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Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Year in Review

Year in Review 2012

Several friends joined us at the casa to ring in the New Year with games and merriment.  This included a very competitive round of Just Dance on the Wii.  Tamara did not participate, because of her condition, and none of the other girls participated, claiming sympathy pregnancy.  Welcome to 2012 – the year the guys take back the virtual dance floor.

2012 started off as the best year ever for Learn Me Good as well.  After a few days of free giveaways to generate interest, the book soared into the Amazon Top 100, staying there for several days and peaking at Number 65.  I received an email from Oprah and got totally excited, but it turned out to be from Oprah Gonzalez, no relation, praising the benefits of working from home.

Towards the end of the month, I took one of my brilliant innovations to the Shark Tank and made quite the impression.  I figure I’ve at least quadrupled the annoyance factor of smoke detectors with dying batteries.  Now instead of just beeping sporadically while you spend half an hour figuring out which room the noise is coming from, my version has the bad detector let out a quick, “PSSST!” while all of the other smoke detectors in the house giggle loudly.  Mark Cuban actually paid me $100 to leave and never contact him again.

This was the month that Tamara gave me the green light to sell off some of her thousands of purses.  I delved deep into the murky underworld of the ebay purse market, and I did not come out unchanged.  Giant caricatures of Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, and Barry Burberry haunted my dreams every night.  By the end of the month, I had to give it up and take up something less stressful – juggling chainsaws.

A few days before my birthday, T and I went out to eat at one of our favorite Tex-Mex places.  As we walked in, I slowly realized that people were screaming at me.  A few moments later, I realized they were friends.  Tamara had thrown me a surprise birthday party, and it was a success!  I quickly changed my drawers and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

We were both asked to be Mystery Shoppers for the first time towards the end of the month.  We wanted to do this thing right, so we adopted new personas before heading into the store.  I became Montpelier Rutherford Eastington III, the washing machine magnate, while T was my mistress, Esmerelda Q.  By the time we left, we even had some of the store employees using Montpelier’s signature catchphrase – “Now THAT’LL make a monkey call for his pipe!”

Spring Break, as always, provided a welcome break from the classroom.  T graciously “let” me paint the nursery while she visited her parents down south.  I learned the hard way that paint colors often do not turn out the way they look in pictures, as my first attempt at gray – “Full Moon” – turned out to be white, and my second attempt – “Nautical Gray” – turned out to be Carolina Blue.

We spent most of the month shopping for a new car.  Thinking that Tamara’s 2-door coupe would probably be too small for porting a baby around, we had our sights set on an SUV.  So I researched, I emailed, I stalked, I queried, and finally, on the last day of the month, I bought.  Because we had done all of our work in advance and had already set up the buy, we were in and out of the dealership in only 5 hours!  

I let out my inner thespian by taking on the role of Spectator #23,415 in the upcoming film, The Puck Stops Here.  Though I’m one fan among many at the climactic hockey game, be sure to listen closely for the guy shouting, “THESE NACHOS ARE SOGGY!!”

One evening, T and I did it – we broke the bed.  Not doing anything fun, mind you – just trying to go to sleep.  Upon closer examination, it appeared as though the bed had been put together by blind, one-armed, 3-year-old monkeys who had just been lobotomized.  When the new bed was finally delivered, I watched closely and saw a couple of pieces used that weren’t even included the first time around.  So glad I paid for that quality incentive.

We both survived the Dallas tornados of April 2012, huddled down in our respective classrooms across town from each other, and thankfully, the scare did not induce early labor.  At that point, Tamara would have welcomed an early arrival, but I needed to sweat the rest of April to win the rather large birth pool bet I had placed with a bookie in Vegas.  Oh wait, I wasn’t supposed to ever mention that.  Nevermind.

I had been delaying my jury duty until after the yearly standardized tests (this year, STAARMAGGEDON), and I could delay it no further.  At the very end of the month, I sat on a panel and then stood before the judge to tell her that I couldn’t sit on a 4-6 week jury because I was about to be a father at any moment.  The judge (only somewhat jokingly) asked if I really needed to be present at the hospital when the baby was born.  I told her (only somewhat jokingly) that if she let me off, I would use “Wapner” as my son’s middle name.

Finally, after so much waiting, our little bundle of joy arrived!  A brand new computer, fully loaded, replacing the old one that was about to give up the ghost!  We thought we knew what fast processing speeds were before, but we had been living in darkness!

Then on May 7, ANOTHER bundle of joy was delivered, and this one was even better!  Andrew Warren Pearson XVIII decided he didn’t need those last two weeks inside his mommy, and he made his grand entrance to the world at 6:30 am after a long, sleepless night for his parents.  Though born on a Monday, Andrew escaped the name Solomon Grundy by the narrowest of margins, 1-396.

Having never changed a diaper in my entire life, I quickly adapted and learned, changing roughly 4,287 in the first week.  Tamara changed her first diaper about 9 days later, when all of her family (including me) had gone back home or back to work.  Drew himself has yet to do jack squat in the diaper changing department.

