Showing posts with label parents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parents. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Open Letter To Anna Dewdney

Dear Ms. Dewdney,

I. Love. Llama Llama.

I was given a copy of Llama Llama Red Pajama at my baby shower. At the time, I thought the book was cute, but had no idea just how huge a presence you and your characters were to have in my life. As a mother to the smartest 17 month old ever, I now have all of your books memorized. If there is ever a Llama Llama emergency, I am your girl and can launch into a mean oral storytelling at a moments notice. Just something to keep in the back of your mind.


Llama Llama Misses Mama is the text that helped my little Mini feel better when Mama had to go to work. I'm telling you, she's making text to self connections already and if that doesn't blow your mind...girlfriend also recognizes your picture and says "Doo-ney!" every time.

Quick question- do you think you could crank out another Llama Llama book? While I LOVE what you've done, I have to admit that reading them one more time might drive me to drink more than I already do.

However, I'm not just writing to tell you that I would throw my arms around you if I ever met you in person. (Which I would.). I'm writing to ask if you want a partnership. Anna...can I call you Anna? Anna, we need to get more parents to read regularly to, with and in front of their children. The most common complaint I get from early childhood teachers is that their students come in with very little language and have limited schema to help them understand new books. Reading does not seem to be a valued part of their home lives. Now I know people are busy and lives are complicated but, can I be honest with you here? Sharing books with my Mini has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Watching her language take off, her eyes light up at a favorite character and having her grab my hand to read in our favorite chair makes my heart sing with nerdy pride.

We need to spread the word. How easy it is. How wonderful it is. How it can change so much.

Thanks for your time and for little Llama,
Mimi

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Parents Just Don't Understand...And Sometimes Neither Do We

Now, before you get all banged up by the title, take a deep breath. Because I do happen to think the misunderstanding goes both ways. (Gasp from the crowd here.) While I will ALWAYS stand up for teachers (A.LW.A.Y.S.), I also think that we teachers need to pause for a moment and think that maybe, just maybe we don’t always recognize where parents are coming from either. (There. I said it. What do you think of that?)

I’m not sure where this new found compassion and understanding is coming from. I’m not sure that many people would label me as “sweet” or “compassionate” when it comes to dealing with other adults. Maybe it’s my impending initiation into being a parent (Yes, you read correctly! Thanks for all of your well wishes thus far. I have the BEST FANS EVER!) Maybe it’s because I’m away from the classroom this year and my vision is therefore no longer clouded by visions of irate, entitlement fueled adults charging at me at 8:00 in the morning when really, I’m just trying to suck down as much of my crappy travel coffee as possible and get my friends upstairs in one piece.

You all know what I’m talking about, right? There are those parents who are perpetually pumped up with self-righteousness, copious amounts of caffeine and a healthy dose of my-child-could-not-possibly-have-done-what-you-are-saying-he/she-did-even-though-you-saw-it-with-your-own-eyes. Ah, let me take a moment and relish the memory. (Big inhale, even bigger sigh and small murmur of thank that my mornings are now usually only plagued by an overly loving cat who wants to lie on my lap/keyboard at all times despite my dissertation looming over me like a, well, an angry parent. Funny how it all comes full circle when you really think about it...). Back to the parents – clearly, those parents are not my fave. Even when they have a legit argument (which is usually 23% of the time if I really think about it), do they really think that creating a scene in front of children, yelling and/or writing a grammatically incorrect and hateful note is going to fix anything?

My grandma said you get more flies with honey, not steaming piles of shit thrown at other adults in the form of a verbal assault at 8 freaking o’clock in the morning.

I talked to one of my Super Colleagues last night. She is (in my mind) infamous for having insane amounts of patience with needy parents. INSANE. In my last couple of years, I did much better with parents and felt I developed much better methods of communication. In the spirit of Being More Positive in 2010, I'm going to share my favorite idea with you here. (All this sharing...it's really out of control, isn't it? And all the positivity...maybe this year it will really take.)

Okay, here goes. I think it's one of my BEST (been forgetting about that Jan NaBloPoMo theme...I think my raging sinuses have taken over my brain.)

Positive (that's right, I said POSITIVE) notes home.
Yeah, I said POSITIVE notes. I know I used to be guilty of only sending notes home when my blood pressure was pumping away which meant that some parents only got negativity from me. So much negativity in some cases. A couple of years ago, I got sick of it and realized some parents probably were too. I bought a cute pad of note paper (to differentiate a positive note from the less-than-positive notes that still went home from time to time....hey, sometimes you just need a note home!) In big fancy writing, I put the name of each child on the top of a page of pretty paper (mostly to check myself that I sent one home to EVERY kid at some point, even if my compliments were a bit of a stretch.) I used to pick a child, announce it to the class at the end of the day with the reasons why I chose that particular friend. I'd read my note home out loud to the class and then ask if anyone had anything to add. I'd add on the extra compliments, sign the note and present it to the beaming friend. During rough times, I did this at the end of every day, but usually it was a once a week kind of thing. Five minutes, no big deal but WORKED WONDERS..

