If You Only Thought Grilling Was For Chicken...

I saw one of my students smile for the first time today. I have had him for two different classes, and never a grin until today.

In retrospect, I don't think it was because he was happy. I think he wanted me to see his new purchase.


That's the setup and I am totally letting you all grab the punchline. Never let it be said I am not generous.

Perhaps The Greatest Educational Question Facing Our Schools

Our faculty is in the midst of a disciplinary revival meeting lately. There's been the same shouting and raising of hands making promises that are good, but we probably can't live up to them in the end.

Except it isn't over on Wednesday night and there's no traveling singer selling CD's in the lobby. No hot dog supper, either. Instead, it's just enforcing these good but hard promises today. One of our areas of conviction has been the dress code.

And so with questions on this new commitment, a friend emailed the entire English department today. How, she queried, do we make the call on when cleavage defies the laws of the dress code? Within an hour, one of us hit "reply all" and the emails were a-flying!

I tend to think of cleavage like a certain Supreme Court justice thinks of porn (and which Justice was it, seriously?) I know it when I see it. But how can we set a standard? Is it about a measurement from the neck down? Is it about curvature or peaks and valleys? Or is it to be left to the subjective standard that forces a male teacher friend of mine to the following exchanges?

Friend: Miss, I believe your shirt doesn't meet the dress code.
Girl: Why!? It's not that bad!!
Friend: Miss, if I see that shirt much longer I will feel that I owe you

Anyone have a definition here?

It's Only Gag Inducing If You Think About It At All


When Words Fail

I have struggled lately to express all my feelings.

The Crib Chick's father's memorial was yesterday. It was tragic as we lost him all too quickly and too soon, but joyful. I'm planning to let Mrs Chick herself tell the story, but beside all of this sorrow was a celebration of a man whose love of his life and his God could not be contained. The most natural tribute to such a life were the stories that were told by five (seriously, and it didn't seem as long as it sounds) relatives, the last of whom was my friend Crib. Her story, complete with silly voices, drew the remarks, the service, and most importantly this life, to a perfect close.

And I don't know if I said the right words to share that.

At the service, I just cried at her and on the phone after, I could only draw the words to say something like "Dude, that was perfect!" (did I say dude? really??).

So at times like this, when there are no words, nothing says love like this. If you come here via the Chick and have trouble with the right words, just say it with the monkey. And if you love me, please send an ape.

On Worksheets

I am beginning to discover a "chicken and egg" type situation.

I have told you before that all my English classes are "regular". Regular classes are the ones where "everyone else" goes. Honors kids are sequestered away to the best teachers, everyone else becomes "regular".

My regular classes have everyone from Special ed kids to the kids who are to unmotivated or lazy to take honors. More than once, I've had kids tell me "I didn't do honors because I didn't want to do the Summer reading".

So here we are. Kids who don't know English with kids who read at a 12.9 grade level and are bored to death. Here's the common denominator I have found: these kids have seldom been challenged.

See, those honors kids want to learn. So they get the teachers who want to teach. Presumably, everything is rosy after that (I know better, it's not always, but that's another concern). Meanwhile, those regular kids are given to the teachers who haven't worked their way up yet. This doesn't mean they're bad teachers, though, right?

I think it's fair to say that sometimes it makes them bad teachers. A friend is mentoring a first year teacher with a "bad" class--she's quit really teaching. She fights and fights with the behavior problems and so after all that, can she spend the considerable energy it takes to teach? That, my friend, is how worksheets are made.

So back to the chicken and egg. These kids have been taught for years that learning is putting an answer on a risographed page. As a result, good teachers sometimes fall to a steady diet of the worksheet, affirming that silly expectation, and then the seasons they go round and round and the painted ponies go up and down...

I am writing this for me. I am writing this so I will keep using music to teach tone and smile when the kids say "So what do we write down?" or "Don't you have anything cool?" (actually, there I will smile and say "Now that would upset the balance of the world, wouldn't it?" but I will still smile.). I will push again to make kids create questions with a depth of knowledge above two.

And maybe somewhere a pig will be wearing a necklace, but maybe not.

Hyah! Apostrophe! Back!

Do you think that clicking on this blog over and over and over again might stop the gross misuse of the apostrophe? That the beast may be tamed?

I don't, but as the website says, "You are among friends.".

via EdWonks

Meet the F*&%$ ers

So he looks straight at me when he said “Max does better in classes where there are activities and interaction. He doesn’t do well in the sit-down-listen-and-take-notes classroom.”

What a jerk. Like he even knows what the hell goes on in my classroom on a day to day basis. He probably doesn't even realize I'm giving up my lunch break for this crap.

