* Pick of the litter

Thanks to Kristi (Ten Things of Thankful) for her post and video of dog helpers. That reminded me of my most recent experience with the sweet folks who support these assistance dogs-in-training.

I was at an event to recruit volunteers from a local university and my table was right next to THE best nonprofit around, PAWS With a Cause. Okay, I’m a dog lover, so when I saw this adorable face next to me, I forgot all about my puppetry organization!

Look at this face! She’s watching me eat a peanut butter sandwich, hence the avid stare. Still in training, I think. But the fireworks really started when a very young pup-in-training showed up.

* TToT: welcome to my neighborhood

Thanks to Kristi and friends for hosting the weekly Ten Things of Thankful blogging challenge. I’m a tad late but happy to share news from my world.

(#1) I’m so grateful that my dearest teaching widower (DTW) is back from New Orleans! I’m always discombobulated while he’s gone. I’m also wildly proud of him: He does so much to advance his field of child forensic interviews. Giving hurt kids a voice is HUGE.

(#2) During my DTW’s absence, I was both fascinated and annoyed with the bucks who roamed our neighborhood. Despite all the deer repellent I’ve sprayed lately, two big boys chased one another around our house. I managed to get a photo of one and then spotted a younger buck down the street (#4).

(#5) I have enjoyed walks around the neighborhood, carrying my phone for quick photos. This week I had an eye exam and was told I have “short eyes.” So grateful I also have long legs (#4). I don’t enjoy the pupil dilating drops but look how cool that is! Zombieland? (#6)

(#7) My Fantasy League experience has been much better than last year! Sadly, I am on the losing side right now, but we’ll see…. (Does that mean I’m back at #6?)

#8, #9, and #10: Thanks to clarkscottroger‘s Secret Rules (1.3?) which allow me to sink into gratitude for completing this challenge! Whew! See you next weekend, TToT’-ers.

* “They Call Me Mom”

They Call Me Mom,” by Pete Springer is a real gem! Don’t be fooled by its easy readability; this book is jam-packed with powerful advice. What makes “They call Me Mom” so special? First, Pete Springer’s passion for teaching lights up the entire book. His core values are clearly articulated. But the real treasures in this book are revealed through thoughtful, funny, and honest anecdotes from his 30 year career.

Springer’s book is divided into the main issues faced by both new or experienced teachers: how to organize your class, work effectively with students and their families, and work collaboratively with colleagues. The chapters on frustrations and humorous events are yummy icing on the cake.

Pete Springer is not just a great teacher, he’s a natural writer. “They Call Me Mom” would make a perfect Christmas present for your teacher friends (or your kiddo’s teachers)! His blog is also a great read, with news about his successful efforts to publish, volunteer, and support educators. He tells some powerfully encouraging stories of the many reasons to be grateful in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Thanks again to Sally at Smorgasborg for introducing us to this awesome educator!

* Love that wild one

I know for sure that many teachers are now struggling with at least one wild child, a child whose behavior is disruptive and annoying and perplexing. They had hoped by now to have wrestled, coaxed, or shaped this nuisance into compliance. They are now also aware of the complexity involved: perhaps a chaotic home life, serious learning challenges, habitual defiance, and more. To make matters worse, these wild kids are hardly ever absent, because no one wants them at home, either. And when they are absent? The classroom breathes a collective sigh of relief.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Remember that you are not in control of ANY child. You only control your reactions. Do what you can to manage your fear, because walking on eggshells is not going to improve anything. Breathe….
  • Use videotaping to capture everything. Look for ways that you can once again modify the environment and your responses.
  • Get help. Recruit volunteers. Ask for a mentor. Get specialists involved.

MOST OF ALL:

  • Love this child. No, you’re not the parent and you’re not paid and you’re not hopeful and you’re sick of the whole thing. But love this child.
  • Find ways to spend quality time with the student. I did a lot of after school volunteering with my hardest kiddos. I also attending sporting events, made myself at home with the unwilling family, helped them financially, etc. Make so many home visits that everyone thinks you live there. Take goodies, cool teaching stuff. It’s worth the investment.

When the wild child becomes jealous of your attention in the classroom, you’ll know you have their heart. And when you smile from your heart as the wild child walks in the door each day, that kiddo knows you love them. Love trumps all.

* National Board renewal!

I am going to renew my National Boards this year! Yea! I was initially certified as an Exceptional Needs Specialist 20 years ago and have already renewed once.

As I approach my 7th decade, you might wonder why I’m doing this. My reason is simple: I want to continue improving my teaching skills. Teaching is a lifelong commitment for me. I take and facilitate classes, cannot seem to retire, and LOVE my students. I started blogging because I wanted to encourage teachers and parents as they navigate the educational waters.

I have over 600 followers now, many of whom are not formally in education. But how important it is to think about how our brains work and how our attitudes affect others. Many readers will face issues of funding at the voting poll. Others will have young relatives who struggle with math. And others may want to find a great book or magazine subscription for Christmas.

Whatever the outcome, I am delighted to continue my National Board adventure. Once I went through this rigorous process back in 2000, my understanding and practice of my profession was changed for the better. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has been a game-changer for thousands of professionals and I’m proud to be a part of that group!

* A Measured Response

It takes a clever and imaginative mind to create a different time and place on Earth. Jim Webster has written a delightful series that both rang true and made me ponder. The Port Naain Intelligencer is part mystery, part fantasy. Benor Dorfinngil is a witty cartographer with amazing wall climbing skills and a taste for good food. In the course of his travels to Naain, he removes a gad grub from a girl’s cheek (OW!) and stumbles across a woman’s body. He’s one sharp dude with a very kind heart.

This is the kind of book you’ll want to race through, but I guarantee it’s best to savor it. You’ll mostly end up surprised and eager for the entire series. For more info, be sure to check out Jim Webster‘s page on Amazon. What a clever writer!

A special thank you to Sally at Smorgasbord for her intro to Jim Webster’s books! And visit Jim Webster‘s blog for up-to-date info on this fabulous fantasy writer!

* TToT- bloggers plus

I am thrilled to join the Ten Things of Thankful folks once again. I really need to be grateful for all that I have in this life and the one to come. Here we go!

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) has been so incredibly patient as I’ve gone through one-handed weeks after my shoulder surgery. I could not have survived this without his love, wisdom, and encouragement to take pain pills!

I am grateful for our pastor at Grace Church, Kendrick Vinar, who shares his journey and inspirations on his Enjoy More blog. Not only is he an amazing leader, he lives what he teaches. Kendrick was recently diagnosed with cancer and is celebrating the victory before the victory!

Last night in our movie group, we showed a powerful documentary (“Last Train Home”) on migrant workers in China. It was filmed across 3 years, with a focus on a couple who left their kids with grandparents and migrated to a city for factory work. Let’s just say that all of us were deeply moved to be grateful for the abundance of our lives.

I appreciate so many bloggers, including Barbara at Teleporting Weena, where you will find all kinds of lovely and mysterious writing plus photos. Her post on Fibbing Fridays is absolutely hilarious!

We’re having a cold spell, which makes me grateful for Shari’s post on the Weekend Coffee Share. She writes about all things Christmas: hot chocolate, snow, sledding, Christmas cards, and the old Sears Christmas Wish Book. Jingle, jingle!

My dearest teaching widower and I went on a short train ride with some friends! It was my DTW’s idea that we take up train riding as a retirement hobby. So neither of us has actually retired but we’ve made our first trip! Yay!

I’m grateful that it’s pomegranate season! Stained teeth and fingernails don’t bother me at all.

I’m grateful for the ‘purple pill,’ as my DTW calls it. Yes, Cadbury milk chocolate comes in a sparkling purple wrapper. And it makes my brain so happy.

