Friday, August 31, 2007 

Don't let the f*ckers get ya down

This week was long. One group of my kids acted like a bunch of monkeys on crack all week, and another group acted that way yesterday. Their first test was this week, as I mentioned in my last post, and maybe that had something to do with it. Or maybe it was just a full moon. Was it a full moon? Felt like it.

On Tuesday, the superintendent came into my room first thing in the morning, just to see. And what she saw was me scrambling to get my bell ringer written on the board and put some news articles on the desks thirty seconds before they were to arrive. On Wednesday, my boss came to my room during my planning period. I have lots of bosses, but the main boss came in. The principal, who I almost never see. He came to tell me that I was doing a good job, and that he had noticed "a marked improvement since the first week." At first I wondered what I had done so wrong the first week. Then I decided that by "marked improvement" he really meant "dramatic decrease in number of office referrals."

Yesterday sucked. My young 'uns decided to go apeshit and meet my every request with complaining and resistance and smart-mouthed remarks. It might sound pathetic to get worn down by a bunch of 13 and 14 year olds, but when they get organized in their hatred of you, it can get tough. If they could organize that well to get out of poverty or learn to read and write and think and take responsibility for their actions, they'd change the world in ten years. At one point I could've just sat and cried if I'd had the time.

During our planning period yesterday, a teacher in the room next to me stuck her head in my room and said, "Don't let the fuckers get ya down." True words of wisdom.

Today was much better. It was Friday, it's a long weekend, and it was payday. Ahhhh, payday! I started working July 23, by the way, and this is the first check I've received. Things seem much harder when you haven't seen any compensation for it. Today's paycheck was like Benadryl on a broken ankle. So long as you belieeeeeeeeeeve!


Wednesday, August 29, 2007 


Yesterday I gave my first test. Tonight I graded it-- well, I graded all but one class. One of the perks of getting a good grade on a test in my class is that it gets you candy. Good candy, too, not that dollar-a-bag crap at Big Lots. If a kid gets a 90 or higher, they can choose any kind of candy bar they want. If they get a 95 or higher, they get any candy bar they want, plus any kind of coke they want. I told my kids to write their candy and drink choices at the tops of their papers, so that as I put their bright, shining 90+ on the page, I could make a note of what to buy them.

So far, I've graded about 60 tests out of 75. I'm currently out two Snickers bars and one Coke. Even if the policy was that you only needed an 80 to get a prize, I'd still be out fewer than five items total.

As I graded my first period's tests, I almost cried. Really. They were awful. First period is one of my double dose classes. They come to me for two hours because they failed the state test. So they're not always the sharpest knives, but they're capable. And they get twice the instruction. Four kids passed the test. The highest grade was a 76. The lowest was a 15-- but that child was pissed off when he took the test, and I think he just wrote crap down to be a jackass. He probably could've earned somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 had he not decided to shoot himself in the foot. (Boy he showed me, didn't he?) The class average was 62. Sixty two. It pained me to have to write such low numbers underneath their candy requests.

Their dentists would love me, if they had dentists. (Just kidding-- I'm sure they have (Medicaid) dentists.)

My second group of double dose was a little better. I didn't figure their average, but it was probably 70-74. No fifteens. There was an 82 and an 84, and I think those were the highest. The lowest was a 50.

Thank God for my seventh graders. They're not double dose, and they all passed the state test. They're what keeps me going. (Seriously, how long can a person go working their ass off to teach people something only to be slapped in the face with an average score of sixty freakin' two?)

I have two groups of seventh graders, and I have graded one group's tests. There's a 96 and a 91; these account for the two Snickers bars and the Coke. (She wrote "cola" on her paper. Around here, if you don't specify, you get a Coke.) Some of them did far better than I expected on most of the test, then bombed on the last five questions. I need to go back and look at those. Something was obviously up with them. I didn't write the test. I just follow the scope and sequence, teach on the right schedule, etc. In theory my kids should pass someone else's test if they've covered the skills on it. It bothers me that I don't get to write my own tests, because sometimes my slow classes don't get as far as my quick classes. The person who writes the test teaches accelerated. I understand that we want to raise the bar, but damn, I didn't get into commas yet-- barely even touched on it-- and there was a paragraph on the test where they had to add commas. They haven't seen that crap since last year, and didn't pay attention to it then.