But he's not as much of a jerk as his wife. “He sometimes forgets when things are due or whether he has missing work. It takes too long for Max to get feedback on his papers and his work. There needs to be a shorter turn around time, and I know it’s probably impossible to grade that many papers in two or three weeks, but maybe you could put Max’s at the top of the pile or something.”

This stings A LOT because I know I’ve been horrible at getting papers back to students. Honestly, I’m embarrassed by how long it has taken me. I just can’t seem to keep up. But, this meeting is not about me, or my multitudinous failings, so I suggest that they encourage their son to keep a planner and get assignments checked off after he writes them down. Then he can go back to verify whether or not he turned in his work, and he will be better able to self assess.

This is why I hate being a teacher. I don’t like being blamed for the inadequate organizational skills of most high school students. It’s not my fault that he forgets to turn in his assignments if he doesn’t want to write things down.

Or maybe it is. And I just plain suck.

Most Definitely Not Reactive

Because I know you were waiting to see how Sean Puffy P Diddy Daddy Combs handles his acne, I offer this real live quote from a Proactiv commercial I saw today.

"It's good because, you know, I got to keep my situation moisturized, know what
I'm sayin'? I got to keep my sexy intact."

Thank you, Mr. Diddy Daddy, for speaking such truth. The world has been waiting.

Fake Kid Government Demands (At Least) Fake Kid Civility

It's a perfect day for a snow day. Ice made the roads slick and dangerous, but the whole mess was pretty much gone by 10am. I needed to be away from school-ness for another day (Those who read last week's post agree, I did need a party and so hated missing Scott's for I hear he is famous for just the sort of meatballs that Inheritor of Heaven mentioned...ok, not really, but I wish I had made the party.).

The plan was for father daughter oil changes so there was lots of time to catch up. I was able to fill him in on the character debate that has rocked the fake kid government program I work with. Let me fill you in.

For the first time in five years, we hosted a visiting delegation from TX at our State Fake Kid Government Conference. Texas has hosted our delegates for years and have been very gracious hosts, we were happy to return the favor and I was even happier that the delegation was chaperoned by my college roomate (This is a long and winding tale, you need only know that we both work with the same organization in different states totally by chance. It's gotten us back in touch and it's been lovely.). I was all ready to roll out the red carpet for my friend and her kids! It would be like "Be Our Guest" in Beauty and The Beast! Silverware would prance about and we would sing in French accents!

As the sessions began, somehow the silverware stopped dancing. In fact, at a couple of points, the forks and knives flew to the eyes of our friends to the South. Fortunately, the kids were able to see that the meaness was isolated to one particular group--but Oh! That group!!! When a TX delegate opposed a bill proposed by a student from the Delegation of Evil, she was called "a fucking moron". Motions were made to withdraw their voting rights, and suggestions were made that they "Go back to Mexico". All of this came from the same kid, the same kid who was somehow later elected Fake Kid Speaker of The Fake Kid House.

His office has been revoked and his bid for National Conference withdrawn. This isn't (as much) a story about Fake Kid Government scandal, but of the response from the Evil Delegate. Can you believe that the kid has written a letter of protest offering this as a defense?

Even the Vice President of the United States has lost control and used
four-letter words on the senate floor.

Now it comes back to my dad. He suggested I forward this response to our VP, informing him that his legacy. I wonder if I will. I wonder if a similar defense could be used if a child was caught performing oral sex somewhere in the Capitol. I don't think the defense will hold any water with the other members of the Board of Directors, I know it doesn't with me.

The Gauntlet Was Thrown And I Performed A Pratfall To Pick It Up

I attended a College Board training this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of English teacher nerd camp (this was my first of this kind).

I came back into my own a bit during a session. The discussion was on teaching tone (wooo!! Teaching tone!! Paaarrr-tay!!!) and the speaker suggested using "Letters From A Nut".

"Can I get someone to read this letter aloud please?"

I pause, thinking that everyone would want to read this aloud, why would they not!?!...but no one does! I try to sound all subdued and sophisticated even though I am giddy at the chance to read this.

"I can read the letter."

"I want to warn you, it's very hard to read this without laughing, but I'd
like you to do your best."

Does she know who she's talking to? Does she KNOW who she's talking to?

I clear my throat a bit, sit up straight and fix her with a look that will send her into convulsions as soon as I read the first line...

I want to inject ham in me...

Just found this at fark.com

And it's a good thing registering to make a comment takes 24 hours. Otherwise, I would probably waste at least as much time coming up with an angry reply to the ignorant comments about teachers - a reply that would probably only be read once. Maybe.

