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!!!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

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.
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."
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.
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

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

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.