Friday, July 18, 2008

I have been tagged

Tagged! Another fun round of tag is making its way through the blogging world! I've been tagged by my friend, cathy. The rules are that I have to share 6 random things about me and then tag 6 others....

First, for my randomness...

1.) I met my husband while working at a residential treatment facility for "Troubled Youth" and no, he was not a resident. We actually had the boys from our cottage act as ushers at our wedding. I did not have to restrain anybody in my wedding dress , if you were wondering.

2.) My first major in college was actually pre-med. (How do you write this? Nothing looks right) I wanted to a psychiatrist until I realized I would be in school until I was 87 years old.

3.) I had all three of my kids without the use of drugs. I now realize birthing them I can handle without drugs, but raising teenagers might require drugs. (just kidding)

4.) I was the youth coordinator at the Goshen YWCA for 6 years. It was the best job to have while raising small children. I spent every Spring Saturday lining fields for t-ball games for 6 long years.

5.) I coached middle school golf for several years...and enjoyed working with that age group.

6.) I LOVE pulling my student's loose teeth. Kids will come back to my room even after they have moved on to 2nd or 3rd grade for me to pull a loose tooth.

All of the people I would normally tag have already been tagged. Sorry.

My Voice Has Been Missing

It has been a while since I've posted. It isn't that I haven't been reading and thinking about school, because I have been. As I reread my last few posts I noticed how, shall I say, boring they are. If you know my writing history, you know my 7th grade Language Arts teacher killed my voice. I wrote, what I thought of as a humorous piece about stepping off the plane for the first time in Iowa. (I moved to Iowa when I was 10yrs old.) The piece was about my misconceptions about farms and the people that lived on them. The comments written on my paper by the teacher basically said that I was ignorant and that Eastern Ohio (the place I moved from) was the Midwest and I should have known better (there was more, but I have blocked it from my memory). She gave me a mediocre grade. I was definately not used to mediocre grades.

I became, what I call, a "Safe Writer". I wrote a boring yet correct intro, body, and conclusion to every writing assignment from then on. If I wasn't sure where to put the coma, I changed the sentence. If I didn't know how to spell the word, I used a different one. (yes, I was too lazy to just look it up) I rocked High School English and even may have been known to write someone else's paper in exchange for said person typing mine. You see, I never took typing in high school, I was going to be a psychiatrist, thus having my own secretary.

A few years ago I took a workshop with Ruth Ayres ( my writing hero). During the workshop we were given time to write in a writer's notebook. I have been writing in a notebook since then. My notebook isn't boring. I find it kind of funny. Why, because I know no one but me will read it. I don't worry about where the stinkin' comma goes. I write like I talk. I know that you are never suppose to start a sentence with but. But, that's how I talk.

I recently saw Ruth present at the ALL Write Summer Institute. She talked about getting rid of that high school teacher in your head. I really connected with that statement. Then I found this blog and I thought, yeah, she is really funny. I enjoy reading her blog because she has a lot of voice. I decided I needed to revisit my blog.

I started to write this blog to make myself a more reflective teacher. That is still my main purpose. However, I would like to enjoy reading my own blog. If you know me in "real life", I hope you know that I am serious about being a good teacher, mom and wife yet I do not act serious while performing these duties. I have been known to make my coworkers laugh out loud at my notes during meetings (yes, I am still paying attention, just adding comments to the presentation). The kids in my class will tell you, I am the weirdest teacher they have ever had. My own kids are embarrassed by me on a daily basis. I enjoy life.

Humor has always been my fall back. Our family moved around when I was little. My dad was transferred 5 times while I was growing up. I was a chubby nerdy kid. I learned it was easier to make friends if you could make them laugh. This has gotten me in trouble many times. Some people think I am not serious if I'm joking around. That is so not true. I would just prefer to enjoy myself at work and at home. I learned pretty early in life that life is short. My mom died when I was 21 years old. My mom was a "fun" mom. My friends liked to come to my house. She was known to play cards with us into the wee hours of the morning. She would take us shopping and laugh as much as we did. That doesn't mean she didn't have rules. She just enforced them with a smile. I hope my kids will describe me as a "fun" mom some day. (I'm pretty sure that is not the f* word my 14 year old uses these days to describe me)

Anyway, I am now going to start writing with more voice. I hope you will not be too annoyed if my commas are not placed correctly. If I have a run on sentence, please ignore it. I figure if I'm trying to help my students grow as writers, I should probably do some growing myself. You may still find me unfunny, but I will enjoy writing and reading my blog more. And remember, it is all about me.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Student Story Challenge

My last student story was inspiring (at least to me). This one may not be inspiring, but it is the student that has been on my mind this past week. Miguel* came to me this past year from kindergarten with a rather long note. It stated he didn't know his letters, sounds, sight words, etc. The note was correct. He was my least prepared student and he knew it.

Miguel* was aware from day one that he was not doing the same level of work as the other kids in the class. When Miguel* felt embarrassed or singled out about classroom performance he acted out. He often would act aggressive towards others. He was placed in Reading Recovery first round, but was kicked out of the "buddy reading program" that RR kids participate in with 5th graders every morning. He wouldn't listen to the 5th grader. He would disrupt all the other kids in the library.

Miguel* struggled through the year. I met with other teachers to discuss him and come up with ideas to use with him. He was a second language child so I could not have him tested (he hadn't had three years of English instruction) However, Miguel* didn't really speak much Spanish. When he moved here in kindergarten he spoke only English, but over the summer his "old new dad" had started teaching him Spanish. The thing was, Miguel* was really smart. He was street smart and classroom smart.

He knew that if he misbehaved enough to be removed from the other students he would not have to complete the activity. So he would act up whenever a task was difficult for him, which was often. I don't usually remove students from the classroom unless they are a danger to others...So Miguel* would throw a pencil at someone or grab someone's chair from them as they were sitting or... you name it, he tried it. I decided to give him an "out" when things got too frustrating. He would "need to go to the bathroom" or I would send him to the office with a note for the secretary. (the notes said," Miguel* needs a break from the classroom, please smile and thank him.")

I really liked Miguel*, but I don't think I did enough for him this past year. I thought briefly about retaining him. However, he was the largest boy in my class and he was angry. He was angry that he had an "old dad", "old new dad", and a "new dad" all during this school year. He was angry that he couldn't read like all of his peers. Angry that I couldn't make him be able to read. I felt that if I retained him he would be even angrier. I am worried about Miguel*. His brother is a teenager and belongs to a gang. I worry that Miguel* may also join a gang or choose the wrong path.

Because of redistricting, Miguel* will not be attending my school next year. I worry that those "other teachers" won't take care of him. (the teachers at his new school are wonderful, I should have no worries about him) I worry that with that loss of connection he will feel lost. I feel like I failed Miguel*. I hate to feel this way at the end of the year with a student. I don't feel like I did enough to change his feelings about school or life. I really tried to celebrate his successes, but he didn't feel successful because he compared himself with others. He didn't buy into the classroom community. I had moments of breakthroughs, but I'm afraid he needed more than moments.

I hope that Miguel's second grade teacher will love him as much as I do. I hope that through testing our district determines what Miguel needs and I hope that he gets whatever help he needs. I hope he begins to believe that he is a great kid. I will always remember Miguel and the things he taught me. I'm afraid he can't say the same about me.