As the school year drew to a close, I learned that I was being moved to 4th grade, where I would have 3 sections of kids instead of 2, and none of them would be the kids I had taught this year.  I was also asked to learn Farsi and have 2 ribs removed.  We teach math at our school, NOT reasoning, logic, or sense!

With both of us off for summer, Tamara and I quickly settled into a routine that would let us get a decent amount of sleep.  Drew, in the meantime, quickly settled into a pattern of making really weird gremlin sounds that earned him the nickname “Gizmo.”

After Facebook’s wildly successful IPO in May, I decided to have my own in mid-June.  Shares of Pearson’s Potential Ponderings went for $10 a pop, and all five shares were bought by me.  WILDLY successful.  Shares are now estimated to be worth infinity a piece.

At the very beginning of the month, I asked all of my friends and supporters to help me try and convince Entertainment Weekly to run a blurb on Learn Me Good.  On the plus side, I was amazed by the outpouring of support and willingness by the people I asked to email the senior book editor at EW.  On the negative side, the senior book editor at EW viewed this as major spam.  I have a feeling that if you were to say “Learn Me Good” in her presence, she would STILL start convulsing and foaming at the mouth.

In mid-July, Tamara and her mom went down to Corpus Christi for their annual beach trip, and they took Drew with them.  While Drew lay out on the sand, built up his tan, and ogled the bikinis, I stayed home and got some things done.  This included painting the front door red.  We had considered green, but I didn’t want our neighbors to be constantly asking us what was going on behind the green door. 

While T started hosting a weekly girl’s night at the house, I got together with a few buddies on Tuesday nights to play team trivia.  Our team, the Synchronized Speedos, demonstrated a severe lack of knowledge on the subject of teen pop rock, but we placed in the top 3 most nights anyway.  Especially nights when there were only two teams playing.


On the first Sunday of the month, Drew was baptized at St. Vincent’s.  He was wonderfully behaved during the entire Mass and made us all very proud.  My only disappointment of the day was Drew’s hair being too short for me to fashion into a Mohawk once the holy oil was applied to his head.

Our air conditioning went out for a couple of days, something which would not be pleasant under ANY circumstances, but certainly not with a baby in the house.  Fortunately, our home warranty came through, and the problem was fixed after 2 days.  It was a long hard 2 days from the baby’s standpoint; Andrew, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind.

Lays potato chips ran a contest where entrants could choose their own ingredients and name their own flavor.  The winner’s entry would be turned into a new product on the shelves.  I submitted hedgehog fur, soap bubbles, and unicorn tears under the name, “You’re Welcome, Biz-nitch!”  Winners have yet to be announced, but I’ve been practicing saying, “Betcha can’t eat just one!” in the mirror for when my acceptance speech comes around.

Due to high demand from the voices in my head, I released my 3rd book, this one a foray into the world of fantasy football.  I wrote the New Orleans Saints’ DrewBrees several times asking him to endorse I Coulda Caught That Pass! (a true story about fake football), but he never replied.  Therefore, I can state with certainty, DrewBrees absolutely does NOT dislike this book!

When Tamara, her mother, and Andrew went down to Corpus Christi for their second beach trip, I agreed to join them.  I had never been to the condo on the beach with them, and I figured now was as good a time as any.  In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea to leave school at 3:30 for an eight-hour drive on top of a grueling work day.  Factor in the monsoon-like deluge that confronted me in San Antonio (and left me soaked to the bone when I stopped for gas), and I don’t think I’ll be making that weekend trip again.

McDonald’s kicked off their Monopoly sweepstakes once again, forcing me into my yearly downward spiral of addiction to peel-off game pieces.  Once again, Pacific Avenue eluded me, Marvin Gardens mocked me, and Boardwalk pulled down its pants and mooned me.  Family and friends suggested an intervention.  They wanna make me go to rehab, but I said NO, NO, don’t pass GO.

T and her mom took Drew on his first road trip, a journey which included a stay in Savannah, Georgia.  Drew was a big sensation around town, and the gang even saw James Gandalfini at their hotel.  So at the ripe age of 5 months, Andrew became a “Made Man” by Tony Soprano himself!  Badda Bing!

For Halloween, mother and child dressed up as a chef and a lobster, respectively.  I was so proud of my son and the way he would turn to give me a “WTF?!?” look every time a teenager without costume came to our door.  We also took the time to have our first serious father-son talk, about the importance of staying away from those disgusting candy corns.

With Tamara “retiring” from teaching to take care of Andrew full time, I decided to try my hand at something that would make us a little extra money on the side – painting.  My first piece, Mustard Stain on Sofa Cushion No. 1, received this review from a local art critic – “Pearson’s work is to the Mona Lisa as a first grader’s clay ash tray is to the Great Pyramids of Egypt.”  You hear that?  My work is being compared to the PYRAMIDS, Motherf@%*ers!!!