How do I know it worked wonders? One day Big Boy, a friend who was one of my most challenging students EVER, actually earned himself a positive note home. As I read the note out loud to the class, he was so happy I thought he was going to pee himself right there. He took it from me as if I had just handed him a check for a million dollars (which is a lot for a kid who jammed everything from artwork to extra snacks to his homework folder to the bottom of his backpack with so much force that I was continuously amazed that the bottom of his backpack just didn't give up. I know I wanted to from time to time.) That night, his mother who must have had my cell phone number on speed dial, called me crying. Crying. Her second grade son had never gotten a positive note, sticker, reward, anything. Did he come in the next day a new man? Not exactly, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.

Cost of pad of fancy paper? $5.99. Cost of a new set of markers to write the note with? $3.49. Completing seven posts in seven days? Priceless.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

She Has A Way With Words

Yesterday I received a note from a parent. I don't mind parent notes. In fact, I prefer a note to what seems to the alternative form of communication for parents at my school- bombarding me with questions at 7:58 in the morning while I'm just trying to pick up my class and go upstairs.

Someone needs to just put it out there, so I will...back up off my nuts at 7:58. It's freaking early! And if I talked to every parent who had what they claimed to be a "quick question" before I went upstairs, our instructional day wouldn't get started until at least 9:00. That is why we have free periods and after school - to meet with parents. In fact, the Visionary pretty vehemently discourages from having any sort of conversation with parents as we pick up our classes. He wants our asses upstairs and learning, STAT. And I have to say, I agree with him.

Would anyone ever charge a doctor in his office as he stepped through the door, shoving some sort of rash in his face and demanding an answer? No. The answer is no. One would not do that to a doctor, because it is gross (keep your rashes to yourself) and it's just not how things get done. I would like to think that the same rules apply here, but evidently they do not.

Anyway, I got a note from a parent who wants me to call them. No problem, right? Um, WRONG. First of all, I have NEVER met this parent. They have NEVER responded to any of my notes or phone calls. They did NOT come to open school night or parent teacher conferences. I'm not even sure they know my name. Here was my biggest clue that my identity remains a mystery to them. The note read (and I quote):

Hey! Give me a call!

That's it. No signature. No salutation. No reason. No name. Just a "Hey!" and a phone number. (In my head it sounds more like, "Haaaaaaay! Give me a call!" but whatever.) To me, it feels more like an invitation to meet up for a cocktail rather than a request for a meeting to actually discuss her son, but I don't have many context clues to work with here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hold On, Let Me Just Bang My Head Against The Wall

Yes, it is summer. Yes, I sometimes find myself reclining with a magazine. Yes, I sleep later. Yes, I have watched a Project Runway Marathon...and I don't feel a bit guilty! I welcome these weeks when I get to shake off the struggles of last year, dream about the amazing things I'm going to do next year and RELAX. For some reason though, there is one problem/irritating situation/load of crap that just won't die.

You may remember (and if you don't, please click here and re-read...c'mon, we'll wait) that last year I had a friend in my class who was extremely lazy. I can take many things...naughty, sneaky, chatty, struggling...but I can't take lazy. Lazy blows. I worked my behind off just trying to get this kid to engage and like school, to get him to dig in and give things a shot. Seriously, I was like a one-woman show and his personal cheerleader all in one. It took a LOT of energy (and some cursing in my off-time) but, dammit, he started to feel successful and try new things. I know, I am a rockstar.

If that wasn't draining enough...his mom literally sapped me of all my energy. She was nice, polite and blah blah blah, but she drove me insane with her CONSTANT emails, her rants against administrative decisions about indoor recess (dude, if it's raining, they're going to stay inside, end of story), and her unrelenting denial about her son's academic struggles. Now, I know that it is hard to admit when your child isn't doing well in school, but you are not helping anyone by making up EXCUSES!!!!

For example, his handwriting was crap. Total crap. Light, shaky, poor letter formation..you name it. He also couldn't cut on a line to save his life. At times, it looked like he just gnawed at the paper with his teeth (still not totally convinced that that didn't happen). I told her I suspected that he had weak hand muscles and perhaps she could talk to someone about some excericses to strengthen those muscles. She said it was something to think about and then sent me a three-screen email that night explaining that he would "grow into his hands." WTF? What does that mean?

And his homework! This mom took "the dog ate it" to new levels. She told me he took several hours to complete homework..homework that should only take 30 minutes. When I implied that perhaps it was because the work was too challenging (Hello! Wake up and smell the struggles!) and suggested that we look at his (lack of) progress, she was quick to say that no, it's not his fault that his homework takes so long. It was actually her fault...She didn't undersand it's purpose and thought it was better for him to have life experiences. I think homework and responsibility is a life experience, but whatever.

