My Anger Changes Nothing

I'm trying to write my career goals and my reasons for pursuing a specific master's degree so that I can apply for my Masters of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction. But I can't focus. I won't be able to focus all day, I just know it. My mind is 2,200 miles away, in a different school, with different colleagues, and with different kids. I wish I could be very specific, but I can't. All I can say is some very EVIL and GREEDY and SHORTSIGHTED people are closing down the deaf/hard-of-hearing program where I used to teach, forcing dozens of kids to relocate to districts and schools who won't be able to provide the comprehensive array of services that we did. "Why would anyone do such a thing?", you may wonder.

As it turns out, the bottom line is money. What an awful truth: what drives education is money, not the best interests of our students.

On the Run

On Friday, I dismissed my little kindergartener back to his classroom once his time with me was over. I reminded him "Make sure you walk!". Then, like the responsible teacher that I am, I waited two seconds, then left my office to make sure he wasn't running.

He was.

My question is twofold:

  1. Why do kids run everywhere?
  2. When do kids/adults stop running everywhere?

I vaguely remember running places; usually, it was up or down stairs. I recall one instance, when I was about eight or nine, that my dad said "Stop running up the stairs". And I said "But I'm not running up the stairs". Then my dad showed me what it looked like to walk up the stairs, then made me do it. I remember thinking "Whoa, weird... I don't think I'm ever going to reach the top of the stairs at this rate!".

I distinctly remember a time in first grade when I stopped running pointlessly on the playground. I was watching some other kids running around in circles, and I thought "That looks like fun... They're going so fast and the wind is in their hair! I wanna do that too!". And I did... for about a minute or two. Then I realized "This isn't fun. This is hard work. I'm tired". Then I went and played on the swings.

And, now that I think about it, playing on the swings is a much more effective way to have fun and feel the wind in your hair without tiring yourself out. So while I may not be athletic, I am efficient!

BUT, It's The Law!

You'll remember that, in my last post, I talked about a prospective Kindergartener to our school this next year. He is on the Autism spectrum and definitely has some special abilities. His worst behavior is that sometimes he refuses to do things and he needs to be redirected.

Even though the parents have decided that our school is their number one choice, our principal is very concerned that our school isn't the right placement for him. This is 99% a personal issue, and 1% an administrative concern. He would need a full time aide, and a differentiated/personal curriculum. The other resource room teacher and I have told our principal a number of times that we would take care of the academic piece (a simple matter, really), and the district will be paying for a one-on-one aide.

So what's the problem? We're really not sure why our principal continues to fish for reasons why this student shouldn't come here. It's "but" this and "but" that at every turn. This has been going on for weeks, and I'm exasperated.

Truthfully, if the parents decide to take him somewhere else, that's okay with me. But right now, the parents want him at our school and we CAN provide the services he needs. I'm fighting for him for that reason. I will admit, however, that at this point, I also want him here simply because our principal doesn't.

Does that mean I have Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

April is Autism Awareness Month

This week, I went off-site and observed a five year old who can read (and comprehend) at the fourth grade level, and who can do complicated algebra. He might be on my caseload next year! I could teach him about appropriate social interactions and how to communicate functionally, and he could teach me how to balance my checkbook!

We All SCREAM for Ice Cream

After school, I went out with some friends from work to a local ice cream parlor where you could get two scoops of ice cream and a topping in a waffle cone for only $2.39. (It tasted like heaven!)

We were all sitting at a table outside, chatting away, when we were interrupted by a mom and her screaming kid who I thought looked about five. They were leaving the ice cream parlor, but the little boy was screaming and crying and throwing a full-on tantrum on the ground while his mother held his ice cream cone. He was shouting "I WANT IT IN A CUP!! A CUP! I WANT A CUP!!! WAAAAHHH!!!!" He was so intense that one of my friends had to move his chair so the kid didn't knock his head. The poor mother was clearly embarrassed. I knew this because, at one point, she told her son "You are embarrassing." For about three minutes, the boy screamed and the mom said "Get up, let's go!", until the mom eventually passed the cone to dad, picked up the screaming and kicking child, and put him in the car.

When they had left, all five of us started laughing and cheering at the same time. We were laughing because some of us teachers deal with "behaviors" all day in the classroom and it's nice (and funny!) when it's not our problem to deal with! We were cheering because, and this is crucial, the mom did not reinforce his tantrum by going back into the store for a cup. It seems like a lot of parents these days would have done exactly that.

We indulged in some "If it were me" conversation at this point, which was actually quite ridiculous because none of us around the table were parents (and I'm sure we might all change our minds when we're the burnt out moms and its OUR kid), and we came up with several scenarios.

