Work Hard, Play Hard

It cannot be said that I make time for leisure. I have never set much stock in sports or arcades or even video games. However, in an effort to get back in the posting game this week, I’m going to take a swing at the recent The Daily Post prompt:

Do you play in your daily life? What says “playtime” to you?

When I read this question I tried to think of what other people consider play to be. I have friends who run, bike, play video games, exercise, and a myriad of other things that would be considered leisurely. I have to be honest that while I do spend a fair amount of free time on the internet, I would not consider that to be valuable play time. That’s just passing time.

So as I sat here and went about my day today I decided that playtime, to me, is sitting down at the table with some board games and playing with friends and family. Maybe a bowl of chips and salsa or other kinds of snacks are there, and we could have Pandora up on the Roku on the tv playing some fun music. Playtime to me is absolutely unplugging from devices and spending time with people you love playing Scrabble or Sorry or Life, or even a more complex game favorite in our house: Arkham Horror.  I don’t remember the last time my husband and I took the time to sit down and play a game together. We stare at our computers, we stare at the tv, we stare at our Kindles, we stare at our grading while we stare at the tv. We spend so much time apart together that I don’t think we take the time to be together together, or at least how I would define it. I’m not sure he defines it the same way.

Perhaps it would be worth taking one night a week and making it game night throughout the holidays. Coming home early, getting dinner started, and then sitting down with some appetizers to play a round of Scrabble or Uno with Christmas music playing in the background. That sounds SO nice to me. Or maybe after dinner we could make some hot chocolate and put on some music and play. Either way it sounds relaxing and playful. 🙂

Thanks for making me think about this wordpress, it makes me see that there could be more to life than just work, grading, zombie electronics, and sleep. Happy Holidays!

Evil: An Examination

I’m back! The past couple of weeks have been very busy and I’m sure that heading into the holidays will only make it worse, but before I sit down to grade a bin full of student work I thought I would put out a short blog just so I can say I am keeping up with my goals. 

I went today to The Daily Prompt to see what I could find to write about, and I found the following:

Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.

The concept of evil is so subjective. Justification can always be made or exceptions found for why something which had previously thought to be evil would not be considered to be so given a specific situation. However, in my teaching experience I have discovered a true evil which is always the most difficult to destroy: a lack of professionalism. 

I present what I feel like is a great example of this evil. A friend of mine posted something on facebook which tagged another friend. We were at a Halloween party and the host had dressed his Basset Hound in a chef’s costume, and my friend decided to take a picture of it, post it on facebook, and tag our culinary arts teacher friend in it as a joke. I am not connected online with this person, but my friend is and so he was able to tag her and share this joke.

Please note that this happened entirely separate from any work related function. We were not on school time or school property. No posts were made on a school website or via a school e-mail. This woman had consciously and voluntarily “friended” my friend online, giving him permission to tag her in pictures and, knowing this person, assume that jokes might be made. This one picture with one tag happened on a Saturday night. 

Monday morning my friend was called to the principal’s office to discuss the fact that the picture of a dog in a costume made this other employee feel uncomfortable. She didn’t approach my friend, she didn’t message him online, she didn’t talk to him or yell at him, or ask a friend to say something about it. She came back to work on Monday AND WENT TO THE BOSS ABOUT IT  AND THEN THE BOSS AGREED TO TALK TO MY FRIEND ABOUT IT.

It’s enough that his friend thought it was appropriate to bring something personal to work. Gossip alone is an evil with many heads. But then she took it to the highest authority at our workplace and complained as though he was bothering her at work and sharing inappropriate pictures of her with kids, at work. KEY WORDS HERE ARE “AT WORK.” None of this happened there. 

But any evil requires someone else to agree and allow it to thrive, and the moment the principal agreed to handle this problem for her, it became true evil. All the principal had to do was say “Well, it’s unfortunate that happened to you, but it’s not any of my business since it didn’t happen here at school, so you might want to go speak with him about it and perhaps unfriend him online so this doesn’t happen again.” That’s not what happened. What the principal decided was “Hey, I like to be involved in other people’s business, so I’ll TOTALLY handle this for you because it makes me feel powerful and in charge. I will ignore the fact that my involvement is completely inappropriate and unprofessional.”

What kind of a precedent does this set? Where does the divide between work and professional life exist when social media blends work friends and real friends and those who are both work and real friends, and in addition to the confusion that creates the work environment also blends personal and work issues. (In retrospect, that sentence sounded horrible, but my point is that some things need to stay personal, and some things belong at work.)

So the true evil here is not the woman who brought a personal issue to work in an effort to hurt a coworker, and not the principal who decided that feeling in charge and powerful was more important than being professional. The true evil here is the inherent blending of personal and work lives to the point where we are all unsure of the location of the divide. Where does our work life end and our personal life begin? When is it okay to say “That’s none of your business” anymore? When is it okay to go home at the end of the work day without people looking at you like you are a horrible person? When is it okay to GO HOME and NOT WORK? The evil inherent in education is that the separation of work and home is never okay, and that has been the case since public education came to be in our great country. 

Hump Day

Wednesday is always so off and on for me. On the one hand it is good that the week is half over. I have college classes in the evening on Mondays and Wednesdays, so once Wednesday is over I know I can throw my full weight into my job responsibilities as well as catching up on my coursework requirements. Thursday and Friday feel free to me because I don’t have to worry about rushing to campus through traffic after a full day of teaching.

Despite these nice things, Wednesday is SO LONG. I think I’ve made it to the end and then I have to keep going. I make it home from classes and then I have chores and more work to do. I usually fall into bed around 9:30 with 8 other things still left on my to-do list that I end up dreaming about throughout the night until I get up and complete then on Thursday. 

A good thing I learned about today was that a challenging student was in a behavior management meeting with the behavior coaches and his family working on some adjustments to his schedule because the teachers he currently has are not working well for him for whatever reason. Apparently he made a statement to the effect that they could do whatever they wanted to his schedule, he would rather not be removed from my class. 

I have always been proud of my classroom management skills, but honestly nothing makes me feel more proud than to know that a kid behaves for me based on my efforts and they don’t behave for anyone else. Everyone else complains about him but 99% of the time he does all of his work for me and behaves respectfully in my room. This is only my 5th month ever teaching high school, and my second month teaching high school math specifically, so to have this kind of success really makes me feel great about the job I am doing for the level of students that I am currently serving. 

It is a long day, but today was a pretty good day. 

NaNoWriMo Guilt

I see the National Novel Writing Month come around every year and I always want to attempt it and never do. I feel like I have so many good stories from my life that I could adapt to a book. How does any author sit down to bring life to the events and characters in his or her head? 

I have the urge to write down my life story as of right now, just so that I don’t forget things. Then I stop because I feel like to write a story about myself would be to imply that I thought my life was so important that it had to be shared, and doesn’t that sound presumptuous? I suppose that would be a necessary evil in order to write any memoir, but it always makes me uncomfortable.

I have moving stories, adjustment stories, love and heartbreak stories. I have education stories, job stories, weight loss stories, and pet stories. I have stories about death and stories about loss. I just wish there was a way to put them all together into a cohesive book about me that perhaps isn’t necessarily about me but about a bigger theme or moral that could be gleaned from my life. Something that speaks to what people are going through today so that it would also be marketable.

Maybe next year NaNoWriMo. Maybe my story will come to life next year.