Monday, October 06, 2008

Coasting Along

It's hard to update here because I'm tired so much of the time. A lot of writing is required in my grad class -- writing that I'm not doing very well, actually. Co-teaching a world history class, teaching English 3 / 4 and a reading study skills class, and acting as case manager for 13 kids takes a heap out of me every day.

At my little small rural Kansas college (which calls itself a university) I'm taking an Internet course, studying the characteristics of functional students. I don't teach functional classes -- that requires far more skill and patience than I currently possess or probably ever will. Internet courses are notoriously awful for requiring tons and tons of work and this one is not different. The worst assignment involved rewriting a portion of my school crisis plan to meet the needs of functional students. I hate fire and tornado drills and every other kind of crisis drill. I always have. These are merely interruptions in my day and the elevator is shut down and I have to hike down six flights of concrete stairs and then hike back up, once the drill is over and the kids have become sufficiently hyper. But I gamely tried to rewrite the plan to meet the challenges of my school -- which has few functional students because it was not designed to provide assistance to multiply handicapped students. The paper was worth 100 points - and I got a grand total of 44 of them. In other words, I failed the paper miserably. Goodbye 4.0. I thought I'd care more than I do, actually . . . but the prof gave me a small time frame to rewrite the thing and today I gave it a shot. I probably got no more than a C on the paper, but I'm hoping I did bring up the F. Jeez!

Church is very frustrating for me right now. My church has decided to become evangelical but I was brought up old line Methodist -- sing a hymn, sit in your pew on Sunday, sing another hymn, listen to a sermon, go home and eat pot roast for dinner. Testimony is as foreign to me as having the service in Latin would be. The minister wrote the mission of the church and then asked us to approve it. She appointed the leaders of the church and we didn't have any say in their selection. With every decision made unilaterally by the minister I find my frustration level increasing. When the praise singers want to play canned music and sing with it, I cringe in horror. This is not the Methodist church I grew up enjoying. Change may be good, but radical change, without my consent, is difficult to swallow.

The physical toll taken by school is much harder this year because of the number of classes I'm actually teaching. The kids are okay. I had a bad week with my junior / senior English class three weeks ago and wondered if I'd lost my touch. The class was hostile for the entire 110 minute period, challenged my authority repeatedly, and acted out. However, the next day I lit into them like a steam-roller and I adapted writing assignments to address their continued complaining about everything we did. Within thirty minutes the class had turned themselves back around and were humming along quite productively. I also enlisted all the help I could find to work with me on the worst girl in the class and this week there has been a noticeable improvement. This is a class with very low reading skills and in some instances they have been accommodated through their IEP's into believing they needn't do any work requiring thinking. We're turning that around, slowly but surely.

The new dog, Luie, has eaten his way through our house and car. Two pairs of Hubby's glasses have been destroyed -- at $400 a pop. The new leather seats Hubby had installed in the old Lincoln only lasted a week before Luie realized that tearing apart the leather would unearth piles of foam that could be shaken and heaved all over the car. The seats are now held together with duct tape. When Luie started on our shoes, pricey numbers that they are, we had a "come to Jesus meeting" with him. He got the tabs off my $110 shoes and started on Hubby's $250 sneakers -- and then the little boy found out that a thoroughly angry Hubby was not something he wanted to meet again. He now carries off a shoe once in a while, but he doesn't destroy them. Hubby had learned to put his glasses up high so Luie can't reach them. We've found that a little blind dog has to put things in his mouth to discover what they are -- and if they bend, snap, crack, and can be chewed -- he's delighted to destroy them for us.

My week's accomplishments have included taking an on-line test for grad school, rewriting the crisis management paper, writing up a teacher interview (six pages) to prove that I understood what is required of functional instructor, getting my hair cut, putting out the church's newsletter using the new software on the MAC (which is no longer intuitive for me -- you get colors in the color palate by actually grabbing the color and putting in an empty box on the palate -- what a concept! -- it took only 35 minutes for me to figure that one out!), getting the Internet connection repaired after sweet Luie had chewed through the connection (we were down four horrible days!), and cooking up a mess of Swiss steak in the crock pot for our dinners. And this is only Monday.

No comments: