Fifth grade humor (cracks me up too)

My fifth graders earned game time for twenty minutes this afternoon. They were playing "What's Gnu?", a game where the person to make a three letter word the fastest wins. I love watching them play because they don't always know what is a word and what isn't (vocabulary acquisition is something we work on continually!).

Our speech-language pathologist (Mrs. T) happened to be in my room today, helping out wherever needed. She's sitting at the game table while I'm working at my desk.

Suddenly, I hear someone shout "WOO! Woo's a word!!". Mrs. T said: "Is it really a word? Use it in a sentence"

Boy 1: "WOO, you know, like when you say 'WOO' at a football game!"

Boy 2: "Yeah, or you say 'WOO that stinks, flush the toilet'

Mrs. T: ".... I stand corrected"


I've been featured at the latest Carnival of Educators! There are lots of other great posts by some great teachers.

Go check it out!

Pee happens

I was talking with a friend of mine over the weekend who admitted to drinking at least one can of soda each day at work (she's an accountant). "The only problem," she said, "is that I have to get up and pee a lot"

To which I replied: "Hey at least you have the luxury of peeing whenever you want to!"

You know, because I'm a teacher. And we have to wait until recess or our planning period or lunch to go pee.

I have this vision of what it's like to not be a teacher: you get expense accounts, an hour or two for lunch, and you can leave your office whenever you feel like peeing. No holding it!!

Then yesterday happened.

Yesterday was the state standardized test for our fourth graders. The rules for administering the test are taken very seriously. Like you have to go to special meetings, sign papers, vow not to do ANYTHING except stand there and monitor the students. Anyways, there were many special education students (including mine) testing out in the portable (there are five or six classrooms in ours). There are extra staff available in the hall to escort children who need to use the bathroom to and from the main building. They are also available to stand in for us should any of us teachers need to use the bathroom.

I've gone through this testing stuff before with my fifth graders at the beginning of the month. But this time was different. One of the staff, upon returning from the staff bathroom (which is located in the nurse's office) reported in hushed whispers that the nurse was MAKING TALLY MARKS for each time you left your room to use the bathroom.

TALLY MARKS. I'm assuming that this sheet of paper will get handed to the principal (who undoubtedly asked for it in the first place). And what will the principal do with it? Will she write us up for insufficient bladder control? Do we have a pee-pee quota I'm not aware of? Will she confiscate the pop in the vending machines? Will she make teachers start using a hall pass?

I think I'm going to be sick. But wait, that would mean running to the bathroom, which apparently is no longer allowed...

Gold Star

I happened to catch this secret on PostSecret the other day (from the website: PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard).

Did you ever get stickers on your work when you were young? I vaguely remember receiving some. I know my fourth graders still love getting them (they're not stars though, they're Spongebob and Batman and other commercial heroes!).

Star stickers represent work well done. How often do we commend our students for their good work? How specific are we with our praise? "Good job" means a lot less than "I'm so proud of you for remembering all of your capitals and periods!"

And as we grow into adulthood, accolades seem to fade altogether. They'll come in the form of "employee of the month" or a small raise, or something. But I think we're all kids at heart, and we all like to be recognized for work well done. I know I feel good about myself when another teacher asks to borrow an idea I've had or some materials I've created.

And I certainly felt good about myself when Melissa of Me:Daily passed on this nice award to me this morning!

I'm blushing.

But nothing in life is free, and there are rules for this award! I'm going to share ten things about me, and then spread the love onto three other bloggers. Ready? Let's play.

  1. I've never had highlights in my hair. I've always wanted to do it, but at the heart of me, I'm just too cheap.
  2. Someday I'm going to write a novel (and you can't stop me!)
  3. I have a serious addiction to ice cream.
  4. I've eaten the same school lunch for two and a half years (recipe here). Yes, I still enjoy it!
  5. I think it would be great fun to be a school librarian.
  6. I thought Chicago was in northern California until I was in tenth grade.
  7. I tend to lose Scrabble games because I'm too preoccupied with finding the most creative word instead of getting points.
  8. I once held a rhinoceros beetle on my arm when we were in Costa Rica.
  9. I'm fluent in French (for all the good it does me with my students' Spanish speaking parents...)
  10. I was nineteen years old when I learned that gas isn't actually sold in the gas cans. Who knew?
And now I'm passing on the torch to these three lovely bloggers:

Momma May Be Mad: I'm so glad I found her! I love reading her honest and insightful look into her own life and struggles.

Life-Based Education (TeachEnEspanol): I love reading her reflections on her life in the classroom!

Anne-Marie with a Dash: a French teacher in Canada who blogs about things other than school (What? You mean teachers can have a life outside the classroom?!?)

