maeve66: (FI hammer and sickle)
[personal profile] maeve66
I don't even know what to say on LiveJournal anymore. I miss how it was. Facebook is so ubiquitous and easy, but it doesn't build community at all. It just keeps you in touch (at different levels) with people you once knew, people you've just met, far-flung family members, and somewhat random political 'friends'... as well as those you feel you know well from the internet, specifically, from LJ.

My mother, who once tried LJ for a hot minute, but who cannot really remember well enough to form new habits any more, was shocked that my last entry was in something like August, before school started. Me too.

What should I round up, as an end of 2016 post? One of about... TWO. Oh, god, two posts.

Here's one random thing. I still miss [profile] wouldprefernot2 deeply. I was telling my fifteen year old niece about Livejournal, and trying to show her how the network of people could often be narrowed down to a few people who then ramify, and it led to me telling her about him, who really was the person who started my internet friendship network. And just now I looked back at his memorial LJ, and almost immediately (after I scanned a few of the miserable entries recounting his hideously unexpected and quick vanishing into death) fell into some of the old political and cultural conversations which I miss so much. I'm so glad I know [personal profile] microbie now, who I did not, before his death. I can't remember if I told her (I'm sure I did, or I think so, anyway) what I told my niece yesterday... R. is very into gender politics, and her interest reminded me that for literally the first several months I was reading [profile] wouldprefernot2's Livejournal, I did not know whether the writer was a man or a woman. I had never been in that position, and it was absolutely fascinating to see my own gender biases and shifts at work, as I first saw the writing as by a woman, and then by a man. I kind of really liked it, and was almost disappointed when he finally wrote something that made it clear to me (I have no recollection of what that was) that he was a man. A cis het male, as one might say, today. My fifteen year old niece was four when he died.

Let's see. This year... politically this summer was just a series of fucking horrible shocks and bad news, from Nice to Orlando to Turkey to Brexit to Podemos' loss to bombings in Mecca to Syria. The Spring had been good... I enjoyed how long Bernie persevered, and it felt different to Nader and any previous third-party campaign of, e.g., the Green Party. I'd liked Bernie Sanders since I was a kid, one of the few Congresspeople who didn't disgust me. But it was pretty incredible to have long conversations with the (Mexican-American, late 50s maybe?) head custodian at my school about how he really preferred Bernie and intended to vote for him in the Primary, and hoped he'd get the nomination. But the conventions were both horrible, and the long juggernaut of a campaign and its sickening denouement... fuck. I am not convinced of the need for catastrophism, yet, but I am nervous and constantly unhappy about political prospects. The only thing that gives me hope is that the youth that I see -- even middle schoolers, like the ones I teach, are angry, and possibly open to systemic challenges, to questioning the entire fabric of society. This year, for instance, my middle school, which is in a working class Latin@, Asian, and white suburb in the Bay Area, started its first Gender and Sexuality Alliance (formerly these tended to be called Gay Straight Alliance clubs, but the national group changed its name to reflect more diversity). Same 15 year old niece had helped to start the GSA at her Oakland middle school, in seventh grade. My current seventh-grade niece is active in that same group, now. And the high school niece texted me photos of the walk out that happened at Oakland Tech High School on November 9th, which was the only good thing I saw or heard all day. I want a big tent anti-capitalist political organization, a new one, a non-sectarian one, SO BADLY. I'm glad the Green Party has finally openly adopted anti-capitalist planks to its platform... but I want something young people will be willing to join and experiment with.

Other more domestic news and bits and bobs. My cat Devlin continues delightful and lovely and snuggly -- thank goodness cats need help to regulate their warmth. She's in my arms as I type right now.

The school year... well, it's better than last year because I only have one ridiculous student instead of four mean as well as disruptive students in one class, which I had last year. Whom the counselors, per the principal's direct orders, refused to separate, although every single teacher who had that group, which stayed together all damn day, requested schedule changes for them. This year I have a student who cannot (I mean, like Tourette's level cannot) prevent himself from calling semi-random shit out every few minutes while I am doing direct instruction, who walks around and bothers other students, especially girls, who touches all my shit in the classroom, including expensive stuff like the LCD projector, the document camera, the printer and computer -- utterly nerve wracking because it's clear he wouldn't care in the slightest if these things broke -- as well as just my own pen I write with, my lesson-planning book, anything that I am not literally holding in my hand at the moment. He's not malicious, but he truly doesn't care about "being redirected", or getting calls home, or detentions, or anything. He is Syrian, by the way. Moved here about three years, has great conversational English by this point, and not bad comprehension and writing skills in academic English. Bizarrely, he told me his family was going back to Syria around the time of Ramadan, this Fall and I didn't really believe him. But they did. They left for two months of the school year, and just got back and re-registered him for school last week. His family is Druze, which is a trip. I'd heard the name of the religion before, but have never (until now) known anything about it. I'm glad I asked him before beginning our next unit on Islam this week. I have quite a few Bosnian students, literally all of whose names end in -vic, but I don't think I have any Yemeni students this year. I usually have a few. Mostly I teach Asian-American kids, Mexican-American and Central-American-American kids (Latin@ or Latinx, for convenience, though I don't tend to use those terms at school), and roughly equal numbers (about 10% each?) of Black kids, white kids, and Pacific-Islander-American kids. The latter sometimes approach me to ask for a ruling (no, seriously) about whether they are Asian or not. Umm, politically, sometimes? I see API groups exist? It's up to you? I like my students an awful lot this year.

Last year (I don't remember if I wrote about this... ah, having checked, I totally did not) was an Evaluation year for me. Once you've taught in this district for eight years or something like that, you only get evaluated every fourth year, and I've been at the school I am at now (I should make a fake name for it... Hamilton Middle School, let's say) for six years, it was my second time to be evaluated. AND, as I was now past my tenth year in the district I had the option of applying for an alternative evaluation, where you design a Teacher Inquiry and meet periodically with the principal to discuss it. So I did that -- observation evals give me quite close to literal PTSD, from shitty experiences at my last middle school in this district, and from the horrific final year of working in Oakland, when the new district imposed principal who came in to shut the school down, took all the teachers who were paid the most as her evaluatees and crushed them (us) where she could. ANYWAY, god, it was so good to do that style of evaluation! I will happily research and analyze stats from standardized tests and write up assignments and discuss student interviews and write up a fucking 15 page report for you ANY DAY OF THE YEAR in preference to meeting with you to discuss my abysmal classroom management practices. And the principal gave me warm fucking fuzzies in response to our discussions, which I haven't gotten from an administrator almost ever. And now I don't have to do it again until... 2019-2020. Thank christ. Or thank Saint ... is it Jude? Who is the one for hopeless causes? This, by the way, is my nineteenth year of teaching. Next year I want to have a party for my twentieth. Also, if I can get affordable insurance, I want to retire in ten years. Only two more evaluations.

Okay... maybe it's not impossible to write LJ entries. Is it really an echo chamber now? Hello, fellow LJers.



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