That Time of Year: December Edition

I went to a teacher happy hour this weekend.  Primarily because in the invitational email, the organizer threatened to punch a teenager in the face if she didn’t get some beer.  Not, mind you, because she is a violent sociopath.  She’s just your average mother of five trying to eek out a living by spending her days teaching literature to  a hundred and eighty teenagers.  Because having five children of your own isn’t nearly enough.  It totally makes sense that you would want to follow the morning routine of rousing and prepping your own children for school by by rousing and prepping other people’s teenagers for college.  Which assures me that even if my friend isn’t a sociopath, she’s definitely a masochist (you must be, to teach) and in a desperate attempt to save her from teenage-punching sadism, (a combo that never goes over well in education) I agreed to join her little happy hour soiree.

Naturally, though, that day her entire family came down with the stomach flu and after her husband, also a teacher, tossed his cookies at school, she was forced to abandon her mental health/drinking plans in favor of caring for ralphing family members at home.

Nasty.

I am proud to say, however, that despite the absence of our fearless leader, we bravely carried on, downing several pints in her honor.

Because, indeed, it is that time of year.

For teachers, the entire school year is “that time of year.”  The type of stress and related coping mechanisms just depend on which “that time of year” it happens to be at the moment.  Is it the August/September time of year when you’re frantically scrambling to get attendance lists that actually accurately reflect who is in your class rather than who was supposedly in your class the previous February when students signed up before really having even the vaguest idea if they would pass the prerequisite?  Is it the late October time of year when you’re drowning in a sea of grading while the crazy parents that are starting to crawl out of the honeymoon-is-over cracks hold your head underwater?  Or is it the February time of year when you realize that contrary to what every calendar says February is actually, hands down, the longest month of the year?

Currently?  None of the above.

It’s the December time of year when revolting stomach viruses decimate the school population and both students and teachers crack under the pressure of final exams and the grading they require.  Plus, of course, the end-of-semester failing students who now might not graduate high school.  And, in relation, the eight hundred emails (per student) between admin, teacher, and parent about how said students might not graduate high school.  All combined in a condensed calendar due to snow days/ice days/ flood days/the boiler-blew-up-and-classroom-temperatures-varied-from-32 – 130 degrees-so-we-had-to cancel-school days.

So, after being locked in small spaces together for about four and a half months now, pretending to read Shakespeare, memorizing verb conjugations and doing whatever the hell it is you do with the pythagorean theorem and all those math shenanigans, patience on all sides is beginning to wear a little thin.

“How was your day off?”  I ask one of our new middle school math teachers the day after seeing a sub in his classroom.

“Adam decided to punch Sam in the face during third period,”  he responded, employing the classic teacher technique of judging the quality a day off by how much shit has to be dealt with upon returning.

“And why’d he do that?”

“Because Sam’s annoying.”

Apparently, impulses are the same, whether you’re thirteen or thirty.

“Adam’s suspended. But how do I tell Sam’s parents that their son is annoying and if he doesn’t grow up he’s going to keep getting punched in the face?”

“He’s thirteen,”  I told him.  “His parents have been living with him for over a decade.  Either they know good and well how annoying he is, or they’re of the variety that will never figure it out.”

“So what do I do?”

I plopped a jar of hand sanitizer in his hand.

“Use this religiously.  Even though really, it’s not going to save you because the stomach bug is a virus, not a bacteria. But at least you’ll feel like you’re doing something useful.”

“And that relates to fighting students…?”

“It doesn’t.  Here’s five bucks for that.”

“For…?”

“Go buy yourself a beer.  Makes everything better.”

“Is that legal?”

“If you don’t drink it during school hours.”

“Damn.”

I pat his shoulder reassuringly.

“Don’t worry.  One more week and it’s over.”

“What is?”

“First semester.”

“Then what happens?”

“Second semester.”

“And that’s…”

“Exactly the same, except that sometime around April the weather gets warm and students wear skimpy clothes and start making out in really awkward public places.”

“Eww.”  The teacher eyeballs the bottle of hand sanitizer skeptically.

