Thursday, December 24, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
With Christmas break just a day away, those darn tootin’ yearbook pages demanding my attention and grades and all matters of stuff that needs tending to, I may not post my normal insightful reparatee this coming week.
I did, however, post a rather interesting and amusing post on Technorati a few days ago entitled “Jeepers, Creepers, Watch Those Meepers!” It even made the Technorati front page. While I encourage you to go over there and read it and post comments, I have include the post below as well…
Blame the soothing effects of tryptophan from my Thanksgiving turkey that lulled me into a semi-comatose, ignorant state. Otherwise, how could I have possibly missed the Meeps story? Or how could I possibly explain that I probably wouldn't even have discovered the story if I hadn't been researching, planning and updating my First Amendment unit for my high school journalism class.
According to the Student Press Law Center and the Salem News, the principal of Danvers High School in Massachusetts sent one of those recorded computer messages (that we all love) to parents warning them that any student who said or displayed the word “meep” at school could face suspension.
Hmm. Let me get this right. Forget about your basic profanity and let's instead move into the realm of made up words. "Meeps" supposedly is a word that can mean just about anything and everything. It's origins apparently come from the sound that the Muppet Beaker makes.
And if all that wasn't bad enough, there was some online talk of a mass meeping somewhere in the school. Now, school administrators aren't the only ones who take a dim view of school disruptions. While I know judges generally do not uphold First Amendment freedoms for kiddos if they cause such disruptions, I'm not exactly sure how the high court would feel about a meep-ruption.
No such meep-ruption occurred and the principal never did provide an explanation for why the word itself should be banned. The whole thing seems to be, well, rather silly.
Now, I am not a lawyer or a Supreme Court judge or a Fox News expert on constitutional law, but I do think I'm a pretty good judge of things that are just plain silly stupid.
I think this meeping thing fits rather nicely into that category.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
With only a few days left, I think we may just be able to Woo-hoo our way into Christmas break. How great is that?
The London Times online education site, SchoolGate, also reviewed my book, How to Lose Your Self of Steam & Other Teaching Lessons I Never Learned From Professional Development. Sarah Ebner's review paid me the ultimate compliment when she wrote that the book “made me almost wish I'd gone to an American school myself.”
But don’t take my word for it, go there and read the entire review.
And while you are bouncing around in the EduSphere, hop on over to Carnival of Education hosted over at Free Home Education. My post, “My Sunny Disposition, Pell Grants & Pilgrims,” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. Still, you know, you know, you know that if you want to stay in the know, you really need to see what else is buzzing around the EduSphere by going there.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
We can Woo-hoo today and it’s not even Woo-hoo Wednesday! We have two more reviews. One is over at Blog Critics magazine. You can read all about it here and while you are there you can even post a nifty comment. You can even digg it and tweet it if you are into that sort of thing.
My blogging buddy, Mr. Teacher, also reviewed the book and you can read his review by going here. Posting a nifty comment there would be nice as well, and/or you can digg it as well.
Of course, if you haven’t read my book yet, well, Jeez Louise, what are you waiting for? You can beboop over to Amazon and purchase a nifty copy of How to Lose Your Self of Steam for yourself or a friend for Christmas. And, here’s a handy, dandy link for you.
And, while you’re shopping at Amazon, check out two other books by blogger friends of mine–Mr. Teacher’s book, Learn Me Good, and Joanne Jacob’s book, “Our School.”
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Suffice it to say if you had had to walk in my shoes this week, well, I think you would have chunked them at the nearest target in a fit of protest and run away.
I think all of this had to do with being on newspaper deadline, yearbook deadline and progress report deadline. And, of course, it didn’t help my sunny disposition when I didn’t win a door prize at the faculty Christmas party either.
And, of course, my sunny disposition is getting just a tad tired waiting for Oprah to get back to me on my book. (Oh, come now, don’t be a dream-killing-naysayer. I know I stand about as much a chance of that happening as, well, winning a darn-tootin-door-prize at the faculty Christmas party.)
All of this angst was exacerbated by the fact that my newspaper editor and news editor made fun of my previous post regarding the purchase of my new $98 skin care regimen. (They made little snide remarks like “Did you really pay $98?!” and “Do you really think it’s working at all?…” or my favorite, “Maybe you should try the stuff my mother uses. That seems to work.”
I suppose, though, the most unsettling thing occurred while my journalism class was sharing their current events. If you think the under 25 set listens to even a fraction of what you or anyone else says, you would be sadly mistaken, Missy. In fact, I’m not sure they listen to anyone. Here’s my proof…
One student shared a story about how there was an $18 million shortfall in the Pell Grant program.
“Why are Pell Grants important to you?” I asked the class.
“Because they gave us Thanksgiving…” one student answered.
“What?” I along with the rest of the class said (perhaps a bit too loudly).
“What in the world are you talking about?” I asked.
“Oh, wait,” he said, “it’s because they discovered America…”
“What?” I said—this time walking over to the nearest chair to sit down.
“Pilgrims,” he said.
“Pell Grants,” I said.
