Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The laundry's done. The living room is clean and I have a pile of things to drop off at Goodwill. I've been working on the clutter around the house. House clutter is easy to work with. Brain clutter, that's a whole other that I'm finding hard to tame. My head spins with things to write about every day, but by the time I find the time to put fingers to the keyboard nothing wants to connect.

Certainly, one of the downfalls of daily writing is breaking through the muddied thoughts and inspirations. Some days...most days, writing is hard work. It's much easier to rearrange the living room furniture and sort through a pile of old sweaters.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow Watch

Today's activity involved tracking the major storm making it's way up the east coast. What was at one time supposed to dump up to 10 inches here in the Baltimore area amounted to about two inches of snow. The storm wasn't much but wreaked a bit of havoc just the same. The wind and snow meant my brother and his family wouldn't make it in from New York, so the possibility of having the entire family in the same room at the same time for the first time in ten years wasn't to be.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Clarence Goodbody

For me, Christmas Eve isn't quite complete without watching It's A Wonderful Life. First of all, I think Jimmy Stewart is just grand. He's grand in this movie and others as well. I'm fairly certain he was a stand-up kind of guy in real life as well. I like that about him.

And then there's Clarence, George Bailey's angel (2nd class). There's something about his determination and earnestness that I find heartwarming. He's a "I'm not giving up" kinda guy and I like that. He knows George Bailey can save himself...he just needs a bit of clarity. It's clarity that only Clarence can give..."Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Touch

My mom used to keep tabs on me through my photo blog. Once I noted the pictures I'd taken that day were shot on my way home from the doctor's office. I got a call from Mom later that evening, she was wondering what was wrong with me. These days she gets her updates through this blog. In fact, she called me this weekend to see if I was feeling better.

"I saw in your blog that you were sick," she said.

I'm okay with that. A college friend follows my blog and often and remarks on my writing in our email conversations. It's nice to know people are reading my daily, sometimes mundane thoughts. Does it count if it's family and friends that are like family? Sure, why not. It's nice to know anyone's reading and it's always good to stay connected to Mom.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tiny Tim Meets Willy Wonka

I made a quick stop at Target yesterday. The idea was to run in and pick up needed wrapping paper and a few other items. The decoration section was filled with other shoppers and their children. It was one child, in particular, that made me smile. I caught a quick glimpse of him using two candy canes filled with M&Ms to hobble his way down the wrapping paper aisle. I smiled thinking about the possibility of a movie mash-up-- part Charles Dickens and part Roald Dahl. If that were to ever happen I'm sure Tiny Tim Cratchit would use only canes filled with candy to make his way. Willy Wonka wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Couch Time

As a kid a sick day from school meant moving from my bed to the couch for the day. I suppose it allowed my mother to keep watch over me while she went about her daily business around the house. There wasn't much to do on the couch except sleep, so that's usually what I did.

I still take my sick time on the couch. I went to bed early on Thursday with a sore throat and woke up on Friday feeling sick. I was pretty sure it wasn't a serious illness-- just the annoying common cold, which is never much fun. I muddled through the day at work and left promptly at 3:00pm. My one stop on the way home was the grocery store where I loaded up with cookie-making supplies, cold remedies and the makings for chicken noodle soup. By 4:00pm I was dosed up with Zicam, Sudafed and Emergen-C under a quilt on the couch. I rallied around 5:00 to make the soup and enjoyed a cup before yet another early bedtime.

I awoke with new energy this morning. I packed up my cookie-making supplies and headed over to a friend's house happy that I didn't have to miss out on our annual afternoon of baking.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The First Snow

The first snow arrived today along with the frenzy that usually accompanies such an event. The weather was topic #1 on last night's local news and has continued to monopolize the broadcast throughout the day. At school most of the day was spent hypothesizing about the possibility of an early dismissal. The first snowflake sighting at 10:00AM was enough to turn the buzz that surrounds a group of sixth graders up ten or twelve notches. Containing the excitement was a challenge but we managed to make it through the day. The early dismissal didn't arrive as many had hoped, but the sub-freezing temperature has me wondering about the possibility of a little extra sleep tomorrow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Approaching a Milestone

The odometer on my car reads 99,965. It used to be when a car's odometer hit the 1oo,ooo mile mark it would roll back to zero. A car's life was much shorter back then.

In the summer of '79 a friend and I took a ride out to Rocks State Park so we could watch as the odometer in her orange GMC Matador rolled back to 00000. It was a big occasion for two 17 year-olds embarking on their senior year of high school. Three months later that Matador was totaled after a moment of poor judgment found it filling up with water in the rushing floodwaters of the Little Gunpowder River.

But that's a whole other story.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


By the time my sister and I hit Target tonight for the last of the shopping we were pretty tired. It seems Target was feeling the same way. There was an eerie silence throughout the store and it wasn't until I was standing in the checkout line that I realized there was no music playing. Where was that holiday feeling? By 9:30 tonight it had gone by the wayside, along with any kind of organization in the toy aisle and the prospect of buying any sort of holiday lighting.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?

In the movie, "You've Got Mail," Tom Hanks' character proclaims that The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. He sees it as the I-ching, providing the answer to any question. Interesting.

I have a friend who feels almost anything can be taught through the show SpongeBob SquarePants. I can't say that I disagree; I've just never tried it.

Today, SpongeBob made his way into my classroom on his own. The students were puzzled by the word miser as we worked our way through a few analogies. Most were not familiar with the word so I took a moment to read the definition from the dictionary.

"A miser, " I began, "Is a person who has a lot of money, but refuses to spend it."

I had barely finished reading the definition when a student in the front shouted out, "That's just like Mr. Krab!"

The class went on to list all of the things about Mr. Krab that make him a miser.

Thank you, SpongeBob. I'm pretty sure I have 18 students that will always remember the definition of miser.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Nice Surprise

I wasn't all that surprised to be pulled over by the local police on the way to work this morning. It's Murphy's Law, right? I was running a little late and needed to stop at the grocery store on the way in. I left the Harris Teeter parking lot with a plan to use an exit that would not have me sitting at a light. With the expertise of the great driver that I am I tapped the brake with my toe and took a quick left to avoid waiting for an oncoming car to pass me by. Too bad that car was the kind with flashing lights on top. I noticed that the instant before the bright blue lights started twirling to tell me I needed to pull over.

Of course, it took forever for the officer to make his way to my car. I closed my eyes and drew in my breath in an effort to avoid the look of total annoyance. I found my license and fished out the registration, which was expired. I didn't try to talk my way out of anything-I'm a compliant law-breaker.

I waited as the officer strolled back to his vehicle to decide my fate. I considered the possible fines and figured my rolling stop in front of the local lawman was going to put be back about $50.00.

He strolled back to my car, admonished me for the expired registration, returned my license and presented me with a warning. What a surprise...and a pleasant turn of events.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Meeting

There was a meeting after school to discuss a likely change in grading policies in the county. The purpose was to discuss the possibilities and weigh in as a school regarding what we think is best. All secondary schools in the county will report and the powers that be will make recommendations to the school board based on the consensus.

It took us 75 minutes to decide that a grading scale of 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0 is better than the traditional A through E ten-point scale. We also decided it's best for teachers to round up when figuring out a final grade.

There was a great deal of conversation, and for the most part it was interesting to listen to everyone's point of view. However, I wonder if we would have arrived at the same decision if we took a vote before discussing the pros and cons of each choice.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rest as Needed

I've been fighting a cold since late last week. The scratch in my throat has been off and on for about a month now, but I didn't really start feeling the drain of a cold until Thursday or Friday. A weekend packed full of activities didn't leave much time for recovery...until this afternoon.

I met friends for a birthday brunch this morning and made a quick stop at Tyson's Corner Mall. I returned home about 1:30, threw on a pair of sweatpants, grabbed a blanket and hit the couch. I stayed there most of the day.

I'm hoping an afternoon of rest and an early bedtime will be enough rejuvenation to get me through Monday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

An Easy Trip

It's always nice when field trips go better than expected. We took the students to the Museum of the American Indian today prepared for a bit of chaos. The information we received from the museum regarding our tour was a little sketchy, so we weren't sure what to expect.

Worry number one was the traffic. Our school is less than 8 miles from the museum, but with rush hour traffic it was tough to guess how long it would take to get there. Fortunately, the rush hour gods were with us, and we arrived 10 minutes ahead of our scheduled tour time.

Then there was the tour. When asked what the guide would cover we were told there was no way to tell...every tour is different. The mystery was slightly disconcerting, but we went in ready to roll with it.

The tour guides were fabulous. They were informative and engaging. The students not only listened, they also answered and asked questions.

Concern number three was whether or not we would be able to get back to school in time to eat a quick lunch before going to afternoon elective classes. Again, no problem. The bus was ready and waiting for us when we walked out of the museum, we were back in the classroom 15 minutes later with plenty of time to enjoy lunch.

One field problems...a nice way to end the week.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Not the Boss, Or Is She?

I attended my monthly PLC group this afternoon. The meeting is held at another middle school in the county and is facilitated by another 6th grade reading teacher. The PLC is supposed to be a place for fellow teachers of grade 6 reading to share what they're doing in their classroom. I have a sneaky suspicion that in time it will become a place to make sure we're all doing the same the name of accountability. Of course, that's a whole other thing, not the thing I want to write about today.