And now that I have completed the steps for accepting this award, I'd love to see an "About me" list of ten random things about you! Post your list (or link to your blog post) in the comments section if you'd like to play along :).

"Please, sir. More, sir"

I've worked at three schools, and this one is different from any other school I've worked at for one main reason:

The teachers aren't trusted.

Just my imagination, you say? Case in point: All teachers are required to sign in and sign out on an electronic scanner that recognizes your fingerprints. Also, there is no stack of copy paper next to the copy machine; each teacher is given one ream per semester. (If you run out, too bad for you!) This means lugging around heavy paper every time you need to make copies. And the biggest inconvenience? We're not allowed to have a building key, so if you want to come in and get caught up on a Saturday, forget it! You're there to steal computers, for all they know!

If you need basic supplies for your classroom, like copy paper or printer ink, you practically have to beg the front office for it. If they deem you and your cause worthy enough, they will unlock their secret supply closet and find what you need.

Is your school this tight-fisted with supplies?

Things I've said today

"Get your feet off the chair and your head off the floor"
"Stop pretending you're in a slow motion movie"
"You can't trust pictures on the computer -- that's not really proof that aliens are real! No. Stop. I'm not having this argument in class"
"This window does not open. Hold it in or go out in hall to do that"
"You have two choices: get out of your locker, or be carried out of your locker"

Go hug a teacher

As I was eating my lunch in the lounge, I watched a young man in his twenties as he thanked two of his former teachers. It was so sweet to hear them catch up and to see what joy this encounter was bringing to my colleagues!

I've never had the experience of running into a former student. I mean, I only started teaching five years ago and so my oldest students are now finishing their eighth grade year! And I imagine that with all of the moving around we do, it might take some serious detective work to track me down! But one day I hope to have this experience. To see a student all grown up and discover what they've made of themselves. To feel at least some sense of pride and joy in the tiny part that I played in their lives.

And hopefully this desire of mine will inspire me to be a better teacher. I don't mean to be quicker at grading papers, or to get better at planning ahead of time, or to provide more opportunities for real reading and writing (not that those things aren't important!). I mean to be more intentional in my interactions with my students.

When you think back to your favorite teacher, you probably aren't going to remember what they taught you; you're going to remember that they cared about you. That they motivated, inspired, challenged, and encouraged you.

This is the heart of teaching.

There'll always be space in my heart

**Scroll down to the next post to find out who won the pocket chart!

This morning I went on a field trip with my eight fifth graders to visit their new middle school (or: Big Kid Land). Most of them will be going to a regional deaf ed program on this general ed campus.

They were all nervously excited and I enjoyed listening to their comments as we went on the tour:

"It's big!"

"So many deaf kids... I shock!"

"Hey, what that boy's name?"

"I scared. It's haunted here. I don't want to die! I'm too handsome to die!" (this student may have been a little too over-dramatic!)

The mothers of two of my fifth grade girls were along for the tour as well. And both sets of mother-eyes got B-I-G when the eighth grade boys walked into the library and made a beeline straight for my cuties. [Later, one of the girls' moms told her "No touching!" gesturing wildly to her private parts!!]

On the bus ride back, as they were all thinking about moving on to a new school next year, one of my students asked me "We'll always be in your heart, right?"

And that right there? That's why I teach.

Act One, Scene One

Me: "Who can tell me why the author wrote this? To persuade, inform, entertain, or share feelings?"

"Jerry": [farts loudly]

Class: "Ew!", "Nasty!", "Stop!", "Jerry!!"

Me: "What did I say about that? Either go out into the hall to do that or hold it in!"

Student 1: "He did it on purpose; he pushed it out!"
Student 2: "Yeah, he put down pressure!"

Jerry: [walks over to the doorway, makes sure his rear end is in the hallway, and makes a face as he farts again.]

The kicker? All of this went down during my formal observation.

Good thing my boss was laughing as hard as the kids were!

Modern day miracles

After nearly five years as a teacher, there aren't very many "firsts" left for me. But recently I found myself in the midst of quite a "first": the mother of one of my students claimed he had been miraculously cured of his deafness.

"Sean" is a fourth grader who is profoundly deaf in both ears. He wears a cochlear implant and does quite well with it (without it, he cannot hear ANY speech sounds). He is quite intelligible, bright, and friendly.

Three weeks ago, he took off his cochlear implant and declared loudly (in slightly less intelligible speech) that he could hear and he didn't need it anymore. Thinking he was just messing around, I pointed for him to put it back on and then explained that the doctor/audiologist said he must wear it to hear. He grinned sheepishly and put it back on.