“I thought you said Pilgrims,” he replied.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that neither the Pell Grants nor the Pilgrims discovered America.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I blame peer pressure. At 52 years of age, you would think one would be impervious to that sort of thing. Pathetic, I know.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
A big Woo-hoo! (And it’s not even Woo-hoo Wednesday).
We have another spectacular review of How to Lose Your Self of Steam & Other Teaching Lessons I Never Learned From Professional Development over at Scholastic Scribe. You should check it out by going over there.
My friend Sarah Ebner over at the London Times SchoolGate site also gave the book a little shout out. You can see that by going here.
And then after going over there, you need to hop on over to Amazon. com or at the Journalism Educators Association bookstore and pick up a book or two for you and all your teacher friends, parents and favorite students. It would be a fab-u-lous holiday gift. (And yes, this is all shameless self-promotion. I’ll get back to the real business of blogeroo writing next week.)
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Woo-hoo! What a great way to start my Thanksgiving break! Renowned blogger and educational guru Joanne Jacobs reviewed my book, How to Lose Your Self of Steam & Other Teaching Lessons I Never Learned From Professional Development. You can read her comments here.
And then, of course, you’ll want to pop on over to Amazon and pick up a copy of my book and toss in a copy of her book, and then voila, you’ve got your free shipping. Wow! It doesn’t get any better than that.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
People often ask me how I come up with subjects for my blog. Well, if you spent even just a few hours with my DIs (Darling Inspirations), you, too, would see how topics just appear--kind of like those nasty villians in scary movies that pop out of nowhere.
Sometimes they scare the bejeebers out of me, and by “they,” I’m not talking about those villians either.
When I returned to school after my trip to Washington, D.C., I entered the school with just a tad bit of dread as to what disasters awaited. Much to my surprise--a pleasant one at that--I found my door and classroom decorated in celebration of my award and my book.
Ever the opportunist, the DIs in all my classes used my return as an excuse to bring their own food and hold an inpromtu party of sorts--probably in violation of all those nasty little rules regarding acceptable food consumption.
I’m not quite sure if it was my absence or their sugar consumption, but the DIs and I had a tad bit of trouble understanding each other upon my return. I don’t know if my hearing got worse or their mumbling became more pronounced.
One conversation went something like this…
Student… “blah blah blah?”
Student… “Where else did you go?”
Me… “I went to visit my best friend in Annapolis…”
Student… “What? Your friend lives in a necklace?”
Me & Everyone else… “What?”
Student… “A necklace?”
Me… “A necklace?”
Everyone else… “What?”
Me… “I said AN-NAP-PO-LIS…”
Student… “Oh, Annapolis. I thought you said ‘necklace.’ That would have been a pretty big necklace…”
When I repeated the story to my newspaper staff, my omelette-making-sports-editor said, “Well, you could live in a necklace if you where a Who…”
“Who?” I asked. “What who? Who’s a who…”
“You know, Whoville,” he said. “You could live in a necklace if you lived in Whoville.”
The rest of the staff just nodded in agreement.
“I didn’t go to Whoville,” I stammered. “I went to Annapolis.”
I called my BFF later that day and told her the story.
“Well,” she said, “is it a pretty necklace? I don’t want to live in a tiny one.”
Next time, when someone wants to know where I’ve been, I think I’ll save everyone a lot of trouble and just say, “Whoville.”
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
After spending a week in the nation’s capital attending the National Scholastic Press Association convention, promoting my book and sightseeing, I suppose I’m ready to head back to the great Lone Star state and resume my classroom duties.
I think I can do that.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
It’s that time again to head on out to the midway to see what’s buzzing about in the EduSphere. Yep, the Carnivals are up. The EduCarnvial V2 can be found over at Epic Adventures are Often Uncomfortable. The Carnival of Educators #3 can be found at the Examiner.com. My post, “The Richie Hata’s Club, T-Shirts & Interesting Emails,” was included, but you don’t have to go on the midway to read it there. It’s right here.
And if all of that weren’t enough, hop on over to the BlogCritics magazine to check out another post of mine, “Waiting for Patience.” Although not education related, I think you’ll enjoy reading about my top 5 “Bucket-less List,” so head on over there.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
The Richie Hata’s Club grew this week, an unintentional by-product of being in the publications biz.
I shrugged it off, though, partially because I was wearing my nifty, spiffy “Don’t Be A Big Fat Stupid Head” t-shirt. I decided it was worth the money to print the minimum dozen order, so I could wear one willy-nilly through the halls surreptitiously calling people a BFSH without really doing so, thereby keeping my nifty little timer ticking. Clever, huh?
I also shrugged the Hata’s off because by 9 a.m. Friday, my poor principal looked like he needed an entire case of BFSH t-shirts. I would have bought him some, too, but then he would have had to increase my stipend. And well, my friends, we all know that isn’t going to happen. This is Tejas, after all. (I probably should explain that little remark, but then that is exactly the kind of thing that would get me into all kinds of trouble–and not even a truckload of BFSH t-shirts could save me from that one. Instead, I’ll just file that little piece of info in my “Things That Will Get You Fired Folder.”)
So back to the Richie Hata’s Club. I received some “interesting” emails this week. (Remember the word “interesting” is our little code word for things that range from nine kinds of stupid to snarky to rendering one speechless.)
