Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Land of the Free, and the Home of the Ridiculous

Sometimes when I'm having a particularly irrational moment, I worry about the most insane things. For example, once last year, I left my fabulous tweed pumps on the carpet in my classroom (I am a commuter, so I have the cutest little Keds to walk in and save the ROCOing heels for work...I know, heels to teach elementary school sounds crazy but I heart me some great shoes and no, I haven't felt my feet in years.) I became obsessed with the idea that the mice who inhabit my classroom in the evenings were going to eat my shoes.

It had been a long day.

When I told my husband what I was worried about, he calmly asked me to just say my concern outloud.

"I'm afraid that mice will come and eat my shoes in the night."

That does sound crazy, doesn't it??

There's a reason we are together.

So earlier today when my principal informed me that we would NOT be receiving any paper in our classrooms this year, I employed a similar strategy.

Me: Hey Dr. Man, are we getting our annual box of paper soon?
Dr. Man: We already ran out of money, so no, sorry.
Me: We're not being given ANY paper this year? (insert incredulous tone here)
Dr. Man: Nope.
Me: So, let me get this straight...not only have I NEVER been provided with a pencil for my students, but this year, to top it all off, we are expected to provide our own PAPER?
Dr. Man: Yes.
Me: Just repeat that sentence for me..."This year I expect my teachers to achieve great things despite that fact that they have been given neither paper nor pencil."
Dr. Man: Very funny.

"Funny", eh?

I guess I will be laughing all the way to Staples.

I am such a sucker.

And if you are feeling like a sucker for not pursuing your education, it's not too late! Start on your degree in Elementary & Secondary Education today!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If Teachers Ruled The World

Sometimes I think the world should be run by teachers. And then I think, that maybe I should be careful what I wish for and qualify that statement. I think the world should be run by a hard-working, kick ass teacher, and NOT just some loser with a credential.

Speaking of losers with a credential, it's been awhile since I updated you on the shenanigans of Mr. Big White Guitar.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I have had two hellatious days of field trips in a row. There just aren't enough hours in the night to sleep that off!!

And, LUCKY ME, one of them was arranged and "organized" by Mr. BWG himself. Weeee!!!

We are supposed to go to a concert that is about a mile away...too far to walk with 80 children...but it's quick hop, skip and a jump on a school bus. So, you might wonder why Mr. BWG wrote on the permission slip that we would be leaving an entire hour early. Hmmm....a whole hour to go one mile. Huh.

Since we were all away yesterday and Mr. BWG wasn't here Monday, no one has recently discussed details. Silly us to think that they were taken care of. I mean, this is the same man who can't manage to tune his guitar prior to a performance and insists on doing it during the perfomance, a man who speaks so slowly that you want to reach out and slap the sentence out of him, a man who NEVER picks classes up on time. F*ck me over once, shame on me. F*ck me over twice, why do you still have a job??

So, we tried to track down Mr. BWG to get some detes (that's short for "details"...I am ultrahip, I know). But, suprise suprise, he isn't at school yet, despite the school day being five minutes from officially starting.

At 8:15, still no Mr. BWG.

Soon, it's 9:00, a mere thirty minutes before we are supposed to leave that we finally track Mr. BWG down. Gee, I hope he got enough sleep and lingered over his morning coffee!

It is now 9:05. My class is doing some independent reading an I'm ON THE PHONE trying to get some information out of this dweeb!

Me: So, are we really leaving at 9:30??
Him: That's what I wrote on the permission slip.
Me: (Thanks, loser). Yes, but what are we going to do there for a whole hour.
Him: Oh, well leave later.
Me: But there are eight classes going...when do you want us all to line up.
Him: I mean, I don't know, um, how about when you're ready?
Me: Okaaaaay, but there's already one class lined up and the rest don't know what to do. How are we all supposed to get on the busses together? Can you just pick a time?
Him: You know, just, um, I don't know, the show starts at 10:30, so be there before then.
Me: (fantasizing strangling him with a rogue guitar wire)(deep breath) (I hate you!!!) Are the busses here? When are you leaving?
Him: Um, I don't really know...I
Me: LISTEN! Just pick a time so we can all share the busses and go.
Him: Why don't you just go when you are ready?
Me: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN (WTF?!?!?!?)??? How are eight classes going to just get there when they feel like it?? The busses are waiting. We need to get two classes on each bus. We need to get there together to check in and pay...
Him: Oh...could you work it out with everyone.
Me: Hey, I'd love to do that for you but I'M TEACHING RIGHT NOW!!!! (my fantasy has now upgraded to smashing that big white guitar right up his....)
Him: Oh, I mean, um, we could....
Me: (click)

I then took over the situation, made a command decision and sent seven of my students off with notes.

