It's Not Just Me, It's Also The Rest Of Us!

It's so nice to have validation concerning the Festivus pole in my teeney yard.

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Festivus pole, decorated, circa 2004

A River I Can Sail Away On

This will be the first Christmas my dad doesn't make Santa calls to families with young children. It will be the first Christmas that I'm not ordered to get rid of my father for a few hours so my mother can work at the house. I mostly don't think about it, but I still need to get the top off the Festivus Pole Dad decorated two years ago and it made me remember.

We're leaving tonight for Christmas. We're going to the Fatherland, a land flowing with lard and sorghum. We'll stay at a swank resort and allow ourselves to be transformed into veal (fed, massaged, soaked in hot swirling water...).

I'm starting to feast on the memories. Seeing the Festivus pole doesn't bring the stabbing pain to my solar plexus that it would have months ago. I won't dare pretend that I leave this year with more than I came in. I've lost a lot. But I've gained a better appreciation for my mother, I cherish friends a bit more, and when we hit the road tonight, we'll make all the restroom stops we want.

Merry Christmas, internets.

Help Me See There Is Good In The World

I had all these warm and cozy Christmas posts dancing in my head. I was ready to blog how I recently discovered that the woman who sings that annoying Hippopotamus song is actually a distant cousin and so I have stopped scowling quite so much when I pass it on the radio. I thought about sharing the story of the annual Christmas card that came today from my old principal and how much his handmade cards warm me every year.

Yep. I was all cozy and happy and ready to push through two more days of school.

I just got a phone call that changed it all.

Please, please, someone help me with reasons why this cannot happen. I'm forming my list, but it will come later. Right now, let's speak of reasons that Frank Keating cannot get his party's nomination.

Seriously, go. Now.

Giving Up On Comedic Perfection

I've got a lot of this stuff. There's a lot of stuff that should be blogged but needs more work, more context, less backstory, whatever.


In this first installment, I give up on this---

See, there's a joke here. Marionberry smoothie! Marion Berry!! I took this on a crazy road trip with my sister and laughed for miles after this place.
So, it's in your hands. Can this visual joke be saved?

Paris Hilton--Ethicist

Is there really such a thing as "partying ethics"? As both a teacher and student of English vocabulary, I yearn for an answer.

We Shall Overcome Someday

I just saw the most beautiful but haunting and depressing PBS special on Woody Guthrie.

There's a thousand things to discuss; the inherent darkness of creative genius, the pitfalls of art becoming commerce, the political nature of art and the audience response involved, the weaving of this music with US history--the stuff about people...but mostly I just heard the songs I listened to growing up with dad.

They're playing it back to back with a concert of Bruce Springsteen doing his Pete Seeger album, also full of dad music.

I bought the Springsteen album this spring while he was in the hospital. I listened to it in the waiting room and promised dad that I'd loan it to him someday, maybe burn him a copy. It didn't happen.

Sometime around the time of my father's death, a dear older woman told me in the middle of a comforting hug that I could "feast on my memories of him for years to come". I hope to. I really, really, hope I can do that. Tonight, I'm choking pretty hard as I try to get them down.

There's A Fine Line Between Charming And Irritating

I was on a tear today. State writing tests are tomorrow and with two days out for snow last week, we were eons behind where we should have been in regards to testing administration. The work should have been done months ago.

When the powers that govern testing promised last week to "get right on this", I was able to be zen about it. Maybe kids don't need to know all this information weeks ahead of time. Maybe I just worry too much.

With ten minutes left before my English class left the room, never to return until test day, however, the time for zen was gone. It was time for righteous anger.

I raged. I raged to the office in charge of testing, I raged to two principals. Things were handled, sort of, and my principal asked me to gather the thoughts of my department as to what went wrong in the process.

I was more than happy to oblige.

My afternoon classes were researching, so I was able to furiously compile my thoughts in between walk-arounds to check on my class's progress.

I warned them to tow the line today. No chatter, all efficiency. I was a bit of a loose cannon today.

With that, I sat down between my two silliest boys. I was ready to compose my screed.

This is to document the events leading up to Fall testing...

"Hey, Ms Educat? I have a question. You're going to think I'm being silly, but I'm serious."

"Hmm? What?"

"Is there any kind of chance that we could get William Shatner to visit our school?"

"No." I say, not looking up. "Can't see it. Not a chance."

"Oh. Hey--you know why Adam Smith is my favorite philosopher?"

"Mmm? Why?"

"Because! He was totally kidnapped by gypsies!!"

I snort, lay my head down in front of the computer, and shake with laughter a bit.

and try to compose myself and work up the rage again...

...the events leading up to Fall testing. We have some very real concerns...

"So if Shatner couldn't come, then we probably couldn't get Ricardo Montalbon
either, right?"

"Nope." (type-ity, type, type...)

It's silent for a few minutes while my Ritilin Ranger reads for a moment

"I don't get The Wealth of Nations. Can you help me read this? Please?"

"Yessss" with a sigh. Trying to be patient.

We read. Slowly. It takes about a page before he has a grip on the basic ideas, and with that, he goes back to read. He does so for a good while.

"Would it be ok if I walk for a while? Just to clear my head and think?"

How is it that this kid isn't making me crazy? How am I so amused at this moment by him?

"That's a great idea. I really appreciate that you want to walk this off instead
of irritating others. Thank you."

He takes a lap around the library, and returns to me with an observation.

"Hey, you know what? There's those "read" posters that show all the athletes
reading classic books?"
I looked at the poster later, and for the record, he considered, "The Purpose Driven Life" a classic
"...And, you know, Shaq is reading like,a sports book? Yeah, I bet he's the only
one who picked his own book. Hey, if I ever designed a philosopher video game,
would you play it?"

I finished my nasty letter draft, and with much lower blood pressure than when I began.

Thank you, Ritilin Ranger.

Sesame Streets --A Martin Scorsese Film


Shoo away the little ones, it contains adult language.

The Barista Sharpens His Talons

Stopped off for coffee Saturday and spent a moment chatting with the two baristas. One was a young guy, still in HS, taking concurrent enrollment at Community College.

He plans to attend Oklahoma Baptist to be a youth minister. We talked about the ins and outs of my alma mater. Classes, the dorms, the cafeteria, all of this was fascinating to him from my perspective, even seventeen years later.

He was rather proud of the jump start he was getting on his degree by taking classes now. He took special pride in telling me about the Comparative Religion class he was taking at Community College.

"After all, how will I ever beat anyone in a debate if I don't know the other
side?"


*Sigh* Yes, Sparky, and after you "beat them", they'll really want to accept your message. They'll know we are Christians because we beat 'em!!!

Where The Sweet Potato Casserole Is

I've had several conversations in the past weeks about the colorful names I know. In thinking of how to blog them, I thought about giving you a list and asking you to pick which ones are fake (If you picked Coon and Ollie Pearl, you're wrong!). I thought about telling you the story of my PaPa's brothers and all their nicknames (The oldest one, his Christian name was Buster. He went by Bully...). All these hypothetical entries existed only so I could share the response deadpanned to me by The Crib Chick...

How do you not live in a Billie Letts novel?


I probably do, and talking through this year's Thanksgiving Road Show/Grief Tour (tm) with my sister confirmed it.

Educat: So dinner is at Granny's and we're taking it to her.
Edusis: Yeah, then we need to go by familyfriend's because Texas Nana is in
town. We're taking a pie. After that, we're going to see Bobby.
Educat: Bobby? Bobby who? Do we have to take more pies? Another
casserole?
Edusis: Um...no. We're going to see Bobby, the movie.

Weee Gaather Together To Reeead Thelatestcompellingnewsabouteducation

The Carnival of Education has pitched its tent at What It's Like On The Inside. Go check it out. I'm the one on the end eating pie with Darren. Who is Darren? What kind of pie is it? Find all the answers and more---head over there and bring a casserole.

