Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lots of Treats

The Haunted School House Carnival hosted by What It’s Like From The Inside is out and there are lots of things worth reading–too many good ones to list them all. A few of my favorites included EduGuru about lessons learned from dead CEOs, Joanne Jacobs’ No pitchfork, no underwear entry on Halloween costumes and Matthew Tabor’s comments on the Bill O’Reilly thing. Of course, you’ve read my entry Deadlines, Dumbledore & Hail. :-)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Deadlines, Dumbledore & Hail

I know you’re dying to know how last week’s double whammy deadline went. (Remember, some deranged person who skipped out of town the previous week, decided to have newspaper and yearbook deadline the same week?)

Well, newspaper made it out, but the jury’s still out on yearbook because I still have to sort through those pages right after I sort through 140 project pieces from a photography portrait assignment that some crackhead teacher (Oh, wait, that would be me… Now, before the rumors fly, let me just say I am not nor have I ever been a crackhead… Jeez, I’m starting to sound like Richard Nixon)… Rather, it’s simply my favorite hyperbole–no, not the Nixon thing, but the crackhead thing…

Ok, enough of my whining, let’s get back to the subject at hand… Deadlines always bring up a wealth of material for the Blogosphere. Some, sad to say, simply is not printable. For instance, the kids were all a bit discombobulated after J.K. Rowling outed Dumbledore. But I couldn’t discuss the matter with them at that moment because I had another urgent matter to attend to–dance practice for the Rock Star Pep Rally (and yes, that’s an entirely different story). So after admonishing them to remain focused, I left.

I’m sure it took all of, oh, about 10 seconds before the staff unanimously decided the Dumbledore revelation was more pressing then getting the newspaper to press. From what I've been able to piece together, the following occurred during my brief absence…

•Some sort of dancing was involved. On top of the table.

Pizza Andy and British accents were involved. Repeat After Me: When British accents are involved, No Good Can Come Of This.

•In a burst of sudden creativity, the staff decided J.K. Rowling should re-release the Harry Potter series, but from Dumbledore’s perspective. Naturally, this meant that instead of writing headlines for their newspaper articles, the staff had to rename all the Harry Potter books. (After all, why should they work on their newspaper pages?) Of course, political correctness flew right out the door. The tamest one, I believe, was Harry Potter and the Closet of Secrets.

When I returned, I duly chastised the children and settled down to proof what little work had been done.

And there it was… “hail bails.”

So I said, “Hmmm, I’ve always been a city girl, but even I know that ‘hail bails’ should be h-a-y b-a-l-e-s… Unless, of course, we are bonding out frozen pellets from the hoosegow.”

Don’t even get me started on the time (years ago and at another school) when self-of-steam reared its ugly head.

Yes, that’s right.


Or, softmore.

And, with that in mind, I thought it best for everyone involved for us to call it a night before Pizza Andy started talking British again and bad things happened.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Carnival of Education 142

The Carnival of Education 142 is here! Although I did not submit an entry this time (too busy having fun in Annapolis–aren’t you tired of me saying that?), there are lots of interesting posts regarding all things education.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Leave-No-Richie-Behind Law & Kodak Moments

I returned from my fab-u-lous trip where I saw my BFF. I suppose at some point I should chronicle that expedition, but right now I am so far behind in all my school-related work that will just have to wait.

I wish someone would pass the Leave-No-Richie-Behind law (not Nicole Richie, you silly, Richie me) and assign a highly qualified teacher to help me because, quite frankly, I’m sinking here and Nicole Richie doesn't need that kind of help. Whatever idiot decided to go out of town and come back right before progress reports were due and schedule a yearbook deadline and a newspaper deadline simultaneously should have her head examined (or put in the freezer). Yo, Dr. Phil, are you feelin’ it? Got any openings?

One interesting note… my school district managed to install about 70 security cameras at $1,000 a pop while I was gone. One hangs in the corridor by my room. So, you see, it captures everything: Why, there’s Richie doing her hall duty, there’s Richie coming back from the mailroom, there’s Richie chatting with the health teacher. Oh, my, is that Richie running out the emergency exit? Is that her hair on fire?

