Wednesday, December 31, 2008

204th Carnival of Education--New Year’s Eve Edition

Welcome to the New Year’s Eve Edition of the 204th Carnival of Education! Put on those party hats, grab a little eggnog and let’s make some noise! It’s time to party hardy, make some resolutions and ring in the New Year.

So to sort of paraphrase Prince’s song (or whatever his current name is)…Tonight I'm gonna party like it’s 2009!

BTW, everyone looks absolutely marvelous especially Sarah Ebner from across the pond at School Gate. Everyone looks rather posh, don’t you think? I think Victoria Beckham must be right when she announced that she dresses “like a teacher.”

Hey, there’s Mr. Teacher by the front door handing out his Christmas letter written as only Mr. Teacher can while Clix from Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable chats about her end-of-term reflections. Of course, there’s Larry Ferlazzo giving out his list of the best images of 2008.

Nancy Flanagan from Teacher in a Strange Land has a list too, but her list is for the five most influential people in education. I think she’s on to something especially with her Top #1 spot. And, of course, who wouldn’t put the Eduwonkette on that list as well? Isn’t she’s on everyone’s “A” party list. Oh my goodness, I hope she wears her mask and costume even though we know who she is. Now, wouldn’t that be fun?

Oh, there’s Joanne Jacobs by the punch bowl talking about proficiency promotion. I hope she can get me one of those nifty charts, but I’ve gotta tell you, I think I’d be stuck on the “I need help” level.

Hey, our buddies over at the Right Wing Nation are stirring things up talking smack about how all that high tech stuff doesn’t helps one bit. Check out Hi Tech Hype. Jeez Louise, if this little excerpt doesn’t tweak your interest, you’ve had a bit too much eggnog… “Forget the wading boots for the educration hype about High Tech High. You need a hazmat suit and oxygen tanks, because there’s nothing here but organic fertilizer of the equine fecal variety.”

Now those Right Wing Nation guys aren’t the only ones stirring things up. Dave is talking about teacher unions and that Rasmussen Report.

Did someone mention low tech classrooms again? A Stick In the Sand is talking about exploring metaphors without technology. Ah, the possibilities. Oh have you met the Pugnacious Irishman yet? OK, OK, OK, so I invited him for the name alone (I’ve told you before I’m easily amused) and because he was doing a little pondering about relevance and education.

And while we’re talking about relevance, why in the world is Tom talking about cars? I thought we were talking about education. Oh, I see and you probably should see what he’s talking about too. What? Darren from Right on the West Coast is talking in Mandarin Chinese? No, wait, he’s talking about the ROTC.

All this serious stuff is making me hungry. Let’s go grab some hors d’oeuvres. There’s quite a group gathered there talking about New Year’s resolutions. Desertjim points out the need for early childhood education and believes the incoming administration supports such programs. The Science Goddess thinks we need to rethink and revamp what it means to make the effort. Mathew Needleman over at Creating Lifelong Learners has some thoughts on making classroom rules while Ms. Teacher said something about rethinking her teaching.

And last but not least, I’m sure glad Daniel Willingham from over at Britannica Blog dropped by. He has some interesting thoughts on memory. I’d tell you about them, but I, uh, forgot.

But one thing I know I didn’t forget–this year we have a leap second! OMG, there’s so many things I need to do with my extra second. How will you spend yours? I know how I’ll spend mine…

I’ll spend my leap second wishing you blessings throughout the New Year!

Now I think I’ve taken care of everything except to tell you about my New Year’s resolution. I will once again resolve not to call anyone a Big Fat Stupid Head (I know, an exercise in futility). Still, I’m inviting you to join me in my Big Fat Stupid Head Challenge #3. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we shall once again commence the counter on January 1, 2009. Let’s just see how long I can go without calling someone a Big Fat Stupid Head. The last challenge ended after 111 days, 16 hours, 19 minutes and 28 seconds. You can read about it here.

Oh my, the clock is ticking. It’s time to thank everyone for stopping by. Now before you start to party too hardy, make a note to meet us at the next carnival hosted by the Right Wing Nation. You can use this handy, dandy submission form. If you can help Ed the Carnival Master by hosting a show, pah-leese email him at owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net and volunteer.

And as always…

“I’ve got this feeling that there’s something that I missed…”
–Snow Patrol

And, if I did, my apologies. Until next time…Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Calling all Entries!

I certainly hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I just got back into town and in the Christmas spirit decided to give the Education Wonks a break and agreed to host the 204th Carnival of Education. So-o-o-o my friends, submit your entries by emailing me at mybellringers [at] gmail [dot] com or use this handy, dandy submission form. If all goes well, I’ll be posting the carnival here on Wednesday, Dec. 31.

And for crying out loud, someone else volunteer to host the next carnival by contacting Ed at owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net.

See you Wednesday!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

FERPA, Ninnyhammers & Clock Stoppers

Some of you may recall when I chatted--OK, so make that ranted--about FERPA (the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) that initially was enacted to protect the confidentiality of kiddos’ education records. Despite its original intent, school districts across the land went bat-crack crazy and decided to FERPA-ize everything, and, in the process, terrorize student publications advisers. (You can read about it here, here and here.)

Now my buddies at the Student Press Law Center tell me that the DOE (Department of Education) apparently has gone beyond bat-crack crazy and enacted some additional changes to FERPA that are slated to take effect Jan. 8.

I got a nice little email supposedly from Frank LoMonte himself (the executive director of the SPLC) asking if I would chat about it. OK, so he didn’t use the word chat exactly. I, of course, ever-so-easily flattered thought once again I must be a VIB (Very Important Blogger) to have received such a request. That is until I remembered that this nice little email was probably a mass emailing sent by some computer in a backroom. But, oh well, it’s important enough to chat about even if I can’t be a VIB.

You see, these new rules broaden what the DOE considers to be confidential education records to include basic stuff like statistical data about school safety, discipline and academic performance if school officials think that the person requesting the information or even kiddos on campus can figure out who the information might be about.

Personally, I like the DOE’s illustration of compliance for this new FERPA rule. Under the new guidelines, school officials would not be able to confirm whether it disciplined a student for bringing a gun on campus if the identity of the gun-wielding student could be known to other kids on campus. Because, after all, it’s more important to protect the identity of felons instead of telling students, parents or teachers of impending doom or what steps were taken to deal with said impending doom. No siree, Missy, we’ll have none of that. Hush, hush, don’t say a word.

My new buddy over at the Student Press Law Center tells me, “The DOE simply said that accountability doesn’t matter and that its only concern is secrecy.”

Now, all that nonsense got me to thinking, and by-golly, we all know what happens when that happens. Jeez Louise. But let’s just think about what a fab-u-lous idea it would be to FERPA-ize everything. Everything. Just think about it. Here’s my list…

Richie’s Top 5 list of things to FERPA-ize

#5…Spelling Bees…Those little competitions would have to be the first to go because everyone would know when someone gets an answer wrong, and OMG, we can’t have that now can we? Someone might be identified as a ninnyhammer, n-i-n-n-y-h-a-m-m-e-r, ninnyhammer.

