Things I Said Out Loud Today: DEVOLSON Edition

Friday, November 14, 2014

This past spring I wrote a post about the crazy stuff I found myself saying out loud. Then this week I realized that, due to the Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November, I am running completely on empty, both patience-wise and motivation-wise, which has led to some pretty questionable content coming out of my mouth. It has also led to sentence you just read that contained far too many clauses.

Here are some things I said out loud today.

“I wish explosive diarrhea upon you.” After a student hid underneath a table and grabbed my ankle.

“Did someone take my gloves on accident? Joke’s on you; they smell like dead hamsters.” They were my running gloves. And by running I mean jogging. And by jogging I mean it looks like I’m casually cross-country skiing but with no poles.

“Can I see a head nod from everyone to indicate, ‘Yes, Ms. Teach, I understand that you did not intentionally show us that advertisement?'” I was showing a YouTube video that had to do with what I was teaching, and apparently the version I looked up yesterday was different from today’s, which had an incredibly age-inappropriate advertisement preceding it. Hooray.

“Please stop losing your minds.” A good minute and a half after said advertisement was shown.

“Oh, it’s your birthday? On the count of three, everyone creepily whisper ‘Happy birthday’ to Melinda.” Have you ever done this with your class before? It’s way quieter and way more hilarious than singing.

“Eliud, you’re not allowed to talk in time out.” Keep in mind I teach 8th grade.

“You did your packet in hot pink pen? Who do you think you are, Kim Kardashian?” I don’t know why I chose this celebrity—I have no knowledge of her ever having written in hot pink pen. Also, this was a male student. Also, I KEEP A PENCIL CUP ON MY TABLE. 

“Bye, don’t participate in any stupid or reckless behavior.” I say this to my classes as I dismiss them every Friday.

“I love throwing away other people’s trash! It’s my favorite!” I think I read somewhere that middle school teachers in particular should avoid using sarcasm with their students. Oops.

“Whoever organized the binders without being asked shall feast in Valhalla! I’ve been thinking about Vikings a lot lately.

“Because the government.” In response to, “Miss, why do we have so many more kids in our class this year?"

“Oh, look! You’re tardy.” Then I laughed way harder than necessary.

“Well, could you see that singing ‘You got a fast car’ repeatedly was upsetting him?” Just another day of middle school conflict mediation.

"I can't." After school, out loud, alone in my classroom, upon considering and immediately rejecting the idea of changing my bulletin board.

Come on, Thanksgiving. Mama needs you.



10 Real Things I Wrote While Grading

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I haven't posted in a while because I've been grading fictional short stories for the last twelve hundred years. Why? Because I told my students there was no page limit for the assignment. I'll pause while you laugh at me and point and shout, "ROOKIE MISTAKE!" jeeringly.


Thank you. I needed that.

Now that that's done, I actually did enjoy grading them. Their stories were awesome and they actually read their rubrics, which figuratively speaking made my heart explode with never-ending confetti. I also enjoyed grading them because I began to realize that some of my feedback would sound very, very strange if taken out of context. 

So I decided to publish it on the Internet.  

Here are 10 real things I wrote while grading:

I mean, don't we all?

Super stinky scarf, or superhuman senses? This is important.

If you've had the popcorn in Chicago you will understand that this is a valid question.

Or a governor-appointed granny?

(Note: It was in the linen closet.)

Can't believe I fell for the old bait-and-switch!

When only the last paragraph of a paper is messy, you may as well make a note to your teacher that says, "Rushed to finish writing this on the bus, xoxo"

This would be a strange thing to shout in a movie theater.
Or anywhere.

This story was AWESOME and I am still thinking about it.

And finally, the comment that gave me the idea for this post:

I already can't wait to grade next year's short stories.




My DEVOLSON Dream Journal

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I've been keeping a dream journal for years. If I wake up from a dream, I grab my phone from my nightstand and fumblingly type out everything I can remember. Later in the day, I go back to read my dream journal and find things like:

"Stuck in rich lady's mansion who kept trying to kill herself and blame it on me. Got out and got invited to swim in essentially a silo packed full of dolphins."


"Baby ducks hatching out of expired mini corn muffins."

Normally, I have 1-2 vivid dreams per week. But this DEVOLSON*, I have been dreaming almost every night. I don't know if it's from stress or lack of sleep or what, but this girl's been cranking out dreams like a factory.

And they have been crazy.

Let's take a look at them, shall we?

Do you have any idea what it's like to watch your laptop and credit cards spontaneously combust? It's terrifying. So part of this, at least, qualifies as a nightmare. Also, I still remember what the dog looked like.  The fur on its belly grew long and stuck straight out, making it look like a tutu. Also, "Dave"= gave.  (Name of friend blacked out to protect the innocent.)

I looked it up later. Iceland is not between England and Ireland, FYI.

