Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's a wonder

It is a wonder that intermediate/middle school students ever learn anything at all. They are so energetic; so interested in what their classmates are doing or thinking; trying so hard to fit in yet be just a little unique; and feeling so unsure of themselves. They want to entertain each other--usually with small insults or exaggerations--so everyone knows they are there, but they shy away from too much attention. It's a very complex time of life and it doesn't leave much room for actual learning work. I guess we just have to hope that something sneaks in and attaches.

Subbing is nice because there is no real preparation and no follow up. The tough part is stepping into someone else's routine and someone else's expectations. But I'm home now, in one piece, and I left no damage behind. Hopefully I even helped a little.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Comics speak to me

Sometimes certain comics really speak to me. Whoever writes/draws Non Sequitur has tickled me several times, enough that I actually cut them out and save them. I'm sharing a short series today because I've been thinking about this kind of stuff. I hope you can read them--enlarging will help--because I don't have a scanner; I just took pictures of them.Sometimes those really smart kids are the toughest.
Of course, unless they are paired with the really smart teacher.
Naturally, those same smart kids also need savvy parents.

I'm substituting tomorrow for a math teacher in an Intermediate school. I hope I remember what to do.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Talking to children

I love to be in a public place and see parents talking to children. Notice I said talking TO them, not just yelling in their general direction.

So often I hear, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy...," without so much as a glance at the child. One day I counted 12 times as the mother was too involved in what she was doing to acknowledge her child. Now it was probably true that what the child needed was not earth-shaking, but how important must he/she feel when mommy is so difficult to reach. Worse than that, though, are the threateners, the arm jerkers, the snappers who drag tired children through store after store and expect perfection. I am always offended by parents who refuse to buy a small candy or toy for a patient child while filling their carts with expensive energy drinks, beer, and cigarettes.

Sometimes, however, I see conversations. I overhear discussions about which cereal would be best, which aisle contains the tomato juice, or what kind of apples to buy. I see parents and children engaged. Those warm my heart.

As children are listened to, their opinions considered, their choices allowed, they gain a vital sense of importance and worth. It gives them a sturdy foundation, a confidence in themselves. Even before I became a teacher and saw the various ways parents could hamper children's development, I knew that talking TO kids was vital.

They understand more than you think they do and they know more than most people give them credit for. My mother (and her mother) knew that too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Smiling faces

I just got back from a leisurely trip through a super store (that has everything) and I smiled at three toddlers and two babies--they all smiled back.

I noticed years ago that while a parent may look through me or around me, children--especially the little ones--always look at my face. I read somewhere that babies are genetically programmed to look at human faces. It must be true. So, I always look back and smile. Most of the time they respond with a smile of their own, even the very small ones. Occasionally a parent will notice and acknowledge me with a smile, but often it is just the child and me.

Try it. It is pretty cool and there is nothing like receiving a bright, happy smile from a little one.