Posted in Overdrive, Philosophies

Emoticons about Grading, Part II ✌

I’m still learning how to use the emoticon keyboard on my PC. Not sure why I’m not just writing my blog posts on my iPad Pro. 21st century problems.

It’s been raining frequently. I wanted to plant loofah seeds today, but I didn’t get around to it yet, and I’ve already bathed. I leave in an hour to teach at College of the Sequoias…

But hey, seems like the loofah doesn’t go outside for two more weeks anyway…

…If it weren’t scorching Fresno. That’s why we’re the fruit basket of California.

½ Fiction 🤰 August 1985 🤱

I’ll plant my loofah tomorrow. I can always move the grow pot inside, and flip on the grow lights, if loofah can’t handle August heat. Hell, I can barely handle August. On August 2nd, 1985, when my mom when into labor, and I crawled out of of her, I only meant to tell her to turn the damn air conditioning on.

Once Upon a Time 👎 Emoticon Story of Grading 👎

I have a story 🐱‍🚀🐱‍💻 as anecdotal evidence
of the power of grading re-framing;

a story 🐱‍🐉🐱‍👤 about a 4th year English professor
becoming an emergency credentialed SPED math high school teacher

and falling into belly-of-the-🐋🐋
grading situations like:

  • struggling to understand assignments, and let me 😵🧐 you, 
    long ago, in 🦄🐲 years, I had the same experience
    as a graduate student
    learning how to be a professor;
    and it shook more emotions out of me,
    and took more sleepness nights from me
    than any the other graduate students
    seemed to suffer
    at the time;
    learning how to teach
    continued 💎💍-mining
    👶👧-depth issues out of me for months,
    my life acting
    like a 🐧🐧, arms flailing everywhere.
  • then replacing that gaping chasm
    of 😭😰 with fear, a 🦍🐒 fear
    that you will be 🛒📉 again,
    that you will be 😭😰 again,
    like that traumatic echo from your first 🚗🌌,
    until you are 🐛🦋
    all the bins in your office
    in color-coded labels
    with Washi tape,
    glue sticks,
    & gel pens;
  • all-nighters looming over student essays, because
    I have important 3am 👩‍🏫👨‍🏫 to contribute
    to their 👨‍🎓👩‍🎓 experiences,
    like I’ve got authentic stuff to say
    and only 😀😉🤩🙃😑😶😥 to say it with,

and of course, I’ve endured four years of 🦃🦃
with double-spaced 🐛🐛essays on my list of ✅✅ tonight.

Workview 🤨 Respectfully Disagree, Part II 🤒

When I’m gradingI’m thinking about this,
and I’m doing meaningful business like:

  • critically analyzing a student’s opinions, and how they defend those opinions, so I can instruct them how to write in a rich (i.e., fulfilling) and effective (i.e., convincing) way;
  • questioning a student’s opinions, if they haven’t questioned them already (i.e., making sure the hill they’re willing to die on represents a belief system they’re willing to die for);
  • writing comments on student papers that I intend to use to personalize their next in-class composition book entry, so I can guide them to that rich, effective, & value-driven life;
  • preparing things to offer students—either as a class, or as individuals, in casual one-on-one conversations that I’m mostly sure we’ll have—to help them fashion a reliable, thorough map of where they’re going: the industries and majors that pique their curiosity; the nooks and crannies their interests drive them to explore; the people they ought to Google; the books they ought to read; other college classes they ought to take.

I do these things not out of pay, (because the pay is insanely low,) but out of fulfilling a purposeful place in my community: to educate and counsel.

So I do as much as I need to effectively educate and counsel,
not to effectively quack, “That’s not my job,”
not to effectively quack, “That’s beyond my workload,”
and I consider anything beyond my hourly pay
a charity, like volunteer work I choose to offer
weekly to children who need extra care.

I like to think I teach for good reasons.

