I’ve gotten inches from doing a word study on the word “mean” to snap open some minds that need to grasp multiple-meaning words.  Mean is average.  I am not average.  Mean implies a sociopathic viciousness that plans and seeks ways to do harm. I struggle to sleep more than five hours each night as it is.  I don’t need more sleep robbed from me because your student has decided that I am “mean.” My love language is discipline and structure. I maintain order and demand a quiet atmosphere for writing because too much stimulus can stunt the thought process.  I find intriguing journal prompts that foster thinking and creativity. I ask for a minimum of fifteen to twenty minutes of absolute quiet in my class each week. I don’t let you bark at me rudely, and this is “mean.” I insist that you look me in the eye and answer my questions clearly.  I require that you tell me the truth every time. I expect you to do your best and to listen when given directions. I object when a student makes a bad decision to bother someone else’s person or property.  I correct disrespectful behavior and suggest a better choice for your actions while speaking in my one-inch voice. I discourage running down the hall with a sign that reads “walk” in order to preserve my voice. I make you wait until I finish speaking with an adult to show you how to take turns. I remind you that I am an adult and not a child. I am one of the bosses in your life right now. I encourage you to read aloud to help your fluency rate. I defend anyone who I see being hurt. I snatch you out of the classroom when you are about to become ill. I line you up to enter my classroom in an orderly manner. I straighten my desks at the end of the day to provide a tidy classroom for learning. I remain at work hours after school ends to grade papers, respond to emails, make copies, and pray that I have done my absolute best for the day. I pick up trash when my feet are tired and my back aches. I hoard pencils for a rainy day when they are needed.  I rise energized nearly every morning of the school year except when I am sick. I arrive in a punctual manner each morning and meet my obligations.   I live in hope each day for a light bulb to flash and for the look of “I”ve got it!” to cross your face. I read faces and body language to decide how to approach an angry, agitated student. I embrace hurting students with bear hugs.  I escort you to the clinic when you don’t look as if you’ll make it there under your own power. I crack open lockers like a female Heracles, and I make jokes with former students who understand my humor and miss me. I nag you about wearing protective clothing during the winter months to preserve your health.  I tell you to be kind and do good.  I quote Shakespeare at the end of each class period and Lewis Carroll on test days.  I startle you with singing when my tongue and brain get out of sync.  I laugh when you catch me with a great turn of phrase. I dare you to do your best in life. I challenge you to live and not merely exist.  I allow you to nurse your own opinions about who I really am, but I will give you one piece of advice. I will not permit you to talk back to me. And I will not be categorized as “mean.”



I attended my high school reunion this weekend, and it elated me to see so many familiar faces. I wanted to see many more in attendance, but that is my selfish desire to lay eyes on them just to see that they are present, able, and kicking. Present simply means accounted for and in attendance. Able means that they still get around from place to place using whatever means necessary. Kicking means they are still making an effort to live life to the fullest measure possible. Myriad memories of individuals, events, impressions, and actions form the life we receive. Savor the flavor of life. Find some good in each day. ¡Ciao!

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Another Minion or Two

I have a student in my morning class who has picked up on my strange tales of an evil dog in my neighborhood whose name is Bane.  The legendary Bane is large in stature, black in color, ugly by nature, and of an undetermined breed.  Bane loathes anyone who nears his fence and lusts for their blood.  Apparently my imagination has created such a fascinating creature that one young man–Mr. Quick Wit–wondered if the story we read in class today was somehow demonstrating my twisted past with Bane. I laughed aloud in class and chalked him up as an early-year favorite.  I find myself laughing as I listen to him read his journal entries out loud because he has a wicked sense of humor.

The Alien Huntress is a young lady in my afternoon who took great delight in asking about aliens last week.  I announced that attending “Meet the Teacher” with their parents was my students’ homework. My bright-eyed girl asked, “What if aliens attack, and you can’t attend?”

I responded, “Make them come to ‘Meet the Teacher’ night even if you’re in their bellies.” Since then, her writings ring of dread alien lords bent on destruction of Planet Earth. I told her today that she was something else to already get my humor in the fourth week of school and commented that she too must be twisted.  The LORD always gives me some of the most intriguing personalities to teach each year. I wonder who I will meet in the coming days.

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An Open Letter to Students – Video Clip You Should Share. . .

I found this while spending some time on Pinterest this morning.  This is an excellent reminder for young people who are lackadaisical about returning to homework, classes, and activities related to school.  The gentleman in the video creates fabulous history overviews that my young historian adores.  Enjoy.


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More Décor for My Classroom

I set up the desks in my classroom, logged into the computer, threw out some trash, and set aside some items for future lamination.  Here are both of my masterpieces I completed this evening. Credit for the art goes to Doodle Art Alley.  The coloring is my own using map pencils (aka colored pencils).

By Failing to Prepare Feed My Sheep - Colored




Pins a Plenty, Pins Galore!

