September 25, 2008

one of my students called me grandma today.


September 22, 2008

little 4th grade boy goes to the bathroom and is gone for about 10-15 minutes...beginning to wonder... he comes back and comes right up to me,
"miss teacher! miss teacher! i was in the bathroom and i went to the first soap and i pressed it and it fell off the wall! then i went to the second soap and i pressed it and it fell off the wall! so i went to the third soap and i pressed it and it fell off the wall! somebody pranked them! somebody pranked them!"

my immediate reaction: "did you wash your hands? did you wash your hands? get some hand sanitizer!"

and now we all know what every teacher's true priorities are...

September 17, 2008


"No Dentist Left Behind"

My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've got all my teeth. When I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.
'Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?' I said.
'No,' he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. 'How will they do that?'
'It's quite simple,' I said. 'They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as excellent, good, average, below average, and unsatisfactory. That way parents will know who the best dentists are. The plan will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better,' I said. 'Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to practice.'
'That's terrible,' he said.
'What? That's not a good attitude,' I said. 'Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?'
'Sure I do,' he said, 'but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry.'
'Why not' I said. 'it makes perfect sense to me.'
'Well, it's so obvious,' he said. 'Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele, and that much depends on things we can't control? For example, I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle-class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem, and I don't get to do much preventive work. Also, many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off, so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?'
'It sounds like you're making excuses,' I said. 'I can't believe that you, my dentist, would be so defensive. After all, you do a great job, and you needn't fear a little accountability.'
'I am not being defensive!' he said. 'My best patients are as good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most.'
'Don't' get touchy,' I said.
'Touchy?' he said. His face had turned red, and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth. 'Try furious! In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. The few educated patients I have who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating is an actual measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may 0Aleave me,and I'll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?'
'I think you are overreacting,' I said. ''Complaining, excuse-making and
stonewalling won't improve dental health'... I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC,' I noted.
'What's the DOC?' he asked.
'It's the Dental Oversight Committee,' I said, 'a group made up of mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved.'
'Spare me,' he said, 'I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it,' he said hopefully. The program sounded reasonable to me,so I asked, 'How else would you measure good dentistry?'
'Come watch me work,' he said. 'Observe my processes.'
"That's too complicated, expensive and time-consuming,' I said. 'Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure.'
'That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think. This can't be happening,' he said despairingly.
'Now, now,' I said, 'don't despair. The state will help you some.'
'How?' he asked.
'If you receive a poor rating, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent
to help straighten you out,' I said brightly.
'You mean,' he said, 'they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? BIG HELP!'
'There you go again,' I said. 'You aren't acting professionally at all.'
"You don't get it,' he said. 'Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score made on a test of children's progress with no regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools.'
I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened. 'I'm going to write my
representatives and senators,' he said. 'I'll use the school analogy. Surely
they will see the point.'
He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I, a teacher, see in the mirror so often lately.

This analogy was forwarded by John S. Taylor,
Superintendent of Schools
for the Lancaster County, PA, School District.
i actually wrote this funny thing down on a postit today so i would remember it we were doing this grammar game as a class on the smart board, and the kids were writing either a,b,c,d on little white boards to show the answer, and they kept chanting what they said after they'd written it. i kept saying "no chanting! 4th graders, no chanting!"

then i realized--"no chanting"? really? part of my career is going to be saying things like "no chanting?" hands to yourself, i expect. but this was a new one. oh how i love this job... :-)

September 16, 2008

when everything goes wrong but the day is still so right... know you're in the right profession. :)

here is my list of things that went wrong yesterday:
within the first 10 minutes (yes 10 minutes) of my day...
-i realized the soy milk i had drunk in my coffee before school was definitely expired and spent the morning scared i would vomit in the trash can...and be solidified in their memories as the teacher who puked. seriously, kids don't forget those things. ever.
-my hand started spontaneously bleeding while i was teaching morning math facts, and my co-op had to get me a bandaid. don't worry, i continued teaching from the back of the room while bandaging my hand.
-immediately after that, i slipped and almost wiped out in the front of the room
-the smart board projector was malfunctioning and it took 15 minutes to warm up...during this time i awkwardly chatted with the kids about how i felt sick...

at the end of the day, one final cherry on top...
-the travel mug that was still half full of coffee and spoiled soy milk had tipped over and my bags were soaking in a puddle of coffee.

but it was still a fantastic day because i love these kids!
oh, and magically, i managed not to puke ;-)

September 11, 2008

6 x 4 = 24

because i'm spending a significant portion of my time in the classroom this semester, i decided i wanted to create a blog solely for the purpose of reflecting on my student teaching experience.
this will be just a brief first post...but hopefully first of many. this evening was the school picnic, and my reaction to it is this: some of the 4th and 5th grade girls were dancing in such a way that i am severely concerned about their futures a couple years down the road...yikes.

more soon :-)
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