Category Archives: Education

Back to School, Part 3

If you’ve kept up with this blog for any length of time, you may remember my posts about Secret Teacher Insights – Schooled and Schooled, Part 2. Well, with Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and this being my first V-Day out of the classroom, I’ve been thinking. Last week, someone asked me if I missed teaching. My honest answer? Sometimes. But the ability to go to the bathroom whenever I want during the work day totally outweighs any sadness at beign out of public education. Seriously. If you’ve never taught, you won’t get this one. So think about it – teachers can’t just drop everything for a bathroom break whenever. It takes planning. And time, which is something teachers have very little of. But that one simple question got me thinking about other possible topics for my book. Want a taste? Ok, here you go…

If you teach long enough, kids grow up. This one seems like a no-brainer, so hear me out. Remember how weird it was to see your teacher away from school? Like at the grocery store or a restaurant? They just didn’t look right. Especially if they were in shorts and a t-shirt. Well, that goes both ways, folks. Happened just the other day. I had to print off resumes for the day’s interviews at work, and I recognized a name. Looking closer, I realized that it was a kid I taught WAY back in the day. I ran to my boss and excitedly told her, and she asked if there was anything the Head Honcho should know before the guy came in to interview. Hmmm… Should I have told her that he was the kid who sat with his hands down his pants through my entire first official observation? That’s a tough one. Of course I told her. But I made her promise (after she picked herself up off the floor laughing) not to pass that one on to the Head Honcho. Still, it was weird to see this tall young man in a business suit come through the office. I couldn’t for the life of me erase the vision of the kid with both hands busy in his wind shorts.

Teachers hear everything that goes on at home. Case in point: the kindergartener who told me his mom would be a few minutes late picking him up from school. When I asked why, he plainly told me that it was because she needed extra time to move around. “My mommy’s having trouble bending,” the wide-eyed cherub said. “Is she OK?” I asked with concern. “Yeah, but ever since she got the ring in her belly button she has trouble bending,” the cherub replied. I kid you not. I’ve said it before – I can’t make this stuff up!

Some parents can be overly sympathetic. This is a funny one here. Just warning you. One of the schools had very strict rules about class parties. It was a newer school, and of course the administration wanted to do what they could to preserve the carpets, etc. So the rule was – at parties – that every kid had to remain seated until all of the food/drink/sugary stuff was cleaned up. Sensible, right? Not for one mommy. She rounded on me in the middle of the room and lambasted me for not allowing her sweet little daughter – who didn’t like Sprite – to get up and drink some water. For goodness sake, the mom yelled said, the poor darling was going to get dehydrated. I stood my ground. Of course, the forty other parents stood around and watched this happen.

When it was over and the mommy had stormed to the office determined to confront the principal on this one, another mom sidled up to me and whispered, “Strawberry or Apple?” My natural reaction was to look at her like WTHeck?? And I’m sure I had that ‘deer in headlights’ look of a teacher who’s just been yelled at. She was nice enough to clarify. “I can be back in five minutes. The gas station has Boone’s, and I know you need it after that. So, strawberry or apple?”

Like I said, I’m not creative enough to make this stuff up!

School nurses really can work magic. My first year teaching, I had an adorable girl named Annie in my class. Annie was the sweetest, most loving child. She always tried her best. But she was one of those that you’d just look at and think, ‘Bless her little heart.’ In southern-speak, that translates to ‘she’s just not the sharpest knife in the drawer.’

One afternoon, Annie went to the bathroom. For a really long time. In fact, she came back just as we were packing up to get on the buses to go home. And she looked panicked. She told me that she had lost her tooth. Being the new, good teacher I was, I tried to reassure her and get her a treasure box for her tooth. ‘That’s the problem,’ she sobbed, ‘I swallowed it.’ She was hysterical. I sent her to the nurse. Just as we left for the bus, Annie came back, smiling and happy with a fresh treasure box proudly held in her hand. She told me that the tooth was inside.

Huh? I marched my happy self down to the nurse after school and demanded to know what she’d done.

‘I got it out,’ the nurse told me. ‘The tooth. I got it out.’

I believed her for about ten minutes until she finally busted out laughing. Who says ‘gullible’ isn’t in the dictionary?

