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 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 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 50: The da Vinci Zone spreads

The Next Page Entry 50: The da Vinci Zone spreads

da vinci word cloud curiosity

Seems we’re getting a little bogged down in class.

The kids all wanted to share their videos and their findings from yesterday.

And they wanted extra notebook/codex time.

I guess it’s a good version of being bogged down, but we didn’t exactly dive into any new lessons. That may come back to haunt me…but then again, not sure I’m overly concerned with any possible misfortune.

And more than a few of them surrounded Mrs. Helm today, wanting their work to be included in the school’s weekly newsletter.

I don’t see that happening, but I will say that our class web page [thanks to Mrs. Helm] is, to use her term, ‘vibrant’ with all kinds of video clips and photos.

Kind of fun.

Haven’t caught up to Mrs. Nix re: her wanting to see me. [Or is it, I haven’t let her catch up with me?]

Time to get home to bake for Mrs. Helm. Staff meeting tomorrow and since she joined me last time, I’d better be well-supplied. Plus, I owe her for keeping up our class web page. I sent my right- and left-hand people [Beth and Sanjay] to find out what our beloved librarian would like for a treat.

Verdict: Oatmeal raisin cookies.

 

The Next Page Entry 49: Supermarket Spree

The Next Page Entry 49: Supermarket Spree

Leonardo da Vinci self sketch saying oh lord, the questions!

So, it’s like this. 

I’ve unleashed a new brand of crazy inside and outside the classroom.

It’s called ‘the da Vinci-zone’. 

I got the kids all amped up on being observant and curious. Oy. It’s so not easy to rein them in. Am figuring it will calm down, but for now…they were in full-swing on the walk to the supermarket and back. I take that back. Inside Food City as well.

The poor manager was engulfed with questions, like:

  • What temperature do you keep the ice cream at? 
  • How old are the spare ribs?
  • Which gum sells the fastest?
  • How early in the day does the smell of your roasted chicken start to travel around the store?
  • What is YOUR favorite smell in the store?
  • Do you move the older apples from the bottom to the top so they don’t get old?
  • My mom says in the old days the cashiers had to punch in numbers for the prices. Was she kidding?

I decided the day before to scale back on their activity sheets, so it was down to:

  • English/Language Arts: Write down the sentence or sentences that make you want to buy a product.
  • Report to your iPad/camera buddy and have them record you telling two things you learned during the visit.
  • Math: Fill in the blanks: I would buy ten [name of product]. It would cost me [_______].
  • Science: Find an item that depends on aging or fermentation.
    Find an item that you think consists of 30% to 70% water.

Let’s just say there were multiple flurries of activity throughout the store.

Of course, nothing compared to the cheer for the free donuts they scored at the end of the visit. [When we got back, they had to calculate the number of calories they consumed, based on Dunkin Donuts estimated per item count of 260 calories. I told them the donut gave them each enough added energy to do the math.]

When we got back, Mr. Taylor told me Mrs. Nix was looking for me. 

Film at 11 on that one…

The Next Page Entry 48: Creating a monster

The Next Page Entry 48: Creating a monster

Between thisred button push this

and this notebook collage

well, I really am doing myself in. I’m feeling, well, like…

bee juggling marbles

But, more and more, I’ve realized… 1. Philosophically, I reeeeallly don’t belong here.   2. I’m still helping kids…despite my utter inability to follow the ‘painstakingly-concocted-but-unrealistic-to-many-learners’-needs’ schedule. 3. I’m not just juggling lessons and activities, I’m juggling emotions and suspicions…and baking chores. [After all, Mr. Taylor and Mrs. Helm do need the occasional dose of

baked goodsAs crazy as things are, I’m almost scared to take the whole class  into a grocery store.

Almost…

***

Bee image by Roland Mey from Pixabay

Baked goods image created from Canva collage tool.

The Next Page Entry 47: A new teacher tool

The Next Page Entry 47: A new teacher tool

red button push this

So, this is different.

Someone told me about a teacher who printed out an image of a big red button and posting the words,

 “Press the button below and get ready to create!” above that image.

He posted it at the entrance to the classroom and kids were expected to press the image every morning and any time they needed a jolt of inspiration.

Loved it.

So I figured, why not go one better?

I ordered a pressable button with my own message.

It even lets me record a message, but while that sounded cool, the thought of hearing it 27 times every morning…and the extreme likelihood that the kids would treat it as a source of teacher annoyance…well, I’ll keep batteries miles away from that thing. Still, though, looking forward to it. [Can’t help wondering if our principal will take the bait on her next visit.]