Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nosy Rosy and the Other Side of the Story

As I'd suspected, I found out this morning that there were a few details H left out of her McDooDoo Head story the other day. I called the regular teacher - Mrs. S - and began by asking her if she knew what had happened, and it turns out things were much more complicated than H led me to believe. Here's how it all went down:

McDooDoo was home doing research on animals and stumbled onto some sort of "inappropriate" content on the National Geographic website (the teacher wasn't specific, but I'm guessing the boy saw some tribal nudity or something similar). The next day at school, he decided to write about said content in his journal, then shares it with Boy Buddy #1.

Obviously intrigued by the whispers of "inappropriate" content, H decides to squeeze herself a bit closer to the boys, clearly hopings to hear something juicy. Achieving eavesdropping victory, H joins a few other kids, who promptly ask what the boys were discussing. Well, who is H not to fill them in?!

When McDooDoo hears H telling the others about his online adventures, he feels (rightly so) like his privacy has been violated (and my guess is that he was a bit embarrassed), and he writes in his journal: "H is a troublemaker. H is a gossip spreader. I don't like H." What does he do next??? What everyone does with a journal, right? Whip it out at school, of course! He's shares it with Boy Buddy #1. Not to be left out, Boy Buddy #2 comes along to read the journal, but isn't allowed access. Instead, Boy Buddy #1 simply summarizes the journal's contents, and Boy Buddy #2 never actually sees the journal.

For God only knows what reason, Boy Buddy #2 decides to make things interesting. He takes out a piece of paper and copies down the comments Boy Buddy #1 described, and then he adds some extra stuff just for kicks (i.e. "H is gay. H is a loser. H sucks."). He folds the paper, takes it to H, and simply says: "Here. This is from McDooDoo Head." And there you have it folks....the rest of the story. H is traumatized by what she sees on the page and is convinced that this is all McDooDoo Head's doing.

It also turns out that, after hearing about what had happened, the student teacher DID INDEED have a talk with McDooDoo later in the afternoon. H just wasn't there to see it, and the student teacher didn't make any effort to let H know that the situation had been dealt with (albeit in a lame way).

So, when H went to school today and told her Mrs. S, "My mom will be calling you today," Mrs. S. was a bit surprised and asked H to explain. After hearing H's side, Mrs. S also talked with all parties involved, pieced together the events, and explained to each child what he/she had done to make the problem worse. McDooDoo Head and Boy Buddy #2 both apologized to H, who also got a lesson on keeping her nose in her own business.

A 30-minute phone call and much relief later, all was right with the world again. The lesson of the day for all parents: Make sure to get all the information before deciding on a course of action. I'm so thankful I hadn't yet called McDooDoo's parents :) In fact, he's no longer McDooDoo....he's now Journal Boy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Reason to Celebrate

Well deserving of a post of its own is.....On Friday H brought home the very first 6-Week Report Card that reflects her academic performance after being on her meds. The results:

3 A's
2 89's

These are the first A's she's received in the entire school year! And most of these grades are the highest she's gotten yet in 3rd grade! To see the look of confidence and pride on her face Friday was worth the world. I was truly bursting with pride at her accomplishment; I knew she could do it!

Mean Girls & Boys; Or, 3rd Grade Survival Skills

So, I have a dilemma. A few days ago, I picked H up from school and we headed off to run some errands, a chore to which she protested vehemently. After some mild back-talk and attitude (mainly b/c she wanted to spend some of her birthday money on junk, and I wouldn't let her), I responded with a general "Well, we don't always get what we want"-sort of thing. Her growling response:

"Uggghhh..That's the second horrible thing some one's said to me today."

Interested, I asked her to tell me what the first horrible thing was. She then explains that a boy in her class, I'll call him McDooDoo Head because it kinda fits with his name, "called me a loser and told everyone I sucked!" As she's uttering the words, she breaks down in tears, and I can see the complete hurt and humiliation in her face. My heart broke in that instant. I knew that all of her attitude was really just about the Things McDooDoo Head Said in class. Evidently, the boy said these things to her and then shared them with the rest of the class. H was convinced that everyone would believe him, and that she would be left the laughing stock of the room.

