Saturday, May 31, 2008

Raising the Bar

One of the other Title 1 aides is marrying the janitor. It's like our own little west-side soap opera. And I get to be a part of it all.

The older kids like to loop the swings around the top bar
a time or two to make them higher and more conducive to swinging enjoyment with longer legs. So I often have the wonderful task of un-looping the swings. Every once in a great while one of the swings will get knotted up and I end up having to climb on top of the swingset to fix it. I feel so adventurous in those moments.

Our school has a panda costume. I was coerced into wearing it. It was hot and had extremely limited visibility. Luckily there was a fire drill so I didn't have to stay in it long. Also with the quick-changing skills I've acquired since being in the theatre I was out of the costume and out of the building before most of the kids, so they're unsure whether I was the bear or not.

In my show tonight my pants totally blew out. I'm talking the entire crotch seam. It was amazingly hilarious! I had to leave the stage. I'm just glad I wasn't wearing a thong.

The school talent show is next week so they had auditions to find the best talent in the school.  From the 3rd grade 8 girls auditioned.  They all sang with CD's.  Not minus tracks, CD's.  One song had the F-bomb in it.  One song was about adultery, and one was "Jesus Take The Wheel." *sigh*

During 3rd grade power hour my kids were working quietly in their books when out of nowhere one of the boys sings, "Every kiss begins with K..."  It was a beautiful moment in my life.

The sixth grade was working on a brian teaser and I thought I'd share it. They're called letter equations. For example: 26 = L in the A. 26 = Letters in the Alphabet. Here are the rest. According to the paper if you get 5 or less you're average, 5-10 you appear to be fairly intelligent, 10-15 you're highly intelligent, m0re than 15 you deserve a better job. I got all but two (insert hair toss).  Do your best.  Don't use google to find the answers.  I'll post the solutions next week sometime.  Have fun!

7 = B for SB
76 = T in the BP
3 = BM (SHTR)
12 = S of the Z
29 = D in F in a LY
88 = PK
1001 = AN
9 = J in the SC
18 = H on a GC
50 = W to LYL
24 = H in a D
32 = DF at which WF
99 = B of B on the W
1000 = W that a P is W
90 = D in a RA
9 = P in the SS (I'll give you hint on this one, it's technically 8 now.)
4 = Q in a G
40 = D and N of the GF
54 = C in a D (with J's)
1 = H on a U
60 = S in a M
57 = HV
7 = D of the W

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The music and the lights

Hale Centre Theatre held auditions for "Big the Musical" and "Into The Woods" last Saturday.  I auditioned and was called back for both shows.  

Into the Woods callbacks were short...for me.  I was called back for Jack, as in Jack and the Beanstalk.  He's about the only character in the show I'd be considered for.  I did a little dance, sang a little song, and they told me I wasn't what they wanted.  The producer lady later told me I looked too old.  Though they did call back another young man who looks about as old as I do.  Go figure.

Big callbacks were about the same.  I did a little dance, sang a couple of songs, and read through something once.  I got a call yesterday and was cast as Paul.  This is funny to me because I never read for Paul.  I never sang anything as Paul.  I barely know who Paul is.  His character description says "self-absorbed toy exec."  He's the one in the movie that Tom Hanks plays racquetball with.  I think it'll be a challenge for me since I'm nothing like that.  He's one of those really arrogant, businessy, mean people.  But he does get into a fight with Josh (the Tom Hanks character).  That could be fun, so I hope they keep that part in.  

So, another show.  That means that I've been involved with rehearsals or performances consistently, while trying - rather successfully if I do say so myself - to maintain a decent social life, since November.  But it keeps me busy and I'm doing what I love.  This show opens July 29 and runs through Sept. 20.  Feel free to stop on in and enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Death by Sanitation

Did you ever take the playground rocks and dump them down your shirt? One of the second graders did that. She tucked in her shirt so they wouldn't fall out, but a small stream erupted right between her legs. She looked like a lady, pregnant with a rock baby, whose pebbles had just broken.

Some of our kids will turn out just fine if their energy can just be focused in the right direction. One young man likes to play up the dramatics of his tragic life. Every time we do something he doesn't like he'll turn on the water works. His protestations have no effect on me, but today they were rather amusing. He showed up to school with a sign taped to his shirt protesting end of year testing. It said, "No more testin," "Don't come get me Mrs. Smith" and had a picture of a stick-figure boy crying. Adorable.

We have a kindergartener who started out the year without being potty trained. Today my boss came into the room and said, "Mortimer* pooped twice in the toilet!" The room was subsequently filled with cheers of joy. I never thought I'd celebrate something like that.

