Monday, May 30, 2011

When Preparation Meets Opportunity

Networking. This is how I spent my nearly last day of May. I was required to meet with the magnet director for my school district. During the meeting, I discussed facilitating a Diversity Competencies Awareness session for 20 + TFA teachers, (as this is aligned with the magnet goals.) One of the lead directors suggested that I contact those coordinating DCA competencies for all of the district where I work. I am now helping develop employee resource groups!

I went to QuickTrip to get coffee, (I sleep 6 or less hours a night - I’m trying to hold it together here people, do not judge my 24 oz of coffee consumption). In line to pay for the coffee I hear “Ms. Hering?” One of my former students was behind me in a firefighter’s uniform! He is now working with me so that we are able to have a fire truck at our next pep rally and helping a current student of mine who is interested in becoming a firefighter... Let’s get fired up!!

I have made it to the in-person interviews with a charter school. If I am offered the position, I will be helping to start a new charter school in my city next year working 10 hours a month and receiving a stipend.

In the evening I checked my e-mail to find that I was recommended for an internship position for the summer that would help me develop as a professional and pay more than what I make as a teacher’s salary. I would also be in one of the following four locations:

My 6:15 meeting was cancelled, I bought a tent for Backwoods Bash this weekend, and I ate some Takis. Great day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My students are very invested in my personal life, (and as it turns out, incredibly intuitive).

The student who asked what would happen if he showed up to my house with a bottle of wine asked if I'd come watch him play in his game. YES! Not even a question until I found out his motive. He wanted me to meet his coach. The student was actually trying to sell him to me... "He's really good with kids, he works at the shelter, he has braids. Do you mind braids?"

I refused to come to a game until I had the student's word that he would NOT try to introduce me. Arriving at my first game, I immediately regretted that decision. His coach was not only incredibly attractive, but he had such a calm and sweet demeanor. I didn't talk to him at the first game. I spent most of the game talking to another male teacher, (a friend), who I later found out the coach jokingly mistook for my boyfriend.

The second game I attended with a female teacher. I was waiting to say hi to my student when I noticed the coach leaving. I was a little sad and started walking out. The coach was walking kind of slowly and as I approached a narrow walkway he stopped to let me go through first. He noticed me. Game on.

"You're the coach, right?"
"I'm Tera. I'm ____'s math teacher." *shakes hands, typical introduction conversation* "I just wanted to tell you what a positive impact you have on these students. _____ always talks very highly of you and you can see that he really looks up to you."

"Thanks, that means a lot."

"I know this sounds facetious, but could I get your e-mail? _____ doesn't have a lot of parent involvement and if I could maybe e-mail you when he isn't behaving I think that would be helpful because he really does respect you." (While this was a very honest conversation, I didn't realize I had that much fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants game.)

Boom. He asked for my e-mail as well, but I just said I would e-mail him. Which I did immediately. When his e-mail read that "these things were better to discuss in person," all I read was DATE in big bold letters.

He is such a kind and considerate soul with ambition that matches his arms and abs. I'm incredibly picky. This happened a month ago and I'm still not tired of seeing him every day.

My students give me so many great stories that it's hardly comprehensible.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I will only see my students 16 more days until they are off for summer break. I can't imagine what it would be like knowing I wouldn't be working with students next year. I've decided an MBA is not my career path.

I am enrolling at OU in the Masters in Education program to become an administrator and changing my professional trajectory. I am going to Orlando, Florida this Sunday for a teaching conference for literacy. I am taking the Praxis to teach secondary English and Calculus.

I want to impact as many students as possible and I would give anything to do so.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's a lightening bolt of hearts.

I want to talk about Ty, a student who was defiant from the moment he walked into my classroom. He came to class high. I made him focus. He tried to talk the entire class period. I made him move. He yelled at me. I kept him after class. I set up a meeting with his father. His father never showed. These interactions, seemingly meaningless, demonstrated my desire for Ty to be successful and he began to rise to my high expectations. Ty came to class on time and wasn't even high most days. He actually let me see how smart he was and really caught on to inequalities.

(Example of Inequality Ty can solve: -3x + 8 < 17)

The only inequality he's going to see now will be from inside his jail cell... for at least 4 years longer than the white kid.

(Example of Inequality Ty won't have to solve to understand: 10 > 6)

They were both caught stealing while possessing drugs. My second hour informed me that it's just different if you're black. I felt as helpless as when a kid asked me if I could braid his fro. My skills are severely lacking in many capacities. Luckily, one of those lacking skills is crying in public.

I have such a fleeting amount of time with my students. Today I was organizing archived folders of class work. I threw away 15 students' folders because I know I'll never see the people they belong to again due to expulsion, drop outs, or jail sentencing.

Watching this Oklahoma storm makes me realize what a brief flash I will be in most of these students lives. The most pressing issue on my mind is the approach I can take to really change trajectories for my students and help them find their path to the life they deserve.

I want to make my flash last longer.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I smashed my glass slipper to build a stained glass window.

I don't get a fairy tale, but I get a beautiful pane with which to view the world.

Flashbacks to Freshman Year

I had lunch today with my, (get ready for a removed sequence), roommate's sister's three-year-old son. He was so legit! He loves spider man, eats fruit, and can tell you the exact life cycle of frogs and caterpillars and which animals are herbivores and carnivores - he also knows he's an omnivore.

