Friday, December 31, 2010

New Things For a New Year!

It's a brand new year (Tomorrow it is.  Right now it's isn't.  Right now it isn't either. Or right now.)  and in the grand tradition of New Years around the world, it is time to make large, sweeping, unreachable goals for the coming year.  We here at Wear the Cape are dedicated to continuous quality improvement.  With that in mind, let me give you a preview of the changes to come....

Wait for it....

Wait for it....

Okay, there's just one.  I think I might, maybe, start adding topic information into the title of my blog entries.  Yes.  I know.  I'm wild.

I've blogged before about the wonderful caped cousin that I often copy shamelessly.  Well, I'm fixin' to do it again.  I like how she gives the reader a little "Topic Teaser" on her blog entries.  Since I have an aversion to being overt in my titlage (an oversion?), I think this may be of benefit to my myriad readers.

Don't like change?   Afraid of the unexpected?  Here's a preview:

Instead of New Things For a New Year, the title today might have read [Random] New Things For a New Year.  See how that works?

In addition to this MASSIVE change, you will see entries and information on your favorite topics and more.  Including, but not limited to:

Oh yeah.  FYI, PS and BTW--We did reach our goal of increasing the Wear the Cape Follower-ship from 15 to 16 during our last Follower Drive.  We will reach new heights in 2011!

So stay tuned my caped friends!  2011 is going to be... a whole 'nother year!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Calling All Caped Crusaders (and Caped Crusader of the Week #1)!

I have made a decision.  I would very much like to share the power of other caped crusaders out in the world.  One of my main goals with Wear the Cape (other than shameless self-promotion, of course) is to show that there are caped wonders out in the world that are making a difference every day.  I want those caped wonders to know that I recognize them, and I want other folks to know that they are out there.  If you know a caped crusader, or are one yourself,  (should that be capitalized?) please send me their name and important stats.

So.... drum roll please....

Announcing the FIRST Caped Crusader of the Week!

Heather (author of Write Turn)  is my teaching muse.  We worked together in Washington years ago and worked together to earn our National Teaching Certificates (yay us!).  From the moment we started to teach together we shared ideas, laughs, and commiserated.  I still call Heather when I need help with an idea.  She is the original Caped Crusader.  Her energy and passion for teaching is unmistakable and inspirational.  She is also an incredible writer with a gift for words.  And... she makes me laugh so hard I almost pee my pants.  Heather has recently entered the blog-o-sphere.  Please take a gander at her work and heckle her into more writing!

A million thanks to you Heather.  For all of the ideas and support.  You are the wind beneath my wings (Sooooo cheesy!  But I couldn't help it!).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Most Powerful Holiday Wishes

Whatever you celebrate during this season, I send my most powerful wishes to you and yours!

Monday, December 13, 2010

November Is Over

But December has its issues, too.

Today included the following (remember, this is out of 22 students):

V. was assigned In School Suspension for defying another teacher on Friday and laughing, talking, and climbing a fence.  ISS at our school means the student has to sit off to the side of the rest of the class (we only have a room to use part of the time and a staff member to sit in it the other part of the time).  V.  didn't want to be in ISS, and didn't want to work, and didn't want to remain upright and off of the floor.  This was an all-day issue evidenced by multiple phone calls, visits, and reminders to V.  With 30 minutes to go V. decided he should go home.  He wanted to call his guardian.  I explained that he could, but that when he did he'd have to explain the actual reason he wanted to leave (to get out of ISS) and that I didn't think it was his best plan.  He called anyway.  No such luck on the home-going and now V. has given away the fact that he was misbehaving.  Much sighing and floor-rolling commenced.  Data entered into computer.

