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Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Today I took Anderson with me to drop off my ballot and that of my daughter’s. In Oregon, all voting is done by mail so there’s no going to the polls on election day. As my regular readers know, I homeschool Anderson who is in first grade. We’ve been talking about elections and the duties of the President and other government issues. With a first grader, it’s just a “brushing” of the subject, not at all in depth. It’s not in the curriculum but I wanted him to start getting the information; to start to be award of the world around him; to get the idea that voting and participating in his government is a duty.

I don’t know what he thought about it. We got to the drop off point (a library) before they opened so we waited outside along with a growing crowd. When we arrived there were about six other people waiting to turn in their ballot. By the time the doors opened about ten minutes later, there were at least forty people waiting with ballot in hand. I think he got the idea that it was something important. He had watched me fill out my ballot just minutes before we arrived at the library then he saw everyone waiting and then dropping their ballot in the box. His eyes were big. I think ge understood that it was an important thing to do.

That’s all I can do. I can talk to him. I can expose him to the process. His parents don’t watch TV news or discuss politics or even the process. I don’t think his father is even registered to vote. But I can show him; tell him; take him. And then I can hope that it takes!

(I don’t normally post twice in one day but this was on my mind and I figured I would put it out there to get it out of my mind.)

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I was lucky. I had more than my share of wonderful teachers. Of all the teachers I had in seven periods times four years plus some changing at the quarter or semester, there was only one I did not get along with. There was some kind of “reverse chemistry” or bad chemistry between us. I think part of it was that everyone always told her that she was a slightly older version of me and they told me that I was a slightly younger version of her. She was a first year teacher and didn’t like being compared to a student. I think that was part of it. But, I had wonderful teachers who actually believed me over her and went to bat for me so when she tried to fail me, she couldn’t.

The school is on the east side of San Jose in California. It’s now a really bad place to live but in those days, the immediate area around the school was not so great with the outer areas being pretty good, if not great. The school had its share of tough kids. No gangs in those days but definitely groups that didn’t get along with each other. It was not an affluent area, for the most part. The teachers at the school could have jobs at other schools, and other districts in the city, some of them much closer to their homes. But the CHOSE to be there, at that school, with those students. They chose to serve that community and try to teach the kids that weren’t the highest academically. There were a few of us that were above average, but very few. I believe that I was in the group of the first ten students to be accepted at a private university and about the first to get a full academic scholarship. The student body wasn’t made up of shining stars. But the teachers chose to be there, often accepting a salary less than what they could get at an adjacent school district. Why? Because they were dedicated teachers. Their hearts were in the right place…with us! I think that’s why they were so inspiring. At least to me, they were the best. They were the epitome of what a teacher should be. I learned more than academics from them. They changed my life and not a day goes by that I don’t think of one or the other of them.

That’s what teachers should be. I’m glad I was privileged to have so many wonderful examples.

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Yesterday I told you about Mr. Clark, my seventh grade math teacher. He was pretty awesome. Today, I’ll tell you about Rudy Del Rio. Well, he was really Mr. Del Rio and I called him that all the time but with other students, he was Rudy. And when talking about him to students, he was Rudy. I think he got a kick out of the students that called him Rudy. He would kind of “half laugh” when anyone did that. He was a good guy. He taught Civics to the seniors but I was lucky enough to have him for four years of Journalism. He taught me a lot. He inspired.

And up until about five or so years ago, I was still in touch with him even though I graduated from high school in 1974. I still have his email address and I know he lives in Bend, Oregon. I just haven’t had occasion to contact him although I’m thinking I might do so the next time we go to Bend. I think I’ll email him and see if I can have a cup of coffee with him…or more likely a beer because Bend is home to some really good breweries!

I remember him walking into a classroom, always easy going but once in awhile he would have something serious to talk to us about so he would walk in…all five foot zero inches of him…and for some reason, his goatee which made him look super cool on most days, would make him look somber…my mom said he looked evil…and we could do nothing but pay attention and hope it was not one of us that had gotten him upset! Not a big man in stature, he was respected.

I don’t think I would be who I am today if it were not for Rudy Del Rio!

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Home School

Tina has often spoken of wanting me to home school Anderson. In fact, she has done so since he was born. When it was time for kindergarten last year, she kept saying I would do the home schooling, which was fine by me. I even started getting some of the curriculum I would need. Then the next think I heard, she had signed him up for kindergarten at the local elementary. That was fine but it surprised me.

When Anderson started kindergarten he loved school. His is an early start school, beginning at 7:45 AM. It is also the first year of all day kindergarten. He begins at 7:45 and is dismissed at 2 PM. I’ve been in his classroom many times. I volunteer weekly. His classroom looks a lot more like a second grade than a kindergarten. They have no time for art projects so when I go to volunteer, that’s one of the things I do…I pull out two or three kids at a time and do the designated art project with them.

Now let me tell you where the problem gets going. His mom and dad are both night owls. They stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning. They sleep in until 11 or 12. Now when the alarm goes off at 7 to get Anderson up for school, they can’t get up. And because they’ve not been good about a regular bedtime for him, he began to have a lot of trouble getting up at 7. He started to make excuses for going to school. And his parents jumped on those excuses and often did not take him. After the holidays it got so bad that I would drive him one or two days a week and then one other day a parent would take him. The rest of the time, he stayed home.

So she talked about pulling him out and home schooling him. I said that was a good idea but I encouraged them to leave him in school for the remainder of the school year (less than three months). Then I found out that instead of having me home school him, she had enrolled him in an online learning academy that is part of a charter school. They sent him a computer and monitor and all of the text books, manipulatives, and supplies needed. He began this week. But they don’t know how to do the lessons. Although it is an online academy with a teacher, they have to be his “learning coaches”. They were lost in the books and the lesson sequencing. So he did no lessons until today, Wednesday, when I went over and sat with him and did the lessons with him. I was there from 10:30 until 3:30. Tonight I spent about an hour and a half going over all of the lessons scheduled for tomorrow to make sure I know what we’re doing so it goes smoothly and quickly.

So I guess I have a new unpaid job…all day…I get to work with Anderson for school stuff! If I had it my way, they would move everything to my house so he could do it here with me here. That way I could do my own stuff while he works because there are times when he is working on his own for ten to fifteen minutes. That’s long enough for me to wash dishes or write a blog post or…?  We’ll see how this goes and how long it will be before they throw in the towel and take him back to school!

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I am reading a collection of essays that document the teaching career of Luther Siler. It’s called Searching For Malumba. I’ve been reading it for a while because I’ve been using it as kind of an essay a day type of thing and not reading a lot in it. Now that I have finished two books for my reading challenges and it’s not the end of January yet, I am reading a bit more per day in it. It is excellent.

Today I read the essay on Substitute Teachers. It reminded me of my first substitute teaching job…the very first time I walked in to a school office and presented myself as the sub. That’s what I’m going to tell you about today but first, I want to make sure that you know that I don’t disagree with what Luther wrote in his essay. He is spot on. Even that one sub he writes about is someone that I’ve seen while subbing or while I was a classroom teacher and had to request subs. I hope you give Luther’s book a try.

I applied to be a substitute teacher mid year because I needed to supplement my income and because I planned to take some tests to become a classroom teacher and I wanted to sort of “check it out” before committing to more classwork to get my certification. I was in California. At that time, the background check before being allowed to be near kids, included a finger print check that was run by local police, state law enforcement, and federal law enforcement. While the first two didn’t take too long, the federal check took about eight weeks. One morning, around 5:30, I got a call from the Sub Desk asking me to sub at the middle school that morning. I told her that I had not yet been cleared. She said she was aware of it but that they were desperate for subs and I had already been cleared by local and state. (I was also well known in the district because of my then eleven years of volunteering in schools.) So I jumped out of bed and got dressed. I got my kids off to neighbors who would deliver them at their respective schools and I went off to the middle school, which was the same middle school one of my kids attended, and presented myself to the secretary as the assigned sub for Ms. WhatEverHerNameWas. I was given the key to the room and sent off with no lesson plan. Apparently, it was an unplanned absence and there weren’t any plans. The secretary said there was supposed to be a lesson plan book inside the class in the teacher’s desk so just look for it.

