Friday, March 26, 2010


It has been a horribly long, difficult week.  I had to be out 4 nights in a row, the weather was miserable most of the week, and the students in our group were really on a rampage.  We have several students who have are disruptive, but we normally are able to reign them in.  This week though, nothing we did worked.  Our school's discipline system requires us to enter every misdeed into a database explaining what happened and how it was dealt with. I might write up one student a week.  In the last 2 days, I have to enter at least 8 referrals.  I had 2 students serve an after school detention on Wednesday for their shenanigans in the classroom on Tuesday. The 2 boys think that their primary purpose for being in class is to provide a show for the rest of us.  Normally 70% of the rest of the class ignores them, 20% get distracted and react until I do the teacher glare, and the other 10% follow their lead.  Tuesday however, was a different story, and  I eventually had to send the ringleaders to the office.  Then once everybody got calmed down and re-focused we had  a visit from the Noxious Fumes.  I have a student who has a problem with severe and quite odoriferous flatulence.  Every so often he just lets it rip, and within a few seconds, the class is gagging and hysterically laughing. Of course it had to happen then!

On another somewhat humorous note, yesterday one of Tuesday's ringleaders shouts out in the middle of silent reading "NO, I don't want your gum!!  Mrs. W, Jonny has gum!!  Jonny has gum!!"  (Gum is a prime forbidden object in our school).   To make a long story short, Jonny was chewing gum.  .  He said yes, because he had gotten it from Tommy.  So then Tommy produces a huge package of gum that he says he got from Jimmy.  Jimmy says yes, he SOLD it to Tommy because Tommy was the highest bidder.  Then the 3 of them started arguing about whether it was fair that they lost their gum because of each others'  tattling.  I sent all 3 to the office because it was taking too much to sort it all out.  As soon as the 3 miscreants left, one young man came up to me sheepishly and told me he had gum in his pocket.  He gives it to me.  Another young man pipes up, "I have gum but it's for the bus ride home."  I remark, "Gum isn't allowed on the buses."  He starts to argue, but I cut him off, "My husband and I own the bus company, so I do know the rules!"  He gives me his gum.  Then the "Eagle Scout" student comes up. "Mrs. W., I think there's a stick of gum in my jacket left over from the weekend.  I'll go get it."  I had to laugh at this point.  I ended up with a gum amnesty  ---- I turned my back and told them all to put any gum they had in the trash and I wouldn't look.  When that was done there was probably enough gum in the trash to open a store!  

Today, the other Tuesday ringleader got into trouble at lunch, (not on my watch).  I didn't know this had happened, so when he came to my class  he asked if could use the phone to call his mother because he wanted to stay after school to work on the mounds of missing work he has.  Since my teaching partner and I have been trying to get him to do this, I gave him permission.  Imagine my dismay when he asks his mother to pick him up because he was sick of school!!!

And then there is the tension in the building among staff and between staff and the school board.  Our contract was not passed by the voters, the board is bent on changing our calendar without adequate community input, and there are big changes looming in teaching assignments (mine among them.)  Nobody is a happy camper.  I'm sure that kids must pick up on atmosphere too!

Enough of this.   It's Friday.  I'm tired.  TGIF

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Another Great Read!

Venus in Copper (Marcus Didius Falco, #3) Venus in Copper by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This series just gets better and better.  Falco is hired by a family of freed slaves who thinks one of their members is being taken in by a gold digger who has a penchant for murdering her rich husbands.  As usual, as Falco delves into his task, he finds much than meets the eye.  Less than scrupulous landlords play center stage, and Helena finally makes an important decision regarding her relationship with Falco.  I couldn't put this one down!

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trying to Lighten the Gloom that Presently Surrounds Me

I offer the following book as an antidote to the cloud of darkness that seems to be wrapping itself around me.

The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime, #2) The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Laugh out loud funny in several parts!  Another very clever and witty entry in Jasper Fforde's body of work.  This is the second installment of the Nursery Crimes' series, featuring Jack Spratt (who could eat no fat) and Mary Mary.  This time, they are attempting to locate Goldilocks who was last seen at a bears' cottage in Anderson Forest, figure out why a greenhouse full of giant cucumbers exploded, penetrate a porridge-dealer's network, and reinstate themselves into the good graces of the authorities.  The notorious master criminal Gingerbread Man is on the loose again, but although Jack was instrumental in the original capture of the cookie (or is he a cake?), he has been suspended from his job as head of the NCD  (Nursery Crimes Division).  Will they find Goldilocks?  Will Jack be able to get his job back?  Will his marriage survive the outing of a major secret?  Will Mary Mary and Ashley (the Rambosian alien) finally go out on a date?  Is the Gingerbread Man a cookie or a cake?  And who exactly is behind the building of the major theme park, Somme World???


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Monday, March 8, 2010


I'm struggling...
With work. Changes are looming and they are unwelcome and unwanted.  I am scared about what comes next.
With church.  Changes are here.  I don't like what I'm experiencing.  I don't feel fed, I don't feel I fit.  I wonder, am I listening?  What is it I'm hearing?  Silence??  The answer??   Is what I'm hearing/not hearing the answer??

Send me some prayers, please.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


My February Lady sweater is coming out too small.  This was my Knitting Olympics project which I didn't finish.  I got to a point yesterday where I could try it on, and it's too small.  I had gone down a needle size to get gauge, and I'm still getting it, but it's not fitting right.  The yoke is perfect, but the body just doesn't have enough room.  My 2 choices are to continue on and find somebody it fits, or to rip it out and try again using a larger needle.  I don't have enough yarn to knit the next size.   I'm annoyed because all the comments I've read about this sweater are that it comes out large, so if in doubt about which size to knit, knit the smaller size.  I wasn't in doubt -- I knit the finished bust size that always works for me, and I swatched.  I think this pattern, which I love by the way, could be improved by having a schematic with all the finished measurements for the size.  It's one of those patterns that tells you to knit til it's the desired length.  What it neglects to state (although I guess I should have done all the math ahead of time) is the finished width at various points.

Anyway, I'm really annoyed with myself!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

All Over the Place

March has been a bust for me so far.  I started off on Monday leaving school early to head to the doctor's office.  Diagnosis?  Severe sinus infection AND conjunctivitis.  I had to stay home for 2 days in a row.  Aside from totally throwing off my scheduled lesson plans (starting a new science unit, a new writing unit)  I had to figure out 2 days of back-to-back sub plans.  Any teacher who reads this understands that difficulty.   In my district, we never know who will get as our sub, so we have to make sure that our plans can be handled and understood by anyone from an experienced sub familiar with the school and students and subjects, to a college student on spring break, or to a warm body.  The first day is bad enough, but then to figure out what to do for the 2nd day when you can't come in and see  how far they got the first day . . . well, it was not exactly the easiest thing to plan for.    I returned to school Thursday.  I had had the same sub for both days, and it appeared that things went well, although I did discover that several students earned after school detentions for misbehavior. 

We had an awesome presenter on Thursday - Scary Guy.  He is a dynamic presenter and the kids were very impressed.  I don't think I've ever been a gym full of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (450ish) who sat in shocked, even horrified silence as they viewed the opening powerpoint.  When Scary Guy actually entered the gym you could have heard a pin drop.  Scary Guy is tattooed over 85% of his body, was dressed in what looked like biker leather and sported a bleached blonde short mohawk and beard, and numerous facial piercings.  His message?   If you want world peace, it starts with you!  We need to love each other and understand each other.  You control  your mind and actions.  He challenged the kids (and us) to go 7 days and 7 nights without calling someone a name other than their own.  If you slip up (and you will), go face to face to that person and apologize.  He preached a terrific sermon - as close to church as you can go in a public school-- from a truly universal point of view.  It's the golden rule - treat others as you would wish to be treated.  It takes a lot to impress me when it comes to assembly presentations.  This was terrific!  I'm glad I made it back to school for this.  It didn't hurt that his whole school presentation lasted an hour and a half, and then our 6th graders got another 90 minutes with him in a training session.  He told the kids that if you receive negative energy (someone calls you a bad name, verbally assaults you, etc.) you have a choice.  You can accept that negative energy which gets stored inside you, creating stress, and when your "stress tank" is full, you will pass on that negative energy) OR you can reject the negative energy, refuse to "own" the bad name, and walk away, realizing that the bad energy belongs to the sender, and not to you.  The kids were told that when you accept the negative energy somebody else controls you.  The other big piece that impressed the kids was that he asked the audience to raise their hands if they had ever called somebody a rotten name.  Every hand went up.  Then he asked how many people had been called a bad name.  Every hand went up.  Finally he asked if they had every hit somebody, (including a brother or sister, "cause they're human too")  Again, everyone raised their hand.  Scary Guy then told us that we were all bullies, all victims, and therefore all participants in the vicious cycle of violence. 

I didn't expect this to turn into a Scary Guy posting, but he was amazing.

In another vein, I'm also struggling with the idea that I will probably have to change grade levels next year.  It looks like I will be moved to 7th grade to teach social studies and language arts.  I love the idea of getting back to those 2 subjects, but I'm not at all  happy with having to move up.  I have been in 6th grade for 15 years and I love it.  I love the age level and I'm good at reaching these kids.  I have been unhappy this past year and a half because I got "stuck" teaching science instead of social studies.  For reasons I won't go into here, I got switched from social studies to science against my will.  I've officially complained  about the switch since I'm not HQT for science and I guess this is the official answer.  I guess you have to be careful what you wish for!

I have a ton of work today -- one result of being sick is a lot of extra work to look at, even if you don't grade it all!  Tomorrow I hope to get to church -- although that's another problematic area in my life right now.  I need to figure out what to do about that soon, but that's another whole post in itself on another day!