Grading shouldn’t take the brunt
of mid-management public education
taking advantage of teachers with good intentions,
taking advantage of teachers’ moral explanations
to live near poverty line
with graduate degrees, publications, honors,
and passion in spades;

grading should be an organic process
of the teacher sharing a conversation with the student,
with the administrator all but removed,
even the classroom walls
and the physical wall
erased;

the sharing of a virtual conversation
through an essay
a mathematical puzzle
or a computer theorum

so students can learn how the wondrous human brain
communicates in infinite ways
beyond standardized curriculum’s expectations.

This is the mindset I have when I grade,
when I listen to a student’s story
through their essays,

when I consider how to nurture their strengths,
smooth edges on weaknesses,
and reassure them, writing isn’t about grammar,

as I collect enough coin
from the Golden State shavings of taxes
to eat beef once a week, chicken other days,
with the occasional treat of beer and pizza,
just enough pay for happiness, then charity
for the hours worked;

as I get paid at the community college for 3 hours a week,
then work 15 hours a week,
or I offer 12 volunteer hours a week to the community—

Of course,

I’m glad to volunteer helping people who want to learn;
it doesn’t really matter if you’re my student,
a person confused on a side walk,
or a forum conversation;

and given I personalize my classroom instruction,
it’s mighty difficult to not care about my students
as people who need writing help.

I love classrooms on a macro level,
the way I love the people in Fresno
for being friendlier than the people in Irvine,
the way I love California for providing enough variables
in landscape and weather to build
entire fantasy world experiences
out of weekend trips, the way I love

the autism gene for making me
hypersensitive enough to appreciate
my five senses in a unique way
as I stand in the mists of a waterfall.

I love students and the teaching process wholesomely,
and so if my grading is not equally joyful,

bursting-at-the-seams purposeful
to the point I can re-frame all those extra work hours as charity,

then my grading technique must not be working.
This is the only way I know how to grade.


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Posted in Intermissions, Philosophies

I 💘 YouTube, Part II

In the interest of further exploring my experience with Fresno Unified, as well as add another dimension to my definition of quitting, I decided to analyze two of my favorite YouTube artists:

Quote Response 👫 Prince Ea 🧠

Please note, these are my takeaways; your takeaways will likely be different.But our takeaways have equal value, and I’d love if you shared you experiences in the comments.

(1) Don’t treat the word quit as this negative thing. Reframe the emotions behind, “I quit,” the intent behind the phrase. If you don’t know what I mean, consider some of the things Prince Ea quit:

I just can’t do this anymore; I’ve changed… So, not to be rude, but I’m done trying to live up to your expectations… and down to them…

I quit holding myself back, feeling emotionally trapped, and not being who I’d like to be… I quit letting people who have proven they  don’t really care about me, get to me… I quit forgiving everyone else in the whole world (except me)…

I quit letting fear come near and suppress me… I quit self-doubt, I quit self-sabotage… I quit being a gonna-doer… I quit waiting for ducks to line up instead of spreading my wings… I quit the fear of failure, and the fear of success… now, my time here is up.

Oh, but don’t worry: I’m grateful for the experience, and I have an amazing new life lined up.

I quit.

Quote Response 👭 Dave from Boyinaband 👬

(2) Instead of calling a musician a “sellout,” consider the human potential for change. A human being who’s set out to change the world (like a musician) is going to believe in the value of change, and of course, that will directly impact that musician’s artistic choices, i.e., the musician’s songwriting, aesthetic, goals, etc.

As Boyinaband describes it:

When you’re that sick of doing the same thing, it’s either [change] or taking a trip to Switzerland, if you catch my drift.

I wonder though, does he mean that musicians who aren’t making new music are going on tour instead? (Also, he promotes grammar nerdism in this video. Don’t be a grammar nerd.(Or do. Just don’t let it affect your grading, plskthx.))

