Thursday, December 10, 2009

Am I a detail oriented person?

     I am getting ready to finish my TBI rehab program. I only have a week left. It is amazing how much I have learned and yet it is the knowledge of what I need to learn that is the most valuable. When I awoke this morning, I remembered the dream I was just having. I had just won 1.3 million dollars in a lottery or contest that had been televised the night before. In my dream, I was in the lobby on my way to school and someone congratulated me. After a moment's hesitation, I remembered why and I started to dance around the lobby with joy. I know, I know, I am so lucky. What should I do? Should I sell my apartment? Should I quit my job? I was aware that I could not live on that money for long but it made the possibilities and prospects for life seem limitless and open and I felt great childlike joy.
     As I prepare to interview someone to be my fifth assistant in two years, many questions come to mind. How do I describe this job accurately? How can I make sure I screen for the necessary skills? What do I need someone else to do, so I can do my job? Yesterday I asked my advisor in the TBI program to help me. I said I needed a detail oriented person and Y said, "You are a detail oriented person. You need someone to help you see the big picture."
     I thought about this a lot. Was I like this before the stroke? before the accident? Always? No, I don't think so. Big picture, I think I was pretty good at. A very limited big picture that barely extended below 96th Street but still not just the details. I was not really detail oriented either. I held onto the details pretty well but maybe not always giving them as much value as I should have. I could remember the date Sachi was to start camp and the date of her return flight from her dad's in Japan but it did not occur to me that they were the same date.
     I always way overprepared for lessons but then I was set with what to do for awhile. Where did I put the materials was often a question? I always had a kid in the class who had eagle eyes and could locate what I needed. I developed systems to compensate for my disorganization. Specific compartments to hold what I had to give out, collect, take home, grade. But usually I ended up with everything in a great big pile. My brain was like a giant bucket full of sand. I could carry a lot and even when I overfilled it, the stuff that spilled off the top was usually (or hopefully) insignificant and minor. I could improvise with all that sand. Sand castles one day, examine the grains under a microscope the next.
     Since my surgery, I have felt that there was a big hole in the bucket. I went back to work and tried to do what I always did which was to just fill up the bucket. No matter how much I put in, it was never enough. It didn't feel full but I didn't know where the sand was going. I would leave work feeling vaguely concerned that I had not done enough and trail sand all the way home. I kept getting back to school the next day and looking into the bucket and realizing that it was empty.
     The reason I feel like I need a detail oriented person to assist me is because that is what I feel I have no control over. If someone could handle that part for me, I could do the big picture which is teach. Maybe I am wrong. I just get the feeling that I am bogged in details because they all seem equally important and slippery and transient.
     I love math and I love children. I know that when I am in a classroom with a group of children, I can figure out what they need to learn and how to make it fun. This is not enough though. Is there someone who can help me?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Multicultural Gingerbread People Sweaters

As I was putting the finishing touches on my favorite Christmas sweaters, I noticed that I was calling them multi-cultural gingerbread cookies as opposed to people of color. You may recall from my previous post that my dad disliked that phrase.

The cookies, like people, are not really different colors. The are shades or hues of the same color.
Wouldn't "People of Shades" sound cool? Picture Samuel L. Jackson or Will Smith in Men in Black.

 Ultimately, Luke Visconti has a good point when he writes "unless the goal is to endlessly argue semantics, it's more useful to use a common phrase to describe people who are commonly thought of as not being white by the white majority in this country."Read More

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