Whatever. I can't write the state test, either. They're gonna have to take it. The person writing our tests has seen the new Mississippi Curriculum Test, or has at least seen sample questions. She's supposed to be writing the regular tests so that the MCT looks familiar when they take it.

They say it's significantly harder this year. God help us. We were barely keeping our heads above water with the first one, watered down as it was.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 

DPA goes to the vagina doctor.

Today at the doctor, I had to have a certain test done. I was supposed to get a phone call at work with the results this afternoon. It wasn't the kind of test that tells you if you've got crotch rot. It was the kind that tells you if you're going to get fatter and bitchier than ever and then eventually squeeze out something that cries and depends on you for the rest of your natural life.

See, the peeing on a stick thing isn't very reliable for me because I've had them come back positive when they weren't. Yeah, I know. I'm effed up. Anyway, I didn't even go to the doctor for the purpose of having this test done, but he wanted to do a test because of some of my symptoms and to make sure I'm not knocked up before I start some medicine.

Last time I had to get a blood test, which was about two years ago, they called and left a message on my voicemail telling me it was negative. Today I kept waiting for them to call me at work (I have a phone in my room) and they didn't. Like I said, I wasn't really concerned about this before I went to the doctor, and I think the test is more a precaution than anything. I didn't sweat it, but I definitely wanted to know as soon as possible.

When I got home there was a message on my cell phone, which I left at home this morning. It said that my results were in and that I needed to call them back or come by before 5:00. I didn't get the message until 6:00, because I worked late. They apparently didn't call the school. I guess they figured I was gone after 3:00. Anyway, I tried calling back but they were gone. Now I have to spend the night wondering if them asking me to "call or come by" is an indication that the test results were positive.

I hate to admit it because the timing would suck a little, but I would be really excited if it were positive. Really, really excited. And happy. Thrilled, even. And ten seconds later, that would fade, and it would be replaced by utter fear and anxiety.

Whatever. I'm as ready as I'll ever be. The Husband, on the other hand...

Oh yeah. Sorry about the title. That was completely uncalled for.


Good Morning

I get to be late to work today because I have a doctor's appointment. It's sad that I'm excited about it, because it's not likely to be pleasant. Anything to avoid first period. Those little brats are killing me. I'll get to avoid them for the first hour, but since they have me for two periods I'll probably still have to deal with them.

Maybe I should schedule a surgery or something...

Saturday, August 25, 2007 

Day Off

TH is at the vet with the two butt holes right now. When he gets back, I'm going to rent a steam cleaner. Our carpet is so nasty it's no longer tolerable. Replacing it has been on our to-do list for a long time, but with two puppies in the house there's really no point in doing it right now. They're doing fairly well with house training, but their first two weeks here were rough, and there are lots of new spots on the already nasty carpet. And I can smell it. It reminds me of the smell of Aunt C's house. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Last night, TH and I laid down to take a nap around 7:00 p.m. He got up an hour or two later, but I never did get up. During the night I woke up several times in a panic. I kept thinking I had overslept and was late for work. This happened at 10:30 p.m., 2:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m., and 6:30 a.m. At 6:30, I had to look at a calendar to convince myself it was Saturday, and then I fell back asleep and got some very good rest for the next two hours. At 8:30, I finally got up. Since then, it's been laundry and cleaning. Tonight we're going up to his sister's house for our niece's birthday party. She's 30. I've gotta get a gift at some point between doing laundry, cleaning floors, and taking breaks to blog about the excitement of it all.

For lunch I went to Peter's Poboys and get another one of those delicious oyster poboys, even though I embarrassed myself last time I went there.

Gotta get back on the laundry.

