Sunday, January 17, 2016

A sexual harrassment charge; what do?

Believe it or not I was taught about teacher versus student sexual harrassment in college.  Yep.  The credential program.  We had classes that actually navigate potential interactions with students that could get you in trouble.  For instance; we had a situation were a student of the opposite sex might be flirting with a teacher.  What do?  Some credential students got too loose and sarcastic with the situation and were immediately told that this was not something to mess with.  Sexual harrassment charges, especially with male teachers, were a real danger. 

The number one piece of advice we recieved was preventative.  Make yourself as open as possible within your classroom and if there was any semblance of flirtation, slam the door on it.  I have taken that advice very seriously.  I have two doors in my classroom; one that leads outside and one that leads to a middle common area.  If a female student is in my classroom for any extended time frame the inner door is opened immediately.  No questions asked, no big deal, I just do it.  Colleagues are consistantly mingling in the common area along with students and often the doors of other classrooms are open.  It’s my safety valve and it is perfectly legitimate.  If a female student is going to be in my classroom after school for make-up work I’ll actually go to another teacher and tell them that a female student is in my room and they are doing whatever. 

No, I’m not kidding.  And not one time has one of my colleagues laughed, smirked, jeered, or felt that my statement was foolish in any way.  We are in a society were teachers are under a microscope and have little social leverage when an accusation is made. 

I bring this all up because there is an issue within our district that has now garnered some attention.   I know as much as the average person reading the newspaper so you’ll get no quotes about the issue from here.  But I was asked by a colleague what I would do if a student had falsely accused me of sexual harrassment.  My answer?

I would warn the student and the family of the student that since the accusation attempts to destroy my livelihood and means of income that I would sue them for defemation.  I would tell them that my lawsuit would involve taking their home, their monetary assests, their child’s tuition money, and every other thing they own.  You might see that as harsh.  I see the attempted destruction of a teacher’s career as harsh and yet society has become programed in the absolutism of the words out of the mouth of a child.  Take a look at parent/teacher interations and the attitude is now “believe the child and trust no one else”, something that wasn’t really that status quo years ago.

I have no idea what is going on within our district in this case.  Zero.  All I know is that if someone were to lie about taking away my love of teaching on a vendetta or a prank or a lie, they would pay for it.       

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Day 25: Victor via Grand Teton National Park

We got up late, lounged around the cabin and did laundry and left for the Tetons with no intention to hike.  We wanted to drive the park, be mellow, have a picnic at Jenny Lake, and have a lazy day with no real activity.  Basically we wanted to sniff out Grand Teton National Park for tomorrow.  Don’t ask why we decided to do this.  The mood just seemed right.  

We drove over Teton Pass and headed into the little town of Wilson and decided to take an alternate road to the park.  We turned onto Moose-Wilson Road to take the “back way” into Grand Tetons and ran right into…..a moose. 

Yeah, side of the road, just eating whatever and within arms length of my wife.  I was trying to figure how to enjoy the view without scaring the moose while maintaining the structure of my car.  The moose was large.  When the moose crossed in front of my car to cross the road I kept repeating “please don’t hit my car, please don’t hit my car” because the moose will win.  We eventually got passed the moose and into the Tetons. 

We hit the Rockefeller Preserve portion of the park and promptly set up a hike for early the next morning for Phelps Lake.  Then we head to the Moose Visitor’s Center and started planning our routes for tomorrow.  We drove down to Jenny Lake and had a picnic on the shores of the beautiful location, looking straight up into what is considered one of the most beautiful hikes around; Cascade Canyon.  Cascade Canyon has been a bucket list hike for me but right now there are no ranger-led hikes into the canyon and my wife is very bear concerned in the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier.  There is a very slim chance that I can convince her that we can tag along with a group but I think Cascade will have to wait for another year.  That’s ok, something to look forward to.

We headed back down Moose-Wilson Road, stopped a bit to see a female moose grazing in a pond, and then drove over the pass and back to the cabin.

And the kids.

I have no idea why I feel guilty because having a couple of beers isn’t illegal in the United States.  And it isn’t like the family is telling me off in the slightest.  But, man, I’m getting a strong sense that I’m the one out of whack for drinking my Fat Tire in front of Mormon family reunion.  By the way, I know this is a family reunion because when I went to the office to check on a bear sighting the manager asked if I was with the reunion or the wedding party for tomorrow (wonderful), and I’m going to solidify my thesis that it’s a Mormon family reunion because of the big BYU banner that is now flying in front of one of the trailers that’s as big as our cabin. 

Meh.  Again the religion doesn’t bother me.  The amount of kids running around this cabin area is another issue.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Day 24: Vernal, Utah to Victor, Idaho

Right now a large, I’m thinking Mormon, family reunion is watching me creating this blog post.  Why Mormon? 

Women are modestly dressed.

There are a million kids here.

They got together and prayed before their meal.

BYU flags  are everywhere.

And it is 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon and there is not one drop of alcohol anywhere in this entire area, except next to me.  My glass of wine might be it.

I doesn’t really matter that they are Mormon.  Personally I could care less.  What does matter is that we arrived on the pretense that we would have a secluded cabin near Moose Creek with the sound of the wind in the trees and the babble of the water.  We have a family reunion here instead.  Some of them looking over here and shaking their heads, probably the fact that I’m using a laptop while sitting on my concrete porch of the western side of the Tetons.  Funny, I want to shake my head back as if to say, “You all shouldn’t be here.  This many people shouldn’t be here.”  Oh well.

It’s just been a real annoying day for children.  Last night the Vernal Townplace Suites back in Utah was overrun by Babe Ruth Under 11 Little Leaguers, caravans of painted up cars celebrating Western Region All-Stars from one area or another.  The night was spent listening to parents drink beers in the parking lot while their kids roamed the hotel late into the evening.  Then this morning those parents were nowhere to be seen as kids played morning soccer in the hallways and made a complete mess of the continental breakfast.  I wanted to taser the kids and punch the parents. 

But we left for the mountains by heading north out of Vernal with  happy realization that the word “cabins” usually meant solitude.  Canyon country continued north of Vernal, solidifying that Utah might be the most beautiful state in the entire country.  The last piece of beauty was Fiery Gorge National Recreation Area, a man-made lake that was surround by gorgeous geography and a bright blue sky.  We crossed into the flats of Wyoming……and stopped.  About thirty miles south of Rock Springs traffic was dead in the road and people were milling about watching the flashing lights of police down Highway 191.  There had apparently been an accident involving multiple motorcycles.  The Life Flight helicopter, the tow truck, and the investigation closed the road for well over an hour.  We walked around, talked with families from Salt Lake City and Fresno, and resigned ourselves to the fact that there was really no turning around when you were in scrubland of Wyoming.  We did finish Gone Girl, our second audio book, and we agreed that Amy Elliott Dunn was in fact a sociopath. 

Central Wyoming north of Highway 80 sucks.  Hours of nothing until the Tetons and then the temperature drops, the moose crossing signs appear, and the mountains and streams fill our visions.  We were ecstatic to be in this new country and we were so excited when we pulled into Moose Creek Ranch.

Now I have a bunch of people looking over at me and I’m wanting a refund.