Check The List, Dude. You're On Notice

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I had a sub Friday afternoon. He covered Debate while I was teaching English in the afternoon. Evidently, he walked into third hour twenty minutes late, told the kids he'd be right back, and left for another twenty. Fourth hour, he held the sheet on which my lesson plans were written and told the kids I hadn't left any plans. They watched a movie.

I was told it could have been worse. One sub in our building regales the students with poetry he's written about Elizabeth Taylor. He's submitting them to the National Enquirer.

Have you ever...?

Found on But Wait! There's More. . .

Wanna play? It's simple. Copy, paste and if you've done it, bold it.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said I love you and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an expert
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one important author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life

Start! The Bus! Start Start The Bus!!

We are taking all the English II students to a local production of Julius Caesar this week. The company is doing a matinee for students and so we are loading up a bus, taking kids to the play and lunch, and hopefully coming home with zero casualties.

Read this with no sarcasm: I am so excited I can't stand it.

I took a little survey when I had all the kids on Friday and found that for most, this is their first time to see a play that isn't a school production. Some of the kids haven't even seen a school play. This is their first ever live theatre experience. This is a big deal to me. I take very seriously the duty to get these kids to the theatre because I owe much of who I am to a teacher who took her students to the theatre.

My mother grew up poor. I realize I run the risk of sounding like the long lost verse of the Clarence Carter song, but culture wasn't much of a priority when it was difficult to feed four kids. She had a teacher in Junior High, however, who took her class to a play. That doesn't sound like a very big deal, but it really was.

See, because my mother enjoyed that play, she suggested that my Dad take her a play sometimes when they dated. Then when they got married and had a family, they made it a priority to take us to plays.

And so, the monster was created.

My parents took us to see Annie when I was eight years old. By this time, I was already showing signs of ham actor-dom. I was very verbal very early and former babysitters often tell stories of my dying swan act at bedtime. When I saw that play and realized that those were actual kids on that stage, I knew I had to figure out how to do that. All the time.

That outing begat a series of acting classes, school productions, voracious play reading, and Oscar acceptance speech planning (heady stuff for a pre-teen, I know). When the time came for college, my parents accepted my wish to major in Theatre with the caveat that I get an education degree.

The rest is history (and my present). I student taught, realized that I loved this job and loved paying off student loans. It's grown from teaching Theatre for me to teaching kids. I have taught a lot of stuff in these thirteen years and the rush I get from all of them is similar. It all goes back to that play, however. My mom doesn't remember what the play was, I don't know how important that is, but it started a new way of looking at the world for her. I don't know who I would be today if that teacher hadn't loaded up that bus.

I hope we get through the day without incident. I hope no cell phones go off, no one misses the bus, and that no one wears houseshoes. I hold out hope also that there might be a seed of change on our bus.


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POS, SOLs, FQL, PLCs, FUBAR

Our school district is currently proposing some drastic changes to the POS (program of studies) for high school students. Most of the changes are a reaction to one school's failing SOL (standard of learning) scores . The FQL (framework of quality learning) is a mammoth document telling all teachers what they've been doing must STOP, and that they must meet in PLCs (professional learning communities) to be brainwashed into following a lock-step model. This, of course, is supposed to increase rigor and encourage more kids to care about SOLs. But in my opinion, it's only going to result in public education being FUBAR - more than it already is.

Loving Rome More

This started as an email to my two favorite Air Force wives. I decided it needed a larger audience.

I taught all the English II students yesterday. I taught 190 kids in three class periods. It's sort of the price you pay for spending a month doing nothing but Shakespeare. You get to be the expert.

We're taking all of these kids to a production of Julius Caesar next week. I have more to say about this later, in a loving post about another family member. Today is a different story. What you need to know here is that I used the time to do a quick orientation to the play and to live theatre in general before we took them to see the show.

It wasn't a perfect day by any means. There were kids who expressed how oppressed they were because we're asking them to leave their ipods at home and turn off their cell phones while dressed up and not allowed to leave the auditorium for two hours. I had to address why it's not a good idea to assert that Brutus is a pimp (I instead pointed them to the idea that Marc Antony is more of a pimp). But in every class period, I caught a couple of kids with that vague smile, mouth slightly open, head tilted to the side that indicated that they got it.

Most of them, however, latched onto one idea. All the Senators who conspired to kill Caesar were his friends. They didn't get it. Their entire lives right now are about protecting their friends, how could anyone who is considered honorable ever conspire to murder their friends?

I am not comfortable with murder. I am not comfortable with violence. My job, however, is to illuminate this literature and I will always get chills down my spine when I give the reason for this murder. "Not that I love Caesar less, but that I love Rome more." These men were so committed to the idea of the Republic, of self government, that no relationship mattered more. The kids are starting to get their heads around this idea.

At the end of the day, we gathered in the gym for the Veteran's Day assembly. It occurred to me sitting in that gym that perhaps this event was the perfect closure for my lesson that day. We spent an hour hearing from and honoring men and women who love Rome more.

When a soldier enters the military, the whole family enlists in a sense. This Veteran's Day, I think not only of both of my grandfathers, one of whom made a career in the US Air Force, but I think of my Grandma, aunts and uncles, and (surprise!) my father, who all served their country in countless separations and cross country moves. I think not only of The Crib Chick's Sergeant Rooster, but of her and all those peeps. I think not only of my baby cousin who can't possibly be old enough to be sent to Afghanistan, but of his baby and of my aunt who will raise him while his father is gone.

I cannot fully understand it, but I get a chill when I think of how all of these people love Rome more.

Thank you.

Obligatory Election Day Post With This Year's Obligatory Twist

For my sister, it was impossibly hard to watch the Cardinals, the family baseball team since at least my great grandfather, win the World Series.

For me, it's election day.

I took today off and had a very clear picture of what the day would have been if Dad were still with us. I'd have picked him up and taken him for coffee. We'd both go vote, probably me first and then we'd head to his polling place. After that, we'd have lunch at one of the dives that no one else in the family would go to. We'd joke the whole way about the two of us canceling the rest of the family's votes. Then I would take him home and we'd laugh about the Food Network (All my theories on how the other Food Network stars make fun on Sandra Lee behind her back or how I want to smack Rachel Ray and tell her to pipe down are bits I tried first on him.).

In real life, I voted, made all those jokes in my head, went to Target, and drove around the cemetery trying to remember just where in the damn we left him. I never found him, can't remember if it's the Garden of Everlasting Life or the Garden of Memories or the Garden of the Clean Plate Club. I wanted to tell him what we'd have done today and how we're doing now. I wanted to tell him about my classes and my month in Massachusetts.

I saw Helen Mirren in The Queen this weekend. At the beginning of the film, there is a scene in which Queen Elizabeth ceremonially asks Tony Blair (played by Michael Sheen) to form a government. I had never thought of such a scene and it was fascinating to me.

In the United States, we are the ones who get to ask that question. It was hard to ask today, but I am glad I did.

Busy, Busy Me

Reports , reports and more reports. So, it turns out when your class size increases by 50% you end up with 50% more reports to write. Ya, that’s not so fun. But it’s done! Praise whatever holy entity you believe in, my reports are done!!

Now, perhaps I can finish my application essay for Grad school. I wrote half of it two weekends ago, when I filled out the application, and have been on reports ever since. We are also starting our Maps unit at school and I love maps!! So, that is taking a lot of my time now too. I got a fantastic new book from Scholastic called Our World by Millie Miller. I am going to use it to create a fabulous group project about the continents. I’m so happy to have finally found a good book for my students about geography. It can be tough hunting for the younger folk sometimes.

Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to try for this grad school thing again. Your support means a lot. Especially on days when I come home completely wiped out.

From October 1st to Winter Break, (that's right no Christmas Vacation here in Cali), always passes in the blink of an eye for me. Is it the same for you? It seems like school just started and yet my relationship with the kids is much different than it was in September.

