Sunday, March 29, 2009

Swan Dive

I've had blogging on my mind for a while now. It's a rainy Sunday afternoon and I'm moving in super slow-mo (thanks to my late night watching March Madness on DVR delay). I've got plenty on my to-do list, so I didn't actually need to add "set up new blog" to my already unmanageable docket. I guess I just got to the point where my thoughts, musings and metacognition piled up enough inside my head that it all needed a place to go. So, here before you is some of the spilloff!

A bit of background on me: I am a Reading Specialist, working currently with committed teenage males in a secure treatment facililty in Massachusetts. Yep, jail. Lockup. Juvie. The clink. It's my first go at teaching reading; prior to this I've worn other hats: health teacher, zit zapper (I worked in the skin care field for a bit), soccer/basketball/softball coach, educational publishing grunt, seasonal fishmonger...would you believe licensed nail technician? (story for another post). I've pushed piles of paper and been closed into countless cubicles. I figured out a while back, though, that teaching is where it's at for me (forgive the improperly placed preposition). Kids are as real as real gets. Lots of teachers say the same thing about this profession. And "real" is part of the reason why I had chosen to teach Health. What could be more relevant? I'd thought. But when Health teaching jobs started to wane post-big tobacco settlements, I knew I needed to find another field. And reading was it.

Think about it. You can't be literate without having health. And you can't have health without being literate. It was a perfectly sensible move. And now I see very clearly, day in and day out, how important health is to literacy, and vice versa. I've been made aware how a dearth of health and literacy is affecting kids, families, communities, regions. My students have had tough lives. They've managed to survive some very challenging circumstances. But they've also made some big mistakes. They have been committed to the state's system for secure treatment. ("Committed" means that the kids have been charged, tried and sentenced, as opposed to "detained," which refers to kids who have simply been charged and are awaiting trial.) Committed is a word that has always meant to me something having to do with determination...a solid work ethic...a promise. My students are committed. Alright then. So am I.

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