Sunday, October 27, 2013


            “Would you like a refreshing beverage, or tasty snack?”

            I looked up waiting for the joke.  Instead I saw Leroy, our 64 year old Science teacher, holding a basket of Halloween candy bars and small pretzel snacks.  He was dead serious.

            “Uh . . . I guess I’ll take something to drink.

            He gestured towards a small refrigerator behind him.  “I have Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or Diet Coke.  Which would you like?”

            My mouth was hanging open a little bit.  I kept glancing around at the other teachers sitting at the table.  No one seemed the least bit fazed at Leroy’s behavior.  I said slowly, “Diet Coke would be good.”

            Leroy set the basket down and walked over to the fridge.  He returned with a Coke Zero.

            “I hope you find it refreshing,” he said setting the can in from of me.

            Everyone around me was busy opening up their laptops and searching through their planners getting ready for the grade level meeting.  Leroy continued around the table offering “tasty” snacks and “refreshing” beverages to everyone. 

            We were having our monthly grade level meeting in Leroy’s Science classroom.  We rotated rooms each month, and it was Leroy’s turn.  I didn’t have any students in Leroy’s classes, so this was my first time in his classroom.

            While Leroy played flight attendant to the teachers seated at the table, I looked around at his classroom.  Science posters covered almost all the walls, but an announcement on his whiteboard caught my attention.  “Authorized items for today:  textbook, spiral, pencil.”  As I logged in to my laptop, Leroy sat down in the chair next to me.

            “Authorized items?” I asked smiling at him and tilting my head towards his board.

            “Yes,” he replied solemnly.  “Students are always trying to play with unauthorized items during class.  They get a ticket if they have any unauthorized items out during classtime.”

            “Oh.” Clever idea. “What does a ticket get them?”
            Leroy looked at me, surprised.  “A ticket is very bad.  You don’t want to get a ticket in my class.”

            I’m a slow learner, so I continued, “Yeah, but what happens when kids get a bunch of tickets?”

            Leroy was looking at me now like I was an odd bug that had crawled on to his desk.

            “No one has ever gotten more than one ticket in my classroom,” he said firmly.  He looked around at the other teachers and primly announced, “Let’s begin our meeting.”

            I popped open my Coke Zero and took a swig. 

          Ahhh.  Refreshing!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Parent Teacher Conferences

“Who do I talk to about having my daughter tested for a Learning Disability?”

            I looked up as a beautifully dressed woman sat down at my table.  A Michael Kors handbag was slung over her shoulder.  She looked like a walking jewelry store as she held out her hand.  On her wrist was an oversize Michael Kors watch.

“Hello," she said.  "Casandra’s math teacher, Mrs. Jenkins, said I should talk to you about Learning Disabilities.”

            My mind tumbled as I reached out and shook her decorated hand.  Casandra Talbot was on my caseload, and I had a scheduled conference with her mother today.

            “Uh, Casandra has been tested for a Learning Disability,” I carefully replied.

            Mrs. Talbot glanced around, leaned towards me, and whispered, “I think she has a math disability.” Her eyes widened. “It’s called decalculated.”

            “Dyscalculia,” I said helpfully.

            “Yes.  The math disability.  I think Casandra has it.”

            I slowly nodded my head.  “Casandra has an IEP.”

            Mrs. Talbot leaned in even closer.  “I think she has a Learning Disability too.”

            Now I leaned in and pulled in a long breath through my nose.  No alcohol.

            I slowly replied, “Mrs. Talbot, Casandra has been tested for a Learning Disability.  She has a disability in math, and she receives special education help in her math class.”

            Mrs. Talbot straightened back up and furrowed her brow. “If she can’t do math,” she tilted her head forward and raised her eyebrows, “Should she be taking a math class at all? That just doesn’t seem right.”


            I leaned back in my chair and frowned.  I squinted my eyes, tilted my head, and stared up left concentrating.  The solution circled, then landed.

“No,” I said firmly.  “Casandra probably shouldn’t take math.”
            Mrs. Talbot began nodding and smiled.  “So we can have her drop Mrs. Jenkins’ Algebra class?”
            I stared back counting to five.  “Sure.  I’ll send the registrar an email tonight.”
            Mrs. Talbot stood and smiled.  She held out her bejeweled hand.  “Thank you so much. These conferences are really helpful.”
            Yes they are!
            (I made up the last part.)