Category Archives: Classroom


I spent last weekend in bed with a raging migraine that would not relent until early Sunday morning. This week has been fraught with details about an upcoming field trip to the Arboretum. Students did not returned permission forms or payments in a timely fashion. Now it’s scramble time. How to get the lead out? And this is part of why my failure rates are higher than I want: they don’t care about deadlines or due dates. “Someone will give me an extension. It can wait for now.” No. Sometimes there is no extension. None. You can hit the end, and there is no more. I hit the end yesterday.

I checked in with my teaching partner about our plans for next week. We are both grade level team leaders, and we also discuss which kids need to go where for the outside incentive day coming up next week. If a student failed for the marking period, then he or she would be assigned to a core teacher for extra remediation. We sorted it out, and she departed for the day.

There I was at work late with a persistent scratchy threat due to drainage from one of the little upper respiratory bugs that is floating around my campus. Not again! It is nearing 4:40, and I see a student in the hallway. “What are you doing here?” “I was playing basketball.” He was participating in the worthy American Heart Association fundraiser, but he is never in my room for tutorials. I must demand his presence during our advisory period if I want extra time to work with him. He has never passed my class for a marking period, but he’s playing basketball. After he leaves with his backpack, my shoulders sag, and my heart pounds with rage. He can play basketball, but when I reached out to his parents about his failing grades, I had no response. When I wrote about missing work due to his absences a couple of weeks back, Mom said that he had been so sick, but she would make sure he got there. He was sick again the next day. And when he returned, I had to scramble to get him to finish his makeup assignments. I knew I would not get help from his parents at that point.

It is after 5:00 as I tiredly prepared my room for next week since I have morning duty every day next week. I sanitized my desks. I stacked the chairs. I typed emails and text reminders about upcoming events. I picked up copies from the printer after wearily scanning my badge to verify my identity. I blew my nose repeatedly. I longed for a Quik Trip Freezoni drink to soothe the red wool scratchy feeling burning my throat. My stomach rumbled with hunger; I ate five taquitos for lunch around 1:00. It is nearly 6:00. I put my calendar and pen/pencil bag into my work bag, turn off the lamps, and grab my purse from the corner wardrobe. Oh, I was supposed to take that rubbish out to the bin. Monday. I’ll do it Monday. I am spent. The constant battle against inertia and apathy drained my normally robust immunity this school year. I planned to spend the weekend resting, reading, and recuperating. I’ve taken a two hour nap and worked on my novel this afternoon.

I found this picture and shared it with my team members. It is a reminder when I feel the “it’s all your fault” blues creeping up on me. I am fighting my good fight. I am pouring my energy and creative juices into a worthy enterprise. Even when I don’t get the recognition I deserve, I have still done my work and given my best. It is all I can do.



Are You Even Listening to Me?

Inattentiveness is rampant. “Turn to page 300.” Students look around the room. One leans over to pick up the book. Two sets of hands go up, “What page?” My gaze hardens. Three stare into space. The eight that followed directions exhibit the impatience I feel at this point in the year. I see eye rolls from them and do my best not to say, “Yep!”

The rites of spring are soon upon me in the classroom. Longing gazes out of windows scream, “Can’t we go outside?” Resolving myself to maintain order amidst chaos, I reply, “No.” I hear groans and see lips puff out in pouts. “Other classes get to go outside.” “Yes, but I am talking to you. I am not talking to other classes. Crack that book to page 300, and let’s get moving.” Reluctant learners finally acquiesce to my directive, prop their heads on their hands, stare a hole through my heart, and outwardly comply. The irony in all of this is that they would be on their electronics playing a game or engaging in Snapchat instead of soaking up vitamin D while sitting still as a gentle breeze caresses their youthful complexions and reading their books in peace. No, they are not listening to me. I am a voice of reason and too overage to be “cool” or “in.”


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I Simply Forgot

Yesterday I forgot to tell my language arts classes that their brainstorming page was homework. I had said, “Finish it before you write your draft. We will work on the writing in class tomorrow.” I had planned on an easy-for-them daily grade for doing the work and showing me in class. I received an email about this assignment because it wasn’t on my school’s website. I had emailed it as an attachment to the parents. It was not written in the agenda as homework. I was not trying to be confusing or difficult. I felt even more micro-managed than I already have been.

