Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Carnival of Education, Stressful Jobs & Super Secret Chocolate

Well, there are three things you need to know about today…

#1…The Carnival of Education is up and running over at Leading from the Heart. Over there you’ll find everything and anything happening in the EduSphere. You know the drill… My post “Scanners, Mowing Lawns & Things You Just Shouldn’t Learn How To Do” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here, but you really need to go there so you’re in-the-know (and you want to be in-the-know, don’t ya?).

#2…Perhaps some of you have already seen this. Teachers, my friends, were listed as having one of the Top 8 most stressful jobs by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Really? Hmmmm. As if we needed verification or validation.

As if.

That definitely explains how half a bag of that Emergency Chocolate ended up in the Super-Secret Emergency Chocolate Drawer instead of over in the original Emergency Chocolate Drawer (ECD) over in the publications room, and it also explains how half that Super Secret Chocolate somehow ended up not-so-super-secret on my hips.

#3… It’s Woo-hoo Wednesday. Surely, you can find something to Woo-hoo about!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Scanners, Mowing Lawns & Things You Just Shouldn’t Learn How To Do

I upset one of the yearbook photographers last week. I know that little tidbit probably doesn’t surprise anyone. Bless his heart, he wanted me to show him how to use the scanner.

Sorry,” I said. “I don’t know how.”

“What?” he asked in mortified disbelief.

“No, really,” he tried again, “I need you to show me how.”

“No can do,” I said. “I don’t know how. Have Mikey show you tomorrow.”

He sort of harrumped and walked away. I don’t believe he believed me. But honestly, I truly, really don’t know how.

Blame it on my mother.

When I was much younger (OK, OK, OK, make that much, much, much younger), she gave me this little bit of advice– “Don’t ever learn how to do something unless you plan to do it forever.”

That’s how learning to mow a lawn slid effortlessly into my No. 1 slot of things I never learned how to do. (I can proudly say that not one--nadda, zippo, zilch-- blade of grass has ever been sliced or diced by my hand. No siree, Missy. Just ask my husband because, after all, forever really is a long, long time.)

So you can see how learning to operate that scanner just naturally worked its way up there too. (Although I would like to point out, I am at least one step head of Mr. Yearbook Photographer. Jeepers, at least I know you have to turn on the computer the scanner is attached to before it will work.)

That scanner incident naturally got me to thinking (and we all know what happens when that happens). Well, like I said, I got to thinking about all the things that we just never, ever should learn how to do. Drum roll pah-leese…

Richie’s Top 5 Things
One Should Never Learn How To Do
Or You’ll Be Stuck Doing Them Forever
(And Forever Really Is A Long, Long Time

No. 5… Be a cheerleading sponsor
I don’t even think that one needs an explanation. If you’ve ever known one (remember one of my BFFs was one), you know why. Have you seen all the things cheerleading sponsors have to do and put up with? Just the mere thought of coordinating a pep rally makes me hyperventilate.

And, of course, have you ever noticed that the adjective “psycho” always seems to attach itself to “cheerleading mom”? Hails bails, they’ve made movies on the subject. You also must have a high level of cuteness to come up with all those clever decorations, spirit sticks and pep rally themes. I mentioned all this to my hallway monitoring compadres and the cross country coach’s eye started twitching at the mere mention of it. Somehow, somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, she actually did a stint as a cheerleading sponsor. The three of us shuddered just thinking about it.

No. 4… Math
Now before you hata’s start emailing me on the importance of math and the greatness of numbers, let me just say I only included math because, quite frankly, it makes my head explode. I’ve also discovered as I age, my brain has automatically started erasing anything and everything related to math. Gone so far? Those once memorized multiplication tables for nines, eights and sevens. I fear the sixes won’t be far behind.

No. 3…Lesson Plans
Do they really ever mean anything? Could anyone really ever follow one? When I think of lesson plans, I think of Macbeth’s soliloquy: “…it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Uh-oh, I think I just called myself an idiot.)

No. 2…Calligraphy
People who know how to do that have a special place in my heart because anytime (and every time) someone needs something on a certificate or award that person with that particular talent gets the fun job of spending the rest of that day hunched over with quill in hand and ink at the ready. But I, my friends, can thankfully exclaim…“Not It!”

And now for our No. 1 Thing One Should Never Ever Learn How To Do (Can I pah-leese get an “Amen, sister”?)…

No. 1…Befriend a pica
Oh it all began seemingly innocuous enough, learning about points and picas (pronounced pahy-kuh.) That, of course, was merely the gateway. Before I knew it, I owned a pica pole and was discussing one pica margins, dominant elements, secondary coverage, ladders and fonts. If I knew all of that would have morphed me into a yearbook and newspaper adviser, well, I think maybe I would have, should have purposefully mispronounced it and queried, “Pee-ka? What’s a Pee-ka? Margins? Are we talkin’ about stock margins?”

