Thursday, September 29, 2011


As a teacher, I'm exposed to oh, a few zillion germs a day.  Unlike elementary school teachers, instead of having roughly 21 kids cling to me all day, I have something like 100 kids cling to me all day.  They cough and sneeze and everything else disgusting all over my room, me, themselves, and their peers.  Seriously, it makes my skin crawl.  I use the surgeon's scrub I learned from Grey's Anatomy and scrub all the way above my elbows (even if I'm wearing long sleeves) at least twice a day.  I use instant hand-sanitizer, and I wash my hands a lot, as well as avoiding close contact with the sick kids, wiping down the surfaces, and occasionally spraying disinfectant (Lysol).  Clearly, this isn't enough because I am s-i-c-k.  At least I haven't gotten the stomach bug that's been going around.  *Knock on wood.*

So, my question/ debate is: non-medicinal remedies, natural remedies, etc.  What works and what doesn't?

I use a neti pot.  Sooo gross but sooo worth it.  I mean, it's what I imagine a nicotine fix would feel like.  My head will be pounding and I'll be miserable, so I rush home to my neti pot, get it going, and instantly feel at least a little better.  I just use the cheap kind from CVS, and it's all you need.

I also use a vaporizer at night, even sometimes when I'm not sick.  Not every night, but sometimes just to keep my skin and sinuses healthy.

Sometimes, I'll even boil vinegar or cut up an onion and leave it out- both are natural disinfectants.  BUT, they both stink.  So here's where I need help: What do y'all do, and what works?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

desperate times call for desperate measures

So, I have this kid who really and truly cannot function in the classroom.  Bless his heart.  He tries, but despite all of our efforts to make him a positive contributor to the class, he still ends up distracting the other students, me, and irritating and infuriating the rest of the class.  They are in class all day with the same kids, so irritation from other classes or the hallways carries into our classes as well.  This poor kid is intelligent (he got a 100 on our test yesterday), but just can't manage being in a classroom.  Rather than send him away and give him bookwork to do, I've found a way to keep him in the classroom where I can monitor him and redirect him as needed, as well as challenge him.  Thanks to three of the best men I work with, there is now a small cubicle set up in my classroom.  It's a little strange to look at, but it gave me some more "wall space."  These poor men dug these cubicle walls out of storage, took them apart, hauled them to my room, then set them up for me.  They were so helpful, and I definitely owe all of them.  I'm thinking Clemson Tigers themed cookies.  I have a paw-shaped cookie cutter and can make some vanilla frosting that's orange.  Like I said, desperate times call for desperate measures.  Here are some pictures of the new, "improved" classroom.

This is when you walk in the door.  Middle School Rules, Pencils, Emergency procedures, and spare lined, graph, and printer paper.

My lab set up for our first big experiment and the first 7th grade adventure in stations.

The view of the front of the cubicle.  I may eventually move all the boxes, but I don't have much storage space.

The view of the cubicle from the desks.  The area behind it is clean and organized now. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011


Here are some of the highlights of going to work like a snufflupagus and not being able to smell anything all day:

1) The cafeteria food at lunch didn't stink today.

2) I can't smell the kids' BO when they come to my class from the gym.

3) I also can't smell their farts.

4) Inevitably, a student will use your tissues without permission to wipe their hands off with because we're out of paper towels in the classroom.  The tissue that they happen to use will be one you've already used for your nose.  You won't tell them and will smile at the sick satisfaction you have knowing that the school germophobe can't stop all the germs!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Welcome to the Southland....

where football is a HUGE deal...even middle school football.  I went to my first whole middle school football game last night.  I thought I'd be bored and would just be a good teacher for supporting my students.  In fact, I was a good teacher for supporting my student (who happens to be a starter, which I didn't know), but I was most definitely not bored.  I surprised myself by how into it I got and how excited I was when the plays were good for the team I was supporting.  I mean, you would've thought I was at my favorite college team's game and this game was determining who was going to the championship the way I was cheering.  Just in case you're a yankee and don't know, we much prefer college football to pro ball down here.  So, middle school football. They played in a BEAUTIFUL high school stadium.  The stadium has astroturf.  We're talking football boosters raise big bucks for middle and high school football teams.  I had to hike in because the two closest parking lots were full.  The stadium was full, even for a middle school and subsequent JV game.  Craziness.  They looked like little professionals out there on the field and in their shiny uniforms.  The only clue that it wasn't a professional game?  Two touchdowns in the last minute and a half.  The first one was legitimate.  The second one was a return after a kick...the kid ran 80 yards and into the endzone, leaving six seconds on the clock and my student very upset because his team just lost and had no way to recover.

