Thursday, December 22, 2011

All's Smell that Ends Smell

The Friday before Christmas vacation, students were in their "barnyards" (yeah, cuz we were reading Animal Farm, so there) and discussing issues of power, negotiating group plans for our next salon.

One group finished early, the Dope Donkeys (yeah, they gave themselves alliterative names, so there). By the time I strolled to their group, they had invented a new game based on Spin the Bottle. The Donkeys, an all male group, were taking turns spinning D.'s pen. Whatever it pointed to, they would have to smell.

I watched as K. had to smell a gift bag. I watched as J. had to smell K. (K. offered his hand, in case you are wondering). I watched as J. had to smell D. (again with the hand technique).

Whether this was a scents of humor or fragrant violation of good taste, I love my job. Yo, homes, smell ya later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fat Albert, The Lion King, and Disrespected Deer

Early December: Students write their intros for their Animal Farm papers, using a step-by-step process, teacher demonstrating each step. All students EXCEPT A. turn in intros; teacher edits/critiques them; students now have direction and really good intros. (Except A.)

Mid-December: Students bring in drafts of papers; randomly assigned fellow students read, instructed to give kind, helpful, and specific criticism. A. receives N. as his "critical friend;" she is insightful--he is lucky.

Five minutes ago: Teacher reads A's paper and despairs. The intro is awful, but A is just getting started. Here is a transcript, but just a sampling of a much longer and more awful paragraph in a much longer and more dreadful paper--mind you, his paper is supposed to be about Orwell's Animal Farm:

"Deer aren't respected; they just mind their own business and are shot, cooked, and eaten. Why was the play called "The Lion King" and not "The Monkey King"? I personally think an ape should be king of the jungle. And why is Fat Albert so fat? I mean that has nothing to do with my point and point is in the next sentence. My point is that class issues isn't always how we interpret it."
As much as his paper makes me want to fall on my sword, it is an indicator of my next steps. Upon return, our class will read some of the successful papers and identify what makes them good. This student will be required to write a new, PROPER intro, and if I have to personally ok every sentence as he writes it, so be it. I am not allowed to throw up my hands (although they can't stop me from throwing up) and dismiss him; I am going to educate the pop culture out of him. I am gonna work him until he writes a paper he can proudly show his grandma, who happens to be a friend of mine from my early teaching days.

I have my work cut out for me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Santa, Linus, Compassion, and Education

This past December 9, during my prep period, I turned a corner and found one of our most fabulous 6th grade teachers SOBBING, a student comforting her. The teacher saw me, waved me on. I ran and hugged her and then left them, respecting her wish to continue the conversation with the student.

Yesterday she shared what had happened, her eyes flooding.

"I ruined Christmas," she whispered.

A supporter of all things magical and joyous, a generous soul who quietly gives to her students, a Martha Stewart in the classroom which is tastefully decorated according to each season--there was no way this statement was true, even aside from its hyperbolic breadth; my face told her I didn't believe her.

"Inadvertently, of course. But parents have written and complained that I have no respect for imagination or the magic of Christmas and that I am an insensitive soul."

You see, my "callous" colleague thought it would be wonderful for her students to participate in the Make-A-Wish Foundation's® holiday campaign. She wanted her students to remember children across America who are experiencing medical challenges, to remind her class that thinking of others is important, to help them do something practical and easy to help others. (Can't you just feel her insensitivity and lack of imagination?)

But when a student asked why the class needed to stamp the envelopes to send letters to Santa...nonbelievers hooted, and the student looked to the teacher to call foul, but this HONEST EDUCATOR, who loves all things magical and respects truth and wants her kids to trust her, said something neutral along the lines that "Myth or not, we all can support this wonderful cause."

So. Some kids at age 11 believe Santa is real, that he's the one who, at no financial cost, is able to bring gifts to good kids, who sees them when they are sleeping and awake, omnipresent and omniscient, reaping all the love for the labor and sacrifice of the flesh-and-blood True Givers, flooding him with all the love that is due to others. (Obviously I have a strong opinion about Santa). This teacher's diplomatic reply was brought home, mistranslated: "Mrs. X says Santa isn't real," voiced in front of younger siblings. And the parents wrote mean letters, telling my friend she ruined Christmas for the whole family, that she is insensitive and doesn't care about imagination or the magic of Christmas. Yes, my colleague is so insensitive that she cried all weekend and now tears up if Santa is even mentioned.