So, I guess if Mr. Big White Guitar was running the country we'd all be left waiting for him to tune his guitar and finish his sentence. My wish stands ammended.

I Know I Shouldn't Have Faves....

I have had two hellatious days of field trips in a row. Usually, I'm fine in the morning. On the trip, I am downright happy to be there. But in the afternoon, oh the afternoon! I find that I often turn into the least patient bitch ever. It's really awful. And then something like this happens.

Picture it. My classroom. 2:00. (Can you tell that I am semi-addicted to Golden Girls re-runs?? Sophia cracks me up...sad, I know).

Everyone is working away. Honestly, they are very dilligent writers, I am a proud mama.

I sit with Curly to conference. Have I mentioned recently how much I love this kid?? Seriously, I heart Curly.

We chat about his recent work. He nods, inserts an occassional "mmm-hmmm", and makes eye contact the entire time. It's almost like talking to an adult.

When we finish the conference, he picks up his pencil and gets back to work.

Later, as we clean up, he raises his hand and says, "Mrs. Mimi, thanks a lot for helping me today."

All together now: awwwwwwwwww!! (sigh) I guess I'll go back tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why Do I Have To Be The Adult?

Alternative Title – Farts Still Make Me Laugh

I think that all of us who work in the public school system are familiar with the phenomenon of post-lunch gas. Particularly from those friends who eat the free and reduced “lunch”. In my situation, that would be the whole class. Some days, it’s just downright toxic on the carpet.

(Just to clarify here, I’m not talking about the elusive but ever present Teacher Fart because that could be a whole post in and of itself…don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about either.)

Today must have been an unusually potent day in the cafeteria because we had an “incident” after lunch.

To catch you up to speed, we recently planted grass seed in three different soil samples to determine the type of soil that is best for plant growth. Pretty gnarly, I know, but my kids are rockstars if I do say so myself…and I do…often. On Friday, the grass was about half an inch high. Today it was three inches tall and darn impressive. Again, rockstars.

Most of the kids noticed the grass as soon as they walked in the room. (Seriously, have you ever noticed the radar on some kids…you move a certain poster half an inch to the left and they notice AND comment on it…profusely…to the point where sometimes adding new stuff to the classroom is just annoying because you know it will result in some high drama the next morning.) Remember, I said MOST.

I have one little friend who has not made the blog yet. He’s a pudgy guy with big eyes and the longest eye lashes you’ve ever seen. Really, he’s very cute except he is INSANELY SLOW TO FOLLOW SIMPLE DIRECTIONS. Honestly, he’s lucky he has those eyelashes…

Anyway, we’re had just gotten back from lunch when I address the grass samples. I take them down from the bookshelf and rocked Luscious Lashes’ world.

He got so excited about the grass that he exclaimed, “Wow!!” and evidently all the excitement and force he used to exclaim “wow” coincided with a raging gas attack because he practically blew two of my girls off the rug!!

It was like it ripped time and space in half. Afterwards, a silence filled the room. Children’s eyes darted madly around the room, hands covered mouths in desperate attempts to not laugh. After all, we have had the “Everybody Farts” talk multiple times.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold it together. Me. The grownup.

I laughed. And that was it. I’m glad Luscious Lashes has a good sense of humor.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Nabbed!

Sorry it took so long to get back to everyone, but yes, I did indeed nab the little foker who was writing profanity on my beautiful word wall table tents. And it only took 45 minutes of me analyzing handwriting samples, 20 minutes of debate with my colleagues over the correct path to take, 25 minutes of classtime for our emergency class meeting, 10 minutes to write the letter home to parents, and 30 minutes first thing the next morning to speak with the parent of the guilty party once they had come foward. So...a grand total of 2 hours and 10 minutes to deal with a crime that was committed in oh, say about 1 minute. What a foking waste!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Liar, liar, pants on fire…

So someone is lying to me. I’m not entirely sure who it is yet, but I have my suspicions. And believe me, you are NOT going to be happy when I find you…and the longer it takes and the more time I waste…the LESS happy you are going to be.

