October 30, 2008

Seeing My Peeps

Wahoo! The long-waited girls' weekend in Reno is finally here. Or it will be tomorrow. I still have to teach my classes tonight and do laundry, so I'm not exactly sure why I'm celebrating already. I suppose because it's close enough, and whatever torture my night school students have in store for me just does not matter. I'm leaaaaaaaaaaaaaving on a jet plane tomorrow morning.

Once upon a time between marriages, which I like to call The Days When I Was Single, there were a lot of girls' weekends. Sure, I dated on and off during those times, but I always had my super cool, fun friends--my sisters in a hard place to teach where none of us had family nearby. And we spent an awful lot of time drinking and shooting pool. Sounds kind of low-brow, I know. I miss it though. I miss Thursday night pool practice, Friday-night's-let's-meet-after-the-football-game-'cuz-I need-a-drink-to-take-the-edge-off-the-week, and Saturday's all-afternoon-pool-league competitions at the American Legion Hall.

Boy those were the wild days. Okay, not really. American Legion? Come on people! We hung out with an older crowd, but it was sure fun. My girlfriends and I have all moved on from that small town where we once worked together and where the best entertainment was shooting pool with old veterans and their wives. I know in some ways we are glad we're gone, but there's that part of us that misses that slower pace of life.

We're meeting up in Reno tomorrow, which we used to consider the Big City. Already we're wondering what we'll do for fun. It's too bad we can't all meet back in our old stomping grounds, but something tells me it wouldn't be the same anyway. In fact, I think it might be a little depressing, as some of our old friends have moved or passed away.

It doesn't matter what we do. We know that from years of just hanging out.

And I'm ready for a weekend of just hanging out with people who know me.

And if there's drink, that's okay, too.

October 26, 2008

Singing the Sunday Blues...Again

Countdown to Monday...

Last weekend I stayed up so late that I met Monday without saying goodbye to Sunday. Not really a great idea.

It's going to be painful tomorrow, isn't it?

I still have a stack of essays to grade--and quarter 1 grades are due Tuesday afternoon. The only saving grace is that the essays are each only a page long, as it was a practice proficiency test. Thank goodness for that. It took me forever and a pint of vodka to make it through their narrative essays this quarter. These kids did not learn their verbosity from me. (They could have if they read this blog, but trust me...they entered my classroom just full of it this year.)

I might have another saving grace in that my students will be in the theater listening to presentations from magnet high schools all day tomorrow. Is it terribly rude for me to not listen and just grade papers? Well, the kiddos should listening to the presenters and not watching me--and they might want me to get their grades updated, right?

Oh! And they better be watching the presentations and not acting out in ways that would actually require me to manage their behavior. Oh no! They better not!

Tomorrow during first hour we will be staging a practice fire drill because the last few have not gone very well. New school. New escape plans. Narrower passageways. I'm not balking at this, as we know my best and brightest blew the last fire drill--and yes, at the last faculty meeting one of the administrators did mention there were about a dozen students without their teacher. My "friends" laughed and pointed at me. So, practice would be wonderful. Don't worry, though. I won't be looking like a fool tomorrow because this practice fire drill is scheduled to happen during my prep!

Too bad for me I really needed to use that prep to slave over a hot copy machine--if I beat the math teacher to it.

And...I was out of my classroom on Friday, so who knows what I'll walk into in the morning. My only fear is the fear of the unknown. There is no unknown like kind you meet on that Monday morning after calling in for a substitute on the previous Friday.


Monday is going to hurt.

October 21, 2008


My yearbook editor follows me into the work room, "Miss, you're a mom, right?"

"Uhm, yeah."

She stands right in front of me, "Do you think I have a fever?"

"Geez! I'm not that kind of mom!" Really. Ask my stepkids. Any kind of sickness receives Airborne and a command to go to bed early to sleep it off.

"Could you just feel my forehead?"

I sigh and test her forehead, "I don't know if you have a fever! Seriously! I didn't actually give birth. I don't have those kinds of skills."

"But, Miss!"

I sigh, "Fine!" I touch her forehead, and then mine, and then hers again. "I don't know! Maybe it's a little warm. Do you want to just go to the nurse?"

"Yea, maybe that's what I should do."

"You think?" I bet the nurse has a thermometer! But if she's a mom, maybe she just uses her hand.

October 18, 2008

The Good and The Bad News

The good news is that I own and have already read two of the three texts I need for my next class. Maybe the class will be a little easier than the one I just took where the focus was on early childhood literacy. (What do you mean there's a difference between phonics and phonemics? So what?)

The bad news is that I can't find these books anywhere. I was looking for both of them about a month ago, and I thought I might stumble upon them somewhere, but I haven't. Bummer.

