August 13th

Hello everyone. Come on in and visit for a while. I’ll put the tea on and we can enjoy our time together.

Sorry for getting a late start today but yesterday I had to take extra medications which made for a sleepy morning. I hate medications. It seems like I go fine for a while and then wham.

Well at least I am rested now and will have the rest of the day able to continue with what I want or need to do.

I didn’t blog on the weekend so I will start with Saturday and Sunday to catch you up on the happenings.

However, before I go into the national days let’s talk about going back to school

School will be starting all over the world in the next few weeks and I would like to share some of my experiences with you.

Having been a teacher for forty years I always hated when August rolled around because it meant the end of my vacation with my own children.

However, most of my friends were excited because their children would now be going back to school and seeing their friends. By August children are usually bored with the summer and wanting to see friends. You know school is getting ready when you notice clusters of kids hanging out together on the streets, in the stores, walking to the mall etc.

My sons hated it because it always meant helping mom haul boxes to school and cleaning the classroom, putting up bulletin boards, and putting up with mom’s anxiety until the first week was past.

Being a special education teacher I always either met with the sixth grade teachers in the spring or they sent me notes on each student coming to my class so I would be prepared.

Before I ever started teaching I was firm in my opinion to get to know the student before knowing their records. However, I always read the notes, listened to comments, and took everything with a grain of salt. I would like to share a couple of those notes with you.

My reason for sharing is to let you know just how much impact as a teacher we have on those we work with.

Sixth grade note from a teacher in Montana.

You will be receiving a student named Harry ( name changed). He’s a waste of your time. He can’t read pre-primer. He does nothing and he is a constant problem. He is going nowhere and he will do nothing but distract you from the rest of your students.

First day of school rolls around and in comes my class. I was the Reading Specialist at Lincoln Junior High. I had a mixture of remedial readers, special education, and ESL students. We qualified for Title 1 but the administration chose not to be a Title 1 since money was available and that way the entire school benefited. I worked with anyone needing help.

Now that I have my classes and am learning my students. I call from my roster looking for each student that I had been given information on. Certain elementary schools had more problems than others and I wanted to know which school they came from.

While I am doing this I am watching for Harry.  I come to Harry. He is the largest student in the class of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders to my surprise.

He is quiet and shy and doesn’t want to be called on. My policy was everyone participates. This was difficult for him and I soon realized it. After administering a silent reading test to all of my students I realized that he understood more than he could read.

I soon talked with the mother about him and his reading ability because it wasn’t pre-primer it was more like second grade. He explained to me that his father was a career man in the Army.

Harry had started Kindergarten in the United States and in the middle of the year they were transferred to Germany. Although he attended school on base he was expected to learn the German phonics. Then returning to the United States in first grade phonics was being taught.

He mixed up his German and English phonics and had never been able to develop adequate reading skills.

His parents were both loving caring parents who wanted the best for their only child.

However, Harry had withdrawn into himself because of his lack of ability to read and his large size.

I worked with Harry until the end of the school year. By that time he went from reading at a beginners level to a tenth grade reading level. However, he couldn’t read out loud.

He never disrupted my class and he was a perfect gentleman always wanting to help me. The others students loved him. He was such a kind student. One of those with a gentle heart that you wish you had more often.

Now at the end of the school year after his father was transferred again I wrote a letter to the sixth grade teacher. I told her how wrong she was about him and how much he had overcome. I wished her the best and hoped in the future she would see the kids from the inside out. Needless to say, her notes were kinder from that point on.

One year when I was teaching in Idaho Falls I attend the spring IEP meeting for a sixth grader. I was told at that meeting. He is the worst kid in the entire school district. He will do nothing but get kicked out of school, he will turn your world upside down. He is a looser and will never amount to anything. Get rid of him as fast as you can.

I will refer to him as Jose. Jose came to school like a cocky rooster. All the kids were afraid of him and he knew he could do whatever he wanted. I had his sister the previous year and she was no walk in the park but I could handle her.

Now I had little brother and I wondered what I was in for. He either skipped school or showed up late and I knew that was the mother’s fault. One day upon his arrival into class he strutted like a performing rooster across the room. Everyone else was already in there seats reading to work.

I don’t know what completed me that day but I imitated him strutting behind him. The class started to laugh which they never did. He turned around just in time to see me.

Boy was he mad. He took his seat and shot looks that could have killed. I just smiled back at him and went on teaching.

I had warned the students if they didn’t do what they were suppose to I liked to do home visits. Well he missed school for several days and the kids said he was skipping. I dropped in on his home. He was in shock. He replied, “You are here, I didn’t think you’d actually come.” I asked to come in and he called to his mother letting me in. I explained to his mother he would fail and repeat the grade if he didn’t attend school. After that there was rarely an attendance problem.

This young man was a drug runner for his uncle. He was twelve years old. He couldn’t do math but if I had him go to the front of the room and demonstrate how to count dollars he could out count any banker.

