Tuesday, December 18, 2007


"Miss Señora...may I have a moment of your time?" asked my AP (assistant principal for those of you not in the know).

"Of course"
I begrudgingly replied. Hey, it was only 45 minutes past the minute that I stopped getting paid and I'm still here working...what's a short chat among...non-friends?

"Dulce's mom came up to the office today. She is very concerned about the movie you showed yesterday. What is your take on this situation?"

Situation? What situation? I showed a movie about Christmas celebrations in Mexico put out by an educational company. ...I thought to myself. "Well, the movie's over there in the DVD player...would you like to see it?" I responded instead.

"No, no." was her quick reply. "But Miss Señora, she told me that you told the children there was no Santa Claus. In fact I heard about your kids last year..."

Santa Claus? Dulce is 13 years old and living in the Bronx...how does she not know about Santa Claus? And what on earth did I do to my students last year? I didn't even own the video then and I never discussed Santa...I think we sang the donkey song and made cards that said Feliz Navidad. Who the heck is this Scrooge they're hunting? ..."I have no idea what you're talking about" was all I could think to say.

"Well you told them about how your children stayed up too late and so 'Santa'...meaning you...never brought them presents". This was accompanied by one of those corner-of-the-eye-glares.

You've got to be kidding me. "But I don't have any children." I reminded her.

"Oh. Right. Well what about your husband?" she said, thinking she'd outsmarted me.

"We have no children. None. And I've never withheld Christmas from anyone. And the video doesn't discuss Santa Claus because Mexicans don't have Santa Claus. I don't understand why this is a problem."

"Well, let's just not discuss him again ok?", she grimaced in defeat as she headed towards the door.

"I'll do my best" (oops, hope she doesn't have that mom-vision that allows her to see me roll my eyes as she walks away).

Today I shall begin a tally of horrors for which I have been accused this year. In no particular order:

-Killing Santa Claus (Me and Mr. Monk I suppose)
-Stealing shoes from my students
-Giving students carpal tunnel.
-Fibbing to parents
-Ruining a student's day
-Screaming at a student who I do not teach or know.
-Being "the one teacher that I (Thumbs) don't f*** around with" (as told to his psychiatrist)

I shall accept ONLY the last as true...I'm quite proud of that in fact. More to come I'm sure...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Spanish Scattergories

The week of Thanksgiving, being only three days long, I decided to cut my kids some slack. Well, the good kids anyway. So I played Scattergories with my all-girls class. Their vocabulary isn't broad enough yet for an all-Spanish game, so I just gave bonus points if they were able to use Spanish words. If you haven't played Scattergories, let me give you the basic rules (at least, the way they were played in my class):

-Roll a lettered, many-sided dice to get the key Letter of the round.
-Give a category from the card and 30 seconds to select as many words starting with the key letter that fit the category.
-You receive points for picking words that nobody else picked (very difficult in a class of 32 children)

I share this with you so that I can give you some examples of the responses the girls gave me. They speak for themselves.

*F - 'Excuses For Being Late'
----(Overheard) "Damn, I have so many good excuses I use and I can't think of one of them now!"

*R -'Places That Are Hot'
---- "Miss Señora...do you mean 'hot' like temperature or 'hot' like a tight place to go?" (translation for those of you who still don't get it...think Paris Hilton)

*F - 'Bad Habits'
---- "Being frisky!" (yes, they're still only 12 years old)

*B -'Things you wear'
---- "Bling Bling!" (she was excited because double points are awarded for answers that are two-word phrases in which both words begin with the Key letter)

*M -"Famous People'
----"Mark Wahlberg!"
...another student: "Who's that?"
...me: "You know, Donnie Wahlberg's brother"
...student: huh?
...me again: "From New Kids on the Block!"
...student: "You mean that Mark Wahlberg grew up on your block?"
...me: *sigh

*P -'Cosmetics and Toiletries'
----"Huh? What does that mean?"
...me: "They are items that you would use for personal hygiene in the restroom as well as perfumes, colognes and makeup."
...student 1: "I still don't get it."
...student 2: "I think she means, like, bathroom stuff and, like, things you use in the bathroom..."
...entire class: "Ooooooooh. I get it!"
...me: "Are you kidding me?!?!"

