Category Archives: Teaching

“May you live in interesting times.” – Chinese curse

Today was eventful, to say the least.

My morning assignment was at a preschool, and one of the youngsters was complaining of an itchy head. The school nurse was off, so in came the principal wearing vinyl gloves. She checked the little girl’s hair, and sure enough – head lice. The principal rounded up some health team personnel who checked all the other kids, and the teachers as well (This was the girl’s second episode with lice in as many months, and last time, the teacher and one of the assistants ended up with lice, too.) .

Then, this afternoon, I substituted for a very pregnant special education teacher. I knew she was far along, but she went into labor three hours after she left for the day. Luckily, the substitute for her maternity leave is already lined up.

Never a dull moment.



1 Comment

Filed under Teaching

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” — T.S. Eliot

I just completed and sent a proposal to teach an after-school enrichment program about reading and writing poetry. I’m curious about my readers’ favorite poems and/or poetic forms. Please share your favorites in the comments.


Filed under Teaching, Writing

The gifts of teaching

How cool is it that I have art on my refrigerator from kids to whom I’m not related? Here’s the latest acquisition, courtesy of a fifth-grader whose language arts class I guest-taught this week.

SprintPhoto_bx4rt5 SprintPhoto_b040s5

Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching


Not a promising start to the day. Woke up from a bad dream to find out I’d overslept and had 20 minutes to get ready if I wanted to get to this morning’s assignment on time. Got there and got classroom keys stuck in the keyhole. Lesson plans were late; a secretary finally brought them in 15 minutes into the period. One student refused to do the assignment because, “This is the second time I’m taking this class, and I’m still failing.” Another told me I was “rude” when I told her (firmly) to take out her earbuds, get her geometry book, and start working on the assignment. Went to get keys out of the keyhole to find them gone.

Right now, relaxing with a cafe con leche and hoping for the best for the afternoon and evening.





Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching

You might be an eSchooler if . . .

This Top 10 list courtesy of one of my best friends and her eSchooled teenagers.

10. Your classroom is 1/2” thick and 18” wide.

9. You know what “CC,” “f2f,” “kmail,” and “brick and mortar” mean.

8. You have a ton of friends but have never met them. (You don’t even know what your best friend or boy/girlfriend looks like!)

7. Your school uniform is your pajamas.

6. You have more Tech days than brick and mortar students have snow days.

5. You completed last week’s assignment and next week’s assignment in one day.

4. Recess means getting on Facebook, Xbox Live, or Skype.

3. You tell people you have a Prom, and they ask, “Oh, you dance online?”

2. Your teacher won’t get on the webcam at CC’s because she didn’t put on her make-up.

1. Squirrel hunting is how you get PE points.


Filed under Teaching, That's So Pomo

Laughter is the best medicine

I wasn’t feeling well on Friday. Nothing major, just PMS, sleep deprivation, and frazzled nerves from trying to teach math to two classes full of noisy, needy sixth graders. I did *not* look forward to cafeteria duty sixth period.

Then one of the teachers announced that it was “Open Mic Friday.” I thought, “Well, this is going to be interesting.” I heard many more renditions of One Direction (aka The British Backstreet Boys; try saying that five times fast) songs than I wanted. I was also scratching my head about not one, but two preteen girls singing “Rolling In The Deep.” (You’re 12. What do you know about “a fire starting in your heart reaching a fever pitch?” If you know, you shouldn’t.)

Apart from that, the experience was great fun, not to be confused with fun., whose “Some Nights” and “We Are Young” were also popular. Some kids opted for silly songs and gave me a much-needed laugh; others were surprisingly good, despite being in the throes of puberty and all the associated vocal changes. I went to seventh period in a much better frame of mind.

