rivka: (sex ed)
I got a workshop approved for SUUSI this year!

Here's what will be listed in the catalog:
The Birds and the Bees WThF 2-4pm
Talking to your children about sexuality is awkward, but not talking to them about it is probably worse. This practical workshop will address what to say and when, and in how much detail. We’ll address developmental stages, discuss individual situations, and practice with role plays. For all child ages.

Rebecca Wald works in HIV research, teaches middle school OWL, and faces awkward questions from her own kids every day.


And here's the detailed description I gave the Program folks:

Workshop Outline: This workshop will include brief lecture components, guided discussion, and the opportunity to practice skills using role play.

The workshop will begin with a discussion of participants’ past experiences with sexuality education and the messages they received about sexuality from their parents. We will discuss the values we wish to pass on to our children regarding sexuality. Participants will be encouraged to share their past experiences discussing sexuality with their children and answering children’s questions.

At the first session, we’ll identify a set of topics and issues that participants particularly hope to cover during the workshop. This workshop is intended to cover all child ages, so examples may range from what names a preschooler should use for genitals to how to discuss contraception with a teenager. Other topics may include (but are not limited to) sexual abuse prevention, masturbation, puberty, dating, sexual orientation, gender identity, abstinence, and pregnancy. Ideally there will be a broad range of child ages represented among participants’ families, but if not, the workshop will be targeted more precisely at the appropriate age range based on this initial assessment.

The majority of the workshop will consist of brief lectures about children’s sexual and emotional development at different ages, followed by a discussion of common situations which may arise at that age and topics parents may wish to address with their children. Particular efforts will be made to address all the issues and topics of interest which were identified at the first session. Participants will have the opportunity to submit anonymous dilemmas for group discussion and workshop leader advice. Participants will also have the opportunity to submit anonymous questions about sexuality for the workshop leader to answer. Participants will be given the opportunity to practice sexuality discussions in parent-“child” role plays.


I am excited! I think this has the potential to be very cool. I need a minimum of ten sign-ups for the workshop to be considered viable, so it still may not happen. But here's hoping.
rivka: (chalice)
Today was the first rehearsal for this year's Christmas pageant. We're doing The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which was originally a book by Barbara Robinson. The story is about a family of horrible awful juvenile delinquent kids who muscle in on a church Christmas pageant, take over all the roles, and wind up Teaching Everyone A Lesson About Christmas. Yeah, I know. But it's going to be fun. The kids are really excited.

This year we're going with simplicity. Most of the exposition comes from a narrator, a teenage boy who will be reading from the script. A teenage girl plays the mother who gets roped into directing the pageant, and she also has a fair number of lines. The younger kids (who play the rest of the roles) have just a manageable few lines each.

The thing that's really ideal about this story, at least from my standpoint as the director, is that the play-within-a-play aspect means that I don't have to worry about the little kids learning where to go and what to do. If they need to be herded around the stage by adults or they wander off or whisper to each other? It'll just pass as realism. And I do have reasonably sharp kids in the key child roles.

Against my better judgment, I gave Alex a speaking part. She really, really, really wanted to be Gladys Herdman, the youngest delinquent kid, who winds up with the part of the Angel of the Lord in the pageant. She has one line, which she delivers at two different points: "Hey! Unto you a child is born!" Hopefully she will manage it all right. I painted a vivid verbal picture of how she'll have to deliver her line in a church full of people she doesn't know, and she insisted that she could. Cross your fingers for us.

Also, as if that weren't enough, I am gearing up to teach OWL again. OWL is the UU comprehensive sex education curriculum. It's a 27-session course aimed at grades 7-9, or about ages 12-14, and covering everything from the mechanics of the reproductive system to equal rights for GLBT people to dating and relationships to what people do when they have sex. It's intense, and fun, and draining, and awesome.

Neither of my two previous co-teachers are repeating. Instead I'll be teaching with my friend Laura and with Michael. Michael! Will be teaching OWL! Which means that we are going to need childcare for OWL every week, unfortunately. But Michael was the only likely male volunteer, and you can't have OWL with only female teachers. And Michael will be great.

