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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Carnivore? No -- Carnival!!

This week's Carnival of Education is being held at The Education Wonks.

As with any Carnival, there are many fine and upstanding and entertaining entries, and a few seedy ones. All are worth checking out.

On another note, since the school year is over here in Dallas, I will not be blogging nearly as often. This summer, I am going to attempt some serious work on a sequel to Learn Me Good. So I may be blogging every once in a blue moon, but it will not be with the regularity of the past few months. Come the end of August though, I plan on being right back into the thick of things.

In the meantime, anyone who has enjoyed my blogging would really enjoy Learn Me Good the book, so why not head on over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.com and check it out! And for those of you who have already read it, first a big thanks, and second, I would LOVE to have you take a quick minute and post a review on either or both of those bookselling sites.

Have a great summer everyone!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The wisdom of Solomon

On the last day of school, Thursday, I gave the kids so much stuff to take home. Extra workbooks, homeworks and class work that had been left over, spirals and folders from their desk, etc.

I also had a couple of science project boards that had not been claimed yet. The week prior, I had let the kids get with their science project partners and ask them to take a couple of minutes to come to a decision amongst themselves as to who would take home their project boards. For the most part, the kids were able to come to amicable decisions, and one person from each group took their board home.

But on Thursday, I still had 2 boards from my afternoon class, where the group could not decide on who would get it.

So I told these kids that I would cut the boards in half, and that way each of them would get half of the project. They didn't seem too excited about that, but I told them that was going to be the only fair way to decide this.

I pulled out the first board and put the open scissors on either side of the top, preparing to cut. I asked one last time, "Are you sure about this?"

One of the girls lined, "NO! I want to take it home!" And of course, her partner responded, "I want to take it home!"

So I started to cut right down the middle. (And let me tell you, cutting a science board with a pair of third grade safety scissors is freaking hard!!) I could hear a few gasps of horror as I cut. When I finally presented a half to each of the partners, they didn't seem real pleased.

When I pulled out the other board, one of the girls immediately shrieked, "SHE CAN HAVE IT!!!!"

Ah yes, Old Testament practicality...

Friday, May 25, 2007

So really -- what do you think of me?

Well, I told you I was going to do it, and I did it. Yesterday, on the last day of school, I let my kids write whatever they wanted to about me. I even promised them that I would not look at their papers until they had gone home for the day. (And yes, I did keep that promise)

The writing prompt was: What do you think about Mister Teacher and Mrs. Educator? -- Be Honest!

Many of the responses shared a common theme for both Mrs. Educator and me. We are both mean sometimes, but we are very nice teachers. Oh, and that they didn't like it that much when we made them stand out at recess for not doing their homework.

Here are a few individual responses about yours truly:

“Mister Teacher is the greatest math teacher and funny a little bit.”

“I don't like the way you made us show our work on our work. I don't like the way you teach, Mister Teacher. PS you are nice.”

“Mister Teacher was nice and funny. But sometimes he gets mad and his face turns red.”
[It's true, when I flush and when I blush, I get beet red]

“I like when Mister Teacher shows us stuff like learn names of planets, science, fossils, rocks, materials, minerals, 3-dimensional shapes, but I don't like when his face turns red. No offense, Mister Teacher.”
[If only I turned green, I could say, "Don't make me angry -- you won't like me when I'm angry."]

“Mister Teacher, you really know how to play football.”
[During recess, I had tossed the pigskin around with some of the boys]

And now for a couple of comments about Mrs. Educator:

“I think that Mrs. Educator is a nice teacher and a smart one too. She teaches us how to read and write. She is very pretty. What I like about her is that she doesn't play around and even when she is not looking she can still hear and see you.”
[SO many of our kids did not seem to understand that ability]

“I still like you from my bottom of my heart to the top of my head. Just like a piece of a cake, just a big cake."
[Sweet and confusing, all rolled into one!]


And now for the comments that seemed to apply to both of us:

“What I like about Mister Teacher and Mrs. Educator is they are good teachers and they gave us ice cream and it good."
[This just makes me think of the old Bill Cosby routine –“ Dad is great, give us the chocolate cake…”]

“Mister Teacher is good at MATH. Mrs. Educator is nice, and is good at reading, social studies. Mister Teacher is funny nice hair style nice clothes.”
[FINALLY! Someone appreciates the cowlicks!!!]