Much to Tamara’s dismay, Drew started sleeping in his crib in the nursery this month.  For many nights afterward, while I slept like a log, T sat up in bed and watched Drew on the baby monitor.  Her insomnia came partly out of motherly concern and partly because the baby monitor uses night vision, so everything comes out looking like a scary episode of Ghost Hunters.

We spent Drew’s first Thanksgiving with my family in Arlington.  Good food, good company, good times.  In lieu of going downtown for the annual Turkey Trot, we instead opted to watch a Turkey Crawl around the living room floor.

We couldn’t help but notice that celebrity death hoaxes reached an absurd overload this month.  Throughout the year, Facebook statuses claimed the demise of Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, Morgan Freeman, Elmo, Betty Crocker, Scrooge McDuck, Perry the Platypus, both Hardy Boys, and Dora the Explorer.  All of these reports proved to be false.  I must confess that I myself am responsible for beginning and spreading one such hoax in November.  You will all be pleased to learn that Count Chocula did NOT in fact meet his demise at the hands of cereal rival Sugar Pops van Helsing.

T took Drew to see Santa Claus for the first time, and being no fool, Drew pulled off the imposter’s beard and spoke his first words with authority – “You’re not Santa!  You smell like beef and cheese!”  That’s my boy!

We continued our yearly holiday tradition of spending Christmas Eve with my family then driving down to Tamara’s folks on Christmas day.  It started snowing right as we were leaving my parents’ house, so Drew’s first Christmas was officially a white one.  Though he didn’t fully understand the true significance of the holiday just yet, he did absolutely love all of the boxes he received, upon which to pound mightily.

Finally, the alleged Mayan Doomsday came and went without a bang, except for it being the last day of school for the year.  It did make me wonder, though, what else so many people believe in yet are so wrong about.  Evolution?  String Theory?  Justin Beiber?


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Like me, please!

A fellow author mentioned that the more Likes you have on your Amazon Author page, the higher your books are placed in their algorithms for views. So everyone, please click on the link below then click on the Like button. Should take less than 10 seconds of your time.
Thank you!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

You might be...

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy:

If you think it's a good idea to pull teachers out during instructional time to have them make an action plan for how to improve student performance...

you might be a principal.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Mr. Short Term Memory

I got a new kid a few weeks ago, and to put it mildly, he seems to live in a haze.  While he does (surprisingly) possess some math aptitude, he usually doesn't look like he knows what is going on.

Whenever it's time to switch classes, he is always the last one out of the room, no matter what order I call the kids in.  It just takes him that long to get his muscles firing and moving, I guess.

So while he and his class -- the class that has JUST left my room -- wait for their other teacher to pick them up, I stand in my doorway and greet my third class of the day.  As they come into the room, I stand with my fist out, to give them a fist bump and a "Good afternoon." (I used to do high fives, but switched to fist bumps in the hopes that it would cause less germ-passing.  HA.)

My new kid, standing at the end of the line that has just LEFT my room, will quite often see me standing there with my fist out -- and walk over with HIS fist out in an attempt to give me a fist bump and enter my room.  I have to gently remind him (more than once, on some days!) that he has already been to my class that day.

At least he remembers his name... most of the time.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I take the fifth

I told the kids in one class a fraction-related joke today.

A guy walks into a restaurant and orders a pizza.  The waiter asks if the man would like the pizza cut into 4 pieces or 8 pieces.  The man replies, "Better make it 4.  I could never eat 8 pieces!"

There were a few pained grimaces of non-understanding, and a general lack of comprehension.  When we started talking about it, how the guy would be eating the WHOLE pizza, no matter whether it was cut into 4 pieces or 8, a few kids started to get it.

One kid had his hand raised the whole time, and when I finally called on him, he asked, "How old is that joke?"

I said, "I'm not sure, but pretty old."

He then said, "Oh, no wonder it's not funny."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Darn right, I'm smart!

Yesterday, in our opening discussion on fractions, I asked the kids to count all of the students in the room.  Lots of sweeping glances and finger pointing around the room as the kids counted.

I then asked them what fraction of kids in the room were boys.  Again, a flurry of exaggerated counting, with mostly right answers shouted out.  Finally, I asked them what fraction of kids in the room were girls.  Same activity of spinning in chairs to count everyone one by one.

When that was done, I told the kids that I knew what the fraction of girls was without even needing to actually COUNT the girls in the room.  The TA in the room with me at the time spoke up with a "Me too!"

I asked the kids to discuss with one another how it was that Mr. Ball and I knew the fraction without needing to count.

Several kids immediately shouted out, "BECAUSE YOU'RE SMART!!!"

Well, sure, but not exactly the answer I was looking for...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

An observation

Magnetic personality

Since this past week was my turn to do morning announcements, and the science word of the week was Magnetism, I sent a girl down yesterday with a great Dave Barry quote -- "Magnetism is one of the six fundamental forces of the Universe, with the other five being gravity, duct tape, whining, remote control, and the force that pulls dogs toward the groins of strangers."

The teachers seemed to enjoy it.  :)

Friday, October 05, 2012

Students are different!

Today's post is a guest post from writer Aileen Pablo.


