I’m posting over at GIRLFRIENDS BOOK CLUB today. Drop by and visit!
I’m posting over at GIRLFRIENDS BOOK CLUB today. Drop by and visit!
DIRECTIONS ON HANDOUT:
QUESTIONS TO TEACHER (ME) FROM STUDENTS:
WHAT STUDENTS REALLY WANT TO SAY:
WHAT THE TEACHER REALLY WANTS TO SA Y (and sometimes MAY ):
For the record, I have THREE staplers. I purchased them with MY money. Years ago, I allowed students to use my stapler. Over that period of time, staplers were “lost,” broken, or abused. When it was time to submit papers, the room sounded as if it had been invaded by wildebeests galloping through the Kalahari when 25-30 students would simultaneously flock to my desk. It was uncivilized. And it wasted valuable class time. And it made ME responsible for YOUR paper. And so the entitlement program of free stapling ended.
Books and writing have saved my life.
Certainly, not all I write is amazing. Often it’s a mess of emotional brain urp. But the process fascinates me. In the same way that I’m still fascinated waves travel through the air, find their way to my car, and convert themselves into music that comes back out of my speakers as waves again. I mean, how WOW is that? Invisible stuff. Floating through people and places and things and producing stuff.
So, too, writing is that act of creation.
What do books and/or writing mean to you?
NOTE: Cleaning up files, I tripped across this post from my days in teacher-land. Since I’m closing in on a deadline, I thought I’d share this, and save brain space for my manuscript. Enjoy!
Today, a series of events converged into the perfect storm that, without the support of my colleagues, would have left me drowning in a sea of frustration.
The first strike of thunder started with a student complaining about having to watch the Veterans’ Day special program on the morning announcements. In one of my rare “call your kids from the neighbor’s house” voices, I informed him that men and women died so he could whine about sitting in a classroom watching a flat screen television, and I was certain the soldiers’ families would so appreciate knowing how much he honored their contributions.
Announcements over, I returned graded papers.
Strike two. A student who submitted an assignment that did not follow the guidelines, was incomplete, and looked as if he’d written it in the back of a pickup truck traveling over a gravel road, had the audacity to “bow up” and yammer about the unfairness of it all.
So, I launched into my “come to Jesus” speech (I don’t refer to it as that to my students; after all, I teach in a public high school). Inevitably, every class, every year requires one of these. Twelve weeks into the school year, the bar’s higher than it was in August, and they’re feeling the pain of chin bruises. Some of them react by stretching, working smarter, and asking for help. Others, usually the members of the “exert minimal effort for maximum gain” club, start fashioning voodoo dolls that are sporting glasses and sensible shoes and look very much like I do.
Eight out of twenty-one students in the class submitted the assignment. The others “forgot” (note: each student was given a planner at the beginning of the school year) because “you didn’t tell us it was due.” One student told me she’s too busy to do homework and, after all, she has six other classes. I reminded her I had 143 other students, and we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day.
Another informed me that I grade too hard. Not a surprise. In fact, just a few days ago, another teacher overheard a student say, “Mrs. Allan grades like a Nazi.” I didn’t know the Nazis had time to grade papers…but, anyway…I’ll own that I have high expectations. I don’t apologize for expecting more of them than they do of themselves because even if they fall short of what I expect, they’re often miles ahead of where they would have been.
If they can’t meet some of my expectations–rigorous ones like writing in blue or black ink only, using a heading that includes writing a last name, not Joe T., and writing on the front of the paper–how’s that mindset going to work for them in the real world, with real jobs?
A student remarked, “I’m not going to need a job. I’m gonna be rich.” To which one of her classmates responded, “You can’t even pass English, how you gonna get rich?” (I love when kids “get it”!)
Sure, they’re freshmen, and they’re young and silly and hormonal. I get that. But I’m not buying into the, “they’re ONLY freshmen” excuse for why they shouldn’t be held accountable or why they shouldn’t learn to self-advocate.
Nothing disappoints me more than spending my time reading work that’s obviously completed at the last minute or blatantly disregards guidelines. And, honestly, I feel a wee bit resentful taking time away from my family, my friends, whatever…to spend with half-hearted attempts.
When I do sit down to grade, I don’t do it after a fight with my husband, or after opening that month’s bills, or after being awake for twenty-three hours. I give them my best effort. It’s what I believe I should do. But, as I pointed out to them this morning, they expect my best effort, but don’t submit theirs.
The bell rings and Mr. Bowed-Up walks straight to the principal to complain. No problem because the principal then walks straight to me to tell me his suggestion to the student was to schedule a conference. (Two years ago at my former school, a parent left messages on an administrator’s phone that she was calling the school board to ask that I be fired. That apparently didn’t work out for her.)
Second period happens to be my planning period, so I sit to check my school email. Thunderbolt three. I’m not going into too much detail here because this is a yet unresolved issue. I open an email from a parent with whom I already had a conference, and find a l-o-n-g diatribe consisting of biting sarcasm sprinkled with bits of character assassination. In terms of emails I’ve received since that became an accepted form of communication, I’d say this one ranks in the top five of the most vituperative. I refuse to even dignify it with a response.
Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to accept that they want academic success more than the kid wants it. And it’s more difficult yet when the parents are working harder than their student because sometimes that leads to smug kids who think parental units will fight their battles.
