Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Brent's First Day of Kindergarten

I had to wake my little man up this morning, which I've only had to do ONCE before in our lives. I didn't want to, but it was 7:05 and he wasn't up yet. From the moment he opened his eyes, he was bouncing off the walls with excitement. Here he is, all puffy-eyed, with his stuffed lamb that he sleeps with.

All dressed and impatient to go. He got ready this
morning in record time and wanted to leave for the bus stop (a 30-second walk) 15 minutes before we needed to.

Front and back views with his backpack on. Is there anything cuter than a little kid wearing a backpack? They look so cute, and they're so proud to be wearing one :-) The Kindergartners get to wear name tags around their necks for the first few weeks of school, so teachers can help get them where they need to go at school, and to be sure they get on the right bus on the way home. He thinks it's so cool!

Getting on the bus for the first time!! Well, technically the second time. We did a dry run yesterday, walked to the bus stop, met the driver (she's great! And look how young she is!) and she let him climb on yesterday to check it out. I think it helped a lot, because today he wasn't nervous at all! He couldn't WAIT to get on, in fact. This helped to create the shock of the century: I DIDN'T CRY. How is that possible? I cried at every kids' movie I saw this summer (Over the Hedge, Cars, and Barnyard) and I even cried while LISTENING to Pooh's Heffalump Movie in the van. Seriously, I cry at everything. I welled up a little, but no tears actually fell out of my eyes. I guess I got all the tears out when I read that Beanstalk story from his teacher :-) And like I said- the fact that he was so excited and not nervous at all helped tremendously! If he'd been hesitant, I'd have lost it, for sure. I'm going to enjoy my 3 hours and 45 minutes of quiet until he gets home, but I can't wait to hear all about his day! I'm so proud of my little guy :-) And could he LOOK any more disgusted that I made him turn around once on the bus so I could take just one more picture? LOL.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Storm of '06

My hurricane supplies:
6 gallons of water
2 loaves of bread
Peanut butter
Regular crackers
Graham crackers
Peanut butter crackers
Cheese crackers
Canned fruit
Vanilla wafers
Granola bars
Toilet paper

Frank's hurricane supplies:
Little Debbie Swiss Rolls

TS Ernesto should be here sometime in the early morning hours. Frank doesn't even seem to think we'll lose power (although we COULD). He told his coworkers that "our apartment looks like a f*cking shelter"). LOL. He's making fun of me, calling me a "typical first-timer." I'm getting a little nervous but I'm in good hands. AND I have the day off from work on Wednesday.

I'll post again on Thursday (hopefully), MAYBE even tomorrow.

Friday, August 25, 2006

My new boyfriend

We had an ice cream social/open house at school tonight. The mom of one of my students brought her younger son, a kindergardener, into the room to see where his big sister sat. Since I'm pretty comfortable around kids, we hit it off immediately. At one point he offered to draw me a picture, and I heard him whisper to his mom, "Can you help me draw a heart?" He drew a picture of a sun, the two of us and a heart.

Later on, his mom said it was time to go and he said, "No! She's my girlfriend." Oh, it was SO FUNNY. And then he had to come over to give me "just one more hug" before he left (he did this about 10 times). Right before they walked out the door, he held out his hand and said, "Here, maybe you should write your number on my hand." I just HOWLED.

As we were walking out (this was near the end of the evening, so I walked downstairs with them), his mom noticed the library pass on my keychain. "Hey Austin, she has the same library card you do!" He got all excited. "Do you work there. too?"

"No, but I go there all the time," I answered.

"So do I!" he said, and I told him, "Next time I'm there, I'll be sure to look for you."

"Okay," he replied. "I'll be in the kids' section." Then he added, "Make sure you look there, 'cuz that's the only place I go."

Oh my God, he was ADORABLE.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Busy week, but yay!

I got a letter today from the FL DOE. I applied for my temporary license (I figured that was equivalent to Michigan's provisional license, which you have to get before you can receive your permanent license). According to this letter, though, I'm actually eligible for Florida's professional license--in both Elementary (K-6) and English 7-9 (which was the closest equivalent to my Michigan Language Arts (6-8) endorsement. Thank God for Michigan and its strigent education requirements! Those English classes I took as a communications undergrad sure didn't hurt, either. I'm sure my dad and grandparents will be glad to know that my UDM degree wasn't COMPLETELY for nothing. =-)

The principal visited my class today. It was a weird day to do it, since we had standardized benchmark testing all morning and then basically a very "loose" afternoon (we can't assign homework on testing days, so most classes were doing games and fun activities that were somewhat related to their subject area). In language arts, I had my class writing letters to soldiers. Mrs. T gave me a "pat on the back" (these written kudos-type things that she just implemented this week) and told me later that she really likes the "vibe" in my room. She said she can tell that there's a "mutual affection" between the students and me. (Of course, had she been there earlier, she would have seen me sending my first student of the year to the office for yelling at me.) =-)
"Thoughts at the Bottom of a Beanstalk"

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jack who was about to climb his very first beanstalk. He had a fresh haircut and a brand new book bag.