#4…Group work and Project Presentations… Fugettaboutit. No longer can kids work on anything together or present their projects to the class because then everyone would know who did a good job and who didn’t, who were the slackers and who were the workers, who deserved an “A” and who deserved a big, fat zero. Kind of like in the work place, don’t ya know, but no siree, we can’t have that now, can we?

#3… Discipline referral forms… Gone. Sorry. No can do. I’d tell you why I wrote that referral form out, but then I’d have to…Oops, I better not finish that statement… Oh, wait, I guess I could finish that statement because aren’t we protecting felons now? No one would ever know. Shhhhhhhh.

#2…Fitness tests… We’re actually conducting fitness tests at my school, but I guess I better sound the alarm and make everyone stop. (I know my out-of-shape newspaper staff would be thrilled.) Yep, I guess we better stop because we wouldn’t want for anyone to know who came in first or last in that dash around the track. Nope, those times better be top secret stuff locked away along with those Push Up Test results. We wouldn’t want for anyone to get a hold of those dangerous stats.

#1…Grades… Yep, I’m going to have to take a stand here and tell my principal that I’m sorry, but I just don’t think I can turn in any grades of any kind any more. No siree. Just in case someone might know or divine who got an “A” or a “B” or a “C” or a whatever. Hey, perhaps FERPA-izing everything wouldn’t be so bad after all. Accountability? Who cares?

Maybe we should just rename the DOE to the DOBFSH––Department of Big Fat Stupid Heads.

But then I’d have to stop my Big Fat Stupid Head Counter.

Consider it done at 111 days, 16 hours, 19 minutes and 28 seconds.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Envelope Please…

A big woo-hoo and congratulations to all the 2008 winners of the EduBlog awards. You can go here for the results. Again, congratulations to the 2008 winners! I was thrilled just to be nominated and included in such a wonderful list of bloggers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The 202nd Carnival of Education

Woo-hoo it’s Wednesday and the 202nd Carnival of Education is up and running hosted by Steve Spangler. As usual, there’s great stuff posted if you want to be one of those in the know in the EduSphere (and you don’t need any of Santa’s reindeer to get you on your way there either).

My post “High Fives, Hand Shakes & Gloves” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

But get on over there and do a little dashing and prancing about the EduSphere. You’ll be glad you did.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

High Fives, Hand Shakes & Gloves

Initially I planned to blog about our most recent newspaper deadline as well as my yearbook disaster that now requires re-PhotoShopping some 80-plus pages. But all those fun-filled stories will have to wait--all because of a recent post from my across-the-pond buddy Sarah Ebner over at the London Times entitled, “High-five your pupils everyday, teachers told.”

I must say that little ditty sent me into quite a tizzy. This little post talks about how greeting children with high-fives or handshakes will motivate students and improve test scores. I feel semi-qualified to screech about this having been victimized more than once from professional development sessions telling me to shake kids’ hands, capture their hearts, and, if I remember correctly, do something with their minds. Oh yeah, teach.

This handshaking notion started a number of years ago. I believe the folks that started it must have had stock in Bath & Body Works because I’m convinced sales from hand sanitizers soared once this handshaking business got underway. (Come now, surely you thought of all those germs floating about. Show me a school that has hot running water, soap in their dispensers and children who actually wash their hands, and I’ll show you Nirvana--and no, I’m not talking about the band either.)

I just marvel how these Greeting Guys have parlayed this handshaking, high-five business into a profitable enterprise (with individual registration fees at almost $500 a pop) and how they managed to convince school administrators--not just here in the good ole U.S. of A, but apparently globally--that the shake of a hand or some variation thereof somehow translates into better test scores. If I had known making a small fortune was that easy, I would have joined the handshaking circuit years ago or sold the Brooklyn Bridge.

But wait a darn tootin’ minute, Missy, I think there still might be time. My BFF Jennifer and I have always said that the demise of civilization and learning can be traced to when people quit wearing hats and gloves.

So forget that handshaking business. (Hails Bails! I think we can even forget about those pesky lesson plans.) Instead, let’s just slap on those cute little hats and whip out those white gloves. There’s no time to waste! We’ve got self-of-steam and test scores to raise.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

201st Carnival of Education

Sorry for the delay (I’ve been a tad busy with my newspaper deadline and those yearbook pages) in reminding you that the 201st Carnival of Education is up and running over at Mamacita’s site, Scheiss Weekly

My post “Mood Swings, Dodgeball and Gift Giving” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. But hey, you know the drill, if you want to know everything that’s going on in the EduSphere, then you really need to pop on over there and read some of the other good stuff that’s out there.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mood Swings, Dodgeball & Gift Giving

Even if you don’t teach, you know the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be crazy. Please excuse the paraphrasing, but these are, indeed, times that can try our souls.

Lately, I’ve been using my Desktop Dodgeball Kids to track and signify my mood of the minute, not my mood of the day. Yes, that’s right, I said minute. And lately, I’ve been posting this one:

so I probably ought not to delve into the shenanigans of the week.

OK, so I know shenanigans isn’t really the most accurate word to use here, but I love that word. I love the way it sounds, the way it flows, the way it encompasses so many things. And, that of course, got me to thinking (and we all know what happens when that happens).

But I got to thinking that perhaps now would be a good time to write about some things that I love like my little dodgeball kids which were a gift from my BFF Jennifer.

Well that gift-giving thing got me to thinking about teacher gifts (after all it is the Christmas season), so I thought perhaps I should share a few ideas for gifts that should top everyone’s holiday list this year. Now, I’d like to say that my book should be at the top of everyone’s gift giving list, but since I am still several months away from publication, you’ll just have to wait for the memo on that one and save a few bucks for later. (Don’t you just love shameless self-promotion?). So here’s my list sans my book (And don’t you just love the fact that my four years of college French has finally come in handy?)

Richie’s Top Five Holiday Gift Giving Ideas

#5…Anyone who’s anybody in the EduSphere has to know Mr. Teacher. In fact, he recently hosted the 200th Carnival of Education. If you went to his site for the carnival, you probably noticed the book he has for sale, “Learn Me Good.” I’ve read the book and it’s a quick and funny read. But if reading isn’t your thing, you can always snap up one of his hilarious t-shirts here for any teacher in your life. From “Darth Grader” to “I teach therefore I am… poor” t-shirts, I giggled just reading the choices.

#4…The Desktop Dodgeball Kids mentioned earlier. My BFF Jennifer originally gave them to me to relieve deadline stress. “I know you can’t hit the children,” she said, “but you can whack these little guys with this nifty little ball. It’ll make you feel better.” She was right, of course, about whacking children and the dodgeball kids. But like I said before, these little guys are also nifty to track and illustrate mood shifts. Don’t you just love multi-purpose toys?