Anyhow, I think you get the point. And this post is getting VERY long...but hey, it's summer, what else do you have to do? (Kidding!!)

So I guess it's too late to say, "long story short" but this friend was on my radar for the entire year. Mom respectfully disagreed with me the entire year. Which is fine. She is entitled to her opinion (even though it was wrong). At the end of the year, I met with her and laid out the pros and cons about promoting her son. I was very honest with her and tried my best to deflect all of her excuses (which was NOT easy...girlfriend is gifted in the excuse department...it's almost amazing if it wasn't so freaking annoying).

The sad part is, in our school system, a parent can dispute a teacher's decision to hold over a child (I will pause now for you to calm down, because I know you are outraged. It's OK, I understand.)...only failing "The Test" (and I do not teach a testing grade) can override a parent's choice. Yes, you heard me right...my voice means relatively little. It feels good, really, to be ignored and discarded like that. And it also makes me feel good about my YEARS of education. I mean, c'mon, ANYONE can teach, so why listen to me? (Um, so you should be picking up on my sarcasm by now...) While I think parents should have a say and be involved, I think it is RIDICULOUS that my PROFESSIONAL opinion means next to nothing. Uniformed parents (and yes, some are very informed, but let's be real...some are so not) matter more and, clearly, some dark bubbles on a scantron sheet are the gospel. Sweet.

Rant aside, my friend gets promoted. And the year is over. I feel badly about the decision...I worry that I did not do everything I could, that maybe if I had pushed harder...but, it's done now.

Or so I thought.

Evidently, mom hires The Tutor. Because having someone working with my friend once a week in the summer is going to make up for what I couldn't do in ten months. Sounds reasonable, right? (Again, you're sensing the sarcasm here, yes? If not, please...try to keep up.)

The Tutor CALLS ME. IN THE SUMMER. And talks to me for AN HOUR about my friend. She basically reiterates everything I had said all year. She questions my decision to promote said friend.

My initial reaction was, "Um, and who are you?? You are questioning my decision after working with him for two weeks? And you don't even know the story...oh, no you di-n't!"

My more rational response was to explain to her the entire situation, making it clear that I don't think my friend's mom is ready to accept her sons struggles. The Tutor (a.k.a She With Inflated Sense Of Self) declares that she is going to talk the mom into holding him over. She is going to arrange for him to be held back, even though she doesn't teach at our school. She knows how to solve the problem and help this little boy.

Good luck, sister. Let me know what happens.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sippin' On Gin and Juice...

....or I guess Malibu and juice would be more accurate...well, if I'm really honest, probably just Malibu.

First of all, I AM OFFICALLY ON SUMMER VACATION!!!! And what am I doing first? Blogging. I'm not sure what that says about me. OK, well the first thing I did was make coffee, and then blog. But I am excited to be in control of my own time all day today...what will I do with all my time??? I mean, just the idea of being able to pee when I want to is exciting...how sad is that?

Yesterday wasn't easy though. The kids were pumped, and I was ready to be done, but we had to endure another useless half day in which no learning took place at all. Add to that the lack of structure that permiates the school on the last day, combine that with some donut holes and you have a recipe for a super head ache. I was sad to see many of them go (actually teared up a bit), but there's something about that last day and all the chaos surrounding putting one's classroom to bed that makes it much easier to say goodbye (and don't let the door hit you on the....).

I don't expect many gifts. My students can't afford them, but occassionally families get creative. Some of you may remember my heart warming tale of Christmas Joy in which I recieved an actual G-string from a student. (So serious...although, to be totally truthful, it was for me AND Mr. Mimi - or at least that's what the kid told me.) I did get some very sweet cards this year, and a few overly shiny necklaces lovingly selected from the Dollar Store. All very thoughtful. And then...

I had a parent (who I really like) come up to me with a real winner.

Parent:"Here you go, girl. I know you can use this!!" (She hands me a brown paper bag) "Sorry I didn't get a chance to wrap it."

Me: "Don't worry. You didn't have to do this. Thank you so much for thinking of me."

I take the bag and peek inside to find...

...a bottle of Malibu rum.

Yes, booze.

Now, I do happen to enjoy the fruity cocktail topped off with a bit of alcholic coconut-flavored love, but...we are in a school. And I work inside that school. I do NOT sit outside the school sipping on a little gin and juice. Or at least, I don't yet.

I thank the parent (isn't it the thought that counts?) and quickly fold over the top of the bag, trying desperately to hide the fact that now I am leading my class upstairs holding a bottle of booze.

Fast foward to last night. I am home from work (and offically on vacation!). Clearly, I'm slightly drunk. No, no, not off the Malibu. But I did go have one or two (or five) beers with the girls to celebrate the end of the year.

Mr. Mimi comes home and congratulates me on finishing the year in one piece. I tell him to reach into my bag to see the thoughtful gift that I had receieved. I am literally dying for him to see it...I mean, it's just too good.

