Mr. Kremin assigns 10th grade autobiography

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A treasured note I received from Mr. Kremin.

Tenth grade meant taking a religion class with Mr. Kremin. I remember him standing at attention in front of the crucifix (in the way only a former member of the military can) to lead us in prayer at the start of class. He faced forward with his back to us; his reverence was an example for the rest of us.

Kremin’s class was amazing because he gave us one of our first tests of being treated as adults. When you walked in the room, you were met with an air of respect. You had to decide how to respond to it. It was the first time that respect in the classroom really seemed palpable: You walk in and you matter. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s one of those intangible things that really resonated with me.

He was a natural teacher and storyteller. What he shared was captivating, maybe because it seemed to be more than going through a lesson. He wanted to communicate more than just the material but to truly reach you, to challenge preconceived notions.

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Conversation hijackers and other communication problems

So, previously on the blog I’ve described some of the internal struggle with communication, the spinning Rolodex in search of information, in search of something worthwhile to share.

But there are other external factors that impact communication.

Perhaps I’m over-analyzing a particular encounter I had in high school. Perhaps I’m remembering it wrong. It’s entirely possible. I honestly don’t think those details are the thing to focus on, though, because the feeling I had afterward are what have stayed with me for so long.

I was in the school cafeteria, waiting for the morning bell to ring so that I could go to my locker and get ready for class. And I was talking to another girl. She was describing a concert she had been to over the weekend.

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Around the world in 15 minutes: The importance of goal setting

In second grade we were learning our multiplication tables. I believe we covered 0 x 0 through 12 x 12. But we weren’t simply learning these answers. Our teacher wanted it to become second nature, so you could see the combination and instantly rattle off the answer. Yes, it has tremendous real-life applications, but for students with learning disabilities, it’s a bit more difficult.

We had these quick tests where we had to solve 20 to 30 problems within a minute. Well it wasn’t simply testing your knowledge of the material but how quickly you could recall it. If your brain has trouble relaying information in time, quick recall isn’t going to be a strong suit. Those tests were more anxiety-inducing for me than demonstrating academic mastery.

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Two-Face living and after-school meltdowns

Looking back, I am so amazed at my level of awareness to surroundings. I knew being in public meant needing to put forth as much effort to be “good.” I distinctly remember being on my best behavior with relatives visiting, trying to smile and be happy. Once they left, my attitude changed almost instantly. I didn’t understand why it was so difficult to just stay happy.

It’s also why in high school I termed this phenomenon “being two-faced.” I was pleasant, trying to be as easy-going as possible at school and then all the emotions and irritations were let loose at home.

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