Later that day, my colleague told me that she had run into his mother at church and she had told her that Sean had been miraculously healed over spring break!

Now. I believe God still does miracles. But I also believe that miracles are not the usual way that He reveals himself. So over the next few days, every time Sean had his cochlear implant off (changing batteries, or what have you), we would loudly shout his name from varying distances.

No response.

Since Sean was obediently wearing his implant at school every day, I forgot all about the issue and went on with life.

Until Friday. Friday, his mother was at school to pick Sean up and we had a conversation in the stairwell. She told me that Sean had something to tell me. He told me that he had misplaced something and then we had the ODDEST conversation with him repeating himself and never directly answering my questions.

Then his mom turned to me after he had walked away and asked me, beaming: "Did you notice anything about Sean? He had that whole conversation with you without his implant on! He's been healed! We've had a miracle!"

I was at such a loss, I think all I managed was "Oh!". Thankfully, I had to give my attention to my other students so I was off the hook.

About twenty minutes later when the final bell had rung, she came into my classroom to expand further on this miracle. Something about a prophecy and three days and some prayer. I was quiet for a minute and she said: "You look amazed!", to which I replied: "This is an amazing situation!"

I put on my warmest smile and asked as tactfully as I could if the audiologist had confirmed his new hearing. Her response? "God doesn't need an audiologist to confirm his miracles!"

True. Since there was nothing appropriate left for me to say I quickly changed the subject, and Mom left as happy as she was when she came in.

I'm not a parent, and I'm obviously not a parent of a child with special needs. But I can understand wanting your child to be healed. I don't know how long Mom is going to hold on to this miracle, but I do know it's not my place to contradict her hope.


Back in 2006 (!) when I first started this blogging thing, it was mainly a way to stay connected with my family members who were scattered across the globe. It was also therapy for me to write about what goes on in my classroom (and it still is!)

But in the last year or two, I've discovered a whole network of teachers/students/parents out there who I've been able to relate to and connect with. And I've so enjoyed being a part of this larger community!

I've recently joined both the SITS girls and the Blog Frog communities, and am now officially addicted to the internet!!

Below are some links to some pretty typical posts. If you're new here, feel free to peruse. If you've been a long time follower (hi mom!), enjoy the walk down memory lane...

I blog about what it's really like to teach.

I blog about teaching children with hearing loss.

I blog about funny things my students say.

I blog about educational issues in today's society.

I blog about fun things I do in the classroom.

Oh yeah, and how could I forget about my dog and my cats?

What do you blog about?

Smooch your pooch

The sign on the local pizzeria read: "Smooch your pooch for a free large cheese pizza ... Wednesdays in April!"

What would YOU do for a free pizza?


Things that made yesterday great:
  • Leaving school early to go hang out with the hubby and the in-laws
  • Getting more than six minutes to eat lunch
  • Self-serve frozen yogurt with a toppings bar (I may or may not have self-served too much!!)
  • Visiting a cowboy town
  • Seeing a man who had trained a cat to sit on top of a dog, and a rat to sit on top of the cat
  • Eating crepes for dinner, and feeling very French as we sat outside sipping Perrier
  • Blue Bell's Candy Jar ice cream for dessert (What? Ice cream twice in one day!? OH YES I DID!!)
Hope your day was filled with greatness too!

Read with a tone of dripping sarcasm

Tomorrow is The Big Day for my fifth graders: it's the first day of the three days they'll spend taking the state standardized test.

To "motivate" them, we held a pep rally for an hour this afternoon (argh, gag me!).

If months of after-school tutoring didn't do the trick, then SURELY this video will help them pass!

Here comes Peter Cottontail

I had a nice surprise visit from the Easter Bunny recently. He was brown, furry, and had a cute little cotton tail. He was waiting for me outside the portables where my classroom is. It was really early in the morning, before the kids invaded the quiet. He stopped about five feet away from me and just stared as I walked closer and closer. He finally scampered away into the bushes.
And he didn't even bring me an Easter basket. The jerk.
But spring has sprung! And even though I'm not coloring eggs or hunting for hidden candy, I could always make these cotton candy cupcakes, right? Hello, sugar overload!
And spring means Spring Cleaning. Or at least it does when your in-laws are coming for the week. Suddenly the cat snot on the walls (thanks, Gizmo), and the dried blood spots on the patio (thanks to Barney's lost toenail recently) come into sharp focus. And the table! Our beautiful table that somehow gets buried in mounds of mail... I've got to dig it out of the clutter tomorrow!
And I haven't even given a thought yet as to what we'll be serving at lunch or dinner on Easter Sunday. I'm thinking that sundaes on Easter Sunday might be the most appropriate thing to serve, no?
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