Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Just Some Poop and Me...Or So I Thought.

Well, today was my first day in my classroom. I moved rooms at the end of last year. Wait, move is a little strong; I jammed everything I own into the empty spaces in closets and shelves in a desperate June frenzy, anxious to get to the bar and have an end of the year cocktail. Does that paint a better picture of what I came in to today?

I am so exhausted after ten hours of schlepping boxes and such that I’m not even sure that I can write a coherent post. And I think I might still be a little high from all the bleach. Yes, I spent the better part of today bleaching all my classroom furniture because most of it was COVERED in mouse poop and even some pee. The pee was something special…I’ve never had that before. Needless to say, I’m dirty, sore and disgusted. But I think I made some good progress.

Just a quick mouse story before I pass out face down in my wine. I was sitting quietly at a group of desks, making a MASSIVE To Do list (oh, how I love a good list!). Everyone was busy in their own rooms, so it was one of those rare times during those first few days when I get to be all by myself in my classroom. No one dropping off boxes of crap I don’t feel like organizing. No one stopping in to say hi and then talk for an hour as I repeatedly try to sneak looks at the clock. No one coming by to see if whose room is looking farthest along. I was alone. All alone. Or so I thought…

As I was scribbling down a reminder to put new labels on my book baskets, I heard a scratching noise from the back of the room. I quickly looked up only to see a lump under the background paper on one of my bulletin boards. WTF?

I got up to take a closer look as the lump continued to move spastically all over the wall. Seriously, WTF?

As I reached the back wall, the lump rose closer to the edge of the paper and out popped two ears and some paws. Let me say that again. OUT POPPED TWO EARS AND SOME PAWS!!!!! The ears and paws were quickly followed by some eyes and a nose. I’m not sure what my furry friend did next, because I ran screaming down the hall and decided it was time to just go home.

I’ll let you know if he comes back tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How's YOUR Karma??

Alternative title: Playing Nicely In the Sandbox

Today was day two of our in-service. We met in the fancy pants conference center again and dined on stale scones for the second day in a row. Doesn’t take much to impress us. The theme of today was “karma”. Yes, karma.

Ms. Cocktails Before Noon started off the morning by making us interview each other. We had to get up and talk to three people to find out something new about that person to share with the entire staff. Immediately we were all annoyed because we had to stand up and leave our door stoppers/scones. Some of us took the opportunity to chat with friends, others actually humored Ms. CBN and talked to the new people. I will not reveal which group I fell into…I plead the fifth!

We learned that one of our less-productive staff members (who I swear has stock in Dunkin’ Donuts, I mean how else can you explain her dedication to consuming so many each morning? In her world the donuts are a clear priority when compared to the needs of her students) was published. Wow, maybe I was wrong about her…published? That’s impressive. And then the following occurred:

Ms. CBN: Really? Published? That’s fantastic! Where?
Ms. Dunkin’ Donuts: In a poetry magazine.
Ms. CBN: Wow! Can we find it somewhere? When did that happen?
Ms. Dunkin’ Donuts: When I was 8. (Just FYI, Ms. DD is clearly over 50)

Really? If there is such a thing as karma, she is in for it!

We then continued on with Ms. Weavalicious discussing her own career in the classroom and her wonderful ability to use humor to alleviate the stress of teaching. Somehow, that skill has left her since she became our vice-principal. She advised us to make sure that the “karma” of our classroom encourages student learning and exploration.

I may not be a perfect teacher, but I do pride myself on my ability to foster a loving and successful classroom environment. I think children are happy and excited about learning when they are in my room. As a result of my sense of self-efficacy in this particular area of teaching, I may choose not to follow Ms. Weavalicious’ sage-like words of wisdom, but I thought I would share them with you.

• “We have the most smartest staff I’ve ever worked with. You should be confident in how smart you are.” (Ummmm, hi. Yea. We’re confident in our intellectual abilities, but you should really practice sentences in your headfirst…)
• “Make sure that your classroom is relaxed, children can move about freely to get supplies, and that the room is buzzing with discussion. But, don’t forget…we value task on time, quiet children and sticking to the schedule.” (Ok, what? I’m fairly certain that your two sentences cancel each other out friend…)
• “So when I was angry that I wasn’t getting the response I wanted, I just made it into a joke. I said ha ha ha, and then was done with it.” (Yes, you said ha ha ha, then followed up with a nasty letter in my colleague’s file and I’m pretty sure that it was you who took away several of her preps in a row. Some joke! Way to just laugh that one off!)

Maybe her words are an enigma wrapped in a conundrum and I’m just not smart enough (even though yes, I am one of the “most smartest”).

Friday, August 17, 2007

My First Meme Ever (I Feel Cool)

I have arrived!! I got tagged by hipteacher!!! (I wish I could have made her name link to her blog page, but I haven't learned how to do that yet...I'm not THAT cool...anyone care to educate me on that little tidbit?? Anyway, if you don't read it already, you'll love her blog! I'll do it the old school way. It's hipteacher (dot) typepad (dot) com (slash) schoolblog.) Anyway, it made my day!

