Thursday, September 20, 2007


"We're going to the pig race! How about you?" reads the piece of paper I found in my mailbox at school this morning. Greaaaaaat. Can you tell I am so thrilled with this prospect?

Our school fundraiser (magazine sale) started last Friday and the first turn-in date was on Tuesday. For classes that reach 100% of their sales goals, they get a Mr. Bacon pig that they can do anything to (other than re-wire it or do anything to its legs). My kids last year shaved the pig and colored it MN Twins colors with Sharpie markers.

It took multiple turn-in dates for my class to meet their 100% goal last year. This year? It took ONE turn-in date. Only ONE!!!

I was really hoping my class this year wouldn't make the goal. I hate that darn pig race. It is so dang loud in that gym and the kids just get so wound up with it. It's practically impossible to get the kids to focus on their work after the races.

Granted, if our pig wins, we get $60 for a class party. I wouldn't mind that. That'd be pretty darn cool, in all honesty. They're one of my best classes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I have bus duty Tuesday afternoons.

I stand outside in the middle of the road, watching kids run across to the parking lot to get to their buses, run back across when they've forgot something in the building, and run across yet again to hopefully catch their bus before it leaves. Why in the middle of the road? To make sure cars don't go through and mow the kids down. Because it's better to have a teacher hit than a kid. Just kidding.

As the buses began to depart today, a few stragglers came running out of the building trying to catch their bus before it rolled out of the lot. I stood on the sidewalk near the school while my bus duty partner stood across the road from me, waiting to help stall the buses in order to let the kids cross.

One of the last buses slowed down and stopped with its doors right in front of me. As the driver opened the doors, I walked towards the bus, thinking that he was looking for a kid or he had a question. Instead, he says "Here..." and tosses me something. I catch it and look down: a grape Tootsie Pop! I smiled and said thanks as the driver closed the doors and went on his way to deliver the kids to their stops.

Now...How does that fit in with our new district Wellness Policy? ;)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Woes of Coaching

So I coached our school's Math Team last year and was willing to do it this year again. It's not so bad, now that I know what I'm doing.

And then again, it's no fun at all when people don't respond to e-mails for three weeks.

It's not like I e-mailed every day badgering people either. One e-mail a week, that's all. And still, I didn't hear as much as an "I don't know, I'll let you know when I do" from our division coordinator until today. Almost three full weeks from the time I first contacted him about the meet schedule for this year.

I'm glad things are finally settled, but it would have been really nice to get information out to kids like, the beginning of last week.

We'll have the informational meeting next Monday that I finally set up just to get the ball rolling. That at least gives me time to figure out bus costs and stuff between our school and the other middle school we'll be sharing buses with.

You know, I felt so on top of all this stuff three weeks ago. All ready to go with everything and the TIME to get this stuff done. Now that the school year's underway, I don't have the leisure of time anymore to get this extra stuff done.

Speaking of extra stuff...Maybe I should let our AP know that I still need to get and sign my contract for coaching Math Team this year...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blast From the Past

I checked my hotmail e-mail account after lunch like I've gotten into the habit of doing (gosh, I love Firefox). Two new e-mails: one junk and one retired Kindergarten teacher!!!

We have tried to stay in touch over the years, which has become harder to do, especially once she retired and then I started teaching a few years later. Life just became too hectic and random for us to easily keep in touch. It was such a nice surprise to see an e-mail from her waiting in my inbox.

Her e-mail was short - just a few sentences in length, checking in to see what new stuff was happening with me. My response was...WAY more than a few sentences. It was at least a short novel. Written in less than half an hour. There went my prep time today. :p

It was completely worth it, though. I've got papers to go through tonight, but that shouldn't take too long.

Wow. I might be able to beat the high school rush out of the parking lot if I can leave in the next five minutes. Let's hope that works! If not, I'll be stuck here at school for another 40 minutes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Old Program, New Teacher

My algebra 1/2 block kids were playing games and working on their math homework during Connect Time (our school's adivsement) when the math TOSA walked into my room.

He asked me how things were going and if I was swamped with stuff in my new position. He was surprised and slightly amused when I told him it's been a breeze so far, compared to last year (six classes vs. nine; all classes with curriculum to use vs. making up all my own stuff for eight of my nine classes).

He asked if our new FOL Math teacher had talked with me about how I had set up the program (it was a new program my first year). I told him that he had and that I hoped things were going alright so far. The TOSA then said that he hadn't gotten a chance to watch the new FOL teacher teach yet, but when he does and if things aren't running smoothly (we had a new guy the last half of last year who had some...difficulties...with the program and kids), he wants the new teacher to observe me teach a lesson. The TOSA said that I have some really good strategies that work well for the kids.

I never really think about that kind of stuff. I know I should, as that's so important in teaching, but I never really do. It just kind of...comes.

One thing, though. I HATE being observed. No matter what the supervisors say to ease the pain of it, I still feel like I'm on stage, performing all my tricks to please the audience. I just hate that feeling.

It's one thing making a fool of myself in front of my students. I do that on a daily basis. It's totally another thing making a fool of myself in front of the administration.

Monday, September 10, 2007


A student brings an apple to school and gives it to the teacher, who puts it on their desk and eats it later for lunch or a snack. What a quaint, old-fashioned view of the world, no? No one ever does that anymore. An apple to a teacher? Yeah, right.

