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Things parents said at conferences

16 Mar

“She spends too much time doing homework”

“This has been his best year yet.”

“We have that problem at home, too.”

“No teacher has ever said that about his bad handwriting. Thank you.”

“She’s up until 11:30 doing homework.”

“In the Fall, you said she didn’t speak up. This is a big improvement.”

“Do you teach grammar?”

“Just wait ’til you get the next one!”

“She loves the independence of middle school.”

“How can I help?”

“Do the children have chores? We are trying to have them help more at home.”

“He talks all the time at home!”

“Think of a few ways you can participate in more. But be specific and make it concrete.”

“Humanities is his favorite.”

“I’m afraid to touch the pile of papers beside his desk.”

“Thank you.”















15 Mar


I worried no one would walk out.

I figure a lot of 8th graders, and many 7th graders, would. But 6th graders are on that funny cusp. It is one of the things I love about teaching 6th graders.

The Walkout was schedule for 10:00 a.m. My first class began at 9:50. To my relief, kids came in talking about it. I acted all stern, insisting they sit quietly and read, which is our custom, but inside I was doing a happy dance.

At 9:58, I caught the eye of a girl looking at the clock and gave her a “two-minute” signal.

I got weepy at 10:00 when the majority of my class got up and left.

And then I laughed when, at 10:01, the announcement buzz sounded, not in a call to arms, but in a call for band and choir students to go to their field trip. Two more left.

I was left with 5 kids in class and a heart full of hope for the future.

Good intentions

14 Mar

You know the old saying: The road to H- E – double-hockey sticks is paved with good intentions.

Well, I took that road yesterday.

Last week at our union meeting, we were given the opportunity to purchase orange shirts to wear today and at a rally on the 24th. I ordered and paid for one that evening. I took an order form so the next day at work, I could ask a few colleagues if they wanted one too. I got their particulars (and their money) and sent in the form.

Today we got this perky message:

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 6.10.02 PM

I sent an email saying I’d pick mine up that afternoon and was told my school had a bag.

Cool,  I thought, some of the other reps must have ordered shirts, too. So, at lunch, I sent out an email to the two other people who were at the meeting and found out a third person had also emailed them. Trying to be helpful, I sent another email offering to get the bag. Lunch ended and classes were underway and things were busy. The third teacher sent two students to my room with a cheque in an envelope. I didn’t really have a chance to check my email before leaving, and that was when I ended up on that road.

Of course, the third person hadn’t pre-ordered and we had to guess on the size. The only shirts in the bags were the ones I had ordered. I stopped at the library on my way home and checked the time on my phone on the way out to see if I had time to swing by the grocery store. There was a message from one of the other two people asking me go get a shirt for her. Oops.

Definitely double hockey sticks.



Congrats — You are a Giveaways Winner!

13 Mar

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 5.52.32 AM

This message appeared in my inbox yesterday morning. Yes, I was a Goodreads Giveaway winner of a copy of this book:


I am not much of a gambler. I don’t buy lottery tickets. When I drive past the highway sign advertising the Powerball  and MegaMillions,  I like to imagine what I’d do with the money if I ever won. Just for the record, last Friday, when I turned in my glitter-covered shamrock, I got a scratch-it lottery ticket. I scratched, but won nothing.

The only real gambling I do is on Goodreads. Sometimes, I like to go into my Goodreads account and click on the Giveaways. I only ever enter giveaways for books I can put in my classroom library. And I never win, until now.

Maybe that shamrock was lucky after all.




I finally opened the windows

12 Mar

I finally opened the windows
The Spring really seemed to be here.
I finally opened the windows –
The air was so fresh and so clear.
I aired out the kitchen and bathroom,
And I aired out my stuffy bedroom.
My whole house was freed from its wintery gloom
Since I finally opened the windows

I finally opened the windows
It was such a beautiful day.
I finally opened the windows
And banished the winter away.
I opened the curtains and raised up the blinds,
Shook out the cobwebs stuck fast in my mind
And saw all the wonders that Nature designed
Since I finally opened the windows.


