Friday, December 19, 2008

On Santa hats and Hannukah garland

Today is the last day of school before the holiday break. Yesterday, during the morning announcements the head ptb proclaimed today as 'Santa Hat Day.' So there would be no confusion, the student video announcements did a little piece on what constitutes a santa hat and what didn't. Basically, they were making sure students understood that camo baseball caps did not qualify as santa hats.

Many people are wearing santa hats of various colors - those made in favorite NFL team colors and logos, some striped with elf ears, some just crazy colors. Some people are wearing antlers and colorful package bows on their heads. All in good fun, and no one is getting hurt.


We have several faculty members and students who do not celebrate Christmas. I'm sure there are more than I am aware of. However, as far as I can see, they are graciously letting the rest of us make fools of ourselves. One of our faculty is very open and visible in her Jewish faith. Everyone knows her beliefs. Everyone (I thought) respects her beliefs. Today, she is sporting a festive blue and silver Hannukah garland on her head. I think it is very fetching and appropriate, considering the time of year. I just found out that some mean-spirited grinchy-type person (faculty, evidently) complained to the ptb about her headgear. Now, if I ran the zoo, she would NEVER know that anyone said anything, and she would spend the rest of the day with her garland on her head. But I don't run the zoo, and she was told to take the garland off. She is upset - understandably so.

Wrong - so wrong.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is it Friday yet?

While I really like Christmas, I despise the week in school leading up to the holiday break. This year, our last day is Friday (19th) and no one - no student, no teacher, no administrator - wants to be here.

In Ecology class today (yes, I'm co-teaching a new science this year. Yea!) the students were playing the Dart game and the Fire game. I guess these games might be unique to Greene County - at least I hope so. They're kinda like Freeze Tag. In the Dart game, one student throws an imaginary dart at another student. The darted student is then dead (frozen) until another student takes pity and pulls the dart out. In the Fire game, one student sets another student 'on fire.' The flaming student must then wave his arms around like a crazy person (or one who is on fire) until someone puts him out. Yeah - makes for great focus and concentration in class. Oh - and you can protect yourself from fire and darts by holding your hand up to your throat and putting the other hand up to your eye (like form a circle around it.)

Don't ask me - I didn't make up these stupid rules.

Anyway, two students in Ecology class today were playing the Dart and Fire game. And. would. not. stop. So, I pulled them from class, took them to the office, and wrote them up.

While there, a HUGE fight broke out in the hallway. One of our principals got taken down by one of the fighting students.

I don't think my Dart and Fire playing boys will get first priority any more.

It's only Tuesday...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Got a sec?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do! At least I will - at 6:59:59 pm EST on 12/31/08. That's when a leap second will be added to 2008. So, instead of 86,400 seconds, 2008 will last 86,401. A beat of a butterfly's wing, a blink of an eye - more to love in 2008!

Imagine this conversation between a member of the International Consortium of Timekeepers (wonder what the job qualifications are? I have a Mickey Mouse watch - he looks especially cute at 6:30) and the significant other over dinner one night: "So, how was your day, honey?" "Oh, pretty good. Added a second to the year - changed time. No biggie."

OK - what are we going to do to celebrate?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hair apparent

I haven't had a haircut in about a year (unless you count me trimming some off the back a few months ago.) Don't really know why - my hair used to be uber-short, and I decided to grow it out. As my hair grew, I realized that my hair had become very curly - I guess the gray hair has a much different texture than my original brown. In any case, my hair is getting really long, and I don't know what to do with it anymore. My main hairstyle these days is the classic 'pull the hair back and wind it around a few times until it looks kinda like a bun.' Cute. I don't want to take the time to style it - dry and then re-curl. Doesn't make sense, most days. Anyway, here's what it looks like if I just let it dry naturally:

Here's what it looks like in the back:

Not attractive. So - I'm getting a hair cut, in about 10 minutes.

(Insert Jeopardy Music here...)

OK, I'm back. And here's the result:

It doesn't look too different in the front, but you can see from the back picture that I lost about 3 inches in length. This is just air-dried, no styling to speak of, other than finger combing.

So, I guess I'm out of the 'grow my hair to my ass' phase.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Where there's smoke...

The Dismal Swamp is on fire. You wouldn't think that would affect much, but when the wind changes at night, the smoke blows right over the Currituck Sound, right into our vacation spot. It's smokey enough that it gets into your eyes (I hear a song coming on...) and makes you cough. I took the dog out a few minutes ago, and she spent so much time sniffing the wind she almost forgot why she was outside to begin with.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dog days

Shelly came to live with us last Thursday. She's very sweet, and just wants to be petted at all times.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Well-filled Basket...

About every month or so this school year, our wing (the 'new' wing) had a pot luck lunch. The custodian, I'll call him Haywood ('cuz that's his name), would organize it, and everyone would bring in something fattening to eat for lunch. Usually, the meal would center around a meat that Haywood brought or co-brought (that a word? works here...), like ham or chicken or BBQ. Nice idea, good food, good fellowship. If you are the type of person who hates to come up with something to bring, you could contribute $ toward the purchase of the meat. Ok - so we did this about 6 times this year. Our potlucks became somewhat famous, and more and more people started showing up to eat. Not bring food or contribute, but to eat. A good time was had by all - except Haywood.

