Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"May I ask you a really personal question?"

That is what one of my little friends asked me today. I was a bit scared but, I told her to ask away. "What are you giving up for lent?" was her question. Whew! It could have been so much worse.

Ash Wednesday kind of snuck up on me. I hadn't put much thought into this. I haven't really ever made the great connection between deeper spiritual growth and not eating chocolate kisses. Don't get me wrong. I was raised Catholic. I have done my fair share of springs without candy, pop, desserts, gossip (OK I wasn't as successful with that one), romance novels (I was seriously addicted to these during my teen years), etc. You name it and I have probably given it up!

So anyway, I was facing a 7 year old that wanted to know what her teacher was giving up. I avoided the question (like any good teacher would) but couldn't quite get it out of my mind. A lunch room discussion helped me decide to "do something" instead of giving something up. I have decided to blog at least once each week during lent. I miss the reflection time. I know it makes me a better teacher. I need to get off my butt and and blog once more!

I have also decided to read to my 11 year old each night during lent. Alli (my little ADD angel) gave up the read aloud several years ago. And quite frankly, it was never very satisfying to read to a child that asked random strange questions in the middle of every story. (Just so you don't think I am a total failure as a parent, my older two children liked being read to until they hit middle school...truth be told, my high schooler will still listen to me read if given the chance) Just recently I read a Sharon Creech book out loud to Alli. She actually seemed to listen to the story, there were no random questions, and I enjoyed the bonding time. (I fully expect my other two to listen in, all the while pretending not to.)

These are my two Lenten goals. I have committed to them in writing. Your job is to keep me honest!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Champion Puke Catcher

Twice this week I have had friends throw up in my classroom. Not a drop hit the floor either time. I can wield a trash can like no body's business. I can hide my own gagging while comforting my little sick friend as we walk down the hall. I rub his/her back with one hand and hold the trash can with the other. I keep assuring him/her that everyone gets sick. It is nothing to be embarrassed about. I am the picture of compassion.

Do I get a medal for my efforts? Do the parents thank me for caring for their little ill child (who, by the way, had thrown up before school, but the parent had a busy day so she sent her to school anyway) NO, I get none of this..........I get the flu. No one held the trash can for me. No one rubbed my back. I spent my whole weekend running to the bathroom. I missed Spring Fling, a night out playing cards, and my son's basketball game. No one murmured words of sympathy to me. (OK, maybe my husband was kind to me and I am exaggerating a little)

I'm just saying...

feel sorry for me!

It's been a rough year

The title says it all. The sad part is, inside my classroom walls between 7:35 and 2:10 it has been a great year. It is all the "other stuff" that has beaten me down this year.

We are a failing school. The title doesn't bother me as much as the thought that my former students are being told that they failed the "state test". We have been told by central office that it is all the teachers' fault. We are not lay blame at anyone else's' feet. As a professional, I find it ironic that we would have to be told this. When I have a kid below grade level at the end of the year, you can bet that I have spent countless hours, many of them in the wee hours of the night, wondering what I could have done differently. You can bet, that I have asked countless other people in my building for ideas. You can bet, that I have accepted that it was my failure. That doesn't mean I didn't look for contributing factors (ENL, homeless children, speech issues, etc..) and tried to address these issues. We try to identify these issues not to place blame, but to further understand and help the child.

Words will not convey how it felt to be told by someone I respect that we are failing our kids. It brings tears to my eyes as I type this. Of course, I believe I can improve as a teacher. If you know me, you know I am constantly reading and discussing new methods. I feel like retreating into my classroom and shutting the door to all the other stuff. But, that would be the worst thing we could do. Our whole teaching staff needs to come together and collaborate even more. We need to support each other and continue to do what is best for the kids.

I'm sorry that this post is such a downer. It felt like every time I sat down to blog these thought were blocking any other thoughts. I promise to blog about what is going on inside my classroom and try to be more positive from now on!