Monday, November 19, 2007

So, about your B.O.

Announcement to homeroom:

You smell. You smell really really really bad. I have trouble breathing when I enter a room that you have been stewing in. Other teachers are noticing. You are individually noticing each other's smells and bothering me about it during my personal time. This must be fixed. You are now 12 and 13 years old. Your armpits will emit odor (laughter)....

I'm not joking guys. The B.O. is horrendous in here.

But what is B.O.? asks F.N. (without raising his hand....grrr...)

Are you joking? ...Oh, you're not.

B.O. stands for "Body Odor"
(hysterical laughter and approximately 34 voices all repeating "BODY odor BODY odor BODY odor" over and over again)

Let me recommend a few things for you to do:
-Shower daily...preferably in the morning before I have to be in the same room with you.
-Wear deodorant. It's called SpeedStick. It's not expensive.
-Back to the part about the shower...use soap while you're in there.
-Axe and perfume are not substitutes for a shower. They will make your B.O. worse!
-Just take a friggin shower!!!!
-Also about the shower...scrub those pits (more laughter. Apparently "pits" is hilarious).

Ms. Happy intercedes: Guys calm down. We're serious. There is a FUNK on this entire floor.

(you did NOT just use the word funk)

Hysterical laughter breaks out throughout the classroom. This along with B.O. should be standardized vocabulary by 5th grade so that we can have a serious conversation about a truly serious issue! I was getting ticked off. Ms. Happy was ticked. We're both repeating our "Guys. Focus guys." mantras. Then it happened. Thumbs opens his big annoying mouth and ...began singing!

"We got the FUNK! .... We GOT the funk!".

My jaw dropped in absolute shock that this 12 year old who can't add two single-digit numbers knows this Earth Wind and Fire classic. My dropped-jaw then curled, despite resistance from every ounce of my being, to a smile. I looked at Ms. Happy...he had her too. No!!!!!!! Our grins were widening and the spasms in my diaphragm began. I tried to turn away, but the entire class had joined in. There was dancing. There was snapping. There was singing. It was stinkin' hilarious.

There's no avoiding it. We got da funk, and it's apparently here to stay.

Dear Homeroom

Last Thursday the kids went absolutely ape-sh*t. I've never seen anything like it. Somebody stole ChakaKahn's purse and hid it. A group of boys all told her to look in the closet where she found it. I told them to fess up, but nobody would.

"Then we'll all stay after school tomorrow if someone doesn't tell me in the next 10 seconds"

Ooops, the minute that sentence came out of my mouth, all hell broke loose. Kids screaming (not yelling or talking...I'm talking blood-curdling screaming), running around, throwing bookbags, knocking over chairs. I've never seen anything like it. Teachers passing by in the hallway rushed over to my room to observe the catastrophe, and Ms. Mathy-Math removed her waiting students from the hallway to another room. I was pissed. They would not calm down after 10 seconds or so, so I turned off the lights and SCREAMed at the top of my lungs for several seconds before they stopped yelling.

I told them they would all be lining up outside in the schoolyard at 8:45 (as opposed to 9:00) and they better not have anything to say about it, and that until their behavior improved in homeroom and in the classes, we will continue to do so. (humph!)

Welllllll....oops, I forgot I had a huge meeting the next morning at 8:00 so I figured I'd just blown my imposed consequences. Shoot!

They left and I vented my frustrations on the chalkboard.

Dear Homeroom,

Your behavior is unacceptable. You are constantly disrespecting Ms. Happy, me, and your fellow classmates. I have had enough. From now on, we will have silent homeroom every morning and every afternoon until 4:00. Do not talk to me. Do not talk to each other. If we cannot respect each other, we must not interact. If you have anything to say to me, you can write me a letter.

Sincerely, Señora

The next morning, Friday, I attended my meeting at 8:00 and when I came out at 8:50, I went to my room to discover all but three of the students sitting there in absolute stunned silence. Walking down the hall, I did not even realize that they were in there and I was actually startled when I found 29 bodies sitting there. I put down my things, completely ignored them, and walked downstairs to collect any stragglers (Thumbs and two others) who I also did not speak to. I walked back in (again to absolute silence), wrote the lunch on the board, and finished with a list of simple instructions on locker procedures for the morning. Not one word was spoken the entire eighteen minutes.

