The Porridge Goldilocks Ate and Parental Involvement

I know. You’re wondering where I’m going with this. I’m hoping we all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Long story short: broke into a home in the forest, ate some food that wasn’t hers and went to sleep. Awoken by bears and ran away. The end.

Let’s face it: In this day and age, she would have been booked for breaking and entering, trespassing and theft. However, she was very selective in what she took, and she preferred the porridge that was ‘just right’.

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As a teacher, there will always be an expectation of working with parents in the best interest of the students.  However, parents, like the kids they send us, are not all the same, and have different expectations about what involvement level they should have.

For example, my co-worker had a student that was combative, argumentative, and hated women. She documented, contacted the counselor, and did everything she could do before contacting mom. Mom said, “You need to just make him run laps”. My co-worker patiently explained that she was not a gym teacher, and that, furthermore, this was a form of punishment not endorsed by our District. Mom’s response, “Well, if you’re not going to do what I suggest, don’t ask”.

Teacher = frustrated. Parent = frustrated. Student = Still belligerent. Not a great solution.

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So back to Goldilocks. She looked for what was just right. It started me to thinking about parent involvement in school.  What parent would Goldilocks pick? Which one would she definitely NOT choose. In discussions with my co-workers, it was determined that several different types of parents exist.

Helicopter Parent

AKA: OMG I have another email from this person!!

This type of parent is ultra, super, 110% involved in the student’s life. They know every test, when it’s coming up, when they should have a project due, when every pep rally is scheduled and the who, when and where of every single cotton picking aspect of their student. Don’t get me wrong. It’s FANTASTIC when you have parents that care. This type of parent, however,  takes it to another level. They send you emails about grades less than 30 minutes after their child’s scheduled class with you is over. They want you to let them know where they sit, who they sit with, did they bring their folder to class, did they put their review in their binder, did they leave their sweater in the cafeteria, did they eat breakfast, were they allowed a bathroom break after lunch, why do they have a 98, why not a 99…?

They make you consider an illegal life as a small foreign arms dealer.

Not the parent Goldilocks would pick.

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Vicarious Parent

AKA: We don’t understand how we got that grade on the report card, A Momager

These parents have their daughter in the following events: Tumbling, cheering, drill team, dance, choir, band, twirling, soccer, softball, student council, honor society, FFA, FTA, Key Club, Junior League…..wait, did I mention that this was just ONE student?  I have honestly never seen a Dadager. I’m sure they exist, but my experience is limited to moms living vicariously through their daughters.  Their student is doing SO many things that grades are the last thing on the parent’s mind, until one isn’t to their liking. As a teacher, I’ve suggested before or after school tutoring. “No, we have dance before and after school, cheer on Tuesdays, choir events on the weekend, a fashion shoot on Friday, and a modeling class on Wednesday. We know it’s not fair, but we have so much going on and we were wondering if maybe we could take the test at a later time?”

Momagers ask you to do things for their kids that other parents wouldn’t, and for that matter, shouldn’t.

Not the parent Goldilocks would pick.

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The Ghost Parent

AKA: I know you have a parent or someone who takes care of you, right?

You’re pretty sure this parent exists because the student shows up everyday, and they had to come from somewhere, but you’ve never actually see, spoken with, or received any form of correspondence from the parent. No matter how many contacts you make and in what manner you make them, they are never returned. Ever.

You begin to wonder if the kid has a part-time job and lives alone.

Not the parent Goldilocks would pick. If she could even find them.

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The Combative Parent

AKA: I’m going to kick your a** if you ever f*****g give my d**n kid a ‘C’ again. I can have your f*****g job! I know people!

I’m friends with people on the school board! I pay your salary!

These are a special kind of people. Their child earns a ‘B’, and they want to sue you because the review sheet wasn’t word for word like the test. You write their child a referral for ripping another student’s pair of jeans in half while in the locker room during gym, and they want to meet you after school in the parking lot and discuss what you can ‘do’ with your referral. There is no reasoning with these people, and after one or two times, the front office begins posting their photo next to receptionist’s desk.

