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Monday, August 31, 2009

Number (non)Sense

I am rapidly coming to the realization that my kids are low this year. VERY low. Sure, I'm not talking about the entire group, but more than a lot of them.

My second group especially seem to have no number sense. Things that they should have learned in first grade are not being done in class. Today, over 3/4 of the class was writing things like 10-12=2, 10+12=2, 21+5=6, 14-18=4, etc. They were writing these equations vertically, but those were the answers they were writing.

I know that every year regrouping, especially in regards to subtraction, is a major point of emphasis that we always have to retrain them on and practice, practice, practice. But 10+12=2?? I'm pretty sure that in this case, the child already knew what they wanted (we were finding "rules" for a number pattern), and when they got 22 instead of 2, they just erased the first 2, leaving the completely inaccurate number sentence.

Another thing that has me pulling my hair out already...

Because my class is so low this year, I know that I cannot be successful with them unless I am able to work with them in small groups.

I also know that I cannot work in small groups unless the rest of the kids are working on task on something else.

However, I have not been able to come up with a good way to get those other kids (and I have a lot of playing kids and talking kids) on task! I would LOVE to hear suggestions from you master teachers out there on how you get your kids to do what they are supposed to do!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Seeing red

I had a moment in class yesterday when I almost lost it. I did not do anything untoward outwardly, but inside my head, I was screaming, "ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME???!!??"

After we had come back inside from recess, one of my boys at the center table kept asking me if he could go drink water. I kept telling him no and reminding him that we had just gotten water upon reentering the building.

Add to this that I am growing increasingly frustrated with my class because they don't seem to comprehend the incredibly simple problems that I have them working on (in pairs, even!) from the textbook.

So I'm over at the desk of one of my other boys, who apparently has severe ADD, and whose medicine that he takes after lunch doesn't seem to kick in before the end of the school day. I'm leaning on his desk, talking to him about one of the math problems that the kids are working on. As I'm talking with him, the boy at the center table says, "Mister Teacher, can I go drink water?"

Still leaning on the desk I'm at, I say, "Listen, if you ask me that question again, you will lose your recess for next week." At this point, the whole room has stopped what they are doing and are listening. I continue with my whole spiel about bringing a water bottle to class if they want water throughout the day, that we just don't have the time for everyone to go down the hall and drink water whenever they feel like it.

Right as I finish my talk, the kid sitting at the desk where I am says, "Can I go drink water?"

I literally SAW myself picking the desk up and throwing it across the room. What I actually did though, was just push myself back up to a standing position and walk to the doorway, breathing deeply.

After a few steps, I felt I had collected my composure again and I announced that apparently this boy was the first to lose his recess for next week. Except that as I said the word "recess," I accidentally mispronounced it, and it came out as "resex." As soon as I said it, the little voice inside my head said, "Well, THAT doesn't sound right."

Right as I was making this announcement, Ed U Cater walked in. I stepped out into the hallway to talk to him, and the first thing he said was, "Do you realize you just said resex?" I replied, "Yes I do, but I don't think THEY did."

All I know is, I am SOOO thankful it is the weekend. This first week truly seemed like 3 or 4 weeks packed into one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

12 First week Quick Hits

The local sports radio station 1310 the Ticket calls them Quick Hits. Just really brief observations or comments. Here are a few of mine from the first week of school so far.


