Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Usually, this is one of my favorite holidays of the year. This year, though, I'm just not feelin' it. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are now starting Year 3 of this basement-remodel-from-hell. All my "things" are boxed up and somewhere in the garage. I just haven't had the strength or energy to go looking for it. So, none of my usual decorations were put up, AGAIN. The last time I was able to go all-out for Halloween was the year before this remodeling was started. I had a huge party for my son (whose birthday is in 6 short days) and I decorated EVERYTHING. We did kind of a skeleton theme, so I had skeleton lights, skull lights in the lawn, skeletons hanging everywhere you looked, a skeleton-hand goblet for the birthday boy, strings of bone lights, plus every other type of Halloween decoration you can think of. My garage (which is where we had the party) looked like Halloween Heaven! But, now, I haven't even been able to find my decorations, let alone put them up. I bought a few new things this year, so that's all that I put up. I know it's weird, but it's kind of depressing me.

School wasn't as bad as I thought it would be today. I was anticipating pandemonium because of Halloween, and the fact that the Big Cheese thought a Halloween parade would be a good idea. But, the kids were actually pretty well behaved. It probably had a lot to do with my threatening death! Plus, I didn't allow them to eat any candy in school, so that cut out some of the craziness. I made them little treat bags, but they contained no candy. They each got a plastic Halloween cup, a pencil, a couple of rings and a bottle of bubbles. I asked the parents to send non-candy treats, but it must not have gone over well. I only had 3 parents even send treats, and they were all candy. Well, one grandma brought a bag of apples, but it only had about 10 apples in it for my class of 25. We decided to keep those for a snack another day. I think I'll bring my apple cutter tomorrow, and we can share them.

We had our usual Wednesday morning staff meeting, but man, did the Big Cheese dance to avoid talking about the bullshit he pulled this week! I've NEVER seen him stick to his agenda the way he did today! It was clear that he had no intention of using this meeting to let us bitch at him. But, that's OK, because Friday is a teachers institute day, meaning no kids, so we'll have ALL DAY to voice our opinions. Although, I asked Dori this morning (yay, she's back!) if she thought we could find some sort of professional development we could attend instead of coming to school. And, sadly for me, the Big Cheese finally remembered to ask me to do a presentation regarding that meeting I went to for him a couple of weeks ago. Crap! I was able to sit and talk with the union rep from our school today during my prep, and it was nice to really vent about all the crap we've been putting up with lately. She said she was going to put a call into the union and start the process for filing a formal grievance. I'll keep you posted.

On a high note, I was putting together the November calendar for my newsletter, and I was thrilled to see how much time the kids have off this month! They are off Friday, 11/2, for a teachers institute day, then next Thursday, 11/8, for report card pickup day, then Monday, 11/12, for Veterans' Day (and so are we, thank God!) then finally, Thur. & Fri. 11/22 & 23, for Thanksgiving. We don't have one full week in the month of November. But wait, there's more!!

After having a 3-day weekend for Veterans' Day, we come back Tuesday, Wednesday I'm out for a professional development training for math, then Thursday we have a field trip, then Friday I'm out again for a professional development for science. I basically only have to work one day that week. Hallelujah! Lord knows I could use the break!

Speaking of my newsletter, the Big Cheese actually made mention of it in our meeting today. It was almost like he was paying me a compliment. He was suggesting that all the teachers do something like my newsletter in order to improve communication with the parents. Hmmm, what do you know? I might actually know what the hell I'm doing!!!

OK, no more bitching about the BC!! Most of my kids did not have costumes on, but the couple that did looked cute. Of course, I took pictures, and I wish I could share them with you. One of my babies, though, had a major meltdown because he didn't have a costume on today. He ended up under the table sobbing, and refused to come out at first. I finally got him out and found out that he was upset that he didn't have a costume. After talking for a while as a whole group, we decided that we could try and make costumes for the boys and girls that didn't have one. P.M. absolutely adores Thomas the Tank Engine, so I decided I would do my best to draw Thomas on a sheet of construction paper. Then I punched a couple of holes at the top, and used some ribbon to tie it around his neck. I gotta say, it turned out pretty darn cute. Naturally, I had to keep making costumes for every other baby that didn't have a costume. Luckily, they didn't ask for much. Most of them wanted a Superman, or Supergirl, "S" emblem, which was easy. I drew every one's costumes, and they colored them, so some of them were pretty funny looking. I made a couple of ballerina bodies for some of the girls, and one of the boys wanted to be Bob the Builder. I also had one Batman, and a couple of Cat Women.

I, also, dressed up today, much to the delight of my babies. I wore a big witch's hat with long, scraggly gray hair attached to it. I had a black cape, a witch's broom, and witch shoes that were orange & black striped with curly toes. I wore black pants and an orange T-shirt that said "This is my costume." The kids were cracking up all day. I told them I rode my broom to school this morning. Naturally, they believed me :)

As I sit here typing, I'm amazed that I have yet to have one trick-or-treater ring my doorbell. I hope that doesn't mean I'll have kids coming until late tonight. I'm going to stop answering the door at 7:00, though. Yeah, I know, I'll probably have eggs and/or toilet paper all over my house in the morning. Toilet Paper House This is actually the first Halloween ever that I have been home to even answer the door. We usually go trick-or-treating ourselves. I've always taken my son to his grandma's first (his dad's mom) and then up and down her block. Then, we go to my mom's and go up and down a few blocks. That usually took all night because most of the people who live there are the same people who've always lived there, so I used to trick-or-treat at their homes when I was a child. They all ooo and aaah over my son, and they always have "something special" set aside for him. By then, it's usually dinner time, so we would walk back to my mom's for dinner, then home in time for bed.

Well, a couple of years ago, he started wanting to go trick-or-treating with his best friend, so the two of us moms would take the kids around our own neighborhood after I did both grandmas' houses. This year, however, my child decided he didn't want to go out at all, even though his best friend's mom called me to see if we were getting together. We did stop at my mom's, though, so he got a treat from Grandma, and her neighbor. Actually, he got a damn nice treat from Mrs. R. next door. She gave him a huge bag filled with candy and a Halloween card stuffed with $10!!

Wow, I've been rambling, haven't I? I guess if you've read this far, you must love me :) Tomorrow is our Friday with the babies, since they don't have school Friday. I hope it goes by quickly!!! I'm off to dip into my candy bowl!

Carving CostumeWitch Jack O' Lantern Frankenstein's BrideSpider

Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.- - - Shakespeare "Macbeth"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I hate this place, I hate this place, I hate this place....

dorMy Dori was out sick today for the second day. I'm really missing her. She had a total loony bird for a sub (no surprise!) who seemed almost normal in the morning, but then turned out to be crazy like all the rest of the subs we have. The sad thing is, we're just happy when a warm body shows up to sub, so pretty much any nutjob can show up, as long as they have a CPS subcard! As an added bonus, the freakin' office sent a new student to her room today. That makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Lunch wasn't as horrible as it could have been today, considering my helper grandma didn't come early enough to cover lunch. Usually 1st grade has lunch at the same time as us, but they were on a field trip, so there was no backup at the lunch line, which was a nice change. I went in, got the babies settled in their seats, but figured I should stay, since Dori's sub was already told by the lunch ladies that she had to stay! Well, as I was sitting there with the babies, I was looking around the room at the 5 lunchroom employees (who are now doing NOTHING since the kids were already served) one of the janitors, two of the assistants (specifically the ones who bitched about the kids in the first place and caused this change!) Dori's sub and myself. 10 fucking adults!!!!! So, being ever the bitch, I say to the assistants, "Does it REALLY take 10 adults to sit here and watch these babies eat lunch?! This is stupid!" I don't think they appreciated my opinion. Oh well, tough shit!! The other 8 people were all sitting together, bullshitting, while the sub and I were opening milk cartons and ketchup packets. I had to literally tell one of the damn lunch ladies she had to get her ass up from the table where my kids were eating because they needed to sit down!!! She was sitting there eating herself!! What the hell!?! A grown woman can't figure out that gee, there are kids standing here holding trays, the rest of the class is sitting around me, hmmm, maybe I should get the hell out of the way!!! AAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHHH!!! I just want to scream at the top of my lungs when I'm there!

That's precisely WHY there are discipline problems in the lunchroom in the first fucking place. You can't sit there and bullshit with your friends, while eating the kids' food, and expect the children to behave on their own. They're KIDS, for Pete's sake!! Kids will do as much as you let them get away with. It's their nature! There wasn't a peep out of them today, because I actually SUPERVISED them. Wow, what a concept! We all sat together, we talked, they ate, it was actually kind of nice. Do I want to do it everyday? Hell no! But, why the hell can't the other supposed adults in that building figure it out?!