It’s best to stay away from these people. If you choose to deal with them anyway, I have 2 words for you: Stupid hurts.

Definitely NOT the parent Goldilocks would pick.

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The Enabler

AKA:  Well, Little Jimmy has ADD, ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Operational Defiant Disorder, Discipline Syndrome, Narcolepsy, Panic Disorder, Insomnia, Allergies to everything known to man, Forgetfulness, and an in-grown toe nail.  At least I think he has all these things. He’s going to be tested next week.

These parents WANT their child to have something wrong with them. It relieves them of the responsibility of dealing with their behavior issues, lack of motivation, and poor grades and decision-making skills. These parents make tons of excuses for their child, but never offer any solutions.  They attend every meeting, want their perfectly normal albeit bratty child tested for everything under the sun, and want special arrangements and treatments for their child, such as “Little Jimmy says the desks make his bottom itch. Could he have a pillow provided by the school that will be transferred from class to class to keep his bottom from itching? I think he has shingles”.

  Kids like this learn to always blame someone or something else for their failures in life. They don’t try because, well, why would they?

They have all these things ‘wrong with them’.

*I am NOT referring to kids who really DO have these disorders. *

Not the parent Goldilocks would pick.

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The Middle of the Road Parent

AKA: You let me know if you need anything of if they act up. They know how we expect them to act at school.

These parents contact you back when you leave a message, they return all forms in a timely manner, and they let you know when something is going on in the student’s life, such as a death in the family or an illness. They back you up and encourage their kids to be responsible, to be prepared for class, and to act respectfully. One phone call home about bad behavior and it’s like you have a new student the next day.  Are they perfect? Nope. Sometimes they overreact before speaking to you about a situation, or they forget to send a needed item to school. The bottom line is that they respect the educational process and want the best for their kids. Not too intrusive, not in constant contact, present, but not living through their student, they represent what a parent should be: helpful, encouraging, and involved in a manner that is adequate.

These types of parents would definitely be akin to the porridge Goldilocks ate. JUST RIGHT.

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Is ‘Duty’ a 4 letter word?

Truthfully, I can’t say I have personally ever spoken to a fellow teacher who enjoyed duty. Granted, I teach at a Junior High where watching them chew with their mouths open is a lot less charming than to see little ones swinging and playing hopscotch.  However, one thing it seems that most can agree on: Almost all schools require and need some form of duty either before or after school, or in some cases, both.  Several years ago, we had parents who dropped students off at 6:45 am. Unsupervised, they tore out ceiling tiles, stole items from display cases and broke things in the halls…and these were kids who were typically considered good. The main problem? There was no one there to watch them.

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71.64% of respondents to my poll about duty noted that they have duty both before and after school. 11.94% have it only after school, 4.48% have it only before school and somewhere, over the rainbow in a land of unicorns and wonderment, 11.94% noted that their school requires no duty. (Where is the place, and are they hiring?)

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My school requires duty twice per week, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I have had what I affectionately call ‘Pop Tart Patrol’ for going on 5 years now. We’ve joked that teachers should have a sash and earn patches for duty stations much like the Boy or Girl Scouts. If so, I’d have 4 Pop Tarts and 5 Parent Pick-Up Cars on mine.

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Some of the comments, I wanted to share:

Even though I do morning (albeit, once a week) duty, and afternoon
walker duty… I’m fortunate to have been taken off of lunch duty. Feeling like
I should light a candle for my coworkers…    Henry

I think duty at my school is pretty fair.  Generally, we all have an
assigned duty–some better than others.  Car duty is the worst.       Suzanne

I teach in a high school.  We have duty assignments for before and
after school.  Additionally, the students have an hour lunch, but the teachers
have 30 minutes.  Guess what we get to do for the other thirty minutes?  Duty.
Duty may include the traditional standing in the cafeteria watching the kids
eat, tutoring, pacing the halls to make sure that the kids are behaving (the
kids can eat just about anywhere they want), supervising kids during open gym,
or in “interest groups.”  Most of the students ignore the activities we offer
and spend the lunch hour eating, gossiping, and walking around.          Kim

