My Confession…..Of Being Theoretically Disabled

Hi Friends,

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged
you up.  I’ve been having trouble finding inspiration for my
dulcimer news, views, and reviews lately.
So,
today, I thought I would do what I usually do whenever I’m feelin’
blue….and that is to learn…and/or share a thing or two with you.
 Although, lately, I’m not even sure where I might want to look to
learn something new.  
This dulcimer
dilemma reminded me that a while back (2005) I also felt like this.
 I had just resigned from the Shelby County, Tennessee, public
school system in the spring of that year, after five years of teaching
second and third graders….which was QUITE an educational experience
for me…..as, I assure you, I learned a LOT in that particular
teaching environment.  
During my fourth
or fifth year as a teacher in the public school system, I developed my
own way of sharing whatever my students were learning and producing.
 I was excited by all the technology available for use in my 21st
century classroom, and I loved the excitement of the students when they
used computers.  However, I was frustrated that computers in
elementary schools were mainly being utilized for educational games,
skill & drill assessment and such, or for drawing programs.  I
wanted a more exciting, useful/authentic way to integrate technology
and the required curriculum in a regular education classroom.  I
began publishing student stories and artwork on a teacher blog that was
not associated with the school’s website.  My brother, Damon
Linkous of Tailored Web Design,
set up for me a classroom teacher blog I called The BillyGoatBlog.com.
 My teacher’s blog provided an easy way to share class
news…similar to sharing club info on this dulcimer blog…and I
taught 2nd graders how they could “blog,” too.  
The
reason I’m writing about my teacher blog here in my dulcimer blog will
make sense as you read up or scroll down to the pertinent part of this
post….I promise….just stay with me…keep reading!
It
was exciting to hear reports from my students regarding how their
families enjoyed interacting with my class via the internet.  I
have lovely memories from that, my first, blogging experience.
Three particular stories are coming to mind as I type this entry for my dulcimer club blog. 
One
of my students was the child of a man who had been severely injured in
an automobile accident. The accident had left my student’s father
paralyzed from the neck down, I believe.  To attend school
programs in which his child would be participating, my student’s father
would rely on his family and a hospital-bed-type wheel chair, I was
told at the beginning of the school year.  From time-to-time
during our school year, my student’s father and I corresponded through
email.  I was thankful for that easy communication, as it
benefited my student, her family, and my effect as teacher.  As I
remember this story, I can visualize the beautiful, sweet, bouncy, girl
who enjoyed telling me about reading to her father the stories she and
her classmates wrote at school.  I think that was when I truly
began to realize the significance of technology as a catalyst for
building community where otherwise it would be extremely difficult to
bridge such an intimate educational connection.
During
the last year I taught in the public school system, 10 of my 20
students had what most administrators would label as “special needs.”
 [I believe everyone…including your humble blogger…has special
needs…but that is a different blog entry for me to write another day
with both of my feet planted squarely on a big stomp box.]  One
particular special need that surfaced quickly for four of my students
during the 2004-2005 school year was difficulty learning to read, and
write, and be bilingual…as they had non-English speaking parents
raising them in Shelby County, Tennessee.  As I recall, it was in
January 2005 that a student from Norway arrived at my classroom door.
 He was assigned to my class as a new student transferred to our
school system just after the holidays.  My new student did not
speak out loud for a few days.  He and I communicated as best we
could; and, somehow we built a good, friendly, teacher-student
relationship.  It was difficult for my new student to describe his
earlier life in Norway, but he tried to explain it and the language
differences he was experiencing.  He quickly learned to write
meaningful, fun, spelling word stories which I published on
BillyGoatBlog.  My new, young, Norwegian student learned to reply
to his classmates’ stories by using the comment feature on my blog.
 As a teacher, I wanted to be sure that this student who missed
members of his family that lived so far away could take advantage of
the fantastic sharing opportunity brought on by the availability of the
internet in our classroom.  I imagine my eyes were as big and
happy as his, when he first told me that his faraway grandfather had
enjoyed reading his spelling-word stories from our class blog.  
Wonderful
ol’ fashioned encouragement and parent participation is the reason I’m
remembering another one of my students — a beautiful girl who had not
been labeled up as a “special needs” student but seemed to be unduly
shy and intimidated within our classroom.  She rarely spoke; and,
when she did, she used a whispery voice and made little eye contact
with me.  Once this amazingly, bright and creative child learned
to have fun with her stories, she was full of self-confidence and
excitement and volume!  I think she enjoyed the attention and
assertiveness of using her teacher’s apple-ornamented, wooden, dowel
pointer as she pointed to each word she had written and led her
classmates in shared, oral, readings of her stories, as they were
displayed from the internet and projected upon our class’s overhead
screen.  Her progress was fascinating to me; but, what I remember
most, is her mother’s blog comment to one of her stories.  Her
mother wrote something about her daughter’s wonderful talent and her
belief that the child could surely have a career as a writer
someday….or something like that.  I don’t remember the mom’s
exact words, but I remember how my student’s mother’s words made that
child’s face glow as together we read them online in our classroom.
  
