switching roles

Yesterday was a particularly rough day, and one of my students picked up on my bad mood and remarked, "Ms. Parton, you need to chill out." I sighed and said, "I know, but you should try being in my shoes for a day - then you might understand my frustration." He perked up and said, "I'll teach class tomorrow!"

I don't think he ever imagined that I'd agree to it.

When I told him I thought that was an excellent idea, he grew slightly wary. I told him I would even be a student, and he could be my teacher as well. I told him during his period, he could even call me "Rachel." The only things he would not be allowed to do were anything involving other students' grades and swearing at students. He was extremely excited about the chance to boss me around, until I said, "Yep! I'll be just like every other student tomorrow!" Apparently he reflected upon his classmates behavior, because toward the end of the day, he came running into my class to tell me he didn't want to do it anymore. I smiled and reassured him that he would do a great job, which seemed to pacify him.

This morning, I packed my Detroit Tigers baseball cap, in the event that he actually wanted to go through with it. We had an awards ceremony during 2nd period, and I caught him by the door before he slipped out. I asked him where he was going, and he answered, "Man, I was gonna go home, cuz next period is about to be hectic!" I smiled and reassured him that he would do a great job, which seemed again to pacify him.

As third period started, I wrote on the board, "Guest Teacher - Mr. ________" just as my man walked through the door. He laughed and rolled his eyes, but was quick to put his jacket on the back of my chair and take a seat at my desk. I ran out the door to the bathroom and put on my baseball cap, and returned with quite the swagger, pausing to stand in the door and talk to the teacher next door for awhile, telling her exactly what was going on in my classroom. There was some confusion when I entered the classroom, students asking me, "Ms. Parton, are we doing work today?" My response? "Ask your teacher?" He came over to me and said, "Rachel, there are no hats allowed in school." To which I replied, "Man, everyone wears their hat! I'm grown! " By this time, my students had picked up on what was happening, and most of them were in stitches. Meanwhile, my poor student was trying to pass out our Raisin in the Sun reading packets and get the reading started, to no avail. I noticed that two of my males in the back had taken out a pack of cards, so I joined them at the back table and told them to teach me the game they were playing. At this point, my already worn out man plopped into the seat beside me and announced, "I quit." I laughed and gave him a hard time, took off my hat and ordered the gentlemen to put the cards away. Class resumed rather smoothly after that point, I must say.
I'm only disappointed that he didn't last long enough for me to take out my cell phone and call Doug in the middle of class...


giving thanks.

What a wonderful Thanksgiving! Doug & I went home to NY and spent a blissfully relaxing time with my favorite people on earth. Sadly, we did not take any family pictures. I did take some pictures of the snow that we got.

Some things I am thankful for:
-Jesus Christ, for more than I could ever begin to list.
-My incredible, loving husband
-My precious family
-My amazing friends
-A job, which keeps me entertained & challenged simlutaneously
-My students, who are teaching me probably more than I'm teaching them
-My health, my body & my mind
-My upbringing
-My education
-The prayers of family & friends
-Our apartment, a bed, blankets & pillows
-Clothing, especially jeans and shoes
-Cameras, to preserve memories
-Many, many other things... which I can't list in a little blog, mostly because right now, something else I'm very, very thankful for is...
-Sleep. :)


i love knowing there's no school tomorrow

I'm making progress with my room! Here is the picture I first took of my classroom in September:

And here it is now!
(I have no clue what to put on the white paper over the bulletin board - any ideas??)

Knowledge IS power.

Front board & my desk.
Some recent journal responses:
Question: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Response: "Famous, dead, or in jail. Or just maybe still in the streets working."
Question: Finish this thought and explain: "I wish I didn't have to..."
Response: "I wish I did not have to do some things to make money. I wish I could do some good things like find a job."
Question: Tell me something about yourself.
Response A: "Mrs. Parton I'm going to tell you that at the age of 16 yrs old I moved out and started living on my own. I now have to pay rent and pay bills. I know I'm not grown but I'm close enough."
Response B: "Well I like to talk on the phone and I got shot before in my back when I was nine. I like to shop for clothes and shoes"
Response C: "I'm recently pregnant but I don't know if I should keep the baby or not."
During my 6th period prep today, a student I didn't know knocked on my door, so I went to see what he needed. I opened the door and said, "How can I help you?" He said, "I need to tell you my problems. I'm gonna tell you my life story."
And he did. Beginning with his father being a crack dealer, to when he started stealing cars at age 12, to when he went to juvie for the first time at age 13, to this past Wednesday, when his older brother was shot and killed... right up to last night when his other older brother was shot and killed. "Two brothers in one week... I cried so much I got no tears left. I just had to talk to somebody or I thought I was gonna explode. I'm gonna come talk to you whenever I get thinkin' about it too much."
A security guard came in, wondering why there was a student sitting in front of my desk with his feet propped up on my desk, and when he asked, "I just needed to talk to someone! I can't talk to anyone else - she's the only one I can trust."
Maybe there is a reason I'm at this school...
Home tomorrow!!


typical monday...