I received an email from a parent who was upset at me because they missed the final deadline to purchase an ad for their senior. (You know, the ads that appear in the back of a yearbook where parents run baby pictures and say wonderful things about their kiddo?) Despite mailing home the information, announcing it almost daily and posting it on the school website, the parent missed it all and missed the deadline.
The parent’s biggest complaint? The information was posted on the school website.
The parent said they couldn’t afford the Internet.
“Interesting,” I thought as I crafted my reply and clicked the “send” button.
Here was an email that apparently found its way into my inbox. I’m guessing from the Internet.
I wonder what Al Gore would have to say about that.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Just a few little reminders…
#1… The EduCarnival V2 is up and running over at I’m a Dreamer. Check it out. There’s lots of good stuff over there. My post on “Deadlines, Omelets & Banned Chocolate” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. But, my dears, you really need to take a walk down that midway so you can walk the walk and talk the talk about all that is important in the EduSphere.
#2… If you just love to read more fun stuff from me, head on over to Blogcritics magazine and read my latest post, “Making the god of Exercise Smirk.” Although it’s not education related, I still think you will be amused.
#3… And, of course, please keep spreading the good news about my book, How to Lose Your Self of Steam & Other Teaching Lessons I Never Learned From Professional Development. You can order it online at amazon.com or from the Journalism Educators Association Bookstore.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Somehow we managed to survive this deadline without our Emergency Chocolate drawer. Of course, that made us all a tad bit more snarky than usual.
The lack of EC had absolutely nothing to do with efforts to shed 5,000 pounds, acknowledge the evils of refined sugar or fit into those pair of blue jeans now stashed in the back of my closet.
No siree, Missy.
We can blame this entire 5-alarm chocolate-less state of emergency on a nasty little email sent just days before we launched into our second newspaper deadline. This little electronic ditty outlined some not-so-nice edicts from a bunch of state bureaucratic chocolate hatas. Jeez Louise, what is the world coming to?
The email went something like this “blah, blah, blah, high schools may not serve or provide …blah, blah, blah… candy at any time anywhere on school premises… blah, blah, blah…such foods and beverages may not be sold or given away to students on school premises by school administrators or staff (principals, coaches, teachers, etc.), student or student groups, parents or parent groups, guest speakers or any other person, company or organization…blah blah blah… stricter penalties… blah blah blah…”
Is there anyone left in the free world not on that list that can slip us a little contraband chocolate? Now, I know these little rules have been around for a bit, but like Jack Sparrow, I rather preferred to think of them as merely “guidelines,” mate. Apparently, such is not the case.
According to these rules, you can dive into a sugar-laden, fat-filled frenzy after school hours, but not during school. No illegal chocolate for the sports guys after they discovered they desperately needed a quote from the golf coach, who hasn’t been seen in days because the team’s at a tournament. No chocolate. None. Nadda. Zip.
And, no forbidden chocolate either for my cute little editor-in-chief when she discovered–once again for the gazillionth time–that no one shot her photos for the centerspread. No chocolate for her either. None. Nadda. Zip. Just two blank pages staring back at her.
And, there was no emergency chocolate for the rest of us either when–in the midst of deadline–we asked one of the sports guys, “Hey, what are you doing?” as he popped paper plate after plate into the microwave with some sort of egg concoction instead of working on his pages.
“Making omelets for my Spanish class,” he replied.
Now, I’m not exactly sure where mixing and microwaving omelets fit under the chocolate hatas memo. I remember seeing some link that had the words “square meal” somewhere, but I didn’t bother having a look.
You see, my meals come on round plates, and the only thing square comes in the form of a little banned chocolate bar.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Woo-hoo! Two carnivals are running in the EduSphere this week, and I have posts on both.
I Want To Teach Forever hosts Issue 10 of the Educarnival v2. My post on “Witches, Warnings & Phone Calls” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read about it here.
Notes From A Homeschooling Mom unveiled her first carnival, the Carnival of Educators. Although hosted by a homeschooler, the carnival is open to all educators. Pop on over there to see what’s going on. My post “Thing 1, Thing 2 and Fish Clappers” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read about it here.
Still, you need to stroll on down the midways so you are in the know and not a ninnyhammer.
And speaking of ninnyhammers, I’m getting Big Fat Stupid Head t-shirts to help promote my book. I have to order more than two, so if you are interested in one, let me know. Cost will be about $12. Shoot me an email at email@example.com
And speaking of my book, it is out. If you preordered at amazon.com, your book should ship sometime next week. If you haven't ordered you book, well my dears, what in the Sam Hill is stopping you? Pop on over to Amazon or the JEA bookstore will also be taking orders soon. I’ll let you know when the book is available through the JEA site.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
With Halloween just mere days away, I probably should rush out to buy a costume, but that’s really not necessary. You see, I’ve been feeling rather witchy lately, and I don’t think I need a little pointy hat to prove that point either. No siree, Missy.
Perhaps it’s this lingering cold courtesy of the high school cooties wafting through our halls.
Perhaps it’s because some idiot (that would be me) scheduled newspaper deadline and yearbook deadline for the same week.