As a teacher I have had the joy and the challenge of meeting a wide variety of students. I have also come to understand that students are not divided into various classrooms based on their personality. Instead, they are melded together with the hopes that everyone in the class can embrace diversity and get to know people that hold different characteristics than themselves.

But as any teacher is aware of, this is not always possible. You undoubtedly have felt that teaching itself becomes far more difficult when the person leading the class has to find a way to balance these varying personalities and still convey the same information to all students. While you want to encourage individualism and allow students to let their personalities shine through, you may find it difficult to know how to manage a classroom filled with varying demands of you and the student’s peers.

Here are a few ways I have learned to cope with the ever changing dynamic of varying personalities in the classroom.

• Choose to use a calm and positive tone of voice – This is not always easy when you are up to your ears in stress over the way the children are interacting with each other and with you. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, make a conscious decision to remind yourself to continue using a calm tone of voice with a positive message. This will help to avoid escalating excited students energy levels and instead help to bring the classroom back to a sense of normalcy.
• Pause strategically – When it feels impossible to use a tone of voice to speak over the chatterbox in one corner, and the nagging student who is in constant need of your help in the other, simply pause. The students will have also felt the classroom starting to feel out of control and will notice your less than enthusiastic mood over the change. This can have a powerful impact and can help bring the center of focus back on the lesson instead of the seemingly bickering between personality types.
• Let the student’s choose – Classrooms are created without attention to various personality types or learning styles to help teach students how to best work with one another. In some situations, this can work to your advantage. Put the students in charge of deciding how the lesson plans will go. For example, allow them to choose together if they will read out loud or to themselves quietly. Once they have made the decision, you are able to use that in your favor to maintain control over the classroom and bring the personalities of students that would have otherwise been divided, back together.
• Avoid struggling for power over the students – Some students love a good debate with their teacher, and they thrive on the opportunity to prove a teacher wrong in front of the classroom. Other students may appreciate this power struggle or they may be annoyed with it, but chances are even if another student comes to your rescue, it will only cause the debate to worsen and you to feel out of control of the classroom. Instead, it is a good idea to avoid any power struggles with students and not get defensive. This will provide an opportunity for debate that you should not engage in, and instead will give the power to the student. While it is important to allow students to speak their mind and be individuals, this power struggle can make it more difficult than necessary to conduct the class.
If you are like me, you have experienced the entire lot of personality types. The way you react to the various personality types will directly impact how the student reacts which means you are still in control over your class and gives you a better way to handle individuality in the classroom.

Author Bio

Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Learning Australia, one of Australia’s leading providers of Distance education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career.She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you have a blog and would like free content. You can find her on Google+.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Reverse reverse psychology

Last Thursday, my second class fooled around a lot and didn't get very much done. As a result, I sent them home with homework, while the other two classes did not have it.

Friday, when it came time to switch classes, I spoke to that class before they came into my room.

I said, "Remember what happened yesterday. Do you want to have homework again tonight??"

Much to my surprise, most of them yelled, "YESSSSSS!!!"

They never cease to surprise me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shut yo' mouth!

This week's Learn Me Good comic strip is reminiscent of something that I actually heard in class this year.

Face palm, times ten

Today I was working with one of my students who acts a lot dumber than I really think he is.  We were going over the concept of addition with regrouping.  He had drawn a picture which showed 7 ones and 6 ones being added in the ones column.  He had moved all 13 ones down to the ones' answer spot.

I told him that there were too many ones to go there and that we needed to regroup.  So I asked him how many ones we needed to put together to make a ten.

His reply:  Five?

I said, "Think about the name of the place value.  It's the TENS place.  How many ones do we need to make a TEN?"

With more certainty this time, he answered, "Three."

I finally went and grabbed the base-ten blocks, which we had worked extensively with yesterday, to show him that three ones actually did not make a TEN.

Monday, September 24, 2012

But... That's really good!!

Last week, progress reports went out, and shortly thereafter, I got a note from a parent.  To sum up, it said that the mother was "very concerned" with her daughter's low grade in math. It went on to ask if there was anything she could do to bring that grade up from a 91 to at least a 95.

I conferenced with the girl today and told her, "91 is REALLY good!"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Personal Financial Literacy

Someone pointed out to me that there was a brand new set of learning standards on the Texas Education Agency website, so I took a look. In addition to being MUCH more specific, and as one teacher put it -- "high schoolish" -- there is THIS
section at the end:

Personal financial literacy. The student applies mathematical process standards to manage one's financial resources effectively for lifetime financial security. The student is expected to:

(A) distinguish between fixed and variable expenses;

(B) calculate profit in a given situation;

(C) compare the advantages and disadvantages of various savings options;

(D) describe how to allocate a weekly allowance among spending; saving, including for college; and sharing; and

(E) describe the basic purpose of financial institutions, including keeping money safe, borrowing money, and lending.

I can't WAIT to teach THESE concepts!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekend progress

The good news is that I Coulda Caught That Pass is sitting at #1 on the Kindle ebook nonfiction sports football (American) list. WOOHOO!!

