Sunday, August 25, 2013


I think our's will be the door on the left.
If not, somebody's going to be surprised
when I barge in on them.

The first week of being back to work is done and was spent sitting in the library in front of our VTC (video teleconference) monitor. We still haven’t had students in the classrooms yet because of the many changes that are going on in our district this year and the hours of training we need to endure. 

So we sat for six hours a day last week, listening to lectures on new reading curriculum and a new behavior plan to be implemented this year. Best practices states that long, boring lectures are the worst way to transmit knowledge. So of course, that is exactly what our district inflicts on us. When I got caught drinking whiskey and smoking a cigarette at age 5, my mom removed the contraband from my hands, took a long drag from the bottle and then the cigarette, and told me “Do as I say, not as I do.” (Editor’s note: Clay’s mother does not drink nor has she ever smoked!!) (Author’s note: When the hell did I get an editor? And why isn’t she on my side?) So I’m sure that more time was spent district-wide on Pintrest than on paying attention to the training. I will not name names. 

We spent two days receiving training on the new district-wide behavioral plan. The behavioral plan is for correcting student behavior, not staff.  Although, I think it would be in the best interest of any organization to be able to modify or correct a behavior of staff and administration. Except my behavior of course. I was thinking more of how the underlings, us teachers, could work behavior tricks on the administration in order to have some common understanding of the priority levels of needs in a school setting. But that would necessitate the use of magic, not tricks, which doesn’t exist. (Editor’s note: Clay’s school administrators don’t approve of magic or tricks to manipulate students or staff.)(Author’s note:  Noted.)

On the happy side, our new housing is looking like it will be done by Thanksgiving. Our district is building a new four-plex directly behind our school. Our walk to school is now about a half-mile each way. When we move it will be exactly 34 ft. each way. This will be great on those blizzard days, but it will become more difficult to hide from the principal. I don’t mean ‘hide’ in a bad way, but more of a ‘not being able to be found’ way. I work better that way.

Kids will be showing up at the school door on Tuesday. They have already expressed their desire to start already. They have come to our house, reminding us when school starts. Yesterday, we had two of my students come to the window of the classroom where Monica and I were working. They asked for math worksheets to work on outside the window. And they turned them in! We’ll see how long their excitement of receiving school work continues. One of my soon to be former students asked if I would come to his new classroom and holler at him, just for fun. I wonder how many other students will be missing my hollering? Maybe just the fun hollering.

So with our VTC meetings done for a few weeks, I’m looking forward to school starting. I enjoy the routine of the classroom and using my new behavior strategies with the students. Instead of yelling “Sit Down!!”, I will calmly inform them that sitting down will be in everyone’s best interest. (Author’s note: I’ve tried this approach with Monica. So far with little success.) (Editor’s note: Noted.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013


My wife reminded me yesterday that I hadn’t updated my blog in almost 4 months. I think her exact words were,” You smell bad and stop making that sound with your face mouth.” So, I stopped playing Rockband, took a shower, and sat down to write about our summer.

It all started in May with a plane ride from Nunam Iqua to Fayetteville, Arkansas and ended in August with the exact opposite flight. In between we took a trip to Washington, D.C., one to South Dakota, watched 6 baseball games and saw/heard over 25 musical acts. I will not disclose the number of beers I consumed, mainly because I lost count on the second day back. I smoked 12 racks of ribs, grilled about 14 chickens, and grilled more than a dozen pizzas. I was also distracted most of the summer with text messages from someone named Carlos Danger. Very friendly guy. 

In addition to all of that, my mother spent three weeks with us in Oklahoma before we drove her to Washington, D.C., where she will be residing. She wasn’t there to mother me, she stopped that years ago. When I was like two or three. She was there for her own entertainment. For example, after coming back in the house from a walk this summer, I explained how I stepped on a snake. And when that happened, the snake coiled itself around my calf. I reacted like any worldly 46 year old man would have; I screamed like a 5 year old girl and kicked. When I kicked, the snake slipped off my leg and out into the brush. When I explained my near-death experience to my mother a few minutes later, she did what any 71 year old woman would do; she laughed. Very similar to the way she laughed about my pants accident last year.  I let her stay anyway.

Planning our trip back home to Nunam Iqua is always an event. We left Oklahoma on Sunday morning and arrived in Anchorage about 8 that evening. It was a long flight (7.5 hrs) from Houston to Anchorage, but we managed to get there without anyone getting punched in the face. We did not have Drunk Baby sitting in front of us showing off his collection of tantrums. Drunk Baby has traveled on the same plane as us in the past, and his parents have placed him either directly in front or right behind us. Kicking, screaming, crying, and yelling are all part of his repertoire. But, his frequent flyer miles must have expired, allowing the flight to be was a pleasant one. We also ponied up the extra money in order to have an exit seat and more leg room. I wasn’t happy about being extorted by the airlines, but the fact that my knees didn’t block my view of my book made for a pleasurable flight.

We spent Monday morning shopping for food and other items we’ll need up here to survive for the year. Along with ordering our meat for the year and most of our groceries, I bought two pinatas and about 15 lbs of candy. Watching kids use a stick to beat candy out of an donkey made of paper is always a delight. 

We made it back home to the village three days ago and it feels good. Not just because I’ve been forced into better personal hygiene, but to see our Alaskan friends again. The hugs from the kids are always a good welcome home. And now that I’m back in my rickety, uncomfortable chair, I will be updating my blog for my fourth year teaching at Sheldon Point School again.