Friday, October 30, 2009

Never Throw Your Pearls to the Swines

Their heeeeeeeeeeere! Swine Flu has broken out at my school. There are two confirmed cases in third grade. Sadly, one student is in the hospital on breathing machines tonight.

As of Monday:
  1. The kids are not allowed to use the drinking fountains anymore.
  2. The kids have to wash their hands several times daily.
  3. We have to give hand washing lessons.
  4. The use of bathroom passes at school is prohibited.

Hopefully this can really be contained. Reports from people that I know are that it is very very severe.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ghost Story

I was in the library today when one of the parents was buying books from the librarian with her child. The little girl bought one book that was a Horror book. The mom said, "I'm gonna have to read that before you read it... because I can see ghosts. Ever since I was a little girl, I've had the gift. It's the Native American blood. Whenever I can't see them, I can sense them."

I was kind of standing in the background during this little exchange. The parent was addressing Marion, the librarian. At this point Marion looks at her and says, "Are there any here?"

Of course, this joke was lost on the parent. She said something to the effect that although she hadn't seen any she always checked. She then went on to say she had predicted September 11 in 1981.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Festival

Today was the annual Fall Festival at my school. Every year, teachers and students dress up and eat and play games. A good time is had by all.

A few of the teachers at my school agreed to dress for the theme of "Dysfunctional Beauty Pageant." I was Ms. Conduct, but there was also a Ms. Understood. Ironic, huh?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Thoughts on IEPs, Behavior Plans, and the Modern Approach

When did discipline become antiquated?

Our "problem students"

Over Medicated...

Strategized, Categorized, Analyzed, Catalyzed... To what end?

Oh child, you haven't got a friend.

Why should hard work be ameliorated?

Difficult tasks and words and thoughts


Politicized, Economized, Patronized, Glitterized... All this...for who?

You lost your will to pursue!


Information Intoxicated

Pop-Culture Indoctrinated

ADD and ODD and OCD and ADHD

Victims of DNA?

Does your disorder leave you incarcerated?

Poor choices should be anticipated.

Self-control obliterated!

Millennial Kids We Tried to Protect

We Failed to Correct, Expect, and Affect

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Scary School: A Halloween Edition

It was midnight. The scariest day of the year had begun: It was report card day. The big dark school was empty save one teacher finishing the third grade report cards. The only sound to be heard was the proverbial tapping of Ms. Understood's keyboard.

Ms. Understood slumped over her keyboard and fell into a troubled sleep as she worried over the "F"s she had given. She peeled one tired eye open and noticed a strange light seeping under the door from the dark hallway.

She followed the light until she found it's source. It was coming from room 13, the former time out room. Use of the time out room had been halted years ago due to the popular opinion that it hurt the self-esteem of good little children. With a trembling hand, Ms. Understood opened the door.

The room was empty. No furniture. No people. Nothing, except for one sheet of paper laying in the corner. The paper was face down, but something red seemed to glow within it. She turned it over. The words: "I Know What You Did Last Semester" glared at her in red pen. She was horrified! Everyone knows that writing in red pen damages students!!!

She dropped the paper and turned to run out. Before she could leave the door slammed shut. "You're in time out now, Ms. Understood," said a childlike voice, "You've been a bad teacher."

Ms. Understood tried to scream, but couldn't find the strength. She was never heard from again.

truth: The only facts in this post are that I was doing report cards by myself after dark in the school. It really is scary.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Am Not Paranoid; I Just Know Everyone Is Out to Get Me!!!!

Yesterday, I got this e-vite to my classroom observation from the new principal (maybe I should stop calling him that).

truth:Everyone is being observed before Thanksgiving and everyone is getting e-vites.

2nd truth: My old friend, Principal Sadie, never did an announced observation last year even though she is required to, so I should really feel better about the fact that the new principal is following protocal.

