Tag Archives: teaching

It’s a Chain Cuts Across My Soul

Work has been super busy this week.  This is mostly due to the fact that my students are starting a project next week and I have had a bunch of meetings.  Luckily, I have a student teacher this semester, which helps divide up the work somewhat (and gives some work, too!).  Last night, my student teacher and I left the school after 6 pm after working on some materials.  As we were leaving, she began telling me about how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are her go to food.  This, of course, led me to tell her about a hotel in New Orleans that Rhonda and I stayed at in 2006 when we attended the Voodoo Music Festival which served PB & J sandwiches every evening.

The answer to the next question is yes.  Of course, I proceeded to tell her all about that experience, in which Rhonda and I along with others literally stood for hours without food or water while trying to avoid crowd surfers. I attempted to explain that the only reason we put ourselves through such hell was for Duran Duran.  Then, I explained that Duran is more than my favorite band and mentioned this blog.  As I stopped talking, I wondered what her reaction would be as many tend to give weird looks or ask me if I am a groupie or both.  Instead of any of that, she said, “That’s good.”  It was my turn to look confused.  Huh?  She went on to explain about how it must be good to have something else to focus on besides work.  I nodded.

As I drove home, I thought more about what she had to say.  The more I pondered her reaction, the more I realized how right she is.  Is it good that I have Duran in my life?  That I do this blog?  I think so.

I recently edited my Twitter profile in which I described myself as a teacher, an activist and a Duranie, but not necessarily in that order.  During the school year, yes, typically I most often consider myself a teacher first.  I spend a LOT of time, energy and thoughts on my classroom, curriculum and students.  My school day lasts much longer than 8 or 9 hours a day.  Yesterday, for example, I was in the school building from 7:45 to 6:15.  I also had some grading to do when I got home.  On top of that, when public education and teachers become the topic of discussion on the state or national level, I am included in that conversation.  I take it personally as it generally has been my life work and a huge part of my identity.

Lately, a lot of my “free time” (Ha!  I don’t really have much free time but you all know what I mean.) has been spent on political activity, including reading a lot of current events, contacting legislators, planning meetings, contacting other organizations, and more.  I can and am sucked into political activity easily.  This connects with the teacher in me.  As a history and women’s studies teacher, I feel it is essential to be an example to my students about the importance of being engaged in one’s community, city, state and nation.  My undergrad studies focused on social movements as it is something that fascinates me.  Thus, if I’m not thinking of myself as a teacher, I’m thinking of myself as an activist.  While I love both of those parts of myself, I recognize that both suck the energy from me.  They exhaust me, mentally and emotionally.  I have a friend who is constantly saying,  “You are terrible in taking care of yourself.”  She is right.  I am.  I don’t take care of myself, putting my students and community/country ahead of what I need.

This is where Duran Duran enters the picture.  In many ways, being a Duranie is most selfish part of myself.  It is the aspect of myself that allows me to have fun, to take breaks, to escape the world.  I suspect that going on tour, writing this blog, organizing fan events is what has allowed me to give so much of myself as a teacher and a community organizer.  Thus, my student teacher is right.  It is good that I’m a Duranie and that I write this blog.  I am then given the opportunity to pause from my reality even if I think I don’t “need” it.

-A

To Lighten Up Your Mood: Motivational Duran

Yesterday students arrived at the school I teach at for the first time this year.   (I know that this blog is supposed to be about Duran fandom.  This post will get there, too.  I promise.) The beginning of the school year is always a little rough and this year is no exception.  There are always changes and adjustments that need to be made no matter how much summer planning was done by school staff.  In my case, this year, it is all about my class rosters and how many students I have.

For those not in the know, I teach 4 sections of freshmen United States History (along with the very welcomed Women’s Studies).  This means that I spend most of my day trying to get 14 and 15 year olds to engage in activities and discussions surrounding U.S. History from 1865 to 1945.  It is not the easiest task in the best of circumstances.  This year, though, my class lists are pretty messed up.  I have a small class that I’m team teaching with a colleague.  Then, I have two HUGE classes.  One of those classes I am also teaming with but not the other one, which makes no sense.  I also have 25 more students than my colleagues, which is beyond not cool since we assign a lot of essays so I’ll be grading until the cows come home.  Even weirder, still, is the fact that I have a class that has 25 boys and 5 girls.  A lot of those boys have a history of getting themselves into trouble, on top of it all.

While the scheduling seems random, I would not be surprised if I was assigned the class of what I would lovingly call “naughty boys” because I have a long history of success with kids who fit that description.  Part of me appreciates the weird sort of compliment.  The other part of me just worries about being exhausted for the next 37.5 weeks.  Therefore, it is pretty obvious that I’m going to need some energy, some motivation, something to keep me going.  As with everything else in my life, I find myself turning to music, Duran Duran music.  Can Duran give me what I need to be a successful teacher this year?

In order to see if Duran’s music can get me through, I have selected some songs that should work to motivate me.

Wild Boys

The reasons for this song seems obvious, yes?  If I’m going to have a class of “wild boys,” then the song of the same name better keep me going!  I specifically chose the one with “Relax” in the middle because I will need to remind myself of that a lot!

Paper Gods

This song will be used not so much for motivation but for validation.  A teacher’s life in the present day United States is typically filled with a lot of “paper cuts,” both literally and figuratively.  This song acknowledges that paper cuts of some form or another exist, which I often need and appreciate.

