What do I have in common with a breakdancing gorilla?

Did you hear that? That was me breathing a huge sigh of relief.

I finally finished four huge papers for my Master’s Degree. I’ll have a few weeks off and then I’ll be back to the grind of writing papers again.

In the meantime, I may or may not have celebrated like this exuberant gorilla. I’ll wait while you watch:

That looks like so much FUN. I want to get right in there with him. Don’t tell me animals don’t have emotions. Look at that joy!

Speaking of fun, I’ve been making myself indulge in some. My husband has figured out how to get the pool water the perfect temperature and I have had wonderful evening swims with the grandchildren and even by myself. Swimming is my favorite.

July 4, 2017 with the grandchildren and granddog! That’s Mr. Himself in his robe. Hee hee.

In other news, my next book launches next week! Stay tuned for some giveaways and spread the word! If you can come to the launch parties, I’d love to see you! Here’s the info:

Official launch day is July 25! 

The twins are so excited. I am trying not to be nervous. But as Mr. Himself said, “You’ve worked hard your whole life for this moment. Enjoy it.”

Okay. Breathe. Breathe.

Until next time: dance like a gorilla! Splash  in a pool! Get out there while you can, kick up your heels and have some FUN!

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Karla Teaches

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As you may or may not know, I’m nearing the end of my journey toward my degree in Special Education! If I make it through student teaching I’ll graduate in December. Yay!

If you’d like to follow my adventures, you can do so here at KarlaTeaches.com 

If you have ever been a student teacher and have tips for me, I welcome them!

I could also use your prayers for stamina. I sold my book on autism right before student teaching started and edits are due very soon. All I need is a clone, right? Anyone know where there’s a good deal on one?

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My philosophy of education

I’m at that point in my degree program where I have to submit a philosophy of education to my portfolio. I thought I’d share it with you here and I’m eager to hear your thoughts!

Karla Akins
Western Governors University
Bachelor of Arts Special Education K-12 and Elementary K-6 Licensure Track

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I come from a long line of educators. My father was a high school teacher and my ancestors built one of the first school houses in Pennsylvania, where it still stands in Halifax. My formal experience in teaching began when I was a twelve-year-old teacher’s aide in a preschool classroom. “Busy Bees” had a loving, nurturing teacher named Mrs. Reed. By watching her I learned kindness, and what it felt like to see a child go from “not knowing” to “knowing.”

busy_bee-399x411I also formed my philosophy from the good and bad teachers I had as a child. My bad teachers taught me the importance of compassion. My good teachers taught me to look for the reasons behind a child’s behavior. I was fidgety in school, and until my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Strecker, discovered that boredom was the reason for my disruptiveness, I was often in trouble. Instead of punishing or embarrassing me, she kept me meaningfully engaged.

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Because I’m the parent of three children on the autism spectrum who struggled with academics, I’m a firm believer in searching for an open window into a child’s understanding. I enjoy the challenge of discovering the key that unlocks concepts for students. I’m also drawn to children with difficult behavior. I believe that behavior is communication, and I relish in decoding what challenging students are trying to say.

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I believe that lessons in the classroom should be meaningful and engaging for all students. If they aren’t, it’s a recipe for undesirable conduct. I have a tongue-in-cheek motto: “You can’t teach a moving target.” Most young people have a fascination with something that will keep them engaged. Using that fascination, I believe, is the key to keeping their attention and motivating them to participate with success.

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Regardless of ability, all students have gifts inside them that I, as a teacher, am responsible for unwrapping. A good teacher will focus on abilities and gifts of a student to enhance and strengthen weak areas. This goes hand in hand with using a child’s fascinations and obsessions to motivate them to learn. When children experience success, they gain the courage and esteem to try new things and practice skills they are weak in.

thegiftedMy passion as a teacher is to be an enthusiastic encourager. By focusing on strengths, cheering students on through positive reinforcement, I’m able to build trusting relationships with my students, who then develop the confidence to navigate their academic careers. In this way students reach their full potential.

