40- Ms. Viamonte

Ms. Viamonte is our school’s very own sorority girl. She’s perky and pretty and brunette. She wears sweaters that are a little too tight and skirts that are a little too short. Her personality is bubbly and her voice is squeaky. She is sweet and friendly and her students adore her. I’m not sure how popular Ms. Viamonte is among the faculty, as I try to stay away from the gossip circles, but I think she’s great. I love the way she wears three inch heels to work everyday and never lets on that her feet are killing her.
During our Grade Level Meting today, I learned that Ms. Viamonte lives in Caroline’s neighborhood. Apparently, the young teacher is popular with the men. The married men.
Caroline says that Ms. Viamonte is a permanent fixture at their neighborhood pool in the summertime, and that she frequents the neighborhood bar on the weekends. The women in Caroline’s neighborhood hate Ms. Viamonte because she flirts shamelessly with their husbands. Caroline sympathizes with these women, but has nothing against the girl. “My husband barely glances in her direction,” Caroline stated proudly.
As we spent our meeting talking about everything except lesson plans, I fought back the urge to ask what Caroline and Esther thought about The Intimidator’s pee sign email. I was curious to know if there were any rumors going around as to who posted the sign. I hadn’t mentioned my diabolical actions to anyone, but still wondered if I was somehow busted. I also wanted to see if Esther would look a little guilty.

39- Response to Sign

The following email was sent to the entire school faculty today. It’s from The Intimidator.

The sign from the West Hall bathroom was removed by me. If whoever posted it would like to see me about a more appropriate way to handle the situation, please feel free to do so.

When I first read this, I felt a little bad and mostly embarrassed. I felt like a shamed child. I actually considered going to The Intimidator’s office to apologize. These feelings quickly vanished. The bottom line is this: There has not been one drop of pee on that toilet seat since I put the sign up a week ago. I’m glad I put it there.
The Intimidator must also be guilty of peeing on the toilet seat.

38- Ice Cream Lesson

Today I taught a Science lesson on properties of matter. We have been learning about matter all week, specifically how matter can change from a solid to a liquid to a gas. As a little celebration, I planned for the students to make ice cream. On the internet, I found an easy recipe for vanilla ice cream and the procedures seemed simple enough for my class to follow. To avoid mass hysteria and chaos, I decided not to tell them what we were making.
The lesson was messy. We started out by pouring lots of heavy cream into a bucket with a little vanilla extract. Next we added sugar. I let the kids take turns stirring our mixture and we talked about if we thought the sugar would melt in the cream. The night before, I had packed 24 individual gallon sized baggies with ice. My class and I discussed what happens when you pour salt onto ice, and then I let each kid throw a large handful of rock salt into their own bags of ice. I had to work fast to do step three, which was pour one cup of the liquid cream and sugar mixture into small, individual baggies for each child.
As soon as a kid received his or her tightly closed, little baggie of cream and sugar, they were to place it inside of their salt and ice baggies. Then they zipped up the gallon baggies and shook with all of their might. It was fun; the kids jumped and shook their bags wildly. Despite all the frozen fingers and spills, the students were enjoying themselves.
Hannah was the first to notice a change in her matter. “Hey, my cream is starting to get all stiff.”
One by one, the kids realized that their baggies of cream were no longer liquid. This excited them even more. They furiously shook their baggies, curious to find out what would happen.
Miraculously, my internet lesson had proven true. Without fail, all of my students were holding bags of frozen ice cream. We talked about how the salt had helped turn our solid (ice) into a liquid (water), but that at the same time the cream had changed from a liquid to a solid.
The students were enthused. One kid called out, “Hey! Did we make ice cream? There was cream, but now it’s solid! Ice cream!”
I told them that they had just made ice cream. I handed out spoons, and the kids tore open their baggies, eager to taste their creations. Salty water splashed all over the desks and carpet, and I vowed to bake Mr. Love an apple pie for the mess he would have to clean. It’s small price to pay for all the learning that went on in my classroom today. And the ice cream tasted great!

37- Mr. Love

Mr. Love, the school custodian, has become a workplace friend of mine. We usually chat after school. He likes to listen to the same radio station that I do, so he usually cranks up the volume on his boom-box when he’s working on my hall. We share jokes and talk about sports. Mr. Love is a good man. He talks proudly about his children and about the dreams he has for his family.
I was given advice to befriend the school custodian, but I’m sure Mr. Love and I would have hit it off regardless of this advice. Although, I should admit that his camaraderie has pulled me some favors that other teachers do not receive. For example, there is a locked supply room on our hallway. The room is filled with supplies a teacher may need; extra textbooks, construction paper, poster board, staples, desks, etc. The supplies are available for all teachers to use, but everything must be approved by an administrator before it can leave the room. When a teacher is in dire need of an extra textbook, waiting around for an administrator to come unlock the supply room is a pain in the ass. Thanks to my pal, Mr. Love, all I have to do is give him a quick call and the supply room is unlocked within minutes. He makes my teacher-life easier, and in return I bring him leftover brownies I’ve made from home.
We have a beautiful relationship.