I worked with him closely that year. I got him into track which he loved but his mother wouldn’t take him. I had her permission and he was the same age as my youngest son. I always had my son with me when we went.

He did well that year. I helped him go through cocaine withdrawal, an attempted suicide and learning how to stand up to say no to his family. Mom and dad were divorced but dad was around a lot.

I knew if I needed support to talk with the dad.

My second year I was told by the principal that I couldn’t have him in my car anymore. I was a special ed teacher who had always transported my students with caution. I told the principal he was my son’s friend and I wouldn’t stop helping him. I wrote my resignation that day but finished the year out.

Jose later moved in with his dad to a smaller community a half hour away. He went on to be a star  in football and track . He ended up on the honor roll with a full ride scholarship in sports.

I don’t know if he ever went to college or not as my moving around I have lost communication with him. The last I knew he had graduated and had a baby girl and was a very proud father.

Yes we touch the lives of many around us. It is up to us how we touch them and how we let them touch us.

I always told my students that it is okay not to like someone because there are personality differences. However, it is never okay to disrespect someone. When you disrespect someone you disrespect yourself.

I knew with Jose that if I didn’t win him over that first year I would have an unbearable year. I decided it was better to work with him and help him than to fight the situation and make it horrible for everyone.

Jose became my right hand in the classroom. If he told the students not to complain they didn’t. If he said to be on time they were. Some times as teachers we are blind to the tools we have right in front of us.

I hope as teachers prepare to go back to school they are thinking more about the students than the classroom preparation.

I hope they enter each year with a new clear heart and mind. Every teacher has the way to win at least one student over who might otherwise be lost. If every teacher would win that one student think what that would do for our young people.

August has always been the month of school for me. My birthday is in August and I always received school supplies and school clothes. I hated it. I never had a school party because we weren’t in school yet. Now that school is starting and I am retired I no longer dread what my Birthday will bring. In fact my 93 year young friend has her birthday the day before mine and I will have to call her this week and wish her happy birthday. I love her she is so fun and full of life.

Well that’s enough about that. Let’s take a look at the National days.

National Days:

Saturday

11 Son and Daughter Day

Always August 11th

Son and Daughter Day is a day to spend with your children. After all, your son and daughter are the joy of your life. We hope that everyone reading this has the opportunity in their life to see these joys born and raised happily, and successfully.

Today is a great day to spend with your son and daughter. It’s not a day of gift giving….except for the gift of time. If your son and daughter are still young and live at home with you, be ever aware that time goes by quickly. So, spend as much of today and everyday in their company.

I have two sons who are grown and I wouldn’t trade my time with them for anything in the world.

Today is also Raspberry Tart day which was a favorite after school treat at my home. Mom always used left over dough to make tarts and we would fill them with Raspberry Jam. It was a quick way to quiet us upon arriving home.

However here is a recipe if you would like one.

NNE GALLAGHER’S RASPBERRY TART
SWEET PASTRY DOUGH:
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cake flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. whipping cream
4 oz. chilled butter, cut into bits
Ice water
Mix flours and sugar in Cuisinart. Add butter. Pulse until mixed. Add egg yolk beaten with cream. Add ice water, if needed. Chill 2 hours. Roll out and put into a 2-part 10-inch tart pan. (Cover with foil and add pie weights before baking.) Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. If not done when you remove the foil, bake a short time longer, but watch carefully.Fresh raspberries, enough to line bottom of tart after it has cooled.

TOPPING:
12 oz. white chocolate (Lindt)
1/2 c. hot whipping cream
2 oz. butter, cut in sm. pieces
Melt chocolate, stir until smooth. Add cream and butter. Pour over raspberries in prebaked tart shell. Garnish with white chocolate leaves and raspberries. Cool and store in refrigerator.

 

 

Sunday

12 Middle Child’s Day

“What is there to congratulate me about? I wasn’t the youngest (who got all Mom & Dad’s attention), I wasn’t the eldest (who was admired for being ‘first’), I was just… in the middle. Malcolm in the Middle, only it was Me in the Middle… I was always sandwiched between eldest and youngest; if someone had to miss out it was me. Me in the middle. And I still feel that way.”

Well not today. Because August 12th is your day. August 12th is the day each year to celebrate being a middle child.

I was the youngest child. There were only two of us so there wasn’t a middle child however, I have known many middle children. Every child deserves their own special time with mom and dad, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. I applaud those parents who rotate so that all feel equal. Being in the middle of any situation isn’t easy so you need at least one moment in time to shine alone.

Julienne Fries Day

http://www.almanacofeats.com/2012/08/national-julienne-fries-day.html

I think today just further proves the United States love of junk food. Having a “National French Fry Day” wasn’t enough, so today we celebrate “National Julienne Fries Day.” Besides, what a joke of a cut regular french fries are. They don’t show the supreme knife craftsmanship like julienning does, which is clearly the more sophisticated way to prepare a small strip of potato you’re going to deep fry then slather in ketchup, mayo, ketchup and mayo, BBQ sauce, honey mustard, gravy and cheese, salt and vinegar, etc.