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While firmness is important, I also realize that a teacher’s patient attention and presence in a student’s life may be the only soft place in the world for that child to fall. Teachers now, more than ever, need to realize they are a hero in the life of their students, and may be the only hope some kids have for feeling as if they matter.

For a child who lives with hazards in their neighborhood, or perhaps, poverty, teaching a child what they can do to change their world is a powerful way for the student to accept responsibility and appreciate the power they possess as an individual. Every community has its own challenges and culture. Therefore, I believe, teaching methods should change based upon the needs of the child, their families and their culture.

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I’m a teacher who believes in teaching to the individual needs of the child. I respect my students as fellow learners and hope to motivate them to find answers for themselves. By teaching in a way that piques a child’s interest to the point they beg for answers, I have accomplished the main goal of my philosophy, which is, to guide students toward success not only in school, but in life.

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My secret life

secretI have a secret.

It’s not a very well-kept one, but I rarely talk about it because it’s a little embarrassing. Then again, it’s not.

Ready? Here it is: I’m a grandmother and a full-time college student. I’ve gone into debt to become a certified Special Education teacher in Indiana.

wgu-indiana_257x244I attend classes online at Western Governors University. I love my school. I’m proud to be a Night Owl. And I’m thrilled to live in a time that allows me to attend a college that lets me learn how I learn best: at my own pace, in my own way, during the middle of the night when I have the time to study and from the comfort of my home or wherever else I may be.

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I’m not the type of student who enjoys sitting in class listening to lectures. Let me read the material and digest it myself. I get bored listening to someone regurgitate what’s already there in black and white. Attending online classes is sheer joy.

Except for math. I definitely need hand-holding when it comes to higher math. But WGU gives students all the tools we need to succeed and I’m proud to report I’ve passed all my maths!

A personal faculty member is assigned to each student and mentors us the entire time we work toward our degrees. Additionally, each course has its own course mentor to help with the course material. Every professor is a phone call or email away.

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Why go to school so late in my life? I have seven granddaughters. I want to set an example. Plus, as a pastor’s family, we have no retirement because my husband’s churches have been small rural congregations with small budgets. Grandma’s gotta bring home the bacon for her old age! I’m going to be old whether I’m going to school or not, so why not fulfill a life-long dream?

I also want to have a more credible platform when writing books. I hope to write more books such as the one that will be released in April 2015: Autism: Practical Help and Spiritual Hope for Parents.

Right now in my classes I’m getting ready for field placement experience. I’ve already done 30 hours at community college, and I hope to negotiate a way to get credited for those. If not, it’ll still be fun to do them again. I love being with the students in the classroom.

wgu-gofurther-logo-png_1ekignctt4rrg1w9wq6ewg7l7mThis week I’m having fun substitute teaching in a special education classroom at the elementary school. The fact is, I love the classroom as much as I love writing. There’s room in my heart and life for both.

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Yes, I do have degrees from seminary (Doctorate in Christian Ed), but to be a certified teacher in Indiana, I needed to take more classes. I’m not sure when I’ll graduate, but I’m determined to finish. My ultimate dream is to get higher degrees. But as with book writing, the future and what I will accomplish is all in God’s Hands and in His Time.

Who knows? Maybe the rapture will come before finals!

Now that’s a graduation ceremony I don’t want to miss!

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The case of the disappearing fingerprints

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There’s nowhere to hide.

Unless, maybe, you don’t have fingerprints.

Years back I wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo where one of the characters had to scan her hand to access her office. I was rather proud of my cutting-edge technological knowledge back then. In those days, such a premise was nothing more than science fiction.

It ain’t no more.

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As I work toward my degree in Special Education, I have to go through an extensive background check to student teach. Part of this background check (required by my college, not the school–I already substitute teach with a basic background check), is to be fingerprinted.

image-2I was already feeling a little bit disappointed I was going to do this because I prided myself in living off the grid as far as my fingerprint identity goes. (Not that I could truly live off the grid. Google my name and there I am in all my glory.) I expected to go to the police station and do the ink fingerprint routine. I was worried about it ruining my manicure.