36- Intruder Drill

Due to the current political condition of the world and the abundance of violence occurring in American public schools, we are now required to practice an Intruder Drill. Similar to a Fire Drill or Tornado Drill, an Intruder Drill is designed to teach the students how to quickly move to an area of safety within our classroom in the event that an intruder enters the school.
From a teacher’s point of view, an Intruder Drill should be the least of a hassle among all required drills. The procedure is simple; the teacher locks all classroom doors leading to the outside or hallways and gathers the children in the corner of the classroom, out of sight from anyone who may look in though a window. There is no obnoxious warning bell, no lining up or travel requirements, and no standing outside in the cold or rain. When the drill is over, students can quickly move back to their seats and resume classwork.
Unfortunately, the ease at which an Intruder Drill presents itself is false. An Intruder Drill has proved itself to be simultaneously the most awesome and horrific drill my students could imagine. It’s the word intruder that gets their imaginations going. I learned of their feelings today, when we practiced our first Intruder Drill.
With plenty of forewarning, Principal allowed the teachers to explain the purpose and procedure of an Intruder Drill. Over the morning announcements, she delicately explained the need for this type of drill and then she warned us that we would be practicing the drill at exactly 9am. I figured it would be no big deal; I’d lock the door and shove the kids in the corner for a few minutes and then it’d all be over. I was wrong. Upon completion of the announcements, every student’s hand was in the air, “Teacher! Teacher!”
They all had questions about the Intruder Drill.

Robbie: Are ninjas going to drop from the ceiling and kick us in the face?
Kathleen: (crying) Can I call my Daddy?
Francesca: This is very serious. Children get shot and killed in school everyday.
Josh: Can we hide by the door and beat the intruders down with dictionaries when they break in?
Gaby: Do we really have to sit on that dirty floor?
Hannah: Does this mean we’re gonna miss recess?

I spent the next hour calming the kids down. I tactfully tried to answer all of their questions and reassure them that an intruder would not really be in our school, yet we needed to practice just in case. I know that some kids try to make jokes when they are actually afraid, so I took every question seriously. When it came time for the Intruder Drill, they were prepared.
Principal’s voice came over the loudspeaker, “Alert. There is an intruder in the building. There is an intruder in the building.”
My students flew from their seats and scurried into the corner of the room. A few of them defensively held their hands if front of their face, as if they were ninjas. For the duration of the drill, they sat motionless in the corner, wide-eyed and alert. I was surprised at how obedient everyone (Josh) was being. When the drill was over, the kids soundlessly went back to their seats. I think they were enjoying being in “stealth mode”, as Robbie had called it.
I felt proud as I watched my class; all of their little heads bent down to focus on math problems, pencils furiously computing on paper.
Just when I was sure they were all relaxed, Josh yelled out, “AAARRRGHHH! A GUY WITH A HOCKEY MASK AND A MACHIENE GUN JUST RAN PAST THE WINDOW!”
I spent the next hour consoling frightened children. Ajith peed in his pants. Taylor and Kathleen called home in tears. Josh took a visit to The Intimidator’s office.

