10 Disjointed Thoughts and Reflections on the End of the Year and The Impending Summer

Saturday, May 31, 2014


I had every intention of writing up this really cool, powerful, funny end-of-year post.  But guess what? MY BRAIN DON’T WORK. 

So instead, I’m going to leave you with a list of thoughts.  Some are reflective thoughts about the end of the year; some are random bits of information from the most unvisited corners of my mind.  I apologize in advance.

1) People who do ANYTHING and teach at the same time are gods.  Holy cow.  These past few weeks, between teaching and grad school, I have been just barely able to keep my head above water, and grad school's not even a 24-hour gig.  How do some of you teach AND parent? Or teach AND coach AND parent? Or teach AND coach AND parent AND do grad school?

You must be aliens. Or robots.

It’s the only logical conclusion I can form.

2) One of the best feelings in the world is that last round of buying groceries for school breakfast/lunches.  Ahhhhh.  Goodbye, magma-temperature Lean Pockets; hello sourdough toast topped with avocado and an over-hard egg, all on a real plate, and with coffee in a pretty teacup that I shall sip daintily instead of sloshing down my gullet on my way to work.

3) If you have a job where you don’t have a summer off, just know that I wish you did. I think you deserve a summer off, too.  I’m running for president in 2016 on that platform alone. Vote for me. 

4) I am taking a little, tiny, mini hiatus from blogging/updating the next six weeks. First I’ll be on vacation, then I’ll be at another residency for grad school, and then I’ll be sleeping all day.  After that, let’s say July 12th, I’ll be back, rested, and ready to write up more stories about me accidentally projecting my own cleavage onto the board!

5) If you haven't finished up the year yet, you should make a First Day of School Video. I’m moving up with my students next year (WOOOOO!), but if I wasn’t, I would be working on interviewing my students for a First Day of School video I would show in September for my next batch of students.  I would ask my current students questions like:
  • What advice would you give to next year’s students?
  • What are some things I love to see in the classroom?
  • What are some things I can't stand?
  • What was the hardest part about my class this year?
  • What was the most fun thing we did this year?
  • What was the craziest thing you remember happening? 

And I would show the video on the first day of school and my new kids would say, “Wow, those guys and girls in that video have a great relationship with their teacher. I want that! I’ll think I’ll just start out the year doing exactly what she says, because that’s way easier than testing her boundaries until Thanksgiving.”

Hahahaha.  No. They won’t do that.  They will push your buttons like you’re an Xbox controller. But it would still be a fun video to show. A much better alternative to the standard paper syllabus, amiright?

6) Next year, I’ve decided to not fight the pencil battle anymore!  That's right. I'm going to give a pencil to any kid who needs it.  No collateral (which is what I do now), no asking why they made it all the way to last period without a pencil. Read this article by Chad Donohue; it’s what changed my mind. When I first read it I was like, “But that’s enabling! I want to teach my students responsibility!” But really, there are plenty of other ways for me to teach my students responsibility, and I don’t think this one small gesture will mean I’m enabling them.  Plus, the pencil issue drives me CRAZY, and I think it would drive me a lot less crazy than just having them available.

Also, do any of you have like $175 I can borrow? I want only Ticonderoga.  And a really amazing pencil sharpener.

7) You should read these books! I am not planning on reading any books this summer, as I will already have a MOUNTAIN of them for grad school.  But here are some awesome kid/YA books I’ve read this year for school/myself that you should put on your summer reading list! RIGHT NOW!

-The One and Only Ivan by K.A. Applegate- So sweet and beautifully written. I read it and then spent about four hours looking up information on gorillas.
-Wonder by R.J. Palacio- I could not recommend any children’s book higher. Seriously.
-The Julian Chapter by R.J. Palacio (companion book to Wonder)- After you read Wonder, you’ll DEFINITELY want to read this. It’s only on ebook though, so get yourself one of those newfangled contraptions (or borrow or steal one).
-Paper Towns by John Green- And also The Fault in Our Stars if you haven’t read it! 
-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak- Just pinky promise you’ll read it this summer?

8) THIS TIME TWO WEEKS FROM NOW I WILL BE IN LONDON!!!!!!!!!! I am so excited for tea, Antony and Cleopatra (at the Globe!), the English countryside, and to spend almost all the money I’ve made this year!

Also, there is a small chance they might not let me in the country because of an internship I was offered five years ago by a certain British publishing company that failed to provide me with proper paperwork.  In that case, I will come back from my hiatus with a lovely story for you about how deeply I enjoyed the detainment center at Heathrow.

