Wondering...

Are the people who want to reinstate prayer in public schools also the people who wish to eliminate lowercase letters?

Because I get several searches for this petition and the text of the searches are in all caps nearly every time. Are their pinky fingers cramped up so they cannot stretch to that vital key of all keys?

A Post Christmas Miracle

Rejoice, rejoice! Free Stitch and Bitch patterns have come to thee, O Israel!

Ghosts Of Crazy Children Past

So I'm walking through the mall, dressed up like an adult in the pants I got for Christmas (long enough!! My pants touch the top of my shoes!!), when a kid rushes up and matches my steps.

Junior III!

So here is Educat, dressed like a real adult, exclaiming with delight at seeing this baggy pants-ed, over-blinged, young man. I love the picture it must have made.

Here's the bad news from the visit: He's not been in school since he was kicked out of my school (what for? non-attendance.) and really doesn't know if he wants to return, since he'd still be in 9th grade. He was working at Long John Silver's, but was fired. I begged him to go back to school and to come and see me if he returns to our school.

The good news? Evidently all this hardship hasn't taken the song from his heart. He danced around the entire time we spoke.

Because You Asked, Knitting Teacher...

There's been quite a bit on the needles lately. Dishcloths made great small gifts. I always thought they were an odd gift, but I got requests! Who knew? I am in the last throes of dishcloth mania and long to start the baby sweater/gown for the wee McCarty.

I did take a short break from dishcloths for a baby gift (since she's already three months old and I look like the worst friend ever). I finally did some knitting in the round! Behold!!!

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It's the Umbilical Cord Hat from Stitch and Bitch. Note the wee run that ought not to be in the front. It is a result of starting on double points as no place in town carries 16" circular needles. Ok, someplace does. But it's the fourth place I looked and a fancy yarn store that doesn't run coupons in the paper like other places. Why is this!? So there you are, make Educat happy and score a hat for 16" circulars in any size but 7. Because I shelled out the car-azy price they wanted for the size 7 needles and if you would not after seeing that baby nose and mouth combo then you have a dark place for your soul and should retire to a black mountain and drink from a skull.

A whole new world might be opening. Expect many photos of knitted tubes. BECAUSE I CAN!!!

Before You Read, I Warn You Not To Hate On The Cowboy Monkey


This is my favorite piece of decor from my Granny's house. The Cowboy Monkey. I love it for its sheer kistch value. Today, my dad joked that someday (not soon, God forbid) when she dies, the minute the machine makes the flatline noise, he's racing over here and tossing the monkey in the trunk because I deserve it most.

I am spending my second night at Granny's house, helping her recover from her second knee replacement. It makes me the top tier grandaughter, but I am doing it more for my mom who otherwise would be here every morning (or worse, spending the night when she has to work the next day) seeing to her recovery.

So I am the one who has watched "The Wheel" with her two nights running. Although I do stand in mock reverence, I have mostly stopped rolling my eyes when the clock plays the Hallelujah Chorus every hour on the hour. I have awakened at 4:30am to get her a drink of water and when I couldn't get back to sleep, she urged me to put on her robe because "it will fit you, it's big big!" (In otherwords, she woke me up at 4:30 to tell me I'm fat. Thanks, Granny, but I sensed it when I went to bed last night.). I've almost adjusted. In fact, there's a couple of issues of Guideposts I am hoping to get to before I leave.

There's little moral to the story. It's all just so surreal/funny that I had to share. Perhaps I could wax eloquent about the need to remember others at Christmas, that's not it. Family is to be cared for. That's not a question. It's not about Karma. This may never come back to me. Let's just say it's about the monkey. Likely, I won't get it and I won't put up a fight. See, it's sort of original artwork. My aunt painted it. I'll not fight her for her own artwork.

Any kistch in your family roots you'd like to share?

Proof That No Theatre Degree Is Ever Wasted

I have recieved the greatest honor of my career. Better than making the third ballot for Teacher of The Year (really, third ballot is enough. The winner has to do this big ol portfolio that's hardly worth the cheese and cracker reception.), better than that one kid who worked in the food court at the mall and would grandly proclaim "No teacher of mine pays for a smoothie when I am working!", better than the polyester school logo t shirt that we got for Christmas. The best ever.

We have a mandatory meeting on our plan to talk with district tech personnel. It's our chance to "open up the lines of communication" so that the tech staff is more "user friendly" and it gives me a great chance to contemplate my similarity to Dilbert. One problem surfaces during the discussion: impossibly slow log in. Some of our computers take up to twenty minutes to log on. The suggestion? Video someone logging in. Show a clock in the video and send it to admin. Then perhaps some funds will be allocated to replace the worst of our computers.

"This" a colleague pipes in "is the perfect job for Ms Educat."

and she's soooooo right!

I am storyboarding right now. I have plans to knit during the film and show just how much knitting I can get done while waiting to log in. I had thought about planting a seed and then eating the resulting fruit by the time login happens. I could show mould growing on some food. There are just too many possibilities.

Can we call this blog entry a casting call? What talent do you have that can be accomplished during a 20 min login? Headshot and resume requirements may be waived if your talent is compelling enough.

The Vital Importance Of Us Magazine

Here at the Ramblin' Educat, we try to pass along handy teaching tips whenever possible. It's bread for the journey for my fellow educrats and gives the rest of you a teeney peek into this strange life I have chosen.

Here's the tip: Hoard trashy entertainment magazines.

My friend across the hall has subscriptions to Us and Entertainment Weekly and passes them on to me. I read through them, and somehow the stack of magazines kept growing and the issues never found their way to my house. I decided to play along and make them a classroom tool. So as kids finished with their EOI tests, I walked up and down the aisles like a flight attendant, offering trashy, fluffy goodness as reward for a job (hopefully) well done.

Turns out, the day after testing the antique who monitored my test raved about me and this practice to anyone who'd listen (although I wonder if he'd be as impressed if I'd done it while wearing dungarees). "She actually occupies those children! She's the only teacher I have ever seen who occupies those children!"

Can I be honest? Besides the fact that his praise seems somehow condescending, I just don't take compliments well. The fervor that surrounded my recent switch to contact lenses was quite nearly too much for me. At one time, I even put my hands over my face and kind of squealed "Stop looking at me, please!".

But enough about me, back to the magazines. I am quite sure they saved us all at points. It seems the rowdiest kids are always the ones to finish testing first and keeping them looking at pictures of Nick and Ashley buys us a few moments of peace while other kids finish.

Thursday, however, the peacemaking powers of Us were more fully realized. My darling little credit recovery kids are nothing if not chatty. Since their work is self-guided, they tend to space out and visit with each other about whatever shiny thing catches their eye. The other day, Babygirl espied the latest Us which promised all the dirt on Brittany's tearful decision to send her darling K-Fed packing (at least temporarily). "Oh!", cries Babygirl with all the seriousness of me wondering aloud about Supreme Court appointments, "Can I read that? I really need to know what's going on with Brittany and Kevin.".

I think a moment, deciding to hitch up that wonder for celebrity gossip to the wagon of her education.

"Let's make a deal. If you work silently for twenty minutes, I will read this article and summarize it for you. That way, you get your dose of news and some work done to passing English."

She did, and I found my wings as a celebrity gossip commentator. I have this new method of delivery for news on trashy teen pop stars. I do the tried and true head wag, but accompany it with a raised finger, dropped consonants, and a smack for punctuation. Ahhh...that Theatre degree isn't wasted at all.

Thank you, thank you, Us magazine.

This Was All The Same Eight Hour Period

Today, an eager young field rep for our local congressman came to my classroom to work with my kids. He's this All-American, soon to be law school grad. I like the guy, but something about his hair just screams "I ran the Young Republicans as an undergrad.". He has a great time with the kids. They are cute and charming and even pretty smart. He gives them good feedback and a lovely time is had by all.

At the end, I ask if the kids have any questions of him. Up pipes my resident nonconformist. She's a drama child--the one I have had to remind more than once that it's not "her-time" at this exact moment. So she looks at young Opie Cunningham field rep and says...

"Do you always dress like you're about to rob a fancy bank?"


I plan on curling up in a ball and dying, like to join me?

And then, Babygirl shares something priceless. I give you King of The Jews, Revisited.

She speaks out of a total silence...

Babygirl: "Hey y'all, guess what!?"
Jaded Kid: "What, God's Jewish!?"
Babygirl: "Yeah! Oh...yeah.
Y'all
told me that
."

Kicking It Old School

And so, for another semester, it is the end of the End Of Instruction testing. Today, we entertained a special guest star. Or should I say, he entertained me.

We had a sub today serving as a monitor for testing. His job was to walk around with me, handing out pencils and kleenex, making sure that no errant bubbling of bubbles took place.

His other job was to baffle me completely.

