Monday, August 21, 2017

Remember your Training

There's a scene in a Toy Story movie where a toy tells Jessie, "Jessie! Remember your training!"

To which she replies, "But I don't have any training!"

Today felt a lot like this. And the only trouble is, I've had training. A lot of it.

But tomorrow is a new day and I can do better then. At the very least, I'll have remembered my training. Or, you know, some of it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Benefits of a Broken Desk

Yesterday in the middle of my fabulous lesson on the Constitution (read: students were paying attention, participating, and learning about how the Constitution and our class rules go hand in hand), LU's desk broke. We have the kind of desks in my class that are attached to the chairs and when I say her desk broke, I mean that the desk part of the desk ended up on the floor but still managed to be attached to the chair, which was upright.

How did this happen, you ask? Well, I accidentally gave the one already broken desk to one of my students who was going to figure out how to break it further. So of course, LU figured out how to break it further.

She didn't mean to break it more, I'm sure. Instead, what I think she was trying to do was get out of her desk. Why? I'm not sure. I was teaching, which meant she was supposed to be in her desk. But now it was broken so her sitting in it was no longer an option if she wanted to be productive.

So I had her move to the round table at the back of the classroom.

At first, I thought this was a bad move. She talked to the T.A. back there. She whispered to the T.A. back there. She listened to the T.A. back there.

And then, on second reflection, I realized she also was reading the constitution I left back there and adding to our conversation by saying things like, "We could do ____, because it says it in the Constitution." This was really cool because it helped the discussion like icing on cake.

Of course, her desk couldn't stay broken, and she couldn't stay at the back of the classroom (distractions and all that), so the Dean of Students at my school came and fixed the desk after classes ended. Which was really, really nice of him.

When LU got to class this morning the first thing out of her mouth was, "Yay! My desk isn't broken!" And, maybe unsurprisingly, she paid much better attention in class today.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

We the Students

We the students of Miss Maddox's 6th grade class

Today we wrote our class constitution.

in order to form a more perfect classroom,

This lesson went way better than the one on Socrates.

to establish order,

This was partially because I totally knew what I was doing with the constitution lesson; I've taught it before.

to present ourselves well,

It was also partially because I do not know nearly as much about Socrates as I thought I did.

to create a learning environment,

The really interesting thing about it, was that I had clear expectations for the Constitution lesson. I knew what was going on. My students knew where they needed to go. They came up with what they wanted to say.

and take responsibility,

The Socrates lesson was not organized in quite the same way. Or even as much as the Constitution/Rules lesson was.

establish these rules

Though, come to think of it, the content was not bad.

so we can make progress in our selves,

But the management could have been better.

and our classroom,

In the end, I think something stuck. I think they maybe learned something.

and educate our lives.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Well that was easy: Day One

Things that happened today:

1. There was a wasp in my classroom. Don't worry, it didn't sting anyone. It didn't really bother anyone but me when I stood near it. It decided to hang out on the window until an aide helped me capture it in a cup and take it outside.

2. I told all of my students that when I was being shown my class list, they looked it over and were like, "Oh they're a good student. Oh that's a good student. Oh, all of these kids are good students. Your whole class is full of good students." I think they even believed me.

3. I used the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to set up rules for my classroom. This is a truly brilliant idea that I thank my mother for. What better way to teach that a classroom needs rules than to say that the early colonists wrote the Declaration to tell King George that here was the list of 28 specific rules that he broke in very egregious ways and they weren't going to be under that rule anymore. Then talk about how the most brilliant and bright men of each state was sent to a Constitutional Convention where they wrote all the rules they were going to follow. Then they all signed their names. We're going to do that tomorrow.

4. I learned how to use the laminator.

AHA! AND! I ordered Book Catalogs from Scholastic Book. Now my students can order books and I can get points and I can order books and get points and I can build my class library.

Things that did not happen today:

1. Death. Nobody died. I'd say that's a pretty big plus for me as a teacher.

2. I did not make anyone cry today. Also a good thing for a first day.

3. Dragons. Dragons did not happen today and I am informed there are none in my school. At least, none that will chase you down the hallways. The dragons on my wall are purely for show. They cannot come alive.


4. A pencil sharpener that stayed working the entire day. Well, it's not like I haven't gone to the store almost every day for the past week and a half to get stuff for my classroom. So. I have to go to the store again.

But on the bright side, I have students who are more than willing to sharpen all my pencils for me. So that's a plus.

Friday, March 31, 2017


Today I had a grand total of not 1, not 2, not 3, but zero students cry today. That's right, folks, count 'em, 0.

This despite students having to pay me class dollars for not turning in their homework.

This despite students having to take an unannounced math quiz.

This despite making them all stay in their seats while each of them told me something they learned in their science rotations instead of going one by one down to lunch.

This despite not getting computers for typing and we did the read aloud for 20 minutes instead.

Zero tears. Not bad for a Friday before spring break.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


T.U. came to my class this morning claiming to be colorblind.

"Everything that's supposed to be white is pink!" A tremendously horrid thing if one is him.

Blobfish Lover took it upon herself to announce it to everyone in the room as they walked in.

But it didn't prevent him from learning, so that's a plus, I guess.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Once Upon a Time Today

Once upon a time today as I went to pick up my students from lunch, and they filed past me in a sort of amorphous blob, I caught words that went something like, "T.U. got his eyes poked by a tree branch."

Wait. What?

Like he ran into a tree? Like someone rammed him into the tree? Like he picked up a branch off the ground and it got thrown at his face?

He was last in line. Mostly because he was stumbling along the sidewalk, like he wasn't sure of where to walk. Like he couldn't quite see the door where I was standing.

When he finally reached me, aided by another student, I had him look at me. His eyes were bloodshot and he was crying. But not "I'm crying because it hurts," tears. It was more like, "My eyes are expelling a foreign object by producing extra water and the extra water just happens to be coming out of my eyes like unto tears. I'm not crying."

"Okay look at me. Now look to the left. No. Turn your head back toward me and move your eyes to the left. No. Wait, that is your left. I meant your right. My bad. Can you see? You don't look like you have anything in your eyes."

"I can't see!"

Got it. So, probably send him to the nurse's office. But I had to see how he would do walking down the hall first.

First, he tripped. Then he couldn't find the line. Then, apparently, "I can only see red and blue now!"

I had another student, Alberto, direct him down the hall to the nurse's office. Hopefully, I thought as I took the rest of my class up the stairs to our classroom, they would make it there alive. A minute after we got settled, Alberto returned and joined us for math.

Halfway through math, T.U. stumbled into the room and made his way clumsily to his cubby.

"What did she say?" I asked him

"She said to get my stuff."

"Are you getting checked out?"

"I don't know, all she said was to get my stuff. Can I have someone help me back downstairs?"

Yes, he did get someone to help him down the stairs and I guess he did get checked out because later, when we had an unscheduled fire drill, he didn't come out of the building, even though the nurse did.