Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Little Swine Flu To Go With Your Learning?

Anyone? No?

As most schools are, we are currently on Swine Flu Watch. Unfortunately, my classroom has turned into something resembling a hospital waiting room what with all the allergy issues, asthma related breathing problems, spring colds and hacking coughs. But I am vigilant. Vigilant in my search for Swine Flu-esque symptoms. Or really, any symptoms that say Why the Heck Did Your Parents Send You To School Today When You Looked Like This?? Some schools have parents who are afraid their children to class because of the fear of sickness. I have parents (multiple parents) who lately have taken to dropping their children off, mentioning to me that they have a) been throwing up all night, b) have a fever of almost 100 or c) can't seem to stop coughing before they run out the door. Perhaps my favorite of these folks was the non-working parent who also thought to tell me she was sending her son to school because she didn't want him to stay home and get the other little brother sick. Granted, she told me to call if her son seemed "really bad", but to me throwing up all night/high fever/incessant coughing equals "really bad" and enough reason to stay home for a day.

One of these friends was Big Boy. It was so sad. He tried so hard all morning to do what we were doing and seem alert. But by 10:30 he had his head down, was partly asleep and had snot running all over his desk. In short, he was a mess. In an act of mercy, I sent him down to the nurse with a buddy an Official Pass. (God forbid I forget to use an Official Pass because a post it note just won't do.)

So Big Boy is gone for awhile and I'm thinking, maybe he's going to get to go home and get some much needed sleep. Big Boy comes up for his back pack and jacket. A good sign...

Then he tells me (read: wheezes) that he needs to wait upstairs (cough cough) for his mom to (hack sniff) come and get him.

Lately, thanks to the Swine Flu, we have been inundated with information that states we are to isolate the individual with the flu like symptoms until they are able to leave the building. We are, under no circumstances, to keep the child in the classroom.

I dig out another Official Pass and scribble a note suggesting that perhaps, just perhaps, we allow Big Boy to rest in her office, where it is quiet and I don't know, contained, until his mother comes. Big Boy goes back down stairs.

One minute later, Big Boy comes back upstairs (I'm sure that sort of intense cardio is awesome for flu sufferers) with another note that reads, "Dear Mrs. Mimi, I do not want to catch whatever this boy has. Please keep him in YOUR classroom until his mother comes."

Um. What? I'm fairly certain that sick children come with the territory, friend. I hear you on not wanting to get sick...but when you're the nurse? Call me crazy, but maybe, just maybe, keeping the OTHER CHILDREN germ free should be the priority. I'm just sayin...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Did It!

What did I do you ask? (Hint, hint...look on the right hand side of the blog...)

Well friends, I took a HUGE ego-maniacal step. (drum roll please!) I started my own fan page on Facebook.


Or maybe you're not that shocked. Maybe you're thinking, "Hey, she's fabulous but she's also pretty full of was just a matter of time." And maybe if you're thinking that, you're not that off base.


So, um, (bashful glance), you, uh, wanna be my fan? (nervous cough)

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Was Mere Seconds From Poking Myself In The Eye When...

...I got the most lovely and thoughtful gift I have ever received as a teacher.

Evidently, this week there was something called Teacher Appreciation Day. Ever heard of it? I must have blinked and missed it or something. Let's see, maybe I should reflect on my week and see if I missed something in between holding my pee and frantically searching for the copies I request two weeks ago.


Well, on Monday I danced my way through flaming hoops and tap danced with a ball on my nose for the Powers That Be who came and scoured my school for faux-fabulousness. (I have since theorized that they were actually the Tony people and we were really going for some sort of Best In Show award rather than a recognition of educational excellence. I mean, that had to be it, right? Right?!)

Ok. Then on Tuesday I got yelled at by the school secretary for not picking up my pay stub in a timely fashion. Unfortunately (for me? for her? for everyone within hearing range of the main office?) she is only available for "stub retrieval" between the hours of 12 and 2...hours when I am, um, teaching. I'm not sure what she does between 8 and 12 or between 2 and 3, but evidently stub retrieval is out of the question.

Um, on Wednesday I lost my prep (a.k.a. desperately necessary free period). Which always sucks, but somehow it sucks even more when you line the class up, walk them to the prep teacher's classroom and THEN find out that that person is absent. Evidently sometimes it is far too taxing upon the office staff to be thorough in reporting the day's absences. So we stood there for a few minutes as I silently prayed for patience and then I turned my friends around and we marched back downstairs where I pulled forty minutes of genius out of my behind because, you know, the prep teacher didn't leave any subplans. I mean, why would we all be held to high standards?

On Thursday I was subjected to a meeting with a very evil member of our Support Staff who is supposed to support both teachers AND students with special needs but in reality manages to just f*ck up everyone's day. In our thirty minute meeting she managed to insult an entire racial group, people of lower socio-economic status and teachers...I mean, really, if I wasn't so offended by her I would have been in awe of her ability to totally flatten three huge groups of people in thirty minutes flat. Seriously, that has to be some sort of record.

So far, I don't exactly feel as if I was basking in appreciation.

Then on Friday, Bubbles walked in a few minutes late, popped over to my back table where I was shuffling together some papers for our morning and dropped something off. (As a quick aside that will be important later, both Bubbles mother and grandmother are locally popular and talented artists.)