  • If I'm going to get the Swine Flu this year (along with half of the US population), I know EXACTLY the kid that's going to give it to me. This kid has been coughing since day one, and despite my best efforts, I just can't get him to cover his mouth. I've already named my fantasy football team The Swine Floozies.
  • The bus that I am charged with monitoring after school already has 3 kids in every seat (sometimes 4), yet there are always 30 more kids waiting to get on. Planning, anyone?
  • Yesterday, the teacher who decided that the best time to fill her cup of ice from the student drinking fountain was right as my kids were waiting in line for it. Mind you, this was no normal cup. No Big Gulp, no Super Gulp, not even a Double Gulp. No, this was the EXTREME Gulp -- 256 ounces of icy goodness. May as well nickname it "The Potty Emergency." I wonder if she heard me mutter, "Are you kidding me??"
  • Over-tired already of the game of "Bathroom Chicken." The game is basically played like this:
Student X: I gotta use it!!"
Me: We just took a class bathroom break 20 minutes ago.
Student X: It's an emergency!"
Me: Oh, come on, you just went, you can't possibly need to go again.
Student X: Oh yeah? Watch this!
(Student's face starts turning red, grunting sounds begin emanating, etc.
  • The fact that my classroom is the size of a hotel walk-in freezer, but my class rosters are 21 and 22 kids. I'm running out of room! I know I can't complain, though, because one of our 1st grade teachers has 41 kids in her class...
  • I got a new student while my homeroom was taking the pre-inventory math test (a test that I continue to despise, year after year). After getting this boy started on the test, I noticed that he had circled the words, "How many more" on one question. Somewhat excitedly, I leaned over and told him, "I see you know that those words are important, that's great! What do they mean?" He replied, "That they're magic." Not exactly what I was expecting, I persisted -- "And what do they tell you to do?" His response -- "To get the right answer." I maintain my optimism.
  • What should be the easiest question on the math test, basically, what do a square and a rectangle have in common (though worded MUCH more complicatedly than necessary) -- WAY too many kids picking the answer that says they both have exactly 3 corners.
  • A new little girl who cried for the first 15 minutes of class yesterday non-stop. Not silently, either. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that her little sister had gone to live with her aunt far away. She later told another teacher that she was crying because a girl in my class was calling her names. After a dose of sodium pentathol, she revealed the true reason, which was that she wanted to be placed in the classroom that her friend was currently in.
  • This morning's quick write prompt was "What kind of books do you like to read?" While most of the kids were writing away diligently, I was walking around reading over their shoulders. After about 5 or 7 minutes, I got around to a little boy who had "My" written. That was it, except for a few more words that had been erased. I leaned over and asked him for some ideas verbally and then told him to write what he had just told me. A few minutes later when I checked on him, his writing had somehow actually gotten SHORTER, as he had erased "My" and replaced it with "I."
  • Amidst all the chaos, we are responsible for checking all of our students' enrollment packets. One of my sweet little girls, as it turns out, lives in another school's zone. We had to send a note home with her today telling her parents that she needs to go to this other school.
  • After 4 days, I am slowly making headway in stopping the chain reaction of cries of "YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!" after every correct answer. More and more kids are remembering to silently give a thumbs up instead.
  • In addition to morning duty, now the position of Accelerated Math Instruction Coordinator is no longer a paid spot either.

Welcome post!

Hi there! I decided that I wouldn't post about my day so much today as give a shout out and welcome to any visitors (and hopefully new readers) that are stopping by. Of course, I don't want to snub anybody who's been reading for a while, so hello to you too!

For those of you who are new, thanks for checking out the site! Feel free to leave comments on posts that you have read! After you surf around and read a few posts, please take a minute and sign my guest book at the bottom of the page. If you would like Learn Me Good in your inbox or in your RSS reader, just click one of those links.

Become a FoLMeG! That's Friend of Learn Me Good, for the uninitiated. Just click "Follow" over in the sidebar. It won't make your hair grow or plate your car with gold, but it's still considered an elite group.

With it being the beginning of the school year, now's the perfect time to grab a copy of Learn Me Good, an embellished and fictionalized (but barely) version of my first year as a teacher. Print copies can be found here, but if you have a Kindle, go here!

I hope that you come back often, and please tell a friend to visit!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Same ol', same ol'

I would say that today was better than yesterday. At least I got my discipline/rewards system into place, and some of the kids from yesterday shaped up. There was still lots and lots of talking going on, but at least those kids saw that the behaving students around them got rewarded while the talkers did not. Also, there weren't as many interruptions or things to go home being passed out at 2:50.

Braces boy was chewing on his nametag string again, despite getting it caught yesterday. I guess some people never learn.

Oh, and at around 2:15, I'm not sure, but I believe one of the girls in my class either dumped a load in her pants or broke the seal on her "toxic waste dump" perfume vial, because it was all I could do to stand 5 feet away from her.

Pay is a thing of the past for morning duty, yet I still find myself out there in the morning. I guess my "voluntary shift" came up first (along with Anonymous Joe's), so we've been out there directing traffic. The usual craziness that we've come to expect during the first week of school. Everybody wants to pull up directly in the front of the door, park the car, and walk their child into school. We have to fight to keep some room free for kids to get dropped off.

Yesterday, one of our more troublesome children and his (even more troublesome) mother parked on the other side and walked out into the middle of traffic. When AJ asked them to use the crosswalk, the lady looked at him as if he was a talking bug from District 9.

