Friday, May 28, 2010

Ready, Aim, Text!

Here's another couple of comments on education.  I accompanied my adopted daughter to high school today because I was very concerned about some of her behaviors.  Maybe every parent should do this, because even though I taught junior high last year, I have lost touch with what's happening in elementary and high school, and I was very surprised at the changes. Mind you, this is the second to last week of school, so I realize student behavior relaxes even though most teachers try to run business as usual.  One of the problems I noticed was that so many students came into class with the Ipod earphones in their ears.  They probably think the teachers don't notice because they are so small and the wires can run down the insides of their shirts.  There is still debate as to whether students can really concentrate well doing homework while listening to music or watching tv, or both, let alone concentrating on what they are supposed to be listening to and learning in the classroom while Lil' Wayne is blaring in their ears.
Also, many of the students had cellphones and Blackberries that they kept right on their desks--in plain sight! A girl sitting next to me was either texting, e-mailing, or surfing the web through an entire class.  Another one of the teacher's informed her class that all cell phones needed to be turned off during a computer-based test they were taking.
Furthermore, my daughter wanted to show up to school almost an hour early because she wanted to go to the computer lab.  Although the posted rules state that there is to be no downloading, e-mailing, chatting, gaming, or running off copies, the students were doing it. 
Maybe these new methods of communication are so widespread, with both students and parents that don't see anything wrong with them, that teachers have given up (or have had to give up) enforcing the rules against these technologies within the classroom.
In the junior high I worked at last year, cell phones, Ipods, Blackberries, etc, were not to be visible, and if teachers saw them, we were to confiscate them, so students didn't blatently use them,   Even so, I still had students who stayed sleepy all day because, as they bragged, they had been up all night texting, gaming, or surfing the web.  I think most students think teachers are really dry and boring in comparison with all these new inventions.  If anything kills education, it will probably be a combination of texting, Ipods, and fingertip access to the web.  Who knows what they will invent next--but I'm sure it won't have educational value.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Take out your binkie and read!

I went to a wonderful Saturday market whose review you can link up to at  There were some great bargains and ideas there and among other things I found a sweet vintage children's book called My Picture Book of Songs by Dalton, Ashton, and Young. And, yes, I committed the sacrilege of cutting the book up to make a journal.  I found an awesome 30 page blank journal at my local Big Lots for $2.00, and reinforced the binding with waxed linen thread.  Then, I chose a book of craft papers that I felt went along with the books colors and childhood themes, some lettering ephemera, glue and scissors and took it all outside and put together what I call a "conversation book" for a little boy.  Each page has a picture, a scrap of music, and a bit of lined paper on which the parent and child can add text, little photos, or clip art.  My hope is that the book would become a favorite because it can be personalized, and there are many subjects within to talk about. I'm going to give it away at a shower for a baby boy.  I hope he and his parents get many hours of pleasure from it, and that his comments written in it will make for good memories.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Teachers are angels, too

