Friday, November 30, 2007

And Then There Were 21....

I was already fantasizing about all the wine I was going to drink as I caught up on all my fave TIVOed shows (I feel close enough to you all at this point to admit that Golden Girls is one of my all time favorite shows and guilty pleasures) on my way out of the building today when the school secretary abruptly burst my bubble.

Her: Mrs. Mimi...I'm so glad I saw you. You are getting a new student on Monday.

Me: What??

Her: Yea, a little boy from Kenya. He's arriving in New York on Saturday and he should be here sometime on Monday morning.

Me: He's just getting to the United States on Saturday and will be here on Monday? Yikes. Does he speak English?

Her: No.

Me: Was Ms. Weavalicious planning on telling me about this before Monday?

Her: No, she left for the day and said that you could work it out. Actually, we've known about this little boy since Tuesday. But I thought you should know.

Me: Thanks.

Ok. So multiple issues are at play here.

First of all, I'm beginning to feel as if Ms. Weavalicious is just out to get me. Seriously, somedays I feel as if I should just bend over on my way by her office door. (I know, gross visual, but it had to be said...you know I don't have a reputation for tip-toeing around an issue).

Secondly, they were just planning on dumping this little boy in my class with no warning??!? How horrifying is that? Welcome to America little friend!

Me on this little boy's first day:
Oh, um, we don't have desk for you or anything because I didn't know you were coming...so um, here, you can sit in that extra chair in the corner of the classroom. It's all we have. Where should you put your coat...well, there aren't any more hooks, so I guess the floor of the closet? You need a pencil? A book? Maybe a math workbook? Ooo...sorry, I was only given 20 and no one told me you were coming. I'm so sorry sweetheart. What? You don't understand what I'm saying? You don't speak English? Oh ok (big smile) (gesture to sit). Welcome.

And no one was planning on warning me? So who is it really all about here? Because it certainly is not about the child, or even me for that manner.

Needless to say the knot in my stomach is only getting worse. On Monday morning I have to somehow get a desk to materialize, dig up an extra set of every book that my children have (because I was only issued 20...I don't even have a copy for myself of any of their books!) and get my class ready to welcome this addition to our class.

...and for my next trick, I will pull a rabbit directly out of my a*s.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Toasty Story to Warm Your Heart?

I've taken a bit of a break from the blogging and I'm sorry if anyone has felt disappointed. I know I am always sad when my regular blogs do not post regularly (in all honesty, sometimes, I'm just downright P.O.ed when it's been awhile)...so I'm sorry.

I have a doozy.

My close friend is a third grade teacher upstairs. She is an amazing teacher and hysterically funny. We'll call her Lola (she was a show girl....).

Lola has always had a hamster in her room. Personally, I think classroom pets are a NIGHTMARE. Years ago Ms. Weavalicious, in her typical on-the-ball fashion (please pick up on my heavily sarcastic tone here) dumped a gerbil in my room one day, telling me to "work it out." And if you've been reading my more recent posts, yes, this has been a favorite phrase of her for a long time. Long story short, the gerbil bit every kid that tried to hold it and smelled like woodsy poo.

Lola is a bigger person than I. She has endured/enjoyed this hamster for two years. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, she asked a responsible child to take the hamster over the short break (with a parent's permission of course). One sweet child volunteers. Lola doesn't think much of the whole situation because really, she just doesn't want to have to take the damn thing home.

Today she received the following note:

"Dear Ms. Lola,
I am so sorry about our hamster. He died this weekend in the sleeping position. I think he froze because it was so cold. My mother and I tried to defrost him in the oven, but it didn't work. She says we will go get another one that looks the same."

If you didn't notice it the first time, let me draw your attention to the following sentence.

"MY MOTHER AND I TRIED TO DEFROST HIM IN THE OVEN..."

WHAT?!?!?

I can't even really begin to imagine the train of thought that led to this horrifying conclusion.

Possible Thought Process 1 - "Oh no! Your poor hamster. The class is going to be so disappointed. Hmmmm....what can we do....I know! Let's defrost him like a turkey!"

Possible Thought Process 2 - "What can I do to help this poor cold hamster? Where is the warmest place in the house? Oh, I know, I'll turn on the oven and try to cook him back to life..."

Possible Thought Process 3 - "He looks so cold. And tasty...maybe we can feed him to the cat...Honey, turn on the oven!!"