The not so great news is that it hasn't cracked the top 1,000 overall free book list.

I blame Oprah.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Football Freebie!

My new book -- I Coulda Caught That Pass! (a true story about fake football) -- is FREE today and tomorrow on the Kindle!

Please grab a copy and pass the news on to your friends!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Several posts of note today:

Conversation during science time:
Me: Thomas Edison invented the first machine that could show movies.
Student: DVD?!?

 Uh, no...

There's nothing like a Code Brown in the hallway as I'm enjoying my lunch of leftover chili...  Yummy!

There are several new mounds of surface material (straw, or bark, or whatever) on our playground. Yesterday, one of my girls asked, "Why are they putting that stuff on there if we don't even get to use it this year?"
Good question!!! Enjoy, neighborhood kids and wandering vagrants!!!

I think the oddball lady who lives across the street from the school is going to have to be a character in the next book. This afternoon at dismissal, she was peeking through her window with a camera!!
No idea what for, but I posed and mugged for the camera for a while...   

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

I Coulda Caught That Pass!

It's almost here!  The final touches have been put on my fantasy football book, just in time for the NFL season to begin.  My book is called I Coulda Caught That Pass!  (a true story about fake football), and as soon as I get my proof copy and am sure the cover looks as good in print as it does on the computer screen, I will make it available world-wide!

I do realize that not everyone is into fantasy football, or even real football.  So this book will not be for everybody.  But hey, other than the dictionary, what book really IS?  However, I hope it will appeal to lovers of sports AND humor as they mix well together.

Here's the cover and the blurb!  Look for it to be released soon!

There is something to be said about fantasy football.  That something is that it is not for everybody.  Those who love it, love it.  Those who hate it, hate it.  Those who don’t care are called spouses.

The name alone conjures up a hybrid image of ESPN and late night Cinemax.  But no, this fantasy is not of the erotic type.  It is fantasy in the sense that it is the only way most of us would ever be even remotely involved in professional athletics.

The first recorded season of fantasy football occurred in 1976, when a young man named…

OK, you know what?  I have no earthly idea when fantasy football officially started, and I really have no inclination to look it up.  That’s not what this book is about.  You aren’t going to find the history of the game here.  You won’t find advice for how to start your own league or tips for drafting a dynasty.  You definitely will not find any ways to sharpen your managerial skills.  In fact, there’s a good chance you won’t find any skill at all in this book.

Instead, what you will find is an inside look at one fantasy football league.  A fly-on-the-wall perspective of ten scrappy managers/everyday Joes – more obsessive than some, less obsessive than most.  A touching story of one triumphant champion and nine complete losers.

Prepare to step into history.

And by “history,” I mean “completely unspectacular events that have happened in the recent past.”

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Need a Kleenex?

I'm a little late posting this week's Learn Me Good comic strip to the blog.  For you guys who were anxiously anticipating it, I apologize to both of you...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Suck it up, or quit!

After seeing some of the responses from non-teachers on my recent DMN blog post -- where the overriding argument seems to be that if you don't like something, your two options are 1) suck it up and shut up or 2) QUIT -- I got an idea for a new post.

Today is the last day before classes start, so I've made a list of complaints that I've had or may have this year.  You may have had these same complaints at one time, or you may feel like making them this year, but know this.  According to some people, you teachers knew what you were getting yourselves into when you joined the profession, so there's no reason to complain about anything, you just need to do whatever is asked of you, and you always have the option of quitting at year's end.

1)  The A/C in my classroom doesn't seem to be working, and/or it's working TOO well.  --
We haven't been able to control the thermostats in our classrooms for about 6 years now, so we never really know what the climate is going to be like when we enter.  Some days it's an arctic chill, some days it's mild, and some days it's like being on the surface of the sun.  But there's no use complaining, right?  I knew full well when I entered my teaching certification courses that my body would need to naturally and spontaneously adapt on a daily basis to changing temperatures and humidity levels!

2)  I don't have updated technology in my classroom. --
That's ok, kids have been learning with chalk and the backs of shovels since before Abraham Lincoln's day!  If it was good enough for Honest Abe, it's good enough for me!  I'm sure there's some corporate worker out there who is still dealing with primitive resources in his job, so his case should be applied to all teachers who are teaching updated curricula with outdated tools!

3)  Some parents won't return my calls or come to discuss their child --
There always seems to be a few folks who think that what happens at school should stay at school, and they don't want to be "bothered" by hearing about what their kid is doing, good OR bad.  But I am clearly a fool for forgetting that I went to college to learn how to work with KIDS!  Not ADULTS!!  Why on earth would I think I had the right to talk to adults as a teacher??  If I want to work with adults, I most definitely should quit and get a different job.

4)  There is a "No recess" policy in action at my school --
It sure would be nice if the kids had ten minutes or so to blow off steam and run to their hearts' content.  But I should have realized going in to my job choice that "recess" is one of those abstract, unquantifiable things that was bound to go the way of the dodo, along with "homework," "respect," and "consequences."