The team to beat

11 Mar

Despite the beautiful Spring-like day outside, four students, their families and I spent the better part of the day inside. It was the Regional Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) tournament.

Last year, this same team were the Middle School State Champs!


This year, we were the team to beat. Maybe you remember that old Avis advertising line, “We try harder”, when they were consistently #2 behind Hertz. Well, we were Hertz. Everybody else was Avis – just a little hungrier than these four.

Our practices the two weeks leading up to the tournament were spotty. One book (Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson) seemed to be their nemesis. It was such a weak point that I kept making a joke out of it as I quizzed them, calling it their favorite book.

They started off a little rocky in their first battle, winning the match, but not with a brilliant score. Fortunately, they had boned up on Rebel Mechanics and got every question about that book.  By the end of the 4 battles of pool play, their mojo had kicked in and we were tied for 5th place and assured a spot on the next “Sweet Sixteen” round. Only Sixteen of the 40+ teams got to continue on.

Their “Sweet Sixteen” battle was probably the hardest fought – a come from behind victory that moved them into the “Elite Eight”. That battle was quick and they were a well-oiled machine again, easily defeating their opponents and jumping into the “Final Four” pool. A nice place to be, but only the top three teams get to go to the State OBOB tournament.

By now, six battles in, they were humming. They took an early lead in their “Final Four”  battle and never really looked back (except for that one answer…).

Their final battle for the day was to determine who got first place and who got second. The pressure was off for both teams. Both would go to State. Across the hall, the two teams battling for the third spot were, perhaps, a little more stressed. Despite the certainty of their place at State, my students did a superb job and triumphed.

The end was almost anticlimactic. Some hurried photos, alone and with the top three teams. Two of my students had also qualified for the next level at tour school Science Fair and had to rush off to take make their presentations.

I’ll give them a break next week. We have parent teacher conferences and only three days of school anyway. But, the following week, we will be back to practicing. There are a few new candidates for nemesis book, I have a brilliant idea on how to comb through each book for details,  and we have a title to defend.


Just another day at USPS

10 Mar


Having assembled the large box, I started packing it, only to realize it was too large. I went over to the stand in the small USPS grocery store outlet and grabbed a medium box.

This was my first time using a priority mail box. I’ve always saved boxes, packed them and wrapped them in brown paper. But the cost of shipping this way has gone up and, over Christmas, I realized that using a standard-sized, priority mail box would be cheaper that a random box, beautifully wrapped in brown paper.

Setting aside the large box, I taped the bottom of the medium box and filled it. My contents fit perfectly – snug, but not squished. I wrote the address on top and began taping the top shut. Dang! I cursed silently when I realized I’d left something out.

Using my keys, I cut the tape, added the missing item then retaped the box. The upside of this setback was that the line, which was five people long when I started, was now only one!

I lifted the box and it felt pretty light. I bet this is under 4 pounds, I mused and I grabbed the smaller of the two customs forms used for shipping to Canada, the parcel’s final destination. I carefully filled out the form and walked between the stanchions whose belts led to the counter. Surprise – I was the head of the line!

As soon as a customer left,  I was called up and I placed my package on the counter.

“Canada,” said the clerk. “Did you fill out the form?”

“Yes,” I replied, smiling and waving the small form. The clerk furrowed her brow.

“It feels pretty light,” I said, hopefully.

“Hmmm, let’s see,” she replied, setting the package on the scale. “Four pounds, five ounces. You’ll need the other form.” I groaned inwardly.

She pointed to my left. “Just fill it out over there, then step back here when you are ready, as long as no other customer is here.”

Grumbling a little, I wrote the exact same information from the small form onto the large form. Maybe I grumbled a bit. Once done, and back at the counter, the rest of the process went smoothly. Despite the small obstacles I had encountered in mailing it, I drove home happy in the knowledge that the package was finally on its way.



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