Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I just turned in the mid-term exam for my class. I stayed up most of the night to finish getting caught up and today, it was my mid-term. I haven't done today's reading yet. I will have to do it tomorrow along with tomorrow's work. However, I think I am getting control over the material now, after such a mad dash to get caught up.
Everyone around here is talking heat, heat, heat. Personally, I detest the cold in the winter so much that this heat wave is just a gift in my thinking. I need to work out in my gardens tomorrow sometime. I will have to carefully choreograph my plans so I can get to the pool early and work in the yard in the evening. That should do it.
I have a lot of phone calls to do tomorrow and my class work. Everything should go okay. I do a pretty good job with time. I'm sending good wishes to everyone.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
I am taking a really brief break from studying because sometimes it helps me to focus on material better. I have about 8 more pages to read before I watch a video and take the midterm for my class. Then, I have two more days of lessons to get caught up on so I'll be where I'm supposed to be with the rest of the class. I am so far behind because my book came over a week late and I had trouble getting online with the university. the teacher has been very kind and understanding.
The material is full of theory and is not easy for me to read. I am having to use the strategies I teach my students in reading the text with lots of highlighting, note taking, sticky notes, and rereading. I want to understand and learn this because I think I will be a better teacher because of this. Right now, I am reading a section on how people have prejudices against/ towards others because of the way they use language and speak. I hadn't thought a lot about this, but it is a significant thing in all of our lives unless we live in a fairly isolated area with only family or others from exactly the same background that we have. Language and how we use it is quite distinguishing and is used as much as appearances when people are making judgements.
My daughter's retreat has been a handful for me. I had to gather letters from family members and church members that basically were positive and built her up. She has a whole bag of those and I am sure that she will cherish those for the rest of her life. I also had to provide her favorite treat that they referred to as "agape love." I needed enough for 65 people and her favorite food is pizza. She would eat it day and night for every meal and not be sick of it. However, I also had to "sneak" it in as a surprise and I had no idea of when/how they were serving this. Finally, I thought of her favorite candy (Reese's) and I bought a boatload of those and put them in a nice serving bowl. It was easier and less expensive. The thing is this retreat is called Chrysalis and their idea is that the girls come in as caterpillars and will leave as butterflies, ready to explore the world. They want to surround them with the positives of life and scripture and goodwill. I think it would be a wonderful experience. I attended a couple of retreats as a high school girl and I remember the positive feeling I had when I left--and they weren't entirely focused on doing this like Chrysalis is.
My husband and I go to pick hr up at 4:30 for an hour long celebration service. The heat is high today and I don't know how much work I'm going to do in the garden. I may not get my regular workout in, but I can read as I ride the stationary bike tonight. I have had a good lot of walking already and I helped Mitchell to go through some of my teacher stuff for his new classroom and grade level this year. Hallelujah that he has a job!! He is teaching ELL children at the church this summer (for two more weeks) and that is a job I almost envy him over--he is getting a great deal of experience with children from grades 1-7, all whose home language is not English. He is learning a lot about that and working with several volunteers and helpers too. I am so happy for him. (My blog came full circle back to the topic i am studying!!)
Have a marvelous Sunday--watch out for the heat if you have a heat warning!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I finally got the text book for my online class that started last week. I am seriously behind because it is a summer class and we are doing a week of work each day. I couldn't get online with the school for 3 days which really caused me grief--and then we have been assigned some 30-50 pages of reading each night along with written assignments each day. I couldn't do much. I read some articles and watched a video. I did some responses. However, I have a lot to do and it will take me a couple of more days to get there.
I haven't taken a class for credit since 1996. Things have changed a lot since then. Registering for a class is all different--all online. It is hard to tell if you have done what you needed to do. Then there are all of the things that you have to do to have access to the school email and their online service. They wanted my school ID number--back when I was working on my master's and the 45 hours I took after that, we didn't have an ID. I had to be "readmitted." Then the class was full and I had to get permission to register--over the holiday weekend. I was 3 days behind when I finally got online and now that I have my book, I should be 5 days into the class and I am about 2.5 days into it. I have worked in almost every spare minute since I got my book. I read and read tonight at the fitness center, both in the sauna and on the bike. I will get back to it in a minute.
The topic is fascinating--Sociolinguistics. I am learning about a lot of misconceptions I had about language and vocabulary and how oral and written language came to be. I took a little quiz and found out that I cannot recognize regional accents when they aren't incredibly obvious. Mostly, I learned that all of us think we talk correctly and that other people have accents. That's a hoot.
