Here he was, within the last 3 months of his life, and he was still plugging away at one of his passions-work.  He was still giving it his all.  He was genuinely pushing forward with technological advances and analyzing them while always seeking to learn and do more. And he wouldn't have done it any other way.   I mean, he wouldn't have ended his journey here on earth any differently than he lived it.  He was a go hard or go home type A personality. He didn't do anything half way.  I see so much of myself in him and it tickles me to have that connection.  I am still so proud of my father!  Of the man that he was and the way that he lived.  He was the best example I could have ever asked for in an earthly father.  Flaws and all--I wouldn't change one thing about him.  He wasn't perfect-but he was perfectly loving and he was perfect for me.  My love, my rock, my all! <3   My friend, who is a professional organizer would be happy to know I tackled this task today.....and God smiled down with a little blessing tucked inside of it!  Like a gorgeous leaf hand picked just for me! :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 150: Things that Make Ya' Go Hmmmm......or dare I say "rant" ;)

Today I have this personal post to share.....I won't call it a "rant" ;)  because that just doesn't suit my personality,  but it just so happens that our state has released test scores recently and I stumbled upon this post about testing through social media, and well......I have something to say about the whole deal-i-o!

Chuckle if you know me--because I'm the most positive person around--but even I can get a little discouraged, even downright confused over the test scores and what we can take from them!  It's a PRISM really!  You can look at it one way and see some very positive aspects, then you look from another angle and it can be so disheartening, considering how HARD educators work!   Desiring better results for our kids and seeing such huge personal/individual gains and having them not translate to amazing rankings, and results through the Dept. of Ed.'s accountability system is a difficult pill to swallow! (There.  I. said. it.)

So here's my "share" for the day!  Consider it a public service announcement (of sorts!) ;)  And I'm SUPER PROUD of the high performing schools in our district and area!  KUDOS to all!  It takes a village and it is remarkable to hear of the progress all around the state and nation.   My youngest child's elementary school had a personal boost of 10 points last year and this year, they maintained but didn't have the continued, bigger increase they were hoping for.  I don't focus on a number or a score and there's a reason why--testing is one measure.  I see the whole child, all day, every day.  I see REAL gains, progress, improvements in both behavior and maturity and a million other areas in between,  I see emotional issues and sometimes spiritual growth.  I see things that may always and may never show up on a standardized test.  So, while it is one measure--it is also just one measure.  :)

And that brings me to this post.  This struck a chord with me, so I share this, not to bash any particular publisher (Pearson, in this case, shhhh!) but to point out that we ALL make mistakes and there is so much VALUE in teaching students to THINK, PERSEVERE, PROBLEM SOLVE, QUESTION, and be CONFIDENT and COMFORTABLE that your method of solving may differ from others, but it can still be ACCURATE!  We have to increase our children's abilities to problem solve with tenacity and create life-long learners with a growth mindset!  My dad used to call this the "margin of error"  and INvalidity of tests, and he always graded his University students' tests (he had a PhD in Computer Science & Engineering and was a pioneer in Technology in his day!) with this margin of error (or %age) in their favor.  Granted, it can go both ways and anyone who has ever graded papers can attest to mistakenly giving a correct mark on an inaccurate response, but this margin of error covers it all.   Bottom line:  be real, be flexible, be able to see the forest for the trees--REAL LEARNING is what matters, not a score on a test!  Many learn AFTER the test--and what matters is the's crossing that finish line of mastery, not the time it took you to get there!

Ok so what's the article, you might ask.  It's this:
errors on the test and why it matters in today's high stakes testing era

and it basically outlines how ANY company/publisher can have ERRORS.   Yes, you read that correctly.  ERRORS.  No big E right?  Well, that is all in how you view it, deal with it, and APPLY it to life! There. My $.02 for the day! Rant. Over. (Well, is she calling it a rant now? ;)  Said in my best Jim Gaffigan's audience-heckler-lady voice! :)