Teaching Meme

1. I am a good teacher because...(this one is hard) because... because I think I am able to create a classroom community that makes my students excited to come to school. I think they love learning and, even though they are only 7, I encourage them to be reflective about and take control of their own learning, not just do what I tell them to. Oh, and I think they are super cute!

2. If I weren't a teacher, I would be...a photographer, a florist, OOOO!! I would name nail polish colors. Or have a huge ranch for cats (that's a little scary, isn't it?? Hellooooo steretype about teachers and cats!) Maybe we'll stick with naming nail polishes. How 'bout Cinnamon Toast? Or Glass O' Red? Maybe You Rock It Red? No?

3. My teaching style is...like the Energizer Bunny...I bop around, beat my drum, and try to keep everyone going. Although I'm not sure about the pink...

4. My classroom is... cluttered. Whoah! Was that out loud?? I meant filled with photographs and brilliant student art. It's very cozy, yea, we'll call it "cozy".

5. My lesson plans... are flawless!!! Ha ha! Got you! My lesson plans are done almost exclusively on Post It notes...it looks like Office Depot threw up in my planner. But who doesn't love a good stack of Post Its.

6. One of my teaching goals is…to encourage my students' natural talents while also teaching them it's OK to not know everything or have trouble with something.

7. The toughest part of teaching is...reaching every student. I have so many beautiful memories of children who have blossomed in my room, but I also remember those that I don't think I did enough for. Those are the students I keep in my mind to motivate me every day. So, that and having to hold my pee.

8. The thing I love most about teaching is... spending time with kids. I don't think I could work with just adults all day.

9. A common misconception about teaching is...it's easy. You just read what's in the manual and do what your told and poof! kids learn. I think that most people outside of the field of teaching don't know how much creativity and energy it takes to get a group of children to engage with new ideas and learn. Teachers are much more intelligent than we are given credit for...not just anyone can do our job.

10. The most important thing I've learned since I started teaching...to balance. I have learned (or I'm getting closer) how to balance work and personal life and my own schooling (why did I decide to go back for my doctorate again?). When I've let the scales tip more toward one over the others, nothing ends up going well.

There! My first Meme ever!! Ok. I don't really know the etiquette for this. Or how to link stuff. Damn.

I'll tag:
A Teacher's Life (Thanks for reading Jen!)
Tense Teacher
The Coffee Table
But Wait There's More!
The Doc Is In (Thanks for reading dr pezz!!)

Apologies if you've already been tagged or don't want to be. Just know I admire your blogs.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Adventures in planning

Earlier today I was relishing my nothing-to-do-ness by complaining to my husband that we never go anywhere. It’s a favorite past-time of mine although (as he frequently reminds me) complete bullshit (I love you honey). My argument (whining?) was reaching it’s climax when I heard the tinkling sound of a text message.

What the deuce? I was just getting started…

I checked my phone and found a message from my colleague/girlfriend informing me that she had just picked up the new Barnes and Noble planner and had mapped out the whole first week.

AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

She can’t be serious.

Well, she wasn’t. But it was a good one and I totally fell for it and went running down the stairs, grabbed some keys, threw on my new fabulous lime-ish grassy green peep-toe flats and jumped in the car. I’m off to Barnsey!!! (That’s what I like to call it…my husband refers to it as that place where I deposit all our money, but really? I could be doing worse things with my/our/his money.)

I enter the store and immediately wander over to see if the new Sophie Kinsella novel is out in paperback. Damn! I stroll to check on the Jodi Picoult hardcover situation. Damn! How long does it take a book to come out in paperback? As I start to peruse the buy-two-get-the-third-free table I wonder, “What am I doing here again? I could swear I came in for something specific.”

Oh!!

Work!!

Starts next week!!

Planner!! That’s right, I’m here for a planner. Yes, buying that planner will get me in the right frame of mind. I’m sure that within moments of purchasing it, I’ll go home and plan brilliant new units, think of engaging new author studies…you name it! I’m psyching myself up and congratulating myself on my teaching prowess when I realize that I can’t find the flippin’ planner anywhere! I’ve been to the “Teacher Reference” section and the “Education” section. Nothing. Maybe it’s a sign. Yes! A SIGN! I should DEFINITELY go work at Papyrus…I’d have such great stationary and no pressure.

But…I do kind of like my job. Most of the time. I like the kids at least. I continue to wander around the children’s section but all of my previously felt bravado is gone. I’m crushed. What kind of teacher am I anyway if I can’t even FIND the planner??

And then it’s like the seas parted. There it was. And in THREE COLORS!! There’s never been a choice before!! I can have it in purple. Life is good again. That’s it, I’ll go back to work. Sorry Papyrus, your loss.