#3…A tiara. How you managed to exist without one for this long I will never know. Even if you aren’t a girly girl (because I certainly am not), you need one. Life just seems exponentially better with one. I keep one at the ready in the classroom for kids to wear when they need a pick-me-up or it’s their birthday or because sometimes you just need a tiara. So buy one for yourself and for another teacher in your life. I keep mine handy for when I need to remind the kiddos that I am Queen of my classroom or if I’m having a bad hair day. And, then of course, there are just those days when I need to feel better, and a tiara, as well as a handful of Emergency Chocolate, does the trick.

Which, of course, brings us to Gift Idea #2…

#2…Emergency Chocolate. Who doesn’t adore chocolate? You can never have enough. I still like my personalized Dove Chocolate messages from last year. Remember for a mere $59.99, you can get 50 Dove chocolates with your own “four unique” messages. I think, though, I might substitute “Hails Bails!” and “Don’t Be A Big Fat Stupidhead!” for two of my messages from last year.

And, drum roll pah-leeseRichie’s Number 1 gift idea…A rubber chicken, of course! Jeez Louise, I can’t believe you haven’t purchased a rubber chicken for the teacher in your life. What in the Sam Hill are you waiting for? If you are new to my blog, you’ll need to go here and perhaps here to read all the reasons why no teacher should live another minute without his or her very own rubber chicken. You’ll have to trust me on this one.

And besides, see how perfectly a rubber chicken fits into a Christmas stocking. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Christimas Carnival…the 200th Carnival of Education

Mr. Teacher certainly out did himself as host of the 200th Carnival of Education. With his theme “A Blogger Christmas” and his role as Ebeneacher, I chuckled all the way through. It’s worth a read even if you don’t want to go to the links to read the posts (although you know you should if you want to know what’s going on in the EduSphere).

My post “Black Friday, Hand Clappers & Paint Balls” was included, but you don’t have to go there, to read it here.

But you really should hop over there. What a fun read!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Friday, Hand Clappers & Paint Balls

Like the other gajillion people across the country, I ventured out on Black Friday to do my part to stimulate the economy. I must have had a post-it note stuck to me that read, “Run Into Me.” Despite walking on the right side and walking in a reasonable facsimile of a straight line, people continually veered into me. I almost defensively backhanded one guy when he ran into me while looking the other way. Jeez Louise. (At least I didn’t get trampled like that poor guy at Wal-Mart.)

And if all that wasn’t bad enough, people randomly stopped.

Right in the middle of the walkway traffic flow.

So no one could get around them.

Creating a bottleneck.

Just like in the hallways at school.

Jeez Louise, I felt like I was back at work. But if I had been back at work, I would have had my hand clappers with me and all would have been all right.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why in the Sam Hill I needed my hand clappers. Betcha didn’t realize these nifty little gadgets double not only as an applause maker, but work great as a disciplinary tool. (And, no, I’m not talking about smacking people upside the head with them. Although I must admit, the thought has crossed my mind a time or two.)

Because we all know how dicey the time between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break can be, I’m going to give you two nifty ideas to help you make it to Christmas. (And, no, you won’t ever get this nifty bit of advice from any teacher professional development day either.) Just a word of caution, though, and a disclaimer of sorts: The Hand Clapper Clearing Method is tried and true and field tested by me. The second idea, although pretty darn tootin’ nifty, probably would require at least a gaggle of attorneys, a Get Out of Jail Free card and an early retirement plan. (I have yet to try the second idea.)

The Hand Clapper Clearing Method

The week before Thanksgiving break, Rhonda, my hallway monitoring compadre, and I finally tired of the logjam in our hallway during each passing period. The area we supervise is a huge common hallway with a vaulted ceiling (at least two-stories of openness). Although the design provides some rather nice architectural aesthetics, you’ve got to wonder what kind of crack these guys were smoking when they decided what a nifty neat-o idea it would be to elevate the ceiling so that the sounds of hundreds of teenagers would echo and reverberate through the hallway like the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Of course, those sounds become more magnified when clusters of these darlings randomly stop, you know, right in the middle of the traffic flow.

So no one can get around them.

Creating a bottleneck.

We tried everything. Asking politely for them to move on. Yelling at them to move on. Going up to them and personally requesting them to move on. Handing out detentions if they didn’t move on.

But nothing in our disciplinary arsenal seemed to work. Nothing. Nadda. Zip.

Enter the Hand Clappers.

The week before Thanksgiving break, Rhonda and I entered the hallway armed with hand clappers. We clapped incessantly. We walked up to the hallstoppers and said nary a word. We just clapped and clapped and clapped some more.


The clapping noise echoed and reverberated. We stood next to the hallstoppers and clapped and clapped and clapped. The Little Darlings couldn’t hear themselves chat above the clapping. Our hallway emptied quickly.

With just a clap, clap, clap, we had became more annoying than the hallstoppers. Between every passing period, we stood and clapped. I even added my maracas for a little variety–a clapper in one hand, a maraca in the other.

Paint Ball Tagging Method

I wish I could claim this idea as my own, but sadly, this moment of brilliance goes to another of my hallway monitoring compadres. We all know kids who act up all day, but manage to stay just under the administrative radar because they always act up just enough to annoy the bejeebers out of their teachers and classmates, but not enough for an office referral.

Well, my peeps, those days are gone with our Paint Ball Tagging Method.

Here’s how it works…Every teacher gets issued a paint ball gun with yellow, green and red bullets. Little Johnny acts up in first period. Teacher splats him with a yellow pellet. Johnny has been warned. Class over. In second period, Little Johnny acts up. Teacher sees the yellow warning. Splat! Teacher nails him with a green pellet. That’s his second infraction. Bell rings. Johnny moves on to third period where he acts up again. Splat! Teacher nails him with a red pellet. If he acts up again at any point the rest of the day--in class, in the hallway, at lunch--Johnny automatically goes to the office because everyone sees the red splat and knows he’s used up all his warnings.

Of course, we’d probably have to devote some professional development time to practice our aim and accuracy of our splats, and we’d probably also have to update our disciplinary management code to outline splat-worthy infractions.

Pretty darn tootin’ nifty, don’t ya think?

But like I said before, you probably want to have at least a gaggle of attorneys on your speed dial.

And probably a Get Out of Jail Free card.

And oh yeah, an early retirement plan, too.

OK, OK, OK. Perhaps we should just stick with the Hand Clapper plan.

199th Carnival of Education

The Education Wonks came through again and hosted the 199th Carnival of Education while everyone else was scarfing down mass quantities of food. Head on over there to see what was new in the EduSphere. My post “Thanksgiving Break, Magic Things & Miracles” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

The next carnival will be hosted by Mr. Teacher. If you want to submit, you can use this handy, dandy form.

Hope everyone had a fan-tab-u-lous Thanksgiving break!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Break, Magic Things & Miracles

With the Thanksgiving Break upon us and an entire week week off, I thought I should write about “Richie’s 5 things to be thankful for,” but that list sounded too much like some sappy Oprah gratitude show, and, as you know, I just don’t sap well.

Then, after that idea, I got rather sidetracked thinking about how I needed to clarify that whole “aren’t-you-lucky-to-be-a-teacher-and-have-an-entire-week-off” thing.

