Sunday, December 17, 2017

#Ubuntu #Fairfield #Writing - Seems To Be My Facebook Year in Review

I jumped on the bandwagon, and dumped my Facebook content into a Wordle (actually, the App did it for me) and my most used words were delivered to me in an oval cloud: Ubuntu, Fairfield, Writing, Love, Teacher & Bility. It's all work, school, and the project that has become my life.

Seems about "write," no?

I had another day of projects not turned in, although I was emailed a few draft lessons to get feedback. As a result, I had time to attend a small holiday party where I finally saw Elf (well, the last half) and got to play on a Smart TV and watch my YouTube videos - so much fun to see my friends and family on the big screen. I remember the first time I saw a flat screen t.v. and I commented to Alice and Charlie, "Dang. All the cool things will probably be invented after we're gone."

Well, some of the cool things I'm getting to experience, too. And those $7,000 t.v.s are now in the $450 range. That came down fast.

Today, I anticipate the projects will start arriving and I'll be in my grading chair for most of the day. This is okay, because I'm on a mission to get them scored to meet the Thursday a.m. deadline.

And I was able to make the Kentucky cake for the elderly couple next door as a special holiday treat to thank them for being my neighbors. They're good to me and I love returning the kindness to them.

Happy Sunday...the clocks move too fast, but such is life.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

14 Hours Writing & Grading and There Simply Is No Signal In My Brain Anymore

It's only just begun. I rolled out of bed at 5 a.m. yesterday to get on top of projects, so that I could meet the projects as they begin to come in. Actually, only a couple of final pieces arrived, but I realized I had a mountain of recommendations to write that have piled up over the last month (that's what happens). I also had a grant report, summer preparation, admission files, and committee work.

I did not move much. That's not true. I walked Glamis and ran at the gym. Those were my breaks.

My food intake was pathetic - waffle fries for dinner. Peanut butter for lunch. Just sad.

And all of this will be repeated today, tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday. Actually, all work is due Tuesday, so I'm unsure how many will get their assignments to me before then (although I made a plea). I screwed up this year, and didn't pay any attention to the calendar when I created the syllabus (hmmmm, might have had something to do with the dossier process and the fact that I was living in my office in August until September 15th. I simply wasn't thinking ahead).

It was a nice snow fall last night with decent accumulation. I need to get to my coffee right away, or else I'm never going to energize myself enough to move forward.

Be ready for a few days of anxious posts. That's what it's like to be an academic who blogs at the end of the semester.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Beginning with Potential Beginners and Ending with Professional Achievers

 Yes, it snowed yesterday, but there were interviews to be conducted and worried about the roads, I hit 95 at 8 a.m. (interesting, it was eerily quiet and I got to campus in record one was on the roads...and they were plowed).

My colleague, Ryan, however, had the opposite experience as he drove south from the north. 3.5 hours. He made it, however, in time to close of the interviews.

We had fantastic individuals looking to pursue a career in teaching, and I couldn't help but snap a photo of their thinking about a schooling conundrum they're like to face and how they would tackle the issue. Yes, at Fairfield, we give a task to potential students to problem solve together so we can quickly initiate the importance of community.

From there, Ryan and I had a department meeting, which is also a changing community, but one with tremendous promise and a lot of new energy for everything that is arriving as tomorrow, but soon will be yesterday.

I got home just in time to join the C(3)WP  community, our grant-funded opportunity to work with teachers in the field on numerous tools to support argumentation in the classroom. Kristin Veenema did a phenomenal job leading the dialogue and highlighting several wonderful tools provided by the National Writing Project (seriously, the online ZOOM session was extremely useful and every task we experienced is one I'd implement in a middle or high school writing classroom tomorrow).

So, the day went from potential newbies at the University, to colleagues in a department meeting, to teachers thirsty for new knowledge from the luxury of my home. No, they weren't physically here, but we held a digital session.

But this morning, I have to stay home to way for the furniture company who assembled legs onto my new couch set, chair and ottoman, but did a half-@$$ job. They are coming to fix their error and they gave me a window of 3 hours where they will do it. I love such appointments!

