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I have to admit to a touch of envy yesterday. I know, I know…not nice.
We should not covet what others possess.
Exodus 20:17- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.
We should not begrudge the blessings of others because we have our own. However, in my own defense I was envious of the fact that someone else with the SAME means that we have chose to use them in a manner that exemplifies higher priorities and loftier goals. I didn’t wish yesterday that we could literally have what someone else has, except perhaps their wisdom. What I envied was the fact that someone else in another country understands what we CLAIM to know, but do not prove by actions: that children are a major priority and early education is vital to our country’s success.
We have the money to provide a quality education for every child in America. We have the resources to provide them with the tools they need for success. We have an abundance of talented adults who could teach them the skills they will need to compete in any career field.
But if you think we are actually doing that, I invite you to look around and see the truth:
We know that smaller class sizes are the best for students, yet over-crowding is the norm in many states. We have classrooms designed for twenty students that are filled by thirty…or more. And we have teachers who are attempting to teach thirty children, without any assistance, when research shows they should teach half that many. Do you think this is happening because schools can’t find enough teachers? No, it’s about money. Many schools choose to pay a fine for having too many students because the fine is less than the salary of another teacher.
We know that children need a clean, safe environment and have physical needs that must be addressed before we can reach them with academics. But we have schools without sufficient personnel to serve those most basic needs. Some campuses share nurses, counselors, specialists, even custodians. Many of our schools are in critical need of repair and renovation. Again, money is the issue.
We “talk the talk” about technology and innovation and we see all the children on television who use laptops in class and we don’t realize they represent a TINY portion of our children. We still have many students in our country who do not have a computer in their classroom. Laptops are sent to children in other countries and we all smile and clap because little villages across the ocean are connected to the world. We don’t realize that many of our own children will never touch a keyboard. There are still classrooms in America where students share textbooks!
We know that children need time outside and physical activity and social interaction, but many of our schools have crowded sub-standard playgrounds that haven’t been updated in years. Many schools have playgrounds only because of years of fund-raising by parent or teacher groups.
We know that the creative arts are not only beneficial to our minds and hearts, but provide a rewarding career path for many young people. But what are the first programs to be cut from declining school budgets? Art and music.
Like everything else in our country the education system relies on money and the wisdom of those who spend it. And like everything else in life, there are inequalities. You can find schools in our country with vast sports complexes, Olympic-size pools, modern computer labs, impressive band programs, teacher assistants, special tutors, dance programs, blah, blah, blah. Our mistake is in seeing those as the norm, as the average, as something available to all if they just “did things correctly”. Yes, we often think that struggling schools must be “doing something wrong” when in fact the only thing wrong is their location. Because of the way money for education is raised and allocated the education of YOUR child or grandchild is all about location, location, location. Land, taxes, money, voters. That’s what it’s all about folks. And until we adjust our priorities and figure out a better financial system for funding education we will NOT be able to give a quality education to every child. There WILL be children left behind. Money and priorities…we need to quit arguing about curriculum and fix those problems first.
It’s strange that my thoughts begin to alter as soon as the calendar says September. Never mind the blazing hot temperatures or the fact that my students are still wearing flip flops…my brain says “fall”. So it was that my grocery cart last week contained beans, cornbread mix, soup, and potatoes. I’m sure that pancake mix, extra coffee, and sausage (for Gary) will be on my list soon. (And yes, I said “mix”. You know I don’t really cook.)
When I was a child there were major changes with each season, but especially fall. In the fall there was a frenzy of harvesting and canning and freezing foods. Mom was busy sewing heavier clothing. We scoured garage sales and flea markets for coats and sweaters. There were cleaning and gardening chores that had to be completed before the onset of miserable weather. Blankets had to be washed and hung on the line to dry. Quilts were aired out.
Much of winter was spent near our wood stove, merely surviving the weather. We bundled up, ate hearty foods, watched our little TV, and waited for spring. It wasn’t too uncomfortable if we had accomplished all of our fall tasks and prepared well.
Today we’re blessed with so many conveniences that the seasons seem to blend together. Better heating and lighting, an abundance of foods from other regions and countries, and the availability of cheap clothing make a lot of winter “preparation” unnecessary. But I know my body still lives in the “old days” when I find myself in the cereal aisle stocking up on oatmeal as though a blizzard has been forecast! I don’t do much…but I do what I can. LOL
Yesterday I laughed with a friend about her granddaughter’s reaction to kindergarten (in another district). Her grandchild’s first impression of school was: “I’d rather stay home. It’s not really that much fun.” Of course my friend was quick to point out to the child that she has to adjust to the routines and expectations and that she’ll “like it better soon”. Then she made a comment that stayed with me for the rest of the evening. “She’d better adjust…she has about twelve more years of this!”
