Sunday, September 28, 2008

Update from the desert

where it continues to remain over 100* despite the date on the calendar. Someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that FALL means is cools down. Or, maybe the rest of the civilized world knows it, and she just forgot about us.

Everyone here is well; the boy with the glass in his head is healing nicely. The scar is visible, but really not too bad. You have to look closely to see it unless he has been out in the sun too much.

Parker is Parker; other than the size of his shoes (which he seems to outgrow weekly) not much changes with him. His grades are really good, he seems to be enjoying playing the Bass and reports to having a 'girlfriend', although he cannot yet define what that means.

Christopher learns new words and phrases daily, and seems to keep the ones that make us laugh the most. He has taken to calling me "Samantha" and says it with such a twinkle in his eye that you just KNOW he is wanting to get a rise out of me. I think he has a bit of a clue just how cute he is, and that could mean hell for us all later on!!! (For example, right now he is sitting next to me singing Joe Jackson - no joke!)

Steve has been busier than usual lately with work, needing to head down to Tucson for a Saturday presentation and that sort of thing. The troubles with the economy have not been kind to school districts and local towns with regard to budget, so he is working harder to make fewer sales right now, but he is certainly not alone there!

School for me continues to be a source of constant turmoil. I was so excited at the start of the year that I had some really great kids and good schedule. I am now teaching a class I never anticipated teaching (6th grade Math) and have been told that I will also start servicing some 1st and 2nd graders. This means I will be "prepping" for (3) 1st grade subjects, (3) 2nd grade subjects, (2) 4th grade subjects, (4) 6th grade subjects, (1) 8th grade and (1) 7th grade subject. I've been told this is the way things go in special ed, to which I reply "Yes, so I see, and this is exactly why I want OUT of special ed!!"

Maybe someday.... maybe someday!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Rant du Jour

I wanted to have a really catchy title for this one. Unfortunately, I have been unable to make a really clean analogy; been unable to get across the exact point I wish to make. What I have so far is this:

NCLB and HQT have done for student for achievement what the Pinto (Gremlin, Crown Victoria, etc) did for passenger safety.

I like the overall analogy, but I am afraid my point will be lost on the majority.

There is nothing new in the notion that education in America is in a crisis situation. We have been here for years. In fact, if memory serves, we were in this crisis when I was in elementary school... and we all know how long ago that was. So, this "crisis" is nothing new.

What is new (thanks, George) is the preponderance of legislation and requirements put forth that are supposed to fix the problem, but in fact make several more layered upon each other.

Legislators seem to think that students are widgets. One blanket regulation, one standardized test will ensure success for all. Unfortunately, the truth is not that simple. Not by a long shot.

NCLB, with its offspring HQT, have, I would argue, NOT improved the quality of the classroom nor of the teacher in that classroom. Case in point: at my school, I have a fantastic math teacher. She is not only well respected by her peers and loved by her students, she has received accolades for her teaching from several organizations, both local and national. By all accounts, THIS woman is the gal you want teaching your child Algebra and Pre-algebra. In fact, for years, she taught the Algebra class in middle school, for high school credit. Heck, one year she even had a class of Trigonometry.

So, what did she need to be a HQT for this job? (And HQT stands for Highly Qualified Teacher, in case your cheat-sheet for educational jargon is on your office desk) Well, she needed to pass about 3 different State tests, have a degree in education and have 15 years of experience under her belt.

This is the kind of person we want in our math classes, is it not? Someone who is passionate, who is talented and who reaches the students? One who has proven herself time and time again that she gets kids to achieve in math...

Ladies and Gentleman of the blog - I'd like you to guess what she is teaching this year.... Go on.... Guess....

No, I am sorry - you guessed wrong... the most highly qualified Math teacher I have had the pleasure of knowing is NOT in fact teaching math this year, but rather Language Arts. No - she did not ask for the move...