Murphy's Law: Now that I've placed the order through Amazon, they will miraculously appear.

October 16, 2008


My students are taking a practice writing proficiency exam for two days this week. Perfect time for me to evaluate some essays.

Or goof off.

I think I have some form of teacher ADD.

What would that be called?

I don’t know. Ya’ll can ponder that one.

Maybe NADO. Need a Day Off.

Did I mention they are taking a practice writing exam? WRITING! I must be should be smokin’ crack to ask them to do more writing when I have enough already to insulate my house. I don’t care how many rubrics I have that are suppose to make grading so much easier—that’s 240 pieces of writing.

And my poor newspaper staff members wonder why I’d rather poke myself in the eye than read their articles: “Give it to the editor!” By the time he edits and they revise, I might want read it.

Okay. I'll get to work now. As soon as I find just the perfect pen for this task...

October 14, 2008

Why It's a Good Idea to Practice Fire Drill Procedures Even If It's a Waste of Time

Boy, I am just having a great year. I know I'm a bit overextended, with working five nights at the alternative high rather than two and working on my master degree, so there are areas where I am not going to be a model teacher this year. That's just the way it's going to be. I'm fine with it. But there are some no-brainers that I should be able to just set life on cruise control and survive.

So what did I screw up now?

I lost 10 students today during a fire drill. Or they got lost. Something like that.

I actually knew we were going to have a drill, so I told the students to follow me when the time came. I told them we had to go down the stairs, out the main entrance where we would walk down the sidewalk across the front of the school, and then we would need to cross the street.

I kept looking back until we made it out the gate because then it wasn't as crowded on the sidewalk. When we made it to the designated area, I found 10 of my best and brightest were nowhere to be found.

In some ways it's not a big deal. In other ways a very big deal. After all, we have had fires at my school before--a small one during school hours and the mother-of-all during the summer that we missed. The big one is what earned us a new school. Last year we were evacuated because of a gas leak, too.

Anyway. Losing kids. It was a little embarrassing.

When a hall monitor came by to release us back into the building, she told me a group of my students where further down the road. Good to know.

When the dean came by to ask if I had all of my students accounted for...well...double embarrassing. I've never had an administrator come around and record of losses during a fire drill.

I'll probably get a nasty gram about it later. Oh well.

When I met up with my lost students, I chewed them an extra hole: "Congratulation! You all burned up in a fired! What happened to the part where you follow me?"

We all know that it's hard to follow the teacher when she's 5'3", but really, follow the person in front of you who is following the person in front of him, and so on and so forth, until you get to the person who is following ME!


Last month, my 5th period class was able to figure it out, but not my 2nd hour class. Nope.

I even had on a bright orange sweater. I should have been easy to see. A sea of blue and white shirts and then ORANGE! Come on people! The person in the ORANGE sweater is the person to follow!

When I was done being irritated with them for making me look so bad--I'll even admit that's why I was so irritated--they defended themselves by saying that at least they all stayed together in one group.

Good point.

It's not all bad if you can figure out what to do when you lose your teacher during a fire drill.

October 13, 2008

Why It's a Good Idea to Have a Copy of the Master Calendar

Ever the professional teacher, I usually end up screwing up something important every quarter. Something important like addressing all the benchmarks. Yeah. Something always falls off the radar.

I'm in pretty good shape this quarter, except I thought the quarter ended one week later than it really does. Oops! I'm so glad I figured that out before it was too late. You know like before assigning a project to be due after grades have to be in or something goofy like that.

With my, ahem, ever-present professionalism, I'm keeping my eye on November. Last year I had barely two weeks of regular instructional time, and this year isn't looking much better.

I don't want to complain, though. I could use four days off in November. In fact, I could sure use four days off in October.

October 1, 2008

A Cultural Break

Today the other 8th grade IB teacher and I took a small group of students to see Romeo and Juliet at a special Shakespeare-in-the-schools type of event. Last year, I was nervous because it was the first year I had participated in the program, but it was such an amazing morning hanging out with some enthusiastic students, well, I'd say it was maybe even a high point of my year--maybe even in the top 10 of my career. (Many of my most memorable experience in teaching and in life have been theater-related...)

And how was it this year? It was just as much fun. It was a beautiful morning at the amphitheater, and our students were model theater attendees. (I didn't even give my "On pain of death" speech to motivate them either!) Of course, with no worries about comfort or students who might embarrass me, enjoying a superb troupe presenting Shakespeare just makes for a great morning. The other teacher admitted that she was feeling a little itchy about needing to be out of the classroom, and this little trip rejuvenated her. I know what she means! It was a relief to be out of our stuffy, content-thick rooms. Although I am hardly a fan of field trips, this is definitely an event I will look forward to every year.