Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Carnival of Education for the week of Nov. 26

This week’s Carnival of Education is out, hosted by Matt-a-matical Thinking, but don't let the math thingy scare you. As always there’s a lot of really good stuff linked there and all in a clever “Noble” Prize format–perfect for scan readers to pick and choose. While you’re looking about over there, check out Matt-a-matical’s post on Lessons on Lessons While Cooking Mashed Potatoes. (I liked his site so much I’ve decided to overcome that little math fear thing I have–You know, the one that makes me scream “Calculator!” every time I see a number–and added him to my favorite blogs list to broaden my horizons.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lists, Parents & Paperwork

I'm a listoholic. I admit it. I make lists for everything, then promptly lose them, find them again, lose them again, say the St. Anthony prayer, find the list again and eventually wade through about half the tasks dutifully marking them off until, of course, I lose the list again.

Naturally I had my Christmas list at the ready for the after-Thanksgiving sales. It took me, oh, about 10 minutes before I lost, found, lost, found, lost–well, you see why me and St. Anthony are on a first name basis.

At any rate, it all got me to thinking about what to write for this week since I have been away from all my DIs (Darling Inspirations) for the Thanksgiving holidays. So, since I'm a listoholic, I thought it would be a good time to do a list of something. After reading about Hot Potato parents from the Thanksgiving carnival, I thought why not compile a list of the Top 5 Parent Incidents I have either had the privilege to hear myself or hear about in the teacher’s lounge. As a disclaimer of sorts, none of these occurred at my current school. However, all of these are true and occurred at my former school or at another school. So here they are…

Top 5 Parent Incidents

#5…Any story involving tackling.
One teacher told me about a parent who chased her down the hall yelling about her child’s grades until a principal tackled the parent. Another coach had a story about a mad mom who left the bleachers and chased a referee around the basketball court with an umbrella at a school game because she was unhappy with the officiating. Jeez, I wonder what she did when she didn’t like her child’s report card?

#4…Senior English teachers always have great stories about difficult parents because it is there that 12 years of unsupervised goofing off collides with parental concerns regarding graduation, leaving an ugly, ugly mess.

One senior English teacher was returning parent phone calls during her conference period when one parent blamed the teacher for her child’s failing report card. When the parent complained that she hadn’t been notified about the failing grade, the teacher said she had mailed a letter home notifying the parent of the child’s failure and included a calendar of assignments. At that point, in a feeble attempt to ignore her child’s laziness, the parent screeched about the teacher’s penmanship (trust me, her writing is legible and better than most). Since the mother continued to rant about the teacher’s illegible handwriting, the teacher volunteered to read the assignments so the mom could jot them down. At which point the huffy parent claimed, “I can’t. I’m in the car driving.”

The teacher didn’t bother to remind the parent that she had called the parent at work.

#3…In my early years as a publications adviser, a parent called to ask what hotel her daughter was staying at while she attended the journalism convention. “Convention?” I asked perplexed. At which point the mom berated me for not knowing who her daughter was (I did), where the convention was (there wasn’t) and for being stupid (I’m not). Turns out her daughter decided she wanted to go to New York City for a few days—on her own—so she concocted a school trip, and off she went by bus.

#2…Any parent conference involving issues of self-esteem (or self-of-steam as one of my students used to say). I remember one conference where the parent blamed me for the child’s low self-esteem because I supposedly never complimented the child.

“Well,” I said, “I can’t very well compliment your child when he hasn’t turned in any of his work. You have to have something to compliment.”

“You’re tearing down his self-esteem,” she insisted.

“He needs to do the work,” I said. “He needs to turn in something, anything.”

“But you never tell him he’s doing anything good,” she said.

“I can’t tell him anything good because he’s not doing anything,” I said.

“Well,” she said, “you should be building up his self-esteem.”

Just what do you think would have happened if I had said, “Ok, how about, ‘Great job on doing nothing!’ or ‘Wow, isn’t it great, you have the most zeroes of anyone! Way to go.’”

Sigh. I was just wondering.

#1…But my hands down, drum roll pah-leese, No. 1 all-time favorite (and please let me know if you have a better story)…In an effort to calm down a teacher who was so frustrated by a parent who tried to attack her, the principal asked “What would you like done?”

The teacher responded, “I want her dead.”

To which the always calm and wonderful principal’s secretary, in a valiant effort to diffuse the situation, opened her file drawer and said, “Well, let me get the paperwork for that.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gobble it up

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I hope you are blessed with great food, family and friends today. If you get a chance and want some excellent reading, head on over to the Turkey Carnival hosted by the NYC Educator. Most of you have already read my submission (Lime green boxes, Dove chocolates and messages, but I know you’ll want to read other postings. I guarantee you won’t find a turkey among the bunch. Again, Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lime green boxes, Dove chocolates & messages

I was sorting through the inch and half high stack of yearbook pages that were supposed to have been finished when I caught sight of the lime green-filled box. For those of you blessed to not be a yearbook or newspaper adviser or have the nomenclature “adviser” anywhere near your name, the lime green-filled box on a yearbook page is synonymous with ground zero of a nuclear explosion.

