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Cheap Anti-Depressant: Pay it Forward November 8, 2014

Filed under: inspiration,life,motivation,parenting — peachyteachy @ 6:18 pm
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This morning, I was in the checkout line at Aldi.  Aldi is a discount grocery store. I freaking love it.

Today, the shopper in front of me had filled her cart, and had overshot her budget. She asked me for a dollar, and I responded, truthfully, that I had no cash (I am a plastic person; not super proud of that). Things proceeded. I waited. I started to think judgmental thoughts. All of my  ugly cultural biases started to rear their ugly heads. I started to think that I had chosen the wrong lane, which is my shopping specialty.  She kept taking things out of her cart.

The checkout people at Aldi are super nice, as a rule.  The guy in this lane was clearly doing his level best to remain patient.  But there was still a chunk of order on the conveyer belt that remained to be sorted. . .

Then I said, “Ma’am, if you are still having trouble covering it, I would like to take care of it.”

She went from stress to joy instantly.  She high fived me, then my son, thanking me again and again, and telling my son that he has a really nice mother.

The fact is that I have faced financial panic at many points.  I remember my mom counting change.  I have applied for public assistance when I was working full time, to keep my family afloat.  It sucked.

This woman could have easily been one of my student’s parents.  But it doesn’t matter, and I will never know.

I covered twenty-one dollars of her groceries.  No huge virtue of mine at all. Instead of feeling pissy and annoyed (a real option, let’s face it) I got to feel, without a doubt, that I had made a right choice today.  The biggest and best choice of today.

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Structured Procrastination Makes Me Awesome August 16, 2013

Structured Procrastination is a thing, and a beautiful thing it is. The title of the book is, in itself, worth a look: The Art of Procrastination:  A  Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing.

The idea is that procrastinators tend to get lots of good stuff done whilst avoiding other important tasks.  Also, that they do their best work on those high-priority items with a limited amount of time (we generally create this circumstance through thorough laundry-doing and DIY projecting).

I have been meaning to get around to reading this book ever since I heard a piece about it on NPR, but I guess that it takes a while to process the experience of having one’s entire life validated in one brief radio spot.  I’m not even entirely sure that John Perry, the author of the above-mentioned book, has any sort of corner on the concept.  He might not have copyrighted promptly; who knows?

Tonight, I am in late-ish August mode, that period of time when teachers are knee-deep in professional development, and when they anxiously attempt to crush the sneaking suspicion within; the one that is telling them that, perhaps, they are imposters after all.

Structured procrastination is so comforting and entertaining right now.   There are quite a few tasks that I have to do.  Soon.  Some of my possible alternative accomplishments:

*Procrastination a la Pinterest:

 

*Create and pin all possible projects involving bleach crafting, and share every one of these on Facebook. There are a lot of them. Don’t ask me to define “bleach crafting.” I just made up the category when I saw a really ugly Pinterest shirt with writing done with bleach.  It is my hope that some prominent bleach artist with her own Etsy shop called “Life’s a Bleach” does not read this and write an indignant comment while she puts off filling those bleach lettering orders for that family reunion in East Undershirt. She made up the category, and her last name is White.

*Clean my Pier One rattan accent table using cotton swabs and whatever the Internet says is best for cleaning rattan that has been cleaned less than once.  Come on, clean freaks.  I’ve dusted it.

*Deadhead the annuals to extend their bloom duration.

*Throw away those potatoes.

*Plan a procrastination party.  What will you accomplish when you structure your avoidance?

 

Report Card Comments: End of Year Survival Report July 1, 2013

I wish that I could have included this video somehow in the final report cards of about eight of my students this year, because this pretty much captures their learning this year.  Eight kids who are making and shooting “paper hornets” on a daily basis has a pretty profound impact on the hygiene and learning of a classroom.  I believe that I have mentioned my students’ impressive ability to crease paper more effectively by spitting upon it.  They do not possess an overwhelming generosity of spirit, but they are really quite selfless when it comes to giving up and dispersing their saliva.

If you are new to Peachy’s report card comments, you may be picturing a pale suburban clientele, in which case you would be sadly misled.  Aren’t they adorable?

