Wednesday, April 30, 2008

169th Carnival of Education

A field trip! Who doesn’t love field trips? Come on, get on the bus!

The 169th Carnival of Education, hosted by the Science Goddess at What It’s Like On the Inside, takes a field trip through the EduSphere. My entry, “Wild Teachers, Social Networking Sites & Dumb People,” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. Darren from Right on the Left Coast also weighs in on the topic I address, but from a different perspective if you want to take a peek. That’s about all I got because, after all, it’s TAKS week and quite frankly I’m a bit taxed.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wild Teachers, Social Networking Sites & Dumb People

Well, it happened again.

And, of course, the Washington Post duly reported it.

I suppose it was just too tantalizing to let it go.

Even the headline “When Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web,” guarantees readers. That story (which btw is worth reading) just makes me wonder.

According to the article, one high school art teacher was fired for painting canvasses with his rear end which he videoed on YouTube for posterity. (No wonder I can’t access YouTube at school. Who knew?)

Then there’s the substitute teacher who exposes herself in photos on her social networking site, another teacher who uses politically incorrect language regarding special education students, and other teachers who just use nasty language.

Some of this stuff should be inappropriate for any job venue.

I’m just wondering where these yahoos work. I glanced up and down my hallway and I can say with 100 percent certainty that our art teachers wouldn’t paint anything with their behinds–unless, of course, they accidentally backed into some wet paint.

And while we might have a few odd substitute teachers running around at any given time, I’m fairly certain that probably the most they’ve ever flashed someone might have been a peace sign back in the day.

And as we continue to warn our students about displaying and posting inappropriate content on their MySpace and FaceBook sites, these teachers apparently failed to heed similar warnings and seemed surprised when cornered about their content. One said, “I never thought about parents and kids…” seeing her site. Jeez.

While some may use all this posting nonsense as reasons to discipline or fire these Teachers Gone Wild, I prefer the old fashion excuse.

Do we really want stupid people teaching our future?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Storms, Phone Menus & Yearbook Emergencies

Spring time.

We all know what that means. No, I’m not talking about final deadlines, last minute proofs or yearbook deadlines. No siree, I’m talking about those nasty spring storms that pop up, knock out your electricity and leave you in the dark.

One of those storms blew through the other day, knocking out power and leaving me to put on my makeup by candlelight. (And, no thankfully, I didn’t end up looking like Bozo the Clown). With the lack of electricity, I thought it would be a good time to try for that scrunchy hair look, but I’m sad to report it just looked like I forgot to dry my hair.

I called the electric company a gajillion times pressing 1 for this, 2 for that and wishing there was a 4 for “I’m going to smack someone upside the head if I don’t talk to a real person soon” prompt.

Well, all that button pushing and lack of human contact, got me to thinking how thankful I am that I get to talk to a real person when I call my yearbook plant or my yearbook rep.

Call me whacky, but I love to talk to real people.

I don’t know why other companies–you know, like my power company, insurance companies, customer service here, there everywhere–can’t figure that out. Can you imagine the options menu if yearbook companies were like my power company ?

I think it would go something like this…

Press 1 for Set Your Hair On Fire Emergencies

Press 2 for If I Eat A Pound of Chocolate, My Crisis Can Wait 24 Hours

Press 3 for HAL Has Taken Over My Computers and Nothing Seems to Work

Press 4 for Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

Press 5 for Missing Link?! Are you sure you’re talking about Image 00845 and not that kid who sits in the back row?

Thankfully those are not my options. When I have a yearbook crisis, I actually get a real person.

Still, there’s a part of me that secretly thinks it would be rather fun to add the “Press 1 for Set Your Hair On Fire Emergencies” to the options menu.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Star Wars, Pizza Andy & the 168th Carnival of Education

Before I get to the Carnival, I have to tell you that yesterday was somewhat of a disappointment.

