Showing posts from May, 2011

End of an Era...

This is it. Today will be the last time Libby and I will be sharing a classroom. And, believe it or not, we are both sad about it. Not that we don't look forward to having a room to ourselves (and 25 students at a time), we do. But we will miss out mornings together. I love my roommate. We share one of the smaller rooms in our high school, but we make it work.  She calls me mom, tells me I am old but fun, and shares my liberal idealism.   She makes me feel good about myself . She is also the same age as my oldest son. I am proud to say that this pseudo-daughter is also my friend. I first met Libby when I began co-coaching speech with her. We got along great and found that we shared many of the same ideas about teaching and kids. The next year I moved to the high school  and Libby went half time because she was pregnant with her first child. Since I was still teaching a couple of junior high classes in the morning and Libby was only teaching in the morning, it made sense for us

A Poor Imitation of the Original

Mitch and Greg sampling the potato salad to make sure it's "OK" There are two things my mother is famous for--her baked beans and her potato salad. The family enjoys them so much that some won't eat anybody's elses! My husband's and sons' greatest joy is opening the fridge at her house and seeing "the potato salad bowl" When my boys were kids, they did't think they liked potato salad. Then one Christmas they decided to try Grandma's. Of course, they loved it. They looked forward to it every year, so I decided to try to make it myself. I, of course, asked Mom for her recipe. "Well, I use 5 pounds of red potatoes and boil them in their skins. Then Miracle Whip, a little mustard, a little sugar and a little vinegar. I mix that together while the potatoes are boiling so it has time to set. Then just mix it all together when you have peeled the potatoes." OK--sounds simple enough. I set to work. The results weren't eve


It's here. The last day of school--well, the last day with students. Students are out early and I will have time to evaluate writing portfolios and enter the grades. I still will have to come back on Tuesday to finish up last minute "teacher duties", but I. Am. Done. It's been a long year. More classes, more kids, more stress. A lot of drama (it is high school after all). A lot of SSB nonsense . Teacher cuts. Principal resigning. Angry parent. Today is a day I just want to be done. I read through old posts and realize that I had a really good year!  Reason 791 why blogging is a good thing! Students grateful for any help you give them. Successful speech season  ( and another speech post). Really creative students in all classes. Battle of the Books and kids who like to read . All-State performers.  Former students who stay in touch ! Students who just make me laugh . OK--enough of the linking to posts. I guess the point I made to myself is that I had a gre


photo © 2009 Felix | more info (via: Wylio ) I know that my speech class is not the favorite of every sophomore who comes through the door. And most of them who don't like it, are afraid of it. Face it, speaking in front of a group of people is a scary thing, particularly when you are sixteen years old.  I remember it well. I also know how good it is for people of any age to learn public speaking skills--especially the one about coping with nervousness. I also know that sometimes kids try to take the easy way out and cheat. Now how do you cheat in speech class?  You plagiarize. It has happened before, and, unfortunately, it will happen again.  The semester final is a commencement speech. Students have a week to write it. They have example speeches to watch on the internet and examples from former students to read. I will help any of them develop ideas. And the day I go over the requirements for this, I talk about plagiarism. I don't know why, but this is the speech gets

I Am a School Teacher

I read a blog post this morning on The Principal of Change  about the importance of school  teachers as opposed to classroom  teachers. In the post, the author states he believes that classroom teachers are those more concerned with their position and subject matter. I always think of those as the "shut the door and teach" people. They don't worry about the things that happen outside their door.  School teachers, on the other hand, are " focused on the success of the school as a whole". " School teachers are the ones that see kids outside of their classroom and deal with them in good times and bad.  They never see a student doing something wrong and simply march them down to the principal’s office.  They see, even in mistakes, that an opportunity to talk with a child is an opportunity to build a relationship." (I love the last line) I am a school teacher.  Sometimes I want to be a classroom teacher. I would love to be able to just shut the door a

