Thursday, October 5, 2017

What Happened

What happened was a field trip.

What happened was Miss My-mom-lools-like-a-British-actress got her head slammed in the boys bathroom door.

What happened was the boys were having a wood-chip fight and needed to avenge themselves.

What happened was a grandmother chaperone saint who had patience enough and sight enough to stay with the boy who wanted to be everywhere all at once, especially if all at once meant the penguins exhibit.

What happened was a bird's barf landed on my face in the South America exhibit.

What happened was everyone touching the manta ray and starfish and shark in the touching pool.

What happened was feeding time and did you know penguins jump from the water to the land and land standing up?

What happened was the blue parrot who laughed at everyone.

What happened was a rope bridge you could cross if you were brave enough.

What happened was lost papers and cool animals and amazing experiments.

What happened?

A field trip.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Well, that Happened

And then Sir Talks-a-lot used his tongue to measure his desk.

(It measured 9 tongue lengths long.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


I am the kind of teacher that confiscates things. Fidget spinner that I can see or hear? Confiscated. Reading when you should be listening or doing something else? Confiscated. Snacks that are distracting? They mine. Smart watch/phone/tablet/thingy? Give it here. Silly Putty? It'll be at my desk. (That stuff is awful? Why do they make it? It gets literally everywhere.) Magnets? Come get them after class.

Almost every day I confiscate something. Sometimes its as simple as a fidget spinner, sometimes it's something as complicated as more than one paper, magnets, silly putty, books, smart watches, you name it.

Today I confiscated a paper from a student and put it on my desk. He'd begun some sort of essay about Poison, but spelled it Poysinus. I intended to edit the two sentences and hand it back.

Later, during the student presentations on deserts, I watched one boy pass a sheet of paper to the first student I confiscated the Poysinus essay from. I confiscated that paper, too. Well, actually, it was two papers. It was the Poysinus essay, completed, as well as math homework, and a spelling test all belonging to a fictional student named Fred. Apparently he is 5 years old.

When class ended, I was able to look at the papers. I present them here for your enjoyment and have transcribed them below in case you can't read the pictures.

F- good work! It's a new high score!!!
Thu Poyzinus Esay
By Fred, Fiv yeers owld

          This esay iz poyzinus. I dont now wat that meenz. My teecher towld mee sow. Maybee yoo will di if yoo eet it. Just sayin.

          This esay wiz mayd by Fred. SSSSHHH? Dont tel nobody! Its top seecret. In my esay wee wil tok ubowt howda mayk a good esay. I wil teech yoo abowt creeatin good esay's. I am being reely good at maykin an esay. I'm also am bein have good gramar.

          Doo you theenk yoo ar smart eenuff too right an esay? CUZ YA ARNT! Yoo hav too bee sooooper smart. Yor brayn haz too bee at leest 5 foot 3 inches. lik mine.

          Dyagram ------>

         Hears good gramar. oo need too yooz me instead of I in situashuns lik: ME went to the stor. Everone thingks its I went to the stor. If you think so, you bein reely dum.

          This ends mee esay. So its over. Why isnt it end yet? END ESAY END!!!!!!! Okay stop reeding, maybee that wil ned it. If yoo havnt stopped reeding, yoo ar a bad persun. I will hit you in the hed and giv yoo a cuncushun. Dayng! I cant doo that throo payper. Can you just pleez stop reeding? Pleez? Kay, fine, I'll just righ...
The End
(It worked!)

Name:   Fred                           0/5
Math Homework

1. 2+2=22                                  2. 3-2= -32

3. 5x3=555                                4. 3x5=33333

5. bonus question

5/3 = No Cloo

Teacher commentary:
I'm not saying you're good, I'm just saying you were worse last week.

Spelling Test

1. Kat     2. Hot    3. ???   4. Funee

5. thay     6.wat     7. Laf     8. wil

9. wy    10. reely

Answers (written upside down at the bottom of the page)
1. Cat    2. Hat    3. boy     4. funny
5. they    6. what    7. laugh    8. will
9. Why    10. really

I think I'll ask these two students to continue the adventures of Fred. I'll put it all in a binder and give it to them at the end of the year.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Things I collected today:
1 six-limbed fidget spinner
5 magnets of varying sizes, all round
Minutes of silence: 6
1 half finished comic style drawing
2 books (Captain Underpants and The Lightning Thief)
The smart watch phone part of a smart watch
Most of the math homework
3 class dollars

New Pet Peeves:
Getting in a fight with an inanimate object. And losing.
Forgetting someone was coming to my lesson to help out.

Things I graded:
The tests.
All of them.

