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?
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’.
—that an administrator might actually feel the need to rely on a ‘non-instructional staff’ to keep tabs on us.
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.
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.
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.
well, I really am doing myself in. I’m feeling, well, like…
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
As crazy as things are, I’m almost scared to take the whole class into a grocery store.
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.
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.]
Last night I ran across a show about Leonardo da Vinci. Learned about things he did I had no clue about. And I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if he came to visit Room 36?”
Pretty sure he’s not immediately available, but what if we could recreate a little bit of his aura…and his genius?
Of course, fitting this idea into our hallowed schedule and curriculum…well.
So this morning, I marched around the room and plopped new notebooks in front of each student. The usual reactions… “We’re already writing enough!” “I’m not done with the one you gave me!” “I don’t like green. Can’t I have one with a blue cover?”.
I explained the codex would follow them around everywhere [well, almost everywhere…thank you, Beth, for the suggestion that the rest room wouldn’t be appropriate.]—the classroom, our activities outside, our offsite trips.
As expected, using that new word set some kids off. After I talked about Leonardo’s notebooks came the question:
“Can’t we just use an iPad?” [Beth…again.]
I reminded her we don’t have one for everybody, but I loved the idea of incorporating them further into what I called, off the top of my head, ‘our classroom codex’. This sent them into all manner of disequilibrium. [one of our ‘words of the week’, thank you very much.]
More later. Time for a latte and cookies in Mr. Taylor’s classroom.
Ms. Page: Happy to take any kids who aren’t on-board with your supermarket spree.
As for your ongoing challenges from Mrs. Nix [challenges which, I might add, you seem very willing to answer a few of your own], well, consider me an interested onlooker.
I will admit I like the safety and security of my status of semi-neo-noncommittalness.
I just wish—purely for professional development purposes, of course…though popcorn wouldn’t be refused— there were video replays of her visits. I’d even consider setting up a little informal pool for cash-backed predictions on the results of each visit. Cash-backed predictions…others might use the unsavory term ‘betting’, but I’m above that, at least semantically.
Anyway, I will grant you this—things around here could use a little jolt, though I’d prefer you not share this with the ‘morning java status quo queens’—say that five times fast—I don’t want to have to hire someone to pre-taste my food in the lunchroom. And if you do tell them, I’ll deny everything, including even knowing that you exist. ;->
Have a good day and thanks for the toffee bar cookies. Majorly good.
You should drop by after school to sample your own cooking. It’s really quite impressive. I might even pull out the ultra-uber-top-secret espresso machine and make us a latte. Ssssh, only Nick the new night custodian and I know about it.
So, I’m guessing you read the Mrs. Nix note I photocopied [such an old technology, right? ;->] and shared with you. It appears I can’t win. I have to say, it looked like the most fun she’s had in her job in years, but still, she chooses to pick at nits. [eeewwww!]
It’s looking more and more like I’m going to either tow the line [or is it ‘toe the line’?…I’ll get back to you on that.] or I’m going to actually enjoy my job, with no in-between.
Could you send over one of your kids to write my lesson plans for me? I’d have a better chance of pleasing ‘the boss’.
Okay, I just realized you may not want to get dragged into this…well, the ball is in your court.
P.S. Thanks for offering to take any of my kids who aren’t going to the grocery store with us.