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I needn’t have worried. They no longer do ink fingerprinting for background checks in the United States. Now they use biometric scanning technology. The future is now.

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I was greeted by a very kind, older gentleman who looked a bit like a character from a sci-fi spaceship movie. He gently placed my hand on the scanner and manipulated it to get the right position and scan. We soon learned that I’m one of the difficult ones.

I’m missing fingerprints on my little finger and ring finger.

!!!

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Not my hand but this person has no fingerprints.

Turns out, not having fingerprints is actually a genetic condition called Adermatoglyphia.

But that’s not what I have because my other three fingers and my thumb have prints. Apparently, through years of playing the piano and typing, I’ve worn my fingerprints off on those two fingers! I thought it was piano playing but my husband reminded me that on my computer keyboard I wear the letters off where those two fingers on each hand land: q,w,a,s and o,p,l, and ;.

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If my fingerprints are rejected, I’ll have to go in and scan them again to prove that my fingerprints don’t scan. Then, I’ll have to submit paperwork to prove I exist as my name. (I don’t know why they don’t do this in the first place.)

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There are other reasons and occupations that causes our fingerprints to disappear. Aging causes us to lose fingerprints. Apparently it’s difficult for older people to use biometric identification technology because their skin is thinner and the ridges on the fingers not as pronounced.

Guess that means it’s official. I’m old.

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The elderly have a difficult time passing biometric screenings for visas and passports. India is having a difficult time identifying its residents with the now-required biometric scanning technology.

I was glad to learn I wasn’t alone. However, it’s now a major headache to get approved for much without your fingerprints. I’m sure they’ll eventually just scan our eyes or faces but it may take awhile to develop a database. Although, with facebook tagging, it may be closer than we think. (Each time I post a pic of my granddaughter, facebook thinks it’s her mother.) In regard to scanning our eyes, if someone has had cataracts removed, iris scanning doesn’t work, either.

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Bricklayers and massage therapists often wear off their fingerprints. It’s not a unique thing. Another problem I had with the scanner is that I have exceptionally small hands. It’s something I inherited from my grandmother and I’m rather proud of it. I should have much larger hands for someone my size. I wear a size 4.5 ring. It makes it difficult to buy costume rings, but it’s worth it.

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So when the guy did my fingerprints and had to roll my fingers for the second part of the scan, they weren’t read very well. I’m still waiting to hear if my fingerprints were rejected. The finger printer said they most likely would be.

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I have to drive 45 minutes to get to where they scan my fingerprints. It’s going to be a hassle to re-do them only to have them rejected again. Finger(prints) crossed the good prints will be enough to identify whether or not I’m a crook. In the meantime, I’m working on getting an original birth certificate sent to the powers-that-be to prove I’m a good egg.

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Here’s a good website to learn more about losing your fingerprints: Can You Lose Your Fingerprints? – Scientific American.

And here’s a video from Fox News:

Have you ever been fingerprinted for a passport or visa? For any other reason? How did it go?

What do you think is the next thing in biometric technology?

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Tweet this: Are your fingerprints missing? How do you know?

Erica’s Edition: Time Management Woes

Erica Graphman

College intern, Erica Graphman

Today’s post is brought to you by my busy college intern, Erica Graphman.

Do you ever have those days where you have so much on your plate that you don’t know where to start and you end up not doing anything? I’ve been finding myself with this problem more and more this year. Everyone repeatedly tells me I need to work on my time management skills, but I’ve always thought I was pretty good at it. Well, at least better at it than my peers.­

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The funny thing is, I get told I need to manage my time better in multiple situations. With lots of homework, I know that I need to start working on big things in advance, especially if I have multiple large projects and papers due around the same time. If I don’t work quickly enough, I’ll get slammed with a lot to do in the space of one night. At work, I get my work done too quickly and don’t have anything to do, so my supervisor tells me I need to work more slowly.