(Heehee...I used the word "tinkling" in my blog.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Why I Stay In Teaching

Or…How One Small Child’s Comment Can Erase All The Complaining

So, I recognize that a majority of my blog content is related to complaining. And I’m OK with that. It is my little way of getting out (my husband says “thank you” to all my readers by the way) and making it funny so I don’t threaten to poke myself in the eye on a regular basis. I am excited about blogging my way through next year…that place is ripe with crazy amounts of material!!!

Despite all my b*tching…this much sweeter moment has always stood out for me.

One day my class was in computer lab (you know, that place with the “teacher” who IMs all day and when you come in with your class at the scheduled time he looks at you like and for a moment you are convinced that he no idea what he is supposed to do next). My little friends were eagerly cutting and pasting away, working on an activity that the computer lab “teacher” designed and was grossly over their heads. I choose my battles.

Anyway, they are doing much better than I thought they would when I walk over to the computer of one small girl I have nicknamed Mi Cacahuate (translation – my little peanut…please excuse any spelling error I may have made with that word). She turns around in her wheely chair and looks at me with big brown eyes. An excited smile is on her face and her little curls are blowing the insanely high air conditioning. She reaches out, grabs my hand and says:

“Look Mrs. Mimi., I’m learning!!”

Then she eagerly turned back to her computer to get back to work.

Is your heart melting too?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Oops I crapped my pants...

Or…Why One Should Avoid Public School Lunch

I have told this story to several friends over cocktails and they never fail to stare at me with an incredulous look and wonder aloud, “ Exactly how did he get the shit on his FACE?” Intrigued? I thought so…why don’t you grab a cocktail yourself and I’ll tell you my little story.

I’m not quite sure how to describe J. to you. He struggled more than most students, had a tough life at home and while I often fantasized about him being absent (yet boyfriend had PERFECT f’ing attendance) there was something about him that was endearing. And no, it was not the shit on his face. If you need a mental picture, picture your typical 7 year old boy…now picture that same boy with teeth pointing in every possible direction and even some directions you would have previously considered to be impossible…got it? Super.

One day while I was teaching word study, J. asked to go to the bathroom. Now usually I don’t allow my friends to go to the bathroom when I am dispensing genius, but this time J. looked particularly desperate and uncomfortable, so I let him go. Nobody wants the old puddle on the floor. We continue on with our game and at least fifteen minutes go by when I start to wonder where the hell J. is. I am mentally writing the scathing note home to his mother in my head when I hear the telltale slam of the boy’s bathroom door.

He’s coming, I think, what am I going to do….hmmmm…how wicked do I feel?

I look over at the woman who “pushes in” to my classroom each day at this time. For those of you who aren’t teachers, “pushing in” means having another adult interrupt your teaching, talk in an inappropriately loud voice at the same time you are, and generally undo all your good work. I’m not sure if that’s the technical definition, but that’s the way it goes down at my school. Basically, I spend the fifty minutes a day shooting the “push in” person dirty looks when she talks over me and muttering under my breath. Very professional, I know.

Anyway, I look over at Ms. Loud Talker When I’m Talking and wonder if she will think I’m a bitch for laying into J. about fucking around in the bathroom while the class is working. I am considering my options when…(insert sound of screeching tires here)…J. walks in and everything stops.

He is literally covered from head to toe in his own shit. It has apparently run down his leg and it is oozing out of his shoes. It is all over his hands. And yes, boys and girls, there is shit on his face. Kind of looked like war paint….

What the hell did they serve for lunch?

Shit!! (No pun intended…ok, maybe a little intended…) I have to think fast!!!

For some reason, the whole class is silent. It’s like time stopped. You think that a group of 7 year olds would lose their minds….I mean, someone COVERED IN SHIT has just walked into the room!!! What??

Me: J., are you OK?

J: Uh, I was trying to clean up.

Me: (to myself) Clean up? Did your ass explode?? How does that happen? And again, what did they serve for lunch?
(outloud) Ok, sweetheart. It’s OK.

J: I don’t feel good.

Me: Uh, Ms. Loud Talker When I’m Talking???? Do you think you could walk J. to the nurse? (I’m still not sure why shit on your face qualifies you for the medical attention of the nurse, but then again that seems to be the place to send most things you don’t want to deal with…although usually they come back with a
cough drop and a completely illegible note. Seriously, you slice your finger open
and that woman would give you a cough drop and send you back to class clutching a paper filled with hieroglyphics in your few remaining fingers…)

Ms. LTWIT: What??

Me: (to myself of course) Ha ha!!! That will teach you to talk when I’m talking sucka!!!
(out loud) Thank you.

Somehow I manage to spin J. around without touching him and go back to my lesson. He squishes out of the room and waits for Ms. LTWIT…what a good boy. I watch as she reluctantly follows his brown trail out the door and down the hall.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Who's Peeking?