Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blues, Basements & Bailouts

With all the fuss over my inclusion in School Gate, London Times education site, I almost forgot to post something new. Jeez Louise!

For now, let’s just attribute part of my memory lapse to a rather “interesting” week. You remember “interesting” don’t you? (Our little fill-in-the-blank code word for when someone or something renders us speechless or when we want to shout at the top of our lungs, “Why you big, fat…” Awwww, you know the rest. And, no siree, Missy, I’m not going to say it. I’ve got that counter thingy to think about.)

OK, so let’s just get back to my “interesting” week. First, we were––make that still are--on our first newspaper deadline. Since that was/is such an ugly mess, I still can’t talk about it because my mother taught me, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all…”

So for right now, I won’t say anything about my newspaper staffers and deadline, bless their hearts, until I start feeling the love again.

Hmmmm…that leaves my photography classes. They just finished their first project and we posted all the photographs to critique.

Uh-oh. Nope. I probably shouldn’t discuss that one either. Let’s just say that there was a rather significant collection of photos that had a rather bluish cast to them. Animals with blue noses, people with bluish skin, fences with blue-toned wood, and, of course, a dog with blue fur. I rather felt like I was stuck in a Blue’s Clues episode gone bad. I guess in their defense I should say that one of our school colors is blue so perhaps it was a school spirit thing.

So, my friends, that now leaves just my yearbook staff and my Journalism I class. Well, let’s just say my yearbook editor scares me lately. Somehow she’s perfected in 17 years what has taken me 50-something years to develop: a persona of pure intimidation. She wants this special linen cover that costs an extra $2+ a book. And guess what? She’s getting that cover if I have to get a government bailout to do it.

Speaking of government bailouts, every Friday we discuss current events in my Journalism I class, so of course, we talked about the current financial crisis and government proposed bail-out.

One student wanted to know why we just didn’t print more money to solve the problem.

Me… “Well, it doesn’t work that way. It’s kind of complicated, but everyone’s economy is connected to each other and if we have too much money circulating around, then the money isn’t worth anything.”

Kid #1…“Why not? It’s just money. We should print up some more.”

Me… “Well, dear, if it really worked that way, we’d all be printing money in our basements. If, of course, we had basements.” (Remember this is Texas.)

Kid #2…“I know what they should do.”


Kid #2…“You know that $2,000 everyone got as part of that stimulus package?”

Me… (secretly thrilled, the children knew about the stimulus package)…“Yes…”

Kid #2… “Well, $2,000 wasn’t enough to buy enough of anything to stimulate anything. The government needs to give everyone $200,000. Now, that would stimulate the economy…”

All the kids simultaneously… “Yeah!”

Me…“Hey, you can’t give away money you don’t have…”

Oh, wait… I guess you can.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Welcome London Times Readers!

Oh my goodness…just when things were going south (I’ve had an extraordinarily bad deadline week of which I will write about later), I got a flash of fab-u-lous news… School Gate, the London Times Education site, listed me as “One of the Best 7 teacher blogs.”

Not only was I listed there (in the No. 2 spot, no less), and I also am only one of two Americans listed fully. (My buddy, Mr. Teacher, gets a shout-out in No. 6 spot along with the UK Mr. Teacher and there is another American (Mimi) listed for her blog It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages. I recently stumbled upon her myself after reading one of Joanne Jacob’s posts. I particularly liked Mimi’s “My Kingdom for a Parking Space” which made my rather bad day inconsequential.)

Now all this new-found mention of Bellringers definitely deserves a big Woo-ho!

So jump on over across the pond, see who else is listed there, and hey, post a comment while you’re at it.

And to all my new-found readers from the London Times--A big Texas welcome and thanks for dropping by. I hope you take a look at my latest post…Mondays, Morons & Me.

And let me just say, y’all come back!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

190th Carnival of Education

Woo-hoo! It’s that time of the week again and I’m not just talking about Woo-hoo Wednesday either, silly. Why, it’s carnival time as in the 190th Carnival of Education hosted this week over at at Steve Spangler’s site.

