A Hard Truth.

Every fall I get a bit of a hankering for a boyfriend. Not a husband, since I’ve never had one of those, but for a boyfriend. I’m not sure I’m really the marrying kind anyway, but a lack of male companionship starts to gnaw at me just the same.

It gnaws at me on nights like last Friday night: I met Stueve and a former student for a bit of “how’s life” time, and I had to drive to the Old Market.

I hate driving to the Old Market on Friday nights because so. many. people. and parking make me break out in hives. I enjoy being there, I enjoy the people watching and the different places to hang out, but I hate driving and parking there. I wouldn’t have hesitated to agree to a meetup if I didn’t have to drive and park.

Maybe I don’t really want a boyfriend–maybe I want a chauffeur or car service. Hm.

Anyway.

In past hankerings for a boyfriend, I turned to online dating, which never turned out good (see my book for more on that) but I don’t know where else to turn, really. It’s not like UPS ships men to my door.

Enter dating apps.

Friends raved about Tinder, but it seemed like a hookup app, and I don’t want a hookup. But then I started to hear scuttlebutt about a different app called Bumble, which seemed like a classier version of Tinder. Hearing about Bumble coincided with my yearly yearning for a boyfriend, so I thought I would give it a try.

Here’s how it works: I open the app and a man’s photo appears. I can scroll down and see more photos (sometimes) and a brief bio (less of sometimes). If I think I might like to meet him, I swipe right. If he has also swiped right on me, a message appears: BOOM! You’re connected! And I have 24 hours to send him a message.

During a swiping rampage, I swiped right on a man who would not be a good fit for me and I saw BOOM! You’re connected!

And I panicked.

That’s when I realized that for three days I’d been swiping the wrong direction. I’d swiped right on dozens of men I didn’t like, and left on a handful of men I did like. And after the aforementioned swiping rampage, I was out of profiles to swipe.

Adding to my failed foray in the dating app world is this: those dozens of men I’d swiped right on–men I didn’t like for one reason or another, men I judged as being not good enough for me–didn’t swipe right on me either.

Later that weekend, a couple more profiles popped up so I looked at them, and this time I swiped right on a man who seemed interesting. BOOM! You’re connected! And I didn’t send a message right away because, well, fear. When I opened the app a couple of hours later, he was gone, which meant he unmatched me.

And then I realized the problem with me and men: they don’t like me.

Stop what your brain is doing right now. Seriously, stop. your. brain.

Stop thinking “Oh, come on, that’s not true <insert trite statement about finding love here>” and sit with me in this truth: men don’t like me. Let it sink in your brain, let it challenge everything that romantic comedies since Shakespeare have taught you, let it fly in the face of “there’s a lid for every pot.” Maybe I’m a lidless cast-iron skillet.

Men don’t like me–and that is okay.

This is a radical notion for some to accept, that I can be okay with the fact that men don’t like me. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me less than. It doesn’t mean I lack value, doesn’t mean my life is worthless.

It means that I fall into a category of women that, for whatever reason, men don’t like.

Plenty of people don’t like me–as a teacher, this truth has provided me enough callouses on my thin skin, which allows me to say “men don’t like me” without breaking down into a puddle of nothingness. And the more I say it, the more it makes sense and the more normal it feels. The problem isn’t the dozens of blind dates, the money wasted on dating websites, or even a dating app–the problem is that I’ve been conditioned to believe that my life as a single woman is a problem. It’s not.

When I take the time to examine my life, I bask in the following truths:

I have a career that I enjoy, a career that has provided me opportunities that sometimes challenge and frustrate me, and just as often enrich and delight me. I have friends to lean on. I have ten nieces and nephews to spoil and love, siblings and parents who have my back. When I clean my apartment and flop down on my couch, I feel satisfaction, peace and happiness at the space I’ve created as a sanctuary.

Men not liking me seems like such an minor sliver of my life’s happiness pie-chart, that the proportion of time and money I’ve spent the past 25 years trying to make them like me feels like the ultimate waste.

I don’t plan on making the same mistake for the next 25 years. And for that, Bumble, I thank you.

Technology requires an investment in people.

Today while I was at an iPad training, this article popped up in my Tweetdeck. Read the article, but here’s the headline:

Even Apple is acknowledging that the “iPads in education” fad is coming to an end.

I held back a giggle–I was in a room with 60 educators who teach with iPads, all of us collaborating about how to use them best in our classrooms, who had just listened to our district tech facilitators talk about future directions of district technology. I was in the middle of developing a lesson in which students would use their iPads to answer an essential question in my curriculum–and I was reading an article about how iPads are a fad and on the way out education’s door.

But the article highlights a major problem that education has had with technology dating all the way back the Apple IIe: throwing tech at teachers without any training whatsoever.

When I first started teaching with the iPads, I was terrified. I’ve blogged about the triumphs and failures of the past four years (just look to the left and click on the word “iPads” and you can read all about it), as I’ve tried to figure out how to best use the iPads in my classes. And one thing is certain: without adequate training and time, any technology will fail in a classroom.

Last spring, I wrote about how Bellevue Public Schools prepares teachers to teach with iPads. As our district’s Director of Technology reminded us today, we began introducing iPads in our district with six teachers (I was one of those six). Then we expanded to a few more, and a few more, each time bringing in more grade levels and content areas and each time, the district provided all of us with training and time and freedom to take risks and fail and try and succeed. It takes a special kind of leadership to accept and implement a slow-burn approach with such a high-ticket item as the iPad, but our district leadership was willing to do that instead of the alternative that I read about in so many districts across the country.

What bothers me most about the article’s attempt to spell doom for the iPads, is this:

According to one of the teachers surveyed, tablets provided “no educational function in the classroom.”

I would like to sit down with that teacher and listen to what s/he tried to do to use the iPads to improve student learning. I would like to know what kind of training s/he received prior to using the iPads.

I would like to talk with the teacher from Virginia about how the iPad “undermined her pupils’ conversation and communication skills” and ask if she ever used GarageBand to record her students’ reading fluency, or had her students interview each other using the Camera app and make an iMovie to introduce students to the class.

I would like to ask these teachers who declare the iPad such an utter failure how they manage other behaviors like writing notes, texting, daydreaming, reading books, or doodling, when students should be listening or engaged in learning activities. Because blaming the iPads for behaviors that have been around since the dawn of time is unfair.

iPads in education is no more a fad than SmartBoards were ten years ago, than the Internet was twenty years ago, than typewriters were fifty years ago. If districts continue to throw new technologies at their teachers and students without proper supports, if teachers continue to believe that technologies are to blame for behaviors–thinking that the technology supplants classroom management–headlines that blame the technology will persist.

Once again, I find myself incredibly grateful to be teaching in a district that values training teachers how to use technology in the best way possible. Where I’m expected to take risks and fail. Where I’m encouraged to learn constantly so I can improve my skills and teach not only my students, but also my colleagues.

So I offer my sympathy to the teachers in Maine, California, Texas, North Carolina, or any district where the promise of how an iPad could transform a classroom never quite materialized. It is possible for technology to thrive, but it requires an investment in teachers, an investment that I’m afraid too many districts are unwilling to make.

I’m glad that my district invests in its teachers.

 

A Note From A Private Citizen.

For the first time in 42 years, the voters in my school district are being asked to vote on a $76 million bond for the public schools. I’ve hesitated blogging about this, because I’m a teacher and its passage or failure will impact my daily life. But I’m guessing most votes have been cast, as they are due by 5 p.m. tomorrow, so here are my thoughts, late as they might be.

As I’ve drafted and drafted and drafted what I could have possibly added to the white noise of “for” and “against,” I’ve boiled it down to these thoughts:

  1. Please do not hold present leaders accountable for the decisions of past leaders. Yes, oversight is important. Yes, fiscal responsibility is important. But please understand that every year for the past several, we have been cutting. Myself and most extra-curricular sponsors took pay cuts. We are limited in our copy budget. We no longer provide tissues for students–I typically spend $40 a year on tissues because students don’t bring boxes to share, as is so common in the elementary schools. Computers that should’ve been replaced years ago are limping along. Please don’t think we’ve been living high on the hog the past five years. Quite the opposite.
  2. Weigh the cost of the bond against the following factors:
    • Property valuations possibly falling as families move to Papillion, Westside, Millard, Elkhorn–incidentally, all districts that have passed more than one bond in the past 42 years.
    • A loss of quality teachers who, despite love of career and children, can no longer justify teaching in a district without needed resources or safety concerns addressed.
    • Private school tuition costs for when the public schools can no longer support the students they way parents have grown accustomed to.

