Barely Insane

Its the safest frame of mind in the world today

Just the rant of a crazy woman, well barely crazy

My last long blog for Facebook this month. I tried to link it, but FB was acting up. Just some FYI for ladies out there-as well as anyone who has read my bitch post about this insane insomnia I have been suffering with, along with the resurfacing of my ADD that I totally felt had left me about the age of 24-the un-explainable itchy skin that drives me so nuts at odd times that I am sure I look like a nut clawing at my bra strap, neck and the back of my knees..not to mention the awful joint pain that got out of hand a few months ago and the “frozen” shoulder that it left me with (I still can’t use my right arm to put on a jacket, lift or raise over my head) the pain from my shoulder is so bad at night that it is what triggered this last bout of insomnia hell.Image

Well….when all that blood work was back and then shared with my regular doctor, I was ready to knock the Hades out of the “male” nurse who said “we think all of it is menopausal related”

Really…I get the hot flashes, night sweats, weight up and down, racing heart, adrenalin surge and the need to bust out like the Hulk or knock someones teeth down their throat or even flipping off the poor man who took the gas pump I was pulling up too and screaming at him the entire time I pumped my gas two pumps over…. “could Maybe” be associated with menopause, but my shoulder pain? My insanely itching skin? My inability to remember my kids names??

I disregarded it as another excuse of a bad doctor blaming menopause on something he doesn’t know the answer too and I had an orthopedic appointment set up for the week after Christmas.

But after an insane amount of hot flashes this week, no sleep and my come apart on the people at Sears (who I am still not done with) I decided to sit down and Google the other stuff…..

OMG. If Google says it, it must be true and right now I take Google over a freaken man doctor blaming menopause. I am in shock..I Cant count the sites where women describe the exact pain I am in with my shoulder and joints and the insomnia that follows it.

The med link said
“About 70 percent of those affected with frozen shoulder are women. These statistics suggest a correlation between frozen shoulder and a hormonal shift that occurs in the early or mid-stages of menopause. Joint pain is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. It is thought that more than half of all postmenopausal women experience varying degrees of joint pain. Estrogen helps prevent inflammation in the joints, so low levels of estrogen during menopause can lead to increased instances of inflammation, and therefore increased joint pain

I went on to read that in Japan women hardly if EVER suffer from the same issues as women in western countries while going through the change of life, such as the mood issues and hot flashes, but the frozen shoulder is so common there-that it is called “menopause shoulder” by translation because so many women have it during the change of life. It went on to say that “Japan’s cultural respect for older people makes the menopausal transition more comfortable for women; the menopausal woman, then, is moving into a place of honor and not treated the way they are normally treated in western cultures either.

Then the crazy allergic relations I developed to God only knows what all this year, from jalapeno to maybe certain imported shell-fish to nuts…well it seems that to is menopause…

Mayo clinic said “Hormones and the immune system are inextricably linked, so hormonal changes during menopause can lead to an increase in allergies among menopausal women. Many women experience increased sensitivity to allergies, while others may suddenly become allergic to something that never bothered them before.”
Really???

If that wasn’t enough, how about this one…Itchy, Crawly Skin!! I honestly almost stripped my shirt off at a red light in order to scratch what felt like my skin was crawling. It happens day and night, usually signals a bad night of hot flashes…and I guess it was related because the med link said…..”menopausal women experience the feeling of “creepy-crawlies” walking all over their skin, a burning sensation like an insect sting, or super-sensitivity in their hands, arms, legs, and feet. in menopausal women, tingling extremities is likely caused by the effect that low estrogen levels have on the central nervous system.”

I think the one I laughed the hardest at while crying over the other ones (honestly, I was weeping before laughing like a lunatic…) was this one…..

“Why Western Men should learn to fear menopause.”

The symptom….Women detesting their husbands!…LAUGHING so hard, and why does this make the menopause symptom list…because according to the doctor on the site, the very moment we can no longer have children, or the ovaries began to shut down, it’s just like my great-aunt said to me years ago… our mothering – and thus to a large degree even our wifely instincts are chemically turned off. If your husband treats you like your his mama, and your mama instincts are turning off as God planned it around the time your kids should be almost grown and not needing that mama bear care…but your husband still does….well, then the husband don’t stand a chance…

I laughed because it was listed as a symptom on NUMEROUS websites…one even explained it as “The estrogen levels have plummeted and as they fall, so does the oxytocin. Once they disappear, we’re no longer going to be ready to respond to anyone’s beck and call.

