20 December 2008

Face at rest

Relaxed (adapted from National Geographic, January 2009) [Graphite on paper]

The Bear

The Grizzly (adapted from National Geographic, January 2009) [Graphite on paper]

15 December 2008

Round one of online classes is over!

Although that course on educational funding about gave me the worst nightmares of my life, I finished it successfully. Grades won't come out for a few more days, but so far, it looks good there. With regard to my class on historical foundations of public schools, I received top grades for all my papers. I feel especially good about that course.

Page and Marie have done well this year, too. My son's struggle with 9th grade has proved that parental support is essential in that first year of high school. He's pulling himself together to meet the academic and scheduling challenges. I'm proud of him. My daughter has been bitten by the drama bug. She's in love with her drama class this term. Who'd have guessed?

John, the love of my life, is working hard in New York to supply the people of Long Island with plenty of electricity. At least he'll be home for Christmas.

For New Year's Eve, the whole bunch will be with John on Long Island. A New England New Year, my first, and I'm excited to be there for it, a little scared to drive in the winter for fear of deep snow somewhere on route though.

08 December 2008

Frustration with higher education

I'm only one week away from finishing my first full term with Capella University online. It's been a very bumpy start. The course I have enjoyed the most was historical foundations in American education. For that one, I did some in-depth study of the content and was able to apply the skills I was learning to the research I did. One drawback was that the professor experiences a personal problem just before the midway point of the course. At that time, his feedback (that had been otherwise timely, engaging and helpful) all but disappeared.

The leadership course that was the beginning of my program did prepare me to be a more analytical thinker regarding leadership decisions. It also encouraged me that any teacher can take a leadership role in his or her work environment. Still, some of the content seemed redundant and not well structured over the ten weeks.

Educational funding was the nightmare before Christmas! The instructor provided feedback so late in the game that frequently I found myself having missed the mark on assignments or discussions. He seemed to assume that everyone coming into the course should already have an extensive knowledge of the complexities of federal, state and local educational funding as well as of litigation and legislation about equity and adequacy in education. Asking him for help was not unlike asking my socks for help. You know: six weeks after you got rid of the solo sock, you found the mate behind the dryer. Unless Capella goes to significant lengths to restructure the presentation and study of course content, I would not recommend it to anyone. Unfortunately, modified or not, it still is a core class for the EdS in Curriculum and Instruction.

Fortunately, in all my classes I stayed engaged in all the weekly discussions no matter how confused or frustrated I became. I've turned in all my assignments on time and did my very best to include all the points of discussion based on rubrics and checklists provided in the course rooms by the instructors.

According to my academic counselor, my future courses will allow me to tailor my research more closely to my teaching field (art education and French/foreign languages). I do hope that will be the case.

01 December 2008

Thankful for Thanksgiving

This past Thanksgiving was wonderful. My mother came from Nevada; my boyfriend came from New York; my children were with me all week. With the slightly crowded apartment, we managed not to step on each others' toes, to enjoy family time together in a relaxed manner and to stock up a few memories for years to come.

We also put our Christmas tree. Since most of the time there's only my son and I here, it was nice to have family all around to decorate the tree together. This makes my son's 14th Christmas and my daughter's 12th. Counting Christmases seems just so silly on one hand, but on the other, each one is important. I wish I could distinguish one from the other, but basically they all sort of run together. Happy lights on the Christmas tree that is my brain...very bad analogy, but I don't care.

Only 24 more days are left until Christmas. That one and Thanksgiving are my favorites though today they do not compare to the holidays I spent as a child in Nevada. The constant flow of relatives in and out of our home and my grandmother's (who lived just down the street) gave me a great sense of connection. It's a connection I try hard every year to recreate, and given the challenges my family faces in geography alone, that task is no easy one.