Before, during, AND after school.  Before and after my contract time
with no extra compensation.  Also, lunch duty while I am eating lunch.     Kristin

Duties are part of the school day both for classified and certified
staff. At my old site, certified regular ed classroom teachers had 15 min. of
duty daily. At the current school (same district) we have 15 min. daily 3 days a
week for half the year and 2 days the other half. We are also expected to be
with our students every day after school until they are picked up, usually
another 10-15 minutes.                       Heidi

Fortunately, my school is big and with the number of teachers and staff
involved, we only have a bus duty or car duty for parent drop off and pick up
three or four weeks each year. Classroom teachers have to do their own recess
time, but the cafeteria has paid aides, so that helps.                Charmaine

We have before school duty, lunch duty, recess duty and after school
duty. I’m ‘dutied’ out.                     Jennifer

I am the school secretary at an alternative school. All of our teachers
have duty before and after school to supervise buses. We pay two to supervise
lunch, and they spread it among those who are interested in selling 15 minutes
of their lunch time. Our teachers have one hour before and 45 minutes after
school for their prep period. It kind of comes with the territory. I don’t know
what the contract says, other than they are allowed a 30 minute duty-free lunch.
On the other hand, I am a pastor in my other life. I don’t get paid for “extra
duty,” for hospital visits, pre-marriage counseling or funeral counseling for
members (non-members are a different story). I don’t get paid for all the extra
meetings I attend, preparation for those meetings, or preparing my sermons; nor
do I get paid for all the resources I buy to or access to get those things
accomplished.As a school secretary, I don’t get paid for the cell phone I often use to
contact my principal when she is at meetings and we have a crisis, for attending
planning meetings during the summer that affect my life as the school secretary,
for the bulletin boards I do, or the art projects I design for our reward time,
or for all the research I do at night and on weekends to find ways to benefit
our kids. I don’t know if teachers “should” have to do duty or not, but if they — who
know the kids best — don’t do it, who are we going to pay to do it?                 Jan

Not all duty is created equal. Some is air-conditioned, while others bake in the hot Texas sun. Some call for you to see 10-15 students, while others have you watching an entire gym or cafeteria of children. If I made one suggestion about duty to administrators, it would be to rotate duties. Five long, long years of watching kids pick the crust off their bread, mix milk with their orange juice and slurp cereal is more than ample for me. I’d gladly trade this AC’ed job for one outdoors.

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You know that old adage that just when you think you have it bad, you look at someone else’s situation and realize you have it pretty good? This blog was one of those cases for me. I loathe duty. I hate getting there earlier than normal. I hate that afternoon duty crosses over into my gym time. I begrudge that fact that I have to give up time to plan, clean and grade to watch young adults who should be able to control themselves. Or at least I did.

Now that I have seen that, as they say, the grass isn’t always greener, it’s not as difficult for me to give 1 hour each week (30 minutes each duty). I have a free lunch period of 30 minutes and no recess duty. Granted, we don’t get paid extra, but as Jan pointed out above, quite a few jobs come with extras that aren’t compensated.

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The truth of the matter is, we are there to make sure the kids are safe. We want them to have food, shelter, enjoy a bully free environment, and have time to see us for tutoring, questions or just to talk. We don’t want them to be hit by a bus or a car, and if someone choked on a chicken nugget, we want to make sure they cough it up and breath.

So, no. Duty is not fun. Sometimes is not enjoyable. It is, however, necessary.

Do you Duty?

I wanted to talk about another teacher hot button topic: duty.

Before I do so, however, I am taking a poll to get a general feel of how everyone else functions. For those non-teachers, duty can be extra work around the school either before or after normal contract hours, and/or, during the day in place of an off period or a break. Generally, in my neck of the woods, it is not optional and receives no extra compensation.

Feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts on the subject, how your school applies the process, if it works/doesn’t, etc. I’m withholding my thoughts for the moment so I can hear some of yours.

Please take the poll and look out for my new blog on this topic coming soon! Thanks!

