Not a Chance-Growing Up a Teacher’s Daughter

Growing up in a family of teachers is quite unique and taught me many things.  Several episodes of my past attempts to sneak my way past any necessary extra work to spare both of my parents any more stress or additional emotional pain never-ever-ever-ever-EVER worked (phew!).

It’s like they had a Sixth Sense, a Spydee vs. Spidey Sense-

Trying to copy another’s paper? Busted- Mom was my 4th grade teacher for a bit. Nothing slid past her. Learned this the hard way. Also went for passing notes. Was humiliated. And grounded. This is a story that lives on today in my history of poor decisions regarding my education.

Interested in skipping school? Busted- My anxiety and fear of being caught by my parents generally overruled any fun that may have been had. The thought never even crossed my mind…until I realized we were able to sign ourselves out at 18 from the front office. Even then it was only to run home to grab a sports uniform or a snack because, well, what did someone DO when they skipped school? #naive #catholicschoolgirl

Looking to sign FOR your parent? Busted- Pencil, purple crayon, 6th grade. Weekly grade sheets for some reason were thrust upon the scene.  Most likely a poor math grade, I had been diligently practicing my mother’s specific teacher-scrawl for years for occasions such as this. Quelling 11 year old panic (as only the child of a teacher can do), tried to cross it out via a purple crayon-because what Math Teacher DIDN’T correct any signature requests with a purple crayon? Dang it. That signature just poked right on through the back of the sheet.

When it was time to face the music, all my Mom had to do was hold it up to the light she was sitting next to and out came the indentations of my misguided attempt to spare her any pain. Her bullsh*t meter didn’t even tremble. I was rewarded for my brave foray into the world of forgery by being one of the few who had to continually use a grade sheet longer than any other child in the history of the 6th grade.

Invited to an after-prom-party? Busted. Spent the night out after a dance with a bunch of others and LIED about where I was actually spending the night ( I know, right? Super original). All they had to do was pretend they had seen the parent of the supposed-parent-chaperoned-overnight at the local grocery store and out came  my story.

Practicing to be a race-car driver in your parent’s station wagon? Busted. My parents seemed to have spies out for me whenever I drove that tan and brown gateway to my (limited) freedom. “I spoke to Mrs. Daniels and SHE said she saw you driving WAY TOO FAST on Montgomery Village Avenue. Give your Dad the car keys.”  SH*T! BUSTED!

Now that I am a teacher and the parent of two strikingly different boys in regards to general awareness of WHAT NOT TO DO when you are the child of a teacher, I try to remember those good old days of generalized paranoia and give them one or two chances in addition to many stories of my growing up. Because the time is rapidly arriving that I, too, shall demand return of those keys to freedom- to keep my boys safe, to keep others alive, to keep pushing for self-restraint where necessary. It’s tough, being the child of a teacher.

Now, go back and re-do sentences 7-19 and correct those wonderful mistakes I just found on your homework, sweetie. Also, we will expect you to know your 9’s in multiplication tables by the end of dinner tomorrow night. Love ya! 😉

 

 

 

Just Humpin’ Along: Twenty Terms NOT to Udder in the Middle School Classroom

Miss Tiddy & My Pussywillow- just two characters whose names will create pure havoc whenever presented to even the most sophisticated middle-schooler (courtesy of Red Moon at Sharpsburg-historical fiction).

There are many words that I find myself saying and instantly wishing I hadn’t while standing in front of  a roomful of striplings and damsels in my chosen field of education. There have been articles, chapters, even YOUTUBE videos that myself or others did not fully scan for any type of potential word bombs.

Word bombs can sneak up on an educator or parent of the middle school variety and one must learn how to quickly, glibly assume wide-eyed innocence at the very suggestion that anything is different from the intended use of the term. Doing so can prevent minutes of off-task behavior…perhaps even hours. The list below is a running one. It refers to words, phrases, and terms that, when illustrated or verbalized, blow the mind of the 14 year old boy.

20. MOIST: This word is the one that started the entire meltdown. I’ve found it scratched onto desks, scratched onto boards, smudged in that gross-pencil-smudge often found on desks…always a boy’s desk. I made the mistake of asking why this particular term was being spotted all over the upper middle school …for some reason, this is “ew” to me. (I stopped them from explaining as soon as they opened their mouths-some things are better left unsaid.)

19. MOAN: Expect to get a similar reaction (compared to moist). There is an app that provides “sounds”. During a sensory exercise in which the students are asked to close their eyes and identify sound, never, repeat NEVER hit the moan key. It’s better to even strike the fart key.

