Sunday, October 5, 2014


I'm back in the world of reading and writing instruction and I'm loving it. Bring on the spelling and grammar and figurative language - can't get enough of it. However, it all takes a bit of a twist when you're dealing with students who read at least two grades below their current grade. Or sometimes three and four grades below their current placement. Throw in some attention deficits, dyslexics, a few in foster care, ED, OD and a partridge in a pear tree along with their learning disabilities. That's what I'm working with this year. Some days I feel just as challenged with modifications, accommodations and paperwork as the kids I teach. We're all struggling, for a variety of reasons, within a federally dictated framework that must also have us jump through state mandates which sometimes seem to NOT be in the best interests of our kids. Hopping off my soapbox now before I really get on a roll.

But there are definitely moments of levity. Instead of bashing my head against the wall in frustration, I often find myself amused on any given day. For example, one of my 5th grade girls asked to go to the restroom right before I returned to class from my lunch break, and stayed gone for quite a while. The regular ed teacher in the classroom asked me to go check on her since this student has been known to roam the halls instead of going directly from point A to B.

I trekked from the computer lab down to the bathroom, knocked on the door and inquired if she was OK. The child promptly responded in her best impression of a well educated person speaking to a dullard that she was pooping and would be in there a while. Bahahaha! I need to start writing this stuff down, publish my little memoir of life as a special ed teacher and retire early.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Killing trees right and left

Lord have mercy, I've gotta pick a teaching gig and stick with it! Last year I took a 6th gr science assignment just to get my foot back into the district when we moved home from living abroad. I enjoyed the grade, but not the content. Sooo, I moved over to a special ed co-teach position for 5th/6th grade reading and language arts this year. Those are my subjects!

Alas, the special ed paperwork is enough to make even the most seasoned federal bureaucrat weep in frustration. I enjoy my time in the classroom, teaching the ELAR content and working with the students. I do NOT enjoy filling out forms, sending out forms to teachers, calling up parents to let them know I'm sending home forms, quantifying educational goals and objectives on forms… you get the drift. I guess I should just be glad it's not in triplicate.

I have no doubt I'll finally make the jump to wearing readers over the course of the school year, necessitated by the fact that I'll spend a lot of time staring at a computer program with a zillion different screens in order to prepare for everyone's annual ARD meeting. The special ed lead teacher that is serving as my unofficial mentor has been great and doesn't seem to mind my daily questions and SOS calls for help with this, that and the other. No doubt I'll owe her a big bottle case of fine adult beverages by Christmas as payment for her expertise. 

On the home front, everything is fine. The 8th grader grumbled at the all PreAP class workload the first few weeks of classes, but has settled down into the rhythm of things and is making all As. The coed is up to her eyeballs in sorority happenings, including her new little sis reveal this weekend. She did have to make a trip to the university health center since she was running a fever, but got a good scrip and is about back to 100%. And, as far as we know, she's only put a couple scratches into the paint job of her car since she took it to college. It seems the parking garage at her high rise apartment and the business school are not her fave things to tackle with so little driving experience under her belt.

It's a mere 45 school days until Thanksgiving break. I'm gonna tie a knot in the end of my rope and hang on for dear life. And enjoy one of my favorite songs of all time about my absolute favorite season of all.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's baaack to school time

Summer is a memory. And it's a lovely one since it involved several trips - the East Coast, a Texas beach, Seattle and Alaska. School inservice officially starts for me tomorrow, though I've already completed 30 workshops hours in the past two weeks. The college coed is safely ensconced in her new high rise apartment near campus since rush preparation began on August 4. And the 8th grader has attended orientation to receive her class schedule. We've hit the big box store for binders, dividers, notebook paper and writing utensils. Now it's just a waiting game until we all kick off a new school year/semester.

I'm currently unmotivated to post anything informative or meaningful from our summer travels, so I'll just babble about my thought for the day. If money were no object and my every possible care or worry was covered by a cook, maid, gardener, driver, personal assistant, you get the drift…

I would totally own a big farm with lots of these guys to pet and keep me entertained with their antics. Anything in mini form is just too danged cute for words. Admit it, they are beyond precious and you know you'd like to cuddle up with one and speak in nothing but gibberish baby talk all day.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Long time, no see

I've been busy. And maybe a bit lazy about getting over here to the blog for another riveting post. Since my last entry, school ended. Woo-hoo! Plus the coed returned home from her triumphant freshman year. An overall 3.83 GPA is nothing to sneeze at and sure as hell better than I did my first year away from home. To fulfill the requirement for a three hours fine arts elective class, she spent the May minimester in west Africa, teaching art to school children in Ghana. 

