Disclaimer: Some content is inappropriate for readers under 18 years of age or those offended by swear words, references to sexuality, atheism, and libertarianism.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Misheard and Overheard.

History Teacher: What state was Lyndon B Johnson from?

Girl: Lotion bottle!

History Teacher: Let's not try to be funny. (Addresses the room again) What state was Lyndon B. Johnson from?

Girl: No, I... Heard the.. Question... Wrong...

Okaaay. Where the hell did th... Oh my God. Wait a minute. I think I've figured it out! Maybe she was thinking of Johnson & Johnson! Haha! Well, that's actually a bit of a relief. I just thought she was insane.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Whole Lotta Cheatin' Goin' On.

The sense of entitlement amongst a portion of the youth of today is absolutely astounding. The usual examples of this include: kids getting angry at the teacher because they failed or got zeros on assignments they didn't do or tests they didn't study for. They get angry if you tell them you're sorry, but you've run out of spare pencils/paper/books. They get angry if you catch them cheating or copying...

What happened to good old fashioned shame, if not responsibility? Perhaps the anger is misdirected at us when they may, in fact, be angry with themselves or their providers at home; but it gets quite draining when we feel the targets of their rude and angry outbursts.

This year has revealed the largest number of instances of copying/cheating in the 9th grade we have seen in the past number of years. One of my students felt the drive to copy so instinctively, I had to completely isolate him from others to stop him from doing it. For a week or so, he sat in my room about an hour a day not knowing what to do, but eventually started doing some of the work himself and grew to be quite proud of his own ability and intellect. He's now back in the general population and... Okay, so he still steals other kids' stuff like a kleptomaniac, but at least he's getting some of his own school work done himself. (I always think in terms of small victories.)

Today, our team leader brought up the concern of copying up with our kids during his history class with them. His tone was even, not in the least bit accusatory to any single individual, and very sincere in our worry that these guys will fail the graduation test because they haven't absorbed the information due to frequent copying and cheating. You would think he told them they had to sacrifice their firstborn! They became furious and insisted that if the other person lets them copy, it's okay. Stunned at their response, he at first tried to explain his reasoning and then simply said "Are you seriously trying to make a case for cheating?" They didn't see it as wrong AT ALL. They ended with an "agree to disagree" tone in their voice to end his lecture.

I'm kinda scared. These kids really believe this is the real world. Okay, I'm sure a bunch of successful people can say they got where they were with a little bit of underhandedness, but these guys probably wouldn't even breathe if the smart kid next to them wasn't doing it first for them to copy. These are the same kind of kids who walk down the middle of the road and then give you a dirty look when you try to drive. Where did this come from? Who taught them their only contribution to this world needs to be their mere existence? What on Earth can we do with kids like that who really don't seem to understand they have to actually DO SOMETHING to deserve rewards?

I get a horrible feeling they're in for an unpleasant surprise when they get into the real world that doesn't give second, third, fourth, or infinite chances, that doesn't let them off with a verbal warning, that doesn't accept late work with little to no consequence, that doesn't tolerate tardiness on a daily basis, that doesn't provide the materials for the job every day because they don't bring their own, that doesn't tolerate racist comments and behavior, and especially when their parents can't get them out of trouble by going over the teachers heads to administrators who are sick of getting bad press in the community.

I wish these kids could face a little more reality... I wish we could give it to them without being dinged for having too many failing grades or hurting too many feelings.

They're the ones who are being cheated here if they think the world is going to be as forgiving as we are.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Passover E-cards.

A colleague has shown me a charming source of alternative online greeting cards called Someecards, including some entertaining Passover e-cards.
I had momentarily hoped to see some amusing cards pertaining to Arab culture, but then I remembered that it would probably have to touch on Islam and so would result in someone out there getting pissed off enough to blow something up. Ah well.
Anyway, I extend my regards to my Jewish readers on this year's Passover.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Overheard, But I Wish I Hadn't...

Clueless: When you take the SAT, how many points do you get for putting down your name?

Yeesh. I know we've gotten to the point that we are grateful and reward the students simply for making it to class at all, and give them gold stars if they put their name on the paper, but I didn't realize we had got to that point!

