Showing posts from April, 2012

Worth the Effort

A student's accident prompted my little rant today.  She's not a bad kid (and really, no one has said she is), but the first comment I heard from someone today was "I wonder if she'd been drinking?"  It kind of rankled me and it got me thinking about the double standard we apply to kids. We get a little jaded in education.  We sometimes think we have it all figured out.  We think we know just how to reach kids. We think  we know which ones are the "good" kids and worth the effort and we think  we know which ones are the "bad" kids and we should just write them off. Kids don't change, you see. Kids don't grow up and mature. Kids don't realize they need to step up. The "good" kids , the ones worth the effort,  the ones that would never cheat  the ones that would never party on a Saturday night the ones that make us think school is their number one priority if something happens to one of them, everyone i

I Should Know Better

Really. I should know better. 20  more days of school. The bitchers and complainers are in top form.  They band together like a pack of hungry wolves ready to pounce--or at least talk about pouncing.  They don't actually do anything. They just complain about it. Make up the rules they think they would like to have. But they won't do anything about anything because they don't want to get their hands dirty. I should know better. Bus evacuation drill this morning and for some reason, I stood with the B and C's.  WHY???? Just wasn't thinking.  But it didn't take long for the pouncing to start. "Does anyone else see the shorts that are too short. Four of them, right in a row." "Yep" "Why do we have to tell them over and over again?" "They are young adults. We should tell them once and expect them to remember." "Yes. And if they wear them anyway, kick them out." "We should have big baggy sweatpant

She Sits Alone

I watch her during the night. Sitting there in a dress that is very much her, yet somehow, strangely wrong. A little too short. A little too tight in the wrong places. A little too much.  It must be hard, sitting there alone on the bleachers while most of those around her dance as if their lives depended on it. She tries to look like she is having a good time, but knowing her, she has put a happy face on her anger and despondency. For half the night, I thought she came by herself.  Some do. But she wouldn't--not without her posse. So she must have a date somewhere.  Ahhh, there he is. Sitting at a table in the cafeteria with his buddies. He's a quiet kid. Very unlike her. How did they become prom dates? He,  a fringe of the popular crowd. She, one of the wild ones.  His friends are all here, hanging out together while their girlfriends dance.  She isn't friends with the girls. Doesn't think much of them, I know. So she sits alone on the bleachers.... Later I se

Ready to Flip

Twitter is my favorite PD. Last September, I found an article through a tweet that introduced me to flipped classrooms.  I immediately retweeted it and noted that it was something I was interested in looking into.  My wonderful new principal (whom I didn't know very well at the time) asked if I would be interested in seeing it in action. Before I knew it, three colleagues and I were on our way to his former school to visit with teachers already implementing flip classrooms. It was mind changing.  They were honest with us about the work it took, the drawbacks, what it took to get it going. And it got me reading. I've read the pros and cons.  I've pinned articles to my Pinterest board on Flipped Classes s o I can go back and review them. I began lurking on #flipchat on Twitter. I follow blogs and news articles.  Most of the information I find deals with math and science classrooms, but I don't believe they are the only classes this can be done with. And I am rea

"I Am Not Invisible"

I read many student pieces in the course of a year.  Many attempts at honesty. Many attempts at poetry. Many attempts at storytelling and personal memoirs. Never have I become so engrossed in a piece that I quit reading it as a teacher and just read it as a reader.  But, this morning, sitting in my comfy pink chair in the front of the room, I dropped my Flair and read an incredible piece of writing. A memoir told in verse, (17 poems, to be exact.) this student revisited a dramatic incident from her high school life last year.  She recounted her side of a story that everyone in the building knows. She told it honestly, with no excuses for her behavior. Just the reasons. She showed through her words how she has grown through the experience. I understand why she doesn't regret her choices. I applaud her for standing up for herself. I laughed. I cried. I cheered. I am in awe. It was truly the most fabulous piece of student  writing I have read in a very long time. I wish

Just for Today

I arrived at school this morning and saw the big, pink comfy chair sitting in my reading/writing center. It called to me. I wanted to sit, but I know if I do, nothing will get done. I started this poem instead. One of my students told me I could call it Whiny Wednesday.... Rainy Gloomy Damp Eyes droopy Head aches Throat sore I'm whiny I don't want to correct papers I don't want to teach I don't want to do nothin' Just for today I want to be the kid in the comfy chair           in the hall           in my sweats I want to put my earbuds in and                   write                   chat                   giggle                   read I want to play with my own writing Throw the words around on paper          and see how they fit I want to open a new book and          sink into its world          not coming up to breathe                  until I shut the door on the very last page Just for today....                  