As a teacher I have always seen kindergarten as the foundation of the school years. But we can also think of it as job training. If we consider the number of years kindergarten students have ahead of them, then we can see the “big picture” and understand that school is their first career. In fact, many of their parents have never worked twelve years at the same job!
Like any job there is a basic set of skills that must be learned and a set of expectations that must be met or you don’t get paid, and in some instances, you don’t get to keep the job! Kindergarten is the training year that teaches children all the basic skills required for the job ahead: behaviors, responsibilities, routines, expectations, testing. Every year after this is simply more of the same: more responsibilities, higher expectations, and more testing…with the assumption that good behaviors and routines have already been established. Isn’t that the basis of any career? You learn the basics, behave well, and then perform better and better if you hope to advance.
I wish more parents would see the “big picture” and quit acting as though kindergarten is an option that can easily be repeated.
So very grateful for the inch of rain we received yesterday! I was feeling a bit down about my neglect of the garden. I’ve been too tired and in too much pain lately to drag the hose around after school.
I was also a little discouraged by my inability to find anything “interesting” to photograph yesterday. Then I walked into my laundry room to get something and glanced out the window…this beauty was preening on the fence. Even though I had to make do with a few photos through the window, he was indeed interesting!
Saddened this weekend by the death of a dear friend in CA. I haven’t seen her in years, but I know her passing will affect many, many people. She has a wonderful family and scores of friends. She was one of those people who had a knack for putting others at ease.
This is the first day of the first “serious” week of kindergarten. Tests are over. Results have been tabulated. Lists have been made. Time to get to work and provide each child with a little concentrated instruction to meet their individual needs. That’s why it’s so very important to have less than twenty students! I just can’t understand how anyone can successfully teach a class of 30 kindergarten children. Some of my students can’t hold a pencil. Others can write a sentence. Some can’t cut with scissors. Others could cut out a snowflake. One of my students doesn’t recognize any letter of the alphabet. Another can already read! One-size-fits-all education doesn’t work.
Assembly this morning. A little “rah-rah” is good for the soul! I love to look at the older kids and pick out my former students. Some of my earliest students are already married and working. Others are in college. Great to hear success stories and see family photos! We really do touch lives and sometimes it’s nice to be reminded.
Making some medication and diet changes this week in hopes of discovering the source of some pain problems. I know…” a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”… but I’m very careful about researching health-related information. And even though my doctor rolls his eyes when I mention the internet, it has been very useful in the past. Nothing like reading the results of thousands of other similar experiences and making comparisons. Just have to be careful to sort out the “hype”.
Delivering my crime book to the library this week. It’s the type of project that could literally go on forever and ever. That’s why I set a page limit and I’m stopping. Lol I have enough cases and names to 1. Give readers a sense of the times. 2. Give researchers an idea of what is available for their own work. 3. Give families a start in finding their criminal or victim relative. 4. Prove that most current residents of Caddo are lucky their ancestors lived through the “good old days”. 5. Compile a book that is interesting enough to make some money for the library. No, I don’t keep the proceeds from my books.
Well, it’s Monday. Let’s get on with it!
WARNING: Do not attempt to read these while drinking coffee…or anything else.
Things you never think you’ll say:
“Quit licking the bottom of your shoe!”
“Don’t stand on the urinal. You know someone will come and tell me! ”
“Take your mouth off his ear.”
“Stop eating rocks.”
“Quit sprinkling orange juice on him.”
“Please don’t put mashed potatoes on each of your fingers. Just use a spoon.”
“Quit sitting on his hand.”
“Your mom is going to be very upset when she sees that you cut a hole in the front of your shirt!’
“No, you don’t need to make a tattoo with your markers.”
“Stop making a mask with your tortilla.”
“Don’t wash your hands in the drinking fountain.”
“If you tie your shoes together again you won’t be able to walk OR play!”
“Sitting on your neighbor’s paper is not respectful.”
“Oh, no, this piece of hair is going home in your folder not the trash. YOU can explain it to your mother!”
“No, you can’t save all your work and do it with your sister.”
“I don’t care if you mix your mashed potatoes and applesauce together as long as you eat it that way.”
