Monday, April 30, 2012

The Sub

This morning I'm at home because I had to go to the dentist.  All is well, the dentist said I'm doing great.
Now I'm heading back into work and I'll probably pick up Jimmy John's on the way.  They have the best iced tea there.  The problem is, whenever I get my teeth cleaned, I feel sad for a few days when I drink iced tea or coffee.  Are you feeling me?

Anyway, that's not really important.  What's important is this:  I've taken a half day off and I've organized my house a little bit, and I'm feeling upbeat about this beautiful Monday morning.  Here we go!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Dominos

Remember how about six weeks ago I wrote about doing a little 15 second tv Q and A about testing?  Well come to find out, someone saw me on that and asked me to speak at a community forum.  Then a radio guy saw me at that and now he's coming over here to interview me for a radio spot today.  He's coming in about 5 minutes and I'm pretty nervous because sometimes I get tongue tied with on the spot questions.  I'm much better when I can plan stuff out. Anyway, the point is, there's a real domino effect to speaking out against injustice.  And that can be kind of nerve wracking.  I'm going to try to re-assemble our old whole language group next year, so that we can share these jobs.  It's more powerful when there's a variety of voices.  I think the media's waking up and wanting to investigate some of these unfair educational mandates.
Do you like morel mushrooms?  I think they're super beautiful.  And tasty.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Reassurance

Today in lunch line this 5th grade dear was FLIPPING OUT!  She was holding her head with her fists and looked like she was about to spit.  I said, "Doll, what the heck is going on?  You look super upset."
"I'm so mad," she told me.  "Friday's supposed to be my good day.  It's supposed to be my great day.  But today everyone is making me so mad and I feel like I'm about to start screaming and slapping people."
"Please tell me if I've done anything at all to upset you," I said to her quietly, holding my hands in a praying gesture.
"No, Dr. H.  You are one of the nicest people I've ever met.  You've done nothing at all."
"I'm so relieved," I told her.  "Let me know if I can ever help you with anything."
Just then she was able to get her tray of food and I was so happy I wasn't drawn into the fifth grade girl drama, and that overall I came off in a pretty good light.    Win win.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Words

Yesterday we had a good time on our goods and services walk, I told the kiddos about the original goods and services in our down town square of 1818.  There was a small dry goods store, I told them.  Did they provide goods or services?  Goods, they all yelled.  There was a tavern I told them.  Someone asked about the meaning of tavern.  "It's basically a bar.  The hardworking farmers would go there in the evening and drink some whiskey.  What do you think, goods or service?"
"Service?" someone offered tentatively.
"Yes sir, they provided an important service."  I was really amusing myself on the walk, in other words.

Today I gave a brief presentation on vocabulary to our district's literacy cohort of teachers.  I shared with the cohort that until recently, I had the wrong idea about what a hangnail is.  You may recall I blogged about this at some point.  I pointed out to the group that my lack of knowledge about hangnails really hasn't held me back at all.  We can't know every word, and we can't teach every word.  Somehow we muddle through.  The chat went well and after the talk several teachers came up to show me their hangnails.  I think they wanted to help solidify my knowledge of the hangnail concept.  One teacher had quite a brutal looking hangnail.  I grabbed her by the thumb and shared her horrible hangnail with several nearby teachers. Later, Pal Judith and I were able to follow up with a bevvie and app at a local tavern. No whiskey, but a pleasant sauvignon blanc. A grand day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Goods and Services

The second graders and I walked downtown today to talk about Bloomington history.  Before we left I explained to them the difference between goods and services.  As we walked, I stopped and asked if the business we were standing beside offered a good or service.  They got pretty good at it.  When I was on the B-Line trail, I was talking a little about the Monon Railroad that used to come through town.  A kid saw a woman across the street, leaving the antique shop.  She was carrying a box in her arms.  The kid interrupted me screaming, "Look!  She's carrying a GOOD!  There must be goods in there!"
They really got into the whole goods and services thing.  It was pretty fun.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Cheer

