Monthly Archives: February 2013

Try Something New

I just learned about Screencast-O-Matic and made two broadcasts.  It was kind of interesting to hear my own voice as I explained an assignment.  We are encouraged to implement the new stuff with our kids to help them learn more.  I am a lifetime learner, so there will always be something new to try.  I maintain a blog for my students and parents to keep up with my class.  I have a Twitter account for my classroom and one for my personal use.  They are not connected.   I’ve made a couple of Prezi presentations.  I utilize email and text messages to keep folks updated and just added a Google-based calendar to my student blog site.  I promise I do sleep at night; however, it’s kind of fun to hear someone say that your creation was cool.  Well, I guess I’d better go grade some tests.  They are on paper and I must grade them by hand. I actually don’t mind at all.  Good night, and sweet dreams!


They Got Me!

When I resigned from teaching to be a stay-at-home mom, my students threw me a surprise baby shower.  My principal told me I had an ARD meeting to attend that last morning at 7:45 A.M.  I mentioned it to my husband and got myself ready.  I go to the room thinking it’s in an odd place, but who knows? The room is full of students and baby gifts and love.  I hadn’t any idea, and the memory still warms my heart.  One of the gifts was a stuffed lady bug.  For some reason, my classroom ledge had been the graveyard of ladybugs.  The young lady who gave this to me reminded me of my effect on the bugs as she gave me the variety I couldn’t possibly harm.  I laughed. My ladybug is now in my classroom as an homage to that young lady.

Later that same day, I was alone gathering my stuff in my room when I heard voices.  I looked up and saw four of the toughest boys in seventh grade in the doorway.  Smiles wreathed their faces as one presented me a teddy bear for my baby.  They had come to tell me goodbye.  I hugged them and thanked them.  As we were chatting, my principal and assistant principal popped by.  They later told me they were worried since I was alone in my room, and they’d seen the boys headed my way.  One of the boys had been on crutches but managed to hop down that hallway on his good leg to see me.  These are the memories I must recall on my down and dreary days when the comment of one student sets me on a road to depression and sadness and general “woe is me” feeling.  I also recall that during fire drills, an eighth grade tough boy would find me and escort me down the stairs so I wouldn’t fall.  Despite their tough exteriors, I know those kids loved me as I loved them.

During that last year before momhood, I had a boy I nicked named Pharaoh because he lived in the land of denial.  I threatened to ship him to Egypt in a box with one hole for breathing.  As time went on, I said the hole was quite small.  Pharaoh smiled and made a straw-sipping sound indicating that he’d just pack a straw with him to get his oxygen on his journey.  I laughed at his wit, but I didn’t send him to see the Nile in person.

I used to take a black ink pen and draw a capital letter I on the back of students’ hands to give them a “black eye.”  Parents who got my humor didn’t mind, and the kids loved getting their black eyes in my class.  In my second teaching stint, I put a black I on a post-it note and handed to one of my young charges who just needed to be set straight about who’s the boss.  The next day, he came to me and said, “Mrs. Johnson, you need to go to the nurse.  You have pink eye.”  Yes, he’d drawn a black letter I on notebook paper then outlined it with pink highlighter.  I think it got lost a few years ago, but I still laugh about my basketball artist.

I used to tell kids they couldn’t go to the bathroom unless their eyes were yellow.  One kid came up to me with two letter IIs drawn on the back of his hand with yellow highlighter.  I could hardly stop laughing as I told him to go to the restroom.  His father had helped him with that one.  For my “revenge,” I’ve made laminated potty passes with an outhouse pictured on them.  The ones who understand my humor chuckle as they head down the hallway.  Don’t worry, it’s a clip art picture from Microsoft and harmless in appearance.

I’ve demanded money from the kids to tell their parents good things about them.  I do this at every open house we have in the spring because I really know my babies by then.  One kid came to school the next day with a fifty dollar bill; however, it was from his Monopoly game, so it was useless.  Now, I’m hep to them.  I tell them I want real money, not the kind from a board game.  They laugh and keep on going.  I’m still waiting.