I don’t know about you, but quite a big chunk of my “aren’t-you-lucky-to-be-a-teacher-and-have-an-entire-week-off” thing will be filled with that whole “fix-and-mail-those-56-yearbook-pages” thing followed closely by the “fix-and-mail-those-gazillion-photo-proof-pages” thing, and then, just in case I actually thought I might enjoy some of that “aren’t-you-lucky-to-be-a-teacher-and-have-an-entire-week-off” free time thing, there still are those four sets of lesson plans that need to be done. At least, all I need to do there is transcribe those lessons from my brain to the appropriate lesson plan form.

The lesson plan thing, though, really got me to thinking about things. (I know, I know, I know. We all know what happens when that happens.) Still, I got to thinking about things that would make my life (and probably yours, too) easier and better. Here’s my list in no particular order…

Random Things Richie Believes
Would Make Our Lives Easier and Better

  • The Magic Copy Machine…Since most of us seem to store our lesson plans in our brains, wouldn’t it be great if we could just xerox our brains? How fabulous would that be? Unless, of course, Mr. Xerox machine spewed out blank pages… then that would be rather un-fab-u-lous. Still, the possibilities…
  • Magic Classroom Clappers…Most of you probably remember those cheesy clapper commercials. (Clap On! Clap Off! And your lights automatically go on or off. You can watch the commercial here.) Think how wonderful it would be if we could clap once and students would be quiet. Clap twice and they could talk again. Clap once. Quiet. Clap twice. Talk. Clap once… Well, you get the picture.
  • Magic Grading Stairs…I often find myself saying, “This job would be great if it weren’t for the grading.” (Can I at least get an “Amen!” brothers and sisters?) What if you could just toss your papers up the Magic Grading Stairs and they would fall magically where they belonged? You know, the “A” papers would land on the “A” stairs, the “B” papers on the “B” stairs and so forth and so on? As an added bonus, if anyone complained about their grade, why you could just refer them to the manufacturer’s Customer Service Hotline at 1-800-WHINERS. How nifty neat-o would that be?
  • The Magic PhotoShop Filter…Now this one may be lost on those of you not familiar with the publications industry, but most of you are at least familiar with re-touching photographs. I often find myself wishing I could walk about with my own invisible PhotoShop filter. You know, so that when people saw me, age lines were removed, pounds gone and muscles toned. You know, so that I would look younger, thinner and taller. Maybe like, oh perhaps, Angelina Jolie.
OK, OK, OK, so I’d probably need more than just a PhotoShop filter for that.

I think they call that a miracle, but ’tis the season, isn’t it?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

198th Carnival of Education

Jeepers Creepers! It’s the 198th Carnival of Education Christmas Creep Edition. Yep, it’s out and hosted over at I want to Teach Forever.

My post “More Stupider, FERPA-ized & Conspiracy Theories” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. Still, if you want to be in the loop on the the poop going on in the EduSphere, then you really need go over there. I’d give you some recs on what to read, but my eyes are glazed over from trying to finish up some yearbook pages last night. (Can’t you just hear my yearbook rep in the background launching into the Hallelujah chorus?)

So what are you waiting for? Go over there and give it a look.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Stupider, FERPA-ized & Conspiracy Theories

Is it all in my head?
Is it all in my head?
Could everything be all right without me knowing?
Is it all just some game
Where everything stays the same
Is it all in my head....?

Stress has made me exponentially more stupider.

I know I’ve discussed this topic before, but I think I’ve cross the threshold this time. Let’s back up and start near the beginning…

Somewhere the architects of FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) secretly sneer at the havoc this little piece of legislation has wrought for high school publications advisers from coast-to-coast.

Now I know that FERPA supposedly was never intended to apply to student publications. (You can go here and here to read about that.) But that never stopped school attorneys from telling school districts to FERPA-ize everything, and while some may call me crazy, I have chosen not to meet Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity and keep bashing my head against the same brick wall by fighting it. It’s a losing proposition to argue otherwise. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Still, I’m convinced that those FERPA writers and school attorneys must harbor a secret grudge against yearbooks and publications advisers. Maybe their names were misspelled, or perhaps a pimple was photoshopped onto their noses, or maybe those “theys” are just humorless-naysaying-mean-spirited-Richie-hata-types who plot in little backrooms on how to make hardworking-emergency-chocolate-eating-poor people like me miserable. Sometimes (OK, it’s probably more like all the time), I just want to pinch their pointy little heads off.

Now, you non-advisers probably are clueless as to what all this ranting is about. Let me bring you up-to-date speedy quick. At the beginning of the school year, school districts send home a nifty little form (ours is Christmas-green in color). Parental units check a block granting or denying permission for their kiddos picture/work,/name to be published online, in the school newspaper, in the school yearbook, on the bathroom wall. (OK, perhaps maybe not that last one). Our form gives them several choices. It goes something like this…

  • Choice #1–Yes for giving permission for everything (including the yearbook), but not for directory information
  • Choice #2–Yes for giving permission for publishing information in a directory
  • Choice #3–No for leave my kid out of everything
  • Choice #4–And then there’s some other choice, but I can’t remember because I’m old.
Admittedly, it can be confusing. And confusing it was, when I got a rather nice email from one of our very, very nice keepers of the FERPA list telling me to take a kid out of the NOs and move him into the YES list.

So I looked at my NO list and his name wasn’t there and this is how FERPA crumbled my world in one afternoon. Here’s a synopsis…

Me…I’m really confused now. If they are on the “Yes to directory,” then they can be in the yearbook right? I was only taking out the NOs.

FERPA keeper…There are 5 categories…“NO” equals NO, do not release any information. “YES SCHOOL” equals YES to anything and everything school related. “YES DIRECTORY” equals name, address, phone number can be added in a phone book directory, but this was for the elementary schools and should have never been on the High School FERPA form. They just like to make one district form. “NO RESPONSE” equals YES to everything because they never turned in a form.

Me (After I read that last email about a gazillion times, I decided it was time to throw pride down the drain and admit the obvious)…OK. I’m stupid. Just tell me this… does “YES DIRECTORY” mean YES to the yearbook?

FERPA keeper …“YES DIRECTORY” means NO to the yearbook.

I sort of felt like Liza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. (“I think I’ve got it!. I think I’ve got it!” “By George! I think she’s got it!”)

So-o-o-o-o-o NO really means NO, and YES means YES, except when YES really means NO.

See what I mean? I think I’m officially the most dumbest. I think I need to buy the FERPA keeper some emergency chocolate. Her job is crazier than mine because not only does she have to put up with the humorless-naysaying-mean-spirited-Richie-hata-types who plot in little backrooms on how to make hardworking-emergency-chocolate-eating-poor people like us miserable, she also has to put up with me.

So I did what any self-respecting, bat-crack crazy publications adviser would do––I took the four page list and cornered my principal in the cafeteria.

