It may not be for everyone, but it sure lightened things up for us today.
Aluminum Is Our Friend November 29, 2012
Isn’t aluminum a miraculous metal? Elementary textbooks would agree! According to the book, cans, window and bike frames, and cookware just wouldn’t be the same were it not for our friend, aluminum. Inspiring stuff, I know! But this is nothing compared to my students’ extensive background knowledge of the immensely popular Aluminum Hat! “My uncle has aluminum! You make hats out of it!”
Sooo, YOU don’t have aluminum foil at your house, where kids and babies are happening, but your uncle keeps it on-hand as a hat-making staple. It’s not weird—it’s just a relationship with foil that I had not previously considered.
What I have considered is the fact that I should never keep foil on hand in my classroom. Why? Two words: potential projectiles. Two more words: mutant spitballs.
Now, when I think of an aluminum hat, I think of this gentleman:
Uncle Phil, sharing his wisdom with the next generation.
Lethargy Competition: Photo Finish November 27, 2012
I have a couple of students who impersonate this young man on a regular basis. Although they are not biological siblings, I like to think of them as Augustus and Julius. They bear no resemblance to these historical figures, but it confuses them when I call them by their Peachy-assigned aliases.
They share a philosophy which has been honed and perfected over several years of schooling. The LETHARGY FOREVER school of thought centers around the ever-present conflict between exerting a milli-iota of effort vs. screw-it-and-go comatose-until-the-current-task-is-done-and-I-will-now-never-understand-it-so-again-screw-it-and-go-comatose.
Beautifully circular. The slightly more awake version involves waiting until the teacher goes over the answer with the whole class, at which point they copy it. But that is usually a little bit too taxing for the Caesar boys.
LETHARGY FOREVER is resistant to the most engaging dog and pony show that I may devise. I have determined that this is because I will never shoot a spitball or an eraser at them. I do not crawl on the floor, putting small items into my hoodie pocket, then transform into a human question mark when called out on this slightly suspicious behavior. Oh, the shining halos I can summon above Julius and Augustus’ guilty little heads, just by telling them to knock it off. This is not to say that the thought of lofting a pen across the classroom (as an engagement strategy) has not crossed my mind from time to time. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that I have broken into the Hallelujah Chorus on occasion when a LETHARGY FOREVER devotee volunteers an intelligent response in a discussion, not because I feel they are incapable, but because they are usually so dedicated to being incapable.
Today I insisted that these two captains of industry continue to work on the assignment, of which they had so artfully completed exactly .5%. This statistic means that they had successfully written their names, and, in one case, transformed the bullets on the page into actual physical holes by which to guide their intellectual journey through the darkness. The other students in class were working on posters.
I was working with a small group of non-English speakers, attempting to get them to say and write the word “tree.”
The Caesars were pissed. I helped each of them, periodically returning to each to find that they had added nothing since my previous help session. In the end, they were both directed to complete it as homework, in addition to the other homework that they will not do tonight. If one of them actually returns the thing, I may draw a star on his hand. To freak them out more than anything.
It’s the simple things.
Liebster Award Parade November 23, 2012
Wow! Ambling and Rambling has honored me by nominating me for the coveted Liebster Award! Thanks! It’s another award icon that I can’t fit in my sidebar without kicking out the last pretty little award icon. Clearly, my theme is driven by a “What have you done for me lately?” consciousness.
I must have really arrived as a blogger with this one, since its requirements include that I must tell, not seven, but ELEVEN fascinating things about me! In essence, then, it’s a fiction-writing challenge.
1) As a child, I used a shampoo called “Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific.” I really did. It really did.
2) I once owned a cat named Shrapnel.
3) I learned to swim in a big lake, not a pool. I had to go to swimming lessons at 9:00 a.m. at aforementioned lake the day after having seen the film “Jaws” for the first time. Pools still feel foreign to me–but I acknowledge the advantage of a guaranteed shark-free swimming experience.
4) I have never been on a cruise. It’s not because of the sharks.
5) The internet thinks that I am a guy and that I might one day decide to explore the world of “enlargement.” If I were truly savvy about increasing my blog traffic, I would have stated that in much more direct terms. But my readers are a subtle lot who can figure these things out without my naming genitalia. Besides, that’s not my thing. I leave that territory to Tracy, Fern, and Rebecca.
