Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I’m a soft-spoken person.

I have even been called a low speaker, to the effect that people don’t hear me. In fact, several times a day, I will be behind someone who suddenly turns around, throws her hand to her chest, and says: “Oh my God! You scared me!” Sometimes I'm just walking into the room. It could be a teacher or a student. I’m really not trying to sneak up on anyone, so maybe I’m scary, too.

Perhaps that’s why I like to write. No one hears what I say, but they should be able to read what I write, right? Or so I thought. Here's what happened:

Our county automatically adds a line below our signature. So if you work in my school system, you have the following under every email:

After the first week of school we had an ESOL Team meeting, during which we learned that English to Speakers of Other Languages would now be called ELA, English Language Acquisition. And ELL’s (English Language Learners) were now called EL’s (English Learners). Never mind that all of our official, government-mandated documents still say ESOL and ELL.

I recalled my time in grad school when I had to learn all of these different acronyms. And then the past six years when I’ve told someone I’m an ESOL teacher and he/she’s replied: “Oh! You mean ESL?”

So I changed my signature to include this message.

by the way, these are all official ESOL acronyms

The thing is that I changed my signature at the beginning of September! Nobody noticed. I've been really sad about it, but I decided I wouldn't tell everyone – that’s part of what makes it funny! It’s just there, slyly underneath every communication I send out.

Finally, FINALLY, someone did notice. The prize goes to Sonja Norwood, our new ELA specialist! (though if you met her in July, she had the very different title of ESOL specialist)

Thank you for the recognition, Sonja!

For everyone else, sorry if that snuck up on you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TEACHING - first day of school

Good fences make good neighbors, right? How does that apply to roommates?

Don’t get me wrong, the reading teacher I share my room with is GREAT. She’s always helpful, loves kids, and is fun to talk with.

She’s just kind of a pack-rat. And, you know, she’s been at it for a while and so has accumulated an impossible amount of "resources." Plus, last year we got a new reading series with tons and tons of materials.

So it’s getting a little tight. Fortunately, I’m a minimalist. And I’ve always had at least two schools, so if I don’t feel like I want to carry it to and from my car several times a year, I toss it. In that way, then, Dawnette and I are a good match because she uses lots of space and I don’t use so much.
But then some things don’t make sense. I’ll let the pictures do some of the talking.
a week before the first day of school
Okay, so we're all getting set up, right?

How does your room get worse for the first day of school? How does it get messier?

Despite it all, I still had a group that day – on the other side of the room. It was fun to see a 10-year-old squeeze through.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TEACHING - the New Counting


That was Bob’s status update. No words, no pictures – just the number: 24.

Yet I knew exactly what he was talking about.

24 days left of instruction! Summer is almost here!

Come to think of it, there may have been an exclamation mark.

I remember my first year of teaching. Thanksgiving break was coming up, and I was anticipating having several uninterrupted days off. I took thankfulness to a personal new level. At that time I had three schools, and the dozens of teachers I saw in class or crossed in the hallway were bright and cheery for the upcoming holiday. In fact, it was all anyone talked about.

The kids, however, were much less excited. I couldn’t help thinking about the mini-vacation, but when I asked them about plans or if they were excited, the responses were subdued. Plus, they even had a few more days off than the teachers.

I talked to my dad about it. It was one of the very rare occasions where he couldn’t help but make me feel like an idiot. At least he got a good laugh out of it. “You thought the kids looked forward to break more than the teachers? Buuuwwwahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!”

Children are so naïve.

In advance, happy summer – I know that’s all any of my fellow teachers are thinking about.

George proposed that the last 10 days involve some kind of theme, a spirit day that only teachers celebrate and the kids just observe and wonder about. Yes, that is the spirit indeed.

Monday, April 30, 2012

TEACHING - teachers' lounge

I've been away from the blog, but I intend to be back now and keep readers informed on 1) teaching and 2) writing.

Now a little anecdote from #1.

This is a true story.

Friday I was in the teacher lunch room. Jane was telling everyone about this Brazilian restaurant in Baltimore called Fugo de Ciao. I don't know if the name is supposed to be a pun or what. I don't know Portuguese, but I can guess that the “fugo” means fire. The ciao, though, usually in so many romance languages means bye, like “see you later.” So it must be a pun or something (ciao/chow). Several people even talk about how they don't know what the name means and don't even know how you would spell it.

I, however, keep my mouth shut. I usually don't talk that much at lunch. For me, it's normal to be quiet. There is another person there who is silent, a substitute teacher.

For a sub, silence is also very normal. Most subs are not trying to make friends at a school that they will only be at for one day, then go to a different school the next. It depends on personality, really, but in general, substitutes don't strike up conversation in the lunch room. On top of that, this sub in particular huddled over herself a little while eating and had pale skin and red hair, all somehow in my mind indications that she's not chatty. I'd say she was about 25.

So Jane continued on about the great restaurant, how her bill amounted to nearly $300 for three people, but it was completely worth it. Their food was delicious, and they had valet parking and even a orchid to accompany the dishes. Sounds nice and of course pricey.

Her story was finishing up with how they had to wait to retrieve their car after the meal. Apparently her son was concerned about the valet parking, worrying that someone maybe stole their vehicle. Meanwhile, they had driven a van, while other patrons had sports cars that cost as much as houses. She loved telling that part. “Yeah, right. Like someone is going to pick our mini-van, when they could take a Lamborghini? Hahaha.”

That, of course, was when the until-then-silent, redhead substitute turned and looked at Jane.

“The vans are better for storing the dead bodies.”

                                                          Delicious food...to die for

The real story ends there. But I feel compelled to add this: The woman gave us an expectant look, like she was ready for the rest of the room to burst out laughing. Now, I almost did laugh at the weirdness of the comment, especially when I imagined what kind of reception she must have thought the joke was going to earn. But I just kept my mouth shut.