Monday, January 31, 2011

Lesson of the Day

Today my fourth grade class made a realization that, in the long run, I'm hoping will make everyone's life easier.

I was teaching a math lesson when one of my students raised his hand. I turned around and called on him.

"Miss C. you're a fun teacher when we listen to you! But when we don't listen... (Shakes head) It's not pretty!"

Of course, shortly after that, two of them got suspended. We're apparently still working on the application part of this lesson...

Monday, January 24, 2011

What Makes a Man?

I love my fourth graders. They are pretty much amazing. Here's an example of a conversation we have on any given day:

Student A: "Miss C hates sharks... Let's talk about them!"
Students B, C, and D: "Okay!!!"
Student B: "I had a dream about sharks last night!"
Me: "Again? You sure do have a lot of dreams about sharks..."
Student C: "Know why I'm not afraid of sharks? Because they eat men. I'm not a man yet-- I don't have a mustache!"

I sure hope this kid doesn't go swimming with sharks anytime soon! His parents may never forgive me for not correcting him on that one, but I'd like to agree with him. Sharks should leave the women and children alone!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Three Strikes-- I'm Out.

This is the blog where, if you still held out hope that I'm normal, I will remove all doubt.

In college, I had a crush on my cousin's roommate. He was super attractive, I'm not gonna lie to you. He was also a really nice guy. I'm going to explain what happened between us as a baseball analogy, because it just seems like the best way to tell this story.

Strike 1- He had a girlfriend (the Facebook tells me that they are now married!)

Strike 2- I told him that I don't think he's funny. I heard that this is pretty bad to tell a man. In fact, I knew this before I told him. I am still not sure why I said it-- other than the fact that it was true.

Strike 3- He saw me in my footie pajamas. In public. This one deserves a story, so I'm going to share it with you.

That year in college, I was in a Bible study that had 4 girls in it. Every week, we had a different theme night (favorite Bible characters- I was Jesus, The Office- I was Phyllis, Richard Simmons night... You get the idea). Well, we found these awesome footie pajamas at Target and had to buy them and have a pajama night!

If I remember correctly, this theme night happened to be during finals week and I was super stressed about a final the next day. We decided to go (in our footie pajamas, of course!) to the only place that was open late to get some coffee-- Sheetz. There are two of this gas station near my apartment, and we decided to go to the one that was farther away from the school so we wouldn't run into anyone we knew...

We all piled into my car and drove to the gas station. We got out of the car and started walking in to the convenience store. Naturally, I saw this guy (the not-so-funny-but-super-cute one) as I entered. My instinct told me to run, so I whispered to my friends "that's him!" and took off for the car and did this fancy dive into the driver's seat. One of my friends, having no idea what I was doing but realizing that the one with the car keys had every intention of leaving, also took off running for the car and dove into the backseat. The other two stood at the door wondering what had just happened and waving for us to go back into the store. This happened to attract more attention. After a minute or two, we realized that he had, indeed, seen the whole incident, and went inside to get our coffee... I haven't spoken to him since that day, and am convinced that he will always remember me as the sprinter in the footie pajamas.

Did I mention that strikes 2 and 3 happened on the same day? Yep... That was a good day. I quickly realized that there was no hope for me and moved on.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Pout

I do dismissal on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week at work. Someone (probably my boss... He must hate me) decided that it's a good idea to put all of the 2nd through 5th grade students from the school into one big room and make them sit for 30 minutes while parents come to pick up their kids. It's not too unbearable on the days when the kids get to go outside, but when the weather is below freezing, we have to keep them inside. All. Day. Long. For those of you who don't spend a whole lot of time with children I'm going to tell you something that you need to know: Kids have a lot of energy. Recess helps them get rid of some of that energy, so they can behave better. When they don't have recess, dismissal becomes a contest to see which class can make me cry first by being disobedient (it's normally a toss up between 2nd and 4th. Ironically, these are the two classes that I've taught... Again, my boss must hate me).

A few weeks ago, we had one of those days-- the really cold ones. So dismissal was pretty rough. Two 2nd grade boys were being particularly out of control. When I started to yell at them, one of them stuck his lip out in a pout. My 4th graders try this often, and my response every time is to say the same thing I said to this little boy: "Put the lip away. It doesn't work." With my 4th grade students, it works well. They tuck that bottom lip in and use their words to convey their messages. This 2nd grade boy, however, disagreed with their approach. He timidly raised his hand and said, "Miss C? Sometimes the lip does work."