This was our second meeting, and also the second time that the facilitator reminded us that she was not the boss of the room. She was merely there to send in attendance and give us a place to meet. She assured us that she wasn't in charge. The assurances came from her seat behind her desk. From my perspective in the desk usually occupied by a student, it seemed like she most definitely was the boss of the room.

Monday, November 29, 2010


A confession:
I read the first Harry Potter book but never bothered with the rest. On a related note, I've only seen the first two movies in the series and doubt I'll see any others.

I'm sure this makes me some sort of weirdo, but I'm okay with that. I just don't "do" serial reading. That's not to say I don't enjoy reading books by the same author. I've read several books by John Steinbeck and Barbara Kingsolver. I love Roald Dahl and Kate DiCamillo. I spent two weeks at the beach one summer and finished five books by John Grisham--although after the fifth one I decided I didn't need to read anymore Grisham books.

No offense to J. K. Rowling--it's just that I found out all I cared to know about Harry and Co. in the first book.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Shoes

I traded in my running shoes for a newer model on Tuesday night. The decision came after a run that had me focusing more on every twinge and ache I felt than the scenery that I was passing through. Years ago a friend told me that she buys a new pair of running shoes whenever she starts feeling pains that she hasn't felt before. I thought of that conversation as I ran earlier this week wondering what was going on with my shins.

I put in a mile and a half and headed home for my wallet and car keys.

New shoes always feel great, but new running shoes feel better than great. As soon as I slid my right foot into my new pair of Mizunos I felt comfort. The mesh outside hugged my foot like an old friend. A walk around the store introduced me to a bounce in the sole that I hadn't felt in quite awhile. I exhaled a sigh of relief.

My old shoes went in the box; I paid and glided out the door with a smile on my face.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sneaky Turnips

I've never trusted turnips. They always had a sneaky way of ending up in my mashed potatoes when I was a kid. Obviously, they didn't get there by themselves...Mom did it. She likes turnips. Who else but a turnip-lover would dare mess with a perfect portion of mashed potatoes?

I watched carefully as my sister made the mashed potatoes last night. She added butter, milk and sour cream. There wasn't a turnip in sight.

My mother made turnips this afternoon-- she knew better than to mess with the already-perfect mashed spuds. The turnips sat in their own little bowl at the end of the buffet table. A few people ate them and enjoyed them. I stayed way, far away.

My brother-in-law's brother stopped by as we finished up our dinner and was offered a turnip. (By my mother, of course.)

"I don't like 'em." he said. "I never liked it when they ended up in the mashed potatoes."


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It was with absolute ease that I made my way north this morning. I hit...not a speck of traffic.
For that I am thankful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Driving North

Hats off to the two-day workweek. It began today with a sleepy Monday and finishes up tomorrow at 2:50 pm with the rush to pack up and get out of town before everybody else.

Fortunately, I only need to drive about 90 miles north. Unfortunately, a good part of the trip is traveled along the dreaded I-95. I was born in Baltimore some years ago and have never lived more than about 100 miles from my birthplace. You could say I'm pretty familiar with the ins and outs of the Baltimore/DC area. Sometimes I like the traffic for the off-route exploration opportunities it provides. Meeting up with a mass of brake lights and stopped cars sends me into explorer mode. I look for the next exit and wind my way around whatever roads I find in a quest to continue in the northerly direction, on a route that is absent of as many other drivers as possible.

If I'm lucky I'll find a new shortcut and a few photo opportunities.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


We decided to send home a letter to the parents of each of the kids who were having homework problems. The letter was a heads up to parents that the team was concerned about the poor work habits of their child. It also offered suggestions for improvement. There was a tear-off portion at the bottom that was to be returned to me with a parent signature.

Twenty-five letters went out on Wednesday. Only a handful came back with signatures on Thursday. I wasn't too surprised. Sixth graders don't always consider the consequences of their actions. They live in the moment, and for many of them those moments have not included doing homework. They may have been less than honest with their parents about how well they were keeping up with their schoolwork. Delivering the letter was bound to mean trouble for some.

Two students, maybe three, decided to forge their parent's signature. I'm sure they never considered how obvious the forgery was. They were in survival mode-if their parents never got the letter they could live another day without getting yelled at, punished or lectured. Whatever the reason, I'm sure that since parents have been informed of the homework problem and the forgery there are two students who are living different moments than planned this weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meeting Edward

I have just today met a wonderful little character by the name of Edward Tulane. Our meeting was brief, as I have only read the first chapter of the book that I believe narrates a miraculous journey of his. I hope it is a miraculous journey because from what I know so far he's in need of some sort of miracle.

You see...he's a small china rabbit. I smiled when I started reading his story. I was reminded of another rabbit tale that I've always enjoyed--the story of Elwood P. Dowd and his rabbit-friend, Harvey.

I finished the first chapter feeling sorry for Edward. The poor little rabbit has a wonderful young friend, Abilene, talking to him, tucking him into bed and saying goodnight, yet he can say nothing in return. "He said nothing because, of course, he could not speak." There are times in my life when I wish I couldn't speak, but there are far more times when I'm glad I have a voice.

Even worse are Edward's eyes. They are painted on and therefore always open. How dull it must be to lay awake all night. The ennui that he experiences must be more than most can bear.

I'm hopeful things will change very soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I took her phone during 6th period. I'd sent her into the team room to find the paper she was missing and finish the overdue work. When I checked in 15 minutes later she was sitting at the table with a closed binder and her cell phone in her hand. The missing work was nowhere to be found.

Sixth graders love to send text messages. The fact that it's against school rules doesn't seem to deter them. So, I confiscated the phone and told her to check in at the end of the day. At that point I wasn't sure if I would turn it in to the office or not, I felt a bit of research was in order.

She told me the phone was only out because she was checking the time. My research showed me that was probably true. But then I noted she had sent a text message to her mom at 10:45-during lunch. That was against school rules.

The text message was to her mom. "Mom, I got two C's on book sheets today. I'm kinda sad."

Torn as to what path to take I asked a colleague for advice. It was decided that the turning the phone into the office, and having her parents retrieve it, was the best course of action. I let her know when she came to see me at the end of the day.

Knowing that parents are often waiting for a phone call at the end of the day I let her make the call to her mom to let her know what had happened.

With voice quivering she relayed the information to her mom.

"Mom, I messed up today. When I texted you about the C's I shouldn't have. The teacher is taking my'll have to come and pick it up at the office."

I sat at my desk grading papers-- her mother's voice was clear.

"Honey, that's okay. I'll come by and get it in an hour or so. Are you feeling okay about the C's? It's all right sweetie, really it is. Please don't worry about all this."

She's a girl I can't quite figure out...identified as gifted but her writing doesn't show it. Just yesterday another teacher commented on the messy work that she turns in. I see her as someone whose brain is in constant motion, unfortunately it works at such a high speed that everything she knows doesn't always end up on paper.

We walked out together and talked about those two C's that she was disappointed with. She let me know about the OT services she received in elementary school to help with fine motor skills. We chatted about the possibility of typing up her next book sheets. It sounded like a good option.

She walked out the door to go home. I walked to the office with the phone in my hand, regretting my decision to turn it in.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Monday team meetings are set aside for time with the grade level counselor. Together we discuss student concerns and come up with a plan that will, hopefully, allow any student having difficulties to get back on track. Problems can range from behavioral to academic, including chronic tardiness or other attendance problems. Today's discussion centered on the students who have consistently failed to complete homework on time. Names were brought up one at a time allowing all the teachers to weigh in. Some children were only having homework issues in one class; unfortunately a greater number of students were having homework issues across the board.

There were about 25 names. That's a quarter of the total number of students on the team.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Off Route

I've spent a fair amount of time driving up and down Rt. 4 in Southern Maryland. For the 4 years I was in college it was the middle leg of the trip home or back to school. It also provided miles of beautiful scenery. The road's gentle curves and dips always made for a pleasant driving experience--the farmlands scattered throughout the area only added to the picturesque route.

Today I was happy to have the opportunity to take that road once more. I left DC about 11:00 this morning to join some friends for a weekend on the bay. The ride was familiar and lovely as usual. The trees were sporting their brightest colors against a cloud-less blue sky. The one thing different about today's drive down Rt. 4 was that I didn't follow it all the way to Solomon's. Just south of Broome's Island I took a left and headed for the small town of Port Republic. What a treat. Within two minutes of turning off I was surprised to see the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay. Who knew? Yeah, I guess I should have known, but it's easy to forget what can be found off the path that's been beaten down over time.

I won't forget, I'll remember to come this way again soon and follow the path less traveled in my past.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Recipe for the Week

How a Friday feels like a Monday, but is fortunately followed by a feel of Friday once again...
1. Begin with three days of the school week. (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday work best.)
2. Add in one Federal Holiday. (In this case Veteran's Day.)
3. Stay up too late watching your favorite football team lose in the last 3o seconds of the game.
4. Toss and turn throughout the night.
5. Return to work feeling like the week just began.
6. Try your best to teach students who are also suffering from the usual "Monday Blues."
7. Work until 4:30.
8. Smile, it's really Friday.
9. Say hello to a proper two-day weekend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Check Engine

When presented with a car repair issue my first response is ignorance. Of course, that doesn't help with something like a flat tire or a dead battery--those issues need immediate response. If the car is unable to run then the problem must be solved. What I'm talking about is that strange noise one may hear, or that little light that is illuminated on the dashboard. I had one of those lights show itself on Saturday. It was the dreaded, "check engine" light.