So you see, now, if I really do set my hair on fire and run screaming from the building, it’ll be captured…on film… Can't you just see it? Hear it?… “We have a breaking story,” the television anchor will interrupt and in a somber tone say, “Crazed teacher sets her hair on fire and runs screaming from the building. Film at 10.”

And, Holy Guacamole, it’ll be true.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Folders & Thing 1 & Thing 2

As I told you before, I have a folder in my right-hand desk drawer called, "Things that will get you fired." What I didn't tell you is, I also have a folder on my school email that says, "Things that suck." And after an interesting little conversation with She Who Shall Not Be Named (don't ya just love Harry Potter allusions?), I probably need to stuff that little electronic ditty into my "Things that will get you fired" folder.

But maybe, just maybe, I just need a folder called, "Things."

Wow, then I could have not one folder, but TWO folders. And, gollygeewillikers, I could call them Thing 1 and Thing 2.

I think I'm on to some thing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Woo-hoo! Carnival of Education Week 141 is here

The Carnival of Education: Week 141 is out. I am honored to be included among so many great posts. You can check them all out at the Education Wonks. But here are just a few of my favorites…

First and foremost, you’ve got to check out the Rightwing Prof. I had no idea professors had to suffer through inane professional development. Read this one and see if you don’t find yourself yelling, “Amen, amen, amen!” (I know I did.) The Rightwing Prof is my new hero.

I also found Ms. Cornelius’ entry interesting. She shares the feelings of a lot of teachers I know. See what you think. I could say more about the other posts, but Jeez Louise, check it out yourself. Do I hafta do everything?!

All my bags are packed

“Well my bags are packed and I’m ready to go…”

Oh Jeez, if you didn’t want me rapping, you really don’t want me singing. Just a brief note to let you know I am headed north of the Red River and over yonder to the east coast for fun and frivolity to visit my BFF who teaches somewhere around Annapolis. I have not been back to the Washington, D.C. area in more than, ahem, 30 years. She moved there three years ago and has been unrelenting in badgering me to visit. Ok, Ok, Ok, so she's visited here a few times. All right, all right, so she's returned numerous times and pointed out that a true BFF would hop on a plane and come visit.

So I’m hopping on the plane to see her and I also get to see my former high school journalism teacher who is now retired. It’s going to be a great trip.

But anywho, I’ve got my check list… bags packed, camera, printed boarding pass, sunglasses, Mr. Teacher’s book to review on the plane, passport… oh, wait, I guess I don't need my passport since the Great Republic of Texas joined the union in 1845…

Well, I'm off.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mark Cuban, Dancing with the Stars & Pocket Change

I was flipping through my 300-plus channels of television satellite nothingness when I stopped at “Dancing with the Stars” to watch Maverick’s owner gajillionare Mark Cuban do some jive dancing. I just love it when the “Cubinator” (as the television host called him) pops up in the media. Mr. Cuban always makes me laugh.

I remember when he was fined $500,000 in 2002 for his now-famous comments about referees. Just in case you missed it, he told the Dallas Morning News, “Ed Rush (head of officiating) might have been a great ref, but I wouldn’t hire him to manage a Dairy Queen.”

Not only did that remark earn him the record-breaking fine, but it also spawned a media frenzy and a trip to a local Dairy Queen where Cuban served up Blizzards and such. Sometimes free speech isn’t exactly free. Cuban took it with a shrug.

Pocket change, I guess.

But that kind of change would, well, change my world.

Stuff like that always gets me thinking: If only I didn’t have (fill in the blank), I could…

Sometimes I amuse myself by drafting letters to the likes of Mark Cuban, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates.

“Dear Mr. Cuban…Since you seem to have some spare change lying around, perhaps you could pick up my daughter’s college loans? We only owe about $40,000—that’s less than 10 percent of the fine for speaking your mind about those nasty refs…”

Or, “Dear Ms. Winfrey…Did I tell you about this little book I wrote that’s just guaranteed to fly off the shelves if you’d only help me get it published and make just a teensy, weensy mention of it to your book club…”

Or, Dear Mr. Gates…

Well, you get the picture…Twisted, I know. Needless to say, those letters never made it to the post office.