It was a seventh grade special ed class. There was no lesson plan book anywhere in the room and the ed assistant would not be there until the second hour of the two hour class period. So I was on my own with fifteen boys varying in degrees of special needs. I had taken a few things with me in my Sub Bag that I could do with them. My Sub Bag had worksheets, tangrams, books, and other sorts of things that would entertain and be educational, should I need them. That day I definitely needed them.

I asked the boys what they had been working on. No one could tell me. Finally I got one boy to tell me, only because he was my neighbor and knew he’d be in trouble if he didn’t cooperate. So we opened the history book and began to do some reading and questions/answers because there was nothing else to go on. The boys began to misbehave, one at a time. I would get one settled and another would begin and as soon as I got that one settled, another would start up. Then, I just did what I had to. I started to call each one by name and remind them that I knew their mothers and fathers and if they didn’t cooperate I was going to tell their Mommas! That worked! It worked enough to the point that only one of the fifteen was acting up by the time the ed assistant came in. That’s when I found out that they were supposed to be taking a standardized test that morning. She couldn’t find the lesson plans either but she did know where the tests were so we quickly started those because we would have just about enough time to take them if we started right away. In the end, the bell rang and we still had about one minute to go on the test so we kept the boys working an extra minute before releasing them.

The rest of the day was fine with the ed assistant there to show me what the other classes were really working on. The other classes were not special ed. I made it through the day and lived to tell the tale. At the end of the day, I headed for Starbucks and bought a $5 gift card for the ed assistant. Not much but a small token of my appreciation because without her, I would not have gotten through that first day.

Note: The teacher, I later found out, had called in for a mental health day because she was at the end of her rope with school and with some family issues.  She had not left a lesson plan, she had her plan book with her at home which she remedied by dropping it off the net day. She was gone for two weeks. I didn’t have to sub for her again because they had enough regular subs and special ed classes usually had special ed subs. Thank goodness for ed assistants!

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1. My all time favorite movie is The Godfather. I love all three in the trilogy but if I had to pick just one, it would be the original one with Marlon Brando as Don Corleone. I’ve loved it since I was in tenth grade when it was released and one of my favorite teachers spent two class periods talking about it.
2. My all time favorite novel is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I saw the movie when it came out. I was about 6 years old and identified with Scout. Then later on, in middle school, I picked up the book and read it for the first of many times.
3. I was born on Christmas day.
4. My middle name is Joy (as in Joy To the World, says my mom).
5. I love to laugh but I don’t do it often enough. I’ll have to work on that.
6. I worked at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, California during the summer of 1976 which was our bicentennial year in the U.S.A. It was a very busy tourist season that year.
7. I met my (ex) husband as part of my work-study in college. He was president of one of the law student organizations and I was one of their part time secretaries.
8. My first job out of college was working for Prudential Insurance at their big historic building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. I was on a team that wrote the brochures describing the benefits (and restrictions) in each policy (known as the Benefits Description Unit).
9. I worked as a teacher aid in a first grade classroom in Santa Monica, California. It was a job that I fell into by accident when I called the school district to volunteer to help in a school and they put me to work as a paid employee!
10. One of the last jobs I had that I truly enjoyed was teaching English to adult non-English speakers in night school. They were there because they wanted to learn so it made it fun. I had some of my own daytime classroom students’ parents and grandparents in my night time class. I wish all students were as willing to learn as those adults were!

To read Ten Things About Me #1, go here.