A few new experiences today...

1. I got asked on a date by one of my students! There is one student who always comes into my class during my prep period to get his work - he never comes to class, he just does his work, then goes home. Anyway, so today he does his work, like usual, then as he's leaving, he says to me, "So, what are you doing tonight around 6?" To which I replied, "Probably eating dinner with my husband by that time." He answered, "Dang, I was going to see if you wanted to eat with me."

2. A student brought a dead & stuffed mink thing and was flailing it around the hallway, then decided to come and brandish it in my face. That was fun.

3. A student who hasn't been to my class since the very first week finally came back... and tried to light one of my desks on fire! Thankfully I saw him as soon as he first flicked the lighter and gave him quite the teacher voice & glare reprimand, and ... he actually listened.


reflections on a 3-day weekend

I love my 3-day weekends!
Yesterday I got up early & saw my hubby off to work, then went to the gym & gave my muscles some much needed exercise.
Yesterday I discovered that Starbucks will make Peppermint Mocha Frappucinos (ala a self-proclaimed "Frappucino King")- sweet bliss.
Yesterday I went to lunch with my friend Sara and enjoyed piping hot chicken noodle soup & laughter.
Yesterday I made more vintage ornaments.

Today I slept in until 9:30!!
Today I went to Salvation Army with Doug & bought fun things.
Today I met up with my dear friend Jeanette & shared teacher talk & more laughter.
Today I took the scenic route home in the rain listening to soft music and contemplating the late, lingering stages of autumn.
Today I did laundry with my husband and laughed some more.
Today I watched Stranger Than Fiction and was pleasantly surprised & moved.
Today I had an ice cream sundae.
Today I officially became a licensed teacher in the state of Michigan.

Tomorrow is undiscovered...


mary, don't let my mom read this post...

Well, LCA made local news last night! (Unfortunately, I missed it.)
Yesterday afternoon, I was getting ready to go downstairs during my prep period to meet with our school administrator to have my gradebook reviewed. I decided to use the bathroom first, but our upstairs staff bathroom had no toilet paper, so I ran downstairs. While I was in the downstairs bathroom, I started hearing a lot of scuffling upstairs, then a lot of yelling, then running feet... and before I knew it, the whole school was erupting.
Apparently, one of our students was robbed at gunpoint by a man from the neighborhood, and other students found out quickly, parents started calling, etc. Then, at the same time, in one of the classroom upstairs, a girl and boy got in a fight, and the boy threw a chair at the girl, her friends jumped him, his friends joined in... thus, the eruption.
Our security guards were doing their best to contain the masses, but it was chaos. I was in the office making copies when someone said that the cops had arrived... I looked out the window shortly after and there were at least 30 police cars surrounding the school - the whole street was shut down.
The police sent all the students home around 1:30, and the teachers convened afterwards for about 2 hours.
Today was very quiet. Attendance was lower than normal, even for Thursdays. There was minimal conversation about what happened yesterday, which was pleasing. I think most of the instigators were either apprehended or didn't bother returning today. I'm just glad that next week we only have 2 days of school!! Well, 3, but I took Wednesday off. :)

A couple days ago, my journal question was, "What qualities make a good friend?" I had at least a dozen students tell me they couldn't answer the question because they don't have "friends," just "associates." Rather depressing. The number one answer was "TRUST," followed closely by "HONESTY," and coming in third, "someone who sticks with you through THICK AND THIN." One, however, said this: "When you first meet a person they want to fight with you to see if you can fight before you become cool or best friends." The first time I read it, I laughed out loud. Then I re-read it a few times and was brought to tears.

Marci Stanley and John Williams stopped by the school on Tuesday with BOOKS!! I now have 2 classroom sets of real, brand new novels. Very exciting!

