Wednesday, October 08, 2008


For us average, maybe even sub-par, Joes and Janes out here, it's tough to figure out if we should be canning like mad, and stuffing silver dollars in the mattress or if this is just an economic blip on the radar screen. The more people talk and the news reports, the more Jenn, Eric and I have been worried about trying to steward Betty's nest egg. We met with her financial planner tonight. I feel like I was a child talking about finance with a PhD. I have seldom felt so naive.

We are doing our best to reduce her financial risk, and yet make her financial profile if not gain, at least not lose value. It was interesting to talk to the financial fellow and see some of his perspectives about the current financial situation in America and the world. He feels that things are about to bottom out. I hope he is right. It's very hard for someone not educated about the intricacies of finance to understand what is wise or unwise. Together, with Betty's participation, and under advisement of her financial advisor, we came up with a plan.

I hope that time will prove we have been good stewards. We've certainly tried.

Another piece of news is that both Jenn and I have met our minimum fund raising goals for the 3-day walk. I'm so appreciative to all who have made that accomplishment possible!

I was asked, what do I teach and how could we be already at mid-terms. Well, we started back to school on August 8th and a semester is 89 to 90 days. Someone somewhere counts the actual amount of time a kid's butt is in a seat, presumably learning. There are requirements about what that has to be at a minimum. Our goal is to meet our 90th day before the holiday break. So you count backwards from when we take off for the holidays and that is why you get us starting back to school about a month before the whole rest of America. So, count forward from August 8th and you've got us at the half-way point: mid-terms. As for what I teach -- well I'm a special education teacher and I help students that are "mainstreamed" into a regular education classroom. I can be sent to either Science classrooms or Social Studies classes. For the last three years I've been doing World Geography. Which is sort of interesting because I never got to take it myself. I enjoy teaching it and sharing my excitment about travel with the students. We just finished chapter 10 on Mexico so right now I know interesting factoids like, Mexico has 31 states, and it's 3 major mountain ranges are the Sierra Madre del Sur, the Sierra Madre Oriental and the the Sierra Madre Occidental. I know about details like the intermarriage of Indians and Europeans results in Mestizo's and the Isthmus of Mexico leads to the flat plains of the Yucatan. And so forth, and so forth. I also have a caseload of about 17 students that I have to keep all the governmental paperwork up-to-date on, and generally try to hound those 17 into passing their classes and contining to take their high school graduation tests until they pass, and graduating with a regular education diploma. Some of my students can do those things, and some are not. The No Child Left Behind laws say that we WILL graduate more and more special education students with regular education diplomas, despite the fact that many of our students can't be healed, are dealing with a variety of mental and physiological issues. By LAW only 2 percent of the students can be exempted from Graduation Testing becuase of severe (really severe) disabilities. So the rest of our students we work very hard trying to help them pass the Georgia High School Graduation tests, accumulate 24 Carnegie Units and meet a variety of other graduation requirements. For some, the frustration gets to be too much and they drop out. Others age out of the system and turn 21/22 before they can get the units they need. They can keep taking the tests in perpetuity. Most give up after they take the tests three or four times. But NCLB says we have to meet increasing quotas of disabled students getting regular ed diplomas so we try. And try. And try.

Lots of presure on the job. There is violence, threats of violence, and generally way too many teens cooped up in the same place at the same time for the public good. In return for all this fun, we get cursed, loved, defied, complied with, hugs, temper tantrums, and the list goes on. Every day is a new day with new opportunities to try and share knowledge and on an exceptional day, wisdom. Many students have issues with women, and therefore it can be tougher in many ways to just simply be a woman. Men get more respect. At least that's my observation. Big, young, testesterone-driven teen boys want to feel powerful and they often do it by intimidating women teachers. You gotta have metal ovaries to work in this profession these days. Probably more than you ever wanted to know.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Wow! I asked the question, so thanks! As you put away your soap box and get ready for another day of teaching, know that you are admired and respected by us wusses out here who would never dream of attempting to do what you do.

It sounds like you enjoy the actual teaching (and learning) part, but have to endure a lot of crap along with it. It is a shame the education system has evolved into this. But thank goodness there are still brave folks like you still dedicated to learning.