18. PENAL/PENALIZED: Tomato/Tohmahtoe- I find myself speaking in a British accent when having to deal with these two.

17. NO: A teacher never truly knows the reaction of a middle schooler who is presented with the word.

16. ANNALS: To place the wrong emphasis on the incorrect syllable here could get a little dicey. Importance of correct pronunciation

15. YES: Again, a teacher never never never truly knows the reaction of a middle schooler who is presented with THIS word. Possibilities are, well, endless and frankly a bit terrifying at times.

14. ORGANISM: Not that many know the other term that this one can be mistaken for while reading…just one that the author for some reason always felt anxiety when reading out loud. CLIMAX falls a close 13.5 on this list.

13. HUMP: This term one may come across whilst studying military history….to walk during combat conditions is the definition for this urban slang word. I suggest NOT comparing your job of teaching to humping. This will end any remote chance of successful teaching that day…perhaps even that month.

12. GROIN: Some students have no idea what this area is…tell them to ask a friend during lunch time and let those lunch monitors earn their keep.

11. NUTS: Guaranteed to make your favorite animated student screech this word 5 times quickly in a row…this is where you choose your battles.

ducking-autocorrect-can-go-to-hell-shirt-orange

10. UDDERS: Civil War novels are good for one or two scenes involving characters using these to sustain life.

9. JACKASS: At this point, a non-sequitur

8. BITCH: Used in books about wildlife, domesticated animals, non-domesticated animals, farms, coming-of-age-stories….do you have ANY idea how many of those types of required middle school reading there are?

7. URANUS: Since the beginning of time; a classic.

6. CRAP: Super unoriginal, but uttered too much, can cause a breach in classroom security, as in “CRAP! Where is that pile of quizzes????”

5. URINE: “You’re in trouble.”

4. HELL: “You can go to dang Hell, Larry!”

3. STONED:  Self- explanatory

2. AROUSED: ” the squirrel’s attention was aroused …”

and finally-

1. BALLS: major no-no as in “If you are holding any blue balls, rotate to the right.” “Turn all your balls in before you leave.” “Those with the little hard balls please stop touching them while I’m speaking.” One teacher finally let us in on the secret: refer to the balls as SPHERES. Done.

Countdown

I tried to conjure days of yore, the days before our work day punch in and punch out was switched to nautical time keeping.  The time when we realized the time had indeed come to switch from the stiff, yellow-stained-white long sleeved oxfords of our uniform policy to the stiff, yellow-stained-white SHORT sleeved oxfords. The space between May and June is a tricky one to fill. Having attended the same school with basically the same kids for 8 years meant we had it down to a science.

The hints that our future was shiny and bright often began with an amazing thing called outdoor recess-one that occurred for 4 days in a row without rain. This is when we realized that the saddle shoes STILL weren’t scuffed enough to stop a running gal in place during a game of Rounders or Run-Across or, God forbid, Red Rover-the violent game that would cause chaotic juvenile arrests today.  This is when we watched the gym teacher lazily perched on the side wall with a whistle and a bag of Fritos (so unfair!) , chatting with another teacher as we ran and often policed our own fun.

The best part about that playground was that it was an empty church parking lot.

When it wasn’t filled with cars, it was absolute nirvana. BOYS CHASE GIRLS! Someone always screeched and yelled and ran. Everyone followed.

We had Playground Mothers- when I was stuck on some type of playground equipment- between the years 1981-1984- and that large hand bell rang to signal the end, I often found myself calling out tentatively, “Mother?” “Mom?” I can’t remember now if we were told to just call them Mom or what, but eventually one would see me and haphazardly lift me down and I was really embarrassed every time.

I watched with jealousy as other girls and guys who were clearly more gymnastically inclined spinning spinning spinning with one leg wrapped around the bar, arms hooked, never stopping. I cringed and almost barfed when another student flew off the swings on swingjumperthe “jump-off” swing game and broke his leg.  I remember one unfortunate 1st grade event in which a school mate peed on the swing seat and wouldn’t move until a Playground Mother swooped in to save the day.

I remember warning others to BACK IT UP!!!! WAYYY UP!!!! when the stars of our group were up to kick during kick ball. We knew everyone’s kick style. We knew who would be the one that acted as though that ball was gonna soar over the building onto Frederick Avenue (now a major road connecting major cities) and actually stopped the ball with the foot and ran like hell for first base.

We knew which girls had the hardest shoes and the longest legs and the boys who were tough ones and the ones who would swoop over when attempting to strike.