We have parent orientation this coming week (twice - once Tuesday evening, and once Saturday morning) and then we start with the kids on January 5. Whew.
rivka: (RE)
Another fun RE class today. This time I benefited considerably from the capable hands and calm demeanor of [livejournal.com profile] lynsaurus as my assistant teacher. Our lesson this week was called "Differences Are Important." Read more... )

I only have one more turn as lead teacher and two turns as assistant teacher, and then I'll be done with teaching for the year. That's kind of an odd feeling. I really love teaching, and I like my kids very much, but I have to admit that even before the Niblet is born I'll probably be too big and lumbering to be a good RE teacher. Alas.
rivka: (RE)
RE was a family affair today. I taught, Alex was in the class as usual, and Michael was my classroom assistant. His first time teaching Sunday School, and he picked an incredibly chaotic day to do it. All went more-or-less well, though. Read more... )
rivka: (RE)
I was the lead teacher for preschool Religious Education again today. Today's theme: "I Can Help." It went great. Read more... )
rivka: (RE)
My RE teaching career has gone like this: preschool stories-and-crafts, ZOMG middle-school sex ed, preschool stories-and-crafts. Not sure if next year will be a ZOMG middle-school sex ed year or not, but let me just say that I find this pattern a bit... odd. Mindbending. At least it encourages mental flexibility.

When I taught preschool two years ago, our curriculum revolved around the natural world and cultivating a sense of wonder. This year our theme is home and family, including an appreciation for our church home and a sense that we belong to the human family. Once again we are using lessons cobbled together from three different curricula: Celebrating Me and My World, We Are Many, We Are One, and a modified version of a new curriculum for older kids called Creating Home.

Alex is in my class this year, and oh boy, is she proud of being a "Sunday Schooler" instead of a nursery kid. Every day last week she woke up and asked if it was a Sunday School day. It is especially exciting for her to have me be one of her teachers - I'm having to gently prepare her for the fact that I won't be teaching every week. Instead, I'm the lead teacher two weeks out of every four, and occasionally I also fill in as the assistant teacher. (For reasons of safety and practicality, all RE classes are team-taught.)

I was the lead teacher this week. )
rivka: (Rosie the riveter)
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion about disability and sexuality, and how I could present those issues to my OWL class.

I went with [livejournal.com profile] echosupernova's suggestion and came up with several short readings to replace the long, creepy one. We'll have a different kid read each quote, and then we'll have some general discussion and the Values Voting to complete the disability half of the evening's entertainment.

The readings I found are below the cut, in case anyone's interested. I gleaned these from various sources online, editing them down from longer essays. I wouldn't normally devote this much time to readings in an OWL session, but I think it's important to have diverse examples.Read more... )
rivka: (her majesty)
Not posted to the OWL filter.

I know I have some very smart, very clued-in people with disabilities on my Friends List. I'm pleading with you to help me fix the one messed-up session in OWL, the grades 7-9 sex ed class I'm teaching. Feel free to point other friends here, if you think they may have helpful comments.

Here's the problem... )

Here's where I need your help:

1. I need readings. Anyone got anything they love? I knew I'd lent out my copy of With the Power of Each Breath years ago and never gotten it back, but I foolishly assumed that our library would have it. Nope.

2. I have three "Values Voting" statements. Please critique them, fix the wording, and suggest any better, or additional, ideas:

a) Mentally retarded people shouldn't have sexual contact, because they're not really able to give consent.
b) It's fine for disabled people to have children, even if the disability might be inherited.
c) Being in a relationship with someone who is seriously disabled would just be too hard. (Possible alternate wording: "It takes someone really special to be willing to have a relationship with a disabled person.")

I want to make this a good, engaging, educational experience for the kids. But I'm a little nervous about, um, how far inside I am on this issue. It makes it hard to know exactly what's going to be appropriate and helpful.

So... help?
rivka: (books)
New books I read in October: Norman, Holt, Kerney, Baker, Wrede & Stevermer, Monette )

Total for October: 6.
Total for the year: 70.

I'm also continuing, albeit slowly, my plan to read all of Madeleine L'Engle's prose works in order of publication. Camilla )

New books I failed to read in October: Westerfeld )
rivka: (sex ed)
I met with our Director of Religious Education and my OWL co-teacher on Sunday to plan out the course. We're getting a late start, unfortunately, because we won't go away for training until the weekend of October 19-21. Then we need to hold a parent orientation, to explain exactly what we'll be putting their children through. That leaves us with the choice of starting the course right before the holidays and then having a big gap, or waiting until January. We chose January.

