Thursday, December 31, 2009

Going For It in 2010

All right, y'all...I'm going to do it. Or at least try to do it. (Like that disclaimer right up front? Doesn't do a whole lot to inspire confidence, does it?) I am going to post every day in January.

HOLLLLAAAAA!

The NaBloPoMo theme for January is BEST. I will try to be at mine. (And here comes another disclaimer...) But I can't promise anything since I've never had the cajones to even attempt posting every day. I'm thinking "Best of My Blog" posts, "Best of the Worst" (meaning people I've worked with posts), "Best of the Blogs" (meaning other people's), "Best of the Friends" (meaning my little ones)....I think you get the point. I hope you're excited. I think I am.

Why am I doing this now? I guess all of a sudden I realized, dude...I'm not in the classroom this year, what the hell am I doing with my time? Because as many of you know, nothing trumps the uber-productivity of a teacher during the school year. I am going to try to recapture some of this teacher mojo by making several public promises right here. Right now. (It's on.)

In 2010 I WILL:

1. Finish my freaking dissertation and make all of you refer to me as Dr. Mimi. That's right...it may not last forever, but probably until the student loan bills are paid off (a.k.a. forever).

2. Post more often, hence this NaBloPoMo insanity.

3. Comment more on all of your fabulous blogs. After two plus years of blogging myself, I am still a sucker for watching that comment number grow bigger and bigger (along with my ego) and so I will try to do the same for you. Try.

4. Attempt to remain relevant and hilarious.

5. Launch a fabulous website a la Mrs. Mimi style. (I'm not sure what "a la Mrs. Mimi style" truly means except that this site will be kick-ass amazing and you won't know how you lived without it previously. WATCH OUT! Clearly more to come on this...)

6. Oh yea, and have a baby. You know, in my spare time.

And I guess I should include my perpetual resolution as number 7: Be more positive. This has not always gone very well for me in the past (as is evidenced in this post here and this one over here.

Oh, and one more...just for luck or whatever. Number 8: I hope to publish another book. Notice the word "hope". It is an important one.

So there you have it. I have made a commitment and I have made it public. Now let's see if I can keep it.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Think I May Be Losing It

And no, I am not referring to my sanity - I got away from the Bacon Hunter, remember? And I'm certainly not talking about pounds - hey, it's the holidays aaaannnddd....you might want to take a closer look at the old avatar of Mrs. Mimi there in the sidebar.

What I'm talking about is my ability to give directions. You see, the other night, the usually fabulous and ever helpful Mr. Mimi (I got one of the good ones, girls.) and I were finishing up the Christmas cards. I know, you're all falling over from shock that I was recieving any help in the first place, but rest assured, I had already written, addressed and stamped over 100 cards on my own. One might say I was a well-oiled card writing machine at this point. Turn on an old episode of the Golden Girls in the background and I can get anything accomplished! Anyhow, Mr. Mimi volunteered to help me with the last few. Since I have teacher handwriting and he, well he does not, I wrote the cards and he was stuffing and stamping. I had organized and incorporated him into my system. Yet somehow, after three cards, we were already falling apart - cards had been stuffed recklessly into any envelope, rather than the envelope that the card was tucked into and therefore cards that read Dear Donna were stuffed in envelopes addressed to Ron. Christmas card system = fail.

Was it me? Have I lost my ability to give clear directions and organize a project? Normally, my family (Mr. Mimi at the lead) usually bristles when I speak to them like they are eight years old. I say it comes with the territory. But this new breakdown in communication has made me wonder...am I losing it? I mean, I am the woman who once was able to coordinate twenty energetic little bodies to create murals...work in centers...put on a freaking assembly!

I'm off to the mall despite all the snow. I have to go do a test drive of my teacher look...I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Egg Nog, Vacation and Freebies, Oh MY!

If you're like me, you've been spending all your free time running around to various malls, shopping plazas, and speciality stores in search of the perfect gift(s) and literally vomiting money along the way. Seriously, it's like we can't give it away fast enough. I'm waiting for the sad little magnetic strip on the back of my debit card to just give up and quit from overuse. After last weekend, I could swear I saw it smoking as I put it back in my wallet. Today alone I went to the Post Office (something I relish being able to do during the day because when I was in the classroom the post office seemed like a far away distant land that was literally impossible to get to...) and spent $44 on festive holiday stamps. $44! That means 100 holiday cards people! 1.0.0. In my opinion, that is a freaking lot...I mean, I had to trade in for the flat! (That's a little teacher Base-Ten block humor for you non-teacher types.)

This is also the time of year when I feel beyond stressed out. I always manage to get my Christmas shopping done early (hate me yet?) but also manage to leave all the wrapping/bowing/tagging until the last minute. Hence, cut to me in a frantic frenzy of wrapping paper scraps, stray pieces of tape and no freaking idea where the damn scissors are even though I saw them just a second ago! When I was teaching, I used to feel such intense panic at how much I had to get done at home AND at work that I sometimes caved and took a personal day. Or a mental health day. Whatever you want to call it. Call it a-day-to-get my-shit-together-so-I don't-stand-in-the-middle-of-my-classroom-and-just-start-screaming....it is what it is.

Ah, the joys of the holiday season. Kids hanging from the ceiling lights, you desperately trying to wrap things up while also getting everything ready for January so that you don't have to bring it home over the break and your school's tech/AV guy wondering why suddenly everyone is in desperate need of a TV/DVD player/child-appropriate and possible holiday themed movie. (I'll give you a hint Tech/AV guy - it's because teachers just can't take it anymore. Yeah, that's right, it rhymes with "shmurnt out".)

And then there's that last day before vacation....perhaps it's a half day or perhaps you've been cursed with a full day of teaching. I myself had to teach a full day on the 23rd of December. Every. Single. Year. Really that day is just a chocolate/holiday cookie fueled frenzy of waiting. Maybe you've had a little holiday party, maybe your friends brought you some gifts (If you've never heard the story of the Most Inappropriate Gift For A Teacher Ever, click here. I'll give you a hint. It rhymes with Shmee-shtring.), maybe you've had a lovely day together. Sometimes the best days are when everyone has their guard down. However, it is now 3:00. The kids are done, you are done, the requisite holiday craft is glittered and dry and in their bags and it is time to go! (Although because I am such a total dork, I always take one last longing look at my classroom before I shut out the lights...and after that moment, I turn off the lights and take off running!)

I have a hunch about you though. I have a hunch that many of you have a Winter Break To Do List that is a mile long. Raise your hand if you do.

I knew it!

May I be so bold and add a few items?

1. Have a LOT of Christmas-y cocktails and holiday Starbucks drinks. Nothing beats a booze infused egg nog or a gingerbread latte. Nothing.
2. Sleep.
3. Get a pedicure. Or a manicure. Or something for yourself that makes you feel good.
4. And, even though I know we want to leave our classrooms far behind, sometimes it feels good to get ahead. (It's a sick sick reality for us teachers, isn't it?) If you're feeling broke or just want some inspiration, TeachHub is giving away over 500 lesson plans FOR FREE until January 18th!! The lessons themselves are inspired by pop culture or current news headlines, plus they are aligned to national teaching standards and could be just the thing to spice up your already fabulous teaching! Check them out, make them your own and be on top of your game when it's time to make your way back to work. Hey, they're free, they're good and you can look at them while catching up on back episodes of Grey's Anatomy in your pajamas on the couch. Sounds good to me! Plus, you can check out some of my other writing while you're over there...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ah, Sweet Sweet Efficiency

In the spirit of the title of the post, I'll keep this one short but sweet...

Guess what I got in the mail yesterday?

Go ahead...guess!

Got it in your head yet?

I got...you ready? I got brand new insurance cards paid for by the lovely Department of Education from which I resigned SIX MONTHS AGO! Evidently, I am still covered. Which, in my mind, means that the DOE is still paying for me to have coverage. Coverage that I haven't used and wouldn't use because a) I don't work there anymore and b) I canceled six months ago by resigning.

Now some people have labeled me a "complainer." And that is fine. You say complaining, I say "telling the truth about things that no one else (besides other teachers) wants to acknowledge and therefore you (non-teacher) find intimidating because (gasp) teachers are only supposed to smile and hand out stickers while playing their acoustic guitar." (And I'd say all that in one big breath. So there.) We'll just go with "complainer" for now since it's shorter and easier to type. In the past, I have complained about not always having the stuff I needed to teach my friends. (Let's see here, here, here and here. Maybe I am a complainer plain and simple...) Although in all honesty, we had a lot of stuff when compared to other schools. And if I'm really being honest, the stuff does not replace good teaching but it certainly helps. A lot. But that's a blog post for another day.

Regardless, schools are certainly not places where money should be wasted. I think we can all agree on that. I'm pretty sure the money spent to insure my health could be better spent on ANYTHING besides a former employee who has no intention of using said coverage.

To a teacher, that type of waste is unfathomable. And as I type that, I'm thinking of one of my Super Colleagues in particular. You see, I worked with one Super Colleague who refused to waste ANYTHING. (The end result often meant that her closets and shelves made have organizational panic attacks, but whatever, girlfriend had EVERYTHING and was willing to share.) This is a woman who saved old tuna fish cans to use for erasers, always had a minimum of 3 dozen toilet paper tubes on hand, had a basket for "miscellaneous crafts" which contained assorted sequins, rosettes and cut out stars and, for some reason I can't understand, continued to save miles of that velcro tape - you know, the kind that's sticky on one side? Now that stuff can totally come in handy and is great to have, but my Super Colleague had miles of just one side....the rough side...and she insisted on saving it because someday, SOMEDAY, she might happen upon the other side and God forbid she had recklessly thrown out these miles in a feng shui fit of insanity. I mean, talk about knowing how to save a dollar!! While I hadn't yet achieved the hoarding capabilities of my Super Colleague, I definitely packed away old crayons, scraps of paper and cardboard and a hodge podge of markers every year with the rationale, "I might need it someday and then I won't have to go to the store." (Of course, MY hoarded spoils were kept in color coded labeled tubs, but hey, that's just me...)

