Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pictures of Me and My Students by My Students

Best and Worst

In the morning of the last day of school I had my students write and illustrate the best and worst parts of first grade.

Best Parts of First Grade:
I like when Ms. Hayes tells us the first part when we do our math.
The best part of first grade is when we were reading Junie B. Jones and Flat Stanley and the Wild Animal book. (Shout out to Mrs. Sandler for the donation of the Amazing Pop-Up Wild Animal Book.)
The best part of first grade was when we played games and we read the word wall and when we played and when Ms. Hayes made silly faces.
The best part of first grade was reading Junie B. Jones book.
The best part of first grade was marbles.
The best part of first grade: math switcharoo, reading the beginning blends, giant cookie, reading Flat Stanley, learning the sounds, the Wild Animal Book, and saying the pledge.
The best part of first grade is sharing the giant cookie.
The best part of first grade: marbles, centers, penpals, making the planets, getting stars, ladybugs, butterflies, Hi My Name Is Joe, and Ms. Hayes Says.
The best part of first grade was doing the stars.
The best part of first grade was doing the calendar, bathroom sticks, giving stars, saying the pledge, marbles, Wild Animal Book, doing tests, learning sounds, awards day, painting butterflies, playing games, and learning about tadpoles.
The best part of first grade was the math switcharoo. (Incredible that two people put this down –the math switcharoo is when you write a horizontal math problem vertically.)
The best part of first grade was playing games.
The best part of first grade was reading Junie B. Jones.
The best part of first grade was the trip Ms. Hayes took J-, E-, and T- on.

Worst parts of First Grade:
The worst part of first grade was taking a time out.
The wosr part of first grade was taking away marbles.
I was furious when Edward sat on my feet.
The worst part was when we do a lot of work.
The worst part of first grade is when you act bad and you have to sit out of activities.
The worst part was when it was a sunny day and we went outside.
The worst part of first grade was when she gave the big test.
The worst part of first grade is was when I’m on yellow. (The colors in our consequence chart are superstar, green, yellow, orange, and pink, in that order.)
The worst part of first grade was reading in our reading book.
I was really mad when a girl spit on my foot.
The worst part is when you take points away.
The worst part of first grade is when I get on pink. I get angry and I be screaming loud.
The worst part of first grade was when Ms. Hayes slammed down the book and when I get hot.
The worst part of first grade was computer lab and library.

I also let them write me letters if they finished their best/worst early.

Some letters (I am typing the spelling as they wrote it, because they did such a good job.)

My seacrite is that nobody know that my nickname is Big Baby. You is the nices teacher I ever saw.
Ms. Hayes is very swet like a butterflies.
Dear, Ms. Hayes. When are you getting mared? and when are you haveing a babby? who is your boy friend?
Roses are red volet are blue I no you are the best teacher and the class no’s to.
I am is ging to miss you when I go to secind grade. I love you. You is the best. You is the best teacher.

Last Day

It’s over. My first, tumultuous year of teaching is now completely over. I have to stop by the school tomorrow to tape a sheet of paper over my last bookshelf before I turn in the key to my classroom, but it’s over.

Yesterday was the last day of school. We had written letters to parents about the plays that we were doing and I was hoping for a good turnout. I got six parents. My roommate says that it was a pretty good turnout (about 25%!) because I probably got all the parents who have access to a car and who weren’t working or high.

The plays went passably well. Five Little Monkeys and Hattie and the Fox went very well and Click Clack Moo went quite poorly. I guess I expected more from those children because they are my best readers.

I had hoped it would be an easy day. The last day of school should be, I think. Kids should want to be good, teachers don’t need to be strict because there will be no repercussions from lax management in the ensuing days. That attitude lasted all of five minutes until I turned my back and R- punched R2- in the stomach so R2- punched R- in the nose and drew blood. They weren’t even mad at each other. It was the first blood ever drawn in my class from violence. No, the second time – once D—scratched K-‘s face because he touched her on her booty.