We had water fountain lines and no-buttsies. We had a bell ringer and large classroom windows that had no screens.  We only had to navigate 2 levels and 2 hallways.

St. Martins

The author’s school from Grades 1-8.

We knew on Wednesday we had confession in the church and some of us would wait, heart beating, destroying nail beds while waiting for our turn. I would finally be ensconced in the confessional and confess things like, “I told my Dad I turned the TV off when I really didn’t…” and dutifully counted off my penance prayers on my fingers while watching the rest of the class enter and exit the booth. Our biggest scandal was having the priest snoring on the other side of the mysterious grate.

IMG-1274I imagine that at this time, our teachers, as well, were counting down with as much, if not more, enthusiasm as we were. The last minute assignments meant to push the grades up a notch went in and came out of their boxes with alarming speed.It was a time that I miss. I didn’t even know how much until now as I sit, prepping for my day as a teacher, 13 days before the end. The Countdown Continues.

 

The Landscaper’s Wife

After 15 years of marriage this year, I’ve compiled a list of phrases I’ve been honored enough to hear over and over from my husband, a small business owner of over 25 years…check out his site so I can continue hearing them in my sleep. Environmental Landcare Maryland

10. The rain just won’t stop.

9.  We need rain so badly.

8. The flowers are all confused.

7. The yard could use some weeding. (Uh, isn’t that YOUR job?)

6. Who left the hose on?

5. I’ve got a truck broken down on the side of 97 N.

4. It’s just my busy season.

3. The last thing on everybody’s list is to pay their landscape bill.

2. The last thing on everybody’s list is to pay their landscape bill.

1. The last thing on everybody’s list is to pay their landscape bill.

Lucky me.

Where It’s At-The Privilege of Living Where I Live

blueangels2018The East Coast is where it’s at.  Maryland. Annapolis. Even sweeter.

Growing up on the water, my two sons are the LUCKIEST DUCKIEST kids alive.

Growing up with friends who have boats? Priceless! They have NO IDEA HOW GOOD THEY HAVE IT.

Fab Facts:

  •  A big chunk of the Bay came from space. “An asteroid or huge chunk of ice slammed into Earth about 35 million years ago,” reported the Washington Post, “sending tsunamis as far as the Blue Ridge Mountains and leaving a 56-mile-wide hole at the mouth of what is now the bay.”
  • The scientific name for the blue crab is Callinectes Sapidus, which means “beautiful swimmer that is savory.”
  • Blue crabs will eat almost anything, including each other!  The older crabs often eat the younger ones…which is what I tell my kids will happen to them if they don’t just chillax at times.

FACTS ABOUT OUR BAY

  • Plant a Tree!Trees help to clean the soil by absorbing harmful nutrients.  Trees also help prevent erosion, keeping harmful sediments and nutrients out of the Bay.HOW? Environmental Landcare-Small Business

Just a little shameless self promotion above 😉

Cell Phone Stores

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Why is it that every Verizon Store I go to there are 5 people sitting, 6 wandering, and 11 staring blankly at random cell phone crap for sale on the walls- for 54 minutes- and only TWO employees on site?

Also, my son and I were luckily able to witness a 25-year-old male with manpris on and mudsluggers CLIPPING HIS TOENAILS while we were  waiting. By the time Samantha, our “Service Tech”, got to us I’d completely forgotten where I was and ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad.

#goingonminute41 #isthereselfservice#whysocomplicated #noclipzone #isthisguyforeal

The Great and Invisible “Mr. Nobody”

paperclips

Day 8, Grade 7

Dear Tweens of Room 2 A,

See that 10- foot chain of paperclips that “Nobody ” fashioned, stretched across those 4 desk legs? Executed during undercover ops as I apparently blindly navigated your free learning playground?

Yeeeeaaaaa…if you could pass on this message to “Nobody” for me- UNCLIP each friggin’ paperclip and return to teacher desk…. or “Nobody” goes to lunch until the second bell rings.

 

Day 29, Grade 8

Dear Tweens of Room 2 A,

Uh oh, looks like Nobody was in the room again- except this time eating Takis Fuegos and stuffing his trash in desks. Along with Notme’s Sour Patch Kids and Jolly Ranchers scattered throughout the floor, be sure look where you step. #notyamaid pig-sty-5335332

 

Day 34, Grade 8

Dear Tweens of Room 2 A,

Those guys Nobody and Notme are super rude,-messing up your areas, defiling desks, snapping brand new pencils from Teacher’s desk with one deft maneuver. Hey! I guess you can place the blame on those two guys for no more full size pencils with actual erasers being handed out. golf

Yup, I know you are enamored of the golf pencils I procured from the English Department head. No, seriously, keep it. Nope, doesn’t look like I have an eraser, so just feel free to cross any mistakes out. It’s a small (!) gift from me to you so that you are always prepared. Seriously! Keep it! All you, Buddy.

