Busy, Busy, Busy

So, uh… I haven’t been here in a while.

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I have an explanation! 

1. Hives (not mine)

2. Portland, Oregon

3. “Possible dog I might adopt” sleepover

4. Sleep-deprivation

5. Perfectionism

The answer to everything is really my perfectionism. I don’t write on a daily basis and once I’ve missed a deadline, I kind of give up. It just seems like there’s too much I need to write and so little time for proper formulation. Oh well. I’m writing now; doing the best I can is what matters most. Let’s go! 

First, this last Tuesday:

As the year comes to an end, every day becomes a battle to retain the kid’s attention. They’re mindful of parties and fun (and there are plenty of those), but they’re definitely losing patience with school. As I write this (and the day is only half done), a lone student works while his friends play, struggling to make words where none as of yet exist. I’ve never met more stubborn resistance to such an easy assignment before. He’s at least started, but he has more than two thirds of the way to go. All he has to do is write about a “how to” book he wishes was in existence; as he doesn’t care about reading a “how to” book, this assignment is particularly difficult for him. The words just won’t come and free him from his prison of inactivity, and he refuses (from what I can see) to think them into being himself. I’m afraid I see a lesson for myself here: I can be just as stubborn about my own work, and I see that it must make me look as silly as does it the little boy before me.

Others, at least, are speeding through with confidence. I helped the students with spelling, math and IXL this morning, and it pained me to see others going so slowly while others sped through with ease. I can already see the challenge before me: when I teach, I must find a way to help the slower students while simultaneously allowing the faster students to maintain or exceed their speed. I wish Shoal Creek had the budget for an enrichment teacher. I see so many students that I would just LOVE to take under my wing, to consistently mentor so their talents can grow. It’s the gifted students who are also typically more lively (and more trouble, sometimes). Their liveliness disrupts the slower students and distracts the teachers, which is a real shame, I think. Oh well. All I can do, for the moment, is mentor how I can. That tends to be through art, much to my delight. I played a “how to draw” Simon’s Cat video for the early finishers, and despite their harsh critiques of their own work, they did wonderfully. Art is so important to this generation, since it has been so heavily steeped in animation and comics. It’s such a wonderful way to connect with them, and I’m so grateful that God has blessed me with this talent.

Honestly, the moral of today’s story is to avoid distraction at all costs. The baby chicks distracted, my art distracted, random stories and misheard sentences distracted. I seriously thought their attention spans were longer than that…

On a happier note, they really love Simon’s Cat. If you haven’t seen it for yourself, do yourself a favor and check it out: youtube.com/simonscat

And now, onto Thursday, today!

How do you tell an 8-year-old that she has a victim mentality? And how do you tell her that you know this because she’s exactly like you were when you were her age? Part confession, part rebuke, this will be an awkward conversation once it happens (and it must). My little friend from 4th grade (not my Loch Ness friend) is this scary copy of me at her age. Precocious, artistic, over-achieving, she’s as sweet as she is an unconscious tattle-tale. She’s one of those students I wish I could take under my wing and have all to myself, partly because I understand her. As I mentioned earlier, I acted similarly to her when I was young. Though I wasn’t a tattle-tale, I certainly had the victim mentality. When you’re an only child with no one to play with but your grandmother and dog, you tend to lack appropriate childhood social skills. Since you have a longer attention span than the others, you want to keep on playing a game that everyone else has abandoned, leading to frustration when you bean a kid in the head “for no reason,” according the victim’s account. You therefore feel wronged and falsely accused and further report said indecency to the nearest trusted adult. I was that adult today, and as you can see, I get it. The thing is that this kind of tattle-tale mindset will grow into a monster that could wreck havoc on her future social life. Being smart and good and knowing that you are smarter and “better” than others can turn into a superiority complex; couple this with the victim mentality and the complex is practically justified. I want to help her before this goes any further. Since she is so bright, I’m hoping that she will understand where I’m coming from and see in herself what needs to change. That’s such a hard thing to do, but I’d rather see her kept from heartache and regret later in life than have to fight it as an adult.

This leads to the question, “Caroline, dear, just what are you confessing to?” Well, I hated troublemakers with a passion (since they halted school and kept us from doing fun things). I was also bright and in the gifted classes, so I certainly thought myself superior to my less bright, more disruptive peers. Albeit, this was all when I was around my little friend’s age. As I got older, certain sins deepened while others receded (praise God). I saw that I used superiority as a crutch to bolster my self-esteem; what I lacked in the friend department, I made up with smarts and “goodness,” which could only be maintained by being the best. I tell you, that attitude cannot be beat without the grace of God. I still struggle with it horribly; it’s transformed into a debilitating perfectionism which keeps me from working if I can’t do what must be done “perfectly” (this blog, anyone? I’m a month behind!). Again, I want to spare her my pain. I pray that she will understand. We’re both only children, both prefer deep intimate relationships to many superficial ones and love art and literature to pieces. While I have no idea what next year will bring, I hope I’m still at the school and that I can do something for special children like her. They need extra-tutoring, extra care and understanding in order to learn how to tackle tricky social skills with grace and gravity. Shoal Creek, I’m begging you, get a bigger budget and hire me as your Enrichment Teacher!!! You’d never regret it 😀

In other news, I’d like to report for the official record just what I’ve been doing lately that’s actually academic at Shoal Creek, rather than social or emotional aide. I mostly help kids with worksheets and keep them on task. I’m getting better at it, I think, the more I do it. I still struggle with not just giving them the answer, but when it’s something obvious, what can I do? Furthermore, I’m really struggling with keeping the kids on task. They get so distracted, or they just flat out refuse to work. Remember that boy I mentioned helping on Tuesday? Well, he was at it again today, refusing to work on an assignment with a partner (my little friend was his partner, and she had to make up his responses since he would say nothing more than, “I don’t know.”). I threatened to ask Mrs. Freeman to pull a warning card on him, but she informed me that he responds best to lost recess privileges. Honestly, kids… they’re a mystery!

My fun student incident today: I scored two goals in basketball on two 3rd grade boys! Yes, I know, wonderful accomplishment, right? Look, I’m short and out of shape, whereas they’re spry and active players. Those goals are a big deal XD I think they had as much fun as I had. Once my team pulled ahead, the lead opposing team player really amped up his game. It was all smiles for both teams; that’s what I love. Oh, and the girl on my team scored this fantastic goal from a lot farther than I’d ever thought she could throw. Needless to say, it was a fantastic moment 😀

That’s all for this week! I’ve got an entry started that’ll cover as much as I can remember from the time I’ve been gone. I’ll also hopefully post an entry specifically about my week-long Portland trip. Happy Friday, gents!

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