Monday, January 5, 2009

Obtaining an Education Education

I had a fantastic sushi dinner tonight with my sister-in-law, a teacher at one of our Fulton County Title 1 schools.  

Our evening started with her swinging by my office on the way to dinner, just to see where I spend most of my days... "So this is how the other half lives!"  she exclaimed, checking out the ping pong table in the break room and large flat screen LCD's in our conference rooms.  "And your office," she said, "smells so nice!  It doesn't smell like a classroom!  And your ceilings are so high!"

We talked about all sorts of topics at dinner, of course, but work was certainly one of them, and I had one conclusion - There's no way I could do what she does.  Yes, she gets holidays and summers off, but I don't know how she balances that with the daily challenges she faces.  For example, there's no paper available for the school copier (she buys her own), there aren't many school supplies for her students (she buys what they need), she is allowed to take sick days, but not on a Monday or Friday or any day before a holiday and only with a doctor's note.  She typically works from 6:45 in the morning until around 7 or 8 each night, sometimes later, and almost always works from home on the weekends to grade papers and prepare lessons.  "It's just an exhausting day, ya know?"  she says.  And all of this for around $40K a year.

She clearly finds the job fulfilling, educating children with the basic skills they need and creating a safe, comfortable environment for them every day.  Growing up you only see one side of the profession (and my elementary school was far from Title 1), so it's very interesting to hear her perspective and see what goes on behind the curtain.

Support your schools, support your teachers.  It's a underrated profession that deserves our respect.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's Time for Those Pesky Resolutions!

The ball has dropped in Times Square, the peach fell in downtown Atlanta, we drank our champaign and we watched the debacle of Kathy Griffin with Anderson Cooper.  It's now time to start a new year and, with the strike of midnight, get to work on some resolutions.  Mine?

(1) I'd like to blog more.  I don't have anything mind blowing or groundbreaking to say, but it's a nice way to connect with people and also put on the digital record thoughts I have throughout the year.  So far, I'm doing ok with this resolution.

(2) I'd like to travel in 2009.  We came off of a 2007 with trips to Florida, New York, Boston, Vermont and I also got to go to the Bahamas.  In 2008 we went to... um... well... Chicago.  To visit family.  Not that there's anything wrong with Chicago (I love the city!), but it would be nice to take some vacations (i.e. Gabriel-free trips) in 2009.  At a minimum we'd better fly up to Bloomington, IL for our (gasp!) ten year reunion at Illinois Wesleyan in October.

(3) I'd like to bike more.  I actually did pretty well on the biking front in 2008; I logged around 400-500 miles on my road bike and a couple hundred on my mountain bike last year, I just didn't have much consistency.  For 2009 I want to participate in a century ride.

(4) I'd like to do a better job keeping up with friends.  I know it's a cliche, but time really does fly, and it's really easy to go 6, 9, 12 months without talking, emailing or IM'ing friends.

(5) I need to take the bull by the horns at work this year.  It's not like I coasted last year (that's for sure!), but I'm used to setting aggressive professional goals and working hard to hit them.  Last year was generally nebulous on the goals front, so I want to make sure I establish some and achieve them.

(6) Speaking of work, I'd like to start leading and inspiring more than managing.  This might just be my perception (meaning this resolution has already been met!), but I feel that I spend too much time being a manager and not enough time being a leader of my team.  The best teams I've been on in my career all had some inspiring people at the helm, and I want to create a similar atmosphere for the people that work for me.

(7) With all this energy I'll be expending at work, I need to start spending more energy on tackling home projects.  I'm not necessarily the most handy guy, but there are small projects around the house that need finishing.  It's far easier to spend time at home in front of the TV or Xbox or reading, but these projects won't finish themselves.

(8) Finally, I'd like to surprise my wife more in 2009.  Perhaps I'll come home with a cool tattoo or a navel piercing or something.  Or maybe just flowers.  :)

Well, readers (all 2 of you), there you have it... What do you think?  Are these achieveable?  Please keep me honest in 2009 and, if you have time, let me know what your resolutions might be!