We go to breakfast, and he is full of questions.

"Is this breakfast standard at all schools?"
"No, at least I don't think so.
We just do it to better prepare our kids to sit and test and it also shows that
testing is important to us. We hope it gives them a good sendoff."
"Harumph.
I just read an article about how we coddle kids. We hand them everything, even
in college, and they don't really grow up until they're 30.
"Hmmm...there
might be some truth to that, but by the time they're 15, part of that damage is
already done. I'm not unlikely to fix everything that might be wrong. I think I
have to find a balance between challenge and encouragement."
"So tell
me...(he leans in conspiratorially)...is it true that the Orientals are your
ideal students?"

I fight the urge to tell the gentleman that Orientals are rugs and Asians are people.

We move on to the breakfast line. He is giving all the students the once-over.

"So do the girls not ever wear dresses anymore?"
"Oh, sometimes. Not very often, I guess"
I do want credit for not informing the gentleman that we don't bind the feet of the girls either. Instead, I tell him...
"I will venture a guess that you've never worn a dress, they aren't very
comfortable, you know. I think these girls go more for comfort."


Back in the testing room, the man read the paper the entire time while I (wearing a very uncomfortable dress, by the way) did all of the walking around the room. I think he was pleased to see that I was knitting while I monitored. And that I wore a dress.

Where I Hope To Prove It's Not Just Me

Tomorrow is End Of Instruction Testing, Part II, The Return. Besides that, I am getting ready to be out half the day for a funeral then back to school for Ms Educat's after school club for kids who don't read good. I have enough, I'm telling you.

So enjoy this. It's an email from a colleague. When she sent it and I responded that it belonged on a blog, she gave her blessing. "It deserves a wide an audience as possible". Bless her, here it is.

This morning one of my MALE students informed me that HE is a LESBIAN.
My curiosity provoked I inquired how that was possible. He informed me
that a Lesbian is someone who likes women and he likes women.


Because I am a dedicated teacher, I took the opportunity to inform him
that lesbians are women who like women. His response was that he had
looked it up and it was in the dictionary.


Fortunately for me, I have a dictionary (one of the kids stole it from
somewhere and left it in my room).


He told me to look it up, it's spelled L-E-Z-B...

at this point I interrupted to point out that this was where his
mistake had begun. Obviously, he was looking up a different word. Then,
seizing the educational moment further, I read to the class the definition from
the dictionary. After which, he forcefully stated, "Okay, I'm not
a lesbian, but I like women".


I will remember this conversation always. I think it is my new
favorite.



Every day is a new memory, no?

Yeah, There's More Going On, But It's Easier To Quote Students...

  • Overheard in class by King of the ADHD whose monologue is entirely external.
(walks to trash can, dripping ink and muttering) "Well, that was fun while it
lasted, but I'm never gonna play with a busted pen again."
  • Actual conversation in class while discussing End Of Instruction Exam, Part II.

Educat: "So, we'll meet in our testing room, then we'll go to the cafeteria
for breakfast."

Kid: "What's for breakfast?"

Educat:"Bagels, cream cheese, bacon, and gogurt."

Another Kid:"Bacon flavored gogurt?"

Educat:"Umm, no."

Yet another kid altogether:"Will there be cotton candy?"

An entirely different kid:"Oooh, and pony rides? And a merry go round?"

It's another kid, but he sounds like all the rest:"And turnips!?!"

The last kid to speak:"Turnip flavored gogurt????!!!!"

Perhaps we have gone too far with all those testing incentives.

Don't Tell Me I'm Not Old, Because I Know That. Just Read.

I know I have probably said this before, but I got quite a bit older yesterday.

There's little to do while you proctor the ACT. I mean, walking around too much freaks the kids out and reading would get me too absorbed to notice any possible exam subterfuge, so I knitted a bit and read the test materials over and over and over.

The list of students in my room listed birthdates. I am already used to the fact that these children who are Junior and Seniors and about to be unleashed upon the world were born as I graduated High School. Somehow, it doesn't bother me. I know we have none of the same cultural touchstones, and we move on. But yesterday, I tested a seventh grader. One of those brainiacs doing the Duke University Talent Search. He was adorable and from what I can see of just bubbling answers, he was bubbling in there with the best of them. Yes, he's cute, but look at his birth year...

1993. Late 1993. Nearly as old as the oldest child of my good friend.

I left the test shaken, old. I wanted to dial The Crib Chick right away and tell her that I just gave the test to someone the age of her eldest daughter!! The adorable baby that I remember visiting for the first time and staring, staring at her, her every move fascinating, fascinating to me because my friend made this!! That thing, created by my friend in her responsible adulthood, could have taken the ACT this weekend!!!

So I call, and her oldest son answers the phone. He sounds old too. He tells me his mom is unavailable. Nevermind that this kid has had this sophisticated a vocabulary since he was two or something. Right now, his use of that word makes me old.

No lesson learned, no ending here, soon the realization will wear off and I will return to my state of whimsical adulthood. For now, I just had to get that out.

Where I Take My Chances And Grovel A Bit

I have exciting news. I am finally applying for a graduate program! There's a grant from a local university to pay for an MEd with an emphasis in English Language Learning. Besides the obvious need for me to be trained in this area, it's free. Stinking free. Did I think the Master's I would get would be an MEd? Nope, but I also thought I would have to pay for it. So there we are. I plan to become Ramblin' Educat, MEd.

The application process isn't hard, but it requires two letters of recommendation. One from an administrator and one from a colleague. My principal is new to my building, but I figure I don't need a novel of a letter, so I ask him to write one.

And he recommends the wrong teacher. His secretary mistyped the letter, thus recommending the wrong teacher.

My first name is common. Most white girls born in the late 60's and early 70's were named Ramblin'. It's perhaps an honest mistake that in his letter he describes my success in teaching ELL at my school. Except that the ELL teacher is a tiny young Latina and I am...well...I'm just not. So I have to swallow so much pride and draft an email.


Dear Sir,
I am not sure how to tell you this, but as I looked over the letter of
recommendation for the ELL Master's program, I noticed that you referred to my
success teaching ELL here.

I am afraid that I am not that Ramblin'. I am Ramblin' Educat, the tall
stocky silly teacher who does Debate and knits in meetings (qualities that will
identify me, but not worth mentioning in the letter).

Really, really, I understand that things like this happen. Can I please ask
for another letter? I teach English II, Communications, Debate and
Humanities.

Thank you!

Ramblin' Educat

Hopefully, this attempt at humor will endear me to him and not seal my fate as the lesser Ramblin' for the rest of his time at my school.

The Oprah Tells Me So

I got an email from Oprah today.

Let me clarify, my district English coordinator got an email from Oprah and she forwarded it to me.

She was thrilled to write me with exciting news for my high school students!

On January 16, 2006, The Oprah Show is doing something WE’VE NEVER DONE

BEFORE. In addition to announcing my new book club selection-which I

promise is mandatory reading for every human being on the planet-I will

also announce Oprah’s National High School Essay Contest to accompany it.

Evidently, after the new book club selection is announced, the essay contest is announced along with it. Students will have from January 16th to February 6th to read this book which all humans should read and craft an award winning essay. But she suggests I use this novel with my class. So I have from January 16th to February 6th to procure classroom sets of the book, read it with them, and then have essays done? Bless me, Oprah, I just can't handle it.

I am reminded of my days selling personal care products, when women would walk into the store with those Scooby-Doo zombie eyes. "I neeeeeed the Oprah Pumpkin Mask!!!!". "What do you meeeeean the Milk products are discontinued!?!? Oprah says they are wonderful!?!?".

I tell you, it's coming, next round of educational standards we draft will be done by Oprah.

It leads me to a post that I can't fully flesh out now: Ways Oprah Is Like Jesus. I will need your help, reader, hit me with ideas. Leave that bloglines window and comment.

1. It's not Oprah that bothers me as much as her followers.

Kids Say The Darndest Things

  • "You mean to tell me that Jesus Christ was Jewish?!?!?!"

After I noticed a blonde-haired, fair skinned baby Jesus on a Christmas decoration, I commented on the irony. Babygirl was shocked to hear that Jesus might be other than Caucasian. I told her the Jewish Christ was evident from every read of scripture I have tried.

  • "You just need to know that you are the reason I am missing ten days of school!"

This from the young lady who recieved a referral for walking out of State Mandated Testing proclaiming it to be "Bullshit" (and while I agree with her, not such a good idea).

  • "I am not going to work on this outside of school because I sleep every day when I get home and I don't need your help on this (group) assignment so stop trying!"

Sparky's major group assignment is a week late.

We're All Important For Something

End of Instruction Testing is next week. The long pep rallies in which I am the only cheerleader have begun. The other day, I was in the midst of one such encouragement sessions...

