The Next Page Entry 63: Hand me that mop!

The Next Page Entry 63: Hand me that mop!

custodian's cart
Image by deepcove from Pixabay

It’s been two straight nights Shaina has skipped cleaning my room. It must be easy to forget a whole building, right? I mean, we’re all of 104 paces away, if you go by Sanjay’s after-lunch demonstration last week.

That must be sheer drudgery. 

And it’s probably easy to ‘forget’ to clean a classroom when the teacher doesn’t complain…except inside a journal.

And that same teacher who recently snagged from the custodian’s closet a bottle of the district-approved non-toxic spray to wipe down the desks… and last weekend brought in her own vacuum cleaner for those now inevitable ‘missed assignments’.

Then again, maybe Shaina is more prone to show up when I am around, hoping she can dig up a little dirt.

Am I being paranoid? 

***

Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. I should buck for a promotion to custodial assistant. I might even get a little more respect from Mrs. Nix. 

On second thought, if Shaina found out I was the one who slapped her name on eight unlabeled items in the staff fridge, she’d hardly be on board with me as a ‘team member’, now would she?

The Next Page Entry 62: Overheard in Room 36

The Next Page Entry 62: Overheard in Room 36

a man listening, holding his hand up to his ear

Glad I’ve been keeping a small notebook with me…

Overheard in the classroom yesterday. : 

— “Do you think Ms. Page has a plan for today?”

— “No way! I would never mix sardines with peanut butter!”

— “They should make kids be the crossing guards. My grandpa said he used to be one.”

— “I think I saw Ms. Page talking to Mr. Taylor after school.”
“So? Teachers are always talking to each other.”
“What do you think they talk about?”
“Probably snoopy kids like you.”


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The Next Page Entry 61: One year ago today…

The Next Page Entry 61: One year ago today…

One Year Ago Today…

I was teaching lockstep with the instructional schedule.
I was teaching straight out of the district-approved and embarrassingly overpriced language arts series. The scope-and-sequence was the Bible.
I was bored with the reading selections and so were the kids. 
Our writing assignments were dry as dust and so focused on non-fiction writing and ‘writing to learn’ that nothing felt new or original.
One year ago today I wasn’t bringing brownies and apple cake to staff meetings and I hadn’t forged a friendship with Mrs. Helm.

I think I’m liking this year a whole lot better.
Not sure how much grief might be awaiting me around the corner, but that’s a shruggable item for another day.

The Next Page Entry 60: Weekend Homework? Really?

The Next Page Entry 60: Weekend Homework? Really?

So, I gave the kids homework over the weekend.
Yes, ruthless, aren’t I?
I kept it simple.
“Bring in a piece of cardboard at least two feet wide and two feet long.”
And I gave them two nights to do it. And I encouraged those who had extra cardboard to offer some to others who weren’t able to [or choosing to] track some down. And I suggested to the cardboard-deprived kids to ask their classmates or neighbors or a store for a single sheet.
Two nights!
Ask for help!
Result: 12 out of 27 kids brought some in.
Give me a break!
And yet, I had a feeling this would happen, so I was ready.
I had sauntered down the aisles of Foodko during late-night shelf stocking and asked the folks for the emptied boxes. They were champs.
So, yesterday I had cardboard sheets stacked for those who hadn’t followed through.
But everything has a price, even castoff cardboard…

The Next Page Entry 59: Is she actually a spy? More on Shaina.

The Next Page Entry 59: Is she actually a spy? More on Shaina.

spying through the blinds
Yep, Shaina is kind of like that factory foreman [foreperson] few workers like, but have to obey and, at times, suck up to.

Now that my radar is up, there are hints that she may well be an extension of Mrs. Nix. She lingers for an extra minute after she’s done with the room. Maybe she’s congratulating herself for remembering to actually clean the place. But there is this uneasy silence and I try not to engage.

But this whole thing is just plain weird. And it sends me further into a protective shell. Which I make sure includes lots of peanut M & M’s. And my cell phone.

I’m not sure what’s more troubling—

—that our jobs as teachers could be daily affected by the perception of —euphemism alert!— ‘non-instructional staff’.

OR

—that an administrator might actually feel the need to rely on a ‘non-instructional staff’ to keep tabs on us.

Yeeesh.

The Next Page Entry 58: Suspicions arise

The Next Page Entry 58: Suspicions arise

woman spy in dark glasses

So, this was interesting. On Friday, Mrs. Nix was not available for the weekly behavior awards assembly, so she had the head custodian run the show. 

Now I have nothing against custodians and they are pivotal to a school’s smooth operation, but doing what the principal, or at least a teaching staff member, should be doing? 

I guess the reasoning is the custodian sees pretty much every kid every day, whether it’s in the lunch room or in the yard or hallway…I guess.

There just seems to be something more here. 

I can’t put my finger on it, but there are times when it feels like we are being ‘observed’ by Shaina, as if she’s taking mental notes. And who she might share these mental notes with, well, the same person who assigned her Friday assembly ’emcee’ duties would be my guess.

Some of this suspicion comes from the kinds of questions she ‘casually’ asks us when she’s cleaning the room, questions that beg for opinions about how the school is being run, rather than the simpler, more objective, ‘what did you do today?’ type comments. Or even more preferable, ‘I promise I won’t skip cleaning your room every other day.’

And she seems to be lingering in the staff room more than I recall, and that’s coming from me, who keeps staff room time to a minimum.

Odd…this much I can say. I’m buttoning up around her a bit.

The Next Page Entry 58: Word clouds and class rules–perfect partners

The Next Page Entry 58: Word clouds and class rules–perfect partners

classroom rules for respect word cloud gif

Gotta say, I’d be in dire straits without ol’ Beth and Sanjay looking after me. At least when it comes to technology. These kids know everything, and not just about the inner workings of the equipment.

They showed me a site that makes word clouds.

I love the randomness and freedom these things give the kids, who can still show what they know in their own personal style. And when it’s something new, it’s easier to sneak in an actual lesson, some valuable content, without them realizing I’m actually assessing them. They see it as more of an art-type project. Perfect.

Note to self: Ask teachers if they’re open to giving up their designated bulletin board month. We won’t need to let Mrs. Nix know…

***

And so, why not keep up the momentum on mutual respect [I prefer that topic to ‘bullying’.].

Simple: Make a word cloud of rules or guidelines focused on courtesy and consideration of others.

List your guidelines on paper. [At least five.]

Throughout the day, take turns with the iPad to use that list to create your word cloud from your list.

At the end of the day, we will create a whole-class word cloud so be ready to contribute one of your guidelines.

[This journal is turning out to be a good way to think through activities.]

***

I wonder if I can use these things for math…

Science would be a breeze. And it’s time for another field trip to our park…yes, our park. Hey, why not give the kids a little sense of ownership when it comes to a study site? They like that phrase, ‘study site’. Makes them feel all ‘college-ish’, to use Beth’s word.