More new and exciting educational ventures

I've officially begun yet another chapter in my educational life, this one with my own children again. I have become a Mr. Mom.

Like most educators I have the good fortune to have summers off, unfortunately as a substitute teacher summers off mean summers without pay. No pay means no day care unless I find another crap job and I really don't want to do that especially with the grand, yet daunting, opportunity to be at home full time with my children.

This year it's a bit different though. The two older ones, six and four years old, can more or less supervise themselves, but the new one added earlier this year requires as much attention as any infant which makes this task all the more daunting. Wish me luck.

Ed U. Cayshun

New educational venture on the horizon

It is official, I have begun a new educational venture for myself and my six-year-old; I'm going to be a Tiger Cub Scout leader in the fall!

It all began when I first found out that my wife and I were going to have a boy back in 2000. One of the first things that I thought of was getting to do all the fun stuff that we already enjoyed; camping, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, etc. However, When I thought of doing this with my son Boy Scouts was the first thing that came to my mind and he and I get to start on the ground floor together as Tiger Cub Scouts.

Earlier this week I met with the other pack leaders and I brought home a grocery sack overflowing with things and information for me to look at in planning next fall as leader. While perusing the book one other thing jumped out at me a key to the scouts, the real values taught through scouts. I'm not talking religious values, rather ones that every child these days need; honor, respect, honesty, love for country (no matter who is in the slightly circular shaped office and whether or not he's NOT having sexual relations with that woman). The hiking, camping, canoeing, etc. will have to wait until actual Boy Scouts but we still have fun doing that as a family.

Wish me luck on my new experience!

Ed U. Cayshun

My observations on music.

On part of being an educator is having a keen eye for observation. Observing behavior, trends, actions, etc of the students can all be help full in determining the course of an educational experience. However, this time I observed my own behavior and actions but not in the classroom.

I got an MP3 player for Christmas and began my online world of music. The first things I could think of to download was music from my teenage years that I really loved and all of it was very heavy metal. I'm not talking MTV's version of heavy metal, Poison, Warrant, Damn Yankees, I'm talking the real stuff; Metallica, Megadeath, Iron Maiden, Motorhead. I got back into the stuff I used to get drunk to on a Saturday night, sober up to on the same Saturday night so that I could be sober enough to walk in the house and greet my mom who'd waited up till 11:30.

After a few weeks of this I began to notice something about myself; I was PISSED OFF at everything. The crappy driver on the road, the kids in class, the neighbor's kids who played their bumping rap music too loud, even my wife. It took that few weeks but I made to correlation between the faster, angrier music that was listening to almost exclusively and my poor mood.

With that being said I resumed to my more mainstream listening habits which include, strangely enough, the blues, jazz, general pop/alternative radio, even some oldies. However, after some careful consideration I have decided to try an experiment on myself. For the next few weeks I'm going to force myself to listen to country music exclusively to see if my dog dies, my wife leaves me, my mom get run over by a train while on her way to pick me up from prison in the pick-up truck in the rain. I'll let you know how it goes.

Ed U. Cayshun

More from a life-long learner.

I feel remiss in my duties as a life-long learner by not telling you about the most significant event recently from which I learned something.

I had never had any real contact with horses before I met my wife before she was my wife. I'd probably only ridden a horse three or four times let alone owned one, but my future wife did. During our college years he became too much to deal with, especially finacially, so she sold him. she had made it very clear that she had every intention to get another when space permitted.

A year ago we moved to what we like to call our hobby farm, five acres of heaven in the middle of nowhere. Part of our heaven included a barn which soon became home for her new pet, a horse named Ellie. I vaguely recall the horse seller asking if we wanted her bred when we committed to buy her. I also remember thinking what a cool experience to have a foal around. Furthermore, I remember being slightly apprehensive about a pregnant horse, knowing that horse's health can turn on a dime, but I wasn't concerned because my wife would know what to do and I would simply support her when the time came. Eleven months later Ellie is very wide, we are anticipating the new foal and my wife decides to go to her parent's house for a long weekend.