Thursday, August 23, 2007 

need a drank

There's so much that I have to do every day that I can't even sort it all out in my head long enough to write a paragraph or two about it. The amount of work I am expected to do in a day is mind boggling, and when I get home there is more to do. I have been spending every waking minute on some task, and I'm still not getting it all done.

Monday was parent night. I got to work at 7:30 a.m., and signed out at 7:50 p.m. During those twelve hours and twenty minutes, I didn't take a break. I'm not exaggerating. My planning period was spent in TWO parent conferences, and I worked on cleaning my room, getting some documents ready, and other such tasks from the time the last bell rang to the time the parents started showing up that evening. I have to get someone from a nearby room to come watch my class just so I can take a whiz-- and the faculty bathroom on my end of the building is located in a wing that requires me to walk outside to get to it. The bathroom is not air conditioned (it is, but it's not working), so I come back sweaty. Emptying my bladder should not require breaking a sweat.

Every night I have dreams about work. That sucks. I would like to be able to fall asleep with some certainty that it will be an escape, not more of the same. I don't mean to sound so unhappy. My job is going well, and I like it. I'm just tired. The next sumumabitch that makes some remark about us teachers having summers off is getting kicked in the balls if I'm within reach.

Tim is on his way back from Slidell, Louisiana right now. It's only about an hour from here. He went to buy lottery tickets. They're about to draw for $300,000,000. That's three hundred million, if you're like me and need words.

Cross your fingers. I'll share.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 

No title necessary


Saturday, August 18, 2007 

Dog poop, lesson plans. They smell the same to me.

Daisy has the runs. It's flying out of her at such high velocity that I think she might actually lift off. She and Bear were outside in a pen at their original home, and I thought they would live outside when they moved here, but TH had other ideas. Two large, hairy dogs in the house. Fabulous! TH says it's not fair for me to demand that we put these two out when I would never put Sweet Tea out. But Sweet Tea was a Boxer. They're prone to heat stroke. And she had a heart problem that made it hard enough for her to breathe without being in the heat. Apples and oranges. Actually, to make another point, that was one apple, and these are two oranges. Ya dig?

Whatever. I'll go along with it. They're already starting to understand the concept of going outside to poop and pee. The only real problem is that Daisy is sick. She's going to the vet tomorrow morning. They both are.

I have to write five days of lesson plans for a substitute to use in case I'm out with no warning. It's due Monday. Actually, I have to have more than just five days of lessons. I have to create an entire binder of stuff. It's gonna take some time to do. On top of that, my regular lesson plans are due Monday at 8:00 a.m. Our department meets every Thursday to plan together, but it doesn't help me that much because I'm the only teacher who has the low level 8th graders, and I'm the only one who has 8th graders for two hour classes. So their 55 minute plans won't work for me. I have to plan double. The required department planning meeting hasn't done anything so far except frustrate me and make me have evil thoughts about the other teachers who seem to have it easier.

I hate planning. HATE IT. It's hard, it's time consuming, and it seems like nothing I do is right when it comes to putting plans together. We just got textbooks on Friday, so we have all been scrambling to find resources. We have also been making lots of copies. I've already been chastised for making too many copies. Would you like another example of how I'm not provided the necessary tools to do my job? I don't have a printer in my room, though I've been told several times that they're "working on it," but I'm still required to type out my lesson plans.

Oh well. At least there IS a copier, even if they're stingy with it. The books I got this week are a classroom set. The kids each get another one to leave at home. They're not allowed to carry back packs and there are no lockers, so letting them keep a book at home cuts down on what they have to carry back and forth. It also ensures that there will be a book both at school and at home.

As soon as they get their books for home, I'll be able to give homework out of the book. I'm supposed to give homework most nights per week. I still say homework on weekends is out of the question, but I've been giving a small assignment about 3 times per week. One night I told them to find a newspaper or magazine article that interests them, read it, and write one sentence telling the main idea of the article. About 15% of the kids attempted to do it and turned it in on time. About 5% did it correctly. You wouldn't believe how many of them cut out advertisements and photo captions instead of articles. I had to show them what an article was. I also had to provide them with newspapers, because most of them don't have newspapers at home. I had a stockpile of articles that I had cut out and mounted on card stock, but they all disappeared, much like HM's beloved doorstop, or that nice bookshelf I had.

