Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Ugly Side of Multi-Tasking

Ah, multi-tasking.  It sounds so productive, doesn't it?  So efficient?  I can practically see The Powers That Be, kicking back with their checklist of Tasks Teachers Should Complete To Be Effective and drooling over the power of getting just that much more out of their all mighty buck.

Any teacher worth her actual salt (What does that mean anyway?) can get more done in fifteen minutes than most people can do in an entire day.  Give me fifteen free minutes before my little friends walk in the room and I could answer a bunch of emails, prep a math lesson, put a poem up on chart paper, sweep the floor, bake a few cupcakes, write a short story and probably give myself a freaking pedicure.  On a good day.

On a bad day.  Oh, ON A BAD DAY, it's a totally different story.

Let me clarify.  I don't mean you're typical teaching bad day wherein the children are bananas, staring out windows, picking their noses and generally more interested in the sounds one can make with one's armpit.  No. I mean a Teacher Bad Day wherein said teacher can not get focused because there are so many To Dos that all need to get done yesterday, most of which are partially completed but none of which have been crossed off the list because she has been multi-tasking rather than getting anything done.  Feels busy.  But in terms of actually getting stuff done?  Not so much.

Isn't crossing something off your To Do list the most wonderful feeling in the world?  Like Christmas, the last day before a vacation and your birthday all wrapped up in a warm cupcake with cream cheese frosting?

What were we talking about?

Right.  Teacher Bad Days.  On those sorts of days, give us fifteen minutes and we will partially complete many things, move around a bunch of piles that don't seem to ever disappear and maybe reheat our coffee.  We will then spend the rest of the day moping about those wasted 15 minutes and what we coulda, woulda and shoulda done if we could just get focused.

Friends, I am having one of those days.

Seriously, I've written three partial blog posts, read a bunch of stuff on my Google Reader, clicked around the internet, read half a chapter of a professional book, gone to Staples, organized some files, called some principals and sent out a bunch of emails but in all that STUFF, nothing has gotten crossed off the list.  In some sick twist of fate, I am my most productive when I have an absolutely mind-blowing, soul-crushing amount of work to do.  When I have a manageable list in front of me...well, it's an ugly display of looking busy under the guise of "multi-tasking" but really?  I'm getting nothing done.

Cry me a river, right?

So I guess I'm off to find more stuff to do so I can actually get something done.  We teachers are sick, sick people, no?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Weekly Wrap Up

Helllloooo lovely readers!  I know it's Saturday, but we're going to do the Weekly Wrap Up today - in all honesty, Mrs. Mimi spent the day yesterday totally nerding out with colleagues, so apologies for the delay.

Before we get into it, I want to announce the winner of the F in Exams giveaway.  Who will it be?  Can you stand the suspense?

And the winner is....

Lawn Mower Queen!!!  (Email me your info at itsnotallflowersandsausages at gmail dot com so I can get your prize sent to you.)

Thanks again to everyone for reading and entering.  Now that the giveaway madness is over, we'll get back to business next week.

The Friday Four
: The Beauty of Mistakes
I don't know about y'all, but I have had some friends who freak their freak when they make a mistake.  Cue the end of the world!!  I mean, I have seen children not only erase a hole in their paper but look like they're trying to erase a hole through their desk and into the floor so that they crawl into it and cry about making one teeny tiny error that is no big deal.  Sound familiar?  This Friday Five is dedicated to those friends - here are some fabulous books about the beauty we can find in our mistakes.

IshIsh by Peter H. Reynolds
The Dot (Irma S and James H Black Honor for Excellence in Children's Literature (Awards))The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Beautiful Oops!Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
The OK BookThe OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Other Bits of Fabulous From Around the Web:
Here's a lovely tribute to teachers in the NY Times.  Although in all honesty...sometimes I want to say, "Enough heart warming tributes and let's start make some real change!!!"  But maybe I just need another cup of coffee.

School Book is a new website that tracks what's going on in NYC Schools.

You know Mrs. Mimi likes an active classroom where our little friends can get their inquiry on.  Here's a more practical piece with some suggestions for improving your student's abilities to ask questions.  

