Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What is the silliest thing that ever happened to you?

The silliest thing that ever happened to me was finding myself in an episode of Roadrunner vs.Coyote, or Tom vs Jerry.

I slipped and fell on a banana peel.

It wasn't entirely my fault.....I stepped into (or, more accurately, ONTO) a trap.
Said banana peel was carefully placed inside the exterior doors of the administration building at my school. It was late on a busy Friday afternoon, and I was hustling around trying to get my classroom cleared up from the week, prepped for Monday, and ready for the school carnival on Saturday. I left my classroom and headed toward the teacher's workroom, meaning to make a few copies of something for the following week.

The school was busy, with lots of parents working on carnival preparations, and their kids running about, some more supervised than others. I walked up to the double steel doors, turned the handle, and began to step inside. I heard a variety of shouts - "No!" "Don't!" "Pick that up right now!" without knowing what they were for.....until my left foot landed squarely on the peel that had been carefully placed just inside the doorframe. Suddenly, I began a slow-motion slide that resulted in a near-splits, with my entire self coming down onto my left wrist. I rolled onto the floor, in quite a daze. I had no idea how I'd gone from upright to on my back, looking up into the shocked eyes of a former student of mine.

This child, a first grader, decided it would be EVER so funny to watch someone go sliding just like in the cartoons. What she didn't realize was that it would be ME, her last year's teacher, that would hit the deck! A rapid recitation of "I'm sorry I'msorry I'msorryMrs.D I'm sorry I'm sorry" rang through the hallway. I'm quite certain that, had I the ability to burn holes in steel with my eyes, the child would have gone up in a puff of smoke. Several parents (who had of COURSE witnessed the entire embarrassing show) helped me up and shooed her away. I assured them that I was fine, continued on into the office, and went in to tell the secretary what had happened. When I got into the office, I realized that my arm was screaming in pain and swelling up so fast that I didn't think I'd be able to remove my watch.

Two visits to the OSHA clinic, one to the x-ray facility, and a day off work for doctor's appointments later, it was determined that I did NOT have a broken wrist, rather a bad sprain.
Everywhere I went, when I had to describe what happened, the reactions ranged from raised eyebrows to guffaws of hysterical laughter.

I spent about 10 weeks going to physical therapy three times a week to rehabilitate from my little cartoon adventure. Why this post now, 2 years later? Because I picked up my rolling tote of teacher goodies today and promptly dropped it; my left wrist completely gave way when I tried to lift it out of the back of the MomWagon.

Apparently, my recuperative powers are not quite up to the same level as those of the Coyote.
Even though the label on banana peel said Dole, not ACME.

So, what is the silliest thing that ever happened to you, Gentle Reader?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hello, again...

Hello. (Do you see the Lionel Richie video in your head now? I do.)

I've not been very good about keeping up with blogging, have I? Hmmm, there's a shock. Lately, it seems that I'm not keeping up with a lot of things. Just this morning, several of us were lamenting the lack of Bewitched-type nose-twitch-induced cleaning abilities. Or a wand...my kingdom for a wand and a spellbook, a la Harry Potter. You know, a Marauder's Map that would show where all my childrens' misplaced belongings are would be lovely, too.

So I'm sitting here recovering from the Friday night junior high dance (complete with fire alarms going off!) and Saturday night's fiesta of 12 year old girls. MissyMiss had several friends over to celebrate her birthday, even though it was a couple of weeks late. MisterBoychild and his father left to go to a car show several hours away for the day - side note, what is the attraction of driving 5 hours away, sitting in a parking lot with a bunch of other car people, then driving home 5 hours? I don't get it - so it was just Estrogen City at Casa Rambling last night.

Lord have MERCY. I don't remember having that much energy when I was 12, though I probably did. Like a gaggle of geese, they honked and hooted all night long! Every time I went to check on them, they went silent.......agreed very politely to whatever I said.......then shut the door and burst into hysterical giggles. Not very suspicious behavior, not at all! I know that they spent the majority of the night talking into their cellphones at the same time, all to different people. I believe most of them were boys, but I'm not positive.

