Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This Just In...

Rumor has it that we are going to be getting new seat sacks emblazoned with the school's name and mascot. However, we will NOT be receiving any paper what-so-ever.

(For those of you fabulous readers who are not teachers, it has been brought to my attention that maybe you don't know what a seat sack is....well, if I knew how to add a picture, I would add it. But I don't. In lieu of a picture, a seat sack is a contraption made of canvas that slips over the back of a student's chair like a slipcover. Think Pottery Barn for Teachers in primary colors. On the back of the chair, it has one large pocket big enough for folders, workbooks, notebooks, etc. and may also have smaller pockets good for pencils, markers, etc. They are pure genius. However, after a year of use, they become caked with pencil marks, and collect all sorts of small-child-related-crud. This is the non-genius part. And when they are washed, they smell like a wet dog who has been wet for two solid weeks and is starting to grow mold...and I know, 'cuz I tried.)

Let us break this down, shall we?

1. Seat sacks are the bomb. Seriously, I heart them intensely not only for their increased storage capacity, but because they generally brighten up the room. Getting new seat sacks is pretty rad because it was only a few years ago that we were expected to take our stank, old, used and all-around-nasty seat sacks to the laundromat DOWN THE STREET and at our own expense...(wait for it)... wash them. Take a moment, and let that sink in, because it is truly awe-inspiring bullshit. So, new seat sacks? Score. We'll put a point in the pro column.

2. Last year, the seat sacks that were ordered did not fit the actual chairs in most of our classrooms. We had to sweat, curse and throw all our body weight into wrangling them onto the chairs. It's not a pretty picture, is it? I mean, I guess it's too much to ask that perhaps someone MEASURE our chairs or put some THOUGHT into a rather expensive purchase order. Moral of the story here is My School Enjoys Blowing It's Relatively Tight Load In Irrational And Avoidable Ways Rather Than Think Things Through For A Second. In other words, we now need to add a point to the minus column.

3. Some douche decided that it was a better idea to have the school name and mascot stitched onto each and every child's seat sack rather than have paper. I think this one stands alone as complete idiocy. Essentially, the larger concern here was how each classroom APPEARS rather than what children are actually able to DO in said classroom. This type of concern is mandatory if you are a believer in the Dog and Pony Show, which evidently, we are. Perhaps this year I can teach my students fire dancing and we can really wow the crowds that come through. After all, we don't have any of that flammable paper laying around. Yet another point in the minus column. (Back to the basement I go!!)

4. I am not going to be given any paper this year. In and of itself, this is ridiculous. However, there is more to it than that...oh yes. No paper means I do not get to make my own copies. (Although, when I'm honest about it, making my own copies kind of sucked because I had to do it on the crappy copier reserved for teachers located approximately three miles from my classroom in some dark dingy wing that no one goes to and may not even appear on a map of the school.) An inability to make my own copies equals total dependence on the asshats in the office who are in charge of the almighty photocopier that I am not allowed to touch or know the pass code to. This realization has caused me much pain in anticipation of receiving 13 copies instead of the requested 25. And then having to put in another request for an additional 12 copies. Each. And. Every. Time. I have been down this road before and am not looking forward to my return trip. And...another tally in the old minus column.

5. I just blew $120 at the teacher store. Now, I recognize that places like that are designed to suck vulnerable teachers in, forcing them to buy things they never knew they needed...but I thought I was above that. (sigh) What I should be admitting is, "Hi, my name is Mrs. Mimi and I'm addicted to school supplies, most things "wipe off", and organizational tools." I don't know what column to chalk that one up to.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kickin' It Old School...Because I'm Old

In an effort to try to cushion the blow of going back to work (and going in early), today I went in about 10:00. I am absolutely NOT setting my alarm clock until I absolutely need to...and watching the Today Show while sipping on coffee is just so darn lovely.

Now when I went in last week NO ONE was there...and therefore I got a LOT done. As I sauntered in today, I realized that EVERYONE is back and it took me a full hour to just get to my classroom. There was lot of screaming, hugging and talk of summer. And although there was a pounding in my head (in which each beat belted out yet another to do off the old Proverbial To Do List), it was nice.

That's right, I said it was nice to be back. Enjoy it now, because I predict complaining in the near future.

I saw The Weave. We hugged. It was fuzzy and warm. I don't expect it to last.

