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Showing posts with label teachers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teachers. Show all posts

Thursday, May 21, 2015

End of School Craziness

Perhaps you've seen the owls circulating Facebook.
I am totally the owl on the right; so to celebrate all of us losing our minds, I've created a logic problem about us at the end of the year. It's called Tired Teachers, and it might give your third through fifth grade students a chuckle when they read about what exhausted teachers do in May.
You may purchase this little gem for just $1 
Plus it comes complete with an answer key-a necessity because let's face it,
We're Tired!
If you like logic, please check out my store. I have 
plenty of problems to challenge bright kids.
End of School

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Writer's Post meets Silly Sunday: Energy & Heavy Evy

It amazes me how one word can trigger a flood of memories that basically have nothing to do with the topic at hand. "Energy is the ability to do work!" On one particular day, that's the phrase our sixth grade teacher made us shout before she'd let us out the door to blessed freedom from her class. Hopefully her ways are silly enough for a Sunday at Rhonda's Laugh Quotes.

Small hides the guilty.
Although I was just about the tallest girl in the class, this monstrous woman towered over all of us. You may recall my discussion of 5X5, my mother's "friend" who was five feet tall and five feet wide. On that same frame of reference, meet 6X6. From my child perspective, she just might have been.

Ralph M. Captain School
Our elementary school followed the idiotic seventies trend of open classrooms. With this design in place, I was able to hear and fear this teacher for two years before I was thrust into her classroom. Thank goodness for Mrs. R, the teacher's assistant who used to garner long lines to check SRA so that we could skirt around "Heavy Evy."

I'll never forget wanting to skip school on my birthday because of her weird practice of spanking kids over her knee in front of the class. She'd pat their tushes eleven times while counting in an annoying high-pitched squeal then smack the tar out of them on number twelve. I'm guessing that since two other girls shared my birthday, she left us alone for time's sake–or maybe she was smart enough to know that my dad would be beating down her door if she ever hit me.

Now that I'm a teacher, I see three types of kids: the ones that want a hug all the time; those that don't touch but will tell all about their lives; and finally, the type of kid who keeps as far away from the teacher as possible. Can you guess what type of kid I was? Yep! Number three, even with the nice teachers. This made her intrusive ways even more threatening.

There is one good out of this sixth grade experience. Heavy Evy, and her best-friend who taught me in grade four, provide great fodder for my novels. When you read about a mean teacher in my novel, think of Heavy Evy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

#GBE2: Curiosity/Wonder and After Life

As a little girl, I kept seeing these huge wads of toilet paper in the bathroom trashcan each month and couldn't figure out what they were. So one day, I reached into the garbage and opened one to see for myself. Scared the snot out of me!

Maybe curiosity is not such a good thing, after all it killed the cat. Plus there is the old "ignorance is bliss" phrase too. None the less, I've always been intrigued by death. I wonder what happens when we die? Where do we go? or...Will we come back in a reincarnated form? The only true way to find out is to die, and I'm not that curious. I am, however, sure we're never totally gone because the body is made of energy and energy can never be destroyed. It only changes form; scientifically a part of us will always remain on Earth.

None the less, I believe in reincarnation and karma. For example, as a teacher, I must have done something horrendous in my past life. I have a theory that my current and past students belonged to villages that I sacked and burned, and they continuously get their karmic pay back on me every year. That's the history of everyone in the teaching profession because why else would we suffer such abuse?

But the barbarian's life must have been an old, old existence because back in college, a hypnotist captivated us kids in a journey to our past lives to observe what we had experienced. I was an African American slave and knowing myself, it makes sense. Although I'm white, I've always gotten along well with black people and feel a natural chemistry with African Americans who I've worked with or have had the pleasure of being around. Also, I instinctively have a terrible fear of authority figures and hate wearing turtle necks or anything tight around my neck or wrists. I've even experienced anxiety and had to look away upon seeing someone with something bound tightly around their neck. Yep! I was probably bound, shackled, and eventually hung. In my mind, hanging would be the worst way to die.