Seriously, it will give me an opportunity to write from home.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thrilled to Co-Present Partnership Work Yesterday. Love Working with @elizabethboquet

Yesterday, I was thrilled to take part in conversation celebrating community in partnership work, supported by the leadership of Melissa Quann and Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka. Three mini-grants were awarded to scholars to collaborate with community groups to explore, implement, and carry forth projects that are socially engaging, thought-provoking, and beneficial to students at the University, research, and putting scholarship into action.

Last spring, Dr. Beth Boquet had a vision of working with the expertise of UCONN faculty, Tom Dean and Jason Courtmanche, to think about a beginning conversation of supporting writing centers in secondary schools. We reached out to Tim Huminski at Joel Barlow High School (with a 25 year writing center tradition) and Ann Traspasso and Shaun Mitchell at Central High School to host conversations about building a network for writing centers in the southern Connecticut area. Last Friday, we held a Partnerships for Social Change, Writing Center Pop-Up, where youth accompanied their teachers to work with writing center tutors at Fairfield University. The dialogue was exciting, motivating, and purposeful.

We were asked great questions about our work with a lot of prompts for what we might reconsider in the future, including visual mapping of our work, creating a plan for what we'd like to see 10 years from now, and thinking of ways that our work might assist others who have similar questions.

We also learned about robotics work between the School of Engineering and Harding High School, as well as pharmaceutical work between the School of Nursing, St. Vincent's and Spanish & Portuguese faculty.

Moving. Powerful. Important. Men and women for others in innovative ways.

I'm ending a semester with bags under my eyes (and this is before final projects come in), but I'm already excited to continue the work with our partners (and the magic they bring to our conversation). I absolutely love working with Drs. Beth Boquet and Betsy Bowen, as they think creatively of how we can bring a richer conversation to the work of Tim Huminski, Shaun Mitchell and Ann Traspasso.

There's power when Universities unite with the communities they serve.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Craziness: Driving Lessons, A History, and DMVs. I Think I Am Ready To Retire

If this is the year of Crazy Crandall, this is also the year to make a statement, "I think I am finished with teaching others to drive." This habit began in Louisville when I first began teaching Sudanese refugees how to drive in my Ford Explorer. I continued this in Syracuse when I taught several kids how to drive while working on my doctorate. In Connecticut, I switched first to a Ford Focus to teach Chitunga how to drive (he passed with flying colors, of course) and then used my Grinch-Green Suburu to offer driving lessons to Mr. Akbaru, who successfully received his driving license yesterday.

I counted the numbers. I've taught 15 people to drive. I have many stories about this, including the absolute pang I get in my stomach awaiting whether or not they will pass. I wasn't quite sure about Akbar, as his morning lesson was a little stressful. When he returned he said, "I don't know how I did. The man didn't say anything and didn't write anything down"

Minutes later the man came out and said, "Akbar!" and he handed him the yellow form that checked off a perfect score on his driving test.


I personally thanked him for doing the work he does because I couldn't do it. In fact, I said to every DMV employee we encountered, "Bless you for doing this work. I can't imagine how you do it every day. I come ever few years and I leave with absolute angst and frustration at our system, but this is your truth 40 hours a week! Wow."

But then comes the reality. The drive home was a discussion about insurance, car payments, responsibilities, the risk of getting a ticket, the fear of accidents, the demands others make on you when you have a car, but most importantly, the economics and realities of life in the United States. Currently, a minimum wage job is spectacular and teaching a lot about the importance of work, but I put more emphasis on education and the investment into the mind so there are choices and options in the future. One cannot afford a car unless one has a reliable income (AND insurance).

I am thinking about the aftermath of getting licenses (William, in KY, found the pink Barbie mobile and made the purchase, whereas Chitunga nabbed Jenny, his first car). It's tricky business getting a first car. If they're cheap, they come with mountains of needs. It's hard not to be a lemon in the used car world. Repairs are an additional headache.

It comes down to the money. What can you afford? How can you make this happen?

I thought about all of this at the DMV because we were there for HOURS, and I know that DMV stories are ubiquitous...they haunt us all. As I sat looking at my watch I remarked to Akbar, "Dude, I can't wait much longer, I have back to back graduate classes to teach tonight, and this wait is ridiculous." He responded, "In refugee camps, we sometimes waited in lines 8 hours just to be rationed food."