My class is a bit less enthusiastic. And if they all put their hands up like that, people would be losing consciousness within seconds. We don’t encourage that nonsense. No, mine are more like this:

But let’s get down to it—the bane of the educator’s existence.  The comments.  The comments I tackle here will tend to revolve around students for whom the teacher scratches her head for minutes on end, just trying to come up with one small piece of insight that offers a suitably hazy filter.  You don’t need any guidance to come up with comments for that class up there. . .Well, maybe that one with the Christmas bow in her hair.

We try to include some tidbit of data—this is really for the administrators, as parents really don’t have a huge interest in that numerical food by which we live and die.  Thus, in our nicely laundered comment, we may say something like this:

El Capitan is reading 120 words per minute.  He has mastered his multiplication facts through 5.  El Capitan should continue to read challenging chapter books and practice skip counting daily this summer.  Good luck in sixth grade!

Truth:

El Capitan can sound out words but has no clue as to the meaning of what he reads.  This is especially apparent when he constructs “paper hornets” under his desk during reading tasks.  Although you have been unable to penetrate the force field surrounding the school this year, I have learned that the library is four steps away from your home, and people are permitted to borrow and read books from there. They have a lot of them.  Also, my dog can skip count by fives.  Step it up. GOOD LUCK in sixth grade. 

Slightly altered from reality:

LaShaw’na has demonstrated an interest in graphic design—this, combined with her expanding vocabulary, have resulted in a colorful social studies project during this marking period.  LaShaw’na has also developed a unique note-taking strategy.  Read, read, read! Good luck in sixth grade, LaShaw’na!

Truth:

LaShaw’na embellishes her textbooks, her desk, her pantlegs, and her arms with the proper noun, “Bitch Ass.”  She consistently spells “Bitch Ass” correctly!  I am guessing that this is the given name of an older relative, first name “Bitch,” last name “Ass.”  It would be fantastic if Bitch Ass could spend some time reading with LaShaw’na this summer, as she tends to stare blankly when asked questions such as, “What happened in that last sentence we read?” Good effing LUCK next year!

Made up niceties:

Dennis has an affinity for physical fitness, the fine arts, and for word study.  I am confident that he will make his mark on middle school! Good luck in 6th grade!

Truth:

Once, Dennis said the word “wheat” (pronounced “hweat”) three thousand times in the space of fifteen minutes. He has launched a small business selling transparent tape sculptures of zombies, and has clean-and-jerked a large table.  These activities have proven to be slight obstacles to learning, as the words get blurry when one is sprinting past the classroom door.  Remember, snack is not provided in the In-School Suspension room at middle school.  But the lunch is equally delicious! GLI6G!

Teachers everywhere, have a lovely summer.

 

School Year Ends: Building Remains Intact June 21, 2013

It’s tough to beat the last day of work at school before summer when it comes to the rollercoaster-clusterfuck factor. Last minute directives that require hours of stupidity and tediousness–these make everyone feel fantastic.  If it were not the last day of the school year; had we not known that we would be freed by the end of the day, I am quite certain that the staff would have  gone all bonfire/riot/illegal fireworks on the place. When you think about it, it is a solstice miracle.

Compared with this, the naming of celebrity children in the hopes that they will never become stymied by the intermediate directions pales in comparison.

I have made it through another school year in the trenches of high poverty urban education, with the help of great colleagues and some blog venting from time to time.  I have body-blocked students attempting to simultaneously run laps around my class whilst launching a fleet of paper airplanes, and I have accidentally trained a laser light show operator who spent a total of seventeen hours standing at my doorway, flipping the light switches on and off.  It is a miracle that no one had a seizure.  As a teacher, it is essential that I believe and proclaim the miracles that abound in this holy vocation.

An excerpt from an earlier post written during this school year:

WHICH SCENARIO DID NOT HAPPEN ON THIS, THE DAY OF THE FULL MOON?

  1. Did I lock my classroom door today to keep out a disruptive student? Again?
  2. Did the kid proceed to kick the door for about a half hour, rendering me a super effective teacher? Again? 
  3. Did the rest of the class placidly continue with their work, ignoring the distraction, and increasing their stamina for responding to multi-step fraction word problems?

