The Best Lesson Plan in the Whole World

Merry Christmas break, y’all.

I start out with glitter and cookies and reindeer magic. By the end? I’m covered in crumbs and fatigue. You know if reindeer hang out too long, it just gets… messy.

Teachers have a slightly different view of all this. know from experience. They are getting a much needed break. Unless they have children of their own, and then it’s just kinda a continuation of their lives but without a planning period.

I have been thinking lately about my favorite lesson plans. I used to write many of these. We teachers, we’re always planning, thinking, plotting, commenting, “Oh! I need to use that in my classroom!” We can’t help it. We are wired weirdly. I’m sure a science teacher could explain.

As a teacher, I was in the classroom for over twenty years. Think of it. Six classes a day, for some two hundred days, for some twenty years, with plans upon plans and more plans… YOU do the math. I don’t teach math. That’s another teacher’s department.

But as a substitute teacher, these past two years, I have come across some real lesson planning gems.

Some teachers go all Big Brother:

  1. Here is a list of all my students’ pictures, seating arrangements, allergies, likes, dislikes, deepest fears, hopes, dreams, and what they had for dinner last night. Please make sure to utilize this list throughout the day.

Or, General Patton:

  1. 7:52: start the hour with spelling and pushups.
  2. Continue the pushups into math at 8:43 on the sharp.
  3. Children will remain silent and lined up at all times.
  4. Everything on my desk needs to remain at right angles.
  5. There is no crying in math class.

Or, Unicorns and Rainbows:

  1. Hug the cherubs! Tell them I miss them! Arts and crafts for everyone!
  2. Glitter and candy!
  3. I’m on a long break but I’ll be all better soon! *twitchy laughter*

Or, my favorite:

  1. Whatever you do, don’t feed them after midnight.
  2. Good luck, kid.

I recently “subbed” at a living museum called “The Body” at our school. I was in charge of The Mouth. There is really no reason to point out the irony here, is there?

So, here I am:IMG_6186.JPG

Those scrubs are so commmmmmmfffyyy. I have a plan: I am going to start wearing scrubs all the time. That way, people will assume I am in the medical field, which is so cool,  AND I’ll be sooooo comfy at the same time. Double bonus.

Also, yes, that are gigantic nostrils looming above me.

Then, there’s this:

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And as I unpacked my gigantic toothbrush and floss, I came across my lesson plans, a series of instructions for how to keep the kids seated on the huge teeth without flipping over, and that Laffy Taffy is basically the devil.

And then, of course, there was this little tidbit of information:

“DO NOT ALLOW THE CHILDREN TO PUNCH THE UVULA.”

You know? You just don’t hear that very often in a lesson plan.

Merry Christmas, and have a very merry vacation, teachers. You deserve it.

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An Open Letter to the Teachers Who Must Contend With My Birthday Cupcakes.

 

 

 

Dear Teachers:

Well, first of all, I guess you don’t HAVE to eat them. But still.

I feel your pain. I know you have twenty small heat-seekers in your room, looking constantly for sugar and way out of thinking in a logical pattern. I know it. And I know that you have twenty some birthdays to deal with, because, as you know. All these kids were born at some point.

And so, it begins. The birthday cupcakes.

First of all, I can vouch for quality control, here. Cupcakes are of the Betty Crocker variety. Also, it is VERY important to state that the frosting is home made.

I repeat: THE FROSTING IS HOME MADE.

The deal is, I cave. I cave every time. I tell myself:

“Keep it simple. Do not, do NOT look at Pinterest. Do not, whatever you do, try to figure out a way to make anything cute. Just stay away from the cute things. Cute is your GATEWAY DRUG, woman.”

It’s possible, you see, that in the past… the Pinterest searching had led me down the momsie rabbit hole and the next think you know…. I’m trying to make a Death Star with fondant and angel food cake.

And it would have WORKED too. Except that butter is all melty (darn you, saturated fats! I shake my fist at you!) and well, sugar and hope does not hold a Death Star intact. Not even a Jedi was gonna keep that travesty intact.

So, this time. I tried. I really did. I figured, an October birthday and cupcakes. Orange frosting and some chocolate chips and BOOM,  pumpkns for the little angels.

But you know and I do, that motherhood is often a gut-wrenching affair, fraught with difficult choices, and I was up against the wall.

The kid, you see, wanted to decorate them himself.

