Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kids Struggling in School

I substitute taught four times. Once I've substituted with the Resource kids and once with kids struggling in Math. I'm no expert, but I have an idea for a study that should be done. There isn't a grad student alive who would be brave enough to do this study. Still, I would love to see the statistics of the following study:

How many kids struggling in school come from a stable, two parent family where the mother stayed home, because she wanted to, to rear the kids?

Wisdom from Wilbur

Wilbur says, "It's amazing the number of people who are fruitcakes. They look good on the outside but leave an awful taste."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wherein I Substitute Teach

About a half hour after my Webelos left on Thursday night, the phone rings. It is “Sub Finder” the School District’s program to line up substitutes. I accept the job which runs from 7:25 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. I am more than a little nervous because the class is mostly for Resource, kids who are having problems. I’ve never even been in a Resource room before.

I arrive a half hour early per substitute teaching orientation instructions and find that the 7:25 am included a half hour early arrival time. No one is in the office and the school handyman hands me the substitute folder. I sit on the step outside the room and read through the folder to see what I am supposed to do for the day. And I almost burst into tears. I am supposed to be taking charge of some severely handicapped children according to the instructions, which don’t even have the right date on them.

A custodian lets me into my classroom and I find another substitute folder. I spend 45 minutes trying to make sense of how these two folders fit together. 15 minutes until the bell rings. I am starting to panic. I ask a teacher walking by for help. She tells me to ask the paraprofessional. The paraprofessional comes in and is stymied too until she realizes that the handyman gave me the substitute folder for the other Mrs. C. I try to restore my pulse to a normal rate.

The resource classes weren’t too bad. I wonder if all the kids are really having difficulty. Some of them just refuse to work. No one is going to tell them what to do. One resource class has a male paraprofessional who rides herd on it. The class is all boys with behavior problems. Some of those boys are large and handsome, one is very obese. What on earth happened to these kids to create these problems, I wonder.

In one class, I am supposed to demonstrate arithmetic on the board. It’s been a while since I have done division by hand. It sure would have been nice to know that this was an Arithmetic resource classroom. I need to brush up.

The 6th and 7th period class is “regular,” but naughty and loud, according to the paraprofessional. I didn’t see so much naughty, as I saw bursting with energy. We spend one class period reading out loud and trying to discuss Art in Space. I wonder how such enthusiastic, creative kids ever stand this. The last period they read The Lightening Thief out loud. Then the day is done. I write a report for the teacher and go home. I am exhausted!

Dog Tales

Harvey's toy box.

Harvey's landscaping.

Harvey's nap time.

My Webelos: Harvey's fans.

I say: Isn't Harvey getting pretty?

Wilbur says: Pretty is as pretty does.

I say: He has such a cute fuzzy face.

Wilbur says: Let's make a calendar and count down the days until we can give him back.

I say: Will Harvey and Max be warm enough in the back yard? Should we move them to the garage?

Wilbur says: What a hassle!

Sunday, November 06, 2011


Now that the weather is cooling off and the nights are longer, it’s time for popcorn. I love popcorn. As a child growing up, I can only remember a few times growing up that we had popcorn, unless we were making popcorn balls around Christmas. I thought popcorn balls were magnificent except for the time I tried to make purple ones. They ended up being gray. My Dad couldn’t eat them. He thought gray popcorn balls were sickening. He also objected to the blue ones I made. As a 12 year old I really didn’t care if Dad liked my popcorn balls or not, but Mom wanted me to make them pink or green.

When I married Wilbur, he educated me on the excellence of popcorn as a treat. As a young married couple living in a trailer, we started our popcorn experience off with Grandma Latour’s caramel corn recipe. I knew the seed removal technique. It is imperative to shake your popcorn for a minute or two so that the seeds settle to the bottom of the bowl. Then you place the seedless popcorn to another bowl. By doing this, the unwary caramel corn eater doesn’t break a tooth on a popcorn seed. I learned this from making popcorn balls.

After shaking our bowl of popcorn in our trailer kitchen, we would grease our kitchen table and pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn on the table and stir it around. Our caramel corn is still the best you can find anywhere in my never-to-be-humble opinion.

Next Wilbur showed me that it is entirely appropriate to celebrate any NFL or NBA game by making a bowl of popcorn to eat during the game. The children completely agreed with this philosophy. So as not to have oil on the living room rug, we would spread a blanket on the floor. Then everyone would sit down and enjoy popcorn. While the popcorn was there, five children would be watching the Lakers play the Celtics. But when the popcorn was gone, there would be only Wilbur watching the game.

Sometimes we would make a bowl of popcorn to eat on the Jefferson Hills patio on a fine summer evening. The birds and I liked the easy clean up on the patio. When we put down a blanket in the living room, I would shake it outdoors as part of the clean up. The birds liked that too.

I'm glad I learned about the superiority of popcorn. It's low calorie, cheap, and yummy. I love popcorn and all the good memories surrounding it.

Welcome November