The check engine light is the one that the car manual insists requires immediate, expensive attention. The manual states when that little rascal shows itself it's best to get it to the dealer right away.

I first noticed the light on Saturday. I noted it and mentioned it to a friend who was sitting in the passenger seat. She too knew her car manual rules.

"Everything I've heard says you need to take the car in as soon as possible."

"Yea," I smiled. "But look, if I put my hand right here on the steering wheel I can't even see it, so there's really no problem at all."

And so I ignored it. On Monday I filled up the tank, but decided to give the engine a little taste of the premium fuel. Maybe the more expensive fill up was the spinach my little engine needed.

Tonight I was driving home after dinner with friends. While waiting at a stoplight my hands fell off the steering wheel for a moment. I was happy to see the engine no longer needed checking. Problem solved.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Enchanting Afternoon

Now that the clocks have fallen back to where they belong I'm feeling as though autumn has truly arrived. I felt it on Sunday afternoon. I headed out around 4:00 for a long walk and was enchanted with the late day sun and then way it lit up the colorful treetops in the neighborhood. The yellow, red and orange oaks were simply stunning, framed in a perfect, deep blue sky.

On the ground level I smiled as I listened to the playful shrieks of children as they ran-- kicking up every fallen leaf in their way.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Got Spinach?

I don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. I know that and am trying to work on it. Cooking for one can be challenging. Should I really whip up a protein filled dinner with veggies on the side, or isn't just easier to have a bowl of Raisin Bran? I used to eat a lot of frozen meals but at some point I decided I can cook and I should try to do a bit more of it. I've been working on that with some sporadic success.

Friday night I plated up a nice piece of salmon with a side of spinach. It was delicious and healthy too. I woke up on Saturday feeling energetic and laced up my running shoes for a 3-mile jaunt. I didn't run the entire way but returned home feeling refreshed and healthy. Later in the day I went for a ten-mile bike ride along the canal.

This week I will eat lots more spinach.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hip, Hip, Hooray...Here's to the Cardboard Box

So I did a bit more browsing of the Toy Hall of Fame inductees. Above all my favorite has to be the cardboard box, with the stick running a very close second.

Years ago, my best friend and I were sitting on my sister's patio watching the kids play in the backyard. There was my nephew, his cousin and my friend's young son dragging each other around in a large cardboard box.

"Don't ya love kids who can entertain themselves with a cardboard box?" She remarked.

Yup, I did...I still do.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This Year's Winners

Who knew there was such a thing as the "Toy Hall of Fame?" I sure didn't. The local news ran a quick piece on the newly inductees for the year, they included playing cards and The Game of Life. It got me thinking about what other toys may have been honored with such a prize, what classic games are there that have withstood the passage of time and the introduction of computer generated fun?

Playing cards, of course. It's hard to believe it took this long to be inducted. I try to have a deck of cards in my purse at all times, especially when I'm traveling. They're perfect for unexpected layovers or traffic jams. What about Dominoes? I see them as a classic game, but to tell you the truth I've never been sure how to play. I played one game, Mexican Train, a few years back but don't remember how to play anymore.

When I think of classic games I think about my own childhood and the games we played. There was Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Checkers and Operation. As we got older my dad taught me how to play chess. Once I got to college we were all about Backgammon.

Of course there was also the Yo-Yo craze and the Frisbee. Do you think they made the list? See for yourself here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Round Two Begins

Today's teacher workday allowed me to sleep an extra hour. By contract, I should be in my classroom at 7:20, but there's something about a workday that allows for a little flexibility. I arrived at school at about 8:00 AM to a mostly empty parking lot.

Even with the extra slumber I moved through the day in a state of exhaustion. Perhaps it was the early morning chill that greeted me when I walked out the door. Maybe it was the culmination of a particularly tough start to the year, it's hard to say. No matter the reason I got a good deal of work done throughout the day and am ready to get started on the second quarter of the year.

I'll be in bed early.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween in the Days of Yore

One of the first Halloween costumes I remember wearing was a cat outfit. It was a store-bought costume complete with a plastic mask, the kind of mask that had a small hole for breathing. Its design meant that condensation would build up on the inside of the mask, making for an uncomfortable evening of trick or treating.

Back then; the costumes came from Kresge's, not a fancy Halloween store. As we got older we came up with our own costume ideas. The design had to be comfortable. Movement couldn't be compromised as the evening entailed a whole lot of walking.

Somewhere along the line we started using pillowcases to collect the candy. They were sturdier than any shopping bag and held a whole mess of candy.

Friday, October 29, 2010


What to do with the kid who doesn't do anything? That's the question of the month.

We've met with his mother and agreed he should attend homework club three days a week. Well, he didn't agree, but the adults did. There were days he showed up, usually because the counselor or another teacher waited for him at his locker and escorted him personally. We quickly came to can lead Hank to homework club, but you can't make him do homework.

His mother says he stubborn. She's right. He's apparently been this way for most of his school career.

I see a kid who is very intelligent, but not interested in what we teachers are selling. The adults in the picture are puzzled and unsure how to solve the problem.

I just hope we figure it out before he decides to drop out of school.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No Worries

I went to bed last night thinking about the Tornado Watch that had been posted for my area. It started at 8:15 and was to be in effect until 3:00AM. I watched one big storm this summer and couldn't imagine that kind of experience in the dead of night. Unsure of exactly how to prepare for the unlikely possibility of a tornado while sleeping I left my bedroom window cracked, thinking I'd hear something in time to find my way to a closet.

I don't worry too much about the weather. In fact, the only time I ever did was when I found my cat sitting in the bathtub during a hurricane. Animals often have an innate sense about danger, so seeing him sitting perfectly still alarmed me a bit. Luckily when I woke up at about 2:ooAM last night he was curled up by my side sound asleep. I smiled, turned over and went back to dreamland.

Monday, October 25, 2010

One Step Up, Two Steps Back

I stayed after to grade a few papers and quickly became depressed. It seems all that I thought I taught last week wasn't really taught at all. Or as is so often say in 6th grade, they didn't get it.

Now what? I spent part of today introducing the next step in the unit. Obviously, there's no point in going forward, the only thing to do is take a step back.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back on Track

So, the thing about getting older is it takes a lot more work to feel younger. Well, at least that's what I'm finding. Since this time last year my once somewhat-regular exercise routine has been derailed by Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and the more recent diagnosis of Venous Reflux disease. Not only have these recent diagnoses made me feel old, they've also made it difficult to keep up with my already spotty relationship with running.

I've run for exercise off and on for at least 30 years. I've never been all that fast but have had some great runs along the Potomac and through DC. I've run in 5Ks, 10Ks and a few 10 mile races. I trained for a marathon, but never made it to the finish line after a flare-up of tendonitis 18 miles into a training run. For me, it's not abnormal for months to go by without a run. Life gets in the way sometimes, making it more difficult to find the time to commit to getting back into the shoes and back into shape.

Just the same, after volunteering to be a "buddy runner" for students participating in "Girls On Track" at school I found myself lacing up my running shoes one more time. My goal was to cover a mile. I knew I couldn't run the entire mile, but was determined to get from point A to point B as quickly as my out of shape body could take me. After a five-minute warm-up I settled into a nice run/walk pattern and covered the mile in about 12 minutes. It's a start...not great, not terrible...but a start. I think I'll be able to keep up with the girls next week. I do believe this could be the beginning of something.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Renovation Realities

Give me a good home improvement show and I'm hooked in for the duration. Tonight I'm watching Renovation Realities, a show that follows your average person as they try their best to complete some sort of home renovation project. Personal experience has taught me that in the world of home projects nothing is easy. Years ago I decided, with the help of a friend, to rip up the wall-to wall-carpet in my house to see what was underneath. My house was built in the 1940s so I was pretty sure there was hardwood underneath the deep pile carpeting that had been there since I'd purchased my place.

I was right, but the excitement of the discovery was somewhat diminished when I realized that it wasn't going to be as easy as carpet removal and furniture replacement. The floors needed cleaning and refinishing...a skill that I don't have the patience and strength to complete on my own.

A small problem compared to the people I'm watching tonight. They're demolishing their kitchen in hopes of a total renovation. It looks like they've got the right tools but they've also got full-time jobs, children to feed and a marriage to keep on track. Fifteen minutes into the show I know the experts will be bursting through the door any minute now, probably after the next commercial break.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Take Two

I considered yesterday's icebreaker to be a failure. No matter...I decided to give it a try again today.

Today I started by explaining why I felt it was a worthwhile activity. Not only does the icebreaker question give us all a chance to know a little more about one another, it also provides a quick opportunity for students to practice their oral communication skills. My sixth graders tend to speak in one and two word phrases. Instead of asking something like "where's the bathroom pass?" I often get something along the lines of "pass?" So when I talked about today's question, "What is the best gift you've ever received?" I reminded them I was looking for more than a one-word utterance. Uttering the word iPod wasn't going to be enough to communicate the information.