“Yeah, you’ll want to keep that for the spring mating season,”  I confirm.  “Except it won’t really do you any good then either, as I don’t think it takes care of cooties.”

“So you’re telling me I should drink more beer?”

“I’m just telling you not to punch a student in the face,” I tell him sincerely.  “What you do in your free time is up to you.”

“Um…thanks?”

“Happy holidays!” I say bubbling with politically correct seasonal joy.  Then I grab my stack of grading papers and head for the nearest bar.

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Deadbeat Dads and Magic Pink Sweaters

The thing with working at a small school is that it doesn’t have an in-school suspension room.

We don’t even have detention.  Kids are just referred to the office and dealt with by the principals on an as-needed basis.  Which, naturally, translates to “needed every day.”  And when one of the those kids lands him/herself in ISS, they get the pleasure of sharing an office space with either an administrator or yours truly.

This week, Shanita landed at my table.  Again.

“Back in the office, I see,” I told her, as she sassily sat down in the chair by the door.

“Yeah.”

“What’d you do this time?”

“Made Mr. Wilson mad,” she sneaked a smile at me.  I had won her good graces by chatting with her the last time she was in detention.  Apparently, shooting the shit with a boring adult is better than sitting staring at the wall for an hour.  Which means I probably ruined the whole punishment piece of the detention, but being out of the classroom this year, I can’t resist the opportunity to interact with a kid, especially a frequent flier, sharp-tounged trouble maker.  They’re my favorite.

“What’d you do to Mr. Wilson?”

“He told me to take off my sweater because it wasn’t dress code.  So I told him ‘no.’”  I glanced at her sweater.  Hot pink with silver glitter pretty definitively didn’t fit in with the school uniform.

“So you flat refused to do what he asked.”

“Yup,” she stared defiantly into the corner of the ceiling.

“And I’m guessing he asked you more than once.”

“Yup,”  she switched corners with her eyeballs, still avoiding mine.

“And now you’ve landed yourself in the principal’s office again.”

“Yup.  But I don’t care.”

“You don’t care.”

“Nope.  Because I won.”

“You won with Mr. Wilson?”

“Yep.”

“Because you didn’t give him your sweater.”

“Nope.”

Pause.

“You must have a really good reason for not giving him your sweater.”

Another pause.

“I didn’t give him my sweater because it’s from my dad and I haven’t seen my dad in two years and if I give Mr. Wilson my sweater he doesn’t give it back all day.”

“Told you you had a good reason.”

The eyes venture down from the ceiling.  For a second.  Then they shoot back up.

“Plus, I like drama!”

“You like drama?”

“I live for drama!”

“You live for drama?  Ugh.  You must have more energy than me.  I’ve decided I’m too old for drama.  Seems a whole lot nicer to have some peace and quiet.  What do you get out of drama?”

“I get to win!”

“Like you won with Mr. Wilson.”

“Yup.”

“Except…”

“Except what?”

“Mr. Wilson sent you down here, so if you’re not in his class…shoot…if I sent a sassy student away, my class would be a whole lot easier to teach. Which would make me really happy.  In fact, I bet Mr. Wilson’s up there doing the happy dance because his class is so easy to teach now.  And you’re down here. So, sorry, lady.  I think Mr. Wilson won.”

Pause.

“Well, it doesn’t matter because I’m leaving this stupid school anyway.”

“You’re leaving this school? When?”

“In December.  Or after eighth grade.  Whenever.”

“So what I’m hearing you say is that you want out of this school more than anything.”

“Yeah.”

“Cool.  Let’s plan it out then.  What do you need to do to guarantee that you can get out this school, successfully, no later than eighth grade?”

“I dunno.  Get good grades and pass my classes I guess.”

“So you need to pass your classes. Which means you have to be in your classes.  Which means you have to see Mr. Wilson.”

“I hate Mr. Wilson.”

“Right.  So, on a scale of 1 – 10, how badly do you want to leave this school?”

“10.”