But no siree, Missy, I didn’t do that, and now 20-plus years later, I’m forever a publications adviser.

And, trust me, my friends, there won’t be any kind of bail out--government or otherwise--to rescue me from all of this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It’s Carnival Time!

Holey, Moley Guacamole, yes siree, it’s not only Carnival time, but it’s the Mole Edition of the Carnival of Education. Now, how fun is that? (Quite fun if you are a science geek!) So if you want to be in-the-know on what’s a happenin’ in the EduSphere then you absolutely, positively must hop on over to the Infamous.

My post “Yearbook Pages, Brains & Things” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here, but there’s lots of good stuff over there. So hey, what are you waiting for? Besides did you forget? It’s Woo-hoo Wednesday, so now you have something to Woo-hoo about.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yearbook Pages, Brains & Things

With the stock market taking more twists and turns than Judge Roy Scream, most of you probably don’t care that nary a yearbook page sits in the submission folder. (Unless, of course, your name is Rod and you’re a yearbook rep.)

In my defense, I didn’t plan it that way. In fact, by my count, at least 30 or so pages should be sitting at some printing plant in Kansas. Instead, they remain here in Texas while I sing my own rendition of the Scarecrow’s song. My version, aptly titled, “If they only had a brain…” goes something like this…

“If They Only Had A Brain…”
If they would just turn in some pages
I would not be all ragin’
castin’ about the blame
And their grades would be amazin’
and I would be all a praisin’
If they only had a brain…

You see, I put a hold on all the pages after I discovered a new way to spell quiche

As if that wasn’t bad enough (and don’t you think it ought to be?), another page stopped me quicker than a hall fight. At the top of the people section pages, the kiddos are running lists of things. (OK, admittedly, the list-thing thing should have sent up red flags), but they aren’t exactly lists. Instead, they’re pictures (which after the Quiche Incident is probably a good thing).

As I checked over the pages, one page in particular caught my eye. The one where a girl lists five things she does after school…

Picture #1…a snack. Okey-dokey

Picture #2…homework. OK. Good.

Picture #3… four guys. Uh-oh. Not Okey-dokey. Not good. A definite EEK! And, a definite throw that page speedy quick into the Things-That-Will-Get-You-Fired folder.

And, my friends, if I need to explain that thing to you, well then perhaps you need to sing your own version of “If I only had a brain…”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Carnival of Education

It’s Woo-hoo Wednesday and we all know what that means…The Carnival of Education is out, and this week it’s hosted by the most fab-u-lous Eduwonkette. The format is fun with a political debate theme. My post on “Free Stuff, VIBs and Book Reviews” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. Still, if you want to be in the know about all the great stuff and not-so-great-stuff going on in the EduSphere, better get cracking and head on over there.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Free Stuff, VIBs & Book Reviews

OK, I might as well admit it–I love free stuff (but I hardly ever get free stuff unless you count the samples they give out in grocery stores). Pathetic, I know.

So, my friends, when I got an email from a very nice marketing assistant hawking a free copy of Peg Tyre’s book, the Trouble With Boys, if I would just read it and review it or discuss it on my blog, well a few things crossed my mind. (Yeah, I know, it’s those darn tootin’ things again.)

“Yippee! Free stuff for me!” was, of course, Thing Number 1 that crossed my mind.

That, however, was closely followed by Thing Number 2–“Jeepers, I bet that very nice marketing assistant (much less Ms. Tyre) has never, ever read my blog. Otherwise both shes probably wouldn’t appreciate this very seriously researched book on a very seriously important subject reviewed/discussed/mentioned by a not-so-serious journalism adviser.”

Now, if I’m being totally honest, there also was Thing Number 3. For a brief egocentric moment, I thought to myself, “Woo-ho, I must be a VIB--as in Very Important Blogger--for someone to offer me free stuff.”

Thing Number 3 lasted, oh, about a nanosecond when I figured out the nice little email was probably a mass emailing and the very nice marketing assistant was probably some computer in a backroom named Nicole. Kind of like Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but nicer.

So for another fleeting moment, I thought I would just ignore the offer and go on about my quirky non-free stuff existence.

Still, it was free stuff after all (and I never get free stuff)… so speedy quick I responded, “Send it,” and for about a week, “The Trouble with Boys" went back and forth with me to work and started an entire listing in my head about how I could write volumes about “The Trouble With Richie.” But then I figured that probably wasn’t what computer Nicole had in mind when she said “review,” and so that is how “The Boys” accompanied me on my recent flight to Colorado to take care of family stuff (along with the 20 or so yearbook pages to edit).

Hmmm…Are you wondering which one won my time? Kind of a no-brainer there. “The Boys” won without even a run-off over reading those yearbook pages (which I’m sure thrills the crack fire out of my yearbook rep).

Now I really only intended to read just a few pages. Instead, I rather surprised myself and kept turning the pages. I’m more than half way through and highly recommend it. (And, I’m not just saying that because the book was free.)