Friday, August 17, 2007 

I've been meaning to tell you...

...that we adopted two crackheads.


And Pookie is lovin' it, except for when they eat his toys and piss in his kitty condo. He's not lovin' that at awllll.
The picture above is Bear.

And this one is Daisy.

A stray dog wandered up to TH's sister's house about a year ago. She is an Alaskan Malamute, or at least she looks like one with a little less hair. I guess living in Mississippi is a good reason to shed like crazy if you were created to live in a cold region. Anyway, she looked like she was about to die of starvation. Sister-in-Law took her in, and started feeding her. Since she appeared to be a purebred dog, I guess they never even considered the fact that she might not be fixed. And since she was a stray, and was never really offically theirs, I guess they never took her to the vet to find out. So five and a half weeks ago she gave birth to NINE pups.

They believe the father is a Yellow Labrador, because he is the only un-neutered male they know of who lives near them.

As soon as the pups arrived, S-in-law started trying to give them away, of course. TH and I originally refused to take one. Then this past Sunday, we went up there to have dinner with the family in celebration of S-in-law's birthday. We came home with these two. We started to name them Donnie and Marie, but S-in-law had named the male Bear, and that stuck. We called the female "Sister" for a while, but to me she looks like a Daisy, so Daisy it is. Bear and Daisy.

They're cute, but they sure do shit a lot.

Thursday, August 16, 2007 

Unda presshah!

You know what I'm sayin'. Da da da d-d-dumdum! Da da da d-d-dumdum!

Earlier this week, I received a message saying that I had to report to the central office on Wednesday between 3:30 and 4:30. Since the kids leave at 4:00 and I can't get out until 4:10, I was going to be rushed. Then I got a memo telling me to be at a meeting in our school library the same day at 4:00. Something had to give, so I asked one of the many administrative folks which meeting they wanted me to attend. Going to the central office wasn't optional, since it was because my fingerprints had not scanned correctly the first time.

So I went to the central office. At that point in the day, my feet were aching so bad that I wanted to cry. I really must invest in a better wardrobe, including better shoes.

When I finally got to the central office, I wasn't sure where to go to be re-printed. I saw a bunch of people in one room, and figured that couldn't be it. I walked to the personnel desk and asked. The lady said to go back to that room. So I hobbled there again. When I got there, someone told me to go back to the front desk and get a number. A number. At the front desk. Why not just keep the numbers where the people are gathered? It was designed to cause me pain, I tell ya. I hobbled back to the front again, and got my number. Sixty seven. I hobbled back to the room where the 80 or so people were gathered, and waited to see what number they were on.

Twenty eight.

Every single person was taking more than five minutes. The worst part of it was that I already sat through this exact same agony once before. That day, I was number ninety something, and I was there until after 7:00 p.m. waiting to be finger printed by a giant black cop who tried to pull my fingers off.

Anyway, yesterday I waited again and was finally reprinted. I got home around 6:30 p.m. Then this morning I had to be back at work at 7:00 a.m. for another meeting. Then during my planning period, I had another meeting. There is not a minute of the day that I'm not hustling my ass off. If I didn't have so many meetings sucking up all my non-class time, I might get caught up on grading and planning, but they're too busy meeting with us to make sure we're planning and grading to let us plan or grade. I actually had to go find someone to watch my class while I went to the bathroom.

I'm tired, y'all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 

Can I get a witness?

Today was better. The bad class has completely changed overnight, thanks to a crafty counselor. Notorious B.A.D. was withdrawn from school and enrolled at a private school, so she's gone. Three of the other troublemakers from that class have had their schedules changed. One of them is still mine, but now comes during a different period where she'll be less motivated to give me hell. They were just trying to break up the crew that was working together to make things difficult. The six or eight of them have had lots of classes together throughout the day, and I wasn't the only teacher who was having issues.

