Random Notions and Stories of Teaching

April 27, 2005

It's only Wednesday!?

Day 7 in 3rd grade...beginning to think it is them or me. Continually engaging in evasive maneuvers to avert impending doom (a.k.a. someone crying).

In all seriousness though...these short weeks kill me! I don't know what it is, but short weeks are worse than whole weeks. Bizarre! Today I implemented Queen of Ramble's mystery box. I cut out "tickets" and told them when I caught them doing something good or "right" they would be given a ticket to write their name on, then on Friday, I would pick 5, yes 5 tickets and those people would get to pick out of my "magical mystery treasure box". [Insert sarcastic Oooooooo here] So far...it's working. Yay!

Here's my real rant...I got to hear a little about the 4th grade level meeting. Apparently, next year, teachers aren't allowed to give 0s. So if I student doesn't turn something in, it doesn't count against them. They aren't required to turn their work in (HECK! They shouldn't be required to show up either). As if this isn't enough, if a child fails a test, they are to retake the test until they pass. [Insert Lucy's patented puzzled 'Aroo look] But wait, there's more! The grading scale will be changed so that a 3.5 is an A and a 2.5 is a B. SAY WHAT!?

The state of Ohio (and anywhere else that institutes this or similar plans) is taking away any value that the A grade used to have. As a student, I would be PISSED if I worked my tail off to get an A and Joe Bob gets the same grade with less work. It would be one thing if Ohio had some of the best state testing scores...but THEY DON'T. It's probably good that I don't have a permanent position because I will have an extremely hard time teaching to a test. It doesn't work! Studies have shown it doesn't work!

It's very frustrating when my own mother (a teacher having taught 35 years) is telling me to look into other careers. I know teaching is a difficult profession and we keep getting asked to do more with less, but I like teaching. I don't want to do anything else!! I understand the cons...but its the one thing I feel I am good at doing.

Talk about depressing.

April 22, 2005

Christopher the Magician

Wow...five days with these children and everyone made it through alive. Well, one is on crutches, but she's alive. So she counts.

Highlights of the week include:

Obnoxious boy coming over and asking me if I had seen his ice cream paper. Ice cream paper? What's it look like? 10 minutes of irrelevant tangents later I realize. YES! I have seen that paper! He left it on the floor of my classroom the previous day and I told one of the kids to throw it away. Oops!

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Being told "Screw you!" BEFORE 9AM...what a way to start the day.
Sweet but tiny little girl hurtling over a classmate and running into a wall in gym and possibly breaking a hip or thigh bone (femur?).

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Having to return to my classroom during lunch recess (when I do not have duty) because someone bounced a ball REALLY high and knocked the hornet's nest down. DRAT!

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Enjoying an assembly with Christopher the Magician what a fabulous show! I would HIGHLY reccommend him to anyone planning an assembly. The children LOVED him...the adults laughed until they cried. I hearby proclaim my new nickname for students to be: Captain Obvious!

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Putting quite a bit of fear into one student. Here's the reader's digest version: she is in the other teacher's homeroom. They coincidently had a sub the last two days too. She gave Mrs. T a hard time all morning. Mrs. T finally sent her into the hall to finish her test since she was disturbing everyone. She proceeded to write: "I hate Mrs. T." all over her paper.

So when she comes to my room and it's "Oh Mrs! I didn't eat breakfast and I don't eat school lunch and I'm hungry. Can I go buy something out of the teacher's lounge?" Uh. HECK NO. "Oh Mrs...my tummy hurts...oh I'm so hungry..." You get the idea. This is the 2nd time this has happened.

At the end of the day, she asked Mrs. T if she was going to the evening assembly tonight. She said yes. The girl says. "Are you gonna tell my mom what I wrote?" BINGO...negotiating point.
Before bus dismissal I went next door and asked her if she was coming. She replied yes, so I said, "Oh good! Remind me to talk to your mom about your lunch stuff. I don't want you to be hungry when you are at school. It makes it really hard for you to concentrate and it's not healthy. I bet we can come up with something that works so it doesn't happen again." This look of horror comes on her face and she says, "OH NO! No! No!" I just left. It was dismissal afterall.

