Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15

I am finally feeling better, and right in time for Tax Day. (I never feel better about tax day.)

Other happenings?

*K and I are headed to a Zumba class this morning.  We'll see how this goes. (Two left feet will not be my friend.)

*I'm waiting on baby news from Cali.  Momma Meg is ready to deliver.  Now, if that baby would get himself ready, everyone would be happy.

*Easter egg dye purchased? Check. Easter candy? No way.  I might eat it all before and then have to purchase again.

*I am experimenting with Jamberry nails (nail wraps--an alternative to polish)--and hoping that it will help me quit biting my nails. We shall see. And if it works, the Bug might have to give them a try.

*And at school, I am pushing the final unit of the year.  Time is running short, but I have to teach my favorite book: To Kill A Mockingbird. Cross your fingers that I actually get it finished.

And that's the latest from Easy Street.

Oh, and we had snow yesterday. *sigh  I love snow from November through March. Now I am ready for sunshine and flowers. NOW.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Dang it! I am waking up with a sore throat to start my weekend. Lovely.  Just lovely.

I am judging the Regional Speech (Forensics) tournament tomorrow afternoon. (At least I don't have to talk. I just write comments and score.)

The Tiny Town High School schedule for tomorrow:
         ACT test in the morning
         Regional Speech tournament in the afternoon
         Prom in the evening
Think we have enough scheduled?  

I was planning to be outside and do yard work this weekend. (I'm still planning to be outside and do yard work.)

There is no time for this right now. 

Today, I am trying to figure out how to teach school without talking.  And for those of you who know me well-- this will be a challenge.

Fridays aren't supposed to be this hard. (Heck, swallowing isn't supposed to be this hard either.)

Happy really quiet Friday from Easy Street!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday April 10

I've been thinking about my old room a lot lately.
I'm not sure why.
This is what it looked like two days after the tornado that struck Tiny Town.

Sad photo, but good memories.
  There were a lot of things I loved about our old school.
That corner had the bulk of my 26 years of student pictures,
and my student library, teacher editions of texts, and lots of my resources.
Some of it was replaced; most of it couldn't be.

I loved that room.
 Don't get me wrong, I love my new room,
but I still miss my old room.
I probably always will.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Sophomores

My students had some essay questions that included one on leadership. (There were some interesting choices shared. I'll let you use your imagination. Think entertainment industry.)  I loved the sophomore who wrote that perhaps the Pope was the greatest leader of this generation because he leads by example. She went on to write of his humility, simplicity, and concern for the least among us. She gave great examples of all of those qualities.  I'm not Catholic, but I had to agree with my student.  This is a pretty terrific Pope.

And then, lest you think I am surrounded by thinkers, this question:

After hearing about a Tiny Town High student who received a full ride scholarship for a great ACT score, one sophomore said: "I get why they give scholarships to college for athletes, but why would they give them for academics?"  Completely. Serious.  It stopped me in my tracks.

*Sigh.  It can't all be good.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

State of the Schools

Our State seems to be turning its back on public education and teachers.

These are the things I'd like my legislators to know:

Yes, teachers need our salaries to pay our bills and support our families, but we don't teach for the check.

Yes, we have three months "off" in the summer, but we get paid for nine months of work, not 12.  (And we frequently spend quite a few of those days "off "preparing for next year's classes with curriculum work, conferences, and searching for new and better ways to teach.)

Yes, our salaries are public record.  (Feel free to look it up. And no, I probably don't want to compare my salary to yours-and especially not when I have been at this for 35 years.) I also pay the taxes that pay my salary.

Yes, we look for job security, but we don't teach for the tenure.

Yes, our bosses (Local Board of Education) are frequently the parents of students in our classes and in our activities.  (Are yours?)

Yes, we know that no one is more protective than a parent who feels their child is unhappy in some way. And we also know that our bosses (sometimes protective parents) get together at least once a month, where part of their evening (and their job) is spent discussing their children's teachers and coaches and the job that we are doing.

Yes, teachers have the job of sometimes making students unhappy or challenging them when they don't want to be challenged. Sometimes that, in turn, makes parents unhappy.

Yes, we might have to put a student in the chorus who really wanted a lead part.  (Or cut them from the team or sit them on the bench) Sometimes we disappoint students, AND that student might have a parent who is my boss, too.  And a protective parent.

Yes, we know administrators don't have tenure. We also know that they make about twice the amount of money most teachers do. We also know they have regular contact, discussion, sometimes camaraderie with our bosses; they build relationships with the bosses, and they have a chance to explain themselves on a regular basis. On the other hand, we know that teachers are discouraged from contacting our bosses, and even when we want/need to--we are only to do so by going through proper channels. To do otherwise could be considered insubordination.

And now no tenure means that teachers can be fired at any time or for any reason.

And guess what?

Today, I will go to school. I will work at nurturing relationships with students. I will hand back papers that are covered in ink, with grades which may or may not please. I will give a zero for plagiarism, lead a discussion on FDR's 1933 Inaugural Address, listen to students reciting "In Flanders Fields" and work at grading the next stack of papers. I will nag students to turn in late assignments or to come in to make up tests. I will give detentions for disrespect, confiscate hats and cell phones, and begin thinking about the curriculum for the new class that I may or may not be teaching next fall. I will meet with students who don't like their grade and comfort a student in tears because of a relationship going bad. I will return calls or emails to parents about grades or whatever else they might be worrying about, assuring them that everything will be fine or talking them through their worries.  And I will be trying to figure out exactly what standards we are to be teaching now.