Today I taught about Issa, the great haiku poet to K's, 1's and 2's.  Issa wrote over 20,000 haiku in his life.  One night, at a party, he wrote over 100 haiku.  I would love to have a haiku party some time. I'm convinced haiku are the best texts in history because I've been writing them with little kids of all ages this whole week, and there's so much sweetness that comes out in them. I wrote one about #1 son today that the firsties really clapped for.  And they liked the tiger haiku and the lady bug haiku too.  I clapped for them too.  They wrote some classics.  Here's one I just came up with tonight.  Leave your own in comments if you want.  I'm declaring this:  haiku weekend

Fight, Bravo Housewives
On your tv reunion
Why do I like you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Bar

These are the tough times, the last crazed weeks of the school year.  I spent about 90 minutes in the cafeteria today.  I wouldn't recommend 90 minutes of caf duty to anyone.  It can really mess up your hearing big time.  Today was salad bar day.  Salad bar day sucks so much.  The peeps can go in entrance #1 for noodles, or they can go in door #2 for salad bar.  The #1 gal is super fast and has earned my undying respect and admiration.  Salad bar gal?  Not so much.  It doesn't help that the kids get to select from about 80 different choices for their salads and they get to verbally direct this gal as she builds their salads.  And it also doesn't help that about 80% of the school chooses salad bar.  I tried to talk so many kids into noodles today.  Mostly they said no, and then we would stand at salad bar entrance and talk about how to better design salad bar day.  Some ideas:  Have salad bar day in both entrances, and don't offer other choices.  Have an extra worker at the salad bar station. Send Noodle Gal over to Salad Bar station. Let kids build their own salads, with their own hands.  My solution, eliminate salad bar day altogether was roundly put down by pretty much everyone.  They just stood in the endless line longing for the lettuce and couldn't see the beauty and efficiency of the noodles just on the other side of the milk cooler. I couldn't figure it out.  Those noodles looked fantastic.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Kevin

Yesterday I shared a ton of research that shows that retention has either a negative or a null effect on kid achievement.  I was part of a cool community forum about that dumb IRead test. There were some moms, some teachers, and a great state representative speaking out loud and proud. Lots of cool comments from the peeps in attendance. Everyone should repeat this daily:  Stay sane.  Don't retain. Walk with a cane.

And here's another thing to blog about.  Saw a movie called We Have to Talk about Kevin, or some such title.  It was kind of a horror movie about raising a psychopath. Disturbing, depressing.  But go ahead, go see it if you feel like it.  Tilda Swinton was v. good as the mom trying to cope.  What I took away from this film is this:  If you happen to have a child who seems somewhat aggressive and perhaps out of his mind, don't keep giving him more and more sophisticated weaponry as Christmas gifts.  To my mind, this would implicate you as part of the problem.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Cut

The new haircut is giving me some pleasure.  There's nothing like shaving all your hair off to make you feel pumped up for a new adventure.  Everyone's going to think I'm a total flake, but that's okay.  Now I've decided to continue being the literacy partner at Artful School, and I'm not going to be a second grade teacher.  This past week has been a whirlwind of emotional pondering, and I'm recommitting to the literacy partner gig.  My boss is happy to have me back in the game and I'm happy to have another go, mixing it up with over 300 kiddos and 40 grown peeps.  The new haircut is to celebrate a new beginning. And my new iPhone that will come on May 19 is to keep past stuff in the past.  Huzzzah!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Retention

I agreed to speak at a forum on Saturday about testing and mandated retention.  I need to prepare some comments, but tonight I'm just noodling around, watching the Phillies beat the hell out of Miami.  I gave a talk about data today.  I thought I was inspiring and passionate about the greatness of our school, but then someone told someone else that I "raked people over the coals."  Let me tell you something my friends.  I did no raking over coals.  That statement was nothing short of a lie, and I told many people that.  I'm not a coal raker.  It's not how I roll.  I support, I don't thwart.  I cheer, I don't instill fear.  I emote, I don't float.  Okay, I don't know what that last thing meant, but the important thing to remember is that I don't rake people over hot coals, I focus on positive goals.  Anyone who knows me will corroborate this.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Changes

I've decided not to be a literacy partner next year. Literacy Partner's been fun, but I'm heading back into the classroom.  Word has it that I might be teaching 2nd grade.  I taught second grade for one year in 1985, so it's been awhile, but I think it will be a good gig.