Look, tell your kids what you want, but: If your idea of "CHRISTMAS MAGIC" overshadows greater notions of GENEROSITY, TRUTH, and HELPING OTHERS, then you need some schooling about what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown--so take it from the best, Linus himself, and back away from big hearted souls who are trying to make this life easier for your kids and less fortunate kids:

Macy's Believe holiday campaign benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation®. The nostalgic campaign was inspired by the New York Sun's famous "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" editorial from 1897 and includes letter-writing "Believe Stations" in Macy's stores across the country. For each letter dropped in Macy's Santa Letterbox, Macy's makes a $1 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1 million. And for each letter received on National Believe Day, December 9, Macy’s will donate an extra $1 to the Foundation.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Three Reasons I Love Teaching Eighth Graders: a Haiku

1) Imaginative
2) Quickly forget to "act cool"
3) Can converse deeply

When seminar kid, I., showed me his crossed fingers, I had to take a picture! Simple, original, funny. I. is by far the greatest in the class at reading aloud; he is thoughtful about plot and theme, supports the ideas of others, and he enjoys wearing ridiculous hats.

Speaking of hats, one seminar student last year loved his topper but understood the school's no-hat-in-the-classroom policy and decided to come prepared to maintain the good condition of his natty accessory with his own portable hat stand, the ultimate in nerdy coolness:

I hope these pictures begin to show you why I have the world's best job.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude and Remembrance

Sometimes a picture
is a far better teacher
than any lecture

I don't know who took this picture, but it is beautiful. Teachers often speak in military terms about our profession: long time teachers are "veterans", resource teachers aren't always considered "in the trenches" by regular classroom teachers, teachers swap "war stories" in the lounge, some "battle" for or against special testing of students. Unfortunately, there are teachers whose classrooms are emotional battlefields where children are casualties.

When dealing with difficult kids, resistant learners, I must remain conscious of what I fight: IGNORANCE, not a child; AN AMORAL CULTURE, not a child; APATHY, not a child.

Ephesians 6:12 puts it this way:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Let the dedicated teachers soldier on, fighting the good fight.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I am consistent
About making them wash hands
After every sneeze,

Hand sanitizer
for those with allergies. So
why do I get sick?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SALON 2011--and lumpia

It happened!

This year's seminar kids had their first salon--with a triple focus on memoir, extended cross-sense metaphor, and irony. Oh, and food...don't forget food, and by food I mean eggrolls, sweet and sour pork, three kinds of homemade cookies, 1.4 million bags of chips, 8 liters of soda, and (cue the singing angels) lumpia. God bless the Philippines.

I had forgotten how much work, and how near hopeless, it is to transform a classroom with fifty dollars, a ladder, and some push pins. Part of the trouble is that the salon was smack in the middle of the day, bracketed by a legitimate and challenging history lesson about Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence and slavery. Part of the trouble.

But these are pictures I took anyway after my 12 hour school day, amazed at how three hours could accomplish so little. I'll try to get some pics of the event itself, because I must tell you: it went well again, and this time about a dozen parents came (double last year), a letter of appreciation was sent to my principal about the event, and we had lumpia.

I count any event that involves lumpia as a clear and absolute success.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The writer, not the candy bar--and Alanis Morissette

So today in the middle of O. Henry's "A Retrieved Reformation," right when we get to the part where Jimmy gets engaged,
the kids start to talk to the story like some people talk to characters in a horror movie: "Oh no!" "She's a banker's daughter and he is a thief but she doesn't know it!" "Don't do it!" It is perfect because I am teaching them about different types of irony. Clearly they are grasping dramatic irony--when the readers know something the characters don't.

...and then they collectively gasp when little Agatha gets locked in the safe and Jimmy's fiancee asks if he can help--situational drama. (One girl makes fists and shakes her arms back and forth the same way hungry newborns do.) And after the last line is read, about five kids applaud, ten exhale audibly, and all 32 have smiles wreathing their faces.

And then they got EXCITED about their assignment: draw cartoons depicting the three types of ironies, either alone or in pairs. Oh, the buzz! They couldn't wait to get started, they couldn't wait to differentiate between the types of ironies, and they couldn't wait to show me some of their ideas: A love-struck girl is unaware of the big knife in her lover's hand; a plastic surgery seeker becomes the guest speaker at the national "Love Yourself the Way You Are" convention; a homeless man checks his homepage on Facebook, only to get an "Error 404" sign; a man calls an exterminator, unaware that the exterminator is himself a giant cockroach...

