Friday, May 28, 2010

No parent should have to go through this

This has been one of the most heartbreaking, depressing weeks of my life. Monday I got a message from the father of one of my best friends from high school. Her 1-year-old baby girl had passed away on Saturday. When I heard the message, my heart jumped into my throat and the tears started to flow. Why did this beautiful baby girl leave this world so soon? After getting myself together, I called him back. It turned out that while giving her a bath, her father stepped out of the bathroom for a minute to get something. You can probably figure out the rest.

Amber and I were very close in high school and beyond. She was a bridesmaid in my first wedding. She was the first one there when I was going though my divorce. She and I were out together the night that I ran into my husband and danced with him for the first time. We've grown apart, as friends often do, over the past several years. She moved to North Carolina a few years ago. She's always held a special place in my heart, though. She and her family moved back from North Carolina in October. While we talked a little on Facebook, we never took the time to get together to reconnect. I'd never met her two small children, and she'd never met Maya. I thought to myself often that I needed to arrange a get-together, but never got around to it.

Time and distance don't matter. When you love someone, whether they are family or friend, they will always hold a special place in your heart. The death of my friend's precious baby girl reminded me of that. I love my friend, and the pain and grief that she's suffering right now hurts my heart more than I could have imagined. I spend time every day hugging my beautiful baby girl, thanking God for her while at the same time mourning for my friend who will never again get to hold her baby girl. Life is so fleeting. No parent should have to suffer what my friend is suffering right now. I just pray that she will find peace.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The dumbing down of our education system

I went to a training today on how to add rigor to an AP course. It was a total yawner, but it got me out of the classroom for a day. I know that sounds terrible, but once in a great while, I like to be able to leave my loving heathens in the care of a capable grown-up and converse with all adults for a day. Anyway, this woman putting on the training is from DC and has a PhD in who-knows-what. She had some okay ideas, I guess. What really got me, though, was when she started talking about "intervention plans" for kids who weren't quite up to par. I have no problem with giving kids extra help when they need it. However, here are her ideas, in a nutshell:

1. If a child has a low average, failed a test, didn't turn in an assignment, etc., have a "red flag" and conference with that student (you know, during that mythical extra time that every teachers has).
2. Come up with some plan to help prop kiddo up, whether it be retest, corrections, etc.
3. If a kid doesn't turn in a homework assignment, conference with him or her and allow that student to turn in the assignment at a later date. Here's the kicker: GIVE THE KID FULL CREDIT!
4. If the kid still doesn't turn in the assignment(s) by the summative assessment (aka test), no longer accept the assignment. However, don't give the kid a zero; give the kid a 50. WHAT?!?!?!??!?!

It was at #4 when she lost me and every other teacher at my table. Are you f-ing kidding??? So if I choose to not show up to work, or not bother to teach, do I get 50% of my paycheck? I was appalled. And you know what? This is the direction in which my district is trying to go! We have some lovelies in upper administration who eat this BS up, and are planning to try to force us to implement it. Kids are already entitled and lazy. We want to teach them responsibility by rewarding them for not taking responsibility for their laziness? I think not!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The scare

Being a woman sucks sometimes! Once a year, we have to visit our special doctor and endure being invaded and poked to check for problems only endured by our gender. After that quick visit, we usually don't have to even think about it for another 364 days. We don't expect "that" call. For the past month and a half, I've been in a constant state of apprehension. I got the news that my pap smear came back "abnormal" and I tested positive for HPV. My first reaction was "I'm going to kill Matt!" It can stay dormant, though, for years, so I quickly recanted my threat. Evidently 8 in 10 women will have some form of HPV in their lives, and while this made me feel a little better, it still isn't a diagnosis I wanted.

I went in for yet another invasion last week, and this time the doctor looked at my cells. She saw a spot or two that concerned her, so she removed tissue from my cervix to send in for biopsy. Ouch! I can'I've waited for 8 long days, and finally received the results today. I have no pre-cancerous cells!!! Relieved doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling. While I know pre-cancerous doesn't mean cancer, and even if it did develop into cancer, cervical cancer is extremely treatable, it's scary nonetheless. All I have been able to think about is my children. I can't fathom not seeing them grow up. They are my world, and I can't leave this world without seeing them develop into mature, beautiful adults with families of their own. Silly, huh, to worry myself so much? Oh, well, I feel so very fortunate at this point. St. Patty has spread some of his luck my way. :-)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Be careful what you wish for!

