Day 80: Monday, the moon, and Olivia’s glasses….

Readicide by Kelly Gallagher

Monday to start the week, that is normal but not the normal I have grown accustomed to since summer began. Monday was just another day, like any other day, nothing special, nothing different. However, this Monday marked the beginning of a new week and the impending return to school, and work.

I woke early to find Ivy, as usual, waiting and I started the coffee. I had resumed the Chicago Tribune and now I had a newspaper to add to the routine. It was going to be great day and the weather would be, too. The heat and humidity disappeared Sunday for a few days. We slept with the house open and just before I woke, I needed to cover up with something more than just the sheet. This is the best sleeping weather, with more to come. There will be nights when I do not want to uncover, yet that kind of weather is far off, and unthinkable.

I had association meetings today and a lunch with the district’s new teachers to attend. It is always exciting to see new teachers coming into the profession. For some it is their first job and for others they are returning to teaching after having children or changing districts. They are excited and full of energy. As a group, they have more meetings ahead of them and they will join the veteran teachers on Thursday, when we return. It is also time to for me connect with my colleagues and talk about our summers and our plans for the year. Unfortunately, the president of the association’s father passed away and our meeting was rescheduled for the following week. I can understand where she is and how she feels. Her father was 89 and had been married to her mother for over 60 years. He had been diagnosed with cancer within the past month, and he went quickly. My prayers are with her and her family.

Afterwards, I disappeared to a quiet place and worked. There is a great deal of thinking, planning, and quiet work getting ready for school. I had started, but I needed to spend time getting mentally prepared. I knew if I went home I would not get much done, I have too many distractions – many of my own making.

When I arrived home, the kids were playing in the yard, riding their bicycles, and Ivy was outside enjoying the wonderful afternoon. Beth had a hair appointment in the evening and I knew I would have the kids and I planned to ride our bikes to the pool. It took a bit of gathering but we finally got everything we needed: towels, goggles, suits on, and on our bikes. I did not plan on swimming, but had my suit and towel, just in case.

The ride to the pool was quick and we there before we knew it. We are not far from the pool maybe a couple of miles and there are sidewalks all the way. Once inside, the kids were in the pool and having fun. I pulled out Readicide and read. The book made sense. Today’s students do not read as we (or my generation) did when we were kids. I remember reading by flashlight sometimes, or reading in place of doing homework. I was hooked on reading usually football or World War II, but sometimes novels. Nevertheless, I was always reading, something. The author’s focus was because our education system is so results oriented that we are testing every student from third or fourth grade every years with standardized tests, that teachers are being forced to teach to the test. I can speak from personal experience, trying to get some of my students to read is not easy. They struggle and because they struggle, they avoid it, and because they avoid it, they never grow and develop as readers. Additionally, he feels (and I do, too) that students lack the background knowledge to read and understand many books which results in them not liking the books and in turn not liking reading. I have to admit that my time to read is limited or self-limited as I choose other activities such as writing for one. However, I do enjoy reading, when I can. I have read many books aloud to William and Olivia; I especially remember reading the Little House series to William at bedtime years ago. My favorite in the series is Farmer Boy. I do remember having to stop and explain parts of the story and give background knowledge to help him understand the story. I finally finished the book and I reflected on what I learned about teaching reading from it as well as my exposure to Jon Scieszka’s books. You can look back at Day 75: This means one week to go… for more information. Teaching reading is not easy; I have learned to be a good reader from experience and just plain reading. I am learning to write in much the similar fashion. But, teaching reading requires patience and a great deal modeling how I think and react to the text for my students. Some will understand and begin thinking about their thinking as they read and other students will need to take more time and learn the hard way.

The kids swam like fish. Olivia is a regular dolphin and William enjoys the water, too. Her injury is still healing and she wanted to jump off the high dive. I just had to say, no. She pleaded and repeated. ‘No.’ she obeyed but did not like it one bit as William jumped off over and over. But, she found a couple of friends and played. At eight, the pool closed and we packed up to go home. We were on our way when I remember something and asked Olivia where her classes were and she replied – ‘I gave them to you!’  I searched through the bag and did not find them. We returned to the pool to search and ask the pool staff. Still, no glasses. So, we gave our name, number, and left, hoping they would turn up. By this time, it was dark and light from streetlights lit our way home. It was a pretty night with a ‘New Moon’ in the sky, but not enough moonlight to guide our way. The entire way home, I thought about the glasses – where were they? And how could I lose them? They had to be somewhere.

We parked our bikes and went inside. I got the kids dinner – grilled chicken, vegetables, and cheese. I looked through my backpack and hung up the wet towels. I was about to put away my bicycle helmet when I discovered Olivia’s glasses inside my helmet. At the pool, she had taken her glasses off, put them in my helmet, and then ran off to go swimming. At the end of the night, I put the helmet on – along with the glasses – and rode home. I never thought to look or check there. I guess I should have used my head! Oooooh, that was bad.

And that is how Monday was done. The kids had a great time at the pool, I finished reading a book and I learned something. Two more days remain one to work at school to unpack boxes and organize and another for a family day in Chicago. Then school begins for me. A few days later, school will begin for William, Olivia, and many other kids across Illinois and the United States. Summer is ending and our days have counted, especially this one. Making the days Count, one day at a time.

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