Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In the beginning…my first blog entry

I doubt that I would have survived these 20-plus years as a public high school teacher if each and every day I didn’t ponder, “Is this the day?” You know that day–The Day to actually set your hair on fire and run screaming from the classroom. That day.

And now that I am just about to start my third year at my still-new-to-me school district in my new facilities, the irony is not lost on me that my classroom door is just mere feet from the emergency exit to the parking lot. So, you see, I really could set my hair on fire, run out the door, hop in my trusty blue mini-van and leave in a puff of smoke. If you love that kind of twisted humor, then I think you’ll like reading this blog.

Now that school is gearing up, I’m trying to shift my focus back to the classroom and my incoming students. I must say this focusing thing seems to get a bit more difficult each year. I know I’m not the only one. Kids have problems, too. Can’t you just hear the pens scribbling across prescription pads dispensing medication to treat ADD and ADHD in an attempt to find a magic pill to focus kids back on education? While I have no quick fix solution, sometimes I believe we should remember a simpler time when all a teacher had to do to focus students was to pop a bell ringer – an instructive little ditty that required no hands-on teaching from the instructor–on the overhead. Ah, those were the days, when kids labored over the day’s journal entry, math problem or some other bell ringer, while teachers throughout the school had a small, but important block of time to take care of things from attendance to handing back papers to recording grades.

My bell ringers always provide a small window of opportunity for me to exhale or inhale (depending on whether hyperventilation was in order for the day). Bell ringers also gave me a chance to survey the classroom scene and ponder whether this was, you know, “The Day.

Educational experts (defined as anyone and everyone who has ever sat in a classroom) like to ponder, too, and whine about the problems facing our public school system. They offer a wide array of this and that, believing they have the perfect solution to the problem du jour.

But I have a secret: perhaps instead of dissecting our educational system, we should just celebrate our successes, laugh at our shortcomings and learn from our mistakes and failures. This blog, Bell Ringers, is intended to provide stories from the trenches of more than two decades of classroom experience, three school districts, eight principals, four superintendents and hundreds of children. I’d also like to hear your stories, too, because we all need to celebrate, laugh and learn together.

To get us started, here’s one of my favorites: In my old school, I had just completed my allotted 20-minute lunch block with my lunch-bunch buddies when one of them — a social studies teacher — started talking about her morning class. She was lecturing about how prices have increased over the years. She used stockings as an example, except she used the word “hose.”

“I was telling the class about how the cost of hose had risen over the years, and I didn’t understand why most of the class was giggling,” she told us, “until my student teacher told me the class thought I was saying ‘ho’s’ as in prostitutes instead of nylons.”

Unfazed, she told the class it didn’t really matter which ones she was talking about — the point being that both have increased in price through the years.

Now, there’s a teacher for you, as well as a mini-lesson plan for laughter and learning – two things we certainly could use more of. Hopefully, you will find both here, and we can all survive another day.

And, should we fail? Well, we can always set our hair on fire and run screaming from the building.


Katharine Eliska Kimbriel said...

I'll share you with a few teachers -- you can survive together!

cbinsa said...

I love the hose story. I have one similar. In my very first semester teaching (at the age of 45) I pointed out to my 7th graders that I much preferred wearing shorts and thongs. They were nearly sick from the word image! Needless to say, I had forgotten that I really wear sandals, not skimpy underwear. Two years later I'm still getting questions about that.

It's great to hear from another Texas teacher, I look forward to reading more of your blog.

askthehomediva said...

Thanks for sharing such a funny story!