Poetry is Safer than Home 🖐 Intolerance 🖖

(3) While the targets of sexist, racist,
neuro-intolerant, and other forms of hate

deserve safe spaces
for ethically authentic, pathos-driven conversations

about their experiences, their uniqueness
(memoirs, spoken word, open mic, protests, board game discussions, and so on,)

as a culture, we need to change the overall
narrative from a pathos-driven argument,

ex., micro-aggression: “You look like a girl,”
is met with a micro-response: “Don’t be a homo, bro,”

to a more ethos-driven lens
that encapsulates the greater problem:

No one benefits from being negative about irrelevant things, that’s the end of it. It’s pointless. —Dave from Boyinaband

Because, as we near…

  • an internationally interconnected planet,
  • a Type-I Civilization,
  • a self-learning-AI-driven society,
  • an increasingly Internet-dependent community,
  • & a species intent on pursuing the science behind superintelligence,

—we need to extend
the conversation to widespread, rampant,
and authentic egalitarianism.

Workview 🤙 Respect Your Colleagues 💪

It’s pretty easy to see from the list-based brainstorming: I’ve no plans to return to K-12 education, at least not as a paraprofessional for Fresno Unified. To reiterate:

An intellectual field should not be a social minefield.

And my interview conflicted with this belief at a quintessential level.

However, I respect the teachers and other educators at McLane, and I’m grateful for all the experiences we shared; even the experiences that, on the surface, felt unpleasant, were fundamental to redesigning my life. And it’s my new life design that’s giving me the courage to pursue my authentic self. I am at peace with this journey.


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Posted in Philosophies, 🚪 Cats

A Humanizing Step, Part II ✌

Last time, I wrote about how my therapist encouraged me to treat my career like a relationship. My therapist has another fantastic strategy for challenging my fear of failure and abuse, too:

Is it failure to leave an unhealthy relationship? Is it quitting, or is it figuring out what suits your interests?

Just question the whole scaffolding I’ve built around these concepts, why don’t you…But his job is to question the scaffolding.

Since my LifeviewOur answer to, “What’s the meaning of life?” and WorkviewOur answer to, “Can’t work be less shitty?” still lack coherency, groundwork is essential for long-term recovery from these exacerbated mental illnesses I keep running into every five, ten years.

Quote Response ✨ Big Magic, Gilbert 🎨

Beyond DYL’s prototyping, and my therapist’s coaching, a third method I’ve found useful for approaching my issues with failure comes from Elizabeth Gilbert , author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love. I turn to her when depression drags me into a dark abyss, where it whispers negative thinking patterns like:

  • your writing is a hobby, meant to be toiled on during weekends and nights only; you were born to a blue-collar family, and you belong on your feet—sweating and miserable, enduring the abuse of bad management—not in a career as a respected intellectual, much less a respected creative voice;
  • your struggle for social acceptance will be never-ending; since you’re on the spectrum, you’ll always climb uphill to make friends; no one will agree with you, so just learn to agree with them;
  • your sensory sensitivity doesn’t matter; you live in a neurotypical, high-stimulus world, and if you want to survive…like serious, if “I want to survive?” Why must that be concern? Where did “thrive” go?, you best stop reacting so much to fluorescent lights, loud co-workers, broken thermostats, shoulder-bumping hallways, and foul-smelling carpets;

I try to respond to these negative thinking patterns through Gilbert’s strategy:

You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures. You can battle your demons (through therapy, recovery, prayer, or humility) instead of battling your gifts—in part by realizing that your demons were never the ones doing the work, anyhow. You can believe that you are neither a slave to inspiration nor its master, but something far more interesting—its partner—and that the two of you are working together toward something intriguing and worthwhile.

Since a) my therapist tells me to seek healthy relationships, b) Gilbert suggests a relationship with inspiration (i.e., the concept of the muse), and c) Burnett and Evans encourage the use of prototypes, the road to me seemed clear, or at least, less muddled; and now I am here:

  • moving on from Fresno Unified to writing (while maintaining employment at Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias, since both of them remained safe and respectable employers);
  • prototyping various writing approaches; and
  • continuing to research and brainstorm further methods for reframing anxiety and depression.