According to Mrs. T, she sat on the floor sobbing, "Mrs. is a tattletale!" (hehehehe) But before that child went to get on the bus, you better believe I got an apology for lying about the lunch thing. (Along with a, "Are you still gonna tell my mom?)

A little healthy fear goes a long way.

April 20, 2005

The best laid plans...

So...Sunday night, I got a call for a Monday job. Before I could change my mind, I blurted out yes. Get back in the saddle. I'm happier after I work anyway. By the end of the phone call, I had the entire week lined up. Third grade (Monday), across the hall to 4th grade (Tuesday), down the hall to PE (Wednesday), and back up the hall to another 3rd grade (Thursday and Friday).

This would be my 3rd day in Monday's class. The teacher is still out. On one hand, I like being in the same room, it gives me some consistency. On the other hand, I like the variety. Oh, and I don't handle change well. So when I came to school Tuesday prepared to teach 4th grade and ended up back where I was...I was off kilter.

By the end of the week I may just lose my mind! These are nice kids...I've subbed for them several times before. It must be this time of year. They are positively hateful to each other. They are constantly doing little mean things. The best word I have for it is hateful. I lost count of the number of children who cried today due to someone else being mean to them.

Let's see...one girl hauled off and slapped a boy across the face because he was messing with her glasses and if he broke them her dad would ground her (her words) and have to pay $200...my question...

WHO BUYS A 3RD GRADER $200 GLASSES!!!!!!!!!!

One boy wrote, "You're stupid" on his hand and was covertly showing it to people. I told him he could have his recess back when his hands were clean...... did I mention it was in permanent marker?

Yes...my classroom is home to the boy with the cleanest hands in 3rd grade.

April 18, 2005

Good thing I teach English?



Your Linguistic Profile:



70% General American English

10% Dixie

10% Upper Midwestern

5% Midwestern

5% Yankee


April 07, 2005

What a day!

There are days when I really question why I wanted to become a teacher. I am so sick of the griping and the whining and the tattling that I just want to scream! I've become every teacher I swore I'd never be like. I'm every mean sub I ever hated when I was in school. In short...sometimes I have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

But not today!

I love it when an activity really "gets" the kids. You can see them thinking. It's wonderful! Today I worked in 3rd grade again (same guy as last week). Yesterday, I was informed that the students are back to fighting, bickering, squabbling and otherwise being unkind to each other.

When I was there before we did a demonstration with an apple. We were mean to one apple (said mean things and dropped it A LOT) and we were nice to the other apple (were careful with it...didn't drop it). Then we cut the apples open and saw what they looked like inside. We compared the bruised apple to how people feel when others are unkind.

So today, I decided...fine, they're going to experience what they are doing to each other firsthand. I saw an activity similar to this on Oprah and BOY did it stick with me.

When I arrived at school, I made yellow arm bands. Then I put these armbands on the 4 blonde children in the class. I wanted most of the class to feel excluded because it would make a better impact. The 4 kids were then allowed out of their seat when the others couldn't. They got to line up first and go to Composition first. They were able to talk in the hall and the others were not. Luckily, their composition teacher was in on the whole thing too. I told her how wonderful the 4 students were and that the others were trouble. Already, the "unfairs" were being heard.

She truly made the experience stick. She only let the 4 students use the computer...the others had to sit down. She told the 4 students to correct their mistakes on a paper, while the others had to completely rewrite it. She gave one of the 4 students her brand new crayons...another student that asked for crayons had to borrow from someone else.

The kids were truly stunned. I might be crazy...but one of their regular teacher's was doing this? What the heck!