"On the day that you take an EOI test, you are the most important student in the school. In fact, I would say that since English II students do two days of testing (for writing and objective testing), English II students are the most important students at school."

"So, uuuuuuuhhh, I took English II twice so I must be real important!"

...and no, I didn't laugh out loud. Not even a snicker.

Farewell, Old Friend

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The good news is that Lion Brand Yarns answered my email in less than an hour.

The bad news is that it's true. I had hoped it was some dark urban legend, but Lion Brand Cotton Ease yarn has been discontinued.

It was the only moderately priced cotton/acrylic yarn on the market and the colors were bright and lovely. It became a poncho for me, but I had hoped that it would be my first adult sweater.

Now it's not to be, it's too late.

Denial is over, I have moved to anger.

Sometimes I Wonder Too

Recently, my knitting teacher sent me a blog entry in which a woman outlines why she quit teaching after a year. She wanted to know if it was really how it is.

Fortunately, she sent it at the beginning of the Thanksgiving break. It's always better to reflect on my career choice when one is not actually doing my career. Had I gotten the entry at the end of a work day, I might answer, "Yes!! And sometimes worse!!". Instead, I offer my rational, well thought response (please oh please read sarcasm).

I have felt every emotion that blogger felt. She talks about being swept up in teenage drama, insane scheduling and grading, classes overloaded with kids who need more attention than we can give, and parental scrutiny of our every move. It's all very true at different times (with the possible exception of parental scrutiny, it seems most often I have the opposite problem--which also makes for hard times).

When I first got this entry I thought it would be great to blog. As I turned it over in my head, however, it sounded so self important. "Yes, I teach! And it's worth it all at the end of every day!! I am changing the world!!". Eigh. Bah. I can't claim to be anywhere near that noble nor would I ever speculate that this blogger was anything less than a great teacher who just made another choice.

So what's the difference? Why am I still around? Some of it is just practical. I have an education degree and it's the job I knew I was qualified for. I don't have to be creative in relating my degree to some other job. No defending my skills. Here's my diploma and my certificate. Here's the activities I sponsor and some letters of recommendation. Hire me, please. Sometimes it sucks, but so does every job.

Sometimes I stay because of the breaks and the great opportunities they offer. I have outlined my passion for teacher nerd camps here over and over. Are there other jobs that allow me extended time to travel, reflect, and concentrate effort on improving my work? Nope. I figured that out when I worked retail and befriended lots of the managers. It's all in the manual, the corporate office tells us how to improve.

Now, I know that the law of the three point build states that this is where I put the paragraph about how they change me. I get kids smart enough to challenge me, kids who are hilarious and inspiring. Seeing them grow up is satisfying, too. Yep, this is that paragraph. Some kids take from me much more than they leave and most of the time, I only come out even. But at least once a year, some kid leaves me with just a bit more in the tip jar of my soul. In fact, I can point to the hardest times as when I didn't have those kids---just one "giver" usually makes the semester worthwhile.

I just reread that paragraph and made the vomit face, but it's true.

Somehow The Campus Talent Shows Matter Less Now...

There is nothing like having to recount your possibly cruel actions while watching a possible victim on the big screen.

I am sitting in the theatre, ready to be engrossed in Walk The Line. I am fully into the present, in the moment, when the opening credits take me to my presumably bitchy past.

Waylon Malloy Payne.

Waylon plays Jerry Lee Lewis in the film and, strangely enough, attended Oklahoma Baptist University for a year--he was a freshman when I was a sophomore. Waylon Payne, not Jerry Lee Lewis. After seeing Waylon/Jerry Lee on screen and confirming that it was the guy I vaguely knew that year, I remembered the joke a friend made, "His middle name is excruciating.". I remember him involved in very little, but somehow always around. He auditioned for every show, was never cast, but hung out at rehearsal quite a bit. I don't remember him in either of the select choirs, but was somehow on the heels of all my music major friends as they would come to the cafeteria after rehearsal. He floated around the edges of my world and was gone the next year. Some interviews (because, yes, if you are in a major motion picture and I know you, you shall be Googled.) state that he made it two years and then was expelled, but I don't recall that. I just recall a guy that tried to find a place to belong, but never found it. The only memories I have of him was rolling our eyes at him--not that I am terribly proud of that.

What a unreal reminder of my bitchy past.

...and to think that I saw it...

I just saw a child in the hall wearing a light up scrolling marquis belt buckle.

Really, I did.

Please don't ask what the message was, I refuse to focus my eyes there for any amount of time.

An Entry On My Springy-Nerd-Like Neck

Mid December to late February is a busy time for my kids. We refer to it as "nerd season". We The People, Model UN, and Youth and Government all have their culminating events during this time and I will probably have only one non-holiday weekend free. Lots of these kids do all three events, and we laud them for completing "The Nerd Trifecta".

Nerd season kicked off early this year with We The People district competition this past Saturday. It was a lovely time, the kids exceeded my expectations.

Sometimes I wonder how I must look while listening to my kids compete. I go into this otherworldly state of notetaking, concentration, and active active listening accompanied by nodding. It's quite intense and I am usually worn out after a day of competing.

I had an interesting talk with one of the many parents that went with us this weekend (we had some fifteen spectators, all of whom were appropriately proud). After this wonderful morning of watching children speak intelligently, his first thought was, in all seriousness,

"You must be really tired now."
"Yeah, it takes a lot out of me."
"How tired is your neck, you know, from all the nodding?"
"Um...well...a little bit. I guess maybe I looked a bit like a dashboard
dog or something?"
"Yes! You did! That's it!!"


It's good that children have the biggest nerd ever leading them in nerd season.

"What Fresh Hell Is This?"

I desperately need to find a new career. What the hell can a burned out 30 something offer a potential employer? What the hell am I even qualified for? Besides letting pubescent little boogers drive me insane, that is. Can I even do anything else gainful?
DH is in a royal snit, as well. He's supposed to be the stable adult at our house but he has left that up to me tonight and I think I'm going to disintegrate. Is 6:57 pm too early to put my kids to bed?

You may think I'm being facetious, but I assure you I am 100% serious.

ps.
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Resume by Dorothy Parker

Sophomores, Wise Fools

In my never ending effort to make the study of rhyme scheme edifying for us all, we used song lyrics to learn the concept today. We had Beatles, Prince, a stanza of Nas, and some Marvin Gaye. Listen in...

  • Educat attempts to uncover meaning in Prince's Sign O' The Times

"So what do you think it means when the author says 'In September, my cousin tried reefer for the very first time, now he's doing horse, it's June.'?"

Silence

...at last a quiet voice dares to speculate....

"Umm....did he quit weed and become a jockey? I mean, it says he's on horse, so he rides one, right?"

  • Educat and Class expound upon Eleanor Rigby

We have wrapped our head around the possiblity that Father McKenzie is a bit self centered. After all, poor Eleanor is right there, cleaning in the church. For that matter, why does Eleanor never reach out to McKenzie?

"What, then, do you think is the answer to the question that the author asks? Where do the lonely people come from?"

And an answer comes from the boy who hasn't answered a question all term.

"England!!"

A Brighter Black Friday

Jim is already dreading Black Friday. It hardly seems possible that the holiday fracas is coming-a week away! It only just got cold and it feels like school just started.

With all the depressing events of the last week, reading his post brings to mind the best holiday blessing for me.

I won't be working retail this year! For the second year running!!

I'm not just being funny. I mean, I am paritally being funny. I don't miss getting excited when someone buys the biggest gift set in the store. I don't miss sore feet, counting the day's take and counting down to our sales goal, or wearing silly reindeer antlers (which, with the events of the last week would be more traumatic than ever to wear) while working to uncover your lotion and gift giving needs. It was an unnaturally crazy life and one I don't miss, but mocking the excesses of American Retail Christmas is only part of my message here.

My after school tutoring job allows me to work fewer hours a week and make more extra money. It's satisfying to be able to help my parents. Furthermore, I believe it's more helpful for me to help a child get that much closer to graduation than to uncover your need for personal care products.

We are again sharing Thanksgiving with dear family friends this year and their tradition is to read aloud a "what we are thankful for" list. This year, I can meaningfully say that I am thankful for Ms. Educat's After School Club For Kids Who Don't Read Good.

I Wonder...

  • If the child who told me I "Look hot" with contacts was just sucking up...
  • If the child who pointed to his genitals as he asked to use a hall pass was harassing, intentionally obscene, or just, well, stupid...
  • How cheap I can get my hands on an autoharp so I can approach the coolness of Sheryl Crow last night singing Ring of Fire on the Johnny Cash tribute show last night...
  • How the child who never writes for me in class can manage a three page rebuttal to the referral he got while I was out the other day...
  • How a class who cannot exist for more than five minutes without someone shouting, burping or farting will write for two hours straight on the End of Instruction exam...