Sometimes, it's difficult for me to maintain a straight face when punishing the students.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Language Barriers

Do you ever feel like you're talking to a wall when you're talking to kids? Some days I stand in front of my class, and I swear they must think I'm speaking Spanish to them. Sometimes it's my fourth graders who don't understand, sometimes it's my sixth graders... I rarely get it from my high schoolers because, let's be honest, they don't listen in class anyway.

This happened to me on Friday in my fourth grade class-- the blank stares from a room full of students, all of whom are thinking the same thing: "I didn't know Miss C. can speak Spanish! I don't understand a word of what she's saying!"

I was trying to introduce a new concept to them in Language class. I explained it the way the book told me to. It didn't work. Okay... New technique. Maybe write it on the board and give one example for every student! Nope? Hmm... Maybe if I dance around the classroom and make up a catchy song that explains this new concept to my students, they'll get it... The only thing those children learned is that their teacher doesn't dance or sing well.

For the first time in my year of teaching I literally threw my hands up in the air and said, "AHHHHHH!!!"

Nobody knew how to respond to their exasperated teacher except one boy. "Um... Maybe you need to go on that medicine for stress and anxiety, Miss C. We've never seen you like this before!"

I'm fairly certain that every single one of those children went home that night and told their parents that their teacher sings, dances, and screams-- all within the same lesson! "What's the lesson?" their parents will have asked...

They still don't know.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Forever Young

I get a lot of grief from people because I look very young for my age. I have always gotten a lot of grief from people because I look much younger than I am. In fact, I'm going to share two stories today that relate to my age.

1) About 2 years ago I went to visit my grandmother in CA. I love hanging out with her and all of her old lady friends. However, every single lady I met that week told me that I looked 14... Except for 1 lady who thought I was 12. I was 21. That day, I went home and put make-up on. I have worn make-up (at least mascara) every day since. Now I look closer to 18 than 14.

2) During recess the other day, my students started talking about video games. They love video games and are always asking if we can have a video game day-- a whole day dedicated to just playing games during school... One of my students decided that I needed to be part of this conversation. "Miss C... Did they have video games when you were a kid?" My students know that I'm pretty young compared to most of the teachers that work at the school, but apparently that doesn't mean I'm not a dinosaur. So in my response, I said "of course! How old do you think I am?!" Wrong question. All of my students started guessing the year I was born (1987). My favorite? 1950. I apparently just look really good for my age.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Math Class/Book Club

Have I mentioned that, in addition to 4th grade, I teach a high school math class and a 6th grade history class? Yes, I am a super hero.

Today in math class, a student and I began talking about books. I am an avid reader, and love talking about good books. She asked what I'm reading right now and I told her about The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs-- a witty book about a man's attempt to follow the Bible literally for a year. I'd highly recommend this book. Then I told her that I'm also reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for the tenth time. I can't help it. It's one of my favorite books of all time. She has also read this book before, so we discussed how wonderful it is. She then proceeded to tell me about another book that she has read that is based on my beloved Pride and Prejudice. She said "It's just like Pride and Prejudice. Except with zombies. And ninjas!"

It's called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies... By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. I don't know who Seth Grahame-Smith is, but he has taken my heart and torn it in two like no other man could do. Where's the chocolate?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One of THOSE Days...

I learned two things today, and I'd like to share them with you.

1) My hair will tell you at the end of the day what kind of day I've had. I have no idea how, but when I've had a bad day at work, my hair starts to fly in every direction, my bangs start to curl in a severely unnatural way, and my ponytail begins to rotate to the left side of my head. I have no control over this, and I am unaware that it's happening until I look in a mirror when I'm home. One of the few things about being in a long distance relationship: my boyfriend doesn't often witness this side of me.

2) Children are brutally honest. A third grade boy walked up to me at the end of the day today and emphatically informed me, "Man, Miss C... Your hair is a mess!" Thank you, child. You certainly know how to cheer a girl up.

Monday, January 10, 2011


In order to hold up my half of the deal I made with my sister (you know... The one where I'm writing a blog instead of a book), I must share stories from all aspects of my life-- not just my job. Several of these stories are years late, but I'm fairly certain my memory serves me well in these instances (you may notice that they're pretty hard to forget).

