Monday, December 31, 2007

Slackers, Inspirations & New Year’s Resolutions

Just a brief note to wish everyone a Happy New Year… Something tells me that I should have been less of a slacker and had some profound epiphany in which to usher in the new year and post. But, alas, I am at somewhat at a disadvantage since I have been away from my DIs–that’s Darling Inspirations not Divine Inspirations (although I suppose that is a debatable point)–for 11 days, 9 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds…but hey, who’s counting?

So, yes, I have been somewhat of a slacker and not touched one yearbook page, one lesson plan, one paper, one red pen…although a purple politically correct grading pen did sort of blow up in my hand en route to the Colorado mountains. At which point, I considered that a divine sign not to think about school for the entire duration of my holiday trip.

But now that the re-start of school looms ominously less than 48 hours away, I face two choices… Choice #1–Begin a frantic frenzy of grading, yearbook page proofing, lesson planning and school organization or Choice #2 –Procrastinate a bit longer and devise a New Year’s Resolution list.

I pick Choice #2.

So here it is… drum roll pah-leese… my Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions…

#5…The perennial favorite… Lose Some Weight… Of course this goal isn’t helped by the fact that I just purchased four bags of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Caramel for a mere 74 cents a bag. Sigh.

#4…Stress less about deadlines (which should be helped by those four bags of chocolate mentioned in #5). Those deadlines hang heavy like an albatross around my neck…

#3…Banish cliches from writing… although I’m not willing to abandon the cliche finder. It’s just too much f-u-n.

#2…OK, after reading #3, perhaps I should work at finding a life.

And here, my friends, is my #1 New Year’s resolution…Can we have a drum roll pah-leese?…

#1…Work at a kinder, gentler me… but wait a minute… where’s the fun in that? OK… so let’s inject a bit of realism here. Let’s see how many days I can go this year without calling anyone a big fat stupid head. Ladies and gentlemen, start your counters!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Take a ride on the Education Carnival

Sorry for the delay in reminding you that the education carnival is up and hosted at History is Elementary. I seem to lose all track of time and days on vacation without any bells to prod me along. ;-) My submission “From Podless to Podness” can be read right here, but if you get a chance, please head on over there. As always, there’s great stuff to read. I particularly enjoyed the Rightwingprof'’s submission about creativity vs content. (He says, “teacher creativity is overrated,” which I have to agree is true in way too many cases although not with the journalism advisers I know. Most journalism advisers never sacrifice content for creativity. Having said that little disclaimer, his thoughts ring true.)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

From Podless to Podness

With all the other stresses that come with the holiday season, I just wanted Steve Jobs to know that he no longer has to worry about my iPod status. I’m sure it was keeping him up at night worrying that I would be the last teacher standing sans iPod.

Worry no more for I have gone from iPodless to iPodness. Ah, isn’t life grand?

So what if my iPod isn’t a new one.

Or that it’s a third hand-me-down (silly me thinking that children should be at the end of the hand-me-down chain).

You see my VP of Humor Control was the first one in our family to own an iPod. Within a year, though, she was grousing about no memory (and she wasn’t talking about my forgetfulness either). So Santa gave her a new iPod for Christmas last year and she handed down her old one to her sister. Now that Christmas is rolling around again, my VP of HC provided a rather lengthy argument as to why she just had to have a new, improved touch screen iPod. (I think she’s secretly on Steve Job’s payroll).

Once again Santa sent a nifty new iPod to little Ms. VP of HC who then promptly handed down her old iPod to her sister, who then handed down the original iPod to yours truly who promptly started this and that play list.

Now, my iPod may not be the greatest or the latest, but Hails Bails, it is engraved. Flip it over and there it is… “What’s cookin, good lookin?”

Now, what’s not to love about that?

Merry Christmas to everyone and wishes for love and laughter throughout the new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Carnival Of Education: Week 150

The Carnival of Education is out and hosted by The Education Wonks, so if you want to know what’s happening in the EduSphere head on over there for some interesting reading material. My submission, “‘Interesting Situations,’ Discipline Forms & Capital Murder” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

“Interesting Situations,” Discipline Forms & Capital Murder

Jennifer, my BFF who teaches over yonder on the east coast, and I battle weekly over who has the most “interesting situation.” (In my mind, “interesting” translates as CRAZY and “situation” roughly translates in varying degrees of one, two, three and four-alarm calamities.)

I think I won this week.

I went to the office to grab a disciplinary referral form because I used the only one I had, and it was left over from last year which shows you just how often I write referrals. Kids just tend to behave in my classroom. If I have a problem, I'll mention the liver thing (“Don’t make me pull your liver out your nose”), or the glass thing (“I really don’t want to have to talk to my children through glass”). Those two statements pretty much stop them. The liver one because it grosses them out, and while they’re trying to decide if it’s possible, they stop their bad behavior. The glass thing stops them because it takes them awhile to figure out that I’m talking about prison glass. Either way, in both cases, they wonder if I’m crazy enough to do either one, and well, in the meantime, the problem just disappears.

