He Did What?!

Today, and I kid you not, I saw a student leaning his head forward his mouth (and perhaps tongue!) on the door and door frame of my classroom. He was the first in line to enter my classroom for the class period. I walked up to him and said,”You’re being disgusting. Get out.” This translated to him going to the office (short-term removal) for inappropriate behavior.  My other students waiting for me saw me disinfect my door way where Mr. Lips had been.  I’ve even seen him chewing on his hoodie string with gusto.  I really didn’t know what to say since I’ve never seen that before in my nineteen years of teaching. Students aren’t allowed to touch cleaning products that could be potentially harmful, so he wasn’t going to clean that mess off for me today.

I have a former colleague who didn’t like to see kids sliding along the lockers.  It was as though they were trying to blend in with the scenery; however, they were the only ones in the hallway.  It makes sense to compact yourself in a huge group.  When you are by yourself, wall-sliding isn’t safe.  I fear sneeze and/or cough residue.  There could also be restroom residue because not everyone washes her hands after leaving the restroom.  Gross!

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Don’t You Quit

This is a good poem to keep handy for the dark days and hours.  I found it on the site www.psalm40.org.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit-

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a fellow turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow -

You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man;

Often the struggler has given up

When he might have captured the victor’s cup;

And he learned too late when the night came down,

How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out-

The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It might be near when it seems afar;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit -

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Author Not Known

If this poem was helpful to you, please copy and share it with my blessing.  I wish I’d written it, but I remember a wise friend gave me a copy years ago, and I only recently recalled its existence.  The written word is a powerful tool and a balm for a hurting soul. Psalm 8:4 says “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” I have to put my thoughts, worries, and prayers into His hands and know that He will hold on them for me through the night.  I have to believe that He gives me enough rest for each day I face with my young charges. ¡Ciao!

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Poem for Teachers

My mother gave this poem to me when I first started teaching.  I look at it at least once a year.

Before the Class Comes Marching In (Author unknown)

Well, Father, what do You think?

The room looks nice, doesn’t it?

Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax. Relax.

Today is the first day of school.

And—depending on the class I get—

today could seem

like the first day of the rest of my life.

That’s the funny thing about classes,

isn’t it, Lord?

I mean, the Class

seems to have a personality all its own,

in addition to all the personalities in it.

The whole being greater

than the sum of its parts, and all that.

What do you think—

the room looks nice, doesn’t it?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, Lord,

and there are two messages

I want to get across right from the start:

“Welcome, child!

I believe in you!

Together we can have

a delightful year

of learning and growth!”

And:

“Nobody messes with me, kid!”

I think that just about covers it, Lord!

Breate in. Br—

Oh! There’s the bell.

Just one more thing, Lord.

You’re not going anyplace are You?

More anon, dear ones.  ¡Ciao!

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I OWE You? You’ve Got to be Kidding Me. . .[Warning-Heavy on Sarcasm]

Let me get this straight.

1.  I owe you, my student, a good grade even when you don’t turn in your work on time.  Or even turn it in at all.  I owe you the right to gossip on your electronic device in class whenever you feel it is appropriate.  Oh, yeah, it’s also okay to talk during class because what I am saying or teaching isn’t important in the real world and certainly doesn’t apply to you.

2.  I owe you perfect attendance when you arrive tardy to class or don’t bother to show up the day before a school holiday.  How could I possibly have scheduled a test or quiz on that day?  What was I thinking? Isn’t it party time?

3.  I owe you my undivided attention on weekends and after hours on electronic communications because your parents practice bullying via email.  I owe you sleepless nights before hostile parent conferences in which your parents believe I will lie to them about you and your actions or inaction.  I also owe you the migraine episodes that are stress-related because you won’t accept any responsibility for your actions.  I think I’ll even take the state-mandated tests for you and save you the trouble.

4.  I owe you my kidney stones because I cannot trust you to simply behave yourselves in the hallways as the classes change; I cannot go to the bathroom in peace because my eyes must constantly be focused on you.  I owe you copies of my notes, preferential seating (all fourteen of you in one class!), and extra time on assignments.

5.  I owe you my out-of-this-world copy quota because you can’t be bothered to keep up with the first three copies I gave you.  If I don’t give you that copy with three words filled in on the notes, then I hear about it. LOUDLY.

6.  I owe you my bad back and dwindling supplies because you can’t pick up after yourself or bring your own pencils, or notebook paper, or reading material, or homework, or good manners.  I have had to pick up used tissues, scrape gum, and toss trash because it was an imposition on your precious time.

7.  I owe you all of these things?  Hmm. . . I also owe you my bad reputation as “the mean teacher” because I ask you to behave like ladies and gentlemen, and you despise correction of any sort.  I guess I will owe some of you three squares and an orange jumpsuit because listening to me tell you right from wrong is nonsense.  Why should telling a member of the law enforcement the truth be any different? It’s just too much effort to do the right thing the first time and to be honest when you’ve erred.

I don’t owe you these things.  I do what I love and usually love what I do.  It is individuals who make poor choices and wreak havoc on the populace who cause the greatest problems.  Their narcissistic focus on the short-term eventually catches up with them.  I, however, don’t want to see the rotten fruits of their labors.  Ciao.

