. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: October 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Don't Sweat It

Today we...

by "we" I mean "they"...

... the kids...

ran "the mile."

Six loooooooong laps around the playground, complete with moaning, crying, limping, coughing, and puking.

As our little joggers said, "Oh look. Asparagus!"

They are a motley little crew of misfits out there running.

 Every Wednesday, all the kids except maybe two launch into dramatic displays of their various "ailments" in an attempt to get out of running the mile.

They heal surprisingly fast when we suggest that if they're too sick or injured to run, they must skip recess...

...for their own well-being! We would HATE for them to make their sickness or injury worse by running around at recess. Better they sit it out at the lunch tables and heal.

As my mother would say, "The only way to get better is REST."

"Uuummmm. I think I can run now."

Today, a little girl came up to me in a true panic and said, "Mrs. Lee!! I have to stop running. I'm leaking!"

"Oh, great," I thought. "I've made another one wet her pants. HOW does this keep happening?"

As the girl approaches, she's showing me her leaky...


She actually raised her heart rate enough to break a sweat.

...and thought she was dying.

"Have you never sweat under your arms before?" I asked.

"NO!" she shot back like I'd just asked her if she had ever murdered a puppy or something.

"Keep running, kid. That's just your body saying Thank You."

People, we gotta get these kids outside more!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You Can Run, But...

Howard ditched after-school detention with me today.

Man, was he surprised to see me marching up to him.

...in the park he was playing in.

...a mile away from our school.

When you're nine, you don't consider the fact that hiding in the place where you play every day makes finding you so easy.

Thank you, Howard!

The best part was that he was playing with a group of boys, one of which ditched detention with me last year.

And what did that boy say?

"I TOLD YOU she'd come find you!"

I'm nothing if not predictable.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

They Shoulda Warned Me!

Remember when you started your training as a teacher; ready to change the world one little mind at a time?

Well, here's a funny from YouTube about this very topic made by this guy (who happens to be recognized by Smart Technologies, one of my favorite technology providers, as a super techie teacher. That's my kind of educator!)

This video is so true it hurts...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Walk About

Remember when I said that there is no better way to get to know a kid than to have lunch with them?

Well, walking them home is pretty enlightening as well.

I walked Howard home yesterday.

You see, Howard is a difficult child to motivate. He hates school.

... and school isn't in his fan club either.

He's always exhausted, laying around on his desk, playing with his pencil, bugging his neighbors and being a general nuisance to others. He is also always unshowered and rarely brushes his teeth.

I feel like all I do is redirect his behavior and ask him to go wash his hands.

ALL I do is redirect his behavior and ask him to go wash his hands, making teaching all the other students (also really needy kiddos) a big challenge.

It's like trying to read a wonderful novel while simultaneously remodeling my own kitchen with nothing but a plastic fork and super glue.

Impossible to do, but guaranteed to leave you feeling like a failure.

So at the end of the day yesterday, after Howard got in trouble for punching another student in line as we were leaving, I decided to make a change.

You see, Howard is not a good student, but he is savvy enough to know that doing things at the end of the day on a Friday probably means no immediate consequences.

What he didn't bank on was the fact that I have no life, therefore I have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to dedicate to his consequences.

I sent his friends walking home without him and kept him with me for 20 minutes to discuss his decision to hit. I let him know that detention on Monday was coming too. Then, I began walking him off campus.

...and never stopped walking him.

Howard: Are you going to walk me all the way home?!?

Me: Yup.

Howard: To talk to my grandma or mom, because they're not there.

Me: We'll see.

I just started chatting with him, asking him what he liked about school.


What he doesn't like about school.

Everything and everyone else.

What he would like to see more of in school.


If, in his 5 years at our school, he had ever been on a rewards contract to earn good stuff for making good choices.


Would he like to be on one?


Who he lives with.

About 11 other people in a 3 bedroom house.

Who is home when he gets there.

No one.

Who he shares a room with.

Mom and two sisters.

Bunk beds? Single beds? Share a bed?

I sleep on the floor.

Who gets him dinner and reminds him to get ready for bed?

No one. Mom is out until late and everyone else is busy with other stuff.

I told him that I agree that recess is fun and I like it too. I also think that more playing can happen while we learn, but that we have a lot of work to do on behavior before I think he can learn while playing. Playing is something that can be earned on a rewards contract.

He was in a pretty good mood by the time we reached his driveway, however his grandma's truck was in the driveway.

I'm sure he thought, "Oh, crap..."

Me: Well, thanks for the great ideas, Howard. I'll see you on Monday.

Howard: ummmmm, You're not going to talk with my grandma?

Me: Nope. I just wanted to talk with you.

Howard: (sheepish grin) Really?

Me: Yup. Have a good evening, Howard.

Howard: You too, Mrs. Lee.

It might take all year, but Howard needs to trust us. He needs to know that for the hours he's at school, someone wants to take care of him.

And someone cares enough to remind him to wash his hands.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Unexpectedly Happy Ending

My teammates and I had an all-day meeting scheduled with our new principal today.

We grudgingly stayed until 5:30 the evening before writing sub plans.

We groggily arrived early, as usual, to finalize sub plans and ensure our rooms and materials were ready 'cause Company's Coming!

We cheerily met our subs but predictably freaked out a bit because they didn't quuiiiiiiite seem up to the job.

(Well, at least I did.)

We kerploppingly sat down in the assigned empty classroom and sighed audibly when we saw chart paper, markers, post-it notes, print outs of colored bar graphs, and other evidence that we would be crunching a LOT of numbers today.


We silently cheered when, an hour into our meeting, our subs got yanked to go to other schools because too many teachers called in sick.

(On a Friday? Weeiiiird.)

We happily returned to our classes to teach.

I love a day that doesn't suck!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shame on Me

Do you know what I said yesterday?

Do you KNOW what I said?!?!

Well, I'll tell ya, I crossed a line. I crossed a line, and I can never go back.

I can't unsay it.

My students can't unhear it.

It's as permanent as the marker stain on my left index finger that won't go away because I always miss when recapping my whiteboard marker.

(Deep breath)

I was teaching my students about figurative language; specifically about how to recognize the difference between similes and metaphors.

An innocent query came from the back of the room. Why do we have to learn this?

What I should have said: Because learning how to recognize figurative language is the first step to being able to use it in your own writing, which will make you a better, more interesting, more vivid writer. Good writers have a big bag of tricks they can pull from so that their writing doesn't become boring and uninteresting. I want you to have as big a bag of tricks as possible.

But I was thinking: Good Question, Kid! Why DO you have to learn this? Many of you have only been speaking English for a few years, only speak it in the classroom, and don't even know the basics about how to write a simple sentence yet because I am forced to spend weeks on figurative language instead of teaching you the skills you really need. In addition, I'll bet millions upon millions of people live productive and fruitful lives without knowing the nuanced differences between similes and metaphors. That being said, I would LOVE to teach you this skill after I felt you'd had enough time to learn the prerequisite skills necessary to even use figurative language in a sentence. 

So I said: Because it's on the state test.

(Pause for dramatic effect)

Yup. I admitted to them, and to myself, (and now to you) that I was teaching them something simply so they can pass it on that stupid state test.

(GASP! oooooOOOOoooo... She said "stuuuuUUupid!")

I am ashamed.

And a bit brainwashed.

Have I really succumb to the mentality that because it's on that test, it's a life skill my kids need?

Have I lost all perspective on what students REALLY need and now I am simply checking off skills found on the state test?

Looks like I have.

But at least I'm not the only one. Here's a funny from Learning Laffs.

Number 8 was my personal favorite.