Monday, September 25, 2006

I (And Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats) don't like Mondays.

So today was one of those days where flipping burgers sounds like an amazing job....

Although I haven't been sharing with you, my exponentially growing readership, the small success happening in my program, they have been happening. Students have been getting work done. Some very basic level learning is transpiring. We got a full sized refridgerator, allowing me to keep all our lunch leftovers for my homeless student. Said homeless student has not quit-- that in and of itself is cause for a party! But Mondays in my program-- it just sucks the life right out of you. Which is not a recommended way to start the week.

I started the day at the high school (we are about half a mile away from the school, in the basement of a social service agency) meeting with the school nurse about a new student. Turns out the medical issue is way more severe than I was originally lead to believe, and time was spent at a hospital treating symptoms. The important detail in all of this is the student knows how to treat the condition, and blatently chooses not to. Needless to say, I left that meeting in a bit of a panic about my ability to keep the ambulance away.

When I arrived, half an hour after the students, tensions were running high. I think there was a party this weekend, and something may have happened, or they were all still hungover and sleep deprived this morning. One got ticketed for public drunkeness for the second time in as many weeks. You get the general gist. Getting work out of them on a good day is hard work on the teaching staff: today, I looked to them like I was coming at them with bamboo shoots and pliers.

Lots of grumbling followed. I mean LOTS. "I hate this stupid place." "I'm quitting. I don't care anymore!" "I wanna go back to the high school and get out of this basement you've locked me in." (I have edited for language, this being a family blog.) I can handle all that. It's tiring, but expected. I mean, these kids hate school the way I hate raking leaves. When they started throwing peanuts at each other, however, I knew I was in over my head.

I was able to keep the 2 kids everyone else hates from getting beat on, and the 5 kids that hate the 2 from causing any physical damage. Emotional, well.... the ship has already sailed on that one. But it took a lot out of me. How do I change this pattern? What can I do to be proactive and create positive habits that lead to a Harry-Wong-would-be-proud Highly Effective Classroom? Sadly, I have no new tools in my box waiting to be tried out. This is what I got: I love these kids, and I truly want to see them get their acts together and graduate. Not much, is it, but I guess we'll have to figure out a way too make sure it's enough.

But first, I need a nap....

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Ahh, the first weekend of the school year. You could feel the collective relief in my home, from all four of us. My husband teaches middle school science, and our children are in third and first grades. We were all excited to not be tied to bedtime when making dinner, finishing a conversation, or choosing that after dinner beverage. And then-- pure Heaven-- to sleep on Saturday until we awoke... no alarms, no pressing place to be... yes, weekends are where it's at.

This week was also the first week of school for my nephew. He lives far, far away from us, so our only way to be a part of his life is to use modern technology. We called yesterday, and I asked him how the first week went. "It was pretty good, but we have some days off now. That's a good thing, because I sure could use a break!" It doesn't take long to learn about the wonder that we call The Weekend, does it? Five days of school and he's ready for some time away. Aren't we all, dear child, aren't we all! It takes a lot of energy to get through the mechanics of a school day, never mind the academics! Buses, rules, lunch money, desks and cubbies, pencil sharpeners, bathroom use protocols, new friends and teachers.... and that's in the first 15 minutes! I get overwhelmed by it all, and I've been attending school since 1975.

The weekend allows us all some much needed think time. It's a chance to take a little pause in pushing our brains to the edge, to let the week's information settle in and become a part of us. To think about what went right, and what went wrong, and how to make it all a little bit better in the coming week. It's a chance to be unscheduled for a few days, taking the moment as it comes. To cuddle on the couch as a family, staying up late watching a movie and eating from the communal bowl of popcorn. Yes, a break is a very good thing.