35- Days Off

I took a Personal Day today. A Personal Day is when you tell the school that you are not coming to work that day and you do not have to give any reason why. I love this perk to the job! I have 11 Personal Days left; the days can either be used for Sick, in which case I call in at the last minute, or the days can be used for Personal, which need to be requested two weeks in advance. Your days can accumulate from year to year, but you can never accumulate more than 90. If a teacher retires from our specific school district, they will get paid for the days accumulated. If you quit, or move, or find a new job, teachers get nothing for the days they’ve accumulated.
My plan is to accumulate a few and use up a lot- not because I do not like my job, but because I want to avoid becoming overworked and burnt out. Today I slept late, went to the gym, watched three hours of television, ate half a pint of ice cream, and never did one bit of school work. It has been heaven.
When it comes to taking days off, there are three different types of teachers: The Proud Teacher, The Unfortunate Teacher, and The Realistic Teacher.
The Proud Teacher never takes a day off. She comes to school no matter what the circumstance. The Proud Teacher is usually smug when she brags about never missing days, although she can offer no good reason for her actions. She thrives on the ability to say she’s never been absent and feels proud of herself, despite the numerous times she has come to work sick and infected dozens of others with her contagious illnesses. The Proud Teacher will reach her 90 accumulation cap and will still refuse to vacation.
The Unfortunate Teacher is the opposite of The Proud Teacher. The Unfortunate Teacher has missed so many days of work- The District has to deduct money from her paycheck. There are many ways to become The Unfortunate Teacher, most of which are avoidable. The number one indicator is laziness. This teacher feels so tired in the mornings, she is unable to get up and so she calls in sick. Unfortunately, many Unfortunate Teachers have kids, and those kids get sick and force the teacher to stay home. Unfortunate Teachers also tend to become pregnant at inconvenient times in their lives; they are always able to collect maternity leave, but are often forced to remain out of work longer than expected.
The Realistic Teacher knows when it is time to take a break. She is able to rest in a balance between excessive absences and excessive attendance. The Realistic Teacher values her job and recognizes the importance of her presence in the school. She also values her life outside of the workplace and recognizes the importance of personal well-being. This teacher will think nothing of taking a “Mental Health Day” off, in order to nourish her personal life. The Realistic Teacher is also smart enough to save enough Personal Days to accommodate for any unforeseen emergency.
Of course, I like to see myself as The Realistic Teacher.

34- Pee On Seat

Someone keeps peeing all over the toilet seat in the faculty bathroom on our hall. I know it is Esther, or at least that she is one of the guilty parties, because twice now I have gone to use the restroom right after her. There is no doubt. Esther is in the restroom, I am waiting outside for my turn, she comes out, I go in, and there is pee all over the seat. Gross!
It makes me think of the bathrooms they have at Six Flags or similar public venues. It reminds me of the kind of restroom behavior you would expect at a gas station. I just don’t understand why Esther, an alleged Southern Belle, would treat our faculty bathroom in this way. It is a nice bathroom, with flowers and a little table for magazines. Only a handful of women from our hall use this bathroom. Doesn’t etiquette school teach you that it is extremely rude to pee all over the toilet seat?
I may have only caught Esther twice, but several times I have found the toilet seat covered with pee. It grosses me out. I either try to clean it off myself, or I go to another restroom on a different hallway.
Today I got fed up. Once again, I found the toilet covered in pee. This time, I decided to take action. After visiting an alternate restroom, I went back to my classroom and made a sign.

Ladies, please have some class.
Do not urinate on the toilet seat,
and if you must-
please clean up after yourself!

This sign is now posted on the inside of the bathroom door. I backed it on bright yellow paper and laminated it. The sign hangs at eye-level with anyone seated on the toilet.

33- Kramer's Mom

Kramer’s mother finally returned my phone calls and came in for a conference. She met me during my planning period today.
I expected her to be fat, because her son is so obese, but she turned out to be a petite woman. “Kramer’s dad was a football player,” she explained, as if she had read my mind.
The woman looked exhausted. The tremendous stress of a fulltime job, a son with learning disabilities, and a newborn baby had started to wear her away. Her pretty face was filled with lines of worry as she waited for me to deliver the bad news.
I began by praising Kramer’s kind heart and thoughtful tendencies. I talked about how well he worked with others, and what a refreshing sense of humor the boy had.
“But?” Kramer’s mother interrupted me. She wanted to get to the point.
“But, Kramer’s educational development is years behind his classmates.” I could tell that this woman didn’t want a sugar-coated story. “While his classmates solve long division problems, Kramer can’t add two plus two. When the other kids read chapter books, Kramer barely recognizes the word cat. He does not belong in a regular classroom and is falling more behind with every passing day.”
Kramer’s mother looked desperate, “But it’s your job to teach him these things.”
I can try to teach him, but it doesn’t mean he can learn.
“I think you should have him evaluated by the school psychologist. Kramer could greatly benefit from a resource classroom.”
Tears pooled in the woman’s eyes. “I just want him to have a normal life. A happy life.” Kramer’s mom began to cry. I brought her a box of tissues and gave her a few moments to collect her thoughts.
She finally agreed to make an appointment with Mr. Thorpe and the school psychologist. “I’m not making any final decisions,” she insisted stubbornly, “I’m looking into it, that’s all. Until, then, I want my baby in a normal classroom. He doesn’t belong with any retards!” Kramer’s mom left unhappily.
Retards? I chose to ignore her social blight and instead feel optimistic that Kramer’s mother would get her son the help he needs.

