I am a
Years ago, okay decades ago, while sitting on a bus bench in Fresno, CA, I wrote a song. As usual my mind was wandering all over the place and I had a long wait for the bus and those being the cave days before phones and internet and instant entertainment I really didn’t have a lot of other options besides entertaining myself with my imagination. The song has stayed in my memory bank and pops up once in a while for no apparent reason. It did so yesterday on the way to work. Perhaps my mind related it to commuting! LOL
I relate that story because I think it is a great reminder that we are not always in control of what our memory records and when it chooses to replay it. We should all try to be careful about what we see and read and hear. We should give some thought to the movies we watch and the songs we sing. We should give even more consideration to the relationships we have and the activities we choose. We should try to record the best things in life in our memory banks, because one day our brain may hit “replay” when we least expect it!
Have a great day!
I understand both sides of the gun control issue.
I grew up with guns and hunting. I spent many hours hunting with my father.
I have also been involved in two shooting accidents. The first one occurred when someone was cleaning a gun and shot a hole in the wall inches from my shoulder. The second occurred when someone shot at a quail, hit a rock instead and the rock then hit me in the knee. I’ve also known several people who were not as fortunate and were seriously injured in gun accidents.
Yesterday a brief news item caught my attention:
4-year-old Boy Accidentally Kills Tenn. Deputy’s Wife
On April 6, Wilson County Deputy Daniel Fanning was inside his home showing his weapons collection to a relative when the officer's wife and young nephew entered the room. The child grabbed one of Fanning's loaded guns off the bed and fired a single shot.
The bullet struck Josephine Fanning, the deputy's 48-year-old wife. Despite efforts to revive her, Josephine was pronounced dead at the scene.
The gun used in the shooting was not the officer’s service weapon nor was he on duty at the time of the incident, The Tennessean reported. According to CBS News, Fanning is a school resource officer at two area elementary schools. He and Josephine wed last year.
Sheriff Robert Bryan called the shooting a terrible accident.
I read a few more reports of the incident, hoping to find some better explanation of how the accident occurred. It happened during a family cookout. There was alcohol. The deputy was not on duty. His service weapon was always kept in a safe. He was a “good officer”. But why was even one gun in his “collection” loaded? Why was it on the bed? Why did the child know how to shoot it?
A comment made in the USA Today version leapt out at me:
"Danny Fanning is going to have to live with it.”
Indeed….and so will many other people. Accidents happen.
Apparently I’m not a very good teacher. Here we are in April and I still have students who can’t read, can’t write a sentence, can’t add or subtract, and don’t recognize twenty-five common words by sight. Worse yet, several are still misbehaving almost daily and some students refuse to complete their daily work, preferring instead to play with their supplies, talk to their classmates and ignore me.
Of course all of this is my fault. I expect too much. I don’t explain things clearly. I don’t review often enough. I give too much homework. I don’t give enough homework. I don’t offer enough individual help. I pick on students I don’t like. I ignore students I don’t like. I’m too loud. I’m not patient enough. I’m too old fashioned- I don’t use enough technology and videos. I don’t give out enough stickers and treats. I’m just plain mean. Believe me, in the past fifteen years I’ve heard all of the above and more.
Most accusations made by parents are a result of frustration. Their child is not meeting their expectations or mine or the state’s and they need a dog to kick. We’ve all “been there, done that” whether we are willing to admit it or not. The danger in recent years is that administrators and legislators and the general public seem to be moving closer and closer to the fantasy that any child plus an excellent teacher plus a given number of days of teaching will result in a student prepared for college and a career. And since all children are ready and willing to learn, and since most of us are teaching about the same number of days in a school year, any failure in the success equation must be due to the lack of an excellent teacher. So the fact that some of my students are not ready for first grade is clearly my fault.
“Accountable” is the new buzz word in education and those of us who teach are being held accountable for more and more of our students’ performance- from reading skills to grades to test results. There are more warnings each year that our evaluations, our salaries, our very employment will soon be based first and foremost on the data collected on our students. Numbers on a page will soon determine everything. Time + Teaching= Student Success or you had better find a new career! Of course we recently witnessed the possible dangers of that equation. The administration and staff in Atlanta just found a way to change the numbers.
It is ironic that we seem to have gone “full circle” on this issue. When I was a young student my parents told me that I was responsible for my success in school. They expected me to behave, listen to my teacher, do my daily work, and even complete my homework. My dad told me that if I got in trouble at school I would be in “double trouble” at home. That only happened once. My mother told me she didn’t care if I didn’t like my teacher, I still had to be respectful and do my work. My parents were only called for a conference with the principal two times- once because a boy stole the doll I took to school for “show and tell” and once to discuss moving me from the fifth grade to the seventh.
But times have changed. So as we prepare for all of the testing and grading and compilation of data for this year I must face the fact that some of my students have failed to achieve success and there are people who believe that is my fault.
My mother was fond of reminding me that you can lead a horse to water…
I didn’t accomplish much this weekend. Visited with a friend. Bought some flowers and new shoes. Did my weekly shopping. Planted the aforementioned flowers. Did a few miscellaneous chores. Worked on my almost-completed jigsaw puzzle. Did a little research. Took a few pictures. Talked with my dad. Spent some time walking around. The older I get, the more I appreciate the days when I don’t have a “must do” list and I can just do a little of this and that. It calms me to be in charge of my schedule instead of feeling that the expectations of others are dictating my day. While having “something to do” keeps us active and engaged in the world, having too much to do can have dire consequences.
