Monday, April 20, 2009

A Hug Is Worth A Thousand Words

I don't handle everything beautifully. (Gasp! She admitted a flaw!) I mean, sometimes a fart flies on the carpet and I just can't deal with it in an adult fashion. Sometimes, farts are just funny. However, it's not always just a fart I have to handle as an adult. Sometimes, I have to handle much bigger issues and occasionally (notice I said OCCASIONALLY) I falter.

For example, last year, I couldn't deal with the Vagina Monologues or the Foke You Incident of 2007. I'm not alone though. We all have our troubles with "touchy subjects" (Right, Weave?)

But this time, all seemed to go well...

Right before lunch, one of my little friends handed me a note she had found crumpled up on the floor. I carefully unfolded the contraband and discovered a disturbingly anatomically correct rendering of a penis, along with the words "Watch Out! This is for you!"

Oh dear.

Unfortunately for the little culprit, the handwriting was extremely distinct. I know who it was right away. The only problem was, this is the last friend I expected this sort of Dirty Talk from. I mean, all little boys sketch penises from time to time, I guess. I don't have one myself, so I don't know what the obsession is, but that's a conversation for another day. But this was a little too graphic, a little too far for my taste.

Some interesting facts - my friend, we'll call him The Artist, didn't give this note to anyone in a threatening manner. It had simply fallen out of his desk (Which is a freaking mess... I mean how many times do I have to say the words "an organized desk equals an organized mind"? ) onto the floor. The little girl who picked it up very clearly told me that The Victim didn't give it to her, she picked it up off the floor, in a bold attempt to help The Victim get organized, and discovered it's contents on her way to the recycling basket.

Ok. Deep breath. How to deal? Well, I think this would be a lot worse if The Artist had forced his graphic renderings on another children in a threatening fashion. Really, I have no way of knowing if those were his intentions. Plus, The Artist has no prior record for Gross Incidents involving the ever popular Body Parts (also known as penises, va-jay-jays, boobs and butts). I don't' want to just let this go, but I don't want to blow it out of proportion. In the past, I have made this mistake and somehow it just makes the misbehavior that much more tempting.

After lunch, I send my friends to their seats to do ten minutes of quiet reading while I talk to The Artist in the hallway. Now, The Artist and I have a very good relationship...I also have a good relationship with his mom, who does not play around. She is the ace in my pocket.

Me: Friend, check out what I found on the floor today.
The Artist: (turning several shades of horrified) Oh.
Me: Is this yours?
The Artist: (nodding)
Me: (I love your honesty, sweetheart! I mean, who doesn't love a kid who just owns up?!?) Ok. So let's talk about this...

I then launch into a fairly decent and appropriate speech about private parts, privacy and sexual harassment - all in child friendly language of course. We talked about how this would have been a major deal if he had forced this note on another child, how these images are private, how the wrong assumptions could easily have been made...blah blah blah.

Important note, during this speech (which never descended into yelling but rather, maintained a very honest tone) The Artist had tears rolling down his cheeks.

Bingo! He gets it!

I told The Artist that I had to decide whether or not to tell The Weave and whether or not to call his mom. It was a hard decision. But I told him that I decided to do neither. That this time, this incident would remain between the two of us. However, I made it clear that I will be watching and listening and the next time, which there shouldn't' be a next time, I will have no choice. Everyone makes mistakes, but smart people fix their mistakes.

"All right. Do we have a deal? Do you understand?"
The Artist nods vigorously, wiping away tears.
"Now go to the bathroom, wash your face and come back to class."

At the end of the day, The Artist comes up to me privately, gives me a giant hug and says,

"Thank you for trusting me, Mrs. Mimi. I really won't do it again."

Now it's my turn for a few tears...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Holy Genius, Batman!

Ok, friends, I almost NEVER do this, but right now I am going to tell you to go buy something. I know I've experimented with the Widget thing in my sidebar...but in no way am I insisting that you buy these things. They are just things that I heart and sharing is caring, right?

Today I am insisting.

You must RUN, not walk, to you local office supplies store and get yourself a...(I need to take a second and catch my breath)

....stainless steel....

....refillable....

(wait for it)

Sharpie!

Sharpie Stainless Steel Fine Point Permanent Marker (1747388)Sharpie Stainless Steel Fine Point Permanent Marker (1747388)Sharpie Stainless Steel Fine Point Permanent Marker (1747388)Sharpie Stainless Steel Fine Point Permanent Marker (1747388)

Whoah! Did I just faint? I think I might have fainted...Did you faint?

I was at the nail salon today treating myself to a little Vacation Celebration Mani/Pedi. This is part of my Be Good To Myself in 2009 promise, part of which involves doing something for myself every day that I am on a break from school rather than relentlessly plowing through To Do Lists Galore.