What? You don't believe this? Fine. I'll prove it to you in the next life. And by the way, a friend of ours visited a hypnotist who told her she was Queen Isabella in a past life. As a result, she has apologized for the way she had treated Jews.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Teacher's Curse

We've all heard of the mother's curse, "I hope one day you have a kid who acts just like you," but did you know there is also a teacher's curse? Although most of my students have liked me, I certainly would not be so vain as to claim that I've pleased all of them. In fact, I had one little stinker years ago who absolutely despised me.

I'm not sure what I ever did to make her hate me so much. Perhaps it had to do with her having problems with her mother, who I was friendly with, or maybe it was that she was so gifted that I struggled to meet her needs. Whatever the mystery reason, this girl had it out for me unlike any student I've ever taught.

Now you might be thinking, No. She didn't really hate you, you just think she did, but I assure you, this child hated me enough that I had multiple conversations with her parents about how she hated me and the mystery as to why. Even her siblings would go out of their way to be kind to me just to aggravate her. She was also a sly one who was usually passively aggressive in class just enough to bend the rules without breaking them. For example, she once asked me if the dress I was wearing was one I'd worn when I was pregnant. She knew what she was doing!

I don't see most of my students outside of class, but her family tended to run in the same circles as us, so I was always and forever running into her around town. When seeing me outside of school, she would literally fling her nose in the air and walk by, no matter how her parents tried to persuade her to say, "Hello."

I ran into this beautiful, young woman about a year ago. Although she took my order at Starbucks, I didn't recognized her. She told me who she was and wanted to know how I was doing. Plus, she acknowledged and apologized for having been a nasty child. She went on to tell me how she too is now a teacher. She teaches math at an inner city high school. Knowing about her teaching situation, I really didn't need to place a curse on her. I'm sure she gets much worse than she gave me. What goes around comes around. I do, however, wish her the best.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lost in France #AtoZ

As a child, I was fortunate to attend thirteen years at one of the best public school districts in the country--Clayton in St. Louis, Missouri. This city of predominately wealthy retirees allowed us few young folks to bask in the privileges of their high tax dollars. The school supplied us with pencils and art supplies, we received free swimming lessons at the high school natatorium, and had the opportunity to go on amazing field trips.

When I was in the eighth grade, I took a field trip to Paris, France for a week with seven other students and my poor French teacher. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my childhood, but unfortunately, the last time Ms. Silberg took a class out of the country.

The nightmare began at Notre Dame Cathedral shortly before Easter. My friend Judy picked up a spray of holy leaves that she carried through the paved area in front of the church. A stranger stopped us to ask Judy where she'd gotten her holy weeds. Having only studied French for a year and a half, it took us awhile to translate what exactly the gentleman was saying and figure out how to answer him. By the time we finished talking to the stranger, something one should never do, the class had disappeared. 

We wandered throughout the grounds of Notre Dame looking for our teacher and classmates, but no luck. Not to worry. Knowing we were smart, fearless kids, we'd just jump on the subway and get off at our stop, Bastille. Unfortunately, we did not know that there were two Bastille stops, and of course, we jumped train at the wrong one. So, we were forced to wander the subways shouting, "Parlez vous Anglais?" to any passing stranger.
One woman stopped to tell us, "Yes. I speak English," but she looked totally frazzled when we spat out our predicament in a language that she just thought she spoke. This was surprising because it seemed like many of the French speak English. For example, at another part of the trip, we tried to get off at our subway stop but found ourselves blocked by a rather large passenger. 

We said, "Excuse-moi! Pardon!" but the woman wouldn't budge until Laura said, "Move it, lady!" See! An English speaker.