Today was Principal For A Day day at all CPS schools. Can you imagine walking into that cluster fuck as the guest principal?! We had a bunch of people come today from some organization (but for the life of me, I can't remember the name of it!). They each went and visited a few classrooms. The woman who came to my room was very sweet. She actually brought Halloween pencils for my kids, which was an unexpected surprise.

Another stupid thing about this joint...there was a list given to us of which visitors would be going to which rooms. The same woman was scheduled to come to both kindergartens. Well, since Dori wasn't here, I told the woman who was coming to our rooms that she could just come to my room the whole time if she wanted, since really, what was the point of hanging out with the sub? The kids weren't going to be doing anything they would normally be doing, etc. So, Ms. V. came to my room. About 10 minutes later, Mrs. T., our "Reading Interventionist" comes into my room, disrupting the whole class, to tell Ms. V., she has been looking for her, and she should be next door, blah, blah. Ms. V. tells her that because there's a sub in there, she was just going to stay in my room. Mrs. T. tells her, no, she needs to go in there. Whatever!! Then, Ms. V. comes back a little later, gets herself settled in again (did I mention she's about 8 1/2 months pregnant?) and a few minutes later, knock, knock, knock, it's Mrs. T. AGAIN! Not only does she interrupt, she proceeds to go to the back of the room where Ms. V. is sitting and starts up an inappropriately loud conversation!! At this point, my babies were all doing quiet centers because I was trying to finish testing them at my desk, and now I can't even hear the baby who is standing in front of me! Naturally, because the grown-ups were being loud, the babies assumed they could be loud, and the noise level just escalated. You would think Mrs. T. would get a clue when I continued to scold my children for being too loud and I kept reminding them I was trying to TEST! Does anyone else in that place have a damn brain cell in their head?!

I really wish I had written down the funny answers from today, but of course, I didn't. One of the girls, though, had me just cracking up the whole test. You really had to be there to see the faces she was making and such, but she was just so cute. There were a few letters she didn't know, and when I pointed to "K" she says, "um...h-something." I guess you had to be there. It was funny to me!

At least my day started on a high note, because as I walked into the library this morning to get coffee and a donut (thank you, Principals-for-the-Day!) I got a great big hug from my upstairs neighbor. And, Ms. R., one of our brand new teachers (who probably wishes every minute that she hadn't accepted this job!) made me laugh. She asked, "Is this the line for coffee?" Naturally, I started to give a smart-assed remark. "No, this is the line for..." and I caught a glimpse of the Big Cheese, so I didn't finish the sentence. But, Ms. R. leans over and says, "the people who want their 20 minute break!" She read my mind! That's exactly what I was going to say. Too funny.

Well, as much as I'd love to keep bitchin' up a storm, alas, I must go help my son with his science fair project. Trust me, I'll be doing a whole different kind of bitchin' in a minute :(

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. --James Baldwin

So perfect for today's rant, because it's so obvious to those of us who have a clue. The kids are so rowdy and out of control because the adults that are supposed to be in charge of them act that way!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

He's reached a whole new level of asshole...

OK, so I checked my CPS email yesterday, just for the hell of it, and I found the most ridiculous email from the Big Cheese. Apparently he sent it out Friday afternoon, which is pointless since most people don't even check their CPS email during the week, let alone on a weekend! Anyway, the email basically said he was taking our freakin' lunch breaks away!!! I wish I could post the damn memo here so you could read it yourself. I'm going to try to cut and paste it...

October 26, 2007


1. Beginning Monday, 10/29/07, Teachers will be required to remain in the lunchroom with their students during their lunch period. The reason for this change is student behavior in the halls and during lunch. It is the teacher’s responsibility to establish classroom management rules with their class, in the classroom, halls and lunchroom. Teachers have been bringing their classes to the lunchroom disorderly, and then leaving them in the halls disorderly. We do not have the staff to monitor the halls and the lunchroom at the same time. The administration tried to provide teachers with a twenty minute lunch break, in addition to the five preparation periods this year. Unfortunately it is not working out; there is too much noise in the halls and lunchroom. We will either have to take away the fifth prep or the twenty minute lunch break. Teachers will still have to stay with their class during lunch. We will have to work out a schedule to give you the twenty minute daily break, if you choose the twenty minute break.
2. Wednesday morning, at 8:30am, 10/31/07, I need to meet with teachers in grades 1-3 to discuss classroom management strategies. Several teachers in these grades are experiencing classroom management problems. We need to brainstorm and come up with some strategies that can elevate these problems. Please meet prior to coming to this meeting, so you will have some ideas. More suspensions is not an option. We will no longer suspend any students under
fourth grade. Any other staff members are welcome to attend this meeting.
3. Tuesday, 10/30/07, is Principal for A Day. We will have representatives from MGR Foundation as our Principals. Be prepared to meet with them Tuesday morning at 8:30 am, in the Library.

OK, it didn't paste very well, but at least you can see what we got. I didn't edit a thing, so you all can enjoy the grammatical errors. God, this guy is such an asshole!!! I'd love to know how the hell he thinks he can just eliminate our lunch break! I have no freakin' clue how giving up a prep will offset taking a lunch break everyday. One has nothing to do with the other! All that's gonna do is give the prep teachers even MORE time to sit around and do nothing. If he wants us to give up a prep, then the prep teachers damn well better have lunch duty instead. There is absolutely NO planning involved in handing out sheets of blank copy paper, passing out basketballs, or turning on the TV. That describes the entire curriculum of all of our preps. There's absolutely NO reason they should be given any more free periods.

Now, let me start my bitching about the assistants. The reason that there is NO order or discipline in the lunchroom is because the people who are supposed to be supervising the children are busy acting like children themselves! They are under the delusion that this is their lunch/social time. They are far too busy eating the disgusting school lunch and chit-chatting with each other to pay any attention to what the hell the kids are doing! No wonder there's always chaos! WE did not give birth to these children, WE are not solely responsible for their lack of discipline and WE can not be with them non-stop from 9-2:45! If these people think it's hard to deal with these kids for 20 minutes, how the hell do they think it is for us to be with them the rest of the damn day?! Augh!! Get a fucking grip!! Once again, the assistants are allowed to dictate what happens in this hellhole. They don't like actually having to do something with these kids, so BOOM! We lose our lunch break. What the fuck is that!? It took the Big Cheese 7 fucking weeks to finally make a decision about getting rid of the kindergarten sign-out system, but it took him, what, 5 minutes to decide to do what the assistants want?!?!?! Fuck that!

He's even dumber than we think if he doesn't realize he's going to have teachers going to the union about this bullshit. I plan to email my union rep tonight to let him know what the hell is going on around here. I'm so pissed off right now, I can't even think straight!!

I've got to try and stop stewing about this, so let me think about the cute things that happened today. While I was testing the kids today, I got a few more really funny answers. One of my little girls, when asked what shape an oval is, replied "yo-yo." The funniest thing is, she knew, even before it came out of her mouth, that it wasn't right, and she had the cutest little questioning look on her face. She actually giggled after she said "yo-yo." Then, after she finished, she went back to her table, and I overheard her telling her friends that she "called the oval a yo-yo!" Then they all had a good giggle.

I'm still far too pissed off to remember any of the other cute things I wanted to write about today, so I guess I'll just sign off. Besides, I've got to get emailing my union rep!!

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
---George Santayana

I'm pretty sure I've used this quote before, but it's so fitting. Why can't he figure out that what they're doing isn't working!! Maybe we should try something new. You know, like growing a set of balls, and telling people to either do their damn job, or hit the bricks! I can't believe how afraid he is of the damn assistants. He ought to be more afraid that all his teachers are going to walk out! God KNOWS I'm more than ready to myself.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

By the way...

I guess I should have checked first, before the last post, but I just saw that my second proposal posted to Donors Choose. Like I said, this one is a small one, so I hope it gets funded quickly. Please pass the word on to friends and family about Donors Choose.

Is it Saturday already?

Well, it finally happened. I broke my promise to myself to post every single school day. Yesterday was such an incredibly looonnnggg and exhausting day, I just couldn't do it. I barely was able to find my bed and collapse.

It's not so much that school was bad, or at least no worse than usual, but it was just all my other responsibilities. Last night was the "Fall Frolic" at my son's school. That's their version of a Halloween party/dance. It's usually my favorite event of the year, basically because it revolves around my favorite holiday of the year - Halloween. However, when you are in charge of the event, it's not as much fun. My friend and I have always volunteered to work the event, but for the past two years that we've been on the executive board of the Parents' Club, we've been in charge of the event. Without rehashing the entire night, let me just say, I went straight to my son's school from work, busted my butt all afternoon setting up, then worked like a dog all night, and finally, killed myself cleaning up afterward. I left my house at 7:00 am, and walked back in the door at 9:50 pm. LLOOONNNGGG day. I'm too old for that! My back, legs, and feet are just killing me. Anyway, that's why I didn't post yesterday :(

A couple of cute things from this week: The other day, when we were at the boys' bathroom, T.D. was my door holder, and P.M. was just finishing up using the bathroom. I always stand at the door to supervise, obviously, and to give the boys soap. Well, P.M. walked over to the door, but was still trying to fix his belt. For some reason, he was wearing a belt that could be wrapped around him twice, so he was struggling a bit. While he was buckling the belt, T.D. says, very seriously, "Whoa, P.! That's a big ol' belt!" I couldn't even hold in the laugh!

