This is not what I expected....

Monday, February 19, 2007

I have been tagged

My daughter, Emily, has "tagged" me to share 6 weird things about myself. My first thought was a quote from my childhood best friend's mom " Everyone one is a little bit weird except me and thee, and lately I have wondered about thee."(I can always think of a story from my past that relates to "now" or the current conversation AND I tell it - in great detail!) Of course, I couldn't think of anything "weird" about myself because to me what I do is normal. So I began to ask around and immediately got opinions of others regarding my "weirdness."

But then my oldest son (who is quite wise AND self-proclaiming "weird") said something quite profound. "All of us are alike in many ways, and then we each are weird in different ways. Those weird ways are what make us "us" - unique and special."

As I thought about it, I what if I have 5 sets of dishes that have specific purposes and uses? Or that I love to use a tablecloth or placemats and cloth napkins, even if we are just eating chili dogs? So what if I can become best friends and know all about someone in a check-out line or on an airplane trip? Those are things that make me "me."

So am I weird? I hope so - as the psalmist says "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (another weird thing to some - I go to the Bible for answers when I have questions) How am I weird? I am not sure....compared to whom? Compared to my mother, I am not so weird. Compared to my children.....pretty weird. So I guess I would have to know "compared to whom?" because compared to the world in general, I am just like everyone else AND so weird that if you "look all the world over there's no one exactly like me." (preschool song - sorry, another "weird" thing about me - I think of AND then sing songs that come to mind in random situations).

Bottom line - I guess YOU would have to tell me how I am weird, because as I began this blog "Everyone is a little bit weird but ME and thee....) and now I am beginning to wonder about ME!

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Recipe Worth Repeating

I pride myself in being able to (or at least TRYING to) cram as much as I can into the time I am given. This past weekend was an example.

Friday night, Jim and I had our 3 granddaughters, ages 3,5, & 10 and our little friend who is 3 1/2 spend the night with us. Being the kindergarten teacher/grandmom that I am, I decided to make the evening into a party! AND since we had a cookie swap party to go to the next day, I would prepare for that as well. So the 4 kids, Jim and I set out to make cookies, tree ornaments for the kids and watch Christmas videos.

Deciding there was lots to be done with short attention span little ones, I decided it would be best to get the slice and bake sugar cookies and canned frosting and cook them beforehand. I could not find my rolling pin, so I had to settle for slicing those cookies up and went for the simple circles as opposed to cute littel shapes (a REAL point of frustration and disappointment for me personally, but I got over it!)

We had a really fun time - the kids were great! We made beautiful cookies with sprinkles all over the cookies, table and floor. We made tree-shaped ornaments with their picture on it and their names written with stick-on letters. Between Friday night and Saturday morning before parents came pick up kids, we watched 4 Christmas videos (Saturday morning began with the first one up at 5:30!)

Saturday afternoon I asked Jim to check his e-vite to find out how many cookies we needed to take. Along with the 2 dozen cookies, we were to take 10 copies of our RECIPE! WAIT! Recipe? I didn't know about THAT rule! We did slice and bake. We used CANNED frosting. This will never fly with these high-dollar people that I didn't even know very well....friends of Jim's!

So, being me, I just decided to be me. What else could I do 2 hours before the party? So here is the "recipe" I typed up and took with us!

Grandmom’s Busy Day Christmas Cookies
By Betty Herrington

Invite 3 granddaughters and an extra 3 year old to spend the night (or whatever number you may have. If you don’t have any, borrow some!)

2 rolls of Nestle Toll House refrigerated Sugar Cookie Dough
1 can of Duncan Hines Whipped Fluffy white frosting
Assortment of green and red sugar sprinkles and candy sprinkles

As soon as you get home from work, bake the cookies ahead of time. Have children wash and sanitize hands and review rules of “no licking fingers, spreaders or cookies until all cookies are completed.” Assist children in frosting and decorating cookies to their own choosing. When completed, show children how to dip frosting-covered spreader into the sprinkles that have fallen on the paper towel then lick clean! Eat cookies with milk while watching favorite Christmas movies.

For added fun, make tree ornaments with foam tree cut-outs, glitter-glue, stick-on letters and picture of each child. Use red ribbon to tie on to tree.

PS – NOT recommended without the assistance of the granddad!


When you don't have any other choice, you just have to be who you are!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Some days I laugh, some days I cry, some days I do both!