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coffee2
If we were having coffee this mmorning (oops it’s actually afternoon!), I would want to sit out on the front porch while we enjoyed our drinks. Not because of the view or of the beautiful weather but because it is sunny right now and that’s rare for this time of year here in the furthest northern part of Oregon. It’s not particularly warm out but there is sun. We might need to take a blanket out there while we sit and chat but that’s okay. We would enjoy the sunshine and there is a slight breeze so we would also enjoy the windchimes on my porch.

It has been an interesting week so I might just ramble through our coffee time. I hope you don’t mind. Some of what happened I can’t really discuss because it’s not my situation to discuss, even though it effects me greatly. It was kind of a slow week as my body recuperates from last week’s fall. There’s no damage but the older we get, the more aches and pains we feel after a fall and the longer it takes to get over those aches and pains. So my knee, I think, is back to normal but my back is really, really, not. It seems that I can’t sit or stand or walk or anything, without it hurting. That’s not good. I can’t even sleep for more than an hour or so without waking from the pain. Oh well, maybe just another few days of this before it’s done with me? I can hope.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been feeling kind of paralyzed this week when it comes to creating. That’s frustrating because my special magic word for the year is Create. I’m sure it’s because of all the aches and pains but I don’t want it to become a habit. I need to do some creating. I need to. Need. Not want. Need. I think you’d understand.

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you that I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog. I’m kind of thinking that I should have a particular kind of post for each day. Like maybe a “memoir Monday” or a “Tuesday Thoughts” or “Wordy Wednesday” (kind of my rebellion to Wordless Wednesday where I could post a very wordy piece). Can you tell I’m into alliteration? That would remind me of the week I tackled teaching alliteration and onomatopoeia to my third graders. The alliteration was easier for them to understand but they had a problem with onomatopoeia. I ended up bringing in a VHS tape (this was in the late days of VHS, around 2000) with the 60’s Batman show. They loved it and with all of the Bam! Whack! Splat!, etc., they were finally able to understand the concept and use it successfully. I was glad that my classroom was one of those portable ones located in the far reaches of the school yard where the sound of the TV didn’t get the attention of anyone but my class! And then I would tell you that I really miss teaching.

If we were sitting out in the sun having our coffee, I would have to grab my sunglasses. That would remind me of the other day when I had the boys with me. I had brought them both home in my car after taking them to McDonalds to play in the playland (which we ended up not doing because it was the Monday holiday and there was no room for any more kids or nanas in the place so we ate our food in the outer dining area and came home). There were a few breaks in the clouds which had me put on my sunglasses while I drove home. When we got home, we came inside and I forgot to switch the prescription glasses for my regular glasses. I got Anderson situated and put Spencer down for his nap and then I told Anderson that I would be right back because I needed to go get my regular glasses from the car. He said, “Yes, Nana. You go get your other glasses because I can’t see you when you wear the sunglasses!” I cracked up. He’s four but I know he meant that he couldn’t see my eyes when I had the sunglasses on. When I came back inside wearing my regular glasses, he said, “Let’s see Nana” so I looked at him and he smiled and said, “Yay! I can see you now!” I thought it was interesting that he equated not being able to see my eyes with not being able to see me. Hhm. It’s kind of true, isn’t it? If we can look into someone’s eyes, we can see who they are, regardless of who they say they are!

If we were having coffee, I would have finished my second cup by now. I would head inside for more and offer you some more, if you could stay a bit longer. If not, that would be fine. But if you could stay, I would probably keep talking about my kids. “My kids” meaning not only my own and my grandchildren but also the kids I’ve taught. They all became my kids when they walked through the door on the first day of school and I still think about them and wonder what they are up to now.

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you learned a little about me and I hope to see you again for another cup of coffee. Maybe I’ll look for something special in the coffee aisle this week so I’ll have it ready for you next week!

This is a part of #weekendcoffeeshare hosted by Parttimemonster. They are really fun to write and more fun to read. Head over to her page and click on the blue link at the end of her post for a list of other bloggers who are participating. Check throughout the weekend as we do them at whatever time we have available through the weekend so there are new ones popping up all day Saturday and Sunday. Why don’t you join us? Give it a try!

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