Posted in Teaching

15 Signs It’s the Last Month of School

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  1. Your lesson plans all say “Work on project? Or something?”
  2. Every single glue stick is empty.
  3. No one’s even calling the copier repairman anymore, and people have started storing snacks in the paper trays.
  4. Every day is a jeans day. No one really gave permission, it just happened.
  5. The things you pack for lunch have gotten weirder and weirder. It wouldn’t surprise you to open your lunch bag and find a stick of butter and a bag of frozen spinach.
  6. Students seem shocked when you hand graded papers back. They look at them like, “What is this? Where did it come from? What does it have to do with me?”
  7. The lost and found contains enough items to clothe and educate a child for an entire school year and allow her/him to drink out of a different water bottle every day.
  8. Everything everywhere smells like a dirty sock.
  9. Students say things like, “Why do we still have to do work?” and “When the STAAR test is over, we’re done, right?” with absolutely no irony whatsoever.
  10. Parents have finally realized these kids will be their responsibility again soon and have started sending thank-you notes and chocolate.
  11. The recycle bins are so full, you can finally slip that pile of very-important-things-you-never-got-around-to inside without anyone noticing.
  12. Teachers spend their conference periods bartering for storage space. “I will cover your duty five times next year if I can store two boxes in your closet.” “How many jeans passes will it take for you to keep my textbooks in your built-in shelves?” “I will give you one foot of space in my cabinet for your laptop charger.”
  13. In Advisory, you are now teaching important life skills, such as how to properly stack boxes, remove staples from walls, and repair broken desks.
  14. When a book you haven’t seen in eight months arrives back in your classroom, you reenact the final scene in The Incredible Journey when the boy reunites with his long lost dog.
  15. There is never, ever enough coffee.

***

Hang in there, teachers!

 

Posted in Poetry, Teaching

Underneath

I spent the weekend grading my students’ journals, and it made me want to post this poem, which was published in Encore: Prize Poems of the NFSPS in 2015.

Underneath

I straightened the mirror a couple of times,
     so I have OCD,
then got distracted by a dog,
     so you added ADD.
I washed my hands after your high-five,
     so I’m a hypochondriac,
and when I frowned in the crowded mall,
     you said, “Don’t have a panic attack.”
I didn’t cry in Titanic or Bambi,
     so you think I’m a freak,
but I’ve seen Star Wars a hundred times,
     so I must be a geek.
I got 2300 on my SAT,
     so now I’m also a nerd.
Then I tensed when you gave me a hug,
     so you say I have Asperger’s.
It’s hard to live with so many labels—
     you have a name for each of my moods.
Despite how much you think you know,
     there’s something you forget to include.
While you catalogue each sign and symptom,
     trying out every disease,
underneath those acronyms,
     is a person, and that person is me.

© Carie Juettner

Posted in Teaching

Adventures In Subbing, Part 4: The End

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Every year when I was teaching seventh grade, our school administrators gave us some sort of inspirational poster or story or memento to keep in our classroom for encouragement throughout the year. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it backfired. I remember distinctly the year the nugget of inspiration came in the form of a very short story about a woman who woke up and only had three hairs on her head. She braided the three hairs and was happy. The next day she woke up and only had two hairs on her head. She parted them in the middle and was happy. The next day she woke up and only had one hair on her head. She wore it in a ponytail and was happy. The next day she woke up and had no hair left on her head. She said to herself, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!” And she was happy.

I’m pretty sure the point of the fable was to find the silver lining in everything and stay positive, but as the year wore on, I decided what it really meant was that teaching makes your hair fall out.

I share this memory as an explanation for why I subbed so much in May. Despite working more hours than usual at my library clerk job, completing a freelance project, and keeping up with my own writing, I still made time to substitute teach eight times at seven different middle schools. Why? Because I know what May is like for teachers. At this time of year, they’re lucky if they have any hair left at all and they need a break. I know that all of those half days, sick days, personal days, and I-just-can’t-today days are well-deserved. I’m happy to step in and help.

The end of my year of subbing was just as interesting as the beginning. I watched Inside Out three times, The Lost World twice, and Scared Shrekless once. (That one was awesome.) One day I arrived to my classroom to find a bag of raw chicken on my desk. (It turned out there was a reasonable explanation for it that had nothing to do with Satanic rituals or mean pranks.) One day when some seventh grade science students playing a card game suddenly erupted into loud yells, I went over to investigate, only to have a boy calmly explain, “Sorry. I got AIDS.” (The card game was called “Defend Yourself” and was from their unit on the immune system.) And during the last half hour of my very last sub job, an eighth grade girl asked me, “Can I go ride my unicycle in the courtyard for Ms. Smith?”

Sometimes I think I’ve been asked everything in my teaching career, but that was a new one.

I think the best way to demonstrate what subbing at the end of the school year looks like and close out my Adventures in Subbing series is with a photo documentary. Here is a look back at my last six weeks of subbing, in pictures.

 

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Creepy mural on the wall of an art classroom

 

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Semi-creepy box-creature in a social skills classroom

 

Sometimes subbing looks like this... during STAAR testing, I spent four hours monitoring the boys' bathroom (one boy at a time, no talking in line). I was able to read an entire issue of Writer's Digest during my shift. It was awesome.
Sometimes subbing looks like this… during STAAR testing, I spent four hours monitoring the boys’ bathroom (one boy at a time, no talking in line). I was able to read an entire issue of Writer’s Digest during my shift. It was awesome.

 

Scare tactics-- cheesy when I was a kid, still cheesy today.
Scare tactics– cheesy when I was a kid, still cheesy today.

 

One school where I worked had goats and sunflowers. :) I like that school.
One school where I worked had goats and sunflowers. 🙂 I like that school.

 

Angry note taped to the door of the faculty restroom. The person who wrote this has zero hairs left.
Angry note taped to the door of the faculty restroom. The person who wrote this has zero hairs left.

 

I subbed in the classroom with this friendly creature on May the 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day. Two teachers at the school were in Star Wars cosplay. Later, in my class, a group of boys gave their science activity a Star Wars theme. I asked them if they’d seen the teachers in costume. One boy said, “Yeah, I was psyched that I knew Ms. X was a Twi’lek.” Another boy said, “Yeah, but Ms. Y was dressed as Obi-Wan, but she had a Kylo Ren light saber and that pissed me off.” There’s just no pleasing seventh grade geeks.
I subbed in the classroom with this friendly creature on May the 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day. Two teachers at the school were in Star Wars cosplay. Later, in my class, a group of boys gave their science activity a Star Wars theme. I asked them if they’d seen the teachers in costume. One boy said, “Yeah, I was psyched that I knew Ms. X was a Twi’lek.” Another boy said, “Yeah, but Ms. Y was dressed as Obi-Wan, but she had a Kylo Ren light saber and that pissed me off.” There’s just no pleasing seventh grade geeks.

 

Happy last week of school, teachers! We appreciate you! May there be a large margarita in your future.