J. #1 was assigned ISS for laughing and fence-climbing (see above).  His ISS was only for half of a day because when he was told to stop laughing and fence-climbing, he did (more or less).  Turns out J. didn't want to be in ISS either.  He took fewer reminders though, before he got the hint.  BUT, the first period he returned to class he decided to pull his pants down (shorts on underneath--don't freak out) and waddle around like an old man for the guest teacher.  Back to ISS he went.  This led us to a phone call home.  The phone call home involved multiple people because his guardians do not speak English.  J. was quite surprised to hear this call would be made and immediately regained his composure (What???  When does THAT work with my kids?)

J. #2 does not like to work.  So he didn't.  This is an all-day affair.  It also includes J. wandering around the room looking for toys to play with while he does not work, said toys being removed from his reach, and more wandering.  It also includes discussions, detention, ISS, and phone calls home.  No change in behavior.  Many emails to parents, therapist, and staff to schedule a parent conference--again. Data entered into computer.

Another student came with an injury that required a phone call to Child Protective Services.  This is a serious determination to make on my own, and required many phone calls and emails.  It also means I have to find a 30 minute period of uninterrupted time during which to call.  This is rarely possible and required the juggling of cats.  Then there is a form to fill out and a fax to send.  Sending the fax calls for leaving the room which did not happen between the hours of 8:30 and 4:15.

Grades are due.  Many emails and phone calls were made in order to get them out today.  Also, probation letters written and signed by the principal for our two students receiving D's and F's (Yes, only two!!! It's possible I work harder than they do to earn them, but I'm trying to teach them what success feels like.  More on that another time)..

J. #4 and C. forgot how to add and subtract.  Both have lower than average IQs, but both are entirely capable of adding.  J.#4 told me she couldn't do the following problem "What is 200 more than 8900?"  Then she couldn't do "What is 1 more than 37?"  J. #4 knows how to add.  We've been working on it for a year and a half.  C. forgot, but then remembered.  Then C. forgot how to convert decimals to fractions, so we reviewed that, too.

The district writing assessment is due this week.  The little Piggies know how to do this, but freaked out when it was time to do the assessment.  They forgot everything they knew, told me they couldn't do it, hated reading, hated writing, didn't know how to write, didn't know how to read.  Much pep-talking and reminding ensued.  They remembered some of it. This will continue tomorrow.

J #3 refused to read today (see above).  Refusal is mildly acceptable, but constantly talking to the Piggies trying to read was not.  He was eventually sent to another room to complete the reading but refused all day.  All alternate assignments offered also refused.  Detention assigned, data entered into computer. Emails sent to coordinate meeting to discuss his behavior plan which does not appear to be the magic fix (sarcasm here).

C. was rude during her lunch detention today. Discussion with C.  Further lunch detention assigned. Data entered into computer.

The 8th grade Piggies came down with 8th grade disease today and were rude to the guest teacher this afternoon.  Campfire was called.  Pep talk ensued.  Day improved.

New photography unit started today.  The 6th and 7th grade Piggies were not able to listen, so little progress was made.  Will try again tomorrow.

Multiple students earned PE detention.  I held it in my room during my prep period. This means no bathroom break, but it provides opportunity to try to get into the heads of the detainees. Small dent into psyche was made  for J #2 and V #1. Am quite certain psychic dent pops back into place the minute they leave the room.

M. ripped a hole in her sweatshirt at PE.  Taking it home to sew it for her.

V. #2 came to "help out" after school because this is where she gets her human interaction for the day (not at home).  I found something for her to do.

And, *sniff sniff* I have a cold.

The point today?  Any time you read about how education is failing our kids, remember what it is our society is asking education to do these days.  I love my little piggies, I even love them on days like today.  Their issues don't make me angry at them, they make me worried for them.  So that is the point.  That, and I'm tired and think sympathy would be extra-special nice.  That, that, and I think y'all might want to wish a teacher well this holiday season.  They're bustin' their butts out there!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I was going to title this post "god-light".  You know, the light that sometimes shines through the clouds and, some say, looks all biblical and stuff?  I did a search on it, and found... well... very little that describes it as I want it described.  Then I thought I'd use "A-Ha".  A search ensued, and I found more a-ha's than I wanted (here, here, and here). By this time in the titling procedure,  I have grown weary and a little bit pissy. You get what you get, I suppose.

