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Responses to Comments

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More confessions:

My assistant and I eat 90 percent of the candy folks send to our students.

My boyfriend in Ukraine needs to call me almost every morning to wake me up for work.

And on bad days, I cheer up by reading blog comments. As a second-year teacher, there are still a lot of bad days. Luckily, there are a lot of comments.

Below are a few responses to comments. If anyone has any other questions (or comments), please feel free to leave a blog message or write me at [email protected]


… I’m currently teaching English in Japan, but would like to begin teaching in schools when I return to the US. I have been interested in doing what you’re doing for a couple years. … if you can give me some information on other routes to an [alternative licensure track] in your area I would really appreciate it.

Schools in the Gallup area are always looking for eager teachers. Programs like Teach for America and Peace Corps Fellows are not the only alternative tracks to get into teaching. Teach New Mexico has many resources for people interested in learning more about alternative licensing. I also receive mentoring and financial support from Transition to Teaching and Educator Support Center. For local job openings, check out Gallup-McKinley County Schools and Office of Indian Education Programs.
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I was thrilled to read your entry about the piano lessons. Please keep us updated about this... will you teach the other kids? (as if you don't have enough to do!) Is there a music program at the school?


I will definitely update more about music soon. We don’t have art or music programs at our school, unfortunately, but the school is in the process of ordering keyboards for the dormitory. I hope to start giving group piano lessons by next month. I have taken up after-school tutoring and graduate school has started again, so that cuts deeply into my music time.

That said, watching “Mervin” calm down and practice on the piano is one of my quickest pick-me-ups. When I was turned down for a job last month, I was in a bum mood and wasn’t feeling up to teaching piano that afternoon. Yet I went. An hour later, I left the dorm beaming and relaxed. I may have been rejected by a job, but I was embraced by a kid who has hardly anything. That puts priorities back in perspective.

I wish you well in your career in special education. This is my 40th year in education, of which 39 has been in special education as teacher and Director of Special Education. I am retiring at the end of this year. Although I still get great pleasure out of my career, I feel the need to turn it over to new young teachers such as yourself. Would you be interested in having your students and my students exchange pen pal letters?

I would love to start pen pals with students at other schools! I teach resource classes, so I don’t have too many students, but I think many children would be interested in having pen pals if I open it up to the whole school. If you’re interested in starting a pen pal exchange with students at my school, please e-mail me at [email protected]

Anything that your "audience" can do to help or send? I have a few recent news magazines that might be fun or enrichment in a classroom...

As a teacher, I don’t think I’m allowed to refuse free stuff for my kids. The kindness of friends, family and strangers has yielded hundreds, if not thousands, of reading books for my students and the entire school. My next goal is to help build the dormitory library. If you have books, magazines or other materials that you’re interested in giving away, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

Good job! I was wondering though, how the older Native Americans treated you and thought of you.

I’m Asian American, I’m under-30 and I don’t have kids. I smile politely and nod knowingly during staff meetings conducted partly in Navajo. Some staff members still don’t know my name. I’m most definitely an outsider around here. But after a year and a half at this school, I am beginning to build a network of friends.

I turned 24 yesterday and my Navajo colleagues in the Special Education department threw me a surprise birthday party complete with cake, cards and gifts. When I grinned and told them that this was my first birthday away from family, they scoffed at me. “What are you talking about? This is Dad, this is Mom 1, she’s Mom 2, I’m Mom 3 and she’s Mom 4. We’re your family.”

5 Comments

Hey Jessica -
since you were talking about comments picking you up, I thought I'd tell you how I read your blog to pick ME up.

I am a first year teacher at a school in South Carolina, where many of the students are below the poverty line, and it's a struggle every day to get them engaged in literature (I teach English to 10 and 11th grade) or to get them interested in any kind of learning.

Some days I feel like I have no control over anything, and like, no matter how amazing my lessons are, my kids are going to go wild on me. I have no idea if my classroom management skills are getting better, because of the difference in my classes from year to year. They seem to be better this semester, but I've just had three of the worst days ever, so now I'm not so sure.

Thanks for your blogs; sometimes they really help to ground me enough to focus, so I can help my kids. I'm lucky to have a planning block, but I wish it weren't early in the day, before my two most challenging classes!

Oh! And I spent almost a month on Native American literature with my 11th graders, because they'd had almost zero previous exposure to it. I thought since you have a connection to Native Americans, you might be pleased to hear that. Most of these children have never met a Native American person.

All the Best,
Mab

Hi--I've been working in the special ed teaching field for 20 years and every year is a new challenge. I'm currently a math inclusion teacher at a high school where the majority of the students come from group homes. I have taught at the middle school level (and elementary) and dealing with the love lives and everyday angst of their lives is trauma enough! I am wondering about the conditions on the rez since I get frantic letters from native American relief agencies in the southwest asking for funds for fuel and to aid with basic needs such as shelter and food.
Also-have you studied Native American culture and accomplishments and used this knowledge in preparing materials and strategies for your students?
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes what you call "bribery" to get kids motivated enough to work. I see what you are doing as more of an incentive and a way to say to the students, "Job well done!" It just seems that many of today's students need immediate gratification to get them going. This year is the first time I have ever had students excited about the idea of my bringing them homemade cookies as a reward for making an effort to do well.
Whatever works, use it! Good Luck!
--Sandy

Jessica: I have to say that I was tickled at your take on behavior modification! Bribery. Of course, you're right! But it seems that it is legal in the school system...it even has a name: Behavior Intervention Plan, or "BIP." With special education students, a teacher has to do what a teacher has to do! Getting the desired result is what it is all about. And oftentimes bribery is just the ticket! Keep working it, girlfriend!

I've been into for a few years now and I learned a lot from this one. I'm going to have some of my co-workers come read this. Thanks for the AWESOME read!

I found your blog web site on google and test a few of your early posts. Proceed to maintain up the superb operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for ahead to studying extra from you in a while!Ö

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