Monthly Archives: December 2015

Still on Break


This was the scene on my morning walk. The eleven year old tomboy wanted to slide across the ice and yell, “Whee!” at the top of her lungs. The rational, twenty-year teaching veteran said, “Yep, imagine telling that story to my young daredevils about how I managed to crack some bones.” No thanks.

The tomboy says, “Chicken.” My reply is “Ba-kawk!”

There are still days left to measure the remainder of my Christmas and New Year’s holiday break. I have no intention of rushing through these precious, restorative hours, minutes, and seconds and wish away my life. No, I am quite content to maintain my own schedule for chores, meals, and fun. On Thursday, I plan to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my husband and son for a New Year’s Eve treat. I anticipate it just like we did when Revenge of the Sith debuted ten years ago. Don’t spoil it for me.


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It’s Time

I am of the opinion that it is time for a two week long break. My students need two weeks at home with their parents who have long since gained an appreciation for the herding cats portion of my job. I have graded papers including research essays, presentations, quizzes, homework assignments, weekly warm-ups and tests and will post the grades on the electronic grade book before I ride off into the early winter sunset.

Some of my students are so restless that they have temporarily suspended logical reasoning a la Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason. To bring them back to Earth, when they enter my room, they encounter an atmosphere that is quiet. I don’t practice chaos, and a small minority thrive on boundary testing; these  daredevils who balance precariously on the precipice of danger hope to “cheat death” once more.

To assist my students’ focus, I will include the following image on tomorrow’s agenda.

I Fake Text 12-18-2015

A sense of humor alleviates the often stressful mission countless of other educators and I have undertaken.


I Can’t Do That

When a child comes to me with his parents’ imprinting or the lack thereof, there is little I can do to change behavior and mindset. I can’t do their job and be Mom. I have to be Mrs. Johnson. Mrs. Johnson can’t ground them from their electronic devices by making them rake the leaves in the yard to expend excess energy. Mrs. Johnson can’t make them go to bed on time each night to get enough rest. Mrs. Johnson can’t cook nutritious meals that nourish their growing bodies. I can’t do that.

I can try to work with my students where they are and encourage them to do the right thing the first time. I can try to start each day as a fresh slate. I can encourage them to be kind to one another and accept each other’s foibles and quirks. I can demand an apology when they are out of line. I can demand extra time at school with detentions to ponder their choices. I can try to make a lasting impression on their minds about the standards I hold and expect them to meet. I can’t lower my expectations or give up and give in. I can’t do that.


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I Can Eat a Cookie Anytime I Want

Manchild was working on his project with his partner the other day. I mentioned to the entire class that the teachers were given a big platter of cookies to eat and how tasty they were. He lost his mind and told me that I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t go and eat a cookie if I wanted one. “Oh, you really want to go there?” I quipped. He nodded, smiling.

My right hand circled his left wrist, and he got up and accompanied me to the front office. We walked past my principal and to the coffee table where the cookies were located. I let him go, grabbed a cookie, and stuffed it in my mouth. He gave me a look that said, “No fair.”

“I told you I can eat a cookie anytime I want,” I mumbled around the cookie. I let him “talk to the hand” to block any type of faux rebuttal he might have offered. We returned to the classroom. The other students’ eyes were glued to Manchild’s face.

“Did she really eat a cookie?” they asked, expecting that he was given a cookie instead or some other crazed notion. I don’t share food with students as a rule. If you feed them, they come back for more food. Remember the story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? I rest my case.

“Yeah,” he replied resignedly. I won. The fact that he allowed me to tease him about something so innocuous made it a great afternoon and start to my weekend.



Thank You for Your Support

I maintain a Facebook account and read posts that my friends allow on their timelines or links that appeal to me. I read a post that a parent wrote about her child getting into trouble at school. When the teacher called home, the teacher received full parental support and an encouraging email the next day.

When I have to make that unpleasant phone call about a student’s behavior choice, it is sad to say that I expect to be blasted, called a liar or worse, and ridiculed. Too often, a student goes home and tells the half of the story that makes him look good. When the teacher calls to tell the full story, she isn’t always believed.

This spoke to my heart because of a situation that happened before my recent holiday. A student was corrected for being disrespectful. When I turned my back to walk away and return the discipline log to its place, he threw a pencil at me. It hit the wall. He was asked to leave my classroom for the rest of the period. I called his parents and expected a response. He came in the next day with the same surly attitude. No email or voice mail came from either of his parents. I was at a loss for words. He has never apologized to me, and I suspect that he probably won’t unless his parents encourage repentance in actions and words. My trust has been broken because I have never encountered what felt like a physical attack on my person before in my career. Some cowards have probably shredded my reputation on those teacher rating websites I won’t deign to visit. I can’t win them all over. I can be respectful and professional. I can correct abhorrent behavior appropriately.

As a parent, I know my son, and I know that he is not a perfect person. He will make mistakes. I want to hear what he has to say for himself and see that he repents. I want the teacher to give him another chance to redeem himself. I appreciate it when that happens. He has to earn back the good graces and favor one step at a time.


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