Today was our end-of-the-year meal. Tons of food - good, good food. Tons of people eating. Tons of food left over. After the lunch, I was in my room with Suzanne. (next door neighbor) when Haywood came in to vent. He started out with, "I'm not gonna name names, but Mrs. _____ and Mr._______ always come in and eat and never once did they contribute a thing!" Then he went on to say that our meals were getting too big, and next year's were going to be by 'invitation only.' His main concern? The amount of effort and money put in to the dinner by a few for the enjoyment and gluttony of the many. For example: According to Haywood, one of our teaching assistants spent $34 on chicken for todays meal. $34.00???? OK, now I feel bad, because I just picked up a cake on my way home yesterday from the local Mennonite bakery. Suzanne confided that she spent $2 on a brownie mix.

After Haywood left, Suzanne and I agreed that we did not agree with him. We didn't tell him that, 'cause he scares us a little bit.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Last Monday!

Today is the last Monday of the school year. It's also the last full day for students. I have one exam to give today - to 3 students, then I just futz around for the rest of the day. Depending upon how many students show up for non-exam classes, I may be able to get some end-of-the-year work done.

We have this folder of check-out stuff that needs to be accomplished before we can leave on Friday. Last year, I got anal about it, and had most of it done before the exam week. I was thinking, "Sweet! I'll be done and can get out of here early on the last day!" Yeah, not so much. Our head PTB has this thing about us working the full day for teacher work days. Last year, he made a big to-do about it, and came around checking on us through the afternoon. At one point, he walked into my packed up classroom, saw me sitting with my feet up on my desk reading a book, and gave me a thumbs up for sticking around like a good girl.

So, this year, I'm not touching my check-out packet until we go to 1:00 dismissals. That's tomorrow. Now, the way my luck goes, I'll run into some kind of huge snafu, and not be able to get finished on time. I have one meeting to schedule today, with the problem child on my caseload. She's pregnant (again!!!) and didn't accomplish her IEP goals for this year. She's on a special diploma, and therefore can't graduate. I have to get her in here to offer her options: 1) come back next year, and try to do better (not gonna happen - she's almost 19 and won't want to come back to school with a new baby and one that's a year old), or b) sign out of the program and be done with formal edumacation.

Her mom called last week, and asked if she couldn't make up her work during summer school. Her 'work' is community-based instruction, volunteering 3 days a week at the local animal shelter. She made it to about 1 session a week, on average, this year. Her ONLY IEP goal since February was to attend 80% of her volunteer sessions. We even provide the transportation. 3 days a week for 2-3 hours a day. That's all she had to do. She didn't do it. Now, if she couldn't do that - how's she gonna go for 3 weeks straight, 5 days a week, to make up her time. AND she's pregnant!!! Sheesh.... Our assistant ptb said "are you kidding me???"

I love my job....

On another note - Ken is meeting with our new tenant this afternoon, signing a lease, and moving her in. Then, he's heading up the road to his sister's house to spend the night before driving on to Madison tomorrow. He may actually be here for good by tomorrow night. Unbelievable...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Senior Awards Assembly and other random vents

This morning is our Senior Awards Assembly. And I do mean this morning. The assembly will last for at least 3 hours. In the gym. On the bleachers. For 3 hours. My back is already complaining. As are my freshmen in my homeroom. They don't understand why they have to attend. I don't understand why they even came to school today. Oh, wait! The SOL field day is this afternoon after lunch. I'm sure parents said something to the effect of, "Either go to school for the whole day, or not at all." So all but two of my homeroom students are here.

Tradition kind of dictates that teachers and staff dress up for the Senior Awards. Then, we change clothes for the afternoon of Grease-like fun and frolic. The PTB evidently never tell staff and teachers to dress up, so about half the staff are in jeans, and the other half are dressed to the nines. New teachers are particularly shocked to see that maybe they should be in nicer clothes. Teachers who have been here for awhile take the "I'm not doing it unless I'm told" stance, and come in jeans just to be spiteful. I wore a dress because last year I was told by other teachers about the dichotomy of dress on this day. I figure it this way: Parents are at this assembly, it's for the graduating class, and they deserve a modicum of respect. So I wore a dress. Big deal. I'll change after lunch, before I go out to my duty of SOL field day.

Speaking of that....
I'm listed to be in two different places at the same time. Huh. I'm supposed to be at the front of the school for the 'Inflatable Basketball and Velcro Wall' station. I think that means there will be a huge neon-colored inflatable basketball goal that students will play basketball on, and I've been told the Velcro Wall is just that - a velcro wall where students put on a velcro suit, jump at the wall, and try to stick. Also, I've been assigned to an inside room supervising the playing of board games. So, here's my dilemma: Do I go outside and drive myself nuts trying to keep up with all the crazies throwing themselves and others on a velcro wall? Or do I go crazy with boredom in a room where no students will be? Board games? Are you serious?? I may wander between the two as I see fit.

I'm looking forward to 3:00

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Channeling Kathryn Turner

I'm losing my voice, and I'm at that husky stage where I sound like Kathryn Turner, Demi Moore, Lauren Bacall - take your pick. Fun. So, no teaching for me today - my voice is getting softer by the minute. I found a great video about the arctic, made by the same people who did March of the Penguins, about the impact a warming climate and sea has on a polar bear and walrus family. Baby polar bears and baby walri - can't lose. Meanwhile, I'm eating Hall's like candy. I have an appointment at the Health Cottage this afternoon during my planning. (The Health Cottage is a great perk for our school system - a nurse practitioner on staff who can prescribe medication for students and staff - - for free!)