So I am flipping through a fabulous magazine that I would never buy for myself yet absolutely LOVE to read when it is left behind at a nail salon/train station/ doctor's office, when I see a HUGE, full page ad for this glorious invention. (I am featuring a link to this pure engineering genius in the sidebar...you might have to click to one of the other pages though because it seems to rotate what is on top at will.)

I may have to buy one for every bag I have.

Sigh.

I Heart Vacation

It's only 8a.m., but I have planned a rocking social studies unit, had three cups of coffee and caught up on my fave blogs. Sigh. My list is endless, but I am busily crossing things off. While I'm doing that, you might want to check out this list of 20 Teacher Blogs posted over at So You Think You Can Teach I made the list, but I also discovered some interesting new blogs to check out!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It Must Be Nice...

...To Have No Observable Work Ethic. I guess. I don't think I could look 20 children in the eyes and think to myself, "self, I'm going home early today...screw all that work!" But hey, that's just me. Evidently I take my job a bit more seriously than others.

And the Bacon Hunter saga continues. Sometimes I would just love to pop her. Pop her! But I know that is both unprofessional and unladylike and so it will remain a fleeting day dream. Recurring, but unrealized.

We had a meeting the other day. It is the first time we've really seen her since The Great Bullshit Email of 2009. While we've been walking the halls, heads held high, she's been skanking around corners and laying low in her office. Hmmmm....or maybe she just got a mini-George Foreman, has hidden it under her desk and is busy frying up bacon. Either way, she's avoiding us and not doing any real work. Not that I expect anything else, but still....

So at our meeting the other day, she informed us (all without making eye contact or lifting her head off her hand) that we need to spend approximately three to four hours of our time filing work in student portfolios. So SHE can come around with her clipboard and check to make sure that it's done. Like she's the Portfolio Police or a good example or something. Let me back up a bit, because you may not fully understand how ridiculous this request is. And it is truly ridiculous.

I have no problem with collecting data from my students. I have no problem with worthwhile paperwork. Some paperwork is necessary. I get it. But these portfolios - oh these portfolios!! How can I explain to you these mechanisms of dust collection? Let's see. We've been using them for the last five years. In those five years, the format has changed approximately three times. Each change came complete with hours of re-creating labels and tabs and switching out old tables of contents for new table of contents. Each year I have spent HOURS filing student work into these big black space wasters as they rained buttons, gumballs and pipecleaners from old pre-K projects all over my floor. My Super Colleagues and I have spent HOURS choosing pieces that should be added to the portfolio and creating projects for the sole purpose of eventually putting them in said portfolio.

However, in the five years that we have been "doing portfolios" NO ONE HAS EVER OPENED THEM EXCEPT FOR THE BACON HUNTER. NO ONE. NOT ME, NOT AN ADMINISTRATOR, NOT A PARENT, NO ONE!

Unlike true portfolios, there is NO work that represents the students' perspective. There is no reflection piece. There is nothing of value whatsoever. Really, they are more like a monument to Wasted Time and Space, as I have probably spent 20-25 hours of my working life on these for no real educational purpose.

When we raised these concerns to the Bacon Hunter, for the FIFTH TIME she said (and I quote), "Sometimes you just need to do what you're told."

Um, I don't even say that crap to my eight year old friends! JUST DO WHAT I'M TOLD?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Update-o-Rama

Update #1 - The plants are growing!! Whoo hoo - someone get me a cocktail! We planted sunflower seeds last week and I walked in this morning to see cup after cup with sprouting little plants! Now if we can just keep them alive (and the mice away from them) until they go home before spring break...

Update #2 - There are two more school days before our break starts. Wait...are those birds I hear chirping? Is the sun suddenly shining? Is that a rainbow?!?

Update #3 - Me vs. The Bacon Hunter 2009. A few quick bullet points and then I have to go get my plan on. 1) She still sucks. 2) I did not have to submit my lesson plans. 3). I have not seen in her in over a week. That's not true, I have seen her skank into closets and offices...I think she might be avoiding yours truly and my Super Colleagues. 4). We are meeting with her this week (insert ominous music here).

Update #4 - What would you think about Mrs. Mimi having her very own B-O-O-K??

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why Bill Nye the Science Guy And I Will Never Be Friends

For those of you who didn't click on over to Teach Forever yesterday to read my April Fools Day post, here it is again.

Seriously. This really isn't a joke...it sounds funny, but really, it is somewhat tragic. Every single time I attempt a science experiment, without fail, the science experiment will either fail or yield some bizarre results that end up reinforcing the exact opposite idea in my students. Last year, because of an experiment gone wrong, I may have inadvertently taught an entire classroom full of children that yes, a plant can grow better unattended in a dark closet than it can in a window with lots of TLC. I mean, come on! How does the plant in the closet grow?