I received a call earlier this week to interview at a high school in Clawson, MI, but I am turning it down tomorrow. I just feel like God has really altered my attitude toward the school and the students, especially in the past week and a half. Every day is still a struggle, and I still get frustrated, but I've noticed a difference in my attitude overall. I know that there are a lot of people praying for me and my students and our school, and I know I have been called to this school and these students. Plus, I do experiencing tiny moments of success. Like in 8th period today, when for about 2 minutes, while I was explaining some questions about our reading, not one single student was talking and they were ALL looking at me, paying attention. Baby steps... baby steps.


Please RSVP... with medical records.

Today I overheard two female students discussing an upcoming party/concert. One of these girls was a little hesitant to attend, and provided the following explanation:
"I'm not going to that party! There are boys going with AIDS!"


girl weekend

I just spent an estrogen-laden weekend in a huge house in Traverse City with 14 teenage girls.
It was actually a lot of fun. Our senior high youth group had their Girls/Boys retreat this morning, so Doug & I spent our first weekend apart. While we girls were crafting & eating & giggling in Traverse City, the boys were belching & eating & watching/playing tackle football in a cabin in Cadillac. Oh, and breaking collarbones. Fortunately, the broken collarbone did not belong to my husband.

It was a wonderful weekend. The farmland around Traverse City is beautiful, and the town itself is adorable. Too bad it's almost 5 hours away. So, the house we stayed at was IN-credible. It had 18 beds in 14 bedrooms. A retired couple built this house so their 5 children and their families could all come stay there over the summer. During the winter, they "rent" the house to different church groups for a mere $75 a night. I was thinking the whole Bannister clan should plan a week there! It's right on the lake... absolutely beautiful up there.

I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week!! So excited to come home again & have family time. And possibly some Tea Time with Barbara & Paula...


lifelong learner?

Some new experiences today!

1. I saw a gun-shot wound! Pretty awesome. It was in a student's arm, yet there was no exit wound. He obviously didn't want to get into the story, and I didn't really want to hear it (well, actually, the nosy half of my brain was going nuts). It basically looked like someone had tried to chop his arm off with a machete. Apparently, counting both internal and external, there are over 60 stitches. He also has to wear a cast to keep his wrist bent forward to avoid tearing the stitches. Ouch.

2. During 7th period, a student in the room next to mine set a table on fire! Smelled pretty awful, and the cops came to investigate. Exciting!


falling back...

Apparently Doug & I have a little to learn about "falling back."

Last night, before going to bed, we changed our clocks, very proud that we had remembered. We knew at that moment that we were truly entering responsible adulthood.

This morning, my alarm went off, and I knew that I needed to get up to get ready for church, but I was ridiculously tired, so I simply hit snooze. After repeating this cycle a few times, I looked at the clock and saw that it was already 9:30!! I couldn't believe how tired I was, since I usually wake up around 8:00, even without an alarm. I said to my darling husband, "Looks like we're not going to church today, huh?" We both agreed that we would just have a relaxed morning and listen to a Rob Bell sermon/podcast, rather than rush around trying to get to church within 30 minutes.

So, I enjoyed a long, leisurely shower, and then while Doug was showering, I decided to make waffles. By this time, it was about 10:45. Suddenly, in the middle of my whisking, I heard the alarm on our cell going off. It was then that I remembered we had additionally set our cell phone alarm the night before. It was then that I also remembered that we had set that alarm for 8:45am. Which could only mean one thing. Yes, dear readers, we had set our clocks in the wrong direction, thereby robbing ourselves of not just one, but two precious hours of sleep...

But at least we had ample time to get ready for church!

A typical Sunday afternoon for us:

Doug, faithfully watching the Lions, while I work on various crafts.
Aren't we adorable?!


miracle of miracles!!!!!!

Just got an email from John Williams (the SAU professor, not the composer):

"Hey Rachel,
We have 26 No Fear Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet and 26 To Kill a Mockingbird. Marci & I would like to visit your school and bring them to you. "



tricks, no treats.

First of all, I want to share with the world just how talented my dad is:

Carving & photo courtesy of ole Poppa bear.

Second, I am dismayed to report that last night we had ZERO trick-or-treaters! How disappointing! I did everything right - I left the lights on, I decorated our front stairway and left that light on, I put up a cute sign welcoming trickers & treaters... all to no avail. What is this world coming to!?

Third, this week of teaching was - I almost don't dare voice this miniscule glimmer of hope -almost encouraging. I'm nervous even writing that because it seems any time I admit to any optimism, we suffer an alarming regression. But it remains - the tiny seed of hope deep within my heart!

Some pet peeves:
1. When people neglect to use their turn signals, especially when merging during the morning rush hour.
2. When people leave my classroom and don't shut the door.
3. Smacking and slurping noises while people are eating.

That's all for now.