Posted in Teaching

A Small, Terrifying Glimpse Into the Subconscious Mind of a Teacher

I’ve had three school-related stress dreams since Christmas. Against my better judgment, I’m going to share them with you.

Dream #1:

This one was a doozy. It went from normal bad to wow-that’s-a-creative-form-of-torture bad to AAAAAAAAA! bad. Here goes.

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It was the first day of the new semester. My first period class (who is sweet, smart, and funny in real life) was being unruly and refused to listen to me or follow my directions. I ended up having to yell at them, and that still didn’t have the desired effect. We got nothing done, and the period ended with me feeling frustrated that they wouldn’t do what I asked and embarrassed that I couldn’t control them and depressed that I’d yelled at them. (This “no one will listen to me, what do I do?” dream is very common among teachers. But things are about to get interesting. And by interesting, I mean infuriating.)

I’m off second period, and I planned to use that time to figure out what went wrong in first period and make a plan for my future classes. But there was a girl in the hallway who was lost. She was new or something. I don’t remember the exact issue, but I helped her find where she needed to be. When I got back to my classroom about five minutes into second period, it should have been empty. Instead, there was a classroom full of kids there. Kids I didn’t know. I was confused.

I gave them something to do (here’s a note card– write your name and tell me who used to be your ELA teacher) while I called around trying to figure out what was going on. I was told that, yes, this was my class now, and I needed to teach them. As it turned out, over the holiday break, the administration had made some pretty massive changes to the schedule without telling any of us about them. We all went from having two conference periods to only one, and we had been given a variety of preps. My schedule (which used to include five seventh grade ELA classes and one Advisory) now had me teaching three seventh grade ELA classes (but not the same ones I was teaching before), two history classes (I don’t teach history), one sixth grade “how to read word problems” math/reading class, and Advisory. Suffice to say, I was not happy about this.

THEN (sorry, we’re not done yet) we were all outside for some reason, probably a fire drill, and were coming back in the building. The science teacher on my team was holding the door for people. He looked into the sky above me and started shouting, “Everyone inside NOW!” I turned around and saw a pink streak in the sky. At first I thought it was just a pretty cloud, then maybe a jet contrail. But I quickly realized we were under attack. We all ran inside and tucked and ducked as missiles started landing nearby. I was crouched in a hallway filled with windows that led to classrooms with more windows. It didn’t feel like the safest place, but I didn’t have time to move, so I just grabbed a composition book and held it over the back of my neck for more protection.

THAT, my friends, is an A+ stress dream.

Dream #2

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This one was, luckily, a lot shorter. I was back at work lesson planning with one of my ELA teammates. I told her some of my ideas for the upcoming semester and she didn’t like any of them. She actually wrinkled up her nose and made an “I-smell-something-gross” face when I shared them. It hurt my feelings.

Dear Real Life ELA Teammates,
          I had this dream BEFORE we met for planning this week. It was JUST a dream and has no bearing on reality. None of you did anything or said anything or wore any facial expressions to cause this craziness to appear in my brain, I promise. If you don’t believe that my subconscious could possibly make up something like that, then move on to dream #3, and you’ll see what my brain is capable of.
Love,
Carie

Dream #3

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It was the first day of the semester (again), and I was trying to teach my first period class (again). This time, the students were not the problem. The problem (and I’m sure this has happened to every educator at one time or another) was that there was a magic spell on the doorway to my classroom, and when a person entered or left the room, a giant pile of vegetables would spontaneously appear. (By giant pile, I mean several feet long and higher than my waist. I know the height because I was standing inside the pile once when it appeared.) The vegetables would then have to be cleaned up and carted away, and I’d try to teach again until someone else opened the door, and it happened all over again. It all took up a lot of time and made keeping my students’ attention quite difficult. The school knew about the problem (the poor custodians had already been to my room with the BIG trash cans about four times that morning) but they didn’t know how to fix it yet.