I was pleasantly surprised. They communicated their thoughts well. Even better were the gifts they'd received-a baby brother, the love of their mother, a new baby cousin. They loved their cats, dogs, birds and rabbits as well. Yup, they love their iPods and laptops too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tell Me Something Good

Today I decided to try a quick icebreaker activity to break the monotony of taking attendance. I asked the students to think of one good thing that happened in the last two weeks and share it with the class.

Things did not go as I expected. Instead of a quick share I was bombarded with questions. Do you mean one good thing in Reading Class? Is last Tuesday okay? What if nothing good has happened? Wait...what?

By the last class of the day I found myself explaining a good thing doesn't have to be huge. It doesn't mean they went to Disney World last weekend--something good might be putting on an old jacket and finding a five-dollar bill in the pocket.

There weren't as many questions after that, but there were a lot of kids who shared they found money in their pockets last week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Project 365

Three years ago I decided to put my foot out on a creative limb and try making photography a part of my daily life. I had read something about the Project 365 and thought I'd give it a try.

I'm glad I did. Looking back at all the photographs I've taken I'm always happy with what I see. I don't like every picture, but I like the work as a whole. Each picture represents a place I've been or an experiment in perspective. Having a reason to get out on the weekends is great, but it's also fun to be forced to look for the specialness of an everyday object like a pen, or a clothespin. Yes, it's cliché to say there is beauty all around us, but it seems whenever I look through the lens of my camera I can find a little bit of beautiful almost anywhere.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rise and Paw

My cat's life changed drastically a few weeks ago when I decided to give him a small can of wet food. For the ten years I've had him dry food out of a bag was the order of the day. He seemed fine with it, but recently was more interested in soft, chewy cat treats than the hard, crunchy pellet sitting in his bowl. After ten years of the same food every day I could see how a change in taste and texture would be welcome. What I didn't see coming was exactly how that change would in turn effect me.

Morning feeding time occurs around 5:30 AM after I shower and get my coffee. Scout knows when I wake up the food is coming so he's taken to waking me up a little earlier than my alarm. The only problem with his plan is the polite paw across the face he uses to wake me up has been starting somewhere around 4:00 AM. That's just too darn early. My only defense is to lie perfectly still as though I'm still sound asleep. Any sense that I may be awake is enough to turn the wake-up paw into overdrive-meaning my chances of going back to sleep for the last hour before my alarm rings are small. I'm supposed to be the smarter one, for now it pays to be the frozen, quiet one.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Journey

I find it somewhat amazing that after 30 years, through countless moves and life changes, I still have the green mittens that I received as a Christmas gift in high school. They were a present from my best friend at the time. She made them herself with nothing more than two knitting needles and a ball of wool. I was impressed and touched.

Like the gloves, my friend and I traveled to many different places after high school. She went off to Philadelphia while I went south to Southern Maryland. After school there were jobs and a few more moves until we finally found ourselves in the same area at the same time. Another twist...after working in a variety of professions we both found ourselves in the world of education.

Like the mittens we've both been on quite a journey over the past 30 years.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

After the Fun

The end of a long weekend has a completely different vibe than the beginning. Saturday morning three of us climbed into our rental car in Providence, RI and headed for Cape Cod. The ride was a boisterous one filled with laughter and weekend plans. Seventy-two hours later the return trip was a whole different animal. The ride was quiet. The radio played but the sing-alongs from Saturday had given way to sighs and yawns.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I've spent the last three days in the company of two gals that I went to college with. The time has gone quickly... the days filled with shopping, eating and cocktails. We have gone down memory lane more than once, remarking on how surprising it is to find ourselves at the age we are. The bottom line is we just can't believe we are getting ready to hit the half-century mark. When we're together we feel like we're still the same nineteen year-olds we were when we first met.

Today we meandered along Cape Cod. The twenty-mile trip from Orleans to Provincetown took six hours. There was a stop at a bead store in Eastham, lunch in Wellfleet, spice shopping in Truro, and general poking around-shopping in P-town. One of our first stops was at the visitor's center of the Cape Cod National Sea Shore Park. It was there that we met up with another group of gals traveling together. They were about fifteen years older than us, but like us just the same. They had made their way to Cape Cod by way of Oregon and California. Their friendship started back in grammar school. We chatted a bit and took group shots for one another. As we parted ways we agreed that friendships among women were important. One of the California gals remarked, "we get each other through the hard times, there's nothing better than good friends."


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beach Walkin'

My introduction to sea glass was quite accidental. I was wondering around Point Lobos State Park in California when my skip from one rock to the next resulted in a somewhat painful slide down a slippery rock face. I had started on top of a giant rock and ended up 40 feet below on the beach. My friend called from the cliff above, "Hey, are you okay?" I laughed at my lack of coordination and assured her I was fine. As I brushed the sand off my pants I caught a glimpse of something irregular. It was a shard of pale blue glass. I picked it up with my hand and tossed it around. There were no sharp edges. Its weight and texture felt just right in my hand. I looked up to my friend on the cliff. "Look at this!" I exclaimed.

She knew it was sea glass. I had never heard of such a thing. I slid it into the pocket of my pants and cast my head back down toward the rocky beach in search of more. I've been hooked ever since.

I like the small stuff. I enjoy walking along the shore in search of the perfect shell. Of course, the perfect shell is completely subjective. For me the perfect shell is about weight and feel. It can't be too light or too heavy, and it has to feel just right in my hand.

As for sea glass, any find is good with me. Shells are easy to come by, sea glass isn't. Shells wash up on shore on a daily basis. Some are pretty and worth pocketing and some aren't. Sea glass is a harder to come by. Any piece I find seems like a little piece of good luck. Oh yeah, the colors are pretty too.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Parent Chat

I'm sure there are many teachers who dread Parent Conference Day. I just don't happen to be one of them. I love getting the chance to spend twenty minutes with the parents who entrust me with their children on a daily basis. I've felt that way from the beginning, even after my first year when the parents in my last conference told me that their child wasn't challenged enough in my class and they were sure it would be better if she were moved to the other fifth grade classroom.

As a first year teacher my opinion didn't count for much back then. Yes, their perspective bothered me a bit and surprisingly I wasn't shy about letting them know that. However, in the end, as parents they must look out for the well-being of their child. I get that and I agree with it, even if I don't always agree with what they think is best.

The student was moved to the other fifth grade class, but when her father tried to console me by suggesting I shouldn't "take it personally" I had to speak up. I told him "I didn't see any other way to take it."

Discussion doesn't always lead to the outcomes one hopes for. In this case, I hoped she would stay in my class. She didn't. Her parents hoped a change in teacher would motivate their daughter to do the kind of work she was obviously capable of. It didn't. Just the same, I think we all learned something in the long run.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Go Team Go!

The first grand moment of the year occurred today during the first field trip of the year, 4o miles west of the city at a Corn Maze. This team-building event challenges the kids to work together as they wind their way through the twists and turns of a maze created from corn stalks.

It's hard to tell how groups will handle the challenge. Kids don't spend as much time outside as they used to. They tire easily, they argue about the best path to take, they run ahead of the group, they get frustrated...they whine.

Fortunately, my group didn't do any of that. From the beginning we set our goals. We would find every clue and complete the entire maze. When decisions needed to be made there would be a vote. Teamwork was our motto.

We sailed through the first five stops. Students took turns holding the flag and coloring in the map. Every member of the group cheered on one another, the group members were especially encouraging to one student whose physical handicap makes walking difficult.

The sixth and seventh clues were harder to find. Faces became weary and discouraged but we somehow put frustrations aside and made it to the last clue. We let out a quiet cheer at our success-we didn't want other teams to know where the final clue was. As I looked around at the smiling faces I noticed one face missing. The handicapped member of our group was resting her head on the wooden platform that held the final clue. She was exhausted and close to tears. We'd been in the maze for close to forty minutes by then, her legs were aching.

I told the others to run and find their way to the exit, we'd take our time and meet them at the finish.

One young man spoke up. "No, we'll all finish together."

Everyone agreed.

That's my kind of team.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Play A Song For Me

I took guitar lessons a few years back. It was one of those things I'd wanted to do since I was about 12. At the age of 12 I was sure I could be one of those people that used music to tell their story. It was, after all, the late 1970s-most of the music playing those days was heavy on acoustic guitar. I wanted to play the Beatles, James Taylor and The Eagles. I was sure I could sing like Carole King. I just needed a guitar and a few lessons to prove it.

I can't remember why I never took lessons. I know I asked, it just never happened. And then Saturday Night Fever came out in the theaters. Suddenly music was all about disco, the guitarists of the early 70s faded in dreams faded with them.

Twenty-four years later I walked into the local music store to realize my 12 year-old dream. It turns out I wasn't going to be telling my story through music, but I'm glad I tried just the same.

Monday, October 4, 2010


This weekend was when autumn blew its way in, a little late, but welcome just the same. The calendar proclaimed it to be the first day of fall on September 22, but the weather didn't cooperate. Summer wasn't ready to loosen its sweaty grip on all of us. We sweated...and waited, not too patiently in some cases, for fall to come to our rescue.

