The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hot with Gray Hair and a Thong, Oh My!

        As difficult as handling 25 kids can be at times, I have found a way to terrify them...To freeze them into a submissive state...To petrify them in place and scar their psyche...Permanently.

       As we're well aware, language is constantly changing.  It's fluid, like a river, and sometimes we pick up "debris" that gets carried along with the rest of our speech and becomes one with our language.

      My grandparents never had air conditioning, and barely had need for a fan.  After working in their garden, and sitting down on their creaky, metal glider with a huge glass of ice tea (complete with a long-handled spoon, to stir up the sugar), I knew what "hot" meant.  It meant water droplets dripping down my forehead.  It meant smelling the pungent aroma of sweat.  It meant damp armpits and slick legs.

      Last spring, in the middle of a lesson and overwhelmed by a hot flash, I blurted out, "I'm so hot!"

      All of a sudden, I had the attention of my entire class. Their eyes widened.  They glanced at each other, trying to ascertain if they had heard me correctly.  When I saw their facial expressions, I quickly shouted out,

"I don't mean I'm hot like Beyonce, I mean I'm sweaty hot!"

    However, I'm not sure they were convinced.  I think they had this little nugget of belief, thinking that I really perceived myself as "hot."

    Same classroom, different set of victims, different school year.  This fall, I was telling a story about my childhood.  It was summer, the summer I broke my arm when I fell off the high diving board (#1 in my Gawky Hall of Fame).  I mentioned I put on my thongs





        All eye movement ceased.  Their breathing stopped.  Their mouths gaped open.

             I then quickly explained that when I was a kid, flip flops were called thongs.  But it was too late.  The damage was already done.

photo by KalebHermes

        There are now 25 kids who will need to see a psychiatrist when they are older because--in their mind's eye--they saw their teacher in a thong.  And it was not a pretty sight!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Guest Post and a Bunch of Thanks

          Pat Hensley asked me--months ago--to write a guest post about what the National Writing Project is like. Thankfully, she was patient, because I finally got around to it a week or so ago.

         If you are a teacher and need to get re-energized, check out my post at   If you are a teacher and want to get some regular new ideas to utilize technology in unique ways, check out Pat's blog. (And thanks, Pat, for asking me to write about something I love. It's a pleasure to write about things we're passionate about.)

       And now, my chance to thank some of my followers.  From this point on, I'll welcome/thank them when they join up as a follower...

photo by evphotogirl

Dianna and her blog...If you haven't ever read Dianna's writing, you should. She's a freelance journalist and copywriter, as well as a teacher at the university level.

Donna and her blog.  Anyone who has an elderly parent will connect right away with Donna's blog.  Her father is in a nursing home, and her writing about him is quite poignant. (And Donna, I tried your solution, but it made the text white; I have not given up.)

Katie Gates has a book!  Her book (The Somebody Who, available at Amazon or at her etsy site) will resonate with anyone who is living with someone who has alzheimer's.  Katie has the ability to write with passion about things that fire her up, and you're drawn in right along with her.  She also writes with humor about going to Trader Joe's, or about having a crush on Dick Van Dyke, and intertwines the serious with the levity.

Check out life at Willow Manor.  Check out her writing...Her poetry--especially--will amaze you.  (Page down and find her Magpie Tale---look for the photo of the pair of black gloves. You will never look at a pair of gloves and just think of them as merely utilitarian again...)

Linda and her blog does indeed write from her heart. She writes of her kids and grandkids, about writing, and she has many publishing credits under her name.

I don't know too much about reflections, but I appreciate her following me.  I hope she doesn't view me as a cure for her insomnia!

Lou Turner and her publishing house have delivered the best news in the world to me.  She is going to publish my book!  (If you cannot hear the angels' voices sing those words, if you cannot see gorgeous pastel rays of light coming down from the sky as you read those words, reread them.)  If you are interested in broaching a small, independent publisher about your work, contact her.

And finally (for today), I read Underground Teacher's posts as soon as they're posted. In fact, I look forward to them, and miss when she takes an occasional day off from blogging. She is idealistic, overworked, concerned, and overwhelmed...A typical teacher these days.

For everyone who checks in once in a while, for everyone who comments or follows...Thank you, and I hope this new year is off to a great start.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thanks, and a...Test?

         The other night I was part of a very large birthday celebration at a local Mongolian grill restaurant.  I had just fulfilled a bet with my husband for $20 (I ate a plate of with their hottest sauce; I finished it, but did drink a huge glass of water as I ate it.  In the past I've also smoked a cigarette, while my witnesses watched me turn green, and I've eaten a pickle without the help of gravy.  From my perspective, both the cigarette and the pickle are equally deadly and disgusting.)

       Okay, I digress...

       Heidi, one of the young women there, is an interpreter for the deaf.  Seated across the narrow table from me, and knowing I am a teacher, she asked, "Who is your most unfavorite student?"

        I sat there and started mentally going through my class of 25.  Who would that be?  I thought of Teflon-Boy, a student quite talented at making sure no homework ever stuck to him.  Now, however, he was getting a bit more serious about school, he accepted when I stapled his homework to his forehead every afternoon, and he had won me over with his smile...

        How about Miss Moody?  She regularly snarls at her peers, the nasty looks she give me when she thinks I'm not looking, she's a challenge. But when I met her mother, I knew why MM is the way she is.

      I thought of a few more students, trying to form an answer, and finally said, "Well, there is a student in our class who hates being made fun of, and yet he daily says the most cruel things about his peers.  He's super bright, and one-on-one, has an incredible amount of empathy and is quite self-aware.  He's made some improvements so far, but is still very resistant. He's not a student I dislike, but he's my biggest challenge right now..."

      She smiled at me, and then immediately asked, "Who is your favorite student?"

      Whew, another hard one.  I have a bunch of students who work really hard every day in spite of academic struggles, they have their loveable little quirks...Who would I name as my favorite?

       "If you asked me that question last year, I would probably say ___ because this student began the school year reading way below grade level, but she never gave up, and although she had this 'tough' exterior, when she saw that I really cared, we formed a great relationship.  Now she comes and says hi every morning and every afternoon, and we tease each other, and I really admire her perserverance..."

      Heidi smiled.  I guess when I could not come up with a name instantly for each of her questions, I had passed her "test."

     I guess I wonder how you can spend all day--5 days a week--with kids, and look at them in such black and white terms?  Like.  Like.  Like.  Don't like.  Like.  It's impossible.

      Here's a few more thanks to folks who follow my blog. Some of them might have just checked in once, and are now bored, but I'm extending a thank you nonetheless...

photo by little_bulldog_design

Pat Wahler at  She is an animal lover, a writer (and rewrote the "Night Before Christmas" in a way-clever version) and has a dog named Indy and a cat named Bogey.

Lisa Ricard Claro at  Lisa is a gifted writer, can be serious or wry, and even has links for writers.

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares at  OJ is a writer and a traveler.  She can take you to another country via her words, and you can smell the aromas and see the sights and feel the pulsating music.

Clara Gillow Clark at  She writes historical fiction.

Janel Gradowski at  Janel is one of those people that make you envious.  She bakes.  She writes.  She makes jewelery.  (You can even buy her necklace and bracelet patterns!)

Karen Lange at  Karen is not only a writer, she's also an online writing teacher.

and Tammy at  Tammy has lots of publishing credits under her belt, and she is a substitute teacher along with her freelance writing.   Her sense of humor will slay you...

I hope that 2011 is a great one for all of us...Thanks for making comments, for reading my blog, for checking in once in a while...