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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Day 92: Here at the Uni…

In Education, English Major, Teaching, Women, Work, Writing on July 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm

When you’re a teacher, the most meaningful, and perhaps important, part of your job is your students. I was on campus working at the university today and I decided to segue from my work to get a sandwich for lunch.  I noticed one of my students, one of my more insightful and dedicated ones would be an understatement, I approached her and we got to talking about her current endeavors (I always like to hear what my students are doing and the ways in which they have advanced).  She informed me that she is working with a program referred to as “summer bridge” wherein she helps a cohort of university freshman make is through their first year of college; I was so proud of her.

As I began to turn away from her, she stopped and looked me in the eye,

“The things I learned from you really helped me and I will never forget them. I just want to thank you for everything you taught me about writing.”

I beamed. Those are the real moments, the ones that counteract all the freshman students who sit in the back of the room and quietly sneer or text. It reminds you why you teach and it makes me feel like I am making a difference here at this university.

professor whit.

Day 87: What Emilie Parker Taught Me.

In Blogs, Children, Education, Kids, life on March 27, 2013 at 5:39 am

Yesterday I decided to have a pity party for myself.  Thankfully it only took me a restful night sleep to snap out of it. 

This evening I noticed an interview on CBS with Emilie Parker’s parents, a little victim of the Sandy Hook Tragedy, the news anchor mentioned that Alissa, Emilie’s Mother, had started a public blog.  I quickly searched it, found it, and began to read her archives but it was one posting in particular that really touched me, “An Unexpected Letter.” In it she writes of a charcoal drawing of Emilie she received only days after the shooting.  The drawing was accompanied by a letter,

I was immediately impressed with the drawing and was convinced it must have been drawn by a seasoned artist.  To my surprise, it was drawn by an amazing seventeen year old girl who wrote us one of the most touching letters.  In it she said, “Your daughter touched one more life….my own.  At the time of all this occurring I was pleading with God to give me a sign on which path to take with my life, to be an artist, a path that was unsure and I feared, or to peruse a more generic career, that may not mean happiness.  This is the sign I was asking for.  I realized my passion is for art, it is what I was meant to do.  Next year I am attending…….State University and I’m going to major in Art.  I will always remember that little girl whom inspired me to follow my dreams, that beautiful girl named Emilie Parker.”

Alissa goes on to share the dreams she had envisioned for Emilie–she remembers practicing her sight words nightly and making sure she could read every book her teacher sent home.  In the end, though, Alissa realizes it’s not the memory of which sight words Emilie could or couldn’t remember or which reading level she had advanced to…

After loosing Emilie, it is strange how I value all these moments so differently now.  I don’t care nor do I remember which sight words she had down, but I remember how much we laughed and cheered together while we practiced them.  I don’t remember what reading level she had achieved, but I do remember snuggling up with her on the couch and watching the excitement of a whole new world being discovered through her eyes in the story she was reading.   At meal times, she didn’t always eat her vegetables and she could never seem to stay in her seat….but there was never dull moment as Emilie would tell us story after story and we would all laughed together as a family.  I look back and have no regrets about Emilie’s life with us.  It wasn’t about being perfect or always doing the right thing; it was about experiencing and loving life together as a family.

She goes on to reveal her hopes that her daughters fulfill their passions in life–that they choose a path that will make them happy most of all.  She marks that she hopes she can make her daughter proud with the life she chooses to go on living.

Much of my bad day centered around my disappointment and uncertainty in my choices.  Wondering how I will make a career out of the education I have pursued.  This post gave me a new perspective, though, that is, we only have one life to touch our dreams and make others proud. We just have to follow the possibility, take the risk, and remember what counts is the experience and memories we sketch along the way.

a whit.

Day 86: A favorite poem

In Education, Poetry, Women, Writing on March 23, 2013 at 10:38 pm
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.
-Dickenson

Daily Cupcake: Blogs I Love

In Blogging, Blogs, Books, Children, Education, Family, Mother, Motherhood, Women, Writing on February 24, 2013 at 8:28 am

Today’s cupcake, Blogs I Love goes out to this blog–a blog about being a mom and author–two of my favorite things [although I haven’t quite accomplished the author thing, yet].  I am just waiting for my early retirement, a new macbook, and a house with an office.