He pulls out the bottle of Malibu. " Get out!!" he shouts, "A PARENT gave you this? Which one?"

As I begin to tell him the story, he holds up the bottle to the light (why do people do that?) and interrupts me saying,

"This bottle is open."

"What?!?"

"It's open. Did you have any?"

"Uh, no."

"So they gave you an open bottle of rum? And look, there's some missing."

He holds up the bottle again, and we notice that it isn't full. Someone has defintely taken a sip or two (or five).

Hmmmmm.....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's A Boy!!

I walked into the cafeteria to pick up my class today.

"Mrs. Mimi!", shouted Curly, "It's a boy!!!"

Now, many of you may remember that he made a similar early morning announcement about his mother "peeing on a stick". Well, it's a boy...and although he was hoping for a girl, Curly seems pumped. He already has an older brother (who I taught years ago) and is excited for a younger brother. I know that he used to give his older brother a very hard time...I reminded him of this, warning him that maybe his NEW little brother would give HIM a hard time. He smiled, nodded and said, "I was a pain....(sigh)...good times."

No lie! This kid is phenomenal.

And while it is very cute, let this serve as a warning to you parents out there....I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.

Let me say that again. YOUR CHILD REPEATS EVERYTHING YOU SAY AND DO ONCE THEY ARE AT SCHOOL. And clearly, using Curly as an example, no event or room of your home is off limits...not even the bathroom.

Now, I know to many of us, this seems like common sense. But then why do I get daily reports of fathers in weight watchers (or as my students call it "fat class") who later hit the drive thru at McDonalds, stories about parents who went on successful dates and brought someone home (one child actually used the words "booty call" with me), and, my personal favorite, tales of that "special cigarette" that mommy smokes with daddy sometimes. Um, sweetheart? I think that is called a doobie.

And I know it goes both ways, parents. I have taught your children to say "fabulous" at potentially very inconvenient times (I take no responsibility if they get the crap beat out of them on the playground for liberally using this word). I am also aware that "Mrs. Mimi says" is probably one of your least favorite phrases, because I say a lot.

But please, let's try to keep the porn to a minimum because it's very awkward during morning meeting when one of my friends shares that mommy and/or daddy were watching a "naked people movie" with lots of "screaming" and "bumping into each other."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

So We Had "The Talk...."

...And I Feel Like I Need To Go Shower...So Dirty...So Very Very Dirty

I've been struggling for days about how to make this post humorous, because that's kind of my thing. It makes me feel better about the everyday tragedies that are my job and (so I think) it makes you laugh. It's a win win.

I'm not sure that I can do it.

To catch up those of you who have not read my post about The Talk (first of all, shame on you for not reading)...I have recently discovered that several of my very young students are talking about sex, including lesbianism, rape and pussies (sorry for the graphic language...but it is all them, not me) and I, being the adult in the room, needed to deal with it.

(sigh) Sometimes I SO don't feel like being the adult.

At first, I was going to have a colleague come help me. She's amazing and works with our older students on "non-discussable" topics. We were going to do a read aloud, talk about the words that are being used and then doing some role playing. But at the last minute, I changed my mind and had her pull out the repeat offenders for a one-on-one chat. I made this decision because (a) I'm a huge wuss, (b) I just don't feel ready to use the words "dick" and "boobs" in front of my class, and (c) I didn't want to be responsibile for introducing these words or topics to the children in my class who may NOT be dirty talking their way through recess.

Ok, so it was mostly (c)...I just had visions of the whole thing back firing on me and the situation deteriorating into an innocence-robbing session for some of my friends. I mean, to quote the Weave's fine wisdom, they have a lifetime of talking about sex, touching and what exactly a vagina is.

So really, all I got was a play by play from my colleague. Which was enough, thank you very much.

Evidently, four kids (two in my class) started a "Sex Club" where they get together, talk about sex and various body parts, and, possibly, look at each other in the bathroom. And I don't mean in the mirror.

Cut to me, with my hand over my mouth, eyes wide, stomach churning as my colleage relayed this information to me. I mean, COME ON!!! What happened to, "He called me dumb!", "She said shut up!" or "He farted!"?? I can deal with name calling, the shut ups and the farts. I mean, once I had a kid come back to the room covered in his own poo....I would so much rather have a friend covered in poo than a "Sex Club" to deal with.

Long story short (or maybe it's already long....), my colleague had a big heart to heart with these kids about the words they are using. She recognized their curiosity but told them that HOW they are using these words is not okay at school. Then she referred them all to their parents for more information. Next week, we are going to sit down with their parents as well and tell them the whole story.

Pass the buck much?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby, Let's Talk About You And Me...

Yes, let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.

Although I'd rather not.

Why?

