Thursday, September 18, 2008

The hiatus, an explanation, and an invitation

As you may have noticed from my last post, dated many months ago, the end of the year burned me OUT. I've really never been so disgusted with humanity as I was on the last two days of school. I could not wait to get out of there, yet I was in tears at the end for not having a wonderful send-off for the kids like I wanted. It was a miserable week. There were more blogs to post, yet I just couldn't bring myself to find humor in anything.

Obviously there isn't much in the way of teaching to blog about over the summer, especially when not teaching summer school. So I just let it rest and spent my blogging time on my personal blog and perusing Google Reader, which can completely take over my life if I'm not careful.

I mentioned my pregnancy a while back. I'm still chugging along, nearly 7 months now. I have not returned to teaching because I am A) due in Dec and planning on staying home with baby for a while and B) out of the country for a while. Therefore, I don't really have anything to contribute to this blog anymore. If you'd like to follow me through new adventures...those in parenting and international travel...send me an email

damelafuerza -at- gmail

I'll be glad to send you the link, but don't want to associate my new blog with this one.

Hasta luego...
Miss Señora

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I hear you Jose

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked, …but it was nothing compared to the destruction of minds and souls that I saw today. Administrators fighting. Teachers hiding in rooms, allowing, if not inviting, the madness. Students shooting waterguns in the hallways and scribing their graffiti in the stairwells and the Lord of the Flies cussing out peers and superiors alike. A new floor created of cupcakes and workbooks and stinkbombs and looseleaf and cockroaches and pizza crust and Axe. Thinking back on my generation's hysterical, naked, starving madness is no longer a memory which causes me stress, but a welcome relief from this hell.

From Miss Señora, who remembers When I Was Your Age, and just as generations past, is convinced life was better then.

Props to Jose

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


It's 4:35 pm. Approximately 4 days and 17 hours away from the Spanish final. I'm staying after school late with the two students (out of 143) who wanted to study after school with me. The outside phone rings:

Miss Senora?

It is I.

(Angrily) Did my daughter Espy come to school today?

Well, I can't speak for the whole day, but I can tell you that she was not at lunch or in Spanish class. Oh, and the kids all said she wasn't here today. No mention of her leaving early.

Oh my God! Why didn't anyone call me?

We don't call for absent students until they've been absent for three days.

Well, you didn't hesitate to call last week when she skipped.

Well, your precious Espy chose to skip with her three best friends AFTER they were spotted by two staff members at Dunkin' Donuts. Since we were positive that she had skipped, we called.

And just WHAT is the school going to do about this?

Excuse me?

This is now twice in two weeks that she's skipped. The school better do something.

Listen biatch, I'll be happy to call CPS on your incompetent ass. You need to talk to the principal tomorrow. Good luck finding that brat Espy.

Three more weeks. Three more weeks. Three more weeks. Three more weeks.

Maybe I’ll learn more responsibility over the summer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Where is the joy?

School secretary calls my room at 12:35:
"Where is Couscous?"
I don't know. I'm teaching another class right now. He's just in my homeroom.
"His mother's on the phone. She says she MUST speak to him right now. It's an emergency."
OK, well have her call the room and I'll see what I can do.

5 min later

Hello? Ms. Couscous's mom?
"Yes, do you know where Couscous is?"
No, not really. What's the problem?
"I just got a text from him asking me to pick him up. He shouldn't have his cell on during class. This is very unusual for him. When I told him no, I started receiving strange, mean messages. Now he won't answer calls or texts. Are you sure he's at school? What if somebody's got him? What if they stole his phone? Where is he?"
Oh my goodness. OK. Let me see what I can find and I'll call you back.

I walk down the hall, leaving a classroom full of 28 12-year olds to their own devices, in search of the precious Couscous, who could very well have been stuffed in a locker that I was walking by. I turn into his science class, and there he was.

Couscous. Outside. Now.

Do you have your cell phone?
Did you just text your mom?
Why is your phone out during school? Is something wrong?
"I'm tired. It's hot in there. I want to go home.