Some excerpts from the last few weeks:

2nd grader Joshua who I taught in kindergarten is walking down the sidewalk.
Me: Joshua, how are things going in 2nd grade?
J: Ok.
Me: Glad to hear that.
J: Yea, I can't believe I am growing up pretty fast!
Me: I can't believe it either!

Jeremy is my textbook case for what a REAL ADHD student looks like. In order to not lose him in transition from one place to the other, I usually hold his hand. He really doesn't seem to mind. He likes the attention. One day we are waiting for his older brother to pick him up after school and we are holding hands. He holds up our clasped hands and says " This one is done."
Me: What do you mean "this one is done?"
J: You can hold the other hand now, this one is done!
Well, I still not sure what "done" means to him, but we switched and he was happy once again! Maybe I am training him one hand at a time how to behave? Who knows!

One day in the cafeteria, I notice a group 3rd graders who are standing at their table playing around. Not really causing problems, but not eating their lunch. I casually walk over and light-heartedly inform:
ME: Guess what? This is your lucky day! You get to have stools to SIT on instead of having to STAND during the whole lunch period! (trying to be funny and get the end result I wanted and it worked!)
As they sat down, Robert says: I remember being in your class, Mrs. Herrington. It was FUN!
Me:I liked having you in my class, Robert.
Another student, Travonte:I was one of your best students, wasn't I?
Me: Travonte, you weren't IN my class.
Travonte: Yea, I know, but if I WOULD have been, I would have been one of your best students, right?
Me( trying let him have is 15 seconds of feeling good about himself):I am sure you would have been!

Today I wore my black and white low-top basketball-looking shoes. Two first graders noticed in admiration.
Jasiha: Hey! I like your shoes, Mrs. Herrington
Marese: Hey, you got on shoes!!!!
I am not sure if he thought maybe I didn't normally WEAR shoes! But it made ME feel good!

I like to remember these sort of "happy places" in my life (for you, LJ) because invariably I have moments like today.
Jeremy, the one mentioned above, came to school with a bruise across his left cheek. When I asked him about it, he said his daddy did it. When I asked why his dad had hit him, he said because he wouldn't turn over for his "whooping." When I asked why he was getting a "whooping" he said because he was bad at school and was on "yellow" (Poor behavior - just before U-unsatisfactory). I cried at the thought that I had been instrumental in his bruised little face. I then asked where and how his dad had "whooped" him. He said with a belt on his bottom and his legs. I looked at the back of his legs and saw bruising there as well. As I write this again tears flow for precious child who has been to the dr. but doesn't have medication yet to help him. I cry because at least 3 times a day he will ask if I still love him and it breaks my heart to wonder if he has to ask that of his parents. For the rest of the day I lavished love and prayers on him like I never have.

God, give me the patience and love to deal with Jeremy each minute of the day that he requires re-directing. I KNOW I can handle his behavior issues easier than he or I can handle the beatings.

PS - I immediately took him to the office where they talked with him, took pictures and called to report the incident to CPS.

This is NOT how I played muscial chairs growing up!

I have never worked in a place quite like where I am now. I sometimes wonder if this is really what the "real world" is like and I just haven't experienced it or if this is so out of the realm of reality that I am in another universe all together.

Brief history:
1st week of school - 7 kindergartners - heaven on earth!

2nd week - 1st grade has 24 students so I agree to an K/1st split - K - 7 + 1st - 6 = 13 total, teaching 2 different curriculums in a room half the size (literally!)I have had for the past 12 years.

3rd, 4th, 5th weeks - each week adding new students to where I am up to total of 17 kids (K-9, 1st-8). Going insane, feeling like a failure as a teacher.

6th week - bilingual class has a K/1st split as well, so after 2 1/2 weeks of asking, we get to consolidate - I get all kinder totalling 13(YEAH!) - 9 Enlish speakers, 4 Spanish speakers (I am ESL certified and have been for about 10 years - not a BIG deal). Bilingual teacher gets my 8 English-speaking + her 3 Spanish speakers making 11. Works for US just great!!!! Got everything going great. Getting into the swing of things for a whole week!!!