The author of this blog also wrote the book Sparkly Green Earrings a novel that chronicles life and being a family…

before I became a mother I had no idea that it would be the hardest and best thing I would do in my life. that I would look at this little person and see so much of myself…my sense of humor, smile, and ability to create drama out of nothing…and I can start to think you’re just like me but you’re not, you’re your own person–you are the dream we couldn’t have imagined and I wrote this book for you. love mama

As mothers we do so many things for our children–like drive home to get a different booster seat so our 2nd grader looks cool as he drives to the school fire station field trip, and clean up dog poop so our kids can know the beauty of loving something that loves them back threefold, and go to the store and buy 7 of the same pair of shorts because they are his “favorite” and that way he won’t know he’s not wearing the same outfit everyday. There are the usual things people always mention [probably the people who don’t have kids yet]…midnight feedings, tantrums, yada yada yada.  It’s the unusual things, though, like bribing your kid to leave the toilet seat down and tricking them out of candy by saying it’s owie medicine–that’s what makes a mother. You can enter to win a free, signed copy of Melanie’s book Sparkly Green Earrings here.

sge-pin-4

a mom whit.

Day 70: Internalize the Rubric

In Education, English Major, Laughter, life, Teaching, Writing on September 15, 2012 at 6:36 am

I was standing in the meat department of the grocery store the other day staring blankly at the chicken cuts when the guy behind the counter looked at me and asked,

“what do you want?”

I looked directly at him, and I said.

“I’m sorry sir but I don’t know what I want. I don’t even know what day it is, and if you were to ask me my name at this very moment, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’d be able to tell you what it is.”

I think he thought I was joking at first, but then after I stood there for about 5 minutes with a continued fixed-chicken thigh-gaze, he finally got it.

Skipping forward a few days, today I found myself at a gathering wherein I was told to internalize writing rubrics. After five years of undergraduate work, an almost complete masters degree, and countless graded papers (both my own and those of my students), I couldn’t help but return to my meat department moment (and gently kick my colleague under the table). I was under the impression a paper was either an A, B, C, D, E, or Failing. Maybe my internal grading rubric is slightly off kilter–or maybe I’m just starting to lose my sanity after several years in grad school (I did just notice my accidental E in there). I’m just lucky I am getting an identifiable name, albeit correct, on my own papers. I’m sorry professors. It was kind of like a moment in class last week wherein my student looked at me, and then he asked who was going to be the professor the following week…?

Um, me.

OK, so whose going to be the professor all semester?

Um, me.

Sorry kiddo, I’m not going anywhere whether you like my rubric or not. The good thing is though, I can’t remember my name half the time so guess what? You don’t have to either. I promise, I won’t take points off for that.

20120914-234835.jpg

Why I Left Facebook (And You Should Too): Day 60

In Blogging, Education, Humanity, life, Teaching, TED Talks on August 1, 2012 at 7:53 am

Today is another posting concerning a TED talk–I seem to listen to these in bouts.

This one deals with something referred to as the 30-day challenge.  Essentially, the 30-day challenge requires you to pick one thing in your life, a thing you would like to change or add, and then implement it for 30 days straight.

I found this interesting, especially since I had no idea this was even a  scientific research ‘thing,’ but that I had done this several times myself within the last year or so.  I’ll explain.

I made a decision one day that too many people that know far too little about me (in real life) know far TOO MUCH about me on the internet.  Didn’t like it. So, I started by purging my Facebook friends list, I went from something like 450 friends down to about 250 and then I let it sit for a few months.  When I returned to it, I recognized it needed more purging so I did it–60, let it sit, and then something like 23.

23.

I had 23 people that I felt comfortable with seeing/viewing/intimately gazing in on my life via the line.

It seemed so pointless to me, so I decided to cut the facebook account.  At first, I thought it would only be temporary.  I figured I’d give it 30 days and then go from there.  Oddly enough, I did have withdrawals in those first few weeks of my friendly fbook’s departure.  I’d find myself cringing at not knowing if Suzie had posted her labor and delivery pictures or if Bozo had finally engaged to his 10-year girlfriend.  I’d reach for my phone every time a good picture or ‘moment’ presented itself and then realize, “Oh, I don’t have facebook anymore.”  And then something else happened, I forgot about it. This is something mentioned in this TED research–it is quite typical that if you give something 30 days within your life that it will become embedded within it and serve as a new lifestyle modification/change.  This certainly happened to me, I am coming up on my almost 1 year mark of my facebook departure and I hardly think of the social networking site now–if at all.  I told a friend the other day how great it is now to meet friends for lunch.  Of course they always commence the conversation with some sadness, “I wish you we’re on facebook still…” or “I went to find you on facebook the other day and you weren’t there (sad face ensues)” and of course the occasional “I just KNEW you would want to ‘like’ this one post but you weren’t there.”  Then the conversation goes on and they proceed to update me on all the facebook happenings–makes me quite happy because I get a bulk of very interesting information about a bunch of people I really don’t care that much about, but that feel the need to share their lives with randoms, and all over a very nice meal.  Seems like a win win to me.