Even though his friends in the neighborhood had climbed this same beanstalk almost every day last year, this was Jack's first day and he was a little nervous. So was his mother.

Early in the morning she brought him to the foot of the beanstalk. She talked encouragingly to Jack about all the fun he would have that day and how nice his giant would be. She reassured him that she would be back to pick him up at the end of the day. For a moment they stood together, silently holding hands, gazing up at the beanstalk. To Jack it seemed much bigger than it had when his mother had pointed it out on the way to the store last week. His mother thought it looked big, too. She swallowed. Maybe she should have held Jack out a year...

Jack's mother straightened his shirt one last time, patted his shoulder and smiled down at him. She promised to stay and wave while he started climbing. Jack didn't say a word.

He walked forward, grabbed a low-growing stem and slowly pulled himself up to the first leaf. He balanced there for a moment and then climbed more eagerly to the second leaf, then to the third and soon he had vanished into a high tangle of leaves and stems with never a backward glance at his mother.

She stood alone at the bottom of the beanstalk, gazing up at the spot where Jack had disappeared. There was no rustle, no movement, no sound to indicate that he was anywhere inside.

"Sometimes," she thought, "it's harder to be the one who waves goodbye than it is to be the one who climbs the beanstalk."

She wondered how Jack would do. Would he miss her? How would he behave? Did his giant understand that little boys sometimes acted silly when they felt unsure? She fought down an urge to spring up the stalk after Jack and maybe duck behind a bean to take a peek at how he was doing.

"I'd better not. What if he saw me?" She knew Jack was really old enough to handle this on his own. She reminded herself that, after all this was thought to be an excellent beanstalk and that everyone said his giant was not only kind but had outstanding qualifications.

"It's not so much that I'm worried about him," she thought, rubbing the back of her neck. "It's just that he's growing up and I'm going to miss him."

Jack's mother turned to leave. "Jack's going to have lots of bigger beanstalks to climb in his life," she told herself. "Today's the day he starts practicing for them... And today's the day I start practicing something too: cheering him on and waving goodbye."

And if THAT didn't make you cry, you've probably never sent a child to Kindergarten :-)

That was in the mail today with a note from Brent's teacher, telling us about the Open House and stuff on Monday. His first day of Kindergarten is Wednesday, the 30th. Up until receiving this little story, I haven't been upset about him starting or longing for him to be little again... but this made me BAWL. And I can hardly see the computer for all the tears from re-typing it! I'll post pictures and details about his first day next week. In the meantime, wish me luck in not crying until the bus is actually gone and he can't see me :-)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Operation: Smackdown a success

I hesitate to declare victory too soon, but I have to say that day one of my offensive was successful. I was actually CHIPPER going to school today, looking forward to the showdown. Hell, I started early, writing up a couple of kids in my morning classes.

My 5th hour kids came in and they could tell right away that something was different. I didn't smile; if a student came up to me I just said "Have a seat", standing there stone-faced as they filed in. Then I slowly walked to the front of the class.

"I'm done arguing with you," I calmly stated--and began my speech (and I have to say, it was FLAWLESS. I should have freakin' recorded it and uploaded it so you all could have heard it).

"I'm sorry for those of you who DO behave, and who come here to learn," I concluded. "I'm sorry that this is the group of kids you're stuck with. But understand that I'm doing this so that WE--those of us who actually care--can have a better year. A GOOD year. A successful year."

And then I thanked them for listening so quietly and began my lesson.

About halfway through class, I suddenly noticed that I was talking incredibly loudly. I stopped and pointed it out to the class. "And do you know WHY I'm talking so loudly?" I asked. "Because in this class, I usually HAVE TO, just to be heard." You could have heard a pin drop as that started to sink in.

At the end of class, I said, "This is how class should be ALL THE TIME, and this is how it WILL be from now on. That's all. Have a nice weekend."

OH MY GOD IT WAS SO AWESOME. Best of all, I only had to write one kid up in that entire period. I was almost disappointed; I was looking forward to going on a rampage. In total, for the whole day, I only had 5 calls to make before I left for the day.

Granted, this was day one. I know the battle isn't over; not by a long shot. They're going to continue to test me, but I'm going to keep whipping out those discipline slips.

Have a great weekend. I know I will.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The honeymoon's over.

Most of my classes (and kids) are great, and I really am happy.


I have one class, one of my 7th grade classes, and they're BAD. Seriously. They're the reason I've been having nightly post-work drinks this week. As long as I'm up there teaching, they're relatively okay (not perfect but I can keep them quiet and listening, although they're particularly prone to shouting out comments instead of raising their hand. Still, at least they're calling out actual answers and class-related content). At the end of class, though, I have to give them time to work, since we don't have enough books for everyone, so they have to copy the homework out of the book and THEN bring it home--and today, I stupidly and naively gave them the whole class period to work--we're reviewing for our first test on Monday.

My other classes could handle this, and they actually used the time to work. Not this class, though. They talked.


This isn't the whole class, of course. There are about 9 kids who do what they're supposed to do. The other kids, though, make it impossible for them to really concentrate.

I'll quiet them down, they'll be quiet for about 2 minutes, then it starts up again. I've been hesitant to write anyone up for fear of looking like a first-year teacher who can't handle her class, but after talking to the other teachers I see that it's not just me dealing with this.

So tomorrow, I'm laying the smack down. I'm letting them know at the beginning of class that anyone who talks is getting written up. If they don't care about their own education, fine. But they WILL NOT disturb the education of the kids who ARE there to learn. This is a charter school, and if they aren't there to learn, they will be finding a different school. (See? I have my speech all ready and everything.)

By the way, the process is verbal warning (of which they've had plenty), write up with a phone call home, write up with a trip to the office--then I'm not sure. But I suspect I'm about to find out. I got a stack of 30 slips from the office today ("Let me guess--7th grade?" the secretary asked when I asked her for "a whole stack of discipline reports"), and I will use each and every one if I have to. And yes, I have better ways to spend my Friday afternoon, but if I have to spend it calling 30 parents to discuss their child's disrespectful and disruptive behavior, then so be it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Midweek (almost) check-in

1) When I had to go back and RETEACH nouns to 6th and 7th graders, I was starting to think that I was just a shitty, ineffective first-year teacher....but after talking to some of the other teachers on my team (for example, the social studies teacher told me that they can't distinguish between the northern and southern hemispheres), I realize that no, it's NOT me. It's them.

2) When you're buzzed, it becomes signifantly more difficult to grade 125 papers on plural nouns. Suddenly, YOU'RE not even sure if it's "pianoes" or "pianos". (Which makes your roommate love you that much more, when you have to ask him 15 times in 7 minutes the correct spelling of "radios".)

3) For added shits and giggles, have I mentioned that I have the principal's daughter in one of my classes? Yeah, no pressure THERE.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Has anyone ever heard of the Hash House Harriers? It's a worldwide organization with local chapters (I just found one in Naples, about 30 minutes from here) that bill themselves as "a drinking club with a running problem." Basically, they do these "hashes," which are like runs, with beer thrown in before, during and after. Or something. I'm still trying to figure it out. It's part social club, part running club, except a lot of the members walk the whole thing instead of running. They're all about my age (late 20s/early 30s) so I'm thinking about checking it out sometime. Should be good times, if nothing else. I can meet new people AND get some exercise.

Check out for info on this particular chapter. Click on "Hash Info" to read more about what it is they actually do.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Overheard at the grocery store this afternoon:

Two boys (about 7 and 9) and their mom were in the snack/chips aisle.

"Oooh, can we get these ones?" asked the older boy, pointing to a particular type of Goldfish crackers.

"No," the mom vetoed. "They're too colorful."


What kind of colorless world from hell do those poor kids live in?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Finishing off with a bang

Well, I started off my first week by getting pulled over in the school parking lot--and now I have a story to bookend that one.

We're reviewing nouns (common and proper--which, sadly, does not seem to be a "review" for some of my middle-schoolers). For homework, I copied a page out of Charlotte's Web and had them go through and mark all the common and proper nouns. Time permitting, I generally read the page out loud to them, as well, since some students learn better by hearing as opposed to reading/viewing.

So it's my last period class on Friday. I'm reading the page to them when "it" happens. (This is already legend around the school, FYI. I caught some serious shit about it at our post-work Applebee's "meeting" tonight.)

The sentence is supposed to read, "Papa, where are you going with that ax?"

However, *I* read, "Papa, where are you going with that ass?"

And somehow (due to allergies, I suspect), it came out sounding, "Where are you going with dat ass?"

Do you have ANY idea how long it takes to quiet down a class of 6th graders after something like that? On a FRIDAY? During the last period of the first week of school?

Quite a while, let me tell you.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Horrible start and end, but otherwise pretty good.

The good news is that the actual TEACHING portion of my day went very well. I made the kids laugh, cracked down on them when they weren't acting right, kept control of the classes, got them to specials and lunch, etc.

As some of you know, the beginning of my day sucked. I now have a $113 ticket--and so does one of the other teachers on my team--for pulling out of a line of backed-up traffic and driving up to the left-turn lane (to turn into our school) before the turn lane actually began. It was a two lane road, but because of an accident or something up ahead, there were no cars coming from the other direction, which meant that we were using that empty lane to get to our turn lane faster. It was the left turn lane to TURN INTO OUR SCHOOL, did I tell you that?!?!) To make it even worse, he pulled us over AT SCHOOL, in the parking lot. Both of us at once. (Almost every teacher who saw the incident later told us, "Hell, I did it too." We just happened to be the ones he busted.)

The other bad part of the day was the very end. Dismissal. They were using the same dismissal system they used last year (which I can't even begin to get into; it's too complicated to explain), but they only had 30o kids last year. They have 700 this year--and let's just say, that same system didn't work. It took us an hour and 45 minutes to get all those kids into their cars and out of here. Needless to say, we have some VERY upset parents, and by the end of it, the teachers were snapping at each other, too. We're trying a different method tomorrow but holy crap, I got cussed out pretty good by some parents today.

So ANYWAY, the "teaching" part of my day went well. It's the OTHER parts of my day that will cause me to go home and drink.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My room

Here are some pictures of my room. I realized that if I waited until I was "finished," I'd never, in my entire teaching career, be able to post the pictures. A teacher's room, I'm discovering, is never truly "finished."

Please excuse the boxes and other miscellaneous items laying around in the various shots. (Like the Diet Pepsi on my desk, LOL. I've been LIVING in this room the last few days.)

First day of school is Tuesday; the open house is tomorrow.

I am TERRIFIED (not so much about the open house; it's mostly the first day of school. If I "lose" them that first day, I'm screwed the rest of the year).

My very first teacher desk! Per all my education classes, it's set up at the BACK of the room, so I can watch my little angels as they're working (or not).

A shot of my current desk layout. It's taken at kind of a slant, but there's a center column of desks (4 rows of 3 desks), and then a "wing" of desks slanted of on each side. That way, the desks are still in rows (which Harry Wong suggests at the beginning of the year) but it's also more conducive to group work

The front of my room

The back wall of my room.

The front right corner of my room.

The front left corner of my room, next to the whiteboard (as indicated in an email--no, your eyes are not deceiving you. These posters WERE originally that crooked, LOL, which I didn't realize until I was looking at this picture. They're fixed now).

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006


    Why does Frank feel the need to make an announcement every time he's going into the bathroom for various bodily functions? I don't know about anyone else, but when *I* need to go in there for anything major, I make it as unobtrusive as possible. I certainly don't want to call ATTENTION to it. But not Frank. Oh, no. He does everything short of sending out press releases and calling a media conference. And he was in there for like *45 minutes* earlier. What the hell? Is he laying tile? Caulking the tub?

    On an unrelated note, I won't be online for a few days. Mr. Biohazard is going out of town this weekend and he's taking his laptop with him. I'll check back in on Sunday or Monday. (I will be online briefly from work tomorrow, though.) I have a busy few days, though. Tomorrow, one of my new teacher friends is spending the night. We have this all-day company-wide conference thing on Friday; we chartered a bus to get us there (it's like 3 hours away), but we have to be AT SCHOOL to board at 6 am. Since she is currently staying like an hour away from school until she finds an apartment around here, she would have to be up ungodly early to make it on time. So she's staying here with me. (My first female friend! Yay! And she's from Michigan--Brighton, I think.)

    Then Saturday, we're supposed to have a beach party for work, but it kind of depends what Tropical Storm Chris decides to do. I'm kind of hoping to do SOMETHING social on Saturday night with someone from work, but all of our funds are getting pretty deleted until our first pay day (especially since most of us have had to relocate in the last week or two). And on Sunday....who knows. I'll probably be stockpiling supplies and boarding up the windows in preparation for what may be our first hurricane of the season. Otherwise, I'll probably just go the pool again and just hang out.

    Have a great weekend, everyone!