How I did not strangle this child to death in the hallway is a question I will ask my maker one day. Until then, Couscous's phone is in cellular purgatory (AKA The principal's office) and he will be reunited with it once his mother makes an appointment in the front office. Before turning it in I called his mom on his phone:
Couscous is fine. He was in fact the one sending those nasty messages you described. I told him I was very disappointed, that he only has 2 weeks before finals, and that he cannot use his phone during class. According to his science teacher he had a science project due today which he didn't turn in which was probably why...
"Oh, good. Glad he's OK. Gotta go..."

I've lost the joy in teaching. I've succumbed to a career of bitterness and spite. I stew and fester in my disgust for students, parents and administrators. Two years in and I'm already burnt out. I'm not a quitter. I pushed myself through grad school at night while teaching. This isn't something I want to give up, but good Lord am I tired of the pettiness.

There is a complicating factor in all of this: I'm pregnant. The exhaustion which accompanies my "delicate condition" only compounds my frustration. Summer cannot come fast enough.

I would like to rant for a minute on parenting. I rant without any prior experience but with great hope that I will not make the same stupid-ass mistakes I see on a daily basis. Last year a teacher was venting to me and said "These parents tell their kids that they're special. They're not special. They're the same as the other million kids in the system." It sounded harsh and bitter at the time, but I now replay those comments in my head in a whole new light. These kids aren't special to the world. They're special to their parents. My own parents never said "oh, you're so special", but they did tell me when they were proud of me, when they were disappointed in me, when they were surprised by me. Parents seem terrified of telling their children any of this. "You're special. It's OK if you got a C, as long as you were trying. You never disappoint me sweetheart, just try harder next time, OK?"


No, too many intelligent, capable kids are hearing this and it's destroying them. How will they ever know that they can and SHOULD achieve more if you don't encourage it? Why shouldn't you be disappointed in them when they pee in a bottle in homeroom and leave it in the closet? What if they don't turn in homework because they were 'too tired' and 'forgot' it for 3 weeks straight? I wouldn't be "OK" or "not disappointed" in my child. I'd be frustrated, disappointed and upset. I would not be proud of their actions. I think my child will need to hear that. Well, they WILL hear that, so hopefully it won't be too emotionally damaging. Opinions welcome

Monday, March 31, 2008

Soy tigresa

Ms. Happy comes in bright and early for Resource Room. This morning she was working on writing techniques and, wanting to tie in the 7th grade trip to the Bronx Zoo, she decided to have the kids label themselves as an animal.

"I'm a penguin. They're fat an lazy and awkward" said KT
"I'm a bear" said the overweight boy who was actually there for detention, not RR, but whatever.

After each child spoke up, she asked them to label their teachers as an animal, giving a reason for each decision.

"I think Ms. Señora is a Tiger."
"OK. Please explain." responded Ms. Happy
"Well, she's mean most of the time, but also a tiger"

That just made my day.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

World's Best Mac & Cheese

Yes, it's been nearly 2 months and I haven't spoken. The underlings have been giving me heart palpitations and I try to think about them when I come home. I hope to return to blogging about that soon, but until then, I am going to post about things that make me happy. Cheese always makes me very, very happy. Would you like to join me in such happiness? Great! You too can eat the World's Best Mac & Cheese .

1lb dried elbow macaroni
4c whole milk
6 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 lb swiss cheese, grated (approx 2c)
3/4 lb extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (approx 3c)

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 13x9-in baking dish.
Cook the macaroni in boiling water, about 7 min until al dente. Don't go too long as you'll be baking it.
As you cook the noodles, heat the milk in a small saucepan until almost boiling, then set aside. In a large pot, heat the butter until melted, then whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until it thickens. Immediately whisk in the hot milk and cook for 2-3 minutes, until mixture is thick and smooth.
Remove the sauce from heat and add salt, pepper, Tabasco, and mustard powder. Add the cheeses, reserving 1/2 cup of each for the topping. Whisk the cheese sauce well and adjust the seasonings to taste. Add the cooked macaroni and toss to combine. Transfer the cheesy macaroni to the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle evenly with the reserved cheeses. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly browned on top.

