Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's the most... wonderful....time... of the year

The boys, Steve and I are thrilled...after much deliberation, much back and forth, Grandma & Grandpa made it out to Arizona!  Warren has been suffering from not-quite-ideal health lately, and has been in and out of the hospital.  It looked as if they would not make it this year.  We were extremely disappointed, but certainly understood.  How awful it would be to feel poorly out in the middle of nowhere - the drive takes them 4 days, and much of it is through the most desolate landscapes.

Then, one day last week, we got a surprise phone call; they were in Missouri and on their way here!!  The boys did the happy dance, and waited with anxious anticipation for Tuesday when we presumed we would see them...

The first thing Christopher did when he saw them was to run away into the living room.  He can be a bit shy at first, and it still takes him time to warm up, but that was not why he ran away - he brought with him the picture they had sent to us for Christmas.  He looked at the picture, then at them and proclaimed "IT'S YOU!!!"  He then broke into a huge grin and gave them both monster-hugs.

The best part about having Grandma & Grandpa here are times like this photo.  Snuggling together, talking, getting to know each other, and, of course, having someone to share popcorn with.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

So much for trying...

Those students I mentioned in my last post?  The one where we got buy-in from the parents to seek alternative placement?  The ones who are so unbelievably below grade level that it is painful to watch them try to maneuver their regular education environment without hitting landmines?  The district denied our request to seek alternative placement.  "Just service them in the classes they already have". 

Insert something profane, and a good eye-roll here.

I've said it more than once, that if I actually enjoyed arguing and fighting, I would quit teaching and go become an advocate.  It is situations just like this, where, in order to save money, someone asks a square peg to fit into a round hole.  Rather than having the program meet the needs of the child, we ask the child to meet the limitations of the program.  It's not fair, it is not right, and yet, unless someone is willing to stand up and bring a pack of lawyers with them, it happens.  So much for INDIVIDUAL education.  Even in Special Ed, its a packaged deal a lot of the time.

Of course, I, as a district employee, am not allowed to tell the parent what I really think, which is that they are getting the run-around, and that things might change to the benefit of their children if they were to hire an advocate.  I'm not allowed to say that I disagree vehemently with those in decision-making power that these students can be successful where they are.  I'm not allowed to say anything other than the party line.

So,  I come here to vent - and hopefully bring just a little bit of justice into the world for kids who cannot advocate for themselves.   And, if nothing else, help those who can't speak up because either they don't have the lingo down or whatever, find a voice amid the red tape.

Friday, February 05, 2010

a better day

It's Friday - how can the day be bad?  Well, wait - don't answer that.  I am not one who enjoys tempting the Fates.

But today was, at the very least, NOT a bad day, and that is something.  I think it helped that I took a 1/2 day off. 

I had two meetings today, rather BIG ones, about some students and am pleased that they both went well.  I had prepared well, had all my ducks in a row if you will, and cranked through them.  Both meetings were productive; one student who desperately needs an attitude adjustment (as well as a behavior plan) got it, and we got the blessing from a parent to seek out alternative placements for her son who is smart enough to be successful but is performing at astonishingly low levels.  He basically is gathering nothing at all from school, and as I put it to the mom, it is not as much that he is failing school as it is that school is failing him.  We've tried it; its broke.  Time to fix it.  I was anticipating at the least hesitation, but she was fully on board, and I believe finding an alternative place for this student will go SO far in allowing him to reach his potential.  So - good day at work.

I was able to be home early enough for the boys when they walked through the door on an early release day.  I hate the thought of them being home until I get home from work, since it can be as much as a 3 hour wait for them.  My house hates it too; yesterday I came home to a complete disaster, ala category 2 hurricane.  They went to a neighbors not long after getting home, and this allowed me to go on a nice long bike ride.  (Ok, it felt longer than it was - 30 minutes.)  I went to the office supply store, purchased resume paper, hit the bookstore, and then went to get Squirt.  Always the highlight of my day is walking into the school cafeteria where they have "Kids Klub" afterschool, to see him running toward me, grinning widely, arms outstretched with my greeting..."Mooommmeeeeeeeee".  Melts my heart and puts all the garbage that I may have endured during the day into startling perspective.