And somewhat ironically, I will be hunting for videos that former students created for my Teaching Class, promoting teaching as a career.  Those videos will be used at a Career Pathway Fair, to encourage students to go into the Teaching Pathway and to choose the career of teaching.  

And the truth is...

I will put up with no tenure and little respect, pathetic wages, and long hours of lesson planning and paper grading because...

I love my students--past, present, and future.

That's it.

And I guess, at least for today, that is going to have to be enough.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's Up?

Well, most days--not the State Testing Site.

K, CT, and the Bug are partially moved into their new house.  They still have quite a bit to do, but they have moved enough things to sleep and eat in their new home. I think they are going to love it.

After 13 months, I am officially back to my natural hair color.  My hairdresser chopped off a few more inches than I wanted her to.  Looking on the bright side, at least this process is over.

This will be prom week at school.  There are a lot of excited kids.

I am beginning the last big unit of the year.  This year is winding down quickly.

And I am one teacher who will be quite happy when this long school year is over. (A little too much drama for me--in more ways that one!)

Now, if only our State would decide what standards we are to teach next year and what assessment will be used to mark progress.

The best thing about teaching?  We begin each year with a clean slate.

The worst thing about teaching?  We begin each year with a clean slate. *sigh

Sunday, April 6, 2014

You Know It's Spring

Signs of spring:

*Fleur-de-lis bloom
*allergies in overtime
*storm warnings
*green spots in a brown landscape
*tree buds littering the sidewalk after strong wind and rain
*warmer temperatures, followed by colder temperatures, followed by warmer temperatures
*track meets and ball games
*prom dresses and tuxes in local restaurants
*yard work
*sandals and capris
*lawn chairs appearing

Our temperatures have been cool enough that there aren't a lot of flowers blooming yet, but that doesn't keep kids from showing up to school in shorts and flip flops.  (Interesting outfit for the day that it snowed quite a bit!)

I haven't put boots and sweatshirts away yet, but have gradually pulled out some capri pants and sandals.  I've hauled limbs off a couple of times, but haven't planted any spring flowers yet. 

Even Easter is late this year. 

I like these slow springs.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Salute to the Military Kid

Yesterday's tribute to military families in the Tiny Town School District was quite touching.  Let's see...

*An amazing Army brass ensemble with stirring music.

*One family skyped on a big screen with their dad in Kandahar.

*An elementary school of K-5 sang a great patriotic song. It was so touching to see them all in their red shirts.

*Two parents honored their high school son who is an amazing young man, despite his parents both being deployed at one time in his life. Their tribute to him was because they knew that his road had been a hard one, but he had accepted their careers and never used them as an excuse.

*All the kids with deployed parents tied yellow ribbons on two potted trees that will be planted on school property. Quite touching to see the older students holding the younger students up to tie their ribbons on.  Even more touching to see so many yellow ribbons so low on the trees; a lot of our little students have deployed parents.

*The assembly ended with the Army's rock band playing, which the kids loved.  Their songs turned into a K-12 dance party, pretty much led by two high school boys. 
 I'm pretty sure this was a kindergarten teacher's nightmare, 
but the kids sure loved it.
Great to see Big and Little students all together.

Note to self: next time, take tissues.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday, April 4

Last night, the mother of one of the cast members of The Outsiders had an extra ticket for West Side Story.  I jumped at the chance to go.  It was a wonderful show, and it was so obvious that S.E. Hinton had seen (and maybe loved) the show when she wrote The Outsiders.  I'm so glad that mom thought of me when she had an extra ticket. Worth a night of little sleep. 

This morning the Tiny Town High students are walking down to our District Gym for a salute to our military and our military families. This is an annual celebration, and it is kind of nice that it coincided with my students memorizing the poem "In Flanders Fields." I'd like to say it was planned that way, but it wasn't.  Dumb luck frequently is on my side. 

Today, K and CT close on their house. They are so excited. They are buying the paint, so their painter can begin painting tomorrow. The Bug's room is going to be pink. ("I liiiike pink.") And not too surprising, it is going to have a little bit of a Wizard of Oz theme. Can't wait to see the finished project. 

Tonight, the Mr. and I headed to a rosary for his sister-in-law's dad.  Her dad was diagnosed with cancer just a little over two weeks ago, and died on Monday this week.  It was such a short time after diagnosis.  I guess if you are going to have cancer that can't be treated and has no chance of a remission, than this is almost a best case scenario.  Bless his heart.  Poor sister-in-law and her family have to be a little bit shocked by how quickly things moved.  The Mr. can't go to the funeral tomorrow because of work, but I will return for the funeral, too.

Good moments. Sad moments. But all are celebrations:  Celebrations of our military, of new homes, of a life. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday, In Flanders Fields, Etc.

The first day of testing really was an April Fool's joke.  Less than a quarter of the kids finished, and then the system went down. The story is that the State Testing Site was hacked.  It is supposed to be up again today. The fact that this test cycle doesn't really count or matter that much is a good thing. The data would be great, but we might not get the student results on individual standards anyway.  Tiny Town High is going with the flow--and not worrying about the test this year.  Whew! (We're still trying to take them--just isn't a huge deal.  Thank you, State!)

I am teaching "In Flanders Fields" in conjunction with our history teachers. They wanted the students to memorize it.  Since I didn't know it, I am memorizing it, too.  This is me--trying to recall it word for word.

            In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
                          John McCraae

I think that might be pretty close.  The hope is that the students will look at the structure of the poem, learn the history of it, but above all-- know why the veterans hand out poppies on Veteran's Day.

And now to Throwback Thursday.
I'm not sure how this photo ended up creased.
Proof that my brothers adored me--
they just don't remember that!

Happy Thursday!