I watched a couple of movies (chick flicks, as MM called them - What Happens in Vegas and Marley and Me) and graded some papers between bouts of providing snacks and drinks and calling for BG checks. The good news on the D front is that neither girl (MM or her pal C, both of whom have the 'betes) had horrifying BGs last night, despite the junk that mysteriously appeared in the game room, as evidenced by the wrappers found on the floor. Bad news was that one pal went home in the middle of the night because she felt so lousy. I hope that her headache/stomachache/general yuckiness weren't passed along to the rest of the crowd.

Met with a couple of moms from the support group today, which was fun....though I heard stories about teachers and diabetes that made my blood pressure SKYROCKET. Just when I think I've heard it all, comes another chapter of "how to NOT behave with a student with diabetes in your class". Suffice it to say that if this particular teacher were on the staff at MY school, I would have done something......unseemly.....to her. After I made sure that the principal, the superintendent, the board members, and the little green men on Mars heard about her terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad behavior. (side note #2 - Judith Viorst has SUCH a way with words....if you don't know what I mean, you must go out IMMEDIATELY and get the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. Immediately! Like right now! Library or bookstore, I don't care....stop reading my sorry little blog and go NOW!)

It makes me so sad to think that so many teachers who WANT to be in the classroom, who LOVE to work with children and their parents, who SHOULD be teaching, are losing their jobs while nasty old crones are still there. I have friends who are fabulous teachers that have no idea if they will have a job next year, simply because they switched school districts at a bad time.

So, having rambled on and on, Gentle Readers, I send you forth with a few tasks. First, if you still are here and haven't read Alexander...., you really must. The followup book, Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday is a great one as well. Second, if you are a parent of a CWD and you have a wonderful, supportive teacher, TELL HER/HIM. Teacher Appreciation Week is coming soon, and this is a great time to tell your child's teacher how grateful you are. Tell the principal if your teacher is doing a great job, and if you have a nurse or health tech that is fabulous, tell about them, too. Let the district office know that you are pleased with the care your child receives in his/her school and name names! They hear the bad stuff all day long; we need to impress upon those who make decisions that it's NOT JUST ABOUT TEST SCORES. Children have so many more needs than just to write a complete sentence or add a column of numbers correctly, and having staff that sees to the *whole* child is a blessing that can't be quantified. Third, if you have a teacher that is NOT all that could be desired, document and report. I'm certain that there are days where I have not been Mary Sunshine and probably made children and their parents unhappy for one reason or another, and most of the time I have heard about it. But there is a big difference between having a bad day and violating a child's rights, and THAT needs to be put to a stop.

As the school year comes to its conclusion, I can't promise to update more frequently, or with fewer rambles. I will promise to at least make an attempt to be slightly more current.
Next time, my summer plans - some of which should be great, and some of which are not going to be any fun at all....

Friday, April 3, 2009

Standardized Testing.....

Next week, our school will be giving the state standardized tests. I spent a good portion of my afternoon today covering up the calendar, the number chart, the number line, the 6 Traits of Writing poster, and anything else on the walls of my classroom that might "aid" a student in answering the questions on the standardized test. Never mind the fact that we spend a good deal of time TEACHING kids to use the resources at hand to help them figure out the answers to questions (don't know what that means? Let's look it up!). Heaven FORBID they actually see a number line on the wall and use it to count forward or backward to get the answer to a math problem! I'm wondering how long it will be before they outlaw fingers? Sorry, kid, you have to sit on your hands for the whole test. And don't even THINK about trying to count on your toes!

