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Category Archives: Occupational Hazards

Farewell to whom?

I hope not.  I would miss its precision, not to mention its Scrabble versatility.  This story makes me want to use as many object pronouns as possible when I’m around young children.  Babysitting clients, you’ve been warned.

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This spring’s eye-grabbing acceossory

I’m not much of a hat person, but during spelling yesterday, I donned an empty kleenex box.  You see, I was finger spelling.  Now, I find finger spelling engrossing, because a)it makes me feel like I’m flashing gang signs, and b)I have to do it backwards so that my students can see it left-to-right.  I’m uncoordinated enough that anything I’m doing backward demands most of my attention.

But my students were not as engaged in watching as I was in doing.  I was growing weary of reminding them, “Eyes up here.”  I grabbed the empty box, balanced it precariously on my head, and continued.  From that point on, unless I told them to write, my students’ eyes were on me every moment.  They were watching for the box to fall off, but it just so happened that they saw me finger spell their words, too.  They asked repeatedly why I was wearing a tissue box, but I didn’t exactly say, “Because I love you, and I want you to be able to spell the word ‘society.'”

Sometimes academic success requires sacrificing academic dignity.  What does it take to get attention from your kids?

New Year #6: Swing dancing

I don’t really dance much, but since my hometown had a band and free swing dance lesson at our not-so- “Great Park” last night, I decided to try.  It was a short, really basic lesson (maybe 30 minutes).  I danced with at least a dozen guys, which left me longing for some Purell (some parts of my brain have been forever damaged by being a teacher).  It’s definitely something I would do again.

The #1 lesson of the evening was a sort of metaphor for many spheres in life: how well the dance goes is 95% dependent on having a guy who a) knows what he’s doing and b)leads.

Total nerd post

I like teaching, learning, learning about teaching, and learning new things to teach, so summer is no break from learning, and I wouldn’t change that.  This summer, I’m studying Latin, Medieval history, Greek, phonographs, spelling rules, and literary analysis.  In Latin, adjectives are the flavor of the day, and plenum (-a, -us), which means full, brought to mind derivatives.  Plenary.  Plenteous.  Plentiful.  That’s right.  We have a word that means full-ful.

One downside to learning Latin:

I’ll never think of Necco wafers the same way again.

Teaching messes with your head

Exhibit 1: I find myself mentally tacking “ly” onto people’s adjectives when they ought to be using adverbs.  “No one was taking it serious.”  [Here’s where my mind says,”ly.”]  How obnoxious is that?  Fortunately, I haven’t said it aloud.  Yet.

Exhibit 2: I use plural pronouns when directing only one person.  I guess this has its place- offering a gentle reminder that doesn’t seem too pointed.  Instead of saying, “C., be quieter!”  I can sort of generally announce, “Let’s remember to use our soft voices indoors,” and spare C. some embarrassment.  It also softens commands and makes me sound like I’m on the child’s team; “M., let’s get back to work,” is really just a nice way of saying, “Get back to work, you!”  But the other day I heard myself say, “Let’s not pick your nose, E.”  Yuck.

Occupational risk: grossness

Potty humor is not tolerated in my classroom, and carries the stiff penalty of apologizing to the class.  Potty talk however, is occasionally necessary, and completely acceptable.  Monday, not long before lunch time, I had to explain why eating lots of soap water isn’t a good idea: “It’ll give you diarrhea.” (I actually have no idea if this is true, but it was what I was told as a child.)

Student A: Oh.  My grandmother has diabetes.

Me: Well, diabetes is different from diarrhea.

Student A: What is diarrhea?

I realized that diarrhea accounts for many of the turns of history, so we might as well talk about it frankly.  I will spare you my accurate reply, though, because another student summed it up so well:

“It’s when your large intestine gets lazy!”

Wednesday, we were happily eating lunch when T. piped up, “Some pythons die while they’re eating because the horns of the animals they’re digesting puncture their stomachs.”

Teaching might not always be appetizing, but it is never boring.