They look like little professionals!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


This was my exclamation at one point during class.  Muhammad Ali, the fighting beta fish, has left our realm of minor league fighting and headed on down the drain to the big leagues.  While I was pouring some of the water out of his tank to make it easier to scoop him out and clean the tank, I accidentally sent Ali for a swim in the pipeline to the sewers.  I said "WHOOPS" pretty loudly, and my clever girls immediately caught on.  Guess I learned that lesson.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Yesterday was one of those "Thank you, God for making me a teacher" days.  I had a pretty stellar day, but the low for the day was most definitely sharpening pencils.  I've stopped using my electric sharpener since I have a really nice hand sharpener in my classroom and the electric one is loud, overheats regularly, and tends to sharpen pencils so that they break quickly.  So, I'm hanging out over at the pencil sharpener, sharpening away and finding it rather cathartic.  The next thing I know, I'm trying to help one of my students with some work and I realize that my thumb REALLY hurts.  So, I look at it and find a gigantic blister.  It starts at the very top of my thumb and runs all the way down the side of my thumb to the top of my knuckle.  So, I have this giant blister that hasn't had time to make me totally miserable yet.  We head down to lunch, and as I try to open my yogurt, I realize that there's also a delightful blister in the bendy part of my index finger.  Let's not even talk about how ridiculous this is.  The end result is that I have band-aids on my fingers today and sharpening pencils is now a punishment.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Best Question of Today

The best question I've been asked so far today was,

"Can you please hand me a straighter ruler? I can't draw straight with this'un."

Friday, September 16, 2011


Some of my girls asked me today why I chose my school.  I was really excited that they knew that I'd chosen to come here and that I wanted to work with them.  I gave them a few reasons, but mostly it's this:

I see the potential in that line of children wearing their uniforms and standing politely.  Do you???

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Case of the Exploding Head

Today was one of those days where virtually the entire middle school just had to go to the nurse.  I don't doubt a lot of the kids had headaches, because I've had one routinely too....Fall allergies.  But, if I have to teach with my headache, you can learn with it.  The nurse doesn't want to spend all day doing paperwork about your visit in which you complained about a headache, she took your temperature, you were fine, and she sent you back to class.  That's not an efficient way for her to spend her day.

After the zillionth time I'd been asked to go to the nurse today (during my last class), one of my students raised his hand.  I went over to his desk and the following conversation ensued.

Student: My head hurts right here.  (Points to part of head where eyebrow and nose meet).
Me: I'm sorry.
Student: Like, there's this pressure, but instead of coming from the outside, it's going from the inside out.
Me: (very serious and rather grave)  Oh...I think I know what that is...
Student: You do? (Hopeful)
Me: Yes, I do.  I think your brain is exploding.
Student: OH. That's bad, isn't it?

By this point, this students partner and the surrounding students were all cracking up.  It's a miracle I managed to keep a straight face for that conversation.  Seriously, I have no idea how I did it.  Finally, the lightbulb clicked.

Student: That was a joke! That was funny!
Students' Partner: Dude, she played you.  That was awesome.

End scene.

What is alternative?

One of my kids asked me what alternative meant the other day, and it made me think.  I responded as best I could in class, but I'm definitely still thinking about it.