Anyway, I immediately became paranoid. I know Principal Sadie left a big fat file on me. She, of course, did not let me read it, but I can imagine. Actually, I once caught a brief glimpse of it when she slapped it in front of me to show me where she had highlighted all parent complaints given on fifth grade teachers. I was lucky enough to have all the complaints about any fifth grade teachers attributed to me. The surveys didn't say who, but she felt sure they were about me. Anyway, I've always been waiting for the new principal to follow whatever awful advice she gave him. (This advice probably included things like pointing out everything I do wrong or could do better and not giving me an inch because my intolerable insubordinance would kick in.) To the new principal's credit, he has left me alone completely. I couldn't have worked for anyone better this year, because if there is any key to me succeeding this year and continuing in teaching, it is that I need room to figure things out.

All this to say, that I was getting really paranoid. He said he was coming for my Reading block. "Oh no," I thought, "He must know that Reading is my weakest subject to teach. He probably already has a list of problems he wants to observe." I was getting really freaked out. What if he has a surprise file to slap in front of me?

This morning, the other third grade teachers were telling me that at our team meeting I missed on Wed they looked at the scores for district Reading tests and mine were really high. Apparently, the new principal told them he noticed this. Maybe he actually wants to look at what I might be doing right. Lord knows, I could use some attention for good test scores after all the "accountability" I got for low ones.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Am Not Good at Being Home All Day

I've always been like this. I can't stand the thought of missing class. When I was a student, I would try so hard to hide being sick from my mom because I couldn't stand staying home. I still feel that way.

The first thing I did this morning was make a list in my head of all the things I forgot to prepare.
1.) I forgot to change my handwriting lesson, so the sub wouldn't have to start cursive for the first time.
2.) I forgot to warn my sub that I have a student who speaks no English.
3.) I forgot to bring home my gradebook, so I'll be ready to send weekly progress reports tomorrow.

The second thing I did was play the budget game using online banking.
1.) I was crunching numbers to see how much I need to save to pay my upcoming bill. Looks like I will make it without a loan.
2.) I was crunching numbers for all of my upcoming bills. It will be really hard!
3.) I was crunching numbers for how much all this earns me in about a year when I am done. It is not that much, but it will feel that way when I stop paying huge tuition bills and start getting a little bit more.

The third thing I did was to check my e-mail. I want to answer a bunch of e-mails I haven't gotten to, but it seems like bad form as I am out sick...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Do I Have the Flu? Could It Be True?

It always sucks getting up at 5am, but today was different. I could not do it. It took me an hour to respond to my alarm and I was so tired I didn't get to work until 7:10. I always get there between 6 and 7. I thought I would be okay, but my fatigue got so much worse throughout the day. When my kids were at Music, I seriously considered laying down on the floor of my classroom and sleeping.

By lunchtime, my appetite was gone and I was starting to get a terrible headache. I ended up going home by 1pm and leaving sub plans for tomorrow. On the drive home, I was crying like a baby. Don't ask me why, but that always happens when I get really sick. I slept straight through from 2-5pm. I did eat dinner now, and I feel better although still really tired. I think my feeling better might be a result of the large amount of Advil I took. Hopefully, this will be a short term virus and not the Swine Flu or something. The test will be when the Advil wears off...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Hate Psychology

Yesterday, I had the first day of my graduate school course on Educational Psychology. I've already taken Developmental Psychology when I was an undergraduate, so there are really no surprises there. Yet, psychology courses are all the same: they just make you wonder how screwed up you and everyone you know are. The answer? Very.

We were studying Erikson's stages of development. Apparently, I am in the phase of intimacy versus isolation. I am supposed to move out of this phase in about a year and a half because it is supposed to last from 19 years to 25 years. The idea is that this is the time that emotionally healthy people get married.

It begs the question: Is my isolation a symptom of emotional unwellness? Maybe it is.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Staff Development Day! 13 Hours of Professional Development Today

FYI That does include grad school.
Seriously, though, 13 hours of staff development today...
Have you ever seen film that was overdeveloped?!!!!