“Okay.  On a scale of 1 – 10, how much does it suck having to deal with Mr. Wilson?”

“5.”

“Huh.”

“What?”

“Well, what I just heard you say was that Mr. Wilson sucks but you know it’s more important to get good grades. And that it sucks less to deal with Mr. Wilson than it would to fail his class and not be able to leave when you want.”

“I guess.”

“So you’re telling me that you might be able to put up with Mr. Wilson for your own good.”

“Maybe.”

“You know one trick I have?”

“What?”

“I choose to believe the best about people.  So when they do something I don’t like, I try and train myself to think, ‘What do I not know about this person?’  Like, for example, if I were Mr. Wilson, and I asked you to take your sweater off and you didn’t, I’d be mad.  But I’d think ‘What do I not know about Shanita?’ and that might be a good thing, because in a way I’d be right. I wouldn’t have known the sweater was from your dad and you miss your dad.”

Silence.

“So here’s the tricky part.  What do you not know about Mr. Wilson?”

Silence.

“If I took you up to Mr. Wilson’s room right now and asked you to tell him what you told me about your sweater, what would you say to him?”

The sass returns.

“Oooh, I’d tell him “I didn’t give you my sweater because it was a gift from my dad and I haven’t seen my dad in two years and if he tried to say anything, I’d say, ‘No!  You listen to me!’ Then I’d tell him, ‘I told you all I got to say to you,’ and then I’d leave and if he tried to say something, I’d just look at him and leave again!”

“So…Mr. Wilson is forced to listen to you, but you don’t think it’s fair to have to listen to him in return?”

“Well…maybe I’d listen but then I’d leave.”

“That sounds reasonable enough.  If I walked up there with you now, you think you’d be willing to have that conversation?”

“Yeah.”

“Good for you.  But for the moment you’re off the hook, because he’s still in the middle of class.  You know what really sucks about you being in trouble?”

“What?”

“I can’t get any work done.  You’re too distracting.”

Grin.

“What if I gave you some markers and paper and told you to write the magic story of the pink sweater?”

“What?”

“It’d keep you busy and then I’d get some work done.  And we could turn your sweater story into an adventure. Here…”

I dig out my highlighters and rip a piece of paper from my notebook wondering what the hell has possessed me to spout such a weird idea.   No crazy 7th grader is going to follow such bizarre  instructions.  But I do need to get some work done.

“I’ve labeled it for you.  ‘The Magic History of the Pink Sweater.’ On the top, I want you to draw a picture of the sweater.    On the bottom, I want you to write me a story about it in a short paragraph.  Then we’ll put it in a frame and you’ll have your pink sweater story forever.”

“Can I use yellow for the white parts of the sweater?”

“It’s a magic sweater.  What part of magic don’t you understand?”

“Ok.”

She grabs the markers.

I turn back to my work notes.

We both scribble away.

pink sweater
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No Common Sense

I don’t have a lick of common sense.

This should come as a relief to my father, who has been waiting for a definitive answer to a question he has asked me repeatedly starting somewhere around age eight.

“Girl, what’s the matter with you?  Don’t you have a lick of common sense?”

No, Pops, apparently I don’t. Not a lick.

And just like whacking your brother upside the head with the nearest toy or staying out way past curfew might have seemed like a good idea at the time, there are certain experiences in adulthood that make one think, “This is gonna be awesome,” followed rapidly by the more realistic, “Holy shitballs…what was I thinking?”

Like, hypothetically, switching jobs, moving, starting a long term relationship and opening a business.  All at once.  While also trying to maintain a blog and not let the pipe dream of writing a sassy book go completely down the tubes.

Suddenly realizing that I can’t possibly get everything done has provoked some difficult choices.  I’ve had to admit that pulling off a ten mile hike every weekend might not be a realistic goal. I’ve come to terms with the fact that three hours of my day cannot be dedicated to Facebook.  (Two and a quarter, however, is totally reasonable.)  I’ve recognized that happy hour with friends is not a good time to multi-task by answering work emails.  And as part of this  soul-searching, the blog has fallen slightly by the wayside.