And the people who live directly across from the school decided that from 7:15-7:45 would be a great time to run the sprinkler out in their yard. The sprinkler, of course, was set to spray the sidewalk, and I kid you not -- 2 people were standing in the doorway watching as kids and their parents ran through the sprinkler spray to get to the crosswalk. Nice.

Thankfully, they didn't run their sprinkler today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

REDO!!!!

OK, so day 1 of the 2009-2010 school year did not go quite as well as hoped.

Actually, the first half of the day was fine. It wasn't until after lunch that the metaphorical excrement began to hit the metaphorical air blower.

After the initial madness of trying to separate the parents from the kids, the day got off to a very nice start. For whatever reason, my two classes have widely ranging populations -- 17 in my homeroom, and 27 in my second class -- and of those groups, all but 3 kids were here today. Rather than have 26 kids in one class, my partner and I took 5 of her homeroom kids and put them in my first class today.

That group was well behaved, they listened, they did what they were asked. . . we had a splendid first day.

I think I didn't get off to a very good start with my second group. Our planning period this year is placed smack dab in the center of our day, which is GREAT from a scheduling standpoint. However, it means that we need to switch classes RIGHT before we take the kids to specials. So I didn't have much of a chance to meet and greet the kids in my second class as much as ask them to toss their backpack on a desk and line back up.

When we got back from lunch (which immediately follows specials), it didn't help that there were announcements coming over the loudspeaker roughly every 4 minutes. Also, we were still scrambling to find out which buses our kids were supposed to be riding home. Also, we didn't get enrollment packets that had to go home today until 2:20. Also, the kids in my second class apparently like to talk. A lot. And not so much on the listening and/or following directions.

One child in particular really got me flustered. This kid would look right at me as I was telling him to do the simplest things (ie, write your name at the top of the page), and then not do that simplest thing. He could talk to his neighbor just fine, but once or twice he actually told me that he had done what I asked, but when I looked, he definitely had not.

Then there was the boy who, at 2:57, wouldn't put his journal away because he had been playing with his nametag string (in his mouth!), and the string had gotten stuck on one of his braces. Lovely.

I did everything in my power NOT to sign any conduct folders today (though I certainly waved them around with that second class). I made it pretty darn clear though, that my red pen would be out and ready as soon as they walked into the room tomorrow.

Here's hoping a good night's sleep helps us all have a much better day tomorrow. Otherwise, it's going to be a REALLY long year...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Twas the night before school starts

Once again, I find myself nervous, anxious, unconfident, and worried about the first day of school. I most likely won't sleep well tonight, and tomorrow will be exhausting. I am pretty sure that my room is as ready as it is going to be, that my lesson plans are sound, that the routines I plan on going over are solid. I think of myself as being a good teacher, but a new group of kids always makes me wonder if they are going to respond to me as well as other groups have.

Anybody else go through this on the night before the first day?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Open House

We did something different this year. As long as I have been a teacher at my school, we had never before had a PRE-school Open House. Tonight, though, we did.

Apparently, our assistant principal and testing coordinator figured out how to send a phone message to all of our enrolled kids, and they also put up fliers at stores around the area, announcing a "Come meet the teacher" night on campus.

At first, we really weren't too keen on having to stay an extra 2 hours, but it really wasn't that bad. It actually played out a lot like parent conference nights usually do at my school. The Gen Ed teachers mostly worked in their room and were unbothered (I think 2 of them had 1 parent each show up, and another had 5) while us ESL and Bilingual teachers had a relatively constant stream. I met the parents of about 8 of my kids, and it looked like my partner met at least 12.

I also got to see a couple of my kids from last year, which was very nice.

The only real bad thing? The event ran from 4:00 to 6:00. The air conditioning in our hall was shut off at 4:50. That's not too pleasant on a 100+ degree day.

Got a lot done around my room today, but I always feel like I'm not ready at the beginning of the year. One more day, 2 fantasy football drafts over the weekend, and a most likely restless night on Sunday, and we'll see just how unready I am come Monday morning!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What a way to start your day

2nd day of staff development week -- strange beginning to the day.

I woke up this morning to find that one of my smoke detectors was beeping its "Low Battery" beep, a very annoying, yet persistent sound. Since there was still roughly 30 minutes until the time I actually WANTED to get up, I had to choose whether to get up and change the battery, or just suck it up and snooze. Since the latter hardly seemed possible, I got up, got out a folding chair, stood on it, wrenched the alarm off the ceiling and replaced the d*%n battery.

