Bad Idea Bears Told Her To Do It

One of my students was caught cheating today. There, I said it. She was cheating. She sat there, her petite stature cradling the notebook in her lap. She had painstakingly written all of the words and definitions in a small notebook at home sometime over the weekend, and now it lay in her lap. While I was helping a student take the test, a student I am often working with and usually write the answers for, she was over there reading the notebook and filling in answers.

My fabulous co-teacher busted her. Took away the notebook and quietly informed me. In my brain I went ballistic.

Later, when I took her in the hall to confront her about it, she broke down in tears. To be expected, she rarely has run-ins with authority, and normally just keeps to herself.

I tried to toughen up - to not let the tears get to me. As I made it clear the significance of her actions (and their dooming consequences on our trustworthy relationship), she told me that she was afraid of doing poorly because her Dad would get really mad at her. She was very specific in naming her "home" consequences.

Great job, Mom and Dad, for pushing your daughter to a point where she feels she has to cheat in order to accomplish her goal - no matter what the cost, she was willing to risk it. Or perhaps I'm being naive, and thinking that she was even able to consider the repercussions of her actions at this age. Whichever the case, I'm disappointed. I hate the first year teacher cuts and scrapes. Dents and Dings.

And, the icing on the cake - when I walked back in the room I overheard Glasses yell at another student over a rousing game of chess "You are seriously pissing me off right now."


Outside Looking In

Warning: Non-school related post. Rain Dancer, Glasses, and the usual cast of characters will not be involved in the making of this post.

This evening I went to dinner at my grandma's house. Her home is all decked out in it's holiday finest. Every nook and cranny is splattered with some form of holiday decoration. She even wraps the pictures on the wall, so they look like large gifts hanging all around the house. The smell of those musty and old oraments and decor instantly warm my spirit. Christmas is big in my house, as this is the house I grew up in.

One particular memory makes me laugh every time I think about it. Recently my cousin wrote a note stating the same memory, so I'm glad I am not the only one that holds it dear.

Oddly enough... it involved toilet paper.

From the time I was little, Grandma went overboard on the decorating. The greatest example of this would be our bathroom. Yes, bathroom. You walked in, flipped on the lightswitch, and instantly be serenaded in high-pitched, mechanical Christmas tunage. The soundtrack was short, and would cycle through a few (tens) of times while you were brushing teeth, showering, etc... The entire bathroom looked like Santa himself had vomited the North Pole. We even had a Santa shower curtain - showing him in skivvies with soap suds generously covering his skin.

The best memory though... the toilet paper. Next to our "real" roll of toilet paper, there was a much more enticing roll. This roll was printed with the words "Merry Christmas" and "Seasons Greetings" throughout the entire roll. One sheet might have atleast 50 holiday wishes. It was one ply, and may as well have been trace paper - it was so thin. But... for some reason... we all wanted to use it. We would all sneak uses, in hopes that the missing sheets wouldn't be noticable to my Grandma. She, inevitably, would walk into the bathroom at some point in the day and shout "Who's using the Christmas Paper!?" She'd get so mad, curse in the sweet way that only Grandma's can, and threaten to not put the paper out ever again.

Well, I walked into the bathroom tonight and, what do you know... the roll was there. Again. For the 20-something year in a row. The same roll. The years have been hard on the Christmas Paper - it is very clear that there are many that have fallen into the trap of the paper temptation. While there are only about 20 sheets left, and the cardboard is clearly visible, the sight of the same roll.... the same roll that I stole sheets from over the years... graces us once again. And if you listen really carefully on a quiet holiday evening by the tree - you can still hear Grandma yelling "Who's using the damn Christmas paper!?"


Are You Married?

I am posting this "for" a coteacher who is a non-blogger. This is just too good to not share.

My male coteacher, who I will call Mr. J, is often sharing the funniest stories with us. The other afternoon, he had a doozie. Let me see if I can do this story some justice...

A student walked up to Mr. J and plainly asked him if he was married. Simple enough, and not a totally off the wall question... students want to get to know us personally. Mr. J happens to be of the non-married variety, so he answered with a simple "No."

It became clear that the student was not quite finished with his line of questioning, as he did not waiver in his stance. Without hesitating, he followed Mr. J's response up with

(Hold onto your britches..)

"Oh, then you must be a virgin."

Fourth Grade Blush

I am often amazed at how fourth graders - particularly girls - are going through such a huge change. Socially, emotionally, physically - it all seems to be coming together - and by coming together I mean going completely f*&#ing nuts.

My favorite so far this year was today. I looked over at a few girls as I was giving my lesson. These few girls tend to gravitate to the same corner of the group setting... and if I'm not careful, they will sink into the "outside of the group" hole and I will not see them again until math.

Two of the girls were holding what looked like chapstick, but in a smaller tube. I imagine they were holding some sort of smelly shiny lip gloss that came as a set of three in a tube. I then, oddly, and as if in slow motion, saw them take the lids off of their lip gloss and then proceed to dabble it on ...

... their cheeks. They bounced the lip gloss up and down all over their cheeks.

Fourth grade blush.


One, Two, Step

We are studying patterns in math. Looking at color, shape, size, rotation, function, etc... my students have spent about a week dissecting any sort of pattern I throw in front of them.

Yesterday I had them listen to a rock song about patterns (

Today, we got all of this knowledge moving. I played a number of songs for them, all of which have a well-known dance attached. We started with the Chicken Dance. We performed the dance as a class, and then we wrote the pattern out using letters, pictures, and then shapes. Then we moved onto the Macarena. Then the Hamster Dance, Cha Cha Slide... and then, to top it off, we went completely Pattern Crazy on a lil' dance we like to call "Soulja Boy." I looked up an instrumental version of the song, and the students began dancing like crazy. Most of the students knew the steps.

I realize as I reflect on my day, that this lesson and this energy is something that can not be easily replicated on an every day basis, across every lesson. But I want to. Sounds like a dare.