It's times like this that makes me wish I could invent an FU key to put at the top of my keyboard. It would come in quite usefully the week before progress reports come out when parents are asking for a pre-progress report progress report. What is the point of a progress report, then, I want to ask. Why shouldn't I just email you every night before I tuck you in and tell you the wonderful story of how your student is a joy to teach and can I give you a wake up call or breakfast in bed?
An FU key would save all my sarcastic energy for the people who really need it: My OWN two children.

Complaining doesn't change things. Venting ceases to relieve my frustration. Crying just makes me splotchy. Teaching will never get easier.

I Didn't Intentionally Aim My Bullet-y List At You

So now you that worry for my friend is another source of my cranky (see! It wasn't Valentine's Day!). It's the week to turn in grades, enrollment paperwork, our annual ten page survey for CareerTech, and have a whopping two faculty meetings.

Everything, EVERYTHING, is getting to me today.

For example,

  • Science, and not just my own sense of doom, now indicates that I will die alone like a dog.
  • It seems that standardized testing will soon hit higher ed and now our quest to legislate the least influential factor in the learning patterns of a young adult will be complete!
  • He said what!?!?!
  • While searching for resources on this film, I somehow Google-tripped to another site with fine religious art and enjoyed my biggest belly laugh of the day.
  • Our mandated "let's all talk about improving our already great school!" meeting brought to the surface one faculty member whose greatest worry was that our geographically based lunch schedule (first lunch is A, B, and C halls, etc) created too large a group for his particular teacher's lounge and therefore should be scrapped.
  • And with all that crowding in the lounge (which I somehow never have time to visit), evidently one teacher decided the microwaves were "too dangerous" and carried them off, leaving a note on the dangers of the microwave.
  • I just threw those last two in so you'd see that others are handling their pressure with equal style and grace.

She's Totally Donating Her Eyes To Stevie Wonder

Watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I always had this sense that I was Cameron. I have grown and warmed to the idea and even though a mother of five probably has to live a bit more Cameron-esque life than a freewheeling spinster teacher, I feel like Ferris Bueller's best friend.

But in a very, very good way. The best possible way.

Within a minute (seriously, sixty American seconds) of posting about The Family Chick, I had five new hits. Those hits only escalated and as of now, I have more than three times the hits I normally have. Ladies, seriously, do you sleep?

Word (via Grandma) has come that things are better than expected and that they should be back in the OC by 8 or 9pm. They have their stuff, a rental van, and all their cuts and bruises.

Thanks for all your thoughts, I do hope you'll understand that I will tell her simply that "all your internet people send their best". She'll soon enough be reading all your thoughts.

Soon, soon, soon!

As Worried As I Am, I Am Still Referring To Them With Bird Names

Although I have paused before putting this much "real life" on the blog, I know that some of you come to me via my good friend The Crib Chick, so I want to make you aware.

Mrs. Chick was on her way home from VA to be with her father, who is very ill. En route, she and the family were in an accident near Nashville. During a snowy-sleet-storm, she lost control of her van, hitting the last car (a semi) of a pile up. She was nearly missed by another semi that stopped just short of hitting them from behind. They are fortunate to be alive.

She, the Rooster, and the peeps are recovering in Nashville. Her mother, stepfather and brother drove out to help. They are unable to recover their things from the car and are working to get insurance issues fixed before coming to OKC to spend time with family.

Worry and pray with me.

If A Huge Stuffed Animal Floats To The Ground Suspended By Ballons In The Woods, Did It Really Happen?

I'm just cranky.

It's not Valentine's Day that has me rankled. In fact, I just got the best Valentine in a while from the only people required to love me, my parents. I have agreed to release Ms Educat's After School Club for Kids Who Don't Read Good (MEASCFKWDRG) early so the dating and such can commence. Hell, I even had a date last week (not a high pressure event, but if you call eating food with a man who opens doors and smiles a date and I do, then it was). So let it not be said that I, Educat, Fairy Spinster, is cranky because of Valentine's Day, because I am not.

But is it really necessary for every teenager to celebrate their love at school and in public? Today when a child showed up for MEASCFKWDRG to tell me she was leaving to take a math quiz and I questioned how she spent the 15 min she had before class, she was shocked when I hinted that perhaps with so much to do, she ought not to have spent all that time with her boyfriend (who usually waits outside my door on the off chance she will go to the restroom anyway).

