The bad guys.

October is showing off this season and so are my tomatoes. Who knew they’d keep coming and coming? Last year I had buckets of green ones but this year they’re doing me a favor and turning red. It’s great, I just don’t have time to process them.
While I was out picking (weatherman is threatening me with frost) I gathered the last of my purple piñata peppers. They’re looking extra spooky right now. I really am super tickled with our pepper situation. This year we toyed with the idea of taking veggies to a farmers’ market. Maybe next year?

Today we visited the nursing home and played and sang a few songs. Something about the unintentional acoustics of the dining room? Makes us sound extra awesome.

I’m trying to meet and get to know the workers and residents there before I show up with some kids from school. The plan is to take students who are well-behaved on a special little singing trip once a month. Now, if I could just get these kids to sing?! It’s incredible how hard it is to talk many of them into singing (and dancing!)—one of the more pleasurable things to do in life, I think, but somehow our culture has told them it is embarrassing and best left to professionals. I blame it all on the internet.

Tyler Swick and Mr. Henry are saving my tailbone in music class. They create lots of fun YouTube things that let me plan plenty of spin-off material with my older students. We watch the video, learn a rhythm, play along. Then the next time I see them we translate the song to paper on a grand staff. I frantically explain meter, time signature, treble vs. bass, all the notes, etc. and watch as the interest wanes. I hate that half of the battle is engagement. I’m telling you, it’s like many of these kiddos have a sand timer ticking in their brain and all of the sand drains out after two minutes. Another teacher said it—I feel like I have to be a monkey and sing and dance to get their attention. They want to be entertained. I mean, of course they do! This is what they’ve been taught is normal.
It’s sad. I’ve said it before on The Average Pearl—the reason public school fails, if it fails, is because parents failed first. It makes me feel sick. Sick for them, sick for the future. That cell phone/tablet/screen pacifier is a beast to wean them off—and it turns out the weaning job has been handed off to innocent teachers. Talk about in loco parentis.

The other thing I am noticing, 8 weeks in, is the faux-attitude of parents supporting teachers. Lots of parents do genuinely care. But some are just waiting for a kid to come home, drop some miscommunication or half-truth, and light a verbal bomb. When I asked another teacher what to do in such a situation, she sighed and said, “these days, there’s really nothing you can do. Parents don’t want to hear it. It’s always our fault, never the child’s. It doesn’t do any good to tell the parents their child is causing problems—no one believes us anymore. We’re the bad guys.”

I find this pretty accurate. Parent-teacher conferences are coming up and I’m ready to bring in the big dogs—Panera and Starbucks gift cards, cookies, you name it. It was a rough enough week last week that I bought a banana split on my way home to share with Joe. It did make things better.

I feel like we really nailed the red-yellow ratio for the perfect pumpkin color.

Anyway, I don’t know where I’m going with this, just taking notes for the time being. If I were to split a book into sections, this section would be called Great Expectations. I’m trying to set the students up for success, but it is really up to them.
I’m thinking maybe I should open a seasonal bakery on the farm and say to heck with the rest of the world.

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