Me: "Give me a high-five. Isaac, you're SO awesome."
Isaac: "You're so a... cute. And awesome."
Me: "Well, aren't you precious."
Issac: "And you're tease."
Me: "A tease?!"
Internal Conversation: Dear Lord, did this child just call me a tease? Where did he learn that? Man... that's not the first time I've heard that...
Isaac: "Yes. Tease. And your eyes."
Internal Conversation: Whew. He was trying to point out features of my face, not accuse me of turning him on and not fulfilling my 'womanly duty.'

I Promise I Don't Shower.

I wrote the curriculum for our advisory class last week. Generally there is a counselor who does the lesson plans; however, I offered to help her. The lesson was on resumes and I've had some experience entering resume and interview competitions back in the day. I supplied the counselor with a two-page lesson plan, PowerPoint, and a copy of my resume (with my address, phone number, and e-mail blacked out), to use as resources for planning the lesson. She handed out all materials - including a copy of my resume for every student in the school - to all of the teachers. I gave her the items hoping for an edit, but I think she thought the material sufficient.

My colleague, (who I had taken to the hospital last semester), had an advisory class that was actually holding my resume up to the light to see if they could see through the blacked out parts to get my number. What the?

Malfunctions: Round 3.

I had blood work, x-rays, and an ultrasound taken last week. 2 years ago it was kidney failure and an intestinal infection. Last year it was Pancreatitits. This year they thought it was Gallbladder disease, which was infuriating as the disease is usually a result of poor diet. I can't eat without it hurting. After the ultrasound of my gallbladder showed no signs of malfunction, the doctor took more blood. Currently I can't eat gluten or dairy. I'm just going to be vegan with the exception of honey... I'm still not sure how I feel about agave nectar.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

On the wall.

Talking with my friend tonight was like looking in the mirror. Our childhoods were incredibly similar. Our family member's actions mirrored each other: physically abusive fathers, depressed suicidal mothers, dependent siblings, (yes I realize how incredibly trite these sound and no, please don't allow them to evoke pity*). Our lack of shame for our past, our blatant approach to communications, and our ever-positive perspectives on the impacts our pasts have made. All mirrors. And not the contorted fun-house kind either.

My friend mentioned that his sister wasn't around and constantly receives credit for being the strength in his family. He feels hurt by this as he knows he was the one who was there to take care of his mother. I'm afraid that this is how my own brother feels as I moved away... twice, and am constantly referred to as the 'strong' one. I - and literally no one else - was asked to finish my grandma's eulogy in the event that my aunt could not, (it was her mother's ashes in the box two feet from her, anyone would have shaken too badly to speak). My aunt's husband hugged and thanked me for being his wife's strength. Where does this 'strength' come from?

I saw my grandpa for the first time today since my grandma passed away. It felt like I was wearing a heavy led jacket that was crushing my rib cage. There was no one there to crochet with, or brush half of my hair, or laugh hysterically at Elf with me. My grandpa cried as soon as he hugged me and cried when I left. I drove 7 hours in one day because he was lonely and I love him and want him to be happy. But he was sad. I didn't cry in front of him.

Oh Tera, why oh why would you ramble on about these things? I am petrified that I have a disconnect with things to protect myself. This is frightening for two reasons. One: you can't protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness. Two: I want to live in the present and experience things as they are. Huh? Today I took a deep breath and said "focus on the present" to myself. The moment I did that I burst into tears. I spend a good portion of my time in hyper awareness. Yes, I teach Special Education. Yes, I now analyze myself. Hyper awareness means I move through life pushing onward not really experiencing the things around me. On occasion.

Mirror mirror...

*I ask for no pity because I have none unless I feel that someone has really, truly struggled. Many people walk around like they have holes in both of their hands while they never really know sacrifice.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Jenn and I were cutting through HIT's main campus, (in the heart of Harbin), to get to our favorite French cafe - inexplicably the best espresso and crepes in all of China. We just had hour-long massages at a place that cost roughly three U.S. dollars and we were lazily seeking sustenance from receiving the beating that is a good Chinese massage.

(this is my little La, Jenn)

In Harbin Spring-fashion, the heavens opened up and dumped an entire lake's worth of water on our heads in less than 30 seconds - which was exactly how long it took us to realize that running was futile. There's no need to run when you're wearing a jacket and your bra is already soaked through. I stopped at a little store on campus, (where many students were huddled under the awning), and bought a plastic bag in which to wrap my computer. Jenn and I put our things with the students and began kicking the water from the quickly flooded streets onto each other.

Brazilian Jujitsu. Jenn and I had joined a bjj class during the winter months to avoid being cooped up as Harbin's weather plummeted to a brisk -30. I'd specify if it was Celsius or Fahrenheit but honestly, around that point, the numbers actually start to equal each other.

(through the ice)

Knowing this side fact, it's easy to imagine that kicking water at each other could quickly turn into a full-on throw down. Which is good. Because that's what happened.

Jenn and I literally wrestled in a flooded street. When I say flooded I mean at least 7" of water in any given point of where we were picking each other up, tripping each other, and dunking each other. All the while the spectators under the awning looked on with perplexed expressions. I'm sure they were thinking "crazy foreigners..."

3 years ago we fought in a street in China, grabbed our things got some Boba tea and hopped in separate taxis.

(the day you left)

Today I will be picking Jenn up from the Tulsa airport. Life is such a blessing and words can not fully express my euphoric feeling.

(The last time I saw Jenn... 1.25 years ago)