While I explained the whole shebang, one of the assistant principals who was standing nearby sort of took a giant step back. I think it had something to do with the fact that my eyes were a tad crazy-glazed and my voice was about an octave higher (and maybe even a bit screechier), and well, maybe, just maybe, my hands were animated just a smidge more than usual. Oh, and I think I might have had my scary-face on, too, but I was not holding any sharp objects.

At that point, my principal just gently pried the list from my fingers and told me he’d take care of it.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him about that whole Richie-hata conspiracy theory or those “theys” who congregate in backrooms.

Well, maybe next time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Carnival of Education--Transition Team Edition

It’s Wednesday and we all know what that means… Not only is it time to Woo-hoo, it’s Carnival of Education time hosted over at the Core Knowledge Blog. And what a nifty theme we have this week--it’s the Transition Team Edition. My post “Blogging, Planes & Teachers in the Skies” made the cut and earned me the nomination for Secretary of Transportation. Woo-hoo! But you don’t have to go there to read it here, but you certainly should go there to see what’s going on the EduSphere.

So, hey, what are you waiting for?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blogging, Planes & Teachers in the Skies

When I started blogging, I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like. OK, perhaps that isn’t exactly true. I had a vision. A vision of me lounging around in my jammies, drinking green tea, eating ginger snaps, being uproariously funny and making lots of money for my wittiness.

OK, so now 14 months later, three out of five isn’t too bad.

I’m not in my jammies although I wish I were. Instead, I’m sitting here at the airport waiting on a flight, listening to some CNN idiot on the flat screen, getting nauseated by the couple eating about 2,000 calories of Wendy’s fast food and hoping that no one invades my personal space. (I don’t hold much promise for that last one.)

But back to the blog thing. I usually do drink green tea and munch on gingersnaps—although I never needed the blog as an excuse to do that.

I’m pretty sure for the most part I’m hilarious. OK, OK, OK, so maybe not hilarious, perhaps funny.

Alright, so maybe not funny, but perhaps mildly amusing. (At least to me, in my little world, I crack me up.) Apparently, though, not everyone appreciates my keen sense of humor or my AC/DC reference from my last post. (Ah, the travails of being a rocker at heart.)

But let’s not get in a dither about that. Let’s get back to the my trip. While I was waiting to de-plane, I got to thinking about things, and you know what happens when that happens… But I got to thinking that perhaps being a teacher should be a prerequisite for being a flight attendant. Can’t you see how easy this whole flight thing would work if we just put former teachers in charge? I think it would go something like this…

Before the flight…

Flight attendant…Hey Missy over there by 14A, did you not pass any math classes? Can’t you see that the mass of your overstuffed bag cannot fit into the overhead space. Hey, figure it out-- length times width equals the space. Now, go sit in the remedial math section in the back of the plane.

During the flight…

Flight attendant…Mister 19E, if you don’t quit tapping to the music on your iPod, we’re going to confiscate it! And, you over there in Seat 18D, do ya think the rules don’t apply to you? Can’t you see the seatbelt sign is on? On means on, Mister! Now get your carcass back in that seat, and if I see you get up one more time, bad things are gonna happen to you. And, you in seat 11A, please use your inside voice. Do ya think we want to know what you’re going to do when you get back home? Jeez Louise!

Waiting to de-plane

Flight attendant…Whoa, hold it right there, Row 15! Every one in row 15 will have to wait to de-plane because Missy in Seat 13C did not follow instructions and failed to gather her belongings as instructed. Now, everyone remain quiet and seated until your row is dismissed. OK, everyone look at Row 5. See how quiet they are? Row 5 can leave… OK, now Row 9…

Can’t you just see it? A cadre of former teachers taking over the skies?

Of course, they’d probably pay us less.

And blame us for flight delays.

And hold us accountable for any luggage left behind.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Newspaper Deadlines, Bat-Crack-Crazy & AC/DC’s Highway to…

Against all odds, I survived another newspaper deadline.


I think I was screeching or squawking about something when one of the yearbook photographers thought he was being helpful by saying,“You couldn’t pay me enough money to do your job.”

I started to say, “Well, you couldn’t pay me enough either,” but you can see how ridiculously stupid that sounds and how it makes zero sense –which all goes to point out exactly how bat-crack-crazy things were and how sometimes even crazy things for a nano-second seem to make sense.

So, my friends, I give you just a small smidgen of…

The Bat-Crack-Crazy Things
(That Appear To Make Sense For A Nano-Second)
on newspaper deadline…

People’s Exhibit #1…I know we love our guns here in the Lone Star state, but did the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department really issue 12.5 million hunting licenses in 2008? Sadly, none of our proofreaders caught it and 24 hours went by before I said to myself, “OMG, self, that’s bat-crack-crazy! That can’t possibly be right. That would mean roughly one hunter for every two Texans. Jeez Louise! Go change it speedy quick.”

People’s Exhibit #2…What do you do when you need a kid for a photo illustration? Why just grab some random elementary school kiddo from the Halloween Carnival at school, of course. At least we didn’t trigger an Amber alert.

People’s Exhibit #3…My newspaper editor came rushing in breathless Halloween morning. Never mind that those four pages were still undone and the final printer deadline loomed a mere eight hours away. Never mind that she almost got hit by a mini-van (and, no, it wasn’t me) in the parking lot. Never mind that she had three hours of sleep, no breakfast and forgot her lunch. Never mind all that, Missy. The biggest calamity? In her rush to get to school, she forgot her new Halloween socks…oh, and her shoes, too.

People’s Exhibit #4…What do we do when we need statistical data for an infographic? Why, my friends, just take it from Wikipedia, of course. Akuracy? Who cares about ackuracy? We don’t need no stinkin’ ackyersee.

So after a week like that, is it really a coincidence that AC/DC’s new release “Black Ice” topped the charts this week? It rather coincided with that feeling I had about being on that Highway to… Well, all you rockers out there know the one I’m talkin’ about.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Carnival of Education, Stressful Jobs & Super Secret Chocolate

Well, there are three things you need to know about today…

#1…The Carnival of Education is up and running over at Leading from the Heart. Over there you’ll find everything and anything happening in the EduSphere. You know the drill… My post “Scanners, Mowing Lawns & Things You Just Shouldn’t Learn How To Do” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here, but you really need to go there so you’re in-the-know (and you want to be in-the-know, don’t ya?).

#2…Perhaps some of you have already seen this. Teachers, my friends, were listed as having one of the Top 8 most stressful jobs by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Really? Hmmmm. As if we needed verification or validation.

As if.

That definitely explains how half a bag of that Emergency Chocolate ended up in the Super-Secret Emergency Chocolate Drawer instead of over in the original Emergency Chocolate Drawer (ECD) over in the publications room, and it also explains how half that Super Secret Chocolate somehow ended up not-so-super-secret on my hips.

#3… It’s Woo-hoo Wednesday. Surely, you can find something to Woo-hoo about!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Scanners, Mowing Lawns & Things You Just Shouldn’t Learn How To Do

I upset one of the yearbook photographers last week. I know that little tidbit probably doesn’t surprise anyone. Bless his heart, he wanted me to show him how to use the scanner.