Let me just share one anecdote from the book. Picture a second grade class. They are supposed to be working on a one page essay in their journals. One boy hides under his desk with a pencil tip in his ear. A classroom observer bends down and asked him what he’s doing…

He stared at her for a moment, then whispered, “Scratching my ear.”
Costello tried again. “Why are you under the desk?” she said keeping her voice low.
The boy tried to explain. “The teacher said we should write about anything,” he said, then fell silent.
“And?” prompted Costello.
“I don't know what to write.”
Let me just say I have big kids in high school who would curl up under a desk if they could fit there. Hails Bails, half the time I want to curl up under a desk, too.

But what this book does is make you think about all the things (yep, those things again) we do to kids--intentionally and unintentionally--and to boys specifically. And those things aren’t good things either. The problem with a book like this, though, is that it makes people tend to gloss over a very important point…

Good teachers are, well, good teachers. There I said it. We teach kids and we do it well. We view kids individually and adapt our lessons accordingly. That’s just what we do.

Now, aren’t you glad I got that free book? At least I didn’t have to curl up under my desk because I couldn’t think of something to blog about. And, as a nice added bonus, for a fleeting moment, I got to pretend to be a VIB.

Well, I’ve gotta go now and head off to the grocery store. You know, for that free stuff.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

192 Carnival of Education

It’s Wednesday… and you know what that means--time to shout “Woo-hoo!” and say something nice to someone today and it’s carnival time as in Carnival of Education. Yep, it’s time to check out what’s been buzzing around in the EduSphere. This week’s carnival is hosted over at DentionSlip.

My post, “FunnyBack, Cell Phones & Beat the Teacher Night,” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here. But if you want to be in the know (and I know you do), you really need to take a hike on over there to see what’s going on. It’s a great format--we’re all walking to school--and as usual there’s a gajillion good posts to read, but I’ve gotta run, so go on and check it out and don’t forget to give out a big Woo-hoo shout!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

FunnyBack, Cell Phones & Beat the Teacher Night

I need to get my FunnyBack.

Last week just didn’t bring too many ha-ha’s my way. For goodness sake, I even yelled at my yearbook rep, and I never do that. (OK, so maybe I do just a little bit, but only to keep things interesting and to keep him in line because I do actually like him.)

Perhaps it was that newspaper deadline that beat me down.

Or maybe it was the end of the six weeks and grades were due.

Or perhaps, it’s because I realized even though we knocked one six weeks out, there are still five more to go.

Or maybe it’s because children--no matter how much you like them--sometimes just suck the life right out of you.

Sometimes I feel like a trader on Wall Street without a $700 billion bailout in sight.

And for all those clinging optimists out there, let me just say next week doesn’t hold much promise either with Beat the Teacher Night--oh, wait, make that MEET the Teacher Night--on the schedule.

So back to trying to get that ole FunnyBack

I did manage to overhear one rather amusing story. One of my staffers was grounded for grades and had to surrender her beloved cell phone. Now we all know how catastrophic surrendering one’s cell phone can be for teens, and we all know how teens (like 3-year-olds in a grocery store demanding chocolate) make numerous attempts to wear you down.

Well, in effort to get partial visitation with her cell phone, our intrepid staffer whined to her mom about how unsafe it could be to not have a cell phone. What about kidnappers? Rapists? Stalkers? Robbers? Her crazy journalism adviser?

OMG, she had me convinced there was absolutely no way our staffer could safely walk through the brightly-lit school parking lot to catch that big yellow school bus home. No siree, Missy.

Staffer…“…so I told my mom how dangerous it was to be without a phone, you know, in case of an emergency…”

The rest of the staff… “Yeah, so what did she say…”

Staffer…“Well, later she said I was right and handed me this phone…”

The rest of the staff seemed a bit puzzled…

Staffer…“Just look at it!”

Everyone peered at said cell phone. It seemed OK.

Staffer…“Just look at it!” (now illuminating the offending screen) You can only dial 9-1-1, you know, for emergencies…”

Apparently 9-1-1 emergencies were not the kind of emergencies our staffer was anticipating or wanting to use the cell phone for…

I just hope her mom comes to Beat Meet the Teacher night.

I think she deserves to wear the tiara.

Hails Bails, I think maybe I’ll buy her one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

191 Carnival of Education

It’s Wednesday and we all know what that means. It’s time to shout Woo-hoo! and then head on over to the Carnival of Education to see what’s going on in the EduSphere. This week’s Carnival is being hosted by Mathew Needleman at Creating Lifelong Learners.

My post “Blues, Basements & Bailouts” was included, but you don’t have to go there to read it here.

This week’s theme is a terrifyingly terrific Halloweenish theme. Lots and lots of good stuff. So what are you waiting for? Grab a bag of candy and dash over there. You’re in for a treat.