According to my favorite dictionary writer, Mr. Webster:

Definition of ALTERNATIVE

: alternate 1
: offering or expressing a choice <several alternativeplans>
: different from the usual or conventional: asa : existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or economic system <an alternative newspaper><alternative lifestyles>b : of, relating to, or being rock music that is regarded as an alternative to conventional rock and is typically influenced by punk rock, hard rock, hip-hop, or folk music

Clearly, this child was not wondering about the alternative music style.  I think that if I played my kids the kind of alternative music that I enjoyed listening to for a brief while growing up, their brains would explode.  That a whole 'nother story.  I think that the appropriate definition in our circumstances is "different from the usual or conventional: as existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or economic system."  
Our school is different from other schools.  No one could argue that it's the same as most public schools.  How is our school different?  Our kids participate in class.  They're active, they don't disrupt or speak out of turn, they walk in a single file line and don't talk in the hallway.  They do as they're told, they don't talk back, and if they have a negative attitude or dislike something, they don't show it.  They almost always respond to a "teacher look," gesture (ie- arm motion to move down the hallway), or a verbal warning.  I have not had to yell this year, nor do I expect to have to yell to get my students' attention.  If they are working in groups, I can have everyone stop what they're doing and look at me within three seconds.  I've yet to wait more than three seconds for their attention.  Certainly, our kids must all be from great backgrounds to be such good students.  This assumption is incorrect.  Our kids come from all walks of life, all over the county, and from a variety of backgrounds.  Many of them certainly do NOT have a good home life.  How then, did we wind up with such well-mannered, attentive kids?  We must be a hoity-toity charter school.  This assumption is also incorrect.  We take our kids, nurture them, show them that someone believes in them, and cares what happens to them, and TEACH them how to behave.  Sure, they should have learned that at home.  But many of them didn't, and even if they did, a little reminder never hurt anyone.  Our kids listen, and they respect us, because we respect them.  
So yes, our school is unconventional and differs from societal norms.  We take kids from a less than ideal situation and do our best to teach them the skills they need to remove themselves from that situation and to live to their full potential.  Why does "alternative" have a negative connotation?

Health, happiness and success depend upon the fighting spirit of each person. The big thing is not what happens to us in life - but what we do about what happens to us. ~ George Allen

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Made it Over the Hump

We made it over the hump!  I'm looking forward to Friday, although I'm afraid the weekend won't be anywhere near as long as I need it to be to get all my work done.  One of the best things about Friday (besides the fact that I can go home and go to bed as early as I want to) is that I get to give out student of the week awards.  I do one for each class, and it's a lot of fun.  The kids love it, and most of them really try to behave when they hear it's coming up.  I have five wonderful kids getting the awards this week.  They get a certificate and some sort of school supply of their choice from my prize drawer.  I couldn't afford a treasure chest, so I just use a desk drawer. :)

Navy Football

So, I'm the lucky girl that gets to work with men on her team, which means I don't have to deal with uncomfortable situations with my male students. :)  I just send them on to one of the male teachers.  Their names are Maverick and Goose.  Today at lunch, I mentioned that I am going to meet a dear friend at the USC- Navy football game this weekend.  My co-workers (boys of course) transitioned from a conversation about the movie Top Gun to a discussion of the logistics of having a Navy football game aboard an aircraft carrier.  No out of bounds-- just the fall to the ocean.  The fans would have to watch from the air- which could be cool if you could get close enough. :p  Then, my last period class of the day while the kids were having their end of the day snack, one of the students asked me if I was going to go to any of the local-ish football games this weekend.  I told him I was going to go to the Navy- USC game.  One of the boys was wearing an Army rucksack and complaining about its weight.  He started complaining about the military.  I told him that if he were in the military and out in the field, he would have to live out of it for days (or longer) at a time.  This led to a brief conversation about the military, all its branches, and some of my boys contemplating what life would be like in each branch of the Navy.  It seems that my students have a great appreciation for the military.  They also decided that the Navy should start an NFL team and that my Sailor should be a starter.

They practiced calling the plays,
"Mrs. Green's hubby with the catch."
 "Wouldn't that be cool?"
"If he's married to Mrs. Green, wouldn't his name be Mr. Green?"
"No guys, we're not married.  He has a different last name."
 "Oh, okay, Mrs. Green's boo scores a touchdown!!!!"

I love my students.  They're so silly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My First Student Artwork!

I got my first student artwork of the year!  It's not what I would call gallery-ready, but the kid made it for me because he likes me.  It was pretty sweet.
Please note that my hair is half green and half purple (my favorite colors), I'm wearing a crown, a spaghetti strap dress, bug eye glasses, and strappy black stilettos.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What a Crappy Day!

