real talk 

I’m an awful procrastinator and a fantastic fabricator of justification and both are chipping away at my career goals. 

I looked at my certificate for the first time in months and just realized that it expires in 15 days. It was a temporary certificate, only good for 1 year and that year is up. I remembered (and I don’t have the best memory) applying for it in the winter, so I thought that’s when it would expire. Turns out I applied in September and received it in October but it is still only good until June 30 of this year, not an actual 365 days from when I received it! So much sadness and disappointment in myself for sucking. And I’ve been on such a kick about how well I’ve been doing. Worst of all, three great jobs have opened up in art and English right in town and I will just watch them get filled by someone who is not me. And they deserve it because I’m a dummy. Jobs come and go, I just never, ever know when and where they will become available. Three openings is a lot in this area. And because those jobs are in town, it’s possible that only ones with 45 minute or more commutes will be available for who knows how long. I don’t know, I can’t see the future, but I sure can whine about the present :/ 

Thank God I can sub and I have other skills and options, I am just very upset with myself at missing these perfectly good opportunities for purely stupid reasons. It’s only my fault I haven’t already gotten a good job. I feel like God knows what’s in my future but He wants me to figure out responsibility before I can get there ***frustration***

school’s out for summer 

  

What a long, strange trip it’s been. 

When I was young, I always assumed that teachers chose a job, got hired, and stayed in that position until they retired or died. I was grossly misled. I now know of the constant shuffle that is the education system where randomness tends to play a big part. While I sat at home disappointed in myself for skipping calls from the sub system mainly out of fear, I never thought that I’d be offered a semi-long term position on a Monday and start on a Wednesday. I dove fear first into  9 weeks of lesson plans, inclusion, English projects, state assessment  testing, grade books, parent meetings, team meetings, teacher collaboration, school dances, kickball tournaments, and even a full on lip sync battle for the ages. 

I packed up a room and signed out on the teachers’ last day of school for the first time. It really is a full day of work. For some it takes much longer. I had to get grades printed, saved, zipped, and emailed, throw away tons of student work (#sorrynotsorry) and other random papers, pack up tons of books, completely tear down all decorations, and unplug and organize all of the electronics. I ran around getting a bunch of signatures from the secretary, the tech guy, librarian, vice principal and principal, turning in color coded forms logging student fines, text book inventories, collected monies, maintenance requests, technology inventories, and wish lists. Finally I locked my door and turned in my keys. 

I use the word “my” loosely. None of those things were ever mine. I was responsible by default for a temporary amount of time. Nevertheless, I count myself lucky to have had such a great introductory experience in the strange and ever-changing world of school from the other side of the desk. The teachers were helpful, the students were challenging, the principal was supportive, and I gained invaluable experience and possibly more important, confidence. 

This chapter has come to an end, but there are many adventures ahead. This summer, professionally speaking,  I’ll be taking 2 Praxis tests, applying for jobs, and will start practicing with the cheerleading squad. I’m happy to stay busy and excited to see where my winding path takes me. 

image from http://risarodil.tumblr.com/tagged/pixar pretty art!

praxis 

I just registered to take the art content knowledge praxis test in only 10 days and I feel like I’m going to puke  =/ 

six word stories

I have been inspired by The Blog of Tony Burgess. Go check it out and follow if you like 🙂 His blog has a section entitled “6 word stories.” It reminded me of a fun project I once participated in. A few years ago, I got really into writing letters and having pen pals across the world. I discovered a site called PostCrossing. It’s amazing and simple. You send postcards to others who have signed up, all over the world if you want. Then you get the same amount of postcards in return from Russia to the Philippines to Daytona, Florida. It would be a wonderful project to do with a class.

From there, I discovered another site called SwapBot that was much more complicated, but very fun (however bitches got catty and petty and I ain’t got time for that, unfortunately). On SwapBot, you can choose from hundreds of swaps that were happening like send an envelope and letter decorated in Alice and Wonderland art or send 3 postcards from your home state or send a box of chocolates and some valentines or send a coloring book page that you colored yourself etc. and so on and so forth. Ideally, you would get something nice back from someone who joined that group.

On SwapBot, I liked to do the writing and artsy challenges and receive artsy writing in return. I was often inspired, sometimes amazed, and always happy to receive art in the mail.

One time I joined a swap titled “Six Word Memoirs.” The objective was to write your own personal 6 word memoir on a postcard and receive one back from a stranger, no further explanations allowed.


I think this is a perfect assignment for the first week of school for students. Follow up every once in a while and write a new one. Keep them where the kids can’t see them and make them into books at the end of the year. Write one on the board to introduce yourself. Write them for characters in novels. Write them for characters the students design. Write them to review a novel or article. Write and don’t stop! However you do it, it’s a great lesson on editing and being concise.

Other fun assignments in literary precision: 2 sentence horror stories (great for Halloween time), haiku, and Hemingway’s shortest short story challenge

study hall catch 22 

I CAN’T STAND STUDY HALL. 

Oh I’m sorry. Was I yelling? 

The little buggers have plenty of work to do, papers to write, and hundreds of books to choose from to read. But of course they don’t do it! Would you? I like to think that I could get some solid work done while simultaneously enjoying a healthy amount of goofing off. But these kids just can’t handle it. 

They have 4 core classes (math, English, science, social studies), 2 related arts classes (library, gym, band, or chorus), developmental guidance or careers (like a life skills course), and enrichment (usually a study hall, sometimes curriculum is involved. I guess it’s a place for extra practice. I guess it depends on the teacher). I realize this is a lot for a middle school student. That is why the study hall (“enrichment”) is offered. If it was an 8th official class, parents would think we were over working the kids, yet as long as the study hall is offered, the students goof off and still complain of having too much homework and not enough time to do it. 

    
I think I would have loved to have a study hall in high school, partly for time to do my homework (let’s face it, the excuses are sometimes legit. Being in a sport or club after school gets you home in time for dinner, a shower, and bed) and partly for socializing and finding innocent ways to flirt with my crush so subtly that he leaves the class with no idea that I exist. I can handle it why can’t they! 

  

the power of ABF

Let’s just talk about RBF for a minute. For those of you who are not “in the know” of popular yet ridiculous slang terms and acronyms, RBF is your typical Resting Bitch Face. Check your local DMV or otherwise disgruntled and/or underpaid minion gathering place for expert examples of RBF. Not everyone is “blessed” with a permanent scowl. Some are possibly born that way, while others develop their bitch faces over a long, bitter period of time where their muscles contort into stiff frowns like the race of tree-creatures in Lord of the Rings (note to nerds: I am quite aware the pic below is not official LOTR).

WHO DISTURBS MY SLUMBER!
WHO DISTURBS MY SLUMBER!

Some women are quite proud of their angered faces and embrace the reactions they command. I myself do not have the RBF. I have a normal resting face with moments of giant creeper smiles and generally awkward funny-faces. I’m RBF-opposite. Contrar-bee-eff.

this is my best attempt at complete seriousness.

Q: What the hell does this have to do with subbing? A: ABF. Active Bitch Face.

Switch to bitch, it’s time to rock. I need this cross stitched onto a sampler that I can frame for my desk. While I’m quite proud of how far I’ve come over the past 4 years concerning discipline, classroom management, and appropriately applying a firm tone, I could really use some schooling on switchin’ to bitch face.

In preparation for state testing, students have been practicing silence while switching classes because there are testing rooms throughout our hallway. The teachers are to stand outside their doors during every transition, d-halls at the ready. My tiny stature adds nothing to my intimidation factor, so I’ve put together a clip board with my red lunch detention slips clipped to it and a pen attached, ready for the “taking names” part of kicking ass. I keep it by my door, grab it on my way out of every class, and hold it above my head sometimes for that extra height. It kind of makes me laugh. Every student that walks by, I tilt my head a little bit and smile. Bad teacher!

The two teachers that are closest to my room have mastered ABF and I’m quite jealous. They flip the switch and the students’ spines straighten up like the crack of a whip. Both of them have the ability to walk the 20 feet from my door to the end of the hall, lockers and students on either side, and the kids immediately leave in complete silence as the radiance of the ABF passes by them. It’s sorcery I tell you! Like who do I have to sell my soul and lesson plans to in order to possess that sort of power? I have to look away so as to not be stunned by all its glory. The teacher walks back into her room as if she doesn’t even know her own strength. I shrink in failure. But I am determined to get to that next level ish. I do my eyebrow workout on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mouth corners Monda,y Wednesday, and Friday. Someday, I’ll get there. Someday.

But this is me for now.
But this is me for now.

Bad kids beware!

the difficulties of handing out detentions as a sub |or| d-hall power trip

I just put a kid in his place and I’m still riding high on the power trip so bear with me.

I am the nice teacher. I am the one who gives at least 3 or 10 or 20 chances before I even call you out (of course it depends on the urgency of the issue at hand). I know that this is problematic because anything that deserves a punishment needs to be dealt with immediately.

The difficulties of handing out detentions as a sub are as follows:

  • If you’re dealing with a hit and run offender, especially at the very end of a period or in the hallway, it can be very hard to track down the invisible man. In other words, email me your success tips the next time you are searching for someone whose name you don’t know, who you’ve never seen before, who is the same relative age, height, weight, and general coloring as hundreds of other kids in the building
  • You don’t know the student’s history, personality, intentions, etc. A student may be unfamiliar with the class and school rules for a number of reasons. You may have a student with special needs, learning disorders, or behavioral disorders. Yes a sub should be informed of these, but how quickly can one become an expert on a revolving door of 90 or more students? I’ve unintentionally been tough on a student who had a special bathroom pass and was allowed to go when no one else was. I once demanded homework from a student that I didn’t know had been absent for at least 2 weeks. I have been harder than I should have on students who are high functioning with learning disabilities. I didn’t know. And that scars you or at least makes you think twice about blasting rounds of d-halls at possibly innocent students.
  • If you haven’t found a “home” school yet and you’re subbing all over 3 counties, how can you as a sub know the rules of each school let alone each grade and teacher? I can give you 4 different rules about using devices in class at one school. I can give you 40 different rules about using devices throughout the county. Add about 100 more rules per school…carry the 1…and welcome to the split decision d-hall nightmare 
  • Kids are effin’ sneaky and conniving. It’s one of those things that you often see in movies and you assume that the magic of film is creating a hyper-exaggerated version of reality. Then you start substitute teaching and decide that they weren’t lying. To some students, a substitute is a target and a challenge. They finally have someone new to pull old tricks on. And they will try every old trick in the book. 

The list goes on. Many teachers are naturally unafraid to punish a student they’ve never met. I don’t necessarily have a problem with it per se, but I feel like it’s something that I have to work up to. That’s a skill I admittedly need to continue to develop.

Back to the kid.

I’ve been in this classroom every day for about 6 weeks now. We’re past the old tricks and the getting-to-know-you stage. I am in complete control of my classroom and I can easily deal with a million different types of students who don’t care about school, don’t have a clue what they are doing, do things they’re not supposed to, etc. But I have one particular little [expletive deleted] that has got attitude overload and sass coming out of his ears. Worst of all, he’s disrespectful and ain’t nobody got time for that. He absolutely has to have a smartass remark for absolutely anything anyone has to say to him. It starts pointless, time-wasting arguments every single day, sometimes with other students and sometimes with me. And I stupidly let it go every time because he never really passes a point that I consider detention-worthy. It’s a smoke and mirrors type of trick where I usually save detentions for blatant rule breaking but there’s no hard and fast rule against being sassy so I don’t know when to give in. However, I’m quickly getting tired of the disrespect.

Today was a day like any other and he had sassy back talk for me and for everyone else, again and again. When the bell rang, I told him to come to me for a minute. I lit into him with a fire that my students have never had to see before. I didn’t scream, I didn’t yell, I didn’t get in his face, and I didn’t do it in front of the class. I stayed quite calm in relative relation to my burning anger (i’m shooting for all of the fire puns). I simply let out everything that I have been holding in for a long time. I let him know that I was tired of his disrespectful back talk. I was tired that he was wasting my time and I was tired that he was wasting everybody’s class time. I told him that other students have told me that they are sick of him trying to be funny and that he wasn’t funny (ok that was kind of mean, but also completely true!) and that they are tired of him taking up the class’s time. I think that’s what put him near tears. That wasn’t my goal of course, but maybe it means I got through to him. Who knows. He needed it and I needed it. Any parent who would give me a hard time about it can sit in my classroom for 6 weeks and try not to resort to physical punishment. Until you take that challenge, leave it to me. I think I’ve got it under control. For the most part.

I have a vested interest.

I reblogged this piece because it is powerful and punchy and infuriating and honest. Read, learn, enjoy, get angry.

Tenure, She Wrote

In the fourth grade, I was obsessed with marine science and sonar technology, and I’d spend Saturday afternoons watching The Hunt for Red October instead of Saved by the Bell. That summer, I toured a Navy sub in dry dock– my first time! — and I asked the officer leading the tour when we’d be going to the sonar room. “Sorry, kid. It’s classified,” he said. Masking my disappointment, I replied that it was okay, because I was going to be a sonar technician when I grew up, and I could wait until then. “But they don’t let girls on subs,” was the officer’s surprised reply, as he looked at me as if I’d sprouted horns. When I asked why not, he told me I wouldn’t want to be stuck on a sub with a bunch of smelly guys anyway. My “Then…why aren’t there submarines for just girls?” got no reply.

So, I have a vested…

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