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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When My Students are Ill

I don’t like it when one of my students gets sick and misses multiple days of school.  I cannot control the ravages of flu and other infectious, highly contagious diseases; I merely observe the ramifications of their rampage.  The students who make life fun are especially missed.  I miss my daily banter with them. A little bit of sparkle is missing from my everyday routine.  My eyes stray to the assigned seat; I sigh to myself and enjoy the bright-eyes faces of the ones who are there with me.  We sometimes deepen our rapport on those days.

On the other hand,  I notice that the students who make life challenging sometimes leave me holding my breath and wondering about how the chemistry of the class will shift again to “normal.” I perceive that I am more relaxed and open in my affect; my intuitive students pick up on it as well.  When my challenging-to-me personality returns, I once again clamp down on procedures.  My expectations never relax. I simply feel at ease to joke with my class again like I did before I unearthed the one or two persons who are too thick to understand my humor or take it in an improper vein. Some years I have multiple students who force me to earn another grey hair or two.  Understand this: I never want any of them to be sick and to miss school.  I just want the hearts of some of them to change for the better.  I want them to make good decisions and to behave properly. I want them to concentrate on school and its priorities and not any other circumstances.

More anon.


Done for This Year!

We had two days of state testing aka STAAR with our students.  I let them listen to our novel we’ve been reading after the testing concluded today and yesterday. I had already made them finish reading on their own and thought that listening might benefit them.  My colleagues took their classes outdoors.  I wasn’t dressed for the occasion with four-inch strappy sandals on my feet, so we relaxed indoors.  I even began to redecorate my classroom during my conference period.  We are required to remove any instructional writing or posters from our walls.  Motivational posters may be all right, but I took no chances and only had the pledge of allegiance to the American and Texas flags visible along with the safety information that we’re required to post for quick reference. I know the students are relieved to be done; we teachers who are proctors share their relief.  I am also glad to have my classroom back to “normal” setting with its colorful, eclectic display of motivation and instructional works.  Tomorrow will find me posting their haiku poems we created for National Haiku Day last week on April 17.  Last year, I wore my yukata kimono with obi for Haiku Day; this year I’d already worn it for the day we reviewed foreign language vocabulary since that’s one of the words on the school district’s list. I’ve included a picture of me in my kimono below.  My young charges like the fact that I don unique clothing/costumes to tie in to what we’re studying that day. I come by it honestly since Mama matches her clothes and dresses thematically at times.  She is  a Red Hatter, so she’s the proud owner of a few red hats and purple dresses to accompany them.  It’s part of the costume.  I relish the day I get to join her group.  I’m still not old enough yet.  ¡Ciao!

Taken Christmas 2008

Taken Christmas 2008


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