9) Something exciting is coming this summer!!! But I’m not telling you what it is. Even if you pay me $50. (But maybe if you pay me $50 million.)

10) Thank you. Four years ago, I started this blog as a way to keep my mom and my friends up-to-date on the goings-on in my life as a teacher. I had no idea it would connect me with so many teacherfriends (and non-teacherfriends!), or that writing and hearing from you guys would make me feel so much less freakish and alone.  Those Sunday night panic attacks my first year of teaching seem like such a distant memory.  So thank you for reading and sharing your stories/selves with me. I think this quote from singer-songwriter Alanis Morisette does a good job of expressing my gratitude:

 “Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you.”

–Alanis Morisette, from her hit song, “Thank You”

Oh, and I think you’re beautiful.

See you July 12th J

All my love,



  1. I am glad I found your blog. I am about to end my first year as a teacher and I am grateful. Grateful I had this year and grateful it is over. I love your blog- I will always be a fan.

  2. You got a book deal, didn't you? That's always the big secret news on blogs.

  3. You remind me of Mindy Kaling. I think you two would be really good friends.

  4. Thank you! We went to London last November on a whirlwind visit: Can you see Westminster in an hour? Yes, you can. Do you want to? No. But we did. I know you'll have a loverly visit. If you ever get a chance, the most divine plan in England (that we've gone to) is Bath. So beautiful. Have a wonderful summer, teach!

  5. For your pencil delimma, donorschoose is an option if your school is a public school. If not, start begging. My friends have provided me with hundreds of pencils that they had hoarded during their school years. My family will buy a pack or two when they're on sale, and then give them to me on my visits. I buy a pack or two when there's a good sale. I managed not to run out of pencils this entire school year. (First time ever.) It's important to me to take away the "I don't have a pencil" excuse for not doing math in my classroom. I do make them ask for the pencil, not to shame them, but to teach them that asking for what you need is a necessary skill. Now, no more thinking about teaching. I'm on vacation. :)

  6. Oh, I laughed all the way through this!! Thanks for the mini-break from our end-of-the-year madness!!

  7. This post is hilarious. Happy summer to you from San Diego (where we still have two more weeks of school)! Wishes for a restful break and non-detainment.

  8. Thanks for your humor, love it. Enjoy your summer! :)

  9. :D Great post. Happy summer to you! Still have 3.5 days left...but who's counting?

    And YES to Ticonderoga. Why they gots to be so 'SPENSIVE??

  10. The "I don't have a pencil" excuse drove me crazy for 13 years until a teacher colleague suggested requiring every student to bring a box of 10 pencils in the start-up week. I did it this year and still have pencils left over. These were to be left in my room for use only in my class. I gave them a daily grade for "proficiency in personal management". Many didn't bring it but those who did provided enough for everyone. The conscientious students always came to class with supplies anyway. You are right, it was a simple solution that eliminated lots of altercations and frustration.

  11. The most awesome pencil sharpener ever - Classic Manual Pencil Sharpener. BLACK. Heavy Duty but Quiet for Office and Home Desks, School Classroom. Carl A-5 Angel, $27.

  12. Yep, I'm an only Ticonderoga kind of girl, too. I'm sure there's some way to fund your pencil situation! Have a super fun time on your trip, and yep, I bet it's a book deal! So cool!
    BigTime Literacy

  13. Yay summer!!!

    I am a robot. I taught full time middle school, went to grad school, and was a single parent. I can't say it didn't suck majorly. I also managed to graduate with straight A's.

    Looking back at that time I wish I would not have done all that at the same time. I had no choice. The raise I got didn't even help until 5 years later. I took my daughter on an amazing vacation. I owed her. Life was ROUGH.

    Anywho have fun on your vacation, collect pencils from every one you know, breathe and enjoy life.

    xxoo Monica

  14. Eek! The Globe? I'm a jealous English teacher, right here. Have a blast and I look forward to the stories!

  15. Last year I'm pretty sure I got pencils at the penny back to school sale at Staples. Along with pens, erasers, and some other good things. Right now I'm at a school where they have boxes of good pencils in the supply room. Nothing sharpens like a Ticonderoga. Only teachers know what I'm talking about-everyone else thinks it's nuts that I care so much.

  16. I have a pencil day the first school day of every month. Every student I each gets a new pencil that day. Yes it costs, but everyone usually has a pencil. Have a great vacation. I enjoy reading your blog, and I have been teaching 24 years. Thanks for the encouraging stories and humor.

  17. So glad I found your blog! Not much difference between elementary and middle school, from the looks of it...

    And let me say, I am SO glad I'm not the only one who thinks that teacher/parent/coaches must be androids!! I'm doing the grad school thing right now, too, and I feel like I'm barely keeping up!