Being back in school is a good thing for me--I expected the training in working with English Language Learners/ English as a Second Language students would be really enlightening and helpful. I forgot how I feel energized when I am learning and thinking and enjoying the company of classmates and colleagues. As soon as I get on track and get caught up, I will revel in some of this. Teachers need to continue their education and I haven't sat dormant for 15 years. I have attended many seminars and workshops. I became Nationally Board Certified which was, hands down, the best professional development that I have ever had--because it was about me analyzing my day to day work and reflecting on the quality of what I do. I learned so much about me and what I do well. That is not something that I have heard in my career from anyone and it was enlightening.
On a different note, today was a really weird day at school. The park program "forgot" to let us know that they were going on a field trip to the forest preserve. I cannot go on field trips because I cannot climb onto a school bus. We did a lot of paperwork and started organizing things that can go back to my classroom first. We couldn't take them though because the custodians were waxing the hallway floor. I did a lot of sparking then and left work on time since the plans I wrote for today will work for tomorrow. We only have 3 more days left--and I am feeling like we didn't accomplish nearly what I had hoped to. However, there have been about 20 regular students who have a lot of fun with literacy and who should be in good shape for the coming school year. That is important. My one little guy that I started tutoring in January came and was quite troubled for most of the summer. I had hoped to bump him up a level of two, and I am not sure that I even helped him maintain the level I had him at. He has spent day after day crying and telling me that "Reading is too hard." I design his lessons so that that isn't so, but I couldn't get past that behavior until I called his mother last Wednesday and sent him home. That seemed kind of mean, but it got his attention and let his mother know what I have been dealing with. He has a wonderful mother who gives him the world and works with him faithfully. She volunteered in my classroom on Monday mornings since about mid January and gave me that lovely candy gift around Easter--and flowers as well. I wish her son could get settled down.
Anyway, I am reflecting now and I need to shift back into my learning mode. I have a lot to do!
Thanks for letting me ramble. I love learning and I love school. I love teaching--especially reading. It is a great profession in many ways and can really be fulfilling when you find your niche.
Take care, my friends--If I am not too visible in the next several days, please assume that I am studying.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
It is time for me to share some special updates on things...
First of all, our pastor shared the day by day events at our church last week, with many of them being about the boy, Michel that I told about yesterday. The community has really helped out--the funeral and casket were paid for before anyone even arrived at the funeral home by people in the community. A lot of donations have also come in. I knew that Michel's father went out of town on church business and was in Missouri when Michel had his accident, but I didn't know that his father was in a car accident and that was why he wasn't back yet. Another community member came and offered money, and upon finding out that all of the funeral costs were paid, left a sizable check for the family to care for them until the father is able to return to his job in mid to late July after being injured. The folks at the funeral home told our pastor that they have more than enough to cover expenses there and that a sizable check will be given tot he family because "in their pain and situation, they will need it." I am so sad and sorry about the passing of this young boy, but it does my heart good to see the community take care of one of our members like this.
On a similar note, I got good news about my own son Micah and all of the grief he has gone through lately. He was falsely accused by someone of a mean and evil act that ended up involving the police and the State's Attorney. The detective finally got the word from the State's Attorney late Friday and the short story is that the case is unfounded and Micah was not charged with anything. As for the rest of the story, there are pieces for us to put together and things I have to do to help rebuild my son's trust in the world, but I can at least start that process now that I have this news.
My first grad class in some 15 years is challenging me by the sheer enormity of work along with my lack of experience with the technology. However, I expect to catch up soon. I may have an additional chance tomorrow because the park program is going on a field trip that I am unable to go to. I have been trying to read a section of the book available online at google books, but I am finding that reading without an actual book doesn't quite work for me. I don't know if that is my age or experience talking.
I think that my eyes may be the source of the headaches that I have had off and on this week. I am going to go for my new glasses tomorrow and if I don't have relief in being able to see and in being able to function, I will call my opthamologist. It may be time to deal with my cataracts. All of my recent injections may have increased this problem. Steroids are a cause of cataracts and the only one that my doc and I could attribute to their early appearance in my eyes. I have another dentist appointment on Wednesday and will be getting my permanent crowns and I think my new lower partial as well. This is not a fast, cheap or easy thing to do, but I need it done well and that seems to be what I am getting now.