 

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I tried to distract the little bugger. I offered to let him lick the bowl. I even gave him the option to use sprinkles. But no. He would not be deterred.

I know. It was tough for us all.

So, dear teacher of my now eight-year-old, let’s review:

  1. I totally had a vision for those cupcakes.
  2. Motherhood is all about vision.
  3. Children are all about blowing that vision right outta there.
  4. As God as my witness, Blonde did wash his hands.

Just by the by… Blonde is anti-sprinkles. It’s another of those little quirks about him that I find a bit troubling, as we ALL KNOW that sprinkles cover a multitude of sins. In fact, I pretty much think sprinkles are God’s candy, and we should use ’em on broccoli. BUT, did you know?

Red, is pro sprinkles. I give you… HIS cupcakes:

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Feast your eyes on those babies. Crunchy.

I sign off, with much love and many hugs for being the teacher for my wee blonde, because you, Dear Teacher, are AWESOME ON ALL  THE LEVELS FOR TEACHING HIM. And some day, I will be sending you some thank you that does not involve frosting.

Until then, go for the one on the upper right of the box. It’s the only one I could get to before Blonde decided he was Paul Hollywood.

Sincerely,

Paul Hollywood’s Tired Mom

Aka Momsie

Aka the one with sprinkles and chocolate chips all over her kitchen. Like, all over. Forever.

 

 

Send in the clowns.

So, this morning, I was up with the chickens.

Literally. Chickens. SOMEONE in my very respectable neighborhood is HARBORING CHICKENS. I can HEAR you, rooster! I know you’re around here somewhere. And, as I want to buy eggs from these people, I will say no more.

Anyhow, I was up EARLY, y’all.

Wanna know why? Well, I shall tell you.

But FIRST:

I worked out:

IMG_5834.jpgThis is what Steve does when I do my HIIT stuff. He feels so bad for me, gasping away to the tiny girl on the glowing tv, that he reaches his paw out. As if to say,

“Dude. Take a break. Sit. Be still. Like me.”

NO, Mr. Fat Furry! I still have fourteen burpees to do, and they are so fun! And so aptly named! Kelli, al la Fitness Blender is a tiny and sweet girl who manages, somehow to be perfectly toned with washboard abs but still totally not annoying, gets me through something where I plank and slap my arms and sing the Star Spangled Banner, all at the same time. Then, she asks me to do a lateral hop, which sounds cute and like a bunny, but  only if that bunny has a death wish. And then, I die.

Nope. DIDN’T DIE.  Even after the hopping. I then had coffee, and I put on real, adulty clothes. Usually it’s all running shorts and tshirts with holes in them around here. But No!

Not today! Know WHY????

I’ll tell you. In a minute. But FIRST:

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BEHOLD. EYELINER. AND LIPSTICK. THIS IS THE BIGTIME.

Ok. I’ll tell you. I am substituting today. I know. I built all of this up to make you think I was meeting with California people who wanna make Bottled into a movie. Still waiting on that one.

AND this:

I showed up three hours early. Evidently I am not supposed to come until 12:30. I am just way too excited about this gig.

Wanna know WHY?

BECAUSE IT’S FOR MUSIC OH MY GOODNESS I AM GONNA GET SIIIIIIIING.

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Oh yea. You better believe you can google “Singing cats” and find lots of options. You’re welcome.

Have I ever told you? I have always kinda wanted to be a back up singer for Pink. I mean, I don’t think she even has backup singers, but in my head I made them up and I was one of em! Because that’s what my head can do!

My head can also put me in the lineup to interview The Rock one day and also, to win the Olympics in dressage, OR rhythmic gymnastics. Take your pick.

So, anyhow, whilst making breakfast for the wee cherubs this morning we had this conversation:

Blonde: Mom. Mom. You’re gonna be my teacher today.

Red: *silently chewing.* He doesn’t speak much until 8 am. That’s when he turns on and he doesn’t shut off until 12 hours later. Quite the battery on that one.

Blonde: Mom. MY teacher. I’m not gonna call you Mom though. And I will also be really good in class. So, you don’t need to worry about nothing.

Me: I KNOW. I am SO EXCITED. And I get to SING! Music teacher! BOOM!

Red: *coughing* Mom. I know it’s before I’m supposed to speak, but I gotta say-

Blonde: Don’t. Sing. Just no. Please. For the love of God. Do your duty. No singing.