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Lifeblood

I have warned my students that I must have coffee in the morning, or it will not go well for them.  They believe me.  Before I married, my students would see me in the morning and look at the level of coffee in the mug.  When it was level, they avoided eye contact.  When it was obvious that I had sipped some of the elixir of life aka java aka coffee, then they knew a coherent, friendlier response was forthcoming.  It was so bad one morning that a student said, “Hi, Miss Burnham.”  I held up my hand palm facing the student.  We walked past one another.  He said, “Bye, Miss Burnham.”  I simply turned my palm to face him.  He learned quickly.  It is tradition for me to warn my first class of the day that they DO NOT want to see me without my morning brew.  I make it at home and bring my java in a travel mug.  Sometimes I have to warm it up, but that’s okay.  They have learned what I like:  Starbucks Caffe Mocha soy with no whip extra hot.  This earns them another day of life and a good mark in my tally book of transgressions.  They were warned.  This picture says it all. More anon.

Coffee Rules the World

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The Break of Spring – I am Not Bored!

Ah, yes, the traditional rite of spring break has descended upon us.  This means I have no grading, lesson plan writing, or reaction-emailing to do for nine glorious days. I don’t mind what I do; I do value my time away to recharge the batteries. I have no big-time plans of travel to exotic lands or adventures unparalleled by the imagination’s far reaches. I have a stack of five or six books sitting by my bed, and I plan to lie in bed (or actually on top of the made bed but under a quilt) or sit in my recliner and read when my husband and son are occupied elsewhere with PS3, studying, or work.  It’s tradition.  I found this delightful picture on Pinterest and had to share it.  My philosophy about the dreaded “I’m bored!” that people like to throw at you periodically. More anon.

A five-letter word that I detest!

A five-letter word that I detest!

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Something New

I just discovered Kahoot on my Pinterest board and tried it with my students.  They loved interactively reviewing author’s purpose and the verbs that identify a particular purpose (persuade, inform, or entertain).  I was laughing as they competed with one another and thoroughly relished their spirits.  We will do this again tomorrow in class but with prefixes, suffixes, and word roots.  More anon!

Picture of login page

Picture of login page

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A Little Indulgence

I borrowed thirteen books by my favorite children’s author Patricia Polacco from the public library.  I may read some of them to my students under the guise of sharing good literature.  Her artwork is personable; her characters are memorable; her work brings joy to my heart and a smile to my face.  When I have the time to read to my students, it shows my human side.  I went onto the library’s website and requested that about eight or nine more of her books be held for me.  It’s been a while since I’ve read her works since my son has “outgrown” the children’s books and moved on to history as his favorite reading topic after a nice stop in fantasy and science fiction.  I never did outgrow them; I never plan to.

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Time to Get Busy

In three months, my young charges will take the STAAR (or State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) tests covering mathematics and reading skills.  I will work with some of my struggling students on concepts where needed, and will work with the classes as a whole where everyone pretty much needs the extra help.  I do well once the pieces are put into place by minds equipped for scheduling and planning.  Once I see something and understand how it works, I can implement it with few problems.  I just like having a plan to follow.

I went to see a soccer game that featured three former students.  It was fun to see the guys in a different light since two of them regularly stop by at least once a month to visit and make me feel like a million bucks.  I used to call them “my footies” since they love football (as they would naturally refer to soccer).  We’d check the scores on ESPN to see how their teams would fare.  I don’t have any footies this year that I know of, yet.  I saw some former students playing basketball on Thursday night before heading out to my monthly Bunco game.  They are thrilled when I take the time to attend; I have a marvelous memory to share with them; it is win-win-win!  If you’ve never gone to a concert or game where you have students participating, you must do so as soon as possible.  Even if you only make it to one per student/sport, you have made an impact on that young person’s life.  They know that you love them.  ¡Ciao!

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Same Song, Second Verse

We began the second semester last week, and already I see that some of my students have decided to revert to first semester behavior.  I speak of the “if I don’t do it, then it will go away” mindset.  Indications of late work known as zeroes pollute my grade book.  A student failed my class for the first semester and thinks I am “mean.” Child, you have no idea what mean actually is.  Use the dictionary in my classroom; it is defined as malicious or selfish.  Neither word applies when it comes to my classroom.  I have high standards for my students in my classroom.  This is not mean. I want you to succeed in my classroom; therefore, I have rules about how you conduct yourself. If the rules aren’t obeyed, then you have failed yourself.  Another way to define mean is average.  I am above average; I am not mean.

I have some bright students who test well; work is not their concern.  I’ve been reading several articles on the Internet about underachievers and how to motivate them.  One of the best ideas I saw was to have them earn a reward one day at a time.  This sounds great from a parenting perspective; my time and resources are limited. I still take it personally if they choose to barely scrape by.  I struggle not to let them sit and twist in the wind.  In the latter part of the spring semester, I find myself cutting my losses and letting them fail themselves.  I have to let them fail themselves instead of trying to rush in and save them.  I want them to be independent in their motivation yet still ask for help when it is required.  I want them to grow up well.  Does this mean I don’t care about them? No, I seethe with rage inside, use my firm voice outside, and have one-on-one talks when needed.  My emotional involvement demonstrates my care and concern.  If I truly didn’t care, I would really let them go.  I never really let them go; the school year simply comes to an end.  I find myself wondering how I could have done something better. Like my students, I am a lifelong learner.  I am always increasing my knowledge and desiring to apply it masterfully. ¡Ciao!

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