Julienning is when food is cut into long thin strips (think of the term “shoestring”). François Massialot’s Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois (1722 ed.) was the first known use of the term in print. Although, I think it was probably made famous by those 3am infomercials selling things that chop, slice, and dice in one movement.

Monday

13 Left Hander’s Day

Don’t Feel Left Out – Celebrate National Left Handers Day! Are you tired of trying to use gadgets and tools made for right handed people at home or in the office? Then vent your frustration on, August 13th!

 

Left-Handers’ Day

Today is Left-Handers’ Day! Every year on August 13, we celebrate the 10% of the population that is left-handed. This day is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the needs of left-handed children.

If you are left-handed, you know that living in a world designed for right-handed people can be quite difficult. Opening doors, writing in spiral notebooks, and using a computer mouse can be awkward and frustrating. Studies have shown that left-handedness is often associated with intellectual creativity. Famous left-handers include Michelangelo, Mozart, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Henson, and 8 of our 44 presidents!

There are several ways you can celebrate Left-Handers’ Day. If you’re left-handed, declare a “lefty zone” around your personal space, where everything must be done left-handed. If you’re a righty, do something nice for your lefty friends. Buy them a left-handed pen or can-opener to make their lives a little easier!

Now you no longer have to be tied to the tools of right hander’s. Go to the following sight to see what is now available for left hander’s. This is important before you purchase school supplies.

http://www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk/club.html

 

Filet Mignon

Today is Filet Mignon day. If you aren’t familiar with it or don’t know how to cook it there are plenty of recipes online that you can go to. It is a wonderful juicy steak which is right up my alley.

For those of you already use to cooking it out get prepared to enjoy your day.

I couldn’t find historical information on it but for me any day is a good excuse to have Filet Mignon. So enjoy happy eating.

So as the skies begin to grey once more with a slight chance of showers. I will leave you with my though for the month of August.

“Don’t Judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

Enjoy your day and your families so until next time 🙂

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7 Responses

  1. Your thoughts on ‘Jose’ were truly uplifting. You are a true jewel; the kind that is becoming more and more rare. In El Paso we have an enormous scandal now centered around a disgraced superintendent who set many of these students back rather than allow them to be tested as part of the new NoChildLeftBehind program. As usual, the kids are the real losers. I’m listing one of my own blog post links [ http://desertmountaintimes.com/2012/08/dear-dave-if-theres-a-covenant-change-can-you-spare-a-border-shelter/#more-896 ] I’d love for you to read and leave a comment on–concerning drugs in a border town where I once worked for many years; and what happens sometimes when teachers don’t become God’s Angels like you; and how, too, more and more elements in our society can dismiss all of this as non-consequential for them. My writing is somewhat light-hearted at times, I guess reflecting my own parents’ teaching that constantly frowning never gets anything accomplished and is bad for your health, too. Anyway, a big Thanks for your blog; and most of all thank-you for all the years of service to America’s children!

    • Thank you for your generous comments. I am in the process of writing my book “Secrets Behind Closed Doors.” It is a forty year journey of a teachers experience. It ‘s about what they never tell you in college that you learn the hard way. The successes, the tragedies, and the failures. It starts with working in a State Institution, going into Public Schools, working with High Risk Students always and ending my career with ESL. I have covered a lot of experience in my lifetime. I will check your site out and leave a comment. Thanks again.

  2. You sound like an exceptional teacher. So many kids are broken and just a little attention and caring will help fix them. I applaud you for your caring nature. God Bless you always. Happy Birthday and many more.
    Hugs,
    Kim

    • Thank you so much. It has become very hard to be a caring teacher with all the new laws and do’s and don’ts. When I started teaching it was fun not it is political. I hate to walk into a classroom and see the young people suffering with the detachment and high expectations of testing. We have turned the clocks of education backwards 100 years. Compassion belongs in the classroom. Children need to be loved and nurtured and not treated like an entity of corporate America.

      • It’s the bad teachers that makes things hard for the good teachers. There is so much sick behavior, child molestation and physical and mental abuse. The all the cuts in supplies that the teachers have to get supplies out of their pockets. Here in NY when my kids were in school the classrooms had 30 – 35 kids in a class. I don’t know how many they have now. I went to a grandparents day and when I looked in my granddaughter second grade class the kids were sitting on top of each other. It’s really said.

      • Education isn’t a priority in our country. Smaller classrooms with more students. Less teachers to teach. Subjects cut out. Children are being pushed to learn for corporate American and they are missing out on being children and learning social skills because there is no time for them to be children.

  3. […] Recently retired after 40 years, Janice is recalling some of her classroom experience on her blog cjanasdreams. Immigrant children are included. And she’s tamed some terrors, it seems. But to sum up, I guess […]

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