Thursday, September 27, 2007

Just smile, nod, and tell me I’m fabulous.

When I tell people what I do for a living, I usually get one of three reactions.

Reaction #1: “Oooooo…little kids are sooooo cuuuuuute!!! I am so jealous!! It must be so fun to color and sing all day.” This reaction tends to send me into a bit of a rage and compels me to regale these individuals with the insanely long laundry list of roles that teachers must balance, inform them of the incredible amount of planning and thought that goes into our days and point out that, unlike those who work in an office, I must complete all my daily tasks while simultaneously holding my own pee for eight hours at a time.

Reaction #2: “If I could spend some time volunteering, I would definitely work with children like you.” Ummmm, moron, teachers get PAID because we work INSANELY HARD. But that’s cool, I know you’re really on-line shopping all day in your air conditioned cubicle and are just feeling incredibly unfulfilled and worthless.

Reaction #3: “Wow!! You work there?!? You’re totally like Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds!!” Ok. First of all, no…just no. Second of all, I do not routinely wear leather to work. And lastly, I would not touch high school students with a pole. You idiot.

I won’t even respond to those who immediately point out that it must be nice to have my summers off. I feel as if they should just be shot.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stop the insanity...again

Is your school office the most chaotic, loud, semi-unprofessional space in the building?? Seriously, in the middle of the day, it’s a calm, air-conditioned utopia…free of crying children, without constant interruptions and there are no small puddles of pee in the corner. But after school, after school my friends, it is like that place explodes into a frenzy of everything awful about the education system. Angry parents, confused children, lost lunch boxes, ringing phones…AAAAAAA!!!! Sometimes, at the height of the pandemonium, there will be free pastries or chocolates on the office counter. On those days, it’s swim-at-your-own-risk-no-life-guard-on-duty nuts!! People I’ve never seen before shove their way past the mailboxes and make their way back out with pockets bulging.

Today there were free brownies. That’s right, free…

Unfortunately, I HAD to get to my mailbox. So, I threw some elbows and made my way inside. I was almost out of there when I heard one of the secretaries calling my name.

“Mrs. Mimi, you have a phone call.”

At that moment, two other secretaries and a school aide also started yelling at me about the phone call…yeah, I don’t get that one either. Long story short, there was lots of yelling and it was at me.

I get to the phone and it was the Cambridge Who’s Who of Education. Have you heard of this operation?? My apologies in advance to anyone who already belongs or aspires to belong because I am about to rip this whole operation a new one.

After telling me that I have been nominated for a prestigious place in their most recent publication, a very lovely woman begins to interview in order to sketch a quick biography of my career. She pumps me full of compliments and sweet nothings…it was like she was hitting on me or something.

Then she tells me that they’re going to send me a plaque…all fancy with my middle name all spelled out and everything. I’m practically decorating my future office in the still-to-be-determined college I plan on working for. I think a light grayish blue might look great with some off white, chocolatey brown and gold accents might be fabulous.

Then she tells me that I am going to receive two round trip air fare tickets to anywhere in the U.S….even Hawaii. Um, I heart Hawaii.

I’m all “What the deuce? Is this for real? Because my day kind of blew and this would totally turn it around.”

And then…

Lady on the phone: Ok Mrs. Mimi, we are so impressed with your success that we want to get a bio out to you a.s.a.p. for your approval.

Me: Super, I’m so flattered.

Lady: Great, so I just need to start with your expiration date.

Me: Huh? (Yes, it was just that articulate.)

Lady: We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa…

Me: Hold on, I have to pay you something because I won an award?

Lady: Most members choose the platinum option which is a lifetime membership for just $799 right now and three subsequent payments of $129 each.

Me: What?

Lady: Or, you can be a gold member (hee hee) for a one-time payment of $599 and three subsequent payments of $129 each.

Me: I’m sorry…I…

Lady: And we’ll get you a password and get you started networking right away.

Me: Hold on…

Lady: I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this great opportunity…you’re so accomplished!

Me: STOP TALKING!!!!