But just as likely, though, this witchiness is simply because I’m old, tired and a tad cranky.
All of which explains why we had to institute Richie’s “Phone Home” plan this week. It went something like this…
I have this great kid on my newspaper staff, but he, along with a few other boys, will occasionally say or do something inappropriate. There’s a particular word that’s pretty popular with the teen crowd, but nonetheless remains inappropriate in my classroom. It’s not even a cuss word, and it’s not that I’m a prude about such thing, but I am, however, a stickler for using language not only correctly but in the correct place.
So, my newspaper staffer uses this word, but I’m feeling nice, so I issue a warning. Warning #1 goes something like this, “Please don’t say that word again, or we’re going to have to call your mom because I don’t think she would like you using that word in my classroom.”
Days later the offending staffer uses that same inappropriate word. Amazingly, I am still feeling a bit warm and fuzzy, so I issue Warning #2 with a sterner voice. It goes something like this, “I told you not to say that word again. If you say that word one more time, we are going to have to call your parental unit.”
Days later the offending staffer repeats that word. Unlike the mom in the grocery store who repeatedly threatens her tantrum throwing toddler, I don’t issue empty threats. We called the staffer’s Dad, and the staffer had to tell Dad why Richie was so upset.
I don’t think Mr. Staffer will use that word again in my classroom.
Maybe I should buy a broom.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
(Writers note: This post was featured first on Technorati this week. Please excuse my lateness and my laziness for not posting something different, but I’ve been battling high school germ cooties. Despite my Clorox wipes, Lysol spray and hand sanitizer, I still feel as if I’m living in a petri dish.)
In my little world, Friday brings two things. For fun, let’s call these things “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.”
Thing 1… Every Friday morning, I reward myself for surviving the week with my requisite nonfat, three raw sugar latte. If you’ve ever had the privilege of teaching in a high school, you’re probably saying, “Amen sister!” right about now. (A few of you may even be ordering a double shot of something.)
Thing 2… Somewhere along the way I thought it would be a fabulous idea to institute a weekly Current Events Day. (After all, I teach a journalism class.)
Friday’s class goes something like this… The kiddos bring in an article that interests them. Each kid talks about his article. Then other kids comment about the article. Then we all applaud with these nifty little fish clappers I purchased on line.
Sometimes, though, the comment portion makes me just want to whack myself in the head with those fish clappers. Last week I smacked myself twice. One kid tried to convince the rest of us that President Obama won two Nobel Peace Prizes, and another kid, like, used the word, like, oh, I don’t know, like, about 20 times in, like, 20, like, seconds. (I bet you’re, like, wanting to borrow those clappers, like, right about now.)
But besides those two minor incidents, most of the class brought in two articles that mirrored the buzz around the nation. For fun, we’ll call these things “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.”
Thing 1… The story of the 6-year-old Colorado boy who was thought to have been inside a wayward weather balloon, but was later found hiding in his family’s garage attic.
Thing 2… The story of a 6-year-old New York Cub Scout who was suspended from school for bringing his little Cub Scout camping utensil to eat his lunch.
In Thing 1, my journalism kids pretty much agreed with the buzz across the nation that a family who appears on a reality show like “Wife Swap,” claims to have flown alien spaceships in a previous life, and then makes the media circuit (even though their kid throws up twice) is probably just a tad to the left of crazy. Even the kids questioned whether the ordeal was a publicity stunt before the sheriff’s department announced that charges would be filed in the incident.
In Thing 2… Some in the class argued in favor of leaving cute little Zachary alone and putting him back in school. Others favored punishing the 6 year old. It’s the old Zero Tolerance faction pitted against the Use Discretion and Common Sense faction.
Just like in the national arena, we didn’t resolve the Zero Tolerance issue either, but at least, we got to use the fish clappers and dispel the two Nobel Peace Prize rumor.
Now about that “like” thing. Well, that’s going to take, like, more then, like, my clapping fish and one Friday to handle. Let me, like, get back to you on that one.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
FYI… If you’re interested in a more serious side of Richie, you can hop on over to technorati and read an article of mine called “Taking Trouble Out of the Classroom.” It was on the front page of technorati for a bit, now it’s on the right hand side of the front page of the lifestyles section. I’m not sure how long it will remain up there. Or, you can simply go here to access it.
Let me know what you think. Post a comment there if you feel so inclined.
Well, howdy pard-ners. Did ya really think we could have a carnival in October without Big Tex? Seriously folks, even Oprah showed up at the great State Fair of Texas and tried some of that fried butter and what she called “corn doggies.”
So here we are meetin’ and greetin’ under the 52-foot-tall Big Tex. Our post pickins’ was a bit slim this go-around. I guess all the rain here kept some of you away. Either that or those pesky grades being due kept you from exchanging your red pen for a corn dog.
Now, before all ya hatas out there start, please note that the Fair Committee (ahem, that would be me) decided not to include posts that solely appeared to aim at sellin’ stuff. This is not to say I don’t indulge in shameless self-promotion from time to time myself--(Have you pre-ordered my book?)--but let’s rent a booth along the midway and hawk our wares that way.
