Tag Archives: education

The Things I Do For My Kid …

16 Sep

I didn’t really know how to start the conversation.

I didn’t.

I mean I hate this time of year and being put in this position. So I thought I’d draft something to help me out.

What do you guys think?

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 Image by © Images.com/Corbis

Image by © Images.com/Corbis

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Dear People,

I say people because sometimes this act crosses boundaries and I’m no longer considered to be in the circle of trust. I’m outside of it. Out!

At least for the time being, and I understand. I get it.

I’ve crossed over from regular Guat, to the mom who has to raise funds for her son’s school.

Yeah.

You know the type, the one with two catalogs in her right hand and the clipboard with order form on the left. The one you hope doesn’t walk over to you and asks you to browse the catalog to see if you’re interested in buying something.

That’s me…for the next week that’s who’ve I become and the thing is I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t sign up for this. My son just came home last week with a “special envelope” addressed to the parents of Little Guat. Just like that, no warning, just an open call for you to do your part. Although I felt I already did my part by buying $48 worth of school supplies and sending them with my kid on the first day of school. You know the dreaded classroom list.

I thought I had done my part, but no. No.

There’s more. There’s always more when you’re a parent of a kid in the public school system. I know you know because you’ve been in my shoes and I’ve been in yours.

So let me just get to it. Let me give you my pitch.

I know you’re not Rachel Ray or any of the other Food Network Stars. I know it. I know that you probably don’t need an $18 lime green vegetable spiralizer for zucchini or yellow squash noodles. I know that you could probably grab your 20% coupon from Bed, Bath, & Beyond and get yourself a cheaper set of two-tone mixing bowls for all your baking needs. I know you probably have your free gift with purchase Estee Lauder or Clinique carryall totes and cosmetic bags and don’t need anymore polywoven plastic bags with reinforced bottoms.

I know.

But I have ask.

Things aren’t the way they used to be in the 80s. They’re not. There are no more music or art classes. None. I’m lucky if my kid will get a chance to use watercolors or know what a violin looks like. No room for creativity or the possibility that he’ll blossom into one of the Kennedy Center Honor recipients. I’d probably have to encourage that side of him through private lessons from some cultural center somewhere and shell out some massive bucks.

But they do have a computer center, although no computer teacher.

They do have a librarian on staff, finally. And books. They do have books. But no avenues to express their artistic talents.

And the weird thing is, I used to have these artistic opportunities during my youth, for free. No fundraising required because the schools thought that this was important enough to fund. It was in the budget at the inner city school I attended as a kid. Ms. Levi was my art teacher and Mr. Davidson was my music teacher, I rocked Beethoven on that violin and my calligraphy wasn’t too bad either.

But seeing how my son is in a better neighborhood, I figured he’d have all kinds of opportunities to make bad music on his trumpet, saxophone, guitar, violin, viola or whatever instrument he would decide to choose. I figured he’d be dabbling in all kinds of Picasso and Monet experiments.

I figured it would come included in this Happy Meal of an education, but no. We got no prizes.

So if you’d like to skip your trip to Target and get one of these handy dandy home, kitchen, or personal accessories and be an advocate for The Arts at the same time, duuuuuude you could totally buy something off one of these catalogs.

Thanks for your help.

Sincerely,

The Guat.

Oh! And P.S. If you can’t peruse the catalog, feel free to take thirty minutes away from your computer time on Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Twitter and etc. to check the website out I’ve included at the bottom. I totally know you want to check out the wide array of silicone bottle topper sets and fodable duffle bags.

www.mixedbagdesigns.com/?fundraiserid=49645

What do you think? Will my family disown me and friends “de-friend” me on Facebook?

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Loving Seuss on His Birthday

2 Mar

I had no idea how amazingly talented this dude was until I was older, perhaps when I decided to be a writer.

I mean really … who creates worlds like that out of the blue, and then pours them out on the page.

And then makes them rhyme.

And then illustrates these worlds with crayons that color outside the box.

And it’s amazing.

Dude.

Dr. Seuss would have been 111 years old today.

I remember growing up and going to the library on the hill, the one overlooking the baseball diamond, I headed to the small children’s section in the back and browsed through the books, figuring out which ones I would check out. I used to sit in that little corner for a while until my Dad came by with books of his own and it was time to check out.

I know a lot of people have their favorites. With The Cat and The Hat, Horton Hears a Who, or Oh, The Places You’ll Go! being at the top. They are pretty awesome books with a good lesson in every one, but I’d have to say that my favorite is The Lorax. I never been in GreenPeace or anything but I think it was a great lesson on caring for the environment and being concerned with how your presence can effect your surroundings.