As a teacher, I have been very interested in the case of Tonya Craft who was accused of molesting some of her female kindergarten students.  In the two years since the police became involved, she has lost her house, her career, and worst of all, her son and her daughter.  Tonya was finally found innocent on all 22 charges against her.  She will need to win her children back from state custody, though.  This case is very frightening.  Mrs. Craft reminds us that the control of our lives is not always in our own hands.  At any time, someone, anyone, can say that you have done something illegal.  As I have found out in working with the state in the case of our adopted daughter who is in therapeutic foster care outside of our home, and as in the Craft case, child abuse and molestation cases are acted upon first, then investigated, not investigated and then acted upon.
Although I can clearly see the reason for swift action in protecting children, you wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a false report.  Over my many years as a teacher, there have been a few children who have gotten angry at me and have gone home and told their parents that I have said this or that or did this or that
when in reality I had not.  A  boy handed me a note from his mother once that stated in no uncertain terms that "I was never to touch her boys head again or action against me would be taken."  I had no idea as to what instance the note was referring.  "When did I touch your head?" I asked the boy.  "Oh, you didn't," he said. "Another teacher called me a good boy and messed up my hair with her hands."  All I could do was shake my head and walk away.  The note had really scared me, and it wasn't even for me, and the age-old habit of the elderly to mess up your hair while giving a compliment was now the act of a villain!
 I have a secondary education degree, but way before I got that I worked in a fabulous high school.  During college, I worked in an elementary school.  Both had their share of problems, but my experiences there were great overall.  For the five years I have had my degree, I worked in junior high.  And as you may have already read in my profile, I am taking "a rest."  Just a few years after spending so much on a degree, I already have a tic, or two, or three.  It is as though I have emerged  from the trenches of a war in which I daily dodged drastic dangers (see, I'm an amusing teacher who even knows how to use alliteration!).  These dangers involved kids who made hit lists and brought knives and guns to school, but worst of all, would not hesitate to accuse a teacher of saying or doing the wrong thing to stay out of trouble or to get revenge. 
I hope Mrs. Craft is able to restore the mess that has been made of her life.   Teachers that have done evil against children need to be prosecuted, but angels who love children enough to work as teachers for less than my daughter makes from her monthly restaurant tips are needed in our schools without the constant fear that at any moment their world could come crashing around their ears.  If you have any doubts as to how difficult it is to teach, I challenge you to substitute a day or two at your local junior high.  Don't call me from jail, please.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to me...I mean us!

  As I told you in my past post, The Lovely Bones, Another Side of Jo, I had a pretty rocky childhood.  My birth mother left my father, sister, brother, and I when I was six. We won't even go into the bad parenting and other events that led up to her abondonment!  I didn't get to know her again until the birth of my second child, when I was twenty-four.  I always worried about how I was going to know how to be a mother when I didn't have that early example.  Let me tell you, it wasn't easy!!!
    Some of the hints and tips I learned along the way from advice, suggesstions, and the very cruel school of hard knocks were these:
*Unconditional love: I never felt it from a mom, and, therefore, wanted it desperately.  It only figured that this was something I should make sure I gave my children.  I love them NO MATTER WHAT.  Yes, Antonio, I still love you although "I can never keep nice things in this house!"
*Security: I probably overdid this for them as we never moved from the house they were born in until my son was able to buy it for himself and his cute little wife.  I worked at the same place throughout their childhood--a church school at which I was a teacher and they were my students (they weren't going to get away from me that easily!!!)  They knew that there was going to be food on the table daily, fresh, clean towels in the linen closet, and a place to lay their heads at night.  It is hard enough worrying about all that as an adult, so children should not have that day-to day worry.
*Consistency:  The Simpson's were off-limits from the time they were small until they were old enough to understand the satire and actually use vulgarities on their own without the threat of pepper on their tongue from me.  That is just an example to say that I set the rules of my house because I was the boss, and my children were not the boss O' me. I think despite their screams of  "Everybody gets to do it," they appreciated the limits and boundaries that were set and this added to their feelings of security and unconditional love, also.
*  Letting them go at the apporpriate time:  This was a toughie, especially because at least two of them lingered at home for awhile.  I was a strict mom.  I took them to church, taught them right from wrong; gauged carefully what they would and would not be exposed to or allowed to do under my roof, etc. 
BUT, when the time came, I had to see if I trusted that I had done all I could and now they have to do it on their own.  Guess what?  They are all successful, good citizens of the United States, and most of all, they give me that unconditional love that I so hungered for throughout my life

Saturday, May 1, 2010

We're all mad here!

The French Cupboard's Simply Mad about Alice's blog party was held at .
I am planning an "unbirthday" for all my whacky friends and here are a few of the party items that I hope they will enjoy.  You can purchase these items at  If  you don't find what you want, convo me for amounts, colors, themes, etc.
The various queens at my party can choose a pointy princess hat (they are "hennins", but who really calls them anything but "pointy princess hats?) or a sparkly crown proclaiming that she is the biggest pain of all.

Each guest will be given a wand in order to make each impossibility in their lives a possibility.

I will be wearing a mask and offering everyone else one, too.  Why?  Because we're all mad here!