Thursday, November 13, 2014

Veteran, veterinarian, whatever...

A tail tale from the teaching trenches! Every year, students make Veteran's Day cards for the ceremony held on campus. These are distributed to the parents and grandparents that attend the ceremony, men and women who served in the armed forces.

Mrs. G, the 5th gr language arts and social studies teacher that I co-teach with, was talking to the kids about making cards for the vets in honor of the upcoming celebration. She led the class in a discussion about the history of the holiday and gave them some guidance on what might be appropriate wording for the card, typical American symbols for the exterior, coloring it a patriotic red-white-blue, etc. 

A couple days later, Mrs. G pulled me aside in class to share a Veteran's Day card that one of my special ed students had created. It seems this student latched onto the VET part of the lesson, but didn't fully grasp the meaning of the holiday. She had decorated the front of her card with a flag and several dogs. I'm thinking to myself, that's good, flags are appropriate, dogs do serve in the military and it was nicely drawn/colored. Then Mrs. G opened up the card to show me the note inside. My sweet little confused special ed student kindly thanked the VET for taking care of her dogs. She even elaborated a bit, mentioning giving them shots and treats when they're good.

It was so wrong, and yet so terribly sweet and heartfelt. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the family vet for keeping our own Ollie healthy. And sure, my husband, brother-in-law, father-in-law, father and grandfather for their service in the army and air force. 


Thursday, November 6, 2014

North, north to Alaska

Today, when the high finally stayed below 80, I was reminiscing about our summer cruise to Alaska. With the start of school and insanity that ensued, I never got around to documenting it.

Here is a taste of the majesty that is our northernmost state.



The scenery was truly breathtaking. Witnessing the salmon swimming upriver was great. Seeing eagles soar and then perch to pose for a pic was magical. The freshly steamed crab pulled out of the crab pots earlier in the day was delicious. It was a memorable family trip and I've got the photos to prove it… just no time to post more than this little blurb.

School is going well for the 8th grader, with fabulous grades and fun things like pep squad as well as junior cotillion. The college coed recently made the decision to move back to an excellent in-state university from the one she attends 1200 miles from home. I honestly don't care where she gets her first college degree, so long as it's done in a timely manner rather than on the decade plan. 

Finally, random observations from the teaching trenches: 5th and 6th grade students these days just aren't familiar with the cool idioms we heard from our parents and grandparents when we were their age. Kick the bucket, an arm and a leg, blessing in disguise, piece of cake, once in a blue moon, sitting on the fence. It makes me a tad sad to realize they're missing out on all of this fun figurative language.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Special

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.