Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Final Countdown...

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

Full day Thursday, half day Friday, and then another group of kids moves on. In the short, short time we have in the classroom, we can't reasonably expect that our lessons will dramatically change the students we teach. Change comes from within. It's also true that you can't make someone learn. Someone has to want to learn.

Reflecting on my first year back in the classroom after 8 years of talking about it, I conclude that there is so much we want to do, and even our greatest efforts feel inadequate. But a belief that I have long held has also re-proven itself. While my students may not recall the lesson I did on metaphor and simile, they may well forget the plural possessive pronoun warm-up we did, and it is doubtful they'll recall the word map strategy we used for vocabulary, there is a memory that endures. Even if we do not remember the content we learned, we will remember how we felt. So regardless of aptitude, I try to work on the attitude. To advance their literacy we need to include some levity. And I hope they do remember how I made them feel, because those are the memories that last.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


We left the house at 8:15 AM this morning. That is REALLY late to go out for a run in June. Hey, it's Florida! Even though it was a mere 80 degrees, the sun and humidity were intense. At first our pace suffered a little. We're a long way from the gains we were making on our minutes per mile before the surgery and brain events of last year. Somehow, though, once we were totally soaked in our own yuck, it didn't seem to matter anymore. Coming off the trail and back into the neighborhood we ran some intervals, but our per mile time shaved a minute off what we did yesterday, when it was earlier and milder. There's something to earning your sweat, imagining the ill feelings and the toxins departing through the cotton t-shirt and running shorts. What was even better was finishing with a splash. Hosing down by a couple of laps across the backyard pool is a great incentive to pick up the pace on the way home.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

We'll go down together...


The girl and I went to a Weight Watchers meeting, and though I found it hokey, filled with cliched sayings, redundancy, and "breaking news" information that I knew 20 years ago, it may be just what this household needs. The public scale may force honesty in new ways. We already max out our good "Activity Points" but clearly the input is too close to the output. It's a good lesson for both teen and mom, to be healthy and clean.

And thanks to some fabulous apps for our Droid smartphones, Dad is totally into it too. The apps calculate and maintains the food/points/activity diary electronically. Mr. Naysayer, refusing to attend a meeting, is the biggest cheerleader for the plan.

The trick will be to manage this in our fabulously over-scheduled lives. Meals are too often "on wheels" as we fly across town between activities. It will be harder to be clean with a bowl of warm bread and real butter in front of us as we await a carefully calculated salad in a restaurant. But three strong, we have a much better chance than trying to go it alone.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thy Love and Thy Enemy

What a delicate dance it is, being the mother of a teenage daughter. We need our BFF moments. After all, I adore my girl, and I want our closeness to make her feel comfortable coming to me with anything she needs. I want her to feel like any questions, concerns, school issues, boy issues, and social issues are okay to discuss with me, that I won't yell, judge, or take any dramatic action. Being "cool" mom allows me to approach the inner sanctum, to be let in on the secrets that only her girlfriends might otherwise know. So this means sometimes checking my reaction at the door, maintaining a poker face, and being overly-meticulous and calculated in my responses.

Then there is the mother/daughter adversarial relationship. Mom draws the line. Daughter tries to cross it. Again and again. After all, the BFF wouldn't insist that the assignment be done before the texting, or that the laundry be picked up off the floor this minute or else. Sometimes being the mom means doing the opposite of the BFF, being a whistle-blowing drill Sergeant demanding she Be All She Can Be.

Either way, Mom of a teen is a 24/7/365 job. My waking hours and my short, troubled dreams are full of hopes and worries. I'd like to think that this will all change when she's grown, that adult-to-adult we can do just the BFF thing, that I will be able to quit the tough as nails, and I'll sleep without worry. Time and experience tell me that this is unlikely. We may have more laughs and fewer battles as the lines are redrawn over the next 10-15 years. Standing back and watching her suffer the consequences of her own decisions may require that I be tougher than any drill Sergeant.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another Workers Comp Claim

This time it's my turn. In my triumphant return to the classroom I've taken on the full range of student-teacher germ transfer. Winter offered upper-respiratory and stomach bugs. My newest delight is the battle against the conjunctivitis that has invaded both of my eyes. Trying to slip in a quick trip to the doc-in-the-box during my planning period, I stopped in the front office to just let the powers that be know I'd be off campus for a bit. They told me to save my co-payment, that pinkeye was a covered workers compensation claim for teachers. Several forms in triplicate later, and I was on my way to Solantic, no cost to me. Sure enough, the yuck is what I thought it was. It was confirmed by a culture. I didn't know they cultured eyeballs these days! Last time I had pinkeye I think I called it in to the doc. The Solantic tech came at me with this little plastic scraper and I experienced an ocular pap smear. Note to self: washing hands, refraining from touching eyes...better than peeper peel. Ugh!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

There is no Question Mark about It

So I'm back in the trenches, teaching 6th grade Language Arts. This week we are giving our classroom final, and it is different than all the "High Stakes" testing they have dragged these kids through this year (PMA, FCAT, EOC and other combinations of alphabet soup). On our final we ask them to read, think, and write a response in a complete sentence. "How do we bubble that, Mrs. G?" a student asked me. You don't.

This generation is growing up in a "bubble"mindset. Twelve years old and they turn in sentences without capital letters or punctuation. In my book that's not a complete sentence. Period.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Childbirth hurt a lot, but I really don't remember that pain. The events that occurred one year ago today hurt a lot more. Watching the clock this evening, remembering where I was and what I was thinking, exactly one year ago tonight, I can feel it again. The dread, the regret, the anger, the disbelief. This wasn't supposed to happen yet. And somehow it didn't.

And a year passed. Somehow, we got back into the normalcy of living. Worrying about the everyday, bringing the trash to the curb on Thursday night, it's your turn to change the cat litter, time to sit down and pay the bills. A whole year we have had that we shouldn't have had, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves about that thing that happened last year. We look back like rubber-neckers at the scene of a crash. But it was our crash, and it very nearly destroyed our entire world.

I don't need to feel that pain, but I can't ever forget it entirely. Remembering what could've been forces me to celebrate what is.