Seriously, Nuttin To See Here

At this time, I offer my sincere apologies to the poor soul who reached this blog today by Googling the phrase "See my boobs OKC". I hope you make a quick and full recovery from your severe disappointment.

Dead Dad Girl's Club Meeting Minutes

I could name a thousand things that have gotten me through the last few months. Chief among them, however, is my band of friends who have also lost their fathers. I'll listen to you if you have a father, sure. But there's something about someone who can say "Yeah, I might be nearly as pitiful and insane as you". I call these kind souls the Dead Dad Girl's Club.

I have also coined the term Dead Daddy Year. I am allowing myself many wild acts or acts of slackery in honor of the Dead Daddy Year.

I've been down this week. I needed to meet with a member of the DDGC . I called Mme. Crib for solace. As are all our conversations, it's punctuated by interruptions from the kids.

"What? What? The door is closed here, I need you to go ask your father. You
have a father, go."

"And I don't!!!"

"Wha? Oh, no, not you. You don't have a father."

"Right, but not what I meant. You should tell the kids that. 'You have a
father and I don't! Go to him!'"

"I might just do that!"

It's A Real Conversation!

Crib Chick: Did I ever tell you that in the seconds right before the accident, I was singing Rock Me Amadeus at the top of my lungs and wearing an Eskimo Joe's Lord of the Onion Rings T shirt? What if that had been it? What if that is how I would have spent my last moments on earth?

Me: I would have been proud. I would totally have sung Rock Me Amadeus at your funeral.

And To Think I Have To Read Out Of Town News To Find This...

Thank you, EdWonk, for reinforcing my vote.

A candidate for Oklahoma state superintendant of schools advocates "thick used textbooks placed under every student's desk so they can use them for self-defense during school shootings".

Fascinating. What a very Wonder Woman sight it would be to see my students using books as a shield.

Carry a book with you, friends. It's a rough world.

**Edited later to add!!**

This just in! News Channel 4 promises to show "what's in a book that could save your child's life!".

I need to move.

Graduate School Again?

So. . . I’m applying to grad school again. I received an MA in Education in 2002 and I guess I’m ready for more. I’ve been writing for an independent school publication and making lots of changes to curriculum over the last few years. A few weeks ago the idea of going back to school crossed my mind and didn’t seem quite as absurd as it had in the past. If I have all of this drive to improve myself, why not focus it a little and get another degree?

This time, I’m planning on getting an MA in psychology. My undergrad degree is in psychology, so I have a nice background on which to build. I also have a big personal interest in this area. Knowing why one of my students behaves the way he/she does would help me find an appropriate way to redirect his/her focus. This degree would also qualify me for a School Psychologist position and allow me to perform preliminary educational and emotional testing in order to determine the best course of action for various learning/behavioral issues. A school psychologist easily makes double what I do as a classroom teacher. This position would also allow me more flexibility with my hours when we decide to start a family.

That said, I’m not sure I want to leave the classroom. The degree could also help me be a really kick-ass elementary school teacher. Either way I feel like I win. I’m young enough that giving up some time after work and on the weekend for the next two years is not so daunting. We don’t have kids yet, so I need not feel guilty if I become slightly obsessed. I’ve been teaching the same grade for 6 years and even have the option of taking on a co-teacher next year. With all of these things in my favor, it’s hard to find a reason not to go.

Then there is the $ situation. Ya, it is going to be an expensive in devour. Unfortunately, I’m not willing to shop around for less expensive schools. My Education MA program was phenomenal and I plan on returning to the same school for the Psychology program. They teach me in a way I find very conducive to long-term retention and application. In my opinion, there is no reason to mess with something that works. I qualify for a few small scholarships and I’m pretty sure loans won’t be a big deal. I’ll just add it to the monthly payment I make to Sallie Mae now. I’m willing to pay off a house and an education until I’m old and grey.

The new program requires roughly the same time commitment as the previous one I attended, so there is also some comfort in knowing what to expect.

I’m excited.
I’m nervous
I’m going to be very busy!

It's Not Rocket Science

This is my seventh year of teaching. It has taken seven years to feel like I'm capable (well, at least some of the time instead of never). The thought of moving next school year disconcerts me because I'm just starting to get good at this.....
But it's exhausting. The emotional stamina required to sustain teachers has to come from somewhere, you know? Ultimately, I would like to be an advocate for educators. I think if more parents knew about the initiatives, and the ulterior motives related to the initiatives, there would be enough outrage to change the system.

His Superior Intellect Will Serve Him Beyond Sophomore English

Nine weeks tests are today and there are questions on the test about nouns.

Identify the type of noun.

One question reads:

The muffins with the blueberries are sold out.

Which type of noun is it?
a. abstract
b. common

Kid asks me if this is a trick question.

"No, look at the answers. Can you touch a blueberry? Can you taste it?"

"Nope." says Kid. "Not these. They sold out."

Why Don't We Do It In Our Sleeves?

Um...what's that on your arm?

Ewwwww!

I'm Three!

I just realized I have hit my three year blogoversary (blogaversary? blog-versary?).

Whatever. This thing is three now.

This has been the hardest year of my life, and the trouble hasn't escaped my blog. I have struggled with being "public" through this horrible time and considered shutting the whole thing down. It's a tough thing to accept that most everything you've said publicly for the last three years is indexed by Google. I have loved, hated, needed and scorned this blog this year.

I learned to cope in some ways, though. I have the power to shut down comments if I don't want discussion. I don't have to share everything. I have found, however, that when I do want to share, this is one of the first places I want to come.

I don't want to take the blog down now. I have chronicled so much here that it's like a photo album (but please remember only a partial one) of the last three years of my life. I am past the point of feeling funny telling people about a good friend and saying "Yeah, I know them from my blog.". I have even started enjoying writing here again.

The comment section is open for public expressions of adoration and general well wishing. Thank you all so much for staying around, even when I wasn't sure what to do with you.

Creepy Link O' The Day*

Eigh! I left part of myself with my baby! I left part of myself with my baby!!!

Either that or I allowed my baby to be raised by Mummenschanz.

Edited now to add post-entry conversation!!

The Crib Chick calls this afternoon. Please remember that what with my barren womb and all, I defer to Mme. Crib, a five child nursing and childbirth veteran, on all things child soothing and lactational and the like...

Me: Did you read the whole page, though? Or just the creepy puppet hand
picture at the top?

Crib: Just the top, it was enough!

Me: Ok, seriously, you're only having half the fun if you focus on the top.
Scroll down. They advise you to "give the pillow your scent" in order to soothe
your baby. So that means..?

Crib: You stick it in your bra.

Me: Oooooookay. You know, I am sure that that boob scented hand shaped
pillow is soothing but how do you explain...?

Crib: The pillow hand sticking out of your bra? Yeah, good question.
Imagine explaining that to baby daddy. "Yeah, hon, in an effort to get through
your inattention of my boobs, I have chosen to give them over to these pillow
hands. I have also chosen to allow these pillow hands to parent our offspring,
thus creating a circle of inattention and avoidance."

Me: Good idea. They talk about daddy giving his scent to the pillow too.
What do you think that might...?

Crib: I think every daddy who wears a bra should have that honor.


So do I, friend of friends. So do I.

*Please don't allow yourself to be confused by the phrase "o' the day". This feature may never happen again.

If You Can't, Maybe We Can...

How many layers are there to this story?

I first heard this story today and was embarrassed not to have caught it on the news.

An eighteen year old HS student is kicked out of his house. For days, he's gone to school and gotten money here for lunch. He's sustained himself hanging out at school, it's night and he's hungry. He sneaks back into the school and steals a bag of chips in the cafeteria.

A security guard catches him. He's taken off to County jail and spends several days there. The DA (don't even get me started about the DA) drops second degree burglary charges against him only after the local paper discovers the story and it goes public.