Oh my, that sounds down right threatening.

Well, IT’S SUPPOSED TO!!!!

Let me just throw down the big disclaimer and remind you that I absolutely love my class this year. Seriously. Love love love them. I honestly look forward to the day more than I have in a long time. I have some fabulously quirky kids (which is how I like ‘em) and we just have this thing going. Like Curly said, “We have an understanding.”

With that in mind, imagine how I felt when one of my girls showed me the word wall table tent at her table. (You all have to try word wall table tents for Writer’s by the by. Just take a manilla folder, paste a sheet with half the alphabet on one side and half on the other and add the words as you go. I heart them.)

In fairly large letters it says “Foke you.”

“Foke you”????

Yea, it means what you think.

We had to leave for lunch right away so I kept it private at first. But I had several immediate thoughts as I brought my friends downstairs to the cafeteria.

Thought #1:
Whoever it was spelled the “F word” with a sneaky e!!! I mean, do you hear the long o sound in “f*ck” friends? No, you do not. And we have been talking about long and short vowels for the last few weeks. WTF??? (And I would spell it correctly…so there!). I was seriously disappointed…how screwed up is that?

Thought #2:
I am so annoyed that this is what I have to deal with this afternoon because we are having a great day. I hate those moments when I have to choose the battle and deal…

Thought #3:
Or, maybe I can relish the gnarly guilt trip I’m about to lay on them….hmmm…this could get juicy.

Thought #4:
You know what? Foke you too. Those table tents took a long time for me to make.

So they get back from lunch and we have our emergency class meeting. I lay it on thick. It was genius. The TONY people totally should have been there. It went a little something like this.

Me: (blah blah blah, this is what happened, I am so disappointed, blah blah blah…). I know who did this (I totally don’t). And I could just punish that person. But I want them to learn something about responsibility. We are all responsible for making this classroom a place we all look forward coming to. Today someone decided not to hold up their end of the deal and did not take care of us. I’m going to give everyone a slip of paper. If you have a clear heart and conscience, you can just write me a quick hello on your paper. If you have a sad heart and know you need to be a responsible citizen of our class, you can privately tell me what you’ve done.

No one fessed up. FOKE!!!

It was worth a try. I’m not done yet either. A note went home to all the parents and I’m expecting a tearful confession in the a.m.

Hopefully this is the last time my mystery friend will foke around in class!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Respect My Authori-tay

Now I don’t want the following post to cause you to doubt my authority (or “authori-tay if you prefer). Because really, I can lay it down…the law, lay down the LAW. Sheesh…dirty birds.

Today I felt like I was at a crossroads. Not the Brittney-Spears-teen-movie-do-I-smoke-a-joint-and-make-out-with-my-girlfriends type of crossroads. A literal crossroads. Today I found myself standing on the street corner with twenty children, twelve rain appropriate coats and nine umbrellas. Already you can see that the odds were not stacked in my favor. How did I end up in this precarious position? Funny you should ask…

We were supposed to take a walking trip to the local fire station today and check out the fire fighters. I mean, check out the fire engines, fire ENGINES. Engines, yes. We were going to check out the fire engines and get a tour of the station in honor of Fire Safety Prevention Week (or whatever).

The kids are pumped. We have been having a great week (which on an average of five hours of sleep a night is nothing short of a miracle), so they totally deserved a fun morning out. I was thinking leisurely walk to the station, take the tour and then a leisurely walk back through the park with maybe some play time. All in all, a rad morning. And then it decided to rain. Or rather, this morning, it decided to mist. That mist where it feels more like you’re just get peed on than rain? You step outside and think, “this isn’t so bad” but then in ten minutes you are soaked and your hair is a frizzy mess.

But I will not be deterred!! We are going!! Rain never killed anyone! Besides, I hate being the bitch that canceled the field trip. So we line up, twelve of us in rain-appropriate coats and eight of use wearing just a T-shirt. Seriously people, turn on the news in the morning or just look out the freaking window! It is no longer send-my-kid-to-school-in-a-ratty-t-shirt-weather. Duh.

With nine umbrellas between us we march outside. We get about ten feet from the building when I realize how hard it is “misting”. I see my little friends huddled together under umbrellas, still getting wet and walking at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Shit.