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http://poll.fm/f/4dty7

The ‘Perfect’ Way to Work and Still Maintain Your Home Without Going Nuts

I grew up in a world of self-imposed perfection. If I didn’t dress perfectly, make perfect grades, have perfect friends and act with utter perfection, I believed I was a horrible human being. What I really did was drive myself perfectly nuts trying to be all things to all people at all times. It was all in my perception.

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As I aged, this need for perfection carried over to my household duties and chores until, one day, while on my hands and knees in the corner with a toothbrush and a cotton swab, I suddenly realized that this behavior was going to be the death of me through stress. I worked hard enough during the week and, gosh darn it, my house could be imperfect and the world would keep on revolving. The bed could be unmade, the coffee cup in the sink unwashed, and the front porch not swept and it would be OKAY. No one was coming to take me away to cleaning rehab, or to scoff at my towel hanging in the bathroom to dry.

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When I ask my coworkers now if they have seen a certain movie, or went to a certain event, or were able to go to vacation to a certain place, they all tell me they don’t have time. “How”, they ask, “are you able to do all those things?” Well, I’ll tell you. I created a formula, because I am a Science teacher after all and formulas are some of what I do, and it goes like this:

Pre-planning and forethought + daily dedication = More free time

Below is the formula in action. I have used it and it WORKS. You can adjust as needed to fit your home. I have found that if I spend 30-45 minutes per day doing one room really, really well, I don’t spend my weekend or free time trying to meet /fight/ satisfy / avoid my need for things to be perfect (it’s always a battle with myself). I also have more time in the evenings to rest and get ready for the next day.

I decided to post this, as school begins for me tomorrow, in hopes that it may help someone who feels overwhelmed, and, to help remind me that the larger picture of life isn’t based on whether or not you can eat off my floors [which you can’t]: It’s based on how I’m able to touch lives through education and maintain love and devotion to my family. Have a great week and remember to look for the sunny side!

**Disclaimer: These photos are not of my actual home. They are what I would love to have, but as we all know, teachers don’t choose the profession for the $. My swimming pool is a blow up and my slip and slide is a string of black garbage bags, so don’t be hatin’. 🙂

Every day

1 load of laundry washed, folded, put away

Dishes washed

Sift Cat litter (unless you don’t have a cat, then this would be pointless) 🙂

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Monday: Bathroom

Toilet inside and out

Bathtub

Sink

 baseboard

 Dust

Sweep/Vacuum

Floors by Hand

 Straighten cabinets

 Wash all rugs

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Tuesday: Bedroom

Change linens

Dust

 baseboard

 Sweep/Vacuum

 Floors by hand

Wash all rugs and dog beds

Straighten Closet

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Wednesday: Living Room

Dust

Wash all cushions and dog beds

baseboard

Sweep/Vacuum

Floors by Hand

Windowsills cleaned

Clean front door window

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Thursday: Dining Room

Dust

Window sills cleaned

baseboard

Sweep/Vacuum

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Friday: Kitchen

Cabinets wiped

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Empty Refrigerator

Clean Vent-a-hood and oven top

 Sweep/Vacuum

 Floors by hand

Straighten cabinetsmodern-kitchen-decor-vintage-style-1

Saturday: Yard and laundry room

Mow and weed as needed

Clean front porch

Sweep deck

Recycling

Sweep/vacuum

Floors by hand

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Sunday: Pay Bills and Rest

Garbage put out

Checkbook updated

Go to church, relax, spend time with family

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Things Every New Teacher Should Know

Looking back at my first day of teaching, I have to think, oh, little naïve one, so full of ideas and hopes. How dashed you will be when you realize that teaching isn’t always the makings of a movie script. I pat my own head in my mind.

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If I were to offer new teacher any advice, it would be as follows:

1) Running your own classroom is nothing like what you see in the movies. Students are not going to file in your room, stand upon their desks and utter ‘Oh Captain, My Captain!’ ala ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ style.  After a month, they are not going to play your Opus, Mr. Holland. You might be lucky if you get a ‘To Sir, With Love’ mug at the end of the year. These movies and all those about teaching such as ‘Dangerous Minds’ and ‘Stand and Deliver’ are fantastic and uplifting. They show what CAN happen in some classrooms with the right teachers and the students who respond. However, they are not the status quo and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you feel a day isn’t notable.  You will have some amazing days, where you go home and feel that you made a difference and all is right with the world. Just be prepared that some days, you’d like to crawl under a rock instead.

