Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Shout Out

Now, this is worthy of shout out… my book, How to Lose Your Self of Steam & Other Teaching Lessons I Never Learned From Professional Development, is listed as one of 101 Books Every Teacher Should Read.

If you like my blog, you’ll love the book. It’s available on Amazon.com or at the JEA bookstore.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Giving Up, Chucking Sponges & Name Calling

Enough already. 

I’d like to give up now. Call it quits. Say uncle.  Cash in the chips.  Throw in the towel. Give up the ghost. I want to scream every single cliche related to giving up, and then I’d actually like to give up. 

Yeah, I even want to use the phrase “chuck up the sponge,” but that little ditty sounds more like SpongeBob after a drinking binge instead of a quitter’s mantra, so I think I’ll just leave the sponge chucking alone.

But still enough, well, is enough. 

I’m spending way too much time with my DIs (Darling Inspirations). Last week I spent spring break in New York City with them. This Saturday I spent all day at a UIL academic journalism writing competition. In a few weeks, I get to spend another weekend with them at the state journalism convention, and then there’s another Saturday along the way for regional academic journalism writing competition. And, all of that doesn’t even include all of the before and after school bonding on deadline.

Out of the 180 numbers stored in my cell phone, probably 90 percent of them are the DIs that have crossed my path through the years. Most of my text messages are from DIs. Hails Bails, for my Friday night fun, I even went to a boys soccer playoff game because one of my DIs plays goalie.

Pathetic, I know. (Me, not him.)

Of course, all this newspaper bonding stuff makes it a tad difficult to slay those yearbook demons that keep hovering about.

And, of course, not slaying the yearbook demons makes me just a tad bit cranky which, of course, brings me to my next story that I shall simply entitle, “How Richie Managed To Call Her Beloved Principal A Moron.” 

It goes something like this…

First Period. Yearbook Class. Still behind on pages. Still behind on page proofs. Still behind on grades. Still behind on being behind.

Someone stands hidden by the door flicking the lights on and off.

Me… “Who’s that?”

No answer. Still behind on pages. Still behind on page proofs. Still behind on grades. Still behind on being behind.

Someone stands hidden by the door flicking the lights on and off.

Me (a tad bit more irritated)… “Who’s that?”

A few giggles in the classroom… Still behind on pages. Still behind on page proofs. Still behind on grades. Still behind on being behind.

Someone stands hidden by the door flicking the lights on and off.

Me again with a sterner voice…  “Who’s that?”

A few more giggles in the classroom… Still behind on pages. Still behind on page proofs. Still behind on grades. Still behind on being behind.

Someone stands hidden by the door flicking the lights on and off.

Me getting up to apprehend the culprit and saying… “OK, what moron keeps turning the lights on and off?”

Ahhhhhh, my principal…

Well, on a positive note, I didn’t say, “Big Fat Stupid Head,” so I get to keep my timer going, and because my principal has a sense of humor, I get to keep my job.

Unless, of course, I chuck up the sponge.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Break, New York City & Shoe Stores

I spent the first half of my spring break battling my allergies and the demons I call yearbook.

I spent the second half of my spring break battling my allergies, teenagers and New York City streets. (I left the yearbook demons back in Texas. I think attempting to smuggle them into New York City would have put me speedy quick on everyone’s watch list.)

So here I am in New York City with four newspaper staff members–four teenage girls to be exact–winding down our trip from our national journalism convention at Columbia University.

In between the requisite sightseeing, I even taught a little session about this blogging business. When I return to the Lone Star state, I’ll have to remember to do three things…

Thing #1… Smack my friend Sandy upside her head because she told me only one or two advisers would attend my little session. Instead, I had a pretty full crowd, and I didn’t even have to beg them to listen to me. A few had even read my book, and they loved it, too. (Hey, Oprah, are ya listening?)

My four staffers even said I did a good job, but I think they lie a lot, too. (You know, like my friend Sandy.) Since I’m fairly certainly I would get into trouble if I smacked them upside their little heads with the rubber chicken, I didn’t.

Thing #2… Eat Mexican food. Here’s a little tip in life… Never eat Mexican food north of the Red River. You’re just going to have to trust me on that one. (There’s probably a particular longitude and latitude that also applies to barbecue, but I’m not exactly sure where that is. However, I’m pretty sure the state of New York would not be included in the “It’s OK to eat barbecue here” map.)

Thing #3… Perform some sort of fancy, schmancy exorcism on the yearbook demons and try and finalize the yearbook… without injuring any students in the process…or going nuts & crazy…or making my Big Fat Stupid Head timer stop.  I think it will take some sort of divine intervention for the last item not to occur.

But before we get all misty eyed about the impending doom of the BFSH counter, I still have another 24 hours before I have to think yearbook, and I have one more night in the city that never sleeps.

So let’s try and keep these happy thoughts going. A real plus side of this trip was meeting up with one of my former newspaper editors who works at Simon and Schuster.

I told the girls we would be going to Rockefeller Center to meet Christina and that there would be free sodas and free books involved.

As we were walking, one of the girls asked, “Why are we getting free books and sodas from a shoe store?”

“A shoe store?”

“Yeah, you said she worked for a shoe store.”

Me…“No, I said she worked for Simon and Schuster. You know, the publishing company.”