Here's another big change.  I've decided I want to get a smartphone.  Headed over to the phone shop yesterday and come to find out, if I wait til May 18, I can get a free upgrade.  By waiting, I'll save about 450$, so I guess it's reasonable to wait.  But I did cry a little, because once I wanted that iPhone, man did I want it.  Today I've decided to put babyish things aside and cheer up.  I'm working on attitude, perspective, and the whole living one day at a time thing.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


#1 Son is 18 today.  We had to jam in our festivities between his bass lesson and his Battle of the Bands gig at Jake's, but we managed somehow.  He constantly brings joy and laughter into our lives, so we wanted to make his day a fun one.  And another thing....not only did he get into Jacobs School, he found out this week that he earned a scholarship.  Yes, the kid is a marvel.  I hope his busy birthday has also been some fun.  Because #1 deserves fun and frolicking on this day and all thru his 18th year.

And here's another little school story to go with the celebration.  Little Red Head's teacher also had a birthday today.  She is now 30.  I went to her birthday party with the kinders and we went out to the playground and she gave all of us bubbles.  It was a blast.  Yesterday we did an awesome writer's workshop together.  The kinders were writing about giants after I read a book to them called Fie Fi Fo Fum.  Little Red Head wrote THE on the cover of his book.  When we asked him his book title he said, "The title is THE."
We asked, "The what, Little Red Head?"
"It is a book called THE.  THE is the title of this book,"  he told us.  I think it's a good title and surprisingly surprising.

So Happy Birthday to #1 Son and Coolio Kinder Teacher.  You're both very wonderful.  Must be something about this magical day of April 4th.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The New York Mets

Not sure I'm going to finish the challenge because I still have some dumb teams left:  Pirates, Phillies, Padres.  The P's.

But who cares, I've done my best and I'm forgetting the rest.  I've saved the last for best.  THE NEW YORK METS.  When Husbandman and I lived in Brooklyn, we went to or listened to every single game.  And I was so connected with the players.  The Mets are not as great as they once were, but they're pretty good.  Husbandman thinks they won't have a good year, but I think there's potential there.  The Mets may bring all of us to Pleasure Town, we're not really sure.   Let the games begin.

The Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee. Bleh.  Went there once and had a horrible time.  My coat got stolen off a coat rack and it was super cold outside.  I had to go buy another coat and then the next day when I went to the coat rack, the thief had returned my coat.  So, no, I will not be reading and writing about the Milwaukee Brewers.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Los Angeles Dodgers

Husbandman's from LA, so we used to go there frequently, and yes, we would go to Dodgers Stadium, located in the Chavez Ravine.  Mostly we watched the games on TV, with Husbandman's dad.  He listened on the radio while we were watching, which I always thought was pretty neat. He used to get pretty het up about losses, as I recall.  Husbandman's no different.  Now Magic Johnson's group has bought the Dodgers for TWO BILLION DOLLARS.  Geezlouise, I wish someone would give just one million dollars to Artful School, so we could be as artsy as we wanted and I wouldn't have to play in another stupid golf scramble next month.  But that's not going to happen, so the next best thing that could happen is if you would sign this petition about getting rid of that horrible IREAD test I've been telling you about.

The Houston Astros

The Astros have 2 players who are hurt right now.  Schafer and Lowrie.  One has a hurt hand, the other a hurt thumb.  These injuries are messing up their spring training and may have them missing Opening Day.  One reason I've always avoided trying to become a professional athlete is the devastation that injuries must bring to the psyche.  I'm not sure I could cope with the fear and anguish.