Meanwhile, the kid was a model prisoner and was in heaven. He had a bed, all the food he could eat. What's not to love?

When the charges are dropped and he's released, his school takes over. They work to get him in a group home and now he's in school and living in a place where he gets some care.

This kid could be in my class, maybe yours, oh edu-bloggers. The kid would bug me. He doesn't behave, he asks for money, he gets sent to in school suspension. But this same kid, obviously not a raging success in school during the day, feels that his school is the safest place to stay and he chooses to live there when his home is no longer an option.

The whole story is here, read it but be aware you'll have to register with the Daily Oklahoman (grab a fake password from BugMeNot if you'd like). I taught at this school for a year and again, this kid could have slipped through the cracks of my very classroom. The lesson I am reminded of is this: listen to kids. Let them talk sometimes and really listen. A former principal of mine used to say that many times school is the best place a kid will be all day.

Know what the kid's t shirt read? The one he wore for ten days straight while he lived in his HS courtyard?

I Can't Do Good All The Time.

Thinking

My evenings, like most teachers’, are pretty routine. I come home, change, check email, make/order/eat dinner, watch TV, read a few blogs, do whatever work I need to, veg-out/think, get ready for bed and go to sleep. My veg-out time is particularly key to an evening well spent. This consists of me turning my desk chair around, it swivels, putting my feet up on the plush pink armchair and just thinking. Most nights this is accompanied by music. Once in a while, it’s nice to have silence though.

This is when I process my day and prepare myself for the next. Sometimes I even dream about the future. I can spend anywhere from 40 to 90 minutes lost in thought gazing at my Ikea paper lamp. While reviewing the day’s events, I’m able to see things I may not have noticed in the moment. I feel that certain kids can be over looked due to my larger class size. When I look back on the day, with individual kids in mind, it helps me remember their specific accomplishments. It can also remind me that I didn’t notice very much about a particular student and should really give them some attention the following day.

These are often my most creative moments, when I think of my best lesson plans and time saving ideas. Organization is one of the keys to my classroom success. I feel capable of handling most unexpected changes during the day because I always have something I can whip out and fill time with. Not just something, but an educationally valuable experience for the students. (Earlier this week I couldn’t get the VCR to work after getting my class excited about the first video of the year. I built it up by letting them know how very few videos they will be seeing in my class this year. We worked on a fire safety mad-lib I had waiting in my basket.) Finding ways to streamline my classroom is a continuous process that changes as my students’ needs do. This quiet-time has also given birth to some of my favorite cooperative project ideas.

While I’m veging-out this way, my diligent husband is typing away on his keyboard not three feet away. Sometimes I wonder: does he think it is odd that I stare off into space like this every evening? I never see him doing this. He used to offer me websites to look at or magazine articles to read, but after hearing nothing but a polite, “no thank you” he gave up. Now he just checks to make sure I’m awake. It’s true; I’ve been known to fall asleep in my chair from time to time. He has come to accept my “process”.

Am I alone in my quiet time ritual? I have never really thought about it as odd before, but maybe it is. How much time do you spend just thinking? Do you do it while watching TV, listening to music or doing something productive like knitting or exercising? What do you think about or does it vary?

Just wondering.

Funny That I Read This As A Cough Sets In...

Maybe you can understand how good it is to hear someone say this. Real Live Preacher speaks today about grief. He's put words to the thoughts I have tried to form at the graveyard when I am told "he isn't there" and to the people who offer me comfort with "He's in heaven".

I am down with the Apostle's Creed. I believe it. I believe in an afterlife. I struggle, however, with this picture of some sort of "All Dogs Go To Heaven" reward. If this thing is real, it can't be like anything we know. I like to think it's better than what we'd know.

Somehow, during all of this, I have faith. I am more shocked than anyone to find it's still there. It doesn't cover as much ground as it used to, I believe fewer things than I ever did. It's somehow just deeper. Those few things I believe, I believe deeper and with less explanation than ever before.

Most of all, I believe in people. I am so very wildly grateful to the people who have let me, as RLP puts it, "cough this fucker up"*.

*If this language seems grossly out of context, you didn't read to the end of the RLP entry. Go back to the link and read. We'll all be quiet so you can concentrate.

Wondering...

Why does the phrase "making it relevant to today" usually mean "crapping it up"?

Halloween Costumes??

Didn’t we just celebrate Halloween? Wasn’t it just yesterday I worked so hard to come up with a very cool idea that was fun and yet still educational? Why is it here again so soon? Well, this year I need a little help. Does anyone have any costume ideas for a group of 4 elementary school teachers? Please leave me a note if you do. We’ve been the 4 seasons, a painter and his works of art and even a number sentence. Please save me from weeks of stressing over this.

Feel free to leave any other cool teacher costume ideas too. I can’t be the only one out there looking for something new.

Welcome to October!

Loved it!

Dinner with the former student was a raging success! It was wonderful to see him again and reaffirm how very cool he is. My husband and I got along famously with his parents and really hope we can see them all again. I’ve actually started an email relationship with the student. He makes me laugh and I think it is good for him to know someone outside of his family really believes in him.

We've Not Spoken Of Yarn In Some Time, Have We?

Tracey Ullman is a knitter. I cranked up the NPR Friday on the way to work, put the sunroof down, and offended all the children driving with their booming bass. A knitting story on the NPR!! Of course Tracey Ullman knits, I have loved her since I bought that silly album she made in the 80's on vinyl with my saved up allowance. Of course she knits. This has happened to me before, I discover someone with whom I already identify to be all yarn obsessed and get all giddy.

She's co authored a knitting book. Did you know that besides patterns, knitting books have some of the best short prose? Seriously. If they'd let me teach a knitting book to the tenth graders, I think I'd go for Stitch and Bitch. First of all, they'd read it because the word Bitch is in the title and futhermore, the text is geared more toward the younger set. Then, I wonder, if instead of suggesting all the movies we could watch in class (Anyone else get that? Ohmigosh Ms E!! We could totally watch this five hour epic film because it is in English and this is, in fact English class!!!), they'd say "Hey, could we knit that scarf in class? Maybe on a Friday??"

Oh, I could dream, couldn't I?

How I Am Bilingual

Did you need proof other than the 15 ADD boys or the gang members in Debate that the counselors hate me?

Maybe the fact that she sent a girl from China who has been in the States 1½ months to join Fake Kid Government Club would prove the point.

Here's a sort of transcript for our conversation:

Me (in a louder voice, with bigger eyes, and many hand movements--a sort of bug eyed, hearing impaired hula): Do you know what court is?

Her: "Ahhhh..." (head buried in pocket translator)

Me (still with the hula): "A court? Court? Court?" because as you know, repeating a word a child has never heard will often endow her with a sudden and full understanding of its meaning. Then I think, "A lawyer!?!"

Her: "Lawyer! I know lawyer!"

We celebrate this victory a moment

Me: "Well, we pretend to be lawyers!"

Her: "Pretend? Uh..." again with the translator and she looks up, puzzled as to why we'd pretend to be lawyers "Pretend?"

Me: "Yes, yes!!!” Bolstered by this success, I attempt to explain Mock Legislature. “Now, do you know...uh...lawmaker?"

Her (clearly anticipating the "pretend lawmaker" explanation and already baffled): "Yesss... Lawmaker?"

Me: "Our students” (Big eyes! Loud voice!! Hand gestures!!) “pretend to do that also."

Girl Across the Room Who Owns Ferrets: "Ms. E--you forgot to tell her about the media branch!!"

I attempt to singe her eyebrows off with a look across the room that indicates I quite have enough on my hands, thank you, ferret girl.

And I begin the hula again

"So you might think about it. We have a lot of fun. It's ok if you aren't sure, though. We are just glad you came today!"

Her: "Uh...yes."

