Nice Shirt

12003274_10205099804510866_2116745991520585070_nOne of my students wore this shirt today. I thought it was pretty funny. He said his mom bought it for him.

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higher-education-computer-labToday I took my 7th period to the library so they could take an online reading test. Afterwards, they had a few minutes of computer time. A couple of boys quickly called me over. They both had their father’s police records pulled up on their screens.

At first they were kind of laughing about which man was a bigger idiot, or what their father’s had been quoted saying to the arresting officers. I just stood there and read silently over their shoulders.
Suddenly it got quiet. The first boy saw that I was done reading his screen and said almost apologetically, “Yah, my dad’s not a very nice guy.” The other boy responded with, “I know how you feel. It sucks.”
I wasn’t really sure what to say so I told them, “Sometimes our parents show us what we can be, and sometimes our parents show us that we need to be so much more.”
Seriously. I’m amazed at how some of my students can even function.

Phone Home

Today was the first day of school. Aside from a few scheduling mishaps and a short power outage, I would say that it was a
success.

I did, however, have an interesting experience at the end of the day.

Mobile phone billsI walked passed the office about 15 minutes after school had let out and noticed there were about a dozen 6th graders waiting to use the phone. The office was crazy busy so I told the kids to come with me and they could use my classroom phone. In the classroom, they all lined up and I instructed them to dial 9 before their number. I then stepped out into the hallway to deal with a locker situation. When I stepped back into my room, several of the kids were complaining because their calls were not going through. I offered to let them try my cell phone and while one student was doing that, I stood over another student to see where they were going wrong with the classroom phone.

“Oh, I see. You don’t need to dial the area code. Just 9, then your phone number.”

The student paused for a second, dialed 9, and then started to redial the exact same way he had before.

“Oops. You dialed the area code again.” I then realized he didn’t know what I meant by “area code.” I simply told him, “You don’t need the 5-1-5, just the number.” Still, not 100% sure that was going to work, he dialed again correctly. He then still stood there holding the receiver in his hand, staring at buttons on the phone. He looked at me, looked back at the phone and then very quietly asked, “How do I hit send?” I put the receiver to his ear and he was floored to hear that it was already ringing.

Mystery solved. Not one of these 6th graders had ever used a landline.

Twerk It Out

I’d like to personally thank Miley Cyrus for the many ways she has impacted my life as well as the life of my students. As much as her recent shenanigans have annoyed us, we simply can’t ignore her.

Exhibit A)

photo-8

I took a photo of these two girls wearing their matching Twerk, Twerk, Twek, T shirts. I immediately went online and ordered several for various Secret Santa gifts.

Exhibit B)

A couple of weeks ago, a student made his way up the isle from the back of the classroom pushing the desks further apart as he went. As he walked back to his desk to grab his pencil I asked him what he was doing. With a big grin on his face he told me, “I needed more room because I  wanted to twerk my way to the pencil sharpener.”

Exhibit C)

At the beginning of 2nd period today, as students were getting their folders and settling in, a student randomly asked me:

Student 1: “Miss Lewis, have you ever twerked?”

Me: “Me? What? No. No I haven’t. However I’m sure I would look pretty awesome if I did. But, no. I have never twerked. The only way that would ever happen would be if I accidentally got my finger stuck in a light socket. Even then, it would be involuntary.”

Student 2: “Get your finger stuck in a light socket? That would never happen.”

Me: “Okay, okay. If I were ever struck by lightning, then I might twerk.”

Student 3: “If you got struck by lightening, I’m pretty sure you’d be down.”

Me: “Oh, no. I’d get some good twerking in as I’m getting struck. And then I’d be down. I’d go out with style.”

Student 3: “I don’t really think that would happen because-”

Me: “Seriously? Why are we having this conversation?”

Exhibit D)

And then there’s this awesome video that was posted on YouTube just in time for us to finish reading Catching Fire. I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty awesome. We’ve watched it several times.

Parent Teacher Conference Overshares

Those of you who know me, know that I LOVE parent teacher conferences for a myriad of reasons. I love talking with parents about the progress their child is making, hearing kids talk about what makes them excited about school, and seeing kids interact with their families. Another thing I love is the occasional overshare of personal information.

Today I had several conversations with teachers about the unpredictability of conferences.  One teacher mentioned that she was woman_and_horse_by_pastelizator-d53ow68worried because she had just gotten off the phone with a father who needed to reschedule because he was too drunk to leave the house. I brought up the time a gentleman showed up looking for a certain student’s conference because he thought it would be the perfect time to serve one of the parents court papers. I also shared about the time I was cornered in my classroom by a father who prattled on for 45 minutes about how he was still suffering from the electroshock therapy he had received after returning from the Vietnam War. This story instantly reminded me of the mother who started her conference last year by saying, “I’m sure my son has probably told you, but I was recently struck by lightning.”

This afternoon, one of my conference story sessions ended abruptly when an associate, who is old enough to be the parent of every single staff member in our building, interjected.

Associate: “Well, you think that’s bad? I remember when I was working at the alternative high school and a teacher there had a terrible conference. Not only did the dad show up drunk, but he spent the whole time complaining about how his ex-wife had sex with a horse.”

 

You’re welcome.

 

A Spring Break From All Of This?

Spring Break has arrived. Before I head out for the week, I wanted to reflect on what it is exactly that I’m taking a break from.