Since discovering this recipe a mere 2 weeks ago, Mr. Señor has made this 4 times.
Bon Appetite!

Friday, February 8, 2008


After a long week filled with Quality Review, observations, 312 grades due, and the physical removal of two parents from the premises of the school I was DONE by this Friday afternoon. Today about 1/3 of my students took a surprise trip (at least it was a surprise to me as I was never notified) to the CNN center. With such an empty class, I decided to sit down and just talk politics with the kids. They may not be able to vote in this election or the next, but certainly they have opinions.

Some want "Hillary" ("ahem, let's call her Ms. Clinton please guys") because:
-"it's about time we had a woman in office!"
-"she wants universal health care and I think everyone should have that too"
-"she already has experience in the white house"

Others want McCain because:
-"Republicans let us keep our money"
-"Both of my parents like him"

The rest were for Obama because:
-"if Hillary ("stop! It's Ms. Clinton, let's show her respect as an adult!") , fine, Ms. Clinton, is elected she's going to take away our video games."
-"It's about time we had a black guy for president"
-"he's the only one who has a fighting chance to end slavery"

*screechy record-stopping-noise* ....."What?!"

"Well, since he's black, he could probably end slavery"

(20 seconds of dumbfounded staring in disbelief)

"Slavery was abolished in 1863..."

"Oh, ...right. I guess I'm just tired."

I'm so proud to be teaching the future of America.

To encourage myself, I've been watching this video over and over. Here's a little inspiration for us all....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Creative thinking

Each morning at 9:12 we have a routine. Principal Crazy plays a tune on the loudspeaker, welcomes us to a "BEAUtiful day at PS ..." and then has a "very special"class say the pledge and sing 'God Bless America'. The rest of us have the kids stand, face the flag and sing. The "special class" gets a writing utensil (pencils for K-5, pens for 6-8) each time (as if they should be rewarded for screeching into the microphone).

Today, our homeroom had the joy of being that "very special" class. We took the kids down threatening months of detention if they misbehaved. As it turns out they were very good. I told the kids to meet me in the hallway when they finished. They ran up to Pr. Crazy, snatched a pen in the color of their choice, and skipped out the door...

...only to have the pen confiscated as soon as they crossed the threshold.

You see, last time we did the morning exercises, those pens were destroyed. In ways you would not think of destroying a pen. It was disastrous. And wouldn't you know FN already had his split in half by the time he reached me today...approx 3 seconds after receiving the pen.

Ms. Happy took the kids upstairs and I returned to the office with my booty. "Pr. Crazy, I wanted to let you know that I confiscated all the kids pens." I told him, hands overflowing with 34 half-inch-wide weapons.

"Why did you take those from them?" he was rather startled.

"Well you see, last time we did this, the kids took apart the pens" He gave me a confused look. "See this top part of the shaft? When they stick it between their cheek and molars, it becomes an invisible whistle which they blow when we turn around to write on the board. See this squiggly thing (the part that supposedly clips onto your shirt pocket)? This is snapped off and they scratch their names into the desks with it. The ink tube is then snapped inside desks and on chairs to sabotage the next student who uses the desk. I decided that it wouldn't be a good idea for them to take these pens to their classes."

His response was not one of understanding. His response was not one of shock, horror, or sympathy to we poor teachers who have to deal with all of this x34 every day. Instead...

...he smiled.

A big, dorky, goofy smile. He started nodding/shaking his head, pointing to me, and looking at the secretaries in the office who just stared back at us, as dumbfounded as I was.

"Future scientists! That's what we've got up there! Future scientists! I can't believe their creativity! How do they do it?! That's great!"

I have nothing left to say about this. You can draw your own conclusions. I'm drawing mine with a bottle of gluhwien from some friends in Germany. Without support from my administration, it's about all I can find any solace in. Prost!

Friday, January 18, 2008

This is uncomfortable to watch...