So, here we go…
Oh, there’s Joanne Jacobs by the corn dog stand talking about that dangerous little boy, Zach, who brought his little cub scout thing to school. Horrors. Thank goodness he didn’t bring a spork!
Mr. Teacher is getting warmed up for the ring toss. He could use a little fun after spending four days administering benchmark tests and watching the kiddos getting stumped.
Hey y’all, forget about that 1,100 pound pig. Just when you thought it was safe, well, here we have the 20 Weirdest Courses Online & Offline… I can learn about YouTube, how to walk, study zombies and so much more. Zombies, you say? Oh, Jeez Louise, why not? It’s not any weirder than my bout with shape shifters.
And speaking of weird, I’m A Dreamer has a short little post on How Not To Behave During Parent/Teacher Conferences.
Anyone care to guess the average IQ of people along the midway? No? OK. Teacher Food asks if we really care about the average SAT scores of our neighbors or are there more important things we need to be teaching in our classrooms.
Old Andrew from Scenes from the Battlefield ponders hard work and the tendency for folks to think that learning requires little effort.
Over at bloomin’ minds… oh wait, make that Minds in Bloom, we have eight nifty ways to put creativity and critical thinking into your busy day. And then let’s go over or I suppose I should say down under, to Footsteps of Aristotle who wants to know why we denigrate our colleagues instead of learning from them.
Let’s give a big cheer and a shout out to Pat over at Successful Teaching who reminds us about the important role parents play in their children’s education.
DetentionSlip brings us up-to-date on a New York kid who wanted to start a Bible club and Michelle Hogan wonders if it’s time to stand up and bully the bully.
Watch out for Nancy Flanagan over at Teacher in a Strange Land. She was feeling a bit snarky, but now wonders if name calling is never right.
And, while we’re running willy-nilly down the midway, you might want to check out this odd assortment of stuff… twitter feeds for med students, 100 free tools to tutor yourself in anything and 100 awesome iTune feeds for teachers. Spangler has some Halloween stuff for sale, but he also has some free science experiments for stuff like blowing up pumpkins and such.
Oh my… it’s getting late. We better head on back. As if we didn’t eat enough at the fair, my friend the Scholastic Scribe offers this nifty little pie recipe.
OK, OK, OK so that nifty pie recipe has absolutely nothing to do with life in the EduSphere.
OK OK OK so she didn’t even submit a post, but I say the world would be a much better place if perhaps we ate a little bit more pie. Think about that while you’re thinking about this… Submit your next posts for Education Carnival using this handy dandy form. I think the carnival moves back over to Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable next week.
Well folks, that’s it. As I always say,
And, if I did, my apologies.
Please email me with any problems or broken links at firstname.lastname@example.org. I, of course, would appreciate any links back to the carnival.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
In the great Lone Star State, we have Fair Day. We give the kids a day off from school, a free fair ticket, and either give teachers the day off too or make them come to school for some sort of professional development.
My school district’s Fair Day falls on Columbus Day, but I won’t be strolling along the midway, eating cotton candy, noshing on corny dogs or trying that new fried butter concoction.
No siree, Missy. I’ll be at school. But that’s OK because from the professional development schedule, each department gets to meet on its own. Since I am a “department” of one, you know how much I just love meeting with myself. You may recall, my meetings go something like this…
Me… “Self, what do you think we should do?”
Me too… “I make a motion that we should suspend with all this paperwork and get some grading done and some planning done, and hey, let’s take that new school district issued squirt bottle and wipe down all the desks to kill off all those nasty little H1N1 cooties.”
Me… “OMG, what a great idea! You’re so-o-o-o fab-u-lous!”
Me too… “Gee, why thanks! You’re great, too! Let’s get cracking here…”
Frankly, I need a bit of a break from the kiddos. I’m hoping that while I’m killing off the H1N1 cooties perhaps I can make a dent in the apparent proliferation of BFSH cooties (as in Big Fat Stupid Head cooties, and no, that doesn’t count toward stopping my timer either).
I think I’ll need an industrial strength bottle for that, but you be the judge. Here’s a little exchange that occurred in one of my photography classes while we were discussing the composition elements in a photograph of an iguana.
Me… “Do you see how by blurring the background, the dominant element stands out…”
Student #1… “Mrs. Richtsmeier, do iguanas change color?”
Me… “No dear, those are chameleons…”
Student #2… “Yeah, iguanas don’t change color. They change shape…”
Me & the rest of the class… “What?!”
Student #1… “I think I need to go home now. We’re just getting dumber…”
Me… “I think we’ll just stop here for now and call it a day…”
Yep, toss me that squirt bottle. I think it’s going to be a rather long day.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The Education Carnival is up and running over at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable. My post, “Challenges, More Espresso & Peons” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. Still, if you want to be in the know on what’s happenin’ in the EduSphere, you really need to check out all the posts there.
Next week I’ll be hosting the Carnival, so make sure you submit your stuff. You can use this handy, dandy form to do so.
My Big Fat Stupid Head remarks have morphed out of control.
Without my timer, I seem to mumble or shout those words on a regular basis. Even making my nifty little stickers did little to abate my penchant for the phrase. Obviously, the only way to stop it is to reinstate the BFSH timer.