Ok, so maybe that’s a tad bit of a hyperbole, but that little lime green-filled box might as well say, “I-know-a-photograph-goes-here-but-I-don’t-have-one-


So there I sat staring at the lime green-filled box on the panel pages–pages that contained the class mugshots, and therefore, must be turned in all together…in sequence.

Did I say “together”? …Did I mention the phrase “in sequence”?… Yes, these pages must be turned in together because the publishing plant flows the mugs, well, sequentially. You know, one page after the other. Go figure. So you can’t turn in pages 101, 102, 103, 104, but skip 105 and turn in 106. Nope. No can do. Can we say, “all together” all together?

So there I sat staring. Ok, make that glaring, at the page with the offending lime green-filled box, saying to no one in particular, but everyone in general, “Y’all are wearing me thin.”

I then popped a Dove chocolate in my mouth, you know, one of those tasty, heart-shaped candies with gooey caramel inside and a nifty little message on the foil that says things like “There’s no excuse not to dream” and “Keep the promises you make to yourself.”

“Hey,” I sort of yelled, “make that ‘Y’all are wearing me fat…’”

“Get it?” I asked. “Or, it could be ‘Y’all are wearing me phat?’ You know, with a ‘P’ as in ‘I’m cool…’”

To be honest, there was a lot of eye rolling at that point, a few groans and some others who opted to hide behind their computer screens and pretend not to hear anything.

“Well, you are,” I said to no one in particular. “All this stress is making me eat chocolate, and, uh, making me fat.”

Three Dove chocolates and messages later got me to thinking that perhaps I should go ahead and splurge for my own “four unique” three line tin foil Dove messages. With 17 characters per line, well, just imagine the things I could do. And all for only $59.99. What a deal.

Mine would go something like this…

Message #1…

This is not the
YMCA I don’t have
to be your friend

Message #2…
Quit making
my head

Message #3…
Don’t bother me
unless your hair
is on fire

And, of course, message #4…
You’re wearing
me fat!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Carnival of Education Is Out

The latest Carnival of Education is out. Apparently my children slipped a few bucks under the table to make sure the FunnyBack post (Mom, IT’S EMBARRASSING!) didn’t get more play because it wasn’t accepted. Ah, well, there’s plenty of interesting things there for you to read. And, hey, you can always sing the FunnyBack song while you read.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kanye West, F-words & Me

I just don’t know when it happened.

Somewhere along the way I went from somewhat of a free-spirit-anything-goes type of person to a harrumphing schoolmarm. And let me just say I’m about as comfortable with that characterization as I am with wearing black spandex. (Trust me, my friends, that is an image we can all do without.)

I arrived at this epiphany when I was searching for music to play during my classroom bellringer activity. Although I gravitate toward what’s commonly referred to as alternative music or good ol’ fashion rock’n’roll, I do like to mix it up a bit and throw in other kinds of music. But the more I surfed the music spectrum, the more lost I felt. And the more I listened, the more appalled I became–and this from someone who camped out for the Rolling Stones and actually shed a tear when Abbie Hoffman and Hunter S. Thompson died.

CONFESSION: I was wanting to play my I’m-Still-Hip-card by putting on “Stronger” by Kanye West. After all, the song gets loads of air play on mainstream radio…

“N-n-now th-that that don't kill me Can only make me stronger I need you to hurry up now Cause I can't wait much longer I know I got to be right now Cause I can't get much wronger Man I been waitin' all night now That's how long I've been on ya…”

It’s a catchy little ditty…And when the song comes on the radio, I, my friends, can belt the words out as I fly down the freeway in my Maserati. OK, OK… so it’s really a trusty blue mini-van, but I do know the words… Are you happy now? That little revelation has probably ruined the song forever among the teen angst crowd…

OK back to the issue here…Even if you don’t dismiss almost an entire genre of songs because of their misogynistic nature, you’ve got to rule them out because of those special little words that will get you fired if you say–or sing–them in a public classroom–“Hails Bails” as my students would say– make that in any classroom. And trust me, the Kanye song has quite a few of those special words. (In fact, I’m stashing those lyrics in my “Things that will get you fired” folder.

And, yes, I’ve considered playing the “clean” radio versions, but does that make them safe? Can we excuse the overall content of the song? Some of the lyrics are so suggestive, I’m not sure exactly what it is they’re suggesting. I know, pathetic, isn’t it? (Me and have spent a lot of quality time together lately.)

So after stashing Kanye in my Things folder, I thought I was safe with Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack.

No…There go those words again and there they go into the Things folder.