I've been having a new fence put in in my backyard, so I had parked my car out in front of my house last night. When I left the house this morning, I noticed that someone had sprayed shaving foam on 2 of my tires. Bizarre, and just a little weak. It's like they sprayed someone else really good, and then the can ran out when they got to me.

More sitting and listening at school today. We did do one fun activity where a teacher read a story about a star who was sad because she was smaller than all of the other stars, and who got some advice from the moon. Our task after that was to "jigsaw write," which meant taking turns around our table adding a piece of a story that continued where the book left off. I got to add a piece about the main character bulking up on "Starroids" -- Celestial Growth Hormone (CGH) -- and showing those other stars who was boss.

Monday, August 17, 2009

And it begins anew

Today was our first day back to school after a nice long refreshing summer vacation. No kids yet -- well, except for one of my kids from last year who stopped by, I guess to be told that he would be repeating 3rd grade -- but a full day of staff development.

A few highlights:

We were forced to endure the district sexual harrassment video yet again. This thing is at the same time, poignant and repugnant. I feel like each campus should just cast it and re-film it with their own staff and it would be a lot more fun.

We were informed that our presence would be required on Thursday evening for an open house. 4 - 6, we will be in our rooms for parents to come up and meet. Nothing like short notice...

Yours truly got busted (sort of) during an intervention presentation. One of our counselors was talking about each teacher having a spiral notebook to log all of the interventions throughout the year. She made the comment that this spiral would be our best friend. I leaned over to the teacher next to me and whispered, "So should I put out a Facebook friend request to my spiral?" As we were giggling, the counselor noticed and said, "Oh, if there are any questions, we should stop and clear them up." while looking right at me. Oops.

Found out that there will be no paid morning duty this year. Every teacher will have to rotate through a schedule of a week or so at a time, but no more money. I guess this is good in the sense that I won't (always) have to get to school so early, but it's not so good in the sense that I won't be making my roughly extra $2K this year.

Tomorrow is another jam-packed day full of excitement and adventure! OR, more boring sessions...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome to the new year

I am getting a LOT of hits to my site on one particular page, and so I thought rather than have people look through the archives, I should just go ahead and repost it. This was originally posted in August of 2007, and I reposted it in August of 2008, so this makes it 3 years running.



This is a very tongue-in-cheek "Welcome" letter to be sent home with kids on the first day of school. Please take it as it is intended, that is, with a grain of salt. I am not passing judgement on parents, teachers, or students. I am just having a little fun. No offense is intended.



Dear parents/guardians/cousin Larry,


Welcome to the beginning of another super fantastic year! We are very excited to have your son/daughter/spawn in our class this year! We are looking forward to a year full of learning, growth, and development -- and hopefully NOT full of termites like last year. Whoops!


As a third grader, your child will be taking the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) for the first time. Except for Pietro, who's an old hand at the state standardized test. Here's hoping the 10th time's a charm, Pietro! But for most of the rest of your kids, they will learn firsthand this year about subjective exams and arbitrary passing rates!


It's going to be a challenging year for all of us, so we appreciate all your help. Here are a few friendly reminders to help us all get through the year:


When you drop your kids off in the morning, be sure to actually stop the car before they get out.


Remember that school starts promptly at 8:00, and your child should be in his/her seat, ready to work when the bell rings. Please do NOT set your alarm clock for 7:55 and expect to get here in time for your child to have breakfast.


Students are to come to school every day with at least one sharpened pencil. If you can afford a PS3 and WWE Pay-Per-Views every other weekend, I'm sure you can afford a couple of lousy pencils.


Homework is to be done tonight it is assigned -- BY THE CHILDREN! We know that you mean well, but you're really not helping if you don't know your long division from your lines of symmetry. (You know who you are)


Let's agree that a 2-pound bag of Hot Cheetos and a liter of Dr Pepper does not constitute a healthy lunch.


Dog fighting, convenience store robbery, and "making it rain" will not be tolerated. In other words, don't let your child emulate a professional football player.


Please make sure your son or daughter uses the restroom before they leave your home, and do not send them with a 2-gallon bottle of water. Once they are in the classroom, to paraphrase the current California Governator in Kindergarten Cop -- THERE IS NO BATHROOM!!