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2. Be prepared for anything, like a Boy Scout. We joke where I work that the only consistency we have is inconsistency.  Don’t invest so much emotional time into an activity that you can’t change or move it at a moment’s notice.  For example, I was the dance team sponsor for a while and we were to have a Pep Rally on Thursday.  The day of the planned rally, it was cancelled and rescheduled for the following week.  Annoying? Yes.  Was I mad? You betcha, but that’s just what happens sometimes. Same thing for tests. You can plan a test and have review sheets distributed and then, on the day of the test, you have a fire drill or an evacuation. You have to be able to pick back up where you left off without thinking that ‘everything is ruined now!’ Sob!

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3. Sometimes your best laid plans, don’t work, at all. Ask for help.  When I started teaching, I used a poker chip system to reward behavior. Good behavior = chip, bad behavior = I take a chip. Problem? The kids stole the chips. They wrote on them. They brought some from home to try to fool me.  I had to change my approach after a few trials, admit that this idea stunk, and find something new.  You will find what works for you through trial and error.  Ask other teachers what they do for bathroom passes, behavior issues, homework, etc. and they will be happy to tell you what’s worked for them. Don’t use something that clearly isn’t effective because you don’t want to ask for help. Also, don’t use my chip idea. Pain in the butt.

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4. Make friends with the custodians. These folks know all, see all, hear all. They know where extra desks are located, where paint can be found to fix the door chips, and they have the carts and buggies to haul around your heavy stuff.  Search out the one in your building, introduce yourself, and always be nice. Your floors might end up a little shinier.

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5. Stay away from the front office. Some people may disagree with me on this one, stating that the people there are willing to help you and that they’re there for you! Not that front office folk can’t be friendly, but they have their own things to do. They probably don’t have time to hear your concerns on the bathrooms, or how little Johnny won’t stop talking.  Many of them are busy fielding parent requests, completing invoices, making phone calls about absentees, dealing with a kid that brought drugs to school, etc. It’s not that your concerns aren’t important. The thing is, if you can talk them over with someone else, like a department head, that would probably be a better idea than becoming a fixture next to the Assistant Principal’s office.

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6. If at all possible, get yourself a classroom refrigerator to store your food if your District allows it. Lunch at my school was once pretty good. Then, with recent government changes in nutrition requirements, I would rather eat a stale biscuit half gnawed on by vicious garden gnome.  Some schools have catering (not that I’m all that jealous…well, maybe a little…okay a lot) and I hear the teacher meals are decent. Ask other teachers and see what the consensus is. We used to celebrate Fish Stick Fridays with Facebook invites because we so looked forward to the Mac & Cheese and Broccoli salad. Those days are gone and this past year, because I’d not yet bought a refrigerator, I ate Nutella straight out of the jar for a week for lunch.  A little Nutella goes a long way. (My friends would say I just uttered blasphemy).

737926p7.  Have back ups of your back ups. Always keep your lessons and lesson plans backed up. You never know when your District will get a virus. I’ve had one twice in 6 years and had I not had a copy of everything on my home computer, I would have been hiding in the closet, crying and mumbling incoherently.  Invest in one or two memory sticks and always try at least once a month to back up any files you worked on. Better safe than sorry. memory-card68. Don’t allow other teachers to overwhelm you. They mean well, but sometimes they might try and share everything they’ve collected in 25 years with you in 1 day. Take the information, put it to the side, and look through it when you have time. Remember, you will find your own groove and way of doing things. Not one teacher is the same and therefore, not one teacher teaches exactly the same.  Take a deep breath, perhaps drink some wine like my coworkers do (one said she drank straight out of the box in the bathroom at home and cried after a hard day), and remember, every day is a new day and you can make it if you take baby steps.