Apparently, the torrential rains of last week were enough to loosen the stranglehold of summer. Saturday was missing a few of the regulars...namely heat and humidity. There was a new kid in town...and it was all about blue skies, low humidity and a gentle breeze rustling the slowly changing leaves.

Autumn, welcome back. It's been pretty hot here without you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Catching Up

It's been quite sometime since I've had to spend a good part of the weekend grading papers. On Friday afternoon I packed up every last paper that needed to be graded and placed them into a metal tray. I shoved the tray in my backpack with a frown on my face.

For a variety of reasons I'm having a hard time getting in the rhythm of the new school year. I seem to be spending more time catching up than getting ahead. Playing catch up is never fun...unless I'm catching up with friends.

This weekend I got to do both. There were somewhere around 275 papers to grade- some essays, some short answer questions and some posters. I was happy to have a weekend to catch up but had also previously arranged to have a friend come visit to help my paint my bathroom.

A good friend knows when to step in and help. I graded papers, she painted the bathroom and every so often we'd meet on the back porch for a break in the sun and a little bit of chat.

It's just about time to get ready for another week at work and I'm close to ready. I've got 8 more essays to grade and one nice looking bathroom painted a lovely color known as "violet evening."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Back in the Group

My writing group met last was the first meeting since May of the group of four. A few of us decided to take on a three minute fiction challenge posted by NPR. We were tasked with writing a fiction piece of no more than 6oo words. The rules stated the piece must start with the phrase, "Some people swore the house was haunted." The story needed to end with, "Nothing was the same again after that."

Here's my offering:

Some people swore that the house was haunted. At first I refused to believe, mostly because those people were my two brothers who I didn’t think knew anything at all. Well, they knew how to annoy me, and pinch me harder than any pinch I’d ever felt. They knew how to never get caught feeding their vegetables to the dog under the table at dinnertime, whereas I always got caught.

But haunted houses? No, they didn’t know that. Besides the house they insisted was haunted wasn’t real. It was in the picture that hung in our living room. The house wasn’t even the center of the picture. It was just a run-down old building in the background of the photograph. I hadn’t even noticed the house at first. My attention had always been focused on the old lady standing in front. Her dark hair was pulled back in a tight bun that had to be giving her a headache. Frustration and anger seeped from her eyes. The worn features of her face disguised her real age. Her tightly pursed lips silenced her story. My dad told me she was only about 30 at the time the photo was taken. It was hard to believe. From my own 12 year old perspective she looked to be about 70.

She was my great aunt, times four…my grandmother’s mother’s mother’s sister. Aunt Annie had boarded a boat for the promise of the United States of America sometime during the potato famine. She left the coast of Ireland with a broken heart and arrived in Baltimore six weeks later and twenty-five pounds lighter. The crossing was much rougher than expected. She spent the last 21 days of the journey in misery with nothing but oranges to eat.

I didn’t know much else about her story. For the most part I made it up in my head. I spent summer afternoons in my own world. After lunch I’d race out the back door with notebook and pencil in hand and head for the cool privacy beneath the front porch. By the end of the summer I had made up and written down my story of Aunt Annie…

Annie had left Ireland in desperation. Starvation had taken her family, her farm and a good part of her heart. She had been a woman who loved her children more than anything. When they were gone there was no love left in her, only anger. Coming to America was her last chance. Her sister, Lizzie, had begged her to come and sent the money to do so. Lizzie was sure she could help, she knew if Annie was surrounded by the love of her nieces and nephews her heart would begin to mend itself…she could know love again.

Lizzie arrived at the dock in a state of nervous anticipation. She knew the rough trip was going to be one more thing to deal with--another part of the mess of Annie that must be mended. She felt strong and sure that she could help the older sister who had been such a part of her life back in Ireland. Life in Baltimore had turned out to be better than she ever imagined. As children she and Annie had spent many late night hours planning the happy path their lives would take. She smiled just thinking about those nights, the two sisters wrapped up together under a torn blanket with nothing but happy dreams for the future.

Lizzie looked up to see a slow, dark figure moving her way. Her eyes wrinkled in confusion as she looked into the empty face and dark eyes of the woman that she was there to rescue. An initial tentative hug turned into a five minute, sob-filled embrace.

Nothing was ever the same again after that.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just Noticing

I've been teaching reading at the middle school level for the past six years. It's the first time I've taught a class that is grouped homogeneously. I have three different groupings: those reading above grade level, those reading at grade level and those reading below grade level. Those groupings are based on the results of state test scores and an assessment required by the county.

It is what it is...

Last night was Back-to-School night and for the seventh year in a row I've noticed that the classes with the largest parental attendance are also the classes with students reading above grade level.

Why? What can I do to change that? Does it matter?

Just wondering.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Getting it Together

Back-to-School Night, the one evening set aside for parents to meet all their child's teachers, is not my favorite event of the year. Speaking in front of a classroom of twelve year-olds is easy, standing in front of their parents is not.

Fortunately, the evening goes by quickly. Parents follow their child's schedule and visit each class. Teachers are given about ten minutes to go over their class objectives and expectations and to answer any questions about the class.

Tonight I survived my 17th Back-to-School night. It was, as usual, a blur of me talking and parents looking- with a few questions thrown in between. I don't remember many specifics, except for the father who came up to me at the end of class to report his son has been feeling like he got off on the wrong foot with me. He's been in some trouble in my class and feeling like I've been singling him out.

Yup, that kid has been driving me crazy, but tomorrow my goal is to find a way to for us to work together so that we both feel respected and valued.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A New School Year...Not Like Any Other

A young man in my sister's class pulled a gun out today and threatened to shoot a classmate. He added that he would shoot the substitute teacher as well. This was not the same young man that told another girl that he would stab her. Nor was it the same boy who stole from the classroom. It wasn't the same student who spit on the principal earlier in the year either.

The gun wasn't real, it was a toy. My sister teaches in a rural area twenty miles north of Baltimore. She teaches kindergarten.

It's been a helluva year.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting off the Curb

I learned to ride my bike while living in the house on Othoridge Rd. in Lutherville, MD. I was somewhere around 7 years old. One training wheel fell off my bike and instead of repairing it my mom just went ahead and took the other one off. After the training wheels came off I spent most of my time riding along the curb. It was easier to balance the big two-wheel machine knowing I had the curb as a safety net when I started to wobble. It didn't take too long, one day I pushed off the curb and kept wobbling, curb no longer needed.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Getting Into the Zone

My employer requires that I come up with a Professional Development Plan (PDP) each year. It's a way for teachers to identify an area they'd like to work on, come up with a plan for the work and to carry out the plan. At the end of the year I'm asked to report on how it all went.

One of my struggles has always been the best way to reach the students I have that are reading below grade level. In my opinion they fell behind their classmates somewhere around second or third grade and never caught up. By the time they get to me in sixth grade they've had three or more years of reading frustration under their belts and for the most part they've started to see themselves as non-readers.

This year, I hope to get them to change that vision...I want them to see themselves as readers. A friend offered up a little Nancie Atwell theory and I'm eager to give it a go. I left work today with my copy of The Reading Zone tucked in my bag. I'll spend some time over the weekend rereading it and coming up with my plan.

For the first time in quite some time, I'm excited about my PDP.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hello Friday

Thursday. In college it was known as the "gateway to the weekend." It was a day to go out with friends, have a few drinks (or more) and say a hearty hello to Friday.

Twenty-five years later Thursday is still the gateway to the weekend, but the revelry that went with the welcome isn't quite the same. Tonight I am excited about getting to bed early. My hello to Friday will have to wait until a bit after 5:00 AM when my cell phone alarm awakes me as it plays the theme song from "The Jetsons."

I can no longer schedule my classes for late Friday afternoon like I did in college. My students will begin wandering in to homeroom at about 7:40. They will bid me a good morning and we will be off and running for the rest of the day.

However, since it is Friday, maybe I'll bring in some donuts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So Many Questions

Remember those questions I asked the students to respond to back on the first day of school? I shared their definition of reading as well as their thoughts on rules that would encourage a positive learning environment. The last question was sort of a free-for-all. I asked them to write down any questions they had about the class, middle school, 6th grade, or me.

I tried a similar exercise my first year as a third grade teacher. When in the process of learning about a new group of students I found that their questions reveal as much about them as the answers they give. This year's sixth graders disclosed a bit about themselves in their inquiries.

Do we get to blow stuff up in Science?
What time is it when you are late for class?
Will we read Moby Dick?
Are you allergic to anything?
Is it true that if you read more you become a better speller?
Why is there a squeaking noise by the sink?
What are three of your favorite songs?
Who inspired you to be a teacher?
Are you funny as a teacher?
Why do they call it Middle School?
Does anybody else feel the same way I do?
Will we have a lot of homework? Will it be hard?
Is 6th grade a repeat of 5th?

One thing I've learned from this activity is that even though it may look like every student is "with me" during class discussion, they aren't. Their brains are moving every which way. They are filled with questions, but they're not always the ones I'm trying to answer in class.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One More Time?

In an effort to allow each student to give their best I often allow them to retake quizzes and tests or rewrite assignments. I explain to them that we don't always succeed the first time. Allowing them to try again offers a second chance for success.