The vegetables were all the same kind, but the pile was different each time. Once it was a giant pile of sugar snap peas. I popped a couple in my mouth before they swept them up. The next time it was a giant pile of purple peppers, but that time there were also a couple of yellow and red bell peppers mixed in and one pineapple. I pulled those out and had a student put them behind my desk for later. At one point, I left my students alone (it’s cool– they’re good kids) while I went down the hall to ask my coworker for something I thought might help the situation, but, of course, when I left the room to go do that, another pile of vegetables spontaneously appeared, so it was somewhat counter-productive. When I got back, a student from the classroom next door, who had been working in the hallway, was complaining that the custodians had accidentally swept up his binder, which had been covered with the latest pile of vegetables.

Just before I woke up, a guy finally came to fix the problem, but he was the same guy they send to repair our computers, and I didn’t have high hopes that this particular “incident ticket” was in his wheelhouse.

The end.

***

There you have it, folks. This is what my brain does while I’m sleeping. Please tell me I’m not the only teacher who has crazy dreams like this, and make me feel better by sharing some of your own.

The second semester starts tomorrow. If I had to choose one stress dream to come true, it would have to be #3. At least my students were nice in that one, and no one was bombing me. Plus, I do need to eat more veggies…

 

 

Posted in Teaching

Christmas Carols for Teachers

* Put down your grading pen, grab an eggnog or two, and warm up your singing voice for these soon-to-be holiday classics. *

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Working in a Public Middle School

* To the tune of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”

School bells ring, so many missing
In your class, no one’s listening
These December days
Eat your sanity away
Working in a public middle school

Gone away is your patience
The things kids say, they don’t make sense
Their obsession with memes
Makes you want to scream
Working in a public middle school

In the commons, kids are chugging Starbucks
Eating chocolate and candy canes
Things are fairly peaceful but with your luck
Someone will pull the fire alarm again…

Later on, by the fire
You’ll dream of retirement
From lesson plans made
And papers to grade
Working in a public middle school

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Whose Paper is This

* To the tune of “What Child is This”

Whose paper is this, which came to rest
Upon my desk with no name?
Its handwriting is so messy
I cannot read it anyway…

This, this is what I do
I track down kids to find out who
Used haste, haste to do their work
And will have to redo it anyway…

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First Period Bells

* To the tune of “Jingle Bells”

Dashing through the Starbucks
A large coffee in hand
You’re late again and it sucks
You’ll get a reprimand
But there’s no point in teaching
Without your cup of joe
The students would be smirking
At the answers you don’t know

Oh, first period bells! First period bells!
Why are you so early?
How bad would it really be
To start at, say, nine-thirty?
First period bells! First period bells!
Your timing is so poorly
Teachers and kids alike
Would enjoy some more sleep, surely

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Deck the Halls

* To the tune of “Deck the Halls” (duh)

Deck the halls with student artwork!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!
The tape you chose refuses to work!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!
Down it falls into a pile!
Fa la la, la la la, la la la!
You replace it with a smile!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Down it falls again tomorrow!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!
A glue gun you seek to borrow!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!
Burn your hand and rip the poster!
Fa la la, la la la, la la la!
In the recycle bin it goes!
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

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Grading Around the Christmas Tree

* To the tune of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”

Grading around the Christmas tree
It’s December 24th
Your friends and fam are all celebrating
But you’re still working, of course
Grading around the Christmas tree
There’s still so much to do
Cookies to bake, people to see
And lesson plans to make too

You will get that carpal tunnel feeling in your wrist
From writing, “You could do better”
While wearing your Christmas sweater
Grading around the Christmas tree
Add some eggnog to your rum
Whatever you do, try not to think
About your small income

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* Happy holidays, teachers! Extra credit to anyone who shares a video of you and your coworkers performing these tunes! *

 

 

Posted in Teaching

Highlights, Lowlights, and A (Possible) Glimpse into the Future

I’m home sick today. I was home sick yesterday too. I’ve had a cold since last Wednesday and am also dealing with some crazy home repair issues, which I’ll probably write about in a later post. (They say comedy = tragedy + time, so I need a little more time before this whole house issue is funny.) Yesterday, I was sick-sick. Like, “pajamas all day, 4-hour naps, multiples doses of Robitussin” sick. Today I’m “I feel better! I’ll accomplish something! Oh wow, that took a lot of energy, I think I’ll lay on the couch for a while” sick.

