Friday, September 27, 2013

Classroom of Chaos

I’m watching my neighbor go through an experience I had over 20 years ago.  She’s a teacher. And she has the Class of Chaos.   I don’t know why the universe puts these kids together. And I have no idea how to cope with them.

This was my first year teaching and I decided I just wasn’t cut out for it. I’m not a disciplinarian. I’m a chemistry teacher.  You can see how I teach if you search for Imagenie on youtube.
Undisciplined children can’t cope with my teaching methods, and I can’t cope with undisciplined 

My neighbor is trained in special education.  She’s good with undisciplined children. She’s been doing this for about 14 years.  The school where she was happy closed, so this year she is at a new school.  It’s walking distance from her home. She was supposed to have only 6 emotionally disturbed students, most of whom have personal aides.

Instead she has eleven students who are not only emotionally disturbed, but who have learning difficulties, and who do not have personal aides.  Most of these students are from low income families who rely on the school food program.  The school food program has been economizing and the children are still hungry after they’ve eaten their allotment.

My neighbor knows she can teach the children who have the types of problems she was trained for.  She was not trained for this.  She just bought a house.  She was confident in her career.  Now she’s been injured trying to break up fights.  She comes home crying because no learning is going on in her classroom. And she’s thinking about quitting.

I have a two income household.  I have a 2nd skill.  This is her career. She’s 6 years away from retirement.  And she can’t do this.  She’s not eating. She’s not sleeping. She’s not teaching.

I have no answers for her – but I know she’s not the only one in this situation.  She became a teacher in order to make a difference.  Until now, she has.  It would be a shame for children of the future to lose her talents just because of this Classroom of Chaos.  But she has to survive.   

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Dog said "Out"

I was taking an advanced grammar class when we got Dante, the beagle-mutt. To be honest, Dante was a noisy dog.  It was hard to tell when he was playing or yapping or wanted to go out.

My grammar teacher used phrases from foreign languages to teach us to recognize patterns and word meanings based on situational repetitions.  I thought Dante might be doing the same thing – only instead of Russian or Portuguese, Dante spoke dog.

In class, I could usually guess what the teacher’s examples meant.  But I was flunking dog.

He’d be standing by the door, barking.  I’d ask, “Do you want OUT?” as I opened the door.  But, he’d continue to stand there, barking.

I’d sit on the bean bag pillow, and pat my lap.  “Do you want UP?”  But he’d continue to stand by the door, barking.

Eventually, I’d go back to whatever I was doing – often homework for my grammar class.  Why could I figure out when the foreign language speaker wanted fire or food, but not what my dog 

Dante was cute. Dante was cuddly. Dante played happily with my children. He also had needs –food, toilet breaks, play-with-people time.

We were living in Florida, where the average home has 20,000 roaches. I didn’t want to put out his food when he wasn’t hungry, and give the roaches a free meal.

I was only home for two walks a day, so if he wanted out between walks, I wanted to be sure he was out when he needed to be out.

Not only was I unable to interpret when he wanted OUT, he was unable to hold it.  I’d step in a puddle and know I was flunking Dog.

On the occasions when I guessed right, and he went OUT, I started making up songs about it. You went Out! Out! Out! Out!  I like to shout! You went OUT!

My neighbors were the indulgent sort, so they just smiled as if I were a child learning to toddle.

Dante would run over to them for extra petting and maybe some reassurance – Look, I’m teaching my human.  She’s a slow learner, so we have to be patient with her. 

One day, I was sure Dante was asking for OUT. I opened the front door. Rain poured down.  Dante looked at me as if I had betrayed him.  He didn’t budge.  I resigned myself to finding another puddle.

A few minutes later, Dante was at the back door.  He distinctly said, “Out!”  There was no other way to interpret what he had said. It was “Out” in English.  Expecting another rebuff, I opened the back door.  Sun was shining.  He dashed out and did his business.  

I checked the front door.  It was still raining.  I always knew that rain clouds had an edge where the rain stopped.  This time it was right over my house.

In my grammar class, the teacher asked us if we thought animals had language, comparable to what we had been studying.  I told him my dog could say, “Out, ” when he wanted to go out.  The other students looked at me as if I was imagining things, but I think my teacher believed me.

