Feb 27, 2012

All done! It was a good day. The kids were fairly attentive and I hope they learned something. Stepping up to the high school tomorrow.
Last class of the day, packing up, ready to leave.

Just had a student ask me if I go to church... Kind of random!
Last class of the day. Home stretch, I think I'll make it!
The day is almost over. I'm starting to drag a bit. The kids are getting to me...!
Late lunch... I appreciate the break!

Teaching students how to draft a five paragraph essay today. Right in my wheelhouse!

3rd period done. One of the kids says, "you don't sound like you're from TX." I say, "I'm not." She responds "If you're not from TX then why are you here?"
Ended up going over the info slide by slide. Sure, it's slower but the kids learned the info. That's a win in my book.
First period started poorly. I was supposed to run through a slide show but the students were confused and had questions.
I'm substituting in a 7th grade class today. I'll post periodically during the day. Stay tuned, it should be interesting...!

Feb 25, 2012

Substitute Stories

The other day, while preparing to walk several students out to the afternoon bus, an interesting event took place.

As I watched my charges, I felt a tug in my shirtsleeve. I looked down, a small child, maybe in kindergarten or 1st grade, looked up at me. His eyes were wide, brimming with tears. He gazed up at me forlornly.

"Yes?" I asked, looking down at him.
"I can't f..f..find my jacket and my momma said th..th..that I would be in trouble if if if I don't come home with my jacket" he said. His lower lip began to tremble. Crying was eminent.

Suddenly, I was transported back in time twenty-four years. There I was as a six-year-old crying to my 1st grade teacher about another student who took my Bulls Starter jacket. I bonded with the child immediately.

"Hey, it's okay. We'll find your Bulls jacket. I'm sure it's here somewhere" I said, trying to soothe him.
"It's not a Bulls jacket," he sniffled.
"Oh, right, of course" I said.

Just then, another student walked up to us, dragging a jacket.

"Jeremiah I found your coat, it was in the pile" the second student said.

Jeremiah took his coat and walked away with the second student to line up for their bus.

Disaster averted.

Feb 23, 2012

Potpourri for $1000, Rick

Another mash-up for you. A few events and other things worth mention, but not a full post. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

D-League basketball
This guy was having too much fun!
I went to a Developmental League game a few weeks ago with my buddy, Eric. The company he works for is a sponsoring partner of the Mavs team, the Texas Legends. Since they were are a sponsor, we watched the game from a box suite, had complimentary catered food and VIP parking. One of the guys we were with was even picked to participate in a halftime "name that tune" competition. The game was forgettable, but it was kind of cool to see Greg Ostertag attempt a comeback.

Best deal since the two hot dog combo!
AMC Movie Theaters
I went and saw Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance last weekend. The movie was "ehh." Admittedly darker than the first and more in line with the graphic novels but I've seen Nic Cage play the tweaking addict (The Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans) and I don't think making him a demon besides adds any more to the performance. However, what was really cool is that AMC now has a "smaller portion" combo. Sure, it's just a regular-sized popcorn for an adult and a medium (a real medium) drink. But, it's under $10 and is perfectly filling. I'm certain avid moviegoers, like myself, rejoice at this news!

No epilogue, just a sentence to close out the post.

Feb 22, 2012

Paris, Je t'aime, mais Je suis fatigué!

I spent New Years of 2012 in Paris, France. It was amazing. The City of Lights truely lived up to its name. Unfortunately, it's almost March which makes all of this old news. However, Facebook doesn't really allow for elaboration. Many of those photos have a humorous story attached to them. Below you'll find some of the ones that mean the most to me.

Eiffel Tower from my hotel balcony
 I still can't get over how close my hotel was to one of Paris' most well-recognized landmarks. I might, in fact, be overestimating the distance when I say it was a block away. At night, the tower is lit up and can be seen for miles, it even flashes at the top of every hour... Until 2 am, at which point all the light are shut off until tomorrow night. My cousins and I learned this the hard way on one of our many nights out and about. We were attempting to make our way back to the hotel using GPS on a cell phone but we kept saying, "once we see the Eiffel Tower we'll know we're home." We assumed it would be lit up, it was not. At one point, we stood on a corner trying to figure out which way the GPS was telling us to go when my cousin blurts out, "hey, isn't that the Eiffel Tower over there?" We could just barely make it out in the darkness and fog. Suffice to say, as landmarks go, it's great. Just be home before the lights go out!