32- "The Littles" Frenzy

I have been trying to get my students more interested in reading. Some of them are excellent readers, but very few of them read for fun at home. The majority of my students never read anything outside of what is required of them at school. Student literacy is directly correlated with home literacy, and sadly, not many of my students come from families who read. Several students have parents who are illiterate.
As a dedicated lover of literature, one of my goals for this year is to help every one of my students find a book that they enjoy reading. As a class, we have been reading John Peterson’s The Littles, a novel about a family of tiny people who live in the walls of a human family’s house. We’re just about to finish reading the novel and all of the kids are upset because they are enjoying the story so much. I am so pleased (and relieved) that they like the story.
Today, during library time, a miracle happened. One of my students discovered that The Littles is the first in a series of novels. Word spread fast, and one by one, my students started checking out book from the series. Now, nine kids, four of whom never expressed an interest in reading, have checked out books from the library. They have been begging me to give them extra time to read!
I feel that we have reached a huge milestone in my classroom and are one step closer to my literacy goal. The interest those children have in reading is a reason to celebrate. I feel so proud of them. Days like today remind me that my students all have the potential for a bright future.


The District told us that “teachers are held to a higher standard in society” and that we need to be on our best behavior in public. I’m young and I’m human, but I try to follow The District’s advice. I don’t hang out in our school’s neighborhood, instead, I travel miles across the city to spend time with my friends. Apparently fifteen miles across the river is not far enough.
Saturday night I met my girlfriend, Patti, out for a drink. Patti is a bit of a pool shark, so we went to a dive bar with a couple billiard tables. Patti was on a roll and kept winning games, so we ended up staying late into the night… and morning. I drank my share of cheap bottled beer and enjoyed the atmosphere.
Around 2am, Patti was winning her final game of pool against an arrogant pair of guys who had been talking a lot of trash. I was proud to see that she would beat them and was glad that we would finally get to head home.
When Patti sank the Eight Ball into a corner pocket to win the game, I did a celebratory dance. I held my beer high in the air and screamed something like, “Wooohooooooo! Whooo! Yeeaaaaaaaa!” I think I spilled a little of my beer onto a man standing behind me, but I did not care. I was partying!
As I screamed and danced, I heard a voice from behind, “Ms. Teacher?”
This stopped me dead in my tracks. Why was someone calling me teacher at 2am in a bar on the wrong side of the river? I turned around to come face to face with Mr. Villagomez, one of my student’s fathers.
He smiled and shook my hand.
Oh my god! I was so stunned; I didn’t even stop to wonder what he was doing in a dive bar in the middle of the night.
To make things worse, Mr. Villagomez was with his uncle and his sister, both of whom also have children enrolled in my school. He introduced me as “Linda’s teacher” to each of his family members.
I did my best to smooth down my disheveled hair, and pin closed my cleavage revealing shirt. Mustering up the small bit of the teacher grace that one can possess in a bar after midnight, I smiled and told my student’s family how nice it was to meet them. Graciously, not one of them acted like the dive bar was a strange place to meet. They were kind and we awkwardly chit-chatted about Linda’s progress in school.
I left that bar feeling humiliated and swore to myself that I would never go out in public again. I am now nervous that it will be uncomfortable he next time I see one of the Villagomezs in school. I also pray that the details of our unconventional meeting never reach the ears of Principal!

30- Cancerous Places

Teachers’ Lounges are cancerous places. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this ominous warning, but it is true. The Teachers’ Lounge is the place to go if your want to hate your job. Inside, you will always find a small collection of teachers who are unhappy with their job and are eager to spread their evil. They group together and complain. They whine desperately for the weekend to arrive and then they express dread about coming in again on Monday.
The Teachers’ Lounge is a very bad place for a new teacher to hang out. (Not that there is a lot of time for hanging out in this profession. It amazes me how much teachers complain about being overworked and so busy, but yet they have plenty of time to stop and chit chat between classes.) There are a handful of sour, bitter teachers at the core of each malicious gossip group within the school. These are the people to avoid. They hate children, they hate the administration, they hate teaching, and they want you to hate it all, too. A run in with one of these teachers can ruin your career.
I try to avoid loitering in the Teachers’ Lounge. I have been approached many times, and I never know if I’m talking a good guy or a bad guy- it can be difficult to differentiate. The bad guys act nice, they pose as your understanding older counterpart, but the second you express a weakness or concern about teaching, the bad guy will strike! They will reinforce your doubts by recounting similar deflating stories of their own. The next thing you know, the bad guy will be your comrade and will come to you with more and more negative news, until one day, you will find yourself hating your job.
My advice to all new teachers is to stick with the good guys. Always be kind to everyone, but only listen to those teachers who have a true love of children and teaching. They will protect your own passion for teaching and will positively support your trials and tribulations through out your career.