For starters, it’s the little things like this direct message I received via Twitter regarding our upcoming school talent show:

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 2.30.45 PM

For the record, the jury is still out on this one.

For the most part, at this point in the year, I am really enjoying my students. They are so goofy, getting tired of being naughty, and are just as eager as I am to end the school year on a high note.

That being said, I have a handful of gems who just aren’t quite there yet. And it’s those gems, my friends, that have me more than willing to make the most of our time apart.

I have one little delight, I’ll call him Frank, who is a text-book case of “negative attention is better than no attention.” All of his teachers know this about him and unfortunately the students do as well. Not that he needs much provocation, but they are always looking for opportunities to push his buttons.

About a week ago, I’m standing at my desk, taking attendance and clarifying some make-up work for a student when I catch a whiff of trouble brewing across the room. A student, David, is turned around in his desk, craning his neck “pushing buttons” of the Frank, who is sitting behind him. I instantly know what he’s doing; he’s trying to get an outburst from his classmate. I tell David that he needs to turn around and stop talking. He ignores me and I begin to make my way towards him repeating my instructions. I’m too late. Buttons have been pushed and by now another party is involved. Francie. And she’s pissed.

Francie: yells “I’m going to punch you in your fucking face!”

Me: “Enough! Francie, you need to go to Miss C’s office right now.”

Francie: As she gets up and makes her way to the door “Frank started it!”

Me: “I have no doubt that he did. Head down to the office, calm down, and tell Miss C what happened. I’ll call her and let her know you’re on your way.”

As soon as I she’s out the door, I call the office to let her know that a student is on the way and that I’ll be sending an email. I pull up my email and call Frank up to my desk. He eagerly bounds his way over with a huge grin on his face. Now keep in mind that Frank is a little pip-squeak. Seriously. He’s probably 4’6 and weights 62 lbs. He might really be a ten-year-old. I don’t know. I’ve never seen his birth certificate.

Frank is now at my desk, a little too excited to see where I’m going to send him.

Me: “Okay, Frank. I need you to tell me what happened back there.”

Frank: “David asked me if I liked Francie. He asked me if we were going out. I told him, ‘No, I don’t date fucking fat-asses’.”

Me: “That was really rude and completely inappropriate.”

Frank: “I know, but have you seen her? She is a fat-ass. I don’t like fat girls, I only like skinny ones.”

Me: “Frank, I need you to stop talking now and sit over at that table until in administrator comes to get you.”

Frank: “Okay, Miss Lewis. Do you know who’s coming for me?”

Me: “Nope. Have a seat and I need you to sit quietly.”

He quietly sits down at the table and makes a “zipping his mouth closed” gesture. At this point I am trying so hard not to laugh because the whole situation is completely ridiculous. I hit “send” and look up just in time to see Frank turn around to address the entire class. He spreads his arms out wide and says:

Frank: “Fat ass, am I right? You all know what I’m talking about.”

As I gently guide Frank to his feet to escort him to an empty classroom nearby, he puts his hands up in surrender.

Frank: “I know. I know, Miss Lewis. I went too far.”

HAPPY SPRING BREAK TEACHERS!!!

Good Luck parents.

When Our Role Models Let Us Down

This year my students have been doing a lot of summary writing of various news articles I give them to read. The articles are usually connected to the setting of a story we are reading, related to a topic they might be studying in another class, a current event from around the globe or an inspirational story of some kind.

This week, as a follow-up to one of the first articles we wrote about, I had to break some bad news to the kids. This is how my first period reacted.

Me: “Oh boy. I hate to start off class this way, but I have to tell you some pretty disappointing news.”

Student 1: Looking at the stack of our class novel, GONE, which finally arrived… now that we’re halfway through with it… “We don’t get to read our book anymore?”

Me: “No, that’s not it. That would be disappointing, and I’m glad that you like it so much that that’s the first thing that popped into your mind.”

Student 1: “Well, I was going to say…”

Me: “This piece of news I actually heard from Mrs. Meyer, who heard it from one of her and one of my students in the hallway. Do you remember Oscar Pistorius, a.k.a. Blade Runner? The Olympic athlete who was born without a fibula in both legs?”

Heads are nodding across the room. Image

Student 2: “Oh yah. I heard about this.”

Me: “Well right now, he’s sitting in a jail cell in South Africa waiting to go to trial to see if he can make bail. He’s accused of murdering his girlfriend.”

Class: “Whaaaaa???”

Student 2: “Yah. And on Valentine’s Day.”

Me: “The news just broke yesterday, and there are a couple of theories going around. Some say he’s had a long history of domestic violence and anger issues, others are saying that she snuck into his house to surprise him for Valentine’s Day and, thinking she was in intruder, shot her.” Image

Student 3: “Well, I’m not even a lawyer, but that last one sounds like crap.”

Me: “Well, either way. I’m going to let more news come in over the long weekend, and then I’ll find an article that we can read next week. That way we can all be informed and follow his story.”

Student 3: “Good grief. That makes me not like him anymore. He shot his girl friend? And on Valentine’s Day? I mean there’s like what, 365 days in a year? 364 of those are like, eh, just a typical day, but he had to do it on Valentine’s Day?

Me: “Like I said, information is still coming in, but keep your eyes and ears open over the weekend, because it will be in the news.”

Student 3: “Hey, Miss Lewis. How about, instead of writing a 10% summary, we can write him letters of disappointment. He can read ’em while he’s sitting in his jail cell. That will give him something to think about. Idiot!”