Photo of teddy bear, tissues, orange juice, medicine, and a book
If anything will cure my cold, these things will.

Tomorrow it’s back to work, regardless of how I feel because…

A) Taking two days off in a row when you’re a teacher is kind of unheard of and definitely unsettling. You can’t help but wonder what sort of shenanigans are happening  in your classroom without you there. Also, one year, every single time I was absent, I got a new student. Every time. That’ll teach you to take a “me day”. *
B) Being absent is a lot of work when you’re a teacher. Last night (whilst sick) I spent an hour making sub plans, and this morning (whilst still kinda sick) I spent half an hour redoing the sub plans that I did wrong last night because I was sick. (I don’t recommend trying to operate Google Forms under the influence of cold medicine.)
C) I miss my students. I have GOOD kids this year. Kids that smile at me when they walk in my room and say “Have a nice day” when they leave and sometimes laugh at my bad jokes. I have kids that listen (mostly) and do their work (mostly) and politely point out that I wrote the year as 2011 instead of 2018 and offer to fix my mistake. They’re not just good kids, they’re GREAT kids. I love teaching them and, despite getting the year wrong once in a while, I think I’m doing a good job of it.

However…

Today during one of my short bursts of energy, I decided to clean up a random pile of papers on my desk. In it, I found a scribbled sheet of notebook paper from last November titled: Highlights From the Week Before Thanksgiving. I thought, Oh, neat! Then I read it and realized that “Highlights” was sarcastic, and I thought, Oh, no.

Here’s what it included:

Handwritten note that reads, "Highlights of the Week Before Thanksgiving"

  • Yesterday I wrote on a student’s paper, “This is not a simile! You are not comparing two unlike things. Liver is liver.”
  • Today a student misspelled his own last name on his paper. His last name is three letters long. He has no academic disabilities.
  • There are currently SEVEN project books in my lost & found box. Four of them have the owners’ name written prominently on the cover. We are working on the projects in class today. The students need their books. No one is approaching the lost & found box. ???
  • Conversations I’ve had in the past three days:
    • Conversation #1
      Student: “Where should I turn this in?”
      Me: “The same place we’ve turned things in since the first day of school.”
      Student: *stares at me blankly*
    • Conversation #2
      Student: “I have a question.”
      Me: “Yes?”
      Student: “I finished my assignment.”
      Me: “That’s not a question.”
      Student: *stares at me blankly*
    • Conversation #3
      Me: “Every day you ask to go to your locker to get your book.”
      Student: “I know. I just forget to bring it.”
      Me: “Okay, we need to come up with a solution for this problem. Why don’t you put a big colorful sticky note on the inside of your locker door that says, ‘Don’t forget your book.'”
      Student: “But I don’t go to my locker before this class.”
      Me: *stares at student blankly*
    • Conversation #4
      Me: “Please read the next item on today’s Workshop Rules.” [Note: The sentence says, “I will use my resources if I need help.”]
      Student: “I will not use my resources if I need help.”
      Me: “Let’s try that one more time.”

 

You’re probably thinking, “Wow, her students last year were definitely not cut from the same construction paper as the ones this year,” but you’re WRONG! My students last year were AWESOME! They, too, said please and thank you and laughed at my jokes. They, too, worked hard (mostly) and followed directions (mostly). But during the fourth month of school, they all– collectively and simultaneously– lost their minds. I remember it now clearly. It was a dark time.

So, here I sit, itching to get back to my classroom tomorrow, hoping against hope that my two-day absence has not made my beloved little seventh graders regress into name-misspelling, book-losing, non-question-asking shadows of themselves, because that really shouldn’t happen for at least another two months.

Wish me luck.

* Update: Since the writing of this post, I have received an email telling me I will have a new student tomorrow.