Friday, March 4, 2011

Anything Goes Friday

Bass-ackwards blogger that I am, I title these things before I write 'em, based on what I think my topic will be. That is why my titles often don't match the content — such as it is — of my post.

But today's post is going to be pretty much all over the place; so first things first:

Read this here post (which has nothing to do with running, I should warn you), in which AQA Aleece goes all Aretha on yo' @$$ by asking for Just A Little Respect. I left a loooong, polemical comment on her post, but don't let that deter you from visiting her blog because when I tried to post my comment? Her fucking blog EATED IT!1! (To quote famous existentialist Philosopher JP Sartre: Le GAHHH!1!) So my original comment isn't there, but I may go back again at some point today and gin up my outrage, possibly using real gin, and recreate my comment.


Next. Today I ran 6.56 miles in 1:01:05 which is a 9:18 pace. I am okay with the slowness because, unlike yesterday, today I was once again running in the 5:00 a.m. darkness. So I'll take that pace.

Now the real post:

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, both Teh 'Bride and I took the morning off yesterday to meet with Ian's teachers. Ian's in fifth grade now and doing well (not to get all Proud Dad on you, but straight A's for the first two report cards this year!), but last year he was having a difficult time getting C's, forget about A's. We had various tests done and found out he had an auditory processing disorder. (I won't bore you with details; I already wrote about it here, if you want to know more about it.) Essentially, he hears background noise as foreground noise and has a hard time filtering it out when it comes time to concentrate. It's easy enough to surmise how this might impact his academic performance.

We worked together with Ian's teachers, guidance counselors, etc., both last year and this to address the problem and try to help him deal with it. Most of the solutions were quite simple — such as having him work in smaller groups when possible and having instructions read out loud to him to make sure he grasps them ... things of that sort. In fact, it took very little of that to turn Ian right around, to make him into the student he was always capable of being. He's not perfect — who is? — and it's still a bit of a struggle to get him to read anything but fishing magazines, but all-in-all? Teh 'Bride and I couldn't be happier with his transformation.

This is the boy who, when I'd pick him up from aftercare last year and ask how much of his homework he got done, would answer, "None. It was too loud." But this year? It's the rare Tuesday (Teh 'Bride's late night at the library, so the only day I pick Ian up) when he doesn't answer, "I got all of it done." Occasionally there are one or two items he needs my help with at home. But more often he's done it all himself — and done it correctly. He's learned strategies to help him concentrate in environments that used to be too awash in noise for him to deal with them effectively.

This is attributable, largely, to two factors, the first of which is Ian's own efforts.

But the second is the hard work of all the public school teachers and counselors and administrators who didn't abandon him, who took a beyond-the-call-of-the-job interest in seeing him reach his potential. We pay pretty high taxes in my part of Joisey; even before we had Ian, I never begrudged a cent of it that went to public education because I have always maintained that I have a vested interest in seeing that everyone in my community has a decent education, and that it is the government's job to offer it. I'll gladly pay for that. Without it, too many kids would go without what should be considered their right: An education that will prepare them to participate fully and fruitfully in our society.

I also don't mind paying those taxes because I always suspected, and now can testify firsthand to this fact, that the lion's share of that money went into the kids' education. We live two blocks from the school Ian attends; there are no Ferraris or luxury cars in the teachers' parking lot; these teachers aren't wearing designer clothes; as far as I know, they aren't snorting the best Colombian cocaine in the teachers' lounge during lunchtime, either.

They make middle-class, five-figure salaries. They work at home and on weekends, grading papers, coming up with lesson plans, trying to think of innovative ways to engage the kids, to make them learn and enjoy learning. (Ian typically has a writing assignment due every Friday; the boy who, last year, always wanted to wait till Thursday to do anything due on Friday, now insists on at least getting started on it no later than Tuesday. I am still amazed at this sea-change.)

The meeting Teh 'Bride and I had with Ian's teachers lasted roughly 45 minutes. It was very informative. Ian's teachers know him; they like him. We listened to what they had to say. Teh 'Bride took notes, as is her wont.

Teh 'Bride was quite capable of handling this meeting all by herself — much more so than I. In fact, I attended for two reasons only:

To demonstrate my interest in my son's education.

But more important, to thank these hard-working public servants for their role in helping my child to reach his potential. We simply could not have achieved this change in Ian without them — or without the teachers he had last year, as well. (Who, by the way, continue to take an interest in his development, even though Ian was at an entirely different school last year.)

And so that's what I did — I thanked them. Profusely.

It was important to me to let them know that, even though it is now quite fashionable for fat-cat pundits and corrupt and lazy politicians and mendacious media fucktards — all of whom do make millions of dollars a year — to attack public workers for daring to want to make a livable wage, there are still many of us actual middle class citizens who appreciate what our teachers do for us and for our children.

If you have had an experience similar to ours, please remember to thank a teacher.


  1. It's great that you thank the people involved. Somewhere along the way it has become unfashionable to thank the people who have made a difference in your life.