“I think Mister Teacher is bad at math he really is bad at it. I think Mister Teacher is good at being nice. I think Mrs. Educator is good at being nice, reading, and writing neatly. I think she is bad at being mean and being funny. That's what I think about Mrs. Educator and Mister Teacher honestly.”
[Underneath this paragraph, she had written “hahaha,” so I hope she was joking, because I'm AWESOME at math -- 26 hours a day, 10 days a week.]

“About Mrs. Educator she's fun, outgoing, pretty, and hard-working. She's a great teacher but too tough on me. See people think I'm bad but they're wrong. Give me what I want and I'll give you what you want. About Mister Teacher he's fun, have good sportsmanship, down the earth, cool, but he's a great teacher he's nice to me and he's friendly. I'm going to miss them (cry).”
[I wish I had started this writing practice earlier in the year, because this kid was a behavior problem, and he frequently bugged the crap out of me, but I LOVED reading his stuff every day! He's the one who ended his first sample with, "have a great day.”]

“This year Mister Teacher and Mrs. Educator were very great because they decided on if I would pass or not and I did and my mom wanted me to pass very badly and I did pass and my mom is going to be very happy at me that I passed and I am glad that I passed too and I'm going to miss them and they were the best teacher I every had at this school they both was letting me pass and they were very nice to me and they were nicer to let me pass. Thank you Mister Teacher and Mrs. Educator."
[Awwwwww, I think she's happy she passed!]

And lastly, the piece de’resistance…

“I think Mrs. Educator is nice. She makes us do fun stuff, and it is easy. I like Mrs. Educator as a teacher. I wish I was in her homeroom.
I think Mister Teacher is mean sometimes. He make us do hard and boring stuff. But he still teaches us good. I don't like his class I'd never liked it I want to go to another class. He is so boring, I only enjoy science. I am happy that today is the last day of school so I won't have to come to this class again. Never. I hate math and Mister Teacher.”
[This actually stings, because I like this girl. Apparently, the feeling was not mutual.]

Thus endeth the lesson. I enjoyed reading what the kids had to say (well, except for that part about hating me), and hopefully they enjoyed it enough to practice some over the summer.

Some other people said they were going to use some of these prompts in their own class. I'd love to hear how things went for you!

You mean that's it??

YIPPEEE!!!!

School is out for yet another year!!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Here's my advice to you

Today's writing prompt: What advice would you give to next year's third graders?

I REALLY enjoyed reading my kids responses today. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement, but some of these kids really can pull their thoughts together and write pretty well.

CLEARLY, Mrs. Educator and I got at least one thing through to the kids this year, as it came up in many of the passages today… Do your homework, or else you will miss your recess.

Here are a few other choice excerpts:

“You better study or you will not learn anything in science."

"Bring your homework every day, do not leave it at home and say I forgot to bring it. Do not make an excuse and say that."

"In the third grade you only use the restroom two times, that's in the morning and after recess."

"Keep up the good work and you will reach your goal and you'll become a third grader. Next you will be in third grade like me and you will find what you are looking for."
[DEEP!]

"When it comes to field trips try not to miss them because they are really cool."

“Do not try to talk while you are taking tests.”

"Third grade is not hard like they say."

“And learn to spell words that are hard like goverment, milk way, o clock, teachers, pencil, pennsilvaneya, colorodo, and crayons so that's why you have to learn to spell.”
[gud addvize!]

"Do not talk or play until you have recess or else Mister Teacher will have you stand in a corner or go to another teacher's classroom for 10 minutes or more."

"If you have bad writing practice writing a story or buy a book that helps you write neat. Because you need to have good handwriting in third grade. So your teacher can read it."

“Some more advice would be is don't play in class or talk during class because Mister Teacher will get mad and make you stand in the corner."