At an Advanced Placement reading two years ago, a college professor told me more and more parents are calling their offices asking for their student’s grades, demanding extra credit be given, wanting grade changes…Of course, the college teachers find all this quite amusing, and refer to them as “helicopter parents” because they’re constantly hovering over their kids.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: my wise father always told me, “Christa, you can’t push a wet noodle.”
hurricane swept houses, swollen rivers, and rain drenched streets,
waking on lazy Sunday mornings to my father cooking bacon and scrambled eggs,
green and green plaid pleated uniforms with blazers and black and white saddle oxfords,
watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, LSU football and Saints games,
afternoons at the kitchen table sharing cups of freshly brewed chickory coffee with my grandmother,
a submarine gray Rambler with no air conditioning that transported three adults and two children to the hills of Tennessee,
crawfish boils and streetcars and chocolate snoballs and lakefront barbecues,
TG&Y and K&B purple and D.H. Holmes and Winn-Dixie and Mardi Gras parades,
and blistering summers, and evening showers
where, if your heart listens, it can hear the rain drops sizzle as they sacrifice themselves to the raging heat of the concrete sidewalks.
I am from yesterday, in today and headed to tomorrow.
Where are you from?
Note: I’m hosting Dorothy on my blog today because I know, from personally using Pump Up Your Book for two of my novels, how dedicated, professional and passionate she is about supporting her authors.
10 Things You Need to Know About Virtual Book Tours
By Dorothy Thompson, CEO & Founder of Pump Up Your Book
By now, most authors know what virtual book tours are or at least have heard of them. They’re that wonderful marketing tool that should be a must have in every new book’s campaign. With each new book I write, I’m making a game plan before the book is even published and a virtual book tour is the first promotional venue on that list.
While most of us know what they are, there are still a few new authors who might have heard of them but have no idea what they involve. I give you my top 10 things you need to know about virtual book tours so that you will know what to expect.
There you have it. 10 reasons I feel you need to know about virtual book tours in a nutshell. If you have a tour coordinator as opposed to setting one up yourself, she will walk you through it so that it will be a fun experience for all. Your book will thank you for it.
Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book, an award-winning public relations company specializing in online book publicity. You can visit her website at www.PumpUpYourBook.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pumpupyourbook and Facebook at www.facebook.com/pumpupyourbook.
I write because there is no one left in my life who knew me before I knew myself.
I write because I can talk to the paper and not be interrupted or misunderstood or frozen mid-sentence by a quizzical stare from a listener’s eyes.
I write because I can’t (nor would you want to watch me) sing or dance or paint or sculpt or provide anything else of artistic value to the universe other than what I can create with my paper and pen.
I write because my days are numbered; I have less days to live than I have already lived, and the abstraction of mortality is waning, replaced by the very concreteness of careening years.
I write because I kept my mouth shut for too many years of my life. I write because I could exorcise the ghosts of the past, the goblins of the present, the amorphous fears of the future wielding a cheap plastic-barreled pen and a college-ruled notebook.
I write because words spoken are swallowed by time. Words written are meals cooked today for a banquet to be held later. I write because I have lived an unexpected life and the surprises–both full of dread and full of awe–would otherwise drift uncharted.
I write because I want my children to know me, not mother me or wife me, or sister me, or aunt me, or grandmother me. But Christa Me. The deep and the shallow places. I want them to have access to bits of my soul, perhaps slices of me that they may not hunger for until I am no longer here to feed them.
I write because, in doing so, I shape the memories, give them words that will be my eternal life breaths.
Why do you write, paint, dance, sing, create….?
I want to share a post I wrote years ago that still thumps in my now retired teacher heart:
Some days, I want to hurl the textbooks and state-mandated curriculum through the windows that open only to the windows of another portable classroom, and announce:
Okay, let’s talk about what really matters.
Let’s talk about what you’ll face in the world. How tragedy and joy are holding hands, and they’ll play Red Rover with you for the rest of your life.
I know some students are experts at the “divert the teacher from the lecture” game. And some teachers are sucked in and allow class time to be swallowed by rambling tales of the teacher’s children’s latest antics, their spouse’s occupations or lack thereof, or the state of their disunion.
But that’s not what I’m advocating.
I’ve squandered so much of my own life afraid of the unknown, afraid of deciding, afraid of not deciding.
I wonder, if someone had grabbed me by the collar of my uncertainty and encouraged me to risk, to ignore those who did and who would steal my dreams…what would that life had been?
My husband and I have been married almost twenty-five years. We’ve moved ten times. (I just counted because I do my best creative procrastination when I’m on deadline.) These haven’t been military related (though I’ve been militant about a few of them), due to job transfers (with the exception of four moves due to Hurricane Katrina), or because we’ve been evicted (thank God).
It’s because we’re idiots, I tell you, idiots.
Seriously, I told the husband that the only place I am willing to move after this recent was:
1. to Houston to live in the same city as my children, 2. to Houston , and 3. to Houston. And the only thing I’m taking is my toothbrush. And the dog.
And this is related to writing…how?
I’ll tell you. Here are five reasons writers shouldn’t move:
I’m certain there are more, but my brain’s still adjusting to its new thinking environment.