  18. Just recently discovered your blog and love the inspiration. Travel is a wonderful way to end the school year, and convince my own children I really do love them best. Beat you to Antony and Cleopatra last night, and it was wonderful. Now we're off to Wales.....

  19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZdXcbq9Afw Best pencil sharpener, but there's a learning curve. My hubby and I both bought one this year, and they're still working! Don't do colored pencils in them, though. The Mirado Black Warrior pencils are great. Lead doesn't fall out.

  20. I've never taken collateral for pencils, and my students have gone through over 500/year, no joke (that I've paid for out of my own pocket, usually).

    Be prepared for the consequences of your actions!

  21. This is my all time favourite blog I've ever read, thank you for the hilarious insight into your life as a teacher. It's both inspiring, amusing, and overall amazing. Enjoy your vacation!

  22. I have only recently discovered your blog, but I love it! I teach 9th grade English and can relate to your stories in many, many ways. We all like to think that middle schoolers mature once they hit the big high school, but no. 9th graders are just middle school minds stuck in slightly bigger bodies. :) I hope you enjoy your time this summer and will be awaiting your return to blogging!

  23. I have gone through more than 300 pencils this year...and I don't care. I can't fight with kids over pencils, it is totally not worth the effort. PS. I make sure and order 400 or so pencils with my yearly school purchase orders.

  24. A) I am about to finish my first year teaching, and your blog has prevented and remedied many, many tearful episodes of self-pity.

    B) You can get 96 Ticonderoga pencils at Costco for very little money. I don't remember the exact price, but it was good.

  25. Found this great sharpener thought it would go great for your Ticonderogas

  26. In one of your posts, you mentioned something about not knowing the questions YOU should ask at an interview. I can't recall the post exactly but I think it was the one where you announced you were going to work at a new school. I believe the gist of it was that there are questions you would now ask the administrator that is interviewing about the school, their philosophies, etc., but you didn't elaborate. I just graduated with my education degree and am going on interviews currently and am very curious about what questions you would ask today...Thank you!

    1. Congratulations on graduating with your education degree!! You can find questions that you will be asked at an interview and also questions to ask the panel by googling "Teacher Interview Questions". I found many sites that had helpful information when I was going through the interview process a few years ago. Good luck on your interviews and in your teaching career. :)

  27. The only pencil sharpener you will ever need again: Carl A-5 Pencil Sharpener. I bought one on Amazon this year. It is amazing. Kids come from other classrooms to use it all day long.

  28. Believe the other comments about the Carl sharpener. It's amazing! My students and I named him Carl (of course), and I trained a few students in each hour to be "Carl Certified" so in the rare instance he gets jammed, a student or I can easily fix him. You do need to give your students a little tutorial on how to use Carl, but it's pretty easy. I bought another one (because kids wait until they have me to sharpen their pencils), and it was pink (so cute) and a little cheaper, but when I opened it, it ended up being plastic and the instructions were all Chinese. We ended up naming her Carly (obviously). I thought I got ripped off, but Carly works well too. I actually reserve her for colored pencils to preserve Carl's life. Anyway, long reply, but get the Carl A-5! You'll be so happy! BTW, what I've read from you so far - I LOVE!! :)

  29. I love, love, love your blog. You are keeping ME sane this year. It is my first year teaching at a special-education high school (only students with learning disabilities). Oh, and I had no teacher training (except 9 credit hours of college classes here and there). If I didn't know about your blog, I think I would have been stuck in the fetal position permanently. Ah, to know that it is normal to dread Mondays, have kids think you are weird, and love teaching all at the same time. Your post made me laugh again.

    P.S. I think I spent like $200 on pencils this year, and stole about 1000 from students/other teachers. :)

  30. Love your blog!

    Just a note on the pencils..I sharpen a bunch at the beginning of the day and hand them out as kids come into the room. If the pencil breaks, students have a cup of pre-sharpened pencils to trade..and I collect a pencil from everyone when they leave. It has to be a yellow pencil (I only ask for yellow -hopefully Ticonderoga- pencils on my supply list.) It's an exit pass, if you will..and students have to find a pencil or they don't leave. (Obviously, if they are really struggling to find one, I let them go with one of my most intimidating looks.) I have used this method for three years, and seriously...it's the best thing ever!!

  31. About those pencils (or pens) -- spend a little more to have them imprinted with your name, room number, and some cute slogan. The more you order, the cheaper they are. Mine say, "I love Mrs. Wilson's English class." Then encourage them to borrow one! It's a great way to get your name out there!

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