So please, DOE, PLEASE! Cancel my health insurance!! There are teachers out there frantically saving egg cartons, muffin tins and old soup cans in an effort not to spend their entire pay checks on their classrooms....do it for them. Just do it for them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What's Your Sleep Number?

And no, by asking you what your "sleep number" is, I"m not implying that the good people at Sleepys have gotten to me with their hilarious and adorable little sheep, flooding me with cash to pimp their goods. That's not it at all. I mean, geez, I still haven't heard from the geniuses at Sharpie and I am 100% ready, willing and able to Pimp. Them. Out. With a capital P. (Call me.) Yet as I wait for that call, Mr. and/or Mrs. Sharpie, please know that my devotion to you and your products remains unwavering. Unwavering.

By using the term "sleep number" in this post I'm actually referring to the number of days you brilliant teachers have until you get a good night's sleep (a.k.a. the number of school days left between now and the first day of your vacation). It's a funny thing...we love our jobs and feel lucky to go to a place we find so challenging and full of energy each and every day yet, at any given time, we can tell anyone the exact number of days until our next day off. Is that weird? I never quite understood that whole love-hate thing, but whatever, I guess it just comes to the territory. (Again, this is NOT a place for ANYONE especially NON-TEACHERS to make some sort of douche bag remark about teachers and days off. If you even feel tempted to utter such words, stop reading immediately and meditate on why you are so bitter that you must rip on teachers. What does that say about YOU, hmmmmm?) (Like how I turned the tables there? If that doesn't work, I shall swear to chase after teacher nay-stayers with a big old stick. Now that I'm not in the classroom and faced with the daily task of working on my dissertation in isolation, I can find the time.) (Yes, that is a threat.)

Maybe it's something particular about the holiday season that makes us feel the need to cross our days off on the calendar with a big old fat X. (Most likely done with a fantastic new Sharpie...See how I just worked that in there oh-brilliant-leaders-of-Sharpie? Seriously, I'm here and waiting by the phone.) I mean, to me dealing with my friends during the holiday season always felt a bit like keeping the lid on a boiling pot. A boiling pot of crazy that is. You see, the holiday season brings with it many issues that a classroom teacher must deal with that do not include a) making progress in math, b) silent reading time or c) getting anything productive done. Now that I think about it, maybe it's because the kids have their own mental calendars and are also counting down the days. Hmmmm....my giant ego never let that thought occur to me before. Huh.

Regardless, with the holidays come furtive discussions about the existence of Santa (I come down heavily on the side of letting them believe as long as possible...they were only 7 and 8 years old after all). These discussions can often turn into hot headed debates and, on a bad day, disillusionment-fueled fighting. During which I'm supposed to be teaching geography. Riiiiight.

Also with the holidays come whispered conversations about wish lists, the occasional Toys R Us insert casually shoved into the back of the desk where they thought I wouldn't see it (I SEE EVERYTHING FRIENDS), and general distraction. Kids are allowed to stay up later for some reason, they are taken on shopping trips with their families that send them into a tizzy for days and are most likely being stuffed with the same holiday treats that are causing me to gain a few myself. All in all, it's no party in the classroom.

What's worse, is that many of us work in environments where the drum was always beating - move on, make progress, keep going, don't stop for anything....

Teachable moment? Forget about it! Move on.
Opportunity for a moment of fun and classroom community bonding? Insanity! Must get to next math lesson...
Ability to let kids be kids every once in a while? Never!

Between the kids being nutty and the Powers That Be forcing us to press onward (like the good little soldiers that we are), the holiday season can feel impossible. Try to take a moment and enjoy yourself and your friends. Just shut the door, turn of the lights and have a math lesson handy in case someone walks in. But that's just me.

How many days until YOUR vacation again?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quick Moment to Pimp...

No, it's not Sharpies this time. (Although they are still amazing and on my Christmas list - a girl can never have too many. Plus, now that I have my own book to sign and have spent many hours crafting posts about them, I feel as if I need to have one on me at all times which means in EVERY bag I own.)

This time I am pimping out fellow writer and friend Roxanna Elden who wrote the book See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. Basically, this book rocks. Roxanna, who is hilarious (Dave Barry gave a quote for the front of her book y'all...that qualifies as officially sanctioned funny in my book), gives practical, manageable, do-able advice for new teachers. She talks about things like how to set up your "piles and files", how to manage all the procedural paperwork and friends, there's even a before school starts shopping list. A LIST! You know I was sold when I saw that the book included actual lists.

Now while this book was most likely intended to help new teachers who feel as if their world is crumbling around them and have made an awful mistake deciding to work in a school (I mean, as Roxanne says, "One part of being a great teacher is learning to function in a dysfunctional environment." ), it is also relevant for us who have "been around the block" so to speak. Roxanne includes passages of her own insight (again hilarious AND thought provoking) as well as straight forward survival tips - we could all use a little bit of that from time to time now, couldn't we?

So, long story short, check out her book and/or spend some time on her website.

And scene on the pimp squad. For now...

Oh- and on a semi-related note, I FINALLY added some new picture books to my widget in the sidebar. (That is all kinds of a crazy sentence, but it's true. Check them out!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Got My Mind On My Money and My Money On My Mind

Oh friends! My heart is literally pounding for I am angry! Irritated! Astounded! And no,before you jump to conclusions, this has NOTHING to do with the Bacon Hunter! (Surprised?)

Today I am angry because I finally read the story from Sunday's New York Times (MASSIVE kitchen re-organizing took over my life this weekend....grueling and intense, but well worth it. I do heart an organized kitchen!!). Did you see this article? If you didn't, you can check it out here. It's the one questioning whether or not teachers should be allowed to sell their own lesson plans for profit or whether said lesson plans are actually property of the school. I'll give you a moment to read and for my heart to slow down. I think I'll have a seat (prior to now, you should have imagined me pacing and ranting) and put my head between my knees.

Ready? I'm feeling a little better now (thank you for asking). Where to begin? I think you can guess where Mrs. Mimi stands on this one! And while I encourage free debate in my comments, may I ask you to choose your words very carefully (VERY. CAREFULLY.) if you choose to comment (read: disagree with me) today.

Basically there are many, such as the fine people over at Teachers Pay Teachers (shout out to former NYC teachers....holla!), who believe that yes, this work and these ideas do indeed belong to the teacher. This is probably because these people recognize that most teachers (if not all teachers) create their lesson plans OUTSIDE of school and/or AFTER 3:00. They do this because there isn't even one single second of time during the day where they might be able to sit down and work out anything coherent...you know, 'cuz their days are filled with things like um, teaching, meeting after meeting after meeting, working with children who need extra help, frantically running to the photo copier, desperately trying to catch up on data collecting, or, you know, eating or peeing. JUST TO NAME A FEW.

One d-bag quoted in the article (I am debating about whether or not to name him here because he IS named in the article....um, hi, target on your back much? But, have decided he doesn't even DESERVE naming here in my space - a TEACHER'S space. So we will call him Mr. D-Bag In A Suit since I feel there is no way he is not dry clean only...meaning, there is no way he has ever got down on a floor and worked with an actual child so why doesn't he keep his mouth SHUT!) said that he believes if the materials are created with school district resources that the school district should share in a portion of the profits.

(cover your ears)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1) How many RESOURCES have teachers actually purchased themselves to be used in said district with said district children? Does the district ever worry about that?
2) I guess if a teacher is literally copying an already published lesson out of district purchased curriculum guide, than yes. But honestly, we are SO MUCH SMARTER THAN THAT! I've taken a gander at some of the materials offered and they appear to be original material with ideas original to the teacher.
3) If Mr. D-Bag In A Suit is so worried about equal compensation for the possible/alleged use of district resources, then is he also concerned with the equal compensation of teachers for their use of non-school time to create these lesson plans (also known as over time?) I mean, I had to punch a time clock (true story) reinforcing that I was only paid for the hours between 8 and 3 while also cementing the idea that I was perceived as a contractually bound unionized worker (whether I wanted to be or not), rather than a true professional. I'm sure true professionals, who are paid true professional wages, would have no problem with working after the children went home. However, we are not considered true professionals in the eyes of too many, are definitely not compensated as true professionals and therefore feel free to complain about suggestions made my douche bags implying that we should share profits made from intellectual property created on our own time. BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT?? WE MAY COMPLAIN ABOUT THE EXTRA HOURS BUT WE ALWAYS DO IT ANYWAY BECAUSE WE ARE FABULOUS! (I am aware that I have started yelling.) (Phew. Must take breath.)

But while I'm all heated up, let's move onto another genius bit of commentary....a gem I found in the comments section of this article. An actual professor (of what I don't know) stated that teachers constantly complain about working 40 plus hours a week because evidently he thinks that teachers are the only ones who complain about their hours at work. I don't know about you, but I have heard plenty of people in plenty of careers bitch plenty about their lack of a work/life balance. This individual then moved on to state that teachers are desperate to be considered professionals but are unwilling to incur the obligations of true professionals. Um....exactly what does this guy think we SHOULD be doing that we are currently NOT doing? Because my plate always felt insanely full - both with teaching related tasks as well as the tasks of some of the lazy shmoes around me. Does this fool mean that I should be wearing more dry clean only clothing? Or is he going to rely on the old "you get summers off and therefore aren't a professional person" argument. NEWSFLASH ASSHAT - WE DID NOT ASK FOR/BEG/OR DECIDE TO HAVE SUMMERS OFF....IT HAS BEEN THAT WAY FOREVER! (And if you, Mr. Professor, snap back with a witty retort such as "well, summers off are why you got into teaching in the first place", I shall have to slap you. Hard.)

