Sunday, February 26, 2006

When the Guests have Gone

My guests have left the building. I was so happy that I baked two loaves of bread for them to wish them well in their new dwelling. I went through my pantry and gave them some basics to get started up with again. I have my home back again.

I've been thinking a lot about Kid. I see him as someone who knows no boundaries, because no one has been strongly consistent enough. I observed his parents, and heard why they weren't able to do thus and such, but, Kid is out there floundering. Perhaps when they are once again in their own space without needing to share it he will do better.

It is always a challenge to share ones living space with others, and in this case more challenging because I "shot first and aimed later". I'm not going to invite anybody but long time friends and family to stay for awhile. I love the stillness and calm that has returned. I feel like I can talk openly without worrying who is in the house to hear.

I am looking forward to playing the music I like LOUDLY! To running around the house in whatever I want to wear, or not wear, and have no worries about who will see. I feel safe again in my own home. I am sure the Guests would be mortified to have heard what I have vented here, but, that is how I feel.

I have my house back!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Educational Front

Well I survived another week of life at public school. I think I made some progress with a couple of my African-American students. Both are boys who have such a great potential, but the "ghetto" lifestyle seduces them. "Jamal" at one point had accused me of siding with white students, my white students were very quick to point out that I defend all students regardless of color.

That incident alone is one reason I am having National Geographic do a deep analysis of my DNA, to point out that we are all a part of the family of man. I don't care about the color of a person's epidermis, it is who they are that matters.

"JC" the other student is not I teach, but he walks past my room daily and has decided I am okay for a teacher. Pretty good. I enforce the rules with him as much as anybody else, and he's seen that, JC is bright and tried hard about 70 percent of the time. The other 30 percent of the time he tries us. But he is a forgiving kid and has figured out if he mutters about doing bad behavior, like fighting one of us will hear him and take 30 seconds to talk to him, and at this point reinforce the appropriate response as opposed to fighting. JC tries, so does Jamal. The odds are not in their favor, but a few of us plan of keeping contact after these young men have left our campus, We keep saying things to them about being invited when they graduate from high school and college.

Another at risk student is "Randy" he is gift, truly gifted, not just smart, but scary gifted! I read an essay he wrote and was so blown away about what he had written. Randy wrote about while we have advanced technologically we was regressed as a people. It was amazing and he thought it was just scribblings. We discussed his ideas for awhile and I was sooo impressed.

I am grateful I do what I do and that I have the students I have. I genuinely love these kids. All of them are so special, I just wish I could reach and help all of them, but that is not realistic. I shall continue to try and hope for the best for each one of these students.

More Ramblings about Guests

In the continuing saga of the Guests, they have found a place and will be moving out tomorrow. LB and I have GRACIOUSLY said we would watch Kid. I think we will take him to a local park and let him run.

LB & I spent a lot of time with Kid today. Kid really hacked me off. He was rude and disrespectful to his mother, LB and to me. What finally got to me was to find out he had been stealing candy and lying. I know it seems small when written so plainly like that. LB was teaching Kid about wrestling moves, we have a tickle war and all of a sudden candy is coming from his pockets. LOTS of candy. Once most of the candy had been taken away Kid got REALLY disrespectful and nyah nyahed. Then Kid went on the defensive with a closed fist. That was it for me. He went stomping up the stairs muttering rudeness and I went up after him, scooped him up and would not let him go.

I am really stubborn at times and no Kid was going to treat anybody that way in my house. He accused me of lying. I hadn't. Got smart about who earned the money, his dad, and that everything must be dad's. I've dealt with this philosophy before. As I am holding him in a controlled fashion I reminded him that the clothes on his body and his new shoes had been paid for with dad's money. So had the TV, his video games etc... Kid was speechless for a few seconds anyway.

LB came up and we held this kid together. Kid whined and I told him clearly that in order for him to gain release he had to follow the rules, which he naturally could not remember. My rules are real hard (yeah right) He would be respectful to all people at my house. That is where we started. Kid again whined he wanted up. Not until he could tell me the rule. This set him off!