As I have said before, I often find myself in terribly awkward situations without any sort of warning. I also feel the need to inform you that I have often found myself on dates without realizing that they are actually dates. Call me naive, but I have always assumed that guys were interested in friendship with me because that's all I wanted. I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me.

In fact, I somehow managed to go out with the same guy once a semester, every semester for three years in college without intending to. True story. Today I'm going to tell you about one of our outtings.

Let me preface this story by telling you that I went to a conservative Christian college that places a ridiculous emphasis on getting married to someone from school and having babies who will, in turn, go there for college. It was a great school, but students get pressure from every direction to fall in love and get married as soon as possible.

This particular day, D and I went to Starbucks to enjoy some coffee and catch up on what has happened to us in the past 4 months or so since we had gone out. Things were going pretty well until I realized that I had done it again... I was on another date with this kid! Every time I'd realize this, I'd get super awkward because I don't want to date him!

Somehow, our topic landed on all of my allergies (I have a lot of them. And they're weird). In the course of conversation, D found out that I'm allergic to cherries. When most people hear this, they make comments about ice cream sundaes with cherries on top or cherry pie. Yes, for the record, I do wish I could enjoy these things. However, I've adjusted to not eating them, and am happy eating other delicious fattening desserts. D felt terrible for me that I couldn't eat cherries... Not because I'm missing the best part of a sundae. Not even that I have to miss out on his delicious cherry pie. His first response when he found out I am allergic to cherries? "What are you going to do on your honeymoon?!?!?!"

Apparently, according to this man who I had just realized that I was chronically dating, I will miss out on one of the most important parts of a honeymoon...

Maybe that's why we didn't work out.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh, How I Love Jesus

Last year, by some twist of fate, I found myself teaching first grade. Trust me when I tell you that no one saw this coming. However, it was one of the most fun adventures I've ever had.

One day, one of my little girls comes into the classroom wearing a cross necklace. Not just any cross necklace, though. This one glows in the dark!

Side note: Last year, when my class was getting too loud and I needed to regain control of my students, I'd turn off the lights- they would have to freeze and listen for instructions.

This particular day, I had to turn the lights off two or three times. Each time, however, this necklace would start glowing. Have you ever seen a group of seven year old children when they learn that something in the room glows in the dark? "Look at your necklace!" "Oh, it's so beautiful!" Turning off the lights ended up being a bigger issue than whatever caused me to turn them off in the first place.

At the end of the day, she walked up to me tenderly holding her necklace with a thoughtful look on her face. We had the following conversation:

"Miss C, know what I love most about Jesus?"
"What's that, honey?"
"He has the best toys!"

Then she walks away.

And I thought Toys-R-Us had the best toys... Boy, was I wrong!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kids Pray the Darndest Things

Every morning my class prays together. Everyone enjoys this time of day because they get to share their prayer requests and the whole class has to pay complete attention to whomever is sharing the burdens on his or her heart. Some days we pray for things like the big Redskins game that is coming up, or for a pet dog who has, once again, eaten all of the chocolate in the house. Other days we pray for our troops in Afghanistan and family members who are suffering from serious health issues.

The other day, as we were preparing to bow our heads in prayer, one little boy raises his hand and states that he has a very serious prayer request that he has to share with the class. Generally, coming from this child, this means, "There's a wrestling match on tonight. I pray that my dad let's me stay up to watch it." Not this day. This day, he has a real burden: "Today I'd like to pray for my uncle. He has prostitute cancer." How can you help but love a child who has such concern for his uncle with prostitute cancer?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Everyone Has a Story to Tell...

I have a knack for taking an awkward situation and making it more so- sometimes without even trying. My sister has been telling me for years that I should write a book. Our compromise? A blog.

Almost every day, my students introduce me to a new perspective about life. Sometimes humorous, sometimes touching, always worth sharing. We have our good days and our bad days (if I believed in astrology, I would be convinced that the moon and stars have something to do with the fact that we all manage to have good or bad days together...), but every day is an adventure. Sometimes I think I'll be able to run a marathon because God is constantly stretching me through this class- often in ways I did not know I could stretch. My students are a constant reminder to me of man's sinful nature, but they also remind me of God's grace toward His children. They certainly keep me on my knees in prayer!

I look forward to sharing my experiences and lessons learned with you!