Out of Teaching

Talk about truth in advertising, this billboard nails it. The way children are raised these days, with the emphasis on their lives being all about them, they really do dare you to teach. I spent 3 1/2 years in the public schools and have come to believe in the existence of purgatory. So when you see the sign up and around Dallas, don’t take the dare.



The Hard Room

Training 001

I spent the last week in training, much of that time, in this room pictured above. I call it the hard room, not because the training was hard. The training was the best I have received since entering my new profession as a teacher more than two years ago.

I call it the hard room because those tiny stools connected to those tables were the hardest stools I’ve encountered in some time. It was hard on my backside as well as my back. I think this was the first time I had to go for some Aleve in order to relieve the pain, caused by sitting. Other than that, it was a great training session and I came away with more useful tools for the classroom than at any other time in this short career.

“No Bad Children, Just Bad Choices”

This past week, as a fellow teacher and I were talking about the many discipline problems we have in our classes, a third teacher came along and told us her solution to all these problems was to tell the children, “There are no bad children, just bad choices.” I couldn’t help but share the thought on my Facebook page and it generated quite a bit of buzz.

As for my response to the teacher who said this, I simply smiled, nodded and bit my tongue fighting back the deep desire to bring some actual biblical truth to bear on the conversation. Knowing that whatever I said would be rejected, I went back to my classroom full of “non-bad” children, who make horrendous “decisions.” Of course, the goodness of these children just abounds. I get tingly goose bumps just thinking about it…no, wait, that is actually a recurring rash I get as a result of stress.

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Half a League, Half a League

Half a league onward, all in the valley of death rode the six hundred!

I have to admit, I am duly excited about the prospects of teaching my sixth graders about Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. In the midst of the all the state requirements and the TEKS number, and all manner of muddled instructions from the state powers that be, I found something to get excited about since the poem is one of my favorites. That’s not saying much, since I’m not much of a poetry buff. I would say my list of favorite poems would be about two, unless you count the Psalms, then the number of favorite poems would be about 152.

But when it comes to Tennyson’s tribute to those men who bravely charged forward on that day in the 1850s… because they were told to, you have to admire the respect, courage and acceptance. I’m not sure if Tennyson was or was not a Christian. But the 600 men, were responding obediently to their superiors even to the point of death. In that, there is something noble and grand, which Tennyson points out in the last stanza of his poem, memorializing their charge into the Cossacks. The men, in one sense, emulated Christ who did the very same thing on a the cross 2,000 years ago. He went and laid down His life because someone told Him to. I’m not trying to spiritualize the poem, just noting the similarities.

LightBrigadeThe point is that I do look forward to sharing it with my students and I hope to encourage a few of them to memorize it (which in the state of Texas is a teaching sin, so I’ve been told). I’m not requiring them to do so, but will give extra credit to those who do memorize it on their first test. I checked with my department head and was told that this is perfectly acceptable.

I also plan on showing the following video to help them see the influence the poem still has today. This is from The Blind Side.

One of the reasons I included the videos here is because I cannot show videos directly from Youtube. But I can from my blog, so I’m actually doing school work while I write this… on my own time… not at school… so I’m not violating any rules. (Just want to be clear).

Here is the full poem:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.


Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!
Hope you enjoyed that.

Back to School

Yes, but as a teacher, not a student. Today I start back by reporting for “new teacher training.” The rest of the staff starts next week. I am excited about the new school year, and I know that in about a week, that excitement will fade, followed by disillusionment for several months, then acceptance, then… summer vacation. All a part of the process and hopefully, with lots of prayer and work, the students will learn to read gooder and spell write! Just kidding, couldn’t resist going for the punch line.

The first picture is me looking into my classroom, A107, and the other is of the hallway. I did look to see if they had a room number A 113, but the rooms only go up to A 112. This is a Pixar reference.

The building is the oldest in the district, and it doesn’t take long to figure out that for the most part, if you teach at the intermediate level (grads 6-8), you will probably be in the oldest building in the district. Districts like advertising new elementary and high schools… but seems to forget out middle school. Just an observation, not a complaint. It’s a neat building.

Drane 001

Drane 002

Note to self: Don’t Pick Up the Kids!

She had one of those first-grade voices that just doesn’t carry at all, nor would I expect it to. She is one of the smallest children in the first grade class in which I was called upon as a substitute today at the last moment. It was a joy to return to the class because this class was my first experience on the elementary level. I remember being terrorized for most of the day. Not because the class was any worse than any other class, but my expectations of what was required were completely unrealistic. What I mean by that is that at the high school level, the teacher gives you a movie to show the students, or a test, or a paper that will keep them busy while you read a novel, surf the internet on your iPhone and feel completely worthless in your role of supervision.

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