Clueless again: What's this?

Teacherlady: A trapezoid. (Clueless has got the formula for each shape right in front of her, it was given to her along with her "test".)

Clueless: What's this triangle-like shape?

Teacherlady: Uh. A triangle.

And before you think it, nope, she isn't "one of mine". At least not on paper, I guess.

Racist And Doesn't Know It: Chinese people are trained to take our jobs.

"They're tekkin er jeeeebs" (Thanks, Trey Parker)

English Teacher: This is a great book. It was on Oprah's book list, so I think you'll all enjoy it.

Also Racist and Doesn't Know It: We don't like her books. She be choosing books white folks like... THIS is what black folks like... Holds up a novel with two sweaty lovers on the cover.

We often discuss whether or not reading anything at all is better than nothing. The books our students tend to read of their own accord are basically porn in the written form. Bomani didn't make that clear when he insisted we all "Read a Book"...

I was also witness to something amusing and bizarre a couple of weeks ago. A student fished out all the pennies from her purse said "Ugh, I can't stand the bronze ones" and threw them into the bin. What? WHAT?! I sat there stunned for some time. She must have thought I was homeless or something by the way I reacted. I guess I'll carry around a donation box for a worthy cause from now on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Searching for Identity.

SocialButterflyStudent: I'm Jewish.

Teacherlady: Oh that's cool.

SocialButterflyStudent: I had a bar mitzvah thing and everything.

Teacherlady: Bat.

SocialButterflyStudent: What?

Teacherlady: Bat. Bat Mitzvah. A bar mitzvah is for a boy. If I'm not mistaken. Not a lot of Jewish people where I grew up.

SocialButterflyStudent: Yeah. Whatever.

Teacherlady: So is there a synagogue where you live?

SocialButterflyStudent: A what?

Teachlady: Never mind.

The naughty side of me was tempted to ask how her bris went, but I behaved myself. It made me laugh when weeks later she claimed she was taking the following week off school for Passover when Passover had long since been over.

I'm guessing she's just struggling to identify with a part of her heritage she wants to respect in some ways, but the need is grossly overshadowed by her desire to spew nonsense. It was interesting to see how many kids in the class thought it was impossible for an African American to be Jewish until I pointed out Whoopi Goldberg was Jewish. Sort of. Anyway, I know they exist. They're not like leprechauns. I met one once during my student teaching and she didn't seem quite as clueless.

Huh. Hadn't thought about her in a while. That was back when I did this stint going to a bunch of schools giving a casual talk about Middle Eastern culture from my own perspective. She asked some great questions and taught me some cool stuff about Judaism. Cool kid. I always had a good time giving those talks because I always got great questions from kids the teachers claimed were barely more responsive than your average carrot, yet here they were asking question after question.

Anyway, I digress. I just wonder if that's what my daughter will sound like when she's in school...

*Cue weird harp music and wobbly visuals that imply a vision of what might be*

TeacherladyJr: I'm Arab. I think my mom used to eat camels or something. I think that sand pit is culturally insensitive.

We can only hope.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Sensitive Issue of Smelly Students.

Teenagers smell. They can't help it. It's hormones combined with the sad attempt to disguise the said stench with gallons of deodorant. If televised commercials are to be believed, they should- in theory- be swarmed by women like flies on poo. I guess if the women were interested in poo, they'd be set, because quite honestly it smells like some of them have made more than a passing acquaintance with a steaming pile of dung.

Some of my students have come to school sharing a variety of delightful odors. I've had one who refused to bathe and didn't change sanitary pads and so once at least one week a month it meant no work would be done because all my other students who would complain about the smell the entire time. Also, trying to speak without breathing through your nose is pretty damn obvious, and not wanting to hurt feelings, I had to be discrete. That was back when they used to give us money to buy rewards for our students... That year, I made ALL my prizes for the girls things that smelled nice, so it wouldn't be so obvious. She got a nice little bath set. I asked the nurse if she could talk to her about hygiene, as that is more her field than mine but she refused. She told me she doesn't "do that."