I start fantasizing about the phone calls potentially coming my way should I decide to walk in the drizzle….

Angry Parent Who Sent Their Kid To School In A T-Shirt On A Rainy Day:
What were you thinking walking my child six blocks in the rain??!?!? Are you crazy??

Me: (Ummm…I was probably thinking the same thing you were when you walked your kid six blocks to school in the same outfit…take that!!) Well, it really wasn’t raining that hard when we left and I thought it would be fine. We were sharing umbrellas.

APWSTKTSIATOARD (look up top, the initials are all right!): I want to talk to your principal…my poor baby!!!

Me : (Your poor baby? You mean the child you routinely send to school without breakfast?) Again, I apologize, but….

APWSTKTSIATOARD: I didn’t even know you had a trip today! How was I supposed to know that I should have sent a coat to school???!?!?

Me: Ok…seriously?? #1. It is RAINING…that’s how you’re supposed to know that you should have sent your child to school in a coat. #2. You signed a freaking permission slip that was clearly dated for today!! #3 You also might have picked up the little tidbit about our trip in the two letters I sent home or the reminder printed on the homework packet for this week and last week. So really, you had about four to five opportunities to write this down on your calendar. I'm just saying.

We all know I would never say that. But it sure felt good to say it here….

So after standing in the rain for ten minutes, I made the command decision to turn around and troop back inside.

Stupid rain.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Looks Like Somebody’s Got A Case of the Mondays…but it’s Tuesday…

(sigh)

After a very rejuvenating and well-deserved long weekend, I returned to work today ready to go!! My classroom was ready, thanks to a late night on Friday (I know, I’m the coolest on a Friday night) and I felt remotely rested.

At our team planning meeting, we talked about our next unit in science. After developing ideas about living vs. non-living things, we are going to start working with soil The kids need to classify different types of soil, examine what is in the soil and begin to think about water retention in soil (I could tell them a thing or two about water retention … but that’s for another day).

We are ready to go.. psyched to plan….pens are out and poised anxiously above the page waiting for genius to issue forth from our lips. And then:

Me: Uh, (Yes, I started with “uh”. You know I’m bound to be brilliant when I start with “uh”) so, do we have any soil to use?

Team mate: Uh (equally brilliant), no.

Me: Hm. Interesting.

Team mate: I guess we could go to the park and dig some up.

Me: That’s sad.

In walks Ms. Weavilicious, vice-principal du jour. Awesome. We’ll ask her.

Me: So, is there any soil for us to use in the science lab for our new unit?

Ms. W: No.

Me: Super.

Team mate: We’re struggling with how to get through this next series of lessons on soil without any, um, soil.

Ms. W.: You can work it out.

Team mate: Do you have any ideas for us?

Ms. W.: I’m sure you can find pictures of dirt somewhere. Just have them imagine the dirt.

Ah, yes! Why didn’t we think of that? Imagine the dirt boys and girls. Oh, boys and girls, did you know that sometimes scientists sit quietly in a room and imagine the thing they want to study. Then they write down what they learned by using their imagination. Science is all make believe! We can all really fly! The Tooth Fairy is real! When a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!

As you can see, the bullshit is so deep that I’m starting to lose my grip on reality. I guess I’m off to the garden center.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Whoops!

Alternative title: Why Having A Secretly Favorite Student May Not Be Such A Secret

So Curly (So I left the paper downstairs that reminds me how to link. For now, just check out Say My Name if you want to read more about my cutie. It’s too early for stairs) is fast becoming one of my little faves. Yes, I know. We saint-like teachers are not supposed to have faves, but please…some of them rock WAY MORE than others. And some of them just don’t rock at all. You know who I’m talking about…those kids that are sometimes absent for a day or two and while you hope they’re OK, in the back of your head you think that it wouldn’t be so bad if it was a touch of the flu that lasted a few days longer? Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m saying.

Anywho. I heart Curly. He is saucy, but definitely has a super sense of humor and yes, is damn funny. So I probably let him get away with a bit more than I should. And while I know that children are ultra perceptive, I didn’t think that the young ones were quite so good at articulating it. Check this out.

I have someone from a nearby university who comes in to help out twice a week. She gets paid like $14 an hour or something and is seriously like a little present from Heaven. She’s quiet, works really hard, is easy to talk to, and genuinely loves my kids. I love her. Sometimes she sits at the back of the rug when I’m teaching and tries to help out with the less attentive friends in the back.

