Nurture

There’s No Such Thing as a Slow Student

Slow Students I have a student that our school almost didn’t accept. You see, we don’t have a special education program because we’re a small, private school. This young man had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) from his previous school, but his parents really wanted him to experience life as just another kid. When I first met Fred*, I wondered if maybe we hadn’t taken on a task that we didn’t have the qualifications to accomplish. Some would call Fred…

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Why it’s Important to Encourage the Weak

Weak at Mile 11 I didn’t feel weak until about mile 11. At that point, I had run as far as my training had taken me last Sunday. The February drizzle and stiff wind had me feeling chilled. Although I only had 2.1 miles left to run, it looked like we’d have to run a long ways still to reach the Cardinal’s stadium. For the past two hours I had been running in my third half-marathon—only this time, I signed…

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Ten Tips for Turning Reluctant Readers into Voracious Readers

What Makes a Reader Reluctant? You might wonder what chasing the FedEx truck has to do with reluctant readers and how the two events relate (and who wants their kid chasing delivery trucks, anyway?). Let me explain. I teach at a private school where 95% of the students are ‘reluctant readers’—mostly because about 95% of them have never owned their own book nor do they have access to a public library. Reading happens at school. From textbooks. When I survey my…

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The Pre-Trip Inspection Keeps Me Safe in More Ways Than One

The Dread Pre-Trip Inspection I didn’t want to do it. Never in my life had I thought, ‘Hey, I want to drive a bus!’ Yet last week I spent hours and hours studying for my Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Six months ago I passed the written portion of the test to get my learner’s permit. The next day I took one look at the pre-trip inspection section of the manual and stopped studying. Our school has a maintenance guy who…

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Finding Grace at the Northernmost Border

From Chicken to Dawson City Driving away from Chicken, I paused on the hillside across the creek and used my binoculars to look down at Tisha’s schoolhouse. I could barely see the roof of the building—but at least I could claim that I had ‘seen’ it now. My postcard would have to suffice for a photo, though. The Milepost showed that I would need to travel 108 miles to reach Dawson City, Yukon Territory. My route would take me over…

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Refined by the Library

Nursing a Grudge From the moment I learned to love books, I have had a love-hate relationship with the library. Before I could read, I loved the library because it held a treasure-trove of books with pictures. I could pull them off the shelves and invent the stories in my head. Sure, I knew that someone else had created words that directed the story of the pictures, but I didn’t care. The pictures contained all I needed to create my…

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How to Avoid Jargon and Save Sheep

Sheep in Distress The children lined the steps at the front of the church, eager to hear the guest tell the children’s story. She spoke with a beautiful accent, but I groaned inwardly when I realized her topic. She told a story about a small boat in distress during a violent storm near the coast, and about the man who heard the SOS on his ham radio. “When the man called the Coast Guard to tell them about the SOS…

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The Problem With Being a Middle Child

How Do YOU Define ‘Middle?’ In a family with four kids, I consider the second and third children to be ‘middle’ children. I don’t know if birth-order gurus would agree or not, but in my mind, how else could it work? So that makes me a middle child. It also makes me super-competitive. The problem with the super-competitive-middle-child syndrome is that as I grew older it turned into the super-comparative syndrome. The act of comparison always leaves someone feeling little…

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There is no ‘Game’ in my Hunger

Wordless During that no man’s land week between Christmas and New Year I suddenly realized that I had not chosen a word for the year. All of my friends had posted and tweeted about their word, and I started to experience word envy. I first heard about the concept almost three years ago, and for 2015 I chose the word ‘deeper.’ Other than writing a few blog posts about the word, and thinking about it at random times, I can’t say…

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Choose to Connect With Compassion and Grace

How We Connect These Days Moments ago, Pedro finished eating his second serving of Eggplant Tagine with Mint and Cilantro over a serving of buttery couscous. I made supper using a Moroccan cooking dish that our Chinese daughter gave us for Christmas. Pedro set down his fork and said, “It’s time to chillax. Shall we watch another episode of Poldark?” I glanced at my watch. “I think it’s time for my Twitter party,” I said. “Can we watch it when…

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