My party is over. I am in another hard graduate class. I wish it were true that no one told me grad school would be hard. That is not true, of course, but I wish it was...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Top 5 Real Life Moments from Parent Teacher Conferences

I started prepping today for Parent-Teacher Conferences. I haven't had a lot of contact with most of my parents this year because most of my kids are doing well. One thing I know, though, is you never know what you're going to get at parent conferences. Below are some real life quotes and experiences from past Parent-Teacher Conferences. I tell you; they just don't teach you how to deal with these things during college!

5.) Two parents start arguing about the way they are raising their child during conference. Mom looks at me, "you need to tell my husband to back off."
4.) Parent who speaks no English at all shows up alone and does not say one word for the entire 20 minute conference--not one word.
3.) A younger sibling writes with permanent marker all the way down my whiteboard while I am talking to parents and my student.
2.) "I think my child is being controlled by Satan, I really do," says Mom.
1.) "All the little boys want to be in your class and I can see why," says single dad during conferences.

Who knows what is in store during this year's conference extravaganza!!! Ha ha ha ha some of these things still make me laugh. So, awkward: when someone says something like the above comments.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

6 Feet Small?

Now that I have been working with eight-year-olds for a while, my self-concept has been a little inflated. I mean this literally and figuratively.

Reality: I am 5'1" tall (possibly almost 5'2"). I weigh a little over 100 pounds. I am naturally introverted.

Why My Perception Is Skewed: 21 people between 3' 8" and 4'9" follow my every command all day long.

Sometimes I forget that in the real world my presence might not be as overwhelming as I think.

Our new principal is a really tall big guy. He came into my classroom the other day and we talked in the back of the room for a minute. After he left, one of my students said, "You look like an elf next to him."Better to look like an elf, I suppose, than to look like a troll or a gnome or something, but the implication is the same.

I was at lunch with my best friend the other day, and I made the comment that if I was about six inches taller and gained like fifty pounds, then I would be better at what I do. She reminded me that there are lots of things that would make me more intimidating that I shouldn't do. For example, I should not get a large tattoo, change my name to something like Large Marge, or start wearing a lot of Harley Davidson Gear.

My family also seems to believe that I am in constant danger by virtue of the fact that I am single and live with only another small female. They gave me this book called "The Gift of Fear" which is all about believing any fears you have of, well, anything.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Disclaimer: I have all of Jane Austin's novels on my shelf and I have read most of them several times because I genuinely appreciate her works.

Would you think less of me if I admitted that the first book I've bought in several month is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith? I haven't actually read any of this book yet, so I can't yet recommend it. I've been intrigued by the idea of this book, though, ever since my youngest brother told me about it a year ago.

The copy-right ran out on Jane Austin's classics and so Seth Grahame-Smith expanded her novel to also be about a zombie plague.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I've Got to Admit It's Getting...Well You Know.

I remember, once, when I was a little girl I had a terrible flu. It was Easter. I was always sick on Easter (hopefully that is not a bad omen). The day I was better was the best feeling. Suddenly, there was a cool place on my pillow. The sun outside felt amazing!

I would have forgotten the sun and the coolness that day, if the previous day hadn't been tough. Something about healing, though, makes the day better. It made me better too.

I am in a phase of my life right now that is like that beautiful day. It's been the end of a crisis. It's strange but the sun feels better. The stars shine a little brighter. The melody of life sounds right.

You are probably thinking that I sound like I fell in love, and that will do it too, but this isn't about that. I actually haven't met anyone. It's just that I'm on the other side of a crisis now. I think I have had an ennui of the soul since college. I was never sure if I was on the right path. I think I have found my path now in some way that I hadn't before.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

All of This Free Time

Is reminding me how hard it is to save money!!!!

1.) When I am at work all the time, it is easy for me to save every penny.

2.) I need to save every penny because my grad school tuition has gone up, up, up; but my pay is frozen due to the economy.

3.) When I have a week off, I am constantly tempted to spend.