How You Could Be My New Favorite Auto Body Shop

Some really wise and creative body shop could give my car a blog while it's in the shop. I could hear what it's doing every day and see pictures of its transformation.

Granted, hiring those bloggers would cost me, the consumer, but I'd pay for it!

The Last Entry On The Deer, I Promise

Preferable Ways For Deer To Commit Suicide (rather than run in front of my car)

  • Ingest an unhealthy amount of pills via her salt lick
  • Slit her hooves
  • Somehow find a house with a gas oven and stick her head inside
  • Suck on an exhaust pipe

There, now I am done. Please cease and desist all jokes concerning road kill and mind how you use the phrase "deer in the headlights".

The Important Stuff

Thanks to everyone who wished condolences as we remembered Nana this week. We remembered again what it is to choose family and make community as my mother spoke at the funeral today.

It turns out my mother is a kick butt funeral speaker. What she said today was probably a better message than the "heaven" sermon I have heard a thousand times--now a thousand and one.

She recounted the story of Nana "choosing us" and explaining our relationship to those around her. "We are family in the heart" she said, "we chose each other.".

To those who love her, the job is to live her memory not dwelling upon the last year, but always by the example what she told us "There are givers and there are takers in this world, and you and I are going to choose to be givers."

Another Reason To Love My Father

He picks the deer hairs out of the grill of my car when I just can't handle it. Forget the crumpled hood and hanging signal light, the deer hairs matter the most. Now it's totally driveable.

The Most Surreal Evening...

There is so much to share about tonight. Some of it's funny, some sad, some philosophical. First, I'll just get the facts out. This way we can examine it later.

  • I had a lovely evening in Shawnee, visiting friends I hadn't seen in more than 10 years.
  • My mother called in the middle of the visit to tell me that Nana passed away this morning.
  • And somehow, I haven't been upset yet. Even when I hit a deer (yes, I hit a deer) on the way home.

The hope was that typing this to you would get it out and I could get to sleep.

Let's hope that works.

My New Idol

But I can't decide if it's Severus Snape or Mary Beth Ellis. Check out http://blondechampagne.blogspot.com, and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9959467/ . Then let me know what y'all think.

Where, Just For Grins, I Bring Back An Old Character

I just ran into the Leg Wrestler in the hall (do you know how long it took for me to choose the post I would link to for this child? How I love him! How I miss him!!). I haven't spoken with him in at least a month, and he waved excitedly at me, so I smiled as I approached him.

"LW!"

"I have a rash!"

I wasn't sure how to take that. Is he proud of the rash? Excited?

You Think You Know...

...but you have no idea.

You have no idea what I do on those nights I go to knitting class.

My knitting teacher sent me this link. Go now, and know.

I love you, little smart ass boys.

The Happiest Day Ever

The Archie McPhee Catalog has arrived!!! I am skipping about and squealing like a pig!!! I want monkey band aids!! I want pencil toppers with our Lord and Savior!!

If I had a zillion dollars, it'd be Christmas for us all.

The McPhee Catalog comes on the same day as My Name Is Earl...It brightens a bleak day.

How To Make Me Squirm In Knitting Class

The following is a near transcript of my Haloween knitting class. This may not be exactly how it happend, but it's the picture my memory creates. And I'm sticking with it. One of the longer 60 second periods of my life.

Educat (chuckles to self):Boy, I do a lot of baby knitting for someone with
no kids.

Lady From Class #1: Oh, if you had kids you wouldn't have time
to knit.

Educat: That's true. I also sort of enjoy being the Fairy
Spinster.

Lady From Class #2: But Hon, you have to get out there,
sweetie!

Educat: I've always wondered exactly where out there--

Lady 1: Do you go to church?

Educat: I'm sort of betw--

Lady 2: Oh, sugar, all the young people are going to the Life
Church
!

Educat: Well, I don't know if I'm that young.
Besides, I'm sort of a recovering Baptist.

--silence fills the room like
I just announced I needed a knitting chart for a pentagram---


...and you can't exactly go to church for the sole purpose of meeting
someone, now, can you? So I'm fine. If it happens, it happens. If this is all my
life is, it's pretty good.

You know, I don't know if I really sounded that "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" at the end. I don't think I am that articulate in person. Let's remember it this way, though.

Hey! You're Applauding For No Reason!

During last night's fall musical performance, I was lucky enough to sit behind a man I have come to know as Hey!.

Hey! always seems to have tickets on the same night as I do. I have never known who he actually is, however. At the end of many of the musical numbers, Hey! will shout (what do you think he will shout?) "Hey!" in that sacred quiet moment between the end of the song and the applause.

It unnerves me, and I hate it. So here I am, sitting where I can see him, and I can't do a thing about it. How would it look to have a teacher confront a parent at a school event? I so wanted to ask him why he shouts like that. I so wanted to challenge his choice of time to yell (for example, if you are going to shout, why didn't you do it at the end of It Takes Two? It was an adorable number and very important to the plot. The kids were able to sing and act at the same time. Bad choice, Hey!. Bad choice.

While I have you here and you're listening to my thoughts on theatre ettiqute, can we also discuss the standing ovation?

We have devalued it. How many performaces (of any type) have you attended recently where one schmoe stands up? All of them, right? Then, just because he did it, five more people stand up and before you know it, everyone around you is standing and if you don't you're a bastard who doesn't appreciate everyone's hard work and the stock for applause just plummeted. Little Johnny goes to college and appears in his first college show and thinks, "Man, I got a standing O every time I got onstage in High School and now I hardly ever do. I must have peaked in high school."

And he weeps. Do you want that on your head? I don't.

I would like to propose a minimum basic criteria for a standing ovation and I would like to do it here. Please share your ideas here and the findings of our committee will be shared in this space at a later date.

We could change the world and save little Johnny.

The Week In Silly Crap

-Selling tickets to the football game, a former student came to my window. He took Debate with me and was clearly in over his head. I pushed him while trying to help him understand the work and never knew if it did any good. I got a very perverse answer to my question that night.

"Ms. Educat! I saw Plato on a commercial! On TV!!"

"Really, what was he selling?"

"Quizno's!"

I guess we all have to moonlight sometimes.

-Same football game, guy comes to my window. Very much in shape and well (if not overly) groomed. Immaculate eyebrows. Tan. Black fitted T shirt that said "Dolce and Gabanna Parfum". So I think I have him figured out, right? I sell him his tickets and when he speaks to me, it's wretched grammar and a Slingblade accent! It's like Carl got a Queer Eye Makeover! It's like Scott's story in reverse!

-After seeing the Fall musical at school last night, I have decided that my ideal cast of Into The Woods would feature Gary Busey as The Mysterious Man. Then he'd stop The Baker in the woods and be all, "Looking for a cow? Cow means Can Obtain Wealth. And you can!!".

Go, Blog Reader, Go And Be My Sarcasm

I got nothing. It's past bedtime, after a football game, and I have to be a teacher tomorrow. It's time for bed and I have little left.

So, it's gonna have to be you, soopa-readers. Enter The Phantom Prof's word nerd challenge. There's humor here, I just...can't...reach...it...

And so I leave it to you.

Always Teaching...

As I walk about the front of my classroom, rifling through stacks of paper, looking for the handout I made yesterday, I speak to my class...
 
"Guys, the best and most important thing you can learn about writing for school is to have an organizational pattern. (I flip through a stack of papers)  I learned a pattern when I was in High School that I was able to use through college and now I teach it,  (I lift up a stack of books) I can't emphasize enough the importance of organization in your writing."
 
I find what I needed and look to see that most of my class is trying to hide their laughter...at me.
 
"And so what literary element would this be?"
 
"Irony"-- from the whole class.

If You Mess With Me, I Will Totally Cut You On The Internet--Now With A Guilt Induced Edit

I had to go Cobra Neck today.

I am in the process of getting approved by my insurance for a perscription (because you know those educated, medical doctors, they're car-azy!! Not like insurance companies!!). Yesterday, I spent my entire plan time on the phone (mostly on hold) just to get the insurance people to send a fax to the Doctor so that he can explain my silly perscription.

So today, as recommended, I call the doctor to verify that they have said fax. After waiting on hold, I get Slingblade in the referral office.

"Uuuuhhh, I don know whur your fayux is. Wait, uhhhh...damn. You gon have to call back."


Please be aware that I do not use the Southern-esque accent to make her sound dumb. Her words do that job nicely. I myself bear a wee bit of the twang. No accented Americans were harmed in the writing of this post.

I can't call her back, I am a teacher on planning period. It goes like this for a while. I can't convince her that she could use my case number and insurance information. She asks me if I have tried anything else.