6) I am a committed recycler. I have a “Recycling Deputy” badge to prove it. And the garbage men just picked up the garbage—hoisting my two full recycling bins and dumping them into the garbage truck. I am livid. Had I known this, I would have either withheld my recycling til next week when they weren’t feeling so pressed due to the post-Thanksgiving catch up rush, OR I would have ditched a bunch of shit from the fridge without rinsing and disposing of the moldy contents. I like to think that I would have done the former.
7) It’s really hard for me to come up with the blog list for this deal—I have a limited list of blogs that I follow, because I have a hard time keeping up with the prolific folks that I want to read. Do other people really keep up with this stuff? Yet another argument for quitting my job. Also a pre-emptive apology if I re-nominate you and you are tired of this sort of thing. It’s only because I love you. Or think that you are deliciously weird.
8) I suck at twitter. Sometimes, a couple of people will accidentally follow me. Then they say to themselves, “Wow. She sucks at twitter.” And they unfollow me. So I have
approximately exactly seven followers. If you want to follow someone who is unashamedly inadequate at twitter, it’s peachyteachy5. I won’t hold my breath. #Isuckattwitter
9) I used to alternate between three pseudonyms: Zippy the Chimp, Marlin Perkins, and Yassir Arafat. When I say “used to,” I mean many, many moons ago.
10) I confess to having committed the federal crime of sending a matchbook through the mail. Whilst posing as Marlin Perkins, most likely. Just another example of my wild, edgy life.
11) If the question is “Sea Monkeys?” the answer is yes. In a necklace.
But enough about me.
speaker7 is a new discovery for me–strange, funny randomness.
Christopher De Voss has done some interesting research, on Pringles and Uno, stuff like that. FYI: those names are registered trademarks. You’re welcome.
tracyfulks is out there. Which makes it more fun to be in here. Hilarious, often, but also crazy real at times.
hikingphoto –Gorgeous photography. I am partial to the outside kind.
So I Went Undercover is also new to me—a cooking blog, as far as I can tell—if you like to burn stuff.
The Kitchen Slattern Speaks is a wealth of health and unhealth. And funny.
The Fur Files Indescribable. I don’t know how this woman gets so much writing done. She also scours the web to find the most disturbing images of the most bizarre subjects—all so that we won’t have to.
nailsbails– just funny writing.
And, two of my favorite VIDEO BLOGS! Like reading, only not. My joyful awareness of their existence I owe to my college-age son.
vlogbrothers I have mentioned these guys before, but if we’re in the season of gratitude, I am truly grateful that John and Hank Green are doing their thing : “nerdy to the power of awesome.”
charlie is so cool like Charming, creative, very popular young Brit You Tuber.
The Mayflower Blooms in May November 19, 2012
For those of you who have resigned your indoctrination in the ways of the school year—this is a two day week. For some, it may be a three-day week, which is barbaric, because that would mean that the Wednesday-of-the-Cooking would not be happening, and that is straight up wrong. Pies must be made. Side dishes that can be made “up to one day ahead” must be made. Pecans and brown sugar must be forgotten and shopped for.
At any rate, whether the kids are in school on Tuesday or Wednesday, one would expect that they would be acknowledging, in a learningish kind of way, Thanksgiving-esque content. Right? I checked my plans. There is not a Plymouth Rock in sight. And I will put money on the prediction that exactly four children in my class could name the ship that brought those Pilgrims across the pond, much less identify the pond. Squanto (or “the Squanto Indians,” as a former grad school classmate referred to him) has been lost to Main Idea and Details as they relate to some random non-fiction article.
WHAT HAVE I BECOME???? Who will make my students feel guilty about the fact that the Europeans repaid the native people with genocide? NO ONE!! NO ONE WILL! Because there is no more standardized social studies test!
I hereby apologize in advance for the lack of Thanksgiving rigor present in my classroom. It’s a dark day in the history of education. But hey, look at the bright side: now our students will be more competitive in the world marketplace.
Uninvited Guests—and I Don’t Mean Insects November 14, 2012
Tomorrow marks round two of parent-teacher conferences! My goal is to have even more parents show up than I had last week! You may be dusting off the Teacher of the Year trophy, but don’t get too excited. I had exactly one live parent show up last week. I’m feeling pretty confident, considering the fact that I will have even more time tomorrow, including evening hours.
On another “It’s super to be a teacher” note, sometimes we run into former students. It’s heartwarming, often. Less frequently, it’s a little bit terrifying. For instance, when you are out in the neighborhood, walking the dog with the kid, and you hear someone saying your name, a la “I know that not Ms. Peachy! I know that not Ms. Peachy!” At this point, conversation is unavoidable. In your own neighborhood. And when you realize that the kid is a student who had frequented the office and some alternative “programs” due to years-long history of crazy violent behavior, that’s an extra special moment. But not the most special moment.