Something very strange is happening to me at work. Remember how I said there are people who walk through my class at various times during the day? Well, I've noticed that they only seem to show up when something is happening that makes me look bad, or makes it seem like we're not doing as much as I know we're doing. Sometimes the unwanted situation was already happening before they walked in, and sometimes it begins to unfold upon the visitor's arrival.

For example, today there were two small assemblies. The girls went during 6th period, and the boys went during 7th. Teachers didn't have to go, and I think the administration just basically wanted to have a chance to meet with the kids and tell them what's expected. First of all, I couldn't teach my lessons during either period because I only had a small part of my class present. So I had to find semi-fun things for the remaining kids to do. (I made them alphabetize the books in the class library!) Secondly, as any teacher or school employee knows, an assembly throws off the rest of the day. The kids don't leave an assembly of any sort, go back to class, and resume acting like normal people. I don't care what age group you're talking about-- they come out pumped. Pep rally or a prayer meeting-- it doesn't matter. They're coming out pumped.

Soooooo a certain visitor happens to come by my classroom as my children are waiting to be dismissed for the day. The normal procedure is for them to line up in front of the door and wait for our hall to be dismissed. Then we walk in a straight line to the bus area, and I wait there until they're loaded and gone. But they'd just returned from an assembly, and everyone was kinda out of line a little and talking more than usual, and here comes Ms. Visitor.

Why can't someone come in when I'm having a Great Teacher moment?

Maybe it's not as bad as I'm making it sound. Lots of people have come through while the kids were working diligently. I don't think anyone has witnessed me having a Great Teacher moment. That's a moment where I'm just on it. I'm explaining something, or whatever, and I'm just on it. Things are clickin', and the kids are gettin' it. This is the opposite of when I explain something and everyone goes, "Huh?" and I have to re-explain it because whatever I said the first time didn't make sense to them. That happens plenty-- especially when I've just finished dealing with some kind of distraction, or when someone is watching and I become self conscious and start trying too hard. BUT SO DO GREAT TEACHER MOMENTS, DAMMIT!

I just need a witness.

Monday, August 13, 2007 

Diet Feet

The mini fridge in my classroom is under my desk. Most of the students don't even know it's there. I don't get much time to sit at my desk while I have classes, but when I do manage to sit for a second, I can stick my hot, tired feet into the fridge. It's heavenly.

My Diet Pepsis taste kinda funny though.

Friday, August 10, 2007 


Today was much better. It's so nice to work in a place where the kids are held accountable for their actions and the teachers are backed up.

Thursday, August 09, 2007 

They. Need. Parents.

If I could read their minds, I still wouldn't know what they really need. My job is only to teach them how to pick out the main idea in an essay, or tell whether an author is trying to persuade them or entertain them, or where to put a comma in a sentence. When your dad is dead and your mom's working until 7:00 and you're taking care of your three little brothers until she gets home, commas don't mean much and the main idea isn't what the teacher's telling you it is.

Note that "parents" is plural, meaning "more than one."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 

I didn't know feet could hurt this bad

My little 7th graders are the sweetest, dearest dears I've ever seen. They're so little and cute and sweet and I just love 'em. My 8th graders? Not so much. Okay, I know I will love 'em. Some of 'em. Probably.


Lemme give you the scoop. I have to teach for six periods, but I only have four groups of kids. I have two groups of 8th, and two of 7th. My 8th graders ALL scored in the "minimal" range on the state test, so they have English for two hours. Did ya catch that? I have the low scoring kids for two hours. Then I have another (worse) group of low scoring kids for another two hours. (I don't know what karma I must've sown to deserve such an arrangement.) Then, finally, I have a regular 7th grade class that lasts 55 minutes, and right after that I have another regular 7th grade class.

My "off" period comes at 10:30 a.m. By the time the day was over today, I was barely hanging in there. The last class was real mellow, and they didn't make it any easier. I'm not complaining though-- mellow is fabulous! But did I mention that I got up at 5:00 this morning, and got to work at 7:00? Yeah. That doesn't sound like a big deal until I tell you that our school day ends at 4:00.