Because talking about sex, lesbianism and rape with eight year old children just seems wrong. I mean, make your own parenting decisions, but to me, not something I ever thought I would be talking about in school when I signed up as an early elementary school teacher. They (and I'm not sure who I mean by they except for someone more powerful and all-knowing than myself) should warn you at the door as you try to skip inside with bags full of stickers and rainbow dreams.

As I have said before, it is NOT all flowers and sausages people.

At this point, you may be thinking, "What the F is she talking about? Sex? Lesbianism? Sausages?

But you're intrigued, right? Don't act like you're not.

I am talking about the latest dilemma in my life as a teacher. Recently, there has been a lot of dirty talk on the playground. I am a firm believer of " a time and place for everything" (am I right, ladies??) but I do not think that recess is the time, nor do I believe that the playground is the place to be discussing things of this nature. Why, oh why aren't they talking about crayons, freeze tag and Popsicles? Because I'm pretty sure that that was my repertoire of conversation as a child.

Here are some examples of the recent "dirty talk":

"Your mom has sex on you."

"You want to have sex on your uncle."

"All lesbians have sex in bathrooms."

"He is going to rape on you."

And the ever popular "Your pussy smells."

Whoever came up with the phrase "from the lips of children" never hung out on the playground at recess evidently. Or possibly was referring to another group of children.

I just don't get it. They are so sweet. I really and truly love this class. And not phony Little Miss Sunshine I Have To Love My Class Because That Is What Teachers Are Supposed To Say crap...I mean, I will honestly be sad on the last day of school. For the first time in a long time, I will not run skipping down the hall, cheering and hugging everyone in sight after the last child has left (hate to burst your bubble, but that's REALLY what teachers do on the last day of school). Over the summer, while sipping on a cool fruity beverage complete with a small umbrella, I will smile when I recall the funny things they said and the fun we had together.

And then I'll remember the dirty talk.

When I was their age (I walked up hill both ways...) the boys were infested with cooties, NOBODY could shake their booty in time with the music and we NEVER discussed a foul bodily odor other than the occasional fart. So, I guess farting was the most risque topic we covered. Farting and perhaps, just perhaps, we would try out a curse word or two. But we certainly did not discuss lesbianism, nor do I think I had ever even heard of rape. The whole notion of french kissing was still up for debate.

In sum, we were not this knowledgeable.

(By the way, I NEVER thought I would talk like this...seriously, I sound like my mom when she regales me with tales of her childhood. I totally promised myself that I would refrain from starting sentences with phrases such as "When I was little...." or "In my day..." I have sadly let myself down and have fallen down that slippery slope. All of which probably means that I am (sigh) old.)

(I also never thought that I would be preparing a lesson on "dirty talk" for my early elementary class. Or would be forced to pee in a bathroom infested with mice, but that's another story.)

It's too late now though. It's out there and no one can take it back. It's not like when they accidentally call me "mom" and then blush furiously as we both pretend it didn't happen. Or when they let a fart fly on the carpet in the middle of a read aloud and we all try our darndest to ignore it. ( I just realized that I have brought up farting at least three times in this post...what does THAT mean?)

No, it's out there and I have to deal with it. I can't have them using these words and thinking it's OK to use them in these ways. And, clearly they are exposed to these ideas somewhere and I can't let them be filled with all this misinformation, right? So I have teamed up with one of my colleagues and we are going to do a whole little talk on Words They Hear On The Playground That Make Them Uncomfortable and discuss the proper time to think and talk about those things. We are also going to write a letter home to parents explaining the entire situation and reassuring them that this Little Talk will not turn into Sex Ed.

This last minute, reactionary change in schedule is going to replace my previously planned lesson on place value.
Granted, sex talk is probably more interesting than debating how to use tens and ones, but somehow, I'm not looking forward to it.

So for any of you out there who STILL think this job is a cake walk, who STILL believe that all I do is finger paint and lead sing-a-longs, and who STILL insist that small children are just adorable - put that in your pipe and smoke it.



Although, I secretly wish that we COULD just sing-a-song and finger paint it away.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Walking With Curly

It's almost my version of "Tuesdays with Morrie"...but slightly less inspirational.

(Scene: It's approximately 8:03a.m. I have just picked up my class from the cafeteria and Curly is the line leader. I love it when Curly is the line leader. Although, to be clear, I don't have favorites. Yes, I do. No, I don't. I totally do and he is it. We are walking up the stairs together, one of my favorite times to chat).

Me: Hey Curly.

Curly: Hey Mrs. Mimi. ( eyes shining with a new discovery) Did you know that two lines means you're pregnant and one line means you're not?

Me: Uh....well, yes, I suppose I did know that. What I want to know is how do YOU know that?

Curly: We all sat in the bathroom last night while my mom peed on the stick. And there were two lines. I'm gonna be a big brother...Holla!

(No, I am not embellishing. He said, "Holla!" Can you see why I totally love this kid?)

Me: Wow, that's pretty exciting. But, does your mom know that you're telling people? Sometimes moms want to keep that private for a little while.

