What Lunch Time?

Two weeks ago, I became so overwrought about my work load that I went without eating my lunch. It is unheard of for me to skip my midday meal. Ever. It started in a grade level department meeting. I have to make some adjustments to the way I do business. I am ever changing something and learning something new. It’s a part of life. I picked up my little snack from the lovely PTA moms and dads and meant to eat it after my soup lunch. Nope. I have to prepare work for two students who have either lost or not done assignments and are in an academic detention. Tick tock goes the clock. Pick up the assignment from the printer down the hall. Oops, I didn’t print that kid’s assignment page. Back to the printer. Google Chrome takes a coffee break. Tick tock. Tick tock. There are five minutes of lunch. Wait, I have two kids in ISS, and I need extra work for them to complete. Brrring! There’s the bell, and now here comes my class.




I spent last weekend in bed with a raging migraine that would not relent until early Sunday morning. This week has been fraught with details about an upcoming field trip to the Arboretum. Students did not returned permission forms or payments in a timely fashion. Now it’s scramble time. How to get the lead out? And this is part of why my failure rates are higher than I want: they don’t care about deadlines or due dates. “Someone will give me an extension. It can wait for now.” No. Sometimes there is no extension. None. You can hit the end, and there is no more. I hit the end yesterday.

I checked in with my teaching partner about our plans for next week. We are both grade level team leaders, and we also discuss which kids need to go where for the outside incentive day coming up next week. If a student failed for the marking period, then he or she would be assigned to a core teacher for extra remediation. We sorted it out, and she departed for the day.

There I was at work late with a persistent scratchy threat due to drainage from one of the little upper respiratory bugs that is floating around my campus. Not again! It is nearing 4:40, and I see a student in the hallway. “What are you doing here?” “I was playing basketball.” He was participating in the worthy American Heart Association fundraiser, but he is never in my room for tutorials. I must demand his presence during our advisory period if I want extra time to work with him. He has never passed my class for a marking period, but he’s playing basketball. After he leaves with his backpack, my shoulders sag, and my heart pounds with rage. He can play basketball, but when I reached out to his parents about his failing grades, I had no response. When I wrote about missing work due to his absences a couple of weeks back, Mom said that he had been so sick, but she would make sure he got there. He was sick again the next day. And when he returned, I had to scramble to get him to finish his makeup assignments. I knew I would not get help from his parents at that point.

It is after 5:00 as I tiredly prepared my room for next week since I have morning duty every day next week. I sanitized my desks. I stacked the chairs. I typed emails and text reminders about upcoming events. I picked up copies from the printer after wearily scanning my badge to verify my identity. I blew my nose repeatedly. I longed for a Quik Trip Freezoni drink to soothe the red wool scratchy feeling burning my throat. My stomach rumbled with hunger; I ate five taquitos for lunch around 1:00. It is nearly 6:00. I put my calendar and pen/pencil bag into my work bag, turn off the lamps, and grab my purse from the corner wardrobe. Oh, I was supposed to take that rubbish out to the bin. Monday. I’ll do it Monday. I am spent. The constant battle against inertia and apathy drained my normally robust immunity this school year. I planned to spend the weekend resting, reading, and recuperating. I’ve taken a two hour nap and worked on my novel this afternoon.

I found this picture and shared it with my team members. It is a reminder when I feel the “it’s all your fault” blues creeping up on me. I am fighting my good fight. I am pouring my energy and creative juices into a worthy enterprise. Even when I don’t get the recognition I deserve, I have still done my work and given my best. It is all I can do.


Are You Even Listening to Me?

Inattentiveness is rampant. “Turn to page 300.” Students look around the room. One leans over to pick up the book. Two sets of hands go up, “What page?” My gaze hardens. Three stare into space. The eight that followed directions exhibit the impatience I feel at this point in the year. I see eye rolls from them and do my best not to say, “Yep!”

The rites of spring are soon upon me in the classroom. Longing gazes out of windows scream, “Can’t we go outside?” Resolving myself to maintain order amidst chaos, I reply, “No.” I hear groans and see lips puff out in pouts. “Other classes get to go outside.” “Yes, but I am talking to you. I am not talking to other classes. Crack that book to page 300, and let’s get moving.” Reluctant learners finally acquiesce to my directive, prop their heads on their hands, stare a hole through my heart, and outwardly comply. The irony in all of this is that they would be on their electronics playing a game or engaging in Snapchat instead of soaking up vitamin D while sitting still as a gentle breeze caresses their youthful complexions and reading their books in peace. No, they are not listening to me. I am a voice of reason and too overage to be “cool” or “in.”