I got back from school Monday afternoon not thinking anything more than I was free for the afternoon to do as I pleased. What pleased me was simply playing around the "farm." I paid no attention to the pasture until feeding time when Ellie didn't come in for her evening feed. All the fears of horse's health and the general hazard of giving birth came to mind. I bolted into the pasture to find extra legs under Ellie. Rascal, a beautiful appaloosa stud colt, was born sometime during the day and I had my head so firmly intrenched in my ass so that I didn't even notice.

I promptly called my wife and she began listing the things that I should look for like urination, defacation, signs of colic, sufficient nursing, etc. I needed help, and my wife was three hundred miles away. I called those who I thought could offer assistance but got no response. I was very concerned. After a short time I began, like any new father (so to speak), to worry. Without any serious help from peopel that I knew I began to think about who I didn't know. I recalled seeing new foals in a pasture just south of us on the main road and thought maybe they'd be able to help, even though I didn't know them, nor they me, from Adam.

The man who answered the door was exceptionally nice, he even came out to look the baby over, reassured me that all was fine and I should cease my worrying. Thanks Mr. Z.

Long story short, or even longer, I learned not to fear the unknown of horse breeding and birth so much. I also learned that I will not allow my wife to leave for a long weekend when HER horse is set to foal, ever again!!!

Ed U. Cayshun

Great commentary on NCLB

What a great commentary on No Child Left Behind. I only wish I could leave a comment for him. Since I can't I'll just link to his post.

Ed U. Catshun

Me, a lifelong learner.

I took it to heart what my college professors used to tell me about creating lifelong learners, although I have always considered my self one. As evidence I'd like to offer the following evidence: My favorite channels on TV are Discovery, History, Discovery Science, etc. I love reading books that I can learn things from such as Stephen Ambrose's work specifically on World War II. In short, I love learning new things. I got a chance to learn something new this week about the plants growing wild on my property.

My family and I moved to five acres in the woods about a year ago. The previous owners landscaping around the property was haphazard at best. Last Friday while scouting a location for my vegetable garden I encountered some odd looking plants growing in an area where the previous owners had attempted to plant some trees and had also added some ornamental grasses. The odd plant in question had seven leaves and looked like pictures I'd seen on t-shirts. To boil it all down, it looked like marijuana growing.

I debated with myself about what to do for several days. I really didn't want anything of the sort growing where I could be liable, legally speaking. I inquired as to the horticultural knowledge of my neighbors and friends and most, like me didn't really know what it was. I did some searching on the Internet and learned all about how to grow it, indoors and out, how to care for it, when to harvest it, how to dry it, and everything else that I really didn't want to know but not how to identify it. Finally I chose the safest thing to do was call the drug task force associated with our county sheriff's department.

I contacted them yesterday and the detective told me that he could be out to my place within the hour. When he arrived with his partner in plain clothes, looking like degenerate bikers with badges and guns we took a walk. After one quick glance they told me that it was a common ditch weed and in no way narcotic. I was relieved!

On reflecting back I realized that I now had a deeper knowledge of a subject that had until now been foreign to me and had it not been for my inquisitive nature and my love for learning I would have likely mowed it over and never given it another thought. While I don't want to encourage knowledge of illicit subject matter in my students, I would certainly agree that any educator who can influence that love for learning and personal growth of knowledge is doing a very successful job!

Ed U. Cayshun

Happy Mother's Day!

If you can read this, and I assume that you are reading this, you have one person to thank for that; the greatest educator of all, MOM.

Your mother, I presume like mine, tought you tough lesson all throughout your life like play nice, share your toys, don't hit your sister, etc, but most of all your mom cared enough to send you to school so that you could learn! Through that learning you became a more well-rounded person. And all that because of mom!

On this one day each year we set aside time to honor Mothers who rasied us and taught us, loved us and cared for us, wiped noses and kissed boo-boos. This one special post goes out to my mother! Love ya Mama!


I'm not given to surveys but I had to ask a question

I'm not a big fan of surveys but I have to ask one question, or at least pose one hypothetical situation.

If the god/goddess/gods/goddesses of education, the minster of education, the president, etc, came to you and said you could do ONE thing to improve education in the United States of America, what would you suggest? No restrictions on budget, senate approval or granting of wishes from the ed fairy.

What a crazy week!

It must be the end-of-the-year blahs, just a general frustration with the world or the beautiful weather making me want to be outside instead of on the computer that has kept me from posting much lately. I would lend an equal amount of credence to each of the three but I want to address the first because it seems to affect everyone in schools these days.

