Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lemme 'Splain

Like Lucy to Ricky, lemme 'splain what that soda haiku of December 21st is about.

Leftover sodas from a staff birthday drew whiney requests: "Pleeeease can I have one?" Annoyed Teacher tossed curt denials: "No."

Annoyed Teacher SHOULD HAVE moved the soda, but you must know that "Annoyed Teacher" is really the code name for "Unorganized Teacher." The sodas, like many things in my classroom, remained where they landed.

And then I got sick. Waaay sick. Four days at home, sick. When I returned we teachers were celebrating another staff bday, and when I went to get the sodas, all that remained was the empty box.

In over twenty years of edumacation I never have sustained a personal theft (well, Molly the Dolly was stolen, but that's another story) until these stupid sodas. Witnesses named names, the accused denied and shifted blame and did some hard time at Saturday School, but never did they apologize or replace the stolen goods and believe me, it has cost Annoyed/Unorganized Teacher some effort to treat the thieves with forgiveness, not because I care about soda, but because honesty and integrity are the principles I hold most dear. The thieves showed no remorse so I am left to believe that their entitled rationalizations ("The teacher can afford it/I deserve it/I love Diet Dr Pepper/She wasn't drinking them") outweighed their consciences and respect for me. It has shaken my trust in all kids. Is my purse safe? What about the loose change we save for the leukemia drive? What about the reward candy I stash in the lectern?

Truth be told, it's hard to smile at the thieves. I guess I haven't really forgiven them.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stolen soda/Stolen trust

They were just sodas.
But when I discovered their
theft, my heart nearly broke...

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's over! At least, it's ending...

The recession, that is. Six gift cards say so.

My completely unscientific method began some years ago when Mr. Recession came to San Diego. It's a little embarrassing, but I and the cool English teacher down the row were taking off for Christmas break and, comparing notes, we found that neither had received as many gifts--most notably, fewer Starbucks cards--as usual. Parents are very generous and supportive of us and our school, and I have even had to call one with the intent to return a gift (per our ethics department and my conscience): a Coach purse. (The parent laughed and said if I knew the deep discount she got at the outlet, I'd never have called.) So both of us noticed the precipitous decline from eighty dollars' worth (I know! Blessings!) to one five dollar card. It's embarrassing to notice, but unmistakeable. And donations of toys for our local firefighters to help needy children declined. And donations for items for our school's silent auction dried up, too. Kids didn't mob the Krispy Kreme fundraisers, either.

Now the love remained unchanging: handwritten cards, heartfelt notes--the very best gifts of all; tons of homemade goods, exotic candy canes. Mr. Recession, like the Grinch, could not stop Christmas from coming.

But this year is different, and now you know: six gift cards (about sixty dollars' worth) tell me more than economic analysts. Mr. Recession is packing his bags.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Awkward Moments in Teaching, II

In an earlier post, I wrote of embarrassing things that kids say as a function of learning. Two more for the record:

So today after school B. is working on her U.S. Constitution project when she randomly asks, "Miss M., does gonorrhea come from Ghana?" (Obviously, B. listens more than she reads, apparently thinking she has found a common root word between the two names. No one is around, so it doesn't stop the show. I am grateful she has waited until school is out to inquire.)

And last week: as my seminar class is learning about impeachment, T. raises his hand. "I feel a tad immature for mentioning this, but I cannot let it pass."

He has a near photographic memory, articulates his thoughts beautifully with no "ums" or uhs," and has won the title "Most Likely to Go to Harvard" from his peers. We wait to hear what golden fact or erudite opinion will drop from his lips. "Go ahead, T., we're waiting..."

"I find it highly interesting that all past presidents in danger of impeachment had names which were euphemisms for penis."

REALLY???? Are you kidding me???? I can't believe he feels free to bring this up. (But of course, as usual, T. is right.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Dinner, Then Dessert

Plans are completed
(God and middle schoolers smile)
Now I'm free to play!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's waaay too much work...

to not go to work....

Today is day two of Lola vs Laryngitis. My brother, a nephew and a cousin all felt funky around Thanksgiving, and being the sharing family that we are, they gave me their funk. First day back from break, though, I began to sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger (not a good sound for me, by the way). It was clear by lunch that I would soon be voiceless.

Now coming off of break, I was ready to launch a multiday project on the Constitution with my history classes and Animal Farm with my English kiddos. Too sick to really be creative, I grabbed Haley's Roots from the
media center. God bless Alex Haley.

OK, that took care of Tuesday.

But by noon on Tuesday it was clear that my AWOL voice wasn't even close to coming home. I am emphatically NOT a movie-showing teacher. Moreover, teaching history in California is like the Bionic Man racing to disarm the bomb attached to the Liberty Bell*: the CST is in May and I can't be stuck in Washington's administration when they are tested on post-Reconstruction. SOOOO today's guest teacher forged ahead and launched the project.

That is, after I spent two hours typing up instructions and going to my classroom to get the model projects ready and the handouts I had already copied ready for Guest Teacher #2.

And now my voice has come back, but it is all pipes and wheezes and kitten-weak. My friend is subbing for me tomorrow and she has my number so that's good. I am under no delusions that B-5 will fall apart when I'm gone. But being gone for three days with three different guest teachers at the end of a grading period is not gonna do wonders for the kids' education, either.

Do I feel guilty? Yes. Is it beyond my control? Yes. There are teachers who are out on a moment's notice--they have a child suddenly sick, or the surf's up. How do they do it?

*couldn't find it online, so here is the epic fight with Bigfoot instead.