Monday, July 21, 2008

Here, let me help

At the park today I met a fellow Mom and while we were watching the kids, we got to talking about her fifteen year-old daughter. "She is really behind in math because of a sort-of disability she had when she was younger, though she tries so hard," this Mom said. She is worried about her going to high school next year.

I was doing dishes tonight and worrying about this kid. That's part of the curse blessing of being a teacher--that when you have a free minute, you often end up contemplating any of your 25 other kids. I was also thinking about Mary Alice's recent post about serving the people in our own communities. I thought, why can't I just take a couple hours out of my week to tutor her? It's not like I don't have time this summer. I mean, come on--I spent 15 straight minutes thinking about bugs in my garden this morning.

Anyway, I decided to offer to tutor her daughter. I typed her an email real quick and sent it before I could talk myself out of it. I really hope she takes me up on it because I think I could get this kiddo out of basic math by the end of the summer.

There have been other times when I've wanted to offer my help by tutoring but I just didn't do it. I'm not sure if I'm afraid I wouldn't do a good job (which seems silly, even as I'm typing it) or if I'm afraid of being turned down. That's probably what it is. I don't want this mom to think I'm creepy for offering semi-long-term help to someone I don't even know. As I'm heading into my 30's, though, I think it would behoove me to quit worrying so much about how other people see me. I think it would also do me some good to give back to the people in my community. Thus far, the extent of my community service has been to call and have Good Will come pick up the crap I didn't sell in the yard sale. They're nominating me for an award for that awesome gesture.

Anyway, I hope I hear back from this Mom. I'll keep you posted. Thanks for reading my blog!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Just show up when you feel like it!

I'm on the Executive Board for my PTA and today we had training from 9:00 to 2:00. To me, that means get there a little before 9:00 to check in and find a seat--maybe run to the restroom. With that in mind, I thought I was running late. I drove a stinking 75 miles per hour on the freeway. I hate being late. I was surprised to find that I was only the second person to check in. Everyone else came trickling in after me and kind of milled around for a while. At about 9:15 the trainer said we would wait a few more minutes in case anyone still wasn't there. I don't think we actually got started until almost 9:30. I could have slept in an extra half hour. Or driven a little slower and saved some money on gas. Or hung out with the Munchkin (Bean has the common sense to sleep in while she is still young and responsibility-free). It seems like this happens more and more often. Lets make everyone who was here on time wait for the guy who is currently in line at Starbucks. It seems like this is becoming the norm. Does anyone else get irritated when this happens (or am I just being a grouch)?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A teacher at home

The Bean is finally potty trained thanks to my very excellent modeling and scaffolding. It reminded me of this:

My teacher friends will have probably seen this in countless trainings. On the far left of the spectrum would be the Teacher-Mommy allowing the Toddler-Student to observe careful modeling of the potty process. "Moooooommy, you went potty like a big girrrrrl!"

Guided Practice involves asking the Bean "Do you need to go potty?" no less than 50 times per day, balancing her on the big toilet when she refuses to use the potty chair, and making careful decisions about outings (How long will we be gone?) and naps (Should I force her to wear a diaper?)

I am proud to announce that we're finally to the right side of the diagram. Bean knows when she needs to go, climbs up and teeters on the edge of the seat by herself, and is sleeping Pamper-free. My anecdotal records indicate that we have yet to use a public restroom and she only flushes on one in five trials. I'll put that in next week's lesson plans.

With potty training and the yard sale under my belt, I've accomplished my two major goals for the summer. Now we can relax! Thanks for reading my blog.

“Gradual Release of Responsibility” Model of Explicit Instruction: Reprinted from Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8, P. David Pearson and Margaret C. Gallagher, “The Instruction of Reading Comprehension,” page 337, under the terms of the Access Copyright licence agreement, renewed in 2004.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I finished A Thousand Splendid Suns and wow, what a good book! I was up until 1:00 this morning crying like a loon on the couch, actually mourning fictional characters. I love a book that grabs you and doesn't let go until the end and I always remember the ones that make me cry. The first time I cried over a book I was in the fourth or fifth grade reading Anne of Green Gables. It was the part where Matthew Cuthbert dies. What a delicious surprise, to find that a book could break your heart.

I don't like crying in front of my class, though. An emotional minefield is Thank You, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco. I read it to my second graders last year and had to stop and compose myself--blowing my nose, concentrated breathing, thinking happy thoughts--just so I could go on. Twice. The dumb thing (and the reason I probably won't make a repeat performance) is that they don't really get it. It's only teachers who cry at Thank You, Mr. Falker (because we all want to be Mr. Falker), so in the end, you just look like a blubbering idiot in front of 22 eight-year-olds. Maybe this year in fifth grade I'll do Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and I'll do it well enough that they'll all be crying with me.

Which books make you cry? Thanks for reading my blog!