Yeah, right!!

I was sitting at my desk after lunch, entering some student data in my laptop as our new health teacher taught his class of...six. Seventh graders were out in the halls, putting their books away and grabbing lunches from lockers, heading to lunch. My door opened and in walked one of my new students (new to the school this year).

This kid stopped in with his mom, sister, and friend the week before school started to meet his teachers and find where his classes would be. As I have him in my first class on A Days, I was the first teacher he met. He is so quiet in class, but a really good kid.


He quietly walked over to my desk, handed me something wrapped up in a napkin and whispered, "I brought you an apple."

Without waiting for a response, he headed back out the door to lunch.

What. A. Stinkin'. Cutie.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Education cuts, here we come?!

Yup, those are some marching band members that my sister marches with. She's actually in the second picture. Fifty points if you can find her. ;)

This was the front page article in the Star Tribune today. The kid second from the left in the first picture goes to my church. It was funny to see all the people talking to him after church today. Instant celebrity status!

CPHS will be one of the hardest hit schools in the state if the referendum doesn't pass this year. It's a very painful reality that most people hate to think about. More money that must be paid in the form of taxes...But you know what? I personally would rather shell out the money now and see our future be well educated instead of paying for their poor education later down the road with higher end jobs going to better educated people from overseas.

Maybe that's just me, though. Maybe the majority of people don't really care who gets the good jobs or who will be deciding our future in the years to come.

Ah, the joys of being an educator.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Thank You

Two words I have never heard from a student: Thank you.

I heard those words from numerous students today. A couple thanked me after my second class. Practically every student who left my room at the end of the day had those words to say to me. Totally made the week that much brighter.

I have officially survived my first week as a "real" teacher and I couldn't ask for a better week. Well, I'm sure I could, but I'm not going to push it.

Time to go home and unwind from a long, four-day first week. Or sit back and get more lessons done...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

They just keep popping up...

...Like daisies!

Let's see...three new kids in my last class on the first day of school. Ok. No biggie. I found out at the end of that day that three students had been dropped from that class without my knowledge (thank you, Mr. 8th grade counselor), so I just had to adjust my seating charts a tiny bit.

Yesterday was smooth sailing - only one girl added to my second class. And she just switched hours, not an entirely new kid.

Today Mr. 8th Grade Counselor came walking into my first class with a new student for that hour. At least she's a sweetie and I won't have to keep an eye on her every second like I'm used to doing with the kids he throws my way. Later that same class he comes in again with another new student. At least this time he decided to give me a bit of a warning...this new girl would be in my last class of the day. Yet again, another sweetie. Thank goodness.

This last class on A days I have a set of's funny having the set in a class together. I'm not complaining, they're quiet and good and stinkin' cuties (as most of them are). Now I just have to remember to put the right name with the right facial features. It'll help now that they aren't sitting right next to eachother.

I introduced this game called "24" to my kids today. My second class was absolutely hilarious with it. The jist of the game is this: you have four numbers and must use all four once and only once by adding, subtracting, multiplying, and/or dividing to get the number 24. The process is what we're looking for, as we know the answer is always 24. My second class just ate it up. They even applauded their classmates who solved the more challenging problems! It just made me so proud to see that comraderie evolving already.

I hope my last class will have some fun with the game, too. They're taking a pre-test right now. So quiet! I cherish these moments as much as I do the ones when everyone is involved in the lesson and having fun!

And now that the day is done (some hour and a half or so later)...One of my new additions to my last class has now been switched out. Mr. 8th Grade Counselor came in towards the end of the hour and said that her schedule had been screwed up (she had been put on two different teams) and it was now fixed. The poor girl. She looked so sad when she handed me her math book as she left at the end of the day! She even said that my class was fun. THAT'S something you don't hear every day when teaching math.

Oh, right. I took a couple pictures of my kids last hour before transitioning into the game 24. One table was working on a couple puzzles that I always have lying on my desk. Darn kid decided to stick his tongue out at me as I snapped that photo. Typical 7th grader.

The other photo was absolutely classic, though. One of my kids finished his stuff early and asked me what he should do. He didn't want to read and didn't have any homework to get a head start on, so I told him he could sleep if he wanted to. Hey, at least he'd stay quiet that way! He took me up on that one and he could be found lying underneath the back table where the classroom computers are lined up. The picture turned out beautifully. Like I said - Classic.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A short first day

"How was your first day?" Mom asked when she came in the door.
After a pause I answered, "Short."

Compared to the past two years when I barely knew how many students would be in my classes, let alone their names or even if I would have students in my classes, today was a breeze. It's amazing what a switch in positions does to the feeling of a school day.

Now, instead of teaching four or five classes each day, I'm down to three: two back-to-back, lunch and prep time, then my last class. The day just flies by!

My colleagues tell me I'm crazy for having so much ready for my classes already (I'm already almost a full three weeks into planning...most are only ready for this first week) and seemed relieved to find out that my first day as, what my students from last year would say, a "real" teacher went smoothly. I don't know what the big deal is. This job is SOOOO much easier than FOL and all the other random junk that got tossed my way the past two years. AND it's better pay. AND I finally get benefits. I couldn't be happier!!