Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dirty minds....again.

So all is now well in the Land of Lewis. The kids have all come back, but, of course, I am now sick and fuzzy-headed, which makes my reaction times slower. Which, as you will see, is a bad, bad thing. And they keep saying things like "How'd you get that cold?" I simply stare and let them gaze on my red-eyes, runny-nosed self. In keeping with the theme this year, my little ones continue to have their minds in the gutter.  This week, we are studying the /or/ and /ar/ spelling patterns. You know, like door, floor, argue, spark....those sounds. I had my small group of spellers-in-need with me at the back table. And guess who was with me? That's right. Bad Boy. We were breaking up and "graphing" our spelling patterns (where you space out the word according to the sounds). They were having a really hard time deciding how to break up the word "shoe". Is is a long "o" or a short "o" or something else all together? So I whipped out the white board and wrote down the following words:


and I asked if "shoe", even though it is spelled differently, sounded like any of these. Stupid, stupid me. I walked right into this one. The conversation that then happens (and it took place in, like, a second and a half!) right in front of me between Lip Gloss and Bad Boy:

L.G: That's not right
Mrs. Lewis: What's not right?
L.G.: Hoot
M.L.: What do you mean?
L.G.: It's supposed to be "Hooters", not hoot!
Bad Boy: She means "hoot" like the owl! Hooters is the restaurant, the place with the boobs! Hey! That has a long "o" sound too!
L.G.: What does?
B.B.: Boobs!

at which point the whole table lost it. And I had to pretend to drop my pen so I could duck under the table before they could see me laughing. They are definitely feeling better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Save Yourselves!!!! Cough into your elbow.

My kids are dropping like flies and I am considering wearing a personal SCUBA suit with my own air supply to school. Yesterday, 5 kids were out and as the day wore on, I steadily lost more. The first one came to me about 9 am. "Mrs. Lewis? I really don't feel well" Normally, you look at a kid and say "Well, what does that mean? What doesn't feel well?" But you could totally see that this kid was truly ill. Glassy eyes, flushed, kind of teetering as he stood. So I sent him to the clinic where he was promptly packed up and sent home with a fever of 100.
30 minutes later?
"Mrs. Lewis?" That one threw up.
15 minutes after that? The next victim. Fever of 101.1
Then came, in this order, fever, fever, vomit.

By lunch time, the body count was at 5.
One girl managed to sneeze (and not once, like 5 million times)  through almost the entire day. I asked her if she had a cold but she swore it was just allergies. Watching her wilt after lunch, it was clear that she had also been struck down.  After making her way through an entire box of tissues, I sent her packing. Fever. 100.

Looking at the survivors, I declared it was "decontamination" time. Like "Hammer Time", but not as much fun.
Last year, my kids were always sick, so this year I bought the economy size jar of cold and flu antiseptic wipes in August. I thought I  was being super smart and that I would not need them until January. Wrong. Each kid got a wipe (or six) and we proceeded to clean desks, chairs, scissors, markers, door handles, table tops and anything and everything they touch. Now I am not a fan of the anti-bacterial stuff. I think regular soap and water is fine, and, in fact, I think you need a few buggers crawling around to keep you healthy. I don't like it and never, ever use it. But this is war! We have already been washing our hands like we were in some sort of OCD Olympic event, but now? Now we sing as we wash. 2 rounds of "Happy Birthday" as we scrub, rub and beat those germs into submission. We have watched a hand-washing video (yes, there is one from the CDC that we are actually required to watch) we have left all our windows open, even though this creates a tornado-like effect in our room and everything has to be weighed down. (Including some of the smaller children) While we are doing everything humanly possible to keep ourselves healthy, I realize that I may be waging a losing battle and that I may have been defeated already by a fourth grade ritual.  There was a sleepover Friday night. The majority of those there have already succumbed. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I fear that by Thursday we will look like passengers on a Japanese commuter train. You know the ones that wear the white surgical masks?

I must believe, however, that I WILL BE VICTORIOUS! My remaining kids will stay healthy and hopefully some of the fallen will return this week. On the brighter side? We have been coloring and watching movies for 2 days. Can't get much done when half the class is gone. Now excuse me, I have to go find the 612oz  bottle of hand sanitizer I bought from BJ's.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Heart NY

So we have lived here in FL (Or the FLA, pronounced "flah" if you are in my family) for 4 years and we are almost at the beginning of our 5th year here. I never thought we would be down here this long, and I am mostly OK with it, but there are a few things I really, really, really miss. And a few I don't.

I Miss:

-My friends and family - being able to drive anywhere and see them within 5 hours.
-Fall - specifically the trees- (Although Jill tried to remedy this by sending me a huge picture of a Maple turning in N.H. - thanks, Jill!)
-The first snowfall
-Cold weather at Christmas
-restaurants that are not chains
-Pumpkin picking
-Apple picking
-Corn mazes (Yes, they have them here, but doing one in 90 degrees seems a little off-putting)
-New York City
-Real Christmas trees
-Cool summer nights
-Being near a major airport (an hour and a half is not near)

I Don't Miss:

-Scraping off the car
-The temperature in January at 7 am
-Having to bundle up before going outside. It's amazing the freedom when you don't have to think about it!
-November in the north. It's just gray.