But is far from being forgotten.

Instead, I’ve decided to give my readers the short end of the stick…with the promise of a much longer stick in the future.  And if you just sniggered at the phrase “longer stick,” you are exactly the kind of reader I want.

I’m hoarding posts.  My brain cannot keep up with coaching new teachers, running a small business, working at three schools and writing snarky blog posts while also compiling enough extra posts to create my highly-unlikely-but-stubbornly-persistent dream of writing a book.  On education.  Singing Pigs style.  And then having to go into hiding from all the crazy wackos who go “See? We told you American teachers suck!”

But we’ll cross that people-with-no-sense-of-humor bridge when we come to it.  Or I will at least.  The rest of you can feel free to pretend you don’t know me.  I’m used to it.

In the meantime, I’ll continue posting albeit noticeably less.

But know that I’m squirreling away the best of the stories for the book.  One fell swoop of educational insanity in downloadable form.  Because even as I sit here staring at bookshelves covered in all the Understanding by Design and First Days of School that a girl could want, I still haven’t read a damn thing that tells me what to do when a drunken mother shouts “Buttplug!” in the middle of back to school night.

Whoops.

I just gave away chapter one.

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Shine Bright Like a Diamond

The pop star Rhianna almost killed me this week.

Background information necessary for this post to make sense:  I changed jobs this year.  Long version here.  Short version:  I taught Spanish for a long-ass time.  Now I’m aninstructional coach.  Hopefully also for a long-ass time, as I’m nowhere near retirement and continue to enjoy having a paycheck, mainly for the benefits it provides.  Like eating.  And buying underwear.  Things which, I suppose, would not have been necessary had Rhianna succeeded in doing me in.

“Shine bright like a diamond…” she whined, as I drove down the highway on my way home from work.

“Paul!”  I gasped, then blacked out and drove into a cornfield.

My years in the classroom have left me with a rare form of PTSD.  Doctors describe it as a strange combination of Stockholm Syndrome and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  PTSSSD, if you will, combined with an unnatural attachment to teenagers.  Unexpected sounds and movements startle me.  Then cause hallucinations of being trapped in a cinderblock classroom with thirty adolescents which, when combined with drives down an interstate, result in unplanned forays into cornfields.

“Shine bright like diamond!”  I heard every five minutes, every day, for all first semester last year.

During the Do Now:  “Mumble, mumble…write….mumble, mumble…Shine bright like a diamond!”

During transitions:  “Where’s my group?  Oh, here.  Hi guys!  Shine bright like a diamond!”

On test questions:  Q.  “Describe the picture below including at least 5 new vocabulary words.”  A.  “Shine bright like a diamond!  Oh no, wait…brillar like un diamando!”

Leaving the class:  “Time for fifth period!  Shine bright like a diamond!”

“Paul!”

“What?”

“Can we please lay off the ‘shine bright like a diamond’ for a bit?”

Pause.

“Señora?”

“What?”

“Shine bright like a diamond!”

At the time, I thought it was just simple teenage shenanigans, a biological urge that accompanies the onset of adolescent hormones and forcing these “young adults” to drive the not-so-young adults in their lives absolutely batty.

Little did I know they were slowly brainwashing me.  Wrapping me up in their sneaky teenage exasperation-inducing tentacles from which I would never escape.

Twelve years of torture and multiple Rhianna songs later, it hit me.

I can’t live without them.

Teenagers, that is.  Could live without Rhianna songs.  Definitely could live without Rhianna songs.

It’s not that I don’t love my new job.  I do.  It’s new, it’s refreshing, it’s a challenge.  And it’s full of crap.  Literally.

“How’s it going, Ron?” I ask a first year PE teacher.

“I’m having pooping problems.”

Pause.  Consider the context.

“I’m going to assume it’s actually your students that are having the pooping problem…”

“Yes.”

“They’re pooping their pants?”

“No.  The floor.”

Pause.  Attempt to visualize.

“They’re removing their pants to poop on the floor?”

