Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Staying Positive

I started reading some other blogs before I posted and remembered that I am trying to be optimistic and happy.  And grading papers was not making me happy.  So here is attempt number three at a Tuesday Slice.  (One and two were angry and sarcastic/reflective, respectively).

I just finished the book Before I Fall.  It was.... well, it was.  I'm still not sure if I'd recommend it or not.  I spent the first 80 pages furious at the main character.  Almost quit reading it.  Liked the ending though... mostly.  

It really got me looking at my kids in a different light, though.  I have spent the last two days giggling and chuckling to myself as I walked around monitoring my students taking a test.  It is a rare thing to hear from a high school teacher, but my students are so cute.  Walking through the desks and watching their faces taking a test is one of the cutest things I've seen, though I'm sure they don't see it that way.  Some faces are peaceful and sure, others are distressed, pensive, frustrated, day-dreaming.  A boy leaves for lunch with his hair ruffled and fluffed from running his fingers through it so many times while stressing about answers.  The girl next to him has to swap pens because she has chewed the end of this one clean off.  Next thing you know, she'll have ink all over the desk from breaking the stick inside. 

One student I have to tap on the shoulder every 5 minutes and remind him to focus and finish up.  I have no idea what he's thinking about, but it's not Spanish.  Maybe he is hungry, or stayed up too late playing games and can't focus now.  Maybe he's thinking about his parents always pressuring him about classes he cares nothing about... but that can't be it.  He is far away, but not in a bad place.  Maybe he is thinking about his new girlfriend, wishing he could text her about how awful this test is, or where they're sitting at lunch.  What are they doing after school? This weekend?  Maybe he's thinking about the clothes he'll wear on their date, or whether or not he should gel his hair.  There's a an Ag trip coming up, maybe he's thinking about the fun they'll have being out of school, or who his roommate will be.  

It's funny the things they think are important... the things that are important to them... the things I used to think were important.  I can tell you, Spanish is not one of them.  I'd bet very few of their classes are at the top of their lists.  There are so many other things to be worried about: the big game, making playoffs, what their boyfriends and girlfriends are doing, what their friends are doing, what they're having for lunch, for dinner, what's going on after school, what movie/tv/netflix/videogame releases are going on, the latest news about he said that she said that he swears they kissed, even though she's talking to the other guy.  

I watch them: joking on the way to lunch, cringing as they turn in the test they didn't study for, smiling about their plans for the day.  I think about who I was in high school: Who would I have been friends with?  Who would I have liked to have as friends?  Which table would I sit at during lunch?  Who would my friends and I be giggling about as we write our first names with the boys' last names attached in our notes?  Which homework would I be dreading?  Math, obviously.  That hasn't changed.  I laugh to myself thinking of all the things I thought were important, and all of the things that never mattered.  The moments I still remember, the person I thought I would be, compared to the person I am. 

When kids can't/don't read the test

The past two days we have been taking a vocabulary test.  Within grading the first five or six, I quickly realized, once again, that no one studied.  At all.  I gave the kids practice, reviews, we went over the words the day before and the day of the test, all of the words are on quizlet so they can study on their own, I had tutorials where I will go over the test with you... and these are some of the answers I had.  This is supposed to be a recipe for spaghetti sauce.  Italicized words are their answers from a word bank.  I don't recommend following these recipes, as you will not end up with tomato sauce for spaghetti, but probably a big mess and a grease fire.

Sample 1
How do you make a you forget for spaghetti?
It is simple with this sauce.

Ingredients; meat, tomatoes, oil, garlic, salt.

1. First, you must chop the meat so you don't have to peel big of meat in the sauce.
2. Then, you should put the tomatoes in a pot of hot water to add them and then to fry  them.
3. After that, you have to recipe oil in a to taste.
4. When the oil is hot, you are going to heat a little bit of garlic.
5. Then you are going to fry the meat and then mix the tomatoes with the fried meat.
6. In order not to burn the sauce, you should cook it on a small fugo.
7. Don't to boil to add a little bit of salt.  You should pieces what you prepare so you can see if it needs more salt.

Sample 2
How do you make a to heat for spaghetti?
It is simple with this to boil.