I’ve got many, many more tidbits here, folks. What do you think? Should I keep this up and turn it into a book? There’s millions of gems stored up in my head!

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Filed under Childhood, Education, Field Trips, life lessons, Moms, Public Education, Teachers, Teaching, Uncategorized

Standin’ on a Soapbox

Let’s just start out by saying that I’m gonna shake it up today and probably ruffle a few feathers. Hopefully I’ll start some thought-provoking conversation (or at least thoughts.) Today’s topic is one that has rankled me for a long time.

Homeschooling.

I’m gonna be honest – I’m NOT against homeschooling. I can think of many situations where it’s a good thing, and I know many excellent, kid-driven homeschool moms who have their families’ best interests at heart when making that decision. For example:

The mom of a large military family. They move around a lot, sometimes abroad. By homeschooling, she’s able to provide her kids with tons of continuity in their learning.

The Godly woman whose spouse travels so extensively for work that they would not get time together as a family if they couldn’t travel together and take school with them.

The mom of a child with special needs who can truly provide a one-on-one education for her child.

Several families who, for religious reasons, have chosen to educate their children at home.

These are just four, but I know many more. I’m not puzzled by those moms. I get it. I support their decisions. And they don’t judge me for choosing to keep my kiddoes in public school.

I start to question the decision when it’s not made 100% about the kids. I’ve talked to many women about this, and I get concerned when I hear moms say things like, ‘We just don’t like that school, teacher, class, other kids, so we took him/her out and keep them at home.’ Or a few that just hate The Establishment and want no part of that for their kids. Now, I know that homeschooling (or not) is a personal decision, but consider the following:

I’m a product of public school. I didn’t always like it. But there are some life lessons that I fully believe kids need to learn in order to become fully productive members of the society in which we live.

  • Life’s not fair. It just isn’t. There’s always going to be someone who has more, does better or simply succeeds ‘just because.’ I didn’t like it in school (still don’t) but as an adult, I can’t just walk away from a situation where this happens.
  • Sometimes people won’t like you, no matter what. I can count on one hand the two teachers who didn’t like me. For whatever reason, they didn’t. My parents encouraged me to speak up for myself and be proactive when I felt like something was out of line. There was only one time where they got involved. And you know what? I can’t just leave a job because I think my boss doesn’t like me. I learned how to handle it.
  • Kids bully. They can be mean. It’s the truth. We’ve all been bullied, and I definitely had more than my share because I was an easy target. Smart kid, glasses, dressed funny, liked to read, etc. But again, you learn how to handle it. My parents used those times as teachable moments. I’m trying to do the same with my kiddoes.
  • Schools can’t teach right and wrong. As a former educator, I know this. We try the best we can to teach social skills but fully recognize that it is the function of the family unit to instill values and ethics.

Bored yet? If not, keep reading. What truly puzzles me are a couple of examples that I’ve encountered. And let me say for the record that I fullly recognize these as exceptions rather than the majority of homeschool moms.

A mom who started homeschooling because it was just ‘too much of a headache to get the kindergartener up, dressed and off to school without her throwing a fit.’ What does that teach the child about routine, life and responsibility?

The mom who rushes through the math textbook in a month because she ‘hates math and doesn’t get the topic’ in order to get it over with for the year and then spends the majority of time on reading and writing.

The kids I’ve talked to who say things like, ‘Yeah, we did biology back in December, but we haven’t done it in a couple of months.’ How will they be prepared for college or a job when disagreeable subjects or tasks must be done every day or consequences will result?

And finally, the following conversation I had with two adorable homeschooled children, ages four and seven:

7 – Yeah, we love school cause Mom’s such a good teacher.
4 – And it’s fun cause Mom forgets about school a lot and we don’t have to do it.
7 – NO! Remember, Mom told us to say that we do school every day.

WHAT??! Seriously I didn’t make that up. I could go on, but basically just wanted to say this: I’d love to get your thoughts on homeschooling, pro and con, in order to better understand these few exceptions. Help me get it, please! Because in these few cases, I don’t. And I want to understand.

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Filed under Education, family, Homeschooling, life lessons, Moms