Background: Yesterday, one of the kitties got sick and had diarrhea allllll over the floor.  Luckily, the crisis was averted and the floor was well cleaned.  This morning, all I had left to do was grab my shoes out of the closet and eat breakfast.  I stepped in a pile of diarrhea in my closet, then cleaned myself and the floor up.  Then, I went to put on my earrings and one of my favorite earrings broke.  Oh well, I was Monday.  I went into the kitchen to make myself a bowl of cereal.  In my hurry, I accidentally upended my bowl of cereal and milk into my teacher bag, which only had two laptops and a bunch of things I cared about (like my AWESOME planner) in it. I scooped that out, grabbed a granola bar, and ran out the door.  On my way to the car, I was focusing on not spilling my drink and stepped in a pile of dog poo.  Animal excrement started and ended my morning at good.

Oh, and it's a full moon tonight in addition to being a Monday, which probably explains why the kids were all absolutely wild today.

Luckily, the day could only go up from there. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Honor and Memory

For the husband who told his wife I love you one last time before his plane went down in a field, for the wife who stopped in the stairs to call her husband to say I will love you forever, for the mothers and fathers who kissed their kids goodbye the morning they died, for the policemen who rushed in with the firemen to help get others out only to die themselves, for the soldiers who fought back and lost their lives. We will always remember.

Ten years ago today.

"Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" Alan Jackson

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out in pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell 
you the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
Or driving down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Or speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Or go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns?

Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Did you stand in line and give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

[Repeat Chorus 2x]
And the greatest is love.
And the greatest is love.

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day? 

First Week Down!

My first week absolutely flew by.  Granted, it was only a four-day week.  As exhausted as I am at the end of it, I can only imagine how exhausted I'll be at the end of my first five-day week next week.  It was a great week, though!  I'm so grateful to all my friends, family, and co-workers for checking on me to see how my transition to the new school was going.  I'm enjoying getting to know my kids.

I had a puker on Thursday morning, first thing.  I've gotta say it wasn't my favorite way to start off the day. Luckily, the boys (it's one of my all male classes) were really good sports about it and we didn't have any chain reactions.

I'm cracking some of the outer shells and getting the kids to relax a little around me. :)

Also, I was reminded of something wonderful: my love affair with caffeine.  I got this mug as a gift last Christmas, and I've been using it quite a bit.  I only sometimes drink coffee/ tea, but I routinely drink Diet Coke.  I know that I should kick the habit... Teaching is a profession that requires a high amount of energy and being on your feet all day.  Like other jobs that involve constant interaction with people (nursing, waitressing), we need to be on our toes all the time.  We answer literally hundreds of questions a day, from curriculum to "Can I have another pencil?"  I'm still working on getting my teaching endurance back, but it'll be back soon.  Have a great next week!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I'm on my honeymoon!!!!!!

Woooohoooo! :D  But seriously, I'm in my honeymoon period with my students, and I. am. loving. it.  No lie.  I'm as happy as a pig in the slop.  I know that realistically, the honeymoon period lasts about three weeks and then ends, but I plan to enjoy every minute.  Newlywed honeymooners don't worry about the honeymoon ending, so I won't either.  I already have a bulletin board filled with pretty, creative, and well-done student work, and it's only the second day!  I'm already falling in love with many of my kids.  I can't wait to get to know them better.  I totally adore my seventh graders, even the teensy little boys that look like they should be in 4th or 5th grade.  Oh, and my one seventh grade girl.  She's so sweet, and already shows good leadership qualities in the classroom.  One of the poor little ones busted a hole in the side of his pants this morning, revealing his boxer shorts.  When he was noticed and called over by one of the male teachers, his pants totally split in the front.  Thank goodness none of the other kids were paying attention because they were busy struggling through their push-ups!  I felt so embarrassed for him.

Other things I forgot to mention yesterday:

Weird- The boys aren't allowed to wear boxers. They have to wear tighty whities.  There's a rationale, but it's long and I won't bore you.

Not Cool- There must be a giant ant mound hidden in the weeds on the PT field, because I got eaten up by ants while I was watching my kids train.