Memories...What Mrs. Mimi Was Ranting About Way Back When

You know that feeling you get at the beginning of the year when you're Teacher MoJo kicks back in?  Me too.

Some love for the Naughty Boys!

More Naughty Boy fabulousness!
You know that feeling you get at the beginning of the year when you're given a list of assessments a mile long that must be completed with each child by the end of the week and you're thinking, "When the hell am I going to get to start teaching?"  Yeah.  I know that one too.

Have a wonderful weekend and an even better week ahead!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Zen Giveaway Winner Announced!

And the signed copy of Awakened: Change Your Mindset To Transform Your Teaching goes to...

#12!!  Also known as Alison H!!!  Congratulations!! (Alison - email me your mailing address to itsnotallflowersandsausages at gmail dot com and I'll get your copy in the mail asap!)

AAANNNNNNDDD....because Angela is a ROCKSTAR and a lover of all you in Mimi Nation, she is offering a special discount (only $4.99!!) for any INAFaS reader who would like to download the ebook version of her work.  Use this link and enter the code MIMI.  The book comes in the following formats: ePUB, PDF and Kindle.

I don't know about you, but buying things on sale always makes me feel zen.  

Happy Back To School everyone!!!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Avery Giveaway Winner....

...can I have a drumroll please?

The winner of the Avery school supplies giveaway is lucky # 19!!

Congratulations to MarieMent!!!  MarieMent, email me (at itsnotallflowersandsausages at gmail dot come) and I'll make sure your prize is sent out to you.

Everyone else - thanks as always for reading and entering!  I was totes overwhelmed by the response and will do my best to dig around for others willing to donate a giveaway to our cause.  

Just because I'm an Uber Nerd, I whipped out my fave Sharpie and compiled a bit of a listy poo of what you feel are your most necessary school supplies.  I mean, did you really expect me to pass up this chance to make a color coded list of office supplies??  YOU GUYS TOTALLY KNOW ME BETTER THAN THAT!

Here's the scoop- according to you, my dear readers, these are the top 20 MUST HAVE school supplies for 2011:

20.  Bins, jars, crates and all things storage
19.  Glue sticks
18.  Stickers
17.  Construction paper
16.  Binders (and all things created to organize said binders) (*chills*)
15.  Colored pencils
14.  2-pocket folders
13.  Lesson planner and/or teacher notebook
12.  Note cards or index cards
11.  Crayons (Crayola only, please)
10.  Notebooks (although there is a great divide between the Spiral Notebook peeps and the Composition Notebook I smell a Sharks and Jets number?)
9.  Packing tape
8.  Markers (Mr. Sketch is a popular man...)
7.  Name tags/ labels
6.  Pencils (Ticonderoga #2 only)
5.  Clorox wipes
4.  Dry erase markers
3.  Fabulous teacher pens (Flair, gel, clicky...whatever gets you going!)
2.  Post It notes of all shapes, sizes and colors

And, the most popular school supply, the thing we simply cannot live without, the item we fork over our hard earned and too few dollars for??

You guessed it.

1. SHARPIES!!!!  

I knew our connection was solid.  I've never been so proud.  

Enjoy your Tuesdays, my lovelies!  (And to my NYC peeps - a special shout out to you as you go back to where the magic happens...)


Friday, September 2, 2011

The Weekly Wrap Up (Great Reading for the Cocktail Hour...or Hours)

I hope that where ever you are, your family is warm, dry and able to plug stuff in. If you're not, I certainly hope that all those things are on their way. I know for many of you, it's been a rough few days - complete with delayed openings. Can you imagine starting off the year with a few "snow" days?? Ugh.

I'm still in Back To School mode, and this week I have names on the brain.

The Friday Five: Five Fab Picture Books About Names
(Click images and/or titles for links)

A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester
I have this puppy memorized and do it as an oral storytelling. Pretty sweet to have some of those in your back pocket to mix it up!

My Name Is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee
This is a new book that's reviewed over here.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
I remember having the rare opportunity to watch another adult (our beloved librarian) read this story out loud to my little friends. Talk about captivated. And talk about being able to milk some good book talk out of this one.

My Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits

The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant

Other Bits of Fabulous From Around the Web:
Ah, the beginning of the school year...time to whip our little friends into shape. And that means getting them to LISTEN. I saw this over at EdWeek and thought some of their tips were super practical.