Bubbles: I brought you a present.
Me: I see that.
Bubbles: My grandma painted it. We have lots of paintings at our house. My mom said I could pick one out for you.
Me: That's so nice of you, sweetie.
I open the package to see a bright, colorful, almost graphic painting of an island.
Bubbles: I know you like the beach and sunny places. And I wanted you to think about us when it's summer, because I'm going to miss you. So I picked this one.
Me: (overwhelmed and actually at a loss for words) (huge hug for Bubbles) Thank you, friend. You have no idea how much I love this.

Just a little appreciation to carry you all through the week....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Art" Imitating Life?

(Please note that I use the term "art" fairly loosely here... but still it was way too creepy a connection tonight, way too creepy. Seriously, I thought about not posting this, but then it was like my DVR was speaking to me...or maybe Mr. Mimi just travels too much.)

Tonight, as I lay on my couch lamenting the papers that filled my bag (and begged to be graded) as well as the endless pile of laundry that taunted me from the upstairs hallway, I made the very adult decision to ignore it all and catch up on my DVR. I don't know when "catch up on DVRed shows" became a legitimate To Do in my world, but tonight, it seemed pressing. Or easier. Whatever.

(Before I continue, dear readers, I must say that I feel closer to you than ever...for I have just revealed to you my deep, dark secret love for bad television. Pause with me and bask in our closeness.)

Recently, I started DVRing a show called "Sit Down and Shut Up". It's a cartoon about teachers. One of those adult Family Guy (I heart you Stewie!). I could say that I am interested in this show for professional and/or academic reasons (you know, popular image of teachers in the media and all that) but really? People magazine said it was funny and I consider People to be a valid source of news.

(We grow closer still..yes, I also heart People magazine.)

Ok. So on the episode that I DVRed the faux- cartoon school gets observed by the superintendent's entourage to determine if they are indeed an Exceptional School. Throughout the episode, staff members were pictured furiously removing any books that are not approved by the Powers That Be, desperately trying to scrape together an inspirational speech, and basically putting on one hell of a dog and pony show. (With teachers playing the parts of both dogs and ponies of course.) They even showed the principal telling one less than stellar teacher to "just stay away and not talk to anyone."

Hmmmm....verrry interesting. Very interesting indeed.

And timely.

My school also got reviewed recently by the Powers That Be to see if we are Up To Par not too long ago. In preparation for this All Important Visit, buzzwords and bullshit were flying everywhere. Everywhere.

Each day precedeing the visit we received frantic emails declaring that we must "Show evidence of differentiation! The reviewers are coming!", "Have data readily available and on display! The reviewers are coming!" , "Update our bulletin boards! The reviewers are coming!". Custodial staff busily set about waxing the floors and (miracle of miracles) actually sweeping UNDER the desks. Plants were watered, urine soaked bathrooms were bleached...

I half expected The Visionary to be seen streaking down the hallway on horseback shouting, "The reviewers are coming, the reviewers are coming!" as he simultaneously set off the fire alarm to draw attention to this very serious three ring circus. Excuse me, I meant, situation...situation, not circus.


Because why would we want an honest appraisal of our work? Why would we want to show people what we are actually doing?

And tonight, as I sat and watched this cartoon that was intended to be hilarious in it's absurdity, I felt sad.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

How Low Can You Go?

I think we might have set the bar so low for professionalism that it may now be more appropriately used for a limbo contest. Seriously.

We are currently demo-ing potential new teachers for the few open positions in our school. To those of you non-teachers out there, demo-ing means that a candidate (whose cover letter isn't riddled with type-os or dripping with an Upper Middle Class Hero Complex) is invited to teach a lesson in one of our classrooms. The lesson is usually a review lesson and doesn't necessarily have to teach the kids anything. Really, it's just a vehicle for one to show off their Potential Teaching Fabulousness, or PTF. Ok, so maybe those aren't the exact words the hiring committee or The Visionary would use, but we're not asking them, are we?

Last week I had two demos in my room. I actually like having demos in my room because it gives me the opportunity to throw in my two cents. As I'm sure you've recognized by now, I've been known to have an opinion or two. And I'm not afraid to share them.

Both girls came in totally prepared and professional. They introduced themselves to me, handed over thorough lesson plans, had all their materials ready to go and were wearing cute outfits. Check, check, check and check.

Several other members of the hiring committee joined me in the back of the room as we prepared ourselves to observe these girls' PTF. Rating sheets were distributed, pens were poised and we were ready to go. Be brilliant!

As the first girl started her lesson, I was immediately distracted by the behavior of my "colleagues." The Bacon Hunter was (no joke) eating her breakfast which yes, contained copious amounts of bacon. Another colleague was sipping her tea and looking distractedly around my classroom, indicating that no, she was not listening at all. A third colleague began to take notes, but then felt the need to engage in a texting marathon...because of course she had her cell phone and thought that was appropriate during a demo!

I tried to imagine this scene from our candidate's perspective. Would I be attracted to a school where this is how the teachers' behaved while there was supposedly learning going on?

The next day, as the next candidate began her lesson, a different group of characters from the hiring came in to observe (read: embarrass the school with their unprofessional shenanigans). That day, however, our candidate was treated to a rare display of Professionalism, seen only in the select conditions. (And by select conditions, I mean early the next morning after a long night of drinking.) Yes, our candidate was able to observe one of our most senior, tenured teachers put his head down and GO TO SLEEP during her lesson. Awesome! I bet we won her over!

The sad thing is, I'm not even sure I have an informed opinion of either girls' PTF because I was so distracted by the bullshit going on around me. Way to set the bar, friends, way to set the bar.

Who's Peeking?