I actually had a “Star Wars” emergency, and who do we call for that sort of thing? Why, Pizza Andy, of course. I needed Episode 1 (and, yes, I already know it’s not as good as the others, according to my “Star Wars” fans), but nonetheless, I needed Episode 1 for an advertising bit I’m doing on product placement. I had forgotten mine, and we all know that Andy carts around his collection in case there’s a “Star Wars” emergency.

Believing that this constituted such a thing, I tracked him down after his math class.

No “Star Wars.”

His book bag, he apologized, had become too full so he had taken them out last week.

Just another reminder that life is full of disappointments. Let’s hope he doesn’t remove his pocket Constitution. If I need one of those, we could be in real trouble.

Now on to the 168th Carnival of Education hosted by our friends at the Education Wonks. Make sure you hop on over there to see what’s going on in the EduSphere. There’s always something for everyone. My post on “Austin, Rubber Chickens and Awards” made the cut. But you don’t have to go there to read it here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Austin, Rubber Chickens & Awards

I spent the weekend in Austin.

I’d like to tell you my time was spent in blissful oblivion at some frou-frouey spa in decadent self-indulgence where the only decision-making crisis was whether to add the aromatherapy salt-wrap or to have chai or organic green tea.

But you know that never happened. For crying out loud, did you forget I’m a public education school teacher?

As if I could afford blissful oblivion. As if. Jeez, I can’t even afford that blue and white Bliss in a bottle stuff.

While most folks view getting away once in a while to get re-centered, re-grouped and re-energized, I, on the other hand, loaded up an assortment of newspaper and yearbook staffers –13 to be exact–and headed to one of the best cities on the planet for the annual state journalism convention. (That alone should give you pause to ponder if perhaps someone whacked me in the head or if, perhaps, I should be whacked in the head, and not for traveling to Austin, but for traveling with that many teenagers.)

So boys and girls, that’s how I found myself in Austin, surrounded by teenagers–did I mention 13 to be exact. (Well, 14 if you count my daughter who serves as VP of Humor Control for this blog.)

Now, we all know that any time you spend an inordinate amount of time with teenagers in a confined area, well, strange things happen. But before we go there, let me just say speedy quick that the chicken, of course, accompanied us and came in quite useful as we darted across lanes of traffic.

As always, Mr. Chicken generated joy to those he pointed and squawked at. After all, what’s not to like about a rubber chicken hanging out a Suburban window or peeking through the sunroof? Compare that to our second van that was forced to navigate without a rubber chicken. At last count, they got flipped off six times.

OK, OK, OK, let’s get back to interesting things overheard… And while what happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, Austin is entirely a different story. Because whatever happens in Austin with 14 pairs of eyes watching will inevitably get embellished exponentially until I’m flying down the freeway at 150 mph singing “Born to Be Wild” at the top of my lungs while flashing my new tattoo of our high school’s first ever state Silver Star. (And just for the record, no, I never drove 150 mph, nor sang much of anything, and no, I don’t have a tattoo, but we did get a Silver Star.)

And speaking of winners, here are a few things overheard on the trip and duly written down by our very responsible yearbook business manager…

In the “Crowded Van” Category… “I’m trying really hard not to touch your butt…”

In the “I-can’t-believe-my-teacher-is-this-stupid” Category…
Me…“Your left or my left?”
Them…“It’s the same left.”

In the “Are We There Yet” Category…
Passenger #1…“When you go over speed bumps do you make noises like ugggghhh?”
Passenger #2…“No, that’s probably just you.”

In the “Rhetorical Question” Category to the participants of a Problem Solver Convention who were sharing our elevator…
“If there are so many Problem Solvers and this is only Texas, why are our world’s problems not solved yet?"