Anyway, we wandered the Paris subways for two hours and amazingly found our way back with the help of a woman from North Carolina who spoke both languages. By the time we reached our dorm, the teacher's hair shot out in every direction, her nails were chewed off, and she didn't know whether to hug us or slap us. Sorry Miss Silberg!
Oh mon Dieu! by E. Lansky

Tune in tomorrow when I tackle the letter M and my amazingly ridiculous moving situation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ms. Kirk & Other Old Teachers #AtoZ

Gum Chewers Beware!
It's amazing and even frightening how little events from my school days have become ingrained in my memories. I'm referring to my middle school librarian who would go on a rampage to seek out those bad boy gum chewers in the library. Yes, they were a naughty crew. Ms. Lizzie Kirk, who stood eye level to us, would make sniffing sounds around the tables before announcing, "Aaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiii smmmmmmell Juicy Fruit!" Some thirty-five years later, I can still laugh at her sing song shout, and be glad I wasn't chomping the sticky substance.

Or perhaps I'm forever taunted by the memory of my fourth grade teacher sliding one penny-loafer-covered foot up and down her leg as she glared at students heading into class. She reminded me of a bull preparing to charge, and attack she did if anyone stepped out of line. I did my best to behave; but still, she hated me. My next door neighbor swore the woman was an antisemitic person. I doubt it. The person part that is. I think I saw her photo on the screen of the Men In Black Headquarters.

Heavy Evie, Miss Bull Charger's girlfriend and my horrid sixth grade teacher, gave me nightmares for years. She'd often rattle the windows of the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms whenever she'd burst into her screaming fits. She yelled at Ruthie and insisted that her name was "Ruth" and put Paul in a refrigerator box. I'd be fired if I did half of what she got away with, but times were different. In my days, people didn't question teachers and kids getting in trouble at school meant more problems for them at home.

Despite the few toads, not all my teacher memories are negative. I thoroughly loved Miss Silberg, my middle school French teacher. She had a fun personality and was always sure to give us a laugh in class. Although she was one of my favorite teachers, I inadvertently gave the poor woman heart failure. Tune in tomorrow, and I'll tell you all about it in my L post.

Skipping ahead, I loved Walter Johnson, who taught Econ 51 at the University of Missouri. He kept us laughing whether it was by throwing chalk at a sleeping student or stripping on stage. Fun and goofy, those are the teachers I loved.

Which brings me to the question of what, if any, life long memories have I given to my students? I'll never forget the eighth grader who told me how she was heartbroken for not getting a sticker one day when she was in the first grade. I couldn't remember what she had done not to earn it and felt horrible in knowing this memory still plagued her. So I gave the teen a sticker and prayed she could move on. I hope my students' memories are good. Maybe I gave them a laugh or made them cry. Like my teachers of the past, I will probably never know what lasting impressions I've left on them. I can only hope they are positive.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dumb and Dumber

As I heard the latest bill to rise from a Tennessee congressman, I didn't know if I was listening to a soundtrack from Dumb and Dumber or Scary Movie. It certainly has nothing to do with Aretha Franklin's Respect. The latest: HB 1375 sponsored by Niceley is aimed at removing license requirements for teachers. And this is supposed to improve education how?

Once again the Republican congress has swooped to a new low in the name of political payback. I figure this is their insurance against the projected teacher shortage after they pass all of their punitive bills. They could go ahead and hire all the people who have lost their jobs or can't find ones due to the poor economy. It won't matter that these folks know nothing about educational methodology. After all, isn't teaching so easy that anyone could do it? Talk about another slap in the face!

You don't need a license to be a state legislator. We need a bill that specifies who can and cannot be a politician so we can get rid of dumb and dumber at the state capitol.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Teachers Rally in Nashville

Yesterday I drove to Nashville to experience democracy in the works. Thousands of teachers ascended on the rainy Tennessee state capitol to protest six bills all aimed to punish teachers for voting against the Republican Legislators. These bills have nothing to do with helping kids and everything to do with harming those who are responsible for making sure students get the best education possible. It's like fixing crime by harassing police officers.

