by thea marie
What's on my mind....
|It's just me, Marie, trying it again in 2009|
|Generally I love Saturdays anyway, as they are the first of my two days off in the week during the school year. But today is an exceptional Saturday. I'm reminded of that Mr. Rogers' song that starts out, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!" Even though I really couldn't stand Mr. Rogers, today his theme song certainly fits. I think this is the prettiest and nicest day we've had in 2006 so far here in northern Georgia.
Last weekend was the first weekend, in some time now, that that it didn't rain. That was a nice change of pace, although rainy days, when I don't have anywhere specific I have to go, are all right with me, too. This weekend though, not only is the sun shining, but it's so warm that I have the doors and windows open and the ceiling fans going to push the fresh, pine-scented air through the house. People are out working in their yards. A couple of my neighbors have the motorcycles out, getting them ready for the upcoming trips they take to the Georgia mountains. My next door neighbor is pulling his boat back into the garage. I have been writing most of the day.
It is absolutely wonderful, one of those days when I really feel priviledged to be alive and healthy enough to enjoy it.
|The objective of today's lesson in Reading was to think critically- to not respond to please the teacher, but to write what is truly on the mind and the heart.
I am of the opinion that too often children become programmed, and as a result when faced with having to do so, they have difficulty thinking and making decisions for themselves.
We discussed morals and how they differ from person to person. We also discussed scenarios, and dilemmas. Then the kids were given nine scenarios to read, each having several answer choices they could make as to what they would do in that scenario.
I gave them the option of choosing one of the given answer choices, or saying that they wouldn't have done any of the suggested actions. They then had to say what they would have done instead in that instance. But whether they went with the supplied response or wrote one of their own, they had to explain in their own words, their actions. It wasn't about right or wrong. It was about what would you do?
One scenario had the student walking behind an elderly man and the man's wallet falls out of his pocket. What what would you do? Give it back to the man, keep it, or act as if you didn't see it were the options. One boy crept up to my desk and said, "I want to write what I would do, but I don't want you to think less of me."
I had to assure him that what I thought wasn't what the lesson was about. It was for him to speak honestly and to be faced with himself. The kids seemed intrigued by being given that opportunity, but they were also a little fearful of it. It was an interesting thing to watch them work through the lesson.
As they worked, I completed the exercise myself, explaining my actions as I went. I did it as a model for the kids, but it was interesting for me, as well.
For the second part of the lesson, the kids had to write a story about a time that they were faced with a dilemma. They had to incorporate all the elements of plot, use dialogue, if it applied, etc. to practice the things we have been studying. In having them do that, I was reminded of a dilemma I once faced when I was about their age. I wrote my story, too. I plan to share it with them in class tomorrow.
Child Brings Cocaine to Second-Grade Class
It happened in Philadelphia, but it could have happened anywhere in any classroom in any city in the nation. The thing that stands out for me is what would have happened if the teacher hadn't been alert enough to notice what was going on? How many children would have fallen ill? Would any one of them have ingested too much and overdosed, perhaps suffering permanent physical harm or maybe even death? In those latter instances, the teacher would have been faulted for NOT noticing what was going on and most likely would have been made the scapegoat in it all. I'm sure that her training did not include and her degree does not say anything about drug detection and interception at the elementary level.
The article doesn't state that the child knew what it was that she was distributing. It does say that authorities are considering what punishment should be meted out to her, which leads me to believe that she had an idea. Whatever the case, she is seven years old. Somebody else bears a greater responsibility in this, even if the kid did know that it was cocaine. That fact that she has that kind of knowledge is in itself a crime for which some adult, or at least older person, needs to be held accountable.
Schools are now down to working with only blunt scissors, plastic protractors in classrooms, more than half light for movies and overheads(darkness invites trouble of all kinds), metal detectors,and clear book bags. Teachers are told to be on alert for clothing or signals that denote gang activity. They also have to be on the lookout for bullies and bullying behavior, and intervene in that. Little girls have been pulled into bathrooms or blind corners by little boys to be fondled, in a couple of cases raped, for fun. Students are verbally and physically assaulting teachers.