There’s lots of enlightening stuff there, so if you want to be a person in-the-know on the buzz around the EduSphere then you need to sashay on over there. My post “Mondays, Morons & Me” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

But you should go there and check out California Teacher guy’s t-shirt and this fab-u-lous new-to-me site Apostrophe Catastrophes (for all of us punctuation geeks). Of course, Mr. Teacher also had some good ideas on how to solve the Dallas ISD budget crunch. There’s more, but I’ve got to get ready for school (some of us have to work you know) so zip over to Steve’s site and see what else there is. The format (as usual) is fab-u-lous and reader friendly as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mondays, Morons & Me

Week Number 4 down and I’m already to count me out.

Somehow I managed to ruin my weekend before it even started. I carted home photography projects to grade which, according to my higher level math skills, gives me 210 pieces to shuffle through, divine a grade for, mark the rubric and smack myself upside my head for being such a big, fat… (nope, you’re not going to get me to say that. No siree, Missy.)

Earlier I mentioned we had our first official “Tiara Tuesday.” Yep, the call came out from one of our computer teachers to proudly dust off our tiaras and wear them in honor of surviving the first three weeks of school, the first issuance of progress reports and a general overall good work/attitude of the kiddos. Of course, I proudly wore mine and even lent out two spares --one to my hall-monitoring, chicken-loving health teacher compadre and the other to my counselor friend (who I always refer to as “The Other Carol” because she also is blessed with the same name).

Now, here’s an interesting aside--my students didn’t even blink when they saw me wearing my tiara. For them, well, it was just business as usual in Richie’s classroom.

Of course, that whole Tiara Tuesday got me to thinking, and well, one thing naturally led to another thing. And we all know how I feel about things, and with all that thinking (which btw made my brain hurt), I thought we couldn’t very well just have one day of the week with a fancy, schmancy designation.

No siree. We obviously needed something for every single week day.

So after Tiara Tuesday last week, here’s what I came up with (with, of course, some help from my first period journalism class and a few teacher peeps)…

Woo-hoo Wednesday… Sometime during the day participants had to find one nice thing to say to (1) a teacher and (2) a student. All nice statements had to begin with a Woo-hoo. For example, “Woo-hoo, you have nice hair today!” or “Woo-hoo, that’s a great question!” See how easy this is?

Thankful Thursday… Thank a teacher and a student. It’s quick and easy and goes like this… “Hey, thanks Mr. Principal for that $10,000 bonus check!” (Y’all got yours didn’t you?) Or, “Thanks for behaving today, John.” Or, “Thanks for that very interesting comment, Doris.”

Fiesta Friday… Find one thing to celebrate and rejoice in (as if Fridays ever needed a reason for celebration…)

Now, I just know you want to know what Monday will bring. Although my lunch buddy in the Art Department strongly advised me against it, I just have to set aside Monday as…can I pah-leese have a drum-roll?…Moron Monday.

Moron Monday… Now before you start hatin’ on me, let me explain. We all do, say or think something stupid. (I know I do, and I bet you do, too). So, I thought, “Let’s just devote the first day of the week to getting that stupid thing out of our system. Just think how cathartic it would be to run around saying, “Why that’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” Or, “Stupid is as stupid does!” Or, “How moronic!”

You see, once we get rid of the stupid, well, we should be good to go, don’t you think? Imagine all the learning that could occur once we got the stupid out.

Well, that’s my theory, any way.

So now I'm looking at the 210 project pieces to grade, the stack of Journalism I journals still not read, the first yearbook deadline submissions, the upcoming newspaper deadline and my unfinished purchase orders. On top of that, I’m stressed over the we-must-launch-our-website-ASAP-or-bad-things-will-happen-to-me, and, most importantly, I just remembered that I forgot to replenish the almost empty ECD (Emergency Chocolate Drawer).

I don’t even have to wait until Monday to say, “What a moron.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

189th Carnival of Education!

Ta-da! The 189th Carnival of Education is up and running and hosted over at Thomas J. West Music. (Does that mean we have to whistle while we read?) It has the very, very latest and best posts from around the EduSphere.

Now my entry “ARDs, CFCs & the Very Big Fat Purple Notebook Accommodations” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. Once again, the Carnival is organized in a very reader friendly way. So what are you waiting for? Get carnivalling.