One Oprah Post Every Six Months And They Let Me Keep My Status As A Thirtysomething Woman

The comments on how Oprah is like Jesus is some of the best blogging you people have ever done on my site.

And lo! The prophecies are beginning to fulfill themselves!! The crowd, they shout for her to run for office! She is like unto Evita!!! And she, so modest, shakes off the adoration.

Cautiously optimistic

So far the school year is going relatively well. I'm mostly caught up with my grading, and I'm fairly well prepared to teach the 92 students (33 fewer than last year) sitting in my classroom at various intervals during the day.

10 Honors is still kicking my ass, though. I don't understand some of the material the other teacher presents, and I feel that I have to follow her lead no matter what. She's a brilliant person and an interesting teacher. She's the one who tells me I have more methods while she has more material.... which is true of course... but if I were to deviate from her curriculum, I would be proving just how ignorant I truly am.

Plato's The Apology is what I'm talking about. Why the hell do 10th graders need to be reading this? It's way too hard. I barely understand it myself. It's college level material that I feel is not appropriate for the classroom except in exerpts (which are the devil's handiwork, according to the lead teacher).

There are a couple of bimbos in my honors class as well. Not that they're stupid - they're just used to things coming easily and prettily to them. One of them lamented yesterday that she misses the 9th grade honors teacher (whom I've stopped admiring recently) who told them everything and made them take incessant notes. At least, that's my assumption. I wish I had time to sit in on one of her classes and watch what she does. I wish I had time to sit in on one of my lead teacher's classes to see how she approaches Socrates.

I don't know if there is an ideal classroom/teaching situation. Part of me wonders if the drama doesn't in fact inspire me. Teaching is a strange profession - definitely a love/hate relationship. But at least it's better than last year. Last year at this time I already knew it was going to be a looooong year. And was it ever.

OEDIPUS (with vegetables)

I will defer to the Mad Farmer McCartys as to how broccoli and an apple make a potato. Other than that, brilliant. I will analyze with you in the comments. Enjoy.

Someone Gave Calvin A Water Pill


I hate watching Calvin urinate. Especially when he does it off of a moving vehicle. The other morning, I saw a big ol truck (a Ford F4,908,704,708,472,863,593,629,505,736 maybe?) with two Calvins urinating off both sides of his back window.

The Calvin on the left was urinating on the word MOSLEMS--his spelling, not mine.

The Calvin on the right was urinating on the word ILLEGALS.

I think if I ever become a sticker on my car person, I'll have a sticker of Calvin urinating on Calvin urinating.

We Get Letters

More than one of you (yes, that's right two of you!) have asked me if you should see Jesus Camp. Isn't it just more of the same AmericaChrist (tm) talk that we could hear in any of a thousand media outlets?

Yes, I would answer, it is. The impact is greater for me because of the use of children, but I betcha you've still seen it.

So here's my list of

People Who Should See Jesus Camp

  • People who maintain that there aren't politics in the evangelical church
  • People who minister (especially those who work with children) outside of that evangelical loop
  • People who can take any of the two above groups to the theater to see the film
  • and then, somehow, this group that I fit into. Somehow, this time when I saw all those images and stories that I already knew, it felt like a call to arms. It seemed as though my duty to teach critical thinking was doubled. How do you know if you fit in this group? Search me.

For the rest of you, perhaps you should just check the clips on YouTube and download the press kit (Scroll about halfway down the page.) It's got interviews with Becky Fischer and parents of the young people profiled that you won't find in the film. Either way, I hope it brings new discussion of this important topic.

More All About Me

I just corrected the Beginning of the Year English Test that I give for evaluation purposes. This is the first year I have had to bring them home, but I was never going to have time to grade all of them at work. I have a feeling this may be a trend. Oh well.

In an effort to make lemonade out of my lemons, here are a few gems from their All About Me writing piece. Students were required to write 6 sentences about themselves. I’ve stayed true to the creative spelling.

1. My mom put me in violine becase she wants me to be in a orcastra.
2. I love to play on my bed with my brother when we are suppued to be sleeping.
3. I am one of those boy’s how dose’nt like there sister all thoe I get mad at her. I like animals even thoe I don’t know the name’s of them.
4. and ofcors I like horseback riding to. And I like my birthday
5. I like surfbording. Bot Nether me or my mom coode stand up.
6. I like to slepe.
7. I lick woter fawlis. I lick to do staf.
8. My favorite boringing thing to do is wach t.v. (Yay!!)
9. I hate cleaning my room.
10. I don’t like to lose playdates.

I definitely feel like I know a little bit more about each of them.

Maybe The Last Days Really Are Upon Us

Organizers of Spain's top annual fashion show on Saturday rejected five models as being too thin to appear in this year's event.

I read this shortly after publishing the Jesus Camp post and have decided that perhaps the end is truly near.

My First Trip To Jesus Camp Where Shorts Are Allowed


I landed tickets to the premiere of Jesus Camp Wednesday night. A look at their website shows no wide release date and that the night I saw the movie seemed to be its first round of premiers. Score one for the Bible Belt.

Here's the synopsis:

A growing number of evangelical Christians believe there is a revival underway
in America that requires Christian youth to assume leadership roles in
advocating the causes of their religious movement.

JESUS CAMP, directed
by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (The Boys of Baraka), follows Levi, Rachael, and
Tory to Pastor Becky Fischer's "Kids on Fire" summer camp in Devil's Lake, North
Dakota, where kids as young as 6 years-old are taught to become dedicated
Christian soldiers in "God's army." The film follows these children at camp as
they hone their "prophetic gifts" and are schooled in how to "take back America
for Christ." The film is a first-ever look into an intense training ground that
recruits born-again Christian children to become an active part of America's
political future.


My own upbringing touched the very edges of such experiences. Although my church experience was not in the Pentecostal tradition, I spent four years attending a Christian school run by an Assembly of God church.

Twenty-plus years ago, conservative politics were a smaller part of evangelical doctrine. I remember a chapel service in school and talks in church about abortion. The only mention of homosexuality in those circles was a homophobic youth minister who used the word "fag" like it was written in Scripture (in a fascinating sidebar, his wife approached me after I spoke at Dad's funeral half jokingly asking me to speak at both of their funerals. I wonder if he'd want my memory mentioned?). We didn't chant"Pray for righteous judges!" or welcome cardboard cutouts of the President at our worship services like these young people do.

Still, Becky Fischer, the children's pastor profiled in Jesus Camp, maintains that she is not training kids for political action. Her aim is only to "...teach our kids what the Bible has to say about life and how we are supposed to respond to it as Christians.". She cites Scriptural backing for every political message she gives to her campers. I won't argue these specific points except to say that for every political message she finds in the Bible, I could find others that support care for the poor and social justice that would run afoul of her cardboard cutout worship icon. I suppose we all find politics in Scripture, we just choose to emphasize different passages.

What my upbringing did have in common with the "Jesus Campers" is the Born Again experience. Salvation is depicted as an all at once, emotional, easy experience that once and for all brings the forever clear presence of God.

In the half-full theatre, most of the movie goers responded to the film as though it was a comedy. How could this be real?

I couldn't laugh. I know that it's real. I've been to the edges of this content. I just found myself thoughtful and a bit sad. Fischer calls the kids at her camp a "key generation" to Christ's second coming. I remember when my generation had a similar title.

I remember too my generation growing up. With few exceptions, we all had some sort of faith crisis, a way that the simple answers we were given as children didn't cover our lives any longer. Some of my contemporaries gave up on faith when those questions went unanswered. I thought of my own faith crises--because despite the fact that my faith somehow generally outlives spiritual crisis, I still find myself wrestling with God.

So what happens when this "key generation of Jesus Campers" hit their crises and issues of faith are no longer simple? I take that question from the film more than any other image or quote. It makes me hope for reasonable, nuanced faith to flourish.

