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It Happened to Me: True Tales of Teaching, part 2

True Tales of Teaching-What is the most unexpected thing that has ever happened to you while you were teaching? I bet it had nothing to do with your students. My most unexpected moment of teaching came in an otherwise ordinary afternoon, but I never would have suspected the danger that lurked just over my head.

At the time, I taught freshmen and sophomore students at a beautiful high school in the middle of an otherwise deserted area. We have seen all manner of wildlife, from rabbits to hawks to barn owls, find their way onto our campus. Needless to say, the students are not the only creatures who have made their way inside the walls of my classroom.

It was a lovely spring afternoon, and I had just settled in with my sixth period freshman English class to read Act Three of “Romeo and Juliet.” Rome had just slain his new wife’s cousin, and things for the Montagues and the Capulets were going downhill fast. My students were on the edge of their seats, DYING to find out what happened next.

There was a sudden movement in the room. If you have ever taught a class of freshmen, you know that they can be squirrelly, but even this was out of the norm for my students. A subtle rustle began, a murmur like a gentle hum, and then a general movement. Something was amiss. The students knew what it was, but I was  clueless.

Frustrated by this interruption of the great Shakespeare, I demanded to know what was going on. “Ms. Flint!” The kids said excitedly, “There’s a bat on the floor.” They pointed to a small brownish object lying on the floor next to my storage cabinet.

I looked, and then I looked closer. “What is it?” I asked the kids. We gathered around it, giving it a respectable berth. “It’s a bat,” they chimed.

I looked it over again. It was small and looked unreal. For a moment, I wanted to believe one of my students had brought in a fake bat. “Did someone put this here?” I asked. “No,” said one brave soul,” It came though the ceiling.”

I looked up. I was in a second floor classroom, and it was true that I had heard scampering in the ceiling when the students were gone for the day, and I walked through the empty hallways. I had assumed it was birds, or even a squirrel. The thought of a bat had never entered my mind; but there it was, lying prone on the floor of my classroom.

There are things they teach you about in college: methodology, techniques, how to write a lesson plan, aligning your teaching with standards. But never had I been taught how to handle this.

“Is it dead?” a quivering voice asked. We stood staring, nobody answering, and nobody wanted to see for sure if the creature was actually alive. It was about that time that I remembered I was the only adult in the room. It was up to me to take decisive action, although I just really wanted to flee from my room.

A ruler, a puppy-emblazoned student folder, and a panicked phone call to the school custodian later, and the bat — which was not dead after all, only stunned — and the disruption was over. The bat was gone, the students returned to their desks, and the rest of the period was free for Romeo and Juliet. But really, after a bat falls through your ceiling, can Shakespeare really compete with that?

 

 

 

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My Blood Type is Coffee!

My blood type is coffee

coffeeAccording to this blog, teachers belong to one of the professions that drinks the most coffee. I’m entirely not surprised. After all, I know few humans who can wake up, dress, and get to work by 7 a.m. in order to lead a group of children without adequate caffeination. It’s just not done. I mean, I have heard stories, but they do not end well for anyone involved.

I may be a WEENSIE bit of a grump without my morning java.I’m usually pretty good about prepping a new batch and setting my timer on the coffee maker before I go to bed. If I forget and have to make it up in the morning, there is usually a bit of grumbling on my part. Thankfully, nobody else is crazy enough fortunate enough to greet the day as early as I do, so my invectives generally only reach the ears of the cats. 

The other Sunday I set my alarm for five a.m. (!) in order to beat the rush on the kitchen and get some grading in. I went downstairs with my eyes half opened, narrowly avoiding tumbling down and landing on the cold tiles of morning, and reached for that hot, glorious, dark ambrosia, but then — oh my dear goodness — the carafe from my coffee maker was missing. I looked everywhere — in the sink, the dish washer, the boys’ bathroom, the teenagers hampers, everywhere.  I woke up the man in the house — not once, but twice — and accused him of playing a cruel, cruel prank on me. I made that poor man get out of bed and come down to help me find my precious (insert voice of Gollum from Hobbit fame).

And you know what? We found that carafe. In the cabinet next to the coffee cups. It still had a quarter pot from the day before. I did the right thing, of course, and yelled at the cats for being so discourteous for leaving my coffee in the wrong spot. And then I promptly cleaned that sucker and made a fresh new pot.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s time to admit you are an addict. You have obviously hit your bottom.  But you are wrong. Until I find myself waist deep in a garbage can sucking on coffee grounds, I will never admit how coffee has it’s dark, roasted claws in my soul.

coffee

Teaching is Easy! …and other lies

Teaching is Easy Square

If you are anything like me, you have run into a lot of people who tell you that teaching must be easy. They say things like, “I’ve thought about teaching, after I’m done working” or “How hard can it be?” or “I don’t know why you’re so busy all the time; you’re just a teacher.”