1. First you must recipe the meat so you don't have to mix big of the meat in the sauce.
2. Then, you should put the tomatoes in a sauce of hot water to fry them and then pieces them.
3. After that, you have to boil oil in a recipe.
4. When the oil is hot, you are going to you forget a little bit of garlic.
5. Then you are going to add the meat and then to try the tomatoes with the fried meat.
6. In order not to burn the sauce, you should cook it on a low flame.
7. Don't to peel to add a little bit of salt.  You should chop what you prepare so you can see if it needs more salt.

Does grading papers ever make you feel like a failure as a teacher?  I used to really get down about it, until one test, I made the review identical to the test, I had a whole day of review games, plus the review itself, I gave the abbreviated/accommodated version of the test, walked them through each section, gave them "helper" words to figure out what sentences meant, walked around asking if kids needed help, forced kids to take help even when they didn't want it, and allowed corrections... and kids still failed with flying colors.

At some point, you just have to know you did everything you could.  And some kids, no matter how much you care, don't care at all.  No matter how much you want to, you can't study for them, you can't fill in their answers for them... well, you can, sometimes that doesn't even help.  Like they say, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it study for the test." Or something like that...

Bless those teachers who are "tested subjects".  Just one more reason I don't teach core classes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Prefer a Well-Spoken Love (a poem in progress)

Diamonds Dictionaries are a girl's best friend
(and dogs, of course) 
(and cats)

Money and Things are not requisites; 
I want witty words, 
A quick mind.

Cold stones wrapped in metal, 
These physical bindings
may stoke the fire,
but cannot sustain the flames of my heart
(Pretty though they are) 

It is a lovely turn of phrase, 
the well written line,
that I crave.

Don't get me wrong. 
I love glitter and glitz,
I love to sparkle and shine,
But I love to be dazzled and dazed
by more than a diamond,
more than a rock, 
than things.

It's pretty words I want. 

No matter what people tell you,
words and ideas can change the world.
Life is short.  There is no time
to leave important words

P.s. ~to my love~
This does not mean you're off the hook, you still have to get me a ring. Love you. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Too Good Not to Share


I found this blog in search of an actor, which lead me to a rumored movie, which lead me to the original author's blog.  In it, I found the most amazing thing: Ten Sentence Stories.  I read one and thought, "that was pretty good."  I know it's time to go home, just finished track, I really only stopped by the room to close out my email and shut off my computer... they're just 10 sentences... I can read one more.  Gosh, I liked that one too... this one is awesome.  I should try to make one of these... It probably won't turn out quite right, not quite the same... oh man, that one was great.

I just had to share.  So far, this one has been my favorite, but they are all wonderful.  Maybe it will inspire your own writing, or give you and idea to give your students.  Maybe no one will read this.  At least I'll feel like I tried!!

I really, really, really liked this one too:

I am such a fan of her writing!  Erin Morgenstern, you go, girl!! If I can't ever write like you, at least I can be content that I got to read your writing, and soak it all in.  Thank you for all you give.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Books Have Ruined My Life

Books have made me pretty antisocial.  Today I walked into class, a cold, cloudy morning, and all I wanted was for all the kids to go home so I could just sit and read.  Can we do that?  Cancel school for a book day?  I don't want to be social and go out, I don't want to have to talk to people, my book is too good.  I need to find out what happens!!! Honestly, it doesn't even matter which book.  I get completely absorbed in the story, even cheesy, poorly written stories.

Books have made me prefer the book life.  Some books make me sad to have to return to real life at all, where there are no schools for witchcraft and wizardry, no demons needing slaying (not literally anyway), no vampires: punk, friendly, wicked, sparkly, or otherwise.  Even historical books make me wish I could be *in* the story.  A full length bottle green gown with lace and silk, living that Roaring 20's life, going to balls or having tea...  I used to read the "American Girl: Samantha" books and wished I could take lessons on being a lady, eating little petit fours, learning to sew samplers... I know I can do that now, but it's not the same.  I read a book once about a brother and sister that were abducted by a tribe of Native Americans and were adopted into the tribe to replace lost kids.  I wanted to hunt and gather in the forest, learn to make moccasins, bows and arrows, how to bead and cook food like they did.  Again, I realize this is a totally feasible, real-life goal... but it wouldn't be the same as being abducted and learning first hand!

