Saturday, August 28, 2010
No school is perfect. It counts for a LOT that our district is fighting past mistakes tooth and nail, but I can't help but regret the enormous implications of what has already been done, or not done, as the case may be.
Our kids can't fucking read. Okay? Yet somehow, they graduate. Through years of learning tricks to test-taking, these intelligent young men and women mastered the art of rephrasing the question, looking for key words in both the question and the passage provided, and scraping by with passing grades on the state graduation test, without ever really understanding most of the content involved. Then we hand them their diploma which may as well have an enormous middle finger printed on to it as we send them out into the big wide world with the reading and math abilities of the average 4th grader at the most. Obviously, not all of our kids function at that level, but more than you'd care to imagine, take it from me.
They also have minimal skills in many social areas, as their over-inflated egos are the result- not of hard work and dedication to their goals- but of our fear to allow anyone not to "win", our reluctance to hold them to true deadlines, and to the higher standards I know them to be capable of. We need no longer patronize them with a round of applause merely for showing up to school at all. They don't need that and they don't want it. It's akin to pity, and that serves no purpose other than to indulge the adults in that warm fuzzy feeling that they do what they can for these poor kids.
A couple of years ago, I got a call from an ex-student. He had come to me as a sixth grader who read at the second grade level. He was very sweet and temperamental, and I did what I could to drill him on simple words he failed to recognize and encouraged him to enjoy the novels I had selected for the class to read (depending on their reading level), but I knew our one class a day wasn't enough to remedy the enormous gap that lay between him and the norms. He left our school district and I never heard from him again until his call. He was 19 by then and I hardly recognized his deep, manly voice! He sounded so excited that it really was me and that I still worked for the same district, though I had moved to the high school since I had last taught him. He was wondering if he could ask something of me. He asked me if I had any possible way of meeting up with him out side of school to teach him to read. Do you know how heart breaking that was for me to hear? How it brought to home the fact that we FAILED that kid. And I don't mean that we gave him an F, I mean we EPICALLY FAILED that child. We passed him on, and passed him on, which was easier to do since he had a learning disability... "You can't let these kids fail"... That would be cruel, wouldn't it?
Saturday, August 21, 2010
I often get sent funny kids' responses to test questions, and I often wonder how genuine they are. I get sent them over and over and my laughter gives way to smiles then are then replaced by indifference... Many of them are found here, at Funnyexam.com. Nothing can compare to the ones I get to see at work as I'm certain of their authenticity.
One that comes to mind was a response a little lad gave to a question that went along the lines of "Your friend Tom answered the following math problem this way... If he were to ask you how to do it, what would your answer be?" or something along those lines. His answer was as follows (and I'm sorry to say that I'm paraphrasing as I don't have the original paper, but trust me, I capture the essence of it!) : "I would tell him not ask me because I'm terrible at math. Seriously, I have no idea what's going on in this class." It went on a little longer and actually started to sound a bit sad and self-pitying. Needless to say, we laughed.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
A lovely colleague shared this simple recipe and I can't wait to try it with the kids!
You get some marshmallows, Oreo cookies, a little melted butter, and a food processor. You process the Oreos until you get fine crumbs. Brush the marshmallows very lightly with the melted butter and then roll the marshmallows onto the crumbs. Viola! The taste of Oreo combined with the flavor and texture of the marshmallow. Genius.
I've taken on more responsibilities at work. Lots more. I want to develop my skills not only as a teacher, but as a person... As a leader, a thinker, a DOER because I'm a tired little person who needs to get up off her arse a bit more. Sad thing is, I just feel even more tired. And then my next grad class starts in October. I'm probably going to be crying at that point.
So I sized up my new bunch of students. One looked suspiciously pudgy round the middle. Please, oh please, let that be the result of summer laziness and over-indulgence at the dinner table... Nope. That ain't baby fat. It's a baby. So I will be lending my bum pillow to a fourth pregnant student. It's certainly been handy over the past four years!
Imagine being fifteen years younger than your own mum. Yeesh. It could go really Jerry Springer and they could end up fighting over the same man... I just hope she finishes school. It may not really impact what comes after high school as much as I'd like, but at least it gives her a little more time that she can be treated like a child.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Clown fish at the Atlantis Hotel's Lost Chambers aquarium exhibit. (I love the "authentic" sunken, technologically-advanced looking city look they gave the whole exhibit. Very eerie.)
The view from our room.
Part of our hotel room (the attention to detail in the decor was astounding. I loved it.)