Okay, I was schooled.

It's the truth. Here, we have a stellar young man trying to find his way into the American dream: a great student, a wonderful mind, a clever thinker, and a hard worker. The obstacles he faces are tremendous, however, as the reality of immigrating to the U.S. is never an easy task (and it is only the 1% who are vetted to actually get invited).

I look at him in absolute admiration. I look at him as a individual who, to me, worth the investment.

With that noted, I do believe I'm done with driving lessons for a while. My stomach, my heart, and my brain can't take it much longer. It's stressful enough to be my own driver in southern Connecticut...not sure I can invest much more in student drivers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

@WritingProject I Owe You a Cake. Great Whatever Intervention Last Night

I overplanned for Monday night. I knew I had to get back to back graduate courses prepared, and I wanted to bring them the Kentucky cake (what I call it), but forgot the heavy cream, so needed to run out in the frigid air to Big Y. When I returned, I preheated the oven and went to the laptop to get the recipe, when the alert went off that I had a NWP Zoom meeting.

Zip. Zap. Zoom.

I turned off the oven, and was thankful that my cake excursion prompted a reminder about the meeting. It was on my calendar, but that is all digital, and if I didn't check my computer (my phone was charging), I may have missed the call.

I am always rejuvenated when in a room (or digital space) with the NWP family. We all know that our work ahead remains important, but that so much has changed quickly in education and the professional development model that we know is effective and brilliant. As a result, we have to think outside the box more than ever before. We need one another, too, as a community of like-minded individuals who want the best for America's youth and their teachers.

As I listened to updates from other sites, and the expertise of clever minds, my mind began racing with possibilities for what comes next. We are in the business of creating communities, because we have one of the most powerful teaching communities this nation has ever seen.

My graduate students will be enjoying the cake tomorrow night, but as the smell wafted throughout my house I realized something. I need to bake this cake for everyone in the NWP community as a thank you for being awesome, for being supportive, for providing hope, and for always making magic for our K-18 classrooms. Yes, my students benefit from the baking, but because of the baking, I was incited to get online and fast!

Now, if only Crazy Crandall could open a bakery to make 200 cakes to be delivered to sites around the world! Now, that would be an undertaking. For now, sadly, we only get a blog post...

...but it is thoughts that count!

Love to the N, the W, and the P! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Well, Monday. You're Here. I Enjoyed A Weekend At Home, Though

And this is the point of the semester that I take a deep breath and simply hope that I make it through to the end. Tuesday is the last night of graduate classes for me, and then the projects begin piling in. Of course, next semester is knocking at the door, and syllabi and book orders are due, plus another round of potential publications, conference proposals, and grants.

Office, here I come!

I did enjoy spending time at the house, however, and with Saturday's "Hollywood snow"...the first falling that covers everything beautifully, I couldn't help but snap a photo of Mt. Pleasant with he lights up. It's great sitting in my new work-chair, with the Christmas tree aglow to my left and the lights hanging in the window (where Glamis likes to sit so that people stop and see the doggie in the window).

I had a couple of nights of lousy sleep, and I'm trying to orange juice and tea myself from getting sick. The head wants to make room for the Mucinex monsters, but I have another plan of action. I'll keep getting to the gym to fight them off.

Most of my gifts are purchased, too. They are wrapped and ready to be brought to my tree (and then the Hulk to transport to Syracuse).

I'm thinking of Chitunga, however. He has back to back to back to back exams, followed by a paper. That's the life of a college student at the end of the semester, and I'm doing the same. I simply have to await the work to be turned in so I can grade everything and get them into the system on time.

Right now, however, I'm dreaming of sleep. It's morning, and I have many items to check off the list today, so I'm hoping to muster all the creative and intellectual energy that I can. I'm thankful to have work, employment, and an income, but at the end of a semester - especially a dossier application semester - I am simply all sorts of exhausted. This too shall pass. I'm counting my blessings...

...and wishing the best to students and professors who are doing the grind as we always do at this time of year. We're fortunate, indeed, if not at our edge!