Sorry,” I said. “I don’t know how.”

“What?” he asked in mortified disbelief.

“No, really,” he tried again, “I need you to show me how.”

“No can do,” I said. “I don’t know how. Have Mikey show you tomorrow.”

He sort of harrumped and walked away. I don’t believe he believed me. But honestly, I truly, really don’t know how.

Blame it on my mother.

When I was much younger (OK, OK, OK, make that much, much, much younger), she gave me this little bit of advice– “Don’t ever learn how to do something unless you plan to do it forever.”

That’s how learning to mow a lawn slid effortlessly into my No. 1 slot of things I never learned how to do. (I can proudly say that not one--nadda, zippo, zilch-- blade of grass has ever been sliced or diced by my hand. No siree, Missy. Just ask my husband because, after all, forever really is a long, long time.)

So you can see how learning to operate that scanner just naturally worked its way up there too. (Although I would like to point out, I am at least one step head of Mr. Yearbook Photographer. Jeepers, at least I know you have to turn on the computer the scanner is attached to before it will work.)

That scanner incident naturally got me to thinking (and we all know what happens when that happens). Well, like I said, I got to thinking about all the things that we just never, ever should learn how to do. Drum roll pah-leese…

Richie’s Top 5 Things
One Should Never Learn How To Do
Or You’ll Be Stuck Doing Them Forever
(And Forever Really Is A Long, Long Time

No. 5… Be a cheerleading sponsor
I don’t even think that one needs an explanation. If you’ve ever known one (remember one of my BFFs was one), you know why. Have you seen all the things cheerleading sponsors have to do and put up with? Just the mere thought of coordinating a pep rally makes me hyperventilate.

And, of course, have you ever noticed that the adjective “psycho” always seems to attach itself to “cheerleading mom”? Hails bails, they’ve made movies on the subject. You also must have a high level of cuteness to come up with all those clever decorations, spirit sticks and pep rally themes. I mentioned all this to my hallway monitoring compadres and the cross country coach’s eye started twitching at the mere mention of it. Somehow, somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, she actually did a stint as a cheerleading sponsor. The three of us shuddered just thinking about it.

No. 4… Math
Now before you hata’s start emailing me on the importance of math and the greatness of numbers, let me just say I only included math because, quite frankly, it makes my head explode. I’ve also discovered as I age, my brain has automatically started erasing anything and everything related to math. Gone so far? Those once memorized multiplication tables for nines, eights and sevens. I fear the sixes won’t be far behind.

No. 3…Lesson Plans
Do they really ever mean anything? Could anyone really ever follow one? When I think of lesson plans, I think of Macbeth’s soliloquy: “…it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Uh-oh, I think I just called myself an idiot.)

No. 2…Calligraphy
People who know how to do that have a special place in my heart because anytime (and every time) someone needs something on a certificate or award that person with that particular talent gets the fun job of spending the rest of that day hunched over with quill in hand and ink at the ready. But I, my friends, can thankfully exclaim…“Not It!”

And now for our No. 1 Thing One Should Never Ever Learn How To Do (Can I pah-leese get an “Amen, sister”?)…

No. 1…Befriend a pica
Oh it all began seemingly innocuous enough, learning about points and picas (pronounced pahy-kuh.) That, of course, was merely the gateway. Before I knew it, I owned a pica pole and was discussing one pica margins, dominant elements, secondary coverage, ladders and fonts. If I knew all of that would have morphed me into a yearbook and newspaper adviser, well, I think maybe I would have, should have purposefully mispronounced it and queried, “Pee-ka? What’s a Pee-ka? Margins? Are we talkin’ about stock margins?”

But no siree, Missy, I didn’t do that, and now 20-plus years later, I’m forever a publications adviser.

And, trust me, my friends, there won’t be any kind of bail out--government or otherwise--to rescue me from all of this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It’s Carnival Time!

Holey, Moley Guacamole, yes siree, it’s not only Carnival time, but it’s the Mole Edition of the Carnival of Education. Now, how fun is that? (Quite fun if you are a science geek!) So if you want to be in-the-know on what’s a happenin’ in the EduSphere then you absolutely, positively must hop on over to the Infamous.

My post “Yearbook Pages, Brains & Things” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here, but there’s lots of good stuff over there. So hey, what are you waiting for? Besides did you forget? It’s Woo-hoo Wednesday, so now you have something to Woo-hoo about.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yearbook Pages, Brains & Things

With the stock market taking more twists and turns than Judge Roy Scream, most of you probably don’t care that nary a yearbook page sits in the submission folder. (Unless, of course, your name is Rod and you’re a yearbook rep.)

In my defense, I didn’t plan it that way. In fact, by my count, at least 30 or so pages should be sitting at some printing plant in Kansas. Instead, they remain here in Texas while I sing my own rendition of the Scarecrow’s song. My version, aptly titled, “If they only had a brain…” goes something like this…

“If They Only Had A Brain…”
If they would just turn in some pages
I would not be all ragin’
castin’ about the blame
And their grades would be amazin’
and I would be all a praisin’
If they only had a brain…

You see, I put a hold on all the pages after I discovered a new way to spell quiche

As if that wasn’t bad enough (and don’t you think it ought to be?), another page stopped me quicker than a hall fight. At the top of the people section pages, the kiddos are running lists of things. (OK, admittedly, the list-thing thing should have sent up red flags), but they aren’t exactly lists. Instead, they’re pictures (which after the Quiche Incident is probably a good thing).

As I checked over the pages, one page in particular caught my eye. The one where a girl lists five things she does after school…

Picture #1…a snack. Okey-dokey

Picture #2…homework. OK. Good.

Picture #3… four guys. Uh-oh. Not Okey-dokey. Not good. A definite EEK! And, a definite throw that page speedy quick into the Things-That-Will-Get-You-Fired folder.

And, my friends, if I need to explain that thing to you, well then perhaps you need to sing your own version of “If I only had a brain…”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Carnival of Education

It’s Woo-hoo Wednesday and we all know what that means…The Carnival of Education is out, and this week it’s hosted by the most fab-u-lous Eduwonkette. The format is fun with a political debate theme. My post on “Free Stuff, VIBs and Book Reviews” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. Still, if you want to be in the know about all the great stuff and not-so-great-stuff going on in the EduSphere, better get cracking and head on over there.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Free Stuff, VIBs & Book Reviews

OK, I might as well admit it–I love free stuff (but I hardly ever get free stuff unless you count the samples they give out in grocery stores). Pathetic, I know.

So, my friends, when I got an email from a very nice marketing assistant hawking a free copy of Peg Tyre’s book, the Trouble With Boys, if I would just read it and review it or discuss it on my blog, well a few things crossed my mind. (Yeah, I know, it’s those darn tootin’ things again.)

“Yippee! Free stuff for me!” was, of course, Thing Number 1 that crossed my mind.

That, however, was closely followed by Thing Number 2–“Jeepers, I bet that very nice marketing assistant (much less Ms. Tyre) has never, ever read my blog. Otherwise both shes probably wouldn’t appreciate this very seriously researched book on a very seriously important subject reviewed/discussed/mentioned by a not-so-serious journalism adviser.”