Most parents will understand that my first gut reaction is to find McDooDoo Head and, as my mom would say, "Wear his little ass out!" As I'm generally a non-violent person, however, and I'd probably go to jail, this is not a viable option. The real issue is that H told the student teacher what happened and nothing happened! The girl (I say this b/c she's literally just a senior in college) simply seemed to ignore H's appeal to authority for help. This pisses me off just as much as what McDooDoo Head said! Isn't that what teachers are there for??

The dilemma, then, is this: Do I try to teach H (which I have to some extent already) that sometimes people say mean things, and there's nothing we can do about it? And/or, do I call the school to find out why the Inadequate Moron of a Student-Teacher did nothing to help my daughter? I guess I really already know the answer; I'm mainly wondering what others might do. I'm also contemplating calling the boy's parents, because I happen to know the boy somewhat, and his parents are actually decent people. He's usually well-behaved and keeps his boyish antics contained to the "boy circle" of his friends. But, part of me really feels like H should have some way to respond herself - beyond ignoring the situation - because I've been that girl. I was that girl in junior high and high school, and I got bullied to the point that I was terrified to go to school a few times. My mother did nothing, and I felt so helpless and unprotected by her, the school, the few "friends" I thought I had. I don't want H to ever feel that way, or any other child for that matter. I'm just sick of hearing about mean boys and girls - at all ages - getting away with tormenting other people, and if this type of behavior isn't addressed in 3rd grade, then it just gets worse through the years.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tenure Answers....Keep them Coming!

In response to my last post on tenure, two commenters had very solid, specific, and helpful comments, answers, and experiences to share. So, if you share any or part of my inquiry, make sure to read the comment thread. In a similar vein, such responses are exactly what I was hoping to get from the post, so please do share your own tenure answers and experiences if you have them. I still feel like there are more details, nuances, and occasional deviances to learn about.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What is Tenure, Really?

It just dawned on me that, if asked to define tenure, I wouldn't really be able to do so. I know it means job once you've got tenure, you can't really be fired. But really, you can, right? I mean, what the hell is that actual working definition and understanding of tenure within the academic community? And, shouldn't this be something graduate programs discuss fairly early with graduate students, or at the least, when they go on the market? Also, what's required to gain tenure? I know there's a wide range of requirements, which usually depend on the field, the particular institution, and the specific guidelines for an individual department. But, what's the range look like? What set of requirements corresponds to a medium-sized English Department in a medium-sized Masters Degree-granting institution? And at what point do graduate students learn the categorization system, which would seem to be important in determining the jobs for which one applies?

Just asking, because I haven't seen any of this information in any brochure thus far in my career.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hopping Across the Pond

Great news! Remember that Great Conference Across the Pond that I mentioned? Yes, well I just found out this morning that my paper proposal has been accepted!! I'm going to England for the first time, and part of the cost is covered by a departmental travel grant, while I also have some funds to use from a fellowship I received in December...and there's still another funding opportunity available this Spring, which would pretty much make the trip FREE! This is some of the best news I've had in weeks, so I think hubby and I will take the girls to dinner tonight to celebrate. I'm off to practice the British accent....'Ello govnah! (just kidding...I'm no Britney Spears).

More fears about the market process...

11. & 12. I've heard from many people, and it makes complete sense, that one should "research" an institution before applying for a position, and definitely before making a campus visit. My fear is two-fold: First, I'm afraid I won't be able to tell the difference between an institution's "brochure" truth and an institution's reality. Second, I'm afraid I won't know how to explore/investigate discrepancies between the two during an interview (whether at MLA or on campus).

I should qualify this fear with the confession that I'm fairly gullible. I'm not stupid, and I'm not entirely lacking in common sense. However, I tend to *want* to believe the best about people, places, things, etc. I'm not suspicious by nature; instead, I go into most job or career-related situations sort of inherently believing "This is good. This is what I want. These people would never tell a lie or be unethical." I know, of course, this isn't always true, but how/when do you know - really know - when to ask the hard questions, what the hard questions are, and how to ask them?