Thursday, March 12, 2009

slice of life challenge

My eyes try to focus on the pages of the magazine in my hands. The unshed tears make it hard. The scene is so foreign and yet a certain familiarity surounds it. Has it really been 21 years since I heard those fateful words, "your mom has terminal cancer"? Am I now doomed to hear the same news about my dad?

The doctor enters in a cheerful mood. Smiling as I am introduced as the "family gossip" by my dad. (Dad wasn't happy that I had informed my two brothers about this appointment) He must be about to tell us that the test results were a mistake. How could someone that smiles and jokes with you deliver the news that someone has cancer?

He leans back onto the counter and tells us that he is not the kind to sugar coat news. He tells us that they will need to do more tests, but that he is sure that my dad has cancer that has spread to his lungs. On the inside, my world crashes in. On the outside I ask a few intelligent questions, weakly smile at my dad, and thank the doctor. My dad's weak smile back at me seems to say, "we've been through this before haven't we kiddo?"

My father, who has always been so strong, the man that bought bras for me that first Christmas after my mom died because that is what my mom would have done and he felt the need to perform all her jobs as well as his own, is now facing the same disease she did.

We still do not know where the cancer originated or the treatment recommended. We will know more on Monday. I will tell my kids after we know more information. They know that Grandpa is sick and we are trying to find the cause. Dad is the only grandparent they have ever known. They see him everyday. Helping him through this will be hard on them.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The one and only Debbie Miller!

Well, my head is certainly full! I spent the day with a large group of teachers listening to Debbie Miller yesterday. If you don't already know, Debbie is my professional guru. I am always so inspired when I read her words or hear her speak. Yesterday was no exception.

I had heard her speak last year and yesterday was very similar, but like a good book, I learn something new each time, even if the context is repeated. Listening to her speak was a grounding experience. I have been caught up in this whole "failing school" stuff so much lately, that I have strayed from my core beliefs. Admin. told us we had to meet with our below level groups every day. That sounds reasonable, until you realize that that pretty much takes away the opportunity to conference one-to-one with the readers in my class. I used to meet with groups 3 days a week and conference with readers 2 days a week. I saw great growth in my readers. I feel like that one-to-one time was invaluable.

I feel so confused about things this year. I was told last year I did a good job bringing kids where they need to be in reading. This year my whole grade level was told that if we had students below grade level in January then we were doing something wrong.

I somehow need to clarify the goal for the kids in my classroom in my own mind. I need to return to the Reading Recovery philosophy of building on strengths rather that focusing on weaknesses. This has been a dark winter, but I think I see Spring breaking through!

On a really happy note, I get to see Debbie Miller in action today. I will be part of a small group that watches her teach a group of kids! I had actually begged for her to come to my classroom, but a teacher in Warsaw and one in Fort Wayne (yes, Sarah that's you) were chosen instead. I will contain my jealousy and enjoy this opportunity.

I will keep you updated on how today went!