The doctor describes the menopause as the point when “the mommy brain is beginning to unplug. it is hormones developed in pregnancy such as oxytocin, which help us feel such passionate love for our offspring, equally it’s the lack
of hormones after the menopause that make us less fond of a partner who fails to pull his weight or expects his wife to mother him. It even blamed the MANS midlife and attraction to the younger woman as not so much her age as the fact that a 30-year-old is still in the midst of her “nurturing and child-bearing years” and WILL mother him where his post menopausal wife WONT.
I laughed even harder…..because it does make sense and because only a man would put him self in the position to “jump” out of one crazy train with a wife in menopause only to get hit by the 2nd one in a few years with another woman…you cant out run this crazy hell!

So I get to have a frozen shoulder, itchy crawly skin, no sleep, joint aches, hot flashes, night sweats, allergies that make my face and mouth swell up like a balloon, mood swings and ADD memory issues, loosing my cell phone while its attached to my ear, not to mention loosing my car now in parking lots more than I use to lose my car keys….hormones or not, if a man wants a mama and I am dealing with all this….that last symptom of “detesting your husband” will surface with the best of us.
If I can go from disappointment to tears to anger to rage to “THERE AINT nobody home” in less than 90 seconds, then NO woman is capable of the infant care of a spouse…I mean even I know that Menopause has been used as a mitigating factor in legal defense cases, resulting in a reduced sentence for the woman.
Makes that whole website about the Asian women having little issues due to her place and treatment of honor sound pretty good don’t it?
Seems like the Japanese could teach some american men about how to survive menopause don’t it?

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Midlife Crisis-A lie from the pit of hell?

My morning outlook has changed drastically over the course of this year. This blog is about the personal journey that got me here. Example: we were late again this morning Cason (my 16-year-old) has had the flu all week and still feels awful but attempted to make it through school today. He wasn’t in the best mood this morning with reason. Then Logan (my 13-year-old) wasn’t looking forward to the Social Studies bench mark test he has to take today and dragged his feet while getting ready, trying to put off the school day as long as he could. Justen (the oldest who recently moved back home for a few months while in college) forgot to take his dog out and the beast was banging and knocking against the door to his bedroom hard enough to make me think someone was beating my door down; not to mention my husband can’t seem to understand that when I “dropped my basket” a month ago, I didn’t put all his personal responsibilities back inside my basket to carry for him. Top that off with the strange occurence that after 43 years of life, I have suddenly developed a shell-fish allergy and the swelling inside my mouth has yet to go back down to normal after eating ONE piece of shrimp 36 hours ago..

The question of the day is this. How in the world did I practically whistle through my morning, or feel so at peace inside when this type of chaos would have normally started my day off on the wrong foot?

Perhaps “dropping my basket” has something to do with it, I am not really sure. All I know is that at some point during this crazy year, I learned how to accept each moment as it comes without trying to change the moment into something other than what it was-good or bad; I discovered how to let that moment be just what it was—even if that “moment” literally sucked.

This is nothing short of a miracle for me because I am the type of person who will bend over backwards, while making myself crazy trying to fix something or make things better for others. It’s the female nature I guess, or the result of 25 years building a career out of being a housewife and mother, tending to those I love and striving to create a home life that is stable, secure and welcoming. I believed the words “children are a product of their environment” so I made it my goal to create an environment that would allow those within it to flourish.

Somehow, over the course of this crazy year, I ended up at a stage in life that I didn’t know existed. I have never heard it mentioned before the way I had overheard older ladies comment on “hot flashes or night sweats” It wasn’t passed down to me by a family member from the older generation as a pearl of wisdom for later in my life.  Perhaps it’s a place not many people find.

I somehow stumbled upon a mindset that is filled with an inner peace that allows me to leave a bad moment alone, without trying to change it or make it better. I “get” the significance of the old saying “it is what it is and it is what’s its going to be.”   I somehow let go of my need to transform a bad moment or a bad day into something it just wasn’t. The amazing thing is that with this knowledge came the ability to truly soak in the beauty of a good moment. I can’t count the sunsets I have paid attention to this year, or the times I have stopped whatever I was doing to really appreciate a gorgeous full moon and a clear night sky. I have experienced the laughter and joy over things so simple and fleeting when those same moments use to pass me by without notice. I somehow found this point in life where it’s truly acceptable to take each moment as it comes and being truthful about what is occurring in that moment– and the end result is liberating.