Seriously for about an hour LB and I held this kid, his mom could see and did not ask either of us to stop. I kept repeating in order to be released he had to first ask politely, and second tell me the rules. Kid twisted and turned and fought, tried to bite, I told him I bite back, and I wasn't kidding! Kid said he hated me, I said fine. You don't get up until you ask politely, and second tell me the rules. Kid went into major whining and fake crying. I told him I wasn't buying, and I wasn't letting go. This went on and on. LB was great, he was perfect and that is not a compliment I give lightly. Eventually kid called me a name, not profanity, but rude nevertheless. I got in Kid's face, I mean drill sergeant close, like two inches away and yelled "Nobody calls me names in my own house" He would open his eyes and look at me when I spoke to him. LB told Kid, now you've really got her mad, not good, not good at all.

Once again he wanted up, once again it was explained what he needed to do, and finally he admitted he couldn't remember the rule. I got in his face again, but quieter and explained them. He asked humbly, and repeated the rules about respect and what respect meant, then LB and I let go. I hadn't been angry, just frustrated beyond reason.

After all this I hugged Kid, told I loved him (I even meant it) Then I went downstairs and listened to why Mom and Dad cannot do the same, physical problems, her heart, his back. I feel certain Kid acts out because he knows no boundaries, quite literally. I've seen Kid's mom and dad, just back down. They always talk softly and never get his attention. I don't meant to sound cruel, but with some kids a loud voice is needed to get attention.

I went and showered, LB and I had plans, and in the shower I was overwhelmed with what I had done. It was arduous, and exhausting and Kid knows I mean business and that LB will back me up .

I know I wrote earlier that I'm trying to be like Jesus, well Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple and I don't think He was polite about it, I think He was direct. I was trying to be like Jesus and be direct. I didn't feel Christ-like at that moment, but I wasn't consumed with anger either. I don't feel guilty, but I do want to remember this experience. It was freaky whenever LB or I would mention telling the truth to him kid would squirm. For a moment or two I thought Kid might be possessed. It was freaky, LB and I talked about that at dinner.

I did give Mrs. Guest a daily scripture devotion book, and book journal. I wasn't using either and it wasn't a sacrifice to do so. Of course I made more chocolate chips cookies, just to be a brat. I tried, and pray they will be in their own space quickly!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I'm trying

There is a children's song that has as a phrase of it's lyrics, "I'm trying to be like Jesus". I'm trying, and it is a challenge. As I try I often wonder would the Savior have worried about this?

Here's another ramble. We have had extra people stay us many times over the years. Our last guest was the fiance of a friend who was struggling to recover financially after a devastating divorce. His stay lasted about 4 months. He was a delight to have, probably because we rarely saw him, but enjoyed his company when we were able to spend time with him. In those 4 months I did not feel put upon or like I was being conned. He was always straight forward and direct. When he had a setback, he communicated that to us.

We have more "guests". This time I am not feeling as gracious. Recently a woman at church was saying she and her husband had no place to go, would have to sleep in their vehicle, etc... I invited them to stay. I should have consulted with some of the locals folks first. I had seen this woman at church for a couple of months and assumed they had relocated due to one of the hurricanes that ravaged the gulf coast this past year. I assumed they were not local, and I was WRONG.

She has shared with me, some of her life, and yes it's sad, but they have lived in the area for years! I know when one assumes it makes an ass out of "u" and me. The more she tells me the more I want her and her husband and kid to go. I would not have extended the invitation had I known there was a kid. More on the kid later.

I thought it would be for a few days, but those days have turned into weeks. I should have established an exit date when I extended the invitation, I didn't, so now I have to back peddle.

The kid. Mrs. "Guest" has shared that the kid is bipolar and ADHD. Kid is NOT medicated, but on a "formula" that she receives from a "Dr." via the postal service. I don't even know if the "Dr." has ever examined Kid. Kid is also home schooled. I've seen good home schooling and bad home schooling and non-existent home schooling. This falls into the later category.