“Stop drinking your glue!”
“If you sing that Frozen song one more time during phonics you’re going to move your card to time-out.”
“Are you chewing gum or Playdoh?”
“Quit pouring chocolate milk in your beans.”
“I don’t care if you do love him, let him go! He wants to go play.”
“Sit right here until you can explain to me why you were throwing soap bubbles in the bathroom.”
“Why did you color your shoes with your marker?”
“Quit licking that off your arm and get a tissue!”
I could go on all day folks…
We didn’t have the best of days yesterday. There were some moments that “worked” and some that didn’t. Ditto for my students. Some worked, some are still on vacation. But we’ll try it again today, and tomorrow, and again next week.
Kindergarten is all a matter of wash, rinse, repeat. Present the concept, demonstrate it, let the students try it. Present the concept in a slightly different way, demonstrate it again, let the students practice it. Over and over and over…verbally, visually, physically until it becomes the foundation for another concept or skill. Of course there are many concepts and skills that must be taught or reviewed each day because we have to eventually master about 300 of them before the year is over. And with different student skill levels and learning styles to consider I have my hands full keeping everyone on task. This is why chocolate was created!
Some children respond quite well to the idea that they have time to try and practice and try again. Others are of the opinion that mastery is either immediate or simply unattainable. Their life experience has apparently not included a lot of “do-overs”.
These children soon learn there are two things you don’t want to tell Mrs. Maurer: “I don’t want to.” or “I can’t.”
My reply to the first is usually “I don’t remember giving you a choice.”
My reply to the second is usually “Of course you can’t. If you could already do this you’d be in first grade!” or “Of course you can’t. If you could already do this I wouldn’t have a job!”
Those statements…and let’s face facts…MOST of what I say, elicits the “deer in the headlights” look from my students. But with a little coxing and encouragement most begin to understand that kindergarten is about practice, not perfection.
So…a less than wonderful day doesn’t bother me. And it doesn’t bother most of my students. We’ll just meet on the mat again today and see what happens!
I was amused this weekend when the mere thought of fall found me reaching for corn bread mix and pasta to add to my grocery cart. LOL I guess my brain is already thinking of colder evenings.
A sure sign that I’m old: I no longer recognize half of the little starlets who are hawking products on television.
Watched “The Impossible”. Difficult to think about someone actually going through that experience and living to tell about it.
Disturbing to think of the implications of our current global problems. I suppose at this point there will never be an end to the wars, conflicts, and threats of violence.
We had an “intruder” drill at school last week and some comments were made about strangers and self-defense, etc. If we pay attention to the past we should know that a dangerous intruder on campus will most likely be someone we know…a student.
Each day there is information on my homepage about what stars and athletes and other personalities are doing. For the most part I really don’t care, but I often find myself wondering who does.
While I’m sympathetic to the idea that everyone has a right to privacy, shouldn’t we be asking why all these movie people HAVE nude photos of themselves that can be “hacked”?
I’ll bet you don’t know anyone else who was sitting here at 4:30 this morning trying to locate Mud Creek on a map of Oklahoma. LOL And yes, I found it. No, I’m not telling…look for it yourself. It’s good for your brain.
Random thoughts from a scrambled brain…hey, I’m going to go scramble some eggs for breakfast.
I finally drove by my father’s house yesterday. Yes, it was the first time I had done so since he died. I took advantage of the fact that I have several brothers and I let them remove his things from the house, take what they wanted, sell what they didn’t, and get the house ready for another family to live there.
I have to admit that I drove by rather quickly yesterday and I’ll have to repeat the process a couple of times before I really “see” the house. I know that my brother has worked very hard to clean the lot and repair the house, but I can’t absorb all of that while it’s still painful to know that Dad isn’t there.
There is more pain when I drive into the next block where my grandmother and great-grandmother once lived. You see, Russell Street used to be our family’s street. My Granny Simmons lived in a house on the lot where Dad’s old house now stands, and in the next block was Big Mama’s house, and on the next corner across the street was my grandmother’s house where my parent’s got married. Dad tore Granny’s house down when he built his. Both of the other houses have been totally “trashed” over the years and no longer bear any resemblance to the homes I remember from my childhood. It’s like part of our history has been removed from the books. I can only hope that the same fate does not befall Mom and Dad’s house.
I know that time and people move on. I know that houses get old and fall apart just as people do. But watching it happen still makes me sad and I hope that someone with children moves into Dad’s old house and loves it for a little longer.