Thursday, March 29, 2007

Time Flies When You're Busy

I haven't taken time to blog for a long time because there have been many other things taking up my time:
  • My brother-in-law died in a car accident on Mar. 20 and that involved taking off three days from work. Which involved hours of lesson plan writing.
  • We traveled to Wyoming to his funeral and spent three days with family visits and a really awesome service presented mainly by his grown grandchildren.
  • I returned to school and two days of a vocabulary teaching workshop which meant two more days of a substitute and more hours of lesson plan writing.

So...I've been spending all my creative energy on lesson plans. I'm leaving on Friday to go to Maryland to see my sons and celebrate one's birthday. I'll also go see the cherry blossoms in D.C. and then come on back to Vegas to rest for a day or two before school starts up again after Spring Break.

No, it doesn't leave much time for breathing slowly. So, I hope to do more blogging when I get a moment. There are several subjects about which I need to do some theraputic writing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'm Taking a Poll...

I can't decide if I'm just being a sissy, or if this class is really hard. Here are some situations, please (especially other teachers) offer your comments:

a) There are three girls that (independently of one another) will choose to get all sniffy about what they've been assigned to do and push their desks away from the others, and either get all sulky and refuse to function OR flop onto the floor (!!) near the desk or in a corner and refuse to function. One even kicked her feet and yelled briefly one day.

Oh--BTW--this is fourth grade-nine/ten year olds.

b) There is a boy who spends the first hour and the last in a SPED class for reading and math help. The rest of the day he is in my class--tapping, whacking the chair, calling out, making little squeaky sounds, snatching things from his neighbor's desk to create turmoil. When asked to write, do math, anything at all that might be productive he shouts loudly, "That's too hard! I can't! I don't want to !" etc. etc. (And I really try to modify his assignments so he can succeed.)

c) There are two boys who are very bright, and get their assignments done quickly, (but resist in-depth work, rushing through it with poor results) and then get out of their chairs to roam around the room bugging others and talk constantly. The only way to get them to remain seated is constant vigilance and repeated threats/taking away recess. I've called moms---they get reprimanded (even beat, I think) but return to the same behavior immediately the next day.

d) There is a boy who cannot write all the letters in his name, can read about five first grade sight words, and barely speaks English. He moved here two weeks ago. Oh, he can do a little math if the numbers are all under five.

e) There is a sweet girl who was moved to my room in January. She needs glasses, but they're broken, mom's phone numbers are all disconnected when I try to call and find out if I can help with the glasses, or the school can help, or whatever....She cannot read more than 10 sight words, cannot do math even with the words under five. She knows she cannot function and has many coping skills. She is embarrassed by her lack of ability. But there's no way to know if she can even see the letters and numbers I'm trying to drill her on.

f) 2/3 of my class speak Spanish exclusively at home.

g)I've altered my seating arrangement repeatedly in a vain attempt to either break up the little cliques that spend all the live-long day talking or all the live-long day arguing. Sometimes it's the same group. (I'm not going to be your friend...) And no one is shy about expressing their disgust about the person with whom they are seated. Which adds fuel to the fire. (Yo Mama!!!) (He's messin' with my mama!!) (Don't you mess with me!!) etc. etc.

So...each day I go to school optimistic that this is day I will get through my lesson plans as planned---we will have the lesson, we will practice, we will do small groups.

Each day I leave the room exhausted and discouraged wondering how I'm going to survive another day with them.

Any suggestions? No, really---suggest away!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Backyard Farming

For my birthday I received a lovely empty wooden frame, 10 feet by 4 feet, anchored in the middle of the lawn with pounded pegs. The next weekend I hauled a yard and a half of dirt and shoveled and shoveled and shoveled until voila: a garden bed!! Yeah!! I'm farming again. I'm all fired up to dig up the grass in the immediate vicinity of my now planted garden and put in desert plants and drip irrigation and leave only the grass square under the tree. We need a little something for the small people who come here to play occasionally. The grass under the tree is the only pretty part of the lawn, anyway. It gets protected from the searing Nevada sun.

Plus, now that Cool Guy has assembled my OTHER birthday gift (purchased by and for myself) we have a serious growing environment here. Check this out. I got the middle-sized one. It is now filled with grass clippings and dead leaves from yard trimmings and we're cooking a batch of dirt! With the tomato plants starting to set blossoms, the basil sprouting new leaves, baby spinach seedlings poking through the soil we're on our way to caprezi and pesto in a few weeks. Yum... Now I need to buy some pepper plants so that salsa is in the future, too.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Can You Spell I-D-I-O-T?

It's late, but I'm still puttering around. I put the clothes in the dryer. Then I got in the car to get out some old books I'm giving away when I heard piteous meowing. From where??

I opened the big door, thinking she was outside. No...I re-opened the car door--perhaps she'd climbed in earlier when I was unloading from the store. No...

Piteous meowing again--I look up and up--there, in the rafters of the garage, staring down at me like I am supposed to do something: The Idiot, aka, Kitty Cat.

For a week, whenever I've had the big door open, she's been jumping up on the car roof and gazing longingly up into the rafters of the garage, and meowing at me about...some important cat-thing.

So, evidently tonight, when I was unloading the car, leaving open the big door while I checked the mail, and transferred things from the car to the truck (for my drop-off at the thrift store)she indulged her yen to see just what was in the top of the garage.

There are a couple of plywood sheets across some of the rafters where we store some luggage and an assortment of other infrequently used items. And maybe there is a colony of mice, or rabbits, or birds. Or maybe it is just a dark hole that has been whispering to the Kitty Cat: explore me, explore me--you still have a couple of lives left--you can't be killed by your curiosity...yet.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Suffering for Being Cool

Remember when you were a teenager and you wanted to be cool? And someone, probably your mother, warned that sometimes being cool would lead to you having some big problem, or some other vague pain in the future?

It is now the future. I'm suffering.

Today, there was no substitute for the absent P.E. teacher, so--per the policy of this school district--I got no planning period. I will be paid the hourly rate for this sacrifice--not the actual amount that losing my 50 minutes of time-with-no-students is worth, mind you--since there is not enough money in Vegas to compensate. BUT--I digress. The result of this is that I took my class out to the playground for a while to decompress, run and scream, etc.

Some boys were doing chin-ups on the monkey bars and challenged me to do one. Duh--I cannot pull up this body--no way. So they had another idea: hang up-side down! One of them showed me how he did it: you grab the overhead bar, you walk your feet up the support post and then fling them over the bar between your hands.

TA DA!! To everyone's amazement (including mine) I did it!! Yeah, cheering, huzzahs---Mrs. [EarthSignMama], the coolest teacher in the world!! Wow!! Do it again---she did!! Yeah!! Everyone look!!

Now it is eight hours later. I will hobble to the pool controls, turn on the hot tub, and as it heats, I will dig out my bottle of 800 mg. ibuprofen and take one. Then I will soak until I turn to a prune and fall (gently) into bed.

But, I was cool for a little while!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Nasty Habit That Turns Off Men

Tonight in the grocery store I was reading Cosmo to find out what was “The Nasty Habit That Turns Off Men”. (March 2007) It turns out to be: dissing guys. That fun thing that women like to do as a major recreational pastime: bad-mouthing the male gender.

Except that I learned a really long time ago not to do it. Mostly because I am married to a rather great husband, and so I didn’t need to trash talk about him. In fact, I usually told stories about his amazing-ness. I remember one time when I was teaching Relief Society and, I forget now the topic, but one lady's comment was something along these lines, “But Sister [EarthSignMama], you’re married to a wonderful, competent man who can do [whatever the topic was]—you’ve told us.” And I felt very proud of myself for being known as the wife who compliments her husband in public.

It just struck me as I read that article because there is so much trashing of men---ads on t.v. feature the stupid guy who must be saved by the female. Sitcoms commonly have the Stupid Old Dad/Husband who is treated horribly by the wife and kids. YOU KNOW there is no way that anyone would dare make a show about the Stupid Old Wife.

So anyway---be nice out there ladies. Go get Cosmo (or at least read pg. 142 in the grocery store line) and learn how this habit negatively affects our relationships. eg: if you're willing to talk badly about former boyfriends/ex-husbands to your current Amour, then how can he avoid thinking "Hmmm...when is she going to start applying this to me?? How am I screwing up?? When will I be the topic of tirade??"

"I want to be kind to everyone,
For that is right, you see.
So I say to myself,
Remember this:

And, Cool Guy, in case I haven't said it lately, "Thanks for all your Amazing-ness!"