Archive for August 2007


August 20, 2007

I never intended to be one of those….’soccer moms’. I don’t have the van. My kiddos aren’t part of any kind of a car pool. I respectfully remained my distance during practices and games. I never try to tell the coach what to do with my child or where to play my child on the team. I generally do not yell at the ref. I just don’t really fit all – or any – of this comedic references to ‘soccer moms’. I have two kiddos who play soccer however. One has played since he was four and we discovered that he had no interest in baseball – via tee ball. He didn’t like the wait time while players took a turn at bat. He was much more interested in finding the honeysuckle flowers in the field around him. Given that his daddy is a sports nut, and wanted him to play something, we tried floor hockey and soccer. Soccer stuck to my son like glue. He loved the game and he was good at it. He had more body cooridination than most of his team mates so he was generally the one that got the goals. He had found his niche.

My daughter came to us from a Russian orphanage at the age of five. Her brother was six and a half. She made him crazy copying his every move and every word. We decided to find her own little world away from his soccer. We tried ballet (too slow), gymnastics (too much time between tricks), ice skating (loved the speed but disliked the instructional times) and horse back riding (fine till she saw a classmate fall against a fence during a horse show). She wanted to play soccer.

During one of her brother’s indoor games when she was eight, she was juggling a ball to pass the time and was spotted by a coach from another club. He was surprised that she wasn’t committed to a team and invited her to practice with his. And then to play with his team. She has been playing with him for the past two and a half years. Her brother also decided to switch clubs and joined her there. Sigh.

So now I drive an hour each way, three evenings a week for practice. Several other evenings and most weekends throughout the year are devoted to games and/or tournaments. Sometimes my husband heads in one direction with one child and I head in another with the other. We get giddy with excitement about soccer shoe sales. We buy Gatorade by the case. My car stinks of sweaty shin guards and goalie gloves. The back seat floor is covered with empty bottles and smooshed Icee cups…..and an occasional sock. Our dinner table conversation – that is when we are able to have dinner together – is generally spiced with sport words like punt and goal and dribble and score. Out of town tournaments mean gas and hotel fees…and the gratuity to pay for the professional coach’s fees as well.

There are lots of times when I long for the days of recreational soccer. These were days when your coach was usually a Mom or a Dad blessed with patience. There were schedules to follow to provide orange slices and juices and snacks after a game. Parents lined up to make a victory arch for all the kids to run through after shaking hands with their opponents. Parents spent more time talking to one another than they did watching the game. The good old days.

This is a Merry go Round that looked like a lot of fun in the beginning. Now that we are on, it’s darn tough to get off. Sigh. I guess, maybe, I am one of them after all. Soccer mom. Heh.

Finally happened……sigh

August 14, 2007

There is a kind of light that crosses the face of a person when you say you are a Kindergarten Teacher. Their eyes soften and a slight smile teases the corners of their lips. They think about those milk and cookie days of painting and clay, ABCs and crayons, holding hands and nap times. They think of little kids in new shoes, with wide open eyes and hopeful hearts. They think you must have a delightful time ‘playing’ all day. For twenty years I saw that look when ever people asked me what it is that I ‘do’. It’s a different kind of look than you get when you say you are a second grade teacher or a fifth grade teacher. It’s is definitely different from the look you get when you say you teach high school…or heaven forbid… middle school. Those looks border on the wonder if you are, in fact, absolutely nuts.

Nothing, however, nothing compares with the look I received the other day, when someone at a campground asked what I taught. After twenty years of teaching Kindergarten and first grade, my response about my new position was ‘Oh, I am one of the the Informational Technology Teachers in my school.’ A mouth dropped open and the eyes sort of glazed over. The question in them could only be described as ‘what the h…?’ It wasn’t until I restated and explained that I would be teaching computer skills in a lab setting to Kindergarten through fifth graders that the glazed look cleared. But the question remained. What the heck does a Computer Lab Teacher do?

I have been pondering that myself all summer long. I am not computer illiterate by any means. When I taught first graders on a year round program, the computer lab was the only air conditioned room in our building. Of COURSE we spent an hour a day in there….keeping cool….and using the computers to research and compile an animal report as a final project for the summer. I did that for six years. I was manupulating the lab in an educational setting long before many of my teaching partners had conquered their fear of those huge humming machines. And now, feeling like the dinosaur that I am, I am surrounded by much younger teaching partners who have never taught without a computer in their classroom. And most of the children that I will be teaching have never spent a day without computer contact of some sort. I’m sure that many of them even have their own computers. I would be crazy not to admit that they probably know more about them than I do.

I have studied the curriculum pages. Compared to what I have gotten for other subjects for other grade levels, it’s pretty concise. I have no manual or instructions to follow. I have, however, sorted out a few things sucessfully. We will practice our typing skills. We will explore word processing programs and practices. We will create multi-media power point projects. We will explore web sites for information and graphic sites for pictures. We will learn how to harness the World Wide Web and apply it to our elementary school needs.

I think the most important part of my job in the coming year will not be inspiring enthusiasm for learning as it has been in the past. Heck, flipping on the whirring machine will be enough to do that. No, my most basic responsibility will be teaching my students to be responsible about what they use those computers to do. I will be teaching them to sort and compile appropriate information and put it to use in the way they need it. We will be learning to be responsible with this very huge learning tool that they are being given access to. Have some fun? Of course. It’s going to be a learning experience for all of us.

Am I nervous? Darn tootin’. I always am at the beginning of a new school year. Am I excited? Definitely. I always am at the beginning of a new school year. And I am looking forward to the challenge of new information and a new learning process. It’s just those darn older kids that are scaring me to death. Haven’t had to deal with anyone over three feet tall in a long while. I am wondering if stickers and hand stamps are going to still be enough to keep them in line. But when all else fails, my daughter tells me that candy is a good incentive. Heh. Let the school buses roll! I am on my way for a mega sized sack of Jolly Ranchers…..