I have always been fascinated by how many different ways people pronounce the word crayons.  The correct pronunciation - as anyone can see - is 'cray-ons'.  However I've heard everything from crowns, and crins, to crayns and crons.  Is it really that hard to sound out?  There isn't even anything about this word that's irregular.  It follows all of the establish patterns for correct English pronunciation!

Everyone's heard the old adage "First the worst, second the same, last the best of all the game."  It's a delightful - if ineffective - way to help us boost our self esteem.  In the 1st grade, I heard a slightly different version, "First the worst, second the best, third the one with the hairiest chest."  As I was third in whatever youthful competition was taking place, I'd have to say with certainty that the latter part of the rhyme most certainly applied.

In our school we still use the old school cloth towels in the bathrooms.  The kind that come on a giant roll.  I don't know why they haven't changed over to paper, the cloth just seems kind of unsanitary...and it always smells musty.  Anyway, the following warning appears on the dispenser: "Failure to follow loading isntructions could result in serious injury or death."  Really?  Death?  It's a paper towel dispenser not a WMD.

Today I feel like I've actually had a positive effect, academically speaking, on a child's life.  Three times a year we do DIBBLES testing which measures reading fluency (words per minute).  We tested one girl in February just after she's moved here from Mexico.  She read 6 - that's right 6 - words per minute with 54% accuracy.  Today she read 35 wpm with 83% accuracy.  I like to think that I had something - albeit a small something - to with her improvement.  Now if she could only understand what she was reading...

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent pooper. And I figured if I was going to change his name it might as well be to something cool.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Just a day

Yesterday in 3rd grade I was working with my students - my roughest group actually.  It's composed of 5 of the most *cough* energetic students in the 3rd grade.  And one quiet little girl.  Due to vacations, testing, and perhaps a bout of the black plague (don't judge me for hoping) I only had three energetic students.  While working in their books they began to compete with each other, and for one reason or another I found this to be absolutely hilarious and erupted into what can only be described as a fit of giggles.  This made my students laugh and for a couple of minutes we just sat there giggling.  It was awesome.

Today during Kindergarten recess I let the kids chase me.  For some reason they love it.  I collapsed after quite a sprint and was subsequently buried in kindergarteners.  They poked, pushed, prodded, and pressed (Though only in appropriate areas.  I'm very careful about that.)  I just lay there laughing.  That was kind of a mistake because I soon ended up with a mouthful of grass as they began picking and throwing grass all over my head.  This just made me laugh harder...though now with a closed mouth.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


3rd grader - "I'm a shark. I eat books."
As heard by Mr. B - "I'm a shark. I eat butts."

On my way to work this morning I got a flat tire on my bike. I've only had the thing for 2 weeks. But I knew it was bound to happen, and is bound to happen again. There are just too many sharp pointy things to run over.

1st grade journal entry: I have a intenDo DS. and I saw some wone at the mall. and it is a lot of fun.

1st grader: Mr. B, he said a bad word. He said S-E..uh...S-X! you have that with your wife?
Mr. B: I'm not married.
1st grader: That means you're gay!
Mr. B: No, it just means I'm not married.

Book recommendation - "Frindle" by Andrew Clements. It's a simple, short (104 pages, took me about an hour to read it) heartwarming story about the ability of an average 5th grader to change the world. Rather inspiring.

We're currently in the throes of end of year testing. For part of the testing kids who no speaka the English can have it translated for them. I was helping with the 4th grade math test. One of the questions was asking about how many pennies Jorge had. For some reason it was really difficult for me to speak Spanish, but say pennies. What I was trying to say was "Cauntos pennies tiene Jorge," (How many pennies does Jorge have?) What I ended up saying was something like, "Cuantos penes tiene Jorge?" (How many penises does Jorge have?) Oh the joys of translation.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Art Project

In a random turn of events I ended up subbing in the 3rd grade.  Here's how productive I was:

I'm starting a new segment.  Something I'd like to call - "As read by a 3rd grader":

The pine tree cast a long shadow.
As read by a 3rd grader: The porn tree cast a long shadow.

As read by a 3rd grader: Homophobe

When I was a youngster and someone took a jab at someone else in some way we would say they got "dissed" i.e. disrespected.  The kids at my school say someone gets "moted"...or "moded"...I can't ever tell which.  I think it's "moted" and is short for demoted.  Anyhow, I was talking to some 6th graders, one of them said something to me, and I said something back, upon which his friends yelled, "Ooooh!  You just got moted by a teacher!"  I felt cool.

