In Someone Else's Words

 At school today we listened to President Obama's Back to School speech. While I feel it was geared more towards middle and high school aged students (and perhaps there should be a shorter one specifically for Elementary students), I'd like to leave you with these words: 

Teachers are the men and women who might be working harder than anybody. Whether you go to a big school or a small one, whether you attend a public, private, or charter school – your teachers are giving up their weekends and waking up at dawn. They’re cramming their days full of classes and extra-curriculars. Then they’re going home, eating some dinner, and staying up past midnight to grade your papers.

And they don’t do it for a fancy office or a big salary. They do it for you. They live for those moments when something clicks, when you amaze them with your intellect and they see the kind of person you can become. They know that you’ll be the citizens and leaders who take us into tomorrow. They know that you’re the future.

Try to remember that as you finish your week! :)

Winner, Winner, How Could Y'all Not Let Me Remember?

 Seriously?! This post! This post was done over a month ago and I incorporated a giveaway. I posted this right before I began subbing, then I had a small blogging hiatus, then some more subbing, and well just go ahead and fire me. But, if I have some loyal readers who did enter that giveaway then here we go - and just for you I went ahead and chose TWO.

Winner 1, who will get one of The Pleated Poppy's Tiny Pouches is #7: Amy said...
I do like a read a short, to the point note about behavior. I do like to get feedback on my lessons. I want the sub to feel comfortable in my classroom.
Winner 2, who will get one of The Pleated Poppy's zippered pouches is #2: Amy said...
I also left notes, and tried to make them as detailed as possible. I hate coming back to a "all was well" note and then my kids tell me all the stuff they did or didn't do. I could not believe a sub who left a note that she did not follow my plans at all because the kids told her that's not how they normally do things! That is why I left the plans - so you would know what to do!! I really like to know what happened and if you couldn't follow the plans why. since I teach in a resource room sometimes they pull my sub to cover other rooms and no one is in my room all day, I wish they would at least leave a note saying that's what happened! Thanks for sharing your resources with us!

Amy(s), I don't have your email(s), so if you see this, please send it along. I hope this works and if not, I will do another one soon to make up for it, I promise. 

A Segment I Like to Call 'Really!?!'

Did anyone think of Saturday Night Live with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler? If so, that's right where I was going! If not, warning, my humor is dry and sarcastic but I am sweet as can be. So what I'd like to do here is a little segment updating you on my week, my thoughts is this crazy world of teaching, and maybe make you chuckle. 

 Why is it that being useless makes you more tired than actually working? After a two week hiatus of subbing my long-term stint began today. I have to be honest and say I had a sick to my stomach feeling the whole morning (really, I was glad I had those book baskets from the Dollar Tree in my car still - ya know for my non-existent classroom - just in case)! Was it finally the realization that a full-time job may not come its way right now? I don't know. 

My position is in EIP. Well there are no EIP schedules yet (Really?! We've been in school for 5 weeks), so especially for me who doesn't even have a computer, there is not much to do. Fortunately, one of the other first-grade teachers from last year also had a baby and so this year she is doing EIP part-time,  so it was nice to catch up with her. Otherwise, I spent my day in an AP's office getting the books ready for the new barcoding system in our Literacy Center (Really?!, I mean Really?!). I felt like such a waste. Yet, I have been home since the faculty meeting and haven't moved a muscle (for REAL - I am pathetic, the gym is on my floor. Really, just suck it up and GO there). Maybe it's because I am also bummed that almost everything in the new Missoni line for Target is sold out (Really Target, I mean plan for the high demand! You've only been building it up for over a month now. Really!?! I hope you restock tonight so I can bust a move there after school tomorrow Really, I hope you do, please)!

Where were you?

September 11th.  Never did I think I would live during such a specific date that would become forever a part of our history. 

But there I sat, during my sophomore year of college in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Being the loser that I was I had scheduled my classes to always start at 10 or later so that I would be able to see Regis & Kelly (Nerd, yes; Late sleeper, no). That morning I woke up and turned on the TV but Regis & Kelly never came on - just the News. I didn't even look to see what was happening on the news, I just clicked it off and took my time getting ready. I checked back a little later, but still just the news. So I went ahead and walked to campus. It was a beautiful morning out so I thought I would sit and read some until my class started. 

Classes at Michigan started on either the hour or the half hour. As I was sitting reading a bunch of students came out of one building and then a few more out of another. I started to notice some more students coming out of the same building. I found it odd since it was only 10:15 and not a normal time for a class to be ending. About 10 minutes later I decided to head up the stairs in that same building to my own class, only it seemed different on this day. There were too many people coming down the stairs. Then someone said "Classes are cancelled." Well when you're in college you never really take it on the word of just one college guy - so we kept walking. A few more people said the same thing, and then our own professor came down the stairs as well and confirmed it. 

I stepped outside the building and immediately tried calling my mom at home. It took a few tries to get through. Then the first words out of my mouth, "WHAT is going on?" and the first words out of her mouth "WHERE are you?" 

Me: "I'm standing in the middle of the Diag because they just cancelled classes for the rest of the day here."
Mom: "Okay, well can you either get home or to a friends and stay there because the whole world has gone mad!"