The Lorax

The Lorax

 

But most of all I think I like The Lorax because he has a little George Costanza in him when things start to fall apart. I mean he tries the nice approach, but The Once-ler doesn’t seem to care about consequences and keeps growing his business at the expense of the environment.

And that’s when it happens … The Lorax hits his Serenity Now moment in hopes that it would change things, but it doesn’t work so he leaves The Once-ler to learn his lesson the hard way.

He reminded me of myself, because sometimes you need a little Costanza in you to get your point across. You need to get passionate and crazy to try to teach people to do the right thing.

I like the fact that this was a kid’s book and someone got a little heated. I liked that there was more than one dimension to the character, because I had more dimension. I had layers. And I liked that I saw that in the book and that it wasn’t a bad thing.

I read it to my kids. It was actually the first Dr. Seuss book I read to my son and enjoyed the fact that he gets caught up in the colorful Dr. Seuss world and appreciates the message. Although The Lorax wasn’t his favorite character, he seemed to enjoy the Brown Bar-ba-loots eating the Truffula fruits and the Humming Fished, who hummed. But his favorite character was the boy in the story, the one with the last Truffula Seed of them all. He seems to care a lot and that’s why he liked him.

And I like that Dr. Seuss exposed this side of my son.

What did Dr. Seuss do for you?

What’s your favorite character?

 

 

 

 

Sandy Hook Elementary

14 Dec

 

Image via quotablecards.com

Image via quotablecards.com

 

The You-Need-To-Care Moment

18 Apr

Some jobs make you want to drink. Others make you want to jump off a cliff. This one made me want to do both.

Middle School Substitute Teacher. It’s the worst job I’ve ever had. It was supposed to be one of those transition jobs, but it never ended. I met all kinds on this gig. But most of my time was spent with hostile teenagers who constantly used profanity and avoided classwork and homework at all costs. They mastered the eye-roll and the smacking of the lips, most of the time accompanied with sarcasm.

I often wondered, what’s up with your parents? Do they even care? I got the response when I met Crystal’s mom.

Crystal was a piece of work. I often filled in for this teacher and most of her classes were filled with tough kids here and there. And most of the time I got comments like, how come you never smile? I was pretty much all business when I was in classroom. I wasn’t the I’m-your-friend kind of teacher. I didn’t need 13-year old friends, especially someone of Crystal’s caliber.

Social Studies classroom at Port Charlotte Hig...

Classroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During our reading comprehension part of the class, Crystal made it a point not to comprehend. I used to give kids three chances — three check marks next to their names — three opportunities to correct themselves before handing out detention, campus beautification, dean’s office referrals, or parent communication. They knew it. They were well-informed. Most kids stopped acting up after the first check mark and campus beautification. They hated cleaning up other kids’ trash. But Crystal was different.

As I explained the assignment for the third time, to make sure every one understood, I see Crystal smacking her gum, like a cow chewing grass. What’s up with kids and gum? I wasn’t a fan of gum, neither was her regular teacher. She knew it. The whole class knew it. So I didn’t understand why she was confused about the rule.

After giving me attitude and a sassy remark, she spit it out. Then came the I’m-not-going-to-do-the-stupid-assignment attitude.

After telling her to start the assignment for the fifth time, I switched her seat so that she wouldn’t distract others. She continued her lackluster effort of paying attention and decided to listen to music.

I took her headphones away and said she could have them back when she finished.

“I don’t care, keep them. I have another pair.”

“Don’t use them here, or I’ll take them away and give you campus beautification.”

“I don’t care, give me campus beautification.”

“I don’t understand, if you don’t want to do the work, don’t come to school. If you want to listen to music stay at home. Just don’t come to school then, because I expect you to do the work. If you don’t do the work you’ll get campus beautification. You’re not just going to sit there and absorb electricity.”

“I don’t care.”

“Oh. You don’t care, do you? That’s one check.”

“I don’t care.”

“Fine you have campus beautification for two days.”

“So what. It’s not like I’m gonna do it.”

“If you don’t do your punishment, you’ll get after-school detention two days.”

“I don’t care.”

“I don’t like your attitude, or your disrespect. That’s two checks for you. If you choose not to do your work or your punishments, there will be consequences.”

“I don’t care. I don’t care about your !#*&@^! consequences or your stupid check marks.”

