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Sunday, July 31, 2011

First Day Memories

Ahhh, the first day of school. The smell of new clothes, new supplies, and NERVES. I was always nervous about the first day of school. That was back when we had longer summers and so many changes seem to take place during those summers. I remember several of my elementary first days but the first days seem to be more interesting to me in the "later" years. 

Sixth grade year. The worst....ugh. All summer my friend and I were a bundle of raw nerves. Merging with the enemies, changing classes, having lockers...that was a lot for this little girl to take in. I wanted my mom there but I didn't want anyone to know it. So she went and stayed in the shadows for me.Yes, I was a little spoiled. When one kid was AWOL we joked that he was still trying to open his locker....he was! That was so funny. We laughed at him for the rest of the day. I am sure he did not find it as amusing as we did. I was still very tired from the wild slumber party I had on the Friday before and fell asleep on the bus. No one bothered to wake me up so the bus driver had to turn around and take me back home. Fortunately he hadn't gotten to far. It was his first year on that route and I suppose he thought I had rode with my mom. Guess that is what I get for making fun of that boy at school. 

Freshmen year. Oh geez. That fear was made worse thanks to the Class of 89 throwing green crayons and M&Ms at us on our "visit" day. I stayed all night with Julie and we got the low down from some upper classmen on where to go, how NOT to stand, and what to do to be "cool." 

Jr. Year. Stayed all night with Julie and for some silly reason we stayed up all night talking. I was so sleepy. My boyfriend came and got me from her house and took me home that afternoon. He actually took me out to the Little Dipper to eat. That was rare. Should have known something was up. I nearly fell asleep waiting for our food and he laughed at me. I did not appreciate that! After we get home he is rambling about how we should see other people and yada, yada. I was way to sleepy to comprehend. I remember saying. "I think you are right. Goodbye." I went in and went to bed and didn't get up til morning. I realized that I was now single. Darn it, I had already wrote his name all over my notebooks and stuff and now they were going to look ugly from me marking his name out. And that was that with that far as I was concerned. A couple of weeks later I met Belvedere!

Sr. Year. Aahhh! The joys of being high on the totem poll. It sure was foggy that morning. My gang met at the big DQ. I had been dumped by the Great Belvedere but he was inching his way back into the picture. And the fun began! 

Now here I am, some years later, hoping to relive those first day jitters but as a teacher instead of a student. Life has such interesting twist and turns.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Words can be haunting at any age!

When I was doing the second part of my student teaching I wasn't realizing I was "sick." I thought I was majorly stressed and that is why I was slurring my words, not comprehending anything, and crying a lot. It wasn't until I could not stop crying or even put my clothes on that I realized I was having a severe depressive episode and needed medical help. So maybe because of my condition things seemed much worse than what they really were. Nonetheless, I am still haunted by all the negativity that I was around.

Let's call the school Hades Elementary and my supervising teacher Ms. X. I have a four page chart of many of the negative things she told and my reasoning for doing what she claimed. I just thought I was messing up that bad. Now that I am more clear headed I realize not everything was all my fault, but there's always that little record playing in the back of my head hearing her voice and negative comments and making me second guess myself. I was 34 years-old at the time, not a kid like most student teachers are. I hate to think of the impact she has had on some of her students although she is known as a great teacher and had even won awards for her area. If the student had a question that dealt with the subject she was talking about and she did not want to answer it she would just tell them: "That's irrelevant." After that I noticed how the students would just wilt and some of them stopped asking questions altogether. She kept reminding them about THE test as if the only reason she was there was teach content and nothing else. She even discouraged the students from talking to me. They were instructed not to ask me for permission for anything because they were "taking advantage of my kindness." REALLY? I was not allowed to give them pencils. What little time I was allowed to give lessons she would tell me how horrible I did. Of course I had to get my lesson plan approved by her before I taught. She would change her mind at the last minute and I would have to redo things. During an observation from my supervisor I blanked out. It was like my brain stopped functioning at all. The kid were asking me questions and talking but it sounded as if they were all under water. I kept trying to teach but I was messing up the information and causing confusion. That was my fault but she was actually nice about that! My supervisor was not so understanding. When it came time for me to tape my lesson she told me I had wasted two hours of HER instruction time and not to bother turning the lesson in to my supervisor. She made me feel like she was going to fail me no matter what I did. I could go on and on about the negativity. I only had to endure a few weeks of this. As long as the students followed her every direction and did not ask many questions she was fine.The had the exact same task to do most every day. She would mix it up with simulations every now and then. They loved that. So in this case, for the most part, the good out weighed the bad. I even witnessed her telling a parent how "bad" her kid was. The child may have had some problems but you talk down about someone's kid to them. Yes, focus on weak areas and how to improve but do not come off as judgmental. 