“No.  The poop is falling out of their pants onto the floor.”

Oh.  Of course.  That makes much more sense.

“When you say pants plural we’re talking about…”

“Five times.”

“Among ages…”

“Five to fifth grade.”

“I see.”

Open computer.  Peruse coaching files.  

Classroom management…Curriculum…Time Management…Student Engagement… nope, no Pooping Students resources.

Get out To-Do list.  Add “Strategies for Pooping Students.”

Damn.  I’ve got a long way to go before I’m a Master Coach.  Maybe that’s why I’m missing my teenagers so much.  At least with them I knew they were so unpredictable that I didn’t have a prayer of knowing all the answers.  Nor did they particularly care what I said so I could just blab at the mouth, say something dumb, and look like I knew what I was doing.

“Señora?”

“What?”

“I just stapled a hole in my finger.”

“Why?”

“Because I was bored.”

“Are you bored now?”

“No.  I’m in pain.”

“Problem solved!  Go sit down.”  What the hell else am I supposed to say to that?

Or maybe it’s just the Stockholm Syndrome part of my disorder kicking in making me feel attached to the very captors who brainwashed me to begin with.  Either way, I’ve realized I’m going to have to find a way to be with those weirdos we call adolescents – be it volunteering, night classes, or just harassing my parent-of-teenager friends.  I mean, who wouldn’t offer to ship their sassy sixteen year old off to me for a day or two?

In the meantime, however, I’m now responsible for a whole group of new teachers to whom I’m supposed to provide words of wisdom and useful tidbits of advice.  I look at Ron, who sits smiling back at me seemingly unfazed by the feces. Perhaps, I realize,  this is his version of finger-stapling.

“You know, Ron,” I say, “after many years in the classroom, I’ve discovered that sometimes…when the going gets poopy you just have to take the words of Rhianna and…”

“Shine bright like a diamond?”  he asks, knowingly.

Exactly.

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Analogies for Class Feedback

What your students think about your class matters.

Those of you who have already been in the classroom for a month ought to be well on your way to developing a feel for your kids, a feel for how things are going, and at least a couple ideas as to how in Hades you’re going to build relationships with those obnoxious goobers who are now yours to have and hold for the next eight months.

I once worked with a teacher who told me, “Oh, I never give class evaluations to the kids.  There’s no point.  They’re just going to say what they want to say anyway.”

Um…well…

Isn’t that the point?

No, they may not like everything you do.  No, they may not think your class is more interesting than the text that just dinged on the phone in their back pocket.  No, they may not even like you.  Suck it up.

Once I gained my new teacher sea legs enough to ignore the veteran teacher’s opinion and gave an end of the year evaluation to my kids, I quickly discovered that, given the chance, even the obsessive text-checking, back-talking, disengaged kids can give you some mighty useful feedback.  In punctuation-less, incomplete, spectacularly blunt sentences, perhaps, but useful nonetheless.

After my first year giving an evaluation, I became an evaluation junkie.  What my kids said to me proved so telling about what they were really doing in class, that I wished I had known it before the end of the year.  (The girl who never talks drew me a unicorn and thought my class was engaging?  That kid who was so well-behaved and on the ball was actually bored out of his mind. HOLY CRAP my fly was open all day yesterday??) I started incorporating more evaluations into the course of the year.  If I could catch my weak spots before they developed into the huge, gaping, whirlpools of incompetency of the past and learn to zip my fly…

It wasn’t always that bad.  But if I could make a connection about a kid or a class and how they learned it sure would save a lot of headaches for both of us during the year.

Trouble is, kids hate filling out the same damn evaluation form, again and again.  And I hate reading it, again and again.

So I developed short check-ins throughout the year disguised in oddball structures. (There’s an old one here.) And, happily, I discovered that in addition to giving me feedback, they provided a nice break in class routine, and were thoroughly entertaining to read.

Plus I always knew where my kids stood, so I could try to meet them right at their level.

Which still didn’t mean they liked everything I did, or thought my class was more interesting than a text (even one from their mother).  And not everyone liked me.  But I got better.