Already long story made slightly longer…I declined. No trip to Hawaii. No shiny plaque. No prestigious accolades. Just the feeling that I need to shower.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I hope this is up to my standards...

Ok…I am sensing from the response to my last post (or lack thereof) that it was not my best. I’m no dummy – I’m picking up what you’re putting down, cyberspace. So, let me try to remedy the situation with something a little more in line with my usual postings. After all, I’m supposed to be working on my dissertation, but can’t quite motivate. I’ve been trying to get down to business for the last 6 hours. Maybe it’s time to call it a day…

As the start of the school year approached, I thought my new class would be material enough for my blog. However, they’re really awesome. I have no drama. Well, I have a bit of drama. One little boy with the largest front teeth I’ve ever seen is a bit chatty for my taste, but I’ve definitely seen worse. And I have another one, Curly, who can be a bit sassy at times, but he’s so darn cute!! Really, (insert me knocking on wood here) I am loving my new group!! When I think back to past years, the problems I have this year seem insignificant.

Let me regale you with a memory of misbehaviors past…

Two years ago I had a little boy whose glasses were always crooked and behind them, his eyes were always a bit crazed. He was like a little bomb waiting to explode. Super cute, very sweet, totally nuts. One day at the beginning of the year, the class was sitting on the carpet listening to a story. It was the first week of the year, so everyone was still in hardcore angel mode. Except my little friend. As I look up from one of my favorite picture books (I heart Knuffle Bunny…seriously, you need to acquaint yourself with Mo Willems), I catch a glimpse of Little Crooked Glasses in mid backward somersault. He picked up so much momentum that he turned all the way over, and then slid UNDERNEATH the carpet. I wanted to scream but then his little head popped up from the floor, glasses askew with the most thoroughly confused look on his face as if he had never really seen me before. I couldn’t bring myself to yell after that.

Flash forward to the end of the day. Little Crooked Glasses is gyrating in his place, backpack on (remember that detail, it will be important later), ready to go home.

Me: Little Crooked Glasses, please sit down sweetie. School’s not over yet…
Him: I can’t Mrs. Mimi, I can’t find my backpack…
Me: (isn’t he wearing his backpack…WTF? It’s the end of the day…work with me!!) Um, honey, isn’t it, um, on your back??
Him: Huh? (spinning around erratically like my beloved but somewhat dumb cat trying to catch her tail)
Me: Sweetheart. Stop spinning, it’s right there.
Him: I don’t see it.
Me: (Please grant me patience…ten, nine, eight, seven…). Little Crooked Glasses, if you sit down, I promise you that you will find that your backpack is indeed on your back already.
Him: Ok. (Little Crooked Glasses then tries to sit down but after spinning around like a top has virtually no balance and ends up on his ass. And his backpack is right under it.)
Oh! Mrs. Mimi, I found it, don’t worry! It was on the floor.

So, thus far, everyone has remained on top of the carpet and in full possession of their backpacks. I say it’s going to be a banner year (please knock on wood for me right now).

Monday, September 17, 2007

And Now Let's Talk About "Privates"

Thanks to all of you who asked about my long weekend...it was lovely and restorative. Many cocktails with umbrellas in them were embibed and I'm am fabulously tan. All in all...perfect. But now, back to reality.

Isn’t it inevitable that once the school year starts that words such as “privates” and “bottom” will sneak back into our vernacular every so subtly? Well friends, that time is here and boy, it’s back with a vengeance!!

Last week, before our break and my FABULOUS trip to somewhere tropical (I’m am so tan!!) one of my little male friends…we’ll just call him Grabby Hands…patted another little girl’s bottom during a read aloud. We’ll call her The Victim. Of course all of this happens while I’m fully engaged in a rousing rendition of Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny (brilliant!) and goes complete unnoticed. The Victim says nothing and Grabby Hands goes on with his day…clearly the guilt was easy to overcome.

So. The Victim goes home and tells her parents. The Victim’s parents come in a demand a meeting. A bit much in my opinion but I’m just going to go with it…I don’t mess around with this whole “privates” business.