Curly: She should have thought about that before she made us all watch her with the stick.

I suppose he has a point.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You Are What You Eat...

...Unless Your Parents Are Idiots And Send You To School With the Most Disgusting and Unhealthy Lunch EVER!

Phew! That title was a bit long. But oh so accurate.

We went on a trip today. I love trips!!

Yes, I know they are physically and mentally exhausting. Yes, I know that the screaming on the bus reaches near deafening levels. Yes, I know that every one gets so excited that they can barely control themselves. And yes, I know there is never a man around yet there are an entire group of boys who need to pee which means standing outside the bathroom and yelling empty threats until they come out. It means complaining. And long lines. And other school groups who seem to be led by rude and obnoxious adults who encourage their class to push. Yes, yes, yes, I KNOW all that...

Wait a minute...I lost my train of thought. Let's see. I like field trips...because....um, well...now that I think about it...hmmm.

I love field trips because it always reminds me of just how young and sweet my friends are. I love bringing them places and seeing them excited about learning.

See? And you thought I couldn't come up with anything good.

We were having a fabulous time. Fabulous! And then it was time for lunch. We sit down and open up our lunches. This is always very exciting for the kids. Almost all of them get free-and-reduced school lunch (read "dogfood and prison grade meat") and so the experience of eating a lunch that their parents lovingly put together/bought for them is a big freakin' deal. I know. I don't really get it either.

Anyway, my friends are starting to eat and I'm frantically running around twisting caps, opening bags and inserting straws (those Capri suns are no joke!). I then start to monitor what everyone has, preparing to enforce my Sandwich First law. I get to one of my friends and notice that she is already eating her chips.

"Honey, you need to eat your sandwich first."

"I don't have one."

"Well, what do you have?"

She shows me a bag of Doritos, a bag of Cheesy Poofs and a big bottle of Blue Sugary Liquid masquerading as "juice."

WTF??

She tells me that is all her mother bought her. Her mom was in a hurry.

Hold on. I've been in a hurry too and grabbed a yogurt. Or a PB and J. My mom worked full time and raised me on her own, yet somehow I always managed to have a lunch that didn't come exclusively from the Fats and Oils sections of the food pyramid.

And it's not a money thing because those bags of chips are like $1.99 each...and if you have two bags, that's about $4. At the corner store closest to my school you can get a turkey sandwich and a bottle of water for $4.50. I know because that is what I brought on the trip today.

I promptly gave my little friend half.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Pity the Fool

Ah, and the Bacon Hunter strikes again. This last year has been so much better and so different from my previous experiences with her as a "staff developer" (read "raging waste of space"). Perhaps all the negative commentary and ground standing got through and she decided to slow her role this year. Whatever. I don't care. She has been far less irritating.

And then.... (C'mon, you knew that was coming didn't you? Like I would post a glowing review of her or something. Please!)

In the spirit of Extreme Standardized Testing, we have decided to test the living daylights out of small children who haven't even reached an official testing grade yet. I know, it's awesome (insert sarcastic tone here, and maybe a small tear running down my cheek). And the Bacon Hunter developed a whole NEW test that not only duplicates some of the findings of old tests and impacts my instruction in no way at all, she has also found a way to make the test a degrading experience for teachers too. Jackpot, right?

Let me explain. She decided that we needed ANOTHER math test which was catered only to the state standards for our grade (keep in mind that we are already assessing children on these standards about four hundred other ways that are more authentic and telling than a pen to paper test). We are mandated (read bitch-slapped if we don't comply) to give this assessment about once a month. So not only is it unnecessary, it's basically omni-present. As icing on the cake, she also demands (read wields her non-existent authority) that we turn the completed test in to her so SHE can grade them.

Because I can't draw the hands on a clock correctly.

Or add double digit numbers.

Or measure a straight line to the nearest inch.

I mean, you all know that teachers are only as smart as the grade they teach and since I teach a lower grade....

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

Are you kidding me? I can't correct my own students WORK? So not only do you waste my/our time by insisting that we engage in this ridiculousness, you also insult my intelligence and maintain your position as a raging jerk off.

Sah-weet.

Fast foward to parent/teacher conferences. The Bacon Hunter has corrected and photo-copied the most recent Assessment Of Nothing that she has created and has once again demanded (read snarled) that it be distributed to parents during conferences.

"And I will be checking up on you."

Because again, I am no smarter than or more responsible than the children I teach.

In the spirit of Being Positive in 2008, I have decided not to fight this battle. ( OK, in all honesty, I fought this battle tooth and nail last year and lost. Stupid teacher, I should remember my place. At the bottom. )

I am in the middle of a conference with the second parent of the night when I dutifully hand out the test. A particularly motivated and concerned parent (Yes, friends, they are out there and I heart them) took the time to look through the test.

Something which I had failed to do because I was also dispensing reams of my own much more useful student work to parents. Oops.

