In addition to children, my husband and I have two cats and two dogs–a male and female of each species. The male cat, Scat Cat, is a crabby thing who at any given moment will either want to force cuddle you, bite you, or pretend you don’t exist. The male dog, Lambeau, is a lovable, middle-age labrador retriever who mostly enjoys sleeping and barking at the dangerous robins who invade his yard. These two creatures make an odd pair, but you can often find them curled up together on my bed enjoying the afternoon sun or the breeze from an open window. Most of the time they are, if not fast friends, comfortable buddies.
Occasionally though, you will hear Lambeau make a weird whining noise. Usually Lambeau and Scat Cat are in the other room, and the noise is faint. You have to know what you are listening for because otherwise it is something easily dismissed as a doggy dream or drowned out by the the other distractions of life.
This small, pitiful sound is Lambeau complaining that his normally cuddly feline friend has decided that he makes a better kneading block than bedfellow. Lambeau can’t get up because Scat Cat has his hooks in Lambeau’s belly and because Lambeau knows he is not allowed to chase the cat. Lambeau needs help of the human variety. His small whine is him begging me to come chase the cat away.
And I do. Scat Cat give me a dirty look and stalks away, Lambeau wags his tail and then flops over and goes back to sleep, and the world goes on. The dog and the cat will snuggle again soon.
Teaching is often like listening for that small whine. There are so many big concerns in your classroom–getting the necessary curriculum covered, the student who refuses to be anything but a rude hooligan, the papers that need grading, and on and on–that the little things are easy to ignore or overlooked. It is part of our job as teachers though to make sure that we don’t miss the little signs: the shy student whose only indication that she needs help is a slight furrow between her eyes as she diligently takes notes, the normally boisterous boy who has seemed abnormally subdued over the last week, the student whose daily journal or creative writing has taken on an odd quality, even the normally inseparable friends who choose not to work together on a group project. These little things need our attention too.
Don’t let the chaos of the day, the squeaky wheels in the class, and the never-ending list of tasks be blinders. They might be symptoms of something small and easy to remedy or they might be symptoms of something much bigger, but you don’t know until you confront them. And remember that just because something seems small to you or can be easily remedied, it doesn’t mean that a kind word or a quick check-in isn’t just what that student needs to be successful on the upcoming test or make up with their best friend or even to open up to someone about something much more serious.
Have a great day, and…
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This Week’s Journal Questions
For the teacher: Who do you help your students on a daily basis? How do you identify problems in your classroom? What problems are you likely to overlook? How can you prevent that?
For the student: Who can you go to when you have a problem? Does it change depending on what kind of problem it is?
A Recipe from My Kitchen
- 4 cups apples, peeled and sliced (something tart like granny smith works well)
- 4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- If you are using frozen fruit for either the apple or rhubarb (or both), thaw it first, but do not discard any of the liquid. Include the thawed fruit and liquid in your mixture.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
- If you are toasting your own, be super careful. Coconut goes from underdone to little black crisps that are possibly on fire in the blink of an eye.
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Place oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375º.
- Grease a 9×13 pan.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients for the filling. Stir and pour these into the 9×13 pan.
- Rinse your bowl. Place all topping ingredients except the butter in the bowl and mix them together thoroughly.
- Pour melted butter over the top and stir until all the topping is moist.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over your filling mixture.
- Place in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes until the topping becomes a nice golden-brown color and the fruit mixture is bubbling up on the sides.
- Serve warm or cold. For an extra bit of yum, top with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream before serving.