So the movie is important. It's part of the world you should see if you have not. If you have seen this part of the world, think it through again.

Edited to add--Rev. Dan has posted clips and more opinions on Jesus Camp here. Well worth the click.

A Non-Daddy Post Is Coming, I Swear

Soon, my complicated reflections on Jesus Camp (the movie, not a trip to Falls Creek). But first, Shakespeare and Dad. Two favorite topics of my friend and I right now.

Surprises Shared

The first time my students participate in Share (show-and-tell) I assign them a small All About Me project. Each child finds a shoebox and creates a box that tells me something about who he/she is. This means students decorate the outside and place 4 or 5 times that tell something about them inside. During Share, students explain why they decorated it the way they did as well as why they chose the objects that were placed inside. Every year this is marvelous! I get to know them a little bit better and they have a surefire hit the fist time up.

This year there have been a few eye-opening moments related to Share. First, a student asked if he could take his box home because he had shared it that morning. I told him that was just fine and thanked him for his great Share. In response he explained that he was so glad he didn’t have to sleep without his favorite stuffed animal again. The poor kid. That is such a great example of how nervous my students are at the beginning of the year. They can’t imagine doing something against the rules. Well, most of them are like that.

The second incident was absolutely delightful. . . and surprising. I have a new student who seems very sweet. He is incredibly smart and very well mannered, but a little spacey. He seems to play on the periphery of group games rather than joining in. He watches, learns and then attempts to play on his own or on the sidelines. When he presented his Share this morning the kids were riveted. He had a coin collection, that was pretty cool, and some soccer pictures from his team. The thing that the kids were most interested in amazed me. It was an award he received from his teacher for being a great helper. I give awards all the time. Who knew they cared so much?? At recess today one of my run-around-boys told his buddy he couldn’t play handball because he was going to play with the new kid. YAY!

Names and Checks

Is it ever too early to start using your behavior modification technique? Why does it feel mean to write a kid’s name on the board the second week of school? Unfortunately, my students left me very little choice today. I gave warning after warning. I even gave one kid his “final warning” three times. The third time was when I realized what a terrible precedent I was setting.

The biggest downfall of most behavior modification techniques is the consistency with which it is applied. Today it became clear that the same kids will push and push until I put my foot down. Well, it went down with a thud.

I have two names on the board and one has a check next to it. When your name goes on the board you loose 3 minutes of recess. If there is a check next to your name that is 6 minutes, with two checks it becomes 9 minutes. Once there are three checks I call home. Nobody wants me to call home. The names and checks are erased as soon as the student has “done their time”. As the end of the year approaches, or the particular group of kids needs it, the names stay on the board for up to a week and students sit out on Fridays from snack, or everyday that week. There are lots of ways to adjust the method in order to best redirect you class.

Something to keep in mind if you, like me, take recess time away from your students: they need to use up that energy. If you have the kids sit out during play time they have almost no choice but to play during work time. I have found that if I force the kids to do calisthenics during recess I kill two birds with one stone. The kids use up their energy and aren’t wiggling around like maniacs when they come back into my room. They also didn’t get to play all of the games they were looking forward to.

I’ll let you know how this works out tomorrow with the new crew. The names and checks were put on the board after lunch, so sentences will be carried out tomorrow during snack.

The First Monday

I have yet to see my entire class in the same room. One is still out sick with Strep, but my no-show from last week has finally arrived. I’m not entirely sure I sent her home with all of the notes from last week that she needed, but so it goes. She’s lucky to have her work on our hallway bulletin board. Thank goodness she is a quick little thing and could get it done during our Morning Business slot. Am I coming across as less than flexible? I’m really not… less than… I mean…I am flexible…usually.

This whole “large class size” thing is running me ragged. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s just that I feel like I’m starting over again. I could teach the curriculum to a class that was 25-30% larger than last year, no problem. It’s this whole 50% increase that throws me. Why is it that 4 kids can make such a huge difference? I managed to get some planning done during my free periods today, so hopefully the rest of the week will fall into place. I’m ready for things to feel normal now.

I thought you might enjoy these two winning quotes from last Friday:

I was reading the kids a book about Luis Pastuer and his discovery of the rabies vaxine when Loud Girl put her hand in the air.
“Yes, Loud Girl”
“I had a disease once. It was called Hand and Mouth and Food disease. You get it when you don’t wash your hands.”

This was followed up with a comment from her tablemate, “My uncle is a doctor and he says an earache is worse than having a baby.”

Do with that little gem what you will.

Living Large

Today sucked. Suuu-ucked.

The air went out at school and I was forced to wrangle fifteen ADD Sophomore boys in a windowless classroom. The unexplained nagging pain in my back stayed around for another day and I officially became weary of requesting that young men pull up their pants so we could no longer see their panties.

Yeah, I said panties. I found out today that at least two other teachers outside of my school say that to young men, so again I say panties.

I also started tutoring today and therefore couldn't leave work until 5:30 and so off I went, steeped in the lingering teenage funk of my classroom and ready to just be home.

And for a second, something in the mailbox saved me.

The director of my blessed summer Shakespeare camp sent a copy of the letter he written for my administration.

First, I cried a bit for the vivid reminder of our sacred Green World. Then for the complimentary nature of the words---this guy misses me? Lastly, for the list of names. I remembered looking at that list before I left.

Sitting in the hospital waiting room all those months ago, I read their names and worried. I worried that I wouldn't be as good as them. I worried that the huge burden of my Dad that I carried would be too much for them to take from a stranger and I wouldn't have friends for that month. I was scared. I was scared of Elizabethan dance class, scared of keeping up with the reading, scared to live big. Living in a hospital for two months had made me small. I'd learned not to show emotion in a public waiting room when everyone else had tragedy. I'd learned not to show emotion to my dad just in case he was conscious enough to be worried by our tears. I lived curled up in a ball, invisibly small. Those names scared me. In the end, they probably saved me.

My month in Massachusetts helped me find a way to live big again--impossibly big. I was so big there I could dance horribly and laugh about it. I could sing impossibly loud in voice class, I could enact the huge and public murder of Julius Caesar.

It was very big.

I'm living medium about now. I aspire to big and I'm working on it, but sometimes the brown world I know here makes me shrink up a bit.

It was so good to get that letter and be impossibly large again.

Large and Unwell?

There are so many of them!!! I have 50% more students in my class this year compared to last. Wow, does it make a big difference. The biggest problem seems to be my timing. Last year I would often be able to finish little projects in 5 minutes or so. This year I can’t do anything in just 5 minutes!! I also have to get used to the new volume of the room. It doesn’t bother me if my students chat a little, when it is appropriate, as long as they are not disrupting other students. With my new class size, the gentle hum has turned into a small rumble.
Thank god they are cute!!

**************

Well, we are off to a lovely start. One child left for a doctor’s appointment at 10:30 and didn’t return. His mom called after lunch to let me know he has a form of Strep throat that exhibits itself through scabs on your face. Doesn’t that sound great?? He can't come back until Monday. I know I've come in contact with him. . . several times. Another child went home at 12:45 with a fever. Oh yes, we are off to wonderful start. Who knows what adventures tomorrow will bring! ;)

I'm Probably Supposed To Think This Is Charming...

...however,

Is anyone else more than a bit troubled to the point of hilarity at the Depends undergarment commercial with the bride so old she requires adult diapers?

I laughed. A strong laugh at first, then one that turned inward.

Hah!! Hahahaha...hey...

Inspired Again

I keep waiting for the beginning of a new school year to become something mundane and wrote. Seven years in and it is still as exciting as it was the first time. Granted, I don’t have anxiety about the “What ifs” anymore.

What if I forget to teach something?
What if the kids don’t listen?
What if I totally blank in front of them?
What if they are mean to each other?
What if I haven’t made the copies I need?

Believe me, I could go on and on like this.