The MOST special moment is the next day when someone knocks on your door, and it’s–you guessed it– the kid. Asking to play with your much younger kid, and listing video games that he wonders whether your kid plays. Def Blood? Ultimate Murder 2013? “Ummm, no, I don’t let him play violent games.” This, I say out loud, while my interior monologue goes something like this, “HELL, no, my son cannot come out and play with you, nor will he EVER be allowed to be inside any house to play any video game with you. And who the hell told you which house I live in, and you are a suspected sociopath, so, hey, it’s so nice to see you, but BUH-BYE!” I have decided that, if he pops in again, I will confide in him that I am a witch, and ask him if he would like to learn some spells. If he says yes, I will go all crazy-eyed and let go a cackle, and offer him some mealworms for a snack.
It’s good to have a plan.
Peachy Likes Apples, Old School November 11, 2012
I spend so much time immersed in the ridiculous, it becomes absolutely essential that I find my way to the sublime as often as possible. Food, gardens, and a select group of awesome people are my Xanax.
A passion for apples was instilled in me from an early age, when my mother would roam the family homestead’s orchard, which had been planted somewhere around 1890. She would name varieties like Transparents (varieties were usually referred to in the plural), Greasy Pippins, Spies, Winesaps, Jonathans, Russets, Dutchesses, and Snows. It was, really, a wild orchard of sorts, as she didn’t “cultivate” the fruits. An occasional trim of dead wood was the only maintenance of which I was aware, and the apples probably resembled their predecessors as a result. These were not fancy, unblemished fruits—and yet my mom extended affection and respect to each one, spots and all. I suspect that this was a mater of course for earlier generations, especially those with connections to life during the Great Depression. There would be a good deal of grave rolling if those folks saw some of us in our petulant rejection of imperfect-looking, diminutive fruits, as we lob them down the orchard rows as we seek the perfect apple-picking experience.
She rejected almost no apple. She would sit on the porch, or in the kitchen if it was later in the fall, with an enameled pan full of apples on one side, another full of water in which to deposit the prepared slices. She peeled, quartered, and sliced using a little paring knife that wasn’t particularly sharp. She would salvage any part of a yucky-looking apple, even if it resulted in two slices being added to the pan of water and apple slices. I suppose that this was a meditative practice for her, despite the fact that her lovely pan of apple slices was periodically raided by kids. When I think of the considerable labor it takes for me to make a pie using enormous, perfect apples, it’s pretty humbling.
I am a better cook, in general, than my mom was. We didn’t have a lot of financial security growing up, and she used some cheap-ass ingredients and menu-stretching methods as a result. She was also allergic to onions and to black pepper, so the Flavor-Meter was pretty much permanently set to “Bland.” Another side effect of Depression days was the practice of cooking the hell out of everything. And when I say “hell,” I mean flavor and texture and nutrients. My mom burned out many a cheap pan while cooking vegetables on the stove. The one exception to this rule was her baking, and especially her pie baking. The apple peeling process described above yielded a mixture of apples, whose flavors would meld together into something pretty remarkable.
Right now, I have some Granny Smiths and some Winesaps in the kitchen. Neither are shiny from the grocery store. Both were locally grown. Winesaps are tough to find, and they were not named after an over-emotional drunk. You must try them, especially in a pie, to understand.
I know, I know—those pricey Honeycrisps are trademarked and tasty. But if you get a chance, hit a farmer’s market and try something that is old along with something that is new. And remember that it won’t kill you to cut off a blemish; it takes a lot of chemical seasoning to make an apple look “perfect.”
Pencil Shard Bombardment Unaffected by Election November 8, 2012
I had hoped that there might be a ceasefire. It was not to be.
Pencils in my classroom supposedly work like this: There is a “Take Me” jar of sharpened pencils. When a kid needs a pencil, they are to trade their broken or dull pencil into the “Sharpen Me” jar. Kids are supposed to donate pencils to the class so that we have a supply. They are allowed to use the electric sharpener in the morning.
Pencils in my classroom actually work like this:
1) Someone generously donates a pack of pencils to the “Take Me” jar.
2) Sneaky Stealth boy pockets all of them.
3) Sneaky Stealth boy takes erasers off and converts the remainder of the pencils to shards of exactly 1 and 1/2 inches in length. He stores them in his desk, along with enough paper to start an inferno. Or to make 7,000 spitballs. To my mind, it’s about time that someone went for the inferno instead of the spitballs. No such luck.
