. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Count

Well, it looks like The Bits has been landing on lists all over the place!

The Bits can be found on this 50 Amazing Blogs for Elementary Educators
list and this Top 50 Blogs by Elementary Educators.

There are so many wonderful bloggers out there sharing ideas and stories. Drop by those sites and check them out!

Thank you very much to those who thought to include my little bloggy on their sites.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Don’t Mess with Coach

Friday was field trip day!

If you are a regular reader then you know that field trip day usually involves adventures like this and this.

Amazingly, THIS time it really was adventure free!

So then why write about it, Edna?

Because, and I am being brutally honest here, I am an awful, awful person. I really, truly am yet I am going to offer no apologies for it (and I feel bad about that too.)

Now, before I begin my story, let me tell you that I am not proud of the story I am about to share. I realize that a better person than me would not have allowed this to happen.

So here goes…

I while back, I shared a story about George, the student who got busted for telling his neighbor that I am the smartest teacher in the world.

Well… I am OVER that shame I felt for busting him because that was about the last nice thing that kid ever said about anyone.

He hits.

He throws elbows.

He pinches.

He shoves.

He bullies.

He name-calls.

He back-talks.

And this is not just how he treats kids. Adults are fair game to him too.

He is, in general, kind of a difficult person for others to like.

And when you address these behaviors with him, he folds his arms, furrows his brow and stomps away from you like a toddler in need of a nap.

So, I'm having a hard time warming up to him.

I recognize this shortcoming of mine though; therefore I make extra efforts to reward him for making good choices and being kind to others. He is, after all, just a kid.

But frankly, I know I am just faking it. And since I am faking it, it was inevitable that I eventually would fail him.

As I did.

On the field trip.

Our naturalist at the estuary also happened to be the wrestling coach at a local high school and told the kids to call him Coach.

He was great with the kids, keeping them learning and laughing the entire time, however he soon grew weary of George's constant complaining and off-putting attitude.

At one point, Coach was talking about an ecosystem while looking for a vocabulary card in his backpack. He sort of left his sentence hanging while he dug around in the bag and George sarcastically yelled out, "Aw Geez! Like you're really prepared to teach US!"

I immediately stepped forward to take George aside, but Coach gave me a look that told me he wanted to handle it and said,

"Now George, I know you think you're funny but looks aren't everything."


The entire class snickered and ooooo-ed behind their hands.

George was quiet for the remainder of the trip, silenced by the adult who handed him low blow

and the teacher who did not step up to comfort him.




Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Here is a story shared by a third grade teacher in the lounge today:

Mrs. X: Alex, tell your father what you shared in school today.

Alex: I like Hawaii.

Mrs. X: Alex...

Alex: I like Hawaiian girls.

Mrs. X: And?

Alex: I like Hawaiian girls in grass skirts.

Mrs. X: Aaaand?

Alex: Fine. I like Hawaiian girls in grass skirts and their BOOBS!

'nuff said.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Less is More

I'm beginning to feel that if Lou ever moves (He's this guy and this guy), I'd have to close up shop and call it a day.

This guy is blogging GOLD!

Where do I begin?

Oh! I know! Thursday!

On Thursday, Lou came to me before lunch and said he'd like to talk to me about a problem he's having with another student.


Since his M.O. is usually to push, shove, stomp, or scream at a kid, I was pretty impressed with this move so I arranged for him to talk to me at lunch.

At lunch he strolled in, pulled a chair up to my desk, and said:

So you know how I take that medication, right?

I do. ADHD meds.

Well, I take it mostly because I have a hard time controlling myself. Sometimes, when I get mad, I lose control and hit kids.

I've noticed.

Well, I think I'm gonna hit Sammy and I don't want to do that.


Well, you see, he's always bugging me, following me, and he won't leave me alone. I've asked him NICELY to play with other people but he just won't go away.

(Insert image of Lou screaming LEAVE ME ALONE! LEAVE ME ALONE! LEAVE ME ALONE! in Sammy's face.)

I know his methods might be a bit, shall we say, abrasive, however we work with the tools we've got. Lou hasn't taken a swing at Sammy yet so I'm all good with what's happened so far and pretty durn impressed with his willingness to ask for help.

So I tell Lou that I agree with him in that he and Sammy should not be playmates for awhile. I say I'll talk with Sammy about finding some other playmates; however Lou has to agree to stay away from Sammy as well. If he initiates contact with Sammy, all bets are off.


Jump to late in the day on Friday, when I finally have time to pull Sammy aside and talk with him alone. He readily agreed to find other friends to play and stay away from Lou. The whole encounter was over in less than two minutes and Sammy said about two words. As I am talking to him, I see Lou watching us and feel that great teacher feeling you have when you know you're winning over a tough nut who trusts no one.

(Insert image of Lou accepting the Nobel Peace Prize and in his speech he thanks Mrs. Lee because she was the one he "could always rely upon". Camera pans to an older, yet surprisingly stylish me, wiping away a tear using a tissue handed to me by his mother who is forever grateful for the impressive impact I had on her son.)

As we leave for lunch, Lou stays behind the rest of the class and says:

So, you know how Sammy just told you about how I pointed my binder at him like a gun, cocked it and pretended to shoot him with it…
 …over and over again?

 (Insert furrowed brow head nod from me.)

Well, I didn't do that.

And that is why, ladies and gentlemen, less is more. Lou had to be suspended for the rest of the day because even imitating guns is a suspendable offense and Two-Word Sammy had a great afternoon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Thoughtful

The Bits is on a list!!

The Bits is on a list!!

The fellow over at Masters in Education has oh so kindly included The Bits on his "100 Blogs That Will Make You a Better Teacher" list.

Clearly, this is a man with discerning taste.

The list has some great blog resources on it for teachers of all levels so you might wanna drop by and check it out. I found a few more to add to my Google Reader!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Never Leave a Man Behind

My students were rotating from two doors away to my room for science. As the last few stragglers climbed down the stairs, a little girl dropped her massive binder and papers went hither and yon with the wind.

Lou, of identity crisis fame, popped up from behind the stairs, threw one hand in the air to get my attention and yelled,

We'll be there in a sec, Mrs. Lee. We've got a folder down! Send reinforcements!

I think I'm gonna like him.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Identity Crisis

My teaching partner told a funny story yesterday about one of our kids.

On Fridays, students who have done their work and largely made positive behavior choices for the week get rewarded by participating in a “Fun Friday’ activity, which usually consists of turning them loose on the playground for 20 minutes…

also known as Nirvana.

Those students who need to complete work or make better behavior choices remain in a classroom to continue with academics in Study Hall…

also known as AAaawwWW Darn.

Yesterday, Lou was one of the students in Study Hall with my teaching partner. He asked permission to go to the restroom and really looked like it was an emergency so she dismissed him to go. Lou is a pretty impulsive, immature, but generally sweet. Although he’s had some troubles at school in the past, he’s doing well so far this year, outside of whatever landed him in Study Hall. So off he went, one hand pinching off any unintended leaks and the other out in front of him like football player ready to crash through the defensive line.

And he was gone.

And gone.

And gone.

When she became concerned about his whereabouts, she sent out a scout to track him down and within seconds he was safely returned to the classroom. He sheepishly stood in front of her and whispered:

“Sorry I took so long. I… I…”

He what, go lost? Was playing around? Decided to take a mini-break to Cancun?


OooOOOhhh, he had an accident. Got it! His expression looked like he’d had an accident, but his pants didn’t. Where’s the splotch? Was it the OTHER kind of accident? (sniff sniff)

“…used the girls’ restroom.”


You see, this boy ran frantically to a restroom,

A restroom,

ANY restroom,

which happened to be for the ladies; however he did not realize this...


Once he found relief, he looked around and found horror. THIS was clearly the ladies’ room. Well, we assume he had to stay hidden in a stall until the coast was clear, which can take a while towards the end of the day…

also known as Restroom Rush Hour.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Belly Flop in The Pool of Shame

I’m just going to say it.

I’m afraid… but it needs to be said. Dare I say, it DESERVES to be said.


I llloo…

I loooovvvvv


There! I said it. (Please, please, puh-leeeeeez don’t let that jinx me.)

They are just so sweet and wonderful and I actually look forward to seeing their smiling little mugs every morning.

Why am I so enamored by them? Just yesterday, as I stood in front of my classroom door giving them directions (which they actually listened to!!), I watched one of my students from last year wander by us. He was completely tangled up in his jacket with one arm stuck straight up, his hood over his face (because the jacket was on backwards), and the other arm stuck in the zipper. Although he was putting up a pretty good fight, the jacket was clearly winning.

Maybe the jacket had some trick up its sleeve? (ha!)

Or possibly it was just some hood, taking advantage of the poor boy. (Somebody STOP me!)

And I looked at my new class and loved them even more.

So why ya swimmin’ in the Pool of Shame, Edna?

Well, old habits die hard. Is that a good excuse?

Last year we could give no leeway, no second chances, no flexibility at all when it came to behavior or else we suffered the consequences. So when I caught one of my boys whispering to his neighbor during my math lesson yesterday, I did not hesitate to nail him with a consequence, which he humbly accepted.

As we were leaving for recess, his neighbor came to me and said:

I know George shouldn’t have been talking to me but he was just telling me that you’re the smartest teacher he’s ever had.

And then she walked away, leaving me to drown in my giant pool of shame.


Friday, August 20, 2010

I’m Baack! (I hope…)

So here I sit, avoiding doing all the work I have on my growing to-do list for school (which starts in about a week) by posting a bit on The Bits.

Where was I?

In short, I was busy just trying to survive the most difficult school year I've ever had and doing so without finding the funny in it. The last thing I wanted to do when I got home was revisit my school day online.

BUT, it's a new year and a fresh start and I am rejuvenated and fired up again! (Did I use enough "ands"? I've got a quota to meet, ya know.)

Nothing gets a girl fired up more than some good old public education controversy.

Anybody heard about the LA Times releasing LA Unified School District teachers' ratings based on their students' progress on California state testing?

I got myself all caught up in reading all the responses to the article. The only conclusion I've reached thus far is that rating teachers is a complicated and messy business! I certainly have more questions than answers.

Take the class we (my teaching partners and I) just finished teaching (PLEASE!). In my opinion, they made very little progress last year. We spent far more time putting out fires all day long than we did teaching standards and that drama lasted all year long. We fought the same behavior battles day after day and tried millions of intervention techniques, but with little success. However our students, who came to us quite low, did comparatively well on the state test. They tied for first place in the district in math and tied for second in language arts!

Clearly, we did more teaching of standards than we thought, however that does not mean that we really had a significant impact on those students in the areas that they really needed help. It felt good to see that they had done well on the state test, don't get me wrong, but at the end of the day, we were unable to effect any change in their social behavior which may impede them more than anything else in the future.

Sure, at the time of the test, they could do multi-digit multiplication but if they're doing it while punching another kid in the face does it really help them become successful adults?

I'm not fishing for compliments here. We all understand the value and limitations of standardized testing. What I really would like to hear is…

What constitutes an effective teacher and a successful school year to you?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Summing up my class in 10 words or less:

Sammy: A puzzle!


           50 pieces!?!

          That's TOO much work.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sign of the Be Verb

As I may have mentioned before, we leveled our students this year in an attempt to lessen the achievement gap in each subject. Our largest group is the Intensive group and they are also the ones who have the farthest to go to meet fourth grade benchmarks.

They also have some of the best little personalities on the planet!

All week, my unbelievably awesome student teacher has been working with them on identifying the Be verb in their textbooks and using it properly when speaking and writing. They started off today by going on a Be verb hunt in a story they read. In small groups, they read the story and kept a log of the ones they found.

In the Intensive group we also have two blind students. Most of the time, they work without the assistance of a full-time aide and are the Rock Stars of the World, but they just happened to have one checking in on them today and she was working with them on the verb hunt.

With a big grin on her face and snickering under her breath, she asked me to come and see the work they were doing. I wandered over there and she asked young Kyle to give me an example of what he'd found. (For my long-time readers, Kyle is this kid, a visually impaired firecracker!)

Big grin on his face, pride and self-confidence brimming over, Kyle announced that he had found "was" in the story and that "was" is a beaver!

"It's what?" I asked.

"A beaver!" he repeated proudly.

Oh dear… we have some enunciating to do.