It’s Okay to Say “No” to Sharing!

I just read an article about a mother who received dirty looks when her son did not share his toys with some perfect strangers at a playground. They ran back to their mommies and told how the Toy Man wouldn’t share. Toy Man brought his toys to share with his friend, not a pack of other kids. Tsk! That struck a chord with me. I have demanded that other students share with those who chose not to come to class prepared. No longer. I will have to learn to let it go and not seethe with rage when I see an apathetic middle school student sit there and do nothing. For forty-two to forty-five minutes. If they don’t have a pencil in their lockers, then that is what they will do. If they have supplies and don’t bring them, it will be a disciplinary issue. Three strikes means you serve a consequence.

Personally speaking, I paid money for my son’s supplies. I did not buy them to be shared. Other parents pay money for their own children, not some punk who won’t bother to bring his supplies. I am not speaking out against those who have an economic need. I take care of them with school supplies I buy with my dwindling budget. I try to plan ahead for the next year each spring. It is an expectation to have pencils, paper, colored pencils, rulers, etc. because “not every child has them.” When we use technology, I have to reserve enough devices or I am not allowing everyone equal access. That is a rant for another day. I am not advocating selfishness to one’s fellow man. Each student should be able to say “No” at the appropriate time. They should not be expected to give their prized pencils and/or erasers to someone who does not care and/or would not reciprocate. Mama bought me personalized pencils. That meant they were mine. All mine to use. Mine. The change begins the next time my class starts on Tuesday morning. Believe it.

RLT

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Discipline Hacks That Work!

I will bet you did not know that hair spray is an effective tool for maintaining order in the classroom. I have kept this secret under my hat. When a well-coiffured student acts out, I grab the travel size hair spray I keep in my classroom on my desk. I approach the student and ask if he would like me to comb his hair in the opposite direction. All of them refuse my offer. I am hurt.

Students love to move about whenever possible. I allow students to become camels while working quietly. They stand up behind their chairs and bend over like camels. I call them my little dromedaries.

One student loved to perform physical activities. I let him bear crawl down the hall one day after school once the other students had left. He was as happy as a lark. His mother was a coach, so I know what little I asked of him was insufficient to cause him pain or distress. He made me laugh while bear crawling.

Knowing all three names of a student can be extremely effective. Some despise their middle names, so they cringe in fear when I get that look in my eye akin to Momma and fix my lips to speak all three names. Little stinkers.

Lavender scented Air Wicks dispense calm, soothing lavender to some agitated young minds and bodies. It also helps to fight against any ODF students you may encounter (on-demand flatulence). I had one of those little cherubs last year. He sat right next to it and had probably realized that I was hep to the jive and kept that Air Wick fully stocked.

If you want to discourage the talkative, sneaky students, then demand that they share a personal journal on a volunteer basis. Cue the crickets. When I collected the journals, they began talking. I told them, “If you cannot share your journal writing, then you cannot talk now.” One of them had the unmitigated gall to give me a go-to-blazes look. I ignored her insolence and walked away.

Mr. Whistle works to curb my young runners who feel that lunch will escape without physical exertion. I reminded them that their food was already dead, so it would not run from them. Two loud blasts stops the sprints.

Allowing students to work in “vampire mode” is fun. I will turn off half of the lights to make it “half-vampire mode,” but these darlings prefer full vampire mode. I have five lamps placed around my room so that we are not in utter darkness. When they get too off-task in vampire mode, then we go back to “human mode” with all lights on.

Four Corners – students who have demonstrated weakness of character, bad manners, or need less socialization time earn the right to sit in the four corners of my classroom. This separates the conspirators who attempt to wreck my good humor, and the others learn that I did mean business despite warnings that went unheeded.

Utilize the “shark smile.” It actually is me baring my teeth with my lips shaped into a smile so that I resemble a shark. I call it my “shark smile.” They realize I am not smiling with joy but will soon mete out a consequence or invite them to a private one-on-one conversation in my office (hallway).

RLT

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Letting Go

I have had students who would not perform up to my expectations. They consistently sold themselves short and wasted time. I had a conversation with one of my current  charges who falls into this category. I told him I was not going to work harder than him. I was not accepting responsibility for his grades and performance in my classes if he would not try. I told him I thought he wanted to learn and get better at reading. I am letting him go. I will correct his misbehavior when I see it. I will let his parents take care of the home portion – doing homework assignments, basic care of needs, spiritual nourishment, etc. I can only “control” the forty-two to forty-five minutes I see him. Beyond that, I pray he has an appropriate catalyst to move forward, or I fear he will regress. I am releasing him to his own choices.

