Archive for January, 2012

January 25, 2012

All in the timing

by stryson

“There are no pencils left in my cup? I’m starting to think kids eat pencils for breakfast.”

“I ate a pencil for breakfast. It was a mechanical one.”

“That’s… interesting.”

“Naw, I’m just kidding.”


“I had a Pop-Tart.”

I love the way that they feel that they need to follow up with clarification when you’re joking around. In the moment, the timing makes it particularly hilarious. Enjoy your day, and please don’t eat any pencils.

January 24, 2012

Jelly Bean Brain

by stryson

One of my sixth graders is a bright but very easily distracted young man. As a result of this, he often says things that seem to make absolutely no sense at the time. Often, he’ll say something he intends to be funny, and it’ll seem completely nonsensical to the rest of us.  I’ll probe further only to find out that he started speaking in the middle of the story or joke, and somehow thought we’d all gotten the first half. This tendency has earned him several different nicknames over time, all of which have the word “random” somewhere in them.

Today, in class, we were reading a story in our Making Connections books, and this young man starts volunteering a plethora of small words when I ask for any words the students had difficulty understanding. I looked at him in disbelief and told him I was going to email his mom, since I was concerned that he’d forgotten the meanings to words such as “in.” At this point, he declares to me:

“My brain has been filled with a bunch for jelly beans for the past three years. That’s why I’m random.”

One of the other students asked, “What flavor?”

His answer was, “Blue.”

January 19, 2012

Check your spelling… and then check your corrections!

by stryson

I can always tell when my students have used spell-check, but have not gone back to reread their work (preferably with a text-to-speech program), when I end up with assignments that say something like the following:


Tracy expanded that this is Dad’s first Christmas without Mom.

Julie is still disported about going to her Dad’s.

This story makes me wonder how Julie and Tracy’s Mom and Dad got defocused.


In case you’re not proficient in spellcheckese, the words should have been explained, disappointed, and divorced.

January 18, 2012

Earning Points

by stryson

We have a great behavior management system at my school, in which the students need to earn points for each class. Most hour-long classes are worth 10 points, though some non-core classes (such as computers or gym) might be worth 6 or 8. One earns one’s points by completing & handing in homework, participating appropriately in class, and exhibiting good behavior.

As you can imagine, though, particularly in a setting where the students have language challenges, the kids can sometimes lose their grip on why they are or are not earning their points.

Just before the holiday break, I had a sixth grader that was really struggling in my class. She was not consistently completing her homework, and she was often having meltdowns in my class. To boot, she was taking 20-25 minute long bathroom breaks almost daily. Thus, she was not earning her points in my class on most days. One day, she completely lost it on me. She stood up, stomped her foot, looked me squarely in the eye, and bellowed, “I really want to succeed in your class, but I can’t if you keep taking my points!”

I have to laugh, because the other option is to descend into a rumination on entitlement.

In that same class, I had a day in which a young man did not earn his points because he did not hand in his homework. He looked at me with complete astonishment when I signed his points at the end of that period.

“Why do I lose points??? My birthday was two weeks ago!”

At this, I simply stared. Of course, it didn’t help when, from across the room, his classmate chimes in, instructing me:

“Go on, just laugh about it. You know you want to!”

It’s a precarious line, trying to maintain respect and order while taking into consideration the fragility of some of my students. It’s a good thing I can keep a sense of humor about it.

January 18, 2012

Forgetting Social Studies (or not)

by stryson

This morning, I had the following exchange with a fourth grader:

“Mrs. Tryson, do you still teach Social Studies?”


“Do you still know Social Studies?”


It often amazes me how we take certain perspective or background knowledge, such as the fact that I wouldn’t forget all of the content of Social Studies just because I wasn’t teaching it, for granted.

January 9, 2012

Monday Mood-Lifter: Quotes

by stryson

I’ll be honest – I’m still reorganizing my room after the holidays. That said, I found a notepad today on which I’d scribbled down some funny exchanges right before winter break. They’re both from my fourth grade class.

Me: You should’ve asked for help on your homework.

Student: Who? I don’t have Homework Help.

Me: You could ask your mom.

Student: How’s she going to know?

Me: She went through fourth grade.

Student: Yeah, in the olden days.

…. later on….

Me: Can you see how silly you’re being?

Student: No, because I don’t have a mirror.

That is all. I sincerely hope you’re having a Monday that’s slightly less intensely Monday than mine has been. It’s a full moon; maybe that partially explains it.

January 5, 2012

Welcome, 2012.

by stryson

Happy New Year!

I have to admit, I considered a post about resolutions. I toyed with the idea of publicly resolving to post more.  Then I had a twofold realization: first, that’s one surefire way to have an entry that sounds exactly like thousands of other blog posts out there this week, and second, that it sounded exactly like many New Years entries I’ve written in paper journals over the years. Echoes of myself, writing, “I swear I’ll be more consistent in writing this year,” or “I’ll remember to write all the time, not just when I’m upset or ecstatic” bounced around my mind.

So, I ditched that idea.

The new year does deserve acknowledgement, however. I like new beginnings, even if they’re relatively arbitrary. It really feels like a fresh start, too. My husband and I finally finished moving out of our apartment, and we’re getting settled in our new house. Moving at the holidays was incredibly stressful, but we got to reminisce about the last few moves we’ve made… all of which were at holiday times. It helps to be able to look back and say, “Hey, I lived through it then; I can do it now!”

The break was shorter than I might’ve liked, but overall, I’m happy to be back in my routine at school. Really, the only complaint I have at the moment is a strong dislike of getting up & moving while it’s still dark out.

The kids are back, full-force, and their antics are as hilarious as ever. It seems that Valentine’s day is creeping around my school early, since so many of my kids are crushing on each other, “dating,” or at least talking about these things. In my vocabulary class this week, a couple of kids started talking about weddings for one reason or another. One boy announced that he wanted to get married on the moon. Another student solemnly cautioned him that it’d be a bad idea, since his helmet would clunk against the bride’s helmet when they kiss at the end. Another student chimed in that he wants to get married underwater.

And these aren’t even the ones that are dating.

There are several fifth grade couples right now, but one in particular is quite visible. The girl is a major tomboy, strong-willed and loud. The boy is more shy, and he’s a very slow processor. He was taking a long time to pack up in his math class, and the girl was standing by the teacher (who was not me, but I heard this story at lunch today). She turns to the teacher, looks both amused and exasperated, and says, “I date him because he’s cute, not for his brains.”

Here’s to continuing hilarity in the coming year.