Potential for Fun- My team and I are thinking about rewarding some of our best students by letting them complete a mud run in May (3 kids and a teacher on each team).  How awesome is that?

Even though I keep getting told I talk like I'm a northerner, I think I sound pretty southern.  I'm not sure I could ever compete with some of my friends and co-workers who were born and raised and still live in the boonies of the South.  Example- I've caught myself saying all kinds of country things, like egg-zit.  Translation, exit.  I say things like ClemPson and hamPster.

Oh, and I'm hoping that even after the honeymoon ends, my kids are still as awesome as they have been the last two days.  There's a great system of consequences and a very thorough way that my team operates classroom, hallway, and lunch procedures, so hopefully it'll last.  I'm confident that I'll love it even if some of them do turn out to be punks, but I really think I have a good group of kids.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The first day of school

My first day of school was pretty awesome....only 179 left! Haha.  That's what my Vice-Principal's parting words were today.  I decided to go yearbook style and sum it up in superlatives.

Most Likely to Look Like A Newbie.... I went to the wrong uniform area to do my morning duty.  I spent about ten minutes in the high school area, and nobody bothered to tell me I was in the wrong place.  Luckily, I figured it out pretty quickly.

Most Likely to Wind Up in the Hall of Fame...... One of my 8th graders...first one to puke from the strain of PT.

Most Likely to Make Your Teacher Laugh.... the kid that was rolling a tractor tire and face-planted into the tire, then rolled with it.

Most Likely to "Be a Girl"... I wore the cute shoes today for the first day of school.  BIGGGGGG mistake.  

Most importantly, I loved it--even if I do have a class of eighth grade boys that certainly has immense potential to drive me crazy, but also to really enjoy my class and be a lot of fun.

Also- I was just given a heads-up about this article by Ron Clark, a well-known author and leader in American Education.

What teachers really want to tell parents

By Ron Clark, Special to CNN
updated 9:12 AM EST, Tue September 6, 2011
Teacher Ron Clark is pictured with his students.
Teacher Ron Clark is pictured with his students.
  • Ron Clark is an award-winning teacher who started his own academy in Atlanta
  • He wants parents to trust teachers and their advice about their students
  • Clark says some teachers hand out A grades so parents won't bother them
  • It's OK for kids to get in trouble sometimes; it teaches life lessons, Clark says
Editor's note: Ron Clark, author of "The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck -- 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers," has been named "American Teacher of the Year" by Disney and was Oprah Winfrey's pick as her "Phenomenal Man." He founded The Ron Clark Academy, which educators from around the world have visited to learn.
(CNN) -- This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.
I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."
Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.
So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?
For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.
Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.
Please quit with all the excuses
The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone.
Ron Clark
And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn't started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.
His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they'd been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn't help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some "fun time" during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn't his fault the work wasn't complete.
Can you feel my pain?
Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.
Parents, be a partner instead of a prosecutor
And parents, you know, it's OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don't set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It's a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+.
This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn't assume that because your child makes straight A's that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Parents will say, "My child has a great teacher! He made all A's this year!"
Wow. Come on now. In all honesty, it's usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal's office.
Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has "given" your child, you might need to realize your child "earned" those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.
And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children.
Teachers walking on eggshells
I feel so sorry for administrators and teachers these days whose hands are completely tied. In many ways, we live in fear of what will happen next. We walk on eggshells in a watered-down education system where teachers lack the courage to be honest and speak their minds. If they make a slight mistake, it can become a major disaster.
My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, "Can you believe that woman did that?"
I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to feel threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow's outstanding educators.
Finally, deal with negative situations in a professional manner.
If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, "I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me." If you aren't happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don't respect her, he won't either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.
We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask -- and beg of you -- to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.
That's a teacher's promise, from me to you

Monday, September 5, 2011

In Honor of Teachers

First, know that I'm not yelling, I just can't get the letters to do a combination of normal and capital letters.  For all of my friends, family, and anyone else that is a teacher, this might make you smile.  This was published in the NY Times last week.


