Thursday, May 31, 2007

If You've Never Been a High School Teacher, You Will Definitely Be Shocked By This Story

Billy is a barely-functional, overly-hormonal soph who manages to do a little work in English maybe once every ten days. Last week, instead of working, he left my room to go to the bathroom. After a half-an-hour, he burst back into the classroom shouting about the size what he produced there. It was really gross.

I try to control him, but I am mostly powerless against this kind of infantile behavior, especially on May 31st, when the count stands at seven days.

So, during class today, Billy shouted out, “Hey, Ms. W! I fathered a child last night.”

“Billy,” I said, not looking up from the papers I was grading, “that’s impossible. No girls would ever go out with you when you act the way you do.”

The class, most of them working pretty hard on their graphic stories due tomorrow, erupted. “Oh, SMACK!” they said.

“Look, Billy,” I said, a little sheepish at having attracted so much attention on his behalf, “I’d be happy to give you tips on how to impress more women.” I kept my eyes on my grade book. “Your first step would be to engage in less public farting.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Our Family Has a Couple New Hobbies

Over the weekend, we potty-trained our little redneck. Current stats: three accidents in four days.

Also, Casey Mears won his first Nextel Cup race. Yee-haw.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer. Shamon.

OTTL Renee and I staged a reunion at the awards night for the graduating seniors that we taught as eighth graders way back in 2002-2003, our one magic year of being teammates.

The kids were cute, and they won a bunch of awards. We had made it through an hour-and-a-half of the ceremony. And then the prize-winning Dramatic Duo from the speech team took the stage.

I’m sure they were quite good, but we’d already reverted to telling fart jokes and poking each other. Their imitation of Squiffy the Tape Worm was only fanning the fire; and I was reminded of the time I turned to her as we walked into a faculty meeting to call her on being a bad influence:

“Look,” I said, still reeling from the scolding I’d gotten from the principal the month before, “I’m just not going to be able to sit next to you at meetings anymore.”

Tonight, as we were laughing backstage waiting to present a scholarship award and she was waving from the wings at the kids on the stage, I beseeched her to show some decorum.

“Do you have any idea how many times you’ve shushed me tonight?” she asked.

Many, many times.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Shaming

I had to have a sub, and all of my classes were perfect except one group of enriched sophs.

That one group told the sub that they didn’t have to pick up their trash because the janitor would do it for them. They also told her that presentation skills didn’t matter in the projects they were doing (a lie), and so a couple of boys did their talk while lying on their backs, kicking their legs. They also played their videos in slow motion because the group slated to go after them wanted to stall one more day.

Some other kids refused to give the sub information about the activity they were requiring of the class. She wrote to me that “the class has a lot to learn about self-control.” When she told the kids she’d never seen anything like their behavior in all 30 years of teaching and subbing at the high school, they told her that maybe they were acting that way because their teacher wasn’t there.

It’s fair to say I was less than pleased.

A letter was written and read to the class expressing my distinct displeasure. The letter was designed to elicit maximum guilt. The letter included information about the dangers of by-standers: if you think I'm not speaking to you, the letter said, you better think again.

The letter said that the sub report reflected a failure of the whole. The whole certainly included me, the letter said, because I had made the mistake of trusting them with too much independence.

And so we go to 9. Days, of course. I’ve decided I’ll forgive them when they work up the guts to speak to me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Little Artist's Program At School Is Having An Effect

Shef: Mom, Michelangelo did not use a ladder.

Me: Really? What did he use?

Shef: He used scaffolding.

Me: Oh, great.

Shef: So, if you forgot the yellow or green, you had to go all the way back down and up again.

Me: Hmmm. So he could paint the ceiling?

Shef: (nodding) Yes. And also DaVinci.

Me: What about DaVinci?

Shef: He did the Mona Lisa.

Me: That’s right!

Shef: If you go see it at the Children’s Museum, the eyes might move.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

You Can Call Me "Master." Or "Of Arts."

I can’t really believe this, but I’m finished with graduate school.

I know.

My life is one big open field of possibilities.

Yep! Lots of possibilities.