On this page are some examples of things I want to spend money on--but won't... In case you want to spend money on them, they are found at Forever 21.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Keep Tryin

There are moments in life we never forget. Sometimes, as teachers, we witness these moments in the lives of our students and never even know it. Other times, the important moments in the lives of our students leave such an impression that it becomes a moment we never forget either.

A couple of weeks ago one of my students had a moment at school I know she will never forget (and neither will I). Her parents are recentely divorced, and because of the economy her father had to take a job on the other side of the US. For whatever reason, her father decided to say the final goodbye when he dropped her off at school. I found her a couple of minutes later just bawling at the end of the line.

Of course, I was concerned, and I recommended to her mother that she start meeting with the school social worker. I recieved the nicest e-mail from her father about a week ago thanking me for my help. I could hear in the tone of his e-mail how hard it was for him to leave.

Today, I recieved another e-mail from her dad asking that I scan the weekly progress reports and e-mail him. At first, I was annoyed and I thought, "that is way beyond the scope of what I should be asked to do." Then, after thinking about it, I realized that this is a man trying hard to keep every connection with his daughter alive. How could I not do what I can to help?

I grew up far away from my father and he chose not to be involved in my life. Here now, is a dad trying to prevent this situation from becoming his reality in his life and his daughter's life. If keeping him very connected to the school helps, I want to do it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Watching Paint Dry

Disclaimer: I don't think my job is a waste of time. I know that kids are a wothwhile thing to invest time in.

That being said, today left me with some things to think about. It was the first day of Fall Break and I (stupidly) agreed to help my mother paint her house. She's like me in that she likes to frequently change colors and decor and room arrangements. Her bedroom has been at least four different colors in the two and a half years I've been home from college. I really don't mind helping, but painting is kind of hard. At least, it's harder than I thought.

Anyway, my point is that we got a lot done today. We went to Home Depot. We went out to breakfast. We primed the room. We moved furniture. We painted the room. We put furniture back. We went to dinner.

Then, I realized something I like about Fall Break: I get to watch House when it comes on at 7pm!!! I realized also that on a normal Monday I would still be in class.

It just seemed crazy to me that this day and everything in it took up the same amount of time as every Monday. I slept in. I ate leisurely meals. I watched tv. Where do all my hours go on a normal Moday? It just makes me feel like my job is eating up all this time and I never even notice it.

There was one point today when we had finished priming the wall and my mom was picking up some supplies. I wiped down the wall and sat there on the floor staring at the white wall. I don't know how long I sat there, but it felt good.

And that is what I miss the most in my busy life. I miss moments that are still and long in the middle of the day. Maybe that is what people mean when they talk about stopping to smell the roses.

I guess whatever time I have in my day is what I make of it. I just don't usually stop ever on days that I work. Maybe I need to change that.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

In church this morning, we sang the old hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." My mom said something to me that has left me thinking all day long. She said that she loved that song because it was like a mile marker for her life. She could remember singing it from the time she was just a little girl, and it is as true for her today when she is almost fifty as it was then. God has always been there and he has always been faithful.

That song means the same thing to me.

Sometimes it seems like my life is really segmented.

I remember early life with my mom and dad and brother. We lived in Kansas and Texas and God knows where else. I remember cold weather and the newness of everything we all probably identify with early childhood.

I remember middle childhood where my family struggled to make it as a single parent family. I remember desert sun at this time in my life. I remember even then how it felt like a different life.

I remember my teenage years. We lived in a house consistently then. My grandparents were there as much as my mom. We had a lot more money because my grandparents helped support us.

I remember my college years--spent far away from the desert city. I remember snow and independence and excitement for the future. I remember good friends who were like family. I was at a Christian college. I learned a lot about God and maybe more about myself.

Now, here I am in early adulthood. I try to make it as a public school teacher. I work a lot and study and write. It is hard for me now, much more than when I was in college, to see the big picture. I guess you could say I can't see the forest for the trees.