Things I am grateful for:
The student in charge of the calendar remembered his job.
The back row of desks did not move further back during the day.
My instructor (teacher's aide) watched my class while I took two students to finish their tests.
The Dean of students (assistant vice principal?) gave me constructive feedback for the part of the lesson he observed.
We got to the read aloud today. Students even asked for it.
Two of my students changed my schedule for me.
Planning tomorrow didn't take as long as it usually does.
The upstairs printer is working again.
My students read the instructions on the whiteboard and follow them.
I remembered a water bottle.

Funny moments:

"Miss Maddox, you have something sticking out of your hair, not your pen."
It was a bobby pin.

Running back up to the workroom just qbefore recess ended, because, despite having already been there, I'd forgotten to get posters. Which is why I went up there.

"Brexit! India! Stop flirting."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Teaching Is

Teaching is

"Here, Miss Maddox, I made this for you. It's Catwoman."

"Thank you, [name of small child who has spent who knows how much of the day recreating Harley Quinn and associates on small pieces of paper]." Do I remind you of Catwoman?

At least she got her homework done.

Teaching is

Making Miss 7th Grade Math cry because I said she was running when she probably was just walking fast. We were playing a game at the whiteboard where they had to write the name of the continent or ocean on the correct continent or ocean. Don't worry, I knew she was fine when she laughed at the antics of a short boy who jumped to try to reach the top of the board so he could write "Arctic Ocean".

Teaching is

Drawing a world map on the board, freehand, because your computer crashed again right before recess.

Teaching is

Making your students pronounce Pangea correctly, because if they're going to insult your world map you've just drawn on the board, they had better say it correctly.

Teaching is

Wondering why there are students in your class who are supposed to be back in their homeroom at that moment.

Teaching is

Making the new student think you're crazy because you're hyped about reading "Frindle." And you're doing echo reading but your reading is WAAAAAY over the TOP! So she's super confused why everyone is excited about reading.

Teaching is

Trying to plan for the next day even though you want to go home and sleep.

Teaching is

Taking down the "Fidget Spinners for Sale" sign from a student's locker and having a conversation with the student that selling banned objects at school is a bad idea.

Teaching is

Observing another teacher's lesson at the beginning of prep so you can teach better.

Teaching is

Changing the schedule only to have your students point out that it's wrong.

Teaching is

Way more papers on the ground than have even been passed out.

Teaching is

"I'm cleaning under my desk, because I was putting my homework away and I realized it's a big mess down there."

At least he also finished his homework.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Today I had a breakthrough.

Normally, breakthroughs are not things that are needed in the first full week of teaching. Normally, breakthroughs come when the teacher is exhausted, at her wit's end.

Today's breakthrough, though, came about because a student realized for one brief moment what it was like to be a teacher. This moment happened during math, when I'd given my groups an assignment and stepped to the back of the class to talk to another teacher for a brief moment.

When I returned to the front of the class, this student (Sir Talksalot) was not moving at his desk. His head was resting on his fist. The students in his group told me the thought he was asleep. He mumbled out a taciturn reply letting me know that he wasn't asleep and he was very, very upset about something. (It was one word. It was half a word. The other students had no idea what was happening.)

I helped his group get back on task, then had him come to the back of my classroom so we could talk.

"Sir Talksalot," I said, "what's going on?"

"THEM!" He said, not bothering to whisper. "They won't stop talking! I was supposed to read the question but they won't stupid listen! It's so stupid! They're being so stupid! I know what teachers feel like! They can't hear me! They won't stupid listen!"

Oh. I thought as I listened to his rant. A light bulb went off. Lightening struck my brain. Oh. They wouldn't stop talking? It was frustrating him? It was frustrating him, the student who would not stop talking from the moment he stepped foot in my class? The student who was only in my class for math and because of whom I gave my small math groups my class money?

OH. This was indeed good information to have.

"How does that make you feel, when they're talking when it's your turn?" I asked him.

"It's so annoying!"

"And frustrating?"

"Yeah! And frustrating! They won't know what to do because they won't listen!"

"Ok," I said, "are they the only ones in your group who are to blame for this problem? What I mean is are there more people in your group besides them who aren't listening?"

He thought for a second, "Yeah."

"Ok. So there are ways that are effective and not effective for helping people pay attention. And you've seen that, right?"

"Yeah, like asking them doesn't work. Like I say for them to shut their pie holes and they don't do anything."

"Right. Ok. So I'm going--Can I give you some advice? Is that ok? Ok, so one thing that works really well is complimenting the people that are listening. So if someone is paying attention, thank them for it."

"Ok," he said.

"And another thing is making sure to be the example. So if you're always paying attention then that's going to help them pay attention, too."

"Oh. Ok."

"So do you think you can do that?"

"Yeah," he nodded.

"Alright, head on back to your seat."

Tomorrow's math class might look the same as today's. It might look the same as yesterday's. It might look the same as Monday's. But he listened just a little bit more today after that. He sat up just a little bit straighter. He worked just a little bit harder.

And for me, really, that's a breakthrough.

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.