It’s therapeutic because one single moment does not affect the other moments to come in my day. A bad morning does not make a bad day. An unexpected problem does not determine my mood and someone else’s problems and issues do not have the free rein to create turmoil in my life. If I could bottle the recipe or the 5 step program in order for others to obtain this new outlook of mine, I truly believe I could write a self-help book and market it to the masses. I may begin to work on that and instead of calling it “40 is the new 30” I am going to name the book “Crazy is the new Sane”

I used to worry over everything and fear set the tone of my day-Anyone who has ever been a worrier, you know the drill– the way a thought takes hold and then you ponder it until you make yourself a nervous wreck. Those of us who worry; also know that fear is the leading force behind it. I worried over my kids, because I was afraid for them. (This list is too long to name, I feared everything from watching them drive out of the driveway at 16 and possibly having a wreck, to my daughter hopping on plane after plane in her travels abroad. Hell; I even worried they would choke to death playing with a jump rope when they were little, so I took it from them. If it could happen—regardless of the odds of it actually occurring, then I worried about it.)  I worried over my marriage because I was afraid of everything from the national divorce rate to financial security for myself should the need to divorce ever come to pass. I worried over my health because I was afraid of what would happen to my family and all the people I do things for every day, should I not be able to handle everything for them. I worried over the state of our Nation because I truly feared the direction it is headed in.

Then suddenly(or perhaps more subtlety than I realize) after a year of issues that ranged from immense, senseless, trivial and devastating-I no longer had the ability to categorize these events as big or small because by this point even the small snowball was a part of the larger avalanche and equally stressful . Then maybe out of a need to back up and regroup or learn how to cope with stress, I discovered that regardless of how strong you are, or how many people you love and care for—there does come a “moment” in time where self-preservation kicks in. I am thankful I didn’t miss that moment because it changed my life.

I found the ability to break life down to a single moment. That one space in time I was guaranteed to be in. If I needed to say something in that moment-I said it. If I needed to be quiet in that moment, I was quiet. If someone else was bringing havoc into my moment, I didn’t take their garbage into my next moment. If we wake up late and have a chaotic morning, I am able to let it be what it is and roll on through it and leave it in the past once it’s passed.  Notice all the uses of the word “I” and “My”. That is because each moment belongs personally to me and to you. It’s up to us who we decide to share that moment with. We make that choice thousands of times in a day, without even paying attention to it. We may choose a moment of alone time with God; a moment spent hugging a child who needs comforting, a moment helping others, a moment arguing with someone or a moment completely alone. Other people DO NOT own your moments. If you feel someone else or life events are stealing your time; they didn’t hijack it; YOU GAVE IT TO THEM! It’s easy to believe that we choose the good moments in our life, that we are somehow responsible for them occurring, while the bad moments in our life are always someone or something else’s fault. How many times have you heard or even heard yourself utter the phrase “I was having a good day until……” (Fill in the blank with the excuse of who or what ruined your day.)

I discovered I could be mad as hell-disappointed as hell-dumfounded as hell—and walk out of that moment into the next one and find something to be truly appreciative of. I also found that most of the things that made me mad, disappointed or confused me were due to other people mismanaging their own moments and refusing to take responsibility for their own actions or problems.

This led me to a break through moment. One day I was struck with the analogy that human beings may have the ability to shed their skins as they grow, in truth I think we are blessed if we can say we have shed our skin several times during our life. It means we grew. The process isn’t pretty, the peeling outer layer has to come off to reveal the new improved you underneath. The process is painful, it hurts to let go and come out from under an armor you have covered yourself with for many years. But the end result is magnificent.  Imagine how uncomfortable and painful it is for the “snakes” in the world that are still wearing the same skin they did as a child and trying to function as adults in society. Those are the immature joy stealers who refuse to grow and shed their skin.

Living in the moment opens you up to truth.

Have I had a good year?

I can’t answer that. I had some of the best moments of my life this year, and some of the most stressful—the question I can answer is that I was present for the moments in my life this year. I felt each one of them deeply, I participated in them, I owned mistakes I made in them and saw clearly how I had allowed the needs of others to consume too many of my moments instead of simply directing them next door and into their “own moment”

Fear and the worry over what I feared seemed to disappear, because if your “present” in your moment-you kind of see yourself wasting that moment worrying over something that may not even occur in the next moment. Simple but true.