(One of my favorite moments was revealing the irony of the character's name--"Jimmy" means to pry something open--juxtapose that with "Valentine"???)

As for Alanis, CLICK HERE FOR A LINK to a post that analyzes her hit song, "Isn't it Ironic" to see if her examples are actually ironic. And CLICK HERE for a smile.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Senator Kehoe

A state senator--
coming to speak to our kids!
Hope she is upright...

Hope she reaches them,
sticks to the Constitution
and doesn't grandstand

Hope she interests them--
holds their fickle attention
and challenges them

I love that she chose
a middle school--most speakers
shun this strange age group

May her risky choice
be rewarded by a most
fascinated crowd.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It might be happening!!

This just may be the magical, the kids have been so good that there has been no need for Saturday School (where evil children do hard time)....almost all my students are doing all their homework...the normal distribution of grades in each class is abnormally skewed in the happy direction...and last Monday I got spontaneous and straight-up raucous applause from my Seminar class that had no idea what I meant!

All I said was, "Today will be our first Stupid M. Play-" and whoooo, boy, they just about woke the dead! A former student is doing some volunteer hours with me before she leaves to teach English in Korea, and I am so glad I had a witness. These are kids who want to be involved, jump in, learn! HUZZAH!

(I should add that to the magical year list--someone actually volunteering in a middle school classroom for nothing more than a diet Dr Pepper and the warm sense of satisfaction from helping others--)

Anyway, the only nonmagic is my study skills class. I had visions of transforming them, but really, my vision is much more literal now: come in, get to work, be productive. So far, they come in. The other two steps are next!

But I may have to call Disney: This year has the makings of a feel-good hit!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Haiku Vocabulary

Mission: to learn a bunch of new words

Secret mission: to make it kinda fun

Method: write a haiku describing the vocab word without using the vocab word. Write your name and the word on the back.

Who is Chuck Norris?* [on the back: VIRILE: adj]
Big, buff, hairy chest--look out!
What a manly man!

The next day, all the kids put their haiku on the desks. Have the kids circulate, trying to guess the vocab word before flipping the paper over to confirm their guesses. Heck yeah, it's kinda fun, because 8th graders are hilarious. The kids see the same word three or four times, but each time it's framed in a new way. Painless studying! Bonus points for the teacher if she plays some ragtime as background music.

(*actual vocab haiku written today by one of my new Seminar kids, J.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"On Top..."

Soooo my study skills class....the people who'd run it last year smiled at my enthusiasm. And maybe my tail was pretty bushy and my eyes a bit bright.

After a goal setting, getting acquainted, power-outaged first week and a nebulous homework-wrestling second week, things are just now starting to have a shape. As I went over to J. to see how he was doing, his grin echoed his words: "Hey Miss M, I have all my work done!"

Beaming back, I said, "Is it just me or do you seem to have it all together? You on a roll or something?"

And sincerely his eyes widened, his expressive hands went up, and he confided: "This is the first year that I've been on top of things. I hope I can stay there."

Me, too, J.: It's my job, my goal, my passion.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday's 9/11 Remembrance

One thousand students
In the morning sun, quiet,
Respectful: I'm warmed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mullets and Music: Teachers as Illuminators

The Best Principal in the Galaxy sent this link of Dr. Jeff Goldstein to her teachers today: click here

I'm thinking about the metaphor of teachers as light. Some students have dark home lives, dark thoughts; some think their future is dark. The photo is of Helen Keller and her awesome teacher, Annie Sullivan, who became Helen's eyes. Well, I, too, am in the enlightenment business! I want to let my light shine. How I pray that this is The Year for my students, if they haven't already experienced one, The Year their eyes open wide, a year of social, emotional, and intellectual delight: oh, let there be LIGHT!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

sometimes it's the little things

It's an unlooked for September miracle: the old new* TP dispensers were replaced with new new ones--lo, two-ply TP!! And the angels sing.

*I have no idea how this was funded--the replaced dispensers were only around a few years--hence my use of this oxymoronic phrase.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sweaty Eddie and Sweaty Betty

Back in the baking bungalow. It was only me, but even with three fans, it was over 90° in there.