And so did they.

So, for what it’s worth in the shit-you-can-steal category:

Analogies you can use to get feedback from your kids about your class without boring the poo out of them

Everything listed below says “Spanish class” because that’s what I taught.  Change it to fit you, or else the kids in your math/science/social studies class are going to think you’ve completely lost it.  Which may indeed be the case, but there’s no need to go parading that little fact around.

Analogies to address the good: (depending on your opinion of sunsets, ice cream, and frilly pink dresses)…

  1. Spanish class is like a beautiful sunset because…
  2. Spanish class is like an ice cream sundae because…
  3. Spanish class is like a frilly pink dress because…

Does everyone think a frilly pink dress is a good thing?  No-siree-bob.  Do I still give this analogy to my beefy, uber-testosterone-y, macho, football players?  Abso-freakin-lutely.   That’s what makes for the best reading.

Analogies to identify specific activities students enjoy:

  1. (_________activity) in Spanish class is like a warm, fuzzy puppy because…
  2. (_________activity) in Spanish class is like lying in the bright sun on a tropical beach because…

I actually had to ditch #2 because it resulted in a lot of “everybody around me is speaking Spanish,” which was not exactly the thoughtful feedback I was looking for.  But I figure that those of you teaching geometry or Icelandic or something should be fine.

Analogies to address the bad: (which in education we like to reframe as “areas for growth” because we don’t believe in “bad”.  Not even after a day when I’ve booted four kids from class, gotten a nasty parent email, and sat through a mindbogglingly pointless staff meeting.  Nope, no negative here!)

  1. Spanish class is like Justin Bieber/(other pop icon kids love to hate) because…
  2. Spanish class is like spiders because…
  3. Spanish class is like a dark alley at 4 am when you’re all alone because…

Analogies to identify specific activities students hate:  (guarantee tests are going to pop up here.  1) that’s ok, because kids need to vent, too.  2) so if you’re clever, beat them to the punch and make them include specific test formats.)

  1. (_________activity) in Spanish class is like going to the dentist because…
  2. (_________activity) in Spanish class is like a booger because…

Really, a booger, a scab, anything gross will do.  Kids love gross.  They live gross.  Just don’t use “fart” because all your answers will be “it stinks.”  Not speaking from experience or anything.

Wide open analogies:

  1. If Spanish class were a Disney princess, it would be ___________ because ___________.
  2. If Spanish class were a number it would be ___________ because _________.
  3. If Spanish class were a tool it would be a ___________ because ___________.

Ones I thought were awesome but didn’t work because of too-obvious answers for Spanish class* but hopefully are awesome for you:

  1. If Spanish class were a food, it would be ___________ because ___________
  2. If Spanish class were a song, it would be ___________ because ___________
  3. If Spanish class were an article of clothing, it would be ___________ because ___________
  • Too-obvious answers:
  1. …a taco because that’s what Spanish people eat. (Also, technically incorrect.  Tacos are Mexican. Mexicans are not Spanish.  Shocking, I know.)
  2. …La Bamba, because it’s in Spanish. (Sadly, this seems to be the extent of most folks’ experience with Latin music.)
  3. …a sombrero.  Duh. (The “duh” included in the answers.)

And now…

This blog post is like an eighties ballad because I can’t think of an appropriate ending, so I’ll awkwardly just fade out…

Enjoy!

Posted in Education, Humor, Useful Junk (Ideas free for stealing) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

