My thoughts on the Sandy Hook massacre: Part 1- gun control

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I have been crying a lot these past couple of days, as most of our country has. I am the mother of two, beautiful, young children. My daughter is 4 years old and will be going to kindergarten next year. My son is 2 1/2. Imagining what the Sandy Hook parents of those precocious, wonderful 20 children are going through right now is tearing me up. I want to scream, cry, yell at the world for allowing this to happen. I want change. I want justice. I want those young lives to be able to live, laugh, love again. But they won’t. No amount of screaming, crying, or yelling is going to bring them back. What we do need to do is have a conversation, a difficult one.

My husband is the polar opposite of me in many ways. They say opposites attract, and this is certainly true for us. I am an English teacher. He is a math/science based engineer. I am Type B personality, he is Type A. I lean left, politically. He leans right. I am anti-gun. He is pro-gun. You might ask how we get along at all! Well, the great thing about our marriage is how we discuss and compromise. Just this morning we had a great conversation, which admittedly did get heated for about two minutes, about gun control. Hubby is finally ready to admit that perhaps we need to limit the amount of semi-automatic assault rifles sold in the country. However, he feels that if the gun owners give up their (future) guns, then with each conversation they will give and never take. He’s looking for real compromise. I want guns out of the hands of mentally ill people and I want guns whose only purpose is to kill people off the streets. However, I respect the constitution and the founding fathers, so I do not want a ban on all guns. With all that being said, here was our discussion this morning. Hubby, because he’s also of the mentality that guns in the right hands can save lives believes that law-abiding adults should carry a gun in a school in order to deter monsters like that of Friday from thinking they have an easy target for their madness. Hubby has two thoughts on that, either train personnel to carry guns (more than one in the building and as a many as necessary to keep it safe) or remove the gun-free zone and allow those who already have a carry permit to bring their guns into the school. I have two thoughts myself. A school would have to be incredibly careful not to allow those guns to get into the hands of the students and if schools did Hubby’s Option 1, A LOT of training would have to occur which would cost A LOT of money. A lot of money which we do not have now– at all.

So, IF I were to concede that Hubby has a point, which I don’t necessarily do, where would this magical money source come from. It was this point in the difficult conversation where I figured out a compromise.

The NRA

The NRA has millions of dollars to spend on lobbying. What if they were to put their money where their mouths were and help keep our schools safe by providing the training, the guns and the resources to help?

Interesting idea, right?

At least it’s the start of a difficult conversation.

Part 2 coming soon: mental health stigmatization

Learning something new/Not learning something

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Do you remember when you were in elementary, middle, or high school and the teacher or a book said something that made you think differently? The power of your brain working to make connections was an awesome feeling. Unfortunately, those days are much fewer and far between now that I am out of school. But, I do love those days when I sit down at my computer to do some data techie stuff (technical word) for my school and I learn something new on a piece of software I’ve been using for a while. It’s nice to feel like an expert in something, but it’s even nicer to add to your knowledge base when you thought there wasn’t much to add.

Case in point, just a few weeks ago, I was doing something on Excel and had to copy the first line of data to cells 1000+ further down.  I’ve done this a billion times before, but for some reason on this day, I decided to Google if there were a faster way. Of course there was (Edit, Fill Down), and I was somewhat aware of its presence, but could not figure out how to do it before. The solution was to copy the cell and then hover over it until I found a + sign. Double clicking the + sign copies the cell down to the last row. Brilliant! I think the reason I excel at Excel is because I am so lazy; I want to find the shortcuts for every functionality, which forces me to learn all the functionalities.

It happened again today, which made me want to write about learning new things. I was using Powerschool, which is something I feel extremely comfortable using. However, today, I wanted to select about 35 students from one grade who were not otherwise able to be grouped (i.e. not of same gender, ethnicity, nor all in the same class necessarily.) I decided to look up if there was a shortcut to selecting these students. There was, of course. Just in case you use Powerschool, I selected the grade level, then in Functions, I chose Select Students By Hand. I can’t believe that function was there all along and I never noticed it. It worked like a charm. I felt both stupid and genius at the same time!

Now of course, the opposite is true as well. I am trying to learn a new-to-me software called Pearson Inform. It is a data warehouse that works seamlessly with our SIS, Powerschool. Since I am the data person at our school, I am responsible for adding new assessments into the interface. And gosh darn it, I cannot for the life of me troubleshoot when I do something wrong in this interface. It is not intuitive. I HATE not knowing how to do something that I should be able to learn. All that being said, I did have two successful uploads today, which tells me I am beginning to get it. In the meantime, I need to go do something I am good at to get my confidence back. Reality TV, here I come!