In order to get a 27-session class to fit into the spring semester, we're planning to do two overnights at the church. Intellectually, I think it's a great idea. Most kids love overnights, and middle schoolers don't get to go along to the weekend-long cons that are the mainstay of the teen program, YRUU. So overnights will help make OWL attractive and special for the kids. They'll also give a big boost to group bonding and cohesion. (We're planning an overnight as our second class activity.) We'll do three 90-minute class sessions (one on Friday night and two on Saturday) and leave the rest of the time for games and fun stuff. So that's all good.

On the other hand: we'll be spending nearly 24 hours locked in the church with a bunch of 12-14 year olds, who will almost certainly want to stay up all night and get into as much trouble as possible. Why don't they just kill me now and spare me the hassle of organizing the course sessions?

The other thing we did at our meeting was look at the infamous OWL Slide Set. The slides are kept under lock and key, cannot be duplicated, and may never leave the church. They're sold only to churches with certified OWL leaders, never to secular organizations. Parents are required to view them before the class begins and sign a statement attesting to that fact. And, um, wow. For good reason. text below includes sexually explicit terms )
rivka: (books)
New books in September:

Wells, L'Engle, Hensperger & Kaufman, Brooks Tomblin, Tatham, Rupp )

Total for September: 8
Total for the year: 64

Madeleine L'Engle reading project:
I decided that I would mark L'Engle's death by reading all of her prose works in order. She meant so much to me, as a geeky, out-of-place child and teenager. I'm going to make notes about the books here - I'll just put re-reads in a separate section. The Small Rain, And Both Were Young. )
rivka: (books)
Do I still have to give a spoiler warning for Deathly Hallows? There are spoilers below the cut. Also below the cut: an extensive discussion of the Our Whole Lives sex education curriculum, for those who are interested.

Westlake, Wilson, Heyer, Faber & Mazlish, Walton, Rowling, Barnhouse )

Total for July: 9
Total for the year: 50

That works out neatly - without intending to, I reached the 50-book mark precisely at the end of a month. I do intend to keep posting about books which are new to me; perhaps I ought to change the tag to "the increasingly misnamed 50 book challenge."
rivka: (books)
Books I read in June, excluding re-readings: Doctorow, Philbrick, Holt, Westlake, Heyer )

Total for June: 6
Total for the year: 41
rivka: (books)
I've lost the piece of paper with my April and May books on it, so alas, this is a reconstruction. I need to come up with some fool- and scatterbrain-proof method of recording what I read for the 50-book challenge, or I'll never make it to December.

At any rate: New books I think I read in April: Moore, Klass & Klass, Baker, Ishiguro, Quart. )
Total for April: 5, unless I've forgotten something.
Total for the year: 31.
rivka: (RE)
It turns out that yesterday was Teacher Appreciation Sunday. I had no idea - it's possible that I was informed, but forgot. I settled Alex in the nursery and then walked into the sanctuary just moments before the RE Director announced that she was going to call the teachers up, class by class.

I sort of remember last year's Teacher Appreciation, which happened after the previous, quarter-time RE director had quit and the RE committee had imploded, all at the same time. It was completely half-assed; they had the kids sitting up at the front of the church and led them in a sing-song chorus of "Thank you, Miss Soandso" as each teacher came up to get a certificate or something. I doubt that many of the teachers felt particularly appreciated.

This year was very different. As each of us came up to the chancel, one of the kids handed us a surprisingly attractive tissue-paper-and-pipe-cleaner flower that the older kids had made. Becky, our RE director, gave us a little book she had made, and the president of the congregation gave us an extremely snazzy Certificate of Appreciation from the Board of Trustees. We stayed up there until all of the teachers had been called, and then the congregation gave us a hearty round of applause.

The books that Becky made... oh my gosh. They were little 4x6" photo albums. The cover said "Thank you, Rebecca, for teaching our preschool class!" and was "signed" with the names of the ten kids who were the core of our class. Inside were photos of most of the kids, a couple of pictures that I'd taken of our group with our "class tree," and - this was the coolest - shrunk-down versions of some of the artwork we made this year. I guess she either reduced them on a color copier, or scanned them, shrunk them down, and printed them. And she had to have snuck into our classroom during the week, borrowed the artwork and the class tree photos, and then put them back exactly where they were. Interspersed with the class-specific pictures were pictures she'd taken of the Tiffany stained glass windows in the sanctuary, with quotes about education superimposed on them.

This book was the most gorgeous thing. I cried. I saw teachers crying all around me. It's something I'll want to keep for always. And you bet I feel completely appreciated, and recognized, and honored as a teacher. If I had been on the fence about signing up for another year? This would totally have sold me.