(Can't find the html code to imbed, so you'll have to link)

After you watch, if you can handle it, read below:

The woman in this video represents every insecurity I have about disciplining my students. She comes out swinging, trying to discipline the kid via the airwaves, as if he's going to have some kind of epiphany right there in front of her entire viewing audience and she can take credit for setting him straight. In the end, the kids socks it to her and she looks like a moron.

I hate being the moron

Early on in my first year I tried yelling, setting-straight, and shaming in moderate doses and it really got me nowhere. The kids didn't respect me any more. They were still obnoxious jerks in the same exact ways. Grades didn't improve. What exactly did I accomplish? My guess is that I just took about 3 years off the end of my life with undue stress. Oh, and I was accused of being mean amongst many other things.

I was a moron.

These days I resort to long-term secret alliances. I pull kids out of other classes under the guise that I have some important business and then discuss their rude behavior in a personal "It hurts my feelings that you don't respect me like I respect you" kinda way. The kid feels both excited to be pulled out of class and upset that they missed the mark on this 'friendship' with a teacher. The most bad-ass kids in school now give me covert nods and quiet hellos when they're pretty sure nobody else will notice. And they do show me respect in the halls and in class.

My question to you is this:
How would you have treated this jerkwad if you were:
a) the reporter
b) his teacher
c) his parents
d) an acquaintance/neighbor.

Pick one or all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Under Pressure

My kids aren't all that bad. In fact, I normally think of them as mostly good contrary to what my posts may present. Though I am only a 2nd year teacher, one of my best abilities thus far is in classroom management. Since I am able to reign everyone in pretty well, the students considered most obnoxious by other teachers tend to be my favorites as they have the best senses of humor. A particular favorite is "FN". He's much smarter than he or other teachers give him credit for AND he is absolutely hilarious. When positioned properly in the SW corner of the room next to an exceptionally brilliant student and a mute student he is focused, participatory, and a real asset to my class as he loves to ask gooooooood questions. I even got him to wear a red polka-dot dress in front of the class once when we were learning adjectives. Any other teacher will tell you that he's a nightmare.

The kids all have my instant messenger screenname so that they can ask me questions about homework at night. Not one person has asked me about homework yet. Instead I get a lot of "wuz up?"...but I digress... Tonight FN sent me a message for the first time. (I should mention that he is also a homeroom student of mine and Ms. Happy's.) Apparently our peptalk during today's homeroom about the importance of tomorrow's impending ELA (English) exams actually had an impact on him as you can see from this excerpt of our online chat:

FN: i feel weird for the test tommoro
MissSeñora: The ELA test?
FN: yes
MissSeñora: Why?
FN: alot of pressure..
FN: not a tea spoon but like a sumo wrestler on me
MissSeñora: This is true. You must remember though that you're smart and will do a good job!
FN: why, Thank you
FN: now you've made my day

"....not a teaspoon, but like a sumo wrestler on me..." That was just one of those sweet, innocent, sincere moments I've been craving with a student lately. Little does he know, FN just made my day.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Last school year I was told that I must teach grades 2-6 (in my K-8 school). Nevermind that not one of those grades is in my certification. Nevermind that it was my first year teaching. Nevermind. Just go babysit Miss Señora.

So, completely clueless, I made 350 copies of a general questionnaire for the kids to fill out because hey, ...if my administrators weren't going to give me their expectations, the students would have to do it themselves.

Here are some of the answers I collected in September 2006. Some real gems. Remember, these kids range in ages from 7-12 years old. I wonder now why I didn't do this again this year

1. Do you speak, read or write in Spanish?

-I do not read Spanish. I may look spanish, but I'm not.
-No, because not one person in my family speaks Spanish. How am I supposed to know it?
-No I geus speak a Aloon Bei. (¿qué?)

2. Where do you think that Spanish is spoken?

-In my house
-America & Aruba
-Brizsl -Birzl
-Amirica, Texes
-Sedgwick Park (Bronx)
-Domme Replica, -Dimenicon repblc
-Cypress Ave. (Bronx)
-canada, canida
-Spainu, Spine, Spani
-Puato Rico, Putro rico, Peruroto Rico. pocote ricaio, purto ricc
-my house and Spanish Harlem
-Rome & Florida
-Argentina, streets, and stores
- Cuba, and maybe some parts of New Jersey
-gomolow (what?)