Another student came from the family home from hell. He worked on cars in his spare time and literally smelled of feces every single day. It was all I could do to not gag when I had to work close to him. He was a very angry, depressed young man and so it wasn't a topic I was going to touch... Ten foot pole or otherwise.

Last week, the topic of malodorous students arose with a kid who normally only stinks of cigarettes, but this time he was sporting something particularly nose-hair curling. His first bell teacher approached me and told me the smell was enough to almost make him lose his breakfast. I saw the kid later and had totally forgotten about his "Odor Report". He asked to stay with me all day instead of going to his classes and promised to do all of his work. I said I'd think about it after the next class he had which I would also be in.

I was rudely reminded of what his first bell teacher had told me when I saw his best friend approach him then promptly turn away yelling "Aw hell naw, I'm gonna work over there by myself. It stinks like butt up in here." Oops. The penny dropped, I was able to correctly add two and two, the light turned on, etc... He didn't want to be in his classes because he smelled so bad.

Towards the end of that class, I told him he could stay in my room and I'd be there to teach him all he would be missing in his classes. He gave me the sincerest thanks at the end of that day, it was quite sweet. And he was even thoughtful enough to open one of my windows and sit by it the whole time.

Many students reek of cigarette smoke, and (as I've been told) weed too. Being the naive little person that I am, I have no idea what weed smells like so whenever I'm told a kid stinks of it I'm half tempted to stroll past said pot-head repeatedly until I memorize the smell for future reference. Problem is, having permanent allergy issues means I struggle to identify smells other than recognize their intensity. I know that sounds weird, but sometimes I'm aware there is a strong odor, but my olfactory senses are so shot to hell I can't tell what it is I am smelling. Some days are better than others. Needless to say that with spring upon us right now with a particularly pollen-laden vengeance, I'm incapable of smelling much of anything at the moment.

Thank goodness.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mood Indigo.

I've not been posting much due to reasons too depressing and personal to go in to here. However, there is always a silver lining in my life and today's silver lining comes in the form of my lovely colleagues over half-price appetizers and drinks at Applebee's. Tomorrow it will come in the form of my daughter's second birthday and then a date with my darling husband. Life IS great, but once in a while I have to hold my breath through the stinky bits and wait until the air clears again. I look forward to more amusing and/or thought provoking discussions with you all once I reach my happy place.

Welcome to Lunt!

The poor town of Lunt is the frequent victim of graffiti vandalism. The vandals are making the obvious, and not overly clever, switch of the L to a C. It would be funny once, but repeatedly, it would start to get lame.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Wood Spiders.

Just saw this on List of the Day. It's hilarious! I had heard something about a real study in which they gave various drugs to spiders to see how it would influence their web building, so at first I wasn't sure where this was going...

Cake? Anyone?

Does anyone have a great recipe for a cake I could make for my daughter's 2nd birthday? I want it to be simple but tasty! I'd much rather make one someone else has tried and tested... I value your feedback and ideas far more than most cookbooks. I don't make cakes often, and when I do they're boxed ones, but I'm insisting on making my own for her birthdays. Last year I made a carrott cake, so this year I'm thinking something else... Yellow, white, red velvet, chocolate, I don't care...

If I find a great recipe elsewhere, I'll be sure to pass it on.

Charlton Heston.

I was sorry to hear we've lost another great figure in the entertainment industry. In his honor, I uttered the immortal line "Get yer paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"

But now all I can think of is this... (Note what the creator of this clip did when the lyrics "They finally made a monkey outta me..." repeat. I thought it was rather clever!)

(A shout out to Phil Hartman, too... He's sorely missed.)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Some of My Favourite Dance Routines.

Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather, a pair of acrobatic tap dancing brothers.

Gene Kelly in Summer Stock. Not his best movie, but one of my favorite dance sequences of his EVER. Judy Garland was a freaking mess by that point, but he held the whole thing together.

Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding. It's true, they really did revolve the whole set so they could give the illusion of his dancing on the walls and ceiling.

Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in Singin' in the Rain performing Moses Supposes. I love that entire movie, but I decided to pick this number.

The song Chaiyya Chaiyya from the Bollywood movie Dil Se starring Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. I want that goddamned sexy outfit.

