Monthly Archives: October 2015

Ten Weeks Completed

Due to a couple of four-day weeks, we haven’t hit the fifty day mark for our students despite being together for ten business weeks. Some of my students practically wiggle in their seats to gain my notice. Others lounge back seemingly without regard or care for my opinion. I despise the hypothetical questions that some students pose in an attempt to be funny.

I assigned the students a short story to read and annotate for figurative language with a partner. After finishing the annotation together, they were to wok on their own to create a conclusion to the story. I gave them no limit on the length of their conclusions. From my desk in the back of my room, I heard Blurt Boy tell his partner that he would just write a sentence or two since it wasn’t important. Before I realize it, I snap out,”If you don’t care for the assignment, it’s better not to show your contempt in front of the one who assigns it, don’t you think?” No response. He and his partner resume working with focus after being busted. The on-task hum of students working with partners resumes, and some time passes.

Since it’s a scary story, I issue a challenge to my students, “In my ten years here, no one has scared me with his or her conclusion. You’re welcome to try.” Their faces lit up and minds whirled to find just the right about of macabre to terrify me. I don’t scare easily when I am reading their writing, so I have no concerns. “I can’t tell you how long your conclusion needs to be. Each one of you is different and has something different to say. Some students will use one page; other will use more. Just write a conclusion that you think will knock my socks off,” I conclude.

A hand shoots up, and one of my sweet young ladies who loves to read and write asked, “Even if it’s five pages, you’ll read it?”

“Yes, baby, I’ll read it.” I am encouraging them to write freely and express their creative storytelling. In our next unit, they’ll write a short story. This is an excellent lead-in activity. I smile at her warmly.

Blurt Boy decided to join in on the question without once again raising his hand, “What if it’s 194 pages long?”

My smile evaporated, and I looked at him in silence. The expressionless face I utilize appeared. “Is that an appropriate question when my students are trying to write their conclusions? Apparently you want my undivided attention.” I sat in my chair, folded my hands, and stared at him. He now had my full attention in class. B. Boy returned my look for a beat then began working. “Oh, no,” I interrupted and gestured excitedly with my hands, “don’t stop now. I want to see the show. You have my undivided attention.” He looked up once more and saw I meant business. He had the grace to lower his eyes. The other students watched wondering what I might have done next. After a sufficient dose of my unwavering attention for something other than a simple explanation, he resumed work on his assignment. We spoke after class about his abortive attempt to be funny and using one’s sense of humor at the right time. I bid him farewell and released him to his next class.



A Day Away

I often counsel young teachers to take a day for themselves and never follow my own advice. Today I am listening to myself. Although the underlying reason is the imminent delivery of a new refrigerator/freezer unit, the time without a regulated schedule is necessary. Sitting in comfortable, shabby clothes with my hair in the “icky bun” style is just perfect. I ate a leisurely breakfast, drank my coffee, and enjoyed time talking to my high school senior son before he drove off to school. When he returns this afternoon, I hope to show him the new appliance’s bells and whistles. I left enough work for my students to stay occupied, so I have no concerns about them today. They will be in good hands. It’s time for me.


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Warning! The questions and answers presented represent a slightly snarky mood. It doesn’t present itself too often, but nonetheless, the snappy comments must have an appropriate home. It’s better here than spoken.

Q: Is this for a grade?

A:  Does it matter?

Q: Do you offer extra credit?

A: No, finish and turn in your work the first time, and you won’t have to worry about extra credit.

Q:  Do you work on the warm-up exercises during class time?

A: No, it’s homework.  Ask your student.  He should know what’s going on in class.

Q:  How old are you?

A: As old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth. Shall I translate? It’s none of your business.

Q: What happens if I (insert ridiculous hypothetical statement)?

A:  I don’t deal in hypothetical situations.  I deal in the real world.

Q: Can I call you by your first name?

A: Have you lost your mind?

Q: When is this due?

A: What do the directions say?

Q: I don’t get it.

A:  When you have a question, I will answer it.  Saying “I don’t get it” is a statement, not a question.

Q:  Are you part-(insert ethnic group)?

A: (Silent death stare)

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