5)   I need to see the doctor, but in order to do so, I have to either find someone who will see me after 5:00 or take an entire day off for the appointment. --
As my friends have said countless times, teachers are EXPECTED to contract every sickness and disease known to man, plus a few others -- EACH YEAR!  They are fond of telling me that I also am expected to fight through the pain, the snot, the oozing, and the fever. Doctors, Schmoctors!

I'm sure there are plenty of others, but I for one will be trying my darndest to remember NOT to complain about anything this year.  I'll just put my head down, break my back, and do every little, ridiculous, unnecessary thing that is asked of me.  You betcha.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Showing your school colors

Saw this story on Yahoo yesterday, about a grade school kid in Oklahoma who was disciplined for the shirt he wore to school and ordered to turn it inside out for the rest of the day.  From the headline, my immediate thought was that it was merch from Hooters, or a bloody Insane Clown Posse world tour t-shirt, or even something that implied profanity, like a Battlestar Galactica shirt that said, "Frak that!"

Nope, the kid was wearing a University of Michigan shirt.

Now, I'm no fan of Mich, especially with the bad blood between Duke and the "Fab Five," of whose legacy Jalen Rose seems SO very desperate to hang on to.  (By the way, screw "Fierce Five" -- The American girls who brought home gold this year in the Olympics are the Fab Five who actually WON something!)

However this does seem a bit extreme.  Apparently, the rules of the school and maybe even the district are that only attire from Oklahoma-based schools can be worn?  What a crock!

Big Head??

Here's this week's Learn Me Good comic strip, based on a true event that happened last year.  I was NOT expecting her to say that!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

An extra 45 minutes

I wrote a post over the weekend, and I was going to post it here, but instead I asked the editor of the education blog at the Dallas Morning News if she would be interested in running it on the DMN website.  She agreed to run it, and it is posted today here:

My buddy warned me to be aware that the "haters" would surface, and of course they have.  I don't understand why some people seem to take it upon themselves to consistently make the argument that teachers have no right to complain about anything whatsoever, just because they get summers off from working with kids.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Teachers are the worst students?

This week's Learn Me Good comic strip is here!

We've always heard that teachers make the worst students.  Oh well...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to school

Today is the first day I've set foot in my school since June 1st.  It wasn't the first day back with the kids -- that doesn't come til the 27th.  But I knew that the school would be open today, coupled with the fact that I will be in a new room this year, and I knew I couldn't put off the procrastination any more.

So I got quite the workout today.  I didn't get to actually work IN my room at all.  Well, I did take the time to sharpen a bunch of pencils in preparation for the first week, but I didn't get to arrange desks, put up bulletin boards, decorate my door, post inspirational hanging-kitten-meets-Yoda posters...

Instead, I spent the entire day moving things from one room to another.

The room that I am moving into still had most of the belongings and materials of the person who occupied the room last year.  This is not a slight against her, because, after all, all of MY stuff was still in my old room as well.  But it is what it is, and it needed to be moved before I could start moving my stuff in.  So I spent a good portion of the morning moving her stuff 2 doors down to her new room.

Yes, you read that right.  She's still teaching 4th grade, and she was moved TWO. DOORS. DOWN. 

She had about 10 large plastic portable shelf units that had a lot of guided reading books on them.  Those are what REALLY gave me a workout, especially my back and quads, and I was sweating like a pig as I finished moving the last one.  That's just about the time that the head custodian came upstairs and asked why I had moved those shelves into the new room.  When I told him, he informed me that those shelves did NOT belong to the other teacher; they were supposed to go out in the hallway, and the custodians had just moved them into my new room while the cleaned and waxed the floors.  They just hadn't moved them back into the hallway.

That would have been nice to know in advance.  (and I may possibly have negated that new wax/clean job through my moving efforts)

Once I got all of her stuff out of my new room, it was time to start moving things from my old room (downstairs) to my new room (upstairs).  Instead of carrying one or two boxes by hand and going up and down the stairs about 200 times, I borrowed one of the school hand carts.  This made it MUCH easier to load up a bunch of stuff and reduced the number of trips I had to take.

It also showed me exactly how poorly thought out the hand cart/elevator relationship had been.  See, the handcart is about 5 feet long, and the elevator is about 4 feet deep.  It's about 8 feet wide, so it fits inside, but actually getting it inside and free of the door was a feat in itself every single time.  I had to push it in at an angle, squeeze into the elevator, reach down and pull the front wheel sideways then push the back end the other way... And if I ever took longer than 30 seconds, the elevator helpfully screeched at me.

Once I had all of my stuff up in the new room, it occurred to me that A) I was leaving all of my 3rd grade math materials downstairs and B) the former occupant of my new room was not a math teacher.  I needed 4th grade math materials from a 3rd source!  I was able to find textbooks in the upstairs classroom of the former 4th grade math teacher, but no other materials at all. Apparently, they were all moved (by her or by the custodians, I have no idea) down to her new 5th grade classroom.