 

It’s ok. I’ve got a backup plan. I’m bringing THIS:

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And I’m gonna tell them allllll about how I was first chair, and in KU marching band, and then?

I’M GONNA PLAY “SEND IN THE CLOWNS.”

My children will be so proud.

Here is, by the way, an obligatory first day of school pic. I know. I am just NOW posting this because I kept forgetting. That’s because I have way more important things to do. Like practice my scales and figure out if an interpretive dance while flauting is over the top.

Besides, this might be the last picture I have of them, because after this afternoon they might not speak to me again.

#Goals.

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United we stand. Or sit.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today! The theme??

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Right now I am sitting in the back of a third grade classroom. I am a substitute today, but the class has a student teacher, so my job is to… sit here.

Let me give you help you out with the ambiance:

  1. It’s a breathtakinginly beautiful spring day. This, as all teachers know, is universal code for We Are Really Not Going to Get Anything Done.
  2. Everyone is kinda highly strung, like little quivering lapdogs, all squeaky and yappish. I fear one of them might puddle the floor soon, they are all so keyed up.
  3. Perhaps it’s demeaning to say that a third grader might have an accident in the classroom but as I just observed one kid wipe snot on the other kid at his table, I am ready for anything.
  4. It’s Friday. Their brains are melting. This does not seem to have any effect on their ability to speak, however.

I have really enjoyed this subbing gig. Even with the snot and the yapping. About two months ago, as I was working on an article, I realized that the entire morning had been consumed with me trying to chip dried milk off of the floor underneath Red’s chair. Red likes milk. A lot. He also likes to decorate with it.

Anyhow. The article was going nowhere. And I wasn’t either. I had found myself doing that circular, meandering, walk of despair in my house that goes like this:

  1. Go into bathroom to brush teeth.
  2. Find bathroom a mess so start cleaning.
  3. Go to basement to retrieve toilet paper.
  4. Find basement to be the Pit of Despair so, cleaning.
  5. Repeat until sobbing occurs.

I needed to get OUT of the house, y’all. And – I missed teaching. I really did. But I had NO time to plan lessons or grade or the million jillion other tasks that teachers do.

Also? I wanted to spy on my children.

So here I am, subbing for Mrs. Oleen today. Her student teacher is young and energetic. She reminds me … of me. About a million jillion years ago. And I am sitting in the back, as she deals with each snot wielding situation. I am not getting up. I am not moving.

It is REALLY hard.

I did shoot a really pointed glare at a kid who kept making sheep noises. There is no need for sheep noises during reading, y’all. That’s where I draw the line. But as for jumping up and helping out?

Nope.

She can do it. She has to. If she wants to teach she needs to feel the weight of the whole class, even when one of them raises her hands, and says,

“I, like, don’t get this. Like. Any of it. Can you go back to the beginning?”

And another one adds:

“Wait. What was the beginning? I didn’t even know we are in the middle. I’m scared.”

And another one adds:

“When is recess? And I need to go to the bathroom. I have an earache.”

And another one barks:

“IF YOU’RE VOTING FOR CRUZ YOU’RE JUST DUMB!”

The reading activity kinda went downhill from there. But I stayed plastered to my chair, with a totally friendly but completely non-helping smile plastered on my face.

I let her do it. And I let her know, later, how much I was behind her. The whole morning. Cheering her on. Silently. (Although out-loud would have fit in with the ambiance quite well.) I am WITH her. I get it. And I wanted her to keep swimming.

Sometimes this is the best help we can offer. Not helping. But also, letting others know: I trust you with this. You’ve got it. And if you screw up? I totally get it. Keep SWIMMING.

We are united. And I stand beside you.

Or, in this case, I sit in the back and silently praise you the Big Three that every teacher has to suit up with EVERY morning before they enter their classroom:

  1. Patience. Buckets of it.
  2. Courage.
  3. Endurance.
  4. Oh, and a really really really good sense of humor.

Yes, that’s four. I probably should have paid better attention in math class.

 

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What a Wonderful World

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today. The theme is:

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So this summer my boys and I have been having “Science Club!” every Monday and Friday. I call it “Science Club!” with a ! because it’s very exciting! We are having a club! About sciencey stuff! We might do assperiments! Because, its’ Science Club!