    As for reading only fishing magazines, don't sweat it, for two reasons. One, once the reading bug is there, it will spread to other genres.
    Two, it could have been Twilight. Though now that I think of it, he's still a bit young for that. It could still happen I guess. Brace yourself.

    I've been following a bit of the Wisconsin madness, though it's tough because it isn't much reported. The mainstream media don't seem to want to tell people that not only do the wealthy want to strip away pay and benefits from ordinary people, they also want to strip away the rights (such as collective bargaining) that would slow down such a procedure. I'm not a big fan of unions, but they do have a place in the world, and one could easily argue that collective bargaining is a right in the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Free association and all.

  2. My mom taught high school English for 40+ years. She graded papers all night and I can remember her being on the phone constantly with parents. She put up with a lot of bratty kids, who (and I'm pretty sure this is no coincidence) had even brattier parents. It's a tough job and I know she cared. I can tell you your visits and interest in what your kid is doing in school goes a long way with the teachers. It's not only the right thing to do for many reasons, but it's political capital.

    Have a good wknd :)

  3. Awwwwww. Nice post.

    "Le GAHHH!" made me laugh out loud, not "LOL," but actual. So, staying consistent in non sequiturdom, The ex called me yesterday with her usual greeting, "Watcha doin'?" I replied: watching gladiator movies with my shirt off.

    Three minutes of laughter later, she couldn't remember why she called.

  4. I'm told that those in Carolina compose the post title before the blog content too. Just sayin.

    I've had a much different experience than you with our local teachers. Most here make 6 figures, not five (then again, the superintendents make >$200k with the one in the next town closing in on $400k). Many teachers just do the minimum to get by. One of the teachers actually said to us in a beginning of the year conference (we go to all) that my child already met the reading requirements for the grade (I have really bright kids) so the teacher wasn't planning on working at all with her on reading for the whole year. Seriously.

    Then again, there are others that have gone out of their way and have really inspired my kids.

    I don't mind paying high taxes if it actually went into bettering education but I have a lot of doubts.

    My wife is at the school almost every day. We attend every school board meeting. We volunteer with the school and the Mrs. even helped interview new teachers. We are highly involved but too many parents (and teachers) don't care enough.

    The ones that do, we thank. And we can't thank enough. The ones that don't is another story.

  5. Our school budget got voted down last fiscal year. Most of the voters around us are retirees fiercely protective of their diminishing funds, & rightfully so. However, I like how you put it - as a community, we should ALL have a vested interest in our young ones, & in making sure they grow well-equipped in handling decisions that will most certainly affect us all in the future.

    Then again, I might be forced to change my tune if I'm forced to decide between paying for my food or for my medications.

  6. At my first job after I got my M.A., I already made more than my mother did after working as a teacher for 20 years. (And yes, she also had an M.A. degree.) Who knew that an English degree would make me worth more than a teacher?

    (Then again, she still has students who remember her well and with fondness after 20+ years. Not sure I could say the same about any of my former employers :)

  7. I was a teacher for 10 years. Least rewarding financially; most rewarding personally. Worked my butt off and became a great teacher, in my not-so-humble opinion (wish I could work my butt off and become a great runner (sigh). Thank you for thanking and honoring those teachers. I can say that, for me, every thank you made my day and made teaching feel like a gift (to me).
    Run and write well, Ann

    PS--I'm glad you shared all of this, 'cause it's a wonderful story, and I am SO happy for you and Teh 'Bride and Ian!!!

    2nd PS--I always "Select All" and "Copy" before clicking the "Post Comment" button, so when a Blog EATED IT I could "Paste" the original text into another try. Hope that helps.

  8. Hey almost made me cry with this one...and I'm really sorry my blog ate your comment (what can I say? it was hungry?) because I have NO DOUBTS that I would have LURVED it... Le GAAAAAHHHHH!

    Beth pretty much captured my thinking with respect to the importance of interested & involved parents and how much I appreciated them when I was teaching high school (not so much parental interaction with the college students, in fact, I can't say anything to parents about their kids due to privacy laws...which I'm OK with), but I also hear what RockStarTri is saying, I've worked with teachers who don't care. They piss me off. It troubles me that the union protects them at all costs. My son has a truly horrible algebra teacher this year, one who (if she had her way) would destroy his love of math...and he's in the 7th grade...when he should be gaining a further love of numbers (something which I certainly didn't have). If I were running the world, I'd fire her ass right now...on the other hand, I'm not sure an education system where one pissed off parent should be in charge of firing teachers.

    My point is that education is a pretty complicated system and that myopic (my vocab work for the day) messages from politicians and the like (all teachers = bad; all business tax cuts = good) don't really do much to help solve what are really complex problems.

    OK... rant over :-)

    Thanks for the link!

  9. Amen, Glaven. Nice post!

    I'm just wondering how much of Ian's hearing disorder is something he will outgrow - I really know nothing about it. I guess I could read your old post! :)

    BTW - Jerk is pronounced Yeahrk in Danish - and to "jerk off" means to "take a vacation". If you ever visit Denmark, you should just say you're there to "jerk off". Ha ha ha ha. I just made that all up! Gotcha. But Jerk is really pronounced Yeahrk.