What Students Need

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As a University Supervisor I have the task of observing and shaping future teachers. It’s a job I love. I try to pass on advice I’ve gained over the years. My work with both mainstream and students with special needs has shown me that for many students school is the best part of their day. They look to their teacher for validation that they are valued for their unique contribution to the class. It’s imperative that their teacher models enthusiasm, interest and compassion. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do when we have problems at home ourselves. I always tell my future teachers to bring their best self through the door of the classroom. If they have issues they cannot put aside, take a day off. Students need their teacher to be completely present, completely invested in moving students forward, and most importantly, happy about doing so.

So what can a teacher do to bring their best self to class? Get enough sleep. It seems simple enough, but looking at a screen before bed can hinder a good night’s sleep. Another useful tip is to exercise just before bed. Light stretching and deep breathing gets your body into a relaxed state. Reading a book before bed is another way to get your eyes tired enough that they close. Many times I have to reread passages not realizing that I was dozing off. Last but not least, say a prayer for everyone you know, especially the students who are in your classroom.

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A Wise Man

My great-grandfather was a very wise man.  He was my step great-grandfather, but I didn’t know it until I was an adult, nor did it ever matter.  My great grandmother was a widow raising three children when she met him in Los Angeles.  He worked as a secretary in a large steel company until his retirement, when he went to work for General Electric as a security guard.  

He bought a modest two- bedroom house in South Central Los Angeles.  That house was a gathering place, and often my home when I was growing up.  I called him Nino, but his name was Joseph.  He had a huge backyard where he grew fruit trees and vegetables. He always said that you should grow things you can eat.  He always made sure there was plenty to eat. For lunch he would holler in Spanish, “Ninos, venga!”  Lunch was an array of fruit from the yard and tortillas that my great grandmother made. 

Nino came from Cuba and was diligent about reading.  He told me that Reader’s Digest helped him learn English.  School and church were important to him.  He told me that reading books is the key to life.  When there was a Father-Daughter fashion show at my school I asked him to take me.  He also took me to Dodger games and explained the game to me.  He said that a fan is always faithful.  

When I got married, I asked him to walk me down the aisle.  He was the one constant in my life. Nino would tell me little bits of advice, like, “Brush your hair 100 strokes every day to have it grow long and shiny.”  I think that’s why I still have long hair.  

I never heard him raise his voice.  When he was displeased, he’d shake his head and walk away. 

When I got diagnosed with a very serious illness he gave me a piece of paper with the words, “Take up thy bed and walk.”  I think of his words when it gets hard to get out of bed or I don’t feel like exercising.

I named my son after Nino in hopes that my son would be as kind and loving as my Nino.  He is.  

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When Life Gives You Scraps…..

My sewing room is my happy place. It serves as my craft room as well as my office. It’s cooler downstairs, so on hot summer days I often go to my sewing/craft/office to relax. I am an avid follower of crafty blogs that repurpose fabric and findings to make interesting objects of beauty.

My most recent venture into craftiness is fabric-wrapped rope baskets and rugs. I decided to try my hand at it and if you don’t look too closely at the stitching, it came out pretty nice. There is something oddly meditative in wrapping fabric around rope and creating a unique design (even if you have no idea what to do with it). I started with a small bowl that I almost threw away, but thought I’d keep it to remind me that beginnings are often messy and imperfect. With practice, patience and time on my hands I have learned quite a bit. The kind ladies in my online group are truly inspirational. No negative comments to take the wind out of my sails, just encouragement. They are my kind of people.

Who couldn’t use a bit of quiet time while creating something unique? My scrap bins are thinning out and I am currently finishing up placemats for my daughter.

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