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Showing posts from December, 2009

A Beautiful Christmas in the Ghetto

My Christmas was pleasant but fairly uneventful, except for one thirty-minute period. That period of time probably would have seemed uneventful to most people but to me, it was a beautiful Christmas miracle.

The kids that my friend and I work with, who have had such a hard, hard year, have been sort of MIA for the last few weeks. We've tried to take them out to eat and set up the times, only to have them flake. One of them changed his cell phone number so he was impossible to get ahold of.  And rude when we did get ahold of him. The other only answered when he wanted. They go through this sometimes, so I didn't think much of it, except to be a little annoyed when I drove across town to get them and they weren't there.  I have no idea if they're going to school or really anything else about what's going on right now.  I'm pretty constantly worried about them but try not to because there's nothing I can do.

We thought for a while about what to get them f…

The Difference 20 Years Makes - Guest Blog

Guest post from Matthew Goebel.  I'm looking for guest bloggers - if you have any opinions or experiences regarding education to share, please let me know!
 I live and work in the Bay Area of California.  I have a ten year-old daughter who lives with her mother in Kentucky where I grew up.  Recently I had the privilege of taking my daughter to and picking her up from her elementary school in Waco, Kentucky.  Waco is a very small town outside of Richmond, Kentucky, which isn’t a large town either.  Most of the area is rural.  Richmond has Eastern Kentucky University which doubles the population of the town when it’s in session. 
As I think back to when I was in elementary school I am shocked at how trusted I was to get to school, come home and do homework.  My mom and dad sent me off in the morning, rain, snow or shine to walk the 7-8 blocks to the school.  No questions asked, we were allowed onto school property and into the school.  Classes started at 8 A.M. and we were out of sch…

Stuffed Animals

There are several much more serious stories I was going to share, but I'm not in the mood to be made sad tonight, so I'll tell you all about the stuffed animals.  This is a post that needs images so someday when I have or borrow a working scanner, I will add the photos.

A few years into teaching, I joined Freecyle.  For those of you who don't know Freecycle, it's a group of people in any given community who are on an email list to get rid of their old stuff and get stuff from other people.  It's a fabulous form of recycling. Somebody posted that they had a huge bag of stuffed animals in good condition to give away and I decided to grab it for my class.

I thought that some of the kids would like the stuffed animals, but I certainly didn't think they'd all be into them.  Kids grow up really fast in that neighborhood, and when you have six-year olds talking about how they walk to school alone because their parents say they're "grown," and how the…

Things You Hope You Never Hear From a Third Grader

1. "My mama says I need to bring energy drinks to school so I can have more energy!"
2. "I don't need no Kleenex."
3. "I don't have a bedtime cause I'm grown."
4. "My mama says I'm only in trouble cause you don't like black people.
5. [looking at a display of an exploded meth lab] "Hey!  That's my uncle's house!"
6. "The pee just came out!  I didn't know it was coming."
7. "He WANTED me to hit him!"
8. "But it was only a little bit of a stick and I really thought it would go over her head, honest!"*


and finally...

9. "Teacher, I don't feel so good..." ... "Hey, look, I can see what I ate for lunch!  Cool!"


*Thanks, Linda!






Reflections on Public Education

I stumbled across this blog just when the author was talking about her frustrations with her son's teacher.  She has written some very thought-provoking posts, and I would strongly, STRONGLY recommend reading this one.  Please.  It is thoughtful and she has the unique perspective of being a parent of a public school student as well as a former public school teacher in the inner city.

Let me preface this quote that I am going to share with saying that I have worked with many fantastic teachers.  I know teachers who are extremely gifted, dedicated, respectful, and just all-around wonderful.  One of my eight principals was incredible (and continues to be incredible, just in another district).  Most of the teachers I know spend lots of their own money, bring the children food when they need it, spend hours and hours and hours of unpaid time on preparation in order to do the best for their kids.  And, to these teachers, the students ARE "their kids."

But.  Then there's th…

Two Steps Forward...

...three steps back.

For the last 5-7 years, this district has had a major focus on "new small schools."  These small schools were going to totally transform the district (and may have done that if they had been given a chance) by offering smaller classes and schools with more parent-teacher-child interactions, less room to fall through the cracks, more ability and special programs to meet students' needs, etc.  Sometimes it felt like small schools were being pushed and rewarded at the expense of us larger, more traditional schools.  It was hard to hear the district administrators say that they didn't have money for whatever particular program/supplies we needed when I knew they were spending a lot more to start these new small schools.  Many larger schools were divided up into small schools since that was considered to be the best model.

Now the district has decided that small schools cost too much money.

According to staff’s calculations, the minimum number of stude…