This Christmas, I feel like the kid from the movie Home Alone when he runs around the house yelling “I’m not afraid anymore!!!” If that was what this roller coaster year was about for me;  to finally be set free of worry and fear-to find this place in life where it’s not selfish to OWN my OWN moment, then I’m proof good lessons come from the craziest of times. Now- I fully expect my new outlook on life to be called a midlife crisis; but when you see me post a status from Nevada, and I am not there to gamble but to experience the Burning Man event-don’t judge. (LMBO) because in truth, my status update may simply come from the creative writing class I finally sign up for—the beauty of it is simply I have the freedom and the ability to appreciate the moments that come my way.  I realize that Behavioral Scientist want us to believe that  women are thrust into midlife crisis because they reach a certain age and discover that they finally have the opportunity to do all the things in life they have put off doing while caring for their family. I want to end this blog by saying strongly that I DISAGREE”

It’s not a midlife crisis, it’s shedding our skin. Perhaps the skin I had been wearing over the past 20 years needed to be covered with a thick layer of worry and fear-because the skin I wore before that one from the age of 13 to 20 something, was extremely thin and took offense to everything and didn’t have an ounce of worry or fear woven into the hide, trust me when I say that I feared nothing way back then and took risk so insane that I would cringe if my kids were to ever do the same.

Each skin is needed for a season. I have decided that I won’t buy into the lie that a little bit of shedding and peeling in order to reveal the birth of something new underneath is a “crisis” and meant to be managed. It’s a part of life and meant to be accomplished. We all think that what makes us different from the animals is our ability to reason. Humans are idiots. We “reason” ourselves right into corners we can’t get out of and justify standing there doing nothing, or we take ourselves off to people with medical degrees who are supposed to be better at “reasoning” than we are, and they hand out prozac or xanex to help you ignore the fact you are even stuck in a corner.

Animals are smarter than that. While some humans think our skin stretches to accommodate our growth, others fear that if they keep growing, they will outgrow their own skin, or that it will only stretch so far until it snaps. I think most people by the age of 40 have decided that it is easier to just stop growing  than risk the full-blown, mind snapping come apart that will occur if we out grow our skin, while society screams “you have gone crazy” This may be true to a point, but I am of the belief that we can also accept the possibility that perhaps we have the ability to shed our skin as we grow. My lesson for the year is simply this. Dont confuse the growing pains of shedding your skin as the excuse you have been waiting for to stop growing and settle for less than life has to teach you.

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Dropping your basket…Southern Style

This is a long post-Its actually one of my blogs..but I feel all my lady friends need to read it–I am all for the way women are able to share those embarrassing or traumatic moments that only happen to US–So if any of you are running on empty or stressed to the max or being pulled a hundred different ways–read and enjoy a laugh at my expense.

To a southerner there are two terms most women know the definitions of that others around the world may not. One is called a “come apart”..and the other is being to the point where you are about to “drop your basket.”

The difference between a “come apart” and “dropping your basket” is fairly simple.
A come apart is a good ole fashioned hissy fit- the only thing that gets hurt is maybe someones feelings- while YOU on the other hand, feel a lot better after having one. You may throw a few things for effect-or scream like a lunatic or even threaten those on the receiving end with bodily harm…but a come apart is just that, a coming completely apart on someone else, where you appear to be crazy, but are enjoying the stress relief your hissy fit is providing you with–you may seem to have lost your mind, but as long as you know your perfectly sane…its all good.

“Dropping your basket” on the other hand is an old southern term for going Bat- sh%t crazy–as in “out of your mind” insane with or without a particular someone on the receiving end. A come apart can happen on the spur of the moment, dropping your basket is something you feel yourself literally TRYING to hold on to. That is until….you drop it.

I dropped my basket this week. I wont go into all the particulars, but lets just say between having my ADD issues spring up like they haven’t since I was in my early 20’s-and getting behind on EVERYTHING, as well as forgetting and loosing everything in sight, and the election results (haha) it was only a matter of time before I lost my mind for a minute as well.