And this one, I have to post in its entirety, because it is just fantastic in my opinion. I think it might actually fit more into Monday's topic of “What was your favorite thing in third grade math?” but she wrote it today:

“My advice to next year's third graders is that they got to be listening to what they have been taught. Another thing I will like to say is that when it comes to algebra it is going to be so easy.
Algebra is easy because you only think that you got to do is add. For example F + 8 = 16 -- the answer is 8 which is F. Sometimes it is hard if you see a letter with a two know that you are supposed to multiply. For example P2 = 144. The 2 means square and there is 12 X 12.
Algebra has different types of things to do like in high school middle school you got to find out what a whole bunch of numbers equals to. It is kind of easy if you know how to do little types of algebra.”
[Who knew that a couple of days of the most BASIC algebra techniques would have such an impact!]


All of their responses were really great. But I'm very interested to read TOMORROW'S papers…

The prompt?

“What do you think about Mister Teacher and Mrs. Educator?”

Monday, May 21, 2007

Math -- love it or hate it

I have decided that this week, in an effort to get my kids thinking towards fourth-grade, that I would let them practice their writing skills a bit. I will give them a prompt and about 20 minutes to write on it, and we'll see what they can do.

Today's prompt: What have you liked most and least about math in the 3rd grade?

One of my girls wrote an entire page, only to finish it with the line, "I hate math. I like other things better."

[Hey, at least she's honest]

Another of my children (who clearly needs the extra work on her writing) jotted down this sentence/paragraph:
"I liked adding the leas because it cind of help me but math help me the most and adding just esey to me and it can help kinder gardens and adding is just for little kids and babyies when they get in school and I have fun in math.”

[Let's let the babies add and leave the subtracting to the trained professionals…]

A couple of students had advice/admonitions to offer. One wrote, "There is no such thing as 7:60. You cannot use 60. 60 is a new hour. You cannot say that.”

[Timely advice]

While another wrote, "The least that I like about is dividing because, You should already know your fact family.”

[Yeah, what are you -- some kind of SECOND-grader???]

This one comes to us from the “clearly well-intentioned, but it'll leave you scratching your head” department:

“I like math because it's fun and it's good for your bran and you can get smart and learn to do more fraction math fact you can go to college then get your ageacation than get a job and get money to buy a house for your family and help the poor and you can change the would and help the inacent people a coss the would help the people the server pain and cure people you can be a doctor or baseball player and make money for chairade save people from dieing help people I don't care if they are.”

[Unfortunately, we will never know what he doesn't care about, as he ran out of time. But I just love the fact that you can touch so many people's lives by choosing the paths of medicine or stickball.]

And here’s the one that just made me grin the most:

“I'll liked when I learned multiplying all the way up to the 8. and I liked latest [lattice multiplication] the least. Latest wore me out but Mister Teacher seddle me down have a great day.”

[I'm sure more judges on the TAKS writing test would be willing to give out higher scores if only the kids would wish happiness upon them at the end.]

Hopefully, I'll have more tomorrow! Have a great day…

:)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Calling all lurkers

It's about that time of year when I make an impassioned plea to all of the lurkers out there. Lurkers, you know who you are -- those of you who read but never say anything. While I greatly appreciate your patronage, I just so happen to measure my own self-worth by the quantity of comments I receive in response to posts on my blog.

So I'm asking everyone who reads this blog to take a moment and leave me a comment. Feel free to say anything you like, but if you're having difficulty thinking of something, you are welcome to use the following "generic comment" that I have created for you. Just cut and paste, and add your name to the bottom.

"My dearest Mister Teacher,

You are truly the light of my life. I cannot even begin to consider the option of completing a day without at least one visit to your stunning web site. Your wit, charm, and incredible pectoral muscles send my heart into palpitations of ecstasy every time I read your printed word.

With apologies to Mr. Stevie Wonder, 'I just commented to say I Love You -- and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.'

Sincerely, [your name here]"

That's just a suggestion. Non-lurkers are welcome to comment as always, but you lurkers, now is your chance to come out into the light!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mother May I?

This evening was my school's annual International Festival. There are over 60 countries represented by students at my school, so everyone had really gone all out to dress festively, prepare native foods, and decorate the halls with the colors and information about many of these countries.

There were games outside, and food inside. And the fashion show, with kids (mostly) dressed in traditional attire from these nations, was really a lot of fun to watch.

But the thing that will stand out in my memory the most from this night was yet another example of one of my students demonstrating the fact that she has no common sense.