After that, Dante said “Out” when he wanted to go out.  And when it rained, he always checked the other door.  But we were never under the edge of a cloud again.

Friday, September 13, 2013

This Week in Computing

Fixing computers is much more about calming down the owners than repairing the machinery. Last night, a client called up because her computer kept trying to get her to buy an upgrade to her word processing program, rather than loading the one she has.

I have a program that I give clients who tend to get this sort of problem. It lets me run their computers from my computer so I can stay home at 10 PM, and fix their problems most of the time.

My first look at her desktop showed me that the icons for her documents had changed.  They used to be blue. Now they were orange.

So, my client told me about her terrible day while I re-associated her documents with her word processing program.

And I learned that she has 3rd grade boys who tell each other “suck my dick.” 

I live in a world where 3rd grade boys have never heard anyone say anything so crude.

And my teachers made us look up any words that we used as insults.

I remembered what would have happened if one of my classmates had said that.

Teacher: Is that what you really want?
Student: Huh?
Teacher: Do you know the meanings of the words you are using?

Just as children repeat what their parents say when they are in school, they repeat what the teacher says when they are at home.  And I can picture the child asking his father, “Is that what you really want?”

Eventually, I’m sure the teacher got the phone call from the boy’s father: “What are you teaching my son? I am not a faggot!”

By the time I was done with my fantasy (which I kept to myself), my client’s computer wasn’t letting her type.  So, I asked her to reboot.

Upon reboot, everything worked as it should.  My client asked me why the computer was so cooperative for me.  I told her, “Your computer knows I have screwdrivers and I know how to use them.  It doesn’t want me to come over there.”

Friday, September 6, 2013

Trying to Give Stuff Away

I got rid of my landline.  I was tired of getting sales pitches during dinner.  I had 6 phones in various parts of the house, so one is always within easy reach.  It’s too much bother to unplug them all at every meal.  So, I had my landline phone number transferred to a cell phone.  That’s easy to turn off when ever I want to turn off the world.

Then, I listed my 6 phones and my answering machine as freebies on Craigslist.  Within seconds I had a taker.  Before I could delete the listing, I had four more wannabe takers.  

Taker #1 said he’d be here at 9 AM this morning.  9:05 I had to go to work.  I sent him a text message telling him the phones are in a box on the stoop.  I came by briefly at 10:30.  The phones were still there.  I texted him again – do you still want them?

He texted back – he had a flat tire – he’d be by before 3 PM.  I left the box of phones on the stoop.   I came back and checked on them again about 1:30 PM.  The 2 cordless phones were gone (and one of the manuals).  All the hard-wired phones and the answering machine were still there.  There was no text from my erstwhile Taker #1 – not even a thank you.

I debated writing him a note telling him that if he only wanted the cordless phones he should have said so in the first place so I could have offered the others to other people last night – but why bother?

So, I wrote Taker #2, and explained the situation.   So far I haven’t heard back.  If she doesn’t respond by dinner time, I’ll go on to Taker #3.   

And I thought this was going to be easy.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Yay! I Didn't Break Anything

Ever since being hit by a car while biking, and having my collar bone repaired and my hip replaced, I’ve been terrified of falling.  My doctors know I continue to bike.  Collar Bone Repair doc just asks that I remember him for my next repair.  Hip doc seems more confident in the sturdiness of his work.  But I have dreaded falling.  I do balance exercises. I do yoga.  And in my regular life, I don’t fall.

But it was raining and there were puddles and I’m guessing I hit a piece of trolley track in one of those puddles. There are many on that street, no longer in use, twisted at unpredictable angles.   All I know is that one second I was biking along and the next – splat.  A car swerved around me.  People came from the sidewalks to surround me and protect me from traffic.

I got up. I lifted my bike.  I walked to the curb and up onto the sidewalk.  People asked if I was okay.  I did a body check.  Before that accident, I’d have said, “I’m ouchy, but nothing serious.”
This time I paused before answering.  The truth was – I was ouchy, but nothing serious.  I thanked the people who had protected me.  I reassured them. I was scraped and bruised like a normal person.  I was thrilled.  I fell and I got up.  My body is back to normal.