This week I've been giving the babies an assessment that I usually give around report card time. They have to identify letters, numerals, shapes and colors. I always get some pretty funny answers. One of the babies, when asked what shape a triangle was, said, "It a shape!" Of course, you had to see the big goofy grin that came with that answer to appreciate it. A couple told me that a square was called "a box." One said that an oval is a "zero." Those babies just crack me up. One of my darlings told me that a rectangle was a "trapezoid." How's that for a kindergartner? I'm impressed he remembered the word, even if he can't remember what it looks like!

We ended our day with cupcakes for T.R.'s birthday, so it wasn't so bad after all. Next week is a short week for the kids because Friday is a teacher institute day, so I'm already looking forward to only 4 days with the babies. It's going to make the week go by really quickly. The only downside is that report cards are due. Oh, and last little bit of "good" from Friday - my class was one of only two that got all our lunch forms in so we get a free bus for a field trip AND Mrs. J. in the office , God bless her, somehow got my class coupons for Pepe's for a free kids' meal. Yay!

The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the
natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it
afterwards. ---Anatole France

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hello...does anybody else work here?

OK, so I go to pick up my kids at our new lunch ending time, 11:10, and as I'm walking to the lunchroom, I see the art teacher in the hall outside the lunchroom. He was hanging up pictures on a bulletin board. OK, that's nice, the kids' art should be displayed. However, it's now time for my kids to have art, so why the hell are you still down here on the 1st floor, instead of in your room on the 3rd floor? As my kids line up, I say to them, a little louder than I needed to, "Come on guys, hurry and line up. We're late for art." I'm thinking, maybe he'll realize how late it is, and he'll skedaddle upstairs. No such luck.

So, we start trekking up the 3 flights of stairs. Suddenly, I realized that the lovely woman who helps him in the art room was eating lunch in the lunchroom when I picked up my class. So now, I'm really annoyed with Mr. L. for not having his rear end up in his room. Just as we reached the door of the art room, Ms. H. came running to the room, still chewing her lunch, the poor thing! Now, my anger toward Mr. L. is coming to a head.

First of all, Ms. H. isn't even an employee at our school. She used to be a parent volunteer there for years. These volunteers received a small stipend (I think like $5 per hour.) But, now the board has eliminated those positions at our school. Last year, she still came to school every morning, on her own time, to monitor the bus kids. (These are kids from the neighborhood who get picked up at our school to be bussed to their own school.) She is just the sweetest woman. This year, she's been helping Mr. L. in the art room, and I understand that he is paying her out of his own pocket to be his assistant. Good deal for both of them, I suppose. But, at times, he relies on her too much. She shouldn't have to stop eating her lunch to run up 3 flights of stairs, so she can sit with my kids, while he hangs up kids' pictures. I just really bugged me! Especially since he's legally responsible for my babies from 11:10-11:50 on Wednesday and Thursday. Alright, I think I got it all out of my system now. Moving on...

While I was helping the babies hang up their coats today, I noticed someone, or their coat, absolutely reeked of urine. Yuk! Every once in a while, while giving out hugs, it's easy to tell which of my babies are still bed wetters.

At the end of the day, I read one of my absolute favorite Halloween books to the babies. It's called Boo, and it's by one of my favorite children's author, Robert Munsch. He also wrote my all time favorite children's book, Love You Forever. There's some yelling in the book, which naturally I do at the top of my lungs, and the babies were just howling! It was so great to just listen to their belly laughs. It was a wonderful way to end a day in the hellhole.

The joy of learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is in running. Where it is lacking there are no real students, but only poor caricatures of apprentices who, at the end of their apprenticeship, will not even have a trade. ---Simone Weil

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Hey, gang! The weather here in Chicago is absolutely GORGEOUS today! Lots of bright sunshine, along with a cool, fall breeze. I couldn't ask for anything more!
As far as school goes, another less than exciting day. Trust me, I'm not complaining. The Big Cheese brought us a new lunch schedule yesterday, because he's desperately trying to please the folks from the state (too long a story to go into right now!) and today we tried it out for the first time. In theory, it was actually not a bad plan, except for the fact that our lunch ending time was moved back to 11:10, which is the time our prep period starts! He tried to adjust the time to give us an extra five minutes, but Dori and I have decided we better pick out kids up 5 minutes early so we can get to our prep on time. No biggy. I'm just glad we still have 5 preps.

I think I mentioned a while back that we were given two new teaching positions, so our prep and lunch schedules were going to have to be adjusted to make room for those classes to fit into the rotation. Luckily, someone smart handled it, as opposed to the Big Cheese. He told us more than once that we were each going to have to give up a prep, but in the windup, nothing changed for us. Good news, for sure!

One of my friends sent me a cute email with some Halloween fun. You should check it out, especially if you have kids. (when the new window opens, hit "reset" to start.)

Well, I'm off to watch Transformers with my son. (I promised last night, since he had to hang out at school with me until 5pm, thanks to a meeting I had.) Let's hope I can stay awake! Have a great night!

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the
lighting of a fire. ---William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Today was actually another not-so-bad day. We had Junior Achievement visit us today, so I didn't really do much most of the day. Miss Alyssa, our JA teacher, was in charge from 9:00-12:45. It was fabulous. Naturally, I stayed in the room, and handled any discipline problems (luckily there really weren't many) but Miss Alyssa was in charge. Our students were not allowed to leave the room at all during JA time, so our preps had to be held in our rooms. Another bonus! Dori and I were able to go to Subway for lunch today!!! It was so nice to just get out of that building for a while. Plus, Tuesday is my favorite day at Subway - Meatball Marinara Day!

After Miss Alyssa left, we took a bathroom break, and then had rest time. My babies were begging for it! Too funny! It was about an hour late today, and they were feeling it. Basically, all we got done after that was snack time, then a couple of Halloween books, some Halloween songs, and it was time to go. Great day today!!!

This morning, one of my moms told me that she was going to be moving in the next couple of weeks, so I'll be losing another student. There's a very small part of me that's thrilled, because I'll be back down to 24 students (I'll actually have enough seats now!) but a bigger part of me is sad because I love P.C., and I hate to see her go. She's one of my sweetie pies. I had her brother a couple of years ago, but he drove me absolutely nuts!!! Sweet boy, too, but just a constant whirlwind of activity. He was exhausting. He never stopped talking, singing, making noises, wiggling around, falling out of his seat, and so on. And NONE of it was any kind of medical hyperactivity issue. You'd have to know the family to fully understand, but it was all related to Mom and her non-existent discipline. Don't get me wrong, I love Mom, so I'm going to say no more on the subject. The point of the story, I'm sad to see little Miss P.C. leave me.

Mom told me they were moving because of the neighborhood. She said, "They keep finding dead people." I don't know if those of you outside of Chicago have heard about the latest murders this past week of two more CPS students. A 14 year old boy was killed yesterday, and a 10 year old boy last week. The little boy yesterday was (I think) the 8th child killed just this school year alone. We've only been in school for 33 freakin' days!!! And I think I heard the number killed in the past year is now in the 30s. It's so tragic. The boy killed last week was shot just a few blocks from my school. He was trying to walk to the corner store to buy some damn candy, just like any other 10 year old boy, and he got caught in gang cross-fire. The little boy that died yesterday was trying to help a friend. An older boy was trying to steal his friend's bike, and he stood up for him. The older boy came back and shot him three times in the head. What the hell is going on in the world? That incident happened about 3 blocks away from the 8th District Police Station. These little bastards are getting bolder everyday!

OK, I've got to stop, because I went from writing about the great day I had, to being sucked into the sadness and despair that surrounds my job, and I can't go there today. I realize that the true reason I started this blog was to write about precisely this kind of stuff, and I promise to get back to that, but not today, please.

Study as if you were going to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow. ---Marie Mitchell

I hope the two little boys we just lost followed this advice.

Monday, October 22, 2007

OK, that wasn't so bad...