So-o-o-o-o, my friends, let’s give it a shout one more time, “Quit being a BIG FAT STUPID HEAD!”
And with that, let’s see how long it will take us before someone somewhere does something incredibly stupid, forcing us to shout, “What a Big Fat Stupid Head!”
Let the timer begin!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Sometimes every hour of every day of every week brings challenges.
But lately in my vocabulary, the word “challenges” is becoming more and more synonymous with a full-fledged, 5-alarm nuclear-setting-your-hair-on-fire-meltdown-kind-of-disaster.
I know. I know. I know. I should probably cut back on the espresso or take a vacation. Of course, a vacation would be nice, but the last time I took a peek at my airline miles, I didn’t even have enough to skipdedoo down the jet bridge much less taxi down a runway. No siree, Missy. So that only leaves cutting back on the espresso, and that, my dears, just makes me cranky. (OK, so make that crankier.)
With one six weeks grading period down and five more to go, I spent this weekend mulling over which of my “challenges” were blog worthy. Trust me, it was a tough choice, but you know there had to be a winner. (After all, this is the not the YMCA.)
About a week ago, we were working on our writing skills in my journalism class by reading and critiquing everyone’s work. One student’s paper said something about not becoming “a pee-on.”
The conversation went something like this…
Me… “The correct spelling should be p-e-o-n…”
Someone… “That’s a real word?”
Me… “Why yes…”
About half the class… “Really?”
About half the class… unintelligible muttering
Me… “Oh my, don’t tell me you really thought people were actually saying to pee on somebody.”
About half the class…Murmurs of yes.
Someone… “So what does it mean?”
Me… “A peon is a person who is at the bottom of the food chain. The lowest person…”
Someone else… “Well, isn’t that kind of like being peed on?”
Me… “Well, I never quite looked at it like that…”
The next morning to face the challenges of another day, I took a little detour on the way to work through the nearest Starbucks drive-through.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Sometimes I amaze myself.
Often times I disappoint myself.
And other times I just have to deal with myself.
And so, at this particular moment in time, if you mash those three things together into one fine mess, you get a screeching halt of the Big Fat Stupid Head timer for Challenge #3. Yes siree, Missy. The clock has officially stopped. No more ticking here or there. Nope. We are full speed ahead into a full-blown, 5-alarm Big Fat Stupid Head clock stopping crisis.
Oh, pah-leese, don't look so surprised especially after last week. You knew I was teetering on the edge of the great dark newspaper deadline abyss. While I never once picked up an ax, I did have that Lizzie Borden, ax-wielding, fixin’ to go postal, crazed look kind of smile all week long. And, no, neither the Emergency Chocolate nor the Superduper Secret Emergency chocolate could stop the inevitable.
But let’s go back to the amazing, disappointing and dealing with oneself bit…
I am rather amazed that I managed to muddle through for 266 days, 11 hours, 26 minutes and 21 seconds (more or less) before my Big Fat Stupid Head outburst. I say “more or less” because I technically didn’t stop the timer until two days after the fact. I shrieked those words at my newspaper staff on Thursday during deadline because, well, quite frankly, they were all Big Fat Stupid Heads. Although just a mere two days away from turning in the newspaper, we still had vacant boxes where cartoons were supposed to go, empty columns where stories were supposed to be and blank spaces where photographs belonged.
Once the BFSH words tumbled out, I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t stop myself. Blame all that chocolate or that shot of espresso, but even as the bell rang, I continued saying, “Goodbye Big Fat Stupid Head No. 1, Big Fat Stupid Head No. 2, Big Fat Stupid Head No. 3…” and so forth and so on.
I felt a tad bit like Chevy Chase in “A Christmas Vacation” in that scene at the beginning of the movie where the corporate types all file past him, but ignore him as he wishes each one, “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas…” until he realizes that no one is listening to him, so he starts saying other things–– as in things that will get you fired.
Now, calm down. I didn’t say any of those things, but I did find it all rather cathartic to say Big Fat Stupid Head, Big Fat Stupid Head, Big Fat Stupid Head, over and over and over again. It sort of became my mantra for that day, and, yes, the next day, too.
And the kids? Well, they do what they always do--laugh.
So I’ve decided, at least for the next few days, I’m just going to deal with the entire shebang by not restarting the timer, until I have this whole Big Fat Stupid Head thing back under control and my Emergency Chocolate Drawer restocked.
In the meantime, I’ve even made my own, “Don’t be a Big Fat Stupid Head” stickers. They look like this…
So you can see why it may take me just a bit longer before I crank up that timer again.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
OK… so technically not the presses… but a few things of note…
No. 1–Yes, My Big Fat Stupid Head timer has stopped. You’ll want to drop back by to find out why. My post will be up by Monday, Sept. 28.
No. 2–Those of you who have been traipsing through the EduSphere with me since I started this little endeavor back in July of 2007 will be amused, thrilled or dismayed (depending upon what side of the Richie Hata’s Club camp you fall) to know that my book, How to Lose Your Self of Steam & Other Teaching Lessons I Never Learned From Professional Development, will be published in mid-October. How’s that for a bit of shameless self-promotion? Stay tuned for the exact release date and ordering info.