And so far I only have one plan.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I'm watching the end of the Gilmore Girls. This is it. The end. No more Gilmores.

This show has been an insitution in my life. I have seen every single episode from all seven seasons. My students tell me I look like Alexis Bledel. I have a crush on Lauren Graham. I wept when Rory graduated from high school, and again when she graduated from Yale. I have visited GG fansites, for god's sake, where all the fourteen-year-old female enthusiasts post their gushing praise for all things Gilmore.

It's official. I'm in mourning. I have been forced to read the E! Online TV blogs to see if there might be anything on the horizon that might fill the special place in my heart that the Gilmore Girls have occupied. I highly doubt it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I Think The Lyrics Have Played Themselves Out For Now

This morning I was breezing into my room after chatting in the hallway with Rachel, when I ran into Jude, one of my lovelies who plays in a rock band and pulls a C in English class by the rim of his skateboard.

“Oh, hey,” he says casually, “I just left you a note. Could you charge my iPod for me first hour, and then I’ll come back and get it second hour?”

“Uh, NO,” I say, incredulous.

Jude scraped his gelled bangs off his forehead and seemed genuinely surprised at my refusal. “Why not?”

“BeCAUSE,” I began, “I am not responsible for your electronics! BeCAUSE, I am not an iPod charging service!”

“C’mon, Ms. W.,” he pleaded.

“NO! If you would like to dock your iPod during sixth hour WHEN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE CLASS HERE, I may consider it,” I finish with a big eyeroll.

“Oh-kay,” Jude says, walking toward the desk to reclaim his silver nano.

And now we're at fifteen. Days, that is.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I Study Nuclear Science, I love My Classes, I have a Crazy Teacher, He Wears Dark Glasses

Dan’s poor parents asked me how work was today, so I was forced to give them a recap of the lesson.

To warm up, I sighed deeply and rolled my eyes.

“If I told you that the two of you were to create annotated bibliographies,” I said, “and as a pair, you could share three sources; but then each of you had to have three of your own, how many sources would you include in your bibliography?”

Jane looked at me skeptically. “Six,” she said, clearly wondering about the catch.

“Right,” I nodded, pausing for dramatic effect. “And I spent twenty minutes explaining that to my first hour.”

And we’re down to seventeen days, people. Seventeen days.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Gotta Gotta Get Up To Get Down

There’s something about May that really inspires a countdown.

“How many teaching days do I have left?”

For sure, I count every Sunday, and most often, at least one other time during the week. There’s just too much exhaustion and craziness going on NOT to count. The count, especially when it gets below 20, is reassuring. It’s like when I’m running a race and feeling like I’m going to drop dead at any second, I’ll figure out how many minutes I have left. Then I’ll tell myself, “You can do anything for ten minutes.” Or seven minutes, or four, or whatever.

My love for the count is, incidentally, the reason I couldn’t make it through labor. No one could tell me just how much longer I had to hold on. And also, the child was freakishly large and not descending.

The number of days is now at the threshold: 20. That’s not including final exam days and days I know I’ll have subs due to various professional development responsibilities. Because any day I don't have to speak to 130 sophs is a day off in my book.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pour Myself a Cup of Ambition

Some of my students are reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri for their choice text. I love this book, and I recommend it to all. Anyway, because the kid in the book has a problem with his name, the group was talking about the names they would choose for their own future children.

“Hey, Ms. W.,” said one, “does, like, having students influence your choice of names? Like, if you had a kid in class, does that make you not want to pick that name?”

“Well,” I said, deciding to be honest, “I guess if it’s been a particularly difficult student, I might not pick the name.”

“Are there any names you definitely wouldn’t choose?” someone asked.

“Any names that rhyme with swear words are out,” I said definitively, thinking of Dan’s enthusiasm for the name Tucker. As a former middle school teacher, there’s no freaking way I could abide that.

Landon, a cheerful soph with an optimistic outlook, said, “So, if ‘Landon’ were on your list of choices, would having me in your life make you more likely to choose the name or less likely?”

“Definitely more likely,” I said, nodding, which was really the only right answer.