Once I arrived at my classroom, it took me yet another hour to actually get started. Dude, teachers like to talk...and deny how much work they have. But then I looked around and realized that there were just a few of us talking. Those of us who had been around the block a few times if you know what I mean (and I think you do). Personally, I think it is sick that I have been teaching less than ten years, yet am somehow considered to be one of the "older" staff members.

The other day I said I "took the plunge" by going back early. Let's roll with the swimming metaphor, shall we? So I guess now one could say I am confidently breast-stroking my way to the first day (I heart you Michael Phelps...and your oddly low-riding bathing suit). I changed bulletin board paper, started to make name tags, organized student supplies all while rocking out to Snoop (have I not mentioned that I am a fairly closeted fan of the Dogg?)...I mean, honestly, I was in my organizational element. Sharpies poised and ready to label.

And then I paused and looked at the "new girls". They are all wide eyed and panicky....or (to extend the metaphor) thrashing around naked trying desperately not to drown. A few of them even stood in my room and took notes. Seriously. They were in that awful place where they stand around, nervously giggling with one another, yet accomplishing absolutely nothing.

It was then that I realized being old wasn't so bad...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Taking The Plunge (sigh)

I did it. I really did it. I went back to school.

ugh.

Now, many of you may think of me as a particularly dedicated, rock-star of a teacher. (Which is, of course, correct.) However, it may come as a surprise to you when I admit that I have NEVER gone in to my classroom one second before I was officially required to. That's right, no summer time room set up for me. Really.

Perhaps it is because I spent most of my childhood summers in my mother's classroom and have been hanging her bulletin boards from the time I could safely wield a stapler (which was exactly one year after I stapled my hand to the wall...yea, mom tried pimping me out a bit early). Once my talent had been discovered, I was shuttled all over her school and commissioned to hang boards in all her friends' rooms too. I say "commissioned" because my bulletin board skills were (and still are, although I care about them considerably less) amazing.

Needless to say, these early experiences have scarred me deeply and I now avoid school in the summer like the plague. And in every other year, we have been officially required to report back 10 days early. 10 days...sounds like a lot, but it gets you off to a great start! Then it was 7 full days. Then 5. Last year we had 4. And this year....2. 2 days.

Any teacher worth anything knows that 2 days is not enough to arrange a room, make plans and get yourself physically and mentally ready for the start of the school year. (And personally, if you DO think two days is enough, I think you are worthless...c'mon, this job is HARD!)

So I went back. And spent five hours of my precious summer cleaning up old mouse pee and poo (thank you Master's degree!), moving furniture and pulling all sorts of crap that I can't remember why I saved out of my closets. Seriously, just let the old markers go....don't cram them into a bucket and stick them randomly into a closet like I did at the end of the year. Hoard much?

In addition, I have spent HOURS at home working on curriculum, etc. (Nerdily, I LOVE that stuff and there never seems to be enough time to think deeply about it once the year starts.) Granted, planning social studies and science is MUCH easier from my beach chair while clad only in my fabulous new two piece and some sun tan lotion....

I guess that all this really just means that...it's on.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And Visions of Dollar Signs Danced In My Head

No, I am not getting a raise. Or a bonus check. Or any sort of monetary congratulations/sign of appreciation for my kick a*s year last year, so don't get excited. The dollar signs belong to me. Or at least they used to. Now they belong to Staples.

I have just returned from my annual pilgrimage to that mecca of office supply-dom. And I have to say that it was quite the roller coaster...full of dramatic twists and turns (which comes as no surprise to Mr. Mimi who thinks I am constantly working to win some sort of trophy for dramatic performance...untrue....flattering that he appreciates my flair for the theatre, but untrue).

Let me begin at the beginning. As I enter Staples, I am a flurry of energy, attempting to recall everything that I had previously listed on my To Buy List. (Alas, the beloved To Buy List was left in another purse...you can lead the organizational horse to water...). I grab a cart and am off! My first priority...plastic tool boxes on sale for 99 cents each. (Which yes, sounds like a good deal, but I do think it is slightly bullshit, because they USED to go on sale for 25 cents each just a few years ago. Geez. I sound old. I also complain about the prices of eggs...)