I Yell Because I Care

In The Last Lecture,  Randy Pausch describes a football coach he worked with as a nine-year-old kid. He describe a practice one day where the coach rode him pretty hard. An assistant said to him that it was a good thing the coach was getting on him, "When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you". That quote has stayed with me since I first read it several years ago. Roomie and I had it written on the white board in our room for several months. We yell at kids a lot. Now I don't mean screaming at the top of lungs yelling. I mean that stern teacher/mother voice that is better than a kick in the butt any day.  We want them to succeed. We want them to be responsible human beings. We want those around them to see the possibilities that we do. We yell because we care. At the beginning of every year, I believe I can reach every student. I know I can be the teacher that makes a difference. I don't just teach

If It Was Easy, They'd Call It Catching...

"Fishing: If it were easy, they'd call it catching."  Sunday, it should have been called catching... Last fall we bought two kid-friendly fishing poles. A Dora the Explorer and a Spongebob.  Sunday, Josh took his two oldest kids down to the little dock to try them out. Grandpa went along to help. I joined them after a short while and the first thing I was greeted with, was a friend shouting, "Grandma, where's your camera. These kids are catching fish!" Then both kids yelling, "Gramma, I got a fish." "Gramma, I caught three fish!" "Gramma. . ." " Gramma. . ." "Gramma. . ." What's a grandma to do?  I ran down to the trailer and got my camera!  Of course, there were a few missed fish. In typical four-year-old fashion, Tony talked to everyone around him,  touched every bluegill as it passed him on its way to the fish basket and needed multiple drinks of grape kool-aid. "Tony, reel your

I Hear the Ocean...

The things that bring the imagination out in kids... Holding a seashell up to his ear, Tony first told me he couldn't hear the ocean. "Listen more carefully," I said. "Oh, Grandma, I can hear the ocean. And I can hear the boat coming in, And I can hear my mom!" I don't know what she was saying, but it was pretty powerful.

Party On

Here I sit on a quiet Saturday, drinking coffee and watching the lake. It's a little chilly this morning, so I sit and watch the news with Chloe while I write. Everyone has favorite coffee mugs, I'm sure.  Those ones who seem to fit your hand just right. Ot were given to you by a former student. This mug is one of the silly things we bought the first summer we had our trailer at the lake. Everyone likes it. When we moved from one trailer to another a few weekends ago, the mug was one of  the first things our youngest son, Josh,  moved.  "I'm taking my mug," he proclaimed. I guess you can't mess with memories and tradition.

Water Babies

It starts slowly and innocently enough. "Daddy, can we play on the beach?" "Sure, just stay out of the water. I don't want you to get wet." ""K, Daddy." And I know they intend to follow that rule. But soon, off come the socks and shoes. The rule begins to bend. A toe, a fake scream about how cold the water is. A Dare, "You try it" Soon both feet... "You can wade, but don't get wet!" More bending... Dad leaves for a few minutes and Grandma is in charge. Grandma, who loves her lake babies.... Pretty soon, they are wading. Still with the admonishment to not get wet! Who are we kidding? Kids and the lake and not get wet. Those things just don't go together! The rule breaks. Soon they are at their knees. Before I know it, they are "washing" their faces. A little splash, a big splash. Up to their knees and running. Giggles of joy. Oh, oh. Here comes dad! "I thought I told you not to get wet!

It's the Final Countdown

If you are a teacher or a student, you understand the title of this piece. 14 more days and counting. Now some would say we have 15 days--but they are counting today. I don't count the current day--I'm up. I'm here. Cross it off. There are many things on my to-do list that need to be accomplished during these last hectic weeks.  The amount of paperwork waiting to be filled out and turned in is amazing: Insurance forms,     inventory forms,         order forms,             computer check-out forms,                 maintenance forms,                     permission to go crazy forms--- Plus, I have a to-do list I want to accomplish at home. Things that need to be done, which normally I would do on the weekend, but now that we are going to the lake they seem to never get done. Plus, I don't want to think about them after Memorial Day:    DUST (really, the dust bunnies are taking over)          clean the litter box             vacuum                 plant flowe