This student, A, saw my girlfriend and me walking around looking at all of the exhibits. So she waves at me to get my attention, and then she yells out, "Mister Teacher! Is that your mother?"

Ummmm, NO, wing nut! Just like the 13 year old next to me is not my grandfather!!

I think that this girl asked me that same question about a friend that had come to observe my classroom back in January. "Is that your mother?"

"Do you have any idea whatsoever how age works??"

It's almost like a twist on that children's story where the bird wanders around asking everyone, "Are you my momma??"

So I just want to warn everyone of this right now -- stand next to me at your own peril. Because if A sees us together, she might just think that you birthed me...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A modest proposal

Today was our last field trip of the year, and I have to say, unfortunately, I really did not enjoy it. My kids were little punctuation symbols, we had a nose bleeding incident that cut our time short, and my patience is just plain gone.

So, rather than go on bitching and moaning for 6 more paragraphs, I thought I'd at least ATTEMPT something humorous. And something occurred to me. I started thinking about athletes’ salaries. They are usually fixed when the contract is signed, but several years back, Ricky Williams -- running back out of the University of Texas -- made news by signing a very detailed agreement. He would effectively get paid by the carry, by the catch, by the touchdown, etc.

More recently, poor Ricky has made news for other things, but at the time, I thought the idea of his contract was pretty darn cool.

So let's apply it to teachers.

Sign us on at some base salary -- let's say $25,000. But we can increase our take-home by documenting events from the following list. Teachers would get paid for every occurrence of the event, not just one time.


Staff meeting .........................................................................................$200

Fire drill .................................................................................................$150

Being pulled out of class to
attend a meeting ..................................................................................$500

Receiving a new child any day
after the first day of class ....................................................................$1,000
-- if they don't speak English ..............................................................$2,500

Parent conference -- on the phone ...................................................$100
Parent conference -- in person ..........................................................$300
Parent conference – w/ irate or
irrational parent ..................................................................................$750

Administering a standardized test ...................................................$250 per child

Child talking back ...............................................................................$25

Child cussing at you ............................................................................$75

Child flipping you the bird .................................................................$50

Child giving you the RING finger
and then saying, "What?!?
It's not the middle finger!
I never flipped the bird at you!!” .....................................................$49.50

Child whining, "They're skipping!”.................................................. $25

Child disrespecting your clothes ......................................................$10

Child disrespecting your hair ............................................................$15

Child disrespecting your car .............................................................$20

Child disrespecting yo momma ........................................................$150

Child threatening to harm you .........................................................$500

Child throwing and hitting you with:
an eraser .............................................................................................$100
a crayon ...............................................................................................$200
a pencil/pen ........................................................................................$500
a book ..................................................................................................$1,200
the student next to them .................................................................$7,500

Child slapping you .............................................................................$2,000

Child punching you ............................................................................$5,000

Child kicking you ...............................................................................$4,000
-- in the nads .....................................................................................$15,000

I'm sure that there are many other things they could be added to this contract. But I think that many teachers would agree to something that followed this kind of format. Heck, if I got paid $25 every time one of my kids cried, "They're skipping!" I'd be able to retire to the Caymans from this year alone!

So kudos to Ricky Williams for leading the way in performance-based contracts. Here's hoping it doesn't lead all of us teachers to smoking joints…

Monday, May 14, 2007

How much for da women??

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week (which I know is pretty much just like any other week). Typically, this is where students and teachers are supposed to say thank you to us for teaching, befriending, and oftentimes just plain putting up with their children.

Fortunately, most of us are used to not being thanked, so we don't get TOO upset when the week goes by without a word said.

However, one of my little girls -- A -- DID bring me an apple and a thank you card last week, which I thought was incredibly sweet of her. Furthermore, she kept asking me today what I would want for my birthday, because she really wants to buy me something.

Usually, when a kid asks me a question like this, I start tossing out completely random and improbable items. So I said I would like to own Disney World. Or maybe an airplane.

To these suggestions, A replied, "Mister Teacher, it needs to be something I could afford! I only have about $1000 in my bank account!!”

So I said, "Hmmmm… I wonder what I could buy for $1000…”

A answered, “I know! I'll buy you a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader!”

