The One Reason I Quit Teaching

I read this piece (attached below), written by blogger Elona Schreiner, and I’ll admit it made me sniffle. I was overwhelmed because it reminded me so strongly of my own experience. While I paused my teaching career to care for my small children rather than because of the chafing of the current demands of teaching, I completely understand this teacher’s concern for the politicization of education, and the frustration it causes. Like her, I’ve had students whose greatest growth could never be recorded in a spreadsheet or charted on a graph.

I remember a second-grade student who improved from a pre-kindergarten reading level — not even able to identify a single letter in her own name — to an end-of-first-grade level… and despite my personal joy in her progress, I felt the sting of the knowledge that on paper, she and I appeared to be failures, because she still wasn’t reading at the appropriate level. It hurts, knowledge like that.

It’s been painful to see the vibrant, growing, life-loving children I’ve learned to love each year being reduced to numbers on a chart, being analyzed as if they’re products in a warehouse. It hurts to realize that a child who really needs the boost of summer school, doesn’t qualify because — oh terrible irony! — he and I worked so hard that year that his score was too high by one percentile to fit into the program, because of reduced funding.

I know teachers who teach with energy and inspiration, who rise above the politics and the tests and assessments and charts and Excel worksheets, who lead their students to a love of learning with passion and fire. But maintaining that kind of energy is exhausting, when over half the time spent working is recording, analyzing, moving numbers from one spreadsheet to another — while less than half the time is spent with the children. I spent easily 60-80 hours working each week; only about 30 of those hours were spent with my students.

I’m not trying to gain sympathy, really. It’s just that what teachers love is, well, teaching; and maintaining passion for teaching as we watch it shift away from a focus on children, toward a focus on numbers, is disheartening — and that won’t change until it’s a widely recognized issue.

I look forward to returning to teaching. But I dread it, too, for all the reasons outlined in Ms. Schreiner’s piece that’s attached here. Maybe someday those things will change; in the meantime, our students still need us, and I’m grateful for my colleagues in the trenches even as I’m reveling in my opportunity to take a step back and breathe. I’m grateful to those who set an example of grace and strength, who maximize every moment they have with their students, who refuse to be worn down by politics and by our nation’s appetite for numbers on graphs.

Ellie R. Schreiner

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September means apples, bulletin boards, foliage, name tags, a new class and everything else about going back-to-school! After over thirty years of starting the fall in a classroom, as a student or teacher, I decided to take a break this year. I taught for thirteen years all over Oregon, and it was not an easy decision to take a year off from teaching. We moved from Oregon to Texas and I knew that now was the time to step back. It’s now been two months since school started for the rest of my world, and I have had time reflect upon the decision to change careers. I can now articulate the many things I miss about teaching and the one thing that I do not.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. There were moments when I saw myself as a lawyer, a rodeo cowgirl, a photojournalist, a…

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Revenge Is Scary!

I’ve been following this blogger for a little while, and I absolutely love her sense of humor as well as her skill with a pair of scissors! She uses cut paper to create gently humorous comic strips, usually featuring her daughters. This one made me chuckle. Revenge can be scary…especially when you have sisters. Click here to see the whole story.

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An Introvert With ADHD

I’ve long known that I’m an introvert: it’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that I can’t manage too much time around others without needing to recharge. I do best when I know in advance that human interaction is on the horizon, so I can plan for it and mentally prepare myself. A scheduled playdate for the kids or a routine meeting at work is fine; an unexpected trip to the mall or the arrival of a substitute in my classroom with a summon to an unexpected meeting might throw me for a loop.

I don’t think I’m unique in this regard. An article I just read that reviewed a recent study on introverts said that anywhere from 30% to 50% of people are introverted, so my needs for Alone Time, advance warning before interactions, and a chance to quietly recharge after People Time are all pretty normal. What’s different about my own brand of introversion, though, is that it’s accompanied by ADHD. This means that, while most introverts are content and even happy to skirt the periphery of a crowd and observe others’ interactions, it’s easy for the swirling movement of the crowd and the noise and lights that all go along with social gatherings (or trips to the mall) to become overwhelming, causing me to become agitated, irritable, or withdrawn.

An article about introversion that I just read caught my attention because many of the characteristics as described in this particular case are dead-on for my own experience, right down to the need to avoid caffeine before important events and a dread of talking on the phone. The article’s author, Alena Hall, summed it up nicely:

Little cites the theory of extraversion by Hans Eysenck and research by William Revelle of Northwestern University, explaining that introverts and extraverts naturally differ when it comes to their alertness and responsiveness to a given environment. A substance or scene that overstimulates the central nervous system of an introvert (which doesn’t take much) might cause him or her to feel overwhelmed and exhausted, rather than excited and engaged.

Interesting, huh? (If you didn’t already click the link above, click here to read the article.)