I emerge from behind a giant display of notebooks and....there they are. But wait! There are stacks upon stacks, but there are only two colors - pink and purple. Now, I am all about "you get what you get and you don't get upset" but I am also all about avoiding unnecessary complaining. I mean, I can't stick a little boy with a pink tool box. And don't get all gender-y on me either! Boys can absolutely choose pink shirts, backpacks, tool boxes, etc (Mr. Mimi happens to look very sexy in a new pink power tie), but I do NOT believe in forcing the pink upon them. Not because I worry about their disappointment. Because I think I might explode if they even THINK about complaining about something I have provided them at my own expense. Selfless, I know.

I immediately abandon my cart, crestfallen. I am about to leave, when I run into a friendly salesperson (a rare, rare finding at Staples in my experience). There is a glimmer of hope.

Me: "Um, do you happen to have any more of those plastic tool boxes?"
Him: "There's quite a few right there, miss."
Me: (He called me "miss"! Maybe I'm not so old after all....) (Insert dazzling smile) "Yes, but I teach *** grade and I can't imagine giving my boys a pink tool box..." (maintaining dazzling smile)
Him: "Well, of course. Let's see..."

And he leads me back to another display filled with blue, green and clear tool boxes!! Hooray!! I thank the kind man and practically skip back to my abandoned cart. I eagerly count out 22 tool boxes in a variety of colors.

I then move onto those wonderful cardboard displays which I have convinced myself are full of fabulous deals. I understand that they are probably not huge deals, but just having them be separate from the other merchandise and stored in a jaunty cardboard bin makes them feel more special.

I begin to toss all kinds of goodies into my cart...

Crayola Crayons and markers, bottle after bottle of Elmer's glue, fun erasers, a pencil sharpener, glue sticks, pencils, and dozens and dozens of two pocket folders.

My cart starts to look like my classroom threw up in it...it is a rainbow colored vessel brimming with brand new, shiny school supplies.

My heart is practically bursting. (Seriously, I think I may have giggled as I piled twelve new colors of dry erase markers into my cart...)

And I'm done. I wheel myself over to checkout, where another pleasant (wow...there are two!!) salesperson rings me up. I load pile after pile after pile of stuff onto the counter, watching the register tape spew out of the cash register and begin to touch the floor (really, it did reach the floor).

It was almost like a switch had been flipped.

I was angry.

Why the hell am I spending my money (not to mention my time on this gloriously sunny day) buying school supplies which should be bought be either THEIR PARENTS or THE SCHOOL??!?!

Have I ever told you that I have NEVER (NOT ONCE) been supplied with a pencil? That's right...seven years of teaching and not one damn pencil. The city for which I work spends all kinds of money catering lunches and employing all sorts of d-bags who have never set foot in a classroom yet get to tell me what to do and NO ONE has even THOUGHT that MAYBE they should give the teachers freaking pencils???

Perhaps the kids can imagine the pencils. Or like a magician, they will come falling out of my a*s. But no, those things don't happen, because I buy them. Every year. I buy them.

Don't even get me started telling you that I have also never been supplied with paper...we don't have time for that one ...and it's already been done!

$233.58 later and I still have to hit up Costco.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ready, Set, Panic (Or In My Case...Frantically Make Lists And Make A Hard-Core Staples Run)

So, I'm back from my fabulous trip. I am tanned, well-rested and happy. Minus my camera getting stolen in what will remain an un-named city, we had the most amazing time and a wonderful anniversary. (Fortunately, I had uploaded some pictures onto my computer, but I did lose a few. Let's have a moment of silence for my camera. And now, please send hateful vibes to the man who stole the camera of a nice little American girl. I hope Karma really is a b*tch.)

But now I am oh-so-aware of the calendar. Gone are the days where I pick my head up from my book, sip my iced coffee and ask, "Hey babe, what day is it anyway?" Oh no. I KNOW what day it is. It is 16 days and counting. And that is the countdown until the OFFICIAL day that I have to report back. I may/will/don't want to go back for an extra day or two beforehand. Boo.

How am I spending these last precious moments you ask?

Panicking.

List making.

Scouring the Staples web site.

Trying to readjust my sleeping to "teacher time" (insert a shudder here).

(Oh, and watching TiVo'd episodes of Project Runway.)

Strangely though, I have moments of being excited. Sometimes, I think about my planner (the new one still remains un-purchased) and feel giddy. Nerdy, nerdy, nerdy. Shamefully nerdy. I have mentally planned read alouds, re-designed the lay out of my classroom furniture and wondered what my new little friends will be like. I miss having a good story to tell.

I guess that means I really do love my job?

Who's Peeking?