29- Observed by Principal

Principal observed my teaching today. She is scheduled to do that several times this year, and today was the first. Because I am a first- year teacher, my observations are somewhat predictable and are designed to provide only positive feed back. Principal had forewarned me that she would be visiting my classroom in the middle of this month. Experienced teachers have no warning before an observation and are often subjected to harsh criticism.
Principal came at a good time of day for our class. We had just begun an engrossing math lesson on plotting points on a coordinate plane. The kids were interested because the lesson greatly resembled the way you play the game Battleship. The conclusion of the lesson allowed them to play a game similar to Battleship and would help them practice locating coordinate pairs. Thankfully, the kids were on their best behavior because Principal was in the room.
I feel confident as a teacher. I take my job very seriously, and although I know I have a lot to learn, I think I am on the right track. Usually, in the classroom, I feel great about my teaching skills. I know I make mistakes, but I like to think I’m doing a good job for my kids.
Principal’s presence in my classroom squashed my confidence. I continued teaching as if she was not there, but in the back of my mind I could not ignore her. I found my self repeating things in my head, wondering if they made sense. Should I have told the kids that? Am I being confusing? Am I going too fast? Is this too easy? Or is it too difficult? I was flooded with self doubt. I so badly want to be a good teacher, and I want other people to think that I am a good teacher.
Just as quietly as she came in, Principal left. She gave me a little nod and a smile on her way out the door, which made me feel a little better. Principal always calls me “Sweet-Pea”, which I like, but it reminds me how young I am compared to my coworkers. My experienced coworkers.
I can’t help but worry. I hope she liked my lesson. Were my lesson plans written properly? Did I follow my plans appropriately? I’ll find out in a few days, when Principal puts a copy of her report in my mailbox.

28- Turd Boy

It may seem like most teacher stories turn out to be a little heartbreaking, but they’re not. I spend most of my day laughing with the students, watching as they happily learn from one another (and sometimes me). There are many, many good moments, but it does seem like the times I want to write about are the times that leave me feeling troubled. That’s why today is reserved for Jorge’s story. Jorge, who will forever be remembered as Turd Boy.

Turd Boy comes from an abusive home in the projects, where he is raised by two parents who are addicted to crack. His parents do not feed Turd Boy, so he is constantly getting caught trying to steal food from other kids at school. He then hoards this food in his pockets, saving it to eat at home. Turd Boy has one friend in school, a girl named Lauren who has Down Syndrome. Lauren’s parents have sent in many letters, requesting that their daughter not associate with or sit near Turd Boy. So far, no one has bothered to honor their requests.

Although he is in my homeroom, Turd Boy is rarely in my classroom. He, just like Demarcus, has many learning disabilities and spends most of the school day in the Resource classroom. They are mainstreamed into my classroom only for Social Studies and Science. Today the resource teacher filled me in on some long overdue background information about Turd Boy.

He craps in his pants several times a week, always on purpose. This explains why sometimes I smell an awful stench in my classroom, but can’t quite figure out the source. There is nothing mentally or physically preventing Turd Boy from using the bathroom facilities. Emotionally, he is deprived of attention- specifically love. When Turd Boy poops in his pants, he receives lots of attention. It may not be a positive reaction, but he gets noticed.

Usually, when he has an “accident” the resource teacher sends Turd Boy to the nurse. If the mess is bad enough, Nurse will ask Turd Boy to remove his underwear. She sends him back to class “commando style” and then washes and dries his underwear in her office.

There are unfortunate days when Turd Boy relieves himself while his underpants are being cleaned.

Depending on what he has eaten, Turd Boy may leave presents behind. Last week, when Turd Boy relieved himself in my classroom, he was not wearing any underpants. The turds were able to just roll out of his pant legs onto the floor. Coach told me that this also happened last week during a basket ball game, and that I should be prepared for it to happen again in my classroom.

The whole situation is gross. I feel terribly guilty because Turd Boy always comes up to me for a big hug and now I don’t want to touch him. Today I just sort of patted his head and the steered him in the other direction. I talked to principal about the incident and she assured me that The Department of Social Services was “looking into it.” She also promised that I would never have to clean up turds again, and that if Mr. Love would not clean it, she would do it herself.

