The Challenge

Dkzody put out a challenge a while back for educators.

This challenge? Find, make or pull a picture which represents what you most want your students to take from your class. Share this picture and a brief explanation, then pass on the responsibility to five other bloggers.

I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now. What on earth do I want my students to take from my class? With the help of Sharkey, I came up with this:

sharkey spring

Their lives are just beginning. I want them to have a sense of hope for the future. I want them to know that I see the amazing person that they are. Other people will see it, if they just let them. They have the potential to bloom and grow into whatever they want to be. And if their shoot gets stepped on or cut off, they still have a root system that will replenish them and continue to flourish even with setbacks.

I know that this has nothing to do with my subject matter.  But part of me writing this blog is to share that teaching is so much more than teaching your subject.  We all get into this profession because we want to make a difference.  In many cases, we do.  We may not know it at the time, or ever, for that matter.  But I will still hold onto the hope that I have somehow had a positive impact on those students that I’ve been lucky enough to call mine.



My students came up with a new word this week.  It’s a combination of procrastinate and slacker.  I’m not sure if it’s procrastination due to being a slacker or the fact that being a slacker leads to procrastination.  They were putting off doing their homework until they were home and not using their class time wisely.  But they knew that they were procrastinating, yet they were feeling like being slackers.   These are boys that usually have their homework done every day.  So I wasn’t too worried about them.  But it was interesting that they had come up with a name for their behavior.

Letters of Recommendation

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to caution you on accepting Joe Smith to your program. Although he is a very nice, pleasant student, he needs to mature before moving onto higher education. I have known Joe for the past year as he has been in my math class. Often he comes ill prepared for class. He also performs poorly on tests. When given the opportunity to get extra help, it is not taken. I have very strong reservations on his ability to succeed in your program.


Teacher with the Reality Check

You could never write or send a letter like this. Someone would probably sue you for bruising the ego of their kid. The thing that I don’t get is that the kid who does poorly in your class should know better than to ask for a letter of recommendation. But in this case, his parent is the one who doesn’t know any better.

Today I got an email from a parent asking me to write a letter of recommendation for her son. Her son passed my class by the skin of his teeth and I can’t honestly say that I think he deserved to pass. He certainly will not be able to pass an entrance exam for college that tests his high school math skills. To top it off, the letter is due April 1st. I respectfully declined to write the letter when I replied to the email.

I really don’t get it. This parent is one of the pair that spurred me to write my Bursting the Bubble post last December. The other parent basically tried to bully me at the time of the post. And they want me to write a letter of recommendation for their kid? Huh? What on earth do they think I’m going to write? Plus, if the kid needs a letter, the kid needs to ask.

I suppose the lesson here is to learn how to decline writing letters when you know you can’t write a good one. In most cases, the kid asking deserves a great letter and I am completely fine with writing one.

I won’t be around when the student has to fight his own battles and make it on his own. I really hope he can. But in the meantime, his parents sure aren’t helping him.

Soup’s On


Tonight was my Soup class. We made six different soups. There were only six of us in the class, so we paired up and each pair did two soups.

Let me tell ya… I’m not going to meet my dream man at a Community Ed cooking class. I was paired up with an older gentleman who happens to have the same name as one of our former presidents. However, I did not ask him if his middle initial was “F”. He obviously couldn’t remember my name and referred to me as “kiddo” the entire night.

We made Pumpkin Soup and French Beef Stew in Red Wine. Both turned out well and the Beef Stew (Beef Burgundy) looked rather impressive at the end. The others made New England Clam Chowder, Cream of Wild Rice, Split Pea with Ham and Corn Bisque with Rosemary. With only six of us, there was plenty to go around. I should know better than to eat anything before one of these classes. Even with everyone tasting them all, I still ended up with 7 bags of soup. I guess I’ve got my lunches for the rest of the week!

Calling the Sun Goddess

Please! Make it go away!


