Saturday, May 16, 2009

Q & A: I was tagged!

Saphron "tagged" me via her blog.

Personally, I'm pretty good at ignoring chain e-mails, and I'm sure I could extend my non-conformity to you've-been-tagged blogging, but I thought the questions were good. (The one I didn't like, I got to delete! The one I thought was misssing, I got to add.)

Besides, if you read my blog, you might enjoy my twist on the answers. It's fun to get behind the eyes of another. Sometimes.

Rules: Answer the questions. Replace the one question you dislike the most with one of your own, AND add one question of your liking. Tag five untagged people. Ready? GO!

What is your current obsession?

Jin Shin Do, meridians, and now EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques).

Do you nap a lot?
Not very often, but twice last week after work. I drained my "sleep bank" the weekend before via a trip to Arizona by car for a family reunion. I can tell when I'm not getting enough sleep, or if I need a little more mental "down" time.

What is under your bed?
Dust. Lot's of dust. It's carpeted, and this summer I'll move the beds and vacuum. Twice a year, whether it needs it or not! ;-)

What would you like to learn to do?
Right now... EFT. (See #1.)

What’s for dinner?
TBD. My wife and I usually go out once or twice a week to our favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant: Mexi-Casa. Tonight may be that night! (Otherwise, I like breakfast for dinner -- eggs, grapes, toast with jam, and coffee with flavored creamer. I'm a simple guy.)

What was the last thing you bought?

I've got a bid on E-bay for a racquetball racket for my son-in-law, but "shhhhh," he doesn't know it. (He's in school, so nice equipment is not in the budget.)

What is your favorite weather?

70's and 80's during the day. 50's and 60's at night. Little or no humidity. Kind of like Southern California. (Oh. That's where I live!)

If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
"There's no place like home. There's no place like home."
Otherwise, I'd like to visit my older kids and grandkids: British Columbia, and Illinois. (Maybe the Canadian Rockies, or on a road-trip visiting all the National Parks and National Monuments.)

What is your most challenging goal right now?
Making my summer (self-imposed) honey-do list. School's almost over. I'm just on the backside of having accomplished a major goal (1st year: new school), and just yesterday I started looking forward to the summer with its projects, travels, etc.

Do you have a blog you read daily even when there are no updates?

I check my blog reader for updates; although, I do sometimes visit blogs that haven't been updated because it's like re-reading a letter from a friend. That usually brings a smile to my face, and it's like a mini-visit, even if only in my mind.

What would you like to have in your hands right now?
A simple cure for cancer and a medical organization with enough clout (and will) to bring it to market.

What do you want but can’t have right this second?
See above. (It would also be nice to have my wife and I being at our healthy and fit weight and other health goals.)

What languages can you speak?
English and some Spanish. I also speak Troll. (All men can and do. It involves pointing and grunting.)

What language(s) do you want to be able to speak?
Better Spanish. Hey! I know what I need to do: read Spanish books to build my vocabulary. That sounds like a fun summer project. (I'm adding that to my honey-do list!)

What's one thing you're looking forward to?
Summer vacation: 19 working days away. Woo hoo! (Short-sighted? Yes. Smile-inducing: Very.)

What websites do you visit constantly during the day?
I don't. I do that before and after work. Sometimes, I'll Google something with my class, usually to find a definition or illustration. On my own time, I check my Blogger, GoogleNews, e-mail, Rhapsody, YouTube, and Google -- for my "current obsession." See #1.

If you could only listen to one artist for the rest of your life who would it be?
Julia Lane. (Celtic harpist: very soothing.)

If you had all the time in the world, what would you do with it?
Road-trips. Meaningful philanthropy. Family visits. Oh, I do that now. (I am living my dream!)

What is your favorite time period?
Now. It's all we really have. Zen: Be. Here. Now.

+What has been the highlight of 2009 for you?

Getting to know the staff, students, and families of my new school. Plenty of challenges, plenty of growth, very few "oops." It's been a great year.

And who do I tag? You. You. You. You. And yes, you!

Include yourself if you'd like. It's a fun and easy post. Those who read your blog will enjoy the insights, depths, foibles, and frolics that make you you!

Have a great weekend! (I'm playing racquetball at noon! Yeah!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Change of Heart

A change of heart is a wonderful thing to behold.

I’m a Resource Specialist in Special Education at an elementary school. Once a year I schedule a set of transitions meetings with the junior high staff. Because Special Education exists due to federal law, we have a lot of paperwork, but the bottom line is that we help kids who need extra help. Transition meetings are about paperwork and levels of help, minutes of service, degree of need.

It’s not always easy being the parent of a student with special needs. It’s also not always easy coming to the realization that your child needs more help than you thought. Some parents fight that reality, and in their denial they can become unreasonable.

My least favorite thing is dealing with militantly unreasonable people. Reason is my friend, my ally, and my main tool for reaching the consensus with others. I need that consensus in order to do my job, and to obtain signatures on the necessary forms.

But it’s not the paperwork that matters: it’s the kids.

Today, at one of my meetings, a parent had a change of heart. She’s been resisting the reality that her child needs more help in school. She finally decided that her child's problems are not all about being lazy. The student has a learning disability. That’s a tough reality for a parent to face, especially as you look into your child’s future.

I had anticipated a difficult meeting. I anticipated unreasonableness, but once again I presented my professional, honest, and caring opinion about levels of help this student would need at the junior high. It was not less than what the student was currently getting: it was more. (Some of my colleagues winced as I made the offer of support that we thought was appropriate because we anticipated she would resist as she had in the past.)

Then I asked the mom, “What do you think?”

She said, “I agree.”

I threw her a kiss, and we went forward from there.

It was the highlight of my day.

Over the course of the last year, I regarded the feelings and fears of this mom. I gave her the gift of time. I continued to help her child despite her misgivings. Her child appreciated the needed help, and eventually the mom had a change of heart.

It was an unexpected miracle in my day, a personal highlight, and a relief.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Elijah or the Raven?

Columnist Harvey Mackay wrote a column entitled “The heart of education is the education of the heart.” I read the article a long time ago, and it made a lasting impression. Why?

Because Mackay shares some stories about educators who were also mentors. In this article he speaks of two of his own mentors, the second being his golf coach…

“My other mentor was Les Bolstad, the University of Minnesota golf coach. Like all great coaches and teachers, Les did not teach golf. He taught life. If you learned a little golf on the side, well, so much the better.”

Les Bolstad was a raven!

Harvey Mackay was willing to learn from a somewhat unapparent teacher. Sure Bolstad was a golf coach, but Mackay learned so much more from him. He learned about life.

But why do I say, “Les Bolstad is a raven.” I’m referring to a fairly famous Bible story from 1st Kings 17. It is a story about a prophet named Elijah:

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there."

So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

This week I had a fellow educator visit my classroom. Many of my coworkers are 20 or so years younger than I am. They have young children while my children have young children.

Despite the age difference, we all have problems. Because I’m older and more experienced, I can sometimes offer questions, insights, or advice that is helpful. I can be a raven, if they are willing to be an Elijah.

Elijah was a man of ability and influence, but he possessed a humility that allowed him to receive help from unusual sources, even from some questionable sources. Ravens were not held in high regard: they were and are scavengers.

Depending on the situation you may play the role of Elijah or the raven, if you are willing.

Me? I was a raven this week, sharing a bit of help to a needy and willing recipient. Caw!