The class is silent. Waiting on me and my reaction. I was so irritated by this kid. I was done.

“You know what, I’m not even gonna bother sending you to the Dean’s Office. I’m just gonna call your parents myself.”

“I don’t care go ahead.”

Calling parents usually got some kids to shut up and do their work. Some parents actually did some parenting and consequences were involved. Others, well … they needed some assistance. Some sort of intervention miracle.

I don’t know what kind of parents Crystal had, but I was hoping to find out. I wondered if they tolerated Crystal’s eye-roll, the flicking of her fingernails with the other fingernail, and the smacking of the lips, followed by the ever so famous teenager exasperated sigh.

After another thirty minutes of her attitude the bell rang. She collected her books and waited. Most kids tend to bolt as soon as the bell rings, so I often made it a point to hang on to their backpacks until I make the phone call.

I dial the number on file. Disconnected. I dial the emergency contact. The number is no longer in service. She smiles.

I pick up her backpack and have her follow me to the attendance office. There has to be someone, some adult, some relative that can scare her straight. She’s strutting down the hall without a care in the world. All I can think of  was I’m never going to reach anybody related to her, and it’s too early to be pissed off because of some bratty kid. But there I was, frustrated and irritated by a disrespectful sixth grader. Yeah she was in the sixth grade.

As I walk into the attendance office with miserable hopes of getting anything resolved, I run into her mother.

Duuuuuuuuuuuude. Sweet.

I smile and look at the mom.

“I was just on my way here to get your number. Apparently Crystal does not know how to reach you. So we had to make a trip over to the attendance office.”

“I was just here to pick her up early.”

“Well, I’m glad I caught you then. I wanted to speak with you about Crystal’s disrespectful attitude and defiance …”

I explained the events as they occurred and mentioned my three-checks system and the opportunities I gave Crystal to correct her behavior. I looked at the mom:

“All she kept saying was that she didn’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. When I told her I was going to call you, she said I don’t care.”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, the mother raised her hand and … SLAP!!!

“YOU NEED TO CARE!”

All I saw was Crystal’s hair flying wildly to the left as her head turned.

The entire attendance office staff was silent. The students sitting in the waiting area froze. The parents picking up their kids mouthed the word “Ooooooh.”

 Crystal definitely cared the next day.

I’m Sorry What Was That?

7 Mar

I was sitting on the couch trying to unwind from my marathon of a day — 13 fun-filled hours of quality time with my three-year old and seven-month old kids. I began digging into my rocky road ice cream as I surfed the channels. Then, I heard it:  “…Teacher by day, porn star by night tune in at eleven.”

I’m sorry what?

Teacher and porn star?

English: teacher

Image via Wikipedia

I know some guys are like …whoa … fantasy. But I don’t know who has the energy to do both of those jobs. I understand the need to supplement income as a teacher, but dude … seriously, start off pole dancing under an assumed name first.

I mean how did the school or anyone find out. I’m sure some horny teenager or their dad caught the live action, but how did they report it.

“Hey I was accidentally watching this box of porn and I noticed my son’s teacher was the star.” How did that conversation happen?

Not to mention how the teacher must’ve felt when kids were watching her film on their cell phones during nutrition and lunch. I bet the dean’s office was busy that day.

I’ve been in the teaching business — the middle school and high school phases of educating young minds — and it sucks. I know Whitney and her “I-believe-that-children-are-our-future” belief, but have you been in the class with thirty of these pimples? After three weeks, you’re getting a monogrammed flask to keep in your desk drawer. I did not have “the calling.” Don’t get me wrong, I was good at the job and got plenty offers to extend my stay, but it wasn’t for me. But that didn’t mean I was off to try my stint in porn either.

Some are great kids, granted. But that’s some. Not all. Some, which makes it easy to understand why so many educators feel underpaid and unappreciated. But that’s no a reason to delve into the Boogie Nights lifestyle. I mean seriously, pick one or the other.

 I don’t know. If I were a porn star I would probably be hanging with my porn star friends, not having teacher conferences, creating lesson plans, or grading papers. I don’t know, she must really love teaching.  It’s like actors, writers or musicians. We need side jobs, like waitressing, to supplement our dream jobs.  But I’ve never heard of porn being supplemental income, generally it’s primary income.

I don’t know, that’s just me. I could be wrong though.

But after her administrative leave assignment from the school district, I don’t think she’s going to be doing much lesson planning and test grading. In fact I think this semester her calendar is pretty much wide open.

I don’t know, I could be wrong. She may have other jobs too.