Now, if I’m being totally honest, there also was Thing Number 3. For a brief egocentric moment, I thought to myself, “Woo-ho, I must be a VIB--as in Very Important Blogger--for someone to offer me free stuff.”

Thing Number 3 lasted, oh, about a nanosecond when I figured out the nice little email was probably a mass emailing and the very nice marketing assistant was probably some computer in a backroom named Nicole. Kind of like Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but nicer.

So for another fleeting moment, I thought I would just ignore the offer and go on about my quirky non-free stuff existence.

Still, it was free stuff after all (and I never get free stuff)… so speedy quick I responded, “Send it,” and for about a week, “The Trouble with Boys" went back and forth with me to work and started an entire listing in my head about how I could write volumes about “The Trouble With Richie.” But then I figured that probably wasn’t what computer Nicole had in mind when she said “review,” and so that is how “The Boys” accompanied me on my recent flight to Colorado to take care of family stuff (along with the 20 or so yearbook pages to edit).

Hmmm…Are you wondering which one won my time? Kind of a no-brainer there. “The Boys” won without even a run-off over reading those yearbook pages (which I’m sure thrills the crack fire out of my yearbook rep).

Now I really only intended to read just a few pages. Instead, I rather surprised myself and kept turning the pages. I’m more than half way through and highly recommend it. (And, I’m not just saying that because the book was free.)

Let me just share one anecdote from the book. Picture a second grade class. They are supposed to be working on a one page essay in their journals. One boy hides under his desk with a pencil tip in his ear. A classroom observer bends down and asked him what he’s doing…

He stared at her for a moment, then whispered, “Scratching my ear.”
Costello tried again. “Why are you under the desk?” she said keeping her voice low.
The boy tried to explain. “The teacher said we should write about anything,” he said, then fell silent.
“And?” prompted Costello.
“I don't know what to write.”
Let me just say I have big kids in high school who would curl up under a desk if they could fit there. Hails Bails, half the time I want to curl up under a desk, too.

But what this book does is make you think about all the things (yep, those things again) we do to kids--intentionally and unintentionally--and to boys specifically. And those things aren’t good things either. The problem with a book like this, though, is that it makes people tend to gloss over a very important point…

Good teachers are, well, good teachers. There I said it. We teach kids and we do it well. We view kids individually and adapt our lessons accordingly. That’s just what we do.

Now, aren’t you glad I got that free book? At least I didn’t have to curl up under my desk because I couldn’t think of something to blog about. And, as a nice added bonus, for a fleeting moment, I got to pretend to be a VIB.

Well, I’ve gotta go now and head off to the grocery store. You know, for that free stuff.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

192 Carnival of Education

It’s Wednesday… and you know what that means--time to shout “Woo-hoo!” and say something nice to someone today and it’s carnival time as in Carnival of Education. Yep, it’s time to check out what’s been buzzing around in the EduSphere. This week’s carnival is hosted over at DentionSlip.

My post, “FunnyBack, Cell Phones & Beat the Teacher Night,” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. But if you want to be in the know (and I know you do), you really need to take a hike on over there to see what’s going on. It’s a great format--we’re all walking to school--and as usual there’s a gajillion good posts to read, but I’ve gotta run, so go on and check it out and don’t forget to give out a big Woo-hoo shout!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

FunnyBack, Cell Phones & Beat the Teacher Night

I need to get my FunnyBack.

Last week just didn’t bring too many ha-ha’s my way. For goodness sake, I even yelled at my yearbook rep, and I never do that. (OK, so maybe I do just a little bit, but only to keep things interesting and to keep him in line because I do actually like him.)

Perhaps it was that newspaper deadline that beat me down.

Or maybe it was the end of the six weeks and grades were due.

Or perhaps, it’s because I realized even though we knocked one six weeks out, there are still five more to go.

Or maybe it’s because children--no matter how much you like them--sometimes just suck the life right out of you.

Sometimes I feel like a trader on Wall Street without a $700 billion bailout in sight.

And for all those clinging optimists out there, let me just say next week doesn’t hold much promise either with Beat the Teacher Night--oh, wait, make that MEET the Teacher Night--on the schedule.

So back to trying to get that ole FunnyBack

I did manage to overhear one rather amusing story. One of my staffers was grounded for grades and had to surrender her beloved cell phone. Now we all know how catastrophic surrendering one’s cell phone can be for teens, and we all know how teens (like 3-year-olds in a grocery store demanding chocolate) make numerous attempts to wear you down.

Well, in effort to get partial visitation with her cell phone, our intrepid staffer whined to her mom about how unsafe it could be to not have a cell phone. What about kidnappers? Rapists? Stalkers? Robbers? Her crazy journalism adviser?

OMG, she had me convinced there was absolutely no way our staffer could safely walk through the brightly-lit school parking lot to catch that big yellow school bus home. No siree, Missy.

Staffer…“…so I told my mom how dangerous it was to be without a phone, you know, in case of an emergency…”

The rest of the staff… “Yeah, so what did she say…”

Staffer…“Well, later she said I was right and handed me this phone…”

The rest of the staff seemed a bit puzzled…

Staffer…“Just look at it!”

Everyone peered at said cell phone. It seemed OK.

Staffer…“Just look at it!” (now illuminating the offending screen) You can only dial 9-1-1, you know, for emergencies…”

Apparently 9-1-1 emergencies were not the kind of emergencies our staffer was anticipating or wanting to use the cell phone for…

I just hope her mom comes to Beat Meet the Teacher night.

I think she deserves to wear the tiara.

Hails Bails, I think maybe I’ll buy her one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

191 Carnival of Education

It’s Wednesday and we all know what that means. It’s time to shout Woo-hoo! and then head on over to the Carnival of Education to see what’s going on in the EduSphere. This week’s Carnival is being hosted by Mathew Needleman at Creating Lifelong Learners.

My post “Blues, Basements & Bailouts” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

This week’s theme is a terrifyingly terrific Halloweenish theme. Lots and lots of good stuff. So what are you waiting for? Grab a bag of candy and dash over there. You’re in for a treat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blues, Basements & Bailouts

With all the fuss over my inclusion in School Gate, London Times education site, I almost forgot to post something new. Jeez Louise!

For now, let’s just attribute part of my memory lapse to a rather “interesting” week. You remember “interesting” don’t you? (Our little fill-in-the-blank code word for when someone or something renders us speechless or when we want to shout at the top of our lungs, “Why you big, fat…” Awwww, you know the rest. And, no siree, Missy, I’m not going to say it. I’ve got that counter thingy to think about.)

OK, so let’s just get back to my “interesting” week. First, we were––make that still are--on our first newspaper deadline. Since that was/is such an ugly mess, I still can’t talk about it because my mother taught me, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all…”

So for right now, I won’t say anything about my newspaper staffers and deadline, bless their hearts, until I start feeling the love again.