Did you get that? She asks me if I have tried anything else. Like I don't leave that to the discretion of my Medical. Effing. Doctor!!!

Yes, I respond. Furthermore, the doctor wrote me that prescription and I thought that perhaps that meant it was okay to fill.

I have a message from her now on my phone. I will check it when there aren't thirty children in the room.

Who can all speak better English than the gal in referrals.

Thank you, internets. I feel better now.

I feel even better now that it is resolved and I realized a few things. I am fortunate. I am fortunate to have even bad insurance and a job that covers it. I am fortunate to be able to pay my copay. I know this. I also know that Slingblade is fortunate that I have this job and didn't come after her.

Now I really feel better.

The Very Reason To Carry A Digital Camera In Your Purse

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It's true, friends.

Testing Their Faith

Today every Sophomore that managed to arrive at school by 9am took the PLAN test, a pre-ACT. In one of the demographics questions, the students were asked to identify thier religion (really really not sure why). Here are only two of the questions from my testing room.
 
Confused Child:"They didn't list Catholic! What if I'm Catholic!?!"
Educat:"Do you think you might pick 'Roman Catholic'?"
Confused Child:"I don't know Roman..mutter mutter..."
 
Confused Child: "What do I say on this one? I don't know what I am."
PTA Volunteer: "Just put Baptist, all the white people are."

How Can A Post With So Few Words Have So Many Links?

Our only spirit week thus far at school was pretty tame, and it feels even tamer after reading about this school's.

Much thanks to Phantom Prof for the link.

Am now signing off to finish shrug. Five rows from completion!!!

If it's not one thing, it's your mother

So last night during a phone conversation, Sweet Daughter of mine told my mom we wouldn't be coming to visit until we could afford to stay in a hotel.
Guess who's giving me the silent treatment?
"How does she do that from 2000 miles away?", you ask.
I'll tell you: she emails my daughter at my email address and says nothing to me. And it's my BIRTHDAY!

KaBOOM!

I feel like I'm going to implode. No - really. Thoughts of all of the crap I have to do are swirling around in my brain, causing hurricane force winds at my brain stem cortex, and a veritable nor'easter near my frontal lobe.
How am I supposed to do all this shit? Grade, Plan, Teach, Assess - oh, and earn recertification points on my own time. All I really want to do is teach, and obstacles keep getting in my way. And the thing is, the people who are supposed to be supporting and helping me are the ones putting up the obstacles.
When The Spouse starts making some real money, I'm going to get out of teaching. It's sucking my soul dry.

You Made Me Blog You, I Didn't Want To Do It

I swear I gave this girl several chances not to be blogged. She said and did several things on which I could have passed. However, when you witness them all together,I think you'd agree I'd be cheating you all if I didn't share.

I gave the ACT Saturday morning. It was a small test for our school because of Fall Break we had about 100 kids as opposed to the 300 area kids we usually test. This child in my room made up for the 200 we were short on Saturday.

  • Troublesome Child comes to my room and presents her ID (watch for oddity #1 here), a passport from a Caribbean nation.
  • I also notice her eyebrows. I can't help it, I notice everyone's eyebrows. I have spoken before of my own eyebrow struggle, so I don't intend to throw stones here. She had those one-hair-thin brows that make you look like Bob Geldof in The Wall but then stubble where they were growing in. Big, big stubble. Stubble that threatened to make her look like Bert.
  • The scripted, liturgical ACT instructions baffled her. She could not identify the right boxes for any data. It got so that with every new instruction, I would point to the spot on her paper. Glad I seated her on the front row.
  • She left her seat after the first test to put her purse across the room from her. I didn't get it, but it wasn't worth questioning.
  • Just before I called "begin" on the morning's final test, I hear a rooster crowing. Seriously, a crowing rooster! What the crap!? Did someone in here betray Jesus three times? I couldn't figure it out...until I followed the rooster...to...the purse across the room. Please, if you refuse to shut your phone off, have a ring that sounds like a ring and not a farm animal. So now, I have to fret over whether or not to void her test. At the advice of the test administrator, we decide that she stays and I fill out a lengthy incident report.

That was a story. One worth telling, but probably not blogging (Sorry, internet, you don't get it all. ) but dammit, she just kept being crazy.

  • We're done. It's not even the test anymore. It's the "fill in some questions about your test taking experience" part. I have given the appropriate ACT liturgy. "Stop. Put your pencils down, close your test book and look at me. Turn your answer sheet to page two...". But she didn't turn the answer document. Nope. She opened the test booklet!! Did you hear me, She opened the test booklet!!!!! She didn't write on the answer sheet, nothing verboten was bubbled, but what am I to do!?!?

The test administrator once again made the call and I was able to speak with the girl. We had a long talk about listening and watching to see what others do and for the love of all that is good and holy asking questions when you are confused. She promised that she had a new cell phone that she didn't know how to work and cried and cried her oddly framed eyes out. I dismissed her with a pat on the back and urged her to take the test again.

Somewhere else.

See? She was just begging to be blogged.

Comment-ary

Scott asked an interesting question about comments--

Why is it that so often the essays that one likes the best, thinks may be among the best things one has ever written, get no comments?

Answering this, I think, demands that we answer a big question, What are comments for?

If you read any Xangas (the blog service that most of my students use which I have quit reading for a time...you can know too much), the kids blatantly demand comments, and the ones that are made are mostly just "UR so amazing! muah!". I don't think any adult blogger wants that, at least they won't admit it. I admit that as much as I enjoy compliments about and on this blog, I always squirm a bit, afraid that I am fishing and that I have somehow coerced you with some adult equivilent of "comment, bitches."

Some posts ask for comments more tactfully. The post is some sort of question, and you are asked to answer. You'll have that here soon, hang on a bit.

And while we're talking about you, it's also worth noting that I have weird feelings about lurkers. Somehow, I feel like if you know me in real life, you ought to somehow let me know you're out there. When you see someone in a play, it's only polite to say something. It's a form of the same thing. This blog is my first effort at writing for some other than academic purpose and so silence somehow indicates disapproval for me. I admit, it's my fault for getting to know my stat counter so well that I know who some of you are. This sort of comment is minimal, "Hey, good to find you here". Mojo did it, why can't you?

But I think what Scott's looking for is real conversation. You read a post and something about it compels you to relate and interact with the writing and the author. It's a hard type of comment to have sometimes. Witness the 99/Anonymous debacle of earlier this fall. I so clearly imagined that post one way that I think I just wasn't planning a whole other slant on what I said (Don't let this stop any of you now, the meds are working again and I can handle polite society). It's conversation, but harder. We can't predict what others will say, but we get to hear another take on our writing. I think that's what Scott's talking about. It demands the reader will identify and feel what they have to say is vital enough to the conversation. Frankly, I don't always have that much time or confidence. Sometimes I don't look to the internet for interaction as much as entertainment. At times, we are all just passive readers.

What do you think? How does it happen that a person works for hours to define exactly what it is they feel about a vital topic and I shelp out four sentences about bookmarks in three minutes and get six comments? What are comments for? What makes you decide to interact with a post and an author?

But please don't think you have to comment. Fishing for comments is so very Xanga.

Educat, Plain And Tall

In which Educat holds forth on fashion trends of the day

It happens to me every Fall. Every year at this time, I start to brood and wonder about long pants. See, I am five foot ten and short waisted. The capri trend was made for me. All my pants become capris by default. I try to extend the capri season for as long as possible but the time has come, there is no avoiding it--I have to wear long pants now. Every. Single. Day.

I live in a state of constant dissatisfaction with my current selection of pants. Every October payday, when Fall Break approaches and the pay for my second job kicks in, I am brimming with this discontent and head out. Out I go to look for pants.

So this weekend began Khaki Quest 05. I didn't find much. Let's leave it there. I am not average length. I will never be average length. Even if I became average width, I would still not be average length. Please, pants people, more talls!?

But that's not what I want to speak of. I want to speak of sequins.

I believe in a few sequins. I have done the accented shoes (a brave move given that my feet are proportionate to my height), I own a charming sequined pin. Fine. I can go that far. I would, however, like to step off of the sequin train at a point. Was is the advent of purses that pushed me away? Was it imagining the fully sequined shoes on large feet? Perhaps the idea of wrapping them around my waist as a belt, thus shining a light on an area best kept dark? No, it was pants again. Pants and skirts. Did I mention that I saw a pair of sequin trimmed pants? Did I tell you how I want to love sequin skirts for their whimsical, gypsy like look but then envisioned the reality of sequins on my ass?

There. That's my style corner. Expect another edition next fall when my pants angst kicks in.

Are Those American Or Kazakhstani Dollars?



h/t-Zalm

You're Fighting For Your Life Without The Chillers, Grade Killers, Tonight!!

How much research reports that comfortable students perform better? Lots of it.
 
