Sunday, June 28, 2009

Revisiting 'Fertilization Day'

My buddy reminded me about a topic that I had written about in a previous post two years ago. I wrote Happy Fertilization Day when reflecting on the miracle of fertilization rather than childbirth (as today is my birthday).

Check out the link and let me know which you think is more of a miracle: fertilization or childbirth. Or maybe you don't even believe they are miracles? Are they both just normal biological processes? I think that maybe my viewpoint will change, one day, when I become a dad.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Highlights from Week 1

Week 1 of graduate school is completed. The overwhelming feeling has passed. Many more weeks to go. I have realized that this program is certainly what it was advertised to be. It rids you of your social life. As it did me and mine.

But I'm pumped because we've been having fun doing projects, reading kids' books, and learning about many aspects of being a teacher. Lots and lots of reading. I'm glad I'm enjoying the material! Textbooks as well as kids' literature. Here are a couple highlights from my first week:

The Donut Chef is such a cute picture book that I randomly found on the shelf in the library. It was published just last year and all the illustrations were done with computer graphics. Beautifully designed images. The book is about a chef that starts a donut shop, another chef opens his donut shop next door, and they go head to head trying to out-do each other. Great book about competition and learning that sometimes quality is better than quantity. And the book rhymes too!

My Friend Rabbit is a Caldecott winner, published in 2002. It is a very simple picture book that tells of the importance of staying loyal to a good friend even though trouble follows him. There are very few words in the book--just about 11 sentences total--which allows for great storytelling through the illustrations. A quick read, fun story, and clear life lesson at the end makes this a keeper.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Graduate School Begins

I have decided to follow in the footsteps of my friend and fellow grad school blogger. She always posts a picture of the stack of books she will be reading during the upcoming semester. So here is my stack...

The stack doesn't seem too overwhelming, I suppose. Pursuing a full-time MAT degree in one year does make me a little nervous, though. I certainly have heard many stories about how my social life will end as I know it. Thankfully, I am extremely interested in this subject matter that will spearhead my career, unlike many of my undergraduate courses.

I am also glad that I now know what my priorities are, as opposed to the undergraduate years. I will no longer be playing video games with my buddies in the dorm, but will instead be preparing my mind for the responsibilities of guiding young children's lives. My free time will consist of dates with my wife, reading the Bible, or hanging with close friends from my church community. Additionally, this will be my career to shape the future of my family. My actions now will impact my own future children and generations to come. It's a big deal because I will be a teacher for the rest of my life and I am realizing how many lives I will be impacting on a daily basis...

...I hope I'm good at it. We'll find out soon enough.

Related Post: My Road to Teaching

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Improvement in Child Behavior

My heart was struck with joy this week regarding one of our 1st graders. He is a boy with so much testosterone welled up within him and I just wish he had a dad at home to wrestle with. He could easily be labeled a "problem child" because of the way that he responds to instruction, but that's not the way I see him. To me, he is a fun-loving, super smart kid who just needs quality discipline.

Over the past year, I have often dealt with his temper tantrums after telling him that he needs to go wash his hands before snack time. He is usually playing with legos building a spaceship, using his free time productively. But he is just a stubborn little kid that doesn't want to follow directions. I have easily lost count of the number of times we have seen him erupt into fits of rage. But we have worked hard at being consistent with him, as well as all of the other teachers in the school who have put together a special behavior program for him.

I witnessed the payoff earlier this week during a very normal snack time. I told him he had a choice to go wash his hands immediately or after five more minutes of free time. Usually he picks the "five more minutes" choice, duh. But this time he didn't say anything. No response. I could tell that something was bothering him, but I didn't have the time to get into a deep conversation.

After three minutes, I came back to him and gave him a warning that he had only two minutes left of free time. It was then that he realized that I was serious and began pouting a little bit. He was flat on the floor for the next two minutes. I could see the wheels turning inside of his head. He was thinking about his choices: 1) Get angry and be unhappy or 2) Follow directions and have a tasty meal. He knew what the right choice was, but he really wanted to keep playing with legos. At the same time, he also knew that I wouldn't let him play with legos if he didn't follow directions (Adults often have problems with kids when they give them instructions but don't follow through with consequences. Kids pick up on this quickly and the inconsistency is very confusing and frustrating for them).

As I watched his little mind work and after I told him that his time was up, he simply got up and he went to go wash his hands without complaining. After he finished his snack, I went over to him, looked him in the eye, told him I was proud of him, and thanked him for doing it without complaining. And, of course, a congratulatory high-five.