My malaise started about a week ago while subbing in an elementary P.E. class for several days. It was a fifth grade class that I found out after the fact that has a nasty reputation that caused my funk. This class and their crappy attitude led me to the conclusion that kids don't know consequences. This group came in not wanting to do what they were supposed to because I yelled myself hoarse trying to talk over them, then when we began playing the game scheduled for the day that the mutiny happened.

A couple boys made it really clear that they didn't want to be "yard fairies" by playing soccer. I of course took my responsibilities seriously and made them play. Fifteen minutes into the game one of the boys took it upon himself to ruin the class for everyone by using his hand every chance he got and intentionally scoring a goal for the other team. By that time I'd had enough so I made them jog laps to hopefully impress upon them that soccer was the better option. That worked like a charm! (more sarcasm)

After a few minutes of laps I gave them the option again of playing soccer. 12 took it, the others I made continue to walk/jog laps. This went over like a lead balloon, some of the girls even began to cry. The tears really flowed once I stood them against the wall and forcefully told them that math was not open for discussion in their regular class, similarly what I had planned was set.

Next day I heard through the grapevine that the teacher was upset with me for sending them back to class in an emotional state. The principal also told me that some of them had complained to him about the episode. I related my story and he was understanding but I clearly got the "you're just a sub" vibe from him.

On to my point! These kids did not get their way, complained and heard no more about it. In my time (boy I'm sounding like my grandparents) the teacher was the ruler and any sort of dissent met with fierce resistance from the higher-ups in support. Now, they got a nice talking to and it was resolved with no apparent consequences. Anyone else have similar experiences?

One thing this has reinforced upon me is how NOT to raise my children. They need to learn respect and how to make the right choices and consequences reinforce the right choices lesson!

Ed U. Cayshun

What's the deal with all the homeschooling?

I met up with my father, who I rarely see because his job keeps him traveling most of the time, this past week and we had a very nice visit. I’m sure that most of what we talked a about will be of no interest to anyone, but he did ask me one question that I would like to address and get comments from the blog world.

We were talking about my lack of hope in finding a job and my bleak outlook on the situation and he asked if I’d considered home schooling my sons. I was quick to reply no because I feel that one of the things public schooling offers is social interaction and learning how to deal with others. I feel that home schooled children, in general, lack social graces.

One example that immediately comes to mind is a pair of girls, one of which used to work part time in my wife’s office. The girls and their family raised rabbits. I was attempting to raise rabbits myself. I purchased two doe bunnies from the family with the intention of breeding them with my buck, however to tell just how inept I am at every endeavor, I could get rabbits to reproduce. At the staff Christmas party I mentioned to the young lady and her sister, who’d accompanied her to the party, about my lack of success. I told, as politely as I could, her that I didn’t want to kill the does but would like two does to replace the sterile ones, and wondered if we could just trade. She replied that she would talk to her parents.

I got a very angry call from the mother about how I’d embarrassed the home schooled girls, essentially bad mouthed their rabbitry. This really got to me! As I began replaying the incident in my mind, trying to figure out how I’d messed up, I consulted my wife and a coworker about what I said and how I said it. They assured me that both what I said and how I said it were polite and in no way offensive. With that I began thinking about the hearer of my comments and surmised that these two young ladies, both about 14-16 years old and home schooled their entire life, had yet to learn the requisite social graces sufficient to interact with normal people.

Schools are full of kids who, from kindergarten all the way up, will mock anything and everything that a person does. Bullies abound! This mocking and bullying builds a thicker skin and students can learn to deal with people like that. It’s a tough process but kids survive and those skills can be carried all through life, because bullies and mockers abound there too, albeit a bit more couth and secrecy the older they are.

I don’t want to badmouth home schools in general, but would rather ask, “Why?” and “Where are the social skills acquired in a situation like home schools?” If you could offer insight please do!

Ed U. Cayshun

Corporal punishment, anyone?

What a great news story I came across the other day, all the more significant to me because I grew up near St. Louis.