Got a few scores back, for those students who did not have the read-aloud option. So far, my students are doing well. Only one failure, and that student is eligible for expedited re-take next week. My head ptb made me fist bump with him in the hall. Creepy factor: 8.75.

I'm worried about my read-aloud kids, because they're the ones who have struggled all year. We're hoping for those scores sometime today. Getting those scores, and seeing many passing scores, will go a long way toward making me feel better!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Countdown to lift-off


We are done with SOL testing, except for those who need to take make-up tests or those who scored close enough (missed it by that much) to be allowed an expedited retake. Now, that would be good - if we knew the scores. No scores yet. No scores on the horizon. Great.

OK - so no more SOL review, and we're back on regular schedule today and tomorrow. I don't know what I'll teach, because we're all burnt out. I started showing the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind yesterday during one of my 2-hour sessions with a class that was through testing. It's an Earth Science movie - did you know that? Yep - halfway through the movie, I paused the action on a still shot of Devil's Tower. Me: "Can anyone tell me what that is?" Random students: "A volcanic neck!" Swish! Earth Science! It's all good... So, I guess we'll finish watching that in that class - and maybe start it in another? I dunno.

Added to that - Yearbooks were handed out in homerooms just now. Do I want to fight the yearbook battle today, or should I just allow about 15 minutes per class for oohing and aahing over the books. Again, I dunno. AND - a teacher just came to me, and asked if he could observe my class today! What? Today? Not a good idea. Y'see, the PTB have decreed we must all observe in another class 4 times each school year. My observations are done, but many teachers procrastinate, and don't get the observations done until there's almost nothing left to observe. I told him he could come in tomorrow - not that he'll see much, but I'll be teaching...something.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Yep - I'm slack. Completely missed the 20-day mark. Oh well, so it goes.

We are SOL testing this week, which means the schedule is just crazy. We only have 3 classes each day, and each class is 2 hours long. Gak. Some days (like today) that's OK - I have my planning for 2 hours at the end of the day. Sweet. Other days, like Friday, Monday, and Tuesday coming up - I get no break at all. Not sweet. I also get to see my Resource class for 2 hours today. I have a hard time getting them to be productive for 45 minutes each day, now I have to ask them to work on something (anything!!) for 2 hours. I'm hoping some of them (the seniors especially) decide to take the day off so I don't have to fight with them. I talked with one of my seniors (who is never out) and he said he has some movies which are 'government related.' Should be interesting....

This morning, one of the new teachers in the building was approached by an assistant ptb. He actually came to her door, and and did the finger crook at her. She went in the hall, and he told her that students were checking out because "Mrs. __________ isn't teaching anything today anyway." (She teaches a non-SOL science course - usually populated by juniors and seniors) She let him know that she was, indeed, teaching today and those students were lying. They have an exam they are preparing for. She also told him she was offended that the ptb would believe she would not be teaching/reviewing. Then, the head ptb came by to try to smooth her ruffled feathers - telling her they were checking in with all teachers, making sure they were not telling students to go ahead and check out because no instruction would be happening. Yeah - he lied. No one has checked with me, or anyone else that I know of. She told him she was still offended. As she put it to him, "I've heard all the announcements for the last week or so, informing students that teaching and activities would still be taking place, and they are to be in school."


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

By 5's

25 more days! Our SOL's start on 3/12 - so we are in the throes of review. Gak.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yeah, OK

I'm bored. School is turning into a SS/DD thing, and I'm bored. It will only get worse as we head toward the SOL countdown. I start reviewing for the SOL next Wednesday, and will continue to do so until the middle of May. GAK!

30 more days - and I'm bored with this, as well. I think I'll go to 5-day intervals.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


31 days.

Remediation day. Yippee-skippee. I have a student in my resource class who, bless his heart, (said with a southern twang, and my hand over my heart) moved here from New York state this fall. He took the regent's exams in NY for several courses - including Earth Science. According to his mom (haven't seen his records) he passed those exams. Evidently, they don't transfer to the Commonwealth. So, he has to take the SOLs for courses he had in NY. Get this - he passed Earth Science, he passed World History, but he has to take the SOLs in these courses before he can graduate in VA. He took Earth Science 2 years ago, and remembers little. In my resource class, he's been reading the Earth Science text, and taking released tests. (and not doing very well on them) His mom asked if he could be put in remediation to better prepare him for the SOL. Not a problem, we are accommodating people. He was put on the other remediation teacher's list about 6 weeks ago. He's made it to remediation TWICE - and one time, he was escorted. He has many excuses - none of which hold water. On Friday, he was called in to the office to explain why he's missing remediation. After spinning his tales, he evidently realized the admin wasn't buying any of it. So, he pulled the "that teacher isn't teaching me anything. Can I be in Mrs. Lowe's remediation instead?" PTB said, "sure, and you can attend after-school detention this Thursday for skipping remediation for the past few weeks." So, he's on my list. This comes under the heading of: be careful what you wish for. I guess he thought I would be a) easier, or 2) more forgiving.

I saw him in the hall before homeroom today, and said "see you in remediation, right?" He looked surprised, said "is that today?", and scurried off to homeroom. He did show up in my class for remediation, looking extremely dejected. As I started reviewing released test items, he said "that's what we were doing in Mrs. ________'s room!" Duh. She and I plan our remediation together in order to ensure we are covering all bases.