A few years back, I told one boy he was dead meat on a stick.  Without missing a beat, he said, “Oh, I’m a corndog!”  “That’s right, and you know what?  I eat corndogs with mustard!”  I’ve kept an unopened jar of mustard on my desk ever since to remind them that the day is coming when I eat my corndogs—excuse me—students.  Hee hee hee!  The current one expired last month, but I ‘m convinced mustard doesn’t go bad.  Some kids have tried to bribe me with ketchup, but I deny their request.  I like mustard, thank you very much, and if you’re the corndog, you won’t care what I put on you.  That’s the way it works.  I love my kids!

Tagged , , ,

Some Bad Things

A few bad things that I find upsetting:

1.  Lying – Always tell me the truth, even if it’s bad.  I will handle the truth much better than a lie.  I forgive the lie, but it’s hard to build up that bridge of trust again since you have burned it up with those hot words of fire!

2.  Sneaky behavior – Being slick will only carry you so far, and then you get busted.  I’ve told a couple of students that I may not catch them today, tomorrow, or next year, but someone else much worse can and will.  They will have some ‘splain’ to do at that point.

3.  Cheating – If you didn’t study for the test/quiz, then don’t use your notes or your friend’s paper to try to get by.  Learn the material for yourself out a sense of pride and accomplishment.  I had a student put the answers in her lap; I caught her looking down at her lap.  She received a “0” on her test.  I don’t play around or offer retakes for such a choice.  I tell the kids to “maintain their integrity” by keeping their eyes on their own paper.  I monitor them to show I mean business.

4.  Mean behavior/cruelty – Acting like a turkey to someone else who may not be as popular, intellectually-gifted, etc. than you doesn’t elevate you in my sight.  It makes me see you as being lower than a snake’s belly.  I have a tendency to rush in and defend the one being picked on even if the picked on one started it.  After I separate the combatants, I will then let the “victim” know that one day they may upset the wrong person, and I may not be able to help them out.

5.  Profanity/cursing/potty mouth – I find profanity offensive, and I don’t like to hear it spoken around me or my students.  Yes, I can put together a mean blue streak like a lot of folks, but I exercise restraint to be an example to my kids.  I think profanity demonstrates a lack of vocabulary savvy because you are limiting  yourself on the language you choose.


Yes, I Said That

I have said a few things to my kiddoes over the course of my career.  Here is a small sampling.

1.  “You will never have another person in your life exactly like me, baby, and that is a shame.”  I hear from kids all of them time that they miss me and my classroom.  I told them this already.

2.  “I will haunt you in your nightmares, and you will not get away.  I always outrun you in your nightmares.  I’ll be wearing my red dress and heels, baby, and you cannot get away. I have scheduled you for 3:15 A.M.”  I tell them I’ll be carrying my pitchfork.  Some have reportedly seen me in their nightmares.  I told them this would happen. Why they didn’t believe me, I don’t know.

3.  “I’m bigger than you!” [Even if they can look me in the eye, I am bigger than them.]  They don’t know exactly how I am measuring myself, so they tend to give me a querying look and accept the fact.  I never tell them the ruler I use.  I’m not telling you either.

4.  “I am the equally fabulous/equally notorious Mrs. Johnson.”  In my classroom, I am the fabulous Mrs. Johnson.  In the hallway when you mess up, I am the notorious Mrs. Johnson.  I have kids who want to be in my class with me as their teacher, and their schedule won’t permit it.

5.  “Is your arm broken?”  I say this when they forget to raise their hands for my attention.  Sometimes, I will raise the student’s arm to demonstrate the soundness of the limb.