I started wondering aloud if a cheerleader, or any person for that matter, could be bought for $1000. About half of the kids thought that it was possible.

Later, A got ahold of the team roster picture (which that girl is STILL bringing to class, despite all of the EWWWWWWWWWs that it has brought on) and showed me which one she was going to get for me.

I have to admit, she DID pick the one that I would have chosen myself…


In other news, our technology guru and computer teacher approached me after school today and directed me to view my monthly paycheck online. Upon doing so, I was greeted with a very nice surprise. I have been paid for my services as grade chair!!

At the beginning of this year, we were told that grade chair was going to be an unpaid position. This is pretty much why no one else wanted to do it and I got the honor of stepping up to the plate. But apparently, our principal came through for us, and there was a nice little $500 bonus waiting for us this month!

Somebody asked me what I was going to do with my $500.

I told her I'm contemplating buying half of a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader…

Saturday, May 12, 2007

You're out of this world!

For the past couple of weeks, my kids have been doing research on planets in our solar system. So of course, this inevitably has led to much pressure on my immature, third-grade funny bone.

Because I'm man enough to admit it -- I still laugh every time I hear the word "Uranus."

So without any further ado, here are some of the quotes my kids have given me in the past couple of weeks:

"Mister Teacher, I have a question about Uranus..."

"Is it true that Uranus rolls on its side?"

"What color is Uranus?"

"I think I want to live on Uranus!"

"Did a spaceship ever land on Uranus?"

And my favorite just happened yesterday. I was having the kids make Mother's Day cards, and I suggested that they incorporate their planetary research -- thus the "you're out of this world!" remark.

So one of my little girls brought over a card that said on the cover, "Happy Mother's Day, I love you."

And on the inside, the very first line was, "I hope you like Uranus."

Truly, a holiday to remember...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Battle Royal

An idea occurred to me this morning when I ducked into the restroom only to hear my kids going wild outside. Just let them go wild. They're going to do it anyway. I mean, if they haven't learned the proper way to behave by now, then they're certainly not going to in the next two weeks.

So why not just have the elementary school equivalent of a last man standing match. A battle royal, if you will.

At first, I thought this quite literally. Just let my boys duke it out and send home the ones who can't get back up. If they want to fight that badly then maybe I shouldn't get in their way anymore.

But then I thought maybe I could really do it metaphorically. I'm thinking I might put all of the kids' names on my whiteboard, and whenever they break a rule, I put a line through their name. Whoever is left unmarked on the last day of school gets some fabulous prize, like my overhead machine or something.

Of course, I can guarantee half of the class would be gone within an hour. So maybe I would have to make it three strikes and you're out again -- like the field trip.

Yes kids, Mister Teacher's patience is wearing VERY thin...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

We're walking, we're walking, we're walking... ANNNNNND we're stopping

Yesterday was quite the eventful day, as far as school days go. Any day that involves TAKS scores, a field trip, and a homicidal maniac can only be brought to closure by a margarita (or two). So I was very happy when my girlfriend suggested On the Border for dinner last night. But I'm getting way ahead of myself...

Since our walking field trip was canceled last Friday due to rain and wet weather, I wasn't too optimistic about our chances for yesterday since it was overcast and it had poured for hours on Monday night. But, conditions were deemed acceptable, so we got to proceed as planned.

And so the ragtag fleet set off on their lonely quest, for a shining planet called Earth... Well, roughly 100 kids and 5 teachers set off for a walk to a nearby park (about a mile away).

I always forget just how much I dislike that walk. Kids grumbling about their legs hurting and how they're tired. Kids stopping to touch as many dead animals as they can (seriously -- if you see a dead frog in the middle of a bike trail, don't you have the sense not to pick it up?). Kids moving at approximately the speed that water freezes.

Once we were at the park though, we had a lot of fun. It was indeed very muddy. Not Lollapalooza muddy, but enough so to keep local washing machines busy for the next couple of days. I spent a lot of time throwing a football around with some of the kids, and I would have to wipe the mud and water off onto my shirt before I threw it. So I came back to school looking like I had done an ad for Orbitz gum. But it was fun.