Sometimes all the segments of my life seem really disconnected. When I sing "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," though, I remember the common thread for it all: The Lord is faithful.

In my early childhood, I prayed to someone I didn't know. He heard me. I know that now, and in some way I knew that then.

In my middle childhood, I prayed as some sort of insurance policy. He heard me anyway.

In my teenage years, I really came to see God's faithfulness in my life. I found joy in that.

In my college years, my recognition of God's faithfulness grew as did my relationship with Him.

In young adulthood, I've given a lot of myself to my work--work God led me to. All along, though, He's been faithful in reminding me what matters. I am just starting to see that now. I wouldn't have seen it without the struggles.

My story isn't really fragmented at all. It is what it has always been: the story of God's faithfulness.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Break!!

We're off of school for a week! I think I learned on Friday how different third grade is from fifth grade.

"Aren't you excited for break?!" I asked the kids.

"No," they agreed, "we love school! We'll miss you!"

"Well," I said, "I'll miss you too, but it still might be fun to have a week off."

Then, we had some Brady Bunch moment where they all ran up to hug me. You know something else, I wasn't lying. I think I will miss them this week. They are such a nice group.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Happiest Place on Earth?

Every Thursday, I have playground duty. We are supposed to be out there by 7:15 to let the kids onto the playgrounds and to watch them until school begins at 7:45. There is a gate where the kids wait for the teachers on duty. Every morning they line up there well before 7:15. When they see us come out of the building they get an excited crowd noise. Today, I actually heard them rattling the gate. "You'd think they were waiting in line at Disney Land" I said to one of the other teachers on duty.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm Sorry

I wanted to write about something else, but I can't think of anything right now but the teacher I mentioned in my post about feeling guilty. All I feel comfortable saying about that situation is that things are getting worse for her and she's crying all the time. Kindness would go a long way.

I love teachers. It takes a lot out of you. It takes courage and persistence. I really look up to my colleagues--the ones at my school and in other places. I think everyone has bad days in teaching, though. I wish we would all remember that when someone has a hard time. We're on the same team.

What if, as colleagues, we made the extra effort to encourage when we were tempted to gossip? What if, as colleagues, we made the extra effort to empathize instead of brag?

I know, I know... I am talking about teachers--not saints. I just hate, hate, hate, hate seeing someone get torn apart in teaching. I have said it before and I'll say it again: It is a hard enough job; let's support each other!!!

I'm sorry, Ms. SpecialEd, that as a whole people haven't been kinder to you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quote Board

My students were reading a story set in Japan. They previewed the text by looking at the pictures. One picture depicted a Japanese family eating dinner.
"What do you predict will be the central problem in the story?" I asked.
"They don't have a table!" declared one of the kids in my class.

One of the spelling words was batch.
One of the kids in my class mispelled the word by replacing the "a" with an "i".
You fill in the blanks there...

I found this note on my desk.
Our Class is Red
Violets Are Blue
Your Smile is Yellow
I Love You!
Maybe I should lay off the coffee...

One of my colleagues accidentally cc'ed the following e-mail to the principal.
Dear Teacher Friend,
The new principal sent me an observation date on this day. I know I will be out of town. Should I tell him?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Let's Play: Woo Hoo or Boo Hoo!

My electronic pencil sharpener finally came!!!!! Woo Hoo!
I dropped it when I over zealously opened the package during silent reading. Boo Hoo...
It still works! Woo Hoo!

My new kid slapped a little girl in my class on the butt. Boo Hoo...
The new principal didn't make me call parents. Woo Hoo!

I completed my latest graduate course!!!! Woo Hoo!
I have seven more to go. Boo Hoo...