**A brief interruption to let you know, I do know that sounds crazy, literally.** 

I just want to live a life in all directions.  All times, all places, all universes, everywhere!!!  How cool would it be to be able to time travel?  Or to jump into a book the way Wishbone did? Why can't I do that?  Hop into a space ship and travel to another galaxy, put on some armor and sword fight, ice fish on a lake in Michigan.  Alright, that one, I know is totally do-able with no kind of time distortion or anything.  But it won't be the same as the way Garrison Keillor wrote about it.  It's probably better that I stick to the book life.  I can experience the romanticized part of the worlds, both real and fantasy, and then return safely to my own life where I don't have to live in the mud, be scared of dying from consumption or aliens, or wear a corset every day.  I love the life I live.  But it would be so cool to be like Wishbone.... 
seriously, how cute is this dog?

He got to be EVERYTHING

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Not Feeling It

I don't feel like writing today.  I felt like I might want to write this morning, but sometimes the best slices come later in the day.  I thought to myself, "I'm way too busy this morning.  I'll just write this afternoon after I have something really good to write about." That something never came along.

The more I thought about having to write, the less I wanted to plan a time to actually sit, and think, and process a good slice of the day.  I figured I should go ahead and get something on "paper" before I get wrapped up in the day and forget.

Somewhere along the way, I have gotten myself stuck in a rut.  I feel like I'm doing an okay job treating others with cheer and love. I've been good at projecting happiness and optimism.  The trouble now is being optimistic with myself.  I can't really pinpoint one specific thing, but I just feel like I'm not being the best I can be.   Tomorrow I should be able to leave by 5:30.  Tomorrow I can start digging myself out of this little hole I've found myself in.

So far, Tuesday Slices off to a rough start.

Just to end on something more positive, we have been helping host the Jr. High zone meets for track.  I helped with pole vault, something I've never done before, and learned quite a bit!  The very best part was watching a girl clear her personal best.  She wasn't even one of our students, but seeing her face and the smiles and hugs all around from coaches, parents, and friends was wonderful.  It's great to see kids so excited about their achievements and to see that they have so much support.  Moments like that are the reason I love coaching (and teaching, really), even when they aren't my own kids.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Continuing the Habit

Having just finished the Two Writing Teacher's Slice of Life Challenge 2015, I thought it might be good to keep the habit of writing going.  So, one goal down, two new goals to take its place.

1) Keep writing!  Keep publishing, even without followers or subscribers.  Just stay in the habit.  I'd really like to make it a daily habit but I know there are days I will have to pass on writing

2) I'd like to journal more.  I have an old school, traditional personal/paper journal.  I was doing okay writing before the challenge but I have basically stopped since I started blogging.  I'd like to get back to that.  There are some days that only paper and pen will do.

It was weird today to sit down, open my laptop and realize I didn't have to write.  But I just wanted to.  I wanted to share about the things I did and saw all day.  Especially, THE WALMART PEOPLE.
Walmart never fails to disappoint and entertain me.  Today in Walmart, I spied, with my little eye:

-One woman wearing a Santa hat.  In April.

-One man, who I can only assume is a magician, wearing a tophat and cape.  Maybe tophats and capes are the next trend, replacing tall socks and slides.  I'd be okay with that.  How cute would it be to have a classroom full of little caped crusaders?

-Seven squishy babies clinging to six exhausted looking moms and one very pleased grandpa.

-One squishy baby that had eyes SO LARGE and a smile SO SWEET I was forced to stop and talk to it.  His mom must get that a lot.  She mostly ignored me, and just said, "yeah thanks" when I told her how cute her baby was.  He is cute though.

-One goth.  I did not know kids still did goth.  It's been a while.

-Five unsupervised children running wildly (this is a relatively low number).

-Three people in those driving/strolly carts that probably could have walked.

-Two people who probably wished they had those driving/strolly carts, but they were all taken up by people who probably could have walked.


-One man, no less than 90 years old, wearing the brightest orange running shoes I've ever seen.  He looked fast as he did his little-old-man-scuttle down the isles.  Maybe it's all an elaborate ruse.  He's actually the Flash.

Short on some inspiration for odd characters? Head to Walmart.  They'll all just waiting for you.