Then there are the teachers who are brought up on charges of having sex with students. That seems to be happening with increasing frequency. The most recent case that comes to mind involves a fifth grade teacher and an eleven year old student.
Kids come to school hungry, angry, drug addicted, confused. Last year one of my seventh graders was sleeping every morning in class. When I reported it- several times- and an investigation was finally conducted, it was found that she was on meth and she was pregnant. She was twelve; the father was twenty-one. All of the boundaries that once kept things a bit tidier are becoming more and more blurred.
The president demands, "No Child Left Behind". I say you can't save everyone. The odds are stacked too high against it. To try is gallant, and I'm all for the sentiment, but I'm afraid that to succeed at it would take a miracle. There are too many mitigating circumstances and not all of them have to do with what happens inside school. In fact, most of them don't. They start elsewhere and then creep into the halls and classrooms with the kids and some of the adults.
I have to say that I am happy to be closer to the end of my teaching career. For me, it won't be long before it's over, and I can go home. I don't like where it seems schools are headed, and quite frankly, I am looking forward to getting off the ship.
Anyone who still thinks that teachers who come to school and do their jobs honestly and professionally make too much money ought to volunteer to take my first period, eighth grade Reading class for a week. My eighth graders aren't particularly that troublesome as teenagers go, but they are eighth graders.
I'd be interested to see if at the end of that week, that person still felt that way. I would like to see if that person's perspective of what all goes on in schools has been altered in any way.
2006 Winter Olympics
Am I the only one who thinks that this year's winter Olympics have been disappointing, to say the least about them? Here we have yet another strange/embarrassing account of the goings-on in Turin.
That we're seeing so many poor performances, odd incidents, and incidents of bad behavior could be due to the greater access the media has to the negative things that happen. But then, evidently these negative things are actually happening. The pictures we are seeing and the stories we are reading every day are originating somewhere.
It appears to me that the highlights of the 2006 Winter Olympics will be reduced to examples of bad taste, cases of poor judgement, and outtakes for future blooper programs.
So sad for those who went over there and honestly gave it their best.
|Seated at her desk, with her pounding head in her hands, she wondered what wrong she might have done in a previous life to warrant the job of middle school teacher in this one. And what restitution could she presently make to ensure that she wouldn't be seated at that same desk, in that same fix, in the next.
|I've been home all day today in observance of President's Day. Watching the news this morning and at noon, trolling the internet in between, I keep running up on notices that the history making Powerball winner has yet to reveal him or herself, like that's some big deal.
First of all, since it wasn't me- or my husband, I don't care who won.
Secondly, if it was me, I'd be too busy picking myself up off the floor and then trying to research a financial advisor who I could possibly trust to not rip me off and to give me solid advice for the astronomical amount of money I'm going to have to manage, even after taxes, that I'd be holding off on giving myself up, too.
Thirdly, knowing how many long-lost relatives and friends are going to crawl out of the woodworks, not to mention the heretofore unknown leeches who are waiting in the wings for me to make myself known to them, I'd be keeping my head low just like the person who won probably is at the moment.
I sit here thinking of all the things I could do if it had been me, all the places I could go, all the bills I could get rid of. But since it wasn't me- or my husband, I don't care.
But now if it does turn out to be a close relative or a good friend, I guess I'll have to just ease on up out of these woodworks, and....
Or if it works out that it was my husband, and he didn't tell me, I'm telling you: watch the news, troll the internet; you will be finding out who we are.
|Recently, I've been loosely following the trial of former Atlanta Mayor, Bill Campbell who's up on charges of corruption. In the course of the trial so far, two mistresses have been unearthed by the prosecution. It seems that the former mayor took numerous lavish trips to romantic spots, some to foreign countries, with these women despite the fact that he was married.
The prosecution is trying to show that the mayor's propensity to use cash to pay for these expensive trysts helps to uphold their contention that he was accepting bribes from contractors and such. How else, they say, was he able to finance these romances and maintain his household. I wonder if he romanced his wife in like manner?
The former mayor has protested that bringing up his private life is wrong and unethical. He says that one didn't have anything to do with the other, that in his capacity as mayor, he did nothing wrong.
