Wednesday, May 21, 2008


They say not to let a formal assessment define us. After all, it's just one test, one evaluation, one person's opinion. It's not an accurate reflection of our true selves.

This is a very good thought, and I believe it to be true. I teach it to my students.

You see, this week, they get their state test scores back this week. This is a much bigger deal here than any other state I've ever heard. We told them not to let the test define them. We told them to just do the best they can and when they get their scores back to remind them it's not a big deal.

But it is a big deal, and in the state of Texas, it does define them. They are not allowed to pass on to the next level of schooling without passing these exams. They can move on within the school (6th to 7th), but then they have to give up their electives in order to "double-dip" in the subjects they failed (if they fail math, they take two classes of math next year).

So I am thinking about the students that failed and how we have to tell them. And the lie we will tell them about it not being a big deal. Telling a kid he can't be in band next year because he FAILED a test is not something I want to be a part of.

Suddenly the adage "can't let others' define us" seems foolish.

Meanwhile, I myself am preparing to be evaluated. One 45-min observation of me teaching my kids (in May, nonetheless) is somehow supposed to represent me as a teacher. And I am trying to not let it be a big deal - I know I'm a good teacher. I recently got awarded for being a great teacher, in my first year.

But when you tell me my certification depends on this one observation, I can't help but feel it is a biiiig deal. A big freakin deal.

And when the evaluator says if you don't have what she's looking for, she'll mark you down... it makes you freak out.

I am currently freaking out.

And I refuse to believe that this isn't a big deal. My heart won't let me believe that.
But then again, ask me again next week and I'll probably tell you "Oh, it's nothing. I can't be stressed out about one small thing..."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oh, brother...

You don't have to get a Psychology degree to figure out that daughters are scarred for life when they lose their fathers. It has become common knowledge that women will seek out men who remind them of their fathers and they always have a need to fill the void their father left. John Mayer even wrote a song about it recently that explains the whole situation in case anybody was not aware.

But I'm learning recently that this phenomenon is not just about girls and their daddies. It can also be applied to brothers.

You see, over 12 years ago, I lost my brother. He was weeks shy of 18, and I had just turned 12. We had a typical sibling relationship - teasing, bullying, fights, etc. I can remember countless times of him sitting on me, telling on me, and yelling at me.

But I also remember him teaching me poker, baseball, algebra, good music, funny jokes, etc. I remember us sleeping in the same room on Christmas Eve and sharing gifts with each other in the morning. I remember going to his football games and him going to my softball games. We laughed at the same movies. And he always watched out for me.

When he died, he was a Senior in high school. He was really popular and had tons of friends. One of them even had lived with us for a period of time. And a month after my brother died, this friend of his took me trick-or-treating. That winter, another friend took me skiing and taught me how. Other friends of his would just randomly stop by to see how we were doing and hang out with me. I'd still go to all the football games, and eventually became the team manager. The guys on the team had such great respect for my brother that they had adopted me as their sister.

So now, instead of losing a brother, I had actually gained tons of them. Over the next few years, I saw this pattern emerge. Eventually, my brother's friends moved away and I had other guys fill the void. I became friends with my male neighbors and cousins, who relentlessly teased me but nonetheless supported me and watched out for me.

Growing up through high school and college, it seemed the pattern continued. I constantly had guy friends that I could laugh and fight with. I found myself giving them sisterly advice and taking brotherly advice. I expect them to always be there for me, because I cannot stand to have the void. Even today, there are certain guys I instantly connect with and in my head we are siblings.

I don't think the brother void is as scarring as the father void, but it is nonetheless a reality I discovered. It effects the way I relate to males, and always will. To me, it explains why I have collected a series of guy friends over the years that I would absolutely do anything for. It explains why I can't just have female friends, and why my male friends fill specific roles in my life.

And it explains why I grieved the way I did, because mostly, I just miss having a brother for life. Real brothers don't lose contact after they leave for college. Real brothers don't forget me when they get girlfriends or life gets busy. They can't. They are obligated by blood to love you forever. My replacement brothers are not. I constantly have to struggle to keep them, mourn their loss when I can't and then work so hard to find another one. It's psychologically exhausting.

This is my reality and discovering it has opened my eyes to see so much. It has enabled me to realize when I am being too clingy and when I am expecting too much. It has allowed me to see the void for what it is and not let it control my life. So here's to brothers and all they offer.

keeping my job

My job is very vulnerable this year. As a first year teacher, I am only given a temporary certificate. And under that certificate, I have to jump through a variety of hoops in order to be recommended for a full certificate.