As I observe strangers and talk with friends and family I feel more strongly than ever that it is our frenzied lifestyle that brings us stress, illness, and strife. We have so much to “do” that it becomes more and more difficult to “be”. And we frequently neglect our health in order to accomplish things that often turn out to be far less important than we imagined. When I think back to many of the illnesses and even some of the accidents I had when I was younger I know many were caused by “burning the candle at both ends” as my mother was fond of saying. Being a working wife and mother left me little time to take care of myself or to simply be careful.
So today I would urge you to slow down a bit and cross one or two things off your “must do” list. Take a bit of time to breathe and listen to the birds and watch a cow meander…or whatever makes you happy and keeps you healthy.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Each week we are bombarded with commercials for medications that promise to restore our optimism and enthusiasm for life. While I understand that some mental disorders truly need such intervention, I also believe we are impatient beings, always in need of a “quick fix” for anything and everything that ails us. In most cases the cure for our troubles is not found in a bottle.
Three things have served me well when coping with problems over the years: prayer, the Bible, and the great outdoors. I consider each a gift from God, provided for my use and benefit. So I begin today rested, renewed, and ready for a new week.
Have a blessed day!
It’s been a rough week. I try to stay positive about each day and each week that I’ve been blessed to experience because I know that my life is a walk in the park compared to most. But even I succumb to a little gloom and doom from time to time and some events of the past week have tried my patience and severely challenged my sense of optimism. As a result I have not been the “best me” I can be and for that I felt a sense of regret and remorse all week. God knew I needed a pat on the back, so when I came home yesterday there was this beauty waiting for me. It may not look like much, but this iris is from my Grandma Della’s home place and it brings me a wonderful sense of joy and gratitude and peace!
At the end of the day we need something that renews our spirits.
I hope you have a garden or pet or hobby that gives you joy and peace this weekend!
We sing a song in my class that borrows the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and goes like this:
Special, special, special me,
I’m as special as can be.
There is no one quite like me.
I’m as good as I can be.
Special, special, special me,
I’m as special as can be.”
We might declare that the anthem of education, were it not for the fact that we totally disregard its premise the minute we enroll students in school. Of course I can’t seem to find a catchy tune for “Now I’m five so I’m just like everyone else.” Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.
Your great grandparents most likely attended a one-room school house where one teacher taught everyone from first grade to eighth grade, although many students only remained until sixth grade. Work and marriage often took the older ones away by the age of thirteen to fifteen.
Students in one-room schools were assigned separate tasks and skills for their grade levels, but were also exposed to everything else in the room and were allowed to do more advanced work when they had completed their own. Older students tutored younger ones. The system worked quite well until increasing populations required communities to divide students into more manageable groups.
Grade levels have been around for centuries and have been adapted and adopted by districts in a variety of ways. I went to 1st-8th elementary campuses most of my life, despite many moves. Now we have districts with divisions at elementary, intermediate, middle, or junior high school. But it doesn’t matter how they are separated, the foundation of the “graded” school begins with a child’s date of birth.
Adults like for things to be orderly, efficient, and manageable. Starting all of our five-year-old children in the same grade and expecting them to complete the same tasks and learn the same concepts and emerge in May or June with the same knowledge base seems perfectly reasonable. Keeping them together and moving them through the system at the same pace for eight or ten or twelve more years seems orderly and efficient…unless you know anything at all about children.
In the seventies my daughter attended a non-graded school and seemed quite happy in the system, but because we moved before the school year was over I didn’t get a chance to fully evaluate the results. And as a young mother I suppose I didn’t have much experience on which to base a comparison, but I felt that the basic ideas of the program were sound. Students were grouped by their assessed knowledge and skills and when they had learned a skill or concept they moved on to the next one. Small groups were constantly changing within a larger one and four teachers worked as a team to coordinate the learning of their group. Classes were held in a huge open room with dividers rather than walls. It sounds chaotic, but in fact was not. When I visited it seemed like everyone was working and learning. It was sort of like public education meshed with Montessori. The children were not placed in a traditional classroom until they reached the level of third grade.
That vision of an alternative school system has often replayed itself in my mind during the past few years as I watch new students enter my classroom. I know in my heart that at least three or more of them are not ready for the rigors of kindergarten, and I can tell you who they are by the end of the first week. By the ninth week of school I can usually predict who will need to be retained. I’m seldom wrong.
The problem is that the very foundation of education is wrong. Children are not alike. They never will be. I once had a student enter my classroom without any knowledge that the alphabet even existed, and another who could read at a first grade level by the time she was four. Unfortunately both of those students were in the SAME class strictly based on their date of birth. Tell me why that makes any sense at all. And while those are extremes, similar disparities occur each and every year. We cannot continue to accept the fantasy that every five-year-old is ready for school. We need to find a way to start children on their educational path and move them through the system based on an assessment of their readiness, not a number on a birth certificate.
Overhauling the grading system of most districts would require major changes and we all know how much we enjoy major changes. However, at some point we must reconsider what we are doing and find a system that respects, supports, and encourages the individual abilities and learning styles of our students. There has to be a way to let each child learn at their own pace and move on to new skills as quickly as they can. We have put so much emphasis on putting children with disabilities into regular classrooms, and “no child left behind” and “everyone can learn” that we have done a disservice to the very children we were trying to help. Now everyone is expected to reach the same goals at the same time and they are being punished for not doing so! If you don’t believe me, carefully read Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act.
If our goal is to have each child reading with fluency and comprehension by the third grade then we need to stop herding them like cattle and treat them like people...special people.
It occurred to me this morning as I wrote my kindergarten blog that one major aspect of education continues to perplex and frustrate me year after year. And so I pose a simple question to you this morning- one that I ask myself every August and every April.
Why do we continue to group our children in school by the date they were born?
I am short of time this morning so I will purposely leave you without my thoughts until tomorrow.
Have a great day!