So, did I win? I'm not sure yet. We had "silent homeroom" all week long, suffering minor disruptions only from the two worst students (34 total kids in my homeroom). Monday is the first day that we will return to normal. I do know this. The past week they have been ready for class and dismissal on time every single day, which is much more than I can say about the previous six weeks of school.

The problem with OJ

We have lunch in the classroom at my school. It's not a form of punishment for the children. It's punishment for the teacher. From 12:37 on, I have to smell "ravioli with fruit medley and assortment of milks" or "cheese sandwich, cole slaw, assorted juices". While I will admit that 'assortment' is an appetizing word, when you smell mass-produced children's food for 4 hours at the end of a day, it loses appeal.

Last Wednesday the seventh graders dug in to their meals, and within the first minute a wave of "ugh! gross! blech!" rose across the room. I looked up from my paperwork and saw approximately 10 disgusted faces. "What's wrong?" I asked. "The juice! It tastes like sh... ... uh... bad!". I grabbed a juice and smelled. I can't say it smelled great, but I'm not a huge orange juice fan. I took another one to my nose just as Thumbs yells "Someone musta mixed in chocolate milk. This is mad nasty!" I agreed and suggested they all grab a milk instead.

ED sauntered forward, unaware of the conversation the class had just had as he had been engrossed in his book. He's one of those kids a teacher loves. Quiet, extremely smart, extra cute since he's a foot shorter than everyone else, and very very nice. He looked me dead in the eye and says "Señora, something's wrong with the juice."

"I know ED. We were just discu...."

"No, I mean it's gone bad or something. It's like, you know when you take your first sip of beer?"

I just stared at him. He continued to look at me waiting for my response.

"Um, whatever do you mean???" (are you kidding me! you're 12 years old!!!)

AM elbows ED in the ribs and 'The Look' falls from his hairline to his toes. He is totally busted

"I repeat, whatever do you mean? And how the heck do you know?"

"Oh. Well, last summer my dad, um. ...I don't know how I know, but I think that the same process has occurred in my juice!"

(Did you just use the phrase "process has occurred"? LOL. Forgiven)

Who dropped a sucker?

The class was finally inside the door a mere five seconds past the bell. This pleased me. I went to close the tall wooden door but was met with resistance and a distinct 'crunch' sound. I glanced at the door, but didn't notice anything immediately so I tried again. Same resistance, same crunch. Upon further inspection I see green shards of hard candy on the floor below the hinges of the door. We've had issues with kids bringing hard candy into the school and then throwing them at each other during passing periods.

The kids inside my room noticed my efforts to clear the trapped candy and return to my class. "Señora, what happened?"

"Someone dropped a sucker in the hallway." I replied, finally able to close the door and move on with my day. Ready until, that is, JR jumped up, mouth open and smiling. He started throwing punches in the air and yelled "Who was it Miss? Who was it? Who got it?"

"I have no idea JR. Sit down." Why in the world was this kid so worked up? He was still throwing punches in the air and smiling wildly.

"Who got dropped?!?!?!" JR would not calm down.

"What? Someone dropped a sucker...it was stuck in the door." What the heck is wrong with this kid? I've heard that tween-age boys have hearing deficits, but this is ridiculous.

Then it dawned on me. I didn't have a deaf student. I had a self-imposed language barrier which had nothing to do with mi clase de español. You see, in the midwest and south, where I spent my youth, a "sucker" is a piece of candy on a stick, also known as a lollipop. "To drop" something meant that it fell out of one's hands. Not in the Bronx. In the Bronx a "sucker" is a gullible person and "to drop" someone is to knock them out. Young JR assumed that there was a fight and I was simply closing the door on a passed out loser in the hallway.

Who dropped a sucker? Neither JR nor I will ever know.

Friday, November 9, 2007


I found that I needed to create a new blog as my personal information was showing up on google...hopefully that won't happen again :) I will repost my old blogs here to have a collection, then start anew after Thanksgiving.