Tomorrow, my room shall be ablaze with big-ness. Big flowers, big stuffed animals, big excuses to leave the room to pick up such things from the office and big requests for three people to go to said office together, because all these tokens happen so EVERYONE ELSE CAN SEE THEM. We have already been told to tell our students that they cannot ride the busses with balloons and other such big-ness as they will obstruct the view of the driver.

Here's what I propose: Next year, as a fundraiser, we will temporarily (or perhaps permenantly) tattoo the heads of children to read "Someone Has Noticed Me! Please Do The Same!".

If you love me, give me a Valentine that's small.

An Entertainment Care Package Of Sorts...Because I Care

I'm dropping into a black hole soon. It's time for three days of fake kid government with Ms Educat. I leave tomorrow and will be back Saturday.

Meanwhile laugh at Deirdre Flint's music. It's my way of being entertaining while I am away, sort of like the casseroles mom left for you to heat up when she left town.

Should It Concern Me...

...that one of the custodians has started telling me I need to go home and take a day off? Tonight he told me to have a "good good sleep".

As much as that creeps me out, I believe I shall.

I Just Saved A Bunch Of Money On My Car Insurance By Driving To Church!

I changed my insurance policy last week--please don't use that tired old Geico commercial. It doesn't apply here--and while I will not offer specifics as to the company (I ain't tryin to get Googled), I was suprised by one of its features.

I have evidently taken Christian insurance. My new agent comes highly recommended and his quote was a good one, so I signed with him without knowing the specifics of his company. Here are a only a few of its features.

  • If I am in an accident en route to a church function, I pay no deductible
  • If I am hosting a church function in my home and someone is injured, their medical coverage is kajoopled
  • If my car is broken into and religious materials are stolen, they are replaced before I pay my deductible

So I got to wondering...

  • Is my coverage good if I am en route to a Mosque or Synagogue?
  • Can any substances found in my system be chalked up to a sacremental function?
  • Can I claim at any time I am driving that I am en route to worship (given my command to always "be in an attitude of prayer" and the fact that this is the Bible belt and, as my dad says, "It's always worship time somewhere!".)?

I am working in my mind on a list of such questions for my new insurance agent. Share any other ideas you may have.

Checking My Reflexes

I try so hard not to be knee jerk anything when it comes to political issues, so call this my way of checking myself.

Are the President's comments regarding Advanced Placement training in his State of the Union address really a non promise?

In his address, he speaks of a great initiative to train more teachers in Advance Placement Math and Science. Here's what makes me think he's promising nothing:

I don't teach AP. I have plain old, regular Sophomores. I am, however, getting AP training. The training is free to all teachers (I think our State Department funds it) and my district even pays me a stipend to train. I am attending my first training in a couple of weeks and am looking into a week of AP Teacher Nerd Camp. All of this if free to me. Math and Science teachers get the same deal. All free training.

So is the President promising to fund training that's already funded? Fill me in, internet. What have I missed here?

A Story On Why The Model UN Pages Should Only Be Used For Business That Later Turns Into A Thank You

When I was a Senior in High School, I wasn't exactly popular. If anyone knew me at all, it was because I was involved in the Drama department. I was in Student Council, but did mostly behind the scenes work. I didn't date, didn't party. Good lord, I was in Model UN, how cool could I have been?

This made the events surrounding Prom stranger than they would normally have been.

I was asked to Prom in a note handed to me by a page at Model UN. My friend's boyfriend was Afghanistan with his buddy, whose High School claim to fame is that he was an assistant manager at the dollar movies. Dollar movie had just broken up with his girlfriend (who was in college) and I suppose that rather than debating, they cooked up this hot scheme for Prom. The invite took the form of a resolution--I was charmed and accepted (after worrying that we would get caught misusing pages, because I was there to debate! Not play!!). We would double date with our friends. The evening promised to be magical. Immediately, my mother began to sew my pink satin Princess Grace dream dress. Shoes were dyed to match. The late 1980's wheels were turning.

All too soon, the wheels found their emergency brakes. For reasons I never understood, Dollar movie tycoon dumped me a week prior to the prom. What would become of my appointment for big hair? My Grace Kelly dress? The perfectly matched shoes?!? Armed with the anger of a woman scorned, I planned to go "stag" with a friend from one of my classes, and around my High School, the gossip flew.

I feel a bit sorry for the Dollar Movie boy, because most everything that flew, flew at him. For example, my AP English teacher evidently chewed him out in front of the entire class (a move that charms me in the part of my brain that is a student, but makes me worry about him as a teacher). Dollar's fellow Afghani delegate didn't speak to him for over a week.

