The Physical Space
My classroom is everything
There was plenty I disliked about remote school, but one immediate shortcoming was losing control over Physical Space. My classroom always has a rug, lately I’ve had three, and kids sprawl out. They huddle in cubbies, read on window sills, work underneath the sink. Over time I’ll introduce pillows, blankets, rocking chairs. Physical Space is the root of my whole approach to middle school: Sure, you have to work, but you can work ANYWHERE. Remote school’s Physical Space was different for everyone, and I controlled only my own. So being in person means a return to that control, and I do good Physical Space.
The week before school for me is all about my Space, even if the district and building have other plans. Pre-year teacher meetings are half conceptual, half hyper-specific, and given how much mental energy I gave to rug placement, you can guess which side I prefer.
We had to be in Tuesday, but I went in Monday. A constant about teaching is There’s Always Something More You Could Do, and that certainly holds true for establishing Physical Space. I needed to get a jump on things before other human beings showed up, and those three hours on Monday allowed me non-panicked conversations when everyone arrived. It was great reconnecting with my ten-month friends, and I loved being reminded what it means to be surrounded by people you respect AND get along with. I’ve had over 30 workplaces, this is hands-down my favorite.
We had to stay at school till 3 on Thursday, and I snuck out at 4:30 with much undone but a Physical Space in order. At least superficially; the inside of my desk and closets are a disaster. But I moved a rug for the first time in five years, effectively shifting The Front of Class across the room. New year, new perspective. The layout will evolve as the practicalities of the year play out
The actual teaching? Roughly planned, to be refined Monday along with whatever else needs doing. Couple last-minute Amazon orders are arriving (can you even start the year without a beach ball?!) and I expect to feel ready on when the kids arrive Tuesday. Even if I’m not, we’ll make it work.
The Week in Dog Poo
This summer we learned the term “splooting,” which is when animals splay themselves belly-first as illustrated. But this is not The Week in Dog Sploot, and their bowels have indeed been active. Ginger often begs off walks, especially when it’s too hot or too cold or the time has a 5 in it. But when she does go, she’s sprightly and good for at least a Mosi Ta-two-poo. Whereas Winnie recently got outpooed 3-0. It’s almost as if they don’t understand they’re in competition.
The awesome wife reported a recent fence poo. Winnie likes pooing against walls, and when the wall is actually a chain-link fence, the retrieval takes some acrobatics. I always tell the dogs, “Good job, good poo, good job pooing, good pooing,” but fence poos get rhetorical air quotes. “Aw, man. ‘Good’ job, Winnie. ‘Good’ poo, ‘good job’ pooing, ‘good’ pooing.” It’s almost as if she doesn’t understand sarcasm. Not unlike a beginning-of-the-year sixth grader, although they poo in my living room far less often.
The Urban Blah
Back in 2009-11 I collaborated with the brilliant Lovisa to make a webcomic that failed to become syndicated across the globe. I am pro-recycling.
My Back Pages
In the late ‘90s, Eugene Mirman and some other folks created a Boston version of The Onion and I was a charter member (I made in the premiere issue) and regular contributor. My high-water mark came with this front-page story from July 30, 1998.
Priv’t Fritz Crunch began his military service when he was drafted for mess hall service in Vietnam. After proving an extremely efficient killing machine, and also quite a chef, he was reassigned to a new platoon under the guidance Colonel Sanders. It was there that Crunch quickly advanced from Priv’t to Corp’l, Sarg’nt, and eventually to his current rank of Cap’n. In the late ’70s, Crunch withstood a blast of sog that sent his eyes permanently into the brim of his hat. Fellow soldiers said it only made him stronger.
A lot of cereal jokes, a lot of Soggy refugees. It reads like I was just a year out of college. Accurate.
Cap’n Crunch’s trial begins Thursday, and it’s expected to be one of the most anticipated trials since L.A. Law went off the air. Crunch will almost certainly be court-martialed, and his rights to bear Crunch-Berries may also be in danger. “If they take away my Berries, the Soggies will have won,” Crunch said, suddenly becoming sullen. “My whole life’s work will be ruined! It’ll all be for oatmeal! Just nothing but... SOG!”
Kellogg’s is uncertain what actions to take. “If he is a war criminal, that puts us in a bad spot,” says Joe Gioh, Major Genr’l of Kelloggs. “People don’t like cereal named after baddies -- ‘Idi Amin Chex’ and ‘P.W. Botha with Raisins’ both flopped. But Crunch is still seen as a patriot by many, so we can’t rule out ‘Mr. Crunch,’ or ‘Private Citizen Crunch,’ or even ‘That Crunch Guy.’ We’ll just have to see how it all turns out.”
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