I tried for quite awhile to hold on to it, but all control escaped me after getting to the check out line in the store the other day, completely forgetting my pin number to my debit card, pushing password after password on the key pad, until I locked myself out of my bank account, then being unable to find my car keys anywhere in my disaster of a messy purse, slinging my purse all over the parking lot in an attempt to find the keys which were still in the ignition where I had left them, convincing myself that my car wasn’t stolen because only a crazy person would have all the insane obama hating magnets on their car. I figured a crook thought the keys in the ignition had to be a trap. After getting into my car, I was distracted by the hot air blowing out my vents while it was set to cold, almost hit a car pulling into parking lot, flipping off the person who was blowing their horn and yelling at me–digging in my purse for nicotine replacement mints, even though I have not smoked in almost 6 years..then realizing I don’t have my wallet-turning around to go find wallet and sun glasses still in the parking lot where I slung the contents of my purse. Driving home and getting on the computer only to forget my online banking ID as well–getting someone on the phone at the bank who can’t help me, because well..I cant freaken remember any of my SH%T for them to “identify” its me with. Deciding to call it a day and hang on to my basket with all my might and get a good nights sleep…..

Only to wake up in a cold sweat at one am, knowing there was something I had forgotten to do…(ya think?) Being half asleep on ambien while digging through the bills to see what I may have forgotten to pay, or failed to mail or even open…that turned into making online payments at one am on a few of those bills–only to get up the next morning and remember my online banking password, that bit of happiness soon faded when I signed on and discovered that during my 1 am. bill paying marathon, I paid the same bill TWICE. The chaos continued on, between weeks of hubby using debit card and failing to tell me, kids sending me reminder text for things they needed done, the 16-year-old nagging every five minutes to drive somewhere, ballgames all over east Cobb, and my sanity slowly slipping…so it was no surprise that day brought with it at least 20 things I had forgotten to do, playing hide and seek with everything that ended up in my hands and then sat down somewhere I couldn’t recall, a full-blown screaming fit with the person behind me at Martins who blew their horn at me, pulling forward and almost hitting the little old lady who was pushing bread crates to the Colonial bread truck and had the misfortune of walking in front of my car. She had no way of knowing that the middle-aged lady driving the SUV was holding on to her basket with only one hand at that moment. Bless her..she has no idea that she had a guardian angel keep her from being squashed under my wheels as I gunned the gas pedal in the drive through after screaming and looking backwards and waving my stun gun out the window at the hick who had blown the horn at me for no reason.

So at about 4pm that day after a crap load of more stress I couldn’t process–I didn’t just drop my basket–I threw the SOB as hard as I could and as far away from me as I could.

My crazy self ends up pulled over, trying to decide if I want to stop a police officer and ask him to take me to jail where I can have a cot, some sleep, no cell phone or way to be reached, no ability to take care of anything for anyone and forego my one phone call so that no one knows where I am– Instead, I end up sitting there with a pen and a Walmart receipt because it was the only paper I could find anywhere in my purse or car…and I start to write down what all I do each day, who I do it for, and what is my “job” to take care of from day-to-day.

I would use the word ENLIGHTENMENT here, but it doesn’t suffice. After I had it all written down, scribbled long ways and sideways, front, back and across a fairly long Walmart receipt, I then circled the things that were stressing me the hell out. Amazingly, nothing I do each day in being a parent gave me any issues. Nothing I do in regards to being a wife, mother, housewife or friend stressed me out. Nothing I do for those in my extended family that I would die for caused me any grief. But there were a hell of a lot of “duties” I had somehow taken on that were above and beyond my job to do.

Example:

When I ask my husband why he didn’t make a sandwich and he tells me that it was because I didn’t TELL him there was HAM in the refrigerator…that is NOT my job. A grown man can go look and see for himself if the ham someone else bought for him is indeed there. Its my job to go grocery shop–but not to be responsible for someone not fixing themselves something because I didn’t tell them what there was to eat. Its my job to parent my kids, to check them out when they are sick, write an excuse when they go back to school. But it is not my “job” to bring Cason a drink to school because he is thirsty or check him out because he is tired from playing video games late or has a sub he doesn’t like. Its my job to clean my house, but not to spend an hour hunting something a child forgot to bring up to be washed or lost and needs ASAP. If one of the men in this house need new underwear-Hey..it might be my responsibility to pick some up while in Walmart–but inspecting each pair to figure out who needs new ones, well that isn’t my job. Its part of their personal responsibly to let me know. Everything I circled that had me stressed to the max was something I had somehow taken on that was another persons PERSONAL responsibility to themselves. The other things I circled were things I had NO control over-issues I cant change, things someone has to do for themselves or want to do for themselves. I had no idea how much I kept up with, reminded people of, took care of and took the blame for that are NOT my job to do.

