Blogiversary!

This weekend is my blogiversary.  When I first started writing, it was all about my school adventures.  It has morphed into a mishmash of my various cooking, travel and dating adventures as well.  I have had many stories that I haven’t written about.  Some have been others’ stories to tell.  I have a friend that teaches driver’s ed.  She could write a whole blog about her adventures in the passenger seat!  Try teaching a deaf girl how to drive with an interpreter in the back seat and the condition that you can’t tap the driver because that might startle her!  We’re all amazed that M lives to tell us about it.  Some things we laugh about because otherwise you’d just cry all the time.  But somehow, they don’t seem appropriate to write about.  And then there are the many things that I think about writing and never get time to write.

Over the course of the year I’ve had 165 posts and 4632 views.  It’s funny to see which posts are the ones with the most traffic.  Letters of Recommendation seems to be the overwhelming leader.  Angle-Side-Side comes in second, with Jump in a Frozen Lake, You’ve got to be kidding! in third.  My personal favorite would probably be What they don’t teach you.

With being a teacher, I think that I’ll never run out of material.  Right now, my obstacle is finding the time to do it.  I have found that I really do enjoy writing and for some reason, people seem to enjoy reading what I write.  When I started this a year ago, the hardest thing was coming up with a name for my blog.  As I reflect over the year, I do believe that I couldn’t have come up with a more perfect name.  We’ll have to see what Certain Absurdity the next year brings!

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A first

I had a first today. It’s not the kind of first that you want to have.

I understand that students have no concept of their teachers’ ages or the fact that you have a life outside of the school building. Many of my students also have a very skewed view of when certain milestones in your life should happen. But today was over the top… I suppose technically it could happen.

“Ms B. Do you have grand kids?”

WTF!?! I’m 38.

Hugs

Hugs are great.  I love hugs.  Family, friends, loved ones.  Fabulous.  Students?  Not so much…

I’m not exactly sure where you learn it (probably teacher school), but touching a student is something you are taught to avoid.  Occasionally there’s a pat on the back here and there.  But you can quickly ascertain when that’s ok and when it’s not.  Some students you know would flip a gasket if you touched them.  Others see you as a surrogate parent and are starving for some kind of contact.  And some students are just the huggy type.

I never initiate a hug with a student.  But no matter what, some student will try to hug you over the course of your career.  You have to figure out how you’re going to deal with it.  If you’re not the touchy-feely type (like me), it’s especially awkward.

We’ve all had experience with the unexpected hug from a student.  What do you do?  They’re hugging you and you’ve got this freaked out look on your face (or at least in your head).  You’re really stuck.  If you completely reject them it would be horrendous.  There are a variety of options…

Finger Tap Hug:  As you round your shoulders to avoid as much body to body contact as possible, you tap your fingers on the back of their shoulders.

Hand Shake Hug:  If you’re lucky enough to see it coming, you can get your hand in there to shake their’s and the left hand does the finger tap thing.

Sideways:  Try to angle your body so it’s the sideways arm around the shoulder with a slight squeeze.

Smelly Hug:  Hold your breath and try to employ any of the above options.  Some kids just haven’t learned proper hygiene or live in situations where they can’t wash clothes as often as they should.  Not much you can do about it, unless you want to have a really uncomfortable conversation with them.

At all costs, avoid any chest to chest contact.  I’ve never had a student try that before.  It’s ok to explain that you’re not really the hugging type.  I have a friend that has the 2 foot rule with her classes.  This way they can’t hug her or each other.

But the bottom line is that you have to share your experience with your colleagues.  We all have had these awkward experiences and it’s a common denominator amongst all teachers.  You will bust a gut at sharing your hug stories.  Laughter is how you survive this profession and keep your sanity.

W-W-O-D?

A few days ago, I wrote about (here) the excitement in the building.  It was all about the election.  The overwhelming majority of the kids were Obama supporters.  They were so excited on election day and the day after.  It’s the most interest I’ve seen in an election in my 12 years of teaching.

What I do wonder is, if the excitement can carry over.  I’m not going to try to be all politically correct here.  They were excited that an African American will be the President of the United States.  A minority won.  Someone who looks like them.  Someone who is bi-racial, like so many of them.

So now I have a new question for them.  Even though the election is over, we still have a long way to go.  Barack Obama has stressed throughout his campaign that we each have responsibilities as Americans.  What Would Obama Do?  What would Barack Obama want you to do?  He would want you to take advantage of your education.  He would want you to try your hardest and not give up.  It is your responsibility to become educated so you can contribute to society.  Are you setting your goals high enough?  Because guess what?  The sky’s the limit!

** I’m not intending to imply any us vs them mentality.  I’m just a white lady teaching a lot of non-white kids.  I’m just as excited as they are about Obama.

New Graduation Standard

Could we revise the graduation standards? Yes we do have high expectations of our graduates. But what do they really need? COMMON SENSE. Do you know how far they could get in life if they just had a little common sense rather than none?

Several years ago, I had a student that had a probation officer. I have no idea what he had done to have one. But I always liked him and treated him with respect. He understood that I thought he was smart and could do well in school. As a result he put forth a strong effort in my class and did just fine. The thing that he had to get him through the tough stuff was common sense. He could read a question, get an answer and look at it and decide if he was on the right track or not.

Today I gave a final exam in my Trigonometry class. We’ve been doing SOH-CAH-TOA problems for ten weeks. The test involves the angle of elevation of the sun and the length of shadows. With this information, you can figure out the heights of objects. One problem has them calculate the height of a tree. The other has them calculate my height. The answer is indeed my actual height. (5.83*tan42)

As I was correcting tests after school I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Do I look like I’m 3.9 feet tall? 244.1? Holy crap!?! Is it too much to ask that they stop and wonder, does this answer make sense?

My next task? Trying to shake off this frustration.

Free Frosty

There were lots of businesses giving away stuff today. I thought about going for a free coffee at Starbucks. But there isn’t one near my house. Plus, I wasn’t really in the mood for coffee at night. Being as I have a slight sore throat, I opted for the free Frosty at Wendy’s. I did get another item, because I feel guilty going to just get the free thing.

The “I voted sticker Frosty” was good. However, it was diet size (which is probably good). It was about as big as a dixie cup. But heck, I’m not going to complain about free stuff!

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A Reason to be Proud

The 18 year old seniors were the proud ones today.  The few that were 18 by today, felt special.  They got to vote.  Some of them went this morning and already had their red “I voted” stickers on.  The younger kids were excited for them and envious.  One girl in my Pre Calculus class turns 18 in 2 weeks.  You should have heard the disappointment from the rest of the kids that she missed it by only 2 weeks.  The thing that is exciting to see is that these kids are learning that voting is an important part of their lives and it’s their responsibility to do it.

Our school was a destination for many voters.  There were so many that I ended up parking in the student lot this morning.  Throughout the entire day the parking lots remained full.  When I drove to work I passed two other voting places with long lines out the door.

Today was special.  Hope was in the building.