Still, the thought of what life would be like with the Cubinator’s pocket change gnaws at me on a fairly regular basis. It’s usually exacerbated by some dimwitted teacher in-service, or an unusually vitriolic parent phone call or even some Oprah giveaway. At this point, I’m probably on my “Get Rich Quick Scheme No. 782” to supplement my income or “How To Find That Corporate Sponsor No. 632 to help offset the costs of this or that publication expense.

Now, my “I-grew-up-in-the-depression” parents whose parents immigrated to this country in the 1920s always told me that no one gets rich without hard work. But if hard work and long hours were the main criteria for getting rich, Mark Cuban and I would be sipping drinks at dinner parties together and discussing the state of teens today. But we’re not because those of us on the front lines of public education cannot parlay our hard work into that kind of dollars and cents.

The best I can bank on is for one of my students to grab the American dream and become rich and famous, which would then allow me to sell something of theirs on eBay: Why here is the pencil Spencer used once when he was drawing his masterpiece, bidding starts at $1,000; here’s a notebook Eric used when he jotted down notes for his Great American Novel, a steal at a mere $2,500; there’s a sketch Carly made before she won the Nobel prize for her research, a real charmer at $800.

That, my friends, is what I fondly refer to as my “teacher retirement plan,” but quite frankly, I’m none too hopeful that I’m going to capitalize that way. Instead, I’ve started to think of other opportunities and am resigned that maybe I won’t look so bad in one of those Wal-Mart greeter vests.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Step Right Up & Drop Right In…New Carnival Is Out

That's right folks…The new Education Carnival (Week 140) is out hosted on The Tempered Radical site.There's quite an interesting collection of all matters, well, educational. Drop by there for a wide range of stuff (which btw includes one of my posts, “Clock Hours and Bong Hits for Jesus.”)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pep Rallies, Pope Reagan the Jedi Master & Soulja Boy

Students filled the halls in Spiderman, Superman and other comic book hero costumes. Pretty standard fare. It’s Friday in Texas (where we take our high school football games seriously), Pep Rally Day and, as with all Friday Spirit Days, we had a theme, and this one was, obviously, Super Heroes.

Andy (of the weekend old pizza fame) dressed himself as Pope Reagan the Jedi Master wearing a Pope hat fashioned out of construction paper that he just happened to have in the backseat of his car (makes you wonder about the boy, doesn’t it?), a Ronald Reagan face he ripped from Wikipedia and a black robe (which he pointed out wasn’t exactly a real Jedi robe, but would suffice in a pinch). And, of course, what ensemble wouldn’t be complete, I ask you, without an official Star Wars light saber? Yep, he had one of those too.

The entertainment editor who was accompanying Pope Reagan the Jedi Master just shook her head and said, “Don’t ask. Please don’t ask. You don’t want to know.”

And my editor, well, she just giggled and said, “Don’t ya just feel a blog coming on?”

Looking at the Pope Reagan the Jedi Master Super Hero creation just illustrates a point I’ve known all along…We certainly can produce creative thinkers and not squelch independent thinking in public schools.

Later that afternoon at the pep rally, the kids performed a skit and dance to “Crank Dat” by Soulja Boy…a catchy little ditty and dance. I marveled at all those Super Heroes dancing in perfect synchronization on the gym floor.

“Why didn’t I know about this?” I shouted to my Spanish teacher friend above the blaring music. “Wouldn’t it be fun to do this?”

She just rolled her eyes and sighed.

But even her less-than-tepid response couldn’t dampen my new-found enthusiasm. After a little googling here and a little googling there, I discovered an instructional video on YouTube on how to do the dance. (Shows you just how far I've ventured from the Coolness Loop.)

Confession #1: I added myself to the more than 9 million hits for the instructional dance video.

Confession #2: “My name is Richie and I'm a terminally old geek…” Yes, I admit it. I tried the dance at home and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, my daughter, I think, used the term “disturbing.” (She never lets me have any fun.)