Yes, when I adopted this policy last year I was sure students with D's would work harder to get B's or A's. For the most part they did.

Today I handed back the first quiz of the year. Students who had scores in the 90s were eager to try again to attain that perfect score. Many students with scores in the 50s, 60s and 70s opted to do the same. But what about those kids that didn't opt for the retake? What's my responsibility to them? Should I allow an 11 year-old student with a D to opt out of the second chance, or is that a parent decision? For now, I'm leaving the decision with the student. No matter what they end up doing I'm pretty sure they'll learn something from the process.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Class meetings take place once a month. The sixth grade counselor comes in to lead the class. Students are given the opportunity to ask questions about middle school and air any concerns/frustrations they're experiencing. This month the counselor began the meeting by asking each student to share a high and low of their life in middle school so far.

I was happy to hear that the kids felt like they were making new friends and that the teachers were pretty nice. There were the expected comments regarding homework load and a few unfortunate comments about problems with bullies. But the most surprising comment I heard all day came from the mouth of a young redhead. When asked to give a high for his year so far he commented, "The food in the cafeteria is amazing!"

Not what I expected.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Exhausted...but it's all good.

Forty-six hours after the beginning of our annual weekend of fun and friendship I was on my way back home. Three hours after my return the car is unpacked, dirty clothes are in the wash and I am exhausted. It's a good kind of exhaustion though, one that resulted from late night laughter, floating in the sun on the Severn River, an abundance of fabulous food and early morning coffee talk on the deck.

It's all good.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mock Thanksgiving

Somewhere about 23 years ago a group of friends came together for a weekend of fun, food and friendship. We were in our early twenties and trying our best to a make a life in the "real" world. We had all spent some amount of time at college together and weren't quite ready to say goodbye to the kind of moments that are shared when living on top of one another in a dorm. Sure we gathered for the occasional Sunday Brunch at the Belvedere Hotel, but what we really needed was a chunk of time longer than the four or five hours an afternoon offered.

An idea was hatched, by who I'm not sure. We would plan one weekend a year and have a Thanksgiving of our very own. Mock Thanksgiving was born.

The fun starts tonight. Those twenty-somethings have become forty-somethings with college kids of their own. We get about 36 hours of time to yuck it up on the Severn River. Come Sunday afternoon I'll drag my tired, sleep-deprived self back home and wonder how the weekend sped by so fast. I can't wait.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Autumn Wishes

Shades of red were in the process of taking over the green of the leaves that hung on the tree. I noted the change in color on my drive home today. I smiled. Those changing leaves mean more than cooler temperatures and robust colors around town. They also mean the prospect of the first frost and a happy good riddance to the ragweed pollen that has been creating havoc in my sinuses the last three weeks.

Bring on the leaves of red and orange, as well as the frozen dew of autumn...please.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A New Year, A New Challenge

I've had my share of discipline problems in the classroom. For the most part I've always figured out a way to deal with them. It's a relief when I am able to establish a positive relationship with the difficult student; the tough part is the sometimes-arduous road I often travel to get to that relationship.

This year is no different. Each day a young man has entered my room and each day I've felt frustrated and disappointed with our interaction during the class period. Seven days into the school year I can see that changing the way we interact isn't going to be easy, it may turn out to be my biggest challenge of the year.

Monday, September 13, 2010

To Do...

In the beginning of the school year my daily list of things to do is the one thing that keeps me organized. In the past it has also driven me crazy.

This year my goal is to keep one list in one place. That's different from years past where I had multiple lists going in a variety places. I do great job of teaching 11 and 12 year-old students the tools they need for organization, yet rarely do I do such a good job of keeping myself organized. It's a weakness that I continue to work on.

So far I have managed to keep my daily lists in one place and tried to limit the number of tasks to five or six. I employ that same tactic during the summer and have come to find success in prioritizing what needs to be done as well as accepting the reality of what can get done in the span of a work day. I've found that it's best to separate work and home tasks as well.

After five days of teaching I can't say that I'm exactly on top of everything but I'm not flailing my arms in exasperation yet either. I call that success.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rainy Sunday

I'm a fan of a good rainy day; the kind that makes you want to take the day slowly. Today's rain was long overdue. It's been quite sometime since we've had any measurable rainfall in the area.

There's a quiet that comes with a rainy day. The silence is only broken by the occasional drippy sound of water as it makes its way down the metal downspout. Clouds hung in the sky for most of today, offering up another layer of sound insulation. The peacefulness in my house had very few interruptions; the clink of a coffee cup as it was set on the table, the rustle of newspaper as pages were turned, and the insistent cries of a cat who desperately wanted to drink the milk in my cereal bowl.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I've come to accept that I'm a pretty uncoordinated individual. I'm not sure why, but guess it has something to do with my lack of rhythm and a broken ankle in high school that has left me with two legs that are not quite even in height.

I can go for weeks or months at a time without a moment of clumsiness. Not today though.

Shifting my body from a seated position on the dock into a kayak gently bobbing on Lake Braddock proved to be, literally, my tipping point. I over-thought the whole process. With my hands placed on each side of the kayak I started to make my move. Feet went in and then I shifted the rest of myself toward the waiting boat. It didn't feel right. My friend was talking me through as best she could, but I could already feel a loss of control.

"I'm going in!" I shouted.


Clumsiness wins again.

On the bright side, it was a beautiful day for a swim.

Friday, September 10, 2010

An Offer of Peace and Trust

I made Frankie mad yesterday. In my hurry to straighten up his messy binder I messed up his own perfect system of organization. By the way, Frankie is labeled as ED, meaning his emotions are a bit tangled. One particular weakness he has is dealing with adults.

I did my best to put everything back together quickly, as I did so I heard a something snap. I broke his three-hole punch, or at least I thought I did.

"Ooops, did I break that?" I asked.

"Uh, sure did," he snarled.

I promised to buy him a new one, one that looked exactly the same. After confirming that he bought it at Target I apologized one more time. He was obviously frustrated and downright pissed off.

"Did I ruin your day?" I inquired.

I most certainly had.

I left work late last night, somewhere around 5:30. It had been another ten-hour day. I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was go in search of a red three-hole punch at Target. I knew if I wanted to make things right with Frankie I had go shopping. I wanted to go home, really, I did.

I went to Target where, of course, there was no red three-hole punch to be found. Fortunately, there was a Staples nearby and once I entered the store I was greeted by a wonderful store clerk that guided me to the very thing I was in search of.

As I rolled the shiny red piece of plastic in my hand I realized I had not broken anything. Not only had Frankie mislead me about where to buy the thing he had also mislead me into thinking I had ruined it, along with his day. I started to put it back. I stopped and thought about the kind of kid I was dealing with and knew it was important to make good on my promise. There would be no forgiveness without the purchase.

Frankie was still mad at me today. I asked him and he told me so. He was also mad that he had homework on a Friday. I didn't assign the homework, but that didn't seem to matter. We decided to settle up after class.

He walked up to my desk after class still sporting the same sour face he had on for the 45 minutes he'd been sitting in my class. It wasn't until I showed him the peace offering that his expression changed...he smiled.

"It's exactly the same!" he grinned.

"Yup, I told you I'd get you another and here it is, as promised. A deal's a deal, right?"

He offered to give me the other one in exchange but I dismissed the idea. It went into his backpack and he was gone.

I saw him later that afternoon as he was running off to another class.

"Hey, Frankie! Are you still mad at me?" I called.

"Nope!" he responded as he sped by.

For now the teacher-student relationship has been mended, and I'm happy about that.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What does Reading mean to you?

What does Reading mean to you? That's the question I posed to my students yesterday. I have found that their response tells more about them as readers than many standardized reading tests designed to show their present reading level.

A sampling of the responses:

Reading is endless words, put together.

Reading means to be smart.

Creating a picture story in your mind. It's kind of like a dream someone else made up for you.

Reading is a combination of work and fun.


Something you use every day, just like math.

Reading is the measure of a person's imagination.

A fun thing to learn about new words and learn about cultures.

Reading means you look at words and understand them.

Reading is fun as long as you have the right book.

I'm always surprised by the variety of responses I get. This year I was pleased to see that not one student defined reading as boring. That makes my job much easier.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Class Rules

Today I asked my 6th graders to list two or three classroom rules that will help create a positive learning environment.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Don't play with anything in class.
Be nice and kind to your new classmates.
Don't be loud.
Don't look on other people's papers.
No breaking anything in the class.
No skipping class.
No bullying kids for their lunch money.
No calling anybody names.
Have fun!
Don't look miserable all the time.
Be positive all the time. You can't have a positive room if the teacher and students are depressed.
No invading of personal space.
No insulting of any kind.
Do not hit, throw or kick.
Be kind and friendly to your peers even if they are mean to you.

And lastly...
quite simply put...


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Name Game

The first day of school is a blend of new faces and names. I have three Joshua's in one class. Is that some sort of record? I started going through the roll and noted two young men by the name of Joshua. I was relieved when I found out that one would go by Josh while the other preferred the more formal Joshua.

Then there was Shane. He wanted to be called Josh as well.