Personally, I could care less about the corruption. I am of the opinion that politics couldn't exist without a fair amount of that sort of thing. I think they're all in bed with each other. The plethora of political misdeeds, Enron scandals, and the like have completed eroded any thought I might have had that big business is honest business. What bothers me more is a question I've had for years: why get married if you're going to cheat on the person to whom you made the vows? How can former mayor Campbell not see that his personal integrity speaks strongly of his ethics in his professional life?
Being cheated upon is embarrassing, hurtful, and humiliating. I cannot imagine what the wives and husbands of famous people must go through when their cheating spouses get outed. I cannot fathom how Mrs. Campbell must feel to have her husband's, (and her own) business played out in the media for all the public. Although she accompanied him to court in the beginning days of the trial, she was not in court with him on the days that the two women testified. And those were only the two the prosecution trotted out. Who knows how many others there were?
I cannot imagine how Coretta Scott King must have felt to have it revealed to the public that her civil rights icon husband, Martin, was stepping out on her while he was on the road and she was at home with the kids. She probably already knew about it, the signs were probably there, but to have it broadcasted in the news, on the internet, and to have books written about it....
I think of Laci Peterson who allegedly lost her life to her philandering liar of a husband. I think of Rose, Jackie, and Ethel Kennedy. I feel for the people, men and women who are blindsided by that kind of thing every day.
Why do people make vows they don't keep? Why bother to get married? Why not stay single and play the field? Why not leave the relationship if it isn't working out? Why risk hurting the person you loved enough at one time to ask them to marry you? Is it greed? Is it narcissism? Does it bring a sense of power? What is it?
I'm rambling, I know, but infidelity is one of those things I just don't understand. Marriage is hard work. It's tiring, and a lot of times, it's just plain boring, but I'd get out of it before I hurt my husband by betraying his trust in me. I really would. I've been tempted, I've had offers, but I got married because I believed that I wanted to be with this one person, and despite difficulties and rough waters at times, I have remained true to that commitment. If I had it to do again, I probably would opt to stay single, knowing what I know now, but I didn't at the time and I did what I said I was going to do. If I ever feel that I want to be with someone else, I will leave the marriage first.
Maybe it isn't supposed to be that easy or that clear cut. Maybe I'm just being naive and idealistic, but I believe that a vow is not just some words you say. A vow is a promise, and to me, promises are meant to be kept.
|She's a slim girl, fifteen and in the eighth grade. Since she's small in stature, physically, she doesn't stand out from the others who are thirteen and fourteen.
She would be pretty, but she wears too much dark eye makeup; it makes her look like a racoon or like a little girl desperately trying to be older. Even when she isn't wearing the makeup, her eyes are often tired. Her long blonde hair is frequently gelled into snaky hanks that don't look quite clean and add to her too-grown look, but that's the fashion in middle school these days. In its natural state, her hair is almost luxurious, a lot like cornsilk.
I worry about her. She rarely comes to school, and she doesn't smile very much. There hasn't been a week this school year that she's made it every day. Last week, she only came on Thursday. I have phoned her parents as is required when kids are absent so many times. I never get a working phone, despite several numbers having been provided. My colleagues have told me that an older sister had the same problem. I've long since quit phoning.
I've heard the kids make comments to her, not in mean spirit, but almost in wonder, "You're here."
She's very quiet and soft-spoken. I never hear what she says in answer.
Earlier this year, after several inquiries, we were notified that the social worker and the court had become involved in the absence problem. I mail home her progress reports to ensure that her parents, whom I've never seen, know that she's failing. You see, she's never in school on the days that they've been issued to the students to take home.
When she does come to school, she doesn't request the work she's missed or attempt to find out what went on. If I don't take it to her, or point out what has been posted, she doesn't get it. Lately I haven't been doing that. I feel I've done it enough times, and it's her responsibility now. Unfortunately, on the days that she does attend, she's taken to sitting and doodling, writing notes, drawing, but making little, if any, attempt to do anything academic.