However, the article also includes the lovely story of a veteran teacher who gave thirty years of her life to this career. After putting her own original lesson plans up for sale, she was able to finally realize her dream of redoing her kitchen. A dream which a teacher's salary alone could not support. Now the lesson plan sales may not have paid for all of it, but that money certainly helped.

The article also includes the stories of several other current teachers many of whom use the extra funds to purchase materials for their classrooms or treats for their students. (Many of these materials are necessary for excellent instruction, yet were evidently not provided by the district with district funds. Just thought I'd point that out for Mr. DBIAS.) Yes, there are a few stories of teachers going out to dinner or (gasp!) making mortgage payments, but I think we can all agree that teachers deserve a few simple pleasures such as food and shelter, can't we?

There was also talk in the article of how charging for lesson plan ideas cheapens the field of teaching which thrives on the free exchange of ideas. I don't know about you, but when I was teaching, I gave away plenty of my own ideas to my colleagues (super or not) for free all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. Of course we don't charge to share with one another in the same building. However, having a market place where teachers can share and profit from their ideas with colleagues around the world whom they have never met is a totally different ball game. (In my opinion.) Yes, you can find resources for free or you can choose to spend a little money on them. To me, it's no different than going out and buying a book on reading comprehension to help beef up your instruction.

There is the implication that such an exchange will encourage teachers to be lazy (I HATE that so many people assume we are lazy...what is THAT about?) and add no original thought to the work, basically poaching the ideas of others to make their job easier. First of all, too many school districts are purchasing scripted curriculum which rob teachers of the ability to think for themselves or cater instruction to their children so clearly, many school districts don't have a problem with teachers simply reading from a script. (I have a problem with this, but we'll save that for another day.) So to those school districts, I say "quit your bitching." To others who believe that too many teachers are simply hitting print and listlessly going through the motions....well, that makes me sad. That may be happening in some places, but resources such as TeachersPayTeachers did not create that problem. Yet, this line of thinking doesn't consider that many teachers are also using these resources as a starting point which they will adapt to their own style and the needs of their current students. Why reinvent the wheel? Why not benefit from the shared ideas of other professionals even if it is at a minimal financial cost? Is that any different than using a free lesson plan to jump start you thinking about a new unit? Or using a published book to change the way you teach? I don't think it is.

What do you all think? I know that in Mrs. Mimi's new website (coming soon!!) there will definitely be a space for teachers to exchange ideas and lesson plans -some for free and some for profit. I think it's a way to acknowledge hard work and compensate excellent teachers for their contributions.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game

I toyed with the idea of using the word "Playa" instead of "Player" in the above title, but that it was a bit much. Sometimes slightly clever is better than hitting-you-over-the-head clever and since I have been told that I enjoy beating metaphors to death, I decided to err on the side of underwhelming. But I digress...

Before I begin - Happy Belated Veteran's Day to everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the day whether you had it off or not and took some time to remember the reason why we have Veteran's Day to begin with. (Hint: the answer is NOT about sales at the mall, sleeping late, or that parades are fabulous.)

Even though I no longer have a classroom to go to every morning (Pause to collect myself...this is still a harsh reality for me to deal with.) (Because the reality now is that I only have the space in my home which I lovingly call Dissertation Station although perhaps I should just cal it what it is...the Sit-and-Stare-at-the-Wall-Waiting-for-Data-Driven-Genius-To-Strike-Station, but that's not as snazzy. Plus I like rhyming so Dissertation Station it is.), I still hope for my other teacher friends and former Super Colleagues to enjoy their well deserved day off. (Unless you didn't get the day off, in which case I am sorry, hope you had a great day with your friends and enjoyed your mandatory assembly.)

Yes, I said well deserved. Because it is. (THAT just happened.)

I say "enjoy" and I also say "well-deserved" because teachers didn't ask for the day off and they certainly do deserve it! Don't you, you non-teacher who also thinks of themselves as a hard worker and perhaps you are, enjoy getting a day off now and then? Don't you also think you deserve a day off from time to time? (May I remind you that this is not an opening for you to say something assinine such as, "But teachers have a MILLION days off!" or "Yeah, but I didn't go into my career for the summers off" because we wouldn't want this post to take a violent turn for the worse now would we? I mean, I'm sure you work hard too and with your added responsibility surely comes added monetary compensation. Am I right? Good for you! That must be lovely! Sadly, we teachers can only see miles of added responsibility on the horizon yet not a dime in sight. Oh, maybe the occassional left over birthday cupcake, but money, no, none of that. So we take what we can and relish our bonus days off.

These holidays off are just that. Bonuses. Or at least I always pretended it was a bonus which recognized the fact that I had more work than I was physically capable of completing in one day.

Earlier I admitted to my sad reality regarding my dissertation...and really, the reality for many of YOU out there is that you spent your day off holed up in your home correcting papers, working on lesson plans or finalizing report card grades. Am I right or am I left? So I guess the only bonus that is left in this scenario is that perhpas you finally got to catch up on everythign and do it with your pajamas and a cup of tea (or in fabulous high heels you wouldn't dare teach in all day and a cocktail...your choice). Either way, I hope you walked into school today with a refreshed attitude and a little extra sleep. (And if you're a huge nerd like I am/was, clutching several new color-coded lists and a plan book full of a rainbow of post its and ideas.)

Happy Belated Veteran's Day! I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Haters and Congratulaters - Barnsey Debriefed

Um, hi, yeah. It's been roughly a thousand years since I posted. I was all shameless self promotion and then I went radio-silent on you guys. Sorry about that. Good reason though...more to come on that.

So I read at Barnsey. (sigh) It was like a dream come true. Picture me entering my beloved Barnsey, only to see a picture of myself and my book in the lobby. Needless to say, Big Mama Mimi lost her shit and started snapping pictures. Unfortunately, Big Mama Mimi is not the most savvy with a digital camera (Accept it mom, it's true.) but was able to get a few good photos in before security shut her down. Evidently one is not supposed to take photos in Barnsey...even if one's face is plastered on posters everywhere and clearly has an over-stimulated family in tow. But I digress...

I get downstairs where two lovely ladies show me to the green room. The GREEN ROOM! As in the "green room" that famous people refer to before they go on stage or whatever. It had two big squashy chairs, a small desk, a stack of copies of my book, some gloriously delicious new Sharpies and more water than I should have probably consumed prior to standing in front of a good sized group of people with no bathroom in sight. I chatted with a few people and then practiced reading my passage for the kajillioneth time. (If you are curious, I chose to read the section about the Great Paper Capers in which my Super Colleagues and I stealthily sneak down to the school basement to steal. I chose this part because it is a) hilarious, b) was not filled with curse words or various forms of the word "douche" and c) did I mention hilarious?)

And yes, I was able to get on stage just fine wearing my fabulously high high-heeled shoes. I think I actually saw a couple of people sneak a close up of the shoes....

When I first stood at the podium, I was all cotton mouth and stammery. I'm not sure if the sweat running down my back was noticeable, but I'm praying that people were again focused on the shoes rather than my large puddle of rapidly accumulating sweat droplets. However, I took a deep breath, focused on my fabulously supportive Super Colleagues seated in the front row and began. And, as soon as I started to read out loud, I felt a million times better.

I was in my element.

Have I mentioned before that I heart reading out loud? And when people laugh at me? Granted there were far fewer turn-and-talks and I didn't have to stop to tell Curly to stop poking Bubbles, but whatever. I was reading out loud yet again to a fairly captive audience. And I loved every second. (P.S. Word on the street is that it might appear on Barnsey's website. It isn't up yet as far as I know, but I'll keep you posted.)

After I finished reading, there was a question and answer period. And guess what?!? No really...guess!

You'll never get it...

...in a million years...

SOMEONE SENT A NARC! PLANTED A HATER!

For real.

Now, I happen to know who sent this little, um, "birdie" but only because I am quick on my feet (and addicted to Facebook). However, their identity is not important.

What IS important is that this person had several nastily worded and very pointed questions all written out in advance. Evidently, hating me has consumed a large portion of their time. In all fairness, this person never truly strayed into the inappropriate - there was no swearing, finger pointing or yelling, but still....girlfriend worked it to get her point across. (And if she's reading this now, is probably going nuts that I just referred to her as "girlfriend.")

At first, I was pissed. But you know what? Everyone has a right to their opinion and I think I handled her fairly well...especially when she implied that I was "high on my horse" (probably true) and that I was "mocking people" (um, it's a satire.) All in all, it's kind of hot to spark up a debate. Maybe I can add "controversial" to my resume....along with "hip and hilarious" and "fresh and relevant." Ooo...and then she put the cherry on top of her attack sundae by going on Amazon and writing two very nasty reviews of my book. (Feel free to check those little gems out and to write a little rebuttal-poo if you are so moved.)

I think the best part of all this was that Barnsey security picked up on the negative vibes and was on me like white on rice. Seriously, I had the lovely head of security by my side for the remainder of the event. They even escorted me up the stairs (um, it was like real bad ass, y'all...) and out to a cab.