Let's make this a great year! Only you can prevent forest fires! They'll never take our freedom! Remember the Alamo! (Insert your own encouraging catchphrase here)!!


See you on Monday!


Sincerely,


Mister Teacher

Sunday, August 09, 2009

20 things NOT to do on the first day of school

Summer is steadily slipping away, folks! So with that, I present to you the ANTI-Wong -- 20 things NOT to do on the first day of school.

1) Decide not to learn all of your children's names and just call them all "Kid."
2) Come to school dressed as a giant crayola crayon. Some teachers like to dress in costume, but nobody likes a corporate shill.
3) Sleep off a Nyquil-Vodka-Cherry Mountain Dew-induced hangover.
4) Update your Facebook status every 10 minutes.
5) Lecture the kids on how you could've had a V-8.
6) Pester the students for their honest review of your screenplay about intelligent rodents and the women who love them.
7) Mention The Girls Next Door.
8) Teach 8 ways to survive in prison.
9) Take the kids for a walk to the local quick-change oil lube joint.
10) Put on a viewing of The Godfather.
11) Run 10 fire drills back-to-back, followed by duck and cover.
12) Ask for their mother (or father)'s phone number for personal reasons.
13) Show off your prowess as an X-treme sport fanatic.
14) Try to have the kids solve the meaning of life.
15) Reenact the 100 Years War.
16) Model and try to sell your own personal brand of cologne or perfume.
17) Walk into the classroom at 8 o'clock, stare hard at the kids, and say, "You know what to do," and then leave the room for 4 hours.
18) Make a campfire and roast s'mores.
19) Consult a dog-eared, page-marked teacher handbook every 5 minutes.
20) Give the kids money for ANY reason.

Friday, August 07, 2009

20 Places to find Lesson Plans and Resources

Karen Schweitzer, guest poster extraordinairre, is back again, and this time she brings us a list of websites that can be very helpful to teachers with a little bit of bloodhound in them.

Karen is the About.com guide to business school, and she writes for onlinecolleges.net.

Here is her post:


20 Places to Find Open Source Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources

Are you looking for new lesson plans to engage your students in the classroom? Why not check out the Internet. There are many different websites that offer open source lesson plans and teaching resources to fit almost any need. Here are 20 great websites worth trying:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - MIT offers a range of tools and resources through the school's OpenCourseWare site to assist teachers. Resources include introductory video courses, labs, demonstrations, and lesson plans for biology, chemistry, and physics.

Education World - Education World is a resource site designed specifically for teachers. The site contains lesson plans, teacher development tools, tips on technology integration, and much more.

NYT Daily Lesson Plan - The New York Times offers hundreds of free lesson plans teachers can use to connect the classroom with real world events.

Teachers.Net - With more than 4,000 lesson plans, Teachers.Net is a great place to find quality lesson plans for any subject. Along with lesson plans, the site also features chatboards, projects, mailrings, and articles.

ThinkFinity - ThinkFinity, courtesy of the Verizon Foundation, has a wide range of free educational resources for teachers, including lesson plans, interactive activities, training, and book lists.

TeAchnology - TeAchnology has a variety of resources to help teachers integrate technology into the classroom. The site also offers lesson plans, worksheets, and rubrics.

Teachable Moment - Teachable Moment features lesson plans and activities for elementary to high school teachers. The site focuses on lesson plans that encourage critical thinking and positive attitudes.

Federal Resources for Education Excellence - The federal government provides an assortment of interesting lesson plans and resources for teachers, including educational animations, primary documents, photos, and videos.

Smithsonian Educators - The Smithsonian Center for Educators and Museum Studies provides free lesson plans, resources, and information on professional development. Lesson plans range from art and design to language arts.

LessonPlansPage.com - LessonPlansPage.com features over 3,500 lesson plans to assist K-12 educators. This site also has discussion forums, math worksheets, and science experiments.

The Teachers Corner - The Teachers Corner is a great site with tons of free lesson plans. Other resources include bulletin boards, printable worksheets, and teaching jobs.

LessonPlanZ.com - LessonPlanZ.com is an online directory of lesson plans for all subjects and grades. The site is updated regularly and features a weekly newsletter.

Microsoft Educators - This Microsoft site gives teachers access to lesson plans, templates, teachers network, and more.

National Geographic - An entire section of the National Geographic site is dedicated to educational resources for teachers. Resources include lesson plans, interactive activities, and printer-friendly maps.