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My parents know that I have all my classes, I’m working with Karla, putting together a magazine for the school, and I have a job on campus during the week. They tell me that I have to space everything out so I don’t end up neglecting one of my responsibilities or doing poor work. Friends, on the other hand, tell me when I need to stop working and go out on a late night snack run, or tell me I need to watch a certain show or movie with them. It gets confusing.

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It seems like everyone has their own opinions about how I should space my time out or how quickly I should get my work done. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to shift gears and work at a slower pace. Other times, it’s just agonizing working slowly when I think about how much I have to do. And either way, it’s exhausting working at quick pace every night, rushing to get homework done, papers written, and books read. It might sound bad, but I really hope that the “real world” isn’t like this or I’ll end up tired all the time!

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Erica’s Edition: Homesick College Student

With almost three years of college under my belt, I never thought I’d say I’m homesick. Last weekend was Little Sibs Weekend at Manchester, and even though my brother is older than the age they allow sibs to come he still came to stay for Friday and Saturday.  My mom dropped him off to me on Friday afternoon and she brought me some awesome giraffe cups (my favorite animal!) from their spring break trip to Minnesota. The plan was for my dad to pick him up Saturday evening.

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What I didn’t expect, though, was to get a call from my grandma saying she would be in the area, visiting my cousin at Grace. I made arrangements with her for my brother and me to go out with them for ice cream on their way back home. What I didn’t realize was two of cousins and my uncle were with my grandparents. So it turned out I unexpectedly got to spend time with both my parents, my brother, my grandparents, my uncle, and my cousins last weekend.

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I never thought I’d say I’m homesick, but after I got to spend a really short time with a lot of my family I really was homesick after they all left. I was pretty down all Saturday night, especially after hearing that my dad and brother were going to see Captain America because I love going to see movies with them. I started thinking about all the things I’m missing out on, and that made me even more homesick. Only the season 4 premiere of Game of Thrones Sunday night was able to get me out of my slump.

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I’m pretty excited to be going home next weekend for Easter, but I have a feeling that leaving again is going to be sad. I think the thought of only having one year of school left is making me nostalgic and nervous for the unknown. But for right now, I’m having a great time at Manchester. I’m surrounded by friends I love and I love my classes and professors. Although I miss home, I love my life at Manchester and I love learning.

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Erica’s Edition: Spring Break Musings

Erica Graphman

Today’s post is brought to you by my hard-working intern, Erica Graphman. Take it away, Erica!

Ahh spring break! The time away from school and work to refresh and prepare for the end of the year. Or not. While some of my friends are down in Tennessee and Florida are having fun, I am stuck (for lack of a better word) at home.

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I always imagine having time to relax and spend time with my family when I picture the long month and a half of school leading up to spring. Don’t get me wrong—I have spent lots of time with my family this break. In fact, that’s part of the problem with spring break this year! I’ve been so busy I haven’t really had time to complete any of the MOUNDS of work I have due the first two days after spring break is over.

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I went to an early screening of Divergent with my mom and brother because my mom won tickets (she’s insanely lucky at winning things like that) and I saw The Monument’s Men with my dad. Divergent was amazing, by the way! My little brother, who, might I add, never reads, came out of the movie saying he wants to read all three books.

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I thought that with everyone out of the house during the day, I would have plenty of quiet time by myself to work on the essays and reading and journals that I really really have to catch up on and finish. Somehow I neglected to remember that being home by myself means that I have to make my own lunch. Everyone else seemed to remember that though, and I got invited to lunch every day of the week. This lead to being gone during the day, and not having much time to do work in the evenings.

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I’m not sure how satisfied I am with the result of this spring break. I’ve spent a lot of time with my family and I’ve had a week of no work and no homework. As much as I’ve loved being home and not really having anything to do, I’m finding that I’m overly anxious to get back because I know how much homework I have to get done on Sunday. I find it odd saying I wish we did not have spring break and we just got out of school a week early. I think that might be illegal for students to say. Spring break has been great, but is it worth the extra stress the week classes start again will generate?

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