Sunday, September 25, 2011

I'm going to hold my breath....

I haven't posted for awhile. Not because nothing has been going on, but it seems that my ideas for blog posts come at the most inconvenient times. In the shower, late at night when I should be sleeping, at the grocery store... you get the idea.

I've got a lot on my mind, and in my heart so please excuse the randomness of this post.

Do you ever get the feeling that there is nothing else that can go wrong, yet you walk around holding your breath just waiting for that very wrong thing to happen? That's how I feel lately. School is back in session and I am trying frantically to mold my students into a cohesive community, get my own kids to go to bed on time, and then wake up and get moving in the morning, coupled with my complete lack of domestic goddessness makes for a rough September.

In addition, my grandmother (Granny) is sick. Really sick. She has cancer, pretty much everywhere. I sat with her awhile today and marveled at all the memories that went swirling through my head. Making myself up with her Avon samples in her lighted vanity, sleep overs with my cousins at her house, trips to the lake. I've decided that I will cherish the time we have left, and rather selfishly I visit her on my own. That way we can just sit, and talk if she wants to, or just enjoy the comfortable quiet company of one who has played such a major role in your life. She has always worn an emerald ring that I've coveted since childhood. She's always told me that she would leave it to me when she died, which at the time I thought was very morbid, don't we all live forever? Recently on one of my visits, she gave it to me. I wept like a child realizing the full implication of her gift. I need to get it sized, (my fingers are much larger than her dainty hands) but once I do, it will not leave my hand. Someday, I will tell my May born granddaughter (hint hint children of mine) the story of how I acquired it, and make her the same promise. She tried to give me her tea set today. My girls like to have tea parties with her. I couldn't bring myself to take it. I told her we would have to have at least one more tea at her house with the girls, and then I would bring it home.

My father in law had surgery this week. A quintuple bypass to be exact. I never even knew there was such a thing. Thankfully he is doing well, although his road to recovery will be long. A cardiac care unit is truly a place that I never cared to be again. Both Brian and I have been struggling with the imagery of chest tubes, IVs, alarms, and pumps that bring memories of Briona flooding back at an alarming and overwhelming pace. Brian has been visiting Rick in the evenings. Much like I enjoy my solitary time with my grandma, he enjoys his alone time with the only father he's ever known.

I joined a new church. It's my Grandma Lucy's church, a place where she found comfort and friendship. When I first started going there it was hard not to visualize her funeral which was not long ago. Now however I find comfort knowing that she is looking down on me and nodding her head in approval, proud that I am representing her well and establishing myself in her faith community. Today the deacon gave the homily. He is on the pastoral care team at U of M. He was with Briona a lot in her three short months. He ministered to me in some of my most hysterical moments and laid his hands on my daughter in prayer more times than I could ever count. I don't think he would remember us, it's been a long time, but as he spoke I could see him in a video like montage of moments in the hospital. Needless to say I lost it. However, God had arranged that I had no children in church with me, and ironically, my dear friend Cathy had no children with her either, so when she hugged me, and sobbed with me (despite our lack of tissue) I felt His hand touch my heart and tell me that I was loved.

Life keeps moving, and I am trying to focus on the good in it. I have six beautiful children all unique and amazing individuals. I have a husband who loves me, grocery shops and does laundry (albeit all in hot water and dried on high). I have some of the most incredible friends in my life, truly I am blessed and humbled by their support, friendship, and the ability to find humor in almost any situation. I have a job that I love (well most days) and a roof over my head. In listing all of these, I realize that I can finally exhale, and wait to see what life has in store for me.

God is good. All the time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Random rantings of a greedy teacher....

So today I was reading online about the proposed charter high school opening near my district. Of course following the article the community is allowed to comment. While there were a few pro public school comments, the rest were as usual pointing their self righteous fingers at the "greedy teachers", who do noting but drink coffee and hide behind the union.

I teach kindergarten in a high poverty district. I live in a high poverty community. Our middle class children have almost vanished to the charter schools that have popped up in my neighborhoods. Admittedly, on first glance, our test scores are sad, but there is more to a district than test scores. Achievement doesn't always show up on the state tests, but they show up in the classroom. In my own room, I recently gave another measurement test that had been given in the fall. Every child had made a considerable amount of growth, some children tripled or even quadrupled their original scores. The problem is, the test raised the bar, so even though they started so very far behind, and they have worked their five year old tails off, they are still "failing". It breaks my heart.

Being in a public school allows children to see that people come from a variety of backgrounds, different socio-economic backgrounds, and different religions, different challenges, different values.

The current state of the economy has made our jobs as teachers, and our children's job as learners even harder than usual. It is hard to learn when you are hungry, or worried, or tired. It's equally hard to parent when you don't know how you are going to keep a roof over your head, where your next meal is going to come from, or if your children will be safe when you tuck them into bed at night.

It's difficult to interest a child who listens to Ke$ha or Insane Clown Pose at home in singing nursery rhymes. If you have watched The Bride of Chuckie, my video on "Groak Gets Along with His Friends" seems decidedly uninteresting. So we as teachers adapt. While developing a classroom routine is critical to make the children feel safe, we also have to keep them on their toes with our method of delivery. We feed their minds, and their tummies. We provide comfort and safety, and hugs, and acceptance.

We provide these things to EVERY child who walks through our doors, especially those dozen or so that we get every year AFTER the state count who get told by the charter schools in our neighborhood that their needs might be "better served" by the public school system. Yes it happens. Every year. Like clockwork.

So while the charter schools may have prettier test scores than my district, I can hold my head high and know that I pour my heart and soul into every child that walks through my classroom door. I give them my best, every day, no matter how perfect, how needy, how disruptive, dirty, hungry, sad, or scared they are. I make it my goal to teach them that they can reach the stars, to dream big, and to be nice to one another, because really isn't that what it's all about?

It hurts my heart (my sister would call me a crybaby here) to pick up the paper and read that my community thinks that I and my colleagues are just greedy insurance grubbers who live for summer vacation and snow days. (Although I will cop to coveting snow days, I blame it on wanting to stay connected with my childhood, not my greed.) I live to make a difference to each child who enters my classroom. To be the best teacher I can be, to instill a passion for learning, and a sense of pride in their accomplishments. There is nothing better than seeing the pride on a child's face when they know they have given you their best effort, and they are ready for more.

I could go on and on but I won't. As titled, these are just some random ramblings.

God is good. All the time.