Lobby of the Atlantis Hotel, Dubai
Gelato in Dubai's Ibn Battuta Mall
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Is there a requirement for all long-haul flight attendants on Delta to be complete bitches? If not, then their HR people just really seem to value bitchiness as a key component of a good Delta employee.
Granted, I flew with a one year old and a four year old, but by the 8th and final flight (yes, we had a lot of connections to and from our various destinations), I was becoming a dab hand at entertaining the little ones and they were growing a lot more accustomed to being cooped up in those vile things and so were coping REALLY well. I say this with as much modesty as I can muster, but these two little munchkins were damned amazing by that last long flight. Any time one of them started to cry about anything, I ran through all my options with impressive speed until I successfully calmed them down. Passengers around us commented on how well behaved they were and how patient and resourceful I was in making sure they were happy. At one point, they started a game of "pass the seat belt back and forth" and were giggling charmingly while I sat on the floor in front of them...
So imagine my surprise when a petite flight attendant flew out from behind the 1st class curtain, abruptly pausing a conversation she'd been having with a first class passenger pretty much since we had departed four hours earlier, and grabbed the seat belt from my four year old daughter's hand and proceeded to point her finger inches away from my daughter's face and hissed:
"You will NOT do that. There are crew members trying to get some sleep over there and you can NOT make such noise."
Her tone and body language was as though my kids had been making noise for hours and she'd tried to get them to be quiet time and again, when in fact they'd been astonishingly quiet and she'd never indicated that she'd had any prior complaint about them.
My four year old turned and curled up in a ball, face down, upset at being yelled at by a stranger. I sat in shock for a moment. Had she not seen me sat on the floor at the bulkhead? Was the laughter of children so offensive? And why the fuck don't those crew members use ear plugs? They fly often enough and it was a day flight, so they couldn't have expected everyone to be asleep, did they? I picked up my one year old and left my older daughter with my mum while I poked past the 1st class curtains.
Irate TeacherLady (trying not to lose her cool and get thrown off the plane as a rabid terrorist): If you wanted my daughter to be quiet, you should have asked me nicely and not snatch.....
Bitchy Delta Flight Attendant: Is there anything I can get you? Some water, juice, a snack?
I rolled my eyes in disgust and said "no", when I really should have said "excuse me, let me finish what I was saying" as she was obviously embarrassed that her male companion was hearing part of my complaint and she hadn't wanted him to hear the rest. I should have humiliated her, but I was exhausted after hours of trying to keep my kids happy that I didn't bother to fight it. It's a good thing I didn't, because it seems Delta really is fucked up.
It was the only flight service that didn't provide me with an infant seat belt or infant life jacket. This particular flight didn't check to make sure all passengers had belts on when they should have, they didn't help with my bags, despite seeing I was obviously overburdened with the kids, my bags, their bags, and poor mum struggling to help me and KLM had leapt to offer such help. They didn't press passengers to clear the space at their feet (I'll openly admit I was an offender here, as I had my stash of snacks, toys, books, etc at my feet, ready to whip them out as needed, but while the KLM crew had reminded me to keep it as clear as possible, the Delta crew didn't seem to give a shit.) One similarity between all Delta flights is the apparently huge inconvenience it is to ask them for a damn drink. I went to the back to ask for water for my daughter's bottle and these two flight attendants saw me, continued their conversation until finished, THEN turned to ask me what I wanted. When they did get the water, it was like I had asked them to turn the plane around and get me only the water from melting glaciers in the Arctic because anything less wouldn't do.
I'm going to send a letter of complaint, which I'm sure they'll dismiss as swiftly as that woman did, but at least I'll have had my say.
Damn, Delta, you REALLY suck.
Friday, August 06, 2010
I'm transitioning between vacation recovery and already scheduling meetings for work, so things are going to be quiet around here a little while longer. I really had no idea how impossibly difficult it is to try to sit at a computer and NOT have my two little ones put themselves in mortal danger... So I don't get much time for work or pleasure at my 'puter.
I've entered myself into a competition, the prize of which is a walk on role in Mad Men. I would ask for your votes, but then that would defeat the whole "anonymous" thing. Ah well. I'm not doing TOO badly. In a few days, I've managed to go from page 250 to about page 50 in order of number of votes. The competition is poorly designed, though, in the fact that the pictures posted early are able to accumulate votes such that later entries have little to no chance of being able to catch up. Not very scientific. Bastards.
Is it wrong that I'd probably find myself staring more at Joan than Don?