Monday, January 30, 2012

Bonding over Bondo

For the past two months, Missi has been going back and forth to Rochester for check-ups every week or two.  Missi's three have been staying with us.

Among the five kids around this circus, only one is a boy.  Sometimes, he gets left out.

One day, he followed J out to the shop and then, around the yard.  Ethan started asking J questions about the old cars scattered throughout our yard.  They've bonded over bondo.

Now, when we go into the supermarket,  Ethan will head for the Auto Trader magazine.  He gets one for him and one for Jason.  He scours through the ads and is awed at the beautiful Mopars and discusses the unique aspects of each specimen of steel.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Adios Capitulo Tres

Last week, we finally finished Chapter Three. Based on my notes, I finished Chapter three on April 30th last year. Hooray - we're three months ahead of schedule from last year. Of course, we haven't had the obstacles we faced last year. Last year, I had a student who was vocal. Every time she didn't understand something, she would whine quite verbally.

  At first, I was annoyed. Whining is annoying after all. But then, I thought about it. She was giving me what I needed to know. I was getting feedback. I was pushing my students in a direction without a map. From her whining, I realized three things I would have to do this year. I split Chapter three into three sections - 1. Vocabulary 2. AR Verb 3. IR,Dar, Y Estar verbs. Then, I dropped the al y del. I dropped those words because even though those words are necessary, they are subtle and small in every day language and confuse Spanish 1 students so much they turn off their brains to everything else and have a language shut down. Sure, I talked about them, but we moved on. I decided that the confusion wasn't worth it.

And gawrsh, I just realized that Chapter 4 is hard too. Now, I have to teach verb phrases and er and ir verbs. While we're doing this, we're learning about foods. I had the kids make pictures of their favorite meals - and of course, I had to cringe as I got pictures labeled in English - EEEEEEEEEKKKKKKK --- really? REALLY? REALLLY?

Oh yeah, so I'll be patient and hand them back and probably give them a bad grade and let them know they can do it again - but they should realize they are in Spanish class - and label them in Spanish for Spanish class.....

So I guess Chapter Four is hard too?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Advice to My Spanish 2 Class: Who Not To Date

We watched this video in Spanish class last week. We still laugh when we see this.. Then, I got serious for a minute - "You know there's really guys like this, right? You know the kind of guy who puts his facebook profile pic as a pic of him in the bathroom without a shirt... "Promise me you will never date that guy." And we all laughed. And then, I reminded them of this song... and told them "Don't date that guy either."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On Tenth and Eighth Grade...

I don't think anyone can ever know how difficult tenth and eighth graders are until they've had a room of twenty of them. 

Tenth grade baggage has become easier for me.  Both my years teaching Spanish, I've adored my Spanish 1 class at this time of the year.  We've figured each other out.  We've found our groove and even if they don't like me, they know that they should at least, pretend to laugh at my jokes. 

Sometimes, they just want to show us they're not kids, and they forget and are rude.  And, we kindly remind them.  "That was rude."  And go on our way.

Eighth grade is a bit more difficult.  They want to be grown-ups.  They are annoyed that you don't let them just do what they want.  But - if you pick your battles, they get through it.  If you let the eye roll go, and give them a bit of space, most of them come back to being who they really are - that sweet, vulnerable kid who wants to do well in the world -

I remember one mom calling me and telling me that her daughter was "going through a rough patch" and "not to take things so personally," oh and "she just needs some understanding."

When I ended the conversation, I told her kindly; "I get that, but I will remind her of when she's being rude."

Some classes are a bit more difficult than others - and once in while, you get a group, like my eldest daughter's class - who starts in seventh grade.  Kids who want so much attention they are constantly being sent to the Principal's office.  A group of kids who generally believe what they have to say is far more important than Algebra, Onomatopoeia, or the constituion.

We just have to grit our teeth and pick our battles.  Most of the time, we just have to wait it out and say "I think you shouldn't say that."  And eventually, they get it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Lunch Bag Club

Just like the kids, my favorite part of the day is lunch time.  Sure sure, I love the challange of teaching the kids Spanish.   Sure, sure I love making the kids laugh and telling them stories. There's just something to be said about that part of the day when we get together with our peers and - I know this sounds cheesy - enjoy being friends.

I hate to brag, but I work with such awesome cats.  There's many a lunch time when I leave and my sides hurt from laughing so much.  I think each one of us at that table has had a heavy load this past year, but we've been cheering each other on and laughing. And laughing some more.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Little Bit of Normal

Missi has been home off and on since Thanksgiving.  We're finding out what our new normal is.  I think for the most part, her kids just like her to be home. 

With so many steriods, Missi's pancreas zonked out for awhile, so the Peterson 5 has three diabetics, now.  Even though Missi is fabulous with figuring out her children's diabetes, I had to laugh when she bought some Tootsie Rolls on the way to Rochester last week.  The next day, her nurse coordinator asked her why her blood sugars were so high.

"Prednisone."  Missi answered.

"Tootsie Rolls." I laughed.

I guess diabetes isn't so easy to adapt to when it happens to one's own self. 

Today, Missi goes back to Rochester for more appointments.  The road is long and hard, but we're glad to make the trek.  Not everyone is given such odds in the fight against cancer. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Scar Face

Of all the nicknames from my hometown, the nickname that affected me the most was Scar Face.  My nick name was Scar Face.  I have a scar on my face.  Mostly, I like to forget that nickname.

When I was five, I was staying at my grandma's house.  She had a dog named Charlie.  I specifically remember my grandma telling me NOT TO FEED THE DOG CANDY.  I remember specifically telling my grandma; "That's crazy.  Charlie loves candy." 

I got THE look.  "DO NOT feed Charlie candy.  He will get sick."

Silly grandma.  She didn't know what she is talking about.

Later that night,  I was playing house and decided that Charlie should be my husband.  I put a blanket over his head and was hugging him.  He got scared and bit me. 

I don't remember the actual bite.  I remember my sister seeing the blood and screaming.  I remember my mom and dad getting me from my grandma's and bringing me to the emergency room.  I remember the doctor sewing up my cheek and nurses holding my hand.

I remember going back to school with stitches on my face, and the kids backing away from me.  I had glasses the size of coke bottles, stitching across my cheek, and a patch on one eye because of lazy eye.

As we grew up, the class ahead of me started watching "The Godfather," and my nick name was born.  Growing up with that nickname was the hardest thing I ever had to do. 

As an adult, I've chosen forgiveness.  When I see the boys who've spit on me and taunted me, I pretend like it never happened, and the men, they've become, are grateful for the amnesia. There is always a silent exchange of "I'm so sorry" and "I forgive you."  If it was said out loud, there probably would be tears.  I would rather silently acknowledge the pain and move on.

When I talk to my students of bullying, I gloss over the stories of being "Scar Face."  When adult strangers ask me about my scar, I'm always suprised that they would ask me about something so personal.