Thursday, November 20, 2008

Claiming what's good

Some days are too ridiculous to share publicly. I'm afraid tomorrow will be one of those days. I think it already is. In place of the post I want to write, a few positive notes.

My Algebra 1 class conducted a survey about student experiences in the blizzard. We've been working with visualizing and analyzing the data. I'm hopeful that we'll have a summary of results on the webpage this week.

While watching a video about classroom management at a staff meeting, I felt bored. "Don't I already do this?" Made a more conscious effort of briefly asking students "What are you supposed to be doing?" during class today. It actually made a difference with fourth period. Sixth period still had it's sleepers though.

I'm interpreting students creating a romantic drama for me as a sign that they like me. They're comfortable with me. It seems to be in good fun (and they even knock it off when I tell them that's enough).

Finally, I'm going to bed before 11:00 tonight.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Melting

I updated my post on the blizzard yesterday, but realize you who use the RSS feeder probably won't see it. A friend who worked in the area last year asked how the melt was going. The situation caused by the blizzard is bad. But in the protection of my trailer, I've also been sheltered from the news. It is rare that I feel as lucky to be where I am as I do now. 

In part of an effort to convey what is happening here, I am linking to others' stories and telling my own below.

Stories from School

Nov. 11--It may not be a normal school day when:
  • you already have an early release planned
  • students haven't been in school for a week
  • you drop in on a conversation about how to offer showers to students 
  • you hear that your students won't get power for another TWO WEEKS (Parmelee again)
Today's lesson plans. Opportunity to talk. Choice to review homework that was due last week. Potential project collecting and analyzing our statistics from the blizzard.

Others' Stories

Marion has a detailed account of her storm experience. Some of my students live in Parmelee which is still without power. KELOland has some coverage of the situation as well.

A week ago, I was planning on spending this weekend in Wanblee teaching my friends Kathy, Sarah, and Noah to knit. After living in the school for four days they have escaped to a hotel in Rapid City. They do not expect power in Wanblee until Thursday. The Rapid City Journal article can be read here.

Evan, Anne, and Anna also have posts about the storm. 

I will continue to update this post with links to more stories as they are told.

My Story 

We had Family Night after school last Wednesday. Most weeks I drive a half hour to have dinner with a friend on Wednesday evening. But I was feeling behind on my school work and decided not to increase my stress level by driving in the falling snow. When the call came at 10 pm that we would have a late start in the morning I breathed a sigh of relief, worked for another two hours, and went to bed.

I had planned to sleep in for an hour, but the howling wind got me up. Looking out the window I turned on the radio waiting for the announcement that school was canceled. It didn't look like there was much snow on the ground, but there was no way to run buses in that sustained level of wind. Vicki and I settled in for a day of cooking, reading, and relaxed work. Periodically I would open the door to marvel at the snow being blown about.

Midmorning I called my grandmother who worries about me after watching the weather channel. I wanted to reassure her that I was okay. Two minutes into the phone call my cell phone lost service. Towers were down. Cell phones would not work for the next two days. My landline and internet still worked; I was never unable to contact my family.

Thursday evening Anne told me that school was canceled for Friday and she was going over to Jen's to celebrate. Vicki and I bundled up and ventured outside for the first time all day. 

When we arrived there were already six teachers there writing a song for our friend Andrew's birthday party that weekend. The power went out around 8 pm. We had candles, musical instruments, and lots of layers. At the peak of the evening, 13 teachers were hanging out in the living room. Eventually it was time to go to sleep. Vicki, Anne, and I decided to venture home where we could sleep under our own blankets. Anne promised to make breakfast in the morning and we went out into the storm. 

That was not the smartest decision I've ever made. The wind pushed the falling snow in our faces. No power meant the ever-glowing street lights were off. The storm meant there wasn't a moon to light our way. We had flashlights, but could only see a few steps ahead. It was a straight shot. We knew we'd run into the fence of our trailer park if we kept going. Two steps after we considered going back Anne saw the fence and we were home again.

I woke up in the morning underneath a pile of blankets. It was light enough to try reading in bed, but my hands got cold. I put on a hat and alternated between snoozing and reading Zorro by Isabel Allende. At 10:00 I realized I was listening to the whir of the heat. I called my parents to tell them the power was back on. An hour later I bundled up to climb over waist-deep snowdrifts to go next door for brunch. By the time I left, plans were made to have dinner at 3D. The dinner party evolved into a movie viewing and eventually a slumber party. They were out of propane, so we didn't have much heat. I was impressed by the difference two space heaters can make. 

Saturday I worked on digging my car out. The snow plow left a pile right behind me, but we were able to get Vicki's car to back out and mine to go in front of her's. I still haven't tested if I can actually get my car out. Most teachers left teacher housing, either to go to families in other parts of the state or to Andrew's birthday celebration. 

Yesterday the school had inservice. Most of the staff was there, some after digging a quarter mile to get their cars to the road. We have today off for Veterans' Day. Tomorrow I have a half-day of school (early release for correlates) and will finally hear what my students have been through.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I've heard the elders say winter will be hard this year.

Day two of this blizzard. I worry about how the rest of the community is doing. Teacher housing may have leaky windows and broken screen doors, but we're more protected than most. My power just came back on after being out all night. I'm sure others are still waiting.

I won't see students again until Wednesday.  I pray they stay safe between now and then.

Edit November 10: Marion's post and the article on Wanblee (where some of my friends live and teach) makes me feel all the more grateful for the protection we had during the storm. And all the more worried for my students.