Oh yeah, Laurel goes by Olivia.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hints of the Seasons

Way back when I was a kid I used to watch the trees for the first signs of spring. I'd ride the bus each day with my eyes scanning the branches of every tree we passed. When would the first buds appear? My investigative eye would continue by searching the lawns for the first crocuses.

I was reminded of those bus rides today as I pedaled along the bike trail taking note of various leaves that had begun to change color. Sure there was plenty of green out there, but there was a good bit of yellow and orange as well serving as a subtle hint that fall is on its way.

Of course there's also one rather unsubtle hint that fall is just about starts tomorrow.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Change of Scenery

Bruce Springsteen sang it, "I'm just tired and bored with myself."

Today I felt it...tired. It was a long week, one filled with moving furniture, unpacking boxes, uninspiring meetings and a good deal of low morale among my colleagues. The tired I felt wasn't the sleepy kind; it was more of the exhausted, bone-tired kind. Hence my motivation to get out and about on this gorgeous weekend wasn't real strong, but fortunately it was strong enough to get me out of the house.

I strolled through Eastern Market and enjoyed an hour or two of people watching. The bright blue skies and gentle breeze were enough to put everyone in a good mood. Buyers and sellers chatted amiably. Laughter and smiles were the norm of the day. Jewelry and crafts sparkled in the late morning sun; outside cafes were full with people of all ages.

My find of the day was a necklace made by local artist Zoey March. I was drawn to her booth by a small sign, "Found Poetry Necklaces." Zoey explained that she uses a square cardboard cutout to look for poetic phrases in old dictionaries that she finds. Her inspiration for the pendants on the necklaces comes from her browsing. Zoey explained that what she loves about this type of work is the way the words surprise her when they come together. She went on to say that the pendant I chose, "Wait in silent wonder," took her breath away when she happened upon it. I agree.

Turns out a change of scenery was just what I needed.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Today's Washington Post included an article on former custodian, Ron Hillyer. It was just the inspiration I needed after a long, frustrating week at school.

Note to self: it's about the kids.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Torturous Thursday

Torturous: adj. \torch-rəs, tor-chə-\ very unpleasant or painful

I'm sure more than one child has come home and described school as torturous, not me, but surely someone.

Today I find myself joining the ranks when I proclaim that school was torturous today. It wasn't the students. They're not there yet. It wasn't another meeting. We had one but it was short and someone brought delicious pastries. The source of today's very unpleasant day was the fire alarm system. The one that was being tested ALL DAY. The first piercing sound at about 9:00 AM made everyone in the room jump. So did the second one. By the afternoon we were one jumpy bunch of people.

I heard there were 160 units to test. I wish I knew that in the beginning, that way I'd know how many more alarm tests I have to suffer through tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


There's some new device being used in the DC area. It's a noisemaker, one that emits an annoying high-pitched sound heard only be younger ears. The intent of the device is to keep kids...teenagers...from loitering in the area. Apparently all those teens hanging about is chasing those with older ears from the local businesses. Teens don't spend as much money as non-teens.

I wonder how long it will take until some young, tech-savvy teen invents a device to repel the sound.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Visible Progress

My school is finishing up a yearlong renovation process. My space was one of the last to be completed, which meant packing up everything in my room last June so it could be stored in trailers over the summer while carpet was replaced, new lighting was installed and the walls were repainted.

Unpacking and organizing 25 boxes of stuff is not easy work, especially with the usual beginning of the year tasks that need to be taken care of. But, I'm not complaining. Really, I enjoy seeing the daily progress that I'm making in the classroom. I walked in yesterday to a few tables and the same 25 boxes I packed up last June. By the time I left this afternoon half of the boxes were unpacked, tables were set in the usual seating arrangement, the computer was hooked up and my desk was starting to take shape. The concrete evidence of my work gave me instant gratification.

Teaching provides an enormous amount of gratification, however it doesn't always come so quickly...not as quickly as the time it takes to unpack a box of books.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Another staff meeting, ah but this time with a new twist! Somebody thinks it would be a great idea if each team in the building would sign up to provide snacks for our monthly staff meeting. Sorry...I'm not interested.

I dislike the food sign-up sheet. I've taken a few classes in the past few years and food sign-up is always the first order of business. Why? We are adults; we are capable of throwing an extra apple or granola bar in our bag and heading off to a class or curriculum area meeting. Food sign-up is not only a major inconvenience... it also becomes competitive.

The first class or meeting of the year usually starts off innocently enough with a bag of tortilla chips, some salsa and maybe some carrots and dip. Time marches on and as it does people feel the need to do a little more. By the last meeting of the year there usually a pizza, homemade guacamole, all kinds of cut up vegetables and, of course, freshly prepared hummus.

It's too darn much. I'll feed myself thank you, it's much easier than trying to feed thirty people.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bring it on...

Bring it on...the new start of the school year, that is. After a long summer of leisure I'm ready to take on the challenge of setting up my classroom, scheduling students, sixth grade orientation, and middle school jitters. Would I rather be sitting on the beach? Yeah, right now I would, but I know there will be more than one grand moment this school year. It will be a moment that will make me feel happy, successful and like I am doing the thing I was meant to do.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Any time on the beach is a good time. However, with that said...the most delightful time, for me, is the last two or three hours of daylight. The sun slips down into the western horizon casting enough of a glow on the water to leave a green, blue, orangey sheen. The crowds have left, the lifeguards are off duty and only the true beach people are left. True beach people are not just sun worshipers, although it's a nice perk of a beach day, it's not the only perk. After most have headed back to their beach condos the waves continue to provide the background music to a bit more fun, laughter and girl talk. It all makes Monday seem so very far away.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today's Moment

A tiny silhouette of a sailboat sits on the distant horizon. The greenish-blue water sparkles in the late summer sun. The gentle breeze caresses my neck as I listen to the rhythmic crashes of the waves as the break at the shoreline.

I am relaxed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Here I was, sitting on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland with 3 girls I went to college with. We're in our later 40s now...we started going to the beach together over 18 years ago. As I walked onto the beach with Julie and Jeannie today I remarked, "I don't think we've been on the beach together in at least 15 years." It was surprising to us all, but it was true...we had not sat on the sand together in quite some time.

It was a great afternoon. The water temperature was perfect, a little chilly but refreshing.

The evening was capped off by dinner at a great place. The Grove Market has all of about 8 tables. Getting a table tonight was some sort of miracle. It's the kind of place that has no menu; the waitress just lets you know what the chef has decided to cook for the evening. For us it was smoked fish appetizers, crab salad, flounder duck, scallops and grouper. All of it was topped off with a bit of wine and for dessert, some kind of awesome coconut cake.

It was all good, made even better with good friends.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Way back when I never really had any money, the days when I was not above sitting around with my housemate rolling up change to pay the rent at the end of the month, I could always scrounge up the money to go out to lunch. Back then, it seemed that my housemate was going through a break-up every other week. Lunch was a cheap form of emotional therapy. We could meet when my courier job sent me near her place of work and have someone bring us food for relatively little money.

Sure, it would have been better to put the money towards rent, but sometimes, especially when in your twenties, doing the right thing is easily overlooked.

Maybe it's because I spent most of my school career through high school looking into a brown sack to find another PB & J sandwich and a ring ding.

When I worked at the Smithsonian the other GS-5ers and I would have leisurely lunches that started as soon as our boss left and ended almost 90 minutes later. When questioned we let him know that we left for lunch at 12:45, about 15 minutes before he was scheduled to return. It was dishonest. We'd leave 1o to 15 minutes after him and head to places like Armand's for the all you can eat pizza bar or the Tune Inn on the hill for great, greasy burgers. Sometimes we'd nap on the mall, if it was cold we'd head to the Hirshorn Museum for a nap on the comfy, leather couches found on the third floor.

During the school year my lunch hour is only 35 minutes. It doesn't leave time for napping or wandering around town. I pack my own lunch, and it's hardly ever a PB& J.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leadership Conference

I take notes during most meetings to keep my attention in check. I find writing a few words about what is being said not only helps me process the information, it also gives me a place to go back to when I have trouble recalling minute details of long meetings.

Today's school leadership conference was six hours long, with a few breaks here and there. I filled 14 sheets of my new, red composition notebook. The word accountability was scribbled in several places.

Of all the notes I took there are two phrases that stick out to me:

"We're in the business of getting students to grow, not in the business of punishing them."

"We are leaders, and remember leadership needs to be continually moving forward."

Go, go, go...grow, grow, grow.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I've been going to the same dentist for 16 years now. For the most part, I see him twice a year for a check-up and teeth cleaning. He's a no frills sort of dentist. The appointment starts with a few x-rays, done by him, followed by a bit of looking around at my teeth, also done by him. He also takes care of the teeth cleaning.

I'm happy to say that I haven't had to hear the high-pitched whirr of the drill in quite a few years. Dr. H was happy to tell me it had been some seven years since I'd had a filling. He went on to tell me that my teeth should continue to do well, no need to worry about cracked bicuspids and crowns for another ten years or so.

Good to know.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back Home

How nice it is that I could wake up in Chicago this morning, have breakfast while looking out on Lake Michigan, catch a cab up to Grant Park to take some pictures of the impressive Buckingham Fountain, board a plane at O'Hare and be back to the comforts of my own home by 6:05 pm.

Air travel can be a pretty nice thing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Today in Chicago I Saw...