27- Picture Day

Today was picture day at school. I had completely forgotten about it, but was reminded when I saw that every student in my class had dressed up. The rich kids were squeaky clean; the boys looked like they had used a squeegee to plaster their hair down into two separate parts, and the girls resembled little brides with all the white lace on their dresses. The less fortunate kids had also done their best to dress in style; the boys had tucked their T-shirts into their pants and put on belts, and the girls had worn skirts and done their hair in special styles. There was an air of elegance in the classroom today. The kids did their best to live up to the outfits that they wore.
Our time for pictures was right after lunch, and up until then, the day had run seamlessly. As I herded my students onto the stage, and lined them up for their pictures, I enjoyed watching them primp for the big moment. Then Picture Guy handed out little combs for the kids to groom themselves. The girls smoothed down their skirts and practiced smiling. The boys tried out their most suave facial expressions. Josh bragged to his classmates about how his cowboy- style shirt had snap buttons, rather than the button-hole kind.

One by one, they went through the line. Smile! Flash! Smile! Flash! An utterly flawless experience, until, of course, Josh sat down on the stool. Picture Guy told Josh to smile. Josh smiled. Picture Guy lifted his hand to snap the photo, and with perfect timing, Josh ripped open his snap-button cowboy shirt. Underneath, he was wearing an extremely inappropriate, adult-content shirt. It had a picture of a woman leaning over in a very short skirt to reveal a lot more than her long legs and rosy bottom.

Josh revealed his smut shirt about a fraction of a second before the camera’s flash went off. I heard Picture Guy mutter, “Holy shit.” Horrified and embarrassed, I ran to Josh and buttoned him up, hoping to cover him before any other students could see what he was wearing. Needless to say, I sent Josh directly to The Intimidator’s office. After Picture Guy recovered from shock, he tried to reassure me, “Don’t worry, Miss, it’s a head shot. Only thing in the picture will be above the shoulders.”

After picture time, seven different students came up to me to ask about, “that lady on Josh’s T-shirt.”

26- Foster Homes & Bugs

Nelson has been at school everyday since his tragic confession. He interacts with his classmates as if nothing has happened. If anything, he is more outgoing and eager to talk about his dramatic home life. His forearm sustained a fracture close to the elbow and is now in a neon orange cast. The boy has gained a new level of popularity by letting his friends autograph his cast.

The day of the incident, Mr. Thorpe contacted the Department of Social Services. The police were called and Nelson’s mother made a full confession to beating her son. She was arrested and Nelson has been temporarily removed from his mother’s custody. She is going to be psychologically evaluated and must undergo mandatory rehabilitation before Nelson will be allowed to return home. For now, he is living with a foster family.

Nelson complains about the foster family constantly. Today he told me that he hated it there and that he missed his mom. He wants to go home. He said that there are bugs in the food at his foster home and it makes him sick. I’m not sure how much of his stories I believe, but I did promise to ask Mr. Thorpe to check into Nelson’s accusations. The boy also told me that he would do anything to get away from his foster home.

At night, I pray that some of the other boys will start junk with me. That way I can fight them and then maybe I’ll get in trouble. Maybe they’ll kick me out. I miss my mom. Nelson is a smart boy, and he has quickly learned that adults will have a sympathetic ear when he discusses “his predicament.” He is growing accustomed to being babied. My buddy, Fernando, he called my house on the phone yesterday. My mom answered the phone and when Fernando asked to talk with me, she started crying really hard. Fernando said she cried so hard it sounded like she couldn’t breathe. I miss her and she misses me. I don’t want to stay at that foster home with bugs in the food.

I am concerned that Nelson will use his home life as an excuse to get himself in trouble or to make bad decisions. I’ve also had to fight the urge to volunteer to take him home with me. I want to say, “Come live me! I would never hit you or feed you bugs.” Of course I can’t take him home and I can’t allow him to use his misfortune as a crutch. I sincerely hope Nelson’s mother can be rehabilitated. But what are the odds?

25- Invention Robot

A major reason I chose a teaching job was for the comic relief. Kids, in general, are hilarious. They are spontaneous and creative and have refreshingly absurd viewpoints on life. Kids keep me smiling.

Today I took my class to the computer lab during Language Arts. They have been writing Robot Invention stories and this was the day for them to type their masterpieces. The assignment was to write a story about inventing a robot, and I wanted them to be descriptive. They needed to tell me what each part of the robot was made from and how that part would function. Luckily for me, all of the students have been enthusiastic about the assignment.

I have been looking forward to reading their completed work. Traveling from computer to computer, I perused each student’s story. I was impressed at the effort and proud of all their creative ideas. There were many smiles in the room, but when I reached Robbie’s computer I found myself choking back laughter.

