Can't Stop Smiling

I am an unashamed thrift store shopper. In the past, I've found some incredible deals on brand name clothing that looked new! Lately, I've been meaning to get over to Salvation Army and look for white shoes to wear with my bridesmaid dress for my sister-in-law's wedding.

While I was there, I decided to browse the dress pants section (thinking about school dress code already). I had my eye out for gray pants, but I happened to lift a pair of green corduroys off the rack. I noticed right away that there were American Eagle tags dangling on the side. Obviously brand new and never worn! Salvation Army's tag said $5.99, but since it was a pink tag, it was half off.... They weren't exactly my size, but I tried them on anyway. It wasn't until I was in the dressing room and about to step into the pant legs that I realized that American Eagle's price tag was $34.99.

Hmmm. I was forming a plan: Pay three dollars for the green pants (which didn't fit me) at Salvation Army; return them to American Eagle at the mall for whatever I can get for them without a receipt. The thrift store gets their money; AE gets to resell their merchandise; and I would get store credit. Brilliant! It was a risk considering that AE might not take it back without a receipt, but usually they'll give you the sale price when that happens--gotta be more than three bucks, right?

I took the risk.

When I got to AE at the mall and walked up to the counter, I said: "I'd like to return these, but I don't have a receipt". She narrowed her eyes and looked over the pants. "Which AE store did you get these from?". I told her the truth: "I don't really know". She said, "Well, I can only give you the sale price". (Called it!)

She rang up the pants and looked at her computer screen. There was a long pause where I was hopefully thinking to myself... "Ten bucks? Fifteen? How much?" She finally said: "That'll be $37.05 in store credit"

It was all I could do to stop myself from screaming and clapping right there in the middle of the store!

Crisis Averted

I wasn't planning on going to school this morning, but I did after I received a message from my new colleague saying that she was free today. We'd been meaning to get together and to get to know each other better before the school year started. So I figured I would get more for my gas money and at least continue to set up my classroom while I was in town. (I say "continue" because I spent about six hours on it last week.)

While we were chatting, my new colleague mentioned in passing that the principal wanted to talk to us about our classrooms. Our classrooms?? My room that I've beet setting up exactly the way I want it? The five gigantic bookcases and two heavy file cabinets that I moved all around by myself? The twelve boxes I've already unpacked? IS SHE MOVING ME?? I tried not to erupt into a volcano of panic (after all, she'll have plenty of time to see me stress out during the school year; no need to scare her just yet). I focused instead on asking just what did the principal mean when she said she needed to talk about classrooms?

Apparently, she wants to move our Occupational Therapist out of the music room so that she won't have to work with the choir and band practicing in the background (a decision I applaud). But she wanted to move her into the second Resource Room/Office/My-room-last-year, and move both of us special ed teachers into the same miniature classroom (one third the size of a regular classroom). This decision I did not applaud. The special education teachers that have gone before me in that building had tried that arrangement, and in their words it was "a nightmare".

Fortunately, I was able to talk to our principal today and sort some things out. She asked me if I had a better idea and I did (contrary to all those times when I gripe but have no alternate solution). Why not move the OT into my classroom (the slightly bigger Resource room)? She only works two days a week and I think I have some space to accommodate her. It might be tight, but it will work. Our principal was thrilled; our OT is much happier; and a major nightmare was averted. The End.

Does This Make Me a Nerd?

My very first Masters class is officially over today and I am bitterly disappointed about it. I had really, really enjoyed it. In fact, I am starting to wonder if maybe I like to be educated more than I like to educate. Hm.

There are three more weeks until the onslaught of "professional development" begins, and until then, here is my to-do list. I wish you all a happy to-do list as well!

What if?

Some food for thought:

Is it easier to be an adult with a visible disability (missing limb, cerebral palsy, etc) or with an invisible disability (deafness, high functioning autism, aspergers, ADHD, etc)?

Is it easier to raise a child with a visible or invisible disability?

One mother shares her frustration:
We have twins with autism and we find ourselves always explaining (apologizing) for them because they will shout out the most obvious yet hurtful things to others... such as "what's wrong with your face", "your teeth are dirty", "You're old" They have no filter on them whatsoever. It is a huge struggle because I don't want anybody hurt like I know my sons are hurting. At one point I made shirts that said "We're not rude, we are not ignoring you, we just have autism" but I had a mother come up to me and said that it was inappropriate to make public my sons' medical condition.

It has gotten to a point that as soon as I walk into a public establishment with them I want to take out a blow horn and say "Look everybody, my boys are acting the way that they are acting because they are Autistic."