...the luscious emerald green waters of Lake Michigan...a bevy of interesting architecture along the Chicago River...tourists galore walking too slowly for my taste around Navy Pier...a friend who I haven't seen in 12 years.

There was great food, good weather, a bit of shopping and good friends.

All in all, a darn good day.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Night Cocktails

While sitting in the dimly lit, oak bar on the first floor of the Drake Hotel in Chicago I was suddenly hit with the urge to order a martini. I've never had one. Well, I've never had a real, classic martini complete with gin and olives and straight-upness. Shaken, not stirred, or whatever 007 always said.

One friend ordered a Cosmopolitan, the other some sort of martini with a juicy name, something like Pomegranatini or Cranberrytini...whatever it was I certainly didn't consider it a real martini.

Sitting in my red leather chair, looking around at the dark walls with darker wallpaper inlaid in rectangular patterns throughout the place there seemed to be no other cocktail option.

Having never ordered such an adult-like drink I decided to text a friend for advice.

"How do I order a martini? Dry?"

The response was quick: "Dry, up, extra olives."

And then there was a small postscript: "Good night ladies!"

Goodnight, indeed. My brain is in Eastern Standard Time, my body is in the Central Time Zone and with a swirl of gin down the hatch I'm happy to be upstairs in my room with the bed turned down.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Embracing the End of Summer

I've always been the one who needed to get home early after a weekend away in order to "regroup" before starting up the workweek on Monday morning. It was a concept my friends never understood. For me, a weekend at the beach meant heading home around 1:00 on Sunday so I could do a bit of laundry and get to bed at a reasonable hour. My friends, on the other hand, were more likely to continue with the fun in the sun until late Sunday night or even Monday morning. Some would head home about 9:oo pm Sunday get to bed about midnight and scramble off to work the next morning with a bit of sand still in their hair. Others would wake up at 4:30 or 5:00 AM Monday morning, grab a coffee and make the three- hour drive straight into work. I never understood how they did it.

This summer I've decided to embrace the last few days of my break. Whatever isn't done by next Thursday isn't getting done on a summer schedule. It will just have to be fit in to the free time I have outside of my work schedule. Thursday morning I'm heading to the beach to relish in the last few days of a nice summer break. My goal is to embrace the time on the beach with friends without thinking about the stress and work that the beginning of the school year is certain to bring.

I think I'll even stay for dinner on Sunday night.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mail Call

One of the things I am sorry to see go by the wayside as technology continues to steam ahead is the handwritten letter.

While away at college it was always exciting to find a letter tucked away in my post office box. Junk mail hadn't found me in Southern Maryland so if there was anything showing through the small window of PO Box 268 it was most certainly a letter from a friend or family member.

I got a good deal of mail during the four years I was away at school. However, of all the letters I receive my favorite was the one I received from my grandmother. When I opened the envelope in the post office I found a small piece of paper folded neatly into thirds. Tucked inside was a five-dollar bill.

The letter was short and to the point:

Here's five dollars. Go get yourself a sandwich.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Jewel of Summer

How about a big shout out to the summer tomato? You know the one. Its the huge, dark-red orb populating farm stands all over the place these days. I sliced one monster tomato up tonight to throw a slice on a hamburger I made for dinner. The first bite was one big mouthful of beef, cheese, mayo and late summer tomato. It was enough to make me stop. I stopped chewing for just a second to consider all the bland, tasteless tomatoes I suffered through all winter. There were the grape tomatoes, the cherry tomatoes and all kinds of other summer tomato wanna-be types. They never will be, they never can be, as absolutely delightful as the late summer tomato that is cruising the streets right now. My advice: enjoy them while you can.

Oh yeah, have you tried the cantaloupe out there?

Monday, August 16, 2010

The End Looms

The end of summer break looms. What were all those things I had hoped to do during my extended break? Ah, yes...clean a few closets. Check in with the doctor. Exercise a little more. Rest. Organize. Go to the beach. They're not lofty goals, they were set out that be attainable.

With two weeks to go I'm on track to accomplish what I set out to do this summer. Knowing that makes me feel good. The last closet gets a cleaning tomorrow, sometime before my afternoon doctor's appointment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Quiet Sunday

Today's wet, dreary weather served as the perfect backdrop for a slow kind of Sunday. Scattered storms completed the picture by offering up the soothing sounds of gentle rainfall.

I maneuvered through the day with slow intent. There were a few chores I hoped to complete today. Nothing too large, those kinds of chores are saved for later in the week. At the end of the day I am content with the progress I made.

It was...a good day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


My best friend's six year old daughter climbed into the back seat of my car last week and immediately pursed her lips and wrinkled her nose.

"It smells like you in here! Everything of yours smells like you...your house, your all smells like you!"

I was startled and unsure if this was a compliment or a problem I needed to work on.

"Is that a good or bad thing?" I asked.

Older brother Danny piped in, "Oh, it's a good thing. It's a good smell."

What a relief.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Deadlines and Accountability

I'm a deadline sort of person. I operate best when I need to be accountable to something or someone. I've tried, on numerous occasions, to get into some sort of daily writing routine. Who knows why but a blank journal page has never provided enough of an accountability threat to me.

For some reason my silly little blog has. Maybe it's because I know that there are three, maybe even four or five people, that read it on a regular basis. Whatever it takes. I'm here tonight with very little to say and twenty minutes to spare. I'm pretty sure I'll be back tomorrow as well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's in the Bag?

What would someone find if they looked in your purse more than 20 years after your death? What if it was just seven years later?

It's the kind of question that I've never thought about. Well, until today when I had the opportunity to look through the purse of my great-aunt who died over 20 years ago. I was helping my mother pack up her house in preparation for moving day tomorrow. There were two purses on the top shelf of her closet, one belonged to my great-aunt, the other to my grandmother-my mother's mother-who died seven years ago.

My mother remarked that she'd never looked in either one. Today seemed like as good a time as any.

I think the most interesting thing about the experience was the items common to both purses. Namely...newspaper clippings... obituaries and wedding announcements. My aunt had quite a collection of pictures. Included in the assortment were, of course, pictures of her many nieces and nephews as well as a collection of shots from her retirement in the late 1960s. My grandmother had a few pictures and clipped obituaries as well. She also had the mass program from my sister's wedding and a postcard I'd sent her from Florida in 1983.

It seems like these days women have a different purse for every outfit. I know for myself, that the obituaries I have clipped are stuffed in the top drawer of my dresser. Every time I use a different purse during the year I find the same few items: lip balm, tissues and a little bit of pocket change.

My apologies to whoever gets to go through my purse after my demise, it won't be nearly as interesting as my experience today.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More Mouse Tales

Perhaps you've noted the mice problems I've been having as of late. An annoyance in the form of a small, little rodent body first appeared back in March and then had an encore performance this summer. As far as I could tell they kept their shenanigans contained to the sink area. I should have known better.

Apparently, they've been chewing on the cable wire that runs behind the kitchen cabinets as well. I can't imagine that the plastic coating on the coaxial wires tastes that good, but who can tell what the palate of a mouse is like. Is it possible that the coating is something akin to "the other white cheese" in mouseland? To each his own I suppose, but this strange craving is creating havoc with my internet signal.

The Comcast technician showed up today to repair my internet connection that went out last week. His fancy equipment indicated the signal coming into the house was weak. It's confusing to me since the signal coming in is strong enough for television reception. Apparently the internet signal is a different kind of animal. A check on the outside showed that the signal was fine coming from the outside, but lost a good deal of juice on the inside. The cable coming in would need to be replaced.

Unfortunately, my 1940s townhouse is a somewhat of a cable-wiring nightmare. The line comes in somewhere behind the kitchen cabinets and is pretty much inaccessible. So, it's time to rewire the house--something else to add to next week's "to-do" list since this week is already pretty much booked up.

Maybe I should add call the exterminator to that list.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dealing Out the Cards

Sometime during the spring of this year 5th grade teachers around my school district worked hard on blue cards designed to inform 6th grade teachers about the ups and downs of the students they'd been charged with for the year. Those cards were, in turn, turned over to the counseling staff at the middle school.

Leadership has its privileges...or is it pitfalls? Whatever the case may be, I will be in possession of those very cards later this week when I meet with the team leader from the other sixth grade team and the grade level counselor. We will do our best to sort the students into two equal teams. I think we do a pretty good job and really, I always enjoy the process. It's tough to get a feel for a breathing pre-adolescent from a data and ink on a grouping card. The real fun comes a few weeks later when students and teachers meet for the first time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Bit of Hot Air...

Like most people, I have my fair share of pet peeves. I do my best to limit the list but every once in a while I find it necessary to add one more annoyance to the record.

This week I do believe it's necessary to include...drum roll please...charging for air at the gas station. Yes, in many places it costs 50 cents for a little air in the tires. I guess free air has gone by the wayside, along with the Texaco man who would run out to pump the gas and clean the windshield.

I suppose it's bothered me for sometime now. However, it wasn't until I was stuck a half-mile from home with a flat tire on my bike that paying for air found it's way on the list. Really, should it cost me the same 50 cents to fill my tiny little bike tire that it costs some guy, or gal, in a Ford F-150 pickup?

I just don't think so.