Did I mention - 31 days?

Monday, April 21, 2008


rain, and more rain. Makes me want to go home and go to bed!

I looked at the calendar this morning, and not only do we have 32 days of school left, we only have 14 days until SOL testing begins. I have about 6 more days of real teaching to do, and then I start reviewing for the SOL. After the SOL? Still have to teach...something. Thirteen more days of school after that week of testing, and we are expected to continue teaching. The students are expected to come to school. We have to give final exams - although there are a boatload of reasons why a student can be exempt from a final. It's a shame that my most interesting and exciting lessons will probably be after the SOL. I can't take the time to be too creative and out of the box before the test. Grrr...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another sign

Our attendance lady rode her motorcycle to school today - leathers and all!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is it...

too soon to be counting down? I think not!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Spring first

Beautiful day! We have a picnic table in a little courtyard next to my wing of the school, so the lunch bunch ate outside. The only problem with doing this - we don't want to come back in. I got my dose of Vitamin D for the day.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In case you're keeping score

  • New computer? aAlthough I don't get the wireless signal as strongly as I should. The geeks are still working on it.
  • Garage door fixed? a(Karen - mom says this one is hers - so your faith in the order of the universe is restored. The rule is still '3.' Which is a good thing, because according to a friend of mine, otherwise I would still be looking for 2 more things to go wrong to get to 6. Did that make any sense?)
  • Refrigerator fixed? x The refrigerator is still under warranty, so the appliance store does not get the $$ they usually would for labor and such. They are really dragging their feet, and being uncooperative. The part is in - I get a call on Monday to set up a time to come over and install the part. Can't do it Tuesday or Wednesday, because everyone in the shop (??) is going for training in Richmond both days. They can come on Thursday. Cool - What time? Can't tell me that. Between 10:00 and 5:00. That's no good, no one can be home all day. How about Friday? Nope - they won't be anywhere in the area on Friday. We can leave them a key (?) and they can just waltz in on Thursday when no one is home and fix the fridge. Yeah, not too comfortable with that. Mom says she can stay home on Thursday and wait for the guy, but she shouldn't have to do that. So - I'm going to call tomorrow morning after 8:30, and see if they can be more precise in the time frame. If they say morning, then I'll go home and wait for the guy. I have a meeting at 1:30 I can't miss, so maybe I can do both.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

New 'Puter!

I lured mom over to look at my new computer, and took her picture with the webcam. Tee Hee...
I look like I smell something bad.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

No good deed goes unpunished, or why bad things happen to good people

Back from Spring Break - and I have a headache.

The beach was nice - pretty good weather, very windy and cool most days. It was really nice to see Robin and Beverly - they caught me up on all the gossip.

Dusty enjoyed the beach - until Wednesday evening. Over the last few weeks, he's been growling at mom at random times, mostly when she was walking in the hall or into the kitchen. He gave out mixed signals - wagging his tail while growling, and then wanting to sit next to her on the couch. On Wednesday night, as mom was coming to the dinner table, Dusty growled, barked, and bit. I threw him out on the deck and called local animal control. Needless to say, Dusty is still at the beach. So, we are once again dog-less. I don't think I'm going to adopt another dog from a shelter. We were lucky with Lady and Missy, but I'm not keen on taking a chance again unless the shelter knows a dog's history.

On Monday, my last day of break, my computer started acting squirrelly. The display was turning a pretty shade of fuchsia, and jumping around like a bad TV picture. I shut it down, and toted it over to the computer geeks in town. The guy plugged it into another monitor, and the picture seemed fine. But (and lately, there's always a but), an error message started popping up about corrupt files. Uh - oh...that's never good. Sure enough, it looks like my hard drive is going bad. To send the laptop off for repairs on the display and a new hard drive would cost upward of $500, and take several weeks. I have two UOP classes going on, and a new one starting this week. If I have to cancel the one just starting, (because I have no access to my laptop for several weeks) it's going to cost me around $900. So, net cost of fixing the computer = $1400. No brainer - I ask the geeks to order me a new laptop. The new computer should be in today - in the meantime, I'm facilitating my 3 classes from my school computer. There goes some of the Germany money!!

On the same day, after coming back from the geeks, I realize the refrigerator is not cooling. Not only that, everything is melting in the freezer. Wonderful... I spend the late part of the evening transferring things out of the inside fridge/freezer to the garage fridge/freezer. Luckily, the thing is still under warranty.

Also, several weeks ago, the garage door stopped working right. Repair parts were ordered, and the garage door guy came yesterday morning to fix it. Yesterday afternoon, the fridge guy came to look at the fridge. Do we have a working garage door and refrigerator today? Nope.

For some reason, only one guy came to install the parts in the garage door. He arrived about 10:30, and was still there when I came home to meet the fridge guy at 1:00. He rang the doorbell about an hour later, and said he couldn't get things to work. He'll have to come back. Sometime. In the meantime, he disengaged the opener mechanism, so we can't use the garage door at all. We're parking outside.

The fridge guy diagnosed the problem with the refrigerator. Motor burned out in the fan that blows the cool air all around the freezer and refrigerator. Usually, he keeps that part in his truck. Not today. He'll have to come back. Sometime. In the meantime, we're using the refrigerator and the big freezer in the garage.