I Like:
-Access to the beach at all times of the year
-The weather in January and especially in February

I Don't Like
-The Bugs. A well-established fact. The really, really, really big and plentiful bugs. And snakes. And rats. Oh! And sharks!

 I'm not sure how much longer we will be here, but I have gotten pretty used to it. Anyone who knows me will tell you I do not do well with change. I came down here literally kicking and screaming for a time, convinced that it was the most horrible fate ever. But I have established friends and colleagues who make it bearable and more fun than I thought. I like my job, I like my kids, I like the weather in February. So no matter how much longer we are here, and even though I miss all the things I listed above, I think I can survive. I just need a really big can of bug spray.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

This just made me laugh

I love these Anne Taintor designs. About 10 years ago, a friend of mine gave me a set of the coasters. They make me laugh every time I see them. In that time, I have seen almost all of the designs and they always crack me up. I came across a new one the other day, and it may be my favorite.

Friday, October 9, 2009


This is how I felt on Thursday. Ever have one of those days where you feel like if one more person speaks to you, you might, in all probability, explode? Yeah. That was me. Except I could not avoid 25 voices saying "Mrs. Lewis! Mrs. Lewis! Mrs. Lewis!" It was one of those days where you turn to the kids and say " I am changing my name, and I am NOT telling you what it is!" And then they just stare at you. The main problem, I have come to realize, is that I have a very, very young class. Last year, I had a dream class. They were amazing. Frustrating sometimes, but really, really amazing. They were also more mature. Which makes a HUGE difference. This year, my kids are really young and really immature. As a result, THEY DO NOT LISTEN! To ANYTHING!!!!  I know, 9 and ten year olds are not known for their powers of observation and keen insight as well as a strong sense of paying attention, but at 10 years old, you should be able to do the following directions:

1. Put your pencil down.
2. Place your bubble sheet on TOP of your test, face up.
3. When you have done that, look at me.

and they can't. They are incapable of COPYING an overhead. They cannot walk in line. They cannot even line up. You know line up? Where you stand behind the person in front of you? Behind? The direction you learned in kindergarten? Some days I feel like I have room full of Golden Retrievers. Really enthusiastic, jumping all over the place, super sweet,  but essentially lobotomized.

     I thought it was me. I thought "OK. We need to change tactics, we need to go over rules and do more listening activities." I thought maybe I had not made myself clear enough. But last Thursday, not one but two teachers who were working with my kids said "What is wrong with them? How have you not torn your hair out?" It was a comforting conversation.

By the end of the day, however, I had turned into Mean Mrs. Lewis. Normally, Mrs. Lewis is pretty loud, and kind of brusque, but she will joke and fool around with her kids. She loves her kids and will hug them, high-five them, and talk about interesting things with them. Mean Mrs. Lewis is a cranky, very loud, not very nice lady who takes over. And being around her is no joke. She snaps, she snarls and she makes the classroom a generally unhappy place to be. Mean Mrs. Lewis makes her appearance when she feels like she has repeated herself 52,000 times and has not been heard once. She shows up after regular Mrs. Lewis has been interrupted, tugged on, talked-back to and ignored for the better part of the day. Mean Mrs. Lewis makes her kids sit at their desks doing solo, silent worksheet after worksheet after worksheet. Mean Mrs Lewis says things like "Do not even THINK about raising your hand unless you are bleeding or there is a piece of bone sticking through your skin. If you are going to barf, use the trash can. I do NOT want to hear about it." At the end of the day, I said to my kids "You have two choices. We can have another day like today and tomorrow we will do nothing but worksheets while you sit at your desks in silence, or you can decide that you are going to listen, pay attention and follow directions and we can have a nice day. It's up to you . Think about it tonight. Now pack up."

Today, everyone played on the computer, everyone got to make-up their work and hand it in, we went outside for recess, we watched a science movie and Mrs. Lewis did not have to raise her voice once. It was a lovely day. A fact I pointed out to them several times over the course of the eight-hour time-block we are together. Now I have a feeling that Mean Mrs. Lewis will be making an appearance again, but I don't think it will be in the near future.

P.S. - Today was picture day. It was 96 degrees with 98% humidity. We had pictures taken after PE (in Florida there are no gyms so PE is outside) and after lunch. Which was pizza. I cannot wait to see the photos.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Kid on the Block

Whenever you get a new student, it is always cause for concern. Will they fit it? How will you help them fit in? Will the other kids be nice to them? How will this kid change your classroom chemistry? Will they make you want to scream now or will they wait until later? Are they going to have high-maintenance parents? Will they be high maintenance? You are just as nervous as the kid who walks through your door. The audition is for both of you, and you hope you both pass.
           One of my colleagues in third grade is getting a new student on Monday (it is actually stunning that she knows this far in advance. I like when they knock on your door at 7:49 and introduce you to the new student for the first time as the 7:50 bell rings.) Anyway, she mentions she is getting this new kid and wants to know if a certain fourth grader knows him as well. The fourth grader pipes up and says "Yeah! I know him! And I know why his mom Tasered him, too!"

She is really looking forward to Monday.