Possible Thought Process 4 - "I need to start the turkey. I wonder if the oven is warm enough? What can I put in there to test the oven temperature? I know....Sweetie!! Go get the hamster!!!"

Does that warm your heart or what!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Am I On Candid Camera?

Because, seriously? This is ridiculous. Someone MUST be filming this...

For the last few days (which have also been peppered with late night conferences, professional development sessions/time wasters so as you can assume, I'm in a fab state of mind)I have been relentlessly hounding my students to turn in their damn permission slips for a trip we had scheduled for today. Just to add another straw to the camel's back, it is interesting to note that this is a field trip planned by Ms. Weavalicious. It's like I should have seen it coming...

I mean, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...just shoot me. Really.

It's 7:45 a.m. I have been at school for about thirty minutes putting the finishing touches on some amazing sktech pads and materials I have put together so that my students can record their own inspirations as we tour the museum. I am mentally preparing myself for the joys of field trips...the bathroom visits, lost seat belts...

It is now 7:55 a.m. I am on my way out the door to fill up my water bottle and pick up my class.

The phone rings.

Again, I should have seen it coming.

Ms. Weavalicious: Mrs. Mimi?

Me: Hi.

Ms. Weavalicious: Were you planning on going on the trip today?

Me: Um, yes.

Ms. Weavalicious: Because it was cancelled. Didn't I tell you that?

Me: Um, no. (These are the moments when I think I should take deep breathing or yoga classes to re-center myself because honestly, I just want to go postal on her right about now).

Ms. Weavalicious: Yea, they cancelled on Friday. It must have slipped my mind.
Sorry. But you'll work it out.

Me: Um....

Ms. Weavalicous: Don't you have anything else planned?? I'm sure you can work something else out.

Me: Um, no. I was planning on being gone from 9 to 1. Can I have a sub for just half an hour or something so I can pull something together?? I have to go pick my class up.

Ms. Weavalcious: Sorry. No. I'm sure you'll find a minute to pull something together. You'll work it out.

Me: (You are lucky that we are surrounded by witnesses.) Ok...well, I have two chaperones coming. I think they took the day off work. Can you call them and explain? I don't want them to come all the way back to school.

Ms.Weavalcious: Why can't you do it? I think you could work that out.

Me: (If she tells me to "work it out" one more time, I just might scream something I regret into the phone...) Because I'll be teaching and desperately scraping together a coherent day of instruction at the last minute???

Ms. Weavalicous: Don't you have a cell phone?

Me: Yes...

Ms. Weavalcious: So you do it. You can work it out.

Me: While I'm supposed to be teaching and lesson planning?

Ms. Weavalicious: I'm sure you'll work it out.

Later, when I sent a child with a note to her office, they reported back that she was busy reading the paper.

And while I pulled a fairly rocking day out of my a*s, I fantasized about bad things happening to Ms. Weavalcious. Not massive physical harm or anything...more like that she would get her wallet stolen, or her side view mirror ripped off in a drive-by...something annoying enough to ruin HER day. After all, I'm sure she'd work it out.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

Alternative Title - Stop Encouraging Your Son To Be Such A Lazy S.O.B.

This year, I have several parents who are professional Excuse Makers. You know, I contact them about something their child has done and without fail, that parent will give me an excuse as to why it was not their precious baby's fault.

Excuse Maker: "It was MY fault that Little Angel didn't do their homework. Not his. (But he's in second grade and should be able to do it independently.) Plus, I think the directions were unclear (Yes they were.) And you forgot to remind him to do his homework before he left that day." (They have homework every night, you want me to remind him every freaking night?)

Excuse Maker: "How dare you allow Little Angel to have a bathroom accident!!! (He never asked to go to the bathroom.) It was not his fault that he held it all day and didn't ask. You should've asked HIM if he needed to go every hour so something like this could have been prevented!!" (Um, ask him every hour? Sweetie, do you need to pee pee? Yea, not going to happen. Tell him to raise his hand...he doesn't seem to have a problem asking for a drink of water every fifteen minutes."

Excuse Maker: "My little Little Angel would never take something from another child's desk!!! How dare you!?!? (But I saw her do it with my own eyes and then she lied about it....I'm concerned that...) No! No! She did not take it. I do not care what you saw! I know someone must have TOLD her to do it."

(sigh)

When I was little, the teacher was almost always right. In fact, I can only remember one occassion in which I got to be right. When I was in first grade (and second grade, we looped with this Nut), my teacher was a trainwreck. She called my mom one day and told her that I had been talking too much in class. Ok, so maybe I was. But so was everyone else. AND....she neglected to mention that while we were all talking, she was standing outside our classroom SMOKING and watching us through the window!!!! True story.