Like a Squirrel Gathering Nuts

Although I haven't been writing for the blog much since the end of March, it doesn't mean I haven't been reading, writing, and thinking.  I've been following through on my New (School)Year Resolutions  and reading more professionally. And, like a squirrel gathering nuts, I've been squirreling away resources and ideas to work on over the summer. Right now I am reading  savoring and working through Kelly Gallagher's book Write Like This: Teaching Real World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts.   In this book, Kelly discusses real-world writing purposes. He writes chapters on the six areas he feels students will write long after they leave his classroom.  Kelly provides mentor texts, assignments, and strategies to help a teacher get started. I'm am loving all that I am learning from this book.  I started reading it fast. Then stopped. Started over. Took notes. Tried activities.  Some are hard. But if I want to use these ideas next year, I want my ow

Playing Around

Playing around on the computer--checking our Facebook and Twitter and landing on Pinterest. And found "You Are Your Words" from American Heritage Dictionary. You upload a picture and some of your own words and POOF!  A self-portrait.  I used a blog post.... And POOF again And one more time You can change fonts and colors and the contrast, so each picture is unique.  I think my creative writing students would really like this.

Mrs. J

She looked like the stereotypical farm wife--housedress, Keds tennis shoes on her feet, no frills, just her wedding ring and a handkerchief.  She loved deer hunting in the fall and "her kids" the rest of the year. She always had a smile on her face and I don't know if I ever heard her raise her voice.  She didn't need to. I received the email that she passed away on Saturday.  Mrs. J, as she was fondly referred to, wasn't the world's best teacher--but she was one of the most loved teachers I have ever worked with. Young adults in their 30's remember sitting in her class, vying for the infamous sour balls she kept in her room.  (I'm sure she must have owned stock in the company).  Even when she was a sub in her later years, there were always sour balls for the good, the bad, the loud, the lonely.  I'm not sure what it took exactly to be rewarded with a sour ball, but you felt special when you earned one. I first met Mrs. J in about 1988, whe


Failure is a funny thing. If we don't do something quite right, we failed. If we don't connect with each and every student, we failed. If, heaven forbid, a student has more issues than we can deal with, we fail. We tend to focus on the one Forgetting about the many. We want a magic potion to fix what needs fixing. We want the giant S we wear under our clothing to mean something. What we really need to do is Be kind to ourselves. We need to realize Even the wisest people on the planet have failed. And sometimes, a student has to have the desire To succeed.


I am in English teacher hell.  I can't think of what to write.  None of my ideas seem worthwhile. Putting too much pressure on myself, I'm sure. None of the books I grabbed to read grabbed me.  I've got a great pile.  And some suggestions from others.  Nothing, however, just feels right. I have Creative Writing to grade. Ugh.  Usually I don't mind, but today my heart isn't in it. It's Tuesday. I can read and comment on others' blogs.  That usually good for inspiration. But not today. But, write I will, because it's good for me!

Dear Mrs. Day

He was never given much of a chance. In fact, one of his teachers declared it Christmas when he was removed from school and sent away. He was 15 years old. Academically challenged. Poor home life. Anger issues. Students loved to say and do things that set him off.  It happened several times. Yelling and screaming. A broken window. A knife.   People at times were understandably afraid of him.  There were plans in place to handle him. You were never to yell at him in front of others, or even to point out when he was in the wrong.  Basically, if he was in your class, you handled him with kid gloves. A recipe for trouble. I remember the first day I really talked to him. Three years ago in May, I sat in the library while my students were researching a speech.  He was sitting at a different table with the man who was his one on one aide.  The man was a retired teacher hired just to follow this student around, and make sure he got some work done in class. But mostly,