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9. Some of your students will never like you. Accept it. Do you like every single person you’ve ever met? Then why expect every single students to like you and your class? You could have done nothing wrong, have always been friendly and they still won’t like you. They may have come in with preconceptions about you based on a person they know who knows a person who knows a person who went to school with you, etc.  They may not care for your discipline, call your class dumb, or just not be interested in your subject area. This doesn’t make you a bad teacher. You have to think of all the students who DO like you, who DO like coming to your class and who ARE involved in the learning. It’s hard to accept sometimes, but occasionally, those kids who you thought never liked you will see you in town years later, and tell you how much they enjoyed your class. Weird.

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10. When you have a chance to go to a state or national conference, GO! You will get some great ideas, meet other people in your field, be able to discuss concerns with testing, etc. and earn credits for your license at the same time. I once went to the National Convention for Science in New Orleans, and my coworker, who loved Bill Nye, found out he was the guest speaker and kept chasing him around yelling ‘Bill Nye! Bill Nye!’. Good times.

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11. Every time you see a sale on school supplies, it never hurts to throw a couple of extra things in your basket. Yes, we don’t get paid a lot to teach. Yes, we have our own families to care for. The kids you will teach, however, will also become an extended part of your life, and you will think of them as ‘my kids’. As you know, some kids can’t afford an extra box of crayons, or a zipper bag when theirs breaks.  Sure, they have some access to supplies at the beginning of the year through some school programs, but once those are gone, should they be left with nothing? The first time you have to watch a kid color with map pencils that are so short they can no longer be sharpened, and you know from having them in class that they have no money and are on free lunches, will be the last time you second guess yourself about throwing a box of map pencils for $.99 in your buggy. You don’t do it for the money, and if you have a little to use in this way, it will bless someone, and bless you in return.

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I could go on and on about advice I would give, and might even have to make this a two-part post. Remember, it’s about you finding your mojo and using your special gifts to inspire and teach the leaders of tomorrow. Smile and be happy this week!

6 People You Will Work With in Your Lifetime

Now we all have those special co-workers who have helped shape us.  They are our mentors, in many cases our friends, and sometimes become our second family. This post is not about those people. It’s about The Others. My co-workers are I were discussing the other day how new hires reminded us of some employees that had come and gone in the past, and I started wondering: Is there a list that I could create of types of people I have experienced throughout my employment history? Turns out, there is.

The Mole

(AKA The Behind Kisser, AKA Anything To Get Ahead, AKA The Backstabber, AKA Why Are They In The Front Office Again?)

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Identifying Attributes:  Everyone acquaintance, but nobody’s friend: The people they report to don’t even like them.  Always seems to show up when whispering begins.  You check your room/office/cubicle for listening devices because you just KNOW that they’re looking for something to report.  When sighted, everyone scatters like mice in a lit kitchen.  They ‘bait you’ to see what you’ll say, for example, “What do you think of this new dress code?”.  They are the first people you warn new hires about.

Pollyanna

(AKA Practically Perfect In Every Way, AKA The Pet)

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Identifying Attributes:  Usually lack a backbone of any kind. Allow upper management to treat them like a doormat because they will never, ever stand up for themselves.  Always gets the best assignments, duties, and jobs with a dutiful pat on the head.  Afraid to express opinions, try new things or go out on a limb because they might get into trouble and offend someone.  Deer and other wildlife flock to them as they sing in the parking lot. Super annoying.

The Hoarder

(AKA That’s Mine Even If It Isn’t, AKA Her Room Gives Me Panic Attacks, AKA Her Room Is A Fire Hazard)

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Identifying Attributes:  They still have ‘How To’ manuals for computer software from 1986.  They dig through things you’ve put out for custodians to take away. Anything they encounter in their environment becomes theirs, even if it has YOUR name on it.  At last count, they had roughly 2,000 assorted pencils and pens, yet refuse to loan any.  You never eat any food they bring to office parties.