This afternoon I did some cafeteria duty action and Absolute Darling Firstie called me over.  She was crying, and holding a chomped up apple in her hand.  "Look at my tooth!  It's going to come out," she screamed, huge tears coming out of her eyes.
I responded calmly, "Okay, well first off, let's put down the apple.  And secondly, this is not something to get too worked up about."
That's when the real wailing began, "But Dr. H.  You don't understand!  It's my first one!"  More sobs.
I sat down next to her and asked to look in her mouth.  She opened wide, amidst more wailing. "You're right," I told her.  "This is gonna be the first. You've got all baby teeth in there. It's going to be okay. Just try to leave it alone."  Then we hugged for awhile and the others told her that it really was going to be alright.  One kid offered, somewhat unhelpfully to my mind,  "It doesn't hurt much."   About half of them at the table have loose teeth too, but she was the only one there with a first loose tooth.  I hope it doesn't keep her out of the action in first grade this week.  We need that gal.  She's a lead off hitter if ever there was one.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies.  Don't know much about them, but my sister lives in Colorado now, so it's probably a team to keep an eye on.  Their poor shortstop Tulowitzki got drilled in the elbow by Cleveland Indian Jimenez.  Jimenez used to be on the Rockies, but he was traded.  He's bitter so he took it out on Tulowitzki.  Not okay, Jimenez. Don't hit others.  Role Models, that's what we're aiming for here with you professional athletes.
Last week, I saw a kinder punch another kinder super hard on the back and the hurt kinder was crying.  I took the puncher over to a table for a chat.  "Did you make a mistake?" I asked him, thinking that it was a gentle way to start the conversation going.
"No, I wanted to hit him."
"Were you angry?"
"Yes, he took my car."
"So you were angry and you hit him. It wasn't an accident. What could you have done instead of hitting him really hard on the back like that?"
"Just ask for the car back."
"Right. So let's go talk to him.  Do you want to say sorry?"
He did.  He walked right over to the car area and basically crumpled into his friend's arms, hugging him for dear life and saying, "I'm really sorry I hurt you."
Why can't professional ball players do this?  The pitcher could run to the batter and rock him in his arms for awhile while the managers run over with ice packs.  That's the stuff I'd kind of like to see.

The Cincinnati Reds

The Reds just traded Juan Francisco to the Braves.  I've never heard of Juan Francisco before, but from the news article, it does not seem like he's going to be a great asset to my beloved Braves.  He got injured last year, and he showed up overweight to spring training. (Personally I have to forgive Francisco for the weight gain since I've had my own troubles in that department, but then again I'm not a professional athlete, so I supposed I should be given slightly more leeway than Francisco when it comes to overall physical health).  Anyway, trading is kind of like classroom assignments.  We'll be sitting down with our team lists soon and splitting players up into next year's teams. We try to keep things pretty even --- same # of boys and girls, same # of heavy hitters aka trouble makers.  We try to give each teacher the same # of cheerful, committed players who love the game of learning.   Even with a great deal of Moneyball type chatting, some classroom teams just turn up uneven the next year.  Either a new unknown gets on the roster at the last minute or some old timer shows up out of shape for the new year, grouchy and no longer interested in the game.  Still, we do the best we can. And we know that there's always potential for the greatest year ever.

The Chicago Cubs

One time I was in Chicago with In Other Words, #1 Cubs fan of all time. We checked into our hotel and she put on the TV to see the Cubs.  I forget the guy's name, but she pointed to a player on screen and said, "He's one of my favorites.  He can be feisty, he has a temper."  Just then the guy got a call he didn't like and he went into the dug out and had a huge tantrum, throwing things and freaking out.  I love moments like this, when someone says something and then life instantly backs the statement up.  Later we headed down to Taste of Chicago and we met some Cubs fans who were talking about the tantrum.  Everyone seemed to love this guy.  What can we take away from this story?  Just this:  We all have foibles, and sometimes our foibles can be endearing.
Most days I'm amused by my own personality flaws, but this is not one of those days.  In fact, I'm getting on my last nerve today.

The Atlanta Braves

I love the Atlanta Braves.  They win a lot of games usually, which makes them a fun team to watch.  They tend to blow it at the end, but that's okay.  We can't all be perfect.  My mom loves the Braves and so it's fun to sit with her and watch the games because she shares info about all the players.  I also enjoy the city of Atlanta.  It's bustling and my fam lives nearby.  Atlanta Braves.  All good.

I think I'm going to blog about 10 times today because I want to blog about all the teams, and our opening day deadline is really soon.  I'll short cut with only one pertinent link per entry.  I wrote to Pronto about an extension, but let's face it.  I can do this if I really set my mind to it.

The New Blue

Our home is being painted .  I love this new blue.  It used to all be the red brickish color of the deck as shown above.  For various reas...