THEN.....exactly a week after the 2nd big switch, get are told we can't do away with bilingual classes (among reasons, I am sure the biggest is MONEY!)
We are told today that the teacher who is our new in-school suspension teacher (for those who should be suspended but need to not be missing school) is going to be doing 1st grade instead, and the bilingual teacher will go back to her original 7 kids! The good news in the midst of all the constant chaos is that I will be down to only 9 kindergartners. The other good news will be that the 1st grade teacher who started out with 24 and has now been down to 19, will probably have 3 more leave her class to go to the NEW 1st grade class of 8, giving that class 11. That all sounds like a pretty good end result, but here we are into our 7th week of school and still shifting students around...some of the 1st graders (5, I think) will have had 4 different teachers in 7 weeks...that just ain't right! (I know "ain't" ain't a word!)

Well, that is it for today and that may very well change tomorrow!
Coming into a different classroom this year for ONLY this year because of our new building coming up, this is definitely NOT what I expected!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why are the simplest things so hard?

Why is it that the simplest things seem so hard? You would think one who is simple-minded (like myself) would be one who would be able to choose to change how one thinks about things rather simply. But from personal experience, it ain't so!

But today, once again, I am choosing to do just that. Some very simple but profound thoughts were presented to me last night in a Bible study. This is the basics of what I heard:
We are pilgrims on a journey....those before us had a long road to walk and had a LONG time to have to do just that. But we live in a time where the road is long, but our time is not so long. Time passes quickly so Paul tells us in the Bible that we need to "run the race" that is before us. Our time is short. We need to do whatever it is we need to do to make the best of this time.

When I was a young mom in college, I thought that time was DRAGGING by so slowly. Will my kids ever learn to walk? Be potty-trained? Ever start to school? Ever get out of school? Ever leave home?

That seems as only yesterday...I NEVER thought I would think or feel that way. That is what old people say about their past. But it is true - sometimes I long for a chance to have my little children back and get a second chance for a do-over. But that opportunity is gone and I need to keep on moving...

So what does that have to do with today? My current circumstances are for only a short time - I can choose to begrudgingly drag through them or I can make the best of them and learn the most from them. I can choose to face my challenges or I can let them decide what my days look and feel like.

I only have 8 short months left to love and teach my 16 kindergarten and first graders in my tiny little room. There definitely needs to be more singing, more laughing, more hugging, more praying...'cause I don't like feeling how I have been feeling at the end of the day! And that is ONE thing I can be in control of (I refuse to give up THAT part of my control issues! There are some things that I need to be in control of.) I can rest assured that God has great things in store for me and I am going to choose to look for those things and live into them! Life is too short to do otherwise.

It is 7:30 in the morning. I am sitting at my desk at school and can hear the chaos beginning outside my window. God, I pray that your peace would be the over-riding Spirit on this campus today. I pray your joy and love would ooze out of me like sweat on a hot summer day. I pray it would spill out on those around me and I would not even be aware of how YOU are at work in my life in spite of me! So, here I go....out into the jungle of wild animals ages 5-15. "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me" and "without Him I can do nothing!"

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The calls for glue

Tyreke is a little butterball of a guy with more energy than any 6 year old should be allowed to have! And so affectionate! When we walk down the hall or around campus, he slows us down because he has to stop and give every female teacher a hug! And every teacher loves him and so eagerly accepts the sweet hug! Of course, I always remind him that we just give quiet waves to teachers to say hello, he says "Oh, yeah! I'm sorry Ms. Herrington." But does it again everytime anyway!

I work pretty consistently to keep him, along with several other untamed young stallions, harnessed so they can begin to learn some disciple in their actions and words. However, before and after school and especially on the bus, Tyreke is a loose cannon! Consequently, he has gotten into lots of trouble - even fighting for which he was suspended from the bus for 2 days, and didn't come to school because of no transportation. Sad times!!!

On March 3, he got into a fight with a first grader at breakfast and before we have even finished the calendar and weather morning routines, he was on his way home for the last time from GLEC. His mom took him out and put him in another school closer to their home. She had had enough!

We were all sad to see him leave, although the unleashed energy in the room has gone way down and that's not a bad thing, but there is a big hole in our class.

That Friday was his last day - Sat. he calls me on my cell phone!
Tyreke: Hey, Ms. Herrington! Whatch you doin'?
Me: Tyreke? How did you get my number?
T: You know that boot that we wore to the rodeo with the school's name on it? You told us the phone number on it was your number so's if we got lost they would call you and you would come find us! Well, I kept it!
Me: Oh...we missed you when you left yesterday.
T: My momma said she had had enough of that school cause I kept getting in trouble.
Ms.Herrington, I got my box of supplies but you didn't give me my glue! I need you to bring me my glue.
Me: Oh, ok!
T: Do you know where I live?
Me: yes, remember I brought your jacket at Christmas because you had left it at the school.
T: Be sure and fill up the bottle before you bring it.

