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The social skill of the week was “Asking Permission.” My seventh graders were writing about an experience that had involved their use of this skill. The room was quiet as they filled out their index cards and as I prepared for the day’s lesson.

I looked up and scanned the room. Everybody was on task. Except Ivan. The squirrely boy was on all fours, crawling on the floor between desks.

“Ivan!” I bellowed. “What are you doing?”

“I’m looking for my pencil,” he replied with a giggle.

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Posted by on in General

Before you are permitted to make any disparaging remarks about teachers, you must first meet each of the expectations listed below:

You will be my substitute for the day. Just you. All day.

You must arrive at my classroom no later than 7:55 a.m. Children will be arriving at that time. Open the door and let them in. Make sure that they are getting their free breakfast as you also watch to make sure that they are getting ready for their first class of the day and not running around the room. At the same time, stand at the door and monitor the flow of students to other classes as they proceed through the hallway.

You may use my lesson plans if you like. Please be aware that the copier has been down for most of the week. Likewise, the Smart Board has had issues and the student laptops have been severely limited due to poor Wi-Fi. You may have to “monitor and adjust,” as we teachers like to say. At all times, however, you must adhere to the State Standards as stated and meticulously described within the three-inch binder next to my desk.

Please refrain from using your cellphone in class. Do not make doctor appointments or other arrangements during the school day. These must be scheduled for after school times.

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Posted by on in General

Seventh Grade Afternoon, Act I:

My fourth hour class is finally settled. Finally. Three phone calls for sick, hurt and suspended students, their books, and their backpacks to be sent to the office. Hormones raging, voices raising, pencils sharpened, restroom needs taken care of, and journals slowly finding their way to desk tops. I am launching into the vocabulary for the day and have just flicked from the first to the second slide of my PowerPoint presentation.

And the phone rings.

"Ramsey's Crazy House," I announce with a hint of frustration.

"Um, yeah. This is Lisa from XYZ Publishing," a young voice chirps.

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Posted by on in General

mama bear

It was the end of a long day of school...or so I thought. Already 4:45, and everyone had left for home except for me and Valerie, our school secretary. I was putting the finishing touches on the slew of reports scattered about my desk. Valerie worked on her own projects behind the counter, right outside of my office. I had just called my wife to let her know that I was planning on leaving by five.

The front door swung open, and a thirty-something woman began bellowing at the top of her lungs, "What is wrong with this school? I want to see the principal!"

Valerie, ever so calm and professional, ignored the angry outburst and quietly asked, "May I help you?"

"You the principal?" hollered the woman as her husband and two boys stood timidly behind her.

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Posted by on in General


The black fog arrived early this year. In years past, it had begun swirling above my head some time in May. But here it was, a month before Spring Break, and it was already hovering over me with its tendrils reaching menacingly toward my skull. In but a few moments, it had invaded my brain, darkened my heart, and smothered my soul.

It was only February.

Anxiety awoke me nightly and filled me with self-doubt, worry, and fear. Adrenaline coursed through my bloodstream, jolting every single cell from its slumber. My pulse raced and despair left me exhausted and sweating despite the fact that I was rendered motionless, unable to flee.

Every thought in my head was about school:

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