For a Monday, today wasn't so horrible. As a matter of fact, my babies ended up earning some free time, and were able to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" at the end of the day. And by "earning it", I mean that I had work to do and didn't want to stay after school to do it. OK, that's not entirely true. The babies actually were pretty good today. It helped that I had one student transfer out today, and 4 others were absent, so I didn't have a full house. What a difference only 5 students can make! My day was so much less stressful than usual. We were able to get all of our work finished, so they legitimately earned the Halloween movie.

My good friend, D.J. was my only snafu for the day, and even that wasn't bad. I had to keep him back from gym because his hands just couldn't keep themselves off of other people. I put him to work helping me make the homework packets. He's actually a very good helper, when he isn't making me want to smack the crap out of him!!

Tomorrow is going to be a long day because we have a meeting after school for the new after school program. It's going to be a lloonngg day. The meeting is from 3-5. But, then I'm supposed to meet a friend for dinner, so the day will end on a high note.

Kind of a funny story about today - over the weekend, it was unseasonably warm here in Chicago. I think it hit 80 yesterday. But, right now, as I type, it's about 45. Needless to say, quite a discrepancy from yesterday. However, since I'm always hot, I dress to be comfortable. At the end of the day, I was talking to Mrs. J. and I suddenly started laughing because I realized that she was wearing boots, plaid wool pants, and a turtleneck sweater, and she was complaining about being cold, while I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, capri pants and flip-flops!

My classroom is directly over the boiler, and it's always way too hot in my room. I keep the windows open all year. There have been mornings when I've come in and the thermometer in my room (which I bought exactly for this reason) has read 110. No, I'm NOT kidding, I'm completely serious. I think I finally found I way to stay cool - my flip-flops!! I can totally regulate my body temperature through my feet. Sounds goofy, I know, but it's true. If I'm cold, all I have to do is slip on socks. If I'm too hot, I go barefoot, or at least sockless. I'm going to just have to keep flip-flops at school to change into, and I think this will be the first year I'll actually be comfortable all year.

Jeez, how did I get on this goofy tangent? Over the weekend, I submitted another proposal to Donors Choose, so I'll let you all know when it posts. This is a really small one, only $150, so I hope it gets funded pretty quickly. OK, I'm off to soak in my nice, hot bubblebath. My son is with his dad, and I have the night to myself. I plan to watch Dancing with the Stars from my tub. Ah, that's the life!

Remember that our nation's first great leaders were also our first great scholars. ---John F. Kennedy

Friday, October 19, 2007

Finally....a good day!

Like I said yesterday, I went to work late today. I got there at 9:20 (10 minutes earlier than I planned to) and was ready to leave by 9:30 for the Palmer House. Dori and I actually left about 9:45, and started out trek into the city. We decided to take State Street straight up from our school on the south side. Things were going along swimmingly, until we hit 16th & State. After that, we crawled along at no more than 7 miles per hour, for the next 20 minutes. When we finally hit Monroe (which was only 13 streets!), it took us another 15 minutes to find the parking garage where we were able to park for free. We then walked the 4 blocks back to the hotel. Oh, side note -- Dori's car died in the parking garage! She was not happy! More in a minute...

We walked into the Palmer House, navigated our way through the maze that was set up through the hotel, and found our way to where our meeting was being held. As soon as we hit the last step, we could tell we had found the CPS event!! By now, my regular reader know that my favorite phrase regarding CPS is cluster fuck. It's the ONLY word that fits!! There had to be 2,000 teacher swarming all over the place. We were told there would be a reception starting at 10:15. In CPS lingo, that means coffee, juice and sweet rolls. Well, every table was covered in crumbs, with no food to be found. On one end of the hall, there was a table set up for us to check in, and there were hundreds of people fighting their way toward the table. For reasons only known by CPS, we had to swipe in when we got there, and the THREE swipe machines were located on this table. How the hell do you have THREE swipe machines for 2,000 teachers?! Cluster fuck!! There were no lines, no order, no organization, just people pushing and shoving, stepping on each other. When we swiped in, we were given a packet of junk. (Quite frankly, I still haven't even opened it to see what was in it)

Dori and I made our way down another hallway, where there was actually a table that still had a few sweet rolls. We managed to grab one each, as well as a mini bottle of Diet Coke and a plastic cup of ice. Dori went to try and call her boyfriend again to tell him about her car, and I camped out in the hall to wait for her to come back. I found a great spot against the wall, where I could watch the utter chaos around me. All I could do was shake my head. Not in amazement, because it was exactly what I expected for a CPS event, but just because the whole thing was ludicrous. All the money that was put into this cluster fuck could have been spent in so many other, useful ways. They didn't have to pay for all of us to park, they didn't have to supply food, they didn't have to print up all the papers that were shoved into the envelopes we were all handed, they didn't have to rent out the Palmer House. What they should be doing is making sure we have books in our classrooms, that we have copy paper, hell, toilet paper!! What a waste of money! Oh, but wait, there's more!

First, let me tell you how all this bitching equates with a good day. After Dori came back from calling her boyfriend, we fought our way into the room where the event was being held, only to see that the 2,000 seats were already filled, and there was no place to sit. We did the obligatory walk down the aisle, looking for empty seats, then made our way back to the back of the room, and right out the door! We then proceeded right out of the hotel, and went next door to the Corner Bakery, where we ordered lunch. We enjoyed our leisurely lunch, chatting, laughing and just relaxing. It was wonderful!

Before we left, we went back to the check-in table to find out how to get our parking validated. We were told that we had to wait until the event ended at 1:00, when they would have a table set up by the elevators to validate tickets. Crap! We had to come back. Oh, well. That meant we had an hour and a half to sit and chat. While we were eating, we decided to go back about 12:30, just in case they set up early.

Sure enough, when we were walking back into the hotel, we noticed a few people from the meeting leaving. Good sign! As we reached the top of the stairs, some girl in a green CPS T-shirt handed us a "goodie bag." There were people scattered all over in these green shirts, handing out these bags. We could have taken one from each person, since they weren't at all paying attention to who they were handing them to. We make our way over to the elevators, get our free parking ticket, and head back out. And, it's only 12:40!!

Oh, wait, there was a bonus! The Palmer House is playing host to a hotel full of boxers who are here in Chicago for the International Boxing Conference (I think that's what it's called) this weekend. If I would have known about all the Eye Candy, maybe I wouldn't have left the hotel ;-)

We walked the four blocks back to the parking garage, and dealt with Dori's car. I'm proud to say that the two of us handled jumping Dori's car with mine. OK, Dori actually did it, but I had the jumper cables! Still, two women, NO men. Yay for us!! We sat and talked a little more in the garage while we let Dori's car charge up, and by 1:15 we were on our way home. The drive home wasn't even as bad as I thought it would, mostly because I took side streets and avoided the highway, which is chronically under construction (God, I LOVE Chicago!) I put my car in park, in my driveway, at 2:01. I can't tell you what a wonderful feeling that was.

Oo, I forgot to tell you about the "goodie bag!" Brace yourself the bag was....a fucking green CPS T-shirt!!!! I can't even believe it! Imagine the money spent for thousands of T-shirts, custom printed with the CPS logo!!!!! And who the HELL is going to wear this ugly shirt?! I would have preferred a couple of reams of paper that I could use in my classroom for copies! OK, stay positive...

Another friend of mine, who also works with me, was also at the meeting, but she actually stayed. She's such a good girl!! And, on top of that, she held two seats for Dori and me, but we never saw her. Anyway, I called her on my way home to see if she had left yet, and how her day went. She told me that she actually filled out the evaluation form given out after the meeting, and she cracked me up with what she wrote. In a nutshell, she said the event was disorganized, and that it was a waste of time and money. She commented on how it's the seventh week of school, and she still doesn't have textbooks for her students, yet they wasted all this money. Then she said something about how the money could have been better spent on toilet paper for our students and she ended with something like, "I'm sure Arne has some when he needs it!" [Arne Duncan is the CEO of Chicago Public Schools. In my humble opinion - complete moron!! But, I digress...] Good for her! Too bad the comments will probably never be read. I'm sure they throw all those evaluations straight in the circular file!

OK, so let's work, got to see our GORGEOUS city, free apple danish and Diet Coke, wonderful lunch with my Dori, yummy 'eye candy', and home early. What's to complain about? (yeah, yeah, I know I already complained, but now it's out of my system.) Overall, great day! Have a wonderful weekend!

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. ---Winston Churchill

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hallelujah, no kids tomorrow!

I've decided to only focus on the positive today, so here goes. As we were walking out at the end of the day, I was told that another of my students was transferring out, and today would be her last day. Gee, I'd love to say I'm broken up about it, but NOT! There was an incident the other day, that I didn't even write about because I was so aggravated, that involved this child. Well, not the child, but her crazy, ghetto-ass mother. I'm just thrilled to not have to deal with her anymore. I do feel bad for the little girl, though. This will be the third new school for her this year alone!! That's nuts! We've only been in school for 31 days. Poor thing. I hope it's a smooth transition for her. (Cute little story about this little girl - she told me that at her old school, when they got drinks, their teacher told them to say to themselves, "1, 2, 3, that's enough for me." We've been using since she told us about it.)