Hmmmm…that leaves my photography classes. They just finished their first project and we posted all the photographs to critique.

Uh-oh. Nope. I probably shouldn’t discuss that one either. Let’s just say that there was a rather significant collection of photos that had a rather bluish cast to them. Animals with blue noses, people with bluish skin, fences with blue-toned wood, and, of course, a dog with blue fur. I rather felt like I was stuck in a Blue’s Clues episode gone bad. I guess in their defense I should say that one of our school colors is blue so perhaps it was a school spirit thing.

So, my friends, that now leaves just my yearbook staff and my Journalism I class. Well, let’s just say my yearbook editor scares me lately. Somehow she’s perfected in 17 years what has taken me 50-something years to develop: a persona of pure intimidation. She wants this special linen cover that costs an extra $2+ a book. And guess what? She’s getting that cover if I have to get a government bailout to do it.

Speaking of government bailouts, every Friday we discuss current events in my Journalism I class, so of course, we talked about the current financial crisis and government proposed bail-out.

One student wanted to know why we just didn’t print more money to solve the problem.

Me… “Well, it doesn’t work that way. It’s kind of complicated, but everyone’s economy is connected to each other and if we have too much money circulating around, then the money isn’t worth anything.”

Kid #1…“Why not? It’s just money. We should print up some more.”

Me… “Well, dear, if it really worked that way, we’d all be printing money in our basements. If, of course, we had basements.” (Remember this is Texas.)

Kid #2…“I know what they should do.”


Kid #2…“You know that $2,000 everyone got as part of that stimulus package?”

Me… (secretly thrilled, the children knew about the stimulus package)…“Yes…”

Kid #2… “Well, $2,000 wasn’t enough to buy enough of anything to stimulate anything. The government needs to give everyone $200,000. Now, that would stimulate the economy…”

All the kids simultaneously… “Yeah!”

Me…“Hey, you can’t give away money you don’t have…”

Oh, wait… I guess you can.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Welcome London Times Readers!

Oh my goodness…just when things were going south (I’ve had an extraordinarily bad deadline week of which I will write about later), I got a flash of fab-u-lous news… School Gate, the London Times Education site, listed me as “One of the Best 7 teacher blogs.”

Not only was I listed there (in the No. 2 spot, no less), and I also am only one of two Americans listed fully. (My buddy, Mr. Teacher, gets a shout-out in No. 6 spot along with the UK Mr. Teacher and there is another American (Mimi) listed for her blog It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages. I recently stumbled upon her myself after reading one of Joanne Jacob’s posts. I particularly liked Mimi’s “My Kingdom for a Parking Space” which made my rather bad day inconsequential.)

Now all this new-found mention of Bellringers definitely deserves a big Woo-ho!

So jump on over across the pond, see who else is listed there, and hey, post a comment while you’re at it.

And to all my new-found readers from the London Times--A big Texas welcome and thanks for dropping by. I hope you take a look at my latest post…Mondays, Morons & Me.

And let me just say, y’all come back!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

190th Carnival of Education

Woo-hoo! It’s that time of the week again and I’m not just talking about Woo-hoo Wednesday either, silly. Why, it’s carnival time as in the 190th Carnival of Education hosted this week over at at Steve Spangler’s site.

There’s lots of enlightening stuff there, so if you want to be a person in-the-know on the buzz around the EduSphere then you need to sashay on over there. My post “Mondays, Morons & Me” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

But you should go there and check out California Teacher guy’s t-shirt and this fab-u-lous new-to-me site Apostrophe Catastrophes (for all of us punctuation geeks). Of course, Mr. Teacher also had some good ideas on how to solve the Dallas ISD budget crunch. There’s more, but I’ve got to get ready for school (some of us have to work you know) so zip over to Steve’s site and see what else there is. The format (as usual) is fab-u-lous and reader friendly as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mondays, Morons & Me

Week Number 4 down and I’m already to count me out.

Somehow I managed to ruin my weekend before it even started. I carted home photography projects to grade which, according to my higher level math skills, gives me 210 pieces to shuffle through, divine a grade for, mark the rubric and smack myself upside my head for being such a big, fat… (nope, you’re not going to get me to say that. No siree, Missy.)

Earlier I mentioned we had our first official “Tiara Tuesday.” Yep, the call came out from one of our computer teachers to proudly dust off our tiaras and wear them in honor of surviving the first three weeks of school, the first issuance of progress reports and a general overall good work/attitude of the kiddos. Of course, I proudly wore mine and even lent out two spares --one to my hall-monitoring, chicken-loving health teacher compadre and the other to my counselor friend (who I always refer to as “The Other Carol” because she also is blessed with the same name).

Now, here’s an interesting aside--my students didn’t even blink when they saw me wearing my tiara. For them, well, it was just business as usual in Richie’s classroom.

Of course, that whole Tiara Tuesday got me to thinking, and well, one thing naturally led to another thing. And we all know how I feel about things, and with all that thinking (which btw made my brain hurt), I thought we couldn’t very well just have one day of the week with a fancy, schmancy designation.

No siree. We obviously needed something for every single week day.

So after Tiara Tuesday last week, here’s what I came up with (with, of course, some help from my first period journalism class and a few teacher peeps)…

Woo-hoo Wednesday… Sometime during the day participants had to find one nice thing to say to (1) a teacher and (2) a student. All nice statements had to begin with a Woo-hoo. For example, “Woo-hoo, you have nice hair today!” or “Woo-hoo, that’s a great question!” See how easy this is?

Thankful Thursday… Thank a teacher and a student. It’s quick and easy and goes like this… “Hey, thanks Mr. Principal for that $10,000 bonus check!” (Y’all got yours didn’t you?) Or, “Thanks for behaving today, John.” Or, “Thanks for that very interesting comment, Doris.”

Fiesta Friday… Find one thing to celebrate and rejoice in (as if Fridays ever needed a reason for celebration…)

Now, I just know you want to know what Monday will bring. Although my lunch buddy in the Art Department strongly advised me against it, I just have to set aside Monday as…can I pah-leese have a drum-roll?…Moron Monday.

Moron Monday… Now before you start hatin’ on me, let me explain. We all do, say or think something stupid. (I know I do, and I bet you do, too). So, I thought, “Let’s just devote the first day of the week to getting that stupid thing out of our system. Just think how cathartic it would be to run around saying, “Why that’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” Or, “Stupid is as stupid does!” Or, “How moronic!”

You see, once we get rid of the stupid, well, we should be good to go, don’t you think? Imagine all the learning that could occur once we got the stupid out.

Well, that’s my theory, any way.

So now I'm looking at the 210 project pieces to grade, the stack of Journalism I journals still not read, the first yearbook deadline submissions, the upcoming newspaper deadline and my unfinished purchase orders. On top of that, I’m stressed over the we-must-launch-our-website-ASAP-or-bad-things-will-happen-to-me, and, most importantly, I just remembered that I forgot to replenish the almost empty ECD (Emergency Chocolate Drawer).

I don’t even have to wait until Monday to say, “What a moron.”