I have spent several hours this weekend looking at ideas for my classroom on Pinterest.  Several ideas have been found on a site that other teachers use called Teachers Pay Teachers.  I don’t want to pay too much because my budget won’t stretch that far.  Too often I see cute decorations on display at this time of year. I have some of the same backdrops as last year and see no need to rip them down and replace them “just because.” I haven’t any problem replacing the paper on my bulletin board. I wonder what my theme will be on my bulletin board this year? We’ll see.  You’ll see below two signs I colored in today and will laminate and display in my classroom.  More anon.Mistakes are Proof That You are Trying
Learning is Not a Spectator Sport




Training Time Update

I cruised through the bulk of my summer professional development courses including training as an Unlicensed Diabetic Care Assistant (UDCA) with stellar marks on the quizzes required.  Imagine my shock and dismay when I had to wade through the legal jargon that encased the assessment for the Section 504 refresher. This quiz was bothersome in that once I submitted my answers, they simply graded the quiz and did not indicate which ones were wrong. One had to make an 80 percent to be proficient. I was glad to benefit from multiple attempts to achieve this mark because it was late in the evening, and I was tired, frustrated, and determined. So far, my time now numbers around sixteen hours spent as of this writing. Twelve more await me, at a minimum.

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Time for Me

Usually the summer months find me dreaming, plotting, and planning about what will happen in the fall.  Will I get my room organized finally? Will the students respond to me and my no-nonsense brand of love? Will I be fit when I return to the classroom? How am I going to integrate the new policies, procedures, and/or curriculum directives? Have I completed my annual compliance trainings? Have I completed my annual requirement of staff development hours? On it goes to the point I work on my blog for my students, write up lesson ideas, and fret.  Even a veteran teacher entering her twentieth year frets like a new hire.  There is something to do all year ’round.

This year is different.  I have completed the bulk of my summer staff development and have already updated my student/parent blog’s information page. I am keeping track of every single second I spend on school just to keep myself accountable and to determine exactly how much time is spent on work when I am given the gift of vacation time.  I will announce the final totals in another post, but so far I’ve logged in over twelve hours of personal time. Too many times I have lamented the loss of summer vacation. This year, I really wanted some time for me. More anon.

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I have a couple of students who could fail my class for the year.  One is capable but behaves more like a black hole.  The papers go in and disappear into the abyss. Some assignments that I give her never see the light of day again.  When I have spoken to her about it, her eyes glaze over and she gives me the “you’re wasting your breath” look. She passed our state’s reading assessment with no problems, so it’s not a matter of intellect. It is a matter of accountability. The other student I fear will fail my class has scraped by each marking period, but in this last one, he has not put in the effort to complete his work for the maximum credit. He is mere hundredths of a point from passing for year. I have contacted both parents about this before and now at the end of the year, so no surprises happen when report card grades are posted. We are now required to keep up with our failure rates  for each six weeks grading period.  If the rate is too high, then we will have to let our PDAS (Professional Development and Appraisal System) appraiser know. If my students don’t put in the effort to get their work done, then how is it my fault? If they don’t come in for help, or if their parents don’t force them to complete the work, then how is it that I am accountable? I am.

My the times are changing. . .

My the times are changing. . .


Some Young Men Who Made My Day

I was rather sluggish yesterday but managed to get to work on time before the rains hit. One of my co-workers gave me a Mother’s Day card; I nearly started crying because it was so sweet. I hugged him thank you. Yes, he is young enough to be my son, but he isn’t. I jokingly tell the students that he’s my younger brother. Some of them don’t believe me, but I think others do.  He has visited my classroom just to say hello; the kids adore him because he invests love, time, and energy into them by eating lunch with them on a daily basis. I’ve never done that except on special occasions.

Around the middle of the day I have my conference period and teaming period. We had nothing scheduled today due to progress reports coming up today. One of my team members saw some students working on their science assignment in the hall during a “gallery walk.” She teased them about being their favorite teacher. One of our shared students didn’t realize it was her talking and said, “Mrs. Johnson’s my favorite.” My friend stood arms akimbo and said, “Really?” He slid back around the corner where he was working. She told me, so I went out into the hallway just to smile at him and give the kids a hard time about not being everyone’s favorite. All I could see were sparkling eyes and a smile on his face. I didn’t need to hear it out loud myself because I already knew it even before he’d said it. His dad had emailed me a nice compliment that I am saving in my forever folder.

Later in the day after dealing with a student who has given up on himself and would rather be in the in-school-suspension room than in my classroom following my directives, my good mood had dropped down to so-so. At the beginning of my last class, one of my students in my afternoon class handed me a small envelope with my name on it. “It’s for Teacher Appreciation Day.”
“Thank you. Do I open it now or later?”
“Later,” he replied. After school ended, I opened the envelope and found a gift card inside; even better were his words that he wished all of his classes were like mine and that he always leaves school in a good mood. I am touched and will really miss him when the school year ends. He is bright and funny; despite my best efforts not to smile sometimes when he’s especially wiggly, I still do. We connected when for some reason during the first semester I told him he was hopeless.  As he left class, he stopped at the door, turned around and looked me in the eyes, and said, “I have hope.” He smiled  and walked away.  We have been engaged in daily “battles” ever since.

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