No waning of enthusiasm here, I promise. Just a bit of snark because my boys can’t pronounce “experiments.”

I share the teaching gig with my friend Kate – she is our pastor’s wife, so she is SUPER spiritual and, like, OUT OF THE PARK, on the ball with apologetics, and basically, she has a bit of a holy glow about her.

(Yes, that was a bit more snark, but she really does know her bible. It comes with the job, pastor’s wife, I think. She doesn’t actually glow, though.)

Anyhow. Today is Science Club! in two hours. And I am supposed to teach:

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Very Exciting Stuff!!

And as I’m sitting here, with my coffee (third cup), and my tired brain, this is all I can come up with:

I want to have ’em watch Bananarama’s “I’m Your Venus” video, and have them dance around.

BOOM. *drops mic*

Best. Teacher. Everrrrr.

hqdefaultCropped shirts! Excessive blonde highlights! Awesome. Oh, and also this:

hqdefault-1Completely appropriate for a group of small boys, right? It’s LEARNING, y’all. It’s Science Club!

Ok, so, no Bananarama. Sigh. 80’s music does have a solid place in teaching my children, true. But not today.

In truth, this Science Club! business has been more for me than for them. It’s given me some patterns to our week. And, lo, it has taught me things like this:

One day on Mercury (sunrise to sunrise) is longer than one year on Mercury (one orbit around the Sun). Mercurian Year: A year on Mercury takes 87.97 Earth days; it takes 87.97 Earth days for Mercury to orbit the sun once.

And yes, I quoted that from Wikipedia. I had to, because…

Wait, WHAT? Say that again?

Yep, I learned stuff like that. Stuff that makes me tilt my head all to the side like a confused puppy and then sum it all up with, “So… Mercury is weird, right?”

This whole planet thing? It’s all so beyond me. It’s all so huge. The sun, y’all, is HUGE. ONE of its sun-spots is bigger than our planet. Did you know that?

Oh… it’s all so huge. I know some of this – I remember learning it. But it’s good to be reminded.

We are small. He is BIG. He made it all. He is forever and forever. Amen.

Oh what a world. What a world!

c8742f6570a3bda21104a6c1ab892fa5.1000x664x1“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  William Shakespeare

The Dreaded Think, Pair, Share

 

Linking up with Heading Home today for Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word:

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When I was in the classroom, I used to inflict my students with this activity:

“Ok, folks, I would like for you to read the following paragraph, and then (wait for it…) Let’s do a Think, Pair, Share!”

The children would groan. Well, they were too kind to groan out loud. No, they would stuff those groans inside and then slump over with silent, overflowing groaning in mime, as they read and prepared themselves to share.

Think, Pair, Share had good intentions, ya’ll. It really did. The concept was solid – think over something, share your thoughts with another, this allows you to Stop, Collaborate, and Listen, which only then leads us to start nodding our heads along with Vanilla Ice’s horrible riff on Queen, and from there?

Oh, I don’t know. I have totally lost my train of thought here. Probably too much sharing, in that I just revealed to you that I do have the lyrics to “Ice, Ice Baby” still in my head, packed in with too much coffee this morning.

Anyhow.

Think, Pair, Share. It’s not the Thinking or the Pairing that was the issue. It was trying to come up with something somewhat intelligent and inspiring to SAY. Forced SAYING of things does not go well. I, of course, was looking for depth, insight, that moment of zen when a student says, “I feel that Scout had a deep sense of reverence for her father all throughout the book, but it wasn’t until his final speech at the courtroom that she was able to realize it.” Instead, I get this: “I don’t get this book. I read the whole thing. We’re in the last chapter. When is someone gonna kill the mockingbird?” *

I am sharing all this with you to tell you this:

I am not really into sharing. I do like to talk, a lot, about myself. It’s my favorite subject, really. I love to chatter on, witty and all, about my sons trying out their wrestling moves on Steve the Cat.

But sharing is hard. Sharing means vulnerability. Sharing means… I might show someone that I’m not large, in charge, and totally in control. Because, really? I am so not in control. Of anything.

And when I had kids? This takes this sharing thing OFF the CHARTS. Because, if you don’t learn to talk and lean on your girlfriends a bit, after a day of being surrounded by little mouth breathers who have made it their mission in life to MISS the toilet seat as artistically as possible, you will lose your mind. And then, there won’t be any mind to share at all.