Four of the clock, people.

I stayed around after school to call some parents in my super bad 8th grade class, and I think I contacted enough of them that word will spread that I do actually call parents. Maybe that will help. There were plenty of other things I needed to do, but calling parents took an hour and I have to be out of the building before 6:00, so I just came home. I have to do the work at some point, but I can't face it yet. To nap, or to tough it out? So tired.

It feels like someone tied me up and beat me on the bottoms of my feet. And I'm barely awake. But I can tell you that as soon as I stop beginning my sentences with conjunctions and misusing commas, I'm gonna be able to teach these young'uns a thing or two. Bad as some of them are, they're nothing compared to what I dealt with in 2005-2006. A lot of their writing looked like it was in need of some serious work, but I guess that's what I'm there for.

That, and to end sentences with prepositions.

Monday, August 06, 2007 

It Only Hurts the First Time

Many of the observations I'm making at work right now are not safe to share. I would love to go into great detail about all the new people I've met, but I can't, because one of them might find this here blog. Instead of talking about specific personalities, I'll tell you about something I've been trying to figure out. Let me start by saying that the more time I spend at work, the more convinced I am that this is going to be a cake walk compared to my first experience.

As I watch the first year teachers at my new school, I'm surprised how calm they are. Over the past two weeks I have wondered why they weren't nervous. Today they were a little more anxious to ask questions and express concerns, and I imagine they'll have more of the same tomorrow, considering it's the last child-free day of work. But even with the questions and concerns they're still fairly calm, and I keep looking at them and wondering how.

There are a couple of possibilities. One is that they're still blissfully ignorant. They don't know what's coming. The experienced teachers aren't nervous, because they know what's coming and what they're going to do when it gets there. The brand new ones aren't nervous because they don't know. Having only done this one time before, I know what's coming and how important it is to be ready, but still am not 100% confident that I am totally ready. I feel like the one bird on the shore that thinks the tsunami's on the way and is bracing for it. The veterans are already in a safe place, and the newbies are pecking away at insects like everything's cool. I noticed that another second year teacher seemed to also be bracing for the tsunami, keenly aware that if you don't hold on, it can overwhelm you.

Another possibility is that it's really not that bad here and there's not as much to be nervous about. I know those two outgoing teachers tried to scare me that one day a few weeks ago, but the more I work and the more I hear (from teachers who are NOT outgoing) the more I think the kids are pretty manageable. They still come with all the complications of children from low income families, but I think the expectations are still much higher. A poor kid can make it if s/he has someone who fully expects them to. A rich kid can't make it if nobody gives a damn. (Look at Lindsay Lohan and the rest of 'em.)

I'm sure it's a little of both-- the new teachers aren't sure what to expect, and when it gets there it won't be unmanageable. I know they're gonna come in trying to find out whether they can take over, but I don't think there will be anything heavy hurled at my head.

I've got my helmet within reach just in case.


Saturday, August 04, 2007 

cheap Chinese plastic crap

When TH graduated from pharmacy school, he also graduated from living in a rusted out trailer in the crappy part of town to having a little cash in his pocket. So he did what any 23 year old would do--- started buying cds. (And I don't mean the kind at the bank.)

I don't know how many he has, but it's in the hundreds. Probably at least 700 or 800. He only had two small storage towers, which didn't even come close to holding all the cds. There are eight boxes filled with cds crammed in the corner of the office, and they've been there for years. For a while, I've been advocating the purchase of a decent storage device for the rest of the cds. I imagined a nice piece of furniture that would have closing doors on the front to completely conceal the cds. TH imagined not spending more than $50 on it. (Only the best for us!)

So today we got this:


If you're ever considering buying a piece of furniture-- whether it be a cd storage shelf, a bookshelf, or a nightstand-- make sure it doesn't require assembly. Even if it's cheap and tempting, just walk away. Spend the $200 on a real piece of furniture.

I spent almost all day assembling this pile of crap. When it was done, it was kinda flimsy, so I took it apart and tightened some things up, then put it back together. Once it was fully assembled it still looked like exactly what it is--- cheap Chinese crap.