No. 3–And continuing with my shameless self-promotion, I along with my good buddy over at St. Mark’s School of Texas, Ray Westbrook, were named national Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Distinguished Advisers. While I feel extremely honored to be one of four “Distinguished” advisers, that word does make me rush to the bathroom mirror to see if I have any grey hair sprouting about. But no siree, Missy, I don’t (either that or that Aveda hair coloring thing seems to be holding up quite well).
No. 4–And yes, there’s more self-promotion…I was featured for a little interview segment called “Lessons from the field.” If you want to read about that, you can go here.
And finally, No. 5–The Carnival is up and running again over at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable. Head on over there to see what’s new in the EduSphere. My post “Picture Day, Emergency Chocolate & My Lizzie Borden Smile” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.
But remember, don’t be a Big Fat Stupid Head. Drop back by to find out about why my BFSH timer stopped.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Picture Day sent me to the emergency chocolate drawer twice, to the superduper secret chocolate draw once and to kickboxing class twice. I don’t know what it is about yearbook, but the whole yearbook thing just gives me an uncontrollable urge to hit something. (I think you know what I mean.)
But somewhere in the organized chaos, we still ran through roughly 1,700 kiddos before the final 3:45 bell rang. I’m going to call the day a qualified success since we had only one complaint and my principal still smiled at me––and not that Lizzie Borden ax-wielding, fixin’ to go postal, crazed look kind of smile either. And, as an added bonus, as far as I know, everyone had on their underwear. Nope, none of that Florida nonsense here, Missy.
As an extra, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious bonus, I didn’t even call anyone a Big Fat Stupid… So the ole counter to the right remains counting. (I think it was all that chocolate and extra kickboxing smackdowns that kept me in line.)
But before you do the Dance of Joy for my BFSH restraint, let me just say that Monday marks Beat the Teacher Night--oh wait, make that MEET the Teacher Night, and Monday also marks the start of newspaper deadline week. I don’t even think the superduper secret emergency chocolate will help this time. My BFSH timer might as well toll its last tick tock.
So if you see me with that Lizzie Borden, ax-wielding, fixin’ to go postal, crazed look kind of smile, well, you probably just ought to move on out of the way.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Woo-hoo! The Carnival of Education is up and running over at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable. Lots of good posts to read over there. My entry, “President Obama, Speeches & Rubber Chickens” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.
Still, you know the drill. If you want to be in the know, you really should go there to see what’s buzzing around the EduSphere.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Already three weeks into the school year, and once again, I find myself woefully behind.
Yep, behind as in progress reports are due Monday, and I have a book bag full of 44 or so color coordinated folders screaming for my politically incorrect red pen. This, of course, doesn’t even begin to include those yearbook pages that need my attention, the chapter one worksheets waiting for a good once over or those half-finished handouts I need to complete for Monday.
I get exhausted just thinking about those kind of things. (And gollygeewillikers, we all know how I feel about things.)
All of this rather pales in comparison to my upcoming Friday. Normally, I’m rather fond of Fridays. But not this one. No siree, Missy. Batten down the hatches. Sound the alarm. Send out the cavalry. This particular Friday is The Day. The dreaded School Picture Day. This particular day is enough to make one set one’s hair on fire and run screaming from the building.
In the span of one day, we expect four photographers to shoot roughly 1,700 kiddos and make all the kiddos and teachers look fabulous without annoying or irritating the English teachers on campus.
I even spent hours making up a handy, dandy “appointment” schedule, noting what teacher needs to bring what class at what time. I’m about 99.9 percent sure my nifty schedule will serve a more useful purpose on the bottom of someone’s bird cage.
The yearbook staff also plastered posters around the school to mark The Day. One of the signs promptly fell down which wouldn’t have been a problem except the paint hadn’t dried. And that probably wouldn’t have been a problem except the offending sign with its offending wet paint had, shall we say, a tad bit of paint transfer onto the pants of one of our nifty assistant principals.
I sincerely hope all of that isn’t a sign of bad things to come. (See, there are those darn tootin’ things again.)
The only good thing about my upcoming Friday is that I usually set aside Fridays as my “Starbucks Day” where I reward myself one nonfat, three raw sugar latte. This bit of extravagance serves as my reward for surviving the week without calling anyone a Big Fat Stupid…
Maybe I just need to hook up an espresso IV for the day and hope for the best. Something tells me I’ll be lucky indeed if my counter on the right doesn’t stop and the halls don’t reverberate with, “Why are you such a big fat…”
Friday, September 11, 2009
Eight years later. I have not forgotten you. Each and every one. With each passing day, others may try to mitigate and lessen the loss. But at what cost? I still hear you. Ghosts whispering in the wind.
I have not forgotten you.
I will never forget.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Today’s the big day––the President Obama Speech Day, and I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about because, you see, on any given day probably 99 percent of teachers in the country can’t access anything on the Internet any way.
I along with my EduSphere bloggers have ranted about that before. Some school districts like McKinney ISD have become so paranoid that they have implemented policies restricting even email contact between teachers and students. Hails Bails, friends tell me all the time about how they can’t access my blog at their schools. And don’t even get me started on trying to download images from Google at school. Teachers across this great land of ours have to resort to pretending we’re Russian and surf on over to the communist side. (Are Russians still considered communists?) Ah, the things one must do in the name of education.