Teacher Makes 7-Year-Old Hit Himself
By Associated Press
MANCHESTER, Mo. - A music teacher who twice ordered a seven-year-old pupil to hit himself in the head with drum mallets will not return to the Parkway School District next year.
The incident happened on February Ninth in teacher Paul Provencio's music class at Carman Trails Elementary School in suburban St. Louis.
State officials say the 36-year-old teacher intended the head-banging as a lesson to Justin Barricklow about hitting the drums too hard.
The Missouri Department of Social Services investigated the case at the request of the boy's father, Scott Barricklow, who works as a groundskeeper for the Parkway district.
Provencio has since apologized. School officials called the incident "unprofessional and totally inappropriate."

Yet another dumb ass teacher to take jobs from people like me AND make us all look bad!

Ed U. Cayshun

Get while the gettin's good!

Living in the state that I call home there is a huge surplus of teachers, to the tune of 400 applicants per job opening. Again, I found my self wondering why this is. My answer came from an unlikely source.

I got a call one morning to go to a certain school that I’d never been to be a guest teacher. Not knowing exactly where to go I left plenty early with my map in hand. I got to the school about 25 minutes before I was supposed to be there but since the office was open I went ahead and checked in, got my key and directions to the classroom. To my surprise, she was there getting things ready for me. I introduced myself and the first words out of her mouth were a warning and a very telling statement. “I hope you are ready! After 41 years of teaching this is the worst group I’ve ever had!”

Two things to say to this lady; one, 41 years is too long. You were trained on older methods, you are getting tired and obviously grouchy. Two, if you were to quit there’d be 300 people waiting in line just for the opportunity to teach and that group may be the best someone else has ever had.

I would also like to look at the math of the situation. After 41 years of raises I bet it is safe to say that this teacher makes about $60,000 a year. New teachers get paid closer to $30,000. HALF of her salary can either be saved or reinvested in another new teacher by her choosing to leave. What a way to fix the financial burden on schools these days, especially when our Governor announced last week that school funding would likely be cut by $125 per pupil in June.

To sum it all up, RETIRE! Make way for newer teaching methods, more enthusiasm and a better attitude. Give us younger teachers a chance to do what we have trained for.

Ed U. Cayshun

Education in it’s many forms

Education takes place in many forms other than the classroom, and I am proud to call myself an “educator” more than just a “teacher.” My real life example took place this weekend.

My family and I live out in the country about ten miles from the metropolitan area which I actually claim as home. We have several acres as do my neighbors. My sons, all three under six, and I were outside when my friend from across the road rides over on his ATV. “I’ve got snakes!” he exclaims. My first thought was, “GREAT! Let’s go catch them.” Off we went, my four year old and I, to play Steve Irwin.

I had the hardest time keeping him back until I addressed the situation, determining whether or not the aforementioned snakes, sunbathing on a brush pile, constituted a threat that could mean a trip to the hospital. After careful examination I found he had Blue Racers and Eastern Hog-Nosed snakes. About an hour later I had one in my grip and was still trying to keep my boy from getting too close. What makes me the proudest is that without thought I used the opportunity as a teachable moment, instructing them on safety, NEVER approach a wild snake without Daddy, biology, herpetology and animal husbandry. I told them about how snakes are cold blooded, needing to sunbathe to keep warm. I addressed their diet of mice and rats that also inhabited the brush pile. We talked about their defense mechanisms. We admired their color and markings finally letting them go in the woods where they could not be harmed inadvertently by the ATVs, pets or other humans.

To me, this episode is a more significant educational experience than any number of other days in a classroom and one that my sons will not soon forget, or even stop talking about.

Ed U. Cayshun

Many thanks for a great job!

In the effort not to seem like a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy I decided to write something positive this time. I recently got the opportunity to do a guest teacher assignment at a wonderful school. In my whoops and hollers of thankfulness I began to wonder, what makes this district so much better than all the others I have visited in the past year?

This is purely speculation on my point because I have no real data to back up my hypothesis but I attribute the quality of the school to great parenting. As backing to my assumption I would like to offer the following: The children in this school district are respectful which allows the teachers to do a better job teaching. Because the teacher can do a better job teaching the children learn more. Because the children learn more they can do better on the mandated tests. Because they do better on the tests the school gets better recognition and a better reputation. Because of the better reputation better teachers want to teacher there. Because better teachers teach there the students do better. Sounds pretty cyclical to me, and all because parents cared enough to teach their children respect.

Thanks parents!

Ed U. Cayshun