Thursday, September 29, 2005
The heat wave has broken - 70 outside, cloudy and windy, probably won't get out of the seventies today and the low tonight will be sixty. I'm not usually a reporter of weather, but after a first week of fall with highs well into the hundreds the change feels signigicant - like a spell has been broken. I'm actually looking forward to my walk to the bus stop this morning. My life right now is in a centering mode - an attempt to find balance (Do it now), every day crossing one or two tasks off a list of things I got behind on, preparing to deep clean the house and change decorations for fall, trying to get back in the habit of sending letters and cards to people I love, getting my inventory of beads priced and ready for a sidewalk sale. As the High Holy Days approach I take my own inventory, feel more contemplative than at other times and more detemined not to let daily activities sweep me along, away from priorities. I talked to Bob last night and he still was exhausted from the physical work of changing classrooms and discouraged by the attitudes of the teacher taking over his second graders - more concerned about being hot and having allergies in his old room than about the kids. He did get to talk one on one with many of his new kids - learn their interests and likes and dislikes, needs and personalities. I'm beginning to be able to match names with stories and am eager to get down there and match faces too. Ruth wrote in her photo journal that many of Chris' high school students are not applying mind to work - writing things that don't make sense and not caring - and in a later chat she said that she thinks too many teachers feel like trying to teach some high schoolers is like teaching to a brick wall - that if you haven't reached them by elementary school you never will. Ruth , Chris, and Bob and I don't believe that and of course many teachers don't, but it shocks me that even a few might feel that way. There has to be a way (ok ways, lots of ways) to put these kids in touch with how exciting real learning (not production for a grade or processing for a test) is. Ruth says some days she thinks about teaching for herself and this morning I have a fantasy of teaching high school English - but that will probably stay a fantasy.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Bob had his first real day with his fifth graders today. He is worn out from carrying boxes up the stairs in the heat, rearranging rooms and getting the second grade's grades in for the first six weeks. But he says he has neat fifth graders and he is having fun encouraging them to think with Dr. Seuss stories and rigged mistakes - a silly hat and a turtle on his shoulder. He is getting lots of support, especially from the assistant principal, a very experienced teacher who is in charge of the technology lab, and the long term sub. We are learning a few things about his students - the young man who had a stroke in first grade and still has seizures and struggles to read, the well behaved young woman whose father was killed in a gang shooting in August, his body thrown in the city dump. I know there will be more stories. Math test scores fro his students range from first grade (the kid who had the stroke) through eleventh (don't have a face with that score yet). This change was sudden and jolting, but it does seem to be working out.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Cloudless sky - no wind at all, very hot - 107 this afternoon! Hurricaine Rita turned, it land between Beaumont and Lake Charles in a relatively unpopulated area. The house is full of people - Ruth and Chris and all of Joanna's kids. We had birthday breakfast for Jo today at Fudruckers and laughted playing 20 questions at the table. "Am I a mammal? Do I have four legs? Do I live in the water? Am I a dolphin?" I love it that KK and Danny are old enough for games like this now. Joanna glows - beautiful at twenty eight (tomorrow). Her kids celebrate her. We made a big banner for her with cut out hearts and everyone's hand prints (Zach's footprints" traced. I loved the attention the kids put into making something sweet for their Mommy. I baked a pound cae from scratch because Jo said she wanted that texture. It didn't turn out great (not moist enough) but I feel good that I tried.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Man, dog and turtle made it home safely about five this morning. It was good to wake up with Bob in my bed. Everything in Austin is askew as people worry whether we will get storm damage on Saturday. People are buying up all the water and bread in stores (but not crackers) tuna (but not beef jerky). HEB is restocking water every hour and still selling out . Bob didn't have bad traffic from Corpus but todays evacuees from Houston are barely moving (one family reports seventeen miles in three hours!). They are running out of gas, which the national Guard is supplying when cars stop. Kent went and bought a generator and is stocking up water. Bob and I really don'e expect trouble here in Austin - but who knows?
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Hurricaine Rita is in the Gulf of Mexico, heading straight toward Corpus Christi - a monster storm, a tornado the size of the state of Georgia, Joanna heard it described on the news. It is wierd not knowing what this monster storm will do. The belief is that it will probably turn and head toward Galveston or Beaumont, but nothing is for sure. Evacuations are massive. Everyone, I think is determined that we will not be caught unready this time - no reliving Katrina - maybe trying irrationally to rewrite Katrina. Corpus Christi is being evacuated - mandatory evacuation. Bob is on his way home with dog and turtle. It will be good to have a couple of extra days together even in hurricaine conditions. He has so much to do to get ready for his fifth graders.
Monday, September 19, 2005
This is a good day to begin a journal - a day of great change. I went to Corpus to meet Bob's second graders. The day started beautifully. I helped several kids edit writings and then, while I was reading a story out loud to the class, Bob was called out of the room for a meeting with the principal. He came back greatly distressed because he is being moved, within the week, to teach fifth grade. He will miss this sweet class of second graders so - and it will be a lot of work to adapt to another grade. There are good aspect - a strong team member, a decent classroom, an appreciative attitude from the administration. By the time I left this evening he was beginning to get used to the idea and start trying to make the change work.