If the question is "irrelevant" to what is being taught there are ways to handle that. Yes, some students find it rather amusing to get the teacher off track by asking off the wall questions but usually younger children are innocent when they do this. If a child...or in my case an constantly talk down to and made to feel stupid it is hard thing to get over. Self esteem and confidence fly out the window and may never return. No matter what our position is in life we should always have positive thing to say to people, young and old. Don't let your words be haunting words.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

ADHD does not equal bad kid!

Recently I watched an amazing HBO documentary about dyslexia. This program primarily interviewed teens and adults who had to survive school with this challenge but many of them also suffered from ADHD. This made it extra hard on those people. 

ADHD is a disability where the chemicals in the brain are not adequately flowing. OK, that is a simple term but you get my gist. These children (and adults) have an extremely hard time focusing on anything. They have a very hard time keeping still. Somewhere on their bodies they have to have something moving. Tapping feet, fingers, shaking, it all goes with the territory. They have little control if any over this. This exceeds hyper. You may have to remind them of things several times and they may forget several times. This does not make them a bad kid! They are just like any other kids. They need guidance. Some more than others. Discipline and and routine are very important to them. Berating and yelling all time is not going to help matters at all. In fact, it hurts. They will feel that they are stupid and lazy if you treat them that way. Why would they want to do more than what is expected of them. If they are in a positive environment they will more likely try harder to behave or concentrate. The next time you hear someone called a bad kid perhaps you should think about who is really "bad" in the scenario.

Whatever happened to being appropriate?

I am far from perfect by any means. I was not always as angel as a teenager but my parents did teach me some values. Just a little while ago I was eating a sandwich with out a paper towel under it to catch the crumbs and begin to worry that my mother would catch me. I've been married for 17 years. Dropping crumbs is not a moral issue but it is something as simple as learning morals. 

My father-in-law told me he hated when he had to go stay at a certain aunt's house when he was little because he knew when he came home there would be another baby in the house. He was smart enough to figure this out on his own. It certainly was not told that his mother was with child. No one was going around feeling her belly, asking her about doctor visits and the like. What happened to those days? I was born in 1974. My siblings were never told that my mom was expecting. I was not allowed to say the word pregnant when I was a child...even it was true about someone, I'd get my mouth smacked. My sister told me "virgin" was a bad word and I shouldn't use. Feminine products or any other issues were not up for discussion either. ESPECIALLY around mixed company. If questions came up there was a private talk. Look now, not much later it is advertised everywhere. Ladies don't care to announce personal matters to the whole world. Now we have the internet and other social media where any Tom, Dick, Harry, or Jane can display whatever they want. I do not want to someone ultrasound, that is private. I certainly do not want to see your belly. Cover up your nakedness! Have a little shame! 

Unwed parents used to go around with their heads hanging in shame. Now, people do not know what shame is. Remember the first time you said a bad word in front of an adult. Wow. I was 19 years-old when I said a "little" blackguard word in front of my dad. He assured me I better not do that again if I knew what was good for me. I took his word for it. Like I said, I certainly was no angel but I did have the sense to know what to say and how to act around adults. I never drank. I have tasted some alcoholic beverages. As a matter of fact, I like wine. I have never been drunk. Had of been stupid enough to act that way when I was a teen I would have been trying to hide because I would have been so ashamed and so scared that my parents would find out. Now kids tell everyone they see about how drunk they got and who all they were "with" the night before. We should really be reminding kids how to act because the world is not helping them.