Snack time was tons-o-fun again today. We had these really yummy cookies from Keebler called Bug Bites. They are AWESOME! Just the right touch of cinnamon in a crunchy, delicious graham cracker bite. Plus, they are totally adorable. We had so much fun talking about what kind of bug each cookie was, and my babies learned the names of some bugs they didn't all know yet (i.e. dragonfly) We have a bug unit coming up very soon for science, so I'm hoping the lunch lady gets some more of these so I can set them aside to use during this unit. Even if she doesn't, they are so perfect, I'll just go buy some at the store. I was even thinking about bringing some tinted icing to school so the babies can use paintbrushes and "paint" the bugs the right colors. Then we can wear our spider hats (that we'll also be making during this unit, which conveniently happens during the Halloween season!) and devour all the pretty little bugs! OK, I'm getting far too excited.

Jeez, it's good to feel this way again. THIS is why I love teaching!!

Another positive - no kids tomorrow. It's a teachers institute day. Not only are there no kids, I don't really even have to be at school. Dori and I are going to the Palmer House downtown for professional development with our illustrious leader, Arne Duncan. (No negative today, so moving on!!) We only have to be at school for about an hour and a half, then we get to leave, stop somewhere for lunch, and go to the PD from 11:00-1:00. The Big Cheese actually informed us during our staff meeting yesterday that those of us who will be going to the Palmer House don't have to come back to school after the meeting, since it's so far, and we'll have to drive in Friday afternoon traffic. So basically, I'll be finished by 1:00. I'll let you in on a little secret...I don't plan to get to work until about 9:30 tomorrow. We're supposed to start at 8:30, but we can punch in up to an hour late (or leave up to an hour early) without losing any pay. So, tomorrow is the perfect day to take advantage of that little loophole in our contract. And, I won't feel the LEAST bit guilty about only working 3 1/2 hours tomorrow, since I'm usually at school before 8 most days. Plus, I've really just had a totally shitty week!!!

This is exactly the way it should end. The cherry on top is I plan to take my son to see Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is being rereleased tomorrow in 3D. I think we'll go to the Navy Pier IMAX. Believe it or not, I've never seen it. I don't think my son has either, unless he's seen it with his father.

I finished my day in the perfect way today - with a hug from my Dori!! It was great, and just what I needed. Love you, Girl!! Can't wait to play hooky with you tomorrow. :) Where should we go for lunch?

These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future. ---Vernon Cooper

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"You look like a monkey!"

Today was not really any better than the rest of the week so far, but I tried to not let things bother me as much. One good thing, though, is that one of my students transfered out. He actually transfered out yesterday, but I was too pissy to mention it yesterday. Now I only have two students that don't have real seats.

Maybe a few more will leave soon, and we'll be fine. I've had a few parents complain about the new "no signing out" procedure, because they don't like that the kids will be outside afterschool. Apparently, it's never occured to them to actually freakin' be there ON TIME to pick up their damn kids!! It's bothering them that the free babysitter (ME!) is no longer on duty. So, maybe those parents will transfer their kids out and put them in a school that will babysit for them. Hell, maybe they can find a school that will raise them, too!

I do have a cute story though, and it was one of the things that got me through the day. Today for snack time, the kids got bananas. They were very excited because they LOVE bananas. I never got a chance to have lunch today (surprise, surprise) so I sat down with the kids and had a banana, too. The baby I was sitting next to says, through a giggle, "Mrs. L., you look like a monkey!" Then J.H., who was sitting next to him says, "I look like a gorilla!" and all the boys fell into fits of laughter. It was exactly what I needed to remind me why I drag my stressed-out self to that hellhole every day!

I try to keep this quote in mind when I'm dealing with my babies. It's one of my favorites:
Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. ---Goethe

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I've officially decided to quit my job

That's how I'm feeling at this moment. I just want to quit. I came about a breath away from walking out the door today, during the school day!! I just can't handle working in such a cluster fuck anymore. It's not good for my mental health, or my health in general. The stress is taking it's toll. I've been on a binge of stress eating for weeks now. I have a daily headache (which usually starts the minute I pull into the parking lot), and I have just been on the verge of screaming and/or crying every single day. I don't like this constant feeling of anger and rage that's just been consuming me lately. Plus, it's not the babies' faults, but that's who's suffering. Not to mention my OWN baby. I can't help feeling like I'm screwing up my own child because he has to live with a crazy bitch for a mother. I know I take all my anger and frustration out on him when I get home, and it's just not fair. It makes me even angrier at myself because I'm fully conscience of what I'm doing, but the anger, rage and frustration have completely enveloped me, and I just can't control myself sometimes. I want to scream at the Big Cheese, but instead I scream at my son. It's just not right. I hope he still can see past the 'crazy' and remember that I love him more than life itself.

Today was picture day, and I wish I had some cute stories, but I don't. Only more frustration. My kids were all told to be sure they were in uniform, since after all, it's a school picture, and our school has uniforms. As I was getting out of my car, at 8-fucking-o'clock, one of my parents came walking up to my car (she lives across the street) to tell me, "I don't know what I'm going to do with that C. She keeps telling me she has to wear her uniform today, and I keep telling her she doesn't..." I just cut her off with, "She DOES have to wear her uniform! It's a SCHOOL picture!" I was not friendly, but I couldn't even feel bad about it. What the hell?!

Every year I have to tell parents that if they want to take "cutesy" pictures with their FUBUwear, ROCAwear, or whatever other inappropriate things they want to dress their kids in, they can go to WalMart and take pictures on their own. For a lot less, I might add. Thank God I keep a bag full of uniform shirts in my room, because I had to put them on 5 of my kids, so that our class picture would look nice. We take the old-fashioned kind of picture, where the whole class stands together on the stage, as opposed to one of those class pictures that's a composite of all the kids individual photos. So, you see their whole body, and what they're wearing. It just looks so much nicer when they all have their uniforms on, and they all look the same. I guess it's just my personal preference, and as I tell my kids, I'm the queen, and what I say, goes!!

There's so much more I was going to vent about, but I'm going to stop there, because you really don't need to read anymore. Plus, I really just want to not think about it anymore tonight. What I'd like to do is fill up my tub, and take a good, long soak. And, probably a good cry.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. ---Douglas Adams

Monday, October 15, 2007

Looonnnggg Day :(

I'm so exhausted, I don't even have the strength to complain, or tell you why I had such a horrific day. Maybe tomorrow...

Woo Hoo!!

My proposal finally posted on Donors Choose!!! Yay! Please check it out, and check out the site, if you haven't already. Please, remember to spread the word! :)

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm so glad that's over...

It's been a hell of a week. Not much to say today, other than it was a nice, short day. I was able to leave when the babies went to lunch. Unfortunately, I had to leave school, race home to get something my son forgot for school, race back to his school, then head over to the school where the training was going on. I was only 30 minutes late, despite leaving school 30 minutes earlier than I was supposed to. The training was just as boring as I thought it would be. On the upside, we finished early, so I didn't have to be there until 2:45. We were finished before 2:00, so I decided, since I was so far north already, that I would visit one of my friend's. She's the principal at a school near Humbolt Park (which I know means nothing to those of you who don't live in Chicago) I figured I was already pretty far north, so why not? I have to attend a "Reading First Academy" all of next week, and it's going to be held at her school, so I killed two birds with one stone. I got to visit my friend, and see where the school is, so I can find it next week.

Since I spent almost no time with the babies, I have no stories today. I also didn't see the Big Cheese, since he wasn't at school today, so I have nothing to gripe about! Have a great weekend!

Quote time:

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry. ---Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Only half a day to go...

For those of you keeping track, after having 8 inches of my hair lopped off at my last hair appointment, I had another 3-4 inches chopped off last night. Yikes!! I can't remember the last time my hair was THIS short. At 1:00am, when I got home, I was thrilled. Five hours later, when I got up for work, I was almost in tears. I've been going back and forth about every 30 minutes today.

It started out like this 6 weeks ago (not so much the color, but the length and curl)

Then, last appointment, I left with it looking more like this (again, not the color)

Then, last night when I left, it looked like this, and this IS my color (try to look past the goofy face of this model!) This actually is almost exactly what my hair looks like now, although mine is even a little shorter.

I'm thinking next time, I just may do this (a la Halle Berry)

But, then again, I'd love for it to look like this

See my dilemma? I'm schizo when it comes to my locks!