In Honor of Teachers

Since it’s back-to-school season across the country, I wanted to celebrate a group that is often maligned: teachers. Like so many others, it was a teacher who changed the direction of my life, and to whom I’m forever indebted.
Damon Winter/The New York Times
Charles M. Blow


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A Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup pollreleased this week found that 76 percent of Americans believed that high-achieving high school students should later be recruited to become teachers, and 67 percent of respondents said that they would like to have a child of their own take up teaching in the public schools as a career.
But how do we expect to entice the best and brightest to become teachers when we keep tearing the profession down? We take the people who so desperately want to make a difference that they enter a field where they know that they’ll be overworked and underpaid, and we scapegoat them as the cause of a societywide failure.
A March report by the McGraw-Hill Research Foundation and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that one of the differences between the United States and countries with high-performing school systems was: “The teaching profession in the U.S. does not have the same high status as it once did, nor does it compare with the status teachers enjoy in the world’s best-performing economies.”
The report highlights two examples of this diminished status:
• “According to a 2005 National Education Association report, nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years teaching; they cite poor working conditions and low pay as the chief reason.”
• “High school teachers in the U.S. work longer hours (approximately 50 hours, according to the N.E.A.), and yet the U.S. devotes a far lower proportion than the average O.E.C.D. country does to teacher salaries.”
Take Wisconsin, for instance, where a new law stripped teachers of collective bargaining rights and forced them to pay more for benefits. According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, “about twice as many public schoolteachers decided to hang it up in the first half of this year as in each of the past two full years.”
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t seek to reform our education system. We should, and we must. Nor am I saying that all teachers are great teachers. They aren’t. But let’s be honest: No profession is full of peak performers. At least this one is infused with nobility.
And we as parents, and as a society at large, must also acknowledge our shortcomings and the enormous hurdles that teachers must often clear to reach a child. Teachers may be the biggest in-school factor, but there are many out-of-school factors that weigh heavily on performance, like growing child poverty, hunger, homelessness, home and neighborhood instability, adult role-modeling and parental pressure and expectations.
The first teacher to clear those hurdles in my life was Mrs. Thomas.
From the first through third grades, I went to school in a neighboring town because it was the school where my mother got her first teaching job. I was not a great student. I was slipping in and out of depression from a tumultuous family life that included the recent divorce of my parents. I began to grow invisible. My teachers didn’t seem to see me nor I them. (To this day, I can’t remember any of their names.)
My work began to suffer so much that I was temporarily placed in the “slow” class. No one even talked to me about it. They just sent a note. I didn’t believe that I was slow, but I began to live down to their expectations.
When I entered the fourth grade, my mother got a teaching job in our hometown and I came back to my hometown school. I was placed in Mrs. Thomas’s class.
There I was, a little nothing of a boy, lost and slumped, flickering in and out of being.
She was a pint-sized firecracker of a woman, with short curly hair, big round glasses set wider than her face, and a thin slit of a mouth that she kept well-lined with red lipstick.
On the first day of class, she gave us a math quiz. Maybe it was the nervousness of being the “new kid,” but I quickly jotted down the answers and turned in the test — first.
“Whoa! That was quick. Blow, we’re going to call you Speedy Gonzales.” She said it with a broad approving smile, and the kind of eyes that warmed you on the inside.
She put her arm around me and pulled me close while she graded my paper with the other hand. I got a couple wrong, but most of them right.
I couldn’t remember a teacher ever smiling with approval, or putting their hand around me, or praising my performance in any way.
It was the first time that I felt a teacher cared about me, saw me or believed in me. It lit a fire in me. I never got a bad grade again. I figured that Mrs. Thomas would always be able to see me if I always shined. I always wanted to make her as proud of me as she seemed to be that day. And, she always was.
In high school, the district sent a man to test our I.Q.’s. Turns out that not only was I not slow, but mine and another boy’s I.Q. were high enough that they created a gifted-and-talented class just for the two of us with our own teacher who came to our school once a week. I went on to graduate as the valedictorian of my class.
And all of that was because of Mrs. Thomas, the firecracker of a teacher who first saw me and smiled with the smile that warmed me on the inside.
So to all of the Mrs. Thomases out there, all the teachers struggling to reach lost children like I was once, I just want to say thank you. You deserve our admiration, not our contempt.