So there is still some moving to be done before I can even start to prepare my room for the kids.  Good thing we don't start til the 27th!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Why are you the teacher?

This week's Learn Me Good comic strip is inspired by something that really happened this year.  One of my little girls wasn't quite satisfied with my lack of knowledge on this particular subject.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Get to know the Lowell Milken Center


I wanted to share with you a great little video about an organization making a big difference in the lives of teachers and students all over the county. The Lowell Milken Center, named and founded by education philanthropist Lowell Milken in 2007,  is a Kansas-based organization that uses project-based learning to uncover "unsung heroes who changed the world."

Check it out!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Do we look like brothers?

Here is this week's Learn Me Good comic strip.  Had a few technical difficulties, and several people on FB said that they were having trouble reading the words.  So I changed the font, and hopefully it's much easier to read now.

I appreciate feedback!

As for the strip itself, has this ever happened to you?   It's one thing for a kid to think that someone who looks a little bit like me might be my brother, but someone who looks NOTHING like me -- and also teachers at the school?!?!?

I work with a few ladies who told me that some of their kids used to think that two of them were sisters, while the third was their grandmother.  And none of these ladies look old in the least!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sorry, kid...

Here is this week's Learn Me Good comic strip!

We are all superheroes at school. We just can't wear capes or masks...

If you would like to purchase a mug, mouse pad, t-shirt, etc with this week's comics strip, please go to Mister Teacher's store!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Class pets

Here is today's fill in the blank...

If I had a class pet, it would be a __________.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Outside the classroom

Here is the second comic strip in the Learn Me Good series.

I'm always amazed at how excited kids get when they see you outside of the school environment.  I once had a kid practically scream at me, "I SAW YOU AT TACO BELL!"  while several other kids whispered, "Really??  You really saw him?"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Learn Me Good goes comical

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages -- it gives me great pleasure to present to you the inaugural Learn Me Good comic strip!!

For a while now, I have thought it would be neat to present some LMG anecdotes in 3-panel style, as I've always been a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes, Pearls Before Swine, Dilbert, and the like.  The only thing is, I can't draw to save my life.

But over the 4th of July holiday, I was talking with my brother about a collaboration, and he agreed to try his hand out at the visuals, if I would provide the story ideas.  My brother inherited ALL of the artistic talent in the family, whereas I can barely draw a circle.

So here is the finished product!

We hope to have a new one each Wednesday, so I hope you enjoy it and come back for more!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Join "The List!"

After last week's experiment with Entertainment Weekly (which, yeah, didn't go so well), it really moved me just how many people are willing to say nice things about Learn Me Good and to put in a good word or send an email to help the cause.  So I'm putting together a list of people I can count on for support in a moment's notice, and a group that I can email with one click of the button.

This will not be a list that I send cutsie pictures of horses playing volleyball or jokes about hairless Wookiees.  I will send emails only when there is a cause and I need help or I want definite input.

So if you'd like to join the Learn Me Good email list (and please, by all means, let me know if you have a better name for it), shoot me an email -- learnmegood2 AT yahoo DOT com   (don't forget the 2!)

And please pass on the word if you know anyone else who would like to be on the list!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Great Learn Me Caper

As many of you know, I had a "brilliant" idea last week, and I enlisted the help of as many friends and fans as were willing to help me implement it.

I am a longtime reader and lover of Entertainment Weekly the magazine, and I've always thought it would be wonderful exposure to have Learn Me Good featured in the Books section of that magazine. I am also well aware that the writers of EW are highly unlikely to suddenly pluck a relatively unheard of novel out of the blue to feature in their pages.

So I hatched a scheme.

First, I sent this email to two of the book editors at EW:
Hello, Ms. X and Mr Y,

I know that you typically review and promote books that are published by the "Big 6," but I have also seen a few non-traditional and independent authors working their way into the pages of EW recently. With the rise of e-books especially, readers are showing a willingness to give a chance to more writers than just those named King, Patterson, or Meyers. It's often a lot harder for those writers to get noticed, though.

I am one of those writers, and I'm also a teacher who is on summer vacation, so I have a little free time on my hands. As such, I thought I'd introduce you to my first novel, Learn Me Good.

I've asked a few friends and fans to write to you about Learn Me Good as well.

Learn Me Good is the story of Jack Woodson, a thermal design engineer who was laid off from his job.

Switching careers to be a teacher, he faces new challenges. Conference calls have been replaced with parent conferences. Product testing has given way to standardized testing. Instead of business cards, Jack now passes out report cards. The only thing that hasn't changed noticeably is the maturity level of the people surrounding him all day.

Learn Me Good is a hilarious first-person account, inspired by real life experiences. Through a series of emails to Fred Bommerson, his buddy who still works at Heat Pumps Unlimited, Jack chronicles a year-in-the-life of a brand new teacher. With subject lines such as "Irritable Vowel Syndrome," "In math class, no one can hear you scream," and "I love the smell of Lysol in the morning," Jack writes each email with a dash of sarcasm and plenty of irreverent wit.