The conversation continued with his questioning where my husband was, what was I doing that day, etc. Just chit-chat. Then I told me I needed to go and said good-bye.

About 2 weeks later, he called again - on Friday night!
T:Ms Herrington, you didn't bring me my glue and you said you would. Why didn't you bring it?

I told him that I didn't have his address, so he told me to get a pen and paper and for me to write it down. He asked to talk to my husband but I told him he was on the phone and we were getting ready to go to a movie (really it was a play but I wasn't sure he would know what that was).

Then this week, once again he calls only I let him leave a message this time.

T: Ms. Herrington, where's my glue? Are you playing with me? Cause I need that glue! ( he talks with someone at his house). Oh, I'm sorry about that, Ms. Herrington, about playing with me....I LOVE YOOOOOU! But I still that glue!

He rambled on for about 3 or 4 minutes and then finally hung up.

So what's a teacher to do? I guess I am going to have to go to the store and get that boy a new bottle of glue and take it to him this weekend. (I meant to bring his home but forgot.)

I will miss that little stinker! During the 2nd call he told me his new teacher is mean and that his mom told her she could hit him. And she does - with a ruler on the hand. He said she had already hit him 2 times. I told him I was sorry and that I would never hit my students.

I think Tyreke will be one of those students that I won't be soon forgetting. Such enthusiasm for life and people. He will either be someone really great - or will end up in jail! I hope it is the first!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Where does a white woman/teacher fit in to all of this?

Monday I was off from work because of a doctor's appointment for my dad.

Tuesday at lunch Darrell, my most current "challenge" in teaching kindergartners, is sitting beside me (or at least I am by him - intentional presence to encourage appropriate behavior at lunch). All of my class is quite intrigued by the fact that I have children who are NOT children (grown-ups older than some of their parents) and the fact that "my man" and I are actually MARRIED and have the same name!
So the conversation begins:
Darrell: Ms. Herrington, what's yo' husband's name?
Me: Mr. Herrington
D: Is he nice?
Me: Very!
After a few seconds pause, D: Next time you don't come to school, could he come be our substitute teacher?
Me: I don't know...I will ask him and see about it!

2 things come to mind:
#1 - Some of the kids told me yesterday's sub was MEAN! Translation: She made them obey, do their work and not mess around!
#2 - Darrell moved here from Austin around November. From what I have gathered from his conversations, his dad is in jail/prison - not sure which or why. When we were learning the letter U, we began discussing "uniforms." The students started listing different people who wear uniforms. Darrell's contribution was: people in prison wear uniforms. Adding that to some other conversations we had already had about his dad, I figured he knew that from having visited a prison (or jail). He is a bright little boy, but I think he is in desperate need to have a loving dad in his life. A god-father, according to his mom, often is one man in an authority role in his life, who envokes "displine" on him. Darrell lives with his mom and 2 high school-aged sisters!

How many other "Darrells" are in my class? I never know if the "daddy" who is in their life at the present time is REALLY the dad or just the current boyfriend.

Makes me sad. I think this is something I need to look in to.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

One more thing...

I don't think I have ever posted 3 entries in one day on my blog, but I have had a busy weekend and wanted to write down the things I was thinking about that my little ones had said and ....

I have an announcement...

but first...some background info. Last August I discovered Reid Whitaker! Well, actually I discovered he was living here in Houston, in Montrose and was a teacher for HISD! I was so thrilled that I e-mailed him to see if he was THE Reid Whitaker I knew when he was a toddler living in Ft. Worth. Indeed he was! And is! And in September we finally worked it out for him to come over for dinner. And he has been coming over every Monday that he is available ever since! (He had not been here for about 3-4 weeks so he joined us for Valentine's Day dinner -which was a Tuesday!)