I always like to observe the children and pick out which one I would have been, or which ones I think my friends were.  It's now springtime and we have usable fields.  Over the past few days I've noticed one young man wandering aimlessly in the field, spinning around, picking flowers, trying to catch butterflies etc.  I had a sad moment where I realized I was kind of that kid, (my coworkers kindly pointed out that I still am that kid) but I like to think I had more friends than that in elementary school.  Perhaps I'm wrong, but who am I to disillusion myself?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nom de Plume

Two of my third graders were having a bragging session about their imprisoned relatives. I found it morbidly entertaining. One girl's uncle is getting out of jail fairly soon, the other girl's cousin is in jail because he got caught selling drugs at school. It made me a little sad to hear the pride in their voices as they exchanged stories.

At lunch recess one of my fellow aides came up to me and informed me that my presence was requested at the first grade playground. I wandered over to be greeted by a large group of first graders doing the Macarena. Evidently they'd been doing it all recess. They'd make the hand motions, grab their butts at the end and joyfully yell, "Ready! Uh uh UH!" while thrusting their hips about. It almost brought a tear to my eye.

Later I passed one of the first grade classes in the hall and one little girl said to me, "Mr. B, I saw you guys doing the macaroni and cheese outside - I can do it too!"

Several of the kindergarten girls somehow procured some lipstick and were proudly donning their crimson lips all throughout lunch. This scares me.

Kindergarteners also scare me when they try to push, pull, and prod me along to some undisclosed location. They're hands are always at just the right height to make things awkward.

3rd grader - Mr B., can I tell you what happened to my dog?
Me - sure
3G - Well, my brother let him out and he got picked up by animal control and they put him down, so now I don't have a pit-bull anymore. But we got a new pit-bull. His name's tank.

One of my third graders told me today that her sister is having a baby, and that she was going to encourage her to call him Mr. B.

We had a suicidal kindergartener at recess. I heard her say - rather melodramatically - "I'm going to kill myself!" I asked what was up and she said, "I'm going to go home and when I wake up I'm going to grab a knife and kill myself...I'm going to be with Jesus!" I had to laugh. I came to find out that it was her birthday, but her friends were being mean. After a brief chat and a giant bear hug, she was all giggles. I think she'll be ok.

In my brief stint at DG Elem I've accumulated quite a collection of names, and I find them all endearing:

Mr. B
Mr. Barnett
Mr. Bean
Mr. Beans
Mrs. B
Miss B
Mr. Bee
Mr. Sheep (you Spanish speakers see if you can't figure out how that one came about)
Mr. Bob

Friday, May 2, 2008


Some of my more rambunctious 3rd graders were acting up a bit in the computer lab. This is a normal thing and I usually just calm them down, but I wasn't feeling especially lenient last week, so I sent 6 boys back to class with the express privilege of spending their Monday morning recess with me. I made them write apology letters to the computer lab teacher. Two of the boys cried. Gold star for me. One boy in his letter apologized for giving guff to one of the aides - Mrs. O'Bryan. Except he said Mrs. Old Brien.

One day this week, writing center in the first grade consisted of writing about things you like to read about. One especially promising youngster wrote, "I like to read about guns."

It was Ms. J's birthday on Wednesday. She had a party for her class. They watched "Charlotte's Web" - the new one. There's a part toward the end where the little girl, Fern, rides the ferris wheel with the cute boy in her class. They laugh, smile, hold hands, all that small-town joy kinda stuff. One of her students yelled out, "That's Mr. B and Ms. Jackson when they were little!" For some reason they're still holding out hope for the two of us.

Also, out of all the Charlotte's Web characters there are, their class picked Templeton as the one I most resemble. The greedy, gluttonous, selfish, dirty, lazy rat. I wonder if they're trying to tell me something. In the end he does have a good heart, so I guess I shouldn't be too put out, but really?

Because of the absurd nature of gas prices, I've purchased a bike. It was a $50 bargain at Target, and runs about like a $50 bike, but it gets me to school and the theatre, which are the two places besides home that I spend most of my time. I also rode it back to Target to exchange my bike lock. I'm a bit saddle sore, but that'll soon be over and I can just enjoy my little bike.

Advantages to using a bike as transportation:

Lighten the load on my wallet
Cardio workout while traveling
More time in the fresh air and sunshine
I can listen to podcasts and take advantage of my traveling time
I, along with my students, get to use the crossing guard's talents
In a couple of months I'm going to have amazing legs
I'm not contributing to inversion

Our monthly Everyday Hero party was today. It was amazing. I did the Macarena, the Electric Slide, the Locomotion, the Conga, the Boot Scoot and Boogy, and a whole lot of random insane fun dancing. I like dancing with little kids the best because they, for the most part, still haven't developed any inhibitions. The older kids were BORING! At the end of the party when I was out of breath and a bit sweaty I wanted to talk to the head of the state office of education and say, "Now try to tell me that dance isn't physical education."

Letter from the principal to my boss regarding the Everyday Hero party, "M, I want Greg to be assigned to the party starting at 11:50. He makes a party fun!! - JT"