So why have I spent so much of my musical blogging time writing about my former students’ stories?????….I’ll tell ya!  
Although
I truly enjoy sharing my musical adventures and roadtrips and pictures
with the world, I miss the real, smartipants, academic, part of
blogging up….the part where I get to share something that maybe
hasn’t been shared in this way before.  I know, I know, the
internet is WORLDWIDE, and I should not be so arrogant as to think I am
doing anything any more interesting than anyone else…but this is MY
blog entry, and this is interesting to ME….so I’m sharing it with
YOU!  And I appreciate you, whoever and wherever you are…for
staying with me thus far…as I get to the point of this post!
Maybe
you can tell that I have a tad too much time on my hands?
 Well….that hasn’t always been the case.  I’ve been a body
who has stayed busy all my life…just ask Mom…she’ll back me up, I
reckon.  I don’t particularly like busybodies…but I do enjoy
being a body that is busy….Big difference, I’d say!
Since,
lately, I’ve had a bit of boredom…I mean extra time
on my hands,….I
have been sorting through the honks in the LYR (littleyellowroom)
upstairs in my house, and I have uncovered something that actually IS
related to this musical blog that I would love to share with you!!
 
If I were writing this info in story
format, my story would start with, “Once upon a time, I was seeking a
master’s degree from the College of Music at the University of Memphis,
without having previously learned a great deal of music theory….”
 However, I’m not going to write that story just yet, because as
of right now….the story ends with, “and I FAILED!!”  Well, so
far, I have failed….or, to put it gently,….I have not moved forward
much in my attempting to get a graduate degree in music without first
achieving an undergraduate degree in music….Yes, I know….I’ve again
stuck my foot into a place where people might not normally go…by
trying to get a musicology degree without a formal, academic, music
theory background….but in doing so, I enjoyed learning something that
I think you might find interesting, as well.  Also, I think you
will connect with this info, because many dulcimists have done
whatIdone….and learned, during beginner dulcimer workshop days, a
certain song that I chose as the topic of a music history research
project.  Maybe you’ve heard this one…or strummed it…a few
hundred times….whilst figuring out the tab facts and frets of it:
 Go Tell Aunt Rhody…heard it?
What I’m
wanting to share now, finally, is my actual, graded, research
paper…which I admit to having positively procrastinated writing until
it turned out to be….well….overdue…..and staying up all night the
day before it was a week late….to perfect it up to the esteemed “B+”
standard it was so graciously awarded by my professionally pragmatic
professor, Dr. Janet K. Page.  Who,…btw…,I did not realize,
but should have known, was an ACTUAL Doctor of
Philosophy….until….AFTER my sheepish, sleepless, and late delivery
of this to-be-shared-as-soon-as-I-shut-up, procrastinated, paper….AND
who MIGHT have considered awarding at LEAST an “A-,” had I properly
Ph.D.ed her so honored name.
Ready?  Here ya go….enjoy!
Love ya, 
Carla Maxwell

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