Oh, and btw, today was our first official “Tiara Tuesday.” The call came out from one of our computer teachers to proudly dust off our tiaras and wear them in honor of surviving the first three weeks of school, the first issuance of progress reports and a general overall good work/attitude of the kiddos.

Who knew there were so many closet Tiara wearers? --And you know, I had mine on.

Now, if I can just find a tiara for the chicken to wear…

Sunday, September 14, 2008

ARDs, CFCs & the Very Big Fat Purple Notebook Accommodations

Editorial warning…If you don’t have a sense of humor and/or you are a card-carrying member of the Richie Hata’s Club, you should just stop reading now. (And don’t be like those who ignored the dire warnings about Hurricane Ike, refused to follow the mandatory evacuation orders and then expected a speedy-quick rescue. Nope. If you take life too seriously, just move on off.)

Last week as I walked back to my classroom, I bumped into a rather exasperated teacher friend who had just left an ARD meeting. Let’s just say every single facet of life contains those who work the system, take advantage of assistance meant for others and drive the rest of us CFC.

And no, I’m not talking about chlorofluorocarbons or blaming the ozone and global warming (although I probably could, given the current political climate). No siree, Missy. I’m talkin’ about being driven Crack Fire Crazy!

So it should come as no surprise that there are people out there who work the educational system to their advantage. I offered some consoling words to my teacher peep and headed back to class to start first period. But before I could finish taking roll, a very pleasant special education teacher delivered the Very Big Fat Purple Notebook and made me sign a sheet acknowledging its receipt and all the accommodations I must follow for the students listed therein.

And as I stuffed the Very Big Fat Purple Notebook under my desk… (Remember I’m trying to keep my desk clean, so now I’ve resorted to placing stacks of stuff under my desk. I know. I know. I know. Pretty sad.)…

Anyway, all of that got me to thinking about things. And everyone knows just how dangerous that can be for me (both in the thinking and things realm). But has that ever stopped me? No siree, Missy. So I got to thinking about what accommodations I would have in the Very Big Fat Purple Notebook if my name were in there.

Here’s what I came up with (with a little bit of help from my hall-monitoring, chicken-loving health teacher compadre).

The Very Big Fat Purple Notebook
Accommodations for Richie

Accommodation No. 5–Preferred Hours…Adjust my hours so I work 9 a.m. to noon. That specific time window finds me at my peak optimum performance and would ensure unparalleled success.

Accommodation No. 4–Extended Time…Allow modifications and extended time for any and all written materials required by the PTBs (Powers That Be). You know the kinds of things I’m talking about…things that choke the space on the top of my desk… No wait, make that the things that now clutter under my desk. Things like lesson plans, goals, objectives, in-service stuff, stuff I should grade, stuff I did grade, stuff I don’t want to grade, stuff I need to record, stuff I need to read, stuff that will get you fired…

Accommodation No. 3–Provide Outside Assistance…Allow me to leave my classroom in the midst of a lesson to run willy-nilly down the hall to consult with my peers when my carefully crafted lesson goes south.

Accommodation No. 2–Provide Peer Assistance…Provide a personal assistant to keep my desk organized and to maintain the ECD (Emergency Chocolate Drawer).

And, drum roll pah-leese, the No. 1 Accommodation in the Very Big Fat Purple Notebook–The Expresso Express… Daily delivery of Starbucks to my classroom specifically one Grande, Skinny 3-raw Sugar Latte to help me maintain my focus and steel my nerves for the day.

And hey while you’re at it, drop off a Tall Mocha Frappuccino to my hall-monitoring, chicken-loving health teacher compadre around the corner. I think she could benefit from an accommodation or two.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

Ghosts whispering in the wind.

I have not forgotten you. I see your faces every day posted on my classroom wall. I read your profiles in Portraits of Grief to my class. I will never forget you. It is in the remembering and how we live our lives that we honor each and every life lost that day.

I will never forget.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

188th Carnival of Education

Calling all EduSphere Carnies! The 188th Carnival of Education is out and hosted over at the Core Knowledge.