But then I thought about it. She's probably embarrassed and overwhelmed. How can she be expected to get caught up or to get back on board when she's missed so much instruction? At this point, she failing all of her classes, and after all, she's fifteen, soon to be sixteen in the eighth grade- again.
Today was Valentine's Day. The Beta Club had conducted a Valentine Day sale to benefit our Relay for Life team. Last week students were able to purchase Valentine cards and suckers to be delivered today to their friends in the different Homerooms as a surprise.
I had a stack of them in my mailbox this morning to issue during Homeroom. I thought it was a cute gesture and felt good for those kids who would be the recipients. She had gotten two, but she was absent for Homeroom. She was also absent for first period, the class in which she's my student.
I had dismissed my second period class and was packing up when I could hear voices just outside my door, "Go on, ask her. They're on her desk. She'll give them to you."
I turned around to see who was talking. It was her. She standing there with a friend, who was urging her on. In her quiet voice, she explained to me that she was there for her Valentines.
She wasn't there to tell me why she wasn't in class. She wasn't there to get the work she missed. She was there for her Valentines. I wanted to scream.
But I didn't.
In that moment, it dawned on me that she probably was afraid. Not of me, but to face me with a request that she knew I would probably view as trivial. She's not a stupid girl; she knows that she's falling short, but perhaps its not within her power to do better or to rise above her circumstances. Maybe she's doing the best that she can. Maybe she needed her Valentines.
Without a word, I went to my desk and got them for her. She thanked me. As she and her girlfriend were leaving, I heard the girlfriend say, "See, I told you all you had to do was ask her."
I guess at times we all could use a Valentine or two.
Businesses Put Lid on Cell Phone Chatterboxes
I am all for this one.
I love my cell phone. I feel naked and vulnerable when I'm in the car, and I don't have it with me. I've actually driven off and turned around to go back and get it. In those cases, I always think, "I'm going to get a flat. The battery is going to suddenly go dead. I'm going to get 'jacked and be in the trunk of somebody's car", all with no cell phone to call for assistance or just to call and say "Come get me!".
It's not like I use it to talk on it that much. I've never been real big on the phone. I have certain people with whom I like to talk for extended periods of time, but even as a teenager, phone junkie I have never been. With the cell, I like the security of knowing that I can hook up with someone else in the event of an emergency, to get directions, to fix a last minute glitch, whatever. Unless I'm out of town, in the course of a month, I might make five or six calls. I probably get less than that. For me, a cell phone is merely an added convenience in my life.
But for some people it seems to have become an appendage. The other day, I was in the Emergency Room waiting to be seen, and there was a young girl curled up in a chair. I thought she was sleeping or just rolled up because she wasn't feeling well. When I looked closer, she was actually engaged in a low-key conversation on her cell. She wasn't bothering anyone; she was very quiet with it, but my mind went right to how sick are you that you feel like talking to somebody on the phone?
But then I had to check myself. Isolation is my style when I'm ill. It's not that way for everyone. Perhaps she was getting moral support while waiting to be seen by a doctor.
Everywhere you go, people are on cells. The grocery store, the mall, the airport, in the audience at performances during intermission, on the treadmill at the gym, waiting in line at the post office, waiting at the red light, driving through the green light, walking the dog or standing there while the dog takes a dump; it's constant. And sometimes it's highly annoying. I don't think people mean to be rude, but it is time that we, as a society set down some rules for acceptable cell phone use. I believe in everyone's right to be able to do and have what they want, but when a thing infringes upon the rights, privacy, and comfort of others, it becomes a problem.
I'm reminded of a young woman who was on her cell in the grocery store where I happened to be shopping one day. Not only was she speaking as if the other person was two aisles over rather than on the phone with her, every other word she used was profane. There were elderly people, young children, and people who just didn't want to hear all of that who had to be subjected to her lack of class and judgement. I should have said something to her, but I didn't. I didn't want to have to cuss her out should she cuss at me for getting on her about cussing- and being loud to boot.
Nothing is worse than being in a confined, quiet space, like a waiting room or in line somewhere, and have someone get into a long, unnecessarily loud conversation on the cell. The rest of us are subjected to all the details, the voice inflections, too loud laughter... the fact that we're only getting one side of the conversation....