Her: "Mrs. Mimi, why was this marked wrong?"
Me, looking at the paper and seeing that the child has written 6 x 3 = 18 in response to a number story. Which is correct.
Me: "Uuuhhhhh...I'm not sure."
Her: "Didn't you correct this test?"
Me: (shit) "No."
Her: "Who did?"
Me: "Our math specialist."
Her: "And isn't this also correct?"
Me, looking at the paper once again, seeing 22 + 15 = 37, which is, yet again, correct.
Me: " Um, yes it is."
Her: "Actually it looks like my son should have gotten several of these marked correct."
Me: "Yes, it does."
Her: "What does your math specialist do with the results of this test?"
Me: "She graphs the information for the entire grade and then it is placed in the kids' permanent records."
Her: "And it's incorrect?"
Me: "Um, yes. Again, I'm very sorry. Please know that I plan instruction and grade your child based on assessments I create, assign and grade myself, more than I look at this kind of data. While it is required, I rely more on the notes I take as children are actually engaged in math work."
Her: "I am sure that you do. I have a lot of confidence in your work. My son has been making a lot of progress this year. But don't you think I should bring these errors on the part of your math specialist to the attention of the principal? I mean, this is more than just one mistake. "
Me: "Yes, yes I do think he would be interested. Let me walk you down to his office."

Is it wrong that I smiled from ear to ear the entire walk down the stairs?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Rookie Mistake

Happy Holidays everyone!! As you may have noticed, I took a bit of a blogging hiatus over the vacation. But it was worth it because after my first full day back (sigh), I am actually (dare I say it?), feeling happy and re-energized?!?!? Quick, someone knock on wood because who knows how long it will last!!

I probably should have blogged this pre-holidays, but I was NOT feeling energized and refreshed at all as I hysterically attempted to pack gifts, wrapping paper and clothes to visit my in-laws for the holidays. Let's just say I was not filled with holiday cheer...but this little gem was stored in the back of my mind just WAITING to be blogged. It's good.

So, imagine for a moment the day before the holiday break. For those of you who don't teach, it's like keeping a lid on a boiling pot of insanely over-excited crazy people. We are sugared up, sleep deprived, over excited and counting the minutes until the end of the day. We have completed the requisite holiday-non-religious-or-overly-specific craft and are shining with a fresh coat of glue and glitter. Bags are packed, holiday homework packets are passed out and there are STILL fifteen minutes before I can bring them downstairs to be dismissed (damn!). Being FIVE minutes early makes you look on top of your shite, but being FIFTEEN mintues early to the auditorium makes you look like a strung out lazy jerk and you know I'm all about appearances.

And in that fifteen minutes, I made the fatal mistake of agreeing to opening my presents in front of the class.

Keep in mind, I have taught for seven years. I should know better.

Shame on me.

We gather on the carpet. Quite a few children have generously brought me a gift this year. Honestly, I don't expect much and would be very happy with a thoughtful drawing or something, but many of my parents are amazing and have sent something in. I even have one friend who saved his allowance for three weeks to but a gift for me. I mean, COME ON!

We are mid love-fest as I unwrap the usual mugs, scented candles, assorted lotions and soaps. Apparently I smell. But I am choosing not to be offended. Everyone is excited and giggly as I unwrap their gift.

And then I get to a beautifully wrapped shirt box from my friend who we will call Braids. (She always has them). Braids can barely contain herself.

Braids: Open it! Just rip off the paper!
Me: But it's so pretty...
Braids: I picked it out myself. For you...
Me: That's very sweet.
Braids: It's for Mr. Mimi too.

(That was a KEY piece of information. Also remember that she said she picked this out HERSELF.)

I pull out the box, and open the lid as Braids practically pees in her pants because she is so excited....

It's....

(Oh my God!)

(Are you sitting down?)

A BRIGHT RED NIGHTIE AND A BLACK G-STRING!!!!!

I am so serious.


It's OK. Take a moment. I had to.

Me: Wow!! How lovely!
(Which I managed to say as I scramble to put the lingerie back into the box a.s.a.p. so that EVERYONE doesn't have the opportunity to bask in this gift's inappropriate glory.)

Braids: My mom says you can use it to have babies.

Oh dear.

I guess it's the thought that counts?

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, October 11, 2007

Respect My Authori-tay

Now I don’t want the following post to cause you to doubt my authority (or “authori-tay if you prefer). Because really, I can lay it down…the law, lay down the LAW. Sheesh…dirty birds.

Today I felt like I was at a crossroads. Not the Brittney-Spears-teen-movie-do-I-smoke-a-joint-and-make-out-with-my-girlfriends type of crossroads. A literal crossroads. Today I found myself standing on the street corner with twenty children, twelve rain appropriate coats and nine umbrellas. Already you can see that the odds were not stacked in my favor. How did I end up in this precarious position? Funny you should ask…

We were supposed to take a walking trip to the local fire station today and check out the fire fighters. I mean, check out the fire engines, fire ENGINES. Engines, yes. We were going to check out the fire engines and get a tour of the station in honor of Fire Safety Prevention Week (or whatever).