Nevermind that, however, I had a dress and dammit (and I would never have said dammit back then), I was going to Prom!!! It was my destiny. That night, I was painted, teased, and jeweled into a 1980's High School Prom dream! After visiting the McDonald's drive through with my friend (it just seemed right at the time), we tromped into the Country Club where the Prom was held.

What happened at the door of the Prom still baffles me. I simply am not the girl that things like this happen to. We were met at the door by the aforementioned English teacher who told me, "Educat, you better get you another of these for your scrapbook, cause your momma ain't gonna believe it". Somehow, despite all logic, I was on the ballot for Prom Queen.

Let it be known right now that I was not the Queen of that Prom. I never expected to be. If offered the crown, I probably would have shamed it with some snorting laugh. What I did do was show. Despite all High School logic, I was second runner up. To understand this victory, you have to understand the hierarchy. There was one black candidate, and she won. A five foot nothing cheerleader was runner up, then it was me. This means that I placed ahead of two (or three?) actual popular girls. I chose at that time to believe that this was not some Carrie-like stunt and I still conclude that it wasn't a bad showing for a nerd.

Which brings me to today(are you still there?). Somehow, despite anything I can grasp, I have place third in The Best Of Blogs Education and Homeschool Blog category. Third place with this group is pretty good. The Education Wonks took first place honors--and as the hub of the edu-blogosphere, it's no doubt the title they deserve. Second place has been awarded to The Bonny Glen. Melissa has authored several books and has a very comprehensive homeschool blog (no small feat). So I am third in this crowd? The honor is huge.

And maybe I should show my URL to my momma, cause she probably won't believe it.

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Rule Of Womanhood #1

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Think Over The Think It Over

At school, are getting ready to enroll for next year. I have an advisory group of 15 kids I will see through the process. I have their transcripts and am setting up conferences with their parents for an evening next week. My group happen to be Junior enrolling for their Senior year, so it's particularly important. With some kids, we are writing stacked schedules with all the academics they hadn't passed and talking about Summer school. For others (most in my group, actually), we are working to beef up schedules, talking about concurrent enrollment, or sometimes finding electives to fill out their schedule.

Today while working with a student who seems not to have passed any History classes so far, I hear a conversation.

Is Marraige and Family hard?

Nah, they talk about relationships and child care and stuff.

Dontcha gotta carry

You don't have to carry the baby. You can write a report.

I'll carry the baby.

You can cheat the baby, you know?


You can put a block of wood behind its head so it looks like you're holding
it. You can also put its diaper over its head instead of feeding it. It's all
done with magnets and the diaper has one."

I decide to step in here, much to the relief of my young Historian.

So, you stick wood behind the baby's head and rub its face its own magnetic

Ummm...yeah? It's not real or anything.

St Brigid's Feast Always Sneaks Up On Me

My Knitting Teacher tipped me off to a celebration of The Feast Of St Brigid (aka Groundhog Day) at Grace's Poppies.

The celebration is a silent poetry reading and I want to share one that was sent to me just this week by an old friend. It resonated with me anyway, so I am glad for the "pressure" to share.


Margaret Atwood

In the secular night you wander around
alone in your house. It's two-thirty.
Everyone has deserted you,
or this is your story;
you remember it from being sixteen,
when the others were out somewhere, having a
good time,
or so you suspected,
and you had to baby-sit.
You took a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream
and filled up the glass with grapejuice
and ginger ale, and put on Glenn Miller
with his big-band sound,
and lit a cigarette and blew the smoke up the chimney,
and cried for a while because you were not dancing,
and then danced, by yourself, your mouth circled
with purple.

Now, forty years later, things have changed,
and it's baby lima beans.
It's necessary to reserve a secret vice.
This is what comes from forgetting to eat
at the stated mealtimes. You simmer them
drain, add cream and pepper,
and amble up and down the stairs,
scooping them up with your fingers right out of the
talking to yourself out loud.
You'd be surprised if you got an answer,
but that part will come later.

There is so much silence between the words,
you say. You say, The sensed absence
of God and the sensed presence
amount to much the same thing,
only in reverse.
You say, I have too much white clothing.
You start to hum.
Several hundred years ago
this could have been mysticism
or heresy. It isn't now.
Outside there are sirens.
Someone's been run over.
The century grinds on.

Go. Hurry and post a poem before day's end, then post a comment on Grace's Poppies.

Read My Lips, No New Needlework

...or maybe not.

Do you have any idea how badly I want to embroider after seeing this site? Imagine, tea towels with monkeys!! Or grumpy vegetables!!!
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I am afraid it might happen.

Even Cross Stitch holds some appeal after finding this.

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