Holy cow! Can you tell it was a slow school day today? Not that that's a bad thing. The babies were very funny about my hair. They all said something about it, and the general consensus is they like it. Even funnier thing, though. I wore a top today that I've had FOREVER. It's hopelessly out of style, but since I have no sense of style, no biggy. If it's clean, comfortable and keeps me from being naked, I'm wearing it! Almost every single one of the babies gave me a "Mrs. L., I like that shirt." So weird!! When my sister even sees it in my closet, she goes nuts!

I started telling a few parents today about getting rid of the sign out system, and so far, it was met with a good reaction. I made sure to emphasize the fact that this means they can now pick up all their kids at one time on the playground, instead of having to come in for the baby, and out for the older ones. I also made sure to mention that they need to be ON TIME, because the kids will be outside alone. Not really, though, cuz I have a feeling I'm going to be standing outside until they all get picked up! God, I'm a softie!!

Speaking of my being a softie, here's a typical story for our school. As we were coming down from Art today, there was a "big boy" banging on the door to one of the classrooms. Banging and kicking, actually. Apparently, someone came to the door, but didn't open it, because the boy proceeds to yell, "Open the fuckin' door, ho!" Just what my babies needed to hear, huh? So, I immediately say to him, "Excuse me?!" to which he replies (with a face, no less!) "Excuse ME!"

Oh, I was seeing red! I walked right up to his face, and said something to the effect that I don't care if he wants to act like a punk when he's out on the corner with his friends, but now he's in school, and he'd better remember where he is and who he is, and my babies don't need to hear that kind of language. Now, the whole time, he's sucking his teeth and rolling his eye, and acting like I'm not even talking to him! I wanted to punch him in the face! (I should probably mention that being an 8th grader, this kid was at least 6 inches taller than me, and looks like a grown man.)

Someone finally opened the door, and he says "Come on, nigga, we gotta go to library." I said to him, "Go to library, your friends will find their way." He completely ignores me and keeps talking to his friends. I got right in his face, and told him to "Go! Now!" I was seething!

I just couldn't let it go, so a little while later, I sent for the assistant principal, who is also our disciplinarian. I explained what happened, and he said he would handle it. He came back about 10 minutes later with the kid, and the boy looked like he was going to pee on himself. Now, our assistant is a rather large black man, and has an awesome way of intimidating the kids. I can only imagine what he said to the boy. The boy proceeds to apologize to my babies for being disrespectful and using foul language, etc. Then he apologized to me for being so disrespectful. I gave him a little more lecturing about how he's in 8th grade and he's supposed to be setting the example for kindergarten, blah, blah, blah. He apologized again, and said it wouldn't happen again. He seemed genuinely remorseful, and I went soft.

Up until that point, I wanted him suspended, which is the reason I went to Mr. H. in the first place. Mr. H. says, "So what do you think, Mrs. L., 3 days?" meaning a 3 day suspension. Of course, I couldn't do it. Softie!!! If we had an in-school suspension program, I would have said yes to that, but we don't. I told him that his sincere apology was enough, as long as it didn't happen again. Mr. H. told him he should be thanking me, because he wanted to suspend him for 3 days. The relief showed on the boy face, that's for sure. He thanked me, and they left. As soon as they walked out, I realized I should have said he could serve a day of in-school suspension in my room tomorrow, and I would have had him scrubbing chairs and tables, and whatever other crappy chores I could find. Oh, well, I hope he appreciates the break I gave him, and that he doesn't slash my tires tomorrow!!

I'm glad I get to end my week with an easy day. I already told my babies that I would be gone when they come back from gym, and gave them the whole lecture about they had BETTER be good for Mr. S. I hope they are. But, if they're not, I won't be there, so who cares! That's not nice, I know, but it's the truth. Especially on a Friday afternoon!

Ok, time to feed MY baby. It's beef stew tonight. YUM! The perfect thing for a fall night in Chicago, when it's in the glorious 40s. Hurray! It's been bubbling away for almost 2 hours now, and the house smells heavenly.

Quote time:

It takes a village to raise a child. ---African Proverb

This quote came to mind today, because I realized that this boy I had to deal with today obviously needs more guidance than he's getting to get on, and stay on, the right path. I'm happy, and honored, to serve as one of his guides.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Weary Wednesday....

I'm feeling tired today, and my day isn't over yet. I still have to get dinner on the table, and get to my late-night hair appointment. I am excited, though, about the beautiful weather today here in Chicago. It's probably in the 50's right now, which makes me ecstatically happy!!! My oven is on, I'm getting ready to bake brownies to take to my friend's salon. This surely beat the damn 90s we had this weekend, which had people dropping like flies during the Chicago Marathon.

School was long today. We had a meeting after school from 3:00-5:00, but it wasn't all bad. I got tons of "presents" from our LLT for my classroom. The Big Cheese stopped in, just in time to be bombarded by us. OK, by us I mean me. Good news, though. As of Monday, no more sign-out system for the kindergartners!!!! Yay!! We are going to have to change some other things, though, like shortening our lunch back down to 20 minutes, but I'm not really bothered by it. I'm so excited about getting rid of signing out, I'm probably going to cut the Big Cheese more slack than usual for at least a week! Bonus - I'm going to a meeting Friday afternoon for him, so I'll be leaving as soon as my kids go to lunch.

It'll be nice to end my work week early. Too bad it's to go sit in a boring meeting. I'm hoping I'm wrong, and it's not boring at all. It's a professional development meeting about our new system-wide email system. The only icky part is that now I'm going to be expected to bring the information back, and present my own professional development to the rest of the staff. However, I may still be able to get out of it. We have a teacher institute day next Friday, which is when the Big Cheese would probably want that presented. Luckily, Dori and I will be out at a kindergarten professional development meeting. Oh well! There are two other people that have signed up to attend this training, so the two of them can still present it to the staff.

My babies were actually pretty wonderful today. They were working so intently and so quietly during our morning reading centers, that we nearly missed lunch! I looked up, and saw we were already almost 5 minutes late. I actually hated to stop them, since they were so into what they were doing. They managed to pick up where they left off after rest time, though, and I'm so proud of them.

Look at that! All in all, a pretty great day! Here's the quote for today, and have a great night!

I was determined to know beans. ---Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Is it Friday yet?

Whenever we have a three-day weekend, it makes the rest of the week seem so much longer. I know that sounds weird, but it's true. Today was such a long, crappy day. And, it wasn't just me. Everyone around me was having a bad day.

Mrs. M. across the hall missed her prep today because she thought it was Monday. Keep in mind, however, that her prep was Library, and the library is literally next to her room. One would think the librarian would have stuck her head in to say, "Hey, you're missing your prep." But, no, that's not how things are done at our school. Instead, the librarian just took an extra free period for herself. Can you even believe that? Talk about looking out for each other.

Today, at snack time, I watched the two assistants, who are supposed to watch our kids, walk right out of the cafeteria as we were coming down the hall. Hello!! Who's supposed to watch the kids?! Well, I sent them right in anyway. The lunch lady came out to tell me how to pass out the snack, and I just looked at her like she had three heads. I asked her why she was telling me, since it's not my job to do snack, and she said nobody was in there with them. Duh! So, I played dumb and went to the office, and I told them to page the two assistants. When I went back 10 minutes later to pick up the kids, I found out nobody ever came, and the kids were left alone to have a free-for-all. I'm so completely irritated! At the end of the day, I found out that the assistants are supposed to start pulling kids out of classrooms to work with them, and for some reason, they're doing it at 1:30 now. At least that's what they're supposed to do. I didn't realize there were children outside that needed help, cuz that's where the two of them were headed!

Wait, it gets better! When I questioned our Lead Literacy Teacher (LLT), who is supposed to be in charge of the assistants, about what was going on, she's the one that told me they were going to start pulling kids at 1:30. I told her that won't work since that's our snack time, and she said the Big Cheese decided that if we wanted snack time, we were going to have to sit with our kids!! He's such a complete asshole!! Gee, do you think he could have run that past US first?! No mention of it to us, just don't have any adults there with the kids today. No wonder our school is such a cluster fuck!!

We're having a meeting tomorrow afternoon, and all this crap is going to be addressed. Dori and I were talking after school about all this crap, and we were saying that if he wants us to stay during snack time, then he absolutely has to get rid of the sign-out policy for kindergarten. Dori and I haven't really made a big deal about staying after school, since we got that couple of extra minutes without the kids at snack time. But, he can't have it both ways. Luckily, our LLT completely disagrees with the stupid signing out thing, and keeps saying she's going to tell him we have to get rid of it. Unfortunately, she also disagrees with snack time. She can't seem to understand that our babies eat lunch at 10:30 in the morning. They simply can not go until 3:00 (when they get home) without eating something. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how the meeting goes tomorrow.