Let’s fast forward to the day of the big Pow Wow.

Scene: Ms. Weavalicious’ office.
Characters: myself, Ms. Weavalicious , The Victim and her parents, Grabby Hands and his parents.

Me: So what have you learned Grabby Hands?

Grabby Hands: I shouldn’t touch anyone during school…especially in their “privates.” (Insert angelic look and some eyelash fluttering here)

Me: The Victim? What did you learn?

The Victim: I learned that I have to tell the teacher when something makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s OK to ask for a private conversation, especially when it’s about my “privates.” (Imagine her young feminist self blossoming during this brief speech…girl power, honey!!)

Me: Super.

Ms. Weavalicious: I’m so proud of you both. I’m glad you learned your lesson Grabby Hands. Remember, you have a lifetime of touching other girls’ privates…you don’t need to start now.

WHOAH!!!! Let me say that again…a little big louder now…

And I quote –

“YOU HAVE A LIFETIME OF TOUCHING OTHER GIRLS’ PRIVATES!!!”

WTF???!? Do you even see the parents sitting in your office?? They are not wearing camouflage. What are you thinking??

Glad you get double my pay. You sure earned that extra cash today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Adventures In Bacon Hunting – Part Deux

This one will really warm your heart. Really. I think any story of mine that includes the Bacon Hunter is one that is guaranteed to inspire you to do great things. Am I shoveling it fast enough? Are you sensing the sarcasm?

We have to do compile math portfolios for our students each year. Wait, perhaps we should come up with another name for these little tasks because in no way should you be picturing a wonderfully authentic assessment tool in your mind. You should really be imagining a binder filled with pre-determined, mandatory pieces that must be made up for each child even if he/she is absent for weeks at a time despite the fact that the Bacon Hunter is the ONLY OTHER PERSON who looks at these, besides me of course. Yes, from this point forward we will refer to these as Bonfire Material.

So the Bacon Hunter asked us to make sure that we had received the necessary Bonfire Material for each of our new students. If not, we were told we must hunt them down ourselves as she is too busy ordering breakfast. Ok, maybe she didn’t admit to her lazy morning habits quite so overtly, but believe me, that’s what she meant.

I realized that the deadline for having all your Bonfire Material collected was today (forgive me, it wasn’t the first thing on my mind) so I spent 20 minutes of lunch double checking everything. This is key…I did this on my LUNCH. Just like every other day when I choke down a sandwich or lukewarm leftovers as I frantically try to chip away at my to do list even though this is LUNCH. I don’t really mind…I know it comes with the territory, but then this happened…

After all my searching, I am pleased to discover that I only need two new binders to start collecting Bonfire Material for my new students. So I call the Bacon Hunter to let her know. I call. And I call. And I call again. Hmmm, four adults share that room…surely someone is there. I call again. And once more for good luck.

Me: Hi, it’s Mimi. Is the Bacon Hunter there?

Bacon Hunter’s partner in crime (read “lazy friend”): Um, yeah, but it’s lunch…can I take a message?

Me: What?

Bacon Hunter’s buddy: It’s lunch. We’re eating.

Me: (BLTs I presume) Oh. Have you been there the whole time?

Bacon Hunter’s buddy: Was that you calling over and over again?

Me: So you WERE there. (At this point I am fantasizing actually frying both of them like the bacon they love so much…you’ve been ignoring the phone that I MUST answer even if I’m in the middle of a freaking lesson?!?!?!?)

Me: Enjoy your lunch.

I am so glad we have the next two days off…I’m off to somewhere tropical. See you Monday!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Stop the insanity...

During our prep today we had our first meeting with the ELA staff developer at our school. She is lovely and efficient and very knowledgeable. Seriously. No sarcasm here for once. I swear. I know it's rare, but I actually think this woman works hard.

However, she was the bearer or some rather unbearable news…we are now testing the shit out of second graders.

Maybe this isn’t news to many of you. But as a transplant from first grade, I’m not used to such intense amounts of testing and personally think it is heinous.