Now imagine three dozen kids in there, too, sweatily resplendent in their fall finery, hoodies and high tops and tights despite the mercury, slaves to his majesty, King Fashion...

Some people would be foaming with rage if pound animals were kept in the conditions we allow our precious kids to endure.

Look, I know we have a luxurious time of it compared to Haiti and other developing countries.

But this is not Haiti.

Our schools house more wealth than banks--human capital--but our shortsighted, quick profit mentality coupled with mismanagement and comparably low pay for the educators lead to reluctance to invest in the One Sure Thing. Shame on us. Shame on U.S....

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Finally, you're here!
Excitement for this new year:

You're later than usual
(I was wondering

if you'd ever come)
But yes, my heart is racing
with hope and promise

My mind is bubbling
with possibilities and
ideas, and the

butterflies are back,

banging inside my stomach
getting me ready

for that magic bell
when the new school year begins.

--the magical year!!
the year of community
the year of large leaps

--the pivotal year
when all Johnnys learn to read
and shy kids take risks

and we love learning
so much the hour just flies by
and in June, we weep

because, even more
than learning, we have learned
to love each other

You make September joyous--
thanks for showing up

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Rodney Dangerfield of Academia

August, 2011:

She: "You went to grad school at Harvard? Which field?"
I: "The one no one respects."
She: "Education?"
Us: "Hahahahaha!" (but my laughter was bitter...)

My new friend, She, is not alone in her assessment. What is tragic about this very true story is that selecting teaching as a vocation is seen by the academic world as either proof of lack of interest in learning or of lack of intellectual capacity.

While carpooling to an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship academic conference of all the Harvard grad schools about the intersection of Christianity in the disciplines, we introduced ourselves, starting with the front seat: the driver was an astrophysicist, shotgun was a geologist, next to me was a linguist working on his eighth language, another physicist, and then me. When Astrophysicist heard my vocation, he blurted, "Why would you want to come to this event?" I was too shocked to respond. His blurting was the first time I'd faced academic snobbery. The silence grew awkward until Geologist came to the rescue, using heavy sarcasm: "Yeah, why would a teacher be interested in anything educational?" We all laughed--I could breathe again--but I was dizzy with bewilderment for a long while.

A very long while--this still bewilders me.

Harvard's motto is Veritas, Truth.
In this case, Truth hurts.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

just kill me now--oh wait...

Sooooo seminar kid C. chooses to write her persuasive speech in favor of euthanasia, but she just can't seem to get her paper off the ground. She tells me she is passionate about euthanasia, that she believes firmly that no one should have to live in agony, but she has no other arguments. I help her as best I can, suggesting she concentrate on free will and human dignity, asking if she has read enough about the topic; despite our efforts, C.'s paper is uncharacteristically thin.

The day arrives for C. to deliver her persuasive speech. C. trudges to the lectern and begins with a confession: she has just learned, seconds before, that she's had euthanasia confused with anesthesia all this time.


Saturday, July 9, 2011


underwear? easy.

my mind? a matter of course.

my attitudes? whoa.

New Venture, New Ideas

This September I'll have class full of ultra-reluctant learners--and I am excited about having them! It's a class for students who are below basic in reading or math. Our school started it two years ago, and it has evolved into a tutoring/study hall/on-line reading and math program.

In addition to increasing their reading and math abilities and confidence, my hope is to impact their mindset. These kids, even more than the others, have generally been mentally feral, left to feed on TV and videos, raised by their impulses and the media, consequently serving the twin gods, Immediate Gratification and Self.

I propose sharing with them stories of ordinary people who have done extraordinary things, who have shown courage, surmounted difficulties, or otherwise acted with greatness of heart. I may not transform them all into vital, literate, community pillars, but I am gunning to shatter that hard apathetic crust, to watch their minds expand to believe that their efforts really ARE more important and efficacious than their perceived abilities. And I have 36 weeks to go for it.

If you know of inspiring or motivational stories that kids (mostly boys) aged 12-15 would enjoy, please let me know!

Here are some of my current ideas:
2) The Olympic gymnast Shun Fujimoto, who performed his ring routine with a broken leg, knowing the pain he'd receive upon dismount
3) Christian the lion, about the impact of love and friendship
5) Six year old Ruby Bridges, who integrated a Louisiana school
6) Thirteen year old surfer Bethany Hamilton, who, after losing her arm to a shark, went surfing a month later
7) The marshmallow test of preschoolers
8) The walnuts and rice demonstration about priorities and time management
9) Austin's butterfly (from 2:01 to around 6:30)
10) Chuck Swindoll on attitude (see below)

Ideally I'd like to have 36 solid ideas. Ten down, 26 to go!

