Finding literacy work


Cup of tea, and a few pages of Sci-Fi. I finished my first week back at work feeling worn out and defeated.

Monday was a bit dull, since public school hadn't started yet and, although we were open, attendance was optional. I had a couple of people in the morning and afternoon, but they were depressingly independent. I spent most of my day doing up paperwork, doing up some more paperwork, and reading a history of exploration that so vexed me it ended up in the recycling bag. (It had promised to be a history of the Voyager space program, but if one paragraph in six was about space exploration - or anything that happened after 1920 - then... well, it might have stayed out of the bin.)

Tuesday morning, we learned that the building had no heat (they'd run out of oil) and it was afternoon before the heat came on. I had people sitting in class wearing mittens; their spirits not raised any by the growing prospect of a blizzard outside.

Seizing the day, I showed how we could use technology to track the storm. We checked in with the Environment Canada website hourly, and watched radar images on The Weather Network spin up through the Bay in shades of shocked blue. We looked up live webcam shots from Boston, someplace in Vermont, Liverpool, Halifax, Moncton, Fredericton and Charlottetown. Then, because I have a less than passing grasp of polar lows and the mechanics of precipitation, we watched YouTube videos about snowstorms and weather fronts.

I kept telling them - on the strength of the Environment Canada forecast - that we were only getting 5 cm, and kept showing them how little 5cm was on a ruler. I told them not to listen to the hysterical voices they'd heard on the radio, and I pointed out - accurately- that after declaring we would get "slammed" with "20 centimeters" and high winds, they always admitted, in a toss-away voice, that the worst of the storm would hit Nova Scotia. I told them, over and over, that the storm would pass before dawn, and that there was no way schools would be closed the next morning.

Then, on Wednesday, some hysteric closed schools. That meant I had a long boring day with only one learner (he'd been working with a local plowing company and so missed the radio announcements) and not even any paperwork to do. I mostly made up math questions, read some more about how weather works (to no avail), and ran maintenance programs on my classroom computers. At least it was warm.

Thursday was a regular day, at last; with some good news. I found out that one of my three learners who had challenged the GED in December passed completely, while the others passed in part. (The GED is made up of five tests: unsuccessful students are required to rewrite only those tests they fail.)

Friday was quiet but nice. Maybe we'd all finally gotten over Christmas and fallen back into routine. Lots of math. Some talk about wind and water. We tried the geometry - surveying trick of measuring how far it was to a distant tree without leaving class. That flopped because our instruments were too crude - but we all agreed the theory was sound.

Oh, and the other bit of news is that I bought a new laptop. My old one which I picked up second hand two years ago has been running hot, and the CD/DVD player doesn't work anymore. So, I picked up a Toshiba "Satellite" running Windows 7.

It's certainly not as nice as my old HP whatchamacallit. The HP was compact and powerful, with a sweet keyboard and lots of ports and plugables. (It also ran Vista which I've grow surprisingly fond of.) But this new one was cheap and it's, um.... well it seems pretty sturdy.

Bit like going from a Mustang with a too many miles on it to a nice, new Dodge Ram.

Sturdy.

Anyway, now that I have a back-up, I think I'll take my old one apart and see if I can't repair the disc player and sort out the heating problem.


Yeah. So that was my week. But nothing there explains why I ended it achy and out of sorts. Maybe I'm fighting off a bug? Maybe.

Or maybe my ailment is simply this: in a whole week back at my day job - the one I'm likely to have for the foreseeable future - I didn't do any real literacy work. I didn't interact with a soul who was struggling to read and write. (I met one fellow who said he didn't care to read, but I sorted that out in about ten minutes by introducing him to Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. )

So what do I do now? Am I still a literacy worker even when I'm not doing literacy work?

I know. I know. Physician heal thyself.

Or at least stop moaning about it.


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