Awesome Library - The Awesome Library is an online library of resources for educators, students, and librarians. The site provides lesson plans for a wide selection of subjects and grades.

GEM - The Gateway to Educational Resources offers over 50,000 educational resources for teachers. A simple click of the mouse is all that is needed to find information on lesson plans, activities, worksheets, and more.

PBS - PBS provides many online resources for teachers, including lesson plans, interactive activities, teacher discussions, and career development materials.

Primary Resources - Primary Resources offers free online lesson plans, activities, and teaching resources. The site also hosts curriculum ideas for all ranges of subjects--from English to P.E.--and even includes sources for classroom management.

LearningPage - The Learning Page provides a large selection of professionally designed learning materials. Teachers can download and print the free lesson plans, worksheets, and books.

A to Z Teacher Stuff - This teacher-created site is designed to assist teachers in accessing resources more effectively. A to Z Teacher Stuff has lesson plans, discussion forums, tips, thematic units, worksheets, and e-books.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I'm on the list, and I can spell!!

Amber of Clear View Education has thoughtfully informed me that Learn Me Good is featured on their recent "100 Best Blogs for Teachers of the Future!" Lucky number 37!

So, teachers of the future that are visiting my blog -- greetings from the past! Thank you for exiting your flying car and your virtual reality program to stop by my antiquated site!

OK, I know that's not what they mean by teachers of the future. And I'm honored to be listed with other blogs such as Siobhan Curious, So You Want to Teach? and NYCEducator.

Speaking of ol' NYCE, he posted a story today pointing towards a lawsuit that a New York college grad has filed against her alma mater. She is suing her college for tuition (except that she spells it "tuitsion") since they have not placed her in a job yet, and she has been out of school for THREE months now!!

Finally, to everyone who is already back in school (DANG!!!), I feel for ya. I really do.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Teacher do

Just another rerun today, this time an education.com column from around this time last summer. Figured we could all use something to think about. :)

This column, titled "A Little To Do List," originally ran on August 5, 2008.

Down here in Texas, teachers are beginning to sweat a little bit. No, it's not because of the 108° temperature, it's due to the realization that there are only three weeks left until school starts again! What happened to the summer? What happened to all that free time? My house still needs cleaning, there are unread books on the table, and I never did make it out to Cici's Pizza to check on the kids.

I did get to enjoy my two vacation trips -- to Florida and to California -- and I even managed to squeeze in my continuing education classes! At least that's something I won't have to do over Thanksgiving break.

There still seems to be so much to do so, and three weeks seems like so little time. Teachers and students alike are probably running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

What to do? Where to begin? Don't worry, help is here. As a professional service, I've put together a little list that touches on the most important tasks and things that must be accomplished.

Start to recalibrate your sleep cycle -- If you're like me, you've spent the past couple of months going to bed at 3 a.m. and getting up at noon. That's just not going to fly during the school year. Use the next few weeks to gradually ease back into those early hours. Get up at 10 next week, get up at 8 the following week. Soon you'll be ready (or at least more prepared) for that painful 5:30 alarm bell.

Sharpen some pencils -- Would you rather sharpen 20 pencils a day for the next three weeks, or 420 pencils the day before school starts? Put on the Rocky theme song, and think of it as the teacher equivalent of drinking raw eggs and punching slabs of beef.

Get your Fantasy Football squad in order -- If you play fantasy football, you'll want to do all of your research and have your draft before you get bogged down in school activities. Choose wisely, and avoid those players likely to come down with torn hamstrings, high ankle sprains, and that most horrid of sports injuries -- lacerated buttocks.

Hit all of the bargain sales at local retailers -- If you work for a district where all school supplies are provided every year, good for you, go away. For the rest of us who have to plunk down our own money for much of our inventory, now is the time to catch these items cheap. Keep an eye out for teacher discounts at Office Max, Office Depot, and Office Office Office.

Visit a doctor -- Having your days free helps with scheduling appointments, but also, many school districts have benefits calendars that roll over on September 1. Schedule any necessary visits now, before your deductibles reset. I'm thinking about squeezing in stops to a plastic surgeon, an OB/GYN, and a veterinarian just to take advantage of my co-pay!

As you can see, if you follow this list, you'll be a happy camper come the first day of school. Now if I can just remember to set my alarm for 10:59 tomorrow...

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