Ghana was greener than I expected. The coed had a good time. Sure, there was an active ebola outbreak in the neighboring country to the east. School-aged girls were being kidnapped in droves in the neighboring country to the west. And everywhere she looked there was great poverty as well as the ever present threat of disease carrying mosquitoes. It's one of those trips that changes your perspective and I believe that's a good thing for anyone at any age.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

All the cool kids are doing it

In an effort to shake up my elliptical rat workout routine and shed the last bit of my England weight, I signed up for private Crossfit sessions at our local box. I wasn't an initial fan, especially when I realized there is no AC in the place. Plus they do these torture moves like burpees and push ups. And they use a lot of weights, too. All of this is sooooo outta my comfort zone.

But a month in, I'm starting to see some results. I've grown comfortable with the initial wimp weights and my CF trainer upped them this past week. After hobbling around the first couple weeks with pretty much sore everything, wobbling out to my car on legs limp as wet noodles, I'm starting to feel stronger. And less like throwing up or passing out once the workout ends.

I've still got a long way to go, but it's a start. Once school ends, I'll have to switch over to classes since I'll be gone too much this summer to keep working with a trainer one-on-one. I'll modify and do the best I can and hope to see continued improvement with the upper body strength, muscle tone and endurance. Most days my tongue practically drags the ground and my eyes sting from sweat rolling into them. Remember - no AC, just fans… which is kinda cruel for the middle aged lady crowd in the Texas heat. I never look forward to the workouts, but always feel better afterwards. The humiliation of crying uncle keeps me chugging along rather than falling onto the mats in a heap and refusing to jump up onto the box one more time.

I hope I'll be successful with this, long term, because I'm not trying to regain the body I had at 25 or even 35. For me, it's all about committing to a healthier lifestyle. Now I just need to tackle that little matter of my coconut cupcake addiction. It's all about baby steps, like pretending the yummy local bake shop that I adore has burned to the ground and no longer sells their sinfully sweet creations.

Seven more days and I'll be through

At least I'll be through until August when the whole process begins anew with professional development and teacher inservice. 

There are seven remaining days in the current school year. And really just 6.5 because the last day is early dismissal. Since those days are punctuated with fun stuff like a swim party, talent show, dance and graduation for our 6th graders, there are only about three more actual days of regular science classes for me to teach. 

Honestly, my year felt complete on Friday once I had taught our sex ed abstinence based program to the girls. I have been dreading this lesson for weeks and was so glad to get it done. The girls giggled just as I had anticipated when I was going over slides in the Powerpoint with words like erection, wet dream and penis. There were no pics or graphics to accompany these terms, praise the Lord. Thankfully, the students are still separated by gender at this age. Both boys and girls hear the same information, but in separate classrooms. Another teacher on my team volunteered to deal with the boys for their lesson. I just don't think I could have looked those young men in the face after mentioning anal sex. This is why I shouldn't be teaching 6th gr science.

Our local big box store was running a special on boxed wine, so I stocked up to make it through the final days of school. Let's be honest - it's all about crowd control, keeping them from hurting each other or tearing up my classroom once they get the bit of summer vacation in their teeth and charge full steam ahead with it. Overall, I've had a great year at this new-to-me campus and look forward to the possibility of another great adventure next year once I see how things play out with a possible shift in faculty. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dear Karma- I've started this list...

It's teacher appreciation week in the US. And I usually do feel appreciated. I believe my students, parents, teaching team and administrators think I put forth my best effort for them. I don't hit every lesson outta the ballpark, but I certainly put in the before school, after school, nights and weekend time to be sure things go off without a hitch.

Be warned - I'm taking a big ol' step up onto my soapbox now, so get ready for a humdinger of a rant. Every year I have one. I'm talking about the parent who takes his/her frustration, anger, regrets and parental shortcomings out on the teacher. This parent gleefully blames the teacher for all of the child's and parent's failures. This parent wants to tell me how to do it all "right" even though said parent doesn't have a college degree, let alone any classroom experience.

Let's be clear about this. I didn't give birth to your child. I wasn't there to provide your child with developmentally appropriate activities before entering kindergarten. I don't go home with your child to make sure assignments are included in backpacks, that they put forth a solid effort, that they seek clarification as needed, that they come in for tutoring with me if they require assistance, whether they get a good night's sleep or nutritious meals, if they listen to the class directions, write the posted assignments with deadlines in their daily planners and have a positive attitude about learning. That's the part you and your child are supposed to step up and do.

I was handed a curriculum I had to supplement on my own time, with my own money. And I do it happily because I love teaching and trying to make a positive difference in the lives of my students, preparing them for the demands of middle school next year. I spend substantial time away from my own family to make sure your child gets a lovely experience in 6th grade, a year of my own child's life I'll never get back. And all you can do is be an ungrateful little s#*! to me? 

The upside - you're the only turd floating in my otherwise happy little punch bowl of learners and their families. I have the pleasure of teaching a whole lotta students who make it a joy to roll out of bed every morning and come to school with a smile on my face. I get to go home to my own children who are (mostly) well adjusted, whereas you are gonna be stuck with your helicoptered, enabled, eternal excuse making child for decades. Seems fair to me.