Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maybe You Could Tell Me What to Ask You

I'm sitting in a comprehension strategies class right now and I've heard some interesting things that I want to share. We just read a little piece from a book called Mosaic of Thought: The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction by Ellin Oliver Keene and Suzanne Zimmerman. This is what I wanted to share:

"Children are natural questioners. It is how they work to make sense of the complex world around them. They want to know the "why" for everything. They are, by nature, curious. And we do them a great disservice if we ignore, belittle, or disregard their questions. We do them an even greater disservice if through our educational process we extinguish their need to question."

I feel that as a teacher, I need to have all of the answers... but, I don't. I want to be able to let my students ask their questions. I want them to ask good questions and be curious about the world around them. I don't want to tell them what questions they need to ask. I want to help encourage their curiosities. I want them to discover.

As an adult, I want to understand the world around me. When, where and why did I loose my desire to ask questions? I want to ask questions...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Relationships, Observations, Thoughts, Decisions

I knew a lady once who knew everything about love and marriage. After Eli and I were married she told us that the way to keep the passion and love strong was to "be mysterious." Mysterious meant never letting your spouse see you "unattractive." She told me that she threw out all of her husband's sweats because they were "unattractive." For the first three years of her marriage she never brushed her teeth in front of was unattractive.

She also told me that keeping things mysterious meant that you didn't tell your spouse everything. She had her best guy friend to tell everything to. Her husband didn't want to hear the things she wanted to talk about. She also informed me that you and your spouse had to have different lives and activities "so that way you don't get sick of each other," which meant going to the dance clubs until 3 a.m. with a guy who was not your husband.

I've seen many situations where a couple has been together for YEARS, who own a home together, who might have a dog or even children together. One or both of the people in the couple don't want to commit to marriage or anything just in case they find someone better or "s/he cheats on me."

Something else I hear a lot of of, "Yes I'm married, but I still need to be me." "I realized that I'm a mom, but it's okay to put myself before my kids. That doesn't mean I love them less." And a couple of weeks later I saw this mom yell at her spouse because he wanted to ride his dirt bike (the first time in 2 weeks), but she has a lunch date with "Bobby. "My husband was so mad at me, but he was just being selfish because he wanted to go riding."

"I love my husband, but..."

"Oh Mandy, you'll understand after you've been married for 10 years."

I had a parent teacher conference a couple of weeks ago. Mom wanted me to refer her to special education. I told her that her daughter wouldn't struggle so much if she didn't miss so much school. She has missed, on average, 2 days of school a week. Of the 3 days left of the school week, she usually calls home or gets checked out early. When I told her mom that her daughter should be here more often she said, "I keep telling her that she should go to school!" About a week later, her daughter got a new phone and called mom and started yelling at her telling mom exactly how things were going to work.

I had another mom call and tell me that her son didn't get his science fair project done because she was in the hospital the last 5 days. She told her son that he needed to get it done while she was gone. I told her he could turn it in, but it would be late. She said, "But it's not his fault. I didn't get the stuff for him." The project had been assigned for two months before she called. Guess whose kid doesn't do his work and has an excuse for everything?

The past 6 years of school has been difficult for S. He struggles with concepts and he has a poor attitude. His dad and stepmom both work for the military. I got an email from him at the beginning of the year that said he felt like he was failing his children, but he had no choice. He had to work. We've both been putting in an effort. I meet with S before school and Dad works with him in the evenings (even though Dad is so tired). Dad even made time to come to a class party. Guess who is doing better in school? Guess whose attitude has improved 500%? Guess who feels like Dad cares about what's going on?

It's my opinion that in any relationship, whether you're dating or married, you are one half of a whole. You chose to be a part of that whole. Parts of a good relationship include charity, friendship, compromise. You can still be your own person, have your interests, and hobbies, but you need to consider your partners needs too.

As a parent, your job is to lead, love, and be an example. It's been my experience that kids need a routine and have set expectations. They need guidance and need to know you're there. You're their parent, not they're best friend. I heard somewhere that "No" is one of the best words you can use with your children. But on the flip side, parents need to show their children respect as well. "Because I said so, " doesn't cut it for too long.

As of lately, I've realized that I'm intrigued by all sorts of relationships. I see a lot of dysfunctional parent/child relationships. I see a lot of AMAZING parent/child relationships. The results of both situations are astounding. I see a lot of dysfunctional and functional relationships between couples. The effects on the surround environments is sometimes obvious and other times, not so obvious.

I've been thinking about going back to school. I don't know if I want to make a career change, but I want to find out about couples and families. I want to go to school for family counseling. I have so many thoughts and opinions. Sometimes I feel like my theories are just common sense and other times I feel like I'm completely off base. It's just time I need now...

By the way, I feel completely blessed to have married my best friend. I've learned so much about myself and about life. He loves me when I dress up and when I'm in sweats. He includes me in every decision and cares about my opinion. He loves me when I dance like an idiot or when I pretend I can sing. He doesn't mind when I'd rather go see the new animated film because I'm a sucker for cartoons. He doesn't judge me because I have weird habits and do strange things. And I love him in all the same ways (even when he decides to where the hideous "Hawaiian" shirt). Yeah, we might have hit bumps along the past four years, but who cares? We've lived and learned. Life is just better when you know you have someone to share it with.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To: Mrs. Adams From: K

"Mrs. Adams, I had some extra time yesterday, so I made you something. You should read it when you have some extra time."

After I took attendance and reminded my literature groups we were going to be meeting in ten minutes, I pulled a short note out of a handmade, binder paper envelope and read the following in sloppy cursive (we need to practice apparently):

Dear Mrs. Adams,

I don't know why no one in the class but me and mabey a few other girls have noticed that you are having a difficult time because of the class being so rude and that mabey you feel like you're not doing a good job. Well, I'm saying that you ARE doing a good job, a great job. You're setting the same expectations as middle school to prepare us. Some people just don't see it and those people are going to have the difficult time. You keep it up and I'll set the example.


I guess I can make it until spring break in April...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When You Encourage Your Students...

You can sometimes end up with a pie in your face! We recently completed the Jazz Read-a-thon at our school and I was completely surprised that my class won for total minutes read (bragging point: the top 4 readers in 6th grade were all from class)! Of course because the students sacrificed SO much to read an average of 1200 minutes in 4 weeks, I had to pay my dues for torturing them and take a pie to the face. It was generic whip cream that tasted good, but I smelled like rotten milk for the rest of the day.

I've never been at a school where we've won the Jazz Read-a-thon and I was ecstatic to find out that what our prize was. Our little school won a visit from Ronnie Price! He was the nicest kid ever and was really interactive with the students. He read the book I Can Be Anything! by Jerry Spinelli (which by the way is a great book). Then the fun stuff happened...

Ronnie (because we're on a first name basis now) cleared the area and challenged the top readers in the school to a one on one game. If they made it and he didn't, they won. If both of them didn't make it, the student won. And of course if he made it, he won. Ronnie didn't beat a single student...go figure! He then, after being persuaded, ran across the gym and did a slam dunk.

After Ronnie left, it was time for the pies. Like I said earlier, all of the top readers from 6th were in my class, so it really worked out with me taking one for the team. I'm just glad that my kind, gentle, and sensitive girl got picked to pie me instead of my 5' 6" monster of a student who isn't too happy with me now that parent-teacher conferences are over. All in all, a good experience. I'm just glad to have programs like this that help students work for a goal and get in a ton of reading practice.