On my blog yesterday, I asked the universal powers for one more day added to the weekend. So what did I get? One more day added to my weekend. Unfortunately, that additional day is courtesy of Maya getting sick again. So my brown-eyed girl feels icky and I have to use yet another sick day. I have literally worked one full week since we came back from Christmas break, between district holidays, doctor's appointments, and snow days. My goal was to build up a nice stash of personal days. It looks like that won't be happening anytime over the next, what, 18 years? And why is it that it's always the mommy who has to stay home when the kid gets sick? I actually wouldn't mind so much if Matt could just transfer some of his personal days to me. I love that idea. I wish I could make that happen. Hey, powers-that-be, can I get a little help with that request?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Can we slow down the rotation a bit?

I need more time in my day! Seriously, if I could get just a few more hours in a day, it would make all the difference in the world. Even better, if we could add one more day to the weekend, my universe would be much more peaceful. My house is never as clean as it should be, I don't cook often enough, I definitely don't get enough sleep, and I'm always behind on grading. This whole "working mother" gig is getting tough!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

THIS is why I teach

Teaching is often said to be a thankless job. In my 7 years of teaching, I've found that on many, many occasions, that is the truth. I can't count the number of times, especially over the past year or two, that I've questioned my career choice. Why didn't I listen to Dad and go to law school?? I won't go into the various BS that I encounter on a regular basis, as this post will then turn into a novel.

I had a couple of moments today, though, that make it all worthwhile. As I was lecturing today, one of my girls piped up and said, "History is easy. Mrs. Summers, you're such a great teacher. You make it so easy to understand. I get it when you teach it." I fumbled out a "thank you" and continued, all the while inside glowing. Then in another class, as class was starting, a boy out of the blue said "Mrs. Summers, you're a good teacher." I looked at him sideways, not sure if he was being a smart ass or genuine. I jokingly asked him what he wanted, and he said "Nothing, I'm serious. I don't say things that I don't mean." I have no idea what prompted this, but I quietly thanked him and moved on.

I am not the best teacher in the world. I could put more preparation into my lessons and try to do more things to address multiple learning styles. I could aim to make my classroom more learner-centered and try to engage the kids more. I feel like I do a sufficient job, but sometimes I lose motivation. Moments like the ones today, though, are exactly what I need. I don't need "merit" pay. A simply "job well done" from a kid goes a lot farther than extra money. That's what lawmakers don't understand. Throwing bonuses at teachers doesn't work to improve teaching, because we didn't get into the profession for the money in the first place. I don't know how to solve all of the problems that are plaguing our educational system. I do know that supporting teachers should be a top priority. Perhaps if we get the support we need to improve our teaching, we might get more moments like the ones I had today. Because for teachers who really want to be in the classroom, those moments are what make all the difference in the world.

Monday, February 15, 2010

oven fires and income tax

So our oven caught on fire last night (in case you missed it on facebook or the message board). I was attempting to bake some chocolate muffins, and as the oven was preheating, I wandered past and noticed a glow coming from the oven. Did I bump the oven light by mistake? As I flicked the light switch on and off, lo and behold, the glow was still seeping out. I opened the door, and there was a very bright glow, sparks, and a small flame coming off of the bottom heating element. Eeek! I turned off the oven and called for Matt, trying to keep my voice calm so as to not alarm CJ, who happens to be terrified of fire. We tried the fire extinguisher to no avail. We tried baking powder with no luck. Finally Matt turned on the overhead fan and it went out on its own, but not before melting the heating element into two pieces. So now we're on the search for a new range. UGH! There are much more fun things that I can think of to spend $500 on!

We went today to get our income taxes done. Maya girl was a typical toddler the whole time. Who can blame her? Hell, I wanted to start throwing a tantrum, it was taking so long! Good news? We're getting back twice what we expected! We are totally stoked. Unfortunately the money's already been "spent." We'll lock our house taxes for next year away in a savings account (damn it, why didn't we escrow?), buy our new range, and fix the leak in our roof. None of that is very fun! Oh, well, I guess we have to pretend to be responsible adults. :-(