The truth of the matter is, we all forget, are not listened to, have mean kids, and are missing important copies, from time to time. The test of a teacher is how we work through it. Shouldn’t we be honest with the kids and let them know that even teachers make mistakes? Isn’t it just another teaching moment? It seems to me a “What if” can easily become a lesson in how to adapt to new situations.

So, release yourself from the “What ifs” and enjoy the beginning of your best year yet. You, my teacher friends, have new smiles to meet and young minds to enlighten. What a great job!!

Beginning Again

A new school year. Already.
Sort of feels like we've come back after a 3 day weekend and started a new school year. What the hell happened to "See you in September!" ?

This year, I have 103 students instead of 130. Something is different this year with this crop of freshmen. Not sure what it is, really. They're quieter for one thing - maybe it's just that they're still scared of me.

I saw a piece on MSNBC about Teach for America, and the cute little teacher from UVa who is giving the teaching profession a shot. She said that teaching is not what it seems like from a student's point of view. Or even a parent's. There is more to being a teacher than meets the eye, and I don't know how to get people to realize how much work, heart, and soul goes into this profession.

Long Lost Normal

I have gotten so used to abnormal that somehow I learned to accept it as normal.

First there was testing and my administration's pre-testing Festival Of Panic. During the week of testing, my family began the hospital ordeal, which plodded into summer, which only seemed like summer because it was hot but even then I spent most of early summer in the air conditioned hospital.

Then it all caved in.

Then I left town with kids, then I came home for two days then I left again. For a month. For that month, I became accustomed to a poetic, honest, hilarious, intelligent normal. It was a glorious break, and I spent the month both relishing it and bracing myself for the new normal I would find at home.

And then I came home. And somehow, I am a teacher again.

Starting school has been walking through jello. Today, though, there was a moment. I was with the kids I'd had for years (along with some new ones) and as they settled into a quick reading and I sat down at my desk to do attendance, someone asked a question and I looked up and--without thinking--smiled. I felt it again. Normal. The normal I've missed since April.

It left me later on, but I was glad to have it visit today. I'll be hoping it comes back for another visit.

Life Long Learners

One of the most important things I try to impress upon my students is that learning is a life long process. Just because I am their teacher doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning. I read about history, watch PBS specials and learn about things like ToonTown from them. If I learn about something particularly interesting I try to share it with them the following day. This way they can see how excited I get about new information. In the classroom, I create challenges for students who complete their classwork early. These challenges usually involve little research projects that can be done in the classroom. I encourage the students to share their findings with the class when there is time. Being generous with the stickers is always helpful here!

What do you do to encourage life long learning?

Dishes

So, it's been weeks since I've posted. I am one of those people who tend to hibernate when I am pondering tough stuff. A friend of mine and I both hurt each other pretty badly earlier this month and I took time away from blogging to ponder and such, and I am back now. Granted, I'm not sure many people read this, but I am back!

So, here's my latest pondering, dishes. Now, to me, dishes are a part of life. You eat and drink everyday and your dishes get piled up in the kitchen. So, at the end of the day, you wash the dishes and let them dry overnight and put them away and start over each day and do it all over again the next day. That's life. So, I go over 3 days a week to tutor Jay, and from the table I sit at, I noticed something: they don't do dishes. Yeah, they are a fairly rich family, so they hire someone to come in and do it for them. So, on Monday when I go to tutor, their kitchen looks awful! The dishes are so high that you can't see the sink itself! Now, here's the thing, everyone in the home has two arms and hands, just as I do, but noone thinks twice as they put their stuff in the sink. It saddened me, in a sense. But, it made me realize something. Everyone can impact you, positively or negatively, and well, I don't want to be lazy like that. Dishes are just dishes, but they speak louder than that. As always, perspective is everything. Yes, I guess I do think too much at times, but that's okay, at least I have a clean kitchen.

I guess that's about it for now.

TAKE CARE OF YOU! :-)

The Part Where I Slowly Begin To Think Again Of Home

Today I was snapped momentarily out of my crunchy granola artsy summer world by a kid at the dining hall wearing a University of Oklahoma t shirt. I approached him like something from a world I no longer knew, a world where all the Route 44 Sonic drinks on earth couldn't atone for the SUV's, W stickers, and suburban sprawl.

"Hey, are you from Oklahoma?"

"Uh, no. I'm from Vermont"

"Oh, uh, I live 20 min from OU and I just wondered. How'd you get the
shirt?"

"My dad went there (the "shhhaa" noise was silent, but
implied)."

"Oh, well, so'd mine. Boomer Sooner."

It's Not All Snooty Academia Around Here...

Seminars on Shakespeare's use of the Leprechaun are forthcoming.

Just Because This Is The Best Soapbox I Have...

...it seems that this is a good place to say something.

When you send someone a sympathy card, it's not a good time to send pictures of yourself. Just in case this is the first time you've heard this, let me repeat. Don't send pictures of yourself in a sympathy card.

She did, however, give me a laugh. Perhaps it's good for that.

Ok, first some business: I am fine. Except when I am not. Then, I am not fine. I can't envision any advice that would fix this situation. There just isn't a solution. Your comments of sympathy and advice are kind, but honestly, I can't take this path in the way any of you have. Email conversations on this topic are welcome, but let's comment along other topics. Thank you for understanding. With that, the news.

Dear me, there is a world outside of the Bible belt!! I am at Smith College in Northampton, MA and have a list of HUGE differences!! Catastrophic differences that make me wonder if I might be able to do without great big iced down peach teas and cokes and MOVE!!!

  • One can walk to anything in this town and even with temps in the 90's and insane humidity, I am quite the happy pedestrian. Did you know it's state law here to yeild for pedestrians? Geez, at home, anyone not driving an SUV is a pedestrian.
  • There are two movie theatres in town and both are art houses. Mmmmm......movies.
  • I'll risk sounding like Ellie Mae Clampett here, but I saw me a play last week that was reviewed by the New York Times! And I mostly agree with the review!
  • The food service guy in our tiny dining hall reads Food and Wine magazine. Often.
  • The grafitti says things like "Biophillic Revolution!"
  • and yes, Virginia, there is yarn.

Expect additions to this list...it's quite an experience. Meanwhile, you might read my new friend's view of the experience.

I Am Both Laughing Out Loud And Nodding With Slight Respect

"Yes, I am qualified to beat people up. But I am pretty intelligent,"

Sunday School!

I tell ya what, I miss teaching kids. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't miss the lesson planning, grading papers, or being up at 6am to be at work by 7:30am, but I miss the kids. So, last Sunday when I taught Sunday School, I HAD A BLAST! I t ell ya, there's just something about teaching "regular" kids that re-energizes me. I teach Special Education during the school year, so to be in a room full of kids who can read and write blesses me! I had such a fun time last week I told my pastor's wife after it was over, "I wish I had one more week with the kids because I am not done with this topic." She turned to me and said, "So, you wanna be back here next week too?" Now normally I would've kicked into my selfish side and thought "I want to be in the congregation next week", but that didn't happen. I turned to her and said, "yeah, I do." Today I got up and was pumped about teaching. This month I began being in charge of the older kid's curriculum and lessons, which is a stretch for me, but I am enjoying it. Of course, it's easy right now without a job to go to everyday. Anyway, I LOVED today. I've been at this church a little over a year now, and I finally see some real growth in these kids. They're now praying for one another, and are asking for prayer too. I love it! It's so exciting! Kids...they're jewels...complete jewels. :-)

I am also still tutoring my autistic student three times a week as well. His parents were afraid if we took the summer off just as we did last summer it would be hard to get him back in the swing of things in the fall. I am thankful for this, as Jay is a bright spot in my life. Kids...aren't they great?

So, I guess that's about it for now.

Have a terrific day!

TAKE CARE OF YOU!

Swimming!