We found out yesterday that Parker was selected to play in the Majors for Little League this year.  If you are a LL mom, you get that - HUGE deal for a 10 year old, and he is both terrified and terrifically excited all wrapped up into one.  His team is the Red Sox, and you KNOW that makes this momma pleased as punch.

Then there is Matthew... So here's the deal with this kiddo.. he is amazingly bright.  He walks around here (and school) like the absent minded professor, but he has understanding of things and insights that no 9yr old should possess.  His teacher and I laugh, because he is reading at nearly a 7th grade level, but he HATES to read and NEVER meets his reading goal for the quarter.  We've had the 'talk' about how he is wasting the gifts he as been given if he is not reading and just wait, something will spark your interest.. nearly everything but standing on our head, to get him to read. 

Nothing.  Nada.  No thanks, Not interested.

He did express interest in seeing the new Percy Jackson movie coming out, and he knows my rule - if there is a movie that was made from a book, we read the book first.  The Lightening Thief is long.  L.O.N.G, long.  He showed a kernel of interest, then abruptly lost it again at the size of the book.  But then, I had an AHA moment - AudioBook!!

After debating with Steve as to the virtues vs. the 'cheat' factor of audiobooks, we decided to try it. Matthew has the book, and is listening to is as he reads.  I figure, his eyes are still reading the words, and he can read a lot faster at this stage having a professional reader read it to him, and he does not have to stop and try to pronounce words he does not know... a win-win for Matthew...

He has it all planned out - its a 10 hour audio book;  he can 'read' for an hour or two each day and will have the whole thing finished in about 2 weeks.

Most newsworthy of it all... he LOVES the book!!  YaaaHooo - I think we may finally have found the HOOK to get him reading!!!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Becoming Zen

I had a much needed massage this weekend.  It began with a headache that lasted for 5 days, and a desperate call into the massage place.  "Sweedish, or therapeutic?"  Duh - therapeutic.. bring on the ball-peen hammers and rolling pins, we've got some serious knots to work out!!

It is 2 days later.  The headache is back, and is now joined by extremely sore shoulders, which is apparently where I hold ALL my stress.  I thought a couple of times that I was going to crawl through the table, it hurt so much, but I can turn my head from side to side with ease now, something I had not realized that I was no longer able to do...

So, what has been causing all this stress, you may ask.  Between the house, work, the kids, the economy, its hard to imagine what I could possibly have to be stressed about... (Insert horribly sarcastic tone here). 

Then last night, it sort of hit me... there are things I cannot change (The economy), there are things I am trying to change (the house) and there are things that, while I try to change, I really am powerless over them (work). Sounds a bit like that old Serenity Prayer.. maybe its got a good message or two for us all...

Last week, one of the major sources of stress was a coworker.  I could go into all her horrible sins against me and humanity in general, but that would only raise my blood pressure again, and we don't really need to go there.  Let's just leave it that I was completely pissed off, and felt completely in the right in this given situation.  I stewed all weekend.  I plotted by carefully worded email over and over again.  As the assistant Principal said to me on Friday when I went to go talk to her about it "Sam, someone is going to get pissed off - where is it written that it has to be YOU?" I am not generally one who enjoys stepping on someone's toes, but when someone steps on mine without provocation, well, that sort of sets me off...

Then last night, something switched off (or on??) in my brain.  Will this matter in a year?  Really?  Will having my say and getting an apology change my life in any way 12 months from now, or 5 years from now?

No?  So why sweat it?

If it does not really matter, in the whole cosmic scheme of things, why am I going to allow it to affect my health or steal another moment from my life.  No doubt, there are things which require my attention, and my passion.  Proving myself right to someone who already thinks SHE is right should not be one of them.

Someone remind me of this the next time she pisses me off?

Until then.. think, calm waters, deep breath... calm waters, deep breath... maybe this will help!