4) Ten students come rushing up to me after specials, reporting that SSB has been shooting pencil shards and spitballs at them throughout music class. Apparently, SSB is not a Mozart-in-training. He denies everything, including the things that I do personally witness. But, in general, he gets everyone pissed off, pretending he did nothing. “Oh, no! I was walking around the perimeter of the room looking for a place to throw this little piece of saliva-sticky gum away!” Yes. Yes, he did too say it. Maybe I added the saliva thing. But you know I didn’t make it up; I just played fast and loose with the quotation marks. He also grabs every pencil within range on his recon mission.
Another frequent flyer on the discipline referral express is Borderline Psychotic Boy, who is known to enjoy a nice chair flip here and there, and for mumbling nasty things under his breath to students whose only English consists of the choice profanity that they have most likely learned from nasty young ‘uns like BPB. BPB takes it upon himself to round up a posse of Anti-Sneaky Stealth Boy dudes, all of whom are getting a rush out of being part of a tough little league of vengeance. It is so freaking pathetic, and super conducive to the sort of high level academic rigor that we are expected to achieve on a daily basis.
Pencil shard bombardment makes for some inspiring group work. Research shows that this is the ultimate educational method. The researchers clearly cancelled their research appointment at my school. Today’s triumphant group project outcome? SSB gets pissed off when someone erases a microscopic mark that he drew on his group’s poster. His response? DESTRUCT”OR STRIKES AGAIN! POSTER DESTROYED! Projectiles fly as temper tantrum ensues! Learn, learn learn!!
Will someone please just get it over with and recruit these charmers to the Douchebag Academy and make them valedictorians? Their families have trained them rigorously for this, their destiny. I am but an annoying distraction.
Tomorrow: Parent-Teacher conferences. The shocker: Sneaky Stealth Boy’s parents aren’t coming.
I am not going to make it.
Voter Chicks Rule November 4, 2012
My grandmother was a remarkable woman. She is the face of Peachyteachy on WordPress. She was a teacher at a time when it was amazing for a woman to graduate from high school. She marched for women’s suffrage. Taught in a one-room schoolhouse. As far as I can tell, the kids who flipped chairs and refused to follow any direction were home plowing the fields. My mother was also a teacher. She left the profession when she married and had children in her late thirties. My sixth grade teacher came to her memorial service and expressed to me how much it had meant to him that she was always so supportive and appreciative of his work. I had not seen him since sixth grade. What a powerful testament to how meaningful parent support can be to an educator.
I don’t know what either of them would say about what is going on in education right now. Neither of these women viewed students as statistics, and so I suspect that they would be alarmed at current “reforms.”
Regardless of how they would vote, were they here today, the point is that they carried an understanding of the battle that was waged over a very long time so that they, and I, would be able to do so. Although it is painful to acknowledge that I cannot strongly endorse many of the choices out there, I will exercise my hard-won right to vote as an American woman.
For anyone who is less than familiar with the story of the struggle for women’s suffrage, I recommend that you (and your daughters) see the eye-opening film, “Iron-Jawed Angels,” and the Ken Burns documentary, “Not For Ourselves Alone,” which details the amazing work of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (neither of whom lived to see the passage of the nineteenth amendment).
Differently Abled Phones November 1, 2012
Back when I had a phone that was underachieving (we shouldn’t say that phones are not smart–they are each smart in their own special way), I had a charming rendition of that song from the film “Juno” as my ringtone. “Anyone Else But You.” Now that my phone is smart, I have the wireless company ringtone. And the phone constantly tells me that it has no memory left. I think that it is rubbing off. It is making me stupider and less able to remember things. It’s not an i-phone. I have a kid in college.
And yet, despite all of my phone’s faults, I can usually place a phone call. I particularly enjoy calling parents of my students right from my desk, which is, shockingly, less enjoyable for them. I patiently tell them that, as a mom, if my son was behaving in the way that they had been, that I would want to know. My moral mandate for parent phone calls.
There are a few snags in the parent phone call scenario, at least with my demographic. If I worked in suburbia, I would have eleven contact pathways to parents. Don’t get me wrong—I accumulate eleven different contact numbers by the end of the school year, but it’s a process. A process that sounds something like this: “The Cricket phone number that you have reached is no longer in service.” Slightly better: the phones that greet one with graphic, f-bomb laden rap to soothe the weary soul, and then take your message, wishing that you may “Have a blessed day.” Just a small cathedral moment. It is quite spiritually uplifting. It makes one want to just go home and watch election messages on television.