“Have them write ‘HW’ on homework or ‘classwork’ on in-class work.

Have him take a picture of the agenda with his phone at the beginning of class.

Receive an email at 9:12 A.M. during a class. Receive another at 9:30 A.M. chiding your slow response to the first email. Receive another email at 9:43 asking if you’ve seen the previous emails. Class ends at 9:53 A. M. Another one begins. Still no response to email. Call the assistant principal about the teacher not responding to emails in a timely manner. When I click the mailbox icon to check my email, I see several from one parent in my inbox, an all-staff email about a school-wide directive, an invitation to an ARD or Section 504 committee meeting, a notice about some paperwork for a student who’s taking meds, fourteen hundred pieces of junk email, a reminder about that meeting that starts in three minutes, and a reminder about a staff meeting after school this week. This is a slow day.

Take data for Special Education students accommodations. Each six weeks. Record how they are progressing in your class. Reading goals. Writing goals. Behavioral goals.

Keep up with Section 504 students’ accommodations. All of them on a daily basis. This means reminders to be on task. Preferential seating. Learning lab privileges. Copies of teacher notes. The copier is jammed, or the person who copies entire dictionaries is just starting her print job, and the notes need to go home with Janey Sue before her dental appointment this afternoon. Mom will email you if you don’t get them to Janey Sue before she leaves for the day. You had her first period, and she is not in your hallway again until fifth period. It is now fourth period. You’re late for the meeting trying to find an open and working copier.

During lunch, sit and email parents to notify them if their student’s grades are slipping. At least once or twice before the six weeks grading period ends. This could help when they say, “I didn’t know Jim Bob was failing.”

Manage aberrant behavior in classrooms with strong-willed personalities determined to break your resolve. Calmly. All of the time.

Come up with an enrichment or remediation lesson for students who need it. For both subjects. And decide which one deserves priority this week. Oops. You chose incorrectly again.

Monitor students in the classroom and hallway at the same time.

While standing in the hallway/doorway, field questions asked over the music in the hallways about what is needed for class while holding a sign that lists the needed items. I have held up a sign that read, “Bring colored pencils.” To me it is obvious that if a student does not have them, then they would not bring them. I will have several stop goggle-eyed and say, “Do we need colored pencils?” Others will state, “I don’t have any” and stand almost dumbstruck. I make them go inside the room by saying that I have colored pencils. By the way, I have had colored pencils in my room since day one. They don’t remember that. They haven’t any problems telling me what they don’t have or if something is “unfair.” Oh, and make sure you unstick the locker of those students whose backpacks, jackets, etc. clog the mechanism. The veins in my arms and forehead bulge out as I strain to pop them open. Oops, those recalcitrant kids are off-task again in my room.

So, I love what I do, and I do it well. However, this time, I simply forgot to say the assignment was homework. Oh, I had better check my email. ✉️


What is Sleep?

Sleep is Overrated

I tend to nap for at least two hours daily on the weekends. I’ve turned on my NCAA football games to watch one game only to awaken and find another set of teams battling on the gridiron. During the week, I have reached the conclusion that sleep is overrated. I may get six hours a night when I am fortunate. My mind snaps me awake with a brilliant idea that cannot wait to live. I rise and type when the muse inspires me. I grab a blanket, turn on the ceiling fan in the den, and curl up in the recliner. Other “nights” find me staring dully at my iPhone while playing Merged or Two Dots. At 3:13 A.M. no less. Ugh.

My students’ needs consume my waking hours and snatch me from my dreams at night. This explains my summer nap coma mode when I take serious naps daily and feel no shame about a need to close my eyes for a wee bit of rest. If I don’t find the time to bank my sleep over the weekend, I pay for it with a dearth of energy and a plethora of driven energy.



You’re Out!

Yes, I asked two different students to leave my room today. One was being cruel to another student. The cruel one has a history of mumbling and stirring the pot. He had to get stepping. The second one has decided he doesn’t want zeroes, but he doesn’t want to work. After multiple warnings over several days to get to work, stop making noise, and to follow directions, he too had to step. He was coloring himself a canary yellow with his highlighter. Really? Hit the bricks. The other students are now coming to grips with the fact that I actually want a learning environment for the ones who want to learn. Enough tyranny of the minority who suck up energy monitoring them like little babies who cannot be trusted to stay away from trouble. My eighty to ninety percent of do-gooders deserve their education. I plan to make it known that it is unacceptable to disrupt learning to follow your own agenda. That is it. Get in line, or hit the bricks. Third strike and you’re out. I start each day anew when they let me, but bad behavior deserves its own reward: relief on the faces of my students who wanted to learn in peace. Wish granted.