Sunrise

The thing I love about this song is how optimistic it is.  I think most teachers need to feel that optimistic, that hope in the beginning of the year and I am no exception.  Many, including myself, need to “feel the new day” as a positive.  I chose the John version of the song because…well…I like his version for obvious reasons and because I stop thinking or worrying about anything else when I’m watching it.

Hold Back the Rain

This song always reminds me of being on the road, being on tour with “no time to worry.”  While the school year gives plenty for me to worry about, I need to remember that there are times, moments when I don’t have to worry.  I will need to recall fun times of this past summer and hope for more in the future when things start to weigh me down.  This song will allow me to go to my happy place when I need it!

Pressure Off

Of course, the school year features breaks and the summer when the pressure truly comes off.  This song will me to remind of that during the long stretches without breaks.

All You Need Is Now

While breaks are always welcomed, I have to remember to appreciate the now and live in the moment.  While teaching is never an easy gig (I just read a stat that states how teachers make about 1,500 decisions in a day or more than 4 decisions in a minute!), I also want to appreciate the moments that remind me of why I got into this field to begin with and why I stay.  I have already had a few this week, such as when I saw some former students who ran up to give me hugs.

So what about the rest of you?  What Duran songs do you use to motivate yourself or to keep you going even when you are exhausted?  Which songs keep you going at work?  I would love to see everyone’s lists!

-A

Split Personality

The  end of a tour usually brings thinking and introspection.  This summer tour is no exception.  In fact, it might have brought more, especially since I go back to work next week.  Yes, the school year officially starts for me even though the kiddos don’t arrive until September 1st.  The classroom needs to get ready.  Lesson plans need to get written.  Adjustments to curriculum are required.  Despite the fact that I have been teaching a LONG time (this will be my 19th year!), I still don’t feel like I have the beginning of the year smooth.  Perhaps, I wonder if the lack of intensity is to blame.

I remember being a kid or even a young adult and feeling determined to figure out exactly who I was and where I needed to be.  Should I commit myself to being an activist, I asked in college.  A teacher should focus 110% of the time on one’s classroom and students, I believed early on in my career.  Where and how does fandom fit in with all of this, I periodically asked.  Yet, I felt that I had to choose ONE.  There was only one path that led to personal success.  Success required intensity and extreme focus.
As I have gotten older, I began to see and feel life with more complexity.  Yes, I’m a teacher and, yes, there are parts that I LOVE about the job.  I love when my students get into a serious debate over political issues of our time or the moves that were made by the United States throughout history are discussed.  My favorite moments are when I see my students’ passionately engaged in a topic.  Unfortunately, I’m well-aware of aspects of my job that I feel less (in some cases, much less) excited about.  I am not a big fan of meetings filled with educational jargon about the latest trends that will supposedly increase student achievement.  Grading is time consuming and often painful.  I despise the amount of time and energy this “full-time” job takes.  During the school year, I desperately long for breaks or at least a day away from school related work.  Teaching is not my whole life and it is NOT the defining characteristic of who I am.  It is one part of who I am.
Beyond teaching, I can be a political activist.  At times, that has meant diving deep to work on specific political campaigns or for specific candidates.  At other times, it means joining a protest or two about issues that matter to me.  It almost always means that I’m watching politically focused shows and reading the latest news.  Many conversations with friends and colleagues feature political discussions.  Yet, like teaching, it is not who I am but a part of who I am.
Likewise, fandom is a part of who I am.  It is just as big of a part as teaching or being an activist.  The commitment I have made with regards to this blog or our various projects show that.  If it didn’t matter to me, I simply wouldn’t do it.  I wouldn’t take the time to read the latest Duran news and the reactions from fans.  I wouldn’t write about Duran or the fandom surrounding the band.  There would be no Duranie focused event planning for me.  Is everything about it perfect?  Of course not.  Just like in teaching or campaigning, there are elements that frustrate me, that I don’t like.  Do those negative aspects affect what I do with my fandom?  It can and does.  I’m only human.
Sometimes, I think I would be a better teacher or activist or fan whatever you want to call it if I would focus on just that aspect of myself and my life.  I wouldn’t be distracted by the other two.  I wouldn’t be split into thirds.  Maybe this singular focus would help make my good teaching great or make my political activities so much more affective.  The laser focus might improve this blog or my writing or the fan events we plan.  Yet, I also know that I’m wouldn’t be happy just doing one over the other two.  Some aspect of my personality needs all three or a FORM of all three.  Do I have to be in a classroom to enjoy teenagers engaging with historical topics?  No.  Do I have to be writing a blog to be a good fan organizer/writer?  Probably not. Yet, I would need something like those examples.
Does my participation with all three hurt my performance, actively hurt it?  Maybe.  Some think so.  Then, the question becomes how do I make myself happy (while still paying my bills) by acknowledging all three aspects of myself without harming or muting what I could be doing with these three ambitions?  How can I commit myself more to them, individually, while maintaining all?  How do I make it so the lack of time and energy from doing all doesn’t kill the reason I love these?  I need to find a way to show and maintain my passion for all three to be the most effective and most happy.  While I feel as though I have accepted the complexity of myself and my passions, I feel like I struggle to keep those passions AS passions or struggle to show them as passions.  My goal for this year is to figure out how to do just that.  Clearly, it won’t be easy but I have a feeling that it will definitely be worth it!
-A