I leave you with Chuck's famous words:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church....a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes." — Charles R. Swindoll

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Last Words

As I sign student yearbooks, I ask them to sign a notebook of mine. I tell them I'll need their whole name so when they become famous I can retire from the money I make by selling their autograph on ebay.

Reading their entries is, by turn, moving, hilarious, motivating, and thought provoking. Here are some especially memorable entries from this year. (Don't be appalled by the inattention to the rules of grammar, spelling, or punctuation--their entries were voluntary and hasty first drafts since others were clamoring to write.)

First, apparently US History is weird:

Secondly, there are some cool perks to being a teacher. A. promises me NBA tickets, and L., a discount on any plastic surgery I may want:

T.'s hyperbole makes me smile--I've taught her soooo much!!:

A big surprise was the long entry (longer than most of his classwork) from M., one of the students involved in stealing my sodas. My heart melts at his accepting of academic and behavioral responsibility, his indirect confession and apology, his tacit understanding that I feel like a failure when my students don't do well:

Then there are a few entries that touch my heart and make me feel the year was successful, even though J. remained aloof and alienated and A. was content with her 73%:

And last, though there are many sweet words about me personally and "your my favorit teacher (sic)" entries, D.'s and T.'s mean the most: D's because I really do spend so much time and energy on lesson design and T.'s because he's one of the brightest people I've ever met and my daily fear was not challenging or engaging him:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

FOUND!! Never stolen!! YAYYYY!

My thumbtacked Albert Pujols baseball card was never stolen!! The card untacked somehow and slipped between the panels of my slidey whiteboard. I feel much better.

And the reason I even have this card is because I find Albert's last name incredibly amusing, in the same vein as the words "duties" and "molasses"....and I have adopted it as my swear word. When I drop something, I mutter "Pujols." Sometimes when I'm hurt I yell "Alberto!"

My Seminar class named our class mascot "Pujols." Here is a picture of him:

When kids traveled, they took Pujols with them and brought it back decorated with emblems and souvenirs from their destinations: Hawaii, Cancun and so forth...until S. brought him on our school's annual Washington, DC/NYC trip and lost it there. And when the class told me, under my breath, I swore the ultimate: "Alberto J. Pujols!"

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Every year, one of the highlights of the year is our all-8th-grade reenactment of Pickett's Charge, Lee's fateful gambit (wow, I've never actually used the word gambit before) that was the turning point of the battle of Gettysburg, and hence, many argue, of the war itself. My class takes the role of the Confederates against my colleague's Union army. (We lose every year.)

The night before, our soldiers write a rather prescient letter home after two indecisive days at Gettysburg and lay out their uniform for tomorrow: a gray hoodie or t-shirt. On the day of, they carefully secure the letter on their persons--in case they die-- and mentally prepare for battle by reading Joy Hakim's account.

General Lee, resplendent in uniform (handmade without a pattern by our talented financial secretary) and astride his trusty steed, Traveler (shown in the photo of a former student visiting me), along with General Pickett, lines up with his soldiers, while a replica of the Bonnie Blue Flag purchased by my colleague's mom and another replica of the more familiar Confederate flag (handsewn by a former student) snap in the breeze. A drummer beats out a marching cadence and we begin to sing the song we've earlier learned: "We are a band of brothers/Native to the soil/Fighting for the property/We gained by honest toil..." Our soldiers have gray slouch hats, thanks to generous ancestors, and off we march, having learned the week before how to march, halt, stand at ease, stand at attention, right, left, and about face. (It was beyond scary the first time I attempted to teach them to march outside the confines of the bungalow, but it usually is a super fun and wonderful day.)

As we march down the hallway, random 6th and 7th graders pop out of windows and wave (or shout) at us, but we are intent on keeping time and the soldiers are disciplined.

