Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Can I Learn in 31 Days?

This is my second year slicing and because I appreciated the frequent comments from several slicers last year I volunteered to be part of the welcome wagon.  This affected my slicing in a couple of ways.
First it narrowed my focus.  I began to feel like I knew “my” slicers and appreciated their writing more because of it. Last year I kept wishing I had a way to remember who was who.  The welcome wagon also made me feel that commenting was just as important as slicing.  Several days I posted quite late due to my welcome wagon responsibilities. 
 I also realize how insecure I am with my writing.  I’m learning to be a better teacher of writers, but I’m a very new writer.  As I look back on some of my first posts last year I remember how insecure I felt slicing.  My insecurity was strong as I tried to find a way to encourage these amazing writers; I’m a Young 5’s teacher for heaven’s sake! These people know writing! They teach big kids, they wrote for their school newspapers?  But I also know that everyone needs feedback so I commented on days that it took me longer to form a comment than it did to write my own post.
I also realized I still shy away from writing fresh emotions.  I think I need to start these posts as drafts, so I remember what I wanted to write about and then return to the topic when my emotions are lessened.  I guess that's how I'll write the post about my friend Mary's retirement announcement.
It’s been an amazing week.  Thanks Stacy and Ruth for the experience.  See you on Tuesday!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tow Truck

“Wish me luck” he said as he once again pulled on his heavy work coat and pants.  “Have the checkbook ready” came over his shoulder as he shut the door.
We had heavy winds last night and a limb had fallen in our yard.  He’d wrestled it into the truck as I started lunch.  The golf course, now being converted to a corn field had a huge pile of brush so it was easy to toss the limb on the pile. 
Curiosity buried the truck, up to its wheels.  For the past 30 years he’s played at least 4 times a week all summer long.  He loved those 27 holes of green, the river, trees and sand traps.  Now it’s all been torn out to become a corn field, just as it had been 50 years ago.  We’ve watched the bulldozers create huge piles of brush and trimmings after the loggers harvested the tall trees.  After he left the log on the fire he drove down by the river to see all the changes, to say goodbye to summer fun and memories.
Our winter had been very mild and the ground wasn’t frozen.  He walked back to get a shovel and wheelbarrow.  A second trek back to the mud even with much shoveling was not successful.  As I served a late lunch he called the tow truck.  The tow truck gave him a ride down the hill to his truck.
As he rode away, I let loose the laugh I’d swallowed at lunch as his frustrated sigh, “There wasn’t really anything to see down there anyway.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Waiting Room

When our son was in seventh grade he fell at football practice and had an incredibly nasty broken arm.  My husband was traveling for work, he was in Hawaii and no return flights were available until the next day.  I was on my own in the hospital with a young son in terrible pain.
I'm not good with blood.  I actually passed out once when I saw I'd bruised my leg but in my defense it was a BIG bruise.  The emergency room made me queasy.  I sat in the examnation room with Brad, I kept putting my head down hoping I wouldn't faint.  When the impatient orthopedic surgeon  told me to hold my son's injured arm so he could swab it to see if there was bacteria on the protruding bone I answered, "no, you don't want me doing that."
"Why not?" he asked in what I later learned was his usual brusk voice.
"I'll hurt him when I faint" I softly answered.  I think the pallor of my face must have alerted him to my discomfort and he summoned a nurse.
After putting the arm back in place Brad was taken to surgery to put plates in his arm. Friends were with our young daughter, but I was alone at the hospital.
When the surgery started I was so relieved to have my good friends come up to sit with me.  Then my brothers came and next my mom and dad.  The surgery was finished late in the evening, I prepared to move down to the hospital room to spend the night with our son.  As my family headed out the door my dad, a practical man came over and handed me a couple of twenties, he knew I was overwhelmed  and he wanted to make sure the concrete things would be taken care of.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Reading Rodeo

Today we had a half day of school and our wrap up event for March is Reading Month.  Our theme for the month was Reading Rodeo.  We had many volunteers, and donations from the community, the entire school was able to go to a local riding arena where our students got to milk a goat, see and touch a steer and try on all the equipment of a bronco rider.  We even got to meet some bronco riders.  We also had a snack and milk, got to see a saddle and pet some horses.  The event also included learning to throw a lasso, and practicing on several roping dummies and a barrel race on stick ponies. 

Because it was a half day of school the field trip form clearly stated no lunch was necessary.  Ally came with a lunch.  I quickly called her dad to confirm that today was a half day of school, and he should plan on 11:55 dismissal. Early dismissal days are often confusing and I didn’t want her sitting in the office with the poor school secretary all afternoon.  I told her Dad I’d put her lunch back in her backpack so she could enjoy it at home if he wanted.  Dad insisted the form said she needed a lunch.  I replied “The top sheet explained, we had a half day, I just wanted to make sure you planned to pick her up at our early dismissal time.”  “But the paper said she needed a lunch.”    I wasn’t willing to engage in an argument over it, “We’ll see you at 11:55,” I tried to finish the conversation.   “But the paper said she needed a lunch.”  I interrupted him “So you’re planning to pick her up.  Great!  We’ll see you then.”

As I unpacked Ally’s folder, I found the Title One survey we’d sent home at conferences.  As I scanned his survey   I noticed some of his comments were about wanting better communication with the school.  Hmmm, maybe if he’d read his communications?

At the end of the day I pulled out Ally’s signed permission slip, I highlighted the spots stating no lunch was needed.  Then I left it on the table.  I don’t need to win this argument, but if he brings it up again, I’ll have my proof in hand.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Dreadful Question

Why do parents expect if their child is doing well in school that they will be bored?  When I tell parents how well their child is doing, they almost always come back with, “do you think she/he will be bored next year?” 
I usually reply that when a child knows how to read and write and has the basic math skills they will find many ways to apply and use the exciting knowledge they’ve gained.  I’m quite proud when I answer in this way, because what I really want to do is quote one of my education professors who said “I’m bored” should be translated into “this is really hard and I’m scared.” 
Two more conferences tomorrow and then I’m on spring break.  And no, I won’t be bored!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Grandma Mona

Grandma Mona is a retired low-income woman.  She is placed in my room by the Foster Grandparent program.  She is paid a small hourly rate, a free school lunch and under the program her income does not affect her low income housing.  She has worked in my primary classroom for the past 16 months. 
Mona is a cancer survivor, but in the past month she has been diagnosed with an incurable bone cancer.  Initially she planned to continue to work 4 days each week.  She called today, after being gone two weeks to say she’s not returning this year.  She has realized the toll the treatments are taking on her body and a classroom filled with 23 five year-olds is not a relaxing place to spend a day.
I’m ashamed to say I’m almost relieved.  While I really appreciate the help she’s able to give my children I dreaded needing to discuss the death when her situation worsened.  I’ve come to realize by calling her “Grandma” the children make a link to their own families and I really don’t want to discuss death with a 5 year old. 
Now I need to decide how to continue to reach out and support this woman whose life has left her in a precarious financial situation.  Her situation makes me realize how vulnerable ill health makes the low income person.