Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yes You CAN!

Okay, Spot, well you are very cute...but do you see that naughty look on that face? Well, if you are not a teacher, you might not. But look closer. If you get your nose almost up to the screen, and look into the black eye, and not the white one...oooooo, there's a little devil in there! 

No homework today, "I read it, but I just didn't take the notes," he said. "If you ask me any question, I know it, really." And then there's the case of Spot's friend...the I-did-it-honest, but-I -don't-know-where-it-is guy. Well grades went home, and those excuses didn't fit on the page, so I had to leave them out!  And guess what---who got the blame? You guessed it! The teacher.
Okay, this is NOT a rant, it's simply a statement of public concern. Why is the tail wagging the dog? If I went home with missing homeworks and failing grades because of it, I'd do either of two things: 1) I would've hidden in the Steck's barn until it was pitch black outside and then I would sneak in the back door and try to pretend I'd been there all along, sneaking the report card under my dad's nose with a pen in my hand. "Can you just sign this piece of paper real quick?" or 2) I'd have gone home and slid under my bed until my dad was so distraught, he'd do anything to have his 'little sunshine' back. Either way, I'd have gotten my butt whooped. 
I say bring it back...well no, I know, I'm not encouraging butt-whoopings across America. I am just suggesting that Spot is untrained and unruly...and far too large and in charge. Time to get a hold of it all again, because the answer is NO...no...no to everything and anything! But more specifically, no to the idea that the teacher should be looking for that missing piece of homework that Spot says he can't find...no matter how cute Spot is. It's not good for him---he's old enough to think for himself, and by others thinking for him, he begins to believe that he can't. So, Spot...are you listening? REPEAT after me, "YES I CAN!" And if you don't believe me, just ask President Obama! You are really cute, really. But now, we're going to teach you to be RESPONSIBLE too. When I'm an old lady, I want to know that all the Spots in this world CAN take care of themselves. That, after all, is the nature of the job. (Oh, and by the way...Spot has two girl classmates...one named I-did-part-of-it, and the other Oops-left-it-home again. This is definitely an equal gender environment.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Beware of the Dog

Today is day one...of my other blog! In this spot, you will find spotted dogs, spotted kids, teaching spots, assorted dots and all manner of spottings from the world of my classroom and that which surrounds it...which is just about everything. For those of you who teach, you know exactly what I mean. All roads lead back to that living room that we settle into in late August and then don't leave again until mid-June! Everywhere you go, everything you do is wrapped around that schedule and the plans that live inside your brain! (Even potty breaks, for crying out loud! Okay, no more crying out loud, I promise!) 
First of all, I am not a jaded teacher, I still LOVE what I do. Honestly, if they let us come and go, and we could teach classes of 12 to 14, I'd stay forever! Can you imagine that? God. Well that's not what they're serving up in my home district, that's for sure. Lay-offs. That's what they're talking about, plain and simple. If I were a new teacher, which I'm not, I would not get myself crazed with that, though. I'd lay low, make a mark for yourself, which means making yourself indispensable in many ways. Just love what you do...savor every minute, even if your administrators don't see it, your kids and parents will. And that brings me to rule number one:
You gotta love it! Despite all the public commentary about summers off, great salaries (oh, that's a good one) and the rest of it. You know you gotta love the kids, and then you'll be able to do it for a lifetime...and you'll have to!
I had a blast today...teaching African Folktales to my sixth graders. After Christmas, I told them I was giving them back their toys---all their favorite picture books from their baby  years. We read a few, and then they brought in their own as well. We studied how they were built and what we know about story construction. We then studied "Where Stories Come From," a Zulu story straight off the internet. We compared the structure...(named it a 'stepping stone story' like Wiz. of Oz) and long story short, we studied many more too. We're now up to Circle, Stepping Stone, Trickster and Pour quoi. We listed as many questions for the universe as we could and I wrote a pour quoi story using a recipe we'd created. I gave kids a half hour to pick their favorite question and create an impromptu story to perform on Monday. They had a blast!
The room was full of movement, enthusiasm and life! What teacher could ask for more? Now, on Monday, we'll videotape the results. And the Oscar goes to...who cares! Kids will work on their own next week to write and publish on their own following a little more specific instruction. TGIF to all my weary friends...only the freedom of Saturday could be better!