Since I graduated from Memorial University in 2005 I have been receiving the annual Monday eMemo from one of my professors. Each winter he has a weekly newsletter that he emails out during the semester that most students are doing their internships (student-teaching). It allows those new teachers who are learning the profession to share their experiences and get some advice from the professor. This year he has asked for stories and experiences from former students who are now off teaching. I decided to be the first teacher to reply back. This is what I had submitted to tell my story and give my advice, as printed in the Monday eMemo from January 20, 2014:
On another note of challenges, I am in the process of trying to get all of my thoughts together for a new unit of Science 9. I am co-teaching a unit on space and the universe. So far it is coming together nicely, but there is still so much work to be done though. Unlike the grade 8 class last semester, the grade 9’s need a little more guidance to keep focused and on task, so we need to design the inquiry project in such a way that the kids do the work, but they find only the specific information we want them to. Several of these students are easily frustrate, so we need to break it down into manageable chunks. Herein lays the problem. There are a lot of chunks. But, it will be a creative masterpiece once I am finished putting it all together.
Also, just as soon as I get a chance and can keep my eyes open, I will be posting all of my inquiry units online at www.scottoosterom.ca. I really just have not had the time or alertness levels to get that done. Hopefully this will happen soon.
Still more challenges, James is not doing so well. Physically he is fine, but his brain is failing him it seems. There is some serious memory loss, in particular recent memory. I’ve done some research, and since the doctor tells me that the issue is in his right frontal lobe (top, front-ish on the right hand side above and behind the eye for those who don’t know); this means that there’s a lot of key features not working correctly, all of which are affecting his personality.
Right now, talking to him is in some ways like talking to a zombie; you get some answers, but not very well structured. This lobe is responsible for longer-term memory, not including tasks (or remembering how to do things). His immediate memory seems okay-ish but longer term is not working correctly. He Nan and I have been drilling him with questions to poke around at his memory. I don’t know how much good it is doing. Sometimes it is hard to tell if he actually remembers something or if it is a lucky guess.
Also, the prefrontal cortex (right above the right eye) is responsible for cravings, desire and willpower. Since last week James has not had a smoke (yay!) but his total lack of craving is most likely linked to insufficient activity in the prefrontal cortex. Even though I did tell him last weekend before we went into the hospital “no more smokes from here on in” I did expect him to ask for one as soon as we got out a week later. No sir! Been home since Saturday night, and he says he doesn’t even have an interest in a smoke, and I have been asking just to make sure, because I am actually quite shocked. Now, this is not to say he won’t be smoking next month, because who knows, but could something good have come from the seizures? Perhaps… perhaps…
In any event, I made a phone call to the epilepsy specialist yesterday, and much to my surprise the hospital paged me directly to him and not to a voicemail system. (Nice!) I told him about all the memory issues and personality changes that were not evident on Saturday when we left the hospital. He says they should clear up, but it might be weeks or months, or in some cases not all. Well I hope the smoking thing does not come back, but the rest would be good. Anyway, everything the doctor says points nearly to the exactly location in his brain that is affected by the seizures. He said we should be getting a phone call by Friday or Monday about the possibility of surgery; he is having the conference on Thursday with the other two specialists. He’s asked me to keep track of James’ memory situation and contact him if it gets worse, otherwise he will get another update when he contacts me.
I just cannot get over the system here. I spent over a year trying to get things situated in Newfoundland to get this very procedure done – to find the root cause of, and hopefully treat, the seizures. I just phones St. John’s and cancelled his EEG observation appointment because he will not need it in July. Everything here is going smoothly, and the ball is rolling. Plus we have access to a family physician who insists on regular visits so that he can be in the loop and aware of everything that is going on, and the specialist who cares enough about his patients to take personal calls in the middle of the shift to answer questions. I realize the family doctor cannot do much for the epilepsy as such, but I think it is important that all doctors involved in the patient’s care regiment should be aware of everything. It could be just me, but I think that’s who the medical system should work.
Anyways, I have rambled on enough now for one night. Good night.