I took them to Disneyland last year and to all you parents with these very special children you know that the majority of them adore rides because of the tight feeling of the pressure of the ride restraints. But you also know that the majority of them push, pull and flail around why waiting to get on the ride. I had taken papers from our doctor into guest services and they gave us front of the line passes due to their condition. I have to say that I have never been treated so rudely by parents in my life. Every time we used the pass we had people yelling out the rudest, vilest things. Just because my sons were not in wheelchairs people just assumed that we were cutting. We were even pushed a few times. I don't think there is any easy remedy for people’s perception of this handicap.
If only we could all be more accepting of those who are different!

Reality Check

I just stumbled upon a site featuring Britain's Missing Top Model. It's very similar to America's Next Top Model, only in Britain's Missing version, all of the contestants have a physical disability. I watched a very interesting clip on YouTube (warning: girl poses in underwear) which was a thought-provoking nine minutes, worth your time if you have it. The clip brought to mind several questions.

First, can adult women with disabilities be just as catty, jealous, and deceitful as their non-disabled peers? Apparently, yes.

Is deafness any less of a disability just because it's invisible? In the clip, the woman in the wheelchair was very resentful towards the two beautiful deaf women... you'd never know they had a disability just by looking at them. Is that fair? Personally, I think that any type of disability is a true disability if it impairs your ability to function in society. If you can't communicate with 99% of the population unless you have an interpreter constantly at your side, then that should qualify as a disability. I think it's just as much of a disability as someone who can't access a building unless there's a wheelchair ramp available. That's my opinion anyway.

Was it fair to take the interpreter away from the deaf girls for an evening? I don't think so. It's one thing if the girls had decided for themselves that they wanted to try and do this on their own. But the truth is that they were probably never taught how to speak intelligibly, read lips, or hold their own in a large group, thus making them entirely dependent on the interpreter. So to take that away from them would be like taking the prosthetic leg away from the one girl, or taking away the wheelchair from the other girl. Some of you may disagree, but I believe that communicating is just as important as walking.

Reality shows are such a great indicator of what our society thinks is important. Who's the prettiest? Who's the most successful business person? Who's the best singer? Who's the strongest? Who's the bravest? Who's the best cook? I suppose that shows that focused on: who's the meekest? who's the kindest? who's the most humble? really wouldn't get that many ratings at all...

If you don't have a novel to read, then write one!

I have a huge assignment due Tuesday for my "Curriculum Foundations" class. I have to write my cultural autobiography and reflect on how my background and experiences shape how I interact with students, as well as how my background and experiences relate to my role as an educator. It's turning out to be quite in-depth: twelve categories with anywhere from five to thirteen sub-questions per category... and then the reflection.

I don't mind the assignment. Who doesn't like talking about themselves? Especially when you're as fascinating as me? (kidding there, of course... or was I?)

Anyways, some of the questions required information that I'm a little sketchy on, so I had to make a few phone calls to the grandparents. I learned some interesting things that I didn't know before.

First, my maternal grandmother has her masters degree!! That's quite an accomplishment for a woman back in the day... Way to go for sticking it to society, grandma!

Second, my paternal grandmother (who is 100 percent Chinese) has two names. The first was given to her by her grandfather. This is her formal Chinese name. Her second name, the one everyone knows her by here in the U.S, was given to her by the nurse who delivered her. Grandma jokes that the nurse happened to like old-fashioned names--she named the first three girls Bessie, Annie, and Minnie.

I will let all of my non-family readers (all 3 of you) guess which of the three names belongs to my grandma by studying the picture below of a two-year-old version of me sitting on grandpa's lap:

Summer Reading

It's been awhile since I've been truly hooked on a book series. I believe the last time was the summer of 2004 when I read the "Mark of the Lion Series" by Francine Rivers. I have read lots of books since that time, but no series has gripped my attention to the exclusion of all other activities.

.... until the "Twilight" Series by Stephenie Meyer. Those of you "in the know" about children's literature may wonder if a story about a teenage girl falling in love with a vampire is beneath me, but I can assure you it is NOT! And apparently there are a lot of adults out there who would agree with me. I'm not typically into science fiction novels, but this series is the exception. The themes throughout the story (like love, acceptance, and addiction) are timeless!

It seems that there are a lot of other people out there (teenage girls? romance enthusiasts? undercover vampires?) who want to read the series at this point in time. It's probably because the fourth and last book is coming out on August 2nd. At any rate, it means that a cheap-o like me who's not going to run out and buy the books has to wait an excruciatingly long time to reserve a copy from the library. I'm currently next in line to get a hold of the second book, and the past week and a half have been ABSOLUTE TORTURE. A frustrating lesson in patience.

