To borrow from “Annie” – today was that moment when I felt like I was scrubbing the floor in triumph, only to find my efforts had been undone. Let me explain (and by the way, we are not off on an adventure this week, that is coming up next week).
Getting the van ready for our upcoming trip out West, we wanted to get the black grime off the roof and return it to the bright white that it should be. And looking down on it in the driveway is a daily reminder of just how grimy it has become. So up on the roof of the van I went, bucket and brushes in hand. Naturally, I didn’t want to slip on down to the driveway, so the scrubbing was done on hands and knees. Got it all scrubbed clean by lunch and left it to dry. After lunch, Jackie helped as we repeated much of the hands and knees work to apply a UV protectant to the newly clean roof.
Ok, looks great and should make it through the 6 week trip out West just fine. Except that Mother Nature had other plans. Round about 3 o’clock an intense thunderstorm rumbled through the neighborhood – no kidding, this one had very high winds, rain, hail and explosive lightning and thunder. As you can see, the result is that the very clean roof is covered in branches, pine cones, pinestraw and leaves. Arghh. Well, I guess I know what I am doing tomorrow. Sometimes it is, briefly, a hard knock life.
Afternoon “Relax, Refresh and Rejuvenate”
We stopped by our former middle school this afternoon to meet up with many of our colleagues and friends. They have a nice tradition (thanks to Jen, their Teacher of the Year) of getting together on Thursdays after school to wind down and catch up with each other. It was nice to hear that the school is doing well with new administrators, some new faculty and a whole new crop of 6th graders. Great job, teachers!
I mentioned that I had just read about a recent research study that had implications and some possible explanations for some of the student behaviors and performance issues many of us had witnessed while teaching. You see, sometimes you just scratch your head and wonder why it is so difficult to conduct class, convey a concept or motivate students to jump into the topic and learn all they can. You say things like “it must be something in the water” or “does everyone have ADHD?” or “this lesson always worked in the past.”
The six-year study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison indicated that growing up in severe poverty affects how children’s brains develop. Educators often hear that poverty affects student achievement, and we respond that we can’t fix poverty or be held responsible for any resulting lack of achievement. That is important to note these days, since teachers are evaluated on student achievement and may soon have their paychecks dependent on that achievement. But how does poverty affect student achievement? This study suggests that poverty affects parts of the brain that controls attention, self-control, planning, inhibition, emotions and complex learning. Those parts of the brain were 8 to 10 percent smaller for children of poverty.
Wow. That is a solid explanation for the exact behaviors teachers find vexing and frustrating – all leading to lower achievement. The study estimated that 20% in score gaps could be explained by the slower brain development. Clearly, poverty does have an impact.
Hey, we are off to Myrtle Beach next week, so look for some beach pictures to be posted.