I don’t think she quite understands my daily mantra: Choose your battles. But whatever, she’s still fab.

Everyone is on the carpet listening as we read from our first published pieces of the year. It’s very exciting and within reason, they are being a very good audience. Curly is super into the story that is currently being read and can’t help himself. He shouts out:

“Wait, I don’t get it. Can you tell me more about that part?”

Ok. So he shouldn’t be shouting out. But he had a point. The story WAS pretty damn confusing and the author in question did not seem to mind. She looked up, answered him back and then continued reading. No harm, no foul.

Evidently my University Volunteer/Savior chose this moment to pitch in.

UV/S: Curly, you shouldn’t shout out like that when someone is sharing their writing.

Curly: Oh, it’s ok Ms. UV/S. Mrs. Mimi and I have an understanding. It’s OK for me.

WHOAH!!

We have an understanding????

Well, I guess we do....

(I wish I could post his picture though…then you’d totally get it.)

(But still…maybe I need to rein that in a bit, yes?)

Sigh

The other day we were going over the calendar during morning meeting. We were putting up important dates…or at least dates that are important in the eyes of seven year olds – birthdays, days off, half days and Halloween. You know, the good stuff.

Of course, everyone had to tell me when their brother or sister’s birthdays were as well. Seriously, like I care. But I put on my best teacher face (even though, for some reason, this behavior really bugs) and smiled.

Then I thought, what the hell? And I mentioned that MY sister’s birthday was on Halloween.

Eyes wide, one friend asked:

“Is it on Halloween every year?”

(sigh)

Perhaps we DO need to spend more time on the calendar.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Plugging things in IS hard.

Our technology guy sucks. There is just no other way to put it. He suckety suck sucks and from now on we shall call him He-Who-Has-Too-Much-Free-Time Not only does he spend 80% of his time talking to his wife on the phone or IMing his son in college (that’s in addition to teaching no classes, friends), he is repeatedly unavailable to help teachers who want to integrate technology into their classroom. Boo. (The worst part is, outside of the “not doing his job stuff”, he’s a really nice guy so it’s hard for me to work up my usual venom. I will try my hardest just for my friends in cyber space and to honor the rage I honestly felt earlier last week).

Monday’s email:
Dear He-Who-Has-Too-Much-Free-Time,
Can my class please have five digital cameras charged and ready to go on Wed afternoon…we have an exciting project we’re working on.
Thanks,
Mrs. Mimi

Tuesday’s email:
Hey He-Who-Has-Too-Much-Free-Time,
Just a reminder that I will be picking up those five digital cameras charged and ready to go around 1:00 on Wed.
Thanks again,
Mrs. Mimi

Wednesday – a lovely note stuck to his door with a candy attached (I work it good!)
Good morning He-Who-Has-Too-Much-Free-Time!
P. will be by about 1:00 for those five cameras. Thanks for having them charged and ready to go!
Have a great day,
Mrs. Mimi

Wednesday at 12:45

Picture it: Twenty excited young friends sit on the carpet, all their eyes eagerly listening to their teacher as she explains their next big project.

Me: All right guys, we’ve been learning all about our urban community. Now it’s time to take our community walk. Remember, we’re going to be working in teams with the digital cameras. Each group has their lists of what photos we plan on taking. Are you guys ready?

The Class: YES!!!

We troop out into the hall, everyone buzzing. It was my personal goal to integrate more technology into my teaching this year and as our culminating project for this portion of our work on urban community, my kids were going to narrate photos of their community, discussing the elements that make it distinctly urban and/or the things that they love about living there. I was going to stream the photos and voices together and burn it on to a DVD to be played during lunch on the gor-juice new plasma TVs our principal got installed. (The man is a miracle worker…seriously, we have everything.)

P runs to get the cameras. He returns. With one. One camera. One camera and a note that said He-Who-Has-Too-Much-Free-Time did not have the free time to plug in cameras. In the last three days. Not enough time. Three days. One camera. Insert your favorite slanderous phrase here.

And, just to put the cherry on my sundae, the lone camera that I received only had enough memory space for four pictures. FOUR!!!!

Then the battery died. As did my faith in other adults.

Who's Peeking?