Halfway through class, it was time for them to go to the library. CT (composition teacher) had the 4 children sit in the front. Others came to sit around them..."oh no...they need to be in the front where they can see and hear best. You sit back there with the rest of the class." Luckily, the librarian played along too. After the story, the other children weren't allowed to check their book out until the 4 children had found and checked their books out. All the while...."unfair!" If looks could kill....whoa. I met them walking up the hall while I was picking up my second class and one of the 4 said to me, "If this continues...I won't have any friends by tomorrow." That's right he wouldn't...he was enjoying his "specialness" until about then...now it wasn't so fun.

When I got them back, I switched. Suddenly the 4 children weren't the best. They had to sit at a table all by themselves. No matter what, I wouldn't call on them to read. I even told them they would have a homework assignment and the other students would not.

At that point I stopped the lesson and began the real lesson. First, I had everyone get out a sheet of paper and write how they felt. Once I had those, we made a list on the board of the feelings they experienced...sad, mad, angry, frustrated, left out, lonely, etc.
We talked about how they felt and how that relates to the hatefulness that they're doing in class and at recess. I could see the lightbulbs go on.


It truly was a great day! Now I just hope they remember this for more than a week.

April 03, 2005

Random Book thing

Swiped off Mona's site.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

"He knocked violently on the door. Kostos's grandfather opened the door. The man looked fully astounded at the expression on Bapi's face."

- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares

I loved the book(s)...just finished the 3rd one, but this was sitting next to me.

My Labelmaker, my friend

Maybe I am the only freak out there. Who knows. Last fall, I bought a labelmaker. I even got refills for it. Why just go out and buy a labelmaker? Well, I was cleaning my pantry and I got the fabulous idea to put labels where things go.

So everywhere you look in the pantry there are labels. I personally feel this makes putting away groceries and such simple! Hubby can even help now with idiot proof labels.
"Honey, where do I put the macaroni and cheese?"
Why, right behing the label that says: "Macaroni and Cheese"

I spent last night and this morning labeling all the bottom cupboards in my kitchen. I feel so organized...so neat. It's great!

A little too organized...sure, but love me...love my neurosis.

April 01, 2005

A day with no meltdowns!

In my mom's school, there is a special class for students who need that extra help behaviorly. They have anger problems, motivation problems, etc. All in all, they are good kids, but they are the kind of kids that can cause chaos in a classroom. So they pull them out and put them in this special class where they focus on learning what skills they need to be a students. They are all on behavior contracts. It can be a very volatile room. The teacher for this room is great. I love her to death. She is smart and sassy and says what she thinks. She's also very kind and helpful. Like I said, I just love her. She's been a great mentor for me, especially last year when I was struggling in a Resource Room ("Special Ed").

So today she took her first (EVER) personal day. She has been telling me all week, "I'm not going to be here Friday, and you have to be here!" She trusts me with her kids. She has ever since I subbed for my mom last year when she was hospitalized. Her kids make me nervous, but I can handle them. I just don't make waves. All week, I knew I would be in her room. I rented the Incredibles for the afternoon (my bribe to keep them good in the morning) and I even brought popcorn. The day went very well...no melt downs. Yipee! And I didn't even feel tempted to swat a student with my crutch. (hehe)

Crutch? You say. Oh yes...I left that out didn't I? Yesterday, I pulled a stupid...as I often tend to do. I was walking (on the sidewalk, no less) to Subway to pick up lunch after renting the Incredibles (since I didn't work). On the sidewalk, there was a wheelchair ramp. Mind you, there was no handicapped space nearby. The ramp was unmarked and of course, I stepped in it wrong and hurt myself. I spent Thursday with my left foot up and my right knee up. I can barely walk. But there was no way I was letting this teacher down.

We found the crutches and I got up extra early. My husband helped me wrap the ankle and the knee just had to fend for itself. I looked mighty pathetic hobbling down the hall. I mainly needed the crutches for stability as neither leg was particularly stable and I didn't want to end up on the ground...again.

I am super teacher. I can even teach on crutches. ON APRIL FOOL'S DAY! Woohoo! See my dedication? Hire me!