In the “I can’t believe I just said that” Category
“Oh, I think I hear an ice cream truck!”
“No, dear, those are church bells…”

In the “Let’s get on the same page” Category or the “I-can’t-believe-my-teacher-is-this-stupid” Category Part II…
Me…“What movie are we watching?”
Me… “I’ve never heard of that movie before. What’s it about?”
Them… “That’s the room number…”
Me… “Oh…”

In the Honorable Mention Category
•“Your face isn’t normal…”

Now, I bet your weekend wasn’t funner than mine… Unless, of course, you found some bliss.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

167th Carnival of Education

The 167th Carnival of Education, hosted by the Columbus Education Association, is out giving you the perfect taste of what’s going on in the EduSphere. My entry, “Crazy Stupid, St. Bernard & Jack,” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. I briefly scanned through some of the other entries this morning and I think you’ll find quite a few good reads. But I’ve got to go now because it’s time to walk Jack, and if I don’t, well, we all know what disaster lurks just around the corner, and if you don’t know, well, you best read my last post…

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Crazy Stupid, St. Bernard & Jack

My life hovers somewhere between crazy and stupid, and quite frankly, I’m not sure which wins in the worse category–the crazy or the stupid. Perhaps for T.S.Eliot, April may have been the cruellest month, but for me, let’s just call it crazy stupid. (Less poetic I know, but true.)

I had written a bunch--OK, so maybe not a bunch…perhaps one or two–very clever posts in my head, but promptly forgot them. You see, I was unable to access my blog and not because of the Information Superhighway Gatekeepers Bess and her sidekick St. Bernard. Nope. It was German Shepherd Jack (notice the lack of “saint” in front of his name).

You see, Jack, my 90-plus pound, 1-year-old shepherd apparently decided he could provide a better filter for our Internet connection by just eliminating it.

Now, I’m sure you’re pondering what, if anything, this has to do with education. Well, I had a lot of time to think since I was unable to access the internet (not necessarily a good thing--the thinking that is). Any way, Jack’s appalling behavior provided an interesting comparison between his lapse in training and my students. Now, pah-leese before you sick the PETA people on me for comparing animals to humans, just bear with me.

A few weeks ago, Jack decided he didn’t want to come in when called. Instead, he decided he preferred to stand just out of reach by the door. He also decided that he preferred to mock his humans by peering around the corner in hopes of a rousing game of chase. When we didn’t succumb and left him outside unattended, Jack decided to disconnect the internet connection.

I spent quite a bit of time talking to my dog training instructor and my dog expert sister, Maggie Bonham. My dog trainer–not unlike our student’s parents–asked me, “What did you do to him?”

After much analysis, we decided that Jack trained us to respond to his behavior instead of him responding to us. So now we have to unlearn this dance we’ve created.

Of course, all this got me thinking about my classroom and the classrooms of my peers, and I thought that perhaps sometimes when things aren’t working–maybe, just maybe–we should re-examine who has trained whom.

Just a thought.

Meanwhile, my husband thinks next time I should just buy a shock collar. I’m not sure if he meant for Jack or the kids.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Deadlines, Purses & Onions

We’ve just about wrapped up the yearbook, mailing off the almost-last batch of page proofs. However, it’s hard to enjoy the brief lull because, of course, newspaper has entered into another deadline.

And deadlines, we know, for both publications brings some rather “interesting” things.

While trying to finish up the last batch of yearbook proofs, I overheard my business editor arguing rather loudly with the yearbook editor.

“Is everything OK?” I asked when he walked into the main classroom.

“Yeah,” he said. “It’s all under control.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yep, everything’s OK,” he said, grabbing the editor’s purse and slinging it over his shoulder.

“Well, everything except the fact that I’m carrying a purse,” he added as he walked back into the publications room.

I thought it best to just keep working.

And, then, of course, there’s the newspaper staff. My newspaper editor and editor in chief have been working very hard on a difficult story. I told them if the story didn’t make me teary-eyed then they haven’t done their job. Now, please keep in mind, I’m not much of a crier at all, and they know this.

My entertainment editor, who should have been working on her pages, told the girls, “You’re going to need some strategically placed onions under her eyes.”

