Monday, December 27, 2010

Random Randomness

This break has been wonderful. I have been catching up on my sleep, catching up with friends, and catching up on my TV. But I can't keep a thought for more than a second. I have the attention span of a gnat. I seriously have been comparing myself to some of the kids in my class who have some challenges with attention. Read a book? Ha! I can barely get through a short article in a magazine.

Yet in between these random thoughts and activities I have been enjoying the season. There was some shopping for Stein's Christmas presents, a trip to Greenfield Village for Holiday Nights, get-togethers at friends' houses, and a lazy, movie-indulgent Christmas Day.

I'm trying to figure out why I have this lack of attention lately. I was talking to a friend of mine who also teaches (Hi, Alissa!) and she is going through the same thing. I think it may be the curse of teaching. You get into a mode where you are constantly thinking about What Next? In a given day in the classroom, I switch gears at least 10 times and try to anticipate what may happen next. Not to mention fielding off the wall questions and requests that make you stop and think, Did you really just ask that question? I haven't been able to sit still. I am always thinking that something else needs to be done.

I think I'll quit while I'm ahead here. You're probably getting a feel for my randomness by just reading this post.

Happy Holidays, Everyone! I hope you're enjoying the season with family and friends.

I am. Randomly.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

About a week ago, a friend of mine from high school recommended on Facebook that people read this blog. It was started by a friend of hers, and I was immediately drawn in when I saw it. The gist of it is that this father draws part of a picture and part of a caption on a post-it note and puts the note in his son's lunchbox. The son then completes the picture and caption and brings it back home. If it makes it back home (in one piece) then the father posts it on the blog. He was interviewed on this blog if you want to read more about it.


I love this idea. I love the collaboration. I love the interaction. I love the fun this dad throws into the middle of his child's day.

There has been a lot of research done on how parental involvement is so important in a child's life. I could list all of the ways in which it is beneficial, but I know you know it's important. What better way, then, to build memories, build tradition, and do it in a fun way on a regular basis? LOVE this.

It reminded me of some correspondence I have had with one of the parents in my class. It is nowhere near the interaction that this father has with his son, but it does have a small element of surprise.

It all started when my student's father signed his daughter's planner and put a smiley face next to his signature. When I saw the smiley, instead of just putting the normal star that showed I checked the planner, I responded back with a smiley of my own. This led to another smiley from the father the next day. I responded again with another smiley of my own.

Eventually the smilies turned into faces with goofy grins, a pumpkin at Halloween, and a turkey at Thanksgiving. Every morning, I look at the signature and small picture and laugh. Then I stand there while my student stares at me, wondering just what I'll respond with.

This past week I've been stumped on occasion. The theme has been Christmas (even though I don't think they celebrate Christmas). He drew a Santa one day and I responded with a Christmas tree. He drew a candy cane the next day and I drew a strand of Christmas lights. Today there was an elf, and I was stumped. His daughter said, "How about a stocking?" "Yes," I thought, "That's it!" It's going to be a problem in a few days when I run out of ideas. Good thing it's almost time for break.

I love the daily connection I have with this parent. I have only seen him a handful of times, but his humor makes me feel like I've known him for a long time. I also love how the daughter feels like she's part of the process of laughing and collaborating with me on the pictures.

Who knows. Maybe by the end of the year we'll have a comic strip going.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Law and Order on the Frozen Tundra

Today during recess I was freezing my be-hind off. It made me contemplate just why in the world I became a teacher. A teacher in Michigan. A teacher in Michigan where it's already in the 20's with a colder windchill.

I further contemplated the whole thing when I had to walk across the frozen tundra that is the soccer field to give my "It's Getting Rough Out Here" speech for the 10th time this school year.

I was ready to turn my keys in when I had to walk back to my spot through the whipping wind and pelting snow. (Okay, maybe I just put that last part in for effect.)

Anyway, about five minutes after my speech, I noticed a kid go down on the field and the rest of the kids gather around him. I gave it the usual few minutes necessary for the half-hurt to get up. After a few minutes of no movement, I made my way back over to the tundra.

Like clockwork, the string of people greeting me before I got to the field occurred just as it does every time. A murder trial couldn't be orchestrated better than this:

The first person always makes his way nearly all of the way back to where I stand on the blacktop. He always gives me the overview of the situation as he sees it, peppering his story with his opinions of who is at fault.

The second person then comes trotting over to hear a bit of the first person's story, and add her own opinion as she viewed the situation from her vantage point.

And finally, the third person doesn't listen to the first two. Rather, he just tells me who is at fault and what the consequences should be.

As I examine the patient lying on the field, I hear bits of each of the three informants' stories. They are trying to get their point across and win the case.

Who needs Law and Order when I have this to experience first hand? On a tundra, no less.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Little Girl in the Big Chair

You know the skit done by Lily Tomlin on Laugh-In where she plays Edith Ann, the little girl in the big chair? I have to admit, I feel like her sometimes.

Mickey and I joke that in certain intimidating situations, we feel like Edith Ann. For example, the stigma associated with principals leads both Mickey and I to straighten up a bit before going to the office. Yes, we realize that now the principal is our boss, but nevertheless, we still feel intimidated.

I never really had this feeling in my previous jobs, aside for my first job straight out of college when I was so fresh to the world of sales and marketing. I absorbed things like a sponge, kept my mouth shut, and just observed the world around me. It wasn't until I was really confident of my knowledge that I even dared to speak up in a meeting. And that was only when someone asked me a question.

I am the rookie on my hallway at school. All of the other teachers have each been teaching over 15 years, and most of them are old enough to have grown children as old as me. Some of them have taken me under their wing, and most of them check in with me the way a grandparent asks about you. As a result, I have thought about myself as the junior in their eyes.

I don't feel like I have to prove myself to them, and I'm not really intimidated by them. Rather, I look to them for their wisdom and experience. Yet when they come to me for advice on students or ways to teach something, I feel like I have landed in the big chair, feet dangling, my voice an octave (or three) higher. I have joked with some of them on occasion about how I have pulled the wool over their eyes. I think to myself, They're looking to the little girl for her expertise? Do they know that I'm just a five-year-old girl with a good act?

I think that as I get my feet wetter in this profession and become more of a "senior" teacher this feeling will eventually fade. But for right now, Edith Ann lives. Right in the big chair.