But let’s get back to the “interesting situation.”

So I grabbed the new-and-improved disciplinary form, and as I’m walking back to my classroom, the words in the lower left hand corner of the 5-part form grab my attention…

Item No. 17–“Murder or capital murder…”

[You can click on the image below to see a readable document. Proof in quintuplicate that I’m not making this stuff up.]

Well, alrighty then… How amazing is that? Does anyone else find that mildly disconcerting? I have in my possession a form–a 5-part form no less–that has a little spot to check capital murder (as well as all other kinds of penal code violations). Needless to say, I trotted speedy quick back to my room and grabbed my newspaper editor who is constantly threatening to slay slothful staffers.

“Katelyn,” I said, “you can’t kill anyone.”

“What? Why not,” she said a bit exasperated because she hadn’t fully recovered from our most recent newspaper deadline.

“Because,” I said with a bit of drama and emphasis, “I’ll have to write a disciplinary referral.”

“What?” she said.

And, then I whipped out the form and pointed to Item No. 17.

“No way,” she said. “Well then, you can’t set your hair on fire either."

“What?” I said.

“Yep,” she said with a bit of smugness. “I’m pretty sure it’s arson. Look at No. 16.”

“Oh,” I said, reviewing the form again. “But is it really arson if you set your own hair on fire? Does it count if you’re the teacher?”

Interestingly enough, my BFF’s “interesting situation” involved smoke and fire, but that’s a story for another day.

I think a check off spot for capital murder sort of trumps that.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hot off the presses & Hot under the collar

Every once in while I get a glimmer–and not the good kind of glimmer–of the type of stuff administrators deal with concerning the teaching staff. This usually occurs when the school newspaper comes out and someONE isn’t happy about someTHING.

This time the someONE happens to be the Ag department and the someTHING happens to be Pizza Andy’s column. His column concerned a recent election in which voters approved a bond to build a new facility for the Ag department, but nixed money to build a new high school and to buy more school land. In that same election, the community also went from dry to wet allowing beer and wine sales.

So enter Pizza Andy writing a satirical column about the entire matter. In his column, he referred to the new facility as an Ag Barn.

Yes, Ag Barn.

I heard that the peeps over at the Ag Department were not happy campers. “It’s not an Ag Barn,” they say. “It’s an ‘Agricultural Science and Education Facility.’”

And to that, all I’ve got to say is, “An Ag Barn by any other name would smell as…”

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tag! You’re It!

OK, OK, OK I’m new at this and I’ve been tagged and I’m assuming that’s a good thing. Got tagged by my new buddy Clix over at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable. So if I mess this up, cut me some slack. Hmmm, I’m, supposed to post the rules so here you go…

The rules are:

- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Seven weird or random things about me...

#1… I camped outside the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to see the Rolling Stones. (I’ve seen them three times.)
#2… I actually saw Led Zeppelin in the 70s when we were all quite a bit younger.
#3… I knew my husband of almost 25 years about two weeks before we got engaged. We got married six months later.
#4… I have a tiara in my classroom (which I wear from time to time), then there’s Stevie the Penguin (and no, Clix you may not add him to your collection). Then, of course, there’s the chicken I use as a pointer…
#5… At journalism competitions, I compulsively add up the number of awards we win and compare them against the number our competition wins. Twisted, I know.
#6… I’m half-Italian and half-Polish. My mom’s parents immigrated from Italy and my dad’s parents immigrated from Poland in the 1920s. I make a mean lasagna.
#7… I am cosmetology-impaired. Much to my daughters’ horror, I cannot fix hair neither theirs when they were little nor mine now. Never have been able to. Never really cared (about mine), but apparently I’m supposed to. Sigh.

OK, now here are my 7 random tags… I hope they all got “plays well with others” on their report cards and don’t mind playing… If they do mind, well, sorry… Shadowhelm’s Journal, Mr. Teacher, Mike, Matt-a-matical, Assorted Stuff, Joel at So You Want To Teach and HipTeacher

Education Carnival

Hey folks, the Carnival of Education is out and is over at the Colossus of Rhodey. Make sure you check it out. Always lots of great stuff to peruse.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Deadlines, Counting & Playlists

Well folks, I am, once again, a deadline survivor.

Newspaper deadline that is.

Yearbook, sadly, is still on-going. sigh.

I had a friend once. (OK, so I’ve had more than one friend. OK, maybe four. And, OK, it’s been more than once.)

So, I had a friend once who asked, “Just how many newspaper deadlines have you completed? Have you ever counted them up?”

“Well, mercy no,” I replied, “that might be way too depressing.”

At that point I pondered scratching him off my list of friends or at least moving him down on my MySpace hierarchy of friends–as if I had a MySpace page. As if.