My poor mother - one child flying helicopters in Alaska, one child in law school at Texas, and me in Michigan - she probably just wanted to know everyone was in one piece and on the ground. Me at a friends house in Michigan was the least of her worries. 

Never will I forget that day and the days that followed. The awe, the silence, the dumb foundedness, the grief stricken, the questions, the uncertainty - of us as we sat there and watched it all unfold and for the ones in the midst of it all. And in this one day all of our lives were forever changed, even in the most minute details. 

Yes the images of smoke rising and people hurt and wounded have stayed in my mind. But there's also other images that remain. Those of solidarity and unity. The feeling of safety as I walked the streets of New York City at night as it became my home for two years after college. The pride I take as a teacher in making sure my students know their RIGHT hand to place over their hearts as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The satisfaction I have in knowing I have taught my students tolerance. It's a simple word and ten years later there is still so much we have to learn, we always have had to learn. Practice it every day with those around you. 

I leave you with the lyrics of a song that came out right after 9/11. **As a note: I will say that I myself do not send my religious beliefs on any of my readers, nor are mine reflected in this song, but I do believe in the power of these words. **

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Working on some stage in LA
Did you stand there in shock at the site of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry

Did you weep for the children
Who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below

Did you burst out in pride
For the red white and blue
The heroes who died just doing what they do
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself to what really matters

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Teaching a class full of innocent children
Driving down some cold interstate
Did you feel guilty cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her
Did you dust off that bible at home
Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Speak with some stranger on the street
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watching
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some stranger
Stand in line and give your own blood
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

The greatest is love
The greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day


Food for Thought - an article by Ron Clark

Editor's note: Ron Clark, author of "The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck -- 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers," has been named "American Teacher of the Year" by Disney and was Oprah Winfrey's pick as her "Phenomenal Man." He founded The Ron Clark Academy, which educators from around the world have visited to learn.

(CNN) -- This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.
I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."
Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.
So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?
For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.
Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.
Please quit with all the excuses
The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone.
Ron Clark
And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn't started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.
His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they'd been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn't help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some "fun time" during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn't his fault the work wasn't complete.
Can you feel my pain?
Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.
Parents, be a partner instead of a prosecutor
And parents, you know, it's OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don't set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It's a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+.
This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn't assume that because your child makes straight A's that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Parents will say, "My child has a great teacher! He made all A's this year!"
Wow. Come on now. In all honesty, it's usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal's office.
Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has "given" your child, you might need to realize your child "earned" those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.
And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children.
Teachers walking on eggshells
I feel so sorry for administrators and teachers these days whose hands are completely tied. In many ways, we live in fear of what will happen next. We walk on eggshells in a watered-down education system where teachers lack the courage to be honest and speak their minds. If they make a slight mistake, it can become a major disaster.
My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, "Can you believe that woman did that?"
I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to feel threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow's outstanding educators.
Finally, deal with negative situations in a professional manner.
If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, "I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me." If you aren't happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don't respect her, he won't either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.
We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask -- and beg of you -- to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.
That's a teacher's promise, from me to you.

There's Always Hope

 If you're new here, I hope you will go back and read along some. It won't take too long to figure out why a super fun teacher like me is posting in the middle of the day on a Tuesday afternoon, especially since school has already been back in session here in Atlanta for a month already.

And if you're an oldie around here, thanks for hanging around. 
I'd also like to send a special shout out to Leslie at Jack of all Trades

Blog button 

 for listing me in their Top 10! That award totally brightened up my week.

I read their blogs daily as well. I'll post my other top ones soon. In the meantime, Last Monday I finished my 10 day stint of subbing. Some good and hard things came of that. I loved being back in my school from last year. I loved seeing my kids from last year and my coworkers from last year, too. However, I was subbing in new teacher's rooms so that they could go and observe veteran teachers. That part was hard. In many respects I knew more than they did. I don't say this to be cocky by any means, but more so because it is true. I don't know if this is happening in other areas, but in my county there is an arrangement with Teach for America. My school is receiving money from the government to hire these teachers. So here these college-aged teachers are who have not been in a classroom before and are essentially taking my job. Again, I don't mean this in any ill-will towards them specifically. Yet, it is so hard to watch as I sit there with a Master's Degree, 5 months away from the age of 30, without my own classroom - and they leave me sub plans asking me if I know how to teach calendar math?! 

My principal did offer me a long-term sub position for an EIP position. The teacher (who I know from last year) is supposed to have her baby by the end of this week and is not coming back for the rest of the school year. So that is wonderful that I have somewhere to be everyday. But of course, it is not a contract - which means no insurance, and of course not a classroom of my own, etc. I continue to hope daily, especially today as they did another head count. Last year my class did not get added until October, so there is always hope. 

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the cozy time on my sofa while we are finally getting some much needed rain down here. I'm hoping it will stop in time for Thursday to be beautiful so I can go to The Yellow Daisy Festival, an annual craft festival - the largest in the South. I haven't missed it in four years. 
Oh and I am also still in awe of the beauty from this amazing wedding weekend we shared with family in Mentone, Alabama a week ago. 

Back to Top