Ok - here's the good thing: ( I had to think pretty long and hard...) Since no one can open our garage door right now, our food stored in the garage freezer and refrigerator is safe.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

still lookin...

We give our 3rd nine-week tests next week. I start reviewing for my test tomorrow (the test is next Thursday.) I've been teaching my butt off for the last 6 months, and we're down to one nine-week term before my students have to take an SOL. Things that make me go "AAARRRGGGHHH!!!"

This morning, right after homeroom, the head ptb comes up to me in the hall and says, "I have to talk to you." What does he want to talk about? Mid-term grades. Grades that I turned in to guidance over 3 weeks ago. Grades that were, for the most part, pretty miserable. He starts asking me questions (as my period 2 class starts without me) about how I'm delivering instruction. "Do you give guided notes?" "Do you use technology?" "Do you contact parents?" "Are you differentiating instruction?" Yes - Yes - Yes - and Yes. He ends with the promise that they (ptb) will be in to observe more often, and try to help me 'get a handle on' my failing students. Gee, thanks.

So, true to his word - 6th period, in comes an assistant ptb to observe. This class is pretty pitiful - all but 2 students have a 'D' or 'F'. All but 3 students have the read-aloud accommodation for testing, meaning they don't read or comprehend written text on grade level. Not only that - their reading comprehension is probably lower for nonfiction text. They have no study skills, they have no test-taking skills, they don't like to do homework (and often don't), and they don't understand why they are doing poorly in my class! The observation goes OK, I guess. Just a few minutes ago, I spoke with the observing ptb and he assures me that I am a good teacher. And he assures me that they (ptb) are aware the students aren't failing because of me.

Whew, I feel better...

Yeah, no, not really.

Friday, February 29, 2008


None for today.

This is how I figure it - This day really doesn't exist. Every 4 years, February 29 shows up on our calendars, and we just accept the addition of one day to our year. No questions asked. From a science standpoint, I understand all the hype about the rotation of the Earth taking approximately 24 hours, and how every 4 years we have to 'reset' our calendar or chaos will result. That chaos being: If we don't reset our calendars every 4 years, we will be off by one day every 4 years. In 100 years, we'll be off by approximately 25 days. In 200 years, we'll be off by approximately 50 days. In 300 years, we might have snow in July. OK - I get it.

However, I choose to believe the day does not actually exist. We pluck it out of the ether, add it to a calendar, and act like nothing unusual happened. I think, since this is one day that only comes around once every 4 years, I can take the stance that anything happening today won't really matter in the light of eternity. Or at least not until this day in 2012.

That said - I already have several incidents I can forget about, because they didn't really happen, because they happened today.
  1. After homeroom, while on hall duty, I notice a group of students (who all happen to be in my 6th hour class), clumped around 2 other students (also mine), who are engaged in a shouting match. By the time I get down there, curses and threats are flying. The head ptb happens by, and gets between the 2 combatants. The other students are having a grand old time, encouraging the fight. I herd them in to their class (not mine - and the teacher is not yet there, even though the bell has rung) and try to get them settled. Finally, the teacher shows up, thanks me for 'covering', and asks what he missed. ???? This sets off the group again, as they try to re-create the fight for him. Lovely, this whole group will be coming to me in about 5 hours. (minus the two fighters - they're on lockdown for the rest of the day)
  2. Tried to take my 2nd hour class to the computer lab to take a test online. My plan was for them to take this test, then I had several review activities (also online) for them to work on/have a little fun with - end the week on a positive note. Yeah. Immediately, 2 of my lovelies decided to go to other websites and/or stick a flash music drive in the computer. I ended up taking the class back to my room to take the test on paper because they were too disruptive and were disturbing the other class in the lab. Grrr...
  3. Poor ol' Marjorie...She was the other teacher in the computer lab 2nd hour, working with her Computer Math class. While I was in there, Marjorie spotted one of her students with earphones on - connected to a hidden Ipod. Marjorie bent down and told the student to put the earphones away, that she knew the rules of the class, and to get back to work. Evidently, as soon as class was over, the student put out a distress call. During 3rd period, an irate parent barged in to Marjorie's classroom (yep, in the middle of a class), ready to whup up on her because Marjorie "embarrassed" her daughter in front of her friends. Luckily, another teacher happened to be in the classroom, and the head ptb was walking by. According to Marjorie, the woman had to be bodily removed from the room.

Water under the bridge, spilt milk, leap day. No use worrying about it....

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Are you freakin' kidding me???

It's mid-term time. Progress reports went out yesterday. Any student with a 'D' or 'F' in a class at this point in the term has his/her name put on a list, and that list is turned in to the guidance office. What they do with the lists....I have no clue. At any rate, lists are now due to guidance.

This morning, I'm hanging out in the hall (presumably 'on duty') talking with another Earth Science teacher. This is Leah's first year here, but she's really on the ball. Much more organized then I am. She tells me she was stopped by the head ptb on the way to guidance yesterday - taking her list. He looks at her list, and is astonished and perturbed by the number of names on said list. He says to her (and she swears this is not a joke, nor was he sarcastic), 'You know there's an SOL in this course, right?' Her first impulse? Yeah, this is why I like her - 'Really? The hell you say! Why didn't someone tell me this sooner???' She doesn't say this, but does give him a look that evidently leads him to believe she didn't understand his comment. So he says, 'I mean - are they going to pass?' He grabs the list again, and asks. 'How many of these are Earth Science students?' ('cause she also teaches a non-SOL science course) She does ask - 'Does it matter?' PTB looks at her like she's lost her mind, and careens off - looking for his next victim.