Please. Stop.

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20 Problems Only Teachers Will Understand

20 Problems SquaredThey day you are running late and need to make copies, the copiers will be jammed — all of them.

When you are halfway through a long teaching unit, you will get three new students.

Your administrator walks into your classroom during the last hour of the day, on a Friday, after a pep rally, when you are sick.

The parents you really want to talk to do not show up to parent-teacher night.

The one kid who always pushes your buttons is never absent.

Students enjoy the lesson plans you think up in your car on the drive to school more than the ones you spent hours writing.

You spill coffee on your shirt the day you wear that cute new outfit you have been saving up  for.

The school WiFi will go out the day you plan for that awesome technological lesson plan.

You have permanent bruises on your legs that are exactly student desk height.

When you are sick, you suck it up and go in anyway because it’s easier to go in and feel like you might die than to put lesson plans together for a sub.

They day you give a big test, there will be a fire alarm.

Parents blame you when a student is failing your class, even though the student has refused to do any work in your class.

You write the due date for a big assignment on the board, on the assignment sheet, and you   mention it every day in  class. Students continually ask you the due date.

You go two weeks without a meeting, and suddenly you have three, all on the same day. At the same time.

The one time you go out with your friends to have drinks, you run into all of your students.

You finally get a chance to have a sit-down lunch, and administration decides it the right moment to hold a fire drill.

On the morning after you stay up late to perfect your lesson plans, you will realize that you are out of coffee.

After years of perfecting your curriculum and honing your lessons, the standards change.

When you are trying desperately to quiet your class, one student will make a joke so good you have to fight not to laugh along with the kids.

You spend hours researching and writing a presentation, and then that one kid asks you a question you don’t know the answer to.

It’s finally the weekend, and you cannot sleep past 5:30 a.m.

It’s Friday night, and your family thinks you suck for wanting to go right to bed.

That one kid that really pushes your buttons will give you the best, most thoughtful thank you note at the end of the year.

This post seems to have received a lot of interest lately. I’d love to get to know you a little better! Please leave a comment and let me know who you are. Thanks! ❤ Monica

21 Warning Signs You May Be a Teacher

21 WARNING SIGNSYOU MAY BE A TEACHERYou may be a teacher if any of the following applies to you:

  1. A child who is not your tax-deductible offspring has ever referred to you as “Mom” or “Dad.”
  2. You have stolen items from your home to bring to work.
  3. When someone actually calls you by your first name, you are taken by surprise.
  4. You avoid certain neighborhoods where you think you might run into students. Nobody wants to hear, “Hey, Mrs. Jones!” when you are in your yoga pants and a top knot buying bras. Just no.
  5. You get irrationally excited designing bulletin boards.
  6. You have ever played with play dough at work.
  7. You come home at the end of a work day with Expo marker all over your hands.
  8. You have ever created a lesson plan based solely on Pinterest ideas.
  9. You can spot the glow of a cell phone screen through tables, chairs, and 15 children.
  10. You know when there’s a full moon without looking at a calendar.
  11. You have ever had to have the “deodorant talk” with children who do not live in your house.
  12. You have ever considered grading papers with the aid of a dart board.
  13. You can decipher anyone’s handwriting. Anyone’s.
  14. You can unjam a copy  machine in less than 30 seconds.
  15. You have trained your bladder.
  16. You have been deathly ill, but have decided that going to work is easier than calling in sick.
  17. You know as many modern slang terms as any teenager.
  18. You believe people should have to spend a year working with teenagers before they are allowed to have children.
  19. You have asked an adult person if he “needs to go potty.”
  20. You plan all of your vacations around summer, winter break, and fall break.
  21. You cringe whenever you hear someone remark about how teachers have it easy.

Don’t panic. Many people who have discovered that they are teachers go on to live long and happy lives.

 

Organize Your Materials in Your Secondary Classroom

I like efficiency. I like to make sure that I am as efficient as possible. A few years ago, I established the number system and cut back on a lot of problems I found myself dealing with in the classroom and saved myself some much-needed time.

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It Happened to Me: True Tales of Teaching, part 1

It Happened to Me- True Tales of Teaching, part oneThe year was 2002, and I was green. It was my first year as a real teacher, in my own classroom, and I was in charge of 90 hormonally-charged eighth grade students. Teaching grammar and reading and sentence fluency was often difficult when I had to combat students who couldn’t stop touching each other or putting on makeup in the middle of a lesson. I had three two-period block classes each day, and I often struggled to keep them entertained for 90 minutes at a stretch.

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