Recently, I decided to throw caution to the wind and try yet another science experiment. Despite my previous failures, I was pretty confident (read: cocky) that this one would work (Arrogance is not a problem for me...science, yes...arrogance, no, no problem there.) We were going to germinate seeds in a paper towel.

Easy, right?

I mean, anyone can do it, right?

I mean, how could it go wrong....right?

I took every precaution. I used seeds from the same little packet as my Super Colleague With A Green Thumb. I researched the proper amount of water as to not dry out or drown the seeds. I carefully spread the seeds across the paper towel. I gave them a prime spot in the window so that they would reciveve an adequate amount of sunlight and air. In short, I wasted an unimaginable amoutn of time making sure tat I did this experiemnt to the leter.

It was me against the seeds.

And the seeds won.

(damn.)

I knew I had had yet another scientific mishap (read: f*ckup) when I walked into my classroom this morning and was literally b*tch slapped in the face by the stench of rotting seeds. Yes, that's right, not only did my seeds not germinate, they tunred into a stench producing mound of mush.

Me: (to myself...and maybe the few mice who were listening) You have GOT to be kidding me.

I promptly threw the seeds away and opened every window I could. When the kids came to school that morning, I copped out and told them that someone must have come into our room and thrown them away by accident, thinking they were garbage. Yea, I lied to the children. But I just couldn't bear admitting to them (and myself) that yet another science experiment had gone horribly, and stinkily (is that a word?) wrong.

After this experiment-gone-wrong, I decided it was time to reflect. (And I don't mean "reflect" in a BS buzzword-y way, I mean really think about what the freak is going on!) I would think that with some of my past experiences, I would be a prime candidate for dealing with all things weird, and gross. You know, science-y stuff.

I mean, hello, what about the time when I walked into my classroom and found a mouse on a sticky trap who was a) still alive and b) being eaten by several of his friends who had come out of the wood work. Um, survival of the fittest anyone? A little Darwinism with your morning meeting? No?

Ooo...or the time when a mouse climbed up my bulletin board? I could take that moment alone and do a whole thing on habitat, right?

Well, what about all my experience with bodily fluids? Let's see, there was the time when the nurse refused to see one of my little friends because she wasn't sick enough and I was forced to send her to the nurse with a trash can full of her own vomit. If that isn't data collection, I don't know what is.

Or the time when another little friend was so excited about a special project I had asked to her work on, that she ignored the nagging feeling in her bladder and, after a few minutes, literally burst with pee all over the floor? Some basic anatomy? Maybe a teachable moment on the urinary system?

Ok, if that doesn't boil your beaker, how about the time when I had a student walk into the classroom literally covered in his own feces from head to toe? Have I gone too far?

Real world experience with all things science? Check. I then moved on to reflect upon my understanding of the actual teaching of science. Well, there was the time that my Super Colleagues and I were planning a unit on soil and The Weave suggested that instead of us requesting that the school, gasp, buy us actual soil, that perhaps we could encourage our students to (and I quote) "imagine the dirt." Um, yea. True story. And right away I thought to myself, "self, imagining soil does not make for good science teaching." I get the whole actual hands on thing.

So, in review, yes, I have all of this "real world" experience with things I would classify under "science", and totally get the whole hands on thing, but for some reason a proper staged experiment will always fail in my room. Plants don't grow, seeds don't germinate, food coloring does not go up the celery stalk. Ever. It has gotten so ridiculous, that I am the butt of many a school joke. Which is cool, I can take it, but at some point we need to think of the children, people! Think of the children!

I will not be deterred! Today, armed with the most expensive organic soil I could find and a bag of seeds that I made the manager of the gardening department swear up and down would germinate in the shade and actually GROW, we planted seeds in individual cups.

Keep your (green) fingers crossed for me. My science-ego can't take it anymore.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fooled You!!

Ha! Ha! April Fools friends!! Whoo hoo...you guys are smart! Some of you guessed that my post from yesterday was all an ultra-nerdy but fabulous Ed Blogger joke! Yea you! What was it that gave it away? Our mystery blogger's ability to add a photo to his post, or the absence of the word douche?

Whatever it was that gave it away, you should check Joel out over at So You Want To Teach?

And where was I yesterday?? I'm sure I didn't fool anybody, but it was fun anyway. Check ME out over at Teach Forever...and then keep reading and check out Mr. D. too. I'll repost my blog entry from yesterday over here later on today too.

A big thanks to Mister Teacher over at Learn Me Good for putting all these shenanigans together.

Who's Peeking?