If you picked 1 or 2, you have not been reading my blog for very long, have you? And you missed the nearly identical situation detailed a couple of weeks ago here .  There is little doubt that this blogging strategy will not earn me tons of readers who have fashion blogs (although you are so super welcome!), but I would like to suggest that you picture me, a smallish woman, body blocking an eleven-year-old while wearing a snappy Loft jacket of tiny railroad cap stripes–I wear it in recognition of the fact that my class is, well, a train wreck.  Sporty!

Down the hall, in my colleague’s classroom, I am pretty sure that they were performing a re-enactment of the flying monkey scene from the Wizard of Oz, with one small exception: the flying monkeys in the movie don’t fight EACH OTHER. At the very least, it is reassuring to know that it’s not just me!

Now, the young man in question continued to dedicate himself fully to complete disruption on a daily basis, until he managed to land himself in a homebound situation for the final several weeks of the school year (during which he and his family completely blew off the teacher who attempted to provide him with his education).

Fast forward to yesterday, and the gala commencement-style “Moving Up” ceremony held for our fifth graders.  Kids dress up, the children with the most referrals for violence and petit larceny have the loudest, balloon-toting-est, families in the audience—families who have managed, either to be completely invisible since September, or to unleash high-volume profanity upon the teacher who dares suggest that their child may have assaulted and pummeled a smaller child who doesn’t speak English.  All is forgiven on Moving Up day! Yes, please do help yourself to 18 of the 3 dozen cookies provided as light refreshment! Cheerio!

Now, remember that we have our young academician who has learned intimately the workings of light switches and precious little else, and who has spent the last several weeks at home, doing “independent study.”  Apparently, his mother felt that he should receive his little certificate just like everyone else.  After all, he should get something out of going to the trouble of terrorizing an entire classroom repeatedly (and for years prior to this one).

As it turns out, others agreed!  Yes! We will have a special little ceremony just for Prince Punchyouintheface! With light refreshments.

So today, as I was attempting to prepare my room for summer, I was summoned to the auditorium for this event.  “You don’t have to if you’d rather not,” is actually translated this way: “You don’t have to do the right thing if you’d rather not.” So I did.  The thing.  I told him that he looked nice. Then, I realized that I was being asked to pose for a photo.  At this  point, the absurdity of it all was just too much, and I really feared that I was going to dissolve in gales of laughter.  Instead, I smiled with my lips closed.  He chewed his donut.

About an hour later, I packed my bag, turned over my keys, and strolled into the sunshine.  You know what that is?  It’s a miracle! Next year will be even better.

P.S. The latest edition of Peachy’s report card comment tutorials is coming soon.

image: news.nick.com

 

Fired Up for State Testing! April 10, 2013

Each and every day for the four weeks leading up to THE TEST, I hand out practice test books.

Each and every time I hand out the booklets, at least three students say, “Is this a test?” Then I push the button on the continuous loop that says the following, “No, sweetheart.  This booklet, like all of the twenty three booklets that I have handed to you, is just for practice.  So that we can look at it together, and practice our skills so that we can do our very best on the actual test.”

Attempting to make this task “engaging”—letting kids work in partners or small groups, or placing  small candies on their tongues for every four-minute period during which they remain on-task—slightly less than successful, as my students quickly break down into pencil larceny vigilantes, ready to take justice into their own hands, until they realize that their pencils are  in their pockets or under their papers.  Then they get even more pissed off in the face of the embarassment, and commence cussing at anyone who looks at them.  “What are YOU looking at? ShutupI’llpunchyouintheface!” Yes. It is one word.

After we complete the exactly nine hours of testing in the next two weeks, I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting a “Burn the Test Prep Booklets” event on the playground.  I have found no prohibitive language in my contract, nor in the Code of Conduct of the district (which is, by the way, a rare document and very tough to find. Presumably, there was either an earlier bonfire event, or students and families used them as a stopgap method during the toilet paper shortage back in November 2012.  Times, they be tough).

I think it’s a go! We can roast marshmallows and hot dogs and, with any luck, attract some emergency vehicles that will act as a de facto field trip, since those frivolities are frowned upon and require a professional grant writer in order to procure their funding.