Then there is my most recent 30 day challenge.

Pop.

Soda.

Coke.

Whatever you want to call it.

After looking at my cellulite thighs, yes it is true despite those who mock me (you can be 100 pounds with cottage cheese thighs), I decided for a dietary change.  One of those was my departure from McDonalds Coke (they make it the best), and I can proudly say that after 2.5 months now of touching zero carbonated beverages I feel so much better (and the cellulite disappeared like magic!)  My point here is that this 30 day also stuck–they normally stick.

My next 30 day you ask?  Listen to the news/presidential/election coverage for the next 30 days…here we go.

What’s your 30 day challenge going to be?  Everyone should have one.  Good things stick so why not provoke that, huh.

a determined whit.

Day44: doesmymindeverstoprunning

In Education, English Major on May 7, 2012 at 12:58 am

Sorry there has been such a lag in posting, this is what happens when you juggle grad school writing (aka writing you are forced to do) and blog writing or the writing you actually want to do.  I realize some, if not most, people hate writing altogether so this may be kind of hard to comprehend.  But myself, and other English majors included, we like to do this thing called “nerd talk” wherein we over analyze pretty much everything and then, dum dum dum, WRITE ABOUT IT!  I remember the first time it happened to me, I was sitting at a stoplight, I think, and I noticed a silver car in front of me.  I began to ask myself questions like, “why silver?” “does Dodge make a different color silver than other brands?”  “That one sure looks like it has a lot of sparkle to it, I wonder what they put in the paint to make it sparkle like that?”  “Is that sparkly paint they put on the vehicle highly toxic?  If so, I wonder how many car painter people get paint poisoning each year?”  “And wait, how do they treat paint poisoning? How long does it take to get better from something like that?”  “I wonder how much they pay car painter people because if there is a risk like that then they should definitely pay them more than house painter people…”

You see how I took myself on a little journey in about five minutes, I ventured through areas of politics, market, medicine, branding, economic placement, and even paint toxicity…all from a silver vehicle parked in front of me.  I take these journeys, since entering grad school, oh I would say, a rough ten times a day.  I haven’t quite determined if it is to my advantage or disadvantage, mostly.  It definitely serves me well in an academic setting, but I think trees/cars/birds/people/phones/mattresses/dirtcleaningtechniques/rock types/andvariousotherrandomthings might be getting sick of Ms. whit.

signed.

a personwhoisthinkingtoomuch.

Grad Students: The Umentionables–Day 39

In Education, English Major, life, literature, Musings, Thoughts on April 16, 2012 at 7:04 am

I realize I spend a lot of time talking about my status as a divorcee, but I rarely talk about the other things that I am (i.e. a graduate student in the humanities).  Yes, I am one of those very dedicated, smart individuals who has chosen a career path in academia, pause, and not just any old field of academia I would add…English Literature (emphasis on the Literature portion).  You see, let me explain, Literature is one of those funny fields of study…funny in that you spend countless hours, reading countless books (thousands of pages really), and you probably will never obtain any sort of job that will help you to pay back your countless student loans.  True story.

I’ll add though, I can’t say that I am at all disappointed in my choice to pursue an advanced education in English Literature and Composition studies.  I do believe it is one of the most holistic educational experiences one can have, and when I look at others who have graduated from similar programs (albeit different disciplines) I realize the stark contrast in our educational experiences and rigor.  English is tough, it’s tough based upon the sheer amount of reading one must do (literally thousands of pages per week) and not only do you have to bank those pages but you also have to comprehend just what’s going on within the plotline and with the applied theoretical approach.  However, all of that said, you gain a greater appreciation of the world, humanity, and the experiences/perspectives that accompany the aforementioned.  The discipline of Literature really speaks to a greater understanding of the diverse nature that is our world.  I’m just struggling now with how to contextualize the aforementioned into an appropriate, lucrative career path that will support my loan repayment in particular.  I hope you can sense my optimism here.  Smiles.