I was soooo tired by 7pm; I could barely stay awake for House. Boo Hoo...
Four more days until we have a week off for Fall Break! WOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Idea Update: Pencil Plan 2009

Idea (See original post here):
  1. Write student names on pencils
  2. Keep pencils in table pencil boxes
  3. Put individual sharpeners in each box
  4. Have a classroom job of pencil sharpeners

Success Rating: Three Out of Five Stars


  1. No one has said, "He jacked mines" in regard to a pencil
  2. No problems with kids not having pencils or sharpened pencils this year


  1. I still don't have an electric pencil sharpener in my room (apparently, the one I ordered is still on back order), and it is very hard to have the kids sharpen pencils when I have to use the one next door
  2. It is hard for the kids to share individual sharpeners and sometimes they argue over them
  3. Sometimes they drop individual sharpeners and get stuff on the floor

Well, I still hate pencils more than anything else about teaching, but things are better. Hopefully, by the end of they year, I'll perfect my new system...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Unhappy Hour: What to Do When Your Ex Shows Up

Ex-Principal, that is.

I don't go to Happy Hour after work very frequently, but I decided to go this week because a friend from work who had a hard week was going and I wanted to go with her. It was at a teacher's house from work, and I showed up at about 3:30. The food was good, and I was thinking about what a nice time I was having. THEN... Guess who walked in?! Principal Sadie.

I haven't seen her since that awful last day of school and I was pretty happy about that. When she walked in, I must have looked like I saw a ghost. My heart started beating really fast, and I was trying to make an exit plan.

I really could not think of a tactful exit plan, so I went outside with everyone who was playing beer pong. I don't play beer pong, but I knew Principal Sadie would not go out there. So, I stayed out there for about an hour, but there was a problem: I left my keys on the table inside, and my Ex (principal that is) was sitting right by them. "Great," I thought, "there is going to be no leaving without talking to her."

I walked over to the table and we said uneasy hello/how are you's. I tried to open my mouth to make my excuses and bee line for the door. Unfortunately, it felt like my tongue was growing larger and I couldn't quite get any words out.

Unfortunately, the awkward silence I initiated led to her initiating an even more awkward conversation. I knew, if she saw me, she was going to go there, but it still shocked me a little.

"How's third grade?" she asked in a sugary sweet voice.

I tried to say "It's good." Did I say, "It good" or even "i goo" or something more incoherent? I don't know, at this point I was just wondering how long I had to wait to make my excuse and get out.

"I heard you're doing well?" she continued. Apparently, not noticing the you shot my puppy style look on my face. Mrs. Music, who was also at the table chimed in, "she's so good her class..."

At this point, I realized this conversation was not going to end naturally. As much as I wanted to be classy, I started to be rude. I asked the other teacher if she could please hand me my keys and I told them I had to meet my mom at six, and had to leave. I don't even think I apologized for being so abrupt.

I just needed to get away. I cannot play this game with her where she passive aggressively goes on about how great she was for doing the things she did. I don't want to argue with her either. I just want to have no contact with her. A clean break...You know?

Isn't that how it's supposed to be with ex's--even if they are ex-principals?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Very Own Max

A new student started in my class last week. He announced to my class the first day that he comes from Harry Potter School. Yesterday he told another teacher that he is actually thirteen. Today, during his Reading intervention he announced to the K-3 teacher that he fell asleep when he was three and can't remember anything until he saw some colorful lights and then he was five!

This kid has such an elaborate fantasy life. At first, the other kids thought he was being outrageous. "What?" one of them exclaimed, "he said he went to Harry Potter School!" I downplayed it and watched to see what would happen. It seems like the other kids are actually appreciating his very active fantasy life. In some sense, though, he believes his tall tales are real. Developmentally, he should be way passed that phase, but his magical worldview is kind of charming and special.

His real life must make his life in his head so much more appealing. He is living in a hotel with his mom and brother and they are living of an annual income that is four figures. He hasn't been in school for the first seven weeks because his mom forgot to enrol him.

I understand why he is the way he is. I actually admire his imagination. Yet, I am torn about how to help him. Do I refer him to counseling where they might make him find a different way to cope? I don't know yet. I do know that even though he is obviously going to be a challenge and is grade levels behind, I am glad to know him. He really is special.