It's times like these that I get so excited to be a teacher. It gives me so much joy to see little bratty kids change and grow to be more responsible. The end of the school year was yesterday. Thinking back over the year and the work that my coworker and I have invested into these kids' lives makes me so much happier than I think I could be doing any other job. I am beginning to think that this isn't really a job at all, but a privilege to help other people.

Image from here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kid Quote: Trust

In our child care program, we have a brand new silly rule that instructs us to only allow kids into the bathroom to wash their hands one at a time. One at a time. Yes, it takes forever to get through the line of kids. So naturally, there is a lot of waiting.

At our school, there is a long hallway between our program and the bathroom door. Sometimes we let them walk down the hall and wait right outside the bathroom door until the kid before them comes out. We don't let our problem children do this for obvious reasons.

One cute little kindergarten girl gives us the most trouble when it comes to handwashing and waiting. She often plays around in the bathroom or wants to go in with the other girls. One day, while the bathroom was occupied by another kid, she wanted to walk down to the bathroom door and wait for the person to finish.

"Can I trust you to go wait outside the door?" I asked her suspiciously. "Will you wait until the next person comes out before you go in?" I paused and then repeated, "Can you be trusted?"

"No," she replied.

Surprised at her honesty, expecting a lie to come out, I laughed and said, "Well then I think you had better wait here with me then."

Fascinating! Even 6-year old kindergartners know that their misbehavior creates distrust in relationships. I pray that she holds onto that, puts two and two together, and eventually regains our trust in her.

People Watching: A Social Experiment

Last weekend we went to the Grand Floral Parade. Our first time. We decided to make our way to the top of the Burnside Bridge for great seats on the curb. It was fun. However, it started a bit late. We were not sure what exactly was taking them so long, but we were trying to think of a good way to pass the time...and boy, did we!

There were parade people handing out sidewalk chalk to the kids and adults to keep them entertained. At first we declined the offer, but after awhile I had an idea and went out in search for some chalk. I came back with 2 boxes and giggles. After picking a brand new stick of white chalk, I ventured over to the opposite side of the bridge. Under a tall lamppost, I drew a line across the sidewalk with the following words in capital letters: "STOP AND LOOK UP". The pre-parade entertainment had begun!

A large majority of people just walked by, not noticing the instructions written under their feet. Likely because there were many other things to look at: crowds of people, city buildings, the river, etc. Many people actually looked down to read the note but just kept on walking. I suspect that either something else was on their mind or they were afraid it was a prank. Only a small handful of people were actually curious enough to tilt their heads up to the sky. Thankfully, my anxious camera lens was pointed in their direction.

We had great seats for the show. The parade crowds were loud enough (and we were far enough away) for those curious ones not to hear our laughing. In addition to the entertainment this experiment provided us, a sociological fascination lingers in my mind. What would I do? Would I look up? Would I think that someone was watching? People watching is so much fun because even though everyone acts differently, you can still often see patterns in behavior.

And the winner goes to... the last photo in this post. This couple kept looking up at the top of the lamppost over and over again. More than anyone else. It had been about 3 straight minutes of them looking up, looking down, reading the sign again, looking up again, and repeating. Hilarious.

Related posts with label: Sociology

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Marriage Tip: Saying 'Thank You'

I have come to understand how important it is to thank my wife for everything she does. Even regarding the mundane, routine things that I expect her to do and she expects herself to do, I still try my hardest to show my appreciation by saying "Thank you" as much as I can. It's amazing how much better my life is with her in it.

I hope that my friends and family will tell me if I ever begin to forget about my thankfulness of her. If I need to be confronted about being a slacker husband, I trust that my community will do so.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kid Quote: Best Chess Day

I am amazed at how many of our students absolutely LOVE the game of chess. One of the kindergartners gets to the morning program every day before I arrive at 7am. Every day he sets up the chess board, waiting for me to walk through the doors. And every day he never fails to ask, "Aaron, can you play chest with me?" I smile every time I have to walk him through the correct pronunciation of the word.

I usually give the kids an option, "Easy," "Medium," or "Hard" difficulty they want me to play against them. One particular day, this early morning chess fanatic asked me to play "Medium." This game started out just like all the others, as I usually intentionally make ridiculous moves so that he can capture my pieces easily. But since I was trying to up my game from the usual "Easy" level he asks me to play, I tried mixing up my moves to throw him off a bit.

Relative to elementary school kids, I am pretty darn good at chess. However, this one day he trapped me. He put me in checkmate and I didn't even mean for it to happen. He did it on his own!

Although we know that he likely put me in checkmate by accident, that didn't matter to him. "Today is the best life of my day!!!" he exclaimed, not knowing that he messed up the phrase.

I laughed with him, told him that I was very proud of how well he did, and shook his hand. "Good game."