These toxic bills are aimed at destroying our teacher union through forbidding payroll deductions, removing collective bargaining, not allowing association literature to be distributed in teacher mailboxes or email accounts, making it against the law for us to contribute to a political candidate's campaign, removing a teacher from the retirement board, and ending tenure. These six bills are just the beginning. Fourteen more are in the works.

In other words, teachers would have no say in their working conditions, salary, or benefits. These bills and the obvious disrespect for teachers will no doubt discourage young people from entering the teaching profession where they work ten hours or more each day for less pay than what they could receive in the private sector and now decreased benefits.

In terms of the political donations, TEA donates to the candidates who support education no matter the political party; however, most of our strong education supporters have been Democrats and the offended politicians are Republicans. We'd donate to their campaigns too if they'd only support us.

I have questions on the legality of this proposed bill. If businesses are allowed to make donations, how can one outlaw professional organizations from doing the same. Maybe it should be against the law for everyone organizations and businesses included to make donations. That would hit these legislators in the pocket book!

I believe there is a strong misconception of what tenure means. It does not mean that a bad teacher cannot be fired. It means that one cannot be fired without due process or telling the teacher why they are being fired. Is this such a bad thing? Governor Haslam wants to increase tenure from three years to five, and some have suggested a period of ten years. How long does it take a young person in the business world to be considered competent in their job? Six months?

The biggest sock in the jaw is the rudeness of the bills. Last year, TEA worked tirelessly to help Tennessee gain funds through Obama's Race to the Top. Without teachers working with legislators, we never would have gotten this huge sum of money to help education. Furthermore, this money means that all teachers will receive four evaluations a year and have to work harder to meet new standards yet none of the money will be used for teacher salaries or benefits. So, we will be working solely for the children. Look at the thanks we are getting.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Teacher's Unions

When I was a little girl, a teamster broke my uncle's leg and caused him to carry a cane for the rest of his life. Note I said, "Carry a cane," since he rarely leaned on it as he'd race through the family furniture store. See Uncle Melvin was in business with my father, and he made the mistake of crossing a picket line. As a result, I grew up surrounded with tales about how horrible unions were and how much trouble they caused.

As a child hearing about the cursed unions, it never dawned on me to ask, "Why were they picketing?" or "What did they want?" These were adult type issues that weren't discussed with kids. Of course I have no doubt that these men were not "nice" people. After all, the picketer attacked a business owner, but I'd like to hear his side of the story. Today all the players are gone, and I'm suddenly left to wonder what exactly happened. Especially when I find myself in a union that is being unfairly targeted by politicians out for pay back.

Tennessee Education Association (TEA) has consistently funded those who support our concerns, mostly Democrats but not all. Now that Tennessee has been taken over by the Republican party, congressmen are out to destroy teachers with highly punitive measures.

For example:

House Bill 130/Senate Bill 113 would repeal the Education Professional Negotiations Act and make any bargaining by teachers in the state illegal.

House Bill 159/Senate Bill 136
would prohibit payroll dues deduction for public employees thereby making it more difficult for teachers to maintain membership in their chosen professional organization.

Senate Bill 102
would prevent the election of the teacher representatives on the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Board of Trustees and instead make them political appointments by the Speakers of the House and Senate. I think this bill has already passed. :(

House Bill 160/Senate Bill 139 would make it illegal for the Association's political action committee to make contributions to any candidate, thus prohibiting teachers from helping to elect/re-elect legislators who have worked to improve and protect public education.

This is just a sampling of the bills floating through Nashville; there are more. As someone with an anti-union upbringing, I'm finally seeing the other side of the coin and wondering what caused the Teamsters to picket. I plan to march too.

I promise I'm not going to break a congressman's leg, but I will wear red and head to Nashville come March 5th to rally the capital. We'll be meeting at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and marching at noon. If you are able, please join us. We will be less violent than the Teamsters of the 1960s, but we will not stand quietly.