Leslie Caron from An American In Paris. She was only about 19 or 20 when she made that movie. Phew.

Mein Herr from Cabaret. It's oh so Fosse with every swaying pelvis and twisting wrist. I so had the hots for Joel Grey in this film. Don't ask. I think I have a fetish for cross-dressing men. Anyway, I used to try to do this dance with a chair in my bedroom as a teenager... Until my mum banged on the door to ask what the hell I was doing, dinner was ready.

Cell Block Tango from Chicago. I got aroused the first time I saw this. And scared. At the same time.

Sabra and Neil perform to Sweet Dreams. I don't know which of them was sexier in this piece.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I'm feeling rather down... Yesterday was yet another sad example of my wondering how much of an educational impact I'm having on my students. While I am not their history teacher, part of my job is to ensure that they are academically successful in all subject areas and so I provide additional tutoring on all topics during my small-group time with them, including history.

As I'm mentioned previously, we have been going over the major events of WWII ad nauseum. We've discussed it, looked at pictures and posters, watched movies, and filled out countless notes and worksheets on the topic. The unit culminated in a test.

One of my students could not tell me if Germany was on our side or was one of our enemies during WWII. She also answered the question of "Who became president after FDR?" with "Hitler". She couldn't tell me which country Hitler was from. She suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which doesn't really justify blanking out a whole month's worth of going over this again and again. Had I overestimated her? Had I assumed too much and so failed to reach her? Had I somehow failed to see she might suffer more than what she has been diagnosed with?

Another student couldn't identify which countries constituted the Allies, so I gave these clues: "They're famous for eating frog legs, snails, and their capital city has the Eiffel Tower."

I got no response. I really believe that these kids suffer tremendously from having such limited general knowledge. It's so enriching to be aware of so many wondrous things in the world, and if nothing else it helps to figure out the answers to questions they may struggle with on our infamous standardized tests.

What is depressing me even more is the thought that maybe I'm just some glorified babysitter rather than actualizing interventions in terms of their disabilities. Now, I'm fully aware that negative behaviors may be related to their disability and their frustration at being unable to entirely overcome it, but there are so many, many factors beyond my control.

So one of my ex-students is learning disabled, which is the least pervasive disability I work with, but most of my time was spent trying to get him to stop trying to sell stuff illegally at school and stop talking about how much he makes selling drugs back in his neighborhood. Another is learning disabled too, but I'm trying to get her to find a reason to even want to wake up in the morning because her family life has gone to hell. She puts her head down in all classes, so I approach her and try to distract her from her thoughts with algebra or science and gentle coaxing. It's like handling a ticking time bomb.

I worked with this other girl any spare moment I had because she was never formally identified as having a disability but she had issues. I gave her enough help to get her to pass her classes, but the following year she tells me she's pregnant. She will be the first of three girls I will lend my "butt pillow" to ease the pressure on their little pregnant bodies.

This other kid with a learning disability comes to school and sleeps all day because he spent last night sleeping in his bath tub for fear of getting shot by a stray bullet from a fight going on outside.

The fact is, I'm depressed because I know there's no where I'd rather be than by these kids' side and there's no way I could do enough to help them make their lives what they should be.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Been Tagged Again!

Tala has tagged me. It seems all I have to do is say why I blog...

I blog because I like to learn through expression, discussion, and reading. I can learn about myself, others, and how to best amuse my few (but endlessly charming) readers. I am a student of humanity and my learning never ends. If someone learns something from me along the way, all the better.

For instance, Humble Simpleton just learned what a camel toe is. I feel I have made my positive contribution to the world and may now be able to sleep with a clear conscience. I have made a difference.

I don't really feel comfortable tagging specific people, so feel free to share your own reasons for blogging either here or on your own blog and let me know.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Those Slender Legs, Those Luscious Eyelashes, Those Camel Toes... Wait, What?

I love the requirements for this camel beauty pageant in the U.A.E:

"Participating camels must be pure-bred and free from contagious diseases."

I wonder if they'll ever adopt the same standards for human beauty contests with regards to the contagious diseases... As for the pure-bred part, well that's just wrong... Unless Cletus and his sister-wife are contestants.