Some Happy News

I have not felt compelled to write. I am not sure why. But today I got some good news about my former students who will be attending high school next year that I just had to write about.

See, every February I would spend the entire month trying to help my 8th grade students fix their applications, practice for interviews, pick out appropriate clothing, google directions, and edit essays. We would find out together who was accepted to the local Catholic high schools and who was turned down. We would then put the backup plan in place once we got the news we didn’t want to hear. February was full of emotions, sometimes happy, sometimes disappointing, and always nerve-wracking.

Well, today I heard almost every single student in my former class was accepted! I celebrate them and all of their hard work! I am not there with them, and it makes me sad. I would love to run up to them and jump up and down with them. I am so proud of them. I hope they know how truly proud I am of them and how much I love them.

Today, was a good day, it was a success. Thank you Lord.

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What Do I Want to be When I Grow Up?

Book Pricing

1 book is $9.99

2 books for $18.00

3 books  for $25.50

4 books for $32.00

5 books for $38.75

6 books for $46.00

The entire set of 10 for $85.00

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As an administrator I can stand back and see things so much more clearly. The fight and exhaustion of meeting all the needs of so many diverse learners is still my responsibility, but in such a different way. Like a counselor that helps a patient in emotional need, who explains strategies on relationships, it’s now my job to explain what needs to be done on a daily basis for students who are ELL in the general education classroom. Although TESOL training is extremely important when working with students whose primary language is something other than English in American schools, everyone in a classroom does not have this certification yet teach these very special students for hours a day. The ELL teacher is usually a support for that student throughout a very long day.

Here’s the challenge for most general education teachers who work with ELL Students; these teachers already have close to thirty students in one room who all have needs! Think about it. Every day, all day, these teachers have to determine the ways each of his students learn best, generate diverse lessens that each student can connect with, assess them for knowledge, rethink lesson that don’t work, and then fit in all the curriculum. It is a daunting job and one that is extremely important. With that being said, no teacher has the right to ignore even one child in the classroom when it comes to providing the accommodations needed to make a child succeed in school. So Ell, or ESL, or now EL (English Learners) students have to be recognized and unfortunately they may be a bit easier to ignore, especially if they are no longer identified as English Language Learners or have never been identified.

An accent doesn’t necessarily make an ELL student, but it is a fine clue. Does the child primarily speak a different language at home, meaning, does the child walk off the school bus and enter a completely different culture? During breaks, how often are they immersed in their home language and English isn’t even heard? Educators talk about summer slide in academic learning. The fact that when students do not speak the language of their school, they will experience summer slide. Students that are well versed in social English speaking can be so easily overlooked. Their fluent speak is misleading. They may speak with confidence with their friends and even adults, but most will still struggle with academic vocabulary and the more complex the subject matter, the more the child will struggle.

Academic vocabulary is a whole other bird that has to be attacked straight on across the curriculum. Teachers have to teach vocabulary, and they have to revisit it often in many different ways. Students need to be able to use the words in context. They have to be able to visualize the meaning of the words and develop background knowledge. It helps to know the origin of the word, how it fits into the subject area, and its multiple meanings. Prefixes and suffixes have to be taught. Students need to know the meanings of them and how they change the connotations of the words. Verb tenses are a challenge for just about everyone, but especially for ELL students, but once they recognize them and understand how they affect the meaning of a sentence their writing will improve dramatically.

Put yourselves in their shoes. Go to a social event where English is not spoken. Immerse yourself in an event where your language is not spoken. How do you feel? Do you get everything being said? Can you engage in a meaningful conversation where your intent is understood easily? Think about the ways your learning would be affected if you could not understand the instructor, if all of your friends had it pretty easy and were engaged in the activity, if you were sitting on the sidelines. Would you meet the standard?

Really use your assessments. Stop pointing fingers. Reflect on your own teaching practices. Teach your students! Go outside your comfort zone and look for strategies that work with the students in your classroom. You may have to change your lesson plans. You may have to lengthen your lessons and some standards may have to be sacrificed to truly TEACH another one. Take your time and do it right. After all, it’s about the students.

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Last night it was cold, snow flurrying, and I was non-motivated. The OSU game was over so I rented a movie. I chose “Bad Moms” because I wanted to laugh. Okay, I did. There were some very inappropriate scenes and bad language but the overall point was spot on to how I have been feeling lately.

Parents these days are torn at every angle. Work has become 24/7 with technology and the demands to always be available. Even teachers get emails at 10:00 pm on a weeknight with a question or concern from a parent and we often answer them by 10:02 pm. It is tough to turn off our brains and relax.

The movie shows a mother doing her best at keeping up with all of the demands of work and a family; but she isn’t quite succeeding. She is often late for work, soccer practice, PTA meetings, and picking up her kids after school. She tries desperately to keep up, but life just gets in her way. Her husband is no help either.

She makes up her mind and quits trying to be “perfect”. She decides it is better to not be involved in all the (gluten free, GMO free, sugar free) bake sales, soccer mom extras, PTA politics, and pressuring of her children to make high grades all the time. She decides she wants to lessen the pressure on herself, and her children, so they are not so stressed all the time. She wants to enjoy life and she wants her 12 year old daughter to quit worrying about building her resume for college and be a kid.

Anyone else feeling this way? I know I get overwhelmed when I keep working harder and trying harder and I never really seem to get caught up. Somewhere I feel I am failing. My husband is upset with me over something I have done or not done, my kids complain about dinner, or me being 2 minutes late to pick them up, or some random piece of paperwork was due yesterday at work so my principal is annoyed, or my students want their graded tests back by the end of the day. Fail, fail, fail, but I am doing my best.

Although I laughed my head off at the ridiculously exaggerated scenes, although maybe not that exaggerated, I felt like it was the “perfect” movie for me to watch on a cold Saturday night. We are all trying and the point that she kept bringing up is that we should QUIT JUDGING each other so harshly!

Everyone has something they are battling and no one is perfect. Quit the comments about weight, or food choices, or life styles. Quit the comments about test scores, or college choices, or cars and houses. Quit the constant comparisons and criticizing opinions.

This behavior is all we see every day everywhere. On television and social media everyone has an opinion. Maybe we should try to be kinder and less judgmental. Maybe our children will learn to be better citizens and have more tolerance for others if we model compassion instead of judgment.

So, if I am a bad mom so what? I am not perfect, and by the way, either are you! We should build each other up instead of tearing each other down! Let’s all try, okay?

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