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The Mean Season

We have been rapidly thrust into the “mean season” before state testing in May. This is when the students get on each other’s nerves.  Some personalities grate my nerves as well. This particular class has a larger than normal pocket of negativity that continually gravitates together in the cafeteria or hallway.  The adage of “birds of a feather” could not be truer than my class this year.

The badly behaved birdies make the better behaved students suffer through their actions. It’s a pain to feel like a gloved fist all day long and not uncurl and laugh a bit more with the ones who actually get my humor. Some days I am an iron fist in a velvet glove. Other times find me being an iron fist in an iron glove. My colleagues and I racked our brains but had no new solutions. Other teachers in our building who are the brain trust for school-wide incentives have formulated some plans.

We use incentive money (we are our own mint, and it’s not legal tender!) to reward kids doing the right thing without being prompted. Next week we will allow students who passed their classes to be outside for a “big kid recess” during our Advisory period. We have a store for kids to buy goodies like ring pops, pizza party passes, the privilege of listening to music on a device, or being able to take shoes off. I just need to remember to hand out my cash to kids I see doing the right thing the first time without reminders. I’ll just have to visit the bank and get some more moolah.


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I played hooky from school work today and cleaned my closet in my bedroom. It is tidy, and I can clearly see my clothes for work and casual times. It tired me out so much I needed a nap. I read about one-third of a novel by Cathy Kelly, and had a nice lunch out with my husband. No lesson plans or grading happened today. I did listen to one of EddieBComedy’s videos and laughed. He truly understands teachers. ¡Ciao! 😂



Too Much

At this time of year when semester grades are posted, some parents receive the bad news that their students have not passed muster. It gets to be too much when some of them snap back and question their child’s lack of progress. Have you read with your son who despises reading books? Have you tried working math problems or hired a tutor? Have you asked questions that require more than monosyllabic responses, or did you just hand them an electronic device to “shut them up?” I have a little more than forty minutes per class period to engage students. Some of their attention spans require medication. Others remain focused. On their friends or crushes. On their social media or gaming accounts. It would seem that I am destined to forever compete for the consolation prize. The number of students with attention disorders increases each year that I teach. The number of students monitored under Special Education or Section 504 does the same thing.

When such maudlin thoughts touch my mind, and I question my calling in life, I must remember there is a silver lining somewhere. I need encouragement on the black days like anyone else. One of the best sources of nourishment for the soul is laughter. Another source is friendship. Being able to laugh out loud at least once or twice a day lightens the soul. A quick comment or insight from that clever friend whose perspective on life borders on madness can bring a smile to the face. A shared look during a life-draining, “It’s only been forty-seven minutes out of six hours!” presentation can bolster one’s strength. One of my goals each year is to bond more deeply with my team members. We need to laugh until we weep, we need to vent our common frustrations, we need to listen to insight from that quiet team member whose wisdom is gold, we need to discuss and implement plans for recalcitrant students, we need to celebrate our super stars, and we need to move forward each day.


Keep Calm and Remember - Teacher Encouragement

Joy and Rest

I still have over seven days of rest coming to me over the Christmas break. I have relished the time not monitoring accommodations, behavior issues, or deadlines. My joy is magnified by the fact that I will have some time with my college aged son while both of us aren’t working for a few days. I will be coming home from school on time while he’s here. My rest comes in the form of long afternoon naps that produce zero guilt as I don my comfortable sweats, goofy Christmas socks, and warm sweaters. I am thankful for time to recharge my batteries. Truly.


I Simply Forgot

Yesterday I forgot to tell my language arts classes that their brainstorming page was homework. I had said, “Finish it before you write your draft. We will work on the writing in class tomorrow.” I had planned on an easy-for-them daily grade for doing the work and showing me in class. I received an email about this assignment because it wasn’t on my school’s website. I had emailed it as an attachment to the parents. It was not written in the agenda as homework. I was not trying to be confusing or difficult. I felt even more micro-managed than I already have been.