I tell ya, I am LOVING this whole time off stuff! I took my adopted nephew, Jake, swmming yesterday at the pool. And, it has diving boards, and we had the BEST time! I tell ya what, it was a hoot watching this kid be able to go off the HIGH dive, while I was a chicken and only did the low dive. I love to dive though, and so it was a really fun time for both of us! I tell ya, this teaching gig is working for me. hehehe

I got up early today (Yeah, ouch, I'm used to sleepin' in now!) and went to a reception for teachers. I tell ya what, I am fortunate to live in a community that values what teachers do. I wound up speaking on the radio (it was an AM station for 30 seconds, not exactly a biggie!) and we had our pictures taken for the paper. :-) It was a hoot! I hope where you live teachers are held in such high regard as they are here. With all the hats we wear, I feel it's one of the toughest jobs in the world.

So, now that I've rambled, my couch is calling my name!

We are having my other adopted nephew, Austin, tonight. I can hardly wait! I'm such a kid at heart!

TAKE CARE OF YOU! :-)

Life Lessons and Perspectives

Greetings from Missouri!

I tell ya, this is my third day off from teaching, and I am enjoying it. I haven't done a whole lot, but it's been nice. Sleeping in has been my favorite part. I'm one of those people who stays up late and sleeps late if I don't have anywhere to be the following day. :-) Yeah, sleep...it's free, takes no energy, and you can sleep any time of the day! I tell ya, this teacher gig is working for me! :-)

In other news, I heard from Z-boy's Mom this evening. They have put him on medication, as he went to the doctor today. I am thrilled, and find it ironic that he's on meds AFTER I am done teaching him for Summer School. Irony, I tell ya! However, his Mom was very thankful for all I've done for him...I felt blessed. I only planted a seed, but it's one I know will last a lifetime for the kid. Yep, that's the reason we do this job!

The only drawback to this break so far has been that a friend of mine and I seem to have parted ways. I am saddened by this, as it's someone who blesses me beyond measure daily. I know conflict is a part of life, but I hate it. I'm one of those people who wants everyone to get along, and for me to stay out of the conflict. I truly believe perspective is everything, and I am praying that both of us have a perspective check and don't lose ground. However, if we do, I think it's all a life lesson for me. I can let it get me down, or I can view it as a lesson from God. I'll go with the lesson from God perspective...

Well, I've rambled on long enough!

Have a terrific day!

TAKE CARE OF YOU! :-)

Z-boy and Perfect Attendance Boy

So, today was a great day! Not one restraint for Z-boy from me! I consider this a great week! We have had two days this week where I haven't had to restrain him. I consider this a little victory in my little world. I had to get onto him a few times, but I never had to restrain him! Praise the Lord! And, we have one day left. Part of me is actually sad because I have finally gotten somewhere with him, and the other part of me is ready for the break. His family is thinking about moving to Texas, and I hope that's not the case. I would like to be able to follow his progress from a distance, as I have really bonded with him. I think that's the hardest part of this job for me, you make an impact, bond with the kids, and then they're gone! Ah well, a seed has been planted...kinda neat...

I have a funny story for ya! I have another boy, Brandon, who's in my class just for the Summer, who has worn me out. He's not a behavior problem overall, he just can't remember stuff day to day, so what you teach him one day doesn't always carry over to the next day. So, yesterday, we were in reading a book one-on-one, and one of our aides came in to use my computer. As she was looking at my desk, she saw my attendance sheet. What followed had me laughing all day long...I probably shouldn't have laughed so hard, but...

Aide: "Brandon, I see you have perfect attendance this summer!"
(Brandon looks from aide to me to her again)
Brandon: "What?"

Aide: "You have perfect attendance, that's really good!"

Brandon: "Perfect Attendance?"
(Brandon looks at the aide again, then to me, then to the aide again)
This his eyebrow moves and he looks at me again...

Me: "You've been here every day!"

The aide and I looked at each other and laughed.....

Welcome to my world....

Have a great day!
Take care of you!

The Entry I Thought I Would Write, Then Didn't, Then Did Again, Then Just Wished I'd Not Have To.

Dad left us today around 11:30am. It was so very peaceful. Please expect a period of gushy reflection, followed by silence followed by I cannot imagine what.

Thank you.

Cavin' in....

Greetings!

So, today I caved in, and called my chiropractor. Yeah, Saturday and I caved in and called. I have never, ever, called him on a weekend for treatment, but I was in enough pain it was either that or the ER. Fortunately, he lives across the street from me and he called me back and told me he'd adjust me. I went over, and in 10 minutes, I felt better. I wasn't completely healed, but I was no longer fighting tears, so I considered that progress. I am still going in Monday after tutoring my autistic student, but I am no longer fighting tears, so this is progress. Praise the Lord for Chiropractors! Life feels better now. :-)

I am enjoying the day off without needing to restrain anyone. :-) 5 days left with Z-boy. You wanna know the crazy part? I was thinking today that I will miss him...go figure, eh?

Well, I guess that's about it for today. Have a blessed day and TAKE CARE OF YOU! :-)

He Is An AmeriCAN, Not An AmeriCAN'T

I can't vote for this man, but if anyone within the sound of this keyboard can, consider it an Educat endorsement. A ringing Educat endorsement. I only regret that I cannot rent a home in his district and vote for him myself. Every time I start talking about him I fear that I sound like I make him a man-myth ("He learned French from comic books!! He team taught with Michael Feldman!! He built his home from directions in the Mother Earth News!!!*), so we'll leave it at this.

*None of these facts are mythical. Not a dang one.

Hunter

Greetings!

So tonight I sit here in quite a bit of physical pain. "Why" you ask...well, thanks for asking...Here's the story...

I was paged to the office of my school yesterday. When I was paged and I heard a kid screaming in the background, I knew it wasn't good. (When your trained in Crisis Intervention, you're often called to help in situations that have nothing to do with you) I went down (praying the whole way) and there were two adults restraining this kid named "hunter". I had never noticed this kid before in my life. However, I walked in and our secretary had his two arms, and my principal had his two legs pinned to the ground. I walked in and said, "need help?" Now, in hindsight, I wish I had stopped and thought before I responded. But, Spring being Spring, I jumped in. I took the kid's arms and put him in the restraint hold. He's a five year old, and fortunately he weighs significantly less than Z-Boy, so he was much easier to restrain, but he was in full crisis mode. I restrained him for 20 minutes before I was able to get him to verbalize his wants/needs. With these kids, sometimes you gotta physically calm them down before they will talk. So, I got up, my legs asleep from holding him in the restraint position, and my arms felt like jello. Hence, I think I pulled something outta whack, as my neck feels like I've pinched something. I couldn't get in to see my chiropractor today, so it will be Monday before I am out of pain. I tell ya, the things we do in this teaching gig are absolutely amazing... I am earning my keep this Summer. :-) As for Hunter, his guardian came to get him and he left. And we continued our day as usual...

Z-boy was okay today. We had one restraint, which was short-lived. I am seeing some gains with him. I have worked hard to connect with him, and I believe it has worked. He's still defiant, don't get the wrong idea. But, there are some gains. He will now do some things he wouldn't do before. And, will comply more often to my requests than he did before. Go figure, I'm getting somewhere and school is about out for Summer. :-)

I am ready for the break. I can honestly say Z-Boy has taught me a great deal about unconditional love and how hard life can be for some people, ,while I was fortunate enough to be "normal". (leave it alone, those of you who know me!) It has also been hard because you wrestle this little guy to the ground, you can't show emotion (they feed off of any reaction, positive or negatvie), then you get up and act as if nothing happened and go on with life. It has drained me. One minute I am holding Z-Boy down, and the next moment you're teaching him how to right his name. All the while, you must remain calm and not get mad. With 5 days left of school, I say to God, "I have enough character, no more please."

Now that I have shared the drama in my life, I am going to lay on the couch and watch a movie I rented. Have a blessed day. TAKE CARE OF YOU!