By: Robbie

The streets flooded and I was trapped in my garage with nowhere to go. I said in anger to myself, “I guess I will just have to wait it out. You know what the weather man said- it would be hot and sunny today. But he’s always a liar.” As I looked around in my garage, I remembered that this used to be a military science site. On the floor I saw some green toxic goo. I knew it was toxic because of the horrible smell and because it had burnt part of the floor.
I took a step towards the toxic goo, to touch it to see how it felt. As I touched the goo, my hand fell off and blood splattered everywhere!
CRASH! I fell through a hole in the floor onto more toxic waste. My back was badly burned. After two hours of being under my garage, in complete pain, I decided to taste the toxic waste.
I took a little dab and put it in my mouth. After five minutes, I sure enough found out that the goo made your brain super smart. Even smarter than God himself!
I reached out and felt the wall. By the wet, rough, and bumpy wall I could tell I was in a cave. I looked out into the distance of the cave and saw a blinking green light. I walked towards the green light and to my surprise I saw a bone-skinny, burnt scientist!

That’s where I stopped reading; Robbie hadn’t had a chance to type any more. His story did not appear to have anything to do with a robot, but it did show me that he knows how to use descriptive writing- which was the goal of the assignment. Besides, he made me laugh, so the kid can do no wrong.

24- Slinging Turds

About 10 minutes before dismissal each afternoon, my students pack their bags and gather together on the Reading Rug to listen while I read them a story. This is a good way to help them unwind after a long day.

Today, while the kids were packing up and grouping on the rug, my student, Demarcus, rushed up to me. “Teacher! Teacher, I have to tell you something. I have to show you something.”

Demarcus is an African American boy with many learning disabilities. He is in my homeroom, but spends most of the day in the resource classroom. His speech is usually slow and slurred, but today he spoke quickly and with urgency.

He took me by the hand and led me to a classmate’s desk. “Jorge has been slinging turds all over the place!” Demarcus pointed his small finger towards the floor.

I followed his gaze and, sure enough, there were several Milk- Dud sized turds scattered under Jorge’s desk.

Did Jorge seriously take a poop in my classroom? I stifled the urge to puke and laugh at the same time, thanked the Demarcus for bringing the poop to my attention, and then I sent him back to the Reading Rug.

What was I supposed to do? I felt dumbfounded. I ignored the feces and herded all of my students safely onto the Reading Rug. We read a story and the kids appeared to be blissfully ignorant of the stench that was filling up the classroom. When the dismissal bell rang, I ushered them all quickly out the door and locked it behind them.

I hate to admit it, but I think Gaby stepped on one of the turds. I can only hope her mother mistakes it for dog poop. Imagine the parent phone calls this would initiate!

I’m laughing even as I type this, but I am also aware of the seriousness of the situation.

Do teachers really have to put up with this crap? Isn’t that some type of biohazard? I had a classroom full of kids and a pile of turds sitting on the floor. Nothing in the blood- borne pathogens video said anything about human feces.

Teachers really should get paid more.

23- Abuse

Today I caught The Intimidator guarding the door to the Girls’ Bathroom while a mother went inside to beat her daughter.

During my planning period, I went to the main office to check my mailbox. On my way, I passed by the Second Grade hall bathrooms. The Intimidator stood sternly outside of the Girls’ Bathroom door. Her arms were folded across her chest and she looked serious. Things seemed a little suspicious, so I slowed my pace to see what was up.

A student walked by and tried to enter the restroom, but The Intimidator told the girl that that particular bathroom was out of order. “Go to the bathrooms by the Main Office,” The Intimidator bellowed.

As soon as that little girl was out of sight, The Intimidator looked up and down the hall several times; making sure it was free of students. Satisfied that no kids were around, The Intimidator knocked briskly on the bathroom door. In the voice of a drill sergeant, she barked, “OK!”
At The Intimidator’s signal, the muffled voice of an angry woman came from inside the Girls’ Bathroom. I heard the woman yell, “You better not ever make me come up to this school again! You understand me, you little bitch?” This was followed by a loud noise that sounded like a heavy slap, like a fly swatter hitting the kitchen counter top.

I heard the voice of a child begin to cry.

Whap! Whap! Whap! I froze and listened to this woman hit her child over and over again. It was not your everyday spanking.

After what seemed like an eternity, the beating stopped. There was silence, except for the small sound of a child crying. The Intimidator had a strange smirk of satisfaction upon her face.

I went straight back to my classroom and cried.

I feel sick. I hate The Intimidator.

22- Roach Clips

We got our Employee Identification Card’s made during the first week of school. I was excited because it was my very first badge of a “real job.” The photograph was only a headshot, so that day I intentionally wore teacher earrings and smiled huge for the camera. My teacher ID makes me feel proud, like an official professional.