From there I went to a fabulous party thrown by the amazing Mr. Mimi (He could totally use that for a circus act name, now that I type it...has a certain ring to it...) where I hung out with the always supportive people from Kaplan, my rock star agent, every last Super Colleague and my phenomenal girl friends. It was a great night...thank you so much for sharing it with me.

(Oh, and totally won't wait three weeks between posts again.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Few Of My Favorite Things (a.k.a. High Heeled Shoes and Barnsey)

I mean, does it get any better? Although, before we continue here, I would like to briefly address those naysayers who have knocked me for talking about my shoes. Evidently some find it difficult to believe that an elementary school teacher would consistently wear high heels to work. Believe it, people. However, although I made it my own priority to wear fabulous shoes that made me feel good about myself at work, I never discussed, mocked or really even looked at the shoes of my colleagues. So, dear naysayers, may I suggest you continue to wear your shoes and I will continue to wear mine.

Now, speaking of shoes....here are the shoes I wore to the Leonard Lopate show on Wednesday. Apparently, my reputation proceeds me because the first thing Mr. Lopate did upon meeting me was comment upon my shoes. He thought they would be red. Sorry to disappoint Mr. Lopate, but I went with purple. (Which ended up being a fabulous choice because they matched my microphone. Hey, I was looking for anything to calm my nerves, people. It was my first time on the radio.)



And here, my friends, here are the shoes that I will be wearing this evening, when I read aloud from my very own book at (clutching chest here) Barnsey.



Yes, yes, I know they are open toed. And I also know that it is approximately 42 degrees outside. But Barnsey is not outside and I just couldn't resist. They are some of my most special-est shoes. (Again, I take advantage of the perks that come with being an author, namely making up my own words.)

Although honestly, I'm more excited to read out loud to a group of people than I am to wear my fabulous shoes. Shoes may be my guilty little pleasures, but read alouds are my crack. Oh read alouds I HAVE MISSED YOU. The dramatic pauses, the voices, the laughter! You see, I was doing well with this whole not teaching thing, but lately, I miss my friends. I don't really miss the data collection, the filing, the pee holding or inhaling my lunch in four minutes or less, but I do miss reading out loud to my friends.

Picture it. I had this fabulous red chair in my classroom. It was a classic old wing chair that belonged to my grandmother. It was super comfy and had so many memories wrapped up in it. My friends would sit on the carpet in front of my chair, surrounded by books and all the fabulous kid stuff that fills classrooms. (See, I really do miss it in the classroom. Last year, I would have bitched about all the crap on my floor. The erasers, the scraps of paper, the stray hair accessories...but now *sigh* I miss it.) Reading books together was like our therapy. Whenever I felt overwhelmed or that the vibe was off in the room, we would stop whatever we were doing, gather on the rug and read a story. I must have read three or four books/chapters out loud every day. We were read-a-holics.

So while tonight won't quite be the same (in case you were wondering, I will not be bringing out my full range of voices or entire repertoire of comedic gestures....those are for the children), it will at least let me read out loud again without Mr. Mimi giving me strange looks across the living room.

A few deets (and then we will be done with the shameless and never ending self promotion...at least for a bit):
Barnes and Noble
150 East 86th Street (btw Lex and 3rd)
7:00 p.m.

My shoes and I will both be there. Hope you are too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Someone's Gonna Be On the Radio Tomorrow...

...And that someone is ME!

Yes, I will be on the radio (wearing fabulous heels even though you won't be able to see them) with none other than Mr. Leonard Lopate of the aptly named Leonard Lopate show on WNYC (93.9 fm or am 820).

Here's a blurb about Mr. Lopate and his show directly from his website:

"Host Leonard Lopate lets you in on the best conversations with writers, actors, ex-presidents, dancers, scientists, comedians, historians, grammarians, curators, filmmakers, and do-it-yourself experts. Live interaction is critical to Lopate's conversational and personal style. "I think it's crucial to maintain eye contact when you're discussing complex matters with the likes of John Updike, Doris Lessing, Bill Bradley, Mark Morris, and Francis Ford Coppola, all of whom are return guests to Leonard Lopate on WNYC, " says Lopate."

Um, Francis Ford Coppola? John Updike? And now...Mrs. Mimi?? Oh, and if you look at the roster of his most recent shows (also available via free podcasts if you aren't in the NYC area or can't tune in from approximately 1:00-1:20 p.m. tomorrow) it includes people such as Joyce Carol Oates, and Jeannette Walls, just to name a few.

Those are real authors people!

I guess this makes me a real author. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I have a book available at my local Barnsey and it is also for sale over at Amazon but still....I AM A TEACHER! Evidently, now I get to say, "Hi, my name is Mrs. Mimi. I'm a teacher and an author."

Well ha cha cha for me.

(And for those of you who are thinking, "Well if she's an author now, then where the heck are her blog posts?" ...you are completely justified. I have a list friends, oh yes. I have a list of potential blog posts and they are a'comin'. However, I also had a list of Crap I Need To Get Done For My Dissertation, which is stapled to a print out of my student loans and thusly, I had to prioritize. Sorry....)

Long story short, listen to me on the radio tomorrow and keep your fingers crossed that I sound witty and intelligent. Send me all the Fabulous Vibes you can.

Monday, October 5, 2009

If You Gave Us More Time...Teachers Could Rule the World

Seriously. Teachers deserve some serious props for what they are able to get done during the day. (Chorus of "Amens", "You go on, girl!" "Tell it to them sister!" in the background here.)

The other day, I went to visit my girlfriend in the hospital after she had her baby. (Who is fabulously gorgeous.) (Note: Not being in the classroom provides one with something called "flexibility." This term applies mainly to one's time and how one goes about structuring one's day. If you are teaching right now, you may only understand this term as it is hissed at you to "be more flexible"...usually after some out-of-the-classroom someone has just made a ridiculous demand on your time. It is important to note that YOU are the only one being flexible and must therefore bend your needs and schedule to match someone else's agenda. I get it. After all, I spent eight years "being flexible" and it basically left me contorted beyond recognition. So this new found ability to be flexible with my time is, well, it's fabulous.) Back to my girlfriend. She already had her Blackberry out and was texting away, making calls and getting everything in order at home. Jokingly, I said to her, "Dude, you could rule the world with that thing," because, you know, she just had a BABY but was still on top of her game. And she was all, "You are insane. You've got a million things on your plate too."

And she's right. I do have a million things. I've got a (gulp) dissertation that needs finishing. (Anyone interested?) I've got a website to get together. I've got a "writing career" that needs tending to. I've got two classes to finish this semester. I've got some consulting on the side...you know, so I'm not out of the game all together. (I need a classroom fix from time to time and so far, this seems to be doing the trick.) I have reading to do, writing to do...SO MANY TO DOs! While I am in listing heaven, I also feel a bit all over the place. Too many balls in the air, so to speak, which can make it hard to be productive.

Yet when I was in the classroom, oh when I was IN THE CLASSROOM...there was no stopping me! None! I had all my balls in the air and was juggling like a fool! (Somewhere Mr. Mimi's head is exploding after I typed that line. Just keeping it real.) My Super Colleagues and I could have ran the freaking world if we wanted to, we were so productive. Seriously, we would run into one another getting off the subway and walk the remaining few blocks together, sipping coffee, talking about Grey's and you know, sauntering. We'd get to the building, sashay to the office, get our mail and then BAM! It was like a bell went off - we were MOVING. I mean, WORKING IT. That cup of coffee got put down and we were making copies, checking the calendar, getting last minute supplies together, frantically finishing said cup of coffee, dealing with emails, tidying up the dreaded piles that seemed to appear all over the classroom and oh yeah, don't forget watering the plants, vacuuming the carpet, sharpening pencils and getting the homework ready to go home. (insert heavy breathing here...I'm exhausted just typing this...HOW DID I DO THIS EVERY DAY?!) And people, I'm just talking about the morning. Before the kids. Before. The. Kids. Because then the kids actually arrive and it's go time. Go. Time. I mean, yeah, I always had a yogurt out on the back table that was totally intended to be my breakfast but did I ever get to it? Uh, no.

Do you have any idea how much crap I used to get done before noon? Or even, before lunch? (Which of course was really more like a late breakfast considering we ate at 11:00 because for some reason elementary schools tend to have a very odd sense of appropriate meal times.) If we could harness the productivity of a teacher, even on a bad day, we could have something. A new philosophy for the workplace! A better plan for getting things accomplished as a country! An alternative energy source even! Who knows what we could do with the as yet untapped potential of today's teacher? (insert me stepping down from soap box)

Okay. I'm off to channel my teacher self. I have a lot to get done today. I don't know why, but somehow doing so many things for so many little friends was a bit easier than doing all these things just for myself.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Photocopier Continues To Haunt (Taunt?) Me

Seriously. I thought that when I left my school that all of my photocopying and printing woes would be behind me. Alas, I was wrong. As I usually am in these cases. I have told my tales of copying woe before (here and here to be exact) and can't believe that I have another one to share with you today.

I mean, isn't it enough that for seven years SEVEN YEARS the photocopier was capable of sending me into a rage I still can't quite put into words? What IS it about the photocopier? It got so bad at one point that Grandpa Mimi offered to BUY ME a photocopier. BUY ME A PHOTOCOPIER! I knew it must be really bad because my family is certainly not one to throw money at a problem (more like half a coat of deck stain...it'll fix anything) and photocopiers don't just grow on trees, ya know. (They eat trees.) (Hundreds of them.) (Shhh.) (I think they're watching me...)