I also got some great laughs during my shift today with Ruby Tuesday. While we did some organizing and cleaning for her upcoming move, we watched “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.” This show features the beloved star of “Hot In Cleveland” and a motley crew of senior citizens playing practical jokes on their surprised juniors. Some pranks are elaborate; the scene where a suit-clad older gentleman joins a young couple at an outdoor cafe and engages in a conversation straight out of a spy movie comes to mind. Most are reminiscent of  “Police Academy” or “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” In one scene, a woman sits down in a train station with an urn containing what seems to be her late husband’s ashes, opens the urn, and then sneezes, spilling ashes on the young woman next to her; in another, a man posing as a police officer threatens a jogger with a “farting violation.”

Though I’m not usually a fan of reality TV, I thoroughly enjoyed this show. I forgot I had cramps, Ruby was in a good mood, and we had a productive afternoon.

While I deal with serious issues in my work, I’m blessed to have many opportunities to laugh. As crabby as Mrs. A gets sometimes, she still surprises me with wry comments or ribald jokes even when she’s feeling her worst. Little One used to crack me up on a regular basis; on one day, she was leaving a long, rambling voicemail for her father about what color violin she wanted, and I was laughing so hard that Big Sister looked at me like I was losing my marbles and asked me if I were OK.

I forget to yell at a student who’s misbehaving because his or her antics are making me laugh. Laughter breaks the ice with an overwhelmed teenager who’s skeptical about tutoring and not happy about fitting it in his or her schedule. Sharing a joke or a funny story with an older person makes both of us feel positive.

“Laughter is a universal connection.” — Yakov Smirnoff


Filed under Caregiving, Teaching

Quinbus Flestrin

How I felt today while teaching kindergarten. “Quinbus Flestrin” means “the great man-mountain” in the language of Lilliput.

Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching

God can’t be taken out of schools

American “Family” Association Director of Issues Analysis Bryan Fischer and Fox News commentator Mike Huckabee are using yesterday’s events to further their theocratic, ultra-conservative agenda, saying that God let the shooting happen because He’s not allowed in the schools. Reprehensible, blasphemous, and patently FALSE.


First, private prayer and student-led religious activity are both permitted in public schools. Only teacher-led prayers are forbidden.

Second and more importantly, an omnipresent, omnipotent Supreme Being simply cannot be chased out of a public school or anywhere else. God is in public schools. He’s with the frightened five-year-old on the first day of kindergarten. He’s with the second-grader who has dyslexia and gets nervous every time there’s a spelling test. He’s with the fifth-grader who was up half the night listening to his parents fight and wonders if they’ll be getting a divorce. He’s with the ninth grader who wants to know if her boyfriend will still like her if she doesn’t have sex with him, and with her twin sister who’s coming out of the closet. He’s with the senior who’s trying to balance a demanding class load, a part-time job, school activities, responsibilities at home, and preparation for college. He’s certainly been in the classroom with me, on both good days and challenging ones.


And he was with every single one of the children and adults who lost their lives yesterday. I even think He had some very strong words with the shooter, asking what made him hurt so much that he did what he did, then explaining that he has to atone and make restitution before he can come home.


I realize this post may have made some people uncomfortable, but this is what I believe, and I will not apologize for it.


Filed under Politics, Spirituality, Teaching


I was guest-teaching a third-grade class today, and the regular teacher included handwriting in her lesson plans. I have, to put it mildly, messy handwriting. “Certain forms of it are interesting,” as my brother once said on one of those Facebook surveys. My boss at my home care job told me, “You should have been a doctor,” when she was reading paperwork I submitted.

I realize that’s not ironic, except in the Alanis Morrisette sense, but I thought it was interesting.

Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching

Tuesday musings – 12/4/2012

“Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.” — Plato

“Schoolboys are a merciless race; individually they are angels, but together, especially in schools, they are often merciless.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“Boys are beyond the range of anybody’s sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of 18 months and 90 years.” — James Thurber

“Every genuine boy is a rebel and an anarch.” — John Andrew Holmes

And that sums up my experience teaching 25 fourth-grade boys today.




Filed under Teaching