Why I get to school 45m early
A series of daily tasks to frame my mind for teaching
Some teachers get to school just as the kids arrive, if not shortly before. Not me, I like to do a series of setup tasks to transition myself into school mode.
Open the windows and point the box fan out the window. There’s still a pandemic and air circulation matters.
Print and copy anything I need for the day. I try to make copies ahead of time, but I also change my mind enough overnight that sometimes it needs to wait.
Prep any materials for the day. Cut and hang chart paper, distribute crayons, build table folders for handouts, etc.
Update the whiteboard with the homework, learning goals, and agenda. Class starts with a student reading this board, so if there’s a mistake, it gets very publicly corrected.
Sharpen pencils. The kids don’t abide by my DULL and SHARP cups, but I do.
Vacuum the rugs a few times a week. I had no idea how much literal housekeeping is involved in teaching.
Set up chairs for advisory. I do this infrequently because our usual horseshoe at the rug is close enough. But at least once a week, I move 18 or 19 chairs (if my co-advisor will be there) and arrange the name cards kids decorated.
Turn on my PA, plug in the receiver, turn on my headset, pair them. At the end of the day, charge them both.
Update the day’s schedule on the wall, Wed to Thu, etc. I’m constantly like, When is this class over? Having it just to the left of my (giant digital) clock is way helpful.
Move the crate of notebooks for the day’s first class to the front to hand out.
Open the slideshow for advisory, maