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Showing posts from October, 2010

Halloween Parties

In honor of today being the school day that most elementary schools had Halloween parties, I'd like to state for the record:

Halloween is the worst day of the year for elementary school teachers. 

I'm sure there are some highly energetic, dedicated, fun-loving teachers who love this day best but I was never one of them.  It's a day full of sugar, anticipation of sugar, secret candy being snuck  into school, costume malfunctions, kids who don't get the memo that costumes are not to be worn until AFTER lunch, over-involved parents showing up way too early, uninvolved parents forgetting to come, religious parents pulling their kids out of school, teachers who dress in wildly inappropriate outfits*, and general chaos.

The next worst days (in order) in the elementary school calendar, from the teacher's perspective, are:

2. Valentine's Day (sugar, sugar, and exclusion)
3. St. Patrick's Day (pinching?  Really?)
4. the day before Christmas vacation.

My favorite thin…

This is What I'm Talking About

This is something from one of my favorite bloggers. He is a disability rights activist and does some pretty incredible work.  It's pretty incredible how many people he has affected, and mostly people who are not "valued" by many people in society.  Yet someone actually said to him that it's too bad he has no children, nothing to send into the future.

What?

Aren't all these kids ours?  Shouldn't they be?

So I'm not repeating myself too badly, you can read about MY kids here, here, and here.

I really do believe that we would ALL -- parents, children, and childless adults -- be better off if we thought of them more as OUR children.  And loved them all like they were our children.

Three years ago: Book Clubs

Four years ago: Homeless People is City Wildlife

Entertainment

I am good at entertaining children.  Very good. Possibly gifted.

The key to keeping children entertained is to let them entertain themselves.  All you have to do is get them excited about something.  Today it was a measuring tape.  It fell out of my purse and the kids (I was volunteering in my Little Sister's classroom) and the kids pounced on it.  They started measuring their hair, their feet, the tables, and even their teeth.  Their accuracy left something to be desired, but their enthusiasm was incredible.

When waiting around for field trips, I've developed this skill.  One of my favorite techniques is to ask who has ever broken a bone.  Or who has a cool scar.  All of a sudden, you have every child in the vicinity falling all over themselves to tell stories, and you have 20 minutes of entertainment.  Or ask about a pet.  You'll hear "Oh!  Oh!  Teacher, my uncle's cousin's girlfriend had a cat and one time?  Um, my cousin?  She has a dog and it's little…

I Learned that People in Africa Wear Clothes

How big do you think Africa is?  As big as the United States?  As big as China?  Check this out - if you are like most Americans, you have grossly underestimated it your whole life. 

Africa has a slightly larger area as the United States, China, India, Japan, the UK, Spain, Mexico, Peru, France, Papua New Guinea, Sweden, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, Italy, Nepal, Greece, and Bangladesh, all put together.  There are over 50 countries in Africa (depends slightly on who you're talking to because of some disputed territory).  Somewhere around 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa.  African is not a language. 

If you were surprised by any of those facts, you're not alone. I worked at a school that was about 50% black (African-American is a tricky term as not all black people are African-American, and, as I'm about to explain, many of the kids I know don't want "African" to be a word having anything to do with them.)  At this school, calling someone a "Black…

Columbus Day

In honor of Columbus day, here's a story from 2006:

The same girl asked me once about Columbus. The conversation went something like this, and I have to say, I was very proud of her for the critical thinking skills she displayed.

Student: Why do we call them Indians when India is a different country?

Me: [some crap I can't remember about how Columbus got lost and thought he was going to India, so he called them Indians because he was assuming he was in India]

Student: [stares at me incredulously] They got named the wrong thing because he got LOST? [thinks for a minute] And where does he get off naming them anyway? Who said the white guy could name them??
Three years ago: A Story from "Lamar"

Four years ago: Email Wisdom

The Blue Paper

I used the last of the blue paper today.  The blue paper was donated in my second year of teaching, in a rather spectacular manner.
By my second year of teaching, I was already exhausted.  I was trying to learn how to teach third grade, dealing with an administrator whose favorite line was "I can have your job, you know!" trying to figure out how to deal with standardized tests, and much, much more.  When I got to part of the curriculum that required the kids to cut and paste and my request for scissors and glue was met by the person in charge of supplies rolling her eyes and saying "We don't have those," in a manner that clearly suggested I was clueless to how schools worked, something in me snapped.  This was the beginning of me begging for help.
I'll write another post at some point about how I may have shamelessly begged every one of my friends and acquaintances to volunteer in the classroom.  I started by begging for supplies.  
After quickly exhausting m…

Apple Picking

I recently went apple picking with some friends and my Little Sister.  It was an extremely eye-opening experience to go to an apple orchard with a little girl from the inner city.

She didn't know that apples grew on trees.  When I told her, she looked at me like I was trying to pull a fast one on her.  When she finally saw that I was serious, she asked me if any other fruit grew on trees.  Each one was a whole new revelation for her.  She told me that she had been sure that apples grew on the ground.

We played a little game when we were driving.  You go through the alphabet: "My name is Annie and I like to eat apples."  She got F.  "My name is Flamantha."  Flamantha?  Yes, Flamantha.  The girl is creative.

One year ago (one of my favorite posts): The Gecko's Vacation

Sick Days

I would like to hear from other teachers on this one.  I've written on this before, about trying to "discipline" and correct teachers using guilt, my story about being very very sick at the end of my last school year, my co-worker's experience taking time off when her mother-in-law died tragically, and when I tried to teach on crutches.  Here's my question: Is this unique to the district I used to work in or is this an inherent problem for people who work with children?

A related question: WHY?  It's extremely unprofessional.  Everyone gets sick.  Everyone has family emergencies.  Unless someone is abusing the system, I really don't understand the guilt that seems to be induced so quickly by administrators.


Four years ago: More Interesting Past Tenses

Three years ago: Thing Number 75 I Don't Miss About Teaching


One year ago: The Parent Factor