Friday, June 30, 2006

Summer reading...

At the library on Monday, I came across a book for parents titled THE UPS AND DOWNS OF RAISING A BIPOLAR CHILD. As a teacher of several children with mood disorders, I have great interest in the latest research and support mechanisms.Well, this book was short on new information, but chock full of comforting, supportive quips and quotes. Sprinkled throughout the chapters, moms and dads of bipolar children make relevant comments that "bring home" the otherwise practical/technical information.

How diagnosis is usually a long time coming...
The reasons to consider hospitalization....
How to talk to others about your child's illness....
The value of small group, individualized learning environments...

Bingo. That's us.

I try to imagine the pain of being so out of control, of wanting desperately to fit in, and fearing the consequences of acting out so overtly. Our little Sadie comes at me like a whirling dirvish, unable to stop herself at that scary moment in time, and I know she yearns to be calm, settled, "normal".

What's the hardest thing about teaching kids with mood disorders? At this point, it's balancing kids' academic needs in this age of testing and accountability against the need to reduce kids' stress and slow the world down a bit so agitation is minimized.

Well, it's not a tough decision on a day to day basis. I KNOW what schedule to pick when my children show acute signs of irritability and volatility.

The tests be damned, this day, this hour, for now. We'll get back on the ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE path as soon as we can.

I don't "raise" a bipolar child, but I do love me one or two each year. And I am loving taking a break this summer from the heartbreaking ups and downs of doing so. My prayers go out to the families who don't have this luxury.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Summer beckons....

It's amazing how a few days of relative relaxation can foster a more creative mind. When I am as stressed and pressured as I have been since May, all of my capacity for inspiration dwindles. I move in a regulated, step-by-step pattern, focused on getting what needs to get done done. The trouble is, I hate my life when I'm in this kind of rut, and I am so much less a teacher than I want/need to be.

The good news is that I was able to channel some of the last energy I had toward making my daughter's graduation experience wonderful. She was tickled pink, very grateful, and that was sure nice to see.

In my younger years, I suspect I was more able to keep both school and home life moving with creativity and positive vibes. Maybe I was just more physically able to sustain the energy needed. Perhaps I am just fooling myself: it's ALWAYS hard to bring delight and excellence to every aspect of one's life.

In any case,

I am mulling some ideas for classroom research topics for next year. I am leaning toward doing something to boost reading achievement, and will soon begin earnestly exploring research-supported ideas. Any suggestions?

That's enough positive vibe and delight for one day.... I'm off to the pool.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Grateful that it's over.... for now.....

Do I end the year on a scholarly note and comment on the newest research to improve my teaching practice?

Does it make more sense to search the edu-news sites for wild stories worthy of my scathing analysis and caustic humor?

I could report on the way my kids handled the end of the year transition, and how my heart shuddered a bit as I said goodbye.

Instead, I think I will take a minute and express my thanks to my ED team colleagues who stood strong against the winds of change, always focused on what is right for kids. When resistance was called for, we rallied. When polite acceptance made sense, we did so. And when new opportunities beckoned, we weighed the benefits against the risk factors, and again, chose with an open heart.

I am grateful for my students who remind me that the inner spirit is at once vulnerable AND indominable.

I am grateful for my AP who seemed to "get me", even when I didn't "get" myself.

I'm grateful too, for my grade level team. They embraced me, laughed with and at me, and valued my work. Their expertise, committment to kids and to each other is inspiring.

Finally, I am grateful for the love and support shown by my family. They understood my need for a nap each day, even if that meant dinner was alittle late. They laughed and worried with me about my kids, and bragged about me to their friends.

They loved me even when I acted unlovable. Moodiness is a side effect of stress, and they let me off the hook for grumpy behavior more times than is fair.

And for the blogging community, they who share so easily, find joy in reporting and analysing, and never cease to have an opinion...... thank you for that!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

The TO-DO List is a Killer....

One week and one day til the end of SY 2005-06.

One week until my youngest graduates from high school.

So many mixed emotions about these endings..... and the stress overload caused by massive amounts of paperwork and special activities is maddening. Awards ceremonies, field day, end of year parties, my families' many many graduation obligations, including baccalaureate, my daughter's graduation brunch for 35, the all night grad party, several family and friend graduation bashes.... no wonder I have been MIA from my blog.

On a happy note, my student George, the little guy from Mississippi (also known as "our Katrina kid") will be with us next year. His parents have wrangled their family situation so that their very emotionally fragile first grader can have the stability of continuing here.It's not been easy. The cost of living here in Northern Virginia can be daunting; the pace is never-ending. It's taken much planning and sacrifice for them to be able to stay in our area for one more year. Bless them for their loving commitment.

I'll hold this good feeling about George and his family with me tonight as I lay in bed, mulling the millions things left to get done. The good news is it'll all be over soon.