I think one of the negative repercussions of the Internet is that we, as a society, increasingly expect quality content for free. We complain about newspaper paywalls or Netflix price increases because we are somehow entitled to everything. But we aren’t. And though John Dewey advocated for “free” public education for all, it’s never really been free. Like 911 services, road improvements and libraries, schools have always had a price.

Communities that balk at the price tag face dire consequences. 

For a student perspective on school funding, here’s the opinion of the editorial board of the newspaper I advise.

 

An Hour or Two On My Computer.

Click.

I read the first comment, causing words to swim in my head, making me dizzy while my face flushed.

Click. 

I read the next comment, rage building from my toes and up into my fingers.

Clickity-click.

I type a rebuttal. I copy a link. I highlight it all and delete.

Clicking-click.

I type a different rebuttal, copy different links. I highlight it all again and delete again.

Ring.

My sister calls, and after helping her solve her problem, I tell her mine, only neither of us can solve my problem.

Click.

I open a link on a completely different topic to try and shift my focus, only to replace the rage with pessimism.

Click.

I open a different link and the pessimism moves to anxiety, as it appears all my life choices, from what I eat and drink to how I spend some of my free time is literally killing me.

Slam.

I close my laptop. In twelve hours I have to be a face of hope and optimism for over a hundred teenagers, a pillar of strength that doesn’t crumple at the opinions of the loud and ornery.

I do what is within my control. I write. I read poetry. I log out of the social media and I dig into any remaining reserve of hope I have left.

It’s still there.

Going Nuclear.

I saw tweets this morning about Donald Trump and nuclear weapons and my defensive antennae perked up. Yes, his campaign has denied that Trump asked repeatedly in a briefing why we don’t use the nuclear weapons in our arsenal, but after reading the transcript of his interview with the Washington Post, I’m not as inclined to believe his spokespeople. Regardless, this is not something I take lightly, having grown up in the shadow of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

I remember going to the beach at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to see missile launches leave trails of whipped-cream smoke in the blue sky. I don’t think these were nuclear missiles, but at my young age, I didn’t know the difference. I knew Daddy had missile patches on his flight suits and bomber jacket, and the Strategic Air Command logo–a metal-clad fist squeezing lightning rods that looked like missiles to me–was more familiar than the Golden Arches of McDonald’s.

I remember moving to Nebraska at 8 years old and the other Air Force kids at school telling me that our base and city was #2 on the U.S.S.R.’s nuke list. Why? Because of SAC underground–a giant missile control facility housed stories beneath the Nebraska prairie. Fun fact: my dad worked in the SAC underground, so the kids at school unwittingly gifted me with years of terror, wondering if my dad would survive a Russian nuclear attack safe underground while my mom and siblings vaporized into nothingness.

I was ten years old when, in a creative writing class, I had to identify my greatest fear. “Nuclear war,” I wrote, and pasted a bright orange mushroom cloud cut from a magazine next to the words. I was ten. At various times, I’ve asked my nieces and nephews when they’ve been around ten years old what they are afraid of. The high dive. Bees. Squirrels. Human extinction never made their lists. And I credit that to the work of my dad and countless other men and women who pulled alerts in various missile silos all over the United States. My dad spent his entire Air Force career “keeping the world safe for democracy”–a phrase he often said light-heartedly–a phrase that now, in the face of Trump’s complete lack of understanding of nuclear deterrence, is quite grave.

An adviser to Jeb Bush sent out a threaded tweet today about nuclear deterrence theory and what Trump does not understand. Start with this one, and read upthread until you hit #20. As I read his tweets, pictures of my dad in his flight suit flashed in my head. Memories of events he missed because he was pulling alerts crossed my mind. Stories he only recently started to tell me–because of legit national security reasons–flooded my brain.

I get that people hate Hillary with the fires of Mount Doom. I get that people are sick of establishment politics (which to them I say, STOP REELECTING THE SAME TWITS TO CONGRESS). I get that this election is like none other we have witnessed in our lifetime. But seriously. Consider the cost. My dad did not spend his Air Force career holed up in missile silos or in SAC Underground or on the National Emergency Airborne Command Post  so that a twitchy lunatic could, 20 years later, undo all the work my dad and his squadrons spent decades doing.

I’ve been incredulous at and mocking of Trump’s behavior for the past year. Today is the first time I’m absolutely terrified and incensed.