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Girl fight.

So many students fight–they fight one another, threaten, humiliate, and harm.


Why this false bravado, machismo, and aggression? And, unfortunately, girls are equally guilty of bullying, coercion and mayhem.

Perhaps they don’t have any control over their lives, so they create control by chaos.

But–really, whatever the excuses are, I just don’t get it. I cherish my friends, and avoid my dissenters. Life’s too short to fight over slights, rumors, and drama. Save the drama for your mama, llamas.

Let’s be friends.


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This is how I used to look.
This is how I used to look.

How much confrontation should a teacher engage? Do we do the Queen Victoria thing, the “We are not amused” blank look? Or, do we get in there and mix it up a little, regressing to our former adolescent selves?

I know the mature answer is to pull a Queen Victoria, but when I have a student, a child, who is on their own emotional tailspin path spiraling toward destruction, in that moment, I go more Queen of Hearts than Victoria, and in that battle–no one wins.

And what are the spoils of war, the boons, that I am seeking? What do I want to get out of a confrontation? Do I secretly think the student will stop the tantrum, turn to me and say, “Gee, Mrs. L. You’re right! You are so wise, kind, and insightful–you have changed my life!” (Cue angelic halo…music swells, cheers from the other observing students, watching the melee, off shore through heavy lenses.)

There is not a teacher out there who has not had some form of confrontation with a student, no matter the age. I’ve heard that has students grow older, into high school, the confrontations decrease significantly. I’m sure there are many factors, including just a hefty dash of time and maturity. Maybe they don’t see teachers so much as an extension of their parents, as adversaries.

In any case, these tussles get me down, wear me down. I guess I’d better grow up.

This is how I look now.
This is how I look now.
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Conception: the birth of an idea, an understanding:




So, it would stand to reason, that the word “misconception” means a wrong idea.

The other day, a very curious and inquisitive student asked me, during a quiet moment in the library, “Would we die if we run out of oil, because our bodies need it?”


I didn’t even know where to begin to unravel this one. Somewhere along the way of his journey between two cultures and two languages, he got the notion that somehow humans had OIL, as in fossil fuels, dinosaur guts, T-Rex juice, in their bodies, and that when it ran out, we would die as a species. I know this is what he thought, because I clarified at least this much.

I said no, humans would not die per se if oil runs out. What would happen is our cars, trucks, and other forms of transportation would cease to run as they are engineered now. He then said something about plastics…are we plastic?

No. We are not plastic. We will not die if we run out of oil. If anything, we might go back to horse and buggy days.

Really? Wow.

So much of teaching has nothing to do with ‘teaching.’ It has nothing to do with meetings, no child left behind, state tests, data, or whether or not they have a pencil. Teaching is in those moments where the misconceptions are revealed, the background knowledge steered, and the conversation is safe, and no one is  made to feel stupid.

But I still ask, how did this young man, who is bright, come to think that humans have oil in their bodies?

How does this happen? Perhaps if we explore these questions in our tough, “fire all the teachers” current state of education, we should just stop for a moment, and have a little time to just read. To talk. To think.

To clear up misunderstandings.

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ASL Door

Okay, I admit; this feels a little like cheating.

Every new post Mr. Spenser writes, I read. He teaches basically the same content I do, and the same kinds of kids. When I read some success, or struggle, he’s had, it helps me reflect and think about what’s working, or not, in our classroom.

So, the cheating part comes when I read one of his posts, and I want you to read it, too, word for word:

See, I know you, my students, can have these great discussions, too. I know there’s more to you than superficial posturing. I know you have a  lot on your mind.

So–when we have an entry task, I will remind you again:

Let yourself think, and let others think. Like Mr. Spenser said, thinking doesn’t always look like working, but if you’re talking to others and not allowing them to think/work, then you’re not working. You know who you are.

When you are thinking, write it. The connections happen when we talk about our thoughts. We always do. There is hardly a moment when we don’t share out our thoughts about the entry task question, or we don’t take it someplace for our learning.

I hate to see good brain cells go to waste.

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Spontaneous combustion.

I do not know where this came from. A student was talking to me today about the recent mythology narrative fiction assignment, which lead to a discussion about other deities and the suppositions we humans make about their godly decisions and actions.

Basically, the student said something to the effect, “Mrs. L, why do you want to keep living? You have everything you want.”

I guess from a 14-year-old’s perspective, I do. I have a wonderful, handsome, loving husband, two great kids, and a job I love. I wake up everyday thinking how lucky I am to get paid to read and write, and work with some fresh, original minds, mine for the molding!

So what else do I need to do with the rest of my life?

Good question, kiddo. I’ll get back to you.