I couldn’t believe all the BS that I had been holding inside that freaken basket–a basket that I had been trying so hard not to drop–Then I realized that it was an early Christmas miracle that not only did I drop it..but praise GOD..I DROP KICKED the stupid thing like a full blown maniac–Because everything that wasn’t mine, which somehow ended up in my basket outweighed my ability to utilize the coping mechanisms I have mastered over the years to accomplish anything regarding the things in life I LOVE to do!
My basket had become full of the responsibility of things we cant change, things we cant control and things that are other people’s personal responsibility to do for themselves. Carrying all those jobs take the pleasure and joy away from the things we are SUPPOSE to do. For instance, if a teacher’s job is to teach the children, but gets so weighed down with grade level meetings, team leadership, leadership teams, data collection, helping a failing school by initiating or participating in program after program, taking on duties of others…well…she doesn’t get to enjoy or do well the ONE job she is supposed to be doing and that is TEACH. She gets stressed and decides that maybe teaching isn’t for her.

It’s easy for a woman and a mother to take on everything-its hard for us to decipher what is within our power to do or change and what is simply allowing our efforts to enable someone else so that they do not have to utilize their own power. My Walmart receipt and the list written all over it while I sat in my car with a crazed deer in the headlight expression, brought everything back into focus. I ended up picking my basket back up, I carefully put back inside it all the things I wished to keep–and felt no remorse for the items I left on the ground. It’s now a whole lot lighter. A word of wisdom for any of you ladies dealing with too much day-to-day stress, drama or worries; I guess you could calmly sit your basket down and go through it as if you were spring cleaning–but half our problem is thinking we “have it all under control” until we don’t. I have decided that is what the “come aparts” are for..they are basket cleanings when it gets to heavy…Without the come aparts..I promise your going to drop the thing and either make one heck of a mess or beg a cop for a ride to the jail house for a mini vacation on the tax payers dime. 🙂

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Good Teacher or Bad Teacher?

