Monday, September 12, 2011

Why You Teach Speech

Welcome back to school! It's September: I hope you brought your supplies with you and do NOT ever ask me if you need a pencil for class today. I will bite you and, as Mrs. Skapinsken proved last year in her science classroom, the mouth of a teacher has more germs in it than a school toilet (no really, I'm serious: she proved this by growing bacterial cultures from swabs). Don't make me do something you'll regret.

The beginning of the school year usually involves a barrage of basic skills tests for the students. Math teachers test for basic skills such as multi-digit multiplication and long division, language arts teachers test for parts of speech and paragraph organization, that sort of thing. Things look promising this year from my point of view: most of my kids only took a couple of days to finish a 25 question basic math skills test and did fairly well. In comparison, many of my kids last year had problems calculating 14 - 8 and took 5 days to finish the same 25 question test. I wanted to stab myself in the eye repeatedly with a white board marker.

My team teacher, Dina came into my classroom giggling at break today. She'd given our kids a parts of speech test to see what they knew. Some of the parts of speech were pretty easy (noun, verb) and some were a little more difficult (like participle). To be fair, I don't even know what a participle is, and I wouldn't recognize a dangling participle if it fell off the sentence, or whatever it is they do.....

Here are some of the responses she shared with me:

Infinitive- "The number of nouns and verbs a sentence can have."
Verb- "A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y."
Preposition- "Another word for a bargain or deal."

I'm glad she's amused: it will help her next week when she feels like crying after reading their first essay.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be flashers.

It's been spirit week here for the last 4 days. Each day there's some new theme: crazy hair day, pajama day, piss off your teacher by making a paper beard/mustache set and taping it to your face day......ok, that last one wasn't really one of our themes. That's my everyday reality: spirit week just adds a whole level of chaos to my surreal existence.

Today was school colors day. Each grade level wore a different color (thank god, we got black this time around. It's easier to dress in all black than to figure out which pair of pajamas you can wear to school without getting fired) and we counted how many students participated in our first period class.

Now, I'm pretty liberal when it comes to counting participation. A half-black sweatshirt will probably get you counted. However, several kids have to try and push that line to its naturally absurd extreme.

"Hey, I have black on my shoes!", Sam said, flashing the bottom of his sneakers, which had black treads. "I have a black binder!", shouts Caelan. "My shirt is mostly black, why didn't you count me?", demands Jack (point of clarification: Jack was wearing a bright red T-shirt with some black text on it. Maybe 5% of it was black, which would explain why Jack is failing math, if that's his definition of "mostly").

Yeah, nice try guys....

I had managed to deflect most of these comments when Braden stands up. "Hey, I'm wearing black!" he proudly proclaims, pulling up his shirt and yanking up the waistband of his underwear to show me he's wearing black briefs.

The other kids in the class suddenly look like they're all watching the same tennis match. As one, their heads all turn to stare at Braden, then swivel to gauge my reaction.

Actually, I'm not quite sure what the appropriate response is at this point either. First, the last thing I ever want to see is an 11-year old boy's underwear. Second, this is dangerous territory for any teacher: any rumor of impropriety can kill your career.

My head spun to look at the other, safer side of the room so fast I'm surprised I didn't give myself whiplash. "Um, Braden, sooooo not going there....."

"No really!" he interrupts me, "It's all black...." And, to my horror, he actually starts to unbutton his pants to he can show me his underwear is all black.

OMFG, I am NOT going to jail because I have a budding exhibitionist in my class!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cockroach is to mother as hissing is to ______________.

It's that time of year again. I still hate the damned Madagascar hissing cockroaches, though I can at least touch them now. Of course, they had to prove me a liar this time around. The ones we got this year aren't as docile as the ones we got last year (the ones last year, you could throw rocks at them and they'd just sit there stupidly, staring at you. Kind of like 6th graders, actually....) but at least they hiss, which is cool and disconcerting at the same time. The curriculum tells us to tell the kids that they don't have any diseases and they don't bite. Supposed to make the kids feel more comfortable around them. Except.....Brady came up to me and showed me that his cockroach actually did bite him. Bastard drew blood too (that must have been one motherfucking pissed-off cockroach). So much for "they don't bite". If Brady comes down with some rare African sleeping sickness, I'm asking for my money back.

Anyways, we were discussing the hissing behavior in class today. "Why do you think the cockroach hisses? What was happening at that time?" I asked the kids.

Most of the kids could tell me that they were picking up the cockroach, or poking it with a pencil, or trying to shove food in its mandibles to try to get the thing to eat (They have no empathy, I tell you. They're bopping the poor bug on the head with a piece of banana and complaining that the thing won't eat. Maybe they'd eat if I threw a banana at their heads, but most of the world doesn't like being harassed with fruit), and that the cockroach probably hissed to scare them off. Then Devan raises his hand.

"So I think the cockroach is like my mom? Like, when I keep poking her, and she hisses at me to get me to stop?"

Mind you, if I poked my mom repeatedly and pissed her off, I'd probably wake up 5 feet away with a handprint on my cheek and my ears ringing so Devan's probably getting off easy. Might explain his lack of impulse control. But I suppose I should be grateful that he made a real-world connection.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

At least he's getting a lot of fiber

I lose all sorts of classroom supplies each year. Scissors, rulers, staplers......I never know where the hell they go. It's not like they're consumable, and no one in their right mind would want to steal them: they're usually ugly, cheap and probably have more diseases on them than a hooker, but go figure.

Well, the other day, I finally got a clue as to where they disappear to.....

I was complaining that particular day about rulers. I only have about 12 left, and I started off this year with 40. One of the tables had no rulers and I asked the kids at that table where they had all gone: they had 2 last week for Christ's sake!

"I know where one went," piped up Jack brightly. "Eric ate one."

.......ate one?

"Um," I respond, "what do you mean by 'he ate one'? As in, he stuck it in his mouth and started chewing on it like a beaver?"

Jack nodded.

I suppose I should have considered that. Earlier this year, we had a student sharpen a pencil with his teeth.


I'm kind of annoyed with Eric now but if God is kind, he'll grant me this one prayer. I'm praying that the ruler Eric ate was the same one that Derek stuck down his pants and scratched his balls with last month.....


(ok, ok....I know it's been a while)

Connor came in to get some math help during lunch today. I'm pretty proud of that boy: he started off this year failing because he couldn't get organized, had no idea how to do the math....and now, he's trying to raise his B to an A. Good kid.

Anyways, as he was leaving the room to put his lunch away, he said to me "You know Mrs. W, I like working with you. You're my favorite teacher because you give us the least amount of homework. Or the most. I'm not sure which."