I especially dislike being out to eat and having to work to tune out the cell phone conversation going on in the next booth or the next table. Why people feel they have to talk so loud or so long is beyond me. Yes, the cell is convenient. Perhaps the person is lonely and wishes they had someone with them to whom they could talk, but why do the rest of us have to be party to the conversation? What's funny, maybe I should say odd, is very often, there can be two or three live bodies talking together in the other booth or at the other table, and you don't seem to hear them. But that one somebody on the cell phone is practically yelling.
I've even had to check my husband for taking business calls while we're out to dinner. He didn't seem to get it until I arranged to have a few of my friends conveniently phone me when we were out. All of a sudden it was, "Who was that? Why you gotta talk while you're supposed to be out with me?", and I very politely reminded him that I never ask him who it is that is calling him nor had I complained about his callers keeping him from me when we're out.
Point made, that broke that up.
Unfortunately, that was but a small victory in the big war on what's proper when it comes to cell phone etiquette. Some people just don't get it. Just because you have the phone, doesn't mean you're in the best place to be on it. Just because the phone rings, that doesn't mean you have pick up and STAY on it.
With kids, I can see them making cell phone faux pas. They are in a position to be taught what's right from what's wrong. But most of the time, when I've been offended by it, it's been full grown adults. (Kids, you see, have enough sense most of the time to keep their voices down so that what's being said, cooed, planned, lied about, etc. stays on the low.)
The article above cites a case where a dentist had to post a sign asking his clients to refrain from using the phone when having dental work or x-rays done. Reading the message board that went with this article, another guy who said he is an actor, reported that he and a fellow actor had to stop performing one evening because someone in one of the front rows, was on his cell reciting for the listener everything that was going on in the play. When the perpetrator noticed that the performance had stopped and that the actors on stage were looking at him, he "sheepishly" put the phone away and received a standing ovation from the rest of the audience for doing so.
It would seem that common sense would prevail and that certain things ought to come naturally, but in some instances they don't. Some people blame the profliferation of cell phones for being the problem. I don't think so. It think it's like the gun thing; guns don't kill people, people kill people. Cell phones don't call people; people call people. We just need to learn when, how, and where it's proper to do it.
|Today was not a good day for me to be a teacher.
It wasn't anything the kids did, it was me. I did my best,I persevered; I doubt that any one of them knew that anything was wrong with me, but I knew. I should have called off.
On Thursday afternoon, I wasn't feeling well; I hadn't been for few days, so I broke down and went to see the school nurse. She informed me that on top of the other symptoms I related to her, my blood pressure was somewhat elevated. She advised me to contact my physician.
Roughly thirty minutes later, I was sitting in the emergency room. Seven hours and an MRI after that, I was assured that I wasn't having that heart attack or stroke I feared. I was sent home with a referral to a specialist.
Exhausted and still in discomfort, I stayed home on Friday to make my appointments and to rest up physicially and mentally. It was a quiet weekend. I rested. I wrote. I corresponded with family and friends.
But today was Monday.
Even at my best, I detest Mondays. They are my least favorite day of the week. They last forever, and the kids and I are of the same mind. None of us wants to hear what the other has to say. We could all be slumped at corner tables or back booths, swigging coffee, smoking cigarettes, and wearing tee shirts and hats that tell the rest of the world to "Leave us the h---alone."
Today, leaving the house at 6:25, it was cold, very cold for the type of weather we've been having of late here in Georgia. Later in the morning, it even snowed for a brief time, which set some of the kids off. I wasn't in the mood. I'm originally from Michigan. Snow is not a novelty to me, although I could appreciate that it was for some of my southern-born students. The accompanying silliness was hard to take, but I dealt with it.
Then it started raining, and it didn't stop. It's been raining and to-the-bone-cold all day. I'm still stiff and sore from whatever this affliction is that I have. The rain and cold, I'm sure hasn't helped that any. In short, I've been in a funk all day, and trying to hide the fact that I was a whole lot harder than giving in to it.