Dori and I were supposed to go to a "cocktail reception" tonight at the Museum of Science and Industry. Sadly, we both had such crappy days, we decided to just skip it. The museum was kicking off their new "Star Wars" exhibit. I wish I could have taken my son, because he would have really enjoyed it. Too bad for him, the reception was only for educators. The invitation specifically said, "no spouses or children." So instead of the reception, Dori, my son and I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Los Comales, for Mexican food. Yum. I haven't had horchata in ages. It really hit the spot, and was exactly the thing I needed after such a shit day.

I hope the rest of the week goes by quickly. Tomorrow, like I said, we're having a meeting (from 3:00-5:00! ugh!) and then I have a hair appointment. You may remember, after my last appointment, that I mentioned those are always LATE nights. I'm already getting sleepy just thinking about it. That's going to make Thursday a long day :( Hopefully, Friday will go smoothly. I may go to a meeting Friday afternoon for the Big Cheese. I'm not going so much for him, but more just to get the hell out of school for a couple of hours.

If any of you have been trying to find my proposal on Donors Choose, I don't think it's posted yet. I'm so stupid. I didn't realize it was going to take so long to get it posted. PLEASE keep checking back. I'm going to leave you with the quote for today:

Many public-school children seem to know only two
dates--1492 and 4th of July; and as a rule they don't know what happened on either occasion. ---Mark Twain

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I need your help

Hey, guys, I need your help. There is a wonderful organization called Donors Choose out there whose sole purpose is to help teachers get the things they need to teach! Please click on the link and check out their website. I also put the link on the list to the right (Check Out...) In a nutshell, teachers post proposals on the site, and the public can pick and choose which proposals they want to help fund. You can give as much or as little as you'd like. (You do not have to fund the entire project.) Once a teacher's proposal is funded, Donors Choose sends the requested materials. Easy as pie!

After years of saying I was going to do it, I finally posted a proposal on Donors Choose! Yay me! It took me long enough. My son's not going to be able to go to Harvard now because I've spent his entire college tuition on my classroom over the years. Twice!!

Anyway, the name of my proposal is "Snug as a Bug in a Rug." I'm pretty sure you can put the name in the search engine and it will take you straight there. [ok, crap. I suppose I should have checked this out before, but apparently there are several proposals with that name. Damn. I tried to edit the name, but I can't. The first sentence of mine mentions that my school is on the southside of Chicago, so try to look for it. Sorry! Also, I just realized that it takes a few days before the proposals go through the proper channels, and get approved and posted, so maybe wait a few days before you look for mine :( ] As much as I would appreciate you funding the proposal, what would be really great is if you could spread the word about Donors Choose to everyone you know. Tell your friends and family. Teach your own children about the joy of giving by funding someones proposal. Maybe your company would like to be a corporate sponsor for someones proposal. Every little bit helps. Like I said, you do not have to fund an entire proposal, just give what you can comfortably afford.

If you'd like to get your feet wet by starting with my proposal, I'm not going to argue ;-) I started very small, only requesting a carpet. Now that I've got the ball rolling, I'm going to work on larger proposals that will really benefit my kids. Be sure to spread the word :)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I almost forgot...

I can't believe I forgot to mention this little tidbit yesterday! As we were coming down the stairs from gym, I heard someone call my name in the hall. That's when I turned around to see Neil. I ran to him, overcome with excitement, and gave him a big bear hug in the middle of the hall. But, I could only talk for a second, because I had to get the babies to the room, and get rest time started. Keep in mind that Neil and his girlfriend are very young, in their 20's still, I would imagine. I am FAR from being in my twenties. As we were walking into the classroom, one of my little darlings says, "Was that your mom and dad?" I would have kissed her if I wasn't laughing so hard!! Biologically, I probably could have given birth to the both of them! God, I love my babies!!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Helllooo 3-Day Weekend!!

Yay, it's finally here! Our first 3-day weekend! Thank you, Christopher Columbus! I can't even tell you how happy I am to have this long weekend. I'll be spending Columbus Day the same way I have for the past 12 years - at Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm. For those of you who live here in Chicago, you should check out their website. My sister and I have been taking our kids there every year on Columbus Day since they were babies. Every year, we expect for them to say they don't want to go, but they haven't as of yet. This year, my Dori will be meeting us there, with a friend of hers. It should be fun. The only problem (and it's a BIG one for me!) is that it's supposed to be frickin' 90 degrees here in Chicago this weekend!! I'm not going to be able to enjoy myself at the farm if I'm sweating like a pig!

I've always taken my class to the farm for my October field trip, but we aren't going to be able to do it this year because of cost. The bus alone is $250! But, we already managed to find another trip for October, and I'm just as excited about it. We're going to see a children's musician named Nelson Gill. I saw him for the first time when my son was in preschool, and he came to the church and put on a performance for the kids and their families. It was wonderful! I've been in love with him every since. I bought his tape back then, and I've used it in my classroom ever since. I'm excited that the babies will be able to recognize some of his songs when we go to see him. Hopefully, they'll sing along. I'm also looking forward to buying a CD to replace my cassette!

The copy machine was FINALLY fixed, so I was able to send home the permission slips for this trip. Gee, maybe we can actually send home homework next week! What a novel concept! Since I decided to not be negative today, moving on...

My appearance must have been a little better today, cuz none of the babies asked if I combed my hair today! Ha ha!

A dear friend of mine came to school today to visit. He started at the school the same year I did, but he has since escaped. He spent some time in Europe, and is now living and working in Washington, D.C. He came with his girlfriend of a year, whom he met in D.C. She's from Italy, so naturally, I fell instantly in love with her! Neil read a couple of books to the babies, and they loved it. It was great to see him, and catch up on things. We've made tentative plans to meet up next year when I go to Italy for the summer. We always fly into Milan, which is where Neil and his girlfriend will be living by then, so we're going to try and meet up, even if it's only for my lay-over, which is usually about 4 hours. (From Milan, there's another short flight to Lamezzia, then an hour and half drive to my parents' villa.)

Gee, not much writing about school today, huh? Well, that's definitely preferable over the constant bitching I've been doing lately, right? I'm going to sign off before I'm tempted to complain ;-) I'll leave you with today's quote, and hope you, too, will be enjoying an extended weekend!

It is not so important to know everything as to appreciate
what we learn. ---Hannah More

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thankless Thursday :(

We had our walk-through today. I have no idea how it went. They actually came to my room while we were at the bathroom, so I have no clue what they saw or didn't see, or what their thought or opinions were about my room. And guess what? I could not possibly care less!! It probably didn't go well, though, for the school as a whole. Big Cheese made an announcement at 2:40 that we are having a meeting tomorrow morning with our Area Instructional Officer (AIO) to go over what they saw. That's usually not good. And, I'd bet my life that 75% of the teachers didn't hear him say a word about the meeting, since he made it 5 freakin' minutes before the dismissal bell rang. You know, when the kids are getting their coats and bookbags, and the room is generally chaotic. I do have to give my babies their "props" though, because they are all awesome at the freezing rule! (As soon as the intercom comes on, you freeze like a statue, and stay that way until the announcement is over.) Big Cheese asked that we come in 10 minutes early, to boot, so he's going to be sweating tomorrow morning when 3/4 of the staff isn't there on time.

I'm really going to try hard to move away from always bitchin' and moanin' about school on this blog, and stick to stories about my babies. That's really the main reason I decided to start this blog in the first place. Although, another reason is because I wanted people to be able to see how it REALLY is to work for CPS, so I guess a certain amount of bitchin' and moanin' is inevitable.

OK, cute story of the day...This morning, while I was getting the room ready for the babies, one of my girls, I.W., was in my room, like she is every morning. (Long story for another day.) She looked up at me while I was bent over the table passing out papers, and says, "Mrs. L., did you forget to comb your hair today?" I just busted out laughing!! I said, "Why, does it look like I didn't comb it?" And she just goes, "Yeah." Very matter-of-factly. Too funny!! In my defense, I put a headband in my hair this morning while it was still a little damp, but on the drive to school, I decided not to wear it and took it out of my hair. I guess it must have dried a little goofy.

It immediately made me think of an almost identical story of Dori's. One day last year, one of her boys said, "Ms. R., what happened to your hair? It looks kinda rumply." Out of the mouths of babes! You really should read all the hilarious stories on her post from 9/23/07, Funny Stuff From My First Class.

I'm off to have a delicious little treat. Edy's has a wonderful limited edition flavor of ice cream, Pumpkin, for the holidays. That's one of my absolute favorite things about fall -- pumpkin! I wait all year for Starbuck's to bring back Pumpkin Spice Lattes. (I just noticed the other day that Dunkin Donuts also has one, but when I tried to order it, I was told they wouldn't have it until October. I haven't remembered to order one yet, and it's already the 4th!) I make pumpkin bars from a recipe that my grandma used to make. Yummy! I could live on pumpkin pie with tons of Cool Whip on top. OK, enough, I have to go scoop myself a bowl of ice cream. Oo, they also have an Apple Pie version that we polished off last week. My nieces loved it! It has apple pieces in it, as well as chunks of pie crust!