The fun ended rather abruptly, though, when we received a phone call from our principal saying that we had to return to the school immediately. This was about 40 minutes earlier than we would have left otherwise.

So we began the Trail of Tears back to the school. Typically, the walk from school to park takes about 30 minutes, and the walk from park to school takes an hour. This is because kids who were frolicking and playing tag five minutes ago now complain about not being able to feel their legs. The morning walk is paradise compared to the afternoon walk. I swear, I'm going to tell the kids next year to bring cameras so that they can take pictures of dead animals to enjoy forever, rather than having to stop and stare. This isn't the zoo, people!

I actually found myself saying, "Keep moving, there's nothing to see here."

Eventually, we did make it back to school, and we found out that we had been called back because the school had been put into Lockdown. The police department had locked down all of the schools in North Dallas because they had received threats from a guy who claimed he was going to massacre a bunch of kids. What a class act. Thank goodness he didn't stumble onto our group outing!

As for the actual Lockdown, the kids we had left behind (NCLB does NOT apply to field trips) were atrocious. Even though the principal had stated, "This is not a drill," beforehand, my kids were crawling around on the floor, screaming and yelling, and playing around the whole time, according to the teacher we had left them with.

[2 more weeks. 2 more weeks. 2 more weeks. 2 more weeks.]

We also got TAKS scores back yesterday. I was not happy. Seven of my kids did not pass, including three that I had been confident WOULD pass and one who missed a passing score by one question.

Looking online at the answers chosen, I noticed that several kids in my homeroom left questions blank (no answer). Three kids had 4 no answers in a row! This can only mean that they skipped over a page! One of those three did not pass, and he would have had he gotten those four correct.

Once again, I'm aggravated that we are not allowed to test our own kids anymore. I don't know that it would have made a huge difference, but I do know at the very least that I would have kept an eye on who wasn't bubbling properly!

On a high note, I did have 9 kids who got a commended score, so I was very happy for them.

Thankfully, today was not quite as hectic as yesterday. But I may still finish it off with a margarita…

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Your friendly neighborhood movie review

Greetings, True Believers! I am very happy to say that I went to the movies yesterday and saw Spiderman 3, and after reading all of the negative reviews, the critics can kiss my big black symbiote.

This movie ROCKED!

Yeah, it was a little long in spots, but who cares? So you get a little more bang for your buck! The story was awesome!

I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone, but I just have to share a couple of details from the movie.

First, the black costume was incredible. It was sleek, it absorbed all light, and it came equipped with an extra-roomy trunk, which was perfect for storing Spidey's camera and film. But even better than the black costume was what he went to at the very end of the movie -- the purple costume. Just wait until you see what he can do in the purple.

Also, I have to say that I don't recall from the comics the Sandman always singing Opera whenever he fought, but in the movie, it just works. Thomas Haden Church has an OUTSTANDING voice, and it is put to good use here. The scene where he is sleeping in a rotating hourglass is also pretty funny.

At first, I didn't understand why the character of Mary Jane Watson was being played by a different actress in part 3. Especially since Kirsten Dunst is actually IN the movie -- but playing a different character (by the name of Foxy Cleopatra), but after the first 2 hours and 10 minutes, it all fell into place.

Finally, if anyone can tell me why Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump both make cameos in this movie, I would be eternally grateful.

Go see it -- you won't be sorry!!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Whose line is it, anyway?

The old saying goes, "Teachers are always on center stage," but today that took on a whole new meaning for me.

A group called KidProv came to our school this morning for an hour-long performance. There were three guys in the troupe, and they were very funny as they put on improv games and skits that emphasized sharing, honesty, responsibility, empathy, and kindness.

True to most improv acts, they had plenty of audience participation, calling on kids for suggestions and selecting several students at a time to go up on stage and act things out.

One of their first activities involved taking questions from the kids. As an example, the host asked, "What is chocolate made of?" So the first kid-asked question was, "What is sugar made of?" And the next was, "What are popsicles made of?"

Our kids don't always display a lot of originality…

Midway through the show, one of the guys up on stage was talking about responsibilities and getting ready to pick someone for the next activity. When he said, "How about the guy back there in the green shirt," my internal voice went, "Oh crap." Seeing as how all of the kids wear white shirts as part of the dress code, this narrowed down the audience significantly.

