Category Archives: education

Teachers Matter

I live in a state that is currently in the middle of a teacher walkout. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had some wonderful teachers in my life and I believe they can make all the difference. These are the people who shape the leadership for generations. These are the people who help teach our kids to think, to act, to understand our history, our system. They teach our kids how to work together – something a whole lot of adults could stand to learn. They make learning exciting so they want to continue to learn for the rest of their lives. Or at least, the good ones do. Yes, as in every profession, there are the occasional people who are not as involved, not as excited but truly, teachers don’t make enough for people you don’t love the profession to do it.

Many years ago, I had a particular teacher who just made everything work. At the time I was in a special program so it wasn’t really run like your standard classes. I was in fourth grade, not dealing with the best situation at home, and Mrs. VanWert was the best thing I could ever have asked for that year. We did a project on Mesopotamia that year and part of it was giving a report in front of the class – this project was all the subjects in one – history, art, English, science. Maybe not math but I could have forgotten something. I was partnered with a girl named Sandy and we kicked butt to win the special cassette single of Walk Like An Egyptian (man, now I feel old).¬†We built a sarcophagus out of cardboard, offering jars and totem statues from clay and paint, and instead of doing a report, we wrote a script… two hapless archaeologists one of whom, me, fell into the sarcophagus and totally freaked out at the skeleton inside. I really loved that school, that class. It gave me something to look forward to, when I wasn’t tumbling headlong into my books or fighting evil wizards with my weird white staff (not really a stick but the guts out of a drapery rod that I found on the beach).

In high school (six years and 3000 miles later), I learned that not all teachers are there to be supportive or kind but they can still be motivators. I might not have worked so hard at my writing if Mr. Nick hadn’t pretty well told me I would never succeed. Of course, he didn’t think very much of me to begin with but there’s no accounting for taste, is there? It was a good lesson to learn and one that thankfully would never be repeated even though that year was the last year I cared one whit about school (not any teacher’s fault but the loss of my mom, my depression, and the beginning of a pretty steep spiral that would end a few years later with severe panic attacks and not leaving my house for a year except with my husband).

Teachers matter. Even the bad ones. We should treat them better and pay them what they’re worth. They should make enough to entice more people to the profession. They shouldn’t be paying out of pocket for classroom supplies. They should be supported and celebrated not having to walk in the cold and the rain just to be treated OK, not even adequately, just OK. One of my teacher friends seems to be feeling a bit guilty and selfish for being out on the line and not in the classroom and that’s just not right. It’s not selfish to want to be able to at least survive on your salary after all those years preparing for your career. You shouldn’t set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

In a completely unrelated bit – I’m catching up on Star Wars Rebels and a thing happened and I made a sound and maybe got a little weepy and my Alfred pup got up in my face with his silly grin, trying to lick my face and stop that. Silly, adorable punk. If you’re a Star Wars fan, Rebels is worth watching. The series format gives you a lot of room for mythology, story, and character growth. Plus, Jedi wolves. Seriously, amazing Jedi wolves.

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Filed under education, kids, Life

An actual productive day

I feel like I should have had more of them so far but, I’ll take whatever I can get at this point. I did everything on my to-do list today (not that it was a long list). I even put words in on Hunter’s Hell – a grand total of about 800 of them and that’s a whole lot better than yesterday’s 0. I put my face on and, while I need a lot of practice with the pretties, I can do my eyes. It’s not as pretty as what Heidi did yesterday but yeah. Pretty. I’m a very happy lady.

My list of things to do this year is pretty long and I’m doing my best to get on track to get them done. I added a few things to that list today, a few things I’d like to learn how to do or get better at doing. In theory, I know how to make paper. In practice, it’s been 25 years since the last time I did that and I don’t have my mom to help me now so I imagine there will be some trial and error there but I know I love artisan paper and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that. I’d like to learn nuno-felting only not with lamb’s wool because I would like to not make my skin hate me but it’s just such a neat idea and I’d love to see if I can make something like what popped in my head when I read about that the first time.

Now I’ve got to set up my to do list for tomorrow that hopefully includes getting the kids ready for school again… fingers crossed it stays just a two hour delay.

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Filed under Crafting, Crafts, education, etsy, goals, Interesting, Life, Writing

IEP Season

Every year about this time, parents of special ed or gifted kids start re-reading old IEPs, Googling measurable goals, and making lists of questions for the annual meeting about the modifications to their child’s education plan. I’ve been doing this for a very long time but I always get nervous anyway. So far, knock on wood, I’ve been very lucky and only had one cantankerous meeting that, because I was prepared wasn’t actually an issue at all in the end.

I’m at the advantage because there aren’t many services my son needs – some flexibility in the classroom when he needs to stand up or wiggle a bit, a safe place to decompress if he is having a really bad day, and a teacher who isn’t a “quiet hands” sort of teacher who redirects an obnoxious stim rather than scolding him for it. A lot of families I know need a whole lot more than that and it’s a fight for them in ways I’ve never had to deal with.

I’ve been dealing with IEPs for a long time, I even did a weekend seminar/class to be better able to deal with them not just for my own kids but for the families I’ve come across with my support group. I think when you know what you’re dealing with – the language, the pretty standard format, and very few deviations from the standard protocol, you’re able to go into that meeting with confidence. During the Wrightslaw seminar (if they are in your area and you deal with IEPs or 504s it’s worth the time and money to go – you will never regret it) they talk a lot about separating your emotions to be a better advocate for your child and I’ve never gotten better advice. If you leave your emotions at the door, it’s a lot easier to work with the give and take there has to be in a situation like this.

For me, this year was a bit more fraught than usual as we’re transitioning toward middle school and that’s an enormous change. There are so many new things to worry about and so many changes and I’ve heard so many horror stories that all begin in middle school. Fortunately, I have a great team and very little was changed from last year so we’ll just have to see how it goes. The best part of an IEP is that we can always change it if we need to. If what we have put together doesn’t work in practice, we can reconvene and try again. Hopefully we won’t have to but it’s nice to know we can. Now I can get back to my normal work writing stories and such now. Relief is the word of the day.

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Filed under Autism, education, Parenting