How bad could it have gotten you ask? I mean, I'm only imagining that evil photocopiers and printers have now followed me out of the workplace, so yeah, it was THAT BAD. I'm talking you fill out the stupid little form requesting a copy, put it on the pile and then somehow the book disappears (Bye, bye original!), no one has any idea where it could be and oh yeah, those other copies you asked for are totally going to take longer than they thought. Or, how about you recieve 25 homework packets in a timely fashion, yet the top page (you know, the one with all the assignments and stuff) was photocopied at a wierd angle so now 35% of it is cut off but heck yeah that mistake was reproduced 25 times. Oh, and the third page? That's missing. And the whole thing was collated on the right hand side - not a tragedy - but enough to make you think that you may be on candid camera because it definitely feels like someone is fucking with you. This can't be real. It can't be this hard.

So THEN (because there's more) you walk your little self and your big stack of copies-to-be-made to the far distant corner of the school (read: universe) where the photocopier you ARE allowed to touch (read: the photocopier from 1974) is located. You lovingly call this part of the school Siberia. It's that far. You are ready to make this look easy. You have your originals, your list (always need a list) and your stack of paper. You insert the first copy to be made and paper jam. PAPER FREAKING JAM! Fantasizing about that scene from Office Space where Neil Diamond or whatever his name is, goes apeshit on a photocopier with a baseball bat in a field, you go back to your classroom and put your head down. Just for a moment. To rest your eyes.

Do I paint an accurate picture friends?

Call me crazy, but as I sobbed my way out of the building on my last day (It was so hard to say good bye to my little friends), I comforted myself with the thought that I would never again have to deal with ridiculous photo copiers or a lack of toner. (Don't even get me started on toner. This post is long enough...just click here.

And then today happened. I went to Staples to print out a very long, very crucial piece of my dissertation. 251 pages of blood, sweat and tears (mostly tears) to be exact. (And no, I'm not finished yet.) I mean, that's just too much to print at home, right? I'm standing at the counter, dreaming about waiting for my order whilst drooling in the Sharpie aisle when I realize...I have been standing here for twenty freaking minutes. (I am trying to curse less...not sure why, just seems like a good goal.) Um, Staples, hast thou forgotten my devotion to thee? Me thinks you have.

In a huff, I take my thumb drive and I'm off to Kinkos. For I am a woman of surprises, a woman of mystery! I get myself to the counter where I am told it is $0.49 a page. Which would mean that copying my document would cost roughly $125. Plus tax.

Back to Staples I went.
Where I waited.
Got some help.
Waited some more.
And was so frustrated that I couldn't even look at the Sharpies.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Hope You're Sitting Down...

...because I have something to tell you. And I'm really hoping you'll understand, since I haven't known exactly how to tell you all. However, as I say to my friends, "Honesty is the best policy." Granted this is something that I usually say through gritted teeth as I'm investigating the latest case of Who-Hit-Who-First and I know I'm being lied to. That's where you pull out the classic, "You know, if you hit someone, you will be in trouble because that's not okay. But if you hit someone and then lie about it AND I find out, which I will, then you'll be in more trouble and have lost my trust." Yea, that speech is an oldie but a goodie.

I'm just going to come out and say it. Just like that.

I'm not teaching this year.

There. I said it. Do you hate me? Am I still in trouble? (If I was I ever in trouble to begin with?)

But know this. I am a teacher. (Let me say that again, a little bit louder now.) I. Am. A. Teacher. (I feel a little like I should be ripping apart my break away shirt to reveal a fabulous super hero outfit with a giant T for Teacher in a bold red on my chest. Very Wonder Woman. And very fabulous.) I will always be a teacher. And I have every intention of teaching again. Every. Intention.

Let me explain my decision because it's not just about the book. (What book you ask? Why click here and see for yourself!) (Dazzling smile.)

I had decided some time ago, before the book came out...and really if I'm honest, before the book was even a possibility, that perhaps it was time for me to move on. You see, I learned a tremendous amount at my old school and met some amazing people. Honestly. I just didn't blog about all that as often because, well, it wasn't that funny. Just fabulous. And then of course, there were my friends, or as I like to call them The Biggest Reasons I Stayed. But despite all the fabulousness, all the learning and all my friends I could feel myself getting angry, frustrated and just blah. (There's a concise word for you.) Because all the other stuff that I blogged about did happen and I was terrified that I would turn into a bitter, angry teacher. Actually, starting the blog helped me to stay longer and learn even more. It was a way for me to vent, to get it out and to refrain from poking myself in the eye. Clearly, I am struggling for words to express myself, but there was just this feeling - perhaps some of you know what I am talking about - that it was time to go.

ALSO....because as always my reasoning is multi-faceted and long winded....Mr. Mimi and I thought we were moving. How could I start a school year, meet all those little friends and then leave them? I knew I couldn't do that.

AND THEN....yes, there's more...I'm also in graduate school pursuing my doctorate. (Very fancy pants, I know. Lots of suede elbow patches and Victrola playing in my house.) (Not really.) (More like lots of staying in my pajamas all weekend desperately trying to complete all my coursework with occasional bursts of Jay Z inspired dance parties to celebrate the completion of a chapter.) (Again, it's all about honesty today, isn't it?) I am officially in the home stretch or at least that's what I'm telling myself. I am fortunate enough to be able to take a year (and my book advance) away from the classroom to focus and finish. And people, I NEED to finish. Mr. Mimi NEEDS me to finish. My sanity NEEDS me to finish...

OH RIGHT...the book. There was that too. I have created some rather colorful characters. And as I've said before, I've only ever shown one side to these characters...the side I think you'll think is funny. Sure, I've taken a few liberties here and there to make things funnier because I know at the end of a hard day, we can all use a good laugh. My intention was always to mock the system, the ridiculousness, the drama that plagues us all (no matter where we teach) and not the individual people. But I know some feelings have been hurt - word gets around pretty fast, you know. And for that I'm sorry. And please don't hit me. In fact, I considered titling this post "Can't We All Just Get Along?" because I'm quickly finding out that the answer is no. No, we can't. Not all the time.

So there you have it. It's all out in the open and I hope I haven't let you down. I do intend to continue blogging. Let me say that again. I WILL KEEP BLOGGING! My readers and commenters and emailers (I'm a writer now, I can make up words from time to time.) have been amazing, have kept me going and have inspired me to continue to speak up for teachers everywhere using my own experiences. Hearing your stories and words of encouragement have made me realize that I wasn't alone. And, perhaps sadly, that some of the problems I was facing weren't just problems I was having because sometimes I can have a bad attitude (it's true) but rather they were problems that plague many schools. (This would be another cool place for me to rip away clothes and show off my super hero costume. Really, that's a great way to punctuate a speech. Note to self - find seamstress who is able to work with spandex.)

I knew this day was coming, so I saved a ton of juicy fun stories off to the side just to tide us all over. Hilarity still to come! And now that my secret is out, probably more regularly! (Oh, and don't worry, I won't start posting about my cat, what I had for dinner or that lady who took the last bunch of flowers from my favorite guy at the farmer's market.) (Unless you really want me to and even then, I'm still not sure how I feel about that.)

OOo...and as a bonus side project (because I am the Queen of taking on more and more and more until my plate is officially at capacity) I am working on developing a Mrs. Mimi website for teachers. Very Mrs. Mimi, very informational, very fabulous. Seriously, it will become the place you go for teaching, learning, sharing and feeling fabulous. FABULOUS. I will keep you posted on this development for sure. Watch out internet, here I come!

Let me wrap this up (I KNOW! Finally, right?) by saying that I AM A TEACHER and I love all my Super Colleagues - those with whom I've worked and all of you out there who I write for. (Pretty sure that sentence could have been structured better...shouldn't end with "for". Let's see - those with whom I've worked and all of you out there for whom I write. There, that's better.) I WILL TEACH AGAIN - Mrs. Mimi is no quitter and I have no intention of quitting all of you.

Blog, I just can't seem to quit you.

(Okay, taking a deep breath and hitting "Publish Post" Don't quit me. Or hit me for that matter.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Biological Teacher Clock is A'Tickin'

And before you get all excited, no, in my book a biological teacher clock does not equal anything baby related...I'm just saying it's kind of the same thing, right?

Right?

Okay, let me explain my thinking. You see, you spend the beginning of the summer just relaxing (read: laying face down on the couch watching whatever comes on the television after The Today Show because you lack the energy to even lift the remote). Or at least I do...and if you're honest with yourself, I think you do too. This is a very necessary step in one's Recovery From The Previous Year. For me, it feels a bit like my early twenties (I'm going with this whole biological clock analogy thing...please, try to keep up...you know how I love to beat any sort of analogy/metaphor/image to death by NOW) when I knew that some sort of future awaited me in education, but it seemed all really far away...you know, in the world of Bills and Responsibility which I was fortunate enough to avoid until after college.

Then, as summer chugs along, you get to the point where you realize you should probably DO SOMETHING with your time off and presto! Out come the To Do Lists. How I love me a good To Do List filled with grand plans of organizational genius! I think I might be blushing just thinking about it! Anyhow, you realize you should do something and start frantically making plans for all your Big Projects. You list all sorts of things that you Should Have Gotten Done During The School Year but whatever, we all know those sorts of promises are almost impossible to keep. It's like my mid to late twenties - I went and got a masters degree, started teaching, went back to school for my doctorate...I mean, if that's not similar to frantically listing things like "Clean curtains" and "Make doctor's appts", I don't know what is. I was like a crazy person on a mission to educate the shit out of myself and anyone I came in contact with.