My current editor-in-chief (the very cute, affable and matching Carson) did point out what a fabulous experience that would be—to have a store where you could not only buy shoes but read and buy books, too.

I guess we could call it The Shoe Knew…or the Shoe Boo… or The Shoebooka…

Yep, I think it’s time to head on back to Tejas.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shut Those Eyes

Spring break has arrived.

Again, there should be glee, delight, a dance of joy. Perhaps a bit of confetti.

Instead, I just glare at all the yearbook stuff I brought home and all the stuff I didn't grade from the classes I'm supposed to teach… and now I'm starting to whine, so I'll stop.

I do have a question, though. A conundrum of sorts.

Why do people yearbook staffers think that if they ignore something, it just disappears and I won't notice?

You know, disappears like when a 2-year-old  puts his hands in front of his face and because he can't see you, you are not there.

Ah, if life could be so simple.  I’d close my eyes all the time…and POOF…all those bad things—things like those yearbook pages and ungraded papers would simply disappear.

But this ain't no Harry Potter movie where things disapparate, and I’m not Samantha Stephens where a simple twitch of my nose can make things right. Hails bails, I can’t even wiggle my nose. (I can scrunch it, but I don’t think that counts.)

Perhaps someone knows the answer. I certainly don’t. I told the yearbook staff all 280 pages—as in every blessed one— needed to be turned in on Friday. I’m pretty sure I didn’t lapse into Mandarin Chinese. I’m fairly certain I pronounced the edict in English. I’m almost positive I didn’t have my eyes closed.

Still, one staffer opted not to turn in two pages. Didn’t even have the pages on the server. I guess she just thought it would go away. Disappear. Disapparate.

But doggone it, life just doesn’t work that way.

At least my life doesn’t.

Maybe I just need to squeeze my eyes shut really, really tight. Just maybe…

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Break, Yearbook Deadlines & Things That Begin With “Y”

In one week, Spring Break arrives, and you probably think I’d be ecstatic. 

I’m not.

You probably think I’d be in a pleasant, warm, fuzzy mood.

I’m not.

Instead, I’m cranky, tired and miserable.

With spring break a mere one week away, it’s the season for hating my yearbook rep and all things that are yearbook or remotely yearbook.

In fact, at this point, I hate anything that even begins with a “Y.”

Now, before I start getting sales pitches from other yearbook reps, please note that this hating on yearbooks is a generic hatefest.

It’s not my yearbook reps fault.

At any other time of year,  I rather like him. From April to February, he’s really a rather wonderful guy. He brings me Starbucks–a nonfat, three raw sugar latte every time he visits me. He returns phone calls promptly. He’s a problem-solver, and he never, ever yells at me.

He’s all the things I’m not—organized, detail-oriented and pleasant.

He’s even in shape.

I hate the guy.

My yearbook pages are now past due. The yearbook company even has a nifty little pie chart showing our status–as if  I need a colorful reminder of how far behind we are.

I hate pie charts.

At one point last week, we somehow managed to get more than 100 pages behind. (All the pages need to be in before spring break in order to keep our shipping date.)

I called my yearbook rep last week, but didn’t leave a message.

He noticed the missed call, promptly called me back and left me a message about what he thought my message would have been about had I left one.

Of course, he was right, you know.

Jeez Louise, I hate that guy…and yearbooks and yachts and yaks and yams and yellow and…

Monday, March 1, 2010

Incidents, Birthdays & Fingernail Polish

When one of the yearbook staffers said her camera was missing (Translation: She lost one of my $2,000 cameras), I didn’t even flinch.

No siree, missy.

I didn’t even raise my voice.

Nor did I hyperventilate.

Now, before you get all excited and believe all those yoga classes are finally kicking in, let me tell you that all of the above (flinching, yelling and hyperventilating) definitely would have occurred had that little piece of information been related to me a mere 24 hours earlier.

But none of that happened because 24 hours earlier I had another “incident” —Code word for a 5-alarm, full-fledged, set-your-hair-on-fire disaster in the making.

I’d love to tell you about it, but it’s the type of “incident” that is now safely housed within the confines of my “Things That Will Get You Fired” folder, and that my dears, will allow me to survive another day.(Jeez Louise, I’m starting to feel like a Ghostbuster minding the containment fields.)

So, with the “incident” quickly quelled, and yes, even the camera safely found, I left the great Lone Star state and spent my birthday with my sister in Colorado. We decided to treat ourselves to a manicure and pedicure, and while I was perusing the color selection of nail polish, I grabbed one called, “I’m not really a waitress.”

Now, that reminded me of my students who I constantly admonish that “I’m not a waitress, so don’t call me ‘Miss.’”

 So you can see how these clever little fingernail polish names got me to thinking that perhaps we should have an entire color collection devoted to teachers. I think it would go something like this…

Are You Kiddin’ Me Brown
No Extra Credit Nifty Neutral
TAKS Testing Terra Cotta
Push Your Chairs In Pink
Bump Me Up To Passing Purple
Waiting For The Bell To Ring Rose
Misso Sorry You Forgot Your Homework Honey
Please Raise Your Hand Pebble Sand
Set Your Hair On Fire Engine Red

And, of course, what collection would be complete without my personal favorite—Don’t Be A Big Fat Stupidhead Sensational Slush

Hey, we probably ought to order that one in bulk.