What wonderful kiddos I serve! How they light up my life!

Finally, I am grateful to Clark (well, perhaps Roger or Scott) for the rule that allows me to stop at #9! Hope you feel encouraged to be grateful today!

* Weekend Coffee Share – Eeyore’s buddy

I’ve been drinking a lot of Tetley’s tea this week. It’s soothing and balances out the ice I’m keeping on my shoulder. I’m fairly not really patient about this painful process of healing, trying to keep my eyes on the prize: being able to swim again.

BUT there is a potential glitch with swimming again. It’s been 3 years since I had Eustachian tube surgery that left a tube in my ear. How many times I’ve prayed for that tube to fall out so I could swim! That prayer was recently answered, rather unexpectedly, when an audiology intern accidentally ripped it out. Ouch. I still have a pesky hole so I may need a graft….

Apart from my body falling to pieces around me, I’m enjoying my part-time work schedule. Yes, I am officially abandoning my third retirement. But I now have time to clean the house! And cook! I’d be decluttering if I could properly lift anything. I like to think I’d be extremely productive if I weren’t hurting so much. Probably not.

Yesterday my physical therapist asked me about my weekend plans. I said I was getting my hair cut. Seriously? My life sounds pretty edgy, right? I tell you, though, her EQ is really strong. She looked blank for just a fraction of a second and said, “Well, getting a haircut can often make you feel better.” I could have told her I was getting my legs amputated and she’d say, “There are some cool prosthetics these days.” She’s used to working with Eeyore’s buddies.

This little babe is a great cure for the blues. I’m teaching her to say, “Aunt Katharine.” Thankfully, I’m sooooo loved by Jesus! I’m his favorite, actually.

* Ouch

It’s been too long since I last blogged! I’ve been recovering pretty well from surgery and trying to stay on my part-time teaching schedule. I’m grateful to be ambidextrous, since my right arm is pitiful.

But as much as my shoulder feels uncomfortable, my biggest OUCH is long distance tutoring with the kiddos. It’s frustrating for all of us. I really wish I could have a serious chat with their teachers. Poor ‘Isaac.’ Despite his obvious math struggles, he keeps getting more of the same. More worksheets and ‘do overs’ will not change the fact that he can’t multiply or divide in sixth grade.

I have blogged about how hard it is to catch up in math once you start climbing the ladder without all the rungs. Isaac could never memorize any addition and subtraction facts when he was in third grade, so how could he successfully climb to the next level? Not only that, but I was WAY off base when I estimated that he could relearn and acquire some proficiency in 6 months.

Sadly, Isaac began to strongly resist any intervention. He was tired by the end of a school day. He hated to think that he needed to learn ‘different’ strategies because that meant he was broken. He already felt broken enough from his uncertain family situation.

Now he cries endlessly, worried about failing 6th grade. You know what happens when you try to learn and your limbic system is in overdrive? Ouch.

* This or That

I have surgery today. It is either scheduled for 6:00 AM or 12:30 PM. I was supposed to get a call…. The third person I asked about it said, “I’d go with the one you just spoke to.” Okay then.

I am either getting just a rotator cuff repair or an additional procedure to fasten the bicep to the bone somewhere. Three out of three folks I spoke to today were unaware of the biceps problem. So maybe it has gone away. Or not.

I was initially told I would have more range of movement than my procedure in March. I can drive immediately, for instance. Now I have heard that I will be immobilized for three+ weeks. It’s a 10-week recovery either way, optimistically speaking. I do need this fixed so I can swim again, so I’m good.

One thing is sure: I must bring a $250 copay. That reminds me of the game of Monopoly: Do not pass GO to collect $200, move directly to jail.

I’ll be going to Bull City (Durham, NC) for the operation. I DO like the hospital’s rendition of a bull. Just put that sucker in a sling and we are all set. I already have a pair of crutches!