I remember this one perfectly! I woke up (in my dream) to my appraiser standing at the far end of my bedroom holding a clipboard. She was like, "Well, you tossed and turned a few times, but I'm willing to ignore it because of your lack of snoring. Excellent work!"

I forgot to add, "Everyone else hated it." Who knew people would be so picky about having to lodge in a pet store?

Fact: I actually enjoyed the haunted carousel. HOW ABOUT THEM APPLES?

Maybe the dorkiest dream I've ever had. And why, Dream Self, would you ever trust a friendship wafer from Amy?!?!

Yep. Jealous?

Those little Armenian rascals! Also, I think more than one dream about synchronized swimming in the same month is a cause for alarm. Also, Armenia is not on the way to Ireland. At least from where I live.

I meant "rites." I started opening a bunch of what I thought were jewelry boxes and then someone told me they were seahorse coffins.

This was actually my first DEVOLSON dream. But also, obviously, the most amazing. I laughed so hard when I woke up I almost vomited.

What happens in your stress dreams? And does it involve synchronized swimming and/or faulty geography? I need to know.



*DEVOLSON is an acronym I made up that stands for The Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November. You can read more about DEVOLSON here and here.

The Grapes

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Here is a conversation that took place during lunch.

Student: Miss, I dropped my crackers.

Me: Bummer. Would you like some of my grapes?

Student: Maybe. Can you peel them for me?

Me: ....I beg your pardon?

Student: I've never had the skin. I don't know if I like it.

Me: WHO peels your grapes for you?!

Student: My mom!

Me: (gasps) WHY?

Student (laughing): I don't know! I just say, "Ma, I want some grapes," and they come to me in a bowl like that.

Me: Does your mom also cut up your meat into bite-sized pieces?

Student: Yeah. What, yours doesn't?

And then-- right then-- was the moment that Love, Teach stopped trying to make sense of her world. She promptly poured the rest of her coffee over her head, put her shoes on her hands, and left school, yodeling in Portuguese.

The End.



12 Times It's Been Worse

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The saddest toddler in the world.

I am in my fifth year of teaching middle school English at a Title I school, and, for the most part, the skies are sunny. I have classroom management in the bag. Lesson planning is almost second nature. I can write a test in 30 minutes that is better and harder than the one that the state gives. It's the 7th week of school and I haven't had to refill my pencil cup yet. Things are pretty boss.

That being said, I still have days that make me want to sit under my desk and weep and never come out (it's usually during DEVOLSON).

When those days happen, I usually resort to thumbing through my Happy Binder where I keep old letters/drawings from students, putting "Chocolate" by The 1975 on Pandora, or getting a s'mores cupcake from a local bakery on my way home from work and eating it in about 2.43 bites.

But when that doesn't work, I think about the 12 Times It's Been Worse.

12 Times It's Been Worse

1) The time I was talking to my appraiser and a huge, flaky booger floated out of my nose like an autumn leaf and landed on my shoulder. I was wearing a dark turtleneck. He definitely noticed and stared at it for the rest of our conversation.

2) The time I had a student vomit in the doorway right before my students were dismissed for a pep rally. I had to spot thirty middle schoolers as they long-jumped over a pile of barf.

3) The time I bought a new shirt, wore it to school on Monday, dripped pizza sauce on it at lunch, then applied a Tide To-Go pen to it. Except it wasn't a Tide To-Go pen. It was White Out. And it never came out.

4)  The time my former principal made me write her essays for her to get into an Ivy League principal's institute and I did it because I was too afraid to tell her no. (She got in.)

5) The time during my first year when I took two students in the hall to talk about respect and they laughed at me, so I cried RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. (They kept laughing.)

6) The time I thought I had just had a breakthrough with a student just before he flipped over his desk and stormed out of the room.

7) The time I was teaching and hundreds of termites started flying out of a hole in the wall.

8) The times (plural) I had a substitute show up who was clearly hung over.

9) The time my students duct-taped each other to chairs when my substitute didn't show up.

10) The time a hot, boiled roach floated to the top of my cup of coffee from my school Keurig. (I noticed this before taking a sip, ergo, God exists and He loves me.)

11) The time my phone went off during an observation from my supervisor while I was student teaching. It was my mom calling. And I'd set her ringtone to "99 Problems." Because there was/is something wrong with my head.

12) 95% of my first year. And 75% of my second.

But you know something? As bad as my bad days have been, I've still never had a kid poop on my desk. That happened to someone I know in Washington D.C.

He teaches high school.

Bye now.



