September 30, 2006


I try to post a few things during the middle of the week, but this week has been crazy. Plenty to air, but way too busy.

Actually, I did start--and maybe finished--a post about the joys of anonymity as a teacher after I found out that one of my students is my neighbor. I don't live in the zone where I teach, but then I do teach in schools where students from all over the district may attend, so it's not a crazy idea that I might bump into one of them. Okay, it's a little crazy. We're in a big city and my student lives two doors down. That's too close for comfort! Since I formally taught in a small town where if people didn't know your business they'd make it up, I've experienced the life of a teacher from a few different ways. Anyway, I'm sure you would have enjoyed some of my small-town horror stories about my very public private life, but since I didn't save it as I was going along, I lost the post. You see, I feel asleep at the keyboard and ran the laptop battery dead--so dead I barely revived the next morning. Guess it wasn't meant to be.

Here are some ponderings and anecdotes from this week.

I took my stepchildren to the Family Literacy Night at their school this week. It was very well done with some fun activities for the families. As a secondary teacher--actually as a teacher in general--I couldn't help but gawk around the classrooms where the activities were held. It's so different in elementary school! I do have to say they those teachers really know how to utilize every single inch in their classrooms. I'm especially envious of this super cool extra tray that ran underneath and parallel to the chalk tray in one classroom. It was just loaded with fun looking books! My fun books are stuffed in a corner in the back of the room between dictionaries and grammar books. I liked my little corner until I saw that tray! And do all elementary classrooms have pets? That's something pretty foreign to me! (I'm not including the wee beasties that come to visit sometimes. Scorpions, cockroaches, mice, pigeons, and lizards are not pets. They aren't even welcome visitors.)

I had to put in an extra long day because we had The Dog and Pony Show Open House at our school. What that basically looks like is a bunch of teachers boring parents to death about the content of our course expectations (which have already been sent home, signed, and returned) for 10 minutes at a time. I had to talk pretty fast to squeeze everything in each period. I tried to charm the parents with my wit and humor while trying to impress upon them that English is no joke and I don't want their students going to high school unprepared. So, folks, that's my show: Humanistic Hardass.

Snort! As if!

What we really know about Open House nights is that we can see why students are the way they are when we meet their parents. Oh, and so the parents can judge us by the scruffiness of our shoes.

Most of my students' parents seemed to be rationale, caring, strict--and on the same page that I am. I mean, they were nodding their heads. When they speak English, that's usually a promising sign. Oh, and most of my students' parents seemed to understand what I was saying, too. Good night! Wahoo! It feels like I have allies!

We're not really suppose to talk about students, right? It is helpful to get back story from former teachers, though. So, when I asked of a student's behavior the previous year and what his parents were like I got some sort of reply like, "Oh, Dad smokes crack and Mom is crazy."

My question, which may seem stupid, so I don't ask it is: "Are you being literal?"

Guess I still have time to find out.

Yes, as a middle school teacher, I know all about drama. And I know about real drama. My students are hardly amused when I start directing them around as if I were directing a play, but then if they are going to go all soap opera on me, I'll make them perform for my entertainment. This week, though, it's not just those hormonal girls (two of which cried though class this week), it's so many, many other things. It's been nutso at my school this week, but luckily most of it doesn't affect me directly. (Oh, except I did bust a bully who is now dead in the middle of admin radar.) Geez could I tell some stories, but it's not wise in this forum. Anyway, nothing seems to shock me anymore, and the antics of the staff, students, community, and media simply exhaust me.

Numerous students were upset and distraught when I reminded them to turn in their essays typed in 12 point Times New Roman.

"But Miss! Then my essay is really short."

I've tried to explain that it doesn't really matter what size the font is because the essay is what it is.

By the end of the day Friday, I had just about enough and wasn't very kind to my students:

"If your essay seems short after you format it correctly, it is not because some voodoo magic of the computer made it shorter. It's because YOU have chosen to write a two paragraph essay, which is obviously lacking in DETAIL , and the COMPUTER has nothing to do with your lack of effort and skill."

I still had blank stares.

One student has turned in an essay which contains one single paragraph typed in such a large sized font that it actually takes up two pages. How *%&$*& stupid do they think I am?

And finally, a story from the stepparenting files...


Today we had a little family outting where we all went to get haircuts. The 5-year-old is a such a towhead. He has at times worn his hair spikey on top, but lately it's been nearly shaved when he gets haircuts. When his hair is that short he looks mean. So, today he got a good short cut, but we left some length on top to spike. He has some pretty funky cowlicks, so it's not too much work.

Would you believe that he didn't like his new spikey haircut? I was perplexed since there have been many times over the years he has liked the top spikey. What's his problem? He only likes it spikey when it's spiked with colored gel. Bless the stylist's heart, she would have done it, but we don't roll like that. Even when he told us that his mother used to put colored gel in it.

My response was, "You're too young to look like a rock star."

Yes, I've seen him when he had half blue hair. When you're a teenager with blue hair people think you might be dangerous, or in the very least one of those wayward souls who just want to express himself. When you are barely old enough to wipe your own bum and you have blue hair--and it's not Halloween--people think your parents are STUPID. I don't need that kind of label.

His father's response was, "When you're 18 and out of the house you can have colored hair."

To which the 5-year-old says, "But when I'm 18, I'm going to be a girl."

Yea, I know that just came from nowhere, but then just last night we had a talk about the fact that if you break the television open, people will not come out from the inside.

His dad says, "You're going to be a girl, huh?"

The 5-year-old grins and repeats, "Yup. I'm going to be a girl."

And I quipped, "Well, you'll have to wait until you're 18 and out of the house for that, too."

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