I truly believe that I just had to write the most ridiculous note that I have EVER written to a school or to a teacher in my 20 years of having at least one of my kids in school–and this “note to the school” deserves its on BLOG.
I have nothing but respect for the teachers out there doing their job and educating my children and giving them the foundation they need to excel in life–I understand what you go through between performing like a trained monkey for the state agencies as well as having little control over what you are told you have to teach and the time line you have to teach it–the fact that you can juggle all the meetings, training classes, CRCT testing; frameworks and benchmarks while controlling unruly children while your still challenging those who wish to learn makes you heroes in my opinion –but the dead beat tenured teachers who refuse to teach and clump together to make sure they are not expected to be anything but complacent are running off the good teachers who end up having to do their work load and suffering through these teachers low test scores year after year. I am at the end of my rope with bad teachers being allowed to continue to effect the students as well as the school they are employed by. I am tired of the state sinking the good teachers by implementing strategies that bring all teachers to the same level.
My youngest makes honor roll each semester; does his best and truly worries over a bad grade.
I had an issue with the fact that in only two or three of his classes this year did I feel like he was being challenged in a school that can NEVER seem to make AYP. Its not the students fault–the student body has completely cycled through the middle school three times since the doors first opened–its not the administrators, we have had 11 administrators in the principal and AP positions in the 11 years the school has been opened. The only thing that remains the same in this middle school year after failing year is some of the tenured teachers who are planted and rooted down like trees.
I was told during a conference that I had with my son’s teachers that he would MEET CRCT testing and I should just relax–no worries. It didn’t matter that I responded with the statement that he EXCEEDED every subject on the CRCT last year at the elementary school. They were not concerned with him doing better–just meeting it. It didn’t matter that his unit scores on all unit test in one subject were high scores–the problem was that 100% of his homework grade for the year was based on my signature to a piece of paper called “bell work” It takes about five minutes each day to do this bell work sheet and the bell work counted for over 50% of his class work grade and my signature made up 100% of his homework grade?
The 6th grade STUDENTS are the ones who grade the unit test of their peers in this class for the teacher; sometimes marking answers wrong that are right, making it the responsibility of the students to find the time to go to the teacher and have what was marked wrong by fellow students on a UNIT test corrected by the teacher; the bell work is NOT checked by the teacher for correctness–just for my signature. The other 3 or 4 class work grades were graded by the students themselves on the “honor system”. So out of 20 entered grades for this semester, what work was actually graded or checked by the teacher? Very little of it.
10 of the 20 grades in this class were for this five minute bell work activity; and only graded by my signature. If I signed it; then my child received a 100 for class work and bell work and homework–if I forget to sign it or he failed to remind me…its points off.
Its scary because the fail rate on the CRCT for the grade and subject area last year at this school was low– 47.9% of the students in 7th grade failed the state mandated test over this subject matter–while 50.6% of the 6th graders last year failed to meet the CRCT in this subject as well. If you want to view the test scores last year for your GA school follow this link http://www.ajc.com/news/2011-georgia-crct-results-1000807.html and enter the county and the school and then select the subject and grade for a full detailed report.
Needless to say with all the craziness in our  life this year–my signature on my son’s bell work has been missing more than its been on there. I never imagined his grade would be based on ME! Two of the teachers decided during the conference that the responsible thing for ME to do was just send an email to them; letting them know I had other things going on and that I had seen the bell work and just not signed it–NOT ONE OF THEM seemed to have a problem with the lack of instruction or that bellwork counted as a grade based on my signature? If I had time to send them an email– I could remember to sign the thing!
So in order to keep my 6th grader from stressing about low grades for homework and class work because I forgot to sign the paper–I have just written a letter for the school to keep on file, giving my 6th grader the full legal authority to sign his name on my behalf with my name printed under his on any and all bell work/ homework or any other asinine piece of paper that the teacher is counting as grades. Can you even imagine having to give your 6th grader permission to sign your name? But due to the fact that his only homework grade and half of his class work grades were actually based 100% on PENNY RANSOM scribbled across the bottom of a work sheet; it makes allowing him to sign it only fair–after all he is the one in school earning the grade.
So I have to wonder why people insist the problem in todays public education is from lack of funds or disruptive children; when everything I see points to a lack of teacher “know how” as being the real issue.
A teacher who is good at their job can handle unruly students and keep control of their classroom–A teacher who is good at their job uses classtime for instruction and in doing so, keeps kids occupied and engaged in the lesson and not bouncing off the walls. A teacher that is good at their job wants to know if their hard work and stratagies to teach the lessons are working and actually grades students papers to get an overview of his or her own sucess in relaying the informaiton to the students. A good teacher can become a great teacher if they have the support of their administrators when dealing with dicipline in the classroom or with disruptive students. A stand out teacher is one that is good at their job, has the support of their administrators and works for a school system that allows them the freedom to prepare for their classes. Instead of sending their teachers to meeting after meeting to learn the new age fads in teaching or keeping the teacher so bogged down with paperwork that the JOB of teaching becomes secondary to the many paper pushing and data collecting duties–a good school system understands the teachers first job is to educate the student.
A teacher who is NOT good at his or her job can not or will not teach the material; this teacher looks for any reason to excuse why the students are not passing mandated test, why their classes have more disruptions or discipline issues than other classes with the same students. This type of teacher rarely grades papers, or does just what is

required at the last minute; giving students plenty of busy work that counts as grades without ever giving them the knowledge of the subject the teacher was suppose to teach. A BAD teacher is one that doesn’t have the support of the administration and is allowed to continue unchecked year after year to the detriment of the students they teach. The administration either fails to recognize the issues in the classroom and avoids monitoring or writing true evaluations of the Bad teachers true performance or the administration is aware and fails to take appropriate measures to either help the teacher do a better job or discipline the teacher for failure to comply. When a bad teacher works for a school system that doesn’t support its teachers or administrators, then the problem is perpetuated even further–especially if the administration inside the schools can not get the county office support to remove a teacher who will not teach. If the school system sends the message of complacency by accepting low test scores, as well as failing the students and the stakeholders by NOT meeting system wide AYP and continues to waste time and money on data driven ideas instead of accountability in the classroom–then a bad teacher can work forever in a bad system that has lost sight of the fact their one purpose was to teach–and the students are the ones who pay.
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