What I wanted to say when I sat myself down here to write is that I had a moment today where the light showed through the clouds looking all biblical and stuff, and my little pea brain smiled.  It was tiny.  Itsy-bitsy.  Quite small, really.  I'm sharing it anyway.  I will tell you the end first.

J. said to me "Oh, don't worry.  I learned my lesson with that."

This is J. of the "I smell so good" marker debacle.  J. doesn't learn lessons because he most mightily does not want to.  More than anything he wants to NOT learn, to NOT do, to NOT feel.  Of course, no surprise here, I think he's hilarious and great.  I do quite often want to stomp on his smelly little feet and shake my finger in his impish little face and say "you have so much potential!!!"  I resist (usually).

One day J. was especially focused on doing NOT.  So focused that he had become downright defiant and was causing quite a ruckus.  The best thing to do in this instance is to strategically ignore his behavior (if you want to know more about strategic ignoring, ask me.  I'll tell you.  It's one of my super powers.  That, and over-parenthetical-izing and quotation-al-izing things.).  I did.  And then I did.  And then I did.  And then... I didn't.  I said (don't judge me for this) "Dude, do I need to call your dad?"

BAD idea.  I know. It just came out.  His eyes lit up at the idea of his "NOT-ing" getting attention from me and his dad.  He said, and read this carefully here,

"Whatever floats your boat."

Whatever.  Floats.  Your.  Boat.  Duuuuude....  I was officially irritated.  Truth be told, I was angry at myself for taking the bait.  Lucky for me when I am irritated my senses constrict in the best possible way.  I become calm, quiet, and methodical (or diabolical).  I replied with "Okay."  My dad used to say "okay."  It usually meant I was done.  D-O-N-E.  This is how I imagine my "okay" sounding.  He started to back track and I said "Consider my boat floated."  He looked at me, I looked at him.

Later that day J. asked me for something he didn't really need.  I said "Um, nope."  Soon after, he asked for something else.  I said "Um, nope."  Later still, while the kiddos who had finished their work had some free time, he asked again.  "Um, nope.  See?  This is me, floating my boat. " He looked at me, I looked at him.

The next week, he started to ask for something.  I gave him The Look and he completed his work before asking again.  This happened a few times.  I said, "I see I don't need to float my boat?" He replied with an empathic "no" and a rushed explanation of how he hadn't meant to be rude.  I explained how it might be perceived as rude in some circumstances.  He insisted it wasn't.  He looked at me, I looked at him.

Another week comes and goes with a few hints dropped here and there "Shall I float my boat?"  "Oh, I see, I don't need to float my boat?" Today, the god light/a-ha/whatev moment came.  He said I needn't float my boat any longer.  He had learned his lesson.  We nodded to each other.

Woo-Hoooo!  I wonder how to turn this into a rule?  Something about the boat-floating, or the okay-ing, or the strategic ignorer-ing, methinks.

Send me your ideas about how to turn this into one of Boss's Rules, and I will send you a laminated copy of the entire set of rules so far! I will.  I really will do it. I'll even let you choose the number for the rule if you win. Maybe.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Quote of the Week #14

This week's quote falls In the category of things I never thought I'd need to say.

The scene earlier today...

A. is quite concerned.  He has stuck his head through the back opening in a chair and cannot get it out.   I watched him try to remove it for quite awhile (probably way longer than I ought to have).  He had tried soap and water and various other tricks by the time I said...

"Mrs. X, will you please help A. get the chair off of his head? It appears to be stuck there."*

*Note--In case you're worried, or require further information, the chair may or may not have been stuck.  It may or may not have been his ears catching on the sides of the opening.  It may or may not have been the tension in his forehead and neck (from thinking he might get stuck) that made his head too big.  I eventually removed the chair myself by pushing it down further, getting him to relax for a minute, then removing the chair (slowly).  Save the day?  Check.