Sunday, August 31, 2008

Take A Breath

Why would I "tsk-tsk" a 3 year old making cupcakes? Why would I get grumpy at a mess? That's my issue; lucky for me, Owen helped keep me in check. Here's us processing it all over chocolate.

Can you tell we've been working with Owen on calming himself down? He tends to get stressed out about really little things (yes, I know where he gets that from), but today, he turned the tables on me.

The neighbors he's referring to are the kiddos next door (for whom we were making the cupcakes). We've met a lot of our neighbors, and I'm thankful that we're making relationships with several of them. Michael and I have lived in intentional or in like-minded communities for so long (Harding married housing: 1 year, Fuller seminary housing: 5 years and with my folks: 6 months) that sometimes we wonder if we will ever not share a wall with someone. :) Even Owen realizes this because when he bumps his bedroom wall, he shouts, "Sorry Eleanor!"

Here in Fresno, we've found such joy in serving our neighbors and such blessing in the encouragement they in turn provide to us that I continue to praise God for our new place. Concerns on our minds and hearts: a neighbor recently diagnosed with diabetes and her fiance dumping her because "that's not what he signed up for", a neighbor returning to work on Monday after being ill for over a month, a neighbor losing his business, an elderly neighbor missing her children, and several fathers who are doing their best to have relationships with their elementary aged children despite seeing them only on the weekends.

And as for our neighbors, they share space with us: a mom who is exhausted and lonely, a dad adapting to a new job and fighting his insecurities therein, and a boy who is learning about life and love amidst it all.

And all any of us can do is "take a breath".

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Favorite Monkey

"OH, Curious George. I love him. I love that monkey; he makes me laugh."

I could say almost the same thing. "OH, Owen. I love him. I love that boy; he makes me laugh!"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

School Tour

For those of you who've been asking about how the first week of school went, the results are in: 2 thumbs up.

The video montage is of our school, my room, and photos of all the murals I pass walking from my room to the back parking lot. They are all student made and reflect the culture of our students. So to keep them free from tagging is the eternal job of campus security.

For my teacher friends who need more details, read on. All others are free from "shop talk" from here and are given guilt-free license to tune out and surf for funny stuff on YouTube.

This week began the first year of the Roosevelt High School Freshmen Academy. About 400 of our freshmen are in the Academy program. Our location is East Hall where our principal, 2 counselors, and teams of teachers are set up.

I'm on a team with another math teacher, two English teachers, a science teacher, and a sociology for living (SFL) teacher. These freshmen have been identified at-risk for failure coming from eighth grade into the ninth. Looking at our data from 8th grade, we have a ton of work to do...both in mathematics and English. Most of our student population are English Language Learners and that makes our job so much more important. As a student, if I can't participate fully in the curriculum because I don't understand the language, I am more likely to opt out. That may manifest itself with class disruption, gang involvement, drug use, truancy, and, eventually, physically dropping out of school. Our drop out rate is so high that I'd depress myself by typing it out, so let's just say I absolutely have a reason to invest myself at my school this year.

I share 50 kids with the English, science, and SFL teacher. The other 50 are with the other math teacher and English teacher. The science and SFL teacher have both sets (100 kids total). No more wondering who their teachers are and where they go next. Elementary school teachers, I'm sure that last statement sounded funny, but in the high school world, that information is not always free-flowing.

I teach two blocks per day (I'd be jealous of myself reading that). I see my kiddos everyday for a block period, and they stay with each other all day, going from class to class in the same building. The beauty is that every one of my 50 kids has the same English, math, science, and sociology teacher at the same time. So, one of our team was at a conference on Friday, and I knew my class had her next period. It was a perfect time to talk about the expected behaviors when a guest teacher is on campus, so when the bell rang, all 23 of them walked down to class with that on their brains.

We teachers also share a conference time (in addition to our prep time) every other day to conference about student progress and cross-curricular activities. This week, we spent a lot of time making sure our rules and procedures were similar (to ease the transition to high school for our students) and sharing anecdotal evidence of student progress. There is so much potential here when it comes to intervention opportunities for these freshmen, so I can't wait to see what happens next. As far as collaboration goes, kudos to the math department because I'm almost having to hide during my prep period so that I won't be "interrupted" with so many good ideas and thought-provoking questions.

WOW! For all those who asked how school was, be careful what you wish for, eh? Still want more info? Try our recent accountability reports for demographics and scores. Here's to a great year. Thanks for all your prayers. Go Rough Riders!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

End of Summer Wrap Up

Questions Owen has right now that I'm finding difficult to answer:

"Why doesn't Miss Piggy have eyebrows, Mom?"
"Why do we have armies?" <---answer must be understandable to a 3-year old...please also know that his answer to any reply you give will be, "Why?"

For all concerned grandparents reading this, Owen's first week of daycare went very well. His teachers love him, and he's been so happy coming home every day this week. I underestimated how much he missed friendships with kiddos his own age since we moved to Fresno. Thank you to all who are praying over his teachers (Miss Nazeli and Miss Paula) and him.

And for all you who keep asking when #2 is coming...our next addition will be

...a lightbulb. Yep, by request, Owen wants a lightbulb over any other addition. The conversation went something like this:

I'm driving Owen to school and a lady is walking her 2 dogs.

"Mom, don't run over that lady and her dogs....I don't have a dog YET....Or a brother or a sister."

I asked him if he wanted any of those 3 things at his house. He said, "Maybe a big one." After asking which one, he said, "Maybe a big sister. But I really need a lightbulb. One for my room, one for your room, one for Casen, one for Miss Wendy, and one for Mr. Scott."

So, if I look like I'm's a lightbulb, not a baby. :)

Here's some photos of our growing boy:

Above is Owen on his first day of swim lessons (thank you Grandmom!). He was excited until it came time to get in the water. One lesson we learned is that swimming with the family is WAY different than swimming with 2 strangers (even if they are cute girls). So, our little fish in our pool became our little barnacle at the public pool. He was suctioned to the side, and due to low enrollment in the class, he was the only swimmer. Owen can be hesistant about new things, so without the example of some other brave soul, he didn't make much progress. Nonetheless, we've adopted Dory's motto: