Thursday, May 28, 2009

Even my kid has given up on me

Her Facebook status message tonight (after we talked on the phone for a while):

"Amanda Seriously thinks shes gonna get married before you are Jen!"
The day of reckoning

So today, we received our FCAT scores.

Overall, our school did well. We went up in almost everything, except for 4th grade writing and 8th grade math (and even the math was only down 2 points, or percent).

Fifth grade, as a whole, did pretty good, too. We were up only one point in reading, but we went up 13 points in math and 18 points in science. HELLZ YEAH!

Then, later in the day, we received our individual students' scores. This was EXTRA important for my class because I'm the most important teacher there, and the entire world revolves around me.

Just kidding.

This was extra important in my class because I teach the lowest 25%, so their improvement (or lack thereof) kind of counts in two different categories in our school score. My kids' reading scores were--eh. They were good, but we'll see if they were high enough to count as AYP, or annual yearly progress.

However, my math scores KICKED ASS. Not only did those kids (as a whole) move up, but they moved up a LOT.

It's just funny, because I've always labeled myself as a reading/writing person. That's my "area," the one I majored in, the one I excelled in while *I* was in school. That was (is) my strength.

And yet I did a "better" job at teaching them math.

It makes sense, when you think about it. I never struggled in reading, so it's hard for me to relate to kids who do. I, as a student, never had to stop and think about it. So now, it's hard for me to stop and EXPLAIN it. It was just always....there. But in math, it was harder for me. And therefore, I can explain it a few different ways. I know what's hard to understand, what's hard to grasp, because it was hard for ME, and I can accomodate for that.

Anyway....the raw data is in, but there's still a lot of calculations to do before we know for sure how we did as a school (ie, what our school grade is) and how I did as a teacher--and more specifically, how I did as a teacher to the bottom 25%.

But so far, so good.

PS--P. went up 380 points in math. On the FCAT, that's HUGE. He was really close to a 2. Now granted, this is on a scale of 1-5. But still, for someone at his level, to even have ALMOST scored at a 2, is huge. And to make that much progress?! I actually cried when I saw his score. Considering his IQ, that's amazing.

(And ironically, he went DOWN like 150 in reading. LOL. Seriously, I may have missed my calling on this one.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Breaking news: Miss K's class won Field Day by a staggering one point!! (Is it sad that this is major news in my life right now? LOL.) My kids were so excited, though. I gave them the "we will either win as a team or lose as a team" speech immediately beforehand, and stressed the important of teamwork and good communication. And I have to tell you, they totally pulled together today--I was SO proud. That kind of "family" atmosphere is something I work to build each and every year; it's a hallmark of my classroom, and today it showed.

We originally chose "School Kids on the Block" as our team name and pink as our team color--for no particular reason other than the girls outvotiing the boys, LOL. But the Men of Miss K's Class all rallied and pink'd themselves OUT today, to the point that several other teachers were worried that they would have gender identity issues down the road. P., whom you all know and love, actually showed up wearing PINK NAIL POLISH today, LOLOL. After one of his "events" today, the football toss (which, come on, he had in the bag before they even started throwing), he wiggled his fingers at me and said, "It must have been the nails, Miss K!" I about died). Anyway, once we showed up this morning and my room was a sea of pink, we suddenly decided to change to the Pink Panthers, which I thought was equally genius. In fact, I'm making the Pink Panters a K. tradition from now on.

Anyway, the fifth graders all had a great time, and the grand finale of the event was a teacher getting a whipped cream pie in the face. Do I even need to tell you which teacher that was? I looked like the psychotic clown from Stephen King's "It." Also, do you have any idea how badly whipped cream starts to stink when it's been sitting in your hair for 6 hours, ESPECIALLY when a good hour of that is outside in the hot Florida sun? Dude, I was RIPE. (Since I was the only teacher willing to get whipped creamed, my personal suspicion is that my "bring it on" attitude earned us a couple of "cool points" with the PE teacher, leading to our ultimate one-point victory. But hey, we'll take 'em where we can get 'em.)

And THAT'S the latest from fifth grade. PS--the word on the street is that the FCAT scores will be released tomorrow morning. These are the standardized tests that determine everything from your school grade (uber-importante) to your worth as a teacher. Think good thoughts...this is a HUGE deal.

Bonus pic: Here's a great shot of the Sheikra (Busch Gardens) captured by one of my parents. This is the infamous attraction that my kids made me ride many (many, many) times in a row, just because they could (note: that boulder is hiding the second HALF of that drop. It's a bitch).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's official

Next year, I'll be teaching 5th grade again.

As you know, I've been going back and forth on this issue for the last couple of months. Today, Mrs. A told me that she was keeping me in my current grade (I had finally put it in her hands, unable to make up my mind), for 2 main reasons:

1) Our fifth grade team is very strong, in the sense that we're the longest-running team in the school and we work together very well; she really doesn't want to break us up.

2) Due to the smaller size of our middle school, I would have to teach another subject besides LA to fill up my schedule, and since LA is the only one I'm officially endorsed in, I'd be technically teaching "out of area" while I earned my reading (or whatever the subject was) endorsement. Now, it's not a HUGE deal to teach out of your area for the first year or two while you're earning an endorsement, but it's just easier to find someone who's ready to go in all areas. And who knows, they could have had me do LA and reading this year, but then maybe I would have needed to do LA and social studies the year after that--so yeah, I could be endlessly "chasing" the proper endorsement.

So those are the 2 main reasons behind her decision. When she told me, I kind of stopped and asked myself, "Okay, how do I feel about that?" and you know, I felt fine. I know 5th grade, I know my team, and I know that staying in this grade will allow me to focus on my many, many areas of improvement (which I will be sitting down and outlining this summer, and then narrowing it down to my top 2 or 3 to work on for the next school year). I KNOW I like fifth grade and I KNOW I'll be happy there, which is more than I could say for middle school. Plus--whoot!--now I won't have to take those reading classes this summer that I would have if I were switching to middle school.

Am I a little disappointed? Sure. But in the end, I think it's the best decision. This will only be my 4th year of teaching...I have plenty of time to experiment. And maybe I'll take those reading classes anyway, to start working my way towards an endorsement. Because never know.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I'm heading over to some friends' for a Memorial Day barbeque, but I wanted to take a moment to remember what this day is really about. It's been almost 2 1/2 years already since I lost Grimm (Matt) and I still think about him all the time. And today, as I enjoy the food, fun and friends that has come to represent Memorial Day for most Americans, I'm not just going to stop and honor THE fallen heroes who have made a day like today possible (although I do appreciate every single one of them, from the bottom of the heart). Today, I'm going to stop and honor MY fallen hero.

I miss you, Grimm--and thank you.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Niece or nephew (I think niece) #10 on the way...
Now updated with pics!

Alli Elizabeth was born around 10:30....almost exactly 7 lbs. She's pretty cute.

My sister is in labor with child #5 (can you believe that I actually had to stop and count on my fingers before I typed that?). Her water has been "trickling" since 6 am, she's only dialated to 2 and the contractions aren't too bad yet...but this is definitely it. I just hung up with Mom and the doctor had just come in to check her out and see if they should induce or let it all play out naturally (although once the water breaks, they're working with a rather limited time table). Let's all pray that she doesn't steal my baby name--I mean, that everything goes well.

Heh--although at this point, she's had so many kids that she just has to sneeze and the whole thing should be over with (ooh, burn!).

Good luck, skank!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trip went well --everyone had fun--we did get rained out 4 last half hour or so (they shut down rides) but overall everything went smoothly. About half an hour from school now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

These are my kids

(Keep a straight face reading this post)

During a class bathroom break today, I spotted one of my male students walking past one of his friends on the way to the boys' room. As he walked by his buddy, he kind of lifted one leg and pointed his butt towards him.

Two seconds later:

"Oh, Miss K!!!!! M. just farted on me!!!!"

Seriously? They don't teach you how to deal with that type of situation in Teacher School.

This is my life.
Pray for me

Tomorrow, I am taking 100+ people to Busch Gardens.

Organizing this trip has, by far, been the largest "work project" I have ever had to undertake in my life. I am incredibly, incredibly stressed. You've gotten a small dose of it on here, but I cannot tell you what I've been through to organize this damn trip. It's so overwhelming. At this point, I feel as though I'm as prepared as I can be. The buses are paid for, I have a $3500 + check in my purse for the tickets--I even have each group assigned to a bus, PLUS laminated card for each chaperone with their assigned kids on one side AND the cell phone numbers of all chaperones on the other. There is nothing more I can do at this point, other than go to bed in, like, an hour (mind you, it's 7 pm) in order to get up at like 4:30 in the morning (yes, you read that right) so that I can be at school by 5:30 AT THE LATEST (the buses aren't leaving till 6:30, but of course I told the kids 6 am).

I guess at this point, my biggest stressor is this: will the buses show up? Several years ago, before I was even a 5th grade teacher, the team lead unknowingly went with a shady bus company, so on the day of the trip, the buses NEVER SHOWED UP. The story made the news and other local charter companies volunteered their services--so, although the trip was postponed, it eventually took place and everything was just fine in the end. Still, those are the things that will keep me up tonight. There are so many "what-if's"--everything from will we be rained out to will the kids who have BG passes BRING their free passes because we don't have the money to buy all those extra tickets--not to mention will the buses SHOW UP--oh, and when we get there, if ANYTHING goes wrong in ANY group it will be MY responsibility to deal with it...O.M.G. Seriously.

But...all I can do is worry about what's in my hands. And everything IN my hands has been taken care of to the best of my ability. I just have to trust that everything else--from the buses actually showing up to the weather--will fall into place.

Please, think of me tomorrow. Pray that I can give these 5th graders the trip that they've been looking forward to all year--and deserve. I will try to post from my phone tomorrow--God willing, a "we're at BG and everything is fine" post.

The amount of stress I feel right now is overwhelming.

I hope that everything goes as planned.

With any luck, I'll be posting tomorrow night (we are expected back to the school around 8:30 pm) that everything went very smoothly.

I need to take a sleeping pill and GET MY ASS TO BED. I can't do anything else tonight. I have prepared as much as I can.

What happens tomorrow, happens.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

The eagle has landed

So first, I have to say that this experience was even better than my first jump like 8 years ago. (Has it really been that long??) The first time, I was just--to use a term I coined today--"a big frozen ball of what-the-fuck." The whole thing was a blur and I was too terrified to really enjoy it. Today, though, was a whole different story. I was able to stay in the moment and actually SKYDIVE.

The worst part of the whole process was the waiting. Once we got there, it was a good hour before we were able to suit up and take off--and every minute was torture, I tell you. I don't think I sat down once. I paced back and forth like a caged lion, cracking my knuckles (and I'm not even a knuckle-cracker!) and watching all these jumpers falling out of the sky. "OMG," Hot Teacher (hereafter referred to as HT) commented at one point, trying to loosen me up. (And yes, he pronounced it as "Oh-em-gee.") "It's your dream come true! It is actually raining men right now!" You would think that watching jumper after jumper land safely would make me feel better, but no. It just gave me more time to ponder exactly what the hell I'd been thinking, and to make a mental note to call my crazy doc because CLEARLY my meds needed to be upped.

But once they started strapping me up, I started to feel calmer. I even felt pretty steady on the plane ride up (at least, I *thought* I did at the time. The facial expressions captured by the DVD, however, tell a different story. And as we started to slide up the bench towards the front of the plane--well, it looked like my jumpmaster was trying to throw a cat into a bathtub). The guys all did a good job of joking around with me to try to keep me distracted (although at one point, HT's jumpmaster looked at my pack and casually remarked to my instructor, Dave: "Oh, so they were able to get the blood stains out of that one, huh?" I glared at him. "Not funny yet?" he replied).

Dave and I. Yes, for an older guy, he is absolutely gorgeous. His eyes are actually the same exact blue as the sky.

Suddenly, we were at an altitude of 14,000 feet--and they opened the door of the plane. One by one, the people in line ahead of me started disappearing from sight and literally dropping into thin air. I took a deep breath and resolved not to let myself feel the fear. After all, what good would it do at this point? Backing out wasn't even an option--my students think I'm a rock star for doing this, and there's no way I could have shown up on Monday and seen the looks on their faces when I told them I couldn't go through with it. Plus, it was kind of easy NOT to be scared--it all seemed so surreal. My brain was unable to process the fact that I was seconds away from falling out of an airplane. It was almost like watching it happen to someone else.

And then it was my turn. As I'd been taught, I crouched down and hung the toes of my shoes over the edge of the doorway. Once I had my balance, I let go of the door frame (that was actually the scariest part) and wrapped my arms around my knees, cannon-ball style. Dave counted off, "One!" And we rocked forward. "Two!" We rocked back. And then..."Three!"--and we were somersaulting into the clouds.

They don't call me crazy for nothin'

So what'd YOU do today?

And I was flying! Last time, I was so terrified that I don't think I let go of my pack. This time, I was able to let go and spread my arms out, Superman-style. (This is the equivalent of letting go of the bar and raising your arms way up as you go down on a roller coaster.) I was even able to give my Ron, camera guy, a thumbs-up and a couple of waves as we plummeted to the ground at 120 mph. Dave also spun me around a few times for good measure (he'd asked for permission before we went up, and I told him that I'd be pissed if he DIDN'T).

My boobs and I are fearless

Reaching out to pull Ron over to say hello, up close and personal. Notice that I'm still wearing a perma-grin.

Even at 10,000 feet, I can still flirt with the cute camera guy.

You free-fall for about 60 seconds. My first time, it seemed like the longest minute of my life, and I couldn't wait for the parachute to open. This time, I was almost bummed as I felt the snap and sharp jerk upwards that told me the chute had been deployed. (Of course, I would have been even MORE bummed if it hadn't, LOL.) But it also meant that it was time for the SECOND best part of the experience--floating down to the ground.

It works! Holla!

Once the chute opens, you're enveloped in a cone of silence. Again, last time I jumped, I was still frozen with fear, even at this point in the jump. Today, however, he put my hands into the straps and let me steer the chute. (It's not rocket science--to go to the right, you pull on the right strap.) This part, the floating part, lasts for about 5 minutes--I don't know, maybe it was more. I was just gazing around, steering and laughing with delight when he'd give the straps a tug and make us spin around in lazy circles.

As we came in for our landing, it seemed that the ground was approaching at an alarming rate of speed. But then he pulled on both straps, making the chute bend into an upside-down "U"--and we suddenly slowed down and hit our target landing spot dead-on. (My only regret of the day: I didn't land on my feet, AGAIN.) And that's when we got THIS shot:

This picture was taken during the filming of my post-jump interview. Ron asked how it was, and I said, almost trance-like: "It amazing." And then suddenly I perk up and go, "And I did good, too!! I was flyin'," and I do this weird little airplane thing with my arms. I think I actually made airplane noises, too. I looked like I was mentally impaired. It was even more hysterical to watch because I don't remember a single moment of it. I honestly think that I was a little loopy, either from adreneline or all of the changes in altitude.

As I stood up, Ron asked if I had any final words for my students, and I cockily replied, "I think the video speaks for itself. Yeah...I'm pretty awesome."

Seriously, the DVD is SO funny. I'm trying to get it uploaded but that may not be till tomorrow.

Final note: HT landed after me (you can see him coming in on my video). Like me, he landed sitting down--only he didn't get up. A couple of the guys went over there, and realizing that something was up, I headed over, too. Turns out, a few seconds after his parachute deployed, he almost passed out. He was totally fine during the freefall part, but I guess he got this huge head rush once the chute opened. Dave said that it's actually pretty common--you have all that adreneline from falling, and then suddenly, in a matter of seconds, you're just kind of "sitting there" (albeit way, way up in the sky), and your body kind of OD's on the adreneline, which now has nowhere to go. I sat there with him for a few moments, patting him on the back as he put his head between his knees.

"It's okay," I said tenderly. "I won't tell anyone you're a p*ssy."

And THAT, my friends, is the story of my skydiving adventure.

HT, at our post-jump the local tiki bar

Texting our fellow teachers: "Dammit, Jen is SO MUCH COOLER than I am!"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Should have seen it coming

I was served tonight with foreclosure papers (well, Brad's foreclosure papers). I should have denied receipt or whatever but I was in shock and didn't really know what was happening until it was too late.

I, of course, immediately called (got his VM) and emailed Roommate Dearest.

I can only assume that although I've been paying him rent every month, he hasn't been making HIS monthly mortgage payments. The good news, the way I see it, is this:

1) The foreclosure process takes a while, so I have some time to figure out what my next move will be. One of my friends and I were already talking about moving in together, so it looks like it may be time to start looking at that more seriously. At any rate, I won't have to go anywhere right away. I've got a good couple of months at least.

2) Since rent apparently isn't getting paid, I guess I won't have to make THAT monthly payment anymore. I can use that money to try to catch up on other bills. Of course, I'll still send him money for electric and cable and water and all that, since he has apparently been keeping up on all of that (as evidenced by the fact that I still HAVE electric and cable and water). That's probably most of what he's been using my monthly rent checks for--which is fine, of course. But I'm sure not paying half of the rent anymore every month, if he's just pocketing it or whatever. He's probably been using it to pay the rent at his new place, since he still hasn't found a job.

I don't think he's purposely screwing me over. I'm not worried that he's going to suddenly going to change his number and go AWOL and that I'm going to come home one day to no cable or power. I'm surprised he hasn't mentioned any of this to me (especially because he was in town this week), just as a "Hey, just so you know, here's the situation, so you should start looking for a new place", but of course he wanted to keep getting rent money from me for as long as he could, and he also wanted to keep me living here as long as he could, since without my rent check every month he's completely screwed. Plus, he was probably in denial about how bad the situation had gotten or thought he had more time until things got this far. sucks, and it looks like I'll have to find a new place sooner than I had hoped or planned, but at least now I know, and I can start figuring out what to do next.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Feeling the burn

As you all know, I've been trying to teach my kids what a "burn" actually is (and isn't). Today, I said something to one of my kids--and although I don't even remember now exactly what it was, I still remember how another student responded.

"Dude," he said. "That wasn't just a burn. That was a THIRD DEGREE burn."

And THAT, my friends, was the highlight of my day.

PS--my science fair last night was a huge success. All but one student (P.) had their projects ready, and almost all of them showed up for the fair. They had a great time presenting to the "judges" (middle school teachers), and they were still talking about it when they came in this morning. And I was very impressed with their final results. All in all, a great night.

First place: he made airplanes out of different types of paper to see which one would go the farthest.

Second place: she burned different colored candles (including white) to see if the color of the candle affected burn time.

Third place: they tested different nail polishes (everything from $1 Wet n Wild to the $9 Maybeline) to see if price affected how long the polish stayed on.

Really--a great night.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Even computers know when it's my time of the month

I just went to CVS for chocolate and ice cream (yes, during The Biggest Loser. Shut up).

That is all I bought.

Here was the coupon the register spit back out at me:

P. strikes again

So today, as we're working in social studies, I overhear (out of the "corner of my ear") P. announce to his group that he's a virgin.

"P!!" I exclaim. "Out in the hallway. Now!!"

I get him outside of the room (as we're leaving, I hear my more innocent kids asking each other, "What's a virgin?")

"P!!" I say again. "That word is COMPLETELY inappropriate for school!! What were you thinking?!"

He looks at me with complete surprise on his face. "It is?"

I pause for a moment. "P., what do YOU think that word means?"

He shrugged. "I heard someone say it in a movie. And I heard about the Virgin Mary. I thought it was a religion."

Me: "P, you need to go home and ask your parents what it means. But I will tell you this: it has to do with sex. 'Virgin' is not a religion."

Him (a completely mortified look on his face): "Oh!! Miss K!! I didn't know! I thought it was like being Catholic!!"

Me: "Well, it's not. Now go back in there and I do NOT want you to talk about that word anymore, do you understand?"

Him (his head hung down and his face all red): "Yes, Miss K. But what does it mean?"

Me (because this is a very fine line, as we don't have "sex ed" anymore in our schools, at least not at this grade level): "Ask your parents."

I gave our assistant principal a heads up about this as I left today (Mrs. A is out of the building until Thursday)--just in case there's a flurry of phone calls from a bunch of flustered parents, wanting to know why their kids suddenly want to convert to "Virginism."

PS--One of my unofficial mentors at school, a 30+ year veteran, refers to P as the "gentle giant." And it finally hit me today--P. reminds of me Lennie from "Of Mice and Men," the "mentally handicapped giant" (description from Cliffs' Notes). You HAVE to have a soft spot for the kid, even when he drives you crazy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The "sweeney" kid strikes again--and other stuff

1) Remember when I was highlighting all of the stuff I have on my plate right now, namely the science fair (this Wed night--look for pics later this week!), the field trip (a week from Wed) and the end-of-the-year graduation ceremony? Well, I forgot one other little obligation--I'm skydiving on Sat morning. (LOL--you KNOW you're busy when "jumping out of a plane" fails to register on your radar.) Mom: I'll be fine. Really. I wouldn't even have mentioned it except that I want to keep all of my NON-neurotic friends updated on the goings-on in my life.

("Goings-on" is a really gay phrase.)

Anyway, everything will be okay. Air Adventures has been in business for over 20 years with one of the best safety ratings in the industry. (Their motto: "We haven't lost anyone this year.") Look for pics from that later on Saturday or Sunday (we played the "poor teacher" card and this place is throwing the $99 video and pics for free). Am I scared? F'in A, I'm scared! But I told the kids I'd do it--kids I don't even KNOW are coming up to me and asking about it--so I'm going to keep my word. My students worked really hard during the FCAT for this. However, you can believe that I won't SHOW them I'm scared on the video or I will never (ever ever) live it down, LOL (especially from Hot Teacher, who's also jumping with me. Next to K., he's my best teacher friend, particularly now that we've gone on a few trips together, but we also give each other a HORRENDOUS amount of shit).

2) Remember C., whose translation of "swine" to "sweeney" has become Broken Road legend? Today, I passed out the permission slips for our field trip. I told the kids to look them over, and as soon as everyone had theirs, I'd go over it with them.

As I was walking back up to the front of the room, I hear from the back of the room: "Miss K, what's 'lay-ooey'?"

It was C. again. Any guess on the word he was reading THIS time? (And mind you, he's one of my smart ones, LOL.)

"It's 'lieu,' C," I said, chuckling. "Not lay-ooey."

He crinkled up his nose in the cutest way. "What the heck does THAT mean?"

"In place of, or instead of," I said.

"Well then how come you said "lay-ooey" instead of THAT?" he asked.

"It's not lay-ooey, it's--never mind," I answered. "Let's look at the rest of the form, shall we?"

And you know you blog too much when: the second I heard the word "lay-ooey"--and realized it was the same kid as "sweeney"--I couldn't WAIT to get home and post it on here.

Seriously, I'm laughing again just thinking about it.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

New tagline

One of my favorite random bloggers, Carole of Naturally Carolicious, has been trying to find a new tagline to celebrate her new blog home. She found this site,, to randomly generate slogans for her. I decided to play around with it, too. Of course, I originally started with "Broken Road," resulting in not-to-shabby taglines like "See the face you love light up with Broken Road"--but then, in a flash of brilliance, I decided to plug in "Crazy Bitch." And that's when they really started getting good...

"New thinking. New Crazy Bitch."
"There's always room for Crazy Bitch."
"Today's Crazy Bitch since 1976."
"I'm not going to pay a lot for this Crazy Bitch." <----- why do I suspect that that one will become the winner?
"Get your Crazy Bitch on."
"Get busy with the Crazy Bitch."
"Welcome to Crazy Bitch Country."
"It's Crazy Bitch time."
"Savor the flavor of Crazy Bitch."
"All Crazy Bitch, all the time."
"Come see the softer side of Crazy Bitch."
"It's how Crazy Bitch is done."
"Pure Crazy Bitch."
"All you add is Crazy Bitch."
"The home of Crazy Bitch."
And of course:
"Got Crazy Bitch?"

Any of this striking your fancy as the new motto of Broken Road? If I can narrow it down to the top 5 or so, we can turn it into a poll.
Don't forget to tip your waitresses

I've talked about P. on here several times. He's the one who has an incredibly low IQ but, in many ways, is actually very, very smart--especially when it comes to finding ways to adapt and "survive" in the classroom. Every year he falls a little more and more behind, and I know that 5th grade has been especially tough for him. Particually in math, we have been doing things that the IQ tests say he will never be able to learn, due to his short-term memory, processing, and problem-solving scores (among others). I, of course, push him to do as much of the problems as he can, and to do the same assignments as the rest of the class (with some modifications) but that actually frustrates him quite a bit too--he's "smart" enough to realize that there's something different about him, compared to the other kids in the class. One day, he become visibly angry and emotional and accused me of "asking him to do stuff that he just can't do!" There was something about the way he said it that left me in tears after the kids left for the day. Where is the line between pushing him to accomplish as much as he can and perhaps setting him up for failure?

ANYWAY. None of that is the point of this post, at least not directly. I wanted to provide you with some backstory, because it makes you (well, it makes ME, anyway), appreciate certain moments with him that much more. And yesterday, he showed me that although his academic/intellectual IQ may be just a few points above mentally impaired, he can still be incrediblly funny and quick-witted.

I was sitting at my desk and I twisted off the cap to my diet Coke. I had dropped this bottle earlier in the morning but more than an hour had passed--I figured that I had waited long enough to open it. Well, I was wrong--the most incredible geyser of soda that I have ever seen erupted out of the bottle. (And no, before you say it, this wasn't the work of one of my students--they were benchmark testing all morning, and the bottle was on my desk the whole time.) It was such an incredible sight that, once soda stopped exploding everwhere, the kids sat in absolute silence, stunned--and so did I. It was ALL OVER my desk, jeans and even my face. My shirt was literally drenched.

And that's when P. said in a stage-whisper, with absolutely perfect delivery:

"Hey, Miss K. I think you got a little somethin' on your shirt."


PS--Since he's a big kid, he also has this huge, booming voice. Well, it was in that very voice that he asked me at recess, "Hey, Miss K, what's gonnorhea?" Of course, about 5 other kids heard him and were all like, "Gonnorhea, what's that?" My face was SO red. I told them that it was just an infection, and you needed medicine for it, but that it was something you didn't really talk about at school. I asked him where he'd even heard the word and he said from some middle schoolers on the bus. The other teachers, meanwhile, were leaning up against each other behind the slide, laughing their asses off, while they left me to deal with THAT little situation.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

My existential crisis

I am trying to decide if I should remain a fifth grade teacher next year or switch back to middle school. Short version: I really do like 5th grade, but I wonder if I gave up on middle school too soon. I was a MS language teacher my very first year of teaching--and I was eaten alive, namely due to my lack of classroom management. (Okay, it wasn't THAT bad, not compared to other first-year teachers I've seen since then, but it was definitely a challenge.) Now that I have some teaching experience under my belt, I wonder if maybe now I'd love middle school--the way my student-teaching supervisor said I would; she said I was "born" to be a middle school teacher--or if maybe I'm an elementary teacher, after all.

Because I've been at this school for a while now, my principal is letting me have my choice. She will either look for a 5th grade teaacher or a MS language arts teacher, depending on what I decide to do. However, I have to decide quickly. (FYI: I wouldn't JUST teach language arts, though. I would also be doing reading classes, as well.)

I am completely torn. This post is mostly to give myself the chance to "think out loud," but please tell me if anything jumps out at you.

Staying in 5th grade--PROS
*I have proven myself and have had much success in this grade. Perhaps I shouldn't rock the boat.
*The longer you stay in a grade, the better you get (obviously). I know the curriculum and subject matter.
*It's nice to have the same kids all day; you get to develop true relationships with them. Especially for my spinster ass, they ARE "my kids."
*The 5th grade team is a cohesive, strong team. We all work well together.
*I only have one "prep" (ie, lesson plans to prepare), since we all share. I do the language arts plans, and that's all.
*Fifth graders are more intimidated by you, they listen to you and they don't have middle school attitudes (at least not until the end of the year).
*I've worked really hard the last couple of years to establish myself. I am in a VERY good position with the higher-ups right now. What if I switch and I'm not "super teacher" anymore? If I move to MS and fail or even struggle, that could hurt me in the long run.

Staying in 5th grade--CONS
*I'm getting antsy. Yes, I've only been in 5th for 2 years, but just as I know the content area well, there's only so many times you can teach the same stuff before you get a little bored. There's a reason I switched jobs every 2 years prior to becoming a teacher. I don't know if it's my Crazy or not, but I NEED to change things up every so often. Do I see myself as a career classroom teacher? Absolutely? So I see myself as a career 5TH GRADE teacher? No. No matter what, I'll be hopping from grade to grade every few years. It doesn't reflect badly on you as a teacher; in fact, it showcases your skills. A teacher is stronger and more indispensable when you can put them in a variety of grades.
*I teach EVERYTHING, including math and science (I'm a decent math teacher but it's not my passion, and I absolutely hate teaching science).
*They're more immature, and you have a limit to what you can do with them. With projects, you only get to skim the surface and introduce the subject matter. You can't delve too deeply into it with 10-year-olds.

Moving to middle school--PROS
*First and foremost, I'd be teaching reading and language arts. That's MY area. That's my passion. That's what I love and that's what I love TEACHING. And as they say, when you love what you teach, that excitement and enthusiasm shines through--and, in a perfect world, rubs off on the students. Can I teach science effectively? Sure. Do I "glow" when I talk about it? LOL--hellz no!
*I could show that I'm flexible, adaptable and able to teach more than one grade level. Rather than hurting me (ie, if I fail), it could help me and make me that much more invaluable to administration.
*Rather than teaching 6 different subjects every day, I'd be able to teach the same thing 6 different times a day. Although this can be monotonous (see below), it also lets me hone and perfect that lesson. I can learn from it and change it as the day goes along. My best teaching as a MS teacher often came at the end of the day.
*With middle schoolers, you can assign more involved projects and assignments. You can "take it to the next level" with the. You can get into those conversations and debates that happen once-upon-a-time in fifth grade. Along those same lines, rather than teaching the basics of writing, I can really get into the ART of writing. I don't have to focus on how to write a paragraph or a full essay; I can concentrate on the content, on what's going to go INTO that essay--the vivid language and imagery and shit. (LOLOL--yes, I just said "the vivid langage and imagery AND SHIT. I almost went back and deleted it but decided that it was perfect how it was.)
*They'd have a stable teacher in that position--and by that I mean one who is going to stay the entire year and even return the nex year. Plus, the kids will know that they can't try to play "scare off the new teacher." I've been a part of the school too long.
*I'm already tight with the middle school team. They're my FRIENDS. I'm so dedicated, I already "meet" with them 2 or 3 times a week. After school. ON MY OWN TIME. I know; like I said, I'm dedicated. ;) But really, we'd all work together well.

Moving to middle school--CONS
*Three words: Middle. School. Attitude.
*I need to say that one again, because it's a pretty big one. MIDDLE. SCHOOL. ATTITUDE.
*I could, as I said, fail. I could move and hate it and be miserable and, even worse, see my performance evaluations suffer.
*Seriously, what if I hate it? Middle school is a notoriously tough age group. SHOULD I take the chance of leaving something I like for something I don't? But...what if I LOVE it?

**Note: either way, I'm not going to be the fifth grade team lead next year. Liz, the only one of us who hasn't held that position yet, approached me today and said she'd like to give it a shot. I told her that I would have put in for it if no one else did, but if she wanted it, I thought that as fair. Plus, it could only help to make our team better--more balanced. So don't let that whole thing (ie, "walking away from a leadership position") influence your decision.

So....lots to think about. What do we think? I really DO want to try MS again...but WHAT IF I HATE IT? It's kind of like breaking up with an amazing guy because you think something better MIGHT BE out there.
Slap Chop part deaux

Someone has way too much time on his hands. I'm not talking about the guy in the video or even the guy who made the video. I'm talking about the guy who SENT me the video.

But I do thank him for feeding into my Slap Chop obsession...and for providing me with a much-needed laugh.

Slap Chop Rap Remix - Watch more Funny Videos

Monday, May 04, 2009

I want to take him home and make him my pet

Apparently, this is "bear season" in Florida. Here's some pics of a bear that was spotted about 5 1/2 miles from my house (I Mapquested it, so I know where to put out the apples. Since, as the big meanie from Florida Wildlife stated, "A fed bear is a dead bear," I have to go get him before they do). It's an itty bitty one, about 150 pounds. You only need to click through the first 10 pics or so. He's freakin' adorable (#7 just kills me; it's like he's posing!

You can read the article here; it's kind of funny and very informative. Plus, if you go back to the home page, there's a link to the oh-so-adorable video.

I'm going to call him Blackie. He shall be my cuddly friend.
Holy stress, Batman!


Science fair on the 13th, field trip on the 20th, those are the 2 main things stressing me out....and that last one is HUGE.

We have the money for the buses raised ($2500, bitches!! Hell yeah!), now anything extra goes towards bringing down the ticket prices for the kids. (And this isn't the regular, full price ticket--this is the special $39 group price, which is nice. We've gotten it as low as $20 before but that isn't going to happen this year, because last year the PTO paid for our buses and this year, well, we were on our own. Technically, we've raised way more money than we did last year--go, Super Team Lead!--but the costs were also way higher. I have the groups made up and chaperones assigned. Letters will go home to "official" chaperones tomorrow, with a chaperone meeting next Monday (you know: don't smoke, don't drink, don't lose any kids, don't let them climb the roller coasters or play with the elephants, etc). I am just CRAZY STRESSED about the whole trip because this year, *I* am in charge if ANYTHING goes wrong--last year, I just had to worry about my little group of 5 which was way better, LOL. And, as team lead, I had to give myself the "worst" kids (ie, those most likely to actually CLIMB the roller coasters, play with the elephants, etc), which is also more stressful. Remember last year, when I heard over the loud speaker at the log ride, "please do not rock the boats" and I just KNEW it was some of my kids? Well this year, that's more likely to be, "please get back into your log and quit mugging the other riders").

I will not be able to sleep normally until May 21.

And none of this even counts the 5th grade graduation ceremony I have to plan for June 8.

Pass the Tums.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A deep chick flick

I watched Bride Wars this weekend. It was actually a good movie--funny and light-hearted, a classic chick flick. It was exactly the kind of movie that women love and men would have to be dragged to.

And then, at the end, came this voice-over:

"Sometimes in life there really are bonds formed that can never be broken. Sometimes you really can find that one person who will stand by you no matter what. Maybe you'll find it in a spouse and celebrate it with your dream wedding, but there's also the chance that the one person you can count on for a lifetime, the one person who knows you sometimes better than you know yourself, is the same person who's been standing beside you all along. "

And that made me stop and think. My dating life has been the subject of countless posts, emails, phone calls, and girl get-togethers. I often wonder if I'll ever find "the one," if I'll find the kind of love and relationship that seems to come so easily to others. As a child, I never thought that I would be 32 and still single. And, although women are settling down and starting families later now than at any point in history, it's also a biological fact that if I don't have kids in the next few years, it may not happen for me at all. (And my emotions keep going back and forth on this issue: sometimes my biological clock ticks like a time bomb, and sometimes I truly feel that I'd be okay if I never had another a child of my own, that maybe my path will include either adopting or becoming a stepmother.) Still, it's no secret that I do, at the very least, want to get married--someday. And, as I see former classmates getting divorced and beginning SECOND marriages, I'm beginning to view my never-married status as a source of pride--that I'm learning invaluable lessons along the way, that I'm refusing to settle, that I'm not rushing into anything, and that all of this will help to make sure that when I DO take that final step, it will last.

And then I watched Bride Wars, and that voice-over made me stop in my tracks. The idea that my "soul mate" may not be a romantic partner but rather a friend kind of blew me away. That's not to say that I'd be okay never getting married--far from it. Even if the kids thing never happens for me, I truly hope that marriage is in the cards somewhere down the line. But maybe, when it comes down to it, I'm searching for something that I already have. Renee's been around since first grade, and the rest of the Girl Tribunal has been around since high school (Kish) and my mid-20s (Anna). And then there's Nik and Missy, who came into my life through the marriage of our parents but have been my sisters in every way that matters. They all know me inside and out, they love me unconditionally, they give me a kick in the ass when I need it (and let's face it, that's pretty often) and they are always, ALWAYS there for me. They've never let me down. They've seen me grow and change over the years and have been my biggest supports throughout every one. Even when I make mistakes (some of them over and over again), they still have my back. What guy will EVER be able to compete with that? Even if I meet the perfect man tomorrow (and trust me, I'll still be out there looking, LOL), he won't know the me of yesterday--only the me of today and tomorrow.

Needless to say, I highly recommend this movie. It will make you want to tell all of your friends how much they mean to you...which is why I'm writing this post. I love you all.

And if I'm still single and childless when I'm 50, I'm coming to live with one of y'all.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Speaking of syphillis...

....I had the funniest dream of my LIFE last night, and I can't believe I'm just now remembering to tell you guys.

I had a dream that Nee had to have a THROAT TRANSPLANT, because her original throat was so jacked up from her, shall we say, oral extracurricular activities.

The "sweeney flu" comes to FL

And of course, the first case in the entire state is in my county. **

In my school district (an elementary student).

Thankfully, though, not my school.

All schools in the area received a letter yesterday informing parents that there was a "suspicious case" in the district. At the time, they weren't releasing the name of the school (although we found out by the end of the day). Today, they confirmed that it was the swine flu, that a 2nd student at the school was likely to have it, and another TEN were beginning to show symptoms (such as very high fevers). They finally decided, today, to shut down the school. (Ya think?) The district, however, remains open. (Damn.)

When the letters went home yesterday, my kids panicked, with one kid decrying that he "wanted to live to see puberty!" I told them that the chances of this actually being the swine flu were very small (oops. Now they'll never believe anything I tell them again, LOL), and that even if it WAS, it was probably not our school anyway (at least I was right about SOMETHING). At which point I went into a very unfortunately-timed coughing fit.

When I was done, I looked up to see the whole class shrinking away from me in horror.

"Guys," I said. "I'm fine. I don't have the sweeney flu." (Since one of my kids asked me what the word 'sweeney' meant when reading a previous letter about the 'swine' flu, it's become kind of a class joke.) And then I started coughing again. (I've had this cough for a couple of weeks now, due primarily to quitting smoking.)

(I think.)

Anyway, the hard thing about being a teacher, especially to elementary kids, is that they look to you for guidance and reassurance, in everything from fire drills and "stranger drills" (those ones REALLY freak them out) to possible outbreaks of the sweeney flu. I spent a good 30 minutes (that was our social studies of the day) talking about how they would be fine, they had nothing to worry about, and they would, in fact, live to see puberty. They literally hung on every word as I calmly reassured them that they would be safe and healthy. "Look at me," I said. "Do I look worried? Scared? No. You'll be FINE." But it's just kind of weird, really--I've never experienced it as a parent, of course, but sometimes you have to keep a game face on, no matter how YOU feel on the inside. And it was...what's the word?...humbling, I guess, to realize that, even if I don't always feel like it, I'm a grownup, dammit--and as their teacher, I'm one of the constants in their lives. For some of them, they spend more time with me during the day than with their own parents. And every now and then, something happens to make me realize--damn. They really do depend on me, and for a lot more than teaching them how to multiply fractions or figure out the main idea of a passage.

Luckily, I didn't find out about this case was actually confirmed until after school, so I won't have to deal with the fallout this weekend. I can imagine, though, that they are all huddled under their beds with flashlights, and that M. is once again mentally kissing puberty goodbye.

** And O.M.G. It's like the media's wet dream. Check out and tell me if the "SWINE FLU HITS LEE COUNTY" banner is still there, along with the 35 related stories. I really don't see why it's such a big deal..I mean, only one person has died in the U.S. from this whole thing. I think MALARIA has killed more than that this year. Or...or...what's another random disease? The flesh-eating bacteria. Yet there are no "YOUR SKIN IS BEING EATEN AWAY AS YOUR READ THIS" stories. God. It's the flu. A different strain, sure, but if you go to the doc and get the freakin' Tamiflu, you'll be fine. Hell, SYPHILLIS is scarier than this. And Renee should know.