The whole leaving process has been very anti-climactic, though. On Tuesday, the kids came to school. On Wednesday, they didn’t come anymore. There was no last hurrah. As my kids left for the bus they made their habitual choices (hug, high five, or handshake) as though it was just any old day. They didn’t seem to feel the difference between this and any other school day any more than I did.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Early-Elementary Mandatory Supplies

List of mandatory early-elementary classroom supplies:
bandaids and neosporin (even if there are no falls, you'll use a bunch -- they like to pick at bug bites and wail for a bandaid at the teeniest dot of blood)
hand sanitizer (most schools down here do not have working sinks, soap, or paper towels)
paper plates (infinitely useful for art projects and impromptu snacks and fraction circles and word family wheels)
a heavy-duty pencil sharpener that no children are allowed to use (I've gone through 3)
chocolate (for you, not them)
smarties (kids love candy and one smartie is not enough to give a sugar rush. Also, what a great name.)
stickers (for papers, incentives, tracking charts)
dry erase markers (most schools have dry erase boards and no markers. Also, they die quickly if you let kids use them.)
sparkle sticks (wooden dowels of assorted sizes with sparkly fuzzy balls hot glued on the end. Great for pointing at things like the board and big books when reading together.)
hot glue gun (it's the only thing that will make anything stick to a painted cinderblock wall in Delta humidity for more than a day)
masking tape (it's the only thing you can tape things to the whiteboard with without getting gunk left over.)
packing tape (ghetto lamination)
copy paper (for drawings and for when the school copier runs out a month into school)
comfortable shoes (the kids don't care, but you will)
popsicle sticks (for a word cup, individual pointers, calling names randomly, art projects, stirrers, etc.)
cups (for planting plants, juice, water for painting, holding manipulatives)
tupperware (for art supplies and manipulatives)
goo gone (cleans up almost everything)
broom (cleans up almost everything else)
stapler and staples
manila folders (for centers and files)
post-it notes (multiple usages, including instant graphs and quick checks)

Monday, May 08, 2006


I have ringworm (which is a fungus, not a worm) on my face. You get it from getting too close to the kids. I had my chin on top of a kindergartener's head the other day as he told me his letter sounds and how to spell cat and dog and I even thought to myself -- I know J--'s been sent home for ringworm before, I hope that's taken care of. But I guess not. So now I have a ring-shaped red patch on my chin about the size of a nickel that I have to treat with a cream. It's like athlete's foot... on my face.

Roughed Up

My school is a rough place for little kids.  This continues the trend from their homes, I suppose.  They get roughed up at home, they rough up each other, they get roughed up at school. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase (from a teacher) 'I'm going to tear your butt up,' or, 'He needs his butt tore up,' I could buy a whole class set of books with the money. There are a lot of kids 'getting thier butts tore up' in the office at my school. And a lot of kids 'getting the sense knocked up into them' at home.

They're rough little kids.  Tough little kids. Already, in first grade, desensitized to pain, raised voices, and bad language.

I had a talk with one of the assistants today.  "I couldn't say the things I tell the kids in front of you," she told me.  "And you couldn't say them to the kids, no how.  Because of the way things is, their parents would be calling the office.. 'That white b*tch said X to my child...'"  She told me how she takes the kids in the room next door and paddles them herself instead of taking them to the office.  In class, she pops them on their hands with a ruler and threatens them.  It just shows you that you don't know what goes on behind closed doors, even in schools.

All My Children

My students had to take the second grade semester exams last week (I don't really know why), and since it was given to the second graders in January, the open response question was:  In five sentences, describe your favorite Christmas present. 

My super-smart S-- began:  My favorite present is a TV, so I can watch All My Children.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The peacocks are mating. Or at least, the one fully-feathered adult male is trying really hard. He arches his back and pops up his colorful, enormous tail, fans out the rusty-colored feathers underneath, shakes his pouf of butt fuzz, and scans the area like a radar dish. When he catches sight of the female, he makes a clicking sound and shakes his feathers at her. She ignores him. Occasionally, he'll rush at her, which seems to annoy her even more (wouldn't you be annoyed?)

On the other hand, the mating season has made them less skittish and they like to eat pieces of cookie that people throw to them.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Snippets from Today

My school has gone into MCT lockdown. The MCT (Mississippi Curriculum Test) begins tomorrow. My superstars will not be taking it, but the second and third graders will be. My students will be taking (who knows why) the second grade semester exam. So while we are not in lockdown, we did spend today... solidifying some concepts (read: reviewing.) Anyhow, the hallways and second and third grade classrooms are papered with bright butcher paper, since there is NO ENVIRONMENTAL PRINT ALLOWED during the MCT. It looks very strange.


One of my little girls came in today with a black eye given to her by a relative. I just want to get that person and string him up. She's only an eight year old little girl, for goodness' sake.


Another little girl, who I have a hard time getting to do anything, was thrilled when I put on a compound word song today. She boogied down and clapped together snowman and doghouse and bathtub like a champ.