Back to School

Wow. Where did the summer go? This afternoon I caught myself thinking that it was back to school next Wednesday and then I realized that I’m going in tomorrow to help with the chrome book distribution, and on Friday to finish moving things out of my classroom to my new space. Then Monday and Tuesday I have meetings relating to the STEM program. Wednesday is the first teacher day. So really summer is already over for me.

It was a short, busy, hot summer – and regular air conditioned days will certainly be one of the perks of going back to school. It really has been miserably hot here (as in much of the country) so very little got accomplished out of doors. The patio was not enlarged, nor was the porch reattached to the house. The driveway is still a muddy (when it rains) mess of dirt ruts. I skipped the garden this year except for some container plants on the patio table, strawberries that never really produced, cherry tomatoes, peppers and basil. Not exactly the self sustaining farmstead I had once pictured! I so admire our ancestors who not only did not have air conditioning and had to haul water, but did so in heavy, bulky dresses and petticoats. Needs must, I suppose.

The kids, who start school a week after I do, are also looking forward to returning to the cool school routine and seeing their friends. We were out of school but didn’t have a vacation per se aside from a few days of camping at the beginning of June (before it became too hot for such pleasures) with an old grad school buddy of mine and her daughter. Each year I think, this will be the year we take a family trip but it never happens.  I did get away – I went to a total of 10 days of teacher workshops – rocks and minerals, climate dynamics, reading, and computer science as well as attending online webinars and classes. I believe I logged enough professional development hours to fulfill the next two years of required training!

My new job, STEM Coach, is at this point not well defined due to the resignation of the assistant superintendent a week after I was hired. His replacement is my old boss/principal and since we are  pretty much at the very beginning of the program he prefers to back up to start over so he can be sure we’re headed in the direction he wants the program to go. I have a big ex-computer lab at the High School and a warning that some of the teachers will be resistant to any suggestions that they change their teaching methods and a small cubbyhole at the Junior High but more teachers on board with the idea of incorporating STEM.  I will also co-teach one class at the Junior High with the new 7th grade science teacher- computer science in science. Should be interesting since I’ll be only a step or two ahead of the students in this one! I am feeling a bit at loose ends in my new job but plan to start with research (one of my favorite things) and lots discussions with teachers of all subjects. I suspect it will be a bit slow going to begin with.

August will be a challenging month with the new position, kids returning to school and only one paycheck for the entire month. The weather will no doubt continue to be hot and humid as well. Once September rolls around we should be settled into the school routine and the days will hopefully be cooler.

Posted in back to school, heat wave, Job, new job, school | Tagged | 2 Comments

It’s heating up around here

Have you heard? Have you noticed? It’s heating up around here. I notice – it’s hard not to when you drive a car with no air conditioning and live in a metal house with only a small AC unit to ameliorate the oppressive heat.


The temperature today when I left my workshop.

Today we, like many of you, are under a heat advisory as a heat dome blankets the middle of the country bringing triple digit heat indices. The thermometer might say 95° F but the humidity makes it feel as though it’s over 100°F! It is recommended that we stay indoors in air conditioned rooms, drink plenty of water and be careful not to leave pets or children in vehicles (something that happens all too often; the number of hot car deaths (children) in the first half of 2016 has already doubled over last year’s total).

2016 is setting up to break records. It is the hottest year on record:

Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Additionally 2016 is setting the record for the smallest extent of Arctic sea ice. This is important because the less ice there is the more radiation from the sun is absorbed instead of reflected out to space. That means the ocean becomes warmer. A warmer ocean melts more ice (icebergs are melting from underneath as well as from above), leading to a feedback loop of worsening conditions. The oceans are currently warmer now than at any time in the past 50 years. Warmer oceans also lead to more severe storms- tropical storms and hurricanes. This article, “Warmer Oceans, Stronger Hurricanes” is a good explanation of the phenomena.

Climate change is real. This is not in dispute in the global scientific community. It is happening now and it will affect you, your children and grandchildren.It is not somebody else’s problem. Yes, it is a huge and daunting problem but it won’t go away if we stick our heads in the sand or say ‘What can I do? I’m just one person.’ We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves on this topic. Here are a few good places to start:

Climate Interactive. Try out their climate model – see how changing the way we conduct our lives might help keep our grandchildren safer. Read about the many global initiatives that are underway – it will make you feel less alone in tackling the problem.

NASA Global Climate Change. This website is full of up to date data, studies, news and resources. You’ll be proud of the work our great space agency is doing in this area.

NOAA. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA works to keep citizens informed about the changing environment.

All three of these organizations rely on good science and cutting edge resources and technology. They are a good place to find information. I intend to do my part to inform the students, teachers and parents with whom I work.  I hope you’ll check these and other reputable websites out and stay informed about this challenge that confronts all of us.


Quick note – I’m blogging while out of town at a workshop. Our internet has gone out at home and I can’t afford the fee for the technician to come out so once I’m home I will not be able to respond as quickly to comments. Be patient – I’m sure we’ll go to the library to get out of the heat and I can log on there!

Posted in climate change | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Remember that New Year’s Resolution?

Yeah, me neither. But in my case I’ll bet it had something to do with losing weight and getting in shape. I don’t know what it is about teaching – I’m on my feet all day, I don’t sit behind my desk and teach – that leads to weight gain. Or maybe it’s not teaching, maybe it was my thyroid or just age catching up with me. We had a biggest loser’s competition at school when we returned from winter break and another after spring break. I joined both and tried in a desultory way to win. I ate less food (no breakfast except coffee and I nearly always ate salad for lunch) and attempted to ‘get my steps in’ but didn’t really make any headway.

When my annual blood test came back with a high thyroid number (meaning my thyroid wasn’t working at the normal level) I was happy to blame it for my lack of progress. Surely the hormone pill I was prescribed would kick my metabolism back into gear and the pounds would melt off! Of course I scaled back my own effort to ditch the pounds figuring the pills would do the work for me (ha ha! wouldn’t that be nice?) since the medication insert said weight loss was a possible side effect of the drug. Possible but apparently not necessary. If anything as school came to a close and the relatively lazy days of summer kicked in my weight increased.

Finally I decided I had to do something about it. Joining the gym was out of the question. Gym memberships are too expensive and the extra driving would also eat into my budget. Living on a farm means there’s plenty of work to do – fixing the chicken coop, hefting 50 lb bags of feed, raking hay, even without the garden there was outdoor physical activity. There was also a lot of 90+ degree heat and an explosion of biting and stinging insects, both of which conspired to limit time spent outside.

One benefit (?) of all my professional development is that spending the odd night in a hotel gives me a chance to channel surf (we don’t have commercial TV, just an internet connection and Netflix) and recently while flicking through channels I happened on to an infomercial that caught my attention. The end of exercise – Cize! It’s a dance workout program – very hip and modern moves (I think – haven’t been dancing in ages) with music that gets you going. They showed all those amazing before and after photos.  It was a seductive sales pitch but the multiple payment of just $19.99 brought me back to earth. Still I kept thinking about it and when I got home looked up Cize on eBay. I managed to pick up a used set of the basic DVDs for a steal and they arrived this week.

My middle daughter and I are now working out together (everyone else is banned due to mean critiques and laughter) and I’ve already lost a pound! I’m pretty sure I can keep in up until school starts. My goal is to lose 30 pounds. I won’t be posting any music videos (I can’t move as fast as the dancers) but for those of you who want to check it out here’s a YouTube link to Cize.

Posted in exercise, fitness | Tagged , , | 4 Comments