Monthly Archives: September 2013

Reasons I love to teach # 9

After five years it finally happened.  A history teaching spot finally opened up and I am back in my natural element, teaching the classes that I love and loving what I teach.  No more googling grammar rules during class.  No more faking enthusiasm about poetry.  No more feeling like an idiot when I don’t know how to spell a word.  And, praise the Lord, no more weekends spent grading endless stacks of essays.

So for the first time in five years, I actually have some free time!  Like enough free time to watch 8 straight episodes of Scandal on Saturday because the show is that good and my social life is that pathetic.  

Time to watch addictive television is not the only reason I love teaching History.  I love talking about how history has shaped today’s world, and I love that my T.A. can grade all the quizzes.  I love tracing God’s hand throughout time, and I love that when students think of the state of Massachusetts, they think of Matt and Ben:

I love thinking about how people and situations have changed the entire world, and I love that one of my students thought Columbus came to America on the Mayflower.

I love telling stories of weirdos from a long time ago, and I love that a student asked me if the “framers of the Constitution” were the men who put the Constitution in a frame. (He was dead serious.)

I love proving to kids that history is not boring, and I love that one student drew this picture in her Spanish class:

Her depiction of students sitting in class yelling out the names of Greek philosophers is pretty spot on. 

However, despite all this love for teaching History, there actually are a few things I will miss about teaching English.  I will miss listening to freshmen read Romeo and Juliet and have the whole class snicker when they say, “my naked weapon is out.”

I will miss the simple lesson planning (read this/write that).

I will miss reading All Quiet on the Western Front and crying in front of the class every single time I read the end of chapter six.

I will miss getting kids excited about books and getting e-mails like this:

Happy, sad, and lost without the book? A reader was birthed in my class!

I will also miss the irony of notes like this:

For the record, I end each semester with a speech where I tell them that they are not allowed to ignore me in the halls the following year.

And though I will never ever miss grading formal essays, I will truly miss reading journals and informal writing where kids were always willing to share their hearts and so often cracked me up.  So reason # 9 that I love to teach is because…

Teenagers give great advice

Take, for instance, this advice they wrote to International students to help them fit in at Valley:

* It’s horrible if you have a bottom locker, such as I, because sometimes you will accidentally bump into a person’s butt, and that’s not good because it just makes the situation awkward.

* Instead of awkward meaning awkward, it now means awkward, unfortunate, or just not good.  Rape means someone is barely touching you or just standing too close, and being a “stalker” can mean you did something as simple as seeing someone in public or knowing their birthday or middle name.

* Fly isn’t just something birds do, “sick” doesn’t necessarily mean you have a virus, and being called a “dawg” doesn’t mean you’re being compared to an animal.  Look out for things like someone asking if you want to get stoned with them.  It doens’t mean you’re going to be pelted with rocks, but it’s best to just say no.

* One of the most well-known restaurants in the US is McDonald’s.  No.  Just…no.  You’ll thank me later.

* Nothing from the Dollar Tree is good.  Except their hair dye.  That stuff doesn’t come out.

* If you have Miss Hardeman, she will usually tell you one of her stories during class, and if she gets off track, ask her if she found twenty dollars and she will know what you mean. (I never should have told them about $ 20 dollar stories.)

* Don’t be scared if someone says they want to tweet you, skype you, or oovoo with you.  None of those are dirty.  I promise.

* Everyone speaks American here.  (oh good gosh)

* Don’t play video games.  Don’t even touch a game controller.  They suck you in and don’t let go.  They’re like cocaine except instead of making people skinny and hyper, they make people obese and incontinent. (weirdly proud that he knew this word) 

* Watching out for Raiders fans.  They’re not nice people.

* Not all parts of California are beaches and smiles.  If someone asks you to got to a place called downtown LA, don’t.

* Beware: Americans are horrible about flushing the toilet in public bathrooms.  Always flush the toilet!

* Don’t be one of those weirdoes who picks their nose then eats it.  Nobody likes those kids.  (my brothers would object)

* You should know that sometimes Canadian bands get into the top ten on the music charts.

* Don’t watch any of these vampire movies.  They’re all terrible.

* There is a boy band called One Direction that all the girls love.  They are terrible but you should know their names so you don’t start off on the wrong foot with the girls.

*Hopefully you tan easily because here in California, people get very tan.  If you don’t tan easily, like me, make pale friends.