(picture me - digging through piles of manure....)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lost Pony

Animal Planet aired a program last night that included a segment about a lost pony, reunited with his owners. Eh? See a trend here? Maybe it's just me...

Monday, February 25, 2008


Tommy told a story yesterday in church, about the pessimistic boy and the optimistic boy. Scientists placed the pessimistic boy in a room filled with every toy imaginable, and the optimistic boy in a room filled with a huge pile of horse manure. An hour later they checked on the boy in the room full of toys. He was in the corner, sucking his thumb. When asked what was wrong, he said, "There are too many toys. I might get hurt, or I might break them if I play with them!" The scientists checked on the other boy, and found him, the walls and the entire room covered in horse manure. They asked him what he was doing, and he replied, "With all this, there HAS to be a pony somewhere!"

I decided to make that my motto this week -at least. With all the sh&% that goes on day-to-day at school, there has to be a pony somewhere. I'm lookin' for the pony!

So - with that in mind (I also told Suzanne about my equine quest), here comes Dr. M, one of the ptb, who starts talking about the Donkey Basketball game scheduled for Friday night. Donkeys? Are they like ponies? Have I completed my quest already? But -- it's only 8:30 on Monday morning!!

He says they're looking for people to ride the donkeys. He also informed us that donkeys really don't like to be ridden. I'm going to avoid him for the rest of the week.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pull my gleaner???

Kids these days. The things they will say to try to get a rise out of a teacher....

Marjorie is a new teacher on our hall this year. She teaches math. She tries really hard to be a 'cool' teacher - one that students like and will respect. Problem is, she lets them get away with too much, and it's starting to get out of hand. Case in point:

During lunch today, Marjorie tells us about a student in one of her classes coming up to her and (according to Marjorie) telling her to pull his 'gleaner.' Marjorie hears 'weiner', gets offended, and writes a referral. The assistant principal (who has a reputation of being a little soft on discipline) comes up to her this morning, telling Marjorie that the student insists he said 'gleaner', and that a gleaner is the skin on your elbow. We (our lunch bunch), being the life-long learners we are, look up 'gleaner + elbow' on Google. Nothing. The rest of lunch is taken up with hilarious gleaner jokes. We enjoy our wit very much. Marjorie is not so amused.

When the bell rings, Suzanne and I are on hall patrol when we overhear a group of Marjorie's students talking about what happened. We hear the word 'weiner' several times, and ask the students to stop talking about the incident. One of the boys (who happens to be in my Resource class) says, 'No, Mrs. Lowe! She got upset over the word 'wenus' - and that's what you call the skin on your elbow.' I shoo them all to class, and Google 'wenus.' Sure enough, it's a word, and it means the skin on your elbow.

Next time I see Marjorie, I tell her about 'wenus'. She feels a little stupid, but gleans (get it?) satisfaction in the knowledge that what she heard was still rather inappropriate.

I mean - come on - indiscriminate pulling of the skin on a students' elbow could lead to all sorts of chaos!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

5-finger discount

Took the dog in for a nail trim yesterday afternoon. As the vet tech takes Dusty off for his pedicure, I ask, (not really in jest) "Do I get a discount?" The receptionist looks puzzled as she says, "No, why?" I point out the dog only has three legs, therefore less claws to clip. The vet tech taking Dusty out laughs, and says "I have a 3-legged cat."

Dusty looks offended, being compared to a cat and all. They charge me full price.

So - what do think of this? Dusty is saving up for the surgery...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What language do you bark?

Dave uploaded some pictures the other day from his trip to Athens. I promised my students at the beginning of the school year that I would keep them updated on his travels, and share the pictures and stories (that were G-rated) of his year in Germany.
Today, I show this picture of downtown Athens. I really like the composition of the picture, with the sleeping dog in the foreground. Very cool. One of my seniors asks the question, "When a dog in Greece barks, does he bark in Greek?" Good question!? That leads to a lively discussion of how dogs in different countries might bark. The winner is the student who proceeds to bark in Spanish, rolling his 'r's as he barks "Roof, roof". Priceless.
On another note: The other day, Suzanne's son (a freshman) comes up to her in the hall. He asks, "Mom, do want some bread?" and pulls a baguette out of his coat pocket, breaks off a hunk, and hands it to her. I ask if he's going to pull a fish out of the other pocket as he walks away. A few seconds later, he comes back and says, "That was pretty funny!"
I guess you had to be there...

Friday, February 01, 2008

No bitch zone

I realize I've been spending most of my time in this blog kvetching about all that is wrong in my world. Sorry bout that.

Today was a much better Friday. A scheduled 1/2 day for parent conferences, so I automatically get to sleep in. Bonus: overnight, we have freezing rain, so the work day schedule is pushed back an hour. I don't have to go in until 10:00. Time to get a decent breakfast and sit around in my robe. The workday ends at 1:00, and I spend the afternoon dozing, reading, watching a little Springer (a guilty pleasure, sometimes), and watching it rain on the deck.

Tonight - a bball game against NC State. Nice game, another win for the girls. Maybe tomorrow, they'll be nationally ranked. Sweet.