Just a tired out, blob of a mom.

When Blonde was first born, I morphed into that blobby mom. I don’t really know how or why… (well, I do know some of it – I was totally post partumming all over the place, and was also looking into the abyss of a very real addiction to alcohol, so it’s NO wonder I got a bit wonky)… and I got so isolated and alone that I actually started to feel like I wanted it that way.

One time, I saw a neighbor friend coming up the front walk, and I so did not want to TALK to anyone, that I actually dropped to the ground to avoid her seeing me through our wide picture window. I know. Nutball. (No, I will NOT divulge who the neighbor friend was. And YES, I will agree, my behavior was a bit silly. But, I’m SHARING, here. Don’t judge. Or, judge, but just don’t message me about it.)

As I was lying there on my carpet, staring at all the mating dust bunnies under my couch, I wondered, “Hm. This is a bit over the top, even for you. Perhaps, you have issues?”

I learned to get out. To see people. To talk a bit. And then, it took me about FIVE years to get sort of comfortable with the concept of sharing. REALLY sharing.

I’m still working on it.

But if we don’t learn to lean on each other, and share the load? Then, we’re all alone, stuck with a big stick, and no one to help us carry it.

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“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
― Mother Teresa

* This is a true story. My student was an avid hunter. He was not an avid reader. The ONLY thing that kept him engaged in this classic was the hoped for hunting scene and that oh-so suspenseful demise of the mockingbird. Poor kid.

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I Am Felling for You

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My five-year old, Blonde, is now in kindergarten.  So, now we have mornings now that go like this:

Me:  Blonde, I need you to eat, dress, brush, and get your backpack on.  Maybe all in that order.  And within the next seven minutes.  I realize this is totally unrealistic but alarm clocks are hard.

Blonde:  I cannot respond to this.  It’s like BIG early.

Me:  Blonde, clothes, oatmeal, toothbrush – HERE.  Don’t be overwhelmed little one. Just try to remember to put your underpants on first.

Blonde:  Why? Why da underpants first?

Me:  BLONDE, WOULD YOU PLEASE GET GOING. NOW. WE NEED TO GET A MOVE ON.  LET’S GO. IT’S TIME TO GO. LIKE OUT THE DOOR. WE NEED TO GO.  LIKE, RIGHT NOW.  LEAVING.  LEAVING NOW.

Blonde:  I call your bluff, lady.  And Red is still sitting on the floor in the kitchen with his oatmeal.  Evidently he doesn’t think he can eat it. Or that tables are a thing.

Henry: (faintly, from the kitchen):  It’s too buttery.

Blonde: He’s crazy.

Me: He is crazy.  How can anything be too buttery?  Blonde, your hair. Smush it down.  And your pants are on backwards.

Blonde: I am expressing my individual creativity.  I gotta be me.

 

The cat just sauntered past.  He has not eaten, brushed, and he has no underpants on either.  This is chaos.

Me:  Ok troops. This is Momsie.  We are now in level ORANGE.  I repeat, Level ORANGE.  IF WE DON’T GET TO SCHOOL ON TIME THE TEACHER WILL BE MAD.  I CANNOT HANDLE THAT; I AM A TEACHER.  WE JUDGE EACH OTHERWE TELL YOU WE DON’T BUT WE DO.

REPORT TO THE DOOR, STAT!  AND I WILL SMUSH THE HAIR, BLONDE.  YOU ARE NOT HARRY STYLES.  NOT YET.

 

 

The troops headed out, on time. I was pretty sure Jesus just decided to take pity on  me and stopped time for a bit. He can do that, you know.  Once we got to the school, Blonde set his helmet on his handlebars, and started to tip over a bit on his bike.

“Mom! Catch me if I fell!”

I did.  And I will.  At least for a little longer.

But if you’re late, you’re gonna have to deal with your teacher yourself.  Unless it’s my fault.  Then we’ll just tell her I just got out of the hospital, brain surgery, something like that.  I am pretty sure she would buy it.

 

Red, as we are heading back on our bikes, glances back at the big school.  “Yep.  He’s in der!”  He heads for a hill.

“Here we goooooooooooooo!”

Yep. Here we go.

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Carol’s mother is a lot more relaxed about this whole deal.  And Carol has creepy eyes. Maybe that’s why – Carol needs to Get. Out.