I have jumped through most of those hoops already. I took 3 state exams, took 18 credit hours of graduate classes, turned in piles of paperwork and had numerous observations by supervisors, mentor teachers, and both principals.

But there is one thing left. One major thing. In Texas, it's referred to as the PDAS and basically it is the Year-End Evaluation. My Asst Principal comes in to observe me teaching for a total of 45 mins. There are 8 areas she's observing, and this evaluation goes in my permanent file. At this point, it is literally the only thing standing in my way of getting a full teaching certificate.

She came in for 20 minutes today to start the observation. She wasn't getting what she needed, so she said she will come for the remaining 25 minutes tomorrow... I am literally in the midst of being evaluated, which we already establish is imperative for my career.

So in the midst of being evaluated, I thought it might be a good thing to go out to dinner with her and another teacher. I could get some good quality-time in and maybe talk about my class project and make her laugh and in general suck-up. It wasn't planned. She and the other teacher saw my car still at school at 6:30 tonight and invited me. But I went, thinking it would be a good opportunity.

They arrive first and they are talking about her recent break-up with a guy. She is explaining the situation as the other teacher is trying to give her advice. They ask me for advice, and in my best Teresa voice say "Have you ever read the book, He's Just Not That Into You?"

And as soon as I said it, I knew it was a mistake. Especially after she leaned over to the other teacher and said something about my PDAS evaluation and laughed.


I was able to exlain to her the reason I recommended the book was because it was mostly about women not wasting their time on men that don't deserve them. And well a few jokes and stories later, I think I was able to recover. But oh man, did I put my job on the line tonight, lol.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


tonight, the music minister of our youth group said something that surprised me.
all this time, i thought his passion and heart was music ministry. he seems to love his position, and he's always using his gift of music in other venues. i honestly thought this was his true calling...
but he made a statement about all people being ok at some things, good at others, and great at a few. and he thought he was just ok at music, and he could abandon it in pursuit of his true calling, for something he's great at - apparently public speaking.

and i had no idea he even liked to speak publicly, except for the random speeches he gives in the middle of songs... i just thought it was because he's just one of those people who liked to hear himself speak... ha.

and he said, one day he'll submit to the calling of speaking, it's inevitable. and i just wondered what stopped him.
could it be he's not ready? could it be he's still too afraid? why isn't he pursuing that? why isn't he practicing?

so i'm sitting here thinking about my passion, what i long to do.
and it's not really what people would think it is, either.
people, even my closest friends and husband, would think it's teaching - whether that's publicly and professionally, or through youth ministry. and well that's mostly true. i would tell people my #1 calling is youth ministry, and #2 is teaching. but i just may be lying to myself.

because i'm good at those things. people accept me as good at those things. there's no longer fear for me in pursuing those things.

i want to write. with all that is within me, i want to write. i want to write so clearly and effectively that it means something to all who read it. i want to share my heart in such a way it changes others'.

there are so many stories inside me. so many thoughts. and i just can't seem to get them out.
i just can't seem to be happy with what i write.
do you know how many drafts i have on blogspot? on facebook? on xanga?

even with a private audience. and it's not the subject i'm ashamed of. but when i get passionate about something, i don't know how to write about it that makes sense. and i'm afraid of not being understood. so i just leave the draft there. never to be touched again. perhaps to be deleted later out of shame.

andrew asked me the other day to list two jobs i could have right now (we were asking each other random questions)... and there were several i could think of that i would want to have but never could (acting, radio DJ, dog walker). but i realized i could be a writer now if i wanted. not necessarily rolling in the dough, but if i truly tried, i could have some things published.

and yet, i'm sitting here on blogspot... wondering why i never have, wondering if i ever will...

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I have many quirks. We all do, I'm sure.
But I wanted to share one that I find particularly amusing.

I love chapstick. obsessively. I need it. It's not a want; it's a NEED.
So much so, that in my equally obsessive need to be prepared for anything, I make sure to always have chapstick around me.

Currently, I have chapstick located in the following places:
*bedroom nightstand
*bathroom toiletry tray
*living room remote basket
*purse side pocket
*school bag side pocket
*school desk drawer
*husband's right pocket

and from time to time, my office and my car...

another intriguing tidbit about this obsession is that they all just so happen to be different flavors.
in order:
-grape and blueberry
-fruit craze

i also have many lip glosses around just in case I can't find chapstick....