Friday, April 23, 2010

The Countdown Begins

Each year standardized tests are earlier and earlier. Sadly, as soon as the students take the test, they check out... literally. Teachers, club advisors, school guidance all have mandates with little time left to do everything so the school calendar is overloaded with a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing.

Consequently, we have money being collected for Field trips, Relay for Life, Cystic Fibrosis, Pennies for Who knows what? There are Field Trips; Take Your Kid to Work Day, Everglade Slogging, Museum Day, Talent Show rehearsals, Fifth grade articulation, Band Spring concerts, Micro Day, Spring Bling and the list goes on and on and on... I am exhausted thinking about everything.

My frustration lies in the fact that while reading, science, math may have a break after the FCAT, social studies does not. In sixth grade we are mandated to teach from Paleolithic Man to World War II in the same amount of time that we used to teach up to Renaissance. We have Black History, Women in History, Florida History, Hispanic History, Holocaust Awareness all infused within our curriculum. To make matters worse we have shorter class periods than the rest of the county; yet we have to cover the same amount of material.

How does this play out? Simply put, the kids suffer. The only way a teacher can keep the pace is to assign reading pages for homework or more written work. Parents complain we are too tough on our students; kids need a life.

Lyons Creek needs to look at the Micro Society component. It is not working the way it was conceptualized. Our postal system, banking, courts, and police ... nothing is working. It actually was the best the first year when the kids used computers to order from micro stores and goods were delivered. It is time to throw in the towel. If we don’t operate real world then we need to void out of the program. As much as I love my puppets, I am throwing in the towel for a six period day and five more minutes per class, thirty plus minutes per week.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Looking Back

Every now and then something triggers memories and I obsess over them. This time it was probably a television show showing a “near death experience”.

My father had a heart attack in November 1975. He was in the hospital and he had another attack one day while I was visiting at the hospital. The scene was like something from a TV episode from a Grey’s Anatomy or ER. Nurses shuffled me out the door and I held my breath and banged the wall in the hall and sobbed uncontrollably.

Our family kept vigil the next three days when finally the doctors thought dad was out of the woods. His total time in the hospital was two weeks.

It was Sunday December 7th. Dad and I were alone visiting and he told me about the day in the hospital when he flat lined and they put the paddles on him. He said he was looking down and he saw all of the nurses and the doctor. He saw me crying in the hall. He described me pounding the wall and sobbing. He described a peaceful light and going towards it. He said it was wonderful and he did not want to leave the light. (Keep in mind this was 1975 before all the television and books on “near death experience”) He was almost crying and said. “Why did I come back, I need to know the reason, what could it be”.

We were interrupted when Annie came into see him. She had her little Black baby doll Lulu. Daddy said, “Feed your baby Annie”. Annie jumped up on the rocking chair, pulled up her shirt and nursed her doll. He always got such a kick out of that. It is a picture that is painted in my mind, Annie and her Gigi.

Then Daddy said, “I want you to go back to school. I cannot work any more; maybe I can be strong enough to watch the baby. You have to go back to school”.

I kissed Dad goodbye and made him promise to lie down after he ate his dinner.

He died that evening; he went in after dinner, laid his head back and had another attack.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind why daddy came back from the light. It was to deliver the message that changed my life. Each time I wanted to give up when I finally did return to school with two babies, two jobs and no money I thought of daddy and his last words to me.

I love teaching even with all of the bureaucracy and crap. I am a teacher, I make a difference. Thanks, daddy.