Becky is an amazing person. I hope we can keep her at our church forever.

OWL.

May. 31st, 2007 03:38 pm
rivka: (RE)
I mentioned a little while ago that I might teach Our Whole Lives, the UU sex ed curriculum, next year. Since then, I've done a lot of reading about the program, spoken to the RE director, checked in with my sister Debbie, who taught junior high Sunday School for six years, and decided to sign on.

Our RE director helped me examine my fears about teaching the program. I realized that a lot of what was holding me back was (okay, and this sounds ridiculous) my memories of being an awkward and socially rejected misfit of a junior high school student. When I tried to imagine teaching a class of 7th-9th graders, I imagined them judging and rejecting me the way that my childhood classmates did. She told me that there are hardly any adults who voluntarily interact with junior high kids (parents and teachers have to), and so the kids wind up with an enormous appreciation for the adults who do. Geekiness doesn't seem to matter all that much.

She also told me that, although kids are often reluctant to start OWL, the ones who get past the first class or two universally love it. And "for some kids it's a life-transforming experience." She really sold me on how great it would be to be part of that.

Only after I agreed did I discover that I'll have to go away for an intensive training weekend. I knew there would be training, but I thought it would be, like, a couple of six-hour workshops. Nope. The sample schedules I've seen pretty much involve nothing but solid training from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, plus a few hours for eating and sleeping. So poor Michael and Alex will be looking at a solo weekend, sometime this summer.

But whoa, the more I look at this curriculum, the better it looks. It really does look like it has the potential to be life-transforming. Take a look at the OWL values and issue positions. They almost make me want to cry.

My sex education as a kid was dry, factual - medically comprehensive but emotionally lacking. I was lucky to escape most of the false information and moral condemnation that so many other kids got (and still get today), although my mother was pretty direct about her personal disapproval of premarital sex. It wasn't bad sex ed, comparatively. But it was a far cry from stuff like, "Healthy sexual relationships are consensual, nonexploitative, mutually pleasurable, safe, developmentally appropriate, based on mutual expectations and caring, and respectful." Or "We are called to enrich our lives by expressing sexuality in ways that enhance human wholeness and fulfillment and express love, commitment, delight, and pleasure."

It's going to be such an honor to teach this course.
rivka: (RE)
Yesterday, all the Religious Education teachers got an e-mail outlining the curricula for next year and asking if we'd be willing to teach again. I discovered that the preschoolers will be combined with the kindergarteners next year, meaning that all of my current kids will be staying in the class. (This is a good thing. We have a great class.) And they'll be doing the "Chalice Children" curriculum, a preschool-level introduction to the symbols, people, and rituals of Unitarian-Universalism. That sounds fun to teach, and it would make an interesting change from our nature-oriented curriculum of this year.

I replied to the e-mail saying that I would be delighted to teach preschool again, and added as an afterthought that I would also be willing to teach OWL if she had trouble recruiting teachers for it. OWL stands for "Our Whole Lives;" it's the UU (and United Church of Christ) sex education curriculum. Our kids take it in middle school.

This morning I got a call from the RE director, letting me know that she wasn't going to be at church this morning. And then she said, "When I saw that you might be willing to teach OWL, I almost had a heart attack. Because you would be so good at it."

"It's pretty different from what I'm doing now," I said.

"Yeah. We should set up a time to talk about it, and see what you want to do."

So. Looks like RE is probably going to be a very, very different experience next year... unless she gets an influx of fantastic volunteers who want to teach OWL. Hm. I'm gonna need a new RE icon.
rivka: (RE)
I was lead teacher for Religious Education again this morning, for the last time this year. The RE year ends June 10; June 3, which would ordinarily be my week, is an intergenerational service, and then June 10 all three of us will jointly lead some kind of end-of-year celebration.

This week was another tree-themed lesson. Read more... )
rivka: (RE)
We had ridiculously beautiful weather today, following a long streak of cold, dismal, rainy days, so only five kids showed up for Religious Education. Our theme today: flowers and seeds. Read more... )
rivka: (alex has a hat!)
It's so fascinating to watch early skills and bits of knowledge come together into a framework that will, some distant day, become reading. I don't have any memories of that process, and I don't think Michael does either - so we're really seeing it for the first time in Alex.

Okay, re-reading this, it sounds pretty braggy to me. So if you find that sort of thing annoying, you probably don't want to click through. )

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