The conversation about social media in the classroom continues.

One former teacher chronicles his horrific time in the classroom. Can you say "yikes"?

Memories...What Mimi Was Ranting About Way Back When:

In 2010:

In 2009:

In 2008:

  • This Just In The Seat Sack Crisis of 2008 or what I like to refer to as the year Sans Sack.

In 2007:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Funnier Side of Testing? A GIVEAWAY!!

Ah, testing. IS there a funnier side of testing? I say there has to be, or we have to try to find it, because if we don't, I think we may all poke ourselves in the eye by December. I may have written about testing a time or two before (like here, here, here and here)

Friends, I may have found the funny. It's a new book called F in Exams. I'm sure you've gotten those email forwards where someone sends you a bunch of funny answers kids have written to various test questions? (And, upon receiving said email forward, I'm sure you either a) chuckled to yourself and sent it on, b) deleted it immediately because, seriously?? Email forwards are the worst, especially the ones with five or six FWDs in the subject, or c) sent a WTF email to your friend reminding them to cool it with the funny cat pics and inspirational poems.) Regardless, this is a light hearted fun book that you can turn to for a good laugh at home or in the teacher's room over PB and Js. (Come on, you know you eat them...)

Mr. Mimi and I spent some time this weekend flipping through this book and had a few laughs. (Man, we sound LAME, but it was funny stuff!) In between shaking our head with concern about the future of our country, here were some of our faves:

I mean, can you imagine being the teacher who sees this stuff? Can you imagine the amount of cocktails needed to erase this sort of ridiculousness from your brain and regain your Teacher MoJo?

And now I shall tell you my own story of test taking ridiculousness:

I was teaching my second grade friends a unit on geography. We were totally jamming with our dry erase maps and globes - everyone was loving geography! Groups were pumped on their 3D maps of the school and neighborhood, there was dried macaroni and yarn everywhere and yes, they could name all seven continents. Boo ya! Mid-way through the unit, I decided to do a little Check In and give a quick 10 minute quiz. (Wait, what? A quick assessment designed by a teacher to inform her instruction?? Where's the manual? Where's the Scan Tron? Where's the accountability?!?!) (If I could, I would join my internet BFF over at Notes From the School Psychologist and invent a sarcastic font. Please tell me you felt the sarcasm oozing from the screen? If not, this blog may not be for you...I'm just sayin')

I collect my quizzes and take them home to grade. I have my favorite Flair pen (in a lovely shade of magenta), a glass of wine and some Post It notes. I am ready to correct, to analyze and to adjust my plans. I breeze through the first few - check, check, check, these rock! My friends rock! I rock! And then...

I get to Muppet's paper. The first question reads: Name the four cardinal directions on the map. Mind you, we had a compass taped to the floor in the middle of our classroom, had been circling the directions on maps for weeks, had songs about north, south, east and west, you name it. I basically lobbed this one up for them to ease them into the whole quiz business. And yet...

Muppet wrote the following: Frank, Sam, Ben and Chub.


And while I was tempted to start doing shots bang my head into the wall, I laughed and simply made a note to spend some extra time with my little friend working on these directions.

I should have saved his paper and sent it in for this book, no?

Anyhow, the lovely people over at Chronicle Books have been kind enough to provide me with a copy of F in Exams to give away to one lucky reader. PLUS...they've also generously offered a special 25% discount (plus free shipping) on all their products just for INAFaS readers! Just click on over to the Chronicle Books website and enter the code: FINEXAMS. The discount is good for items purchased between 8/29 and 9/9, so get clicking!

To enter the giveaway, you can:
1. Leave a comment on this post, telling us your testing tales of hilarity or woe - you choose.
2. "Like" Mrs. Mimi over on Facey Face and then come back here and let me know you've joined our FB party in the comments.
3. All of the above.

You can enter as many times as you would like starting today. The contest will run through next Thursday, September 8th at midnight. I'll use a rando number generator to choose and announce the winner on Friday, August 9th.

Good luck, y'all!!

P.S. - For another review of this book, head on over to">The Nerdy Teacher tomorrow!

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