3. What do you want to learn in this class?

-I want to learn spanish and to ascholy comunikat with spanish people. (huh?)
-When did Spanish come to the world? (yeah, she wont' be allowed to ask any more questions)
-becaise people mite be Spanish. they mite befrom Spain
-If a lunch lady is Spanish you can tell them what you want (right on man)
-I want to learn spanish because if somebody talks to you in Spanish and you don't know to say and you pretend and they think its a bad word. (ok)

4. What do you expect of Miss Señora?

-to wear red shirts
-What I expect is that she'll help me do what I WANT.
-to show us the respect we deserve.
-to show me Spanish and explain it good.
-What I expect Miss Señora are Spanish teets and how to speak. (apparently he meant "tests" lol)
-I expect Miss Señora to speak spanish and to smell good not bad.
-I expect to learn Spanish from Miss Señora. I also expected her to be Spanish, or at least look Spanish, but I'll get over it.
-I think she is a nice Spanish woman. (why thank you. you're a nice Nepalese man)

5. What do you think Miss Señora. expects of YOU?

-good be havure
-to pay a tenchon (that's expensive, poor kid)
-to rais our hands or write complete (he did neither)
-a lot since I'm in middle school now.
-to be bavering (no, I would never expect that....)
-she probably expects me to like class
-a lot of antarchy (it really disturbs me that this 3rd grader not only knows the word, but is now using it to intimidate me)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Shhhh! Don't tell her she's failing!

I've had nice parents. I've had angry parents. I've had threatening parents.

I've never had a parent like this. Chastising me ("To whom it may concern" you really not know my name?) about informing her daughter that she's failing. It all started when I sent home a second letter, informing parents that students are failing and providing a list of assignments with grades. This young lady is in 7th grade. She is 13 years old. She is fully capable of taking responsibility for her own grades. How else will she learn responsibility?

Are there any parents out there with some input? I do not have children, but if my child was failing I don't believe that I would ever try to shelter them from that, even if my goal was to help them improve their grades.

If you're not a parent, you can play a game: Find as many grammatical mistakes as possible. Winner gets a congratulations comment on their blog. Go!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

El Año Nuevo

After a fabulously excessive break in Central America, I returned to school refreshed, renewed and relaxed. There were no thoughts of children, of students, of work, of stress or of NYC at all while we were gone. As if nothing existed north of the rainforest, we carried on about our vacationing business and had the time of our lives.

Fast forward (a bit too fast) to January 2nd, 2008. I am relaxed, rested and slightly tanned. I have climbed all five flights of stairs back to my room (which makes me smile as I realize that just 2 days before it was a volcano I was climbing) and I wait for my kids to come up. I am confident that they too have had peace and relaxation and are ready to turn over a new banana leaf just like I am. I smile as they enter. I thank them for their compliments on my newly bronzed skin. I bounce about the hallways gently reminding them to tuck in shirts with a smile instead of roaring "I tell you every single day to tuck this in! When will you learn?" as I had just two weeks earlier.

Morning homeroom is almost over but we still have 3 minutes. They have actually finished their morning duties early! Yes! I knew it! We've all changed this past week. Spring semester will be wonderful!

Then I make the mistake of asking them about their breaks. "What did you all do? Did you go anywhere interesting? Did you give or receive any neat gifts? Tell me something about your holidays"

"I saw my brother get wasted on Christmas Eve. It was mad funny because I've never seen him drunk before."

Does anyone have anything to share that doesn't involve alcohol?

"Yes! I went to the casino with my cousins!"
Someone in the back shouts to him: "Yeah, tell her the rest! Tell her about your 'beverages'!"

I glare and move on. "What about New Year's Eve? What did you guys do for New Year's Eve?"

"My sister let me drink champagne!"

Looks like vacation is over. Central America, with her warm temperatures, kind people and brilliant colors, is nothing but digital photos and memories. And on the bright side, my students are now with me and out of the hands of drunken family members.