So, I am not chainsmoking outside my classroom. And I'm not making it up for my own sick personal benefit. I'm telling you about your child so that maybe, just maybe, you can do some parenting and help your child progress and mature. Just a thought.

I have one Little Angel who does NOT like math...or working hard for that matter. He's the type of child that will do ANYTHING to look busy when in reality, he is doing absolutely nothing productive. You know the type.

We're working with coins and the children have to come up with two ways to show a given amount using quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. This is something that they have all done before, today is simply a refresher so that we can move on to more difficult concepts. I know they've done it before because I taught first grade last year and WE DID IT TOGETHER!!!

You can then imagine my surprise when Little Angel had done absolutely NOTHING in twenty minutes.

Me: Little Angel, what's going on? You haven't even started your work.
L.A.: I don't know.
Me: You don't know what? Do you understand what you have to do?
L.A.: I have to show 42 cents two different ways.
Me: Yes, so what's up?
L.A.: I used 42 pennies.
Me: Great! But let's think of another way, because I know that people don't usually have all those pennies in their pockets. What other coins could you use?
L.A.: I don't know.
Me: You don't know?
L.A.: I'm confused.
Me: Ok...well what other coins have we talked about?
L.A.: I don't know any other coins.
Me: You don't know any other coins!?!?
L.A.: No.
Me: Nickels?
L.A.: No.
Me: But we talked about them all last year. And yesterday. And they're on the wall. Come on, I know you can do it!
L.A.: I'm just really confused and this is hard. My father says that the cashier will make change so all I have to do is give them dollars. And my mom says when things are hard, I shouldn't let myself feel frustrated, I should just stop.
Me: (Your dad is a raging idiot...what is he doing?!? And I think I want to hit your mom right now.) Oh, but you want to know things for yourself. It's OK if this is hard, but I need to you to try a little harder. Now, let's think. How much is a nickel worth? (Remind yourself that I teach SECOND grade).
L.A.: I don't know.
Me: Do you mind if I write this all down Little Angel? Because I think your mom might be interested in all this and maybe she can help you at home too.

Conferences are Tuesday and Wednesday. I wonder what she is going to say about this one. It should be Excuse Extraordinaire!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Correct Me If I'm Wrong, But I Thought That Teachers Actually Spent Time With Children...

Maybe it's my misunderstanding, but I thought that TEACHERS spent time working with CHILDREN. I know that sometimes we are also required to meet with parents, colleagues and administrators...but in general, we spend our days with the KIDS. TEACHING. CHILDREN.

Let me explain why I'm confused. Today I sat down to work on finalizing my plans for next week. I have a little system...I sketch out the week roughly on Tuesday and on Thursday, I finalize everything so that Friday (afterschool of course) can be spent getting everything together. Brilliant, I know. I can almost smell the glue sticks now...

(I know I am implying here that I love working with my little friends, but don't get me wrong, I also love some alone time with my planner, a big stack of post-its, a clicky pencil and, on a crazy day, a Sharpie. You know what I'm talkin' about.)

(I loves me some organizational tools).

(I am completely aware that this makes me slightly less than cool).

(I know this because of the look I receive when I admit this to non-educators, like my husband, whose eyes just kind of glaze over and I can almost hear him mentally reminding himself that he loves me despite this Staples-related obsession).

But on this sad Thursday I stared at my planner in disbelief. First, I have math professional development meetings all morning tomorrow, so no teaching. Then, there is no school on Monday (whoo-hoo!! I didn't say I loved kids EVERYday), so no teaching. On Tuesday we have art related professional development all morning, so no teaching. On Wednesday, we have a half day and a concert in the morning, so no teaching. On Thursday, we're going on a random field trip with no connection to any sort of theme we are studying in school- planned by Ms. Weavalicious-, so no teaching. Oh, but I do get to teach next Friday. And I'm sure the kids will be at their best after a totally unstructured week full of substitutes and bullshit work to pass the time until I come back from where-ever I am.

You can see where my confusion is. You see, out of a possible 35 periods of instruction next week, I will only be teaching for 17 of those blocks. That is less than 50%.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Paper Capers

We have been driven to steal. It is a sad day. Particularly because I often find myself saying to people "I am a teacher, I don't lie."