It’s a journey. An epic one.

Workview 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦   Humans Trump Paperwork 📑

Ughhh. The word trump is not what it used to be. All I see are small hands moving in jerky motions.

BINGBINGBONGBINGBONG.

So, before moving on to my novella mss—and whatever other writing projects I’m exploring today for Tom Selleck’s Daily 150-word Challenge—I wanted to end with one of the mentor-specific Workviews I listed a couple weeks ago:

No paperwork about a human being is more important than the actual human being.

In my interview with Fresno Unified and McLane, I made sure to mention I’m on the spectrum. I’d also reminded mid-management I’m on the spectrum the second and third weeks on the job. Now, this is partly my bad—in hindsight, I should have requested an ADA meeting immediately—but I thought, if I was communicative and open about who I am, paperwork wouldn’t be requiredEveryone involved could listen and adapt accordingly, and we could avoid the paperwork hassle. I don’t like causing hassles. Who likes a hassle? Don’t we have enough responsibilities in life?.

In juggernaut-sized industries like K-12 education, though… Paperwork is required.

Teaching Philosophy 👧 A Humanizing Step 👦

In colleges, this comes up, too. For instance, my Japanese professor requested I register with disability servicesI never requested accommodations in graduate school, and I left with a 4.0, so when I was having issues with foreign language development, it took courage to approach my professor. That courage was met with “need paperwork,” and I scored my first D in that Japanese class in more than a decade. …But it also took courage to approach mid-management at McLane. to receive accommodations in class. Again, this comes off as a cover-your-ass strategy, when educators—humans, really—should instead be treating this with a warmer, human-centered approach.

As an English professor at FCC and CoS, if a student comes up to me to share their mental illnesses (or any struggle, really) and request accommodations and modifications, I give them as appropriate. Then I recommend they visit disability services, and I even walk them over there if they’re open (I teach nights a lot), because assistance is nice, and many students don’t know it’s available.

When I was a SPED teacher, not only was I mindful about how I interacted with students who approached meChildren need to know someone is there for them, and that other help could also be there, lots of it; they do  NOT need to feel like they’re being “passed around” because they’re “a problem.”, I also scheduled a meeting with professionals who regularly dealt with our troublemakers, so I could discuss different strategies that I haven’t tried yet.

It’s my belief that if you extend your help one extra, humanizing step further than what the paperwork requires, you are a better person for treating your fellow species this way.I made the mistake of expecting this from an employer as developed and experienced as Fresno Unified. I also made the mistake of expecting, because I worked in a special education department, my differability would be treated with more respect. And when I requested the ADA meeting later, then yes, of course they scheduled to discuss my differabilities; but where was the help prior to the paperwork? Where were people authentically giving directions on good places to go?—why did I have to extend several requests through several e-mails, before I was finally pointed in the right direction? Why the resistance? Why the resistance, and the mounds and mounds of paperwork that builds because of it…

And if we treat each other as fellow human beings, I’m not sure if all this paperwork would be required, either. We could dedicate our time to more humanistic practices.

I had an IEP with more than fifty pages for one of my SPED students, no prior experience with IEPs, and I was assigned as a case manager to update this massive document. None of this paperwork amounted to anything more than confusion, meetings about how to run meetings, and mental breakdowns. We know this system is broken.

Next time you’re caught in a paper trail, at work, in litigation, during taxes—wherever paperwork strikes—remember there are humans above and beneath the surface of these papers; there are lives, differences and dreams. As Yeats describes it in “The Cloths of Heaven:”

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark clothes
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Listening to Now 🎵 for Sci-fi Writing 👥


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you not only help me add more
daily hours to writing and editing posts,
but you can receive handmade products,
such as poetry, postcards, and books.
🎁 Pledge rewards are limited. 🎁