Finally, it's the end of the summer. You notice that it starts getting darker a bit earlier. Every major office supply store has commercials with joyful parents shopping for Back To School. Most of your Summer To Do List is complete, and you rationalized that the rest of the list can go screw itself because it's the end of the summer and you need to ENJOY YOURSELF. But, in the midst of all this enjoyment (read: cocktails, back to school shopping and sleeping late), you feel like something is missing. Perhaps it's the cool heft of a stapler in your hand, or the multi colored beauty that is a planner filled with big ideas and our beloved post it notes or maybe it's the sound of all your friends laughing at your latest read aloud. (Was that last one too shmaltzy? It felt a little too "awwwww" for me, but I threw it out there anyway. Admit it - you miss the kiddos!) If you admit that you've had this feeling, than you know what I mean when I say your Biological Teacher Clock is ticking.

So know we're BACK! And even though we all love to bitch and moan about going back and oh, my alarm clock and I hate commuting, and is it always this much work...we also love getting back to it because we are ready. And we are addicted to school. And maybe office supplies, but that could just be me. Whatever, we are stapled, papered, labeled, planned and back-up planned. We have mapped out bathroom policies, homework routines and read alouds. We have a vision of the first few weeks, a plan for the rest of the fall, a goal for where we are going. We have a PURPOSE! (insert fist pumping and high-fiving here)

In honor of the FIRST DAY BACK for many of us and in the name of BEING PREPARED (Because I learned pretty quickly to have a back up plan for the back up plan and so many tricks in my tool belt that it was ridiculous...not one moment was to go unplanned or unattended! Although really, what's with the tool belt metaphor? Like that would ever match my fabulous back to school outfit...), I have a fun story from my first year when I was, well, not prepared. (I know, can you even imagine? Me? Not prepared....insanity! But it happened...once.)

I should have known it wasn't going to go well after spending several hours crying over pencils - how to handle the pencils, organize the pencils, sharpen the pencils, deal with the millions of pencils I envisioned strewn all over the floor nameless and homeless...the horror! However, I had fooled myself into a lull of preparedness by mapping out literally every second of the first day. Every. Single. Second. And then some of the seconds in between those seconds. And I did it. I made it through the first day of school. I was mere seconds from dismissing my class of new friends when I realized, here was a second I hadn't prepared for. After my HOURS and DAYS and WEEKS of preparation, after all of my nudity filled anxiety dreams, I had never thought about the following scenario - where the HELL was I supposed to take them at the end of the day? Seriously, how do I GET RID of them?!?!? I mean, the day went well and all but it's over. O.V.E.R. Over and I need to lay down for a bit, but they're totally still here and I don't know what to do with them.

Me: (popping head out into hallway) (looking around) (looking around) (Where IS everyone?)
Super Colleague To Be: (popping head out into hallway) (looking around) (looking around) (We make eye contact.)
Me: Uh, what are we supposed to do with them?
Her: Uh, I don't know. It's my first year too, remember? I thought YOU would know.
Me: Crap. (Okay, I didn't really say "crap"...I know better, but it's funnier.)
Her: Crap. (She didn't really say it either.)
Me: What do we do?
Her: I don't know. Line them up? Walk them downstairs?
Me: Maybe we should wait and see what the other teachers do and copy them?
Her: Good idea! Why didn't we ask about this before?

So we faked it. We faked it until we saw a more experienced teacher lead her class down stairs. And then we promptly copied her.

Hope everyone was prepared today, because like it or not WE'RE BACK!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today I Saw Myself At the Bookstore

(Alternative Title Un: Channeling, Fist-pumping and Bitches - Oh My!)
(Alternative Title Deux: Today I Spent Way Too Much Time Picking Out What To Wear To The Bookstore)

"Hello, lover."

That's one of the things I'm going to say in my head when I officially see my book at my beloved Barnsey later on today. Because today, I'm going to visit my book at a real bookstore for the first OFFICIAL time.

(Although you can buy it from Amazon too...but if you do buy it from Amazon, don't be afraid to post a review...don't be afraid at all. Just click on the little button and type in phrases such as "fabulous!" or "essential for all teachers" or "I laughed until I cried - everyone should read this book!")

Now, I say the first OFFICIAL time because, as those of you who follow me on Twitter or have joined my Facebook posse of amazing peeps probably already know, this is not the first time I have seen my book on display at Barnsey. You see, I was told that my book would be released on September 1st. That is today, in case you are not near a calendar. I, armed only with my teacher-esque need to write important dates and times in my planner thereby attaching meaning to them, assumed this meant my book would appear for the FIRST TIME in book stores today. I also thought it meant that all the pre-ordered copies of my book would ship today. Or at least that is what I have been telling people. I mean, that makes sense, right? Why else would there be this big, ominous date looming in my head for the last six months. Clearly, I was wrong.

I now think the date has been looming in my head as a catalyst for many, many anxiety dreams. Many. Some of which involve me standing naked in Times Square whilst people judge me. So yeah, maybe that's
what the date is for. Nudity dreams. (And not good ones.)


Moving on...

I first discovered that I was wrong about the BIG DAY on Sunday, when Mr. Mimi and I decided to saunter to our favorite, local Barnsey in order to engage in one of our favorite past times...improving our minds through books (read: drinking enormous chai lattes and drooling over the photos in travel books while simultaneously planning our theoretical trip around the world.) (cough cough) As is my way, I nerdily typed "It's Not All Flowers And Sausages" into that little kiosk/computer/information thingy because the thrill of seeing my book pop up on the screen is a force greater than I. I have very little impulse control. So, as is his way, Mr. Mimi waited patiently at my side waiting for my moment of crazy to pass.

(insert me typing)
(imagine me waiting...goofy smile on my face)
(insert some toe tapping from Mr. Mimi)
(searching)
(searching)
BAM! There it is! On the screen - It's Not All Flowers And Sausages....IN STOCK.

In. Freaking. Stock.

(Insert Mr. Mimi and I slowly turning to give each other a ridiculously wide eyed incredulous stare, pausing for a moment before simultaneously turning and hurtling ourselves down the escalator in search of the correct section.)

It was Sunday, August 30th. A full two days before Tuesday, September 1st! (Not that I'm complaining but still...I so was not wearing my My-Book-Comes-Out-Today-Outfit.)

We flew around the corner and there it was. Right there on the shelf. Five whole copies. (gasp!) Was I actually sharing a shelf with Jonathan Kozol? THE Jonathan Kozol?

I die.

Or rather, I start ugly crying a little. Seriously. I cried a little. Then I took a picture with my camera phone. Then I carried several copies to the front of the store and plopped them down on the prominent New Arrivals table for everyone to see. In that order.

And as I stepped back to admire my book (MY BOOK!) sitting on an actual table in an actual Barnsey, I thought of one of my friends. (Do I get a chorus of "Aaawwws"?)

Last year I had a very shy friend. Very shy. In fact, we shall refer to him as Mr. Shy. Mr. Shy was, well, he was shy...I think we've already established that. You get it. Enough. Well as is the case with most shy people (geez, I'm really beating a dead horse with this shy thing, aren't I?), Mr. Shy was reluctant to share in class conversations, volunteer answers or participate in anything that drew too much attention to himself. So of course, on publishing day, Mr. Shy NEVER wanted to read his story out loud. I let him say, "pass" but made a mental goal to try to get him to read ONE story to us before the end of the year.

Now, I am not a shy person. I know. You're shocked, right? But I do understand how hard and scary it can be to get up in front of other people. (Remember, I do feel a bit as if I am about to be standing naked in Times Square whilst people judge me...and my book of course.) So I worked hard with Mr. Shy all year to get him to see that he did have value to add to our class. I wanted him to know what he thought and felt and accomplished were important to our class. Together we made a little action plan to slowly get him to try to participate more. I was like Pep Talk Sally with this kid. And it worked. Not because everything I try in the classroom works, but because I think he was finally ready to take the risk. Plus, I have always found that little ones are- sometimes surprisingly and always amazingly-supportive and caring in the most crucial of times. The day had come when Mr. Shy was ready to read his story to the class.

We gathered on the rug, anxiously awaiting his tale. He read in a confident and clear, although quiet, voice, never forgetting to show us the pictures. It was wonderful. He closed his book, basked in our applause, and then walked over to hand me his writing. And as he made his way back to his spot on the rug, he (and I swear this actually happened) fist pumped and muttered, "Take that, bitches!"

So, later on today, when I go to visit my book, a book that I still worry about sharing from time to time, I will channel Mr. Shy, silently pump my fist and say, "Take that, bitches!"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So. Much. Sweating.

So, you know, I have this whole book thing coming out in five days. FIVE DAYS! FIVE FREAKING DAYS!! (Ahem. Perhaps I am overexcited...) Anyhow, yesterday I had a very interesting experience. One that I didn't think would be a big deal, but ended up rendering me a sweaty, babbling, um, I guess there's no other way to say it... idiot.

I KNOW! I usually write about how fabulous I am! This took me by surprise too.

What was the experience? Right...I guess that would be an important little detail. I had my picture taken. For you know, book stuff. That's all.

Or so I thought...

Call me crazy, but I thought that spending my entire working life with forty little eye balls boring into my very being would prepare me for one little old camera. I mean, you know how honest kids can be. And how observant. Yeah, that's what we'll call it - observant.

"Mrs. Mimi, are those new shoes?"

"I like your shoes."

"You have funny hair."

Not so bad. Not so bad at all. However, the above comments are also peppered with these gems:

"What's that red thing on your face?"

"Why does your hair look like that today?"

"You look like you feel sick."

