Posted in Teaching

Mid-Year Crisis

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Thanks, Pixabay, for illustrating my internal stress and providing all images for this post.

Teachers, listen to me. No, seriously, pick your head up off that desk or out of that bucket of wine, and LISTEN. I get it. I really, really do.

It’s the end of February, which means…

  • You have six weeks until the STAAR test and eight weeks of lessons that you need to teach before the STAAR test.
  • Your TELPAS samples, NJHS applications, progress reports, and 504 data are all due at the exact same minute, but all of your conference periods are taken up with team meetings, parent meetings, and intervention meetings, so you barely have enough time to eat twelve Girl Scout Cookies (I’m pretty that’s the recommended dosage) much less get your paperwork done.
  • A quarter of your students have been absent for four days in a row (but not the same four days in a row because that would be too convenient), and you can’t figure out which ones have the flu and which ones are on a mid-month non-spring-break family ski trip, so you’re just Cloroxing everything and giving everyone the stink eye when they return to cover all your bases.
  • You have 47 more book projects to grade, which you should have handed back last week, and two days from now you’ll have 139 journals to grade, which are a lot more difficult to carry on field trips. (Not actual field trips. You know when you take papers back and forth from school to home and back again without ever actually grading them? I call those field trips.)
  • Oh yeah, and it’s about time for someone to bring up the fact that no one’s planned the field trip yet and for someone else to point at you say, “So-and-so is good at organizing things. Remember when she planned that potluck?” and then you will have to close your eyes and take three deep breaths before pointing out that asking ten people to all bring food on a certain day is not the same thing as organizing transportation, activities, insurance, and volunteers for 450 kids, but by the time you open your eyes to say that, everyone will already be voting for you to do it.
  • You are being observed by four different people from four different colleges, universities, internships, and countries, all of whom you are supposed to mentor into being a teacher, but what you really want to do is yell, “Run, run, run! Go get your engineering degree!” Meanwhile, all you can think about is whether or not you should use a personal day to catch up on grading. (Anyone else ever done that? *raises hand*)

I. GET. IT.

To prove that I get it, here’s the truth. That note about the 47 projects left to grade with 139 journals on the way? Those are my current stats. So what did I do tonight? I… ate cheese and Girl Scout Cookies for dinner, watched some old Star Trek episodes, googled lavish vacations to faraway places and then less lavish vacations to not-so-faraway places, then took a bubble bath where I tried to use speech-to-text on my phone for the first time in order to draft this blog post. But instead of actually drafting this blog post, I ended up trying out jokes for the stand-up comedy routine that I like to pretend would make it big if I ever got drunk and wandered in front of a microphone like on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Then, when I read what I recorded, I realized there wasn’t a single period in the whole thing because I didn’t know you had to say the punctuation, which is ironic because all week I’ve been making my students read their commas out loud during warm-ups to prove they’re in the right place. So, now I’m actually typing my blog post, still quite effectively avoiding all my grading.

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“That woman is CRAZZZZZZZY!”

THAT, my friends, is classic end-of-February behavior.

But have no fear. We’ve gotten through this before, and we’ll get through it again.

Those papers will get graded, or they won’t.

That field trip will get planned, or it won’t.

Those TELPAS samples will be turned in, or… well, in the fine print, I think it says you could lose your license or something, but IT’S FINE because those TELPAS samples WILL GET TURNED IN. (Do it tomorrow. During lunch.)

The point is YOU CAN DO THIS. WE can do this. Spring break (the real one) is just around the corner, and vacation or no vacation, you’re finally going to carve out some time for yourself.

Everything will be okay.

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[Insert calming music here.]
Now, take that half-empty box of Girl Scout Cookies to bed with you, and get some sleep. You’ve got kids to teach and papers to grade tomorrow. Maybe.

Posted in Reading, Teaching

No More Ghosts by Kari Anne Holt

Teachers and librarians and book lovers, please read this excellent article by K.A. Holt about the importance of sharing diverse books with our students. Then complete the survey at the end so that Holt and other authors and publishers can better support us in our efforts to combat censorship and keep stories on our shelves for everyone.

Nerdy Book Club

It’s still dark outside when I have to get my kids up for school in the morning. We stagger through what we call our Morning Night routine, then we pile in the car and make our way out into the world. On these dark mornings we pass other houses full of other people going through their morning routines, too. The windows glow, often with the people inside unaware that those driving by can see them. We have only a brief, surreptitious glimpse into these hidden lives before traffic carries us along, and we are at school, and the day begins in earnest.

The houses are all different. Some are sleek, some are cottage-like. Some are full of bustling people, some with only one person standing in a kitchen, back turned. What we do not see are the complexities of individual routines. Instead, we see humans united in the shared routine…

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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! *