When he added, "Looks like maybe a teacher?" I tried to feign ignorance by looking around behind me. But then the kids started shouting, "Mister Teacher! Mister Teacher!" So I had no choice but to bolt from the auditorium in fear.

No, I swallowed my pride and approached the stage. And became part of history. History in the sense of something that has passed, at least. Not anything that would be recorded for posterity (other than here, of course).

Our little skit involved each of the four of us being responsible for a specific word. Whenever we heard our word, we would have to either enter or exit the scene occurring front and center.

The four words were then obtained from the audience. To be perfectly honest, I don't remember all four words, but mine was "pair." Or maybe it was "pear." Either way, I knew what to listen for.

Show to get a suggestion for the scene, the guy said, "I need something that you don't usually FRY. Something you wouldn't put in a pan with vegetable oil and fry up."

Naturally, the suggested word was "Table." You don't fry a TABLE. Good one, kid. The sad thing is, our children actually think this way.

Anyway, the guy starts frying up an imaginary table, and the action started. He said a few things and boom -- the second guy entered the scene. Then one of them asked for a "pair" of something, and my inner thespian took over. And it became quickly ap-pare-ent (yeah, that sort of thing counted) that my inner thespian should stay in the closet.

I tried. I really did. But I just didn't have much to offer on the topic of cooking furniture, other than advising that table would taste much better with ketchup (what wouldn't?). And one of the guys actually looked a little pissed when I kicked him out of the scene by saying his safeword – “eyeballs.”

But regardless of how critical I may be of my performance, the kids were amused. I couldn't take three steps for the rest of the day without someone saying, "You were funny, Mister Pear!"

Maybe I'll have to go to some improv workshops over the summer so I'll be ready for next year's show.

Fried tables will never hold me up again!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What 'choo talkin' bout, Willis?

Apparently, the last month of school is the elementary equivalent of a constant full moon. Kids who were once decent, mild-mannered, and well behaved now turn into Mr. Hyde.

The third grade is going on a field trip this Friday (weather permitting) to a nearby park for a day of outdoors fun. For the past couple of weeks, we have been trying to maintain order by implementing a system of "three strikes and you're out” in regards to this field trip. A strike can be given because of the student not doing homework, fighting, disrespect, etc.

Oh, and for playing with spinners. If you're not familiar with spinners, then congratulations -- they are a major headache. Put simply, they are little paper constructs that the kids play with all day long if you let them. Mrs. Educator and I both made it very clear that a strike would automatically be given to anyone seen making or playing with a spinner. Not believing us, one of our kids pulled out a spinner the very next day and got smacked down for it. The next day, he got his second strike for playing with a spinner again! And yesterday, one of our little girls who already had two strikes made a spinner in class. These kids are no doubt going to grow up to be the people who think that THEY will be the one to survive going over Niagara Falls in the barrel.

Now, two days before the field trip, Mrs. Educator and I have five kids who have already gotten three strikes, and two more who have two strikes! In all, there are already 16 third-graders who have lost their privilege of going with us on Friday. It's gotten to the point where one of the third-grade teachers is going to have to stay at school with these kids. I plan on leaving some calculus problems for these miscreants to work on.

Over in the bilingual classes, they have been dealing with a group of kids who stole things from last week's book fair in the library. This is upsetting and disappointing on so many levels. For one thing, we shouldn't have to be dealing with theft at this age. For another, most of these kids don't seem to feel the slightest bit of remorse. In fact, one of them was telling me that she was going to be suspended today in a tone that almost suggested happiness.

Another reason that I find Bilingualgate so depressing is that two of the little girls involved are the cutest, most adorable little munchkins in the whole school. They always come up and talk to me, often in Spanish, and they used to be sweet as well. Just a couple of days ago, they called me over in the lunch line and promised me that they would not get into any more trouble -- even going so far as to pinky swear with me.

Now, that pinky swear has been completely violated. And if you can’t count on the sanctity of a pinky swear, what's the point to life?

I think I understand how Mr. Drummond from Diff’rent Strokes felt when he learned that two of his kids had turned to lives of crime.

All I can do at this point is to try to continue to cultivate and improve the Gary Colemans of the third-grade…

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