Perhaps they are said with love, perhaps they are said with concern, or perhaps they are said because children have no filter whatsoever. None. At. All. But whatevs...I am the FABULOUS teacher with FABULOUS shoes and a FABULOUS new dress.

Right?

You see, I thought that all these little observations would give me a fairly thick skin when it came to looking at myself critically. But oh my, oh my...looking at hundreds (YES HUNDREDS) of yourself up close and personal and all on the computer is...alarming. Clearly my defense mechanism of choice was to babble on and on. I was all, "I hate myself in pictures, and isn't my hair flat, I know I totally do slouch, I should work on my posture, should I look this way, do I have food in my teeth and ha ha ha THIS IS UNCOMFORTABLE!" I was literally spewing a negative amount of self-confidence, vomiting up insecurities all over the floor.

Hot, right?

And the photographer was so nice. And patient. So very, very patient. Because eventually we got a shot that didn't make me want to run screaming to a remote village without mirrors. Actually, he was able to get a shot that I really like. Despite all my sweating.

Guess I'm just more comfortable with my friends.

Guest Blogger - Principal's Page

Even though we don't want to, we have to admit it - summer is almost over. I know, I know...it hurts just to say it, right? This is usually the time of the season when I think to myself, "Self, what have you gotten done? Where is that To Do List? Is someone nearby to freshen my drink?"

Well, THIS summer I made a new friend over at Principal's Page. Now we all know that I loves me some teachers...but it's REALLY REFRESHING to read the perspective of an administrator with a sense of humor. A SENSE OF HUMOR, PEOPLE!

Here is one of his past favorites. I thought we would let his work speak for itself. Enjoy:

As I sit here on the day after Thanksgiving, I have a couple of thoughts.

One is that I need a bigger chair.

The second is that last piece of pumpkin pie was a bad idea. I feel like a bloated rotting hog that has been lying out in the sun for too long.

Too graphic? Sorry. I get cranky when I am too fat to fit in the shower.

Honestly, I am one more scoop of mashed potatoes away from needing a hand rail to successfully bathe.

Why?

Because I am going to have to sit down in the shower while the water pours over my humungous carcass (take away the c-a-r-c….). Eventually I am going to have to stand up.

It would be inappropriate to call 911, so the hand rail is a must.

I really need a glass of water and a small salad. A really small salad. And do they make diet water?

Why do I overeat on Thanksgiving? I know it is going to happen, yet my self-control fails me.

I am pathetic. And uncomfortable.

It got so bad that loosening my pants didn’t solve the problem. I was thinking long and hard about just taking them completely off (yet another reason to always wear clean underwear kids).

If I never eat again it will be too soon.

This got me thinking about the last meal I enjoyed when I still weighed less than a Ford Focus (you are welcome for the gratuitous plug Ford… I am doing my part to save the auto industry).

On Wednesday, I didn’t have school but my wife and daughter did.

There are some advantages to working in a different district than the rest of the family.

One, my daughter doesn’t have to hear my name used as a curse word on the playground.

Another is she can invite me to eat lunch with her when I have a day off.

At this point in her life she considers this fun. And so do I.

You would think that eating another school cafeteria corn dog would be the last thing I want to do on a day off, but in this case it is an honor and a privilege.

And one that won’t last forever.

I don’t know how much longer I have, but I am trying to milk it for all its worth before I get banned to Daddy Dork Land.

It’s coming. It’s just a matter of time. I can feel it.

Sure my corny jokes play well to a 2nd grade audience, but in a few years she will have to disown me.

I can’t blame her. She can’t afford to risk her social status by letting me show up at her middle school for lunch.

By then my best hope is she doesn’t tell her friends that her father was killed in a horrific coal mining accident. Or worse, she tells them she is a test tube baby (again, I apologize about the graphic nature of this particular blog… I am not myself as gravy courses through my veins).

I can live with dropping her off two blocks from school each morning, but I don’t want her to have to fake my death. Or lie about her conception.

Anyway, she let me eat with her and I even got a special bonus.

Yes, I was a proud recipient of a very public kiss and hug (I can feel these slipping away…).

So while I have been on lots of hot dates (not really), I think I will always remember when a pretty girl asked me out for corn dogs on a special lunch date.

And I might add. Pineapple, corn, and my choice of white or chocolate milk.

I felt like a prince.

Soon, I will be the frog.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Open Letter To Staples

Why must our relationship be so contentious? So fraught with emotion? Longing? Mistrust?

Year after year, you taunt me during my time of rest with back-to-school commercials that seem to appear earlier and earlier each summer. Don't you know that these commercials, while humorous to many, only serve to remind me of the hundreds and hundreds of dollars soon to leave my wallet? I can't count the number of times I have been reclining on the couch with a fruity, cool, umbrella topped drink, happy to engage in utter mindlessness (read: Golden Girls and What Not To Wear reruns) when your commercial (read: cruel reminder) pop up on the screen and my state of zen is disrupted by visions of school drama to come.

I feel like we keep trying to break up, but can't quite make it stick. Every time I think I'm through with you, you lure me back with promises of Big Savings for Teacher Appreciation Day. Come in now! Get your free tote! Filled with goodies! We appreciate what you do! Lies. All lies. Because I DO come in, I DO ask for the free tote and every time, EVERY SINGLE TIME you tell me I have the wrong date. Suddenly, I'm all dressed up with no place to go. Even my cries of, "I checked online and it said today was my day!" don't seem to phase you. With a cool, "that must be the date for another location" you dismiss me, toss me aside.

I hate myself for it, but I keep coming back. Is it because I'm too lazy to find a replacement? Too used to your ways? Complacent? I don't know.

There are just enough good times though, just enough for me to fool myself that you are the one for me. Like today. Convinced I had the date correct, I came back to you and as my eyes adjusted to your fluorescent lighting I saw it. Your gift to me. Your apology.

A brightly colored mix-and-match assorted paper clip stand. Mix. And. Match.

There were various sizes of containers to choose from which could be filled with big paper clips, small paper clips, animal shaped paper clips, colored paper clips, SHINY paper clips....whatever I wanted. Whatever. I. Wanted.

(sigh) I love you Staples. I just can't seem to quit you.

Love,
Mrs. Mimi

Stop. Fairy Time.

Let's be honest with ourselves here for a moment, shall we? Sometimes it is hard to psych yourself up for a new class at the begining of the year. Last year, it was definitely not love at first sight for me. I remember being all, "I'm so excited to start the year with you!! We are going to do so many fun things together!! Second grade rules!" And, as I wiped sweat from my brow, they were all *blank stares*. But whatever, we got over that initial little hump, bonded and were totally obsessed with each other by the end of the year. I try to think of the whole thing as a process...

Keeping in the spirit of it being a PROCESS and reminding ourselves that the first few days of school can be very exciting but also INTENSELY PAINFUL AND ANXIETY INDUCING, I thought it best to dwell in a place I call Happy Memories of Successful Teaching Past.

Welcome.

You see, earlier this week I had lunch with a very special friend of mine. This person volunteered in my classroom for three years (I know, she totally deserves a trophy...Most Tolerant Person Ever) and saved my behind on many occasions. She filed, she conferenced, she corrected...she ROCKED. (I'm not sure why I haven't blogged about her more often, but you can read more about her here. I HEART her.) We were chatting and reminiscing about all of our past faves and funny stories from our time together. It reminded me how every year a new batch of students goes from being a sea of blank stares to super cute friends...it just takes awhile.

She reminded me of the story of the Math Fairy.

One of my favorite things about my friends is their tendency to believe anything that comes out of my mouth. Seriously, by the middle of the year they not only sound like me (Imagine kids looking at each other's latest piece of writing and exclaiming, "That is FAB!" or saying, "I totally heart this book" when in the library. Yeah, maybe I DO take it too far...) but they also hang on my every word. It's quite the power trip (Bwahh haha ha haaaa!) yet is an ability that I never want to abuse. (No matter how tempting it is to force them to believe that the Golden Girls is classic television from which one can learn many life lessons or that I really DO have eyes on the back of my head.) However, sometimes I say things in passing and don't even realize what an impact they have on my little friends.

Get this. So, all the kids in my class have Finish Folders. These folders are not only TOTAL GENIUS, they are an F'ING LIFESAVER when it comes to digging up last minute sub work or dealing with that group of friends who take 45 FREAKING MINUTES just to get their name on the paper and therefore never complete anything. I stole the idea of the Finish Folder from one of my ultra-amazing Super Colleagues and never looked back. You see, if we are working on a page in our math journals, or practicing a word sort or whatever, I'll walk around and see how everyone is doing. Once I get a sense of things, I usually will call my friends back to the carpet to debrief. Many times, it really isn't imperative that they finish each and every problem, rather it is more important that I determine who has got it and who needs more help. (Um, were you so just totally impressed that I used "rather" in that last sentence, because I was...) In the interest of time, it's more important that we move on and so my friends either turn in their work or lovingly tuck it into their Finish Folders to work on at a later time when they have a free moment (read: a sub is in the room because I am called to a last minute meeting or I just found out that I lost my prep and there is no coverage...again).