* Don’t get angry because it takes six hours to get from California to New York.  That used to take thirty years and most of the people would die.  Now you watch an Adam Sandler movie, take a big runny dump, and you’re there.

Yes, I will truly miss reading gems like those.  I can’t imagine anyone using the phrase “runny dump” in a history assignment except maybe if they are referring to Montezuma.

The next pieces of advice come from an assignment where they had to write a letter to their pretend new baby sibling.  You will quickly see why I love my students so much:

“Be nice to people, read the bible, and listen to Mom and Dad.”  That’s my favorite piece of advice.  Well, that and the warning about Canadian bands.  That line was pure gold…
How about you?  Which piece of teenager advice did you like the best?

10 challenges teachers face the first week of school

This year marks the beginning of my 10th year as a teacher.  I’ve taught in a large public school, a tiny missionary school, and a medium-size Christian school and have found that no matter the location or school size, there are certain things about teaching will always be the same.  It will always be a truly wonderful profession, one that is fulfilling and fun and has fantastic perks like students who make us laugh every day and a 10 week summer.

But teaching is certainly not without it’s challenges, and during our first days of school last week, I couldn’t help but think about some of the annual transitions we teachers must make every September.  I realize lots of people who work “normal jobs” face these same challenges every day for 50 plus weeks, and you probably have zero sympathy for us as we recover from summer.  But I think my fellow teachers will admit that it’s always a bit of a strain on our bodies and minds as we switch gears and turn back to teacher mode.  That being said, here are a few of those challenges we faced last week.

10 challenges teachers face the first week of school

1. Waking up 

It’s not that we dread the first day of school.  We really don’t.  I mean sure, we spend the last few nights of summer having first day of school nightmares about horrific students and showing up to school without shoes or a prepared syllabus, but for the most part, we are ready and eager to start a new school year.  However, after 10 weeks of getting decent sleep, our bodies revolt against the absurdity of rising before the sun.  There is something just plain unnatural about waking to darkness.  Without any light one might even, hypothetically speaking of course, accidentally step in the pile of cat puke so conveniently left beside the bed as she staggers to the shower.  So yes, just getting started in the morning can be quite the struggle. Continue reading

Poo Etiquette

The following list of guidelines are not my own.  When I was visiting my friend Megan, her husband showed me an e-mail he received from his boss, who I should mention is the head pastor at their church.  Said e-mail included all of the following guidelines for poo etiquette and then some.  I felt compelled to delete and edit some portions of the e-mail because it was too graphic even for me.  Yeah, I know.  I posted these rules in the staff bathroom last year, but they were abruptly torn down.  Someone either didn’t find them funny or couldn’t follow the rules. Either way, I was slightly peeved that they poo-pawed the poo guidelines.

6 Guidelines for Poo Etiquette in the Workplace

1. If you poo and it causes rectal discomfort, you must ensure poo flushes properly. This is done by scrutinizing the flushing cycle, ensuring poo has completely been eradicated from bowl. Do not flush and exit stall before cycle is complete. For those of you who may have enlarged sphincter capacity and poo does not cause discomfort but girth of poo is abnormal in size (2 ½ “ diameter +), you must also watch the entire flushing cycle. Continue reading

Miss Kitty’s Class

A few weeks ago I was rummaging through old albums looking for a picture for “Throw Back Thursday,” when I stumbled upon a typical scene from my teen years.  There was a turtle neck involved, feathered bangs, a sports watch, and my favorite oversized t-shirt that said, “Messiah.”

What I love about this picture, other than the fact that the little Mexican girl is mad-dogging the camera and copping a feel, is that I can remember feeling truly happy and fulfilled at this moment.  Sure, my eyes are tired but that is probably because I was up in the middle of the night with one of my crazy friends who convinced me to leave the tent to go pee in the woods with her.  (You know who you are.  And you know it wasn’t pee.)

As a 14 year old, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to “do when I grow up.”  I’m pretty sure I thought I’d be dead by now because 31?  That would have sounded ancient to the teen version of Katie.  I was too busy thinking about Leo DiCaprio and how to hide my acne than to wonder about what life would be like in my 30’s.  However, now I can see that it was during those trips to Mexico that God was planting seeds and growing in me a love for working with other cultures.  I had no idea what the future had in store, but He knew exactly what He had in store for me. Continue reading