So, maybe not as entertaining as a grumpy entry, but everyone needs a few flowers and puppies in their lives, right? (or in this case, freezing rain and basketball)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Resource Redux

The next big crisis (according to the ptb) involves Resource classes in our school. Review: a resource class (at least in our high school) is a 'for credit' class for those students with an IEP, who are struggling in their coursework. The IEP team for each student decides at the annual review of the IEP if a resource class is appropriate. Then, each core class teacher (English, Math, etc) and the resource teacher communicate regarding what assignments the students need to be working on. Good concept, I guess, but here's where it breaks down: 1) the students have not been told about the concept, evidently. They, for the most part, view resource class as a time to do nothing. 2) Even when I email the core class teachers, asking for assignments or suggestions for work for the students, I get no response. 3) This is an assigned 'duty' period, not a class I'm supposed to teach. I'm not supposed to have to prep for it. So, when a student has no work to do, he does no work in resource class.

The ptb are just now realizing that resource classes, across the board, are not working. About a month ago, we got spreadsheets that the resource students were supposed to fill out each day. They were to fill out what assignments for which classes were worked on during resource, how much time the assignments took, whether or not they needed the resource teacher's help, and any anecdotal comments they cared to make. We (resource teachers) were specifically told "Let the students fill these out, this is their responsibility'. These spreadsheets covered 10 school days. Needless to say, the data was crap. One student (not in my class) filled in everyblank with the initials 'BS'. One of my students, after working on a crossword puzzle from his History class, put in the comment section "Easy peasy, lemon squeezy'. Pretty funny stuff. Except...our principal announced to the school board during this 10-day 'data collection' that he was on top of the resource issue, and was, in fact, collecting empirical data about how the program was utilized. The very next day, he collected the spreadsheets. He had a heart attack. A new crisis begins....

So, for the last week, my principal stops me every time he sees me in the hall and says, "I need to talk to you." Never talks to me - just tells me of his need. Finally, on Monday of this week, I see him after school, and he says, "Can we meet during your planning tomorrow?" Sure, I say - I'll be in my room. He gives me a look, and says, "I'll be in my office. Come there during 8th period." Ohhh Kaaay. So I do. Go there during 8th period the next day. He's busy, can't meet with me. Says, 'Go on back to your room. I'll come to you when I'm finished here.' Which is what I suggested IN THE FIRST PLACE. Did I meet with him that day? NO. He never came to my room.

The next day, he informs me he wants to meet with me and several other resource teachers during planning. Now that there are other people involved, we actually get to meet. In the meeting we are given new, revised spreadsheets for the resource students to fill out over the next 10 days. This time, however, we are responsible for the information put on the sheet. We're also told that not working during resource class is no longer an option for the students. If they don't have work to do, we are to find work for them. Good concept. This is where it breaks down: 1) I don't have copies of the relevant textbooks in my classroom. When a student walks in to my resource class with nothing in his hands but air, I don't have the resources to assign him something to do. 2) I don't have copies of the relevant pacing guides. If a teacher does not let me know what they are working on in class, I can't come up with a pertinent assignment. and 3) the students don't get why they should have extra work to do in resource, if they truly are caught up in all their classes.

In any case, starting today, my resource students are put on notice that no work is a no go. They are happy to hear that the ptb and their teachers are looking out for their best interests, and are eager to begin this new chapter in resource class.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yesterday was not good.

I start out with high hopes, a positive attitude, and a heart full of joy that it is Friday. The best part of my day is my drive to work. Nothing special, just my usual 15 minute drive, but it turns out to be the least stressful, most enjoyable part of my day. That's telling...

Remediation starts yesterday morning. The schedule calls for remediation to run from approximately 8:10 until 8:45 once a week. We usually do it on Wednesdays during school club time, but the ptb decide to have remediation on Friday this week, when there were no clubs, kind of as a dry run to detect and fix any snags. My group is the same group (with the exception of 3 students) I teach 6th period every day. One girl makes the very astute observation that she will be in my class twice on remediation days. Anyway, the class goes fairly well - mostly just an overview of what they will be required to know for the SOL. They are entranced.

I'm able to teach 2nd period, with no interruptions, until about 10 minutes before the end of class. A student runner comes in the class, and tells me I'm needed in guidance right away. No explanation, just that I need to go right then. Luckily, my assistant is in class (a rare occasion), so I stop my PowerPoint lecture, and give the kids a book assignment. I'm thinking - something really horrible must be happening with one of the kids on my caseload, to be called out of class like this. Nope - nothing like that.

Back story: Our report cards are coming out on Monday. They were supposed to go out on Friday, but we had snow last week and were out of school for two days. As a result, teachers didn't get the scheduled work day last Friday, and had to scramble to get grades done and exported to guidance. In our staff meeting Thursday afternoon, guidance reported there were some problems with the grades, and would we please check our printouts for errors. I did so, saw no apparent errors, and went on my merry way.

My summons to guidance is regarding my grade print out. Two (gasp) student grades are calculated incorrectly (not by me - by the electronic gradebook that we use). The head of the guidance department proceeds to give me a 20-minute lecture/tutorial on using the gradebook, and I am told to recalculate my grades, write in the corrected letter grades (if any more were found) and re-submit my printout. Right now? Yes - right now. But, I'm supposed to be co-teaching a class next period. No - recalculate your grades. ( I should say - I was one of many teachers summoned to guidance for this same issue yesterday. It was evidently a system-wide snafu) Ok. I go back to my classroom, log in to the electronic gradebook, re-check all the grades for the 1st 9-weeks, 2nd 9-weeks, and semester. Make changes ( only a few found) and resubmit my printout. Done, right?