A side note on these Finish Folders, in case you try to implement them in your classroom (which you should because they are BRILLIANT and you're CRAZY if you don't, but that's just my opinion). Watch out, because you will have an occasional friend or two who allows so much work to be placed into their Finish Folder, that it quickly grows to be two, two and a half inches thick. This happens very quickly and often will float under your radar. Let me pose a quick and simple solution to this dilemma which worked wonders in my classroom. I noticed that one little friend's folder was bulging with incomplete work - now keep in mind that none of this work is absolutely essential...if it was something I used for formal assessing, it HAD to get done and never went in the Finish Folder - these papers were more of the pencil-to-paper-keep-you-busy-when-you-walk-in-the-room-and-unpack variety. But still, COME ON! Do something! Take some responsibility! So, I sauntered over to said friend the day before our spring vacation and said, "Hey. I see you have a lot of work in there, huh? I was thinking it would be perfect fuel for your brain on vacation." And BAM! I stapled a note to his parents on his folder so quickly that he never saw it coming. The note explained the purpose of the folder and also included exactly how many pages their child had lovingly stuffed in there. (Yes, I counted them.) Problem. Solved. When word of that little incident spread, friends started to miraculously turn in previously incomplete work and folders began to shrink like Biggest Losers. (Another note: I quickly learned the need to occasionally check the garbage/recycling to see if any crafty little devil had decided to suddenly purge their Finish Folder in a not-so-responsible fashion. ) (If they still got away with getting rid of incomplete work after all that, I say Bravo! Good for you and your problem solving mind!)

(Don't worry, I'm getting to the Math Fairy part.) (Geez.)

Every once in awhile, I would notice that so-and-so's Finish Folder was getting low, so I would sometimes put additional practice in there, you know, as a little surprise. Enter My Rockstar Volunteer and Partner in Crime who would most often be the one to tear out unused pages from their math workbooks for this very purpose.

The next morning, the following scene would inevitably take place:

Friend: HEY! There's new stuff in my Finish Folder! How did that get there?
Me: Oh, it must have been the Math Fairy. Sometimes she visits our class at night.
Friend: (Giving me that I-Don't-Know-If-I-Believe-You-Or-Not stare and in the interest of not looking like a douche in front of their friends simply responds) Cool.

And we go on with our day.

I never thought my references to the Math Fairy got noticed. It was really just some flippant thing I said before I finished my usual travel mug of coffee. I didn't realize that My Rockstar Volunteer and Partner In Crime had overheard me and began to leave notes from The Math Fairy on future pages. Evidently she thought to herself, "Duh! They'll know right away it's really me and it's just a little joke" when really she should have been thinking, "Perhaps they won't know it's a joke because they won't recongnize my handwriting since Mrs. Mimi is too anal retentitve to let anyone else letter anything in her classroom." Because THAT'S the truth.

We discovered the damage we had done one Monday morning, as we went around our meeting circle and shared tidbits from our weekends.

Friend: I spent all weekend dreaming that the Math Fairy would visit me on Monday and she did! (beaming smile)
Me: Uh, what?
Friend: The Math Fairy came and now my folder is full! She wants me to practice counting coins and I agree! (blinding smile)

Sigh. Kids are cute.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Post Its and Sharpies...Horses and Carriages

In the spirit of tooting my own organizational horn (yes, I have been in Organize Mode quite a bit this summer...a girl's gotta have some fun, right?), I will now give you a rare glimpse inside my personal life and how my obsession with all things Post It have strengthened my marriage.

Usually I don't post that much about my personal life. Sure, you can read some more about me here (Thanks to Alexander Russo).But in general, I tend to refrain (read: save you) from updates such as the new shoes I bought today, my latest dinner triumph or the crazy lady I saw in the parking lot of the bookstore. You know, because you all probably have better things to do. However, from time to time, I have mentioned my family in posts (here, here and here) and have tempted you with insights into Mr. Mimi. Let's see, I've mentioned my lovely husband here, here, again over here and...um, in this one.

Before I continue, let me provide you with a bit more insight into the mysterious Mr. Mimi, because we are very different. Mr. Mimi is a big thinker. For example, one night at dinner he'll say, "Let's go on vacation! We've always talked about going to (insert fabulous place here)...when is your vacation?" He will not let this idea rest (read: will bug me relentlessly) until I give him the requested dates and the trip is booked. And then this happens:




Sigh. Yeah, I took that picture.

Do you hate me yet? Are you thinking...um, girlfriend needs to keep her personal life personal, because now she's just bragging?" If you are thinking this...I'm sorry. (Not really.) (But can we all stop for a minute and marvel at the fact that I actually figured out how to post a picture on my blog?? Watch out friends, I think I've got the fever...I may go picture happy on you.)

While I love my husband's Big Ideas, his fatal flaw (sure -cough cough -there's only ONE flaw) (and I know, you're thinking, "Cry me a river, you went to Italy" but whatever) is that he is NOT a details person. Cut to me frantically making lists...what we are going to pack, how we get from the airport to the hotel, where are we going to go, restaurant recommendations...endless, glorious, I-can-barely-contain-myself listing.

For I am a lister. List-aholic? List lover? Whatever. I like to make lists. Duh, you know THAT by NOW.

The same characteristics hold true in our professional lives. My day tends to be dominated by the myriad of lists that live inside my planner: lists of small groups, lists of To Dos, lists of copies to make, lists of upcoming lessons, lists of books to read...(shudder) (All this talk of listing....am I blushing?) Mr. Mimi's day is dominated by big business-y ideas. (Note: I would go into more detail about his type of business but he would a) kill me and b) I don't know about you, but my eyes glaze over as soon as I hear words such as "financials" and "budget analysis". Am I right or am I left on that one, people?!) As a result of our different professional lives and personality traits, we are generally unable to help one another in concrete ways. Yes, we support each other and he listens to his fair share of stories about the Bacon Hunter, who farted and the latest children's book I'm obsessing over, but beyond that...not so much.

Until last night.

Charged with a pretty intense, weighty project, Mr. Mimi spent the day in his office. (Which is a totally gorgeous space by the way...I really out did myself in that room. He left one weekend and Big Mama Mimi and I re-did it for him...very House and Garden Design Show/While You Were Out) Occasionally I would play the part of the good wife and bring him an iced tea or snack. I would find him surrounded by piles of papers, open binders and stacks of books. I had to bite my tongue because, seriously? I wanted to organize that mess stat! But hey, I can get with the whole different work styles thing...

ANYHOW. (Here comes the moment of truth, a.k.a. the point of this post.) At dinner he looked across the table at me and said five of the most beautiful words I have ever heard.

"I need help getting organized."

Friends, I almost choked on my beautifully poached salmon (another insight into my personal life - I like to cook fancy meals and then walk around the house with a very satisfied "I-have-conquered-the-kitchen" look on my face) at those five simple words.

Yet I managed to pull myself together and reply, "I know just what to do."

After dinner I confidently trotted to my office (also known as the guest bedroom) and put together my arsenal: a rainbow of post it notes, several blank index cards, some tape and my lucky plum colored Sharpie. I was prepared. Armed with these seemingly ordinary supplies, Mr. Mimi and I could tackle anything.

What resulted is really truly a work of art and an example of how we are a perfect pair. I'll let you know what the boss thinks!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Listy Lister-stein, Part Deux

I think I may have actually topped myself in organizational nerdiness. I know, I KNOW. You thought it couldn't be done. You thought to yourself, "Self, this Mrs. Mimi truly is an organizational goddess." And then you read about this. And you thought again. And maybe you closed your eyes and tried to imagine the glory.

It is that good.

Before you begin to wonder if I am, yet again, pushing you to buy yet another fancy pen, notebook or pad, let me stop you. My office supplies pimping days are not over, however, this is a bit of what I like to think of Recession Genius. With less cash in my pocket, I am finding that I am (slightly) less likely to impulsively purchase a fabulously stylish binder, and am instead encouraged to find more frugal ways to further organize my...well, my everything. (Seriously, everything. You should peek underneath my bathroom sinks right now - it's awe inspiring AND color coded. Sha-zam!) (However, I will have you note that the Recession has not crimped my desire for bi-monthly pedicures and Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Lattes.) (Or anything Sharpie.) (A girl has needs.)

Where to start, where to start? Well, I have a lot of books. One might even call me a children's book whore (although the idea of putting the word "children's" and "whore" in the same sentence makes me cringe a little, I think you can take it.) As I have said before, I have a bit of an obsession with Barnsey (that's Barnes and Noble to the rest of you) and purchasing shiny, meaty, amazing books for my classroom. The problem is (if you can call it a real problem) that I have SO MANY books that I am unable to use them to the best of their abilities. For example, I will be teaching a unit on non-fiction. We will be discussing the wonder that is the caption, and I will have examples, BUT two weeks later I come across the PERFECT book for that. OR...we're trying to reduce the number of complaints (read: bitching) after recess - seriously, the first fifteen minutes after recess can be FILLED with some serious 8 year old bitching and moaning - and although we have a productive class meeting, I find the MOST AMAZING BOOK about that in my closet at the end of the year.

Sigh. While I have figured out how to organize, access and integrate my many, many, MANY high heels, I have not found the best way to deal with all my books.

UNTIL TODAY.

At the end of the year, on a whim, I packed 'em all up, and brought them home. You're probably thinking I'm insane, but I thought that somehow over the summer, I would plow my way through each and every one of them and come up with something.

And, after a mere 96 hours in my garage, I've done it.

I have organized my ass off. And it feels so right.

You see, I created the most amazing, glorious and useful spreadsheet you have ever seen. In this masterpiece, I painstakingly typed in each book's title and author. Then I read each book. THEN (because there's more), I listed the approximate reading level when appropriate AS WELL AS the potential purposes each book may serve in my classroom. These purposes can include key words such as "tattling" or "small moment". I also tagged books as "great use of dialogue", "example of captions", and "beautiful collage."

So...all I need to do is open up the old spreadsheet, search for the correct key word, title or subject area and BINGO! a list of books are at my disposal. As they are all arranged alphabetically, they are quite easy to find as well.

I die.

Who's Peeking?