21 Things to Do With an Index Card

  1. index cardHave the kids draw a mini-mural in three minutes or less that represents the day’s lesson, then explain it to a classmate.
  2. Do a three question Get-To-Know-You at the beginning of the year:  a)How are you feeling about taking this class and why?  b) What’s one thing you’re really passionate about? c) What do I need to know about you to be the best teacher I can be for you?
  3. Do a three question check in every quarter:  a)  How’s it going for you in this class right now and why? b)  What do you need from me to be successful?  c) What do you want to tell me? (Anything in the world.)
  4. Wad it up and throw it at a kid who’s annoying you.
  5. Write a short mantra you need to remember, then put it somewhere (like your pant pocket) where you will accidentally find it throughout the day.  “Spring Break in three weeks…Spring Break in three weeks.”
  6. Write each kid’s name on an index card, then put each index card on a desk the first day of school (or first day of a new seating chart) so kids know where they sit.
  7. Collect the seating chart index cards, rubber band them by class, and use for the rest of the year to call on kids at random, form groups, or to select “volunteers.”
  8. Have students write a rant on it during a stressful time of year, then dramatically read it to the class.  (PG ratings recommended.)
  9. Write a rant on it during a stressful time of year, then burn it, flush it, and/or dramatically read it to anyone present in the faculty lounge.
  10. Have each kid write an open-ended question about the day’s content on one side, then pass it in a circle for other kids to answer.  “If you were a mitochondria, what would the coolest part of your job be?”
  11.   Have kids write “Yes” on one side “No” on the other and use them for class polling or comprehension checks.
  12.   Dare a kid to eat it.
  13.   Eat it yourself.  Preferably while staring blankly at the students and making odd humming noises from the back of your throat.
  14.   Draw a big red circle on it, put it in between two students and use it as the buzzer for class review competitions.
  15.   Put one word, phrase, letter, or number/math symbol on each card and see how quickly students can rearrange themselves into combinations that make sense – by group or class.
  16. Make each kid write between one and three review questions for a unit test.  Collect, use as unit review.  For extra thinking, tell them that all questions must be short answer.
  17.   Have each kid write one “answer” on one side of the card.  Pass around room.  See how many content related questions kids can write for that answer.  (ie.  A.  The Louisiana Purchase.  Q.  What large land purchase took place during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson?  What was the name of the deal that gave us the modern day states of Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, and Kansas among others?)
  18. List the concepts from a unit on the board, have kids write the top 1 – 3 they feel they’re still struggling with.  Collect.  Use to plan future lessons.
  19.   Name it, pretend it’s your pet, and carry it with you wherever you go.
  20. Make mini paper airplanes and have a five minute brain break distance contest.
  21.   Write one short, kind note a day until you’ve given a card to every member of your class(es)
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The Don’t Go Down in Flames on the First Day of School Checklist

  1. Do you have lesson plans?
  2. Do you have a bagged lunch or cafeteria money?
  3. Do you have seating charts?
  4. Do you have a steady source of caffeine?
  5. Did you set your alarm?
  6. Did you double check that your alarm is set to 6:00am and not 6:00pm?
  7. Did you pick out a cute outfit for the first day? (Males: Do you have something unwrinkled to wear?)
  8. Does your cute outfit consist of layers appropriate for an average classroom temperature of 41 – 98 degrees Fahrenheit?
  9. Are you wearing comfortable shoes?
  10. Do you know what your schedule is?
  11. Have you posted your schedule somewhere easily visible for when you forget what your schedule is?
  12. Do you know where all the cool teachers eat lunch?
  13. Do you know exactly how long it takes you to go to the bathroom?
  14. Does the time requirement from #12 realistically fit into your passing period? (Please adjust for travel time to the bathroom.)
  15. Do you have an accurate estimate of how long you can control your bladder without leakage?
  16. Depending on the answers from #11-13, do you have a back-up stash of Depends in your desk?
  17. Have you recruited someone to make you dinner that night?
  18. Do you know the log in information for your computer?
  19. Do you know who to track down when the log in information for your computer doesn’t work?
  20. Do you know the preferred bribe of the person who fixes log in information on your computer?
  21. Do you know the full name, location, and bribery preference of the following: a) the head secretary, b) your hallway custodian, c) whoever signs your paychecks?
  22. Do you have a teaching emergency kit consisting of the following supplies: a) duct tape, b) bandaids, c) more bandaids, d) more duct tape
  23. Have you stocked up on your favorite beer/wine/de-stressing beverage of your choice?
  24. Have you cleared your weekend plans to account for recovery time?
  25. Am I missing anything?

Good luck.

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