How many teachers are told that this very afternoon we must give our nine weeks exams? All of us.
 
What day did our benevelent school district choose to fix the chillers in my building? TODAY.
 
Current temperature in the OKC? 87 degrees.
 
Current conditions during Ms Educat's final? Around 80 degrees with the fresh funk of fifteen year olds hanging in the air.
 
Let's repeat that: Fresh Funk of Fifteen Year Olds.
 

ADHD Blogging. Pour Up A Ritilin Smoothie And Enjoy.

  • Jim won't, but Susan does. I don't think I will use adsense for Blogger because I am so giddily grateful that you even read this thing that asking to you click on a link is just too much. Yes, it's incredibly silly, but it's how I roll. Roll your own way with my best wishes, this is just me.
  • Do you think that a teacher might miss a child in a t shirt that says "I'm Rick James, Bitch!"? Ok, how about if there's two of them? And if they walk down the hall together? I didn't, and neither did my favorite Asst. Principal this very morning. Both mothers were appropriately mortified.
  • Two. Point. Five. Days. In. This. Week!! Twopointfivedaysinthisweek!!! Tomorrow I give nine weeks tests to my afternoon classes, Wednesday I give them in the morning. After a long leisurely lunch where I will chew my food and people will serve me, I shall spend the afternoon in parent conferences. After that, Fall Break. Thank you, autumn, for giving me a break. How do I roll this week? Not nearly as much.
  • New Goodwills are springing up all over my part o' town. They are large and clean and if you get there before I do, you can catch a "Knit This!" kit with yarn, needles, a learn to knit DVD and a sometimes usable pattern for about two bones. The newest location boasts an "Educational Center" department. It's painted right there on the wall. What does the department carry? Strangely, nothing educational.
  • Is it ever too early to think of summer when stuff like this exists? I am open to new Summer Nerd Camp options. Any fellow Educat Educrats (teachers who read this blog) are welcome to consider these options with me! Join me and do a nerd camp with a blog friend.

S.A.D.?

With the days getting shorter, and the darkness lasting longer, my mood sinks. I'm going through one of those blah phases that starts in October and lasts until April. I think it's called Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I'm behind in grading, too. Like two weeks behind. Students keep asking me when I'll give back their papers and tests and I feel guilty that I haven't returned them, stressed out that I still have to grade them, and angry that I have 130 students' papers, tests, quizzes, and homework to grade.
I just want to crawl into a hole and never come out.

Google Makes My Monday

Someone just got to my blog from a search for Catherine Bell look alikes. My stat counter shows they stayed for 0 seconds.
 
Life is full of disappointments, isn't it?

Nothing To See Here Today, Move On...

Seriously, I am writing a test and getting aquainted with my Vocabulary workbook.

Go read the entry on A Shrewdness Of Apes about parent conference day. It's just in time for my conference day on Wednesday.

There. Now you have the link. It's good stuff, really.

I Am A Chicken

Remember when I waxed indignant at the petition to reinstate prayer in public schools?

I guess I am not nearly so brave in "real life".

I just got an email from a friend (A Youth and Govt friend, yet! Someone who should know how our Government works!!!) with the same petition. So what should I do? Should I really send him the whole rant, full of the assumption that this man doesn't know the government or a wise way to practice faith?

I can't. I have to work with this guy, and I love him like a wise second father who would find me too strident if I unloaded all my brain. So instead, I sent a response...

Wouldn't this go through the courts like the Pledge of Allegiance case? When
state lead or mandated prayer has been removed from an area, it's usually gone
through the courts.


Yeah, talking big is fun on a blog.

Overheard During Comprehension Questions Over Night

That ain't the camp they in!! They ain't in the B word camp, they in Ostrich*!!!
 
 
*If I need to tell you that Ostrich here refers to Auschwitz, then my worst fears are true and my reality is truly altered. Please rescue me at Educat, c/o The Internets, America, The World.
 
 

Because Really, I Am A Character Actor...

That's an embarrassingly low sarcasm score. *sigh*

Carmen Miranda
You scored 40% Anxiety, 5% Sympathy, 35% Sarcasm, and 20% Wisdom!
You are a nutball, constantly causing mayhem and misunderstandings for everyone around you. You mean well, but you just can't seem to do anything right, and though that often serves to further the plot, it also causes general chaos. You are a one-person army of insanity...but hey, you're colorful. You don't really offer any help or support to the main characters, but you're often fun and mostly interesting. You enjoy causing scenes, which is good, because you can't help it. Nice fruit.



Roadside Theology Is The New Black

So now my friend in Baton Rouge sends me church signs. She said the folks here took some time off from opining when Katrina hit, but now according to her "it's Katie, bar the door!"

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I think this earns a bigger eye roll in Louisiana than here in the dry country.

Slap My Old Shoulder Pads And Call Me Rosalind Russell!!

Love this. Facinating. Thanks, Scott. It seems we are the same leading lady.




Rosalind Russell
You scored 7% grit, 61% wit, 33% flair, and 7% class!
You are one wise-cracking lady, always quick with a clever remark and easily able to keep up with the quips and puns that come along with the nutty situations you find yourself in. You're usually able to talk your way out of any jam, and even if you can't, you at least make it more interesting with your biting wit. You can match the smartest guy around line for line, and you've got an open mind that allows you to get what you want, even if you don't recognize it at first. Your leading men include Cary Grant and Clark Gable, men who can keep up with you.

Proof The World Is A Different Place Over Here

Setting: Ms. Educat's classroom, afterschool English for kids who don't read good (and I know that sounds mean, but seriously, sweet as they are, they don't. Let's beg Kristen to tell the story of the say one of the KWDRG told her about Julius Caesar--please, Kristen?)
 
KWDRG 1--Ms. Educat, are those words for English on your board?
 
Educat--They are.
 
KWDRG 1 giggles a bit and whispers to KWDRG 2. They both laugh at my board. I turn around and look at my vocab list for Night.
 
Educat: (with a real smile) Can I guess what's funny? Did you know that sometimes ghetto is a noun?
 
I like these kids,when there's so much to learn, they never leave without learning something. The bar is low. 
 

Simple Gifts

Today I saw a boy running to class to make the tardy bell. He was busting a sag and holding his pants with one hand so that they would stay right below his buttocks (where they belonged?). His run was impeded by his poor fashion choice such that the running only took place from the knee down. The tail of his foolishly long belt was flapping in the breeze.

In twelve years of teaching, it's still hilarious. There just isn't anything funnier.

How Did You Not Know?

Rev. Fred "God Hats Fags" Phelps and the whole Westboro Baptist Church posse are coming to the OKC!

They have stopped in a few times already to picket the funeral of an Iraq War Veteran. It caused such a stir in town that my State Rep. has authored legislation to ban protests at funerals. Now the Westboro gang is rolling into town to stage a "Love Crusade" at Rep. Wesselhoft's Church. For the record, the refer to him as "the Oklahoma Balaamite".

It's sick. It's sick to see this hatred at a funeral of a soldier who has nothing to do with our military's policy. It's sick to see this hate at a church who in most other arenas would stand with Phelps against homosexuality, and it's sick to see hatred to a group of people in the first place. It all just shows how hate spreads. When anyone starts to fling hate, the hate soon hits everyone like a monkey slinging hate poo. I swear after I finished the web search, I had to go look at the baby socks I want to make just to even me out.

I didn't bring my copy of Night home, but we started to read it in English this week. Today, I read the section aloud to my class where Elie Wiesel and his family arrive at Auchwitz. They are shocked to see the ovens and a man confronts them. "How did you not know!?", he shouts (and I am probably misquoting this but the book is at school) "How did you not know about this in 1944?". How did you not know that this hate would hit you eventually?

The Vowel Movement

Kevin asked in a comment about the "letter people". As far as I know, they long gone. I was a bit shocked I had never heard of them given that anything on PBS in 1974 was right up my alley. The story of their 1990 shift to political correctness is worth a look, though.

Let's hand this question off to Crib Chick and Susan, both of whom see more kid TV than I do. Ladies, please advise.

All this letter talk, however, reminded me that I have never told you about the Vowel Movement Kids.

I don't know who they are or how it starts, but every day at lunch the kids start to yell, "OOOOooooooohhhhhhhhhh". It seems to have no reason other than the power of the kid who first yells and somehow makes the others yell with him. It has happened without fail for the last four or so years.

My room is directly off the cafeteria, so all the mischief of the other two lunches are heard by my students. When the corporate moan begins, I dryly ask the students to ignore it, that some children are trying to start a vowel movement.

A couple of years ago, I had some Drama kids in class who ran with the vowel movement concept. They decided to answer "OOOOOhhhh" with the rest of the vowels. It was something to hear, all those kids yelling "Aaaaaayyyyy, Eeeeeeeee, Iiiiiiii, Oooooohh, UUUuuuuuuu, Sooooome-Tiiiiiimes--YYyyyyyyyy!!!"