“Have them write ‘HW’ on homework or ‘classwork’ on in-class work.

Have him take a picture of the agenda with his phone at the beginning of class.

Receive an email at 9:12 A.M. during a class. Receive another at 9:30 A.M. chiding your slow response to the first email. Receive another email at 9:43 asking if you’ve seen the previous emails. Class ends at 9:53 A. M. Another one begins. Still no response to email. Call the assistant principal about the teacher not responding to emails in a timely manner. When I click the mailbox icon to check my email, I see several from one parent in my inbox, an all-staff email about a school-wide directive, an invitation to an ARD or Section 504 committee meeting, a notice about some paperwork for a student who’s taking meds, fourteen hundred pieces of junk email, a reminder about that meeting that starts in three minutes, and a reminder about a staff meeting after school this week. This is a slow day.

Take data for Special Education students accommodations. Each six weeks. Record how they are progressing in your class. Reading goals. Writing goals. Behavioral goals.

Keep up with Section 504 students’ accommodations. All of them on a daily basis. This means reminders to be on task. Preferential seating. Learning lab privileges. Copies of teacher notes. The copier is jammed, or the person who copies entire dictionaries is just starting her print job, and the notes need to go home with Janey Sue before her dental appointment this afternoon. Mom will email you if you don’t get them to Janey Sue before she leaves for the day. You had her first period, and she is not in your hallway again until fifth period. It is now fourth period. You’re late for the meeting trying to find an open and working copier.

During lunch, sit and email parents to notify them if their student’s grades are slipping. At least once or twice before the six weeks grading period ends. This could help when they say, “I didn’t know Jim Bob was failing.”

Manage aberrant behavior in classrooms with strong-willed personalities determined to break your resolve. Calmly. All of the time.

Come up with an enrichment or remediation lesson for students who need it. For both subjects. And decide which one deserves priority this week. Oops. You chose incorrectly again.

Monitor students in the classroom and hallway at the same time.

While standing in the hallway/doorway, field questions asked over the music in the hallways about what is needed for class while holding a sign that lists the needed items. I have held up a sign that read, “Bring colored pencils.” To me it is obvious that if a student does not have them, then they would not bring them. I will have several stop goggle-eyed and say, “Do we need colored pencils?” Others will state, “I don’t have any” and stand almost dumbstruck. I make them go inside the room by saying that I have colored pencils. By the way, I have had colored pencils in my room since day one. They don’t remember that. They haven’t any problems telling me what they don’t have or if something is “unfair.” Oh, and make sure you unstick the locker of those students whose backpacks, jackets, etc. clog the mechanism. The veins in my arms and forehead bulge out as I strain to pop them open. Oops, those recalcitrant kids are off-task again in my room.

So, I love what I do, and I do it well. However, this time, I simply forgot to say the assignment was homework. Oh, I had better check my email. ✉️


My Special Day

I will celebrate my birthday tomorrow. Yes, I will be at school. I did not take the day away to be on my own schedule. That respite will come another day once I get my sub plans together. One needs restoration after trying days, classes, and moments. Phone calls with exasperated parents trying to understand why their child is doing or not doing. Emails detailing how a parent can assist with homework and keep up with assignments. Some say, “It’s the child’s responsibility to keep up with their work, not Mom and Dad.” I agree; however, that is not the case. Tomorrow, I plan to keep my youngsters busy enough to stay out of mischief. My youngest sister has threatened a scary clown delivery of Hurts Donuts. We shall see. I’ll let you know how it goes. HBDTM (Happy birthday to me)


Serving Notice

I had to contact parents of students whose grades were not up to the passing standard. No one wrote back to question the grade. I was surprised. Several of the parents heard from me twice since I teach both social studies and language arts this year. Now they know, and now we move forward. I gave them my tutorial schedule and several reasons why the grade was low. I placed the responsibility on the student. We shall see how my serving notice goes over in the future days.

Yesterday, one of my angry young men spoke out disrespectfully in front of his classmates after redirection to work. He still made no effort. I sent him to the in-school suspension room. As he left the classroom, I spoke up, too, “That was disrespectful and unacceptable.” The other students watched silently, and class resumed its easy demeanor.


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