Fourth period is my resource class. A group of juniors and seniors, who are in this class for lack of another class available. Most days, they have nothing to do. It's kind of a study hall for kids with IEPs. During this time Friday, I work on refining, printing, and collating the IEP I need for a meeting that afternoon. I have to refine, because the Speech Therapist for the school system decided to dismiss this particular student from speech, and informed me of this decision that morning. After I'd printed out 4 copies of the IEP, after I'd submitted one of those copies to my administrator, after I thought I was done. So, I have to go in and make the necessary changes, add a few new forms for dismissal from services, print out the new pages, and insert them where they need to go. Ok - done with that.

At the end of the next period (my lunch, and my Channel One group), the principal does a drive-by. Did I get my grades fixed? He's hearing there's still a problem. I need to go to guidance - right away. Problem - I have a class starting in 2 minutes. He asks if I can go during my planning. No, that's when my IEP meeting is scheduled. Can I go during my next collaboration class? (7th) Sure - I guess so. He careens away. All of a sudden, a commotion erupts from the direction of my classroom. I go in, and two students are trying to fight each other. My assistant and another student are trying to keep the combatants away from each other. I hit the button (2nd time this year -a record) and call for assistance. As soon as I do that, the two students calm down, and my assistant takes the instigator to the office. Two ptb show up a minute later, and take the other fighter and a witness off to the office. My class of 11 is reduced to 8, with no assistant. We're 10 minutes in to a 45 minute period, and I have to take another 5 minutes to get everyone calmed down. Wonderful.

The next period is my collaboration class. I tell that teacher I will be back ASAP, and head, once more, with feeling, to guidance. When I get there, I find my grade problem has already been fixed. I am once more subjected to a mini-tutorial about the gradebook before I'm released. As I head down the hallway, the principal does another drive-by. This time, he wants to talk about the general mess that is Resource. Can I come see him during my planning? (Wait - didn't I tell him, less than an hour ago, that I had an IEP meeting during my planning?) No, I have a meeting. OK then, he'll catch up with me on Monday. At this point, I'm sorta hoping I'm in some big trouble that will land me in ISS for a day. I'd bring my book and veg out for 7 hours. Bliss.

My IEP meeting is scheduled to start at 1:30. All the players are in place, the copies of the IEP are printed, my day is going to get better. No, wait... the administrator who is to be in the IEP meeting has gone home sick. Another administrator agrees to fill in - but he has NO CLUE about what's going on with the kid, because he didn't have a copy of the IEP to review beforehand. The guidance counselor who I've worked with on some issues regarding this meeting is out with a sick family member, and the speech therapist who wants to dismiss the student from her services is not able to make the meeting. So, the meeting that should last 45 minutes lasts almost 90. I get out of there at around 2:50, just in time to head to the 9th period collaboration class (yes - missed all three!) in time for afternoon announcements and the dismissal bell.

It just doesn't get any better than that! I guess that's why they pay me the big bucks...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Things that make me go grrr...

It's remediation time again! For the last few days, the powers that be have been in high, frantic gear trying to get lists together of those students who are not proving to be successful in their SOL classes. Teachers submitted lists of those who did not pass respective 9-week tests, and have been asked to revise those lists AT LEAST 3 times. Each time, we get a memo to the effect of that there are too many kids on the lists. OK - if they didn't pass the test, they didn't pass the test. If the criteria for remediation is not passing the test, then the students on the lists should be in remediation, right? One would think so. Instead, we hear "We need to remediate those students who we think have a chance of passing the SOL." Shouldn't we be thinking that ALL students in our classes are capable of passing our course SOL? What happened to the old self-fulfilling prophecy?

In any case, the remediation list has been pared down. I have 11 kids scheduled for remediation, starting tomorrow. Of those 11, seven are kids from my classes. Here's a thought: If they didn't learn it from me the first time around, what are the chances they will learn it from me in remediation? I suggested that maybe, just maybe, we should mix up the groups. There are two of us doing Earth Science remediation, so we could mix up the groups so we are not necessarily teaching our own kids.

My principal loves to do drive-bys. He adores coming up to us in the halls and having impromptu meetings that last about 3 minutes. Very productive. Anyway, he entertains me yesterday (while I was on morning duty) with a run down of the 'best practice' theories for remediaton. Turns out, according to him, it's 50/50 whether remediation of your own students is better than letting your students hear it from someone new. Either way has proven to be effective. BUT - he thinks we should remediate our own. We know where the deficits are, we know the behavior issues (yes, that's the crux of this situation. The implication is that my SPED students do not behave well enough for other teachers), blah, blah, blah.... Yesterday afternoon, he pulls me and the other remediation teacher in to an empty classroom during class change to 'discuss' (read 'mold') our thoughts about the remediation groups. We both say we'll remediate whoever shows up, but we wouldn't mind mixing up the students a bit. Way to make a strong statement! (Meanwhile, our classes are starting without us) This morning, during class change from homeroom to first period, he has a meeting with us in the hall again. He shows us the list of students, tells us who we have, and says "OK - we're good to go tomorrow morning." I have my own kids, Leah has her own kids. After the principal leaves, we look at each other and say, "We'll swap kids around, after we see how the groups work out."

I just love it when I feel administration is hearing what I'm saying. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.