Like when I'm in a store trying to return something but I've misplaced the receipt, I might say, "I promise that this was NOT on sale when I bought it...I'm a teacher, you can trust me."

Seriously, teachers are pretty honest people.

But we can be driven to steal.

(sigh)

Let me break it down. In one of my last posts I told you all that my principal recently informed us that we will not be given any paper this year. None. We are teaching sans paper. Nada.

I know, it doesn't make sense to me either.

Does anyone say "Hey there Doctor, just FYI, no bandages this year...not in the budget. Just imagine the bandages or something." The answer is no. No. No one says that. Because it is ridiculous.

Anyway, today was a "Professional Development" day (a.k.a. "Catch Up On Your TV Related Gossip But Secretly Look Like You Are Bubbling In Report Cards Day" or "Sit And Make To Do Lists While Some Random Talks AT You About Your Job Day"). What I am saying is, that we had some free time.

And that's when we mobilized.

When the administration was busy organizing the Worst Free Lunch Ever (seriously, macaroni salad should NOT resemble a soup because of a horrifying amount of mayonaise), three of us ducked down to the basement.

(insert ominous music here)

It was brilliant. Just like Charlie's Angels...except dustier. We skanked around abandoned furniture and slinked around ancient text books until....

JACKPOT!!

Forgotten boxes of paper. As we filled our arms with the precious booty, we considered spreading the word to our other colleagues, but then, as we remembered dirty looks, hallway snubs and the general laziness of some...decided it would be our little secret.

Mmmwwaaaa hahahahahaaaaaa!

Suckers.

Maybe I don't feel too bad about the Great Paper Capers after all.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I Guess I'm the Mama Bear

I've heard that the mama bear is very protective of her little cubs...and today I realized that I am totally the mama bear (if the mama bear is also anal-retentive, slightly sarcastic and wears fabulous shoes).

Today we had to go to a workshop where two Teaching Artists taught us about Mariachi music. Next week, we are going to see them in concert. Cool concept, right? Totally.

We're in the auditorium and my little cubs were all lined up and listening attentively. It was one of those moments when you look at them and are insanely proud and get a little misty (then you remember where you are and feel super lame?).

The Teaching Artist (after talking for 30 solid minutes without involving the children in any way...clearly we are using the term "teaching" loosely here because no one in their right mind would do that to 20 7-year olds right after recess...it's almost like a ticking time bomb) then asked my children to get on stage to try dancing but requested that "the teacher stay seated".

Um, ok. Sister friend, this is my world and I can make decisions for myself...but I remained quiet and did what I was told. After all, it's about the kids and the music, right?

They get themselves all organized on stage and are looking particularly precious. The "Teaching" Artist then gave the following directions (in broken English I might add, but will not attempt to imitate here because I don't want to offend anyone but really, it just made following these directions that much harder):

"Walk on stage like a performer. NO! Not like that...like this...no no no!! You look lazy...like this!!

My little cubs get on stage but aren't sure where to stand (because of no direction) and are doing their best.

Um...(deep breath)...so she's almost yelling at them...(deep breath)...she gave them no clear directions...(deep breath)...she told me to stay down here...(deep breath)...I'm going to let this go...but WATCH OUT friend.

"Boys and girls we are going to try this dance. Boys stand this way (She demonstrates). Girls, stand this way (she demonstrates). Ok, then we are all going to start on the right foot and stamp eight times. Rest for eight beats. Then stamp your left foot eight times. Wait for eight beats. Stamp your right foot four times, four beats, left for four, four beats. Right for two, beat beat, left for two beat beat. Right one, wait one, left one, wait one, right, left, right, left, right, left...then we're marching, we'll speed it up and stop. OK?"

WTF???

At this point, my precious bear cubs eyes are totally glazed over, people are picking their noses, adjusting socks and tying shoes. Yea, this is going to be interesting.

The music starts and people just start dancing. There is random stamping, attempts at counting to themselves, and for some reason, a lot of snapping.

The "Teaching Artist" then begins to SCREAM: "NO NO NO! You are not listening at all...hellOOOOOO...what grade are you supposed to be in? You can't even count to eight?!?! What are your teachers teaching you??"

OK, bee-atch, it's ON!!! I quickly leave my place in the seats, jump up on stage and set her straight. Then I calmly model the dance for the students. We practice it slowly and then practice it slowly and SURPRISE!! they can do it (within reason).

And that's when I realized that NO ONE talks to my little cubs like that...I am the mama bear so watch out!

Who's Peeking?