The Next Page Entry 67: In the deep end…continued…and continued some more

The Next Page Entry 67: In the deep end…continued…and continued some more

Image by Prawny from Pixabay 

Yes, so here I am writing, as I should be, and the kids are writing as they should be and all the world makes sense. We’ll see how long that lasts.

In the meantime, it appears our custodian is not at all pleased that the kids are doing some of the room clean-up that she is supposed to be doing. Silly me, I would’ve thought she’d welcome the opportunity to slide on even more of her room-to-room duties, but I guess it got back to Mrs. Nix that the kids were using the vacuum cleaner I brought from home. 

How do I know Shaina isn’t pleased? She huffed and she puffed and she slid-slammed the trash cans into their corners after emptying them. And while  she spent at least ten more minutes in my room than she usually does, she said not one word to me. She usually tries to pry a little info (i.e. ‘dirt’) out of me, no matter how many times I’ve shown no interest in playing along with her interrogations. This time, not word one.

What can I say? Yes, I’m glad I’m letting the kids join me in the classroom earlier than before, and yes, I realize now (and should have realized beforehand) that there is a price to be paid for sidestepping a few school policies.

The Next Page Entry 66: In the deep end…continued

The Next Page Entry 66: In the deep end…continued

At least I was holding my breath…
Image by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay 

No surprise.

Mrs. Nix was not thrilled with my ‘8:00 entry’ idea.

I find it helps to just expect pushback from her, so when it comes, I’ve already worked through some of the arguments on both sides and my own general uneasiness. (As I wrote that word ‘uneasiness’, I realized that even a month ago, I would have written ‘fears’. To me, that’s progress.)

Anyway, I heard the expected ‘Why should I make an exception for you?’ and ‘Now other teachers will be asked to do the same thing.’ arguments.

I told her that Room 36 IS an exception because of its location. (I’m always tempted to revisit the sorry state of the room back in August, as well, but I rein myself in.)

And then I called up a photo of one of the wet kids from a couple of days ago.

Image by Franck Barske from Pixabay 

And then I pulled out an extra surprise–a note from Sanjay’s parents thanking me for the new policy.

(I kept their reasons to myself…something to tuck away for ‘a rainy day’, so to speak.)

Result: The exception will be granted on an interim basis.

I’ll take it.

***

The Next Page Entry 65: A classroom manifesto…

The Next Page Entry 65: A classroom manifesto…

I ran across this quote and loved it for the classroom.

So I made this poster.

Kind of lofty goals, yes.

But they give us so much to think about, starting with me.

I have assured the kids we can’t live up to all of these all the time, but if they give us a reason to pause and reflect, then those words are doing their job.

Pretty sure I’ll be using parts of this for journal prompts and classroom discussions as well.

***

The Next Page Entry 64: In the deep end…

The Next Page Entry 64: In the deep end…

So, yes, a slight exaggeration…
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Lately, some kids have knocked on my door before school starts

asking if they could retrieve a book, a lunch box, even a retainer [ick!]. And I noticed once they came in, they lingered until the bell sounded to ‘officially’ admit kids into their classrooms.

Yesterday, it was dry when I got to Room 36. 

But by the time the kids were let loose to head to the classroom, it was pouring rain. Kids soaked–not a good way for them [or me] to start the day. 

And I had an idea…take photos of the drenched kids. I didn’t tell them why, but I figured the shots might come in handy.

After journal time, I made the announcement: Room 36 kids can enter the classroom at 8:00 instead of 8:15.

And I laid the ground rules: 

If you want to enter early, just come straight to the room. No need to attract attention.

  1. Once you’re here, school work comes first. 
  2. If school work is completed, there might be classroom ‘chores’ that are completely optional.
  3. Quiet conversation is encouraged.

So yes, I should have probably checked with Mrs. Nix first, but this was one of those ‘easier to ask forgiveness than get permission’ moments. And I kept envisioning those rained-on, drowned-rat kids. 

We’ll see how this plays out…

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

***

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.