Daughters of My Heart

My sons have married two wonderful young women. And let me be honest, sometimes I think the girls are too good for my sons!  The things they put up with...oh my. And remember, girls, I really did teach them better! Kristen and Max 2/2011 Kristen is the wife of our youngest son, Josh.  Besides the fact that she loves our son with all her heart, there are two reasons she has a special place in our hearts--Kaylee and Tony and how she has handled the whole "step-mom" thing. This young woman loves these two kids as if they were her own, truly. And I couldn't ask for more than that. And now, of course, there is little Max.  How she handles three kids on the weekends when Josh is working is beyond me. She's kind of a Wonder Woman! Rainy at baby shower  4/2011 Rainy married our oldest son, Mitch, last summer.  She has brought our son back into the family and made us close again (and, Mitch, if you are reading this, you know I am right!).  She gifted him (and us)

Today I Walk

Today is our school's annual Memory/Survivor walk. It began as a way for our students to give back to the community that supports them. It began in a year when several in our school community had been diagnosed with a form of cancer. It began a few years after my dad lost his battle with throat cancer. Today, I walk for him. Oh, there are others, but it is always my dad I think of during this walk. I think about what he is missing out on. How proud he would be of my two sons.  How he would chuckle over the antics of his great grandkids. How much he would enjoy the lake. I think about the things he has missed in the last year. Both boys got married and became fathers. He would truly love the women they chose to spend their lives with. The get-togethers at our house and the chaos that ensues--he would love that. He would tease the kids about the pink elephants in The Wizard of Oz  and baffle them with "Two Little Blackbirds". With a twinkle in his eye, he'd tell th

Can't Never Did Anything

An ostrich-like man, he sat in the front row of the theatre, left leg crossed over the right, with the left foot tucked again behind the right ankle. A double- cross of sorts.  And both feet flat on the floor. Really. He was that skinny. Coffee thermos at his feet, cigarette in his hand, smoke making puffy clouds above his head. This is how I always envision the most important teacher in my life. A very shy sophomore, I don't know what possessed me when I signed up for Drama I.  I never wanted to be the center of attention and certainly never did anything that might make people laugh at me. But he saw something in me that I didn't know was there. He was gentle at first. "Porter, you should come out for contest speech. The meeting is next week." Then came, "Porter, you should try out for the spring play."  He wanted me. I belonged somewhere. I came home. Rehearsals became the best learning experiences ever. He would stomp up to the stage, playing every ch


I really hate going to "meetings" alone. Those ones where you have to go out of town and mingle with teachers in your area that you don't really know but are supposed to have something in common with. You know the ones. Usually you come out of them with something good, something positive, something useful. I like that part. What I don't like is entering the room and having decide where to sit. Always a dilemma--join an established group and be the awkward "5th wheel" or sit alone and still feel like a wallflower.  Today I went the wallflower route. It's OK. I'm in a solitary mood today. And eventually someone comes and sits by you. You go through the stilted "get-to-know-you" conversation and then settle in for the day. Thank heavens today's meeting is full of "stuff" and not much down time!

The Month Of April

photo © 2011 Dafne Cholet | more info (via: Wylio ) Here's what happened in April: Co-hosted a baby shower for my daughter-in-law Heard news about the royal wedding shoveled snow opened up the trailer at the lake went to the casino and won 1/9th of a $500 jackpot dealt with the SSB's blogged a week about lake memories went to son's for weekend and played with the grandkids heard news about the royal wedding stayed at the trailer  moved trailers grandbaby #6 arrived got new golf clubs  tried new golf clubs--LOVE my driver dealt with the SSB's went to book club and discussed  Bitter in My Mouth unintentionally watched the royal wedding--not much choice, since that was all that was on Spent a fairly relaxing weekend at the lake (after trying to figure out where to put things)