Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My school is small. It’s not tiny, but small. With a student population in the 400-500 range it’s easy to know everyone fairly well. That’s a good thing. That’s also a bad thing.

What? How can it be bad to work in a school where you get to know all your students well?

It’s bad because you get to know all your students well.

I love my kids at school. I get happy for them when things are going good for them. I get sad for them when they’re going through hard times.

This week, my heart has been breaking for a few of them. The kids in this school are MY kids whether I have them in class or not. I’m thinking I shouldn’t feel that way.

I had a situation yesterday with a student and I reacted as April/parent and not as Ms. Estep. Because of the surprising nature of some news I received I also didn’t react with as much diplomacy/tact as I should have. The student’s parent called, spoke with one of my administrators, and I got called on it.

I was asked to apologize (which I had already planned to do) and told to be more careful in the future.

So, I’ll be more careful. I’ll still care about my kids. I’ll still tell them I love them and remind them to make good decisions as they leave my class. My heart will still break for them for as long as I decide to this job.

Honestly, I’m not sure how people retire from teaching. This week has drained me. This week…which has been 2 actual days of teaching…has been almost too much. I’m sure tomorrow will be better and I’m sure there will be good days to give me a lift. But, 10-something years into this gig and I’m just not sure how people deal with it all.

For the record, I’m not upset that the parent called or that my boss told me to apologize. I’m upset with myself for not knowing where that line is…how much caring is just enough and not too much? How much of a reaction is okay and how much is not okay? I’m just trying to figure it out.


Hello, old friend…

Posted: January 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’ve been meaning to blog for a while now. It’s been a few *cough cough several cough* months since my last entry. Given my tendency to write before thinking it’s probably a good idea that I didn’t visit the ol’ wordpress site during the whole election campaign thingy. (What’s the digital equivalent of “open mouth, insert foot?)

That said, I’m once again back on the blogging train! No, really…no need to applaude! (Just throw money.)

New music gives me a happy

Posted: May 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

I get to work with some fairly cool people. One of our English teachers is also a musician. (If you’ve ever seen the Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia you’ve seen Jay Hill.) He came to me the other day with a name-Joe Purdy. “I think you’ll like him” is what he said to me.

He was right.

If you got a few minutes today, and you’re into singer/songwriter folk song types, check him out.


Posted: May 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

I need to blog about this.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been slowly making my way through  The Book of Learning and Forgetting by Frank Smith. It was a reading suggestion from Jack Deskins, who is the Arts Coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education.  It’s been one of those books that I start highlighting from the first sentence because it just goes with my thinking so well.

Today was one of those fun days at school when 1,000 things are going on and kids are being called out of class for various things. My 2nd block class ended up with about 25% of the students left in the room when all was said and done.  Grant was one of the 6 left behind.

My first year teaching at my current school I had Grant in my beginning guitar class.  He drove me a bit insane. He’s one of those kids that’s too smart for his own good…the kind that makes teachers crazy because they can’t really teach him anything in the regular classroom. His thinking just surpasses what the “normal” teen has going on in his or her brain. (Or at least my perception of what they’ve got going on.)

Skip two years and I have Grant again in Music Appreciation.  We regularly talk about issues in education in this class. We’ve watched a Ken Robinson TED Talk. We read articles about high-stakes testing.  I encourage them to take charge of their learning and to not let it be something that just happens to them between the hours of 7 and 3.  I decided to share the book with Grant.

I let him read the preface. He latched on to the last line.

“But if you relax and simply read the book for interest, you’ll probably enjoy it more, learn more than you expect, and be less likely to forget points that are most relevant to you.”

Makes sense doesn’t it

It did to Grant. It’s pretty exhilarating to see a student get worked up over education…to see him go off about reading choice and other ed issues.  “Ms. E, the girls over there couldn’t tell you what was in the chapter Ms So and So assigned them to read for a test, but every one of them could tell you that Edward has his shirt off on page 254 of Twilight. You know why? That’s what they WANT to read. It means something to them!”

 “We’re not even being educated for today or tomorrow. We’re being educated for the past. This makes me angry. The sad part is it won’t make any of them (gestures to the other students) angry.”

Later, I offered to let him borrow the book once I finished. He said, “I don’t know if I can read that book. That’s the kind of book that will motivate me to do something and then it’ll make me angry when I realize I can’t do anything.”

So, what would you tell Grant? How can we justify giving him, and all the other students we see, an education that isn’t what they need to be successful? An education that doesn’t teach them to think critically or to question what they’re doing and why?

More than that, what do we do about those other students who are walking along being blissfully ignorant of the fact they’re getting shortchanged because we’re forced to teach to the test in the name of accountability?

(I did ask Grant if he minded me blogging about our conversation. He gave permission. Also, the quotes from Grant are his words. I took notes while we chatted.)

Steve Jobs has passed away.

When I saw the news posted on Facebook I had the expected “Wow, that’s really sad” moment. I love my iPhone. I even recently tweeted to someone that I’d give up my iPhone when they PRIED IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS! However, aside from that and my iPod from work, I don’t have any Apple products.

Imagine my surprise to realize I was crying. It was the Apple homepage that was the trigger. A simple picture with his name and dates and I’m sobbing like a baby. I didn’t expect to feel so much for someone I didn’t know personally. Maybe I felt it more because I experienced it with my online community. Maybe I felt it more because this was a man who lived his life and made a difference…a man whose work impacted millions of lives. The world truly is a better place because of his vision and his passion.

Isn’t that what we all want? To matter? To leave a legacy? To make the world a better place?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love quotes, so here are some of my favorite quotes from Steve Jobs…

“And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.”

“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

At least they’re not dull!

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

My kids are insane. I’m really not sure how they come up with the things they do. My 11 year old is particularly hilarious. Here are a few highlights from our evening out…had to pick up her new glasses…as well as a few from the last week.

“In science, I don’t think about cells. I think about taping 2 turtles together. I think they’d be unstoppable.”

“Murder convictions don’t look good on college applications.”

“Edward Cullen is nothing but a stalker…a creepy, 100+ year old stalker…who goes to high school. Really? I mean…really?”

“Andy, I love you. You’re an idiot most of the time, but I love you.”(To her 9 year old brother.)

“Bella. No. Just no.”

“Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be the lone Potter fan in a sea of Twi-hards?”

“Stephanie Myers…can she write a character that isn’t annoying? ‘Cause so far she hasn’t managed it!”

“I’m not really going to kill anyone. I’m 11. At best, I could kill their dreams like I did yours, mom. Haha, not really!”

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? Andy, look at her! Is she (dramatic pause) DANCING?!?!? (I was dancing a bit in my seat. She was horrified.)

“When I turn 14 you can write a 3. in icing in front of the 1-4 number candles so my cake will be pi! (Pause) I’m a pretty messed up kid, aren’t I?”

“I need to play the oboe to complete the nerd circle.

“That show reminds me of my childhood. Well, my early childhood. I’m pretty sure I’m still a kid. I didn’t suddenly become an adult in the last 20 minutes, did I? DID I???