I Might Just Try It...

I loved this week's episode of The Word Nerds. We seem to have a real problem with vocabulary in class, especially when it comes to seeing prefixes and suffixes. This episode seemed pretty understandable. I am thinking about playing it for class and then just a bit of discussion.

I love the topic of registers, it's a way of talking about language that implies that casual speech isn't wrong, it's just not always appropriate. I wonder how much they will grasp the idea of code switching.

Even if it bombs in class, you can listen and discuss.

Toddler Blog

I am at Panera in the corner table. No territorial dirty looks today, only a woman who asked if I was "really here alone" because there was a line out there! I assured here that, yes ma'am I am here alone and that I will scoot my small table down if need be, thanks.

I didn't need to. Bite me, lady.

My blog turns two this week, and like a toddler, it's become things I never thought it would. It makes me wonder what it might become...

  • The whole mention in NEA Today seems to bring with it some kind of pressure to be a "real edblog", the kind of edblog that is in constant study of all the educational issues of today and provides constant reports of such. A couple of blogs seem to indicate that the blogs mentioned in the article are more than what they are, personal blogs by teachers. I don't mind the assumption, but it's not what I am. Sometimes, this blog will be used to examine lesson plan ideas. Sometimes, this blog will be used as a sounding board on what's happening in education. Most of the time, it won't be either of those things. I write this blog because I am learning to write. Right now, this blog looks edu-bloggish because I work in a school 10 hours a day and am learning to teach English, but it's about my personal experience. Have I mentioned before not to depend on me for news, weather, or sports? Yes, I think I have.
  • I pondered installing those knitting progress indicators and becoming more like a real knit blog. Nah. It'd be really boring to see that it takes me a whole week to add 10% more progress to the seemingly endless shrug, and there's only so much entertainment you can get out of rows and rows and rows of taupe Lion Suede in stockinette stitch (for either of us). I am starting new classes soon, but for now, I am a simple, simple, knitter.
  • I could very easily make this blog sound like a Smiths tune and talk about how I am getting ready to start new meds but have lapsed and am now eeking by au naturel--and how I wouldn't recommend it. Ever. At all. But then I wonder about too much self disclosure and how I hardly know (some of) you and can I really be expected to make those sorts of big judgement calls when I am, in fact, au naturel (it's worth noting that by au naturel, I mean without meds and not nude.).

So this is the blog Birthday post. It's a bit early, and kind of circular, but the connecting thread seems to be that I am glad you're here. All of you. Comment or not, name yourselves or not, whatever you are expecting me to write, thanks.

Eating My Words

I apologize to the kid I called a bratty 9th grader. He just came and apologized and told me he should have been more responsible. Plus, I talked to his mom last night and she was very supportive. So I caved and accepted his assignment (which he worked on last night and corrected to follow the directions).
So.
I was wrong. I am so happy about it!!

27 Children Do My Dance

Debate is best not substitute taught. When it must be substitute taught, it is best not done by the young.

At least once a year, I have a sub in Debate (usually a college kid) who grows bored with the plans I leave and tells my class, "Let's just debate!". It goes awry. It goes terribly, terribly awry and the next day I have riled up children. One year a kid even came to me in tears--the next day.

We always debrief the next day. It's a good time for me to teach the reasons we have structured argument. Structure ideally allows for the voice of the minority. Ideally, it allows the best idea to win and not the loudest. I always wonder aloud what would happen if our courts were run the way my classroom was on those horrid days and someone always says, "We would all go to jail.".

So today, I am preparing them for a sub and I describe the horror of unordered debate. They are right there with me and ask "What do we do if the sub tries to make us debate like that?". I think a moment. "Go limp. Do not engage, do not make eye contact. Refuse to play their game."

Right then, standing at my podium, I watch 27 bodies go totally limp at the exact same second.

and I remembered again why I teach.

Private School Drop Out

Just had an unpleasant conversation with a bratty 9th grader who transferred to public school after attending the hoity toity private school in town. I'm shaking and I don't know why. He expects me to give him full credit for his half-assed effort. He didn't bother to follow directions on an assignment he's known about since the day he transferred into my class OVER A MONTH AGO - He transferred into my class the second day of school, so it's not like he's brand new to my class. Anyway, because he didn't follow directions I would not accept his work. He was dumbfounded. I highly doubt that anyone ever held the privileged little punk accountable. Along with directions-not-followed-assignment was a note from his mommy telling me that they didn't have time to get his assignment done the way it was supposed to be done, and would I please call her if it was a problem.
So I called and left a message on her voice mail (cell phone?) and I'm dreading the pending phone call - I will be trying to stand my ground and she will be trying to enable her spoiled brat kid. Why oh why did I become a teacher?

The Joy Of Work

Yesterday was hard and ugly. I felt as if I was moving through jello all day. Grades are coming due and I can't work fast enough, it's a tight month financially and I can't seem to get a reimbursement check out of the office. It's hard to share much enthusiasm for the change in weather when I spend ten hours a day in my classroom--I don't see the weather.

See? I'm just pissy.

So here's what got me through.

Karina came to hear my kid's hearings today. Some of them needed scaring, some just needed affirmation. My favorite illegal needed the affirmation. She's worked like a dog to get her team ready and they've gone along. They know their stuff.

Not every group was going to speak, so there was much excitement about who would get to (or have to) go. When I called the group, her smile alone gave me a chill. When Karina anounced the team's question, my girl's favorite, I felt a few tears. This girl has taken joy in this work. She's telling this class about the ideals and practice of this Country-better than most in the class--and she isn't even a citizen. She dressed up when she didn't have to, her team wanted to get up, she's in her element. I am just glad her element gets to be my room for a time.

Friday is coming and I will leave early. My weekend is a bit freer than usual and I can grade at my leisure. Payday is coming soon and with it Fall break. All of this will sort itself out and when Winter comes, I will trot these kids out to all the Winter nerd contests and hope that others get to see from my kids the moment I got today in class.

Wouldn't It Be Great To Have The Perfect Witty Context For This Link??

I don't have it. Just the link.
 
 
...bet you'll love them too!

Hymn To My New Principal, Boss Hogg

Quoted loosely from today's faculty meeting:
 
We have the military recruiters here every day. We give them incredible access to our kids. I just want to let you know that I intend to start allowing colleges that same access. I have decided it's crazy to keep the recruiters in the cafeteria, but hide the colleges in the counseling office.
 
 
I still don't like that he greets me every time with "Hey there, girl" or "Now there's trouble!" but he's warming on me, he is.

 

Just A List O' Stuff

  • Do you have any idea how glad I am to see you? You, dear reader, who didn't get to this blog on a search for Nipsy Russell? Hey, it hurts me too. He's gone and so are my hopes for a MatchGame '76 reunion show, but that ship sailed with the death of Charles Nelson Reilly. Let's all move to acceptance, eh?
  • I can work more functions on the school copier than anyone else. I treat the copier well. I don't leave paper jams for my colleagues, I always refill with more paper than I use. Why, then, does it always jam on me in the midst of copying a large stack of student work? I am good to you, Xerox, why you gotta do me that way?
  • A kid in class does elaborate gestures for every word of the morning annoucements. There's a swift, one-handed takedown for "wrestlers", a pointed, jabbing point down for "be there!" and an exaggerated belly rub for "snow cones". It's a charming sort of nerd hula.
  • I think I won a child over today. When we started poetry yesterday, Rerun muttered, "Poetry is for fags." I chastized his word use and told the class that we weren't going to limit poetry to any one group. He rolled his eyes and let me go on (which was, believe me, its own victory). Today, with every poem we read, he was able to get at its meaning and summarize it quickly. I bit my tongue just short of reminding him of yesterday's statement.
  • I have now decided to resend the same to referrals to my favorite Asst Principal every day at the same time until I hear what happened to them. So far, we're at 2 resends. If I had PayPal, I would open it up to a gambling pool.

Another Homage

So many hits to the blog already looking for news of the late Nipsy Russell.

Don't even come to me for entertainment news. Seriously, I am a silly blog. I am not a news source.

So in homage, I will repost just a part of a post I wrote nearly two years ago.

I remember watching game shows as a kid in the 70's with my sister and
great
grandmother. It was our only together time when she would babysit us
as the
afternoon brought time for "her stories" and I would go outside
to read a
book and my sister would...wreck something (she is really a
charming woman
now but she had this "boy my parents never had" stage).

We would
answer questions along with her and she would
marvel at our brains.
"Someday" she would promise "I am going to take
you girls to Hollywood and
we will go on those game shows and make a
million dollars because you girls
are so smart!' I knew enough about
long car trips at age 8 to know that this
would truly be a nightmare
but my sister recently shared that she actually
believed Grandmother.