  1. Let the kid have a tantrum, but start taking off your belt...
  2. Let the kid have a tantrum, and give him an empty cup
  3. Let the kid have a tantrum, and throw his ice cream cone away
  4. Let the kid have a tantrum while you calmly eat and finish his ice cream cone

You have one guess as to which scenario was my suggestion!

Or Maybe It's Magic

So I was at a small meeting on Friday with some third and fourth grade teachers. One of the teachers was talking about her current student teacher working in her classroom. She told us she was thankful she "got a good one this year" because the last two she had were just hopeless. It got me to thinking and I asked her (and the others around the table): "Do you think that good teaching is a talent you are born with (you either have a knack or you don't)? Or do you think that good teaching can be learned?" The consensus around the table was that you either had what it took or you didn't, that it couldn't really be learned.

I would tend to agree with this, but the jury is still out. Any thoughts?

Time Marches Onward

Dear Spring Break,

What happened?!? One minute, I was shouting "FREEDOM!" as I pulled away from the school's parking lot, and the next minute I am sobbing in despair as I set my alarm clock for 5:30.

You enticed me with promises of late night TV, sleeping in, not wearing a watch, and endless time to spend however I wished. And as soon as I got one brief, delicious taste, you were gone! WHAT KIND OF A TEASE ARE YOU?

Where did you go? We had some great times together, but now you have moved on to visit other teachers in different school districts. I am a jealous friend. Very, very jealous...

Spring Break, I miss you so, so, so much. I don't know how I can keep on living without you... all that's left are the memories now. Please send your sister, Summer Break, soon.


Thrifty Education

Being raised frugally, and loving a bargain, I love to shop at thrift stores. There are two main chains of thrift stores: Salvation Army, and Goodwill. Goodwill stores are clearly superior in my expert opinion. This is because clothes are organized by general type and by size. So when I go to Goodwill, I don't have to wade through hundreds of shirts to find a size small. I just go to the size small section, you see. At Salvation Army, clothes are organized by general type and by color. This makes no sense to me. It results in wasted time and disappointment ("OHMYGOSH What a cute ... Oh... it's a large... shoot"). However, if you are specifically looking for, say, a green button down shirt, Salvation Army is the way to go.

Unfortunately, I do not have a choice in where to go. We only have one real thrift store in a 20 mile radius, and it happens to be a Salvation Army. (This is a sharp contrast to when we lived on the west side of the state with all of the Dutch People. There were more thrift stores there than I could count on two hands within a ten mile radius. Why, you ask? Well, I suppose I don't want to perpetuate stereotypes about cheap Dutch People, so I'll leave that question unanswered.)

So that is where I went today. In the middle of the day. Because I wasn't at work. Because it's Spring Break. I made a few observations while I was browsing that I thought I would share with you (because I would bore you if I just talked about sleeping, playing on the computer, and reading my book).

  • Don't try to buy something that is missing a price tag. They are very strict about that rule and apparently don't change their mind even in the face of a temper tantrum, whining, pleading, or flattery.
  • Head for the clothes on the racks in the middle of the walking aisles. Those are the items they've brought in fresh from the back. Since it hasn't been picked over yet, your chances of finding a treasure are much higher.
  • Don't ever buy underwear at a thrift store. That is just a given, people.
  • I am not an XSmall. Why do I keep taking XSmall shirts to try on? My self-image clearly hasn't caught up with reality.
  • Keep your eye on the fitting room door at all times. I found out today you can't trust those locks. I wouldn't want you all to experience the same embarrassing situation I did today!
  • Stay away from the brand "Sag Harbor" for women. The clothes might look decent, but you'll feel less-than-confident knowing you're wearing a brand that might as well be labeled "Fatty McFatso at the Beach"
  • Finally, a thrift store is a good place to try bargaining/bartering, especially if the item is missing a button or has a small tear or some other imperfection. But you won't get an extra discount if you point out that the item is used.

So hopefully you are now fully prepared to go thrift store shopping. Happy bargain hunting, everyone!

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

On Friday, I asked my principal what she would be doing for her week off. She said she was going to paint the bedroom so that she "could feel like she got something accomplished". A second later, a colleague walked by and in passing asked ME what I would be doing over break. I said "I'll be lucky if I get out of my pajamas!".

When I turned back towards the principal, she had a funny look on her face...

At first, I was afraid she would think that I was lazy with a capital L. But, now (sitting at the computer in my pajamas), it's no longer a pressing concern. After all, it's not my fault that some people are workaholics!
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