The Critic

(AKA Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better, AKA Show Off, AKA Know It All)

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Identifying Attributes: Love to say, “Well, when I did ________, I did it this way and it worked”.  You could find a cure for a disease and they will tell you that they knew about that cure first, but just didn’t report it.  They belittle anything you say and try to do. They LOVE to prove people wrong and will spend business time doing research to do just that.  They argue with professionals, co-workers, children, plants, inanimate objects, etc.  By the time they’re done with you, you feel as effective/useful a person as half a bra.

The Underachiever

(AKA The Slob, AKA Are They Asleep?!, AKA No, You Can’t Borrow My Lesson Again.)

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Identifying Attributes: The last person in the parking lot in the morning and the first gone in the afternoon. They get paid the same as you, but do 100% less.  They sneak into a meeting and sign in during the last 10 minutes whereas you’ve sat there an hour.  They eat your food out of the common refrigerator.  They usually come in with a hangover, dark sunglasses, and a stamp on their hand.  You have no idea why they still work there.

The Needy Whiner

(AKA Why? Why? AKA It’s Not Fair, AKA Everyone Is Picking On Me, AKA Negative Nellie)

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Identifying Attributes: Thinks the whole world is against them, and that receiving an assignment, student, etc. is a punishment from God.  They make every conversation about them and their problems.  They don’t want help. They just want to complain.  When you ask them how they’re doing, they tell you terrible and begin to list all their trials and tribulations. They are the most miserable people to be around. Listening to their stories makes you want to stab out your eardrums with chopsticks.

Grime of Students Past

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Many, many thanks for all the great responses I’ve received since starting my blog. I wish I could respond to everyone, so here’s me (ME) giving you (YOU) a big thumbs up!

One of my favorite teachers left to join another District recently, and as I looked at her empty room today, I remember the fun we had making our own cleaning supplies last year.

Why did we do this? For several reasons:

1. We wanted to know what was in it,

2. We’re Science Teachers and we like mixing stuff,

3. It seemed like fun, and

4. To save moolah.

For those who don’t know, moolah has nothing to do with cattle, unless you’re selling the cattle, in which case, you’ll be making moolah from your moos. Maybe you could call it a Cash Cow. 🙂

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Anywho, as I begin to work on my classroom this week, (having finally gotten into the building – who waits until 2 days before Meet the Teacher to wax the floors?!),  I am reminded that I need to make a new batch of laundry detergent.  I am convinced my classroom is holding grime from the ghosts of students past and after today,  I’m wearing most of it.

Side note* Anyone else ever develop sinus problems after returning to work at school? It could be the single paned windows with decorative green slime that’s letting in allergens,  or maybe the collection of dust badgers (bigger than bunnies) on top of my storage cabinet.  Regardless, I mean for at least my clothes to be clean while I’m sniffing and snotting at Meet The Teacher Day.

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Frank, The Little Known Dust Badger

I have played around with different formulas, and I like this one best. You will need:

1 bar Fels Naptha (I never even knew this stuff existed until I looked for it on the laundry aisle)

1 bar Zote (I get mine from Lehmans.com, but Castille bar soap also works. Someone told me that they have it at Target aka The Evil Store where I spend too much moolah).

1 container OxyClean or, in my case, Dirty Jobs brand. (It was $4.99, $2 cheaper than Oxyclean, and I had a $1 coupon for it. I am a Coupon Ninja).

1 box Borax ( You can also use Washing Soda that is located next to the Fels Naptha that you never knew existed)

Optional: 1 container of Downy Pearls, Purex Beads, etc. for smell factor.

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I like things that are easy to make. I take a clean cat litter container (Tidy Cat works pretty well with a snap on lid), grate the bar soaps using a small grater, throw everything else in, FIRMLY put the lid on (I wouldn’t mention it if I hadn’t, cough, not done that once), and shake away.

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It takes only half a scoop, or if you’re really grimy, like on the day I clean gum from under the desks, use a full scoop.

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Pretty Detergent

I’m off to wash some clothes now and I wish each of a happy and stress free first week of In-service, Professional Development, Planning or Cleaning.

Remember, always look for the sunny side: Even if it’s runny, it’s there!