By the time it was my turn to take a picture, the photographer had run out of the little clips used to attach the ID’s to your clothes. Two full weeks have passed by, and I have not had a clip for my ID card. That has been bugging me. I have not been able to proudly display my professional badge; instead it has been hiding in my pocket.

A few days ago, The Intimidator announced that there were more ID clips in a box in the main office. I’ve checked everyday since this announcement and have even asked a few people, but as of now, that box of clips does not exist. Deciding not to give up hope, I stopped by the “media center” (teacher word for “library”), to ask the “media specialist” (“librarian”) if she knew where the ID clips were.

It was in the media center that I ran into the PE teacher, better known as “Coach.” Coach is an aging hillbilly, with a blonde ponytail and sunburned cheeks. He has posters of the Grateful Dead on the walls of his office and can always be heard whistling one of the legendary band’s famous tunes.

When I told Coach about my dilemma, his eyes brightened and he told me he had “just the thing to help.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny pair of alligator toothed clips. Having lived many years in a college town, I recognized the clips immediately as a tool used to hold the hot, sticky end of a marijuana cigarette.

In other words, Coach handed me a pair of roach clips to use to attach my employee ID badge to my clothes. Even worse, the roach clips looked used. They were coated with sticky brown goop.

I’m human. I wanted to laugh and say some joke like, “Oh, Coach, what do you use those for?” But I knew that a comment like that would open the door to a world of trouble that I do not need. Instead, I mustered up an innocent face and said, “No, thank you. I think The Intimidator has some clips in her office.”

“Whatever,” Coach winked. “Let me know if you ever want to burn one.”

21- Labor Day

There was no school today. Hurray for Labor Day! I slept as late as I could- which turned out to be only 8:30. When your body is used to waking up at 5:30 each morning, 8:30 feels like you’re sleeping in.

I made a deliberate decision to not think about school today. I was going to relax and spend the day doing things that I enjoy, like catching up on Soap Operas and playing Solitaire on the computer. By 9am, I had learned a huge lesson: You will never, ever escape the roll of “school teacher.” Always be on guard.

I crawled out of bed, pulled on my old, dingy bathrobe and fuzzy bedroom slippers, and trekked outside to drag my garbage can to the curb. By the time I reached the end of my driveway, I knew I was in trouble. A short distance away, I could hear a child’s voice calling, “Teacher? Teacher!”

I could only wish I were dreaming.

I looked up to see one of my students playing in the yard right next-door to mine. Shit. Can your students be your neighbors? I never thought it could happen to me.

As it turns out, Mattie, a sweet little Mexican girl from my class, just moved into the house next to mine. I could tell she was thrilled to see me by the way she ran over to my yard and dragged me by the hand over to her house to meet her parents.

So there I was, on the morning of my first ever paid holiday, unbrushed teeth and knotted hair, shaking the hands of my student’s parents. “It’s so great to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Gomez!” I am happy to have met them, although I do wish they lived a little farther away. I can only hope they have enough sense to keep their daughter from knocking on my door everyday.

20- Fire Drills

Last week we had an announced fire drill, which meant that all of the teachers knew about it and were able to warn their students. The purpose was to get the students accustomed to the appropriate exiting procedures. Today, there was an unannounced fire drill. Just as we had practiced last week, my students quickly lined up at the backdoor and solemnly exited the building. I was proud of the efficient way they handled the drill.

On route to the parking lot we passed by the Music Room. The backdoor to the Music Room was open and I could see the teacher motioning frantically to a small group of Hispanic students. The kids looked confused.

As we got nearer, I could hear the teacher yelling, “Es muy caliente! Muy caliente!” She was jumping around, like her feet were on fire.

It is very hot? Very hot?

Breaking strict fire drill conduct, I stopped my class and asked the teacher if she needed help. Looking frazzled, the Music Teacher exclaimed, “I don’t know how to say fire drill in Spanish!”

Oh! My!

I don’t know much Spanish, but I do know that screaming “Es muy caliente” and jumping around like a lunatic is not the way to direct students out of a burning building. I motioned for the cluster of Hispanic students to join the back of my line. The Music Teacher followed as we made our way to the safety of the parking lot.

I suggested that she confer with the ESOL teachers about communicating with the Spanish speaking children during emergency situations. I almost suggested she enroll in a Spanish class at the local university.

The incident made me feel angry. It’s a tricky situation, we can’t expect American teachers to know Spanish, but our Hispanic student population is growing larger every day. I think that The District should provide a basic conversational Spanish course to teachers. Perhaps all teachers currently seeking teaching certificates should be required to take Spanish classes before they are employed.