RLT

March Madness

This was Friday afternoon during lunch. Some of my kids knew I would be watching the NCAA Tournament online during breaks and at lunch. I had invited some of my young basketball fans to watch with me. On Thursday, I had lunch with seven eighth graders and five sixth graders. This is Friday’s group of sixth graders. Word of mouth spreads information quickly. We all had fun. 🏀🏀🏀

RLT

Email to a Mom

Our team has a goal to make positive contact with about ninety percent of our parents. We are doing this with phone calls and emails. I took a risk and wrote an email to Papi’s mom today. This is the text of the email.
Hi, I know we have spoken on the phone and communicated via email about me keeping him for extra time after school on a couple of occasions. I am writing because I wanted you to know that I enjoy having Papi this year. I don’t know if he has said anything about me to you, but my family knows about him. He is a unique young man, and I have threatened to adopt him. My husband has vetoed me on that score. Papi was in my arboretum field trip group this past November and acted as a junior chaperone. It was actually quite sweet although you may not want to tell him that. He helped me keep track of the kids in our group and kept me laughing even when I did not let him see me laughing.
 
I love that young man and look forward to seeing him every day. I wanted to let you know. Have a good evening.
RLT

Me and My Feet

I am absolutely notorious about being a workaholic. I constantly think about my students, my lessons, my organization skills, and my list of things to do. 

I have recently discovered I have plantar fasciitis. It hurts. I get up and keep on moving forward. However, taking moments to sit and relax are more important now. When your feet hurt so badly that you want to hobble around, it’s time to listen to them and rest a bit more. My spirit, mind, and energy are undiminished; yet, if I want to remain happily active, I have to chill. I gave my kids a test on Thursday. Usually, they would know their grades that evening. I am taking my time since this test has short answer responses that require reading. I told them they would know before the weekend ended and definitely before the Super Bowl. I will get them graded and post scores later today. It has become important to me to let go of that drivenness just this once. I may discover there is more to enjoy in life by making myself take the time to recharge.

RLT

Lazy Daisy

Today is a self-proclaimed lazy day. I have no plans but to wear comfortable clothes, read my novel, drink my coffee, and cover my legs with a homemade quilt this morning. Energizer Bunnies like me need the time to deprogram from the normal hustle, bustle, tussle that is my work day. Enjoy your own day away soon.

RLT

P.S. Yes, those are my toes peeking out underneath the quilt and an oversized Christmas mug of peppermint mocha coffee.

Different Routine

I took a walk this morning and felt the icy slash of north wind numb my fingers. Inexpensive gloves only work so well. I listened to the Bible on my headphones to fulfill my 2016 resolution of reading the Bible through. Listening helps me concentrate on the words and not gloss over them, and the benefit of being outdoors seeing the creation as I hear the words of my Creator elevates the soul and heart like no other.

I may actually miss interacting with my students over the holidays; however, do not breathe a word to those little stinkers. They need a break from a fire-eater like me every once in a while. Between you and me, I hope Papi has a good holiday, and I wonder if he will tell me anything about it or try to test the boundaries again.

He wanted to know if I maintained a Snapchat account. No, I do not, but I told him that if I were on a social media site, I would only accept friend requests and connections from students once they graduate high school. Friends’ children do not count, and they are few and far in between. If I have a professional teacher-student relationship, I really do not think I should be looking at their Instagram, Kik, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. accounts. My postings are safe for the whole family; however, they are not always public—by my choice. Lambasting one’s employer, publishing embarrassing photographs (like a horrible haircut!), and missteps of that ilk have no place in the forever realm of the Internet. I found this telling single panel cartoon that explains the world before advent of the Internet. I miss the days of a handwritten letter type of correspondence that bespoke a personal interest in the words written or doodles in the margins that make the reader laugh a bit too loudly.

vintage-social-networking

RLT

Holiday Break 2016

I am glad to be home with my family seeing my son from college. One of my students gave me some sore throat bug that had me craving a frozen fruit drink at 3:00 A.M. I had wanted to learn “Silent Night” in Bulgarian, but this drainage made me too miserable. My Bulgarian-speaking student understood. I will have to learn “Amazing Grace” phoenetically and surprise him in the spring.

 I threatened to breathe on Papi to make him sick if he did not complete his online practice work for math class. I sat by him and ignored him trying to talk to me. He enjoys what he considers to be positive attention. He surprised me by turning in his project on time. I could not say something good because that is taken as a means to stoppage. Reverse psychology as we know it. I hope all of my students have a great holiday. I know I plan to do so.

RLT

Working the Charm

Papi is at it again. He is not doing his work, and now my class is included. He loves to talk about anything not school related and make comments under his breath. He deliberately speaks softly so that his intended audience gets closer to listen. If I acknowledge that he has spoken, I look at him and say, “Do you think I am listening?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Wrong.” Yesterday and today I made him stay with me after class to get some of his work completed. There are times that I wish I could truly treat him like my own son. Other times, I am glad he goes home to some other mama.

Today he was bouncy in my reading lab class. Almost jovial. Spooky. Monday in social studies, he was dark and broody. “Can I call you ‘Mrs. J’?”

“Yes.” He looked pleased and surprised not knowing or realizing I’ve had this nickname for years. I chuckled to myself later on. The LORD put this young man into my life for a reason, and I am in his life for a reason. One day it will come to me. In the meanwhile, I am after him to get his work completed and not to let himself (or me!) down. Sigh!

RLT