But Pizza Andy had a better idea: “Hmmm, does this paper smell like tear gas?”

166 Carnival of Education

Holy Moley the 166th Carnival of Education is out and hosted by The Elementary Educator. It’s got a great math theme going, so now I have to brush up on my counting skills. But there’s more to read about than just math, silly. In fact, all the good stuff that’s been circulating around the EduSphere is featured there--even my post on “Holy Moley the Top 5 Reasons It…” But you don’t have to go there to read it here. I’d give you a list of posts I enjoyed, but I’ve got to run. Today is Dallas Morning News Journalism Day. (Wish us luck! We have several finalists.) You know traffic will be horrible, but fear not, we have the rubber chicken.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Holy Moley! My Top 5 Reasons It …

I hate when spring break ends. I mentally start listing all the reasons why I deserve not to work. That list goes right along side the list of “How I Would Spend My Millions If I Ever Win The Lottery Or If Bill Gates Throws Some Of His Loose Change My Way” List. (Yeah, right.)

And of course, that list goes right next to my ever growing list of “Things I Really Should Do” List–and we all know how much I love things… except, of course, not those things. But don’t worry about me, I’m sure I’ll just misplace that list and have to start all over again.

But then I remembered a list I started back in October–my “Holy Moley Top 5 Reasons It Sucks To Be Me (Or You) Today” List…See what you think…

The Top 5 Reasons It Sucks To Be Me (Or You) Today

My #1 Choice…Any job that starts the day off with latex gloves and a cup of pee. It’s Texas (remember?) where we randomly drug test children involved in extracurricular activities…Well, if you call random “Everyone show up on this day with your $14 for your mandatory random drug test” like they do in some nearby school districts at the beginning of the year. Jeez. Still, latex gloves, pee, high school students. That’s got to win it.

#2… Any time the school secretary calls to tell you the principal wants to meet with you during your conference period, but doesn’t tell you why. As your right brain screams, “Run! Run like the wind!” your left brain tries to be the voice of reason and begins listing… not one… not two… but three potential reasons. Perhaps it’s time to listen to Mr. Right Brain.

#3… Any day involving rummaging through a full-end-of-the-day-trash can to find something important (your car keys, room keys, money, cell phone, life-or-death phone number) that’s not there but discovered later in your pocket, purse, countertop, down the hall, over the hill, through the woods, well, you get the picture…and it’s not a very nice one…or pleasant smelling one either…

Any morning when you wake up, look in the mirror and yelp, “Holy Moley! Who is that staring back at me?” Or, better yet, “Holey Moley! Why is my mother staring back at me!” (Of course, if you live south of the Red River, you probably yell, “Holy Guacamole!”–I know I do.)

#5… Any afternoon when you have one of those sledgehammer headaches and someone’s mom emails you wanting to know why you (Yes, you Missy or Mister) are failing their child. It is then that you gaze out into your lovely classroom of 25 or so kids, mixed in there are six ADHDs and a couple of repeater kids. You estimate that, oh, about 28 percent of your class bought and ate the choir candy fund-raiser before coming to your class. It is then that you begin to think those latex gloves and pee don’t sound so bad after all.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Education Carnival is Out & I Can’t Count

The long-awaited for April Fool’s edition (OK so it’s not the April Fool’s edition it’s the Testing Season Edition, but isn’t that really one and the same?) of the 165 Carnival of Education hosted by I Want To Teach Forever. As always, check it out to find out what’s going on the EduSphere this week. I’d tell you what’s good to read, but I had a bit of a problem with my internet connection. Stay tuned for a post on that. You’ll want to read about it (Teaser: I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.)

Also, let me just publicly apologize now for my inability to count. I originally said my hosting of the Carnival of Education was the 165th, when it was the 164th. Sometimes I just get ahead of myself or lose track of things like numbers, and quite frankly, sense. Jeez Louise…