Quote of the day:

Education: a debt due from present to future generations. ---George Peabody

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Happy Hump Day

OK, the week's more than half over. Yay! Today was relatively uneventful. We actually managed to get a lot of work done, which is good, because I need to hang it up in the room. We are having our first CPS Walk-through tomorrow. You may recall me telling you about walk-throughs in a previous post. A bunch of know-nothings from Central Office will be in tomorrow to walk around, stick their heads in our rooms for all of a minute and a half, and then have a sit-down with the Big Cheese to tell him everything we're doing wrong. It's such a crock! But, I'm still going to try to have all the crap they're going to be looking for up in the room.

One of the things is "authentic student work." That basically means no worksheets, or as we called them back in the day, dittos. Yeah, well, my babies still can't get their names on paper yet, so I'm not exactly sure what they're expecting to see! We've done a few drawing lessons (draw your family doing an activity together, draw what your hands can do) and those are already hanging up, but they aren't graded. I kid you not, I have to put actual grades on these things!! And, we have to use something called a "rubric" to establish these grades. I'm sure you all know what those are, even if you don't know the educational jargon for it. It's basically a scale (I use 0-4) for scoring work and an explaination of how each score is determined.

Now, the rubric must be posted along with the work, and they expect the children to know what the rubric says. Yeah, ok, these babies have been in school for 20 days, and they should be able to read this piece of paper, huh? Get a clue!! Here's the rubric we use for just about everything.

  • 4 I got a four because I did so much more
  • 3 I got a three because I did what was asked of me

  • 2 I got a two because I still have work to do

  • 1 I got a one because I'm not quite done

Now, on the actual paper, next to each is some type of 'smiley' face. 4 has a great big smiley, with cheeks, 3 is a regular smiley, 2 is a flat-mouthed smiley, 1 is a sad face. We don't have 0 on the chart, but I always explain to them that the boys and girls that don't even try, and don't do any work will get a zero. I always put a number and the appropriate smiley on their papers. Naturally, we have to have a lesson (or two or three!) about the rubric, (what it means, etc.) and then we usually score the papers together. I go over what was expected to be on the paper, and then ask the babies themselves to decide what the score should be for each paper. It's really interesting to see how well they are able to do this. Usually, I try to have 4 things required on each paper, because it makes the scoring that much easier.

For example, today they had to draw and then label pictures of goldfish for science. They were expected to 1) put their name on the paper 2) draw a goldfish 2) draw an eye, fins, gills, mouth and tail and label each of those parts 4) color the fish orange. Most of them got 4's, a few were given 2's by the class because they didn't write their labels themselves. I wrote them in dotted letters and they traced them. I was amazed that the babies decided a 2 would be a fair score for that! I can't say that I disagree with their decision. Those are all now hanging up, along with the rubric, in our Science Corner for the benefit of the walk-through team. Woo hoo!

I have a couple of things left to do in the morning, but for the most part, I have what they're looking for in my room. However, at this point in time, my attitude is a bit more like "Like it or lump it. What are you gonna do, fire me?" I know how that sounds, but quite frankly, they need me more than I need them right now, so I can get away with such a poor attitude. It's not that I'm intentionally trying to defy "the powers that be" but they really don't know what the hell they're talking about, so it's really hard to take them seriously!

Today would be the perfect day to post The Teachers' Creed for the quote, but sadly, I keep forgetting to copy it! It hangs on the wall next to my desk at school. I'll try to do it tomorrow. I do have a picture, though, that sort of puts into perspective how The Board makes us feel.

I'll leave you with a different quote for now. It is still fitting in this situation:

I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: 'The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair.' In these words he epitomized the history of the human race. ---Bertrand Russell
Obviously, we (the teachers) are the 'babies,' the Big Cheese is the 'medium sized boy,' and The Board are the 'bigs.' Big pains in the ass, anyway! :) Wow, I almost said something nice about the Big Cheese. I'd better be careful, I might actually start to defend him.... Nah!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I need a new job

It's just that simple. I need a new job. Lord knows, the past 10+ years of working in Englewood have been taking a toll on me, but this year is just pushing me over the edge. And, I'm glad to know it's not just me. The topic of the day today among my coworkers was getting the hell out of Dodge! We all feel the same, so at least I'm reassured that it's not just me being particularly whiny or dramatic.

I don't think I mentioned it before, but I've been emailing a former instructor of mine from grad school (she taught our last class before graduation) about moving to the college level, and leaving elementary school all together. That thought has certainly crossed my mind more than once over the years, but then I always start to think about how much I would miss the babies, so I've never pursued it seriously. But, now, I think I need to do it for my own mental health. Even if I just did it for a while, and went back to the classroom later. Or, maybe I could teach part-time at the college level at night, just to get my feet wet. As much as I complain about things (and if you check this blog with any regularity, I'm sure it's no secret that I can be a complainer!) I really don't think I'd like being away from the babies for any length of time. Obviously, they're the reason I became a teacher in the first place! The babies are not the problem. It's the environment I have to work in every day. More specifically, it's the school I'm at right now that's stressing me out, as well as the Big Cheese. I don't want to get started about him, so time to change the subject...

Poor Dori was having a really bad today, so we made a Subway run on our prep period. Ah, I miss that. Back in the day, when we had assistants, we used to run out for lunch every day. This is only the second time we've done it this year. I miss being able to sit with her and chat/gossip/complain while we scarfed down our lunches. Now, we don't even have time to eat, unless we do it on our prep. Once again, I ate my turkey sandwich on the drive home this afternoon. :( (I did get a large Diet Coke at Subway though, and it hit the spot.) Thank God I had time to get my Dunkin Donuts coffee this morning! That's going to have to be my positive for today. A nice, hot cup of DD hazelnut coffee, extra cream and Splenda. Yummy! The perfect way to start the day, even if the day goes drastically downhill from that point.

Quote time:

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather
than problems to solve. ---Roger Lewin

Monday, October 1, 2007

Go, Cubbies!!

It was really hard not to take a sick day today, so I could attend the Cub's Rally in Grant Park. Because this isn't the least bit school related, I'm going to just say, "Go, Cubbies!!" This is our year!!

Today was a typical Monday. I promised myself I would go into the week with a positive attitude, but that only lasted until about 8:45! In all fairness, I arrived at school at 7:45 today, so at least I had a good hour.

The new start time of 9:00 for students went into effect today. However, because our school is about as organized as a bunch of schizophrenics on crack, the parents didn't really have any notice of this. The decision to go back to 9:00 was made on Wednesday of last week. We were told during this meeting that we would start the new time on Monday, and a memo would be sent home to the parents by the end of the week. Well, we never got any memos, and at 2:40 Friday afternoon, an announcement was made over the intercom telling the students to let their parents know that school starts at 9:00 from now on, starting Monday. WTF?! Yeah, my 5 year-olds are going to be able to handle that responsibility! So, we spent the next five minutes repeating "School starts at 9:00. School starts at 9:00" until the bell rang at 2:45. Ugh!! I also wrote it as big as I could at the bottom of the sign-out sheet, but I'm sure none of my parents bothered to even read it.

This morning, I had kids out in the hall at about 8:30, which isn't new. I had posted a sign, big as day, on my door explaining that school starts at 9:00, and DO NOT leave your child here unsupervised until said time (or something of that nature). I actually didn't have any problems, but poor Dori had kids banging on her door at 8:50, which was the old start time. I happened to be in her room, filling her in on what she missed Friday, and we just ignored the noise. Not the best way to start the day :(

As we were walking to the lunchroom at 10:30, a mom walked up to me and handed me her son, telling me he was my new student. Oh joy! Now I'm back up to 27 little darlings. And my new friend, D.D., is already proving to be a challenge!

Once again, our copy machines aren't working, so no homework or newsletter went home today. Boo! My parents think I'm dropping the ball on these things, and I have to keep explaining that we don't have a copy machine that works. It's not helping the kids, either, to not have a set routine yet as far as homework goes. And on top of all that, we STILL don't have a note to send home to parents about the new start time! OK, I've hit my bitching quota for today, so I must stop right here.

Today's positive item - it was a great rest time. Most of the babies actually fell asleep, which isn't unusual for a Monday. I managed to get a lot of work done in that 20 minutes!

Today's quote:

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn
nothing. ---John Powell

Our school is just one mistake after another, with nothing ever being learned. Nothing ever changes or improves. And who suffers the most? The babies! I know I reached my quota already, so I'm not going to complain anymore tonight. Have a great night!