Why the change? Because some suit somewhere decided to change the rules in the spirit of improving our classrooms. Some bureaucrat in an office, who has NEVER seen the inside of a public school, decided that we needed another test. One that we give to HIGH SCHOOL teachers. One that focuses on Geometry and Calculus in order for this teacher to teach a class for high school credit... an honor, by the way, we are not mandated to offer (or were not mandated to offer until this spring).

So who has taken charge of those students who were supposed to be in her class? Well, a teacher who passed the test for high school, but whose former school did not have a place for her to return this year (which speaks volumes given the ever-present teacher shortage) and who, by all accounts, is killing her students slowly with an overall lack of enthusiasm and understanding of the middle-schoolers mind.

So, Yes, ladies and gentlemen... Applaud the overabundance of regulations hitting today's teachers like a knife in the back and rest easy because tomorrow's leaders will be so much better prepared than was your generation, or mine....

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Christopher turns 3!!

Chris's actual birthday night was awash is mayhem, and the day had started out with Chris having Croup, so his celebration was put on hold for a week. Not that he knew any different...

We had a family over for cake; their son Asher and Christopher became buddies during the summer at swim lessons... and Chris is just a little bit in love with Asher's little sister, Zoe!!

Some things are better left to the imagination!

Quick update on Matthew; He's doing great! Surgery lasted about 40 minutes, they removed all the glass, he took the rest of that day off, but was back to school on Friday. He can't swim for 10 days and needs to stay out of PE for a week, but other than that, no restrictions. The doctors found not one, but THREE pieces still stuck under the skin. And, because this was a plastic surgeon we saw, she did her best to make sure the scar will be minimal; she removed the old scar tissue from the ER stitches so when all is said and done, we will probably barely see the scar at all!! Many thanks to everyone for their kind words and good wishes!! Even knowing he'd be totally fine, it is still scary when your child goes under anesthesia!

So, now for my daily EEEWWWW discovery! This goes right along with my black-light purchase which revealed just what a prolific marker my male dog really is...He is so good, infact, that I cannot keep up. Being blessed with the nose of a bloodhound, meaning I can smell a poopy diaper from 50yards, it was getting hard for me to walk through the upstairs hallway without holding my breath.

My first thought was to call Stanley Steamer to the rescue. It has only been since May that they were here last- a whole long summer indoors with all the kids has not been kind to my carpets. My second thought was the nearly $400 bill that would go with their visit.

Then it hit me: EUREKA!! My mom has a carpet cleaner!! A nice, loud, Bissel or something - I will borrow hers!!! YIPEE - Money saved, pee-stains soon history!

LOVE the carpet steamer - LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT - its NOT quite as good a professional cleaning, but it does a great job. I cleaned not only the upstairs where the dog's favorite hidden corner is, but the living room, dining room, Steve's office and then the family room rug.

And that is where I was so pleased to have a very strong stomach. OH MY STARS.... I though it was relatively clean because we vacuum the dang thing nearly every day.

MUD. What the cleaner was picking up was absolute mud. It took 4 tanks and several passes to make the gunk being picked up look more like river water than mud, and I was still picking up copious amounts of dirt...

We must be truly filthy people - if not by what we track in, by what we have been living with!! I could have gladly lived all my days and not seen what we pulled from that rug. YUCK!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Update on the boy with the glass head...

Matthew has been a trouper about the gash in his head. He took it easy from PE for a few days, he was brave as can be getting the stitches out, and has been great about letting me put both anti-scar-cream on it as well as copious amounts of sunscreen.

Well, last Monday, he flinched as I was putting the anti-scar-cream on his head. At that moment, I remembered that he had also complained a few times that he thought there was a cut well into his hair line. I'd search and search but found nothing. Except... there was a lump near the scar, above it, just under his hair line.

Oh geez - It couldn't be?? Could it?

Yup - a visit to the doc, plus one to the x-ray lab showed he StILL has a rather large piece of glass IN HIS HEAD!

This led to a meeting with a plastic surgeon (why his ped can't just go get it is beyond me, but he can't so off we go). He will have a short surgery on Thursday, under anesthesia, to remove what is left of the original fishbowl.

Hopefully, THIS will be the last time someone we have to cut into this kid's head!!