I want to say I have grown to love Reid Whitaker, but actually I loved him when he and his twin sister were born and until they were 3 years old and we moved to Houston. The truth is that I loved him first, because I loved his mom and dad, Kathy and Steve. They were some of our dearest friends at our church and in our neighborhood for about 4 years. But now I love him for who HE is and not just because of his amazing family that he comes from. He is witty, loves to laugh, loves to bring desserts when he comes (homemade or bought, we don't care!), is very thoughtful and helpful - jumps in and makes coffee or helps load the dishes or put away the food, genuinely loves the children he has taught and works with, is very intelligent - loves to read all genre of literature that helps him to grow and learn new ways of thinking and doing things, and is very ambitious for the sake of the education of the children of this city.

I think I could go on, but now for the announcement: Steve and Kathy Whitaker are coming to Houston this weekend and are coming for brunch Sunday morning! I am so excited about seeing them again I can hardly stand it!

So, Kathy and Steve, I hope my enthusiasm is not overwhelming to you! See you Sunday!

So, I will stop now and will blog about their visit afterwards.
(I hate that my blogging is so long - I go on and on and on..."let my words be few!" But not tonight!)

In honor of Dental Health Month...

Did you know February is National Dental Health Month? Along with Black History Month, Ground Hog's Day, Valentine's Day and President's Day, for a kindergarten curriculum February is a pretty full month!

This week Dental Health has been our science focus. Monday we talked about the things we need to do to have healthy teeth and then made a bulletin board display for the hallway. The things we drew and wrote about were: brush, floss and rinse your teeth after meals, eat healthy snacks and visit a dentist regular check-ups - things you would expect.

Tuesday I asked the student to recall with me the things we needed to do to have healthy teeth. With hands popping up, I called on each child to hear what he had remembered or had thought of to add to our list.

Just about when I thought I had heard "everything" Christian's hand pops up. "Be careful when you ride a scooter!" I paused and then replied, "Tell us how that helps your teeth stay healthy."
Christian begins his disertation: When you ride a REAL scooter that goes with a motor, you have to watch where you're going or you might go flying over a bump and flip off the scooter and fall to the ground and hit your mouth and make your teeth push back and then you have to go to the dentist tomorrow and the dentist has to pull them out!" He then smiles real big to show where his 2 front teeth had been pulled!

We all agreed that was something we needed to add to the list of things to do to KEEP your teeth - healthy or not!

An All-Star Day!

Friday the K-2nd grade classes from my school had a once-in-a-lifetime experience! We were invited to attend a "Read to Achieve" rally as a part of the NBA Jam Session (for those as unaware as I, it was a part of the NBA All-Stars events here in Houston). To say the least it was a very exciting day for my kindergartners! They gave us each a "Read to Achieve" t-shirt that had to be put on AS WE WALKED down the corridor of the George R. Brown Convention Center - they had to be wearing them BEFORE we passed through the curtains to enter the rally area. (Try taking OFF jackets, putting on "one-size-fits some" shirts and then jackets back on while 15 kindergartners and 3 adults stay on the move, leaving none behind or adding to your group from others trying to do the same!)

Some of the highlights of the day were:

* BowWow and Ciera both there and spoke but didn't sing (yes, they are very famous hip-hop/rap singers)

* B-5 (or was it B-6? I know it wasn't B-12!)Another group that DID sing! Every child in the building was on his feet singing and clapping and dancing! When I noticed my quiet Kendale singing his heart out, I mentioned to him that I was impressed that he knew all the words. Very proudly, but trying to be casual, he replied, "This is one of their OLD ones!"

* We had about 2 hours to roam around the exhibit area where there were games to play, exhibits to see and free goodies to collect.

When it was time to meet back up with the other classes from our school, we headed out the first door and were ushered "cattle-herding style" up two flights of escalators where we met our group and then came back down the two flights of escalators. Being the "teachable moment teacher" that I am (or at least try to be) we had a conversation about the beginning sound of escalator and reminded the students that we had talked about escalators when we were on letter e. (hold that thought...)

As we are "herded" out of the convention center at 1:00 we were handed sack lunches (compliments of the NBA Jam Session) which we ate on the bus enroute home. I began asking the kids what they liked about the day. Their responses included: BowWow, Ciera, B-6 (or B-7), the goodie bags, the NASA exhibit (really cool!). When I turned to Deon sitting right next to me, he replied, "The escalators!" I LOVED it! Just think - we don't have to wait for the next all-star game to come to Houston - we can just go to the Galleria for a free ride up and down escalators! (Personally, I was pretty impressed with the dancing of B-7 (or B-8?)!

None the less, it was an all-star day for my little ghetto darlings!