 

Word by the back staircase is that Nobody made the decision to take ALL of the marker tops off (yea, all 79 of them!) and leave the markers out to dry, rendering them useless for creative classroom tasks. But, don’t worry,  Notme was thoughtful enough to crack most of those wonderfully waxy generic crayons in to teeny bits so everyone will have something to work with when the time does come.

br

Actual pile of crayons. 

Lucky you guys! 😉

Fondly, Ms. Wise

The Power of the Basketball

brown basketball on grey floor

Today I planned for the first time to take my students out to the basketball court to chill out for the last 20 minutes of class. They have been testing all week and were barely holding on to the wee bit of sanity they had left.  A colleague down the hall keeps this marvelous ball under his desk. I now know why.

I slid into the room with the ball.  The bell was due to buzz in 1 minutes. Three male students basically bum rush me as I enter:

Them: WHAT IS THAT?

Me: Uh. Jeez. I know it’s warm today, are your brains fried? Also, please move away from me, you are in my personal space.

Me: Girls, please grab your warm up and have a seat, and take that comb out of your hair.

The bell buzzes (sounds weird, but it’s a buzzer we refer to as the bell-old school, right?)

Them: WELL, WHY DO YOU HAVE THAT?!

Me: I’ll let you know once you have completed the warm up.

Them: Tell us now and we’ll do our warm up .

Me: Wow. This isn’t a democracy here people.

I walk slowly around the room. Which, is for once, silent. All eyes are on the orange sphere tucked under my right elbow, snug against my moist (another word middle schoolers hate) armpit. I realized what this sphere of influence could do under my realm. At last. Complete and total control…or promise of.

Sphere of Influence: a country or area (31 physically -not necessarily mentally- occupied desks)  in which another country ( ME! ) has power to affect developments although it has no formal authority (ME! Again! The last 2 weeks have proven how the level of respect for most “formal” authoritative figures within these hallowed walls has slid quite low by now, trust me) I need all the help I can get.

I slowly reveal our daily agenda for the day on the SMARTBOARD.

GOOD MORNING. YOU HAVE AN INCENTIVE THAT WILL REVOLVE AROUND EVERYONE APPROPRIATELY COMPLETING A WARM UP AND LESSON COMPREHENSION  TASK.

THIS IS A WHOLE CLASS REWARD-ALL OR NOTHING.

The questions and insinuations are already flying across rows. Shut up, Eliot! YOU know you’ll ruin it.

You shut the shuck up!

Me: Gee, sure does sound like that basketball court out there will be empty after all, I sigh heavily, regrettably.

Them: WWWHHHHHHHAAAAAAA? WE ARE ACTUALLY GOING OUTSIDE TO PLAY WITH THE BASKETBALL????

Wow.

FINISH YOUR WARM UP, PEOPLE.

 

 

 

Giving Thanks

Dear Friends of Room 12 B,

I’d like to give all of you a shout out for passing on such a wonderful gift this past week…the gift of the stomach virus.  How selfless of you to endow my family members with such an offering. I am astonished how considerate you and your family members have been regarding this wonderful perk of being a teacher and, well, just know that we all have you in mind as we violently heave into strategically placed pots and pans this upcoming weekend.

Cheers, you wretched children.

Mrs. Wise

 

goodbye

 

Spelning Sissues

Yesterday we spoke briefly about the structure of a story and how plot is important to dissect.  I’m going to read a short story to you and as I’m reading, you are to fill in the Parts of a Story Organizer you have on your desk.

I perch precariously on the desk with 4 different leg lengths. Not a great idea. I stand and begin.

“Maybelle was a short haired chihuahua that was found wandering my neighborhood at dinnertime on Wednesday.  Sara was the one who noticed her right…..”

I hear the shuffling of slippers before I see them standing directly between me and the rest of the class.

Um, can I help you?  (and why are you wearing slippers to school, again?)

Pregnancy-test

She hands me an index card, folded 4 times over to make a teeny tiny square (THIS BETTER BE GOOD, I scream in my head and thank Wellbutrin)

I open the now warm, faintly damp, missal.

R U PERGO?

It is SO darn refreshing how honest kids these days are.

(The answer is NEITHER)