Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Better than a raise, George Clooney, and chocolate combined

It's only been a half dozen years since Facebook's invention, way too soon to fully gauge its impact on American culture. Certainly, educators debate its merits and, like advertisers, look to exploit it for their classroom purposes. For instance, teachers have kiddos assume the role of famous historical figures and have them set up FB pages with those people in mind.

Educators also debate the pros and cons of "friending" students. I joined FB without thinking this through, immediately accepting FB friendship invitations from former students I hadn't kept in contact with. However, I've made it a policy not to accept any "FB friend" invitations from current students; I explain to the inviters that our professional teacher/student relationship needs to be intact for both of us to best do our jobs, but that I am delighted to maintain future contact because, after our school year is over, we can truly call ourselves friends.

Today I received an invitation from the nicest kid I've ever met, my own family members included. In twenty years of teaching with gigantical California-style class sizes, I've met a TON of kids. But N., in my first period class this year, really is something special. I received an FB invite from him this morning. Before I accept such invitations, I go to their pages to check them out, and look what I found on his page--it melted my heart and reminded me AGAIN about how blessed I am to do what I do:

Nxxxxx Rxxxxxx

June 1 at 6:36pm via Social Interview

Awwwwww!! Does this happen to mortgage brokers? Engineers? CEOs?
Money is nice, but the best things in life really are free.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Maxwell Smart Would Be Jealous

May 2010: It's the first morning of the almighty CST's test week. Kids are a little nervous; we teachers are supposed to help them be calm, but the high stakes of this test series and the many disqualifiers are enough to make anyone's heart beat a bit faster today, and we are just as nervous. The personalized bubble sheets are passed out, the number 2 pencils all pointy-tipped and the candy, er, brain boosters I'd distributed are unwrapped and at the ready.

I begin The Script, the same one read aloud to all California eighth graders. And then I hear tell-tale ringing. If anything can disqualify a test, it's a cell phone; it could send or receive answers, tips, photograph the test, and so on, and I am miffed. Cell phones are to be turned off every school day, let alone this one. I pounce.

"Are you kidding me? Whose phone is that?" D. is melting in his seat, his face as red as his Filipino heritage will allow. "All righty, D., hand it over."

He mumbles something, and I just catch, "It's not a phone, it's my shoe."

"Excuse me, D., but I must have misheard you. It sounded like you said the ringing is your shoe."

Sure enough, his left shoe is also flashing a red LED light to accompany the ringing. He squeezes the tongue of the shoe and the ringing stops. It's not a shoe phone, not this year, but next year I'll add "Wear your boring shoes" to the list of test preparation tips.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I stood looking around the bungalow. It looked pretty empty with everything cleared off the surfaces for a custodial deep clean. All those empty chairs that the kiddos had occupied, chairs I had sat in back in September, praying in this chair for kids whose parents were fighting, praying in that one for kids who had self image problems...there were 38 chairs and plenty of prayers to go around. God is faithful--may He continue to woo this group--may they learn how much they are LOVED with an everlasting love.

Now my career moves home--reorganizing binders and curriculum, planning. My condo is overrun right now; it's pretty daunting, and I've set some pretty serious summer goals.

Still, it was a holy moment when I slipped the school keys off the key chain and handed them over to the custodian: what appeared to be just a few ounces stood for the weight of daily responsibility. I floated home.

Monday, June 21, 2010


today they were beautiful:
their shiny plumage rainbow splashing;
some shy in splendor,
some amazed at what the mirror showed--
all beloved

and when they came round the corner,
music swelling,
they gasped
to see the lovers looking on;
eyes widened (some filled)
to see the lovers straining for a glimpse

today they spread their wings
to fly
and we, the lovers, faces upturned in wonder,
clapped our empty hands and blessed them, precious and beloved, every one

Saturday, June 19, 2010

rodent in the bungalow

I'm not desirous
of catching hantavirus
ew ew ew ew ew


Beach and fair plans fell through, so I
a. grabbed The Help by Kathryn Stockett and SPF 55 by Neutrogena and headed straight to the pool
b. called someone else and went to lunch
c. finally booked that massage
d. nailed down my plans for Hawaii

None of the above! I went to the bungalow and did hard battle. I dealt with shelves housing National Geographics culled a dozen years ago when I taught 7th grade social studies. I bested the corner of detritus recently visited by the bunny who hopped in for a visit (see earlier post). I checked every marker for ink in every desk pencil box, ditching the dry, jettisoning all but the juicy. My inner Henry David Thoreau was simply shrieking, "Simplify! Simplify!"

So it was inevitable, canyon school that we are, to find fossilized mouse dookie in those places unvisited by human hand or feather duster for over a decade. But my deep worry is that some of the dookie is not that old. Ew.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Awards Night

the shiny trophy:
just a silent testament
of her commitment

beaming parents and
flashing cameras make the
evening brighter still

and when the tears roll
down her face (in gratitude
that someone noticed

the hours of hard work
it took to climb this high), mine
roll down, too, with pride

Monday, June 14, 2010

Justice versus Mercy

Kids come to school differently privileged, and I am not talking money.

Some lucky ones have parents or guardians that have helped them master concepts like boundaries and deadlines, timeliness and responsibility. Some aren't so lucky.

This is the last week before high school and their final grades determine so much. "Which courses will I be able to take next year?" "Will I be able to attend the promotion ceremony?" "Will I have to go to summer school?" "Will I be held back?" "Will I make the grades for football?"

We teachers and administrators pretzel ourselves to help them make smart choices, help them toe (or is it tow?) the line, help them become the best they can be. Sometimes this means granting mercy ("Ok, you can turn in that assignment from February") and sometimes this means showing the steely eye and the squared jaw ("I'm sorry, there are no retakes of tests").

I wish I had an "Eggdicator" to let me know which to apply to whom.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

last week

the bittersweetness
of goodbyes juxtaposed with
books, beaches, and time

those troublesome outliers

This September our site is designating all 6th grade classes as gifted classes with 30% of the kids being designated as gifted. Eliminating tracking is the idea, and the hope is to create a culture of rigor and high achievement and lose any notions that there are smart or dumb classes. All students will receive GATE curriculum. Only the seminar kids--the mega-gifted, if you will--will remain in a separate class.

Love the theory; excited to see it tested at our school.

But this kinda raises a question in my lil punkin head: why were GATE classes started to begin with?

(Upon reflection, this raises tons of questions. I need a bigger head.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Ten more days.

C'mon, Lola, you can do this.