Kid has very poor social skills with peers. I suspect a hearing loss, and hear a definite speech impediment. Kid has a high laugh that is like fingernails on a chalkboard. As for the ADHD, I suspect poor parenting. Kid sat and watched a 90 minute DVD with us and barely said a word. ADHD kids rarely can do that.

Mrs. Guest has also shared that Kid has been abusive towards her. All the bells in my educator brain are ringing loud and clear, this is not a good situation. My kind and patient and long-suffering husband is not too concerned. I'm writing this as a form of therapy for myself.

Will I develop a backbone? Yes! I don't like to purposely hurt someone's feelings, it's not in my nature most of the time. I know I am being used, I know it needs to stop and I know I'm enabling. I don't like the idea of being an enabler and being manipulated. It all sounds very petty when I see this in print, but I cannot deny what my gut is telling me, but. . .

As long as I'm complaining, I feel as though I'm losing control of my refrigerator! There is more and more of the Guest's stuff and not much room for mine. I think of the story about the Bedouin and his camel in the desert during a dust storm. First the camel asked to have his nose in the tent, then his eyes, followed by his ears, until eventually the Bedouin was in the dust storm and the camel was in the tent.

well, I'm trying to be like Jesus. I've thought of the verse that talks about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Would Jesus have grumbled, probably not.

An Educator Rambles

Welcome to my world

I am educator. Daily I face down 120 plus pubescent people and try to maintain control and assist them in learning. It's a war. My weapons are as follows: my voice, a piece of paper for documenting misbehavior, a walkie-talkie to use in times of emergency, the telephone, email and a face to face discussion. The odds daily are 20+ to one.

Most days I win. Although I tell the students that I always get my way, it's easy for them or hard for them; it's their choice, as a class. I do my best to be fair and honest, to listen and understand, even if I cannot change the situation. I am one of thousands who fight this battle daily, and we're not all winning.

For the most part I have been quite fortunate and have the respect of most of my students. It's that small minority of students who distress not only me, but the majority of others. It is the student with a label who has become the controlling force in the world of public education. The student who has far more legal rights to an education than anyone else. These are the students who because of their labels face few if any consequences for their actions.

Let me clarify I am not opposed to educating students with special needs. In my career I have worked with some wonderful young people who work incredibly hard, and yet just barely pass. Students who come to class, have done their work to the best of their ability, and it falls far short of the expected mark. These hard working young people are phenomenal. These are not the ones of whom I speak .

I am speaking of the student who is a constant disruption to class and yet because this person has "special needs" receives no consequence for their actions. The student who is "mainstreamed" into a regular education class, but cannot read or write. Why? Popular opinion says that I as an educator have not done my job. Let me share a real story about a real student in a real class somewhere here in the US

Adam (not his real name) is in 7th grade, for the second time. Last year he was expelled for bringing weapons to school. He has transferred to my school, in a more upscale neighborhood. He rarely comes to school. When he comes he is late, not 5 or 10 minutes, but 30. He does not bring supplies or books to class. He does not do work. He sleeps or if he is awake steals from the others close by, their pencils, pens, whatever he can get his hands one. He is blatant about it. When caught literally red handed will deny that he took the item he is holding and accuse everyone else of lying.

He will go on to his next class where he on a regular basis verbally abuses the teacher with language a polite person does not use in public. He is removed from class goes for a short alternative placement within the district. In a day or two he may return to begin his behavior again.

Our school is limited in what consequences can be applied to this student because of his educational label. So he remains free to return to class which he does with more freedom, to harass and terrorize more students.

Adam has completed only 4 or 5 assignments this school year, and I am one of the lucky ones for some teachers he has turned in nothing. He will pass this year simply because we don't want to deal with him, any longer.

I pose this question to you the reader, how long should he be retained in a specific grade? Should he be 16 or 17 on a junior high campus? Should he have been retained earlier? How many times should we retain a student who is not learning?

I realize I have rambled, but let me close with this thought. No Child Left Behind is wonderful idea on paper; but I tell you there are students who CHOOSE not to learn. I cannot force them, I can only do my best. My tools are my creativity, knowledge of my subject and my personality. My weapons of defense are my voice, paper, a walkie-talkie.