Learning from them

One of the parts of my job that I like is learning from the students.  A long time ago, Tiny helped me learn about Ebonics.  Ever since then, I take every opportunity I can get to learn their lingo.

This week I learned a new one.  “Did you see me get muffed?,” a student said to me.  “Huh?”

Me:  What does that mean?

Student:  When you put your hand on someone else’s forehead and give a little push.

Hmm…  I guess I learn something new every day.



I had an interesting request from a student this week.  Everyday we have video announcements at the beginning of 2nd hour.  The class period is slightly longer than the others to accommodate the time away from teaching.  Sometimes the kids pay attention but a lot of the time they don’t.

We were scheduled to take a test in my Pre Calc class on Wednesday.  On Tuesday, our class was cut short by a fire drill so they didn’t have time to finish their team test.

I was taking attendance and one of the students came back to my desk.  He said to me, “No one is watching the announcements.  Can we just get started so we have time for the test?”

Sometimes these kids just surprise you.  I love that about my job!

Life after the Melanoma

About 6 months ago I wrote about my melanoma in situ experience. As a result, I now have a skin scan every 6 months. I’m totally fine with getting checked that often. I’d rather be on top of it than have something crazy creep up on me.

In March I had my second skin scan. The doctor I see is near my school and works at that location in the mornings. So, I was able to go during my prep. This time, she had a little device that looked like it did some sort of magnification so she could see irregularities easier. I was kind of hoping that she’d remove a couple of raised ones on my neck. She will eventually, but she only likes to do about 3 -5 at a time. Well, I had 4 others, so I used up my quota for this visit. She removed 3 on my torso and one on my left calf.

The Monday of spring break, I got a call at about 8:40 in the morning. I’m sure the doctor was expecting to leave a message for me and was quite surprised when I answered the phone. Two of the moles needed a bit more done to them. She wanted to do 1 cm punch excisions on both of them. I told her that I was leaving for Arizona the next day and I thought she’d arrange a time for after spring break. Nope. She looked at her schedule and said, “Can you get here at 9:20?” I looked at the clock and said, “Yep!” I took a quick shower, dressed in comfy clothes that made the areas easily accessible. And I was on my way.

The 1 cm punch excisions were easier than the last one. She used a round device that had a diameter of 1 cm that must have had sharp edges to just press and turn. The sample was about 2 – 3 mm deep. One was on my lower back and the other was the one on my left calf. Each had 2 internal stitches and 3 external ones.

Since I already had experience with the wound care (from the last time) the doctor knew that I could take care of them while vacationing. I wasn’t doing a beach vacation, and I was staying at a friend’s parents’ house, so that made it easier too. While hiking in the canyon I was really careful and didn’t go as far as I normally would. The stitches in my leg felt tighter than the ones in my back and I didn’t want them to break.

I got my stitches out after 10 days. The scar on my back looks pretty good. One of the internal stitches is popping out, so I’m not quite sure what I’m doing with that. For now, I’m just leaving it alone. The one on my leg still has the steri-strips so I’m not sure what it looks like yet.

My pathology report came back and everything is fine. No melanomas or pre-cancerous stuff. But I’m being really careful. And I’m also using this experience to teach my students about the dangers of tanning and sun burns. The funny thing, is that most of my students are NOT white. So it’s not as big of an issue for them. But it’s still important for them to protect themselves.

A Gift from the Girls


One of my colleagues has a new hobby. She and her husband have chickens in the city. They got the girls in August and it has been fun to track their progress throughout the year. They were pretty little when they arrived. It took a few months before they started laying eggs. The arrival of the first egg was quite the little miracle! I’ve had a great time hearing about the adventures with the girls. I must say, I’ve learned quite a bit about chickens in the process.

A few months ago I was given a few eggs. I don’t think I’ve got a very distinguishing palate. But those eggs were sure good! It’s probably because I knew where they came from and took the time to enjoy them. This week I got a half-dozen more. 🙂 This morning I made an egg and cut up a mango. The thing that was kind of funny was how I felt after having a special breakfast this morning. It just put me in a really good mood. Quite a nice little bonus with my breakfast!


This is a photo of the girls from the fall. From left to right Ray, Stella and Red with Winnie in the back. The egg photo has eggs (from left to right) from Ray, Red and Stella.

Big Problem

Today I had a funny problem. Well, to me it was funny…

In Pre Calc we were learning about partial fractions. During first hour, I used the overhead projector and realized that the entire problem did not fit on the screen. I finished it on the chalk board for them. The beauty of teaching two of the same classes is that I can learn from the first round and fix it for the second. So during second hour I did the entire problem on the chalk board.


In Algebra 1, you try to get them to be ok with doing problems that require a few steps. Geometry and Algebra 2 are continuing along those lines and they whine about longer problems but they still do them. By the time you get to Pre Calc, there’s still a little bit of whining by a few students, but there is something much more important happening. They’re developing that sense of accomplishment that you can get from a long math problem. All that work. Then you check your answer. And ultimately you have a private celebration where you pump your fist and mutter to yourself, “YES!”


Today I had an interesting interaction while I was doing my front desk duty.  A police car pulled up to the curb.  An officer got out of the car and brought in a very disgruntled student.  I don’t think I actually said anything.  The look on my face must have conveyed, Why are you bringing in this one?

Officer:  She was fighting with the neighbors.  She missed the bus so she didn’t come to school.  Now that’s not a valid reason to skip school, right?

Me:  Eyebrows raised, with a look of confusion and confirmation…  Why don’t you just take her to the office.  It’s the first door on your left.

After a few minutes, the officer comes out of the office and passes by me and says, “She’ll be in jail by tonight.  I guarantee it.”

So we have the police trying to do what’s right in their play book.  Then we have the school trying to do what’s correct in our play book.  But really.  What does this kid actually need?

This is a teenager who is clearly in a volatile state and has been in an altercation earlier in the day probably doesn’t belong in a classroom.  Apparently she hasn’t done enough to warrant an arrest.  Yet.  I know I don’t know the entire story, but I don’t think jail or school was necessarily the best place for her.  It seems to me that this situation should be handled differently than what I witnessed today.  But what that play book looks like is a mystery to me.

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Last week was our Spring Break. I didn’t leave for the entire break, but I did flee to Arizona for five days. If you know anything about me, it’s that I like to travel. I suppose “like” isn’t really a strong enough word for it.

Speaking of words that are or are not strong enough… One of the highlights of the trip was going to the Grand Canyon. I can see why they call it the Grand Canyon. But I also felt like it wasn’t quite enough for this magnificent sight.

I’ve had some pretty extensive travels and seen many beautiful sights, but I really don’t know what can compare to this. The fjords of Norway and New Zealand, the white sand and turquoise waters of Zanzibar, the verdant hills of Ireland, vineyards of France, Machhu Picchu in Peru, and the list goes on… I’ve seen many beautiful places. But I don’t know if I’ve ever been so awestruck. The canyon is truly amazing and I feel like I only saw a fraction of it.

We had planned to do a little hiking. In order to go all the way to the bottom, you have to plan 13 months in advance. We hiked the Bright Angel trail a little more than two miles down and then back up. It was a very nice starter hike for the canyon. I can’t imagine doing it when it’s hot. It was only in the low 40s when we were hiking and that was perfect. I’d love to do the hike all the way down and back up. The part that kind of freaks me out is the fact that the easy part is first. I’ve always hiked the hard part first.

So for my first trip to the Grand Canyon, I had a wonderful time. It is truly a natural wonder of the world. I highly recommend a visit!