My posted learning objective for Bonfire Day will read as follows:

*We will explore the combustive properties of gently used test-prep booklets.

*We will not write a five-paragraph essay including an introduction, three paragraphs of textual evidence to support our answers, and a conclusion.  

*We will write goodbye notes to our soon-to-be-dismissed teacher.

Image: blog.karendillard.com

 

How to Inspire Today’s Youth March 5, 2013

oops song lyric

What is wrong with this picture? Nothing, if you are okay with getting fired and working ten-year-olds into a foaming fury of too many chicken nugget hormones!

Yeah, man, we’re awesome educators! We are making poetry come alive by using contemporary song lyrics.   If we made the assignment “Find the hidden f-bomb,” that would be our number one engaging lesson of the school year; the one that students would talk about fondly in the future (seeing as how we don’t have field trips anymore). “Remember when Ms. Peachy had us read the song lyrics that said ‘f—ed up?’ That was the best day ever.” Alas, not today, young Turk. Not today. Because, by the grace of God,  Ms. Peachy read the words before you had a chance to.

I have never personally heard the song, “Gym Class Heroes,” but you can bet I’m going to be looking it up real soon now.  The title alone, for me, is hilarious, as our gym is host, primarily, to impressive brawls, second only to the cafeteria, where one needs only to whisper the words, “You’re dirty,” to set off a virtual West Side Story scene, sans pretty music and dancing. Heroes abound.

Amidst the knock-down drag outs and the descriptive language exploration, my most velcro-like student asked me, over and over, to send him to the nurse because his lips hurt.  Just in case  you don’t know, we teachers do try to stick to a blood/puke policy when it comes to the nurse (although we cave when we are really really tired of a certain kid’s pleading. “Just go!”).  Rarely do we send a lip-related emergency, especially an invisible one.  “Feel it!” he implores.  ”

“I am not going to feel your lip!”

“No, it is below my lip!” Excellent use of the concept of “below” for our English language learner.

“I am not going to feel below your lip. Stop asking me. Tell your family you need some chap stick.”  This is a risky proposition when you take into account the fact that this student questioned me when he saw me putting on lipstick one day.

My expert explanation: “It’s lipstick. So my lips don’t fall off.”

“But you are a MOTHER!” He was sort of perplexed in a horrified way. Apparently,  in his culture, one’s lipstick years are behind one when childbearing sets in.

Still, when he left school at the end of the day, he assured me that he would be getting some lipstick.  I gently reminded him that he would prefer chap stick. Thumbs up all around.

 

Admissions Criteria for Life Coach School March 1, 2013

Dear Would-Be Life Coach,

Thank you for your interest in Uplifting University! Here at Uplifting U, we pride ourselves on turning out some of today’s best, brightest, and most motivating of the I-Know-and-Eat-Better-Than-You-AND-I- Do-Yoga professionals.

To find out if Uplifting U is right for you, we suggest you begin by completing the following brief questionnaire.

1) Do you begin and end every conversation with reminders of your belief in the shortcomings of the person with whom you are conversing?

A. Only 75% of the time.

B. Never! That would be abusive and discouraging!

C. Of course! How else will they remember how much their way sucks and how critical it is that they do it your way?

 2) When someone shares an idea with you, you

A. Smack yourself in the head to keep from rolling your  eyes.

B. Listen intently, then thank them  and comment on something positive in what they shared.

C. Become tense, then say, “Wellllllllll, no.” 

3) When someone describes an emotional family crisis, you 

A. Check your i-Phone frequently to be sure you are not missing important spreadsheets from work.

B. Sit quietly with them, assuring them that you want to do whatever you can to help them to make it through their tough time.

C. Relate a story about the time you found out that your purebred show dog could not reproduce its champion blood line.

All done! 

If you chose two or three “B” answers, you may be Uplifting U material! Go to our website and download the full application!

If you chose two or three “A” answers, you may want to consult a life coach, rather than become one. . .We suggest you do this sooner rather than later, as it is our experience that these questionnaire responses may indicate an asshole condition.

If you chose two or three “C” answers, please go to the Never Be a Life Coach! registry and enter your name immediately.  Next, follow the instructions for “A” answers—quickly.

image: biddingforgood.com

 

 
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