“White Couch Feeding”

Every now and then something comes along that’s too good not to share. Today my aunt, the mother of six children who are nearly all grown now, shared this delightful collection of ridiculously serene stock family photos that have been realistically captioned by moms. My aunt had a good laugh at it and then shared it with me, remembering that I’m in the middle of parenting my own rambunctious kidlets (though I doubt I’ll ever be able to match her collection of six of them).

My favorite captions:

You were right! Ever since we started White Couch Feeding with Emmett, he’s been eating like a champ.

And this one: IMG_2317.PNG

Click here to see the whole collection.

Trellis for Squash Vines

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed this morning, I came across a how-to article that a friend had posted on her timeline. It was a trellis for squash vines, so the vines climb up instead of spreading out over the ground:

Squash Trellis http://www.organicgardening.com/SquashTrellis
Squash Trellis http://www.organicgardening.com/SquashTrellis

Last year, I had demonstrated my inexperience by planting half a dozen cucumbers in a small space — one end of a triangle-shaped bed about six feet long with a four-foot base — and I seriously regretted it. The vines tangled, grew on top of each other, and spread out of their bed, running into the garden path and threatening other beds in the wheel-shaped garden. I’ve been trying to think of a better way to do it, but the trellises I’ve thought of have been large, permanent structures. This one looks perfect. Sturdy but lightweight, movable from year to year. It will allow the vines to take up less garden space while the fruit stays dirt-free. Check it out:

Save space in the garden without sacrificing a single squash by making a simple, inexpensive, and easy-to-build trellis. Ours easily handles six to eight delicata squash plants and takes up only 16 square feet of garden space.

Click here to read the article.

Hugging a Butterfly

Today a friend shared a link to an article on the Scary Mommy website, on my Facebook page. I read it with tears in my eyes. The author writes about the slow process of realizing their son had needs that weren’t being met; diagnosing him with ADHD; and, finally, reluctantly, starting medication for him. His reaction after his first day of medication was what made me tear up. This is what his mom wrote:

For the first time in … well, maybe his entire life, Colin seemed truly relaxed. But not in a stoned, disconnected way; more like a relieved way. Like someone who has finally been unburdened from the baggage that has unfairly saddled them for so long.

“I feel so much better, Mom,” he told me. “Why couldn’t we have done this from the start?”

His reaction was very much what my own feeling was, when I started ADHD medication. Relieved. Unburdened. And so much better. Why did I wait so long to admit I needed help? Pride, fear, and inability to see clearly and objectively from the haze of my condition. Medication isn’t for everyone with ADHD, but this story struck home to me. Beautiful.

– See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/hugging-a-butterfly/#sthash.ZCAANp23.dpuf

Sautéed Wild Mustard Greens with Dock, Garlic and Onions

I’m going to have to keep my eyes open for some of these. I bet they grow around here!

Little Fall Creek

We gather wild greens from the field daily, and mustard is currently the  star attraction– buds as broccoli, flowers and young greens in salads, and cooked older leaves. I think these hold up even better, in flavor and texture, to sauteing than does spinach. We often mix with dock leaves for a bright lemony accent.

Mustard greens are easy to prepare, incredibly healthful, and delicious. They are a wonderful side to all sorts of meat, fish, polenta, or grain. We enjoyed them last night with fried pork chops and sweet potatoes.

Sautéed Wild Mustard Greens with Dock, Garlic and Onions

The dash of hot sauce adds no heat to speak of– only a bit of vinegar and spark of extra flavor. Serves 3-4.

2 T butter

1 white onion, chopped medium

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

3 large handfuls of large mustard leaves, stems trimmed…

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Saving Seeds

This article on saving seeds caught my eye. I like the idea of that level of self-sufficiency. I like thinking about the plants in my garden, and the food we eat, coming entirely from our own plants, with no in-between seed purchases. Something to think about.

Read it here: All About Buying, Starting, and Saving Vegetable Garden SeedsIMG_1947.JPG

(Image from http://www.howtosaveseeds.com)

Paczki

Yum. These look like a great Saturday breakfast!

meraki

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Bread is one kind of food that ever since I learnt to make it, I’ve never failed. I am not saying that I have mastered making it, just that the result is always good. Also, I found out that  homemade bread lasts longer in room temperature than the store bought bread. That’s why homemade cooking is always healthier than eating out, I believe this.

This is the first time I baked Paczki and I just love their taste. Paczki are Polish doughnuts . They are actually fried doughnuts but they can be oven baked as well. I did the oven baked ones. Traditionally they are filled with strawberry jam but again, you may fill them with any fillings you like. I went with vanilla custard and strawberry jam.

Every country may have this kind of doughnuts with their unique names .  In Indonesia we call it Donut Goreng . But according to…

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