Blackout Poetry for the Win!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Okay, so I hardly ever post lesson plans/resources. There is a cornucopia of reasons for why I don't, including:

1) Writing about lesson plans/resources is not fun for me. Maybe this makes me a bad teacher? Oops.
2) I often come up with my lesson plans the week (and sometimes even the morning) that I'm doing them.  Again, maybe this makes me a bad teacher. But because of the disparities in ability level of the population that I teach and the fact that I have close to forty 8th graders in my classes, it's hard for me to plan ahead when I don't know until I teach something whether or not they will be able to master it one day or whether it'll take a week.
3) My lesson plans are very rarely phenomenal. 
4) There's just way too many other things I'd write about, like students long-jumping over piles of barf or the bizarre things I catch myself saying out loud on a daily basis.

But once in a blue moon, there's something we do in class that makes me want to bust through the doors of the teachers' lounge, saloon-style, and shout at the top of my lungs, "ALL OF YOU MUST DO THIS!!!"

Thursday was one of those days.

We had some leftover time on Thursday, and earlier in the week I had discovered some class library books that had been ruined in my move across campus this summer. Some had been torn in half, others had a huge chunk of the middle missing. Obviously, I couldn't throw them away (that's breaking one of the 10 Commandments of Reading), so I decided to tear out all the pages and assign my students some blackout poetry.

The idea comes from this website, Newspaper Blackout, recommended to me by a Love, Teach reader. Basically this guy takes a permanent marker and redacts newspaper articles to create poetry.  So we did, too! I showed my students from examples, talked them through how to not get Sharpie on their desks/heads/faces/tongues, and let them loose with the pages I'd torn out.

IT WAS THE COOLEST. Take a gander.

Doesn't this remind you of that famous line in Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater? No? Just me? Oh, well. Still cool.

"She took a deep breath and felt all the love whisper to her." Excuse me while I cry ALL THE TEARS

"Less than pleased is all you are."

This is just a handful of the amazing stuff my kids made. It is really cool to see what they turn out, and you'll find yourself in really neat conversations with students about their work. Do it this week, ELA teachers! You'll be surprazed (that's my portmanteau for "surprised" and "amazed." You're welcome.)



14 Reasons Why I Will Die Alone

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Most of the time, I love being a single gal teaching in a big city.

But sometimes, like this week, I take a look at my life and realize that I will probably die alone and that my body will be eaten by coyotes.

Because it's Tuesday and everyone knows that Tuesdays are for whining, I give you:

14 Reasons Why I Will Die Alone

1) I don't go out anymore because I'm tired all the time. If I do happen to be persuaded to venture out beyond the confines of my apartment, car, and classroom, I'm usually:
  • With a pack of other teachers 
  • Wearing my faculty shirt that has a giant paw print on it
  • Sporting stray pen marks and dry erase marker ruboff on my arms because I erase my white board with my forearms now, like a Neanderthal
  • Yawning at 8:00 and telling anyone who will listen how I'd rather be in my pajamas
Line up, fellas.

2) I for sure won't meet anyone at school. The male teachers at my school are either:
  • Married
  • Have caught me whispering to my clothing
  • Have said the following words to me, "Did you forget your comb today? Haha. Relax, I'm just kidding. I actually think your hair looks nice like that."
  • Also crazy and our offspring would be genetically forced into a disturbing brand of weird
  • Maybe too normal, which says a lot about how weird I've become
3) I basically have been controlling my own life for the past several years now, and I'm not sure I could handle not being in control anymore. Isn't that an attractive quality?

4) I bought these plastic mystical ponies at Target tonight.

What? Why? I have no answers to these questions.

5) See my fingernails in the above picture.

6) Because I live in a large city, I've learned to walk with a sense of purpose so that strange men don't approach me to say gross things. However, I am now so good at this that NOBODY approaches me.

7) These are my recently used emojis:

8) I have limited interaction with the male species due to my schedule, so when I am around a guy that is even marginally attractive or nice to me, my body betrays me and I can't stop giggling, sweating, or saying super weird things like facts about dolphins that I learned from a podcast P.S. it's this one and it's amazing.

9) Looking cute is time-consuming, expensive, and I give up. My student teacher has offered to help me, so that's hopeful. I told her I may have time next March.

10) I am too afraid to have kids anymore. I used to want to crank out so many kids it would require some kind of commune to raise them all, but teaching has made me realize that kids, while lovely, are mostly just fragile and dangerous creatures. They're basically walking Ziploc bags full of organs that sass you sometimes. Also, I blame my lack of interest on my pregnant coworkers and their absolutely horrifying daily updates on what pregnancy does to your body. Thanks for nothing, pregnant coworkers!

11) My standards are warped because of my literature man crushes, which may be the dorkiest thing ever typed in human history.

12) I'm looking into taking a quilting class at the suggestion of my pen pal.

13) I just believe that the above sentence should probably count twice in my list of reasons I will die alone.

14) Someone has been lingering outside my window listening to the radio on speakerphone for the past several minutes. So I may actually die alone tonight.

I know that I won't really die alone-- I'm just being dramatic. I'll die surrounded by my books, my lifelong companions.