"Jack Woodson (Duke Egr, class of '95) is currently living and working in Dallas, TX. He has forty children, and all of them have different mothers."

"I teach, therefore I am... poor."

Learn Me Good was self-published in paperback in 2006 and has since sold almost 1,500 copies. In 2009, it was published as an e-book for the Amazon Kindle, and it has since sold over 17,000 copies. It has received 185 reviews on, and 126 of those are 5-star reviews.

I would really love to have you check out Learn Me Good (and/or the sequel, Learn Me Gooder) and see if it might be worthy of mention or review in the pages of Entertainment Weekly. I would be more than happy to send you an electronic copy and/or a paperback copy upon request.

Thank you for your time,

John Pearson

Perhaps if that had been the entirety of my plan, the editors would have taken notice and contacted me for an interview. I say perhaps in the sense that it is not an absolute impossibility. In the words of Mr. Spock, though, it seems highly illogical that I would have gotten that outcome from my email alone.

So I asked people to send in their own testimonials to the good folks at EW.

This was the "call to arms" email that I sent out to my willing volunteers (edited to remove email addresses):
Thank you again for helping me with this attempt to get noticed by Entertainment Weekly. Here's what I'd like you to do. This Tuesday, July 3, at around noon, I am going to send an email to the 2 reviewers at EW. I will mention in the email that I've asked a few friends and fans of Learn Me Good to email them as well. Please send your email a little AFTER noon CST (if it's later in the day, it's certainly not going to hurt anything).

Please make the subject line: "Learn Me Good by John Pearson"

I've included sort of a "boiler plate" message below the line of stars. Please feel free to cut and paste that into your email. But what will really add impact would be if you would personalize your email by adding a sentence or two (or more, if you are so inclined) including your own thoughts and opinions of the book (and even Learn Me Gooder if you want).

And then keep your fingers crossed that they get in touch with me in a positive light! :)

One more time, thank you so much for your support and help in this endeavor.


I teach, therefore I am... poor.

Learn Me Good is the story of Jack Woodson, a thermal design engineer who was laid off from his job. Switching careers to be a teacher, he faces new challenges. Conference calls have been replaced with parent conferences. Product testing has given way to standardized testing. Instead of business cards, Jack now passes out report cards. The only thing that hasn't changed noticeably is the maturity level of the people surrounding him all day.

Learn Me Good is a hilarious first-person account, inspired by real life experiences. Through a series of emails to Fred Bommerson, his buddy who still works at Heat Pumps Unlimited, Jack chronicles a year-in-the-life of a brand new teacher. With subject lines such as "Irritable Vowel Syndrome," "In math class, no one can hear you scream," and "I love the smell of Lysol in the morning," Jack writes each email with a dash of sarcasm and plenty of irreverent wit.

Since its original publication, Learn Me Good has sold almost 1,500 paperback copies and over 17,000 e-copies. It has received 184 reviews on, and 125 of those are 5-star reviews. These are amazing statistics for a self-published novel with no major backing!

Please look into featuring Learn Me Good and/or its sequel, Learn Me Gooder, in the pages of Entertainment Weekly.

So that was the setup for my experiment. It may seem amateurish to some, but hey, I AM an amateur!

I knew there was a chance that this might be seen as a major annoyance, but I also figured that seeing a lot of individual and differing words of praise would make the EW folks think, "Wow, people really like this book! Maybe we should take a look!"

And now for the results (at least the immediate results):

There were great results and really bad results.

First, the great results. At least, what I consider great results. There was a tremendous outpouring of support and willingness to help from people who have read Learn Me Good. Over 100 people responded to my original request, and around 40 of those emailed me Tuesday to let me know that they had sent EW an email. Many of those 40 actually included their EW email, and I was truly touched and amazed by the words of kindness, praise, and admiration.

It truly made me feel incredible as an author.

As for the bad news? Yeah, one of the EW editors REALLY did not take things well.

She never actually wrote back to ME, but several people forwarded me the note she had written back to them:
Please tell your friend Mr. Pearson that getting 5000 emails like this—filling up my inbox—ensures I will NEVER cover this book.

Ouch. On the bright side-- 5,000 emails received! HOLY CRAP, that's incredible!!!

On the down side, I'm quite sure she was exaggerating. By a factor of 100.

Also on the downside, plan go backfire. Big time.

Honestly, I never intended this to be an exercise in spamming the good folks at EW. It wasn't just me, sending the same email over and over and over again. It was a whole lot of different people saying different things about the same book.

Nevertheless, it was obviously taken as spam.

After I began writing this post, I received an email from the other EW editor (who coincidentally happens to be a fellow Duke alumnus). It was quite a bit kinder and gentler:
Hi John, It's awesome that your books have so many admirers! But any way you can call them off? We're getting too many e-mails.

I obliged, sending an email to all the people who I had not heard from. I also sent an apologetic email to the two EW editors, trying to explain that my intent was not spamariffic.

And thus endeth the (failed) EW experiment of '12.

Next week, Rolling Stone? Anyone? Anyone?

Just kidding!