Nonetheless, that thought (no, not the MySpace thing, the how many deadlines thing) has been banging around my head for quite a while now, but numbers make my head hurt, so I’ve never bothered to do the math. (You may recall that I consider myself somewhat math-challenged which is why I occasionally go and take a peek at Matt-a-matical Thinking’s blog just so I can pretend that numbers and me are tight. Yeah right.)

So let’s figure it out now… hmmm 21 years of teaching… an average of about 7 newspapers each year… between 12 and 16 pages, but none traveling on Train A that leaves the station at noon and heads north at 125 mph… Let’s see…the answer, of course, would be 147. Now, that doesn’t include all those marvelous yearbook deadlines… Just the thought of those nasty critters makes my head explode. (I’m going to quit counting now because I’ve developed a twitch in my right eye. Jeez.)

Let’s get back to the survivor thing. I am a deadline survivor (although I’m not sure I like this kind of survival). Having survived at least 147 deadlines, I got to wondering what the perfect deadline playlist would look like (as if I actually had an iPod in which to download one).

So, whomp, there it is–and if that doesn’t date me a bit, then what in tarnation will?

Here’s my Top 5 for the playlist…

#5 Loser 3:56 Beck Mellow Gold

#4 Deadline 4:27 Blue Oyster Cult Cultosaurus Erectus

#3 Hello Stupid 1:54 Slick Shoes Far from Nowhere

#2 Dazed & Confused 6:26 Led Zeppelin Mothership

And, of course, drum roll pah-leese, the No. 1 song (as if it’s a surprise)…

#1 Take This Job & Shove It 2:41 Johnny Paycheck All-time Greatest Hits

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

148th Carnival of Education

The new Carnival of Education is out. I haven’t had a chance to look through all the entries because it’s like zero past dark thirty in the morning (that’s 5:30 in the a.m.), but one caught my eye right away. You know how fond I am of stick figures so you must check out Scott Walker’s entry. (For those of you computer challenged, just click on the cartoons and they’ll pop up so you can read them.) I’ll get to all the others later today. In the meantime, pop over to So You Want To Teach and see the other carnival entries. It’s well worth the stop. I was lucky enough to be included in this week’s carnival with my post “Detoxing, eBay & Dumber Me,” but you don’t need to go there to read it here.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mike, Proper Photos & Me

I must give props to my photo buddy and professional photographer Mike McLean who is a big fan of this blog. He decided I needed a “proper” portrait on my blog in my “About Me” section. (Geewillikers, I guess the feather boa photo was a bit much for him.) At any rate, Mike took some photos of me while listening to a gazillion “Am-I-Going-To-Break-Your-Camera jokes.” Still he managed to squeeze out a fan-ta-bu-lous photograph. (“It’s all in the lighting,” he says. And, I say, “Yeah, right.” But I must also say, that boy is a miracle worker.”) So flip on over to the About Me section for a brand new me and then go check out his home page. He’s unbelievable. [Note: I removed the photo from the About Me section because it keep following me around when I would post on someone’s blog, and I found that rather annoying. Now, it’s just on my blog below the boa photo.]

Detoxing, eBay and Dumber Me

I should be grading that stack of photo contact sheets stashed in my blue book bag.

I should be proofing yearbook pages, but I didn’t have the heart to cart them home.

I should be reading my journalism classes sad stack of editorials.

Instead, I’m drinking Long Life organic decaffeinated green tea and munching on organic ginger snaps in an effort to detox the stupid from me and prevent my head from exploding or my brain cells from dying.

Here’s a question I’ve always pondered: If you read enough stupid stuff, will brain cells start dying off?

You see, I wonder if I am becoming exponentially stupid.

Now, I really can’t remember what an exponent is much less remember what to do with one–so doesn’t that prove my point? All I know is that saying “exponentially stupid” sounds way better than asking, “Can you become more stupidier by reading stupid stuff?”

See what I mean?

Why just yesterday I was in the newspaper room grousing at the kids about how far behind we were on newspaper deadline. (Will we ever be ahead?) It was Pizza Andy’s birthday and he was huddled behind a computer with his birthday cupcake and iPhone in hand speaking in a somber, conspiratorial tone… “I’ve got to have it…”

“Andy,” I said, “please get off the phone. We have work to do.”

“Hold on,” he said to me. “I’ve got to have this Darth Vader tie on eBay.”

You would have thought he was discussing a stock split with his broker. Jeez.

The bidding was up to $40 by the time I pried him off of eBay and he delegated the auction watching task to his dad.

“Quit bidding on people,” I said.

“Uh, Richie,” he said in a tone better reserved for a 2 year old. “They don’t sell people on eBay…I think it’s against the law.”

“Ok, fine, whatever,” I said. “Then look for a couple of elves. We sure could use the help around here.”

See what I mean? Me. Exponentially more stupider.