With the cds on it, I think it will look okay, but I'll always know.


Friday, August 03, 2007 


It was yet another training day for me. This one was so boring I had to talk two people out of jumping out the window. You know it's bad when grown people start sending text messages, talking shamelessly, and playing tic-tac-toe in the middle of a workshop.

I'm pretty tired, and a little unsure about how much to blog about even though I did check the employee handbook and it doesn't say anything to suggest that general, non-identifying talk about my job could get me canned. In a perfect world, I'd want to tell you about the crazy names on my roll, but that's probably against the law.

When I found out that my gramma had been in a wreck, they were still examining her. Today I found out that she has a broken rib. It's one of the top ones, and she says it's making her shoulder hurt. I hope it heals up okay. I had cracked ribs one time, and it was excruciating. Just putting on my bra was a huge ordeal, and the pain lasted for weeks-- and I was only 23 years old. Poor Gramma's probably gonna be hurting for a while.

Aunt C wasn't injured, of course. The only thing that can kill her is a stake through the heart. Or a screw driver, if one happens to by lying around.

Thursday, August 02, 2007 

3 in 1: Comments on Work, a Note About the Bridge, and a Family Crisis Involving Aunt C

I've already completed seven days of training, orientation, etc., and have three more days of similar stuff to look forward to before the kids actually arrive.

Today I met the other teachers at the school. There aren't as many new teachers as I originally thought. When I was there working a few days ago, there were two first-year teachers adjacent to my classroom. They kept coming and asking me questions. I figured we were in for a long year if I'm the voice of wisdom. I have only taught for one year, and that doesn't imply any level of wisdom or know-how. It just means I'm harder to kill than some. Turns out there are two other more experienced Language teachers across the hall, and I was very relieved to see the two new ladies start directing their many questions towards them instead of me. It's not that I'm not willing to help. I just barely know what to expect myself. Last time I did this, it was minute by minute survival. I'm just trying to make sure I have a slightly more sophisticated plan this time.

I was blown away by all of the things that are in place to keep things running smoothly and make sure everyone's on the same page. It's a welcome change for me. Let's just hope they actually employ these things consistently. If they do, it might actually be a good place to work.


Of course I have to say something about the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis yesterday. I was watching the new right after it happened, but they didn't have much to report other than the fact that it had collapsed.

Today I heard several different radio stations and tv stations report this same basic story.

Minnesota officials were warned as early as 1990 that the bridge that plummeted into the Mississippi River was "structurally deficient," yet they relied on a strategy of patchwork fixes and stepped-up inspections.

It's one thing when a catastrophe happens due to circumstances that nobody could have known about. But when people don't take warnings seriously and/or do their jobs thoroughly, and people die as a result, I think they need to be punished. Severely.

When I was watching the breaking news on this story yesterday, the phone rang...


Yesterday, my mother called. She almost never calls unless I haven't spoken to her in a week or more, so when I saw her name on the caller i.d., I thought she needed something. Then when I heard her voice, I knew something was wrong. Sometimes you can just tell. Her voice sounded exactly like the day she told me Big Bird, my long time loyal talking pet parakeet, had passed on to the bird cage in the sky.

She said that Aunt C and my gramma had been in a car wreck. When she said that, I swear I thought she was going to say one of them was dead. Then she said they were okay, but that they were still in the hospital. Then she said that Gramma was "talking and moving around." If the ability to talk is being considered a sign of okay-ness, how bad is it? I mean, that's what they say when someone was seriously injured, so it kinda scared me. It turned out that Aunt C was banged up, but wasn't admitted, and they were still looking Gramma over. She is 87, after all, so they wanted to make double sure nothing was broken. She'll be sore, but okay.

Aunt C was driving and somehow lost control of the car. When it stopped rolling, they were upside down. The rescuers pulled my gramma out through the windshield.

Am I glad nobody was hurt? Of course. If by "nobody" you mean Gramma.

Just kidding.


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