Three Thoughts for Thursday

Three Thoughts for Thursday

Walking under a harvest moon, why I'm a nervous Nellie, and the breakthrough toddler toy of the century in this week's 3 thoughts.

  1. When your day begins with a sunrise walk under a harvest moon so bright it makes a dusty gravel road into a shimmering silver pathway, you know it will be a very good day indeed.
  2. For the next two Saturdays I’ll be teaching teachers. Teachers who know their stuff. And their stuff is teaching. I am extremely nervous. Prayers appreciated!
  3. My grandson has spent many hours during the past week trying to place clothespins on the rim of a cardboard box. I’ve spent many hours during the past week trying to come up with a way to disguise clothespins and cardboard boxes, market them as the breakthrough toddler toy of the century, and get them on the shelves before Christmas. Can you guess which one of us has been more successful?

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A Fantastic Friday Salute to Teachers

A Fantastic Friday Salute to Teachers

A new school year is about to begin. Here are 10 ways to show kindness to the teachers who will be part of our kids' lives for the next 9 months.The teacher in our town went back to work this past Monday. So this Fantastic Friday features ten reasons to be kind to educators in the next few weeks and months.

My teacher friends and former co-workers in our school district went back to work yesterday. Speaking from 25 years of personal experience, here are 10 reasons to be kind to teachers for the next few days and weeks.

10.  Contrary to popular opinion, most teachers didn’t sit around the pool eating bon bons all summer. Most teachers spent much of the summer going to school to hone their skills. They even turned in assignments, sat at the other end of the red pencil, and received grades.

9.   During summer school classes, teachers wore flip flops. At home they went barefoot. And now they have to shove their feet into teacher shoes. Remember those teacher shoes? Not a pretty sight.

8.   The first few days back to school, before the kids return, are packed with meetings about exciting topics such as Proper Procedures for Cleaning Up Bodily Fluids (I’m not making this up) and the latest No Child Left Behind government regulations. The powers that be grant these topics higher priority than things allowing teachers preparation time in the classroom.

7.   Teachers know those meetings will eat away their preparation time, so they’ve already donated several unpaid days to get their classrooms ready, plan lessons, and prepare materials. And because of budget cuts, they often pay for materials out of their own pockets.

6.   At some of those meetings before the kids come, teachers learn about newly assigned duties that take away their scheduled planning time and in some cases much of their lunch hour.

5.   Once the students return, teaches spend much of their lunch hour doing one of the following: running home to let the dog out, eating at their desk while preparing for afternoon classes, or supervising students.

4.   You know how hard it is for your kids to adjust to the school schedule every fall? It’s that hard for teachers, too, because they’re big kids at heart. That’s why they’re teachers.

3.  Teachers would rather help kids succeed than mark assignments with red pencil and fill out report cards. But their job description requires they do both.

2.   Teachers spend all day supervising 25–30 people who are crowded together reading and doing paperwork in a small space without privacy cubicles. Can you think of businesses that ask adults to work in conditions like that?

1.   Your child’s teacher cares about your boy or girl. A lot. Your child’s teacher cares about every student. But teachers know they can’t give students everything they need. Teachers know that no matter how hard they works, at some point they will fail students. They will obsess over every failure and try to do better the next day, knowing they will fail again. But they keeps trying because they believes kids are worth their best effort. And if you tell teachers they’re doing a good job, they’ll remember your kindness and pass it on to a child. Because that’s what teachers do.

What would you add to the list? Leave a comment!

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Ten Lessons Taught by My High School Drama Coach

Ten Lessons Taught by My High School Drama Coach

Drama coachTwo days ago, a dear high school friend sent a Facebook private message. “I ran across this tonight,” the message said.

“This” was an obituary for Roger Hallum, our high school speech and drama coach. According to the obituary Mr. Hallum–who will always be Mr. Hallum and never Roger to me–died on July 1, 2009.

He’s been gone five years and we, the students he touched in profound ways, never knew. We never had a chance to say thank you. We never had a chance to tell him how he shaped and bolstered the confidence of a bunch of squirrely teens as he tapped into our talents.

So five years late, this top ten list says thank you for the lessons he taught so well more than 4 decades ago.

10.  Never judge a book by its cover. None of us believed a dumpy man who wore his sandy hair shaggy and unkempt, whose teeth that never saw braces, and who wore saggy plaid suit jackets and polyester pants could motivate high schoolers to spend months of each year rehearsing and performing in plays and speech contests.

9.  When your director says, “Jump,” you say, “How high?”

8.  Good writing isn’t enough to make a good speech. Neither is good delivery. But good writing + good delivery = magic.

7.  Never, ever start smoking. Because trying to quit is hell and requires copious amounts of Live Savers candies.

6.  Teenagers, given a vision of what they can do if they work far harder than they believe they can and tasked with far more responsibility than school administrators believe is wise, can accomplish tasks beyond what most adults think they can do.

5.  Timing is everything.

4.  An army jeep, a goat, and 30 tie-dyed bedsheets sewn into kimonos, make for an exciting, unexpected, and visually pleasing rendition of Tea House of the August Moon.

3.  Character parts are much more fun to play than romantic leads.

2.  A pregnant pause speaks louder than words.

1. One unassuming person…one dumpy, shaggy-haired man with crooked teeth, saggy plaid suit jackets and polyester trousers…who says “You can do this because you have talent,” can change the course of an insecure teenager’s life.

In memory of Mr. Roger Hallum, Feb. 8, 1939–July 1, 2009. Your former students are still jumping, higher than they ever thought they could.

Three Teaching Thoughts for Thursday

Three Teaching Thoughts for Thursday

Harding County Schools

  1. Tuesday I talked about writing with students in the country school where I taught 30 years ago. Their energy made me feel young, even though their teacher was a former student and one of the students was the daughter of another former student.
  2. The students were enthusiastic, respectful, creative, and eager. After I left their classroom, I stood outside the building for a little while thinking, Boy, do I miss teaching.
  3. Today I’m speaking to two classes at the school in town. I’m nervous, pretty sure I won’t capture their interest, wondering why I volunteered for this, worried the planned writing exercise is a waste of valuable classroom time, and thinking, Teaching is the hardest job in the world.

Teachers, you are heros!

Three My-Favorite-Season-Is-Spring Thoughts for Thursday

Three My-Favorite-Season-Is-Spring Thoughts for Thursday

For the past week, the weather has been perfect along our gravel road. The daisies, phlox, and peonies are blooming, the trees are in full leaf, and the grass in the ditches is a rich, luxurious green. Maybe that’s why these three thoughts for Thursday are mostly about my favorite season – spring.

  1. Mom had her springtime doctor’s appointment in Des Moines the same day Mitt Romney spoke a few blocks away. What a relief to not see the fella and tell him in person that I can’t be his running mate in the fall. I’m not sure he would understand that being a first time grandma leaves no time for politics.
  2. Apparently, there’s a blue jay convention in our town this week. They are everywhere. Talk about noisy, uncouth, overbearing tourists!
  3. My teacher friends are trying to motivate kids to learn their multiplication facts, study the three branches of government, and conjugate Spanish verbs on this beautiful spring day. The thought makes me want to bake cookies for them.

Who would you bake cookies for on this fine spring day? Leave a comment.