L'Arc de Triomphe at 5am
 Paris reminded me of both Chicago and New York City. Like Chicago, the place was open late. My cousins and ended up wandering up the Champs-Élysées around 5 am when I got this picture of the Arc de Triomphe. Even at that hour there were people on the street. Much like New York, Parisien fashion was progressive and it gave the entire city a cosmopolitan feeling that blended well with the "Old World" feel of much of the architecture and historical landmarks. It's a feeling that you can't duplicate living in the States and I really enjoyed it while I was there.

Me and my Chicago cousins.
Guest characters on my BET sitcom!
 Some of my best travel memories involve my family. I am so thankful for this for several reasons. I appreciate and love the fact that I am close enough with my cousins that the idea of vacationing with them is exciting. I look forward to family gatherings where we can sit around and talk about the various trips we've been on together. I also love that we're all old enough to enjoy the nighttime acctractions our vaction spots have to offer. It's no fun when someone gets left out and now that will never happen again. All of our trips are a blessing and I'm happy to be included.

As the title suggests, the vaction was awesome even though I was only there for a short time. The memories generated and the new friends made will last a lifetime, j'espère!

Feb 19, 2012

Teacher sues CPS after suspension for slur during ‘teachable moment’

My friend, Veronica, posted this story in the Chicago Sun-Times on my Facebook timeline recently and I felt it necessary to share. Go ahead and take a quick read.

Teacher sues CPS after suspension for slur during ‘teachable moment’  

I know I did a post on (potential) racism, but I think this brings up some interesting issues surrounding race and the n-word. I have my response and I've called in a favor from my good friend, Gage Norris, as a second opinion to complete the forum. I'd like to hear what you think too. Leave your thoughts in the comment section under the post. FYI, if you leave a comment on Facebook or somewhere else I'll put it in the comment section on the post, so save me the time and effort!


Rick - As a teacher, and a white teacher in a minority environment, that he should have been more aware of how his use of the n-word would play out. The word is so emotionally charged that even though I think the principal's reaction was incorrect, it has to be expected. This reminds me of a debate that took place in one of my U of C classes. A white student used the n-word while quoting and discussing a specific assigned reading passage and I remember there was such an uproar by several black students in the class the original point (which was valid) was lost in the backlash. Obviously there is a double standard insofar as who is saying the word, but I think there is also space for other races to use the term "n-word" during teachable moments or in academic in discussion. Context is key. You can always refer to the word without using it and still make valid points and take advantage of teachable moments. 

GageAs I write this, I’m trying to figure out if this is a case of a decent guy trying to do the right thing but going about it the wrong way – or if it’s case of a guy with a ton of white guilt that’s turned into white anger. Brown has a point when he says we can’t address issues of race if we don’t talk about them. But I don’t think it’s necessary to use the n-word explicitly. At this point I think it’s safe to assume people will know what you mean if you abbreviate out of a sense of respect for a word that carries centuries of racism – by white people against black people, and for a period of time, by white people against anyone who wasn’t white. If our goal is to phase this word out as much as possible (not ignore it, just limit its usage), continuing to use it explicitly can’t be moving us in the right direction. Ultimately, I feel like Brown deserves this suspension. Based on the discrepancies between his account and that of his principal, it’s clear at least one of them is lying about what really went down in that classroom. And my gut tells me it wasn’t a bunch of black students and a principal ganging up on a white teacher – rather, a white guy who let himself get out of line in a professional setting. 

Dash's Apology

Dear Readers,

I want to take a few minutes to chat with you about my (lack of ) posts recently. I've received several emails and text messages asking when I'll have new material and when I'll get back on my regular posting/updating schedule. While a bit shocking at first, I appreciate the questions because it means I have an audience. An audience who deserves to know what's kept me from doing what I normally do. There are, of course, a couple of impedimenta...

1) My laptop stopped working when I came back from Paris. It was bound to happen as the machine was three years old and on its last legs. The timing couldn't have been worse, as I had many photos I wanted to share and talk about. There will be a bit of a recap, but it won't be nearly as in-depth as previous planned since the news is a bit stale at this point.

2) I can be very lethargic at times. The loss of my computer leaves me with a single device that can access the internet and even though my phone is pretty cool, the screen just isn't big enough facilitate writing blog posts so I don't.

These aren't excuses (even though they sound like ones). I am pulling back the curtain to give you an insider's view of what's going on. This post is an "apology" in its truest, most Socratic meaning. I hope the court of my peers and blog audience will not treat me as Socrates was treated by his accusers. I hear hemlock tastes terrible!

Updates will return starting this week. There is a lot going on and I want to share...