Tag Archives: teaching

It’s Still Nice To Be Needed

I’m a Mom. That’s part of who I am and a role I have had for nearly 28 years so its hard to let that role change as your children grow up. Mine are:  27,24,22 & 20.  Over the years I have hauled my kids to one activity or another, doctor appointments, dentist appointments and to the mall when they weren’t old enough to drive. My kids don’t need me for these activities anymore because they all drive and have cars of their own.

My youngest son, the 24-year-old, asked me to drive him to the dentist this afternoon. He has to have his top two wisdom teeth pulled. I said I would pick him up and drive him to the appointment and home again. Our planned trip to the dentist brought back memories of the day I drove him to the oral surgeon to have the first two wisdom teeth our while he was still in high school.

I was teaching third grade that year but only as a reading and math specialist in the morning. His appointment was right after lunch so we left as soon as I was done with my students. We had a nice visit on our 45 minute drive. I was on a tight schedule that day because I had to get back to school for conferences that evening.

My son checked in and they said he should be in the recovery room in about 45 minutes.  Instead of waiting for him I decided to go to the pharmacy for the antibiotics and pain medications while he was in surgery. Just as I got back in the parking lot and got out of my car I heard a loud PSSSSSSSSSSST and looked to my right rear tire as it was going flat before my eyes. 

I started removing everything from my trunk to get to my spare tire. Most days this would not have been a big task but I had planned a stop at Goodwill on the way home and my trunk was filled with donations. It looked like I was having a garage sale in the surgery center parking lot. I got many interesting looks but no offers of help. I continued to go about getting ready to change my tire in my dress. 

Just when I was about ready to start they escorted my son out to the car. He was out of recovery. It was the end of their workday and they were ready to go home. We put my groggy son in the front seat and closed the door.

I jacked up the car and took off the flat tire and put it in the trunk. About the time I was ready to put the spare on the front car door opened and my son with a mouth full of gauze was trying to give me directions on how to change the tire. I said “I’ve got it handled, shut the door and stop wiggling the car”. I was afraid the jack would topple over if he moved too much. He shut the door and I continued to put the spare on, tighten the  lug nuts and let the car down off of the jack. Once again through a mouth of cotton he opened the door and tried to give me directions. Then he shut the door once again. 

After I loaded everything back in the trunk we headed back home with a quick stop at Goodwill to unload my trunk. I managed to make it just in time for my first conference after dropping my son off at our home. 

That evening after conferences my husband and I were at our shop repairing the hole in my tire. I told him I had to have hit something big as fast as the tire went flat. He took the tire off the rim to repair it and inside the tire there was the tiniest little wrench inside my tire. Only a mechanic’s wife would run over a wrench. I know you are thinking I must have run over it at our shop but it was an entirely different brand wrench than what the mechanics use at our shop.

I am hoping for a less complicated trip to the dentist this afternoon.  I may even have time to read a good book for a while….


Posted by on February 18, 2011 in Family, Humor, Life Happens


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The Antonym of Mediocrity

Last evening I watched as my grandson attack my piano with gusto.  He sat and played with all he had, sometimes even his feet getting into the act.  He’s 14 months old.  I learned how to play piano when I was five and took lessons for five years.  I was never a great pianist but I play for my enjoyment.   The last time that I pursued anything with that intensity like my grandson with my piano, was learning how to fly and before that, teaching.

This past week I read an article that was published in the Washington Post and referenced in The Simple Things in “L”ife by Gregg Hake  blog titled Why aren’t our teachers the best and the brightest?   I found the article to be very interesting but it left me with the nagging question.  If I were seeking a teaching degree under the approach to teacher recruitment used in Singapore, Finland and South Korea would I measure up?  According to the article  “these countries make teacher training programs highly selective, accepting no more than one out of every seven or eight applicants.  Their governments also limit the number of training positions to match the expected demand for educators, so that those admitted are assured jobs.” 

At first I focused on the fact that they sought the top one-third students.  I would have fit into that category no problem.  Second, the article stated “academic achievement isn’t the whole story in these countries.  They screen would-be teachers for other important qualities, and they invest heavily in training teachers and in retaining them for their entire careers.”  They never mention the important qualities besides academic achievement that they screen for in the process.  It’s something I’d like to know. 

I was thinking about the education selection process in Finland, Singapore and South Korea and something sounded vaguely familiar about it.  It took me a few days to figure out what it was and then I realized it is very similar to the process that is used in the United States in the medical field for accepting students into medical school.  If these top students make it through medical school they are most likely assured a job in their field provided they are willing to accept one where they are needed. 

The number of students accepted to medical school is kept low enough so there is always a demand for their services when they finish.  In a time when there is a need for more doctors, nurses and other medical personnel it would seem the appropriate time to make openings for more students to attend medical school.  The downside of this is there might be students admitted to the program that might only be in the bottom of the top 30%. Do these students have a  good bedside manner or bad and does it matter?

After reading the article I walked away with the feeling that I was somehow inadequate as a teacher.  Perhaps I didn’t demonstrate the scholastic prowess that they would desire in their countries.  I don’t know if I would qualify based on their other important qualities.  I would hope so.  I do know that not all education students do not have 100% of their time available for study.  There are many college students that worked their way through college and had to divide their time and attention accordingly.  Does that make them any less of a teacher?  Perhaps in their work experience they will learn valuable skills to relate to their future students.

I love to teach and know that just knowing the material is not all there is to teaching.  It takes the ability to engage your students in what you are teaching.  In order to teach you first have to get and keep their attention.  Teaching takes compassion for the student beyond the subject matter.  If your student comes to school without eating breakfast or wondering if it’s Mom or Dad’s weekend to have them, little of what you are trying to teach them will be learned.  Excellent teachers are able to instill a lifelong love of learning in their students, always yearning for more.

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Posted by on October 16, 2010 in education


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