For a kid with diabetes (or any other medical issue, really) the standardized test presents a whole new set of problems. My daughter has a 504 plan, which is a legal document stating that she has a medical condition that can impair her ability to learn or perform daily tasks. This document sets out certain guidelines that the school must follow to help her to achieve while dealing with the medical necessities of diabetes. If she didn't take insulin, her blood sugar would skyrocket, and her ability to think would be compromised (and she'd fall into a coma and die, but that's a whole 'nuther issue). If she has a low blood sugar due to her diabetes, she can have a seizure - but even before it gets that severe, her ability to think rationally, to remember information, to write clearly is severely impacted. Both highs and lows take time to treat and return to normal blood sugar levels. BUUUUT, when you are taking a standardized test, everyone gets exactly the same amount of time, no matter what. Unless you have a 504 (or an IEP, individualized education plan, another document that spells out what special accomodations kids require).

The rub is this: in order to receive accomodations for your issue, whatever it is (diabetes, a learning disability, a broken writing hand that 's in a cast) you have to be tested in an alternate location. You can't stay with your regular teacher and your regular classmates and take the test at the same times as them, because YOU might have to go to the bathroom extra, or stop and have a juice box to bring up your blood sugar. YOU might have to use a calculator because you have an identified learning disability in math - but no one else gets to. YOU may need to have someone write your answers for you because your arm is in a cast.....and we can't have you doing that in front of all the other little test-taking-machines.

This need to be separated is understandable; teachers are under a LOT of pressure with these tests to make sure that every little quirk of the rules is followed, and having one person using a different set of rules would be hard. But the stress it causes to the kids who are sent off to a different room, a different teacher, with different kids has an effect on their testing! My DD is now almost 12, and she would be OK going elsewhere, but it makes her angry. She was VERY unhappy last year that she had to leave her class to go to another room and take the test with the special ed. teacher who was supervising small groups of testers. I have a student, though, who is on a 504 for a specific health issue, who was VERY upset that he had to go take the test in a different room for the last round of testing. I think that it had a negative impact on him and on his test scores, because he is MUCH more capable than his scores show him to be.

Then there's the stress and anxiety that the testing causes. My DS has a condition that causes pain similar to a migraine, but it's in his abdomen. As much as we would like to think that we aren't stressing these kids out, all the emphasis that's put on these tests really messes with some of their heads. All week long, the morning announcements have been touting perfect attendance and being on time. Notes went home to parents stating the importance of a good night's sleep and healthy eating during test week. (Like it's not important the rest of the time) My son, who hasn't had any stomach problems for weeks now, has had awful stomach aches for the last 3 days and nights, every day being a little worse. We're upsetting their routines, we're changing the environment of the classroom, and we're focusing on one test to the exclusion of everything else for a full week. Sure, no stress there. A friend's daughter finished her testing this past week, and now feels dumb because there were things on the test that haven't been covered in class yet (which makes sense, since there are still two more months of school to go). So the test that is supposed to show how smart she is makes her feel stupid?

And since breakfast IS the most important meal of the day, each and every child will receive a FREE breakfast in the classroom next week! I love having cereal crumbs and milky, juicy spills all over the desks. :) The best part is what is IN the breakfasts......it's a lovely little box with a bowl of cereal, a box of apple juice, and a "side dish". Last year, the cereals were Rice Krispies, Kix and Cheerios. The side dishes were graham crackers or animal cookies. This year? Our cereals are Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Apple Jacks, and two of the 3 varieties come with a FROSTED POP TART in them. Add in a juice box, a carton of milk, and you have a MASSIVE sugar infusion to each and every little body before giving them a test requiring them to sit still and be silent for LONG periods of time. So now we circle back to the diabetes.......each one of those breakfast boxes has approximately 80 carbs (before milk) and 40 grams of sugar!!! It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE for a kid to consume 80 carbs and not have a blood sugar spike, no matter HOW carefully they are pre-dosed with insulin! I guess I should be glad that the boxes have reduced-sugar versions of Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops, right? Good heavens, how many carbs would it be for the non-reduced-sugar kind?


Standardized tests aren't going to go away. Diabetes isn't going to go away. Not sure, but it doesn't look like functional abdominal pain is going to go away either. I just wish there was a way to bring them together a little more gently......