So, to President Obama, I say good luck with that whole speech thing and getting through the school house door.
Here’s a tip though, Mr. President, in case you do managed to break through: I noticed there was absolutely no mention of a rubber chicken in your address. Now, Mr. President, if you want those kiddos to listen to you, well, you better rustle one up speedy quick.
You’re going to have to trust me on that one.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Raise your hands if you survived the first week of school.
Raise your hands if your feet hurt after the first week of school.
Raise your hands if you’re ready for summer to roll around.
Did your hand pop up all three times? I know mine did. So while I should be working on my lesson plans for the week, some yearbook page designs and those darn tootin’ purchase orders that sadly I meant to complete sometime over the summer but never did, I’ve decided instead to do what any self-respecting Squiggle would do.
Oh my, I guess I forgot to tell you about the whole Circle, Square, Triangle, Squiggle thing. Almost sounds like a bad game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” doesn’t it? The Squiggle thing was all a part of this teacher in-service motivational thing that touched upon Psycho-Geometrics. At any rate, we discovered how our personalities fit a specific shape with special attributes. Squiggles apparently have high energy (so why am I so-o-o-o-o-o tired?), possess a sense of humor (that explains my rubber chicken and hand puppets) and exhibit a certain level of creative intelligence (well folks, just read this ole bloggeroo).
Squiggles also tend to like to challenge the status quo and rebel. Apparently, Squiggles have difficulty completing tasks like those pesky purchase orders.
For the first week of school, I decided to do the same little test with my newspaper and yearbook staffs as part of our “getting to know you” exercises.
About 98 percent professed to be Squiggles.
Jeez Louise, now do you see why I’m ready for summer to roll back around?
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Initially I planned to wait until this weekend to duly record what administrators refer to as teacher professional development or teacher in-service, but what I more fondly like to call “Teacher Purgatory.”
Mine began on Tuesday, and unlike most school districts across the land, my school district actually makes an attempt to make teacher in-service fun. They brought in a funny improv group from Chicago, and in the afternoon, we went bowling.
It was a team building thing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all about the team building thing, but I’ve only been bowling once in my life and that was in high school. (Trust me, you don’t have enough fingers or toes to count how many years ago that was.)
But they gave me some nifty white socks (new ones) and some spiffy tan bowling shoes (used and rental ones) and a hamburger (luke warm, but free and edible). We had to bowl backwards, lefthanded, righthanded, dancing… Well, you get the picture, and yes, there were plenty of Kodak moments and plenty of picture taking. Let’s just hope none of it shows up on YouTube.
The following day we had a few meetings in the morning. Since I am a “department” of one, I said a silent prayer that I would get to meet with myself. I just love those kind of meetings. They go something like this…
Me… “Self, what do you think we should do? Should we work on these goals?”
Me too… “No, I make a motion that we should suspend the paperwork and work on getting our rooms ready.”
Me… “Wow, that’s a great idea! You’re fab-u-lous!”
Me too… “Why thanks! Let’s get cracking here…”
But like I said… Teacher Purgatory. Those little prayers weren’t quite working for me. My principal made sure he put me in his group, but that’s OK. I love his meetings. He’s one of the few people left on the planet who doesn’t feel the need to read to you his power point presentation because he knows he’s hired teachers who can, well, you know, read. As an added bonus, his meetings always go speedy quick, and just like I have a bag full of Richie-isms, Dr. Al manages to have his own little -ism gems. I think it’s the old coach in him channelling out. He was on a roll with his pep talk when he said, “If that don't get you burning, then your wood’s wet and you need to dry out…”
See what I mean? You stay awake just waiting for one of those little gems to pop out.
Later we talked about goal setting. I didn’t take me long to jot down my Top 5. In retrospect, I’m not exactly sure these goals are quite what administrators had envisioned, but nonetheless here are…
#5…To actually take attendance within 72 hours. I thought 24 hours or 48 hours might be too unrealistic. I learned a long time ago that when one makes a goal that one must put down on paper that someone stores in some file cabinet one should be careful because one doesn’t want that goal to come back to haunt or taunt them in some future meeting with whatever someone that might be. Now, while that sentence may sound like gobbledygook to some of you, the rest of us know exactly what I’m talkin’ about.
#4…To locate whatever important paperwork that’s on my desk in a timely, rational fashion. Notice here that I purposely did not define “timely” nor “rational.” That’s in keeping with the previous gobbledygook sentence.
#3…To not dance naked on the table. Now before you get all excited about that one, let me just say it’s important to always include a goal that you absolutely know you can achieve. I’m pretty darn tootin’ sure I can check off this one. See, I’m already feeling successful this year, and it’s only Day No. 2.
#2…To keep my job. Pretty self-explanatory. Let’s hope my “Things That Will Get You Fired Folder” stays slim this year.
#1…And, of course, the No. 1 goal this school year is… what else?…Not to call anyone––say it with me brothers and sisters––a Big Fat Stupid Head! The counter, my friends, is still on.