My physical therapist has referred me back to the water therapists. I will see them twice next week. He wants them to help me to develop some more complex exercises to correspond with my newfound improvements. I am looking forward to that. My last day to tutor is Thursday. Then we have two weeks until school starts. I have my fair share of medical appointments over this two weeks, but I think I am returning to school much healthier in body and spirit than when we finished.
Another amazing thing has happened. Our pastor has a jeep that needs some new brakes and he asked me if we wanted it. He wants to have his garage space back and by promising to fix the brakes and license it, he gave it to us. It's body is in great condition and it has new tires as well. My husband and our son Miles (who is studying to be an auto-diesel mechanic) are so happy to work on this project together and it turns out that it basically has simple to install cylinder pads and that is all that it needs. They have been happy and busy little bees--I'm afraid that all I see is a solution to our recent transportation problems. This is a wonderful thing, another answer to our prayers.
Rumor has it that we might have some rain tonight. We have only had sprinkles twice in the last ten days and my gardens really need it. It would be nice to happen overnight and then let us have sunshine. Summer has gotten very hot around here and I love it so much.
It has been a very good weekend around here--things seem to be looking up in many ways. Have a wonderful week everyone!!
Saturday, July 09, 2011
Our community had a terrible tragedy this 4th of July. An 11 year old boy drowned in the Mississippi River. Drownings happen from time to time in this community that is joined by two main rivers and several tributaries. A drowning is always a tragedy and there is no other way to look at it. (http://qconline.com/archives/qco/display.
This story had several unique elements to it and it was a personal story in a few ways. Our local area is a major area for refugee resettlement. The boy who drowned was a refugee from Burundi whose family came to our area a couple of years ago. There is a housing project in Rock Island that is now serving quite a few of these refugees. At one point, a group of African refugees approached my pastor and our church council about using our church for worship. They wanted to worship Christ in their home languages--and even though there are at least a half dozen different languages between them, we offered them our church to worship in. Since then, they attend one or two of our services monthly and their choir performs an African hymn or two on one Sunday a month.
I think it has been a mutually beneficial arrangement, because it has given us a chance to meet these wonderful people and learn about their culture. They have a nice place to worship and are included in our prayers and outreach programs. There aren't any "losers" in this relationship.
A few months ago, their group sort of divided and restructured itself. I was saddened to see that because I was just getting comfortable with the people who had been worshipping with us. However, they were hoping to become part of a new denomination--and they called themselves the "African Light Pentecostal Church." The boy who drowned was the 11 year old son of the new pastor of their group. He had often sat next to our family or close to us with his four sisters and parents.
Their community was celebrating the 4th of July at a local park where the Mississippi backwaters are a source of entertainment to all, providing boat slips and fishing. I learned that in Africa, it is common for people to jump into rivers and swim--and that is what this boy and several of his same aged peers did. This is not what can be done in the Mississippi with her strong currents. The park is clearly marked "No Swimming," but I think it is safe to say that 11 year old boys from any culture group probably don't pay much attention to signs by adults, for adults.
This was truly an accident--a tragedy--and it is so sad. The church was filled with people and every bit of space was full. there was a long, long line of people waiting to get in to view the body and it made things all get started late. This family had attended two schools in my district and there were many other educators there to offer their condolences. This also comes two years after a younger child, a kindergarten aged refugee drowned on a school field trip to our local water park. She was from the same school that this boy was from. I am pretty close to that story as well, because it happened the first day my oldest daughter worked at that water park. Now, all that are left are memories of that child and lawsuits against the city, the park board, the school district, etc... On top of the sadness, there are some ill feelings here and there. It was a horrible, horrible accident and nobody anywhere wanted to see this little girl hurt, let along dead.
Right now, it seems as if the community is managing this tragedy as well as it can. However, when I looked up the link to the newspaper article for this blog--I read some other blogs and comments that indicate that it may not stay so peaceful. I am sad and hope that my Lord will help people work through their loss and grieve together.
God bless Michel Niyubahwe's family and loved ones as they deal with this awful, awful situation. I pray that He look down on our community and help people to be loving and kind, showing respect for each other and their needs. This young man came from a Christian family who is making a better life for themselves. As we all heal from this, may our lives be enriched by each other and may we all learn to care about each other no matter where we are from and what our backgrounds are.
Life is fragile. We must treasure every moment that we have. We must love others and we must never, ever judge. That isn't our job.
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