A Chance Sighting

I was headed home after my hair appointment and happened to spot a group of six teen-aged boys walking along the street. I recognized four of them as former students from my campus and pulled in to the parking lot they were about to enter and said hello. They enthusiastically came over and greeted me. I was invited to their football and fall baseball games and put the times into my phone’s calendar. I would have loaded all six of them into the little Civic I was driving if I had room. How I wished I had driven my larger vehicle today. They would have been taken home safely and in air conditioning. I would have listened to their bantering and laughed until I cried. These young men reminded me of my purpose for what I do day after day.

I have two subjects this year–social studies and language arts. I was asked to take this on, and I did. My assignment gives me the best of both worlds. I had struggled with the late hours I have stayed at work these past two weeks and just had an epiphany. Because of my attention to detail, I prepare for both of them with a fervor akin to a first year teacher determined to not overlook some small detail. We are implementing a new way to reach students’ needs for enrichment and review during our homeroom time three days a week. Our students are being encouraged to participate in a positive behavior system. My son left for university on Sunday morning, and I am missing his merry eyes snapping with laughter, the ceiling fan he leaves on in my den, and the sound of his voice. I have several students whose puzzle boxes I must learn and solve quickly to establish any type of decent relationship I would like to have with them. I must have some type of connection to attempt to win them over. One of my students deeply concerns me because he cannot remember his locker combination or his daily schedule. I wrote it out and put it into his lanyard so that he could see it without worrying about carrying a steadily fraying piece of paper around with his schedule and locker combination. His locker is in front of my room, and I see him struggle to pay attention, follow directions, and arrive to class on time daily. I am searching for a way get the light bulb to click on to help him remember this most basic information.

That is why seeing my baseball boys I used to watch play four years ago uplifted my soul. Even a veteran teacher needs some encouragement and reassurance from the most unlikely encounters. Those boys will never know how much it meant to me to see the joy in their eyes and hear it also in their voices.


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All Too Human

I was at a minor breaking point and felt I should taken a rock and bashed my brains in. I had made a really cool PowerPoint for Monday for my ILA classes. I decided to delete junk from my desktop and empty the recycle bin. UGH!!!! An hour’s work. Gone. Forever!!! I am only human.

I went home with take out from Whataburger for my husband and me since our son was still at work. We ate and watched a couple of innings of the Yankees-Red Sox game. My restless perfectionism kicked in. I finished my work while listening to Love, an album by The Cult. It worked. Now I am able to enjoy both days of my weekend. Whew!


Setting Up

Before I added words to show that I am in the best of both worlds.

After I finished adding the word welcome in several languages and showing the elements of language arts.


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Reality Sets In

I attended a workshop yesterday for 90 minutes. We were learning the intricacies of ordering using our district's Print Shop aka Copy Center. The copy center Earth Angels are worth their weight in gold. Large jobs are completed in a timely manner, and I have no complaints whatsoever about their quality of work. Any mistakes are mine and mine alone. For example, I have desired stapled copies but forgot to request it. They don't read my mind. That's just fine.

Reality has set in because I have a two day workshop next week. The hours are 9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. I will have to use an alarm clock to get up and drive in rush hour traffic. Hmm. In two weeks, I will be a part of the sixth grade orientation at my school known as Cougar Camp. This is year thirteen of Cougar Camp for me. Wow. School is really just about here.

In the meanwhile, I will sleep in, drink my coffee slowly, and complete laundry on a week day while the sun shines instead of madly cramming my housekeeping chores into one Saturday morning when I'd prefer to lollygag and recharge my batteries. It is still summer for a while longer.



No Spinning!

Those horn-blasted spinners are the current bane of teachers’ existence. We have signs up around our campus as reminders to not bring toys to school. Here is one I took up on Monday and did not give back until the end of the school day. 

This meme sums up my opinion. I have trolls who will not bring their pencils to class. I am letting them suffer natural consequences: more homework, wasted work time, and some much-needed time to reflect on personal decisions about preparation for their one job. Going. To. School.