For those of you who aren't sure if you want to invest the time to read the book, there's always The Twilight Movie (hopefully it will do the book justice!). Click to view the trailer.

But His Puppets Are Still Scary

Things I hated as a child and now love as an adult:
  • Naps
  • Spinach
  • Baths
  • Wiping my nose on a tissue
  • Mr. Rogers
I was thinking of Mr. Rogers today as I hashed out my "philosophy of education" assignment for class. Something he once said seems to encompass what I believe about education:

"It's easy to convince people that children need to learn the alphabet and numbers. How do we help people to realize that what matters is how a person's inner life finally puts together the alphabet and numbers of his outer life? What really matters is whether he uses the alphabet for the declaration of war or the description of a sunrise, and his numbers for the final count in Buchenwald or for the specifics of a new bridge" (Fred Rogers)


Something New

Well, I may not know what I'm going to do when I grow up, but I do know that I wanted to change a few things on my blog. Obviously the layout is different; I've also added some labels and links to the side. Now if only I would use my hours of free time to clean the house, you might be able to see the floor and the counters around here!

Life Choices and Cereal Choices

Today was my first day of school... first day of my "Masters of Curriculum and Instruction" program, that is.

The decision to enter into this particular program of study was pressured. I felt pressured to start taking some credits to renew my teaching license. And why not apply those credits towards a Masters? When I started looking into available masters programs out there, I was disappointed. Very few masters programs are related to special education (the Masters of Special Education is for teachers who have no background in special ed; i.e: not me). After much conversation with colleagues and with the hubby, I decided that the Masters of C & I would be the best option for me, out of all the pitiful options there were. I also chose to apply my courses towards a degree knowing that we probably won't stay where we are for more than one year (meaning I'd have to drop out of the program and hope I could transfer my credits).

So it was with mixed enthusiasm that I went to class today. Early on in the two hour class, our professor said: "This is the most important thing: Begin with the end in mind". This was the point at which, if I was being honest with myself, I would have run out of the room, crawled into a hole somewhere, and rocked myself while humming as loudly as possible to block out the one question that has been on my mind lately: WHAT DO I WANT TO DO WHEN I GROW UP???

The problem is that I have always been goal-driven. In high school, I knew I wanted to teach children who were deaf/hard-of-hearing, go to a Christian college, and be finished in five years. So I found the only college in the U.S that met all of my criteria, and then I showed up. No matter that I had never set foot in the state of Michigan before. No matter that nobody I knew from high school chose the same college. No matter that they closed the program when I was halfway through it. No matter that it cost a small fortune to go there. None of this stopped me. Two other important goals in the past three years were to find a teaching job.... and I did. And I don't mean to say that I did this all on my own, because the Lord himself knows I didn't. The point being, I've always worked toward a goal.

So what is a goal-less girl to do? Without any strong sense of direction, I'm just like a sailboat drifting aimlessly in the ocean. A flight with no destination. An architect with no vision. A poet at a fork in the road. It's an uncomfortable place to be; and I'm only just beginning to empathize with what Max went through (and is still going through!).

Begin with the end in mind. What is my end? Do I want to be a classroom teacher forever? If so, do I want to stay a resource room teacher? A deaf/hard-of-hearing teacher? A regular teacher? Do I want to become a teacher consultant? A reading remediation specialist? An administrator? A special education administrator? Do I want to teach at the college level? If so, in which area of concentration?

I seem to be looking down an impossibly long cereal aisle. If someone could just put what I need in my cart, that would be great. Thanks.

The Waiting Game

I'm still playing the waiting game. Never mind that I'm not looking for a job, not looking for someone to call me about an interview, not waiting to hear if I've gotten the job. I'm waiting on the other side of things.

We need to hire a new Resource Room teacher for the fall. Last week, I sat in on the second round of interviews (My principal said she would sift through the 100+ applications before she called me in. Apparently her criteria was "local" and "just out of college"). Both of the candidates seemed to be very nice girls. By the end of both interviews, I felt like they would both do a good job. Then I started thinking that one would do better than the other... and the assistant principal agreed with me. She was going to check in with the principal at the end of last week and call our top choice this week. As far as I can tell, that has not happened yet.

And I'm starting to get antsy about it; after all, I'll be working very closely with whoever they hire, so I have a particular interest in seeing the right person get hired. I've snooped around and found the MySpace profile of our top choice. She had the good sense to make her profile private, but I do notice from her updates that she's been interviewing at quite a few other schools.

I wish the powers that be would get hopping on this one!!
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