This brings me to Nipsey Russell. The website for Mr.
Russell's talent agency
refers to him as "The Poet Laureate of
Television"
and I remember with fondness the poems he would write on Match
Game '76.

The truth is I only wrote this to confound the Blogger Ad Gnome (back in those days, children, you got targeted ads based on the content of your blog). But watching game shows with Grandmother, that was true.

...And She Has Nice Boots!!

Jenna Bush takes children to the library, and it's news.

She's nice to second graders!! She shows them how to handle checkout!! She speaks a little Spanish!!

Last week, I took children to the library, the computer lab, and to Stillwater on a Saturday!! And on the way home we went to Braum's!!

I knew I shoulda worn my nice boots.

Of Course, This Is Only Hypothetical...

Have you ever wanted to end a call to a parent by asking about their methods of birth control? Just so this doesn't happen again, you know??
 
Purely hypothetical...

Experiment

For the second week in a row, I am on the Panera wifi trying to get some work done. For the second week in a row I am sitting at a corner table so I can use an electrical outlet. For the second week in a row I am getting strange looks every few seconds from parties at a nearby table as though I should not be sitting here.

What? What?? I am working! I am not a sloppy eater and I am neither take two looks goregous or freak show ugly. I am working! I have permission to sit at this table and will continue to do so! What do you want and why you looking at me!?!

Will I do it a third week and chance the dirty looks again? You bet. Now it's science.

When The Content Of The Post Makes Me This Tired, Don't Expect Much Of A Title

I have attended more meetings than ever this year. Since I teach English II (the English course that corresponds with the Oklahoma End Of Instruction exam for HS English), there is an incredible amount of training to be sure that my curriculum meets the standards. I also met last week to help plan a benchmark test for the district--an intermediate test we would all give to insure we are on track for the EOI.

One such meeting was given by a couple of retired teachers who travel around training other teachers about the new laws (what a job). They are always full of hope and pep, the refuse to speak against No Child Left Behind. They operate with the idea that the law is a given, so how can we make it work for us?

They were full of excitment this last time. Look! Look at the scores of these 5th and 6th graders!! They read at 95% on grade level!! They're coming!! Get ready!!! I hoped out loud that my school was not yet shut down so that we could enjoy these children.

It's a good thing those kids can read, because this year's 6th graders will be required to pass all their EOI's (Alg. I, US History, Biology, and English II) in order to graduate HS. I am of two minds about this law.

On the plus side---

  • If NCLB is here to stay, something has to be done to put real teeth to those exams. As it stands, my school and I are the only parties effected by the scores. Scores don't follow students, they follow me as a teacher and reflect on my school's Academic Performance Index (our NCLB "magic number" that keeps my school open or not).
  • Familes will demand more from their child's teachers. My colleagues who show films and play dominos (fewer of us than you think) will be forced to step up their curriculum.
  • The State will demand that the exams will be fairer. As it stands, we have found flaws in the exams that may cost our kids a point here or there---points that could be crucial when a diploma is on the line.

On the minus side---

  • I don't believe that high stakes tests are the best way to measure learning.
  • There will always be blurry lines on who we are to test. There is always a question of which Special Ed kids or English Language Learners we are to test.
  • The data that brought us to these tests is not what we think it to be. The page I linked to from the State cited high remediation rates in college as a reason for higher standards, but it seems seldom considered that more and more of our kids are going to college. More of our kids take the ACT. Sure, we remediated fewer kids when we only sent our best to college, but that's just not the case anymore.
  • EdWonk gives a great rebuttal to the high stakes graduation test as well.

No neat answers here, but it's worth noting that my last period fart class doesn't have to pass their EOI and don't think that I don't remind a principal of this fact with every referral I send.

Me, Me, Me and More About Me

Tagged by Jim, I respond...

10 Years Ago:Second year of teaching. I was teaching Drama at my alma mater and was working to build a program after the school’s reopening. We barely got two shows up that year but I managed to have a kid qualify for State in monologue. Took 70 kids to KC Worlds of Fun for an insane afterprom. Although I was just sure I would soon get an MFA and be a “real live director”, I couldn’t see my life changing at all.

5 Years Ago:Third year at my present school. Took my first hardcore computer class for teachers. After a very rough couple of years, finally started reaching out and making friends at work.

1 Year Ago:Plan to increase mojo by 30% going swimmingly. First date in who knows how many years. Had just met blogfriends in real life for the first time .

Yesterday:Lovely evening with Billy Joel’s Movin’ Out, a bottle of wine, and friends. Car blew a tire on the way home. Temporarily stranded in an unsavory area, was nearly confronted by a man violently waving a stick and yelling “fuck” with no context and at no one in particular. Realized that although disabled dad isn’t much physical help, his presence in the face of a fuck-yelling stick waver is most comforting.

5 Snacks I Enjoy:Popcorn, dark chocolate, ice cream, cheese, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies


5 Songs I Know All the Words To:
”Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton John
Every Invitation Hymn in the 1975 Baptist Hymnal
“Tempted” by Squeeze
My High School fight song
The first four Indigo Girl albums. All the songs.

5 Things I’d Do with 100 Million Dollars:
Give
Set up comfortable lives for myself and my family
Invest
Travel
Get some sort of advanced degree

5 Places I’d Run Away To:
Ashville, NC
McCarty Porch
1988
London
Funkytown

5 Things I’d Never Wear:
Rocky Jeans
Ropers
Tube Top
Olympic Gold Medal
Fubu

5 Favorite TV Shows:
King Of The Hill
My Name Is Earl
The Biggest Loser
Mary Tyler Moore
Old, NBC Letterman

5 Biggest Joys:
Seeing a life begin to find purpose
Sleep
Old Friends
A good story
Forgiveness

5 Favorite Toys:
This laptop I’m typing on
Whatever Knitting needles I am using
The Yarn that goes with it
A really good pen
Other People’s Children

5 Fine Folks Who Can Now Consider Themselves Tagged:
Karina
Cheryl
Susan
And…I dunno, you. Yes, you. Have fun.

Doing Our Part

I have a new student now, a Hurricane Rita evacuee. I am eager to help him, to talk with him, and to help him make this transition in his life.
 
So what class does he end up in?
 
Last period English. Home of Rico, the Chihuahua, Cleavage, gang fights, and farts.
 
Hasn't this poor kid suffered enough?
 
More later, must work football game tonight.

Pimpdaddy and Dang Give A Real Life Account Of The Day With A Sub

...now with no attempts to correct their spelling, Notes from my class.
 
From Pimpdaddy--
 
Yesterday was an omonous day, full of triumphs and failures. Who am I kiding well 'I' was good, in fact alot of people were acting bad but evil was at work as this girl from a class far, far, down the hall came in and made a disturbence. As in 'disturbence' I mean she was cusing, yellingm and turning off the lights. Plus Dang just kept laughing which got anoying.
 
How do I know Pimpdaddy was right?
 
Quoth Dang--
 
It was my favorite day in here by far. It was a wonderful day. Kids got their work done. We talked a lil bit and had a blast.
 

Fame! I'm Gonne Live Til Tuesday!!

I was quoted in NEA Today about this silly thing.

...and she called me young!

A Tale Of Hot Teacher On Office Supply Love

Before I had a blog and only launched into righteous fits of anger to friends, family, and co workers; I had a retail manager refer to how easy it is to take a day off from teaching. "After all," she said, "I can't just call up a sub.".

It's better for the whole of society that I didn't have a blog that night.

I stayed at work til about eight last night getting ready to be at a workshop today and when I came back in the afternoon for my afterschool tutoring job, I was treated to a scathing narrative of my kid's indiscretions. Here's what's odd, I wasn't much worried about crazy children today.

Here is what I found myself worrying about today....

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI have waited since the first week of school for my office supply order. I have fought with manual staplers for a year or so and decided to spend most of my room allowance and treat myself to this beauty. They finally delivered it on Monday (Nevermind why it took over a month to deliver, it's a tale of office incompetence that isn't as important now), and my kids started finding things to staple where there had been none. Never had so many papers needed to be attached to so many other papers. Staplestar did quite a bit of work and I feared that in my absence, they might attempt to staple that which should not be stapled.

Staplestar was safe. It turns out that I am presently fighting a battle with admin regarding punishment for those who offended in my absence. Testify for me, reader-friend, when a child who plays the fool in my classroom is sent to our school's in house pokey--but only during my class, what is the message that it sent? Seriously, throw out your best guess. I have sent my thoughts to the administrator in question (Lover not Fighter, I have spoken of him before) and am awaiting his response. Tomorrow shall be a new day and we shall frolic among the vocabulary words. And when life gets me down, I shall staple.