name that rock

We're studying rocks in science right now. I'll be honest: it's my least favorite topic. But I try really hard not to let my 22 first graders know that.
"We get to study ROCKS this week! Yaaaayyyy!" I told them.
There was a collective cheer (aka: deafening roar) when I told them we were going to go outside for a little rock hunt. I like it when they're excited. It makes me smile, but it also makes me nervous. I have to jump to the worst conclusions about their behavior, then lay out my expectations:
"Okay, but we'll be walking aroung the playground not running. Will we climb all over the playground equipment? NO! There is no fighting over the rocks. If we see fighting, you'll be sent back to the classroom without a rock."
"Oh, you can only pick ONE rock. Even if you found four or five that you really love, you have to pick your favorite one."
"And please only pick a rock that's small -- if it can't fit in your pocket, it's too big!"
They promised readily and faithfully to follow my instructions, and for the most part, they were pretty good! When we got back to class, they drew their rocks in their science journals, then wrote a sentence or two describing it.
"My rock's name is Sonic!" one boy told me. He continued, and shook his head solemnly: "The saddest thing about a rock is if it doesn't have a name...."

Back to the grind

There's just something that's psychologically worse driving 21 straight hours back from a vacation rather than to a vacation. Something about the thought of ten pounds of kitty litter waiting for you instead of happy family times waiting for you.

Nevertheless, the trip home went as smoothly as could be expected. We listened to a lot of NPR podcasts, ate a lot of unhealthy food, and at one point Max said: "Your eyes are fat." Yes, that many hours in the car can make you loopy!

Well, the housecleaning and the unpacking is calling my name, so I'd better go take care of that. Fun, huh?

Black Friday Madness

I've long ago given up on getting up at butt o'clock and standing in line for Black Friday sales. In truth, I realized that I never bought for anyone else, it was all just for ME! And anyway, at 28 I'm kind of an old fart and I'd much rather laze around in my pajamas instead of battling crowds...

This year, for the first time ever, I'll be participating in the Black Friday madness, with my very own sale over at my store, Yes Teacher Crafts. From now until Saturday, 11/27 at 11:59 PM, you can use the coupon code BLACKFRIDAYSPREE to get 20% off the entire store!

Happy Shopping!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count yoru joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth.

-Author unknown

why yes, we are insane

Yesterday, we spent a whopping 20 straight hours in the car driving from Texas to Michigan. (We're blessed to have the whole week off for Thanksgiving!). We left at 4:20 AM and got there at 1:35 AM (technically 2:35 with the time change). Here are the highlights of the trip:

6:03 AM
Max turns off the radio. We sit in silence for a minute or two. I ask: "So, is this going to be a silent car trip, then?" Max: "SHHHH!"

7:38 AM
Max is driving. He suddenly puts both hands in the air, shouting: "LOOK! No hands!!"

11:45 AM
I say: "Hasn't Barney been great? He's been so content on my lap this whole time, he hasn't even whined."
Barney: "whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine."

5:54 PM
Max: "I couldn't pee in my pants, even if I wanted to."

8:59 PM
Max: "Is time standing still or is it just me?"

11:14 PM
Max: "If it wasn't for Christianity, I'd probably be a sociopath."

secret shopping spree

With the paddle no longer available for use in public education, teachers have had to get creative. We take away recess, or computer time, or make the child sit away from his friends at lunch. We positively reinforce with all kinds of systems... I've heard of kids being rewarded with sitting in the teacher's chair, with taking off their shoes in the classroom, with using the shredder, or with the promise of some bubble wrap to pop.
I have consequences on my mind.
Yesterday, a little first grader in the general ed. class was asking over and over and over and over if he could go to the book fair. [This is our week for the Scholastic book fair!] His behavior had been terrible all day, so we told him no... he could go tomorrow once he turned his behavior around. He kept asking to go anyway. The teacher got down to his eye level, and repeated herself slowly and firmly.
"Do you understand?"
He nodded yes.
A few minutes later, he asked to go to the bathroom. I think you know where this is going.... He came back about ten minutes later with a brand new book in hand.
Oh boy. He was in T-R-O-U-B-L-E. His teacher confiscated his book for the day, and called his mom after school was let out. Once she explained what had happened to his mother, and asked what course of action would be most appropriate, this is what mom said:
"Oh well, he never does things like this. The other boys told him he would be a loser if he didn't, so it's alright. Go ahead and send the book home with him tomorrow."
Um... excuse me? I just had a vision of him as a sixteen year old, standing at the doorstep with a cop by his side and the mother saying: "Oh well, he's never done drugs before. The other boys told him he would be a loser if he didn't, so it's alright. Go ahead and just let him stay home."
But who knows.... maybe she gave him a consequence after she got off the phone with the teacher. It just struck me as a very inappropriate response to the incident!

