Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Worrying for the Little Ones

Sigh. I love the kids at my elementary school, I really do, but sometimes I worry for them. When they come in with dried blood on their noses, wearing torn and dirty clothes, I wonder who takes care of them. When I see little seven year olds hoard their snacks because it is the end of the month, and their family's food stamps have run out, I wonder what happened to all of that food. When a little boy comes to school with bloody, wind-blistered hands, I wonder who watches over him, and makes him put on his gloves. I wonder. And I worry.

Eventually, you just have to give up the worry. That doesn't mean that you don't give out extra snacks on Fridays, so that the little kids will have a little more food over the weekend, or that you don't hit up Goodwill and clearance sales for spare gloves and coats. It means that you realize that worrying won't solve any problems. There's prayer, and referrals to food banks. There are mandated reports over suspected cases of abuse and neglect (no, not every time---kids can be boisterous and fall and wreck their clothing and get plenty of bumps and bruises. It's only when it happens day after day and week after week. It's only when their excuses don't make any sense, and there's a new boyfriend at home, or their mother runs out food stamps way too early in the month for it really to have been spent on food and not traded for alcohol or drugs).

If you just keep worrying, you'll go crazy, and everyone knows that a crazy teacher is no good for the kids. Sometimes it's just time to remember that you're doing all you can, and pray for the rest of it. Send some prayers this way.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's My Birthday!

Since today's my birthday, I've decided to take it easy. Instead of the six papers I should finish today, I'm calling it good with three. Rather than endless studying, I'm taking a break to cuddle with my little cat and watch some Gilmore Girls. I'm not going to stress about the huge mound of laundry I need to wash. I'm going to shower, read a little of Uncle Tom's Cabin (for my online Louisiana State course), and plop down with my laptop to write a little bit. Stress can wait for tomorrow.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


It is just a little bit possible that I am procrastinating. Horribly. About completing a college class that ends in just five days. What do I have left to do, you may ask? Just five two page papers and a few surveys. Oh, and an informal interview with a student, where I go to class with a child all day and note their interactions with their classmates, their reactions to how the room is laid out, any particular learning issues, and their background. Nothing much.


Italian? German? French?

I am a travel addict. In the past year, I have traveled by bus from Guatemala to Panama and back again, and have also gone by car from my home state to Washington and Missouri. I get restless when I'm in one place for too long.

This has caused me to relentlessly acquire new languages. I worked at a language academy for awhile. They taught English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Chinese. Teachers could sit in on group classes for free. I learned a little French and Italian there. I picked up a bit more from fellow travelers.

I also studied books out of the library once I returned home, and borrowed language tapes. However, the most effective source I found was LiveMocha.

This website offers free Rosetta Stone style classes, with the advantage of an online language community. There are native speakers of nine different languages available to correct your accent as you participate in optional online chats. You can start out in the beginner's class, or the more advanced class if you have a background in the language. Right now, they have classes in Italian, French, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, English, German, Hindi, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Take the chance to fulfill one of your lifelong dreams of learning another language! I'm trying three different courses right now (French, Italian, and Mandarin). What will you try?

My Dreams

I keep seeing great lists around the internet about things we wish to do in life. Here are a few of mine (in no particular order):

1) Visit Hawaii

2) Adopt a child

3) Find beach glass from a lightning storm

4) Climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty

5) Run a half-marathon

6) Go paragliding

7) Seen the Mona Lisa in France

8) Ride in a gondola in Venice

9) See the Sistine Chapel

10) Travel to Spain

11) Visit Alaska

12) Go snorkeling

13) Visit the Great Wall of China

14) Get a Master's degree in Elementary Education

15) Work in a library

16) Donate blood four times a year

17) Visit the Palestinian Territories and Israel

18) See the Changing of the Guards in London

19) Visit the Lincoln Memorial

20) Go to Washington, D.C.

21) Publish a book

22) Sit on a jury

23) Donate an organ

24) Learn to knit

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Crazy Times in Education

Life at my internship is never dull. Whether it's being hit on by eighth-grade boys, dealing with a sprained ankle, or having a second-grader jump over his desk to threaten to punch the boy who I told I'd sit by, life is interesting. I wonder if I'm getting a skewed view of the educational system. I went to a choir concert last night in a town less than an hour away, and the kids all looked so much younger. They didn't look as world-weary as my internship kids. The kids in my town are more sheltered---they're actually allowed to be children. I wish my kids had that.

On a completely unrelated note, my college just overcharged me by $7,000. This has got to be a joke, but I'm not laughing. Somehow the part-time credit load did not compute. I met with three different people at the beginning of the semester to explain how I was only taking six credits, and completing the others elsewhere. They cut my scholarship in half. I can understand this (maybe). Yet I have to ask: do they have liability insurance, in case they give an overworked student a heart attack? I can deal with one $6,500 bill a semester, but two? I wish for once they would undercharge me.

It's time to have some fun with the Financial Aid Office!