This is the view out my front door. A week ago, you could see the grass. Now I have a pile of snow from my driveway AGAIN. The good thing about March snowfalls is that it does go away fairly soon after it comes. But enough is enough! We ushered in the first full day of spring with 4 inches of snow. That’s nothing compared to other places. At this time of the year, we’re all tired of it and just want it to go away.

I was going to write about my challenge to myself this week. Then I realized how it tied in with the snow. I’ve been doing yoga for about three years. I have a wonderful teacher and I always feel so much better after I’ve gone to class. I’ve been trying to discipline myself to do yoga at home. I have a mat and various props. But my practice is very hit or miss. So this week my challenge to myself is to do 2 Sun Salutations in the morning. It may not sound like a lot. But my triceps will be killing me within a day of starting it. This is what it looks like:


The inchworm type move in the upper right is what gets the triceps. You have to keep your arms parallel to your body.

I’m not saying that my Sun Salutation will have any effect on melting the snow. But no matter what, it will help me.

Community Education

Over the last year I’ve made a point to take some community education classes. It’s a great way to learn new things and doesn’t cost much. So far I’ve only tried out the cooking classes. I’ve learned how to make Sushi, Appetizers, Chicken and More Chicken, Chocolate Truffles, Thai Food and I’ll learn about Soups on Tuesday this week.

The Sushi class was cool. But I decided that it’s worth it to go to a restaurant. It’s just too putzy for me – and I completely suck at rolling it. The Appetizer class was fun because we made about 20 different ones and got to try them all. The Chicken class was a lot of chicken in one night. I had chicken to eat for the whole week. But it gave me ideas on how to cook it and I’m not afraid to try my own thing. The Truffle class was great! Making chocolate truffles is not that hard and I could give them away as gifts. I haven’t tried to make any of the Thai food yet. But I learned about using lemon grass, chili peppers, curry paste and a bunch of other stuff. The soup class should be good, but we’re getting out of the soup season. We’ll see how that goes…

The new catalog came out this past week. I’m trying something new this time. Don’t laugh. Belly Dancing. My massage therapist recommended trying it for shoulder movement. I’ve been wanting to take a dance class, but had never thought of belly dancing. I guess this solves the problem of not having a partner… 😉 A friend of mine took it a few years ago and liked it. But she also said to watch out because I might have the same problem as her… moving like a white woman. I probably will. But it will definitely be interesting!

Learning the Lingo

“My calculator be hatin’ on me.”

“Really? I didn’t know a calculator could be *emo.”

“But it’s hatin’ on me. I need a new one.”

Yep. That’s what I heard today in Pre Calc. The calculator was using the order of operations according to what he had typed. Since he was missing a set of parenthesis, he got the wrong answer.

My calculator be hatin’ on me sounds like rap/hip-hop lyrics. I’ve got Chris Brown’s Kiss Kiss in my head now… They hating on me | They wanna diss this, kiss-kiss | Cause she mine and so fine | And thick as can be I just looked up the lyrics on-line. Sometimes it’s better not knowing…

The idea of using proper English is a complete afterthought. And they all talk that way without thinking anything of it. I’m not even going to tell you the ethnicity of the kid. It’s not what you’d expect. But it doesn’t really matter because it’s an example of how this way of talking has permeated society. Heck! I just heard a commercial for the Shane Company and Tom Shane was talking about how his sales people won’t get up into your grill when you’re looking for a diamond ring. It doesn’t quite sound right when Tom says it though…

Three years ago I had a student in another Pre Calc class. Calculators are quite heavily used in that class. This student made an observation that was so profound, that I had to write it down. There is a sign in my classroom that says, “The calculator is only as smart as the user.” I credit the student and the day that he said it – 3/23/05.

I have referred to that quote many times in the last 3 years. After the calculator hatin’ on me comment we just had to talk about it. It definitely makes the point that you need to know how to use your calculator in order for it to spit out the correct answers. Of course, I had another student pipe up, “I think my calculator is definitely smarter than me!” Yep.

*emo = emotional