Here is my checklist for testing this month:
• running record for each child to assess current reading level
• sight word fluency test
• decoding test
• phonemic awareness assessment
• sight word spelling test
• benchmark spelling test
• math pre-test
• math end of unit test
• reading fluency test (separate from the running record)
• standardized reading test complete with a bubble sheet

Is that gross or what? Pretty soon we’re going to be assessing them on how throroughly they wipe after a trip to the bathroom. Or maybe using a rubric to score their ability to open those milk cartons at lunch. Perhaps we should think about attaching a bubble sheet to their recess routine just to make sure that their free play is highly monitored and accounted for.

I keep waiting for their little turkey timers to pop…they have to be done. I am.

Say My Name

So now that my little friends are big time second graders, I insist that they write both their first and last name at the top of their papers. It may not sound like a big deal, but boy did it rock their world!! It was like I asked them to write 500 pages on their summer vacation or something. Evidently, first and last name equals very painful.

However, I don’t care (that’s the caring teacher in me). Personally, I think that they balked at me because many of them don’t know how to spell their last name confidently (a.k.a. without sneaking a peek at the nametag taped to their desk). I figure it is the least I can do for them.

I have just finished my “gentle reminder” to write first and last names before papers are collected when I notice my little friend Curly (you should see his hair!!), who is sitting right in front of me, fails to even make a move for his pencil.

Pardon me? I have spoken friend…

Me: Um, Curly? Last name…I know you heard me…
Him: I only have one name.
Me: What?
Him: I’m not using my last name anymore.
Me: Who are you, Cher?
Him: (blank stare)
Me: (I am so old) What do you mean?
Him: I’m like Fitty (translation: that is Fifty to most of us)
Me: I see. Well even he has a last name.
Him: (blank stare)
Me: Cent (Ha!! What do you say to that little friend?)

It got me thinking though. I recently got married so my last name is currently up for debate. Ok, I legally changed my name but that doesn’t stop everyone from constantly referring to me by my maiden name, a f*cked up version of my married name, or some sort of weird hybrid of the two. But, what if I only had one name? Like Fabulous. Or Oh Wise One (I guess that’s three names). Maybe something one syllable like Star.

Something to think about…

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What A Difference A Year Makes

Ha!! That’s the title of Bob Guiney’s book – remember the Bachelor?? Ahhh, the hours of mindlessness…I miss that. Now that school has OFFICIALLY started those hours (and days) are over.

So, you ask, how was the first day of school? As many of you know, this is my first foray into the second grade after many years in first. And every idiot I have come in contact with has promptly congratulated me on “my promotion.” Like we were all waiting for me to master telling time to the quarter hour before allowing me to teach the next grade. But I digress…

Well friends, I can’t tell you how different the first day of second grade is from the first day of first grade. I know that may sound obvious to many of you, and I did realize that on some level, but today was UNREAL!!

Let’s go through the good, the bad and the ugly, shall we?

We’ll start with the good (after all, this is the Year of the Positive Mimi…Ok, maybe the positivity will only last until the end of September, but a girl has to have goals, right?). Back to the good:
1. The kids are still cute. I was afraid they would be kind of big and gnarly since I am so used to the babies.
2. We can move SO MUCH faster. The kids are much more able to be independent. I actually feel like I taught today instead of herding lost sheep.
3. My new room is super clean and beautiful…moving was a b*tch but it forced me re-organize and we all know that I loves me a good organizational tool.

Onto the bad:
1. I AM SO TIRED!
2. I still am not a champion commuter. I don’t know how people do it year after year. All those hours of my life spent on the train when I could be watching the Bachelor or something (sigh).
3. I swear that building just wipes the makeup right off one’s face. How is it possible to look like such crap at the end of the day after such careful outfit planning?

And the ugly:
I only have one…my vice principal was wearing a navel baring shirt. OK, maybe it was created to be navel baring but it certainly bared way too much navel today. The professionalism is just overwhelming. Harsh, yes, but sadly true.

Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow!! Maybe the tides with turned as my new friends adjust to their new schedule…

Who's Peeking?