There’s even a clever little Sponge Bob version with more than 8 million hits and the Barney version with more than 4 million hits. Can you believe even the purple dinosaur can dance the dance? I was crushed–even a fat dinosaur is cooler than me.

Confession #3: Not only did I watch the videos, but shhhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone, I, ah, well I ah, rapped it. (Ok, so I tried to rap it as much as any old white woman can rap… “watch me crank it, watch me roll, watch me crank dat….” Ok, ok, so maybe, just maybe that’s an image you don’t want.)

This morning, when I was a bit morose about the whole I-am-so-out-of-the-Coolness-Loop as well as the I-feel-like-dancing-but-don’t-know-how-to-anymore syndrome, the Dallas Morning News had a story about Soulja Boy and “Crank Dat.” He talks about the clever videos his fans have made and notes that it takes a lot of time and effort to edit a video to make it look like Sponge Bob is saying the words to the song.

Soulja Boy who is 17 also said something about still dreaming of becoming a computer animator. Image that, him with his gajillion bucks for a dance I can’t dance and a song I can’t rap (or understand for that matter), still has a dream of being a computer animator.

All of that got me thinking (never a good thing) about those YouTube videos. And then, of course, I got to wondering just how old those creators are who made those videos. And then naturally I got to wondering if they were like Pizza Andy–creative, independent products of our public school system or whether they were mere anomalies–self-taught products of a media saturated society?

And while I pondered the educational value of all of that, my daughter informed me she learned how to spell bananas from Gwen Stefani (you know, “Hollaback Girl”… And no, I’m not going to sing it to you.)

Bananas? B-a-n-a-n-a-s…

I’ll let you decide what that says about public education because the whole thing quite frankly just makes my head explode.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Clock hours & Bong Hits For Jesus

No wonder I'm so-o-o-o tired.

I decided to use my higher level math skills and added up the number of hours I worked for the month of September. Once I factored in (notice the math terminology to make me sound smart) Labor Day–a holiday for most people, I figure that the "average" person worked 192 hours. (Notice I am not going to step into the quagmire of defining "average" person.)

Somehow I managed to clock in 265.5 hours–that's 73.5 more hours than the "average" person. It's that yearbook newspaper thing, and then there's that planning preparation thing…oh yeah, and don't forget about that grading thing…

I think I need a nap–this sudden realization sent me from tired to exhausted–and all that math didn't help either. Sigh.

But, in the spirit of my promise to myself to be more upbeat and think happy, positive thoughts… Well, let's see… Oh yeah… Ya gotta love a job that let's you write: "Bong Hits For Jesus" on the board.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My Top 10 No-Good-Can-Come- Out-Of-Any-Conversation-That-Starts-With…

Certain conversation starters make me push the panic button. They send up red flags and a chill down my spine. We all dread them. You know the ones. I have some personal favorites. Most of mine are tied to yearbook and newspaper deadlines because that's what I do 24/7.

So here's my Top 10…

#10… "Before you get mad, I've got it under control…no one shot the freshman football games and there aren't any more games left so…"

#9… "We have a situation… the server's down and I didn't save…"

#8… "Ok…so…uh…so… Andy ate that old pizza that's been sitting out all weekend and it had green stuff on the pepperoni…"

#7… "If you promise not to kill me, I need to tell you something… Remember when we were PDF-ing files? Well, I accidentally deleted page 10…"

#6… "Don't kill the messenger… but did anyone tell you the date on the front page is wrong…"

#5… "Now, don't worry, but… I lost the lens bag along with…"

#4… "Before you start, let me finish… I don't have my story, but I do have my notes…"

#3… "Shnikeys!…
Has anyone seen my notebook? You know the one that had all my interview notes…"

#2… "Oh no, she's coming… Quick, hurry. The backroom smells like onion rings and there's styrafoam cups all over the place…"

And, my #1 (drum roll pah-leese) No-Good-Can-Come-Out-Of-Any-Conversation-That-Starts With…

"Do you have any paper towels?… I just spilled coffee all over my desk and, uh, the laptop…"