fur baby

On Friday, we dropped in on my dad. That's actually a huge statement since my parents still live in France! But he was flying out for a quick visit to his mom/my grandma in California and on the way, he had a layover at a nearby airport.

So Max and I dropped by! It was fun to go to an airport just to see someone. All the fun, but no traveling hassles. Dad was happy to see us, of course, but wondered why we hadn't brought the dog? (No grandkids in our family yet, so they have to settle for grand-dogs...)

Since we didn't bring Barney, I thought I would share some recent pictures of our fur baby.



Substitute teachers. It's really the luck of the draw unless you have someone you can trust that you go to every time you're sick. I'm not sure what the qualifications are for subs in my school district, but after what happened on Friday, I don't think they're picky about it. I think the top priority is: warm body.

You'll note from my last post that my co-teacher is out sick. [Technically, she feels fine, but she's completely lost her voice, and really what's the point of coming in then?]. I had to sub for her on Thursday, but they actually found someone on Friday. I'll call him Mr. C. The "C" stands for Creepy.

When I met him, right away he started complaining about THAT AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN in the front office who had the audacity to change his substitute assignment. I'm not sure if he was being racist or just spiteful, but his tone of voice was very angry.

Then, he proceeded to call me SWEETIE for the entire day. In retrospect, I should have said something after the first time, but he said it as I was walking out the door, and I was so shocked I just kept walking.

After lunch, when I picked up my deaf ed. kids from him to go to Language Arts in my own classroom, I needed to get the mic from him. [I wear a mic every day that transmits directly into my kids' hearing aids. It's on a lanyard and looks like a necklace.] He was wearing it around his neck, along with some other ID lanyards. He couldn't get it off his neck [or something....] so he asked me to take it off for him.

I chalked this up to his incompetence, and took the mic off from around his neck. It wasn't until like ten minutes later when I thought: "Ew. Creepy!"

Later as I was teaching, I realized that he had sprayed very pungent cheap men's cologne all over, and it had seeped into the lanyard attached to the mic. By the time I realized where the awful smell was coming from, it had rubbed all against the back of my shirt collar. I smelled like Mr. Creepy for the rest of the day. The creepiness burned in my nostrils until I could get home and change my shirt.

When I brought my kids back to the regular ed class for dismissal, the entire first grade class was outside at recess and left 18 pots of playdoh left OPEN, and piles of playdoh were strewn about the desks. Um, hello? Common sense, anyone? That stuff dries out!

And then, judging from the pile of sawdust by the teacher's desk, and a first grade "informer", I gathered that Mr. C had himself gotten sick and thrown up all over the floor.

I don't know who was worse. Mr. C, or the second grade sub that day who literally fell asleep in his chair while the kids were in the room.

can't wait till she comes back

Once upon a time, I used to think I might want to teach general education someday.
But I forgot.
And today, as I was informed ten minutes before the first bell rang that I would be subbing for my co-teacher, I was reminded of why I should stick to special ed.
Even though I know this class of first graders well, and I know all of my co-teacher's rules and procedures, I found myself stressed out and longing for an escape.
There's just something about 23 bodies vs. 6 that seems like so much more. There were children and more children everywhere I turned, each with their own level of noises. I had to pee, and couldn't leave the kids with an aide. I HAD TO HOLD IT. Like some kind of "real" teacher. I had to worry about submitting the attendance report and parent pick ups. There were just so many more wiggles to let out and mouths to stop.
I guess I didn't realize how easy I had it with my little group of six in the afternoon. Sure, they each have their issues, but there are ultimately only six bodies to keep track of. And I can deal with that without wanting to take a personal time-out!

validation from a first grader

After weeks of dedicated practice with their sight words, my six students finally earned their ice cream party. They got all of their "bubbles"!

