Friday, June 8, 2007

Three thousand, five hundred, and one.

Please head on over to the Quaker Agitator to read more. And as QuakerDave says, "Don't mourn: get angry. Educate. Agitate. Organize. And stand in opposition."

To All My Teacher Friends: Congratulations on Closing Out Another Successful Year!

If you’re a hardworking person who cares, teaching is the most difficult profession on earth. If, however, you are lazy, don’t give a rat’s $#^%, and want to “have the summer off,” teaching is the easiest job there is. The shame is that the community often recognizes only the latter, when in reality, most of the teachers I worked with in my short time in the public schools were of the caring type.

I started writing an essay once, entitled “Why I Became a Teacher … and Why I Quit.” But some of the memories were so depressing that I never finished it. I should. Teaching public school has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done with my life so far. For those of you who don’t know, I taught middle school for six years and elementary summer school for three of those years. Most of that time I was a Special Education Resource teacher in an inclusion setting, but I also taught computer technology for two of those years.

When I started teaching, I thought I was in heaven. I taught in a large county with a good reputation, but I was in a school that was in a challenging part of town. So I was working to make a difference to students who needed it, with the resources of a large, stable school system behind me. My principal was a former guidance counselor who believed in lots of positive reinforcement for his teachers, as well as students. I taught small English and Reading classes to students who primarily had learning disabilities, with a few cases of extreme ADHD layered on for good measure.

One of my favorite memories of teaching was from those early days. After doing some research, I decided to try teaching grammar in my 6th grade English classes by having the students diagram sentences. (Yes, I did!) After the initial groaning and moaning of “why can’t we do something fun,” I got the students to give me a chance. And low and behold, they loved it.

From a special education standpoint, it was perfect. By having the students (I only had six in each class) diagram on the board, they were able to get out of their seats and move. Because they were essentially “mapping out” the sentence, they could visualize the knowledge. Afterwards we would share and discuss their diagrams orally. It was effective. They were engaged. And on my best teaching day ever, my principal walked through the room as the entire class was at the board, silently diagramming sentences. It was a Kodak moment alright. The look on his face was such astonishment and joy – these were the “trouble” students, the ones who disrupted the “regular” English classes. He smiled at me in disbelief and snuck out the back door – I don’t think the students even knew he was there.

So why’d I quit? I’ll tell you in the next post ….

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bush Clings to Last Known Friend in Washington

Dog looks into camera and pleads "Please! Somebody hep me!"

Meanwhile, the First Lady tries to explain to the President his current approval rating.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Your Vote Counts

Part of my struggle with this blog is the effort to keep a balance. I want to discuss what I think are vitally important current topics, while still maintaining a sense of humor. (Thanks, Vicki, for your kind words!) I promise to try to keep that balance. Without humor, where would we be? (Yes, Mean Dave, I'll try not to mistake sarcasm for humor!)

This post is exciting to me because I know there are a lot of lurkers out there , and I have the opportunity to spread the word about an easy — really easy! — way that you can make your voice (and vote) count on the issues of world poverty and disease.

The ONE Campaign is launching ONE Vote ’08, an unprecedented bi-partisan high-tech, high energy campaign to mobilize voters and engage U.S. presidential candidates to make the fight against global poverty and disease a key foreign policy and security issue at the 2008 ballot box.

You can take action in many ways, and get informed before the ’08 election. Take one minute today, and add your one voice to the fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty. I did. And so have over 2 million other folks, one by one. Please join us.

"I call him Valdimir"

It's nice to know that our President has a "very special friendship" with Russian President Putin. But with his usual complete misunderstanding of diplomacy, Bush has again created a tense situation with a powerful nation. Hunh. Now why would Putin be upset that we are putting a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

I'm sure we are are all relieved to hear Mr. Bush say, "I don't think Vladimir Putin intends to attack Europe, and so I'll talk to him about it."

Yeah. I'll sleep easier tonight knowing he'll talk to Putin about it.

Wednesday Morning Poetry Break

Sanity (To Be Continued)

Know the truth
When you hear it

Know beauty
When you see it

Understand love
When you feel it

And as you dance
Always dance on that floor

Polished by the best

Of you

—Nikki Giovanni

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dog Experiences Best Day Of His Life For 400th Consecutive Day

A classic from The Onion to lighten up the day:

SANTEE, CA—Family dog Loki experienced the best day of his life for the 400th straight day Monday, the black Labrador retriever reported. "I got to go outside! I got to sniff the bush!" Loki said, wagging excitedly. "I saw a squirrel and I barked at it and it ran up the tree! Then I came back inside, and the smoky-smelling tall man let me have a little piece of bacon and then I drank from the toilet!" Loki will experience the best day of his life once again tomorrow, when he digs a hole, chews on a slipper, and almost catches his tail.

I'm sorry

This is not a good way to start off a Monday morning. But the news behind the news is not good today. The number of civilians killed in Iraq jumped to nearly 2,000 in May, according to Reuters. Yes, you read that right, 2,000 Iraqi civillians died in just the last month. So if you think the Iraq War is far away, has nothing to do with you, and is all just "politics as usual," please think about her:

Please speak out and ask your respresentatives in Congress to stop funding this madness. Because while our politicians argue and debate, and campaign for office, more American and Iraqi lives are lost every day.

Contact your Senators here

Contact your Representative here