Monthly Archives: November 2012

Java Bliss

As I poured the creamer into my second cup of coffee this morning, I watch the magical swirl of white mingling with the inky brown of my brew.  I marveled at the smoothness as it gracefully moved.  Coffee is a good thing!  Enjoy your weekend with your family and friends.  If you are like me and have the next week for Thanksgiving break, savor it and rest.  If you must grade, then choose one day and knock it out so that you can enjoy laughter, life, and the lunacy your family and friends bring to your world.  If you have to work the first couple of days, still find some moments to sit and relax with a cup of tea, or take a quick walk around the block, so to speak, to refresh your brain.  I pray this Saturday finds you at peace.  ¡Ciao!


There is No “S” on My Chest

The last time I checked, I didn’t have a big red “S” emblazoned on my shirt.  I don’t wear blue tights with a red cape.  I am not allergic to kryptonite, and I certainly don’t fly.  My students sometimes think I have come from another planet, but I am not Supergirl or Superwoman.  I work with some incredibly talented ladies and gentleman on my staff.  There are hundreds of years of experience just outside my door or reachable by email.  My staff is a family, and my grade level team are my sisters.  We plan out our lessons and take turns writing them up, making copies, or whatever.

I have been an island and had to create my own sand, sunshine, and sea.  No thank you to that any more.  It is okay to let someone else do something for you.  It really, really is.  People are willing to help if you give them the list of tasks to do.  My strength and weakness is that I  keep my own counsel.  I know what should be done, but I don’t always say it out loud.  At times, I don’t want to step on someone’s toes. Other times, I figure I can make time to get it done properly.  Earth-bound again!  Every time I leap into the air to fly, gravity snatches me back to the land of reality with a nice, hard thud as I land on my rear end.  There is some wisdom in the statement “many hands divide the work.”  Let someone else help you!!!  Now if I could just get John Williams’ “Superman Theme Song” out of my head, I’d be fine.

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Thanksgiving Week – 2012

The week of November 19 would normally find me and my guys traveling to visit my husband’s parents, but this year, we are staying home.  I need to just rest, clean house, and read thick novels.  I haven’t put out any autumn decorations, and Thanksgiving is nearly upon me.  I have some Thanksgiving cards I can mail to send greetings to family and friends who are far away.  I will do that.  My cohorts and I have made a pact to do no grading over the break.  I find I resent my restorative time being eaten away by checking essays for grammar, focus, and organization.  I want to drink coffee and read the newspaper with my teenaged son.  I want to hold hands with my husband and fall asleep next to him in our joint recliners as we watch Sunday afternoon football.  I want to go to dinner and laugh like a maniac with my best friends and not worry about what needs to be done.  I want to live my other life for a little bit—the one where I am not Mrs. J.

Last Saturday, I spent all day working at my son’s marching band festival his band hosted.  I had been a band chaperone the night before for the football game.  I told him that I would NOT be chaperoning their community parade jaunt that is scheduled for today.  He understood.  My husband and I will pick him up from school once they have returned and then go from there. The first item on the agenda is to drop off that uniform at the cleaners just down the street from the school.  We plan to spend time with my parents today.  It will be the first time in over a month due to marching season which began in late September.  Even the Energizer Bunny needs a little break.  I know I do!

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Schtick – Part I

There has to be some type of draw to your class for the kids to remember you and what you teach them.  I am naturally an introvert and tend to be shy; however, I have strong opinions and feelings about certain topics that prompt me to step out of my shell.  I am passionate about good grammar and consider myself a grammar cop.  I tell the kids, “I don’t make the rules; I enforce them.” I believe that a certain amount of schtick is involved in teaching.  You have to have some gimmicks, tools, and catch phrases/idiosyncracies, or they go to sleep.  Sleeping is not permitted in my class.  I use Mr. Hammer to cure the sleepies.  Mr. Hammer aka the “Hillbilly Attitude Adjuster” is a rather crude-looking mallet Mama gave me years ago.  It stays locked up in my closet at school until I find a dozing student.  Taking off my shoes and tiptoeing softly, I slip up on Jimmy Badboy like a panther.  He doesn’t hear me coming.  I warn other students to be very quiet as I’m hunting rabbit a la Elmer Fudd.  Sleeeping Beauty dreams on.  I find an empty desk nearby and loudly whack the mallet.  Sleeping Beauty awakens and never ever dozes off again.  Jimmy Badboy sees the gleam in my eyes and realizes the error of his ways.

For Red Ribbon week, I have a glitzy red page boy hat along with my ruby red slippers to complete my “woman in red” look complete with a red dress.  This is the outfit I wear in the kids’ nightmares.  I tell them they can never outrun me in their nightmares and even give them a time when I’ll haunt them.  I usually complain that I don’t have an opening at something like 3:15 A.M. but mention that I can fit them in at 3:14 A.M.  I say, “When you roll over tomorrow morning and see that bright red digital display reading 3:14 A.M., you know that you’ve seen me, baby.  You can’t ever outrun me in your nightmares!”  I’ve actually had a couple of students tell me, “Mrs. Johnson, I really did see you in the red dress.”  I smile and laugh wickedly.  You have to keep your bluff in and keep them guessing about what you’ll say or do next.  I tell them I’m predictable about what we do each day; I am unpredictable about what will come out of my mouth.

Some kids were squabbling in class years ago, and one called the other one a name.  I asked if his name was Adam.  He replied in the negative.  “Ah, so if your name isn’t Adam, you aren’t the first man, and you don’t have the privilege of naming all of God’s creatures like he did.  Do you have a belly button?” The student’s eyes were saucer-sized, so he didn’t dare lie to me at this point. With a rather sweet-looking smile, I said, “If you have a belly button, your name isn’t Adam.  He was the first man God created, and he didn’t have a belly button. When you have your own kids or discover a new country, then you can name something.” He didn’t name anyone else within my hearing for the rest of year.  I think I shocked him.

One day while something else was going on in class, a student loudly said, “Oh my God.”  Bad move.  “We do not take the name of the LORD in vain.  We do not swear by Heaven because it is His throne nor by the earth because it is His footstool.” He was speechless. The words just came to me.  I didn’t rehearse them, but I sure said them.

Some kids make me laugh with their antics, so I lovingly refer to them as turkeys.  Last year, it occurred to me to ask my prospective turkey about the stuffing I will use.  “Do you like white, wheat, or corn bread?”  They make a choice.  “How do you feel about onions, celery, and butter?” I tell them it doesn’t matter since I’ll be stuffing them with whatever I choose anyway.  One group called themselves the Turkey Brigade and  made a flag that I had laminated as a keepsake of that notorious second period group.  They wrote their names on it so I would never forget them.  I love those kids!

I enjoy a strong rapport with most of my students.  One day, several years back, in my sixth/seventh period class, I told one student he was dead meat on a stick.  “Oh, you mean a corndog!” I laughed that he was right and then told him I use mustard on my corndogs.  Ever since then I have kept an unopened container of mustard on my desk. I shake it at recalcitrant students who are about to be made into corndogs.  Some wits have retorted that ketchup was better.  I told them, “If you’re the corndog, it doesn’t matter what you like. What matters is what I like.” The nerve!