6.  “As long as you live, when you speak to me, you will say, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ or ‘No, ma’am.'” This is said as a reminder that our relationship is not one of equals.  There is a hierarchy, and I am the boss in case you have forgotten.  I am also a naturalized Texan, so I practice the politeness I was taught when I moved here as a soon-to-be sixth grader.  It was expected that when you addressed an adult, you used “sir” or “ma’am” if you wanted to demonstrate good manners.  I have even put on a horrible thick drawl to help new arrivals learn that even though we may sound a little differnt here in Texas, we have been “raised right.”

7.  “Who do you think you are?” I have said this when a student suffers an dreaded bout of “mouth-before-brain” syndrome and says something really out of line and/or offensive.  I tell them that they didn’t hurt my feelings, but someone else might not be so forgiving and that they should be careful about what they say.

8.  “Step outside into the hallway.”  No one wants to talk to me one on one in the hallway, especially when they have done something wrong.  Sometimes I ask students to step in the hallway to discuss a private issue (medical, emotional, academic progress, etc.) that is no one else’s business but their guardian’s or mine as teacher of record.

9.  “You really seem to want my attention.  Let’s go outside in the hallway. Now you have my attention.” No explanation required.

10.  “This is not your home.  Put your shoes on.”  I said this when a student took his shoes off and was in sockfeet walking about.  I showed him my rocking chair, microwave, and refrigerator.  These items are proof that I actually live there.

11. “You love me, baby.  I already know it.”  I have been known to just tell students that I know they really love me even if they don’t say it.  I tell them I don’t even need to hear the words to know that they love me.  I can tell by their actions.

12. “I love you more.” When some of my former students shout, “Mrs. Johnson! I love you!” I find this to be the best response.


More Questions for the Teacher

Did you count me tardy?  If the bell rang, and you weren’t in your seat, then yes.  If a teacher, principal, or nurse sends a note or email saying you are excused, then no.  If you slide in with a grin on your face just as the bell rings, then yes. Giving me the “puppy dog eyes” doesn’t work.

Why can’t I talk during a fire/tornado/lockdown drill?  I am keeping you safe and the lines of communication open.  I need to hear any direction my principal gives me.  Your safety in that moments is paramount.  We had a tornado warning in spring 2012 and were ducked and covered for over an hour.  Kids were crying and praying because they were scared.  I soothed them and prayed with them.  I asked for the lives of everyone in the building that day. The LORD answered me with a yes that day.  I am grateful.

Does spelling count? Yes it does.  When you write your résumé, and it is riddled with grammatical errors and misspellings, then you have effectively taken yourself out of the running for a job interview. Always do your best with your spelling.

Why can’t I hit my friends in school?  I make it my goal to read situations accurately, but sometimes I may not pick up on an undercurrent of tension between two students.  If student A shoves student B because they are “just kidding,” then I have to warn them about “just kidding.”  I just know that not everyone is in a jovial mood all of the time.  If student B is having a rotten day, and his “friend” pushes/shoves/pokes him at the wrong time, it’s time for me to put on my black and white striped referee shirt to break up the fight.  I don’t like doing it, but I will.  My students’ safety is of the utmost importance to me.  The day of my interview for my current position found me dressed in a suit and jumping in to separate two boys who got into a fight in my hallway.  For some reason a question came up, and I told them about it.  When I was first starting my teaching career, one of my more experienced colleagues warned that I shouldn’t jump in between the bigger boys but let one of my male colleagues handle it.  Sometimes, there is no male counterpart available, so I do my job.

Why do I have to do this assignment?  The concept I teach is often the foundation for something else.  I teach little if anything in isolation.  Grammar is necessary for good writing.  Writing is necessary for clear communication.  Communication is necessary for understanding.  Understanding each other makes life a little nicer as we move around on the third rock from the sun. I do not invent assignments to take up your time.  They are meant to help you practice a new skill, review your knowledge, etc.  I’ve seen the light bulbs go off when I tell them something like, “Do you remember when we learned about conjunctions?  I wanted you to recognize them when we write using varied syntax (sentence structure) as we compose our essays.

Tagged ,