We reach Cemetery Hill in time to hear a few trumpet players from the local high school wrap up "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." We see the Angle, a low wall and the target of the attack, represented by a row of inverted garbage cans and butcher paper, protecting Mr. F's blue-garbed soldiers, Old Glory held high, General Meade proudly riding his horse. General Meade is also uniformed, thanks to our talented financial secretary. The Confederates swing into position, watching for the student who is holding up huge numbers which signify what actions they are to take as I begin a voice over of the battle from Interact's Civil War unit (I got the idea and the script from this unit and it has evolved into this big epic day with the help of Mr. F and Mr. T.). The sounds of battle (from the sound track of the war film Glory) are piped in as soldiers begin to be "shot", literally when their number is up, raised by the student on the hill. And when number ten is raised, the kids in gray t-shirts--er, Pickett's regiment--charge up the hill to engage in hand-to-hand combat.

And I mean it. They play Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine who lives and who dies in an engagement, but with this twist: Confederates must win twice in a row while Union soldiers need win only once. This mathematically ensures the slaughter of the Confederates that actually occurred that day. (My idea, and I am inordinately proud of it!)

Soldiers get to die as dramatically as they wish, as long as they keep in mind the B-5 Three Commandments:
1) Thou shalt not damage a prop.
2) Thou shalt not harm another person.
3) Thou shalt not harm thyself.

Clara Barton, reincarnated as an 8th grade girl and wearing a dress handsewn by that genius in the financial office, braves the bullets with two stretcher bearers wearing lab coats swiped from the science department, evacuating the smaller wounded soldiers to safety. A few years we had a dry ice machine creating battle smoke. Whoa...

When number eleven is raised and the drum beats a retreat tattoo, the remaining Confederates straggle to the "woods" where their distraught generals have watched the destruction of the regiment. And then it's over. But not yet.

Mr. F. has the "survivors" doff their hats, and as we survey the "carnage," he explains the meaning of Memorial Day and the significance of the battle we commemorated. And then, slowly, sweetly, Taps is played by the visiting trumpet players. I'm not gonna hide it: sometimes a tear slips out and rolls down my face.

Then Mr. F has the "dead" rise and rejoin the surviving Confederates. Our sides salute and huzzah each other for valiance, and then Mr. Lincoln comes out to dedicate the field as a final resting place to those who here gave their lives that the United States might live. It would be more impressive if we had a tall skinny middle aged man instead of our young female helper, but she reads it beautifully and wears a black jacket and top hat to good effect.

We march back to HQ, my bungalow, drop off the props and spray them with Oust for the next period, and then watch a five minute clip of the war film Gettysburg so the students can see the reality of what they were portraying.

It's a long day for us teachers (no prep, and even lunch is spent feeding our high school guests), but one they remember fondly, I hope. This year we had all the mobile special education students marching (the rest cheered from wheelchairs on the sidelines or waved Union flags), and it was such an honor for us all to include them. S. is a favorite--he is a diminutive fellow with long hair, glasses, and fondness for acting cool. Here is a shot of him.

I love my job.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

sunny side

I am suffering from a lack of positivity. This week has been full of disappointments, academic and behavioral, not least of which are two students expelled for selling drugs. Thefts, lies, apathy, parental anemia...the gamut.

So I must focus on something lighter.

We were playing our Civil War paper wad game (more in a future post), and a "dead" student was beseeching his general to use her one resurrection on him (what, you thought my game was realistic??). D. said to his general, "Please? I'll even map out the sentence for you: it starts with 'Resurrect' and ends with 'D.' "

And quick as quick, his general said, " 'Resurrect Alex,' said D."

Also, A. came after school yesterday to StudyFest and left confident: "I'm gonna ace the test tomorrow, Miss M!" He worked the whole hour this morning, checking his answers, and turned in his test with a nod of his outsized head. He came and high fived me in the afternoon when he learned he'd earned a B+. I am so proud of him. Seems funny, but sometimes it takes middle schoolers to the last test of their 8th grade year to put it together--that scoring well isn't magic or luck, and that it only takes a bit of time and effort.

More good news: SDCS may be rescinding some of the teacher layoffs.

And this weekend is my 2nd to the last weekend of grading! Woot.

And my colleague brought for me from the D.C./NYC trip a picture of Washington's dentures--and they are perfectly gross, gross enough for middle school US History! I leave you with this smile as I go to brush my teeth before bed:

from me this year--and never before:

...stolen: two glue caps,
a MacBook and power cord,
Pujols baseball card,

half dozen sodas--
And more than you bargained for:
all of my trust. Ugh.

what is going on?
where have all the boundaries gone?
disappointed...? Crushed.