So yesterday, I set out the big tub of ice cream, the chocolate syrup, and the rainbow sprinkles, and we all dug in! There were lots of giggles and "yums" all around the table. Some kids stirred their sundae all around so that it became like a milkshake. One kid tattled on those kids.

But my favorite part of the afternoon was when "Miguel", chocolate syrup mustache in place, pointed an ice cream-covered finger at me and declared:

"You're NICE!"

rules of the first grade

Rules of the first grade; a short list:

1. If there are nine pairs of red scissors, and one pair of yellow scissors, you must fight to the death for the yellow scissors.

2. If the teacher doesn't see your raised hand, it's perfectly acceptable to leave your desk and go tap on her arm to get her attention.

3. Even though your class takes a collective bathroom break, it's better to hold it in. That way, you can ask to go to the bathroom later, during math.

4. It's okay to take a toy to school with you, especially if you're really good at hiding it.

5. If there's a cricket/cockroach/fly/moth in the classroom, it's your responsibility to stop instruction and direct everyone's attention to the critter. Crying, yelling, pointing and saying "ew" are all acceptable ways in which to command everyone's attention.

6. It's okay to talk to your neighbor when a classmate has the floor, but it's inexcusable that someone else should be talking when you have the floor.

7. Whoever gets away with the most silly antics as we line up in the hall, wins.

8. As you walk single file down the hall, if student number 12 gives a high five to a teacher passing by, students 13 through 23 also get to give that teacher a high five.

9. During share time, if one student tells the class that they went to a Chinese restaurant over the weekend, three to five more students need to share how they went to a BETTER Chinese restaurant over the weekend.

10. You're special. The classroom rules really just apply to everyone else.

Maybe jumping jacks are the answer

It takes approximately nine minutes to take 23 first graders to the bathroom. I'm in charge of the boys' line. Around the corner, my co-teacher supervises the girl's line.

It's the worst nine minutes of my day.

Honestly, what is it about school bathrooms that makes little boys want to play around? Is it the chance to crawl under the stalls? Is it that your female teacher can't go in there (or so they think!)? Is it the tantalizing rolls of toilet paper, or splashing your friend at the sink?

I have to constantly poke my head through the door and say things like: "No crawling!" "Do you want to be on yellow today?" (that's the warning color) "Stop playing in there", and "I WILL come in there!"

Not only that, but then there are the 18 others I have to keep in line in the hall. And I feel bad for them: expecting them to stand still without talking for nine straight minutes when the principal doesn't allow us to go out for recess. Ever.

gingerbread vindication

About three weeks ago, Max and I were in the car on our way to Braum's for an ice cream cone. On the way there, I happened to mention how a colleague of mine was bragging that she never had to buy her own drink in college, pretty girl that she was. With that conversation fresh on our minds, we ordered our cones from the man behind the counter.
Max ordered first. As the man was serving his ice cream, I noticed a bit of an effeminite vibe to him.
Then I ordered. I was sadly disappointed that I only got about HALF of the amount he gave Max. Either he was gay, or I wasn't pretty. So I decided he was gay. I shot him and Max dirty looks as I ate my pitiful little ice cream cone.
Fast forward to this past Sunday. I had been bugging Max all weekend about the pumpkin donuts from Dunkin' Donuts and just how awesome they were. So when we passed a Dunkin' Donuts on the way home from church on Sunday, I convinced him to stop.
I ordered a pumpkin donut from the young man behind the counter. Max ordered chocolate creme. We paid for our purchase.
But just as we were about to leave, I noticed that there were GINGERBREAD donuts on the rack. And sometimes I have issues censoring myself, so I blurted out: (with a noticeable tinge of excitement and urgency)
"GINGERBREAD DONUTS!!! I didn't know you made those!!"
The young man behind the counter asked if I wanted to try one.
"Oh, but... we already paid," I said.
"That's okay." And then he slipped a free gingerbread donut into our bag.
And that gingerbread donut was delicious... and not just because it was free!
(Oh, and if you're wondering, I did share the free donut with Max. There's no sense ticking off the person who cooks your meals...)
Newer Posts Older Posts Home