Today though, I was thinking about the ways in which grad school has changed me especially as I approach the end of this particular educational endeavor.  I realized that I no longer take showers for enjoyment.  You see, as a grad student (single mother probably adds to this) you get so used to having so much nightly work that taking a shower becomes an unwanted task.  It’s a get in and get out approach.  I used to love the shower when younger; I would stay in there for a full hour if possible.  Now, my body won’t even allow me to do this.  It just WANTS OUT. Move on whit, you’ve got work to do!

Interestingly grad school has also lent to my extreme obsession over books, so much so that I take pride in all of those that I own.  This is why I have a wall-to-wall bookshelf filled to the brim with them (I’ll be adding 45 new novels next semester (one’s I’ll need for my comprehensive exam).  Because I am slightly OCD, I have them arranged by height and width.  It’s obsessive but I pride myself on having read them all.

Finally, grad school has turned me into an anxiety-ridden freak (thank god this blog is anony).  This isn’t really an isolated phenomenon though.  In fact, I work in an office of about twelve colleagues that teach within the Department (myself included) and of the twelve I would say…twelve are on the same anxiety meds.  I heard a couple of em’ swapping meds the other day (don’t know if this is legal).  I’m convinced that we’re not crazy, we’re just driven right?

So, an abhorrence for showers, book obsessions, and crazy pills…this is what grad school (in the humanities) perpetuates.  I’m proud to say that I’ve learned to control my bouts of anxiety (which typically center around my attempt to be perfect in situations where perfection does not exist) through the adoption of an “I don’t care attitude.”  Seems to be working quite well so far, although I’m judged by some.  This is another thing about grad school, it’s a political environment, one wherein there are certain expectations, ways of doing things, and definitely grad student no-no’s (not trying to be perfect is a no-no).  However, I’ve learned that life is for living and not for being perfect.  It’s for loving things beyond the halls of the English Department (although I do love these halls and they’ve given me much over the years I’ve walked them).  If you can’t find balance then you’re probably the best grad student (and the most unbalanced human being).  It’s taken me up until my last semester of graduate school to decide to stray from this.

I’m beginning to love showers again, although I’m realizing this is a gradual process.  I do like having clean hair on a daily basis, though.  Smelling good is nice too.

I don’t know how many more books I’ll be collecting come my graduation in December.  I do know that my bookshelf will begin to adorn non-classical works–and that’s OK.

Just in case you’re a perfection-seeking grad student in the humanities–anything that ends in the suffix “azepam” should be of help to you.  I suggest the balanced thing though, having tried both I find it a much better course of action. You don’t want to graduate a masters holding drug addict and/or chain smoker bordering on lung cancer.

–a grad student whit.Image

(This pic speaks well to my shower commentary.  I never  had so many days of greasy hair as I’ve had in the past three years.  Apology in advance to any of those who experienced me on a day wherein I didn’t have time to take a shower (for a few days in a row) and/or I forgot to wear deodorant.  I know it happened, more than once.

The Problem With Politics: It’s All in the Language: Daily Cupcake

In Blogging, Blogs, Education, Feminism, History, life, literature, Men, Men, Politics, Thoughts, Women on November 17, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Politics.

For me, the problem has always been in the language, which is interesting given my area of academic focus deals exclusively with language and its usages.  However,  literary theoretical discourse does differ quite drastically from that of political discourse in my defense (although the two do overlap in some instances).  So, I will continue to struggle as will you, most likely.  Unless of course you’re working on your PhD in political science.  Geesh, I wish.

Here’s an interesting article on language and politics and if you’re like me (in need of political assistance) you might want to visit this webpage, which has a wealth of information as well.  Of course, you’ll still have to discern for yourself (biases still exist)–if you can.

Daily Cupcake: What? Not Jewish Enough?

In Articles, Blogging, Blogs, Education, Faith, Family, God, History, Humanity, life, literature, Love, Men, Men, Mother, Musings, Parenting, Politics, Stories, Thoughts, Travel, Women, Work, Writing on November 16, 2010 at 7:07 am

It’s quite odd, during the Holocaust many struggled with the idea of being, well, “too Jewish,” or rather Jewish at all.  Lives were literally lost over Jewishness, whether you looked it, acted it, etc.

Well, now there seems to be a new crisis.  Now, we’re dealing with the issue of being “not Jewish enough,” put quite simply.

Check this out.

This post is dedicated to all of those who experienced, survived, or were lost in the horrific Holocaust.  If this is a historical event that interests you I highly recommend the two part comic narrative Maus.

God Bless.


 

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