The kids are pumped. We have been having a great week (which on an average of five hours of sleep a night is nothing short of a miracle), so they totally deserved a fun morning out. I was thinking leisurely walk to the station, take the tour and then a leisurely walk back through the park with maybe some play time. All in all, a rad morning. And then it decided to rain. Or rather, this morning, it decided to mist. That mist where it feels more like you’re just get peed on than rain? You step outside and think, “this isn’t so bad” but then in ten minutes you are soaked and your hair is a frizzy mess.

But I will not be deterred!! We are going!! Rain never killed anyone! Besides, I hate being the bitch that canceled the field trip. So we line up, twelve of us in rain-appropriate coats and eight of use wearing just a T-shirt. Seriously people, turn on the news in the morning or just look out the freaking window! It is no longer send-my-kid-to-school-in-a-ratty-t-shirt-weather. Duh.

With nine umbrellas between us we march outside. We get about ten feet from the building when I realize how hard it is “misting”. I see my little friends huddled together under umbrellas, still getting wet and walking at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Shit.

I start fantasizing about the phone calls potentially coming my way should I decide to walk in the drizzle….

Angry Parent Who Sent Their Kid To School In A T-Shirt On A Rainy Day:
What were you thinking walking my child six blocks in the rain??!?!? Are you crazy??

Me: (Ummm…I was probably thinking the same thing you were when you walked your kid six blocks to school in the same outfit…take that!!) Well, it really wasn’t raining that hard when we left and I thought it would be fine. We were sharing umbrellas.

APWSTKTSIATOARD (look up top, the initials are all right!): I want to talk to your principal…my poor baby!!!

Me : (Your poor baby? You mean the child you routinely send to school without breakfast?) Again, I apologize, but….

APWSTKTSIATOARD: I didn’t even know you had a trip today! How was I supposed to know that I should have sent a coat to school???!?!?

Me: Ok…seriously?? #1. It is RAINING…that’s how you’re supposed to know that you should have sent your child to school in a coat. #2. You signed a freaking permission slip that was clearly dated for today!! #3 You also might have picked up the little tidbit about our trip in the two letters I sent home or the reminder printed on the homework packet for this week and last week. So really, you had about four to five opportunities to write this down on your calendar. I'm just saying.

We all know I would never say that. But it sure felt good to say it here….

So after standing in the rain for ten minutes, I made the command decision to turn around and troop back inside.

Stupid rain.

Monday, September 17, 2007

And Now Let's Talk About "Privates"

Thanks to all of you who asked about my long weekend...it was lovely and restorative. Many cocktails with umbrellas in them were embibed and I'm am fabulously tan. All in all...perfect. But now, back to reality.

Isn’t it inevitable that once the school year starts that words such as “privates” and “bottom” will sneak back into our vernacular every so subtly? Well friends, that time is here and boy, it’s back with a vengeance!!

Last week, before our break and my FABULOUS trip to somewhere tropical (I’m am so tan!!) one of my little male friends…we’ll just call him Grabby Hands…patted another little girl’s bottom during a read aloud. We’ll call her The Victim. Of course all of this happens while I’m fully engaged in a rousing rendition of Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny (brilliant!) and goes complete unnoticed. The Victim says nothing and Grabby Hands goes on with his day…clearly the guilt was easy to overcome.

So. The Victim goes home and tells her parents. The Victim’s parents come in a demand a meeting. A bit much in my opinion but I’m just going to go with it…I don’t mess around with this whole “privates” business.

Let’s fast forward to the day of the big Pow Wow.

Scene: Ms. Weavalicious’ office.
Characters: myself, Ms. Weavalicious , The Victim and her parents, Grabby Hands and his parents.

Me: So what have you learned Grabby Hands?

Grabby Hands: I shouldn’t touch anyone during school…especially in their “privates.” (Insert angelic look and some eyelash fluttering here)

Me: The Victim? What did you learn?

The Victim: I learned that I have to tell the teacher when something makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s OK to ask for a private conversation, especially when it’s about my “privates.” (Imagine her young feminist self blossoming during this brief speech…girl power, honey!!)

Me: Super.

Ms. Weavalicious: I’m so proud of you both. I’m glad you learned your lesson Grabby Hands. Remember, you have a lifetime of touching other girls’ privates…you don’t need to start now.

WHOAH!!!! Let me say that again…a little big louder now…

And I quote –

“YOU HAVE A LIFETIME OF TOUCHING OTHER GIRLS’ PRIVATES!!!”

WTF???!? Do you even see the parents sitting in your office?? They are not wearing camouflage. What are you thinking??

Glad you get double my pay. You sure earned that extra cash today.

Who's Peeking?