OK, so then, I thought I was safe with Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” but no.

Keying cars, smashing headlights and slashing tires…not a good idea in a zero tolerance society.

So…OK…I thought let’s just go way back and find a classic…Hmmmmm, how ’bout those Rolling Stones?… “Start Me Up…” Don’t they play that at practically every sporting event? “If you start me up, I’ll never stop. I’ve been running hot…You make…"

Oh but there’s that line… Jeez Louise…… another good idea gone bad and into the Things folder…but wait… there’s hope… I’ll just make up my own version…

Justin may have brought SexyBack, but I’ll just bring the f-word back…

…as in F-U-N-N-Y…Hails Bails, did you really thing I meant the other word?

We’re talking funny as in FunnyBack…So take this haters…drum roll pah-leese… To the tune of SexyBack… (Do you think they’ll pull my I’m-Still-Hip card?)

(Warning: My daughter did run screaming from the room at this point. But she did not, I repeat, set her hair on fire.)


I’m bringin’ funny back
Them other teachers don’t know how to laugh
They think I’m funny, glad you got my back
Let’s laugh aloud… No, I’m not smokin’ crack

Take ’em to the blog

Giggle, babe
You see the humor
Baby, laugh your way
It’s mybellringers and I’m here to stay
It’s just that no one makes us laugh this way

Take it to the chorus

Come here now, go ’head be bloggin’ it
Come to the site, go ’head be bloggin’ it
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Blogs on me
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Lemme see what you’re laughin’ with
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Look at those posts
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Ya make me smile
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Get your funny on
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Get your funny on
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Get your funny on
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Get your funny on
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Get your funny on
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Get your funny on
Go ’head be bloggin’ it
Get your funny on

I’m bringin’ funny back
Them other teachers don’t know how to act
Come on and giggle bout the things you lack
You’re laughin’ it up and we gotta post it fast

Take it to the blog

Giggle babe
You see the humor
Baby, laugh your way
It’s mybellringers and I’m here to stay
It’s just that no one makes us laugh this way

Take it to the chorus

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Carnival of Education

Sorry for the delay but I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather so I neglected to let everyone know this week’s Carnival of Education, hosted by the Rightwing Nation, is up and running There are quite a few interesting things there. I particularly liked the ones on the Ranting Roundtable–and not just because I was included there either ;-)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

YMCA, Kumbaya & Yoda

Let’s hope my VP of HC (that’s Vice President of Humor Control, and yes, I have one) gives this post a thumbs up. She’s been a bit cranky lately and not easily amused, but I just can’t allow another day to go by without my YMCA speech.

Something set me off.

OK, perhaps four somethings. I won’t bore you with the details because, quite frankly, what fires me up ignites as easily as tossing a lit match match into a puddle of gasoline. Kaboom!

I am not sure how we got to this point, but apparently everyone (don’t ya just love generalizations?) thinks we live at the Y and that we should all hold hands, sit in a circle and sing–no, not Y-M-C-A but– “Kumbaya.” It’s part of the whole Can’t-We-All-Just-Get-Along mindset that permeates our culture.

Without fail at some point during every year, I feel compelled to haul out my YMCA speech. It usually comes during some deadline after someone mistakenly says, “I know I didn’t turn in all my stuff, but at least I tried.” Or, someone says, “I have some of it done, just not all of it.” Or, I look at a yearbook page and half the stuff’s missing.

Instead of granting absolution, I usually whip out the pregnancy analogy before the YMCA speech. It goes something like this… “Deadlines are a lot like being pregnant. You can’t be a little bit pregnant. You either are or aren’t. You either have your story or you don’t. Your page is either finished or it isn’t. So what is it? Done or not done?”

…So-o-o-o-o go ahead and make my day. No wait, wrong allusion. (How’d ol’ Clint weasel his way in here?)

Of course, at this point I’ve worked myself into a bit of a frenzy, so I launch full-tilt into my Maybe-You-Hadn’t-Noticed-But-This-Isn’t-The-YMCA speech. It’s my favorite and this one goes something like this…

“This is not the YMCA. We are not in the business of building your self-esteem or making sure everyone feels good about themselves. Prisons are full of people with high self-esteem. We are a PUBLICATION. Our goal is to put out the best publication we can. We compete. We can’t do that if we only TRY. We have to DO. We have to PUBLISH. When you don’t do your story, are we supposed to run, ‘At least she TRIED to write her story’? Forget the trying part; it’s the doing part that matters. Jeez Louise….”

Echoes of Shenandoah, my mother’s favorite movie, reverberate somewhere in the back of my brain. There’s a part where James Stewart says, “If you don’t try, you don’t do, and if you don’t do, then what’s the sense of living?”

I guess he was the prequel to our little Star Wars buddy, Yoda, who admonishes, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

I bet Yoda never sat around singing

I guess all I need now is a lightsaber.