My post “Shooting, Organization & Things Overheard” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. I have to rush off to work so I didn’t get a chance to read all the submissions so I can’t tell you my favorite posts like I did last week. However, the carnival format (again) is really reader-friendly. It’s organized in a class schedule format.

So what are you waiting for? Hop on over there so you’re up on all the buzz.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Shooting, Organization & Things Overheard

Well somehow we survived shooting more than 1,700 freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

Oh dear, I guess I should stop saying that. Let’s scratch that and start again.

Somehow we survived photographing more than 1,700 freshmen sophomores and juniors, but I think the Richie Hata’s Club grew exponentially in the process.

Despite spending hours on a nifty looking 3-page elaborate schedule that charted times and teachers outlining when they should bebop down to the auditorium with their students, the day pretty much was nothing more than unorganized chaos. All those teachers pretty much just took roll and then bebopped down to the auditorium when they felt like bebopping.

That all rather left me feeling like the guy in the song “Alice’s Restaurant” with his “twenty-seven 8-by-10 glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one” and no one to show them to. (I know. I know. I know. I should have learned my lesson from that whole Dante’s Circle of Hell incident.)

I might as well have tossed my nifty little schedule into the air, set my hair on fire and ran willy-nilly screaming out of the building. It took several trips to the ECD (Emergency Chocolate Drawer) and a rather hefty three raw sugar skinny latte to steel myself.

So much for organization.

Which, of course, at this point in my life, I’m beginning to think is way, way overrated. And which, of course, brings me to another dismal failure of mine–my desk.

I had planned to shoot a “before” picture of my desk which would clearly show its cleanliness and my new-found organizational skills in an attempt to silence the Naysaying Nellies. But sadly, by the time I got around to it, well, let’s just say I have to re-re-organize my desk just to get it back to its “before” greatness when I could actually see the brown formica.

I have this feeling that Challenge #1 of the “Richie’s Full Blown 5 -alarm Fun-Filled Educational Challenge” isn’t going to be so fun-filled especially since we’ve only completed Week #2.

Well, enough about me. This blog normally focuses on my kiddos. So now that school is back in session and my DIs (Darling Inspirations) have returned, let’s take a quick sneaky peak into the “Things Overheard & I Can’t Believe You Actually Said That” Category…

Things Overheard #1…
newspaper photo editor…
“What did I do with my pants?”
me yelling from across the room… “Pants! What do you mean, ‘What did you do with your pants?’ There better be pants!”
newspaper photo editor “Calm down… I’m wearing a grass skirt.”

As if that explained everything. As if.

Things Overheard #2…
yearbook staffer… “So we have to sell three full pages of ads? So that means a full page ad is a full page?”

Things Overheard #3…
photography student… “What’s Labor Day?”
me… “It’s a day to honor workers.”
photography student… “Oh, I thought it had to do with mothers…”
me… “Oh my…”

Things Overhead #4…
(The yearbook staff has been working diligently trying to fine tune their yearbook theme after I nixed their theme word, “Essence.”)
Essence is too girly. Sounds too much like perfume.”
them… “How about ‘Substance’?”
me… “So now we’re going to hand out crack with the yearbooks?”
them… “How about ‘Epitome’?”
me…“Oh, so now we’re the epitome of stupidity?”

There were a few more suggestions, but quite frankly, they made my head explode. We finally settled on “The Fine Print,” and I think that will do just fine.

So now, I guess I better get back to that whole desk cleaning thing…but first, I think I better check out the ECD again.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Carnival of Education

The Carnival of Education is here and you really need to go on over to Lead from the Start. The format is very clever--in a pre-K class--and includes everything that’s going on the EduSphere. When you’re done perusing the selections, you’ll be ready for a well-deserved nap and a snack.

My post “Fitness, 5-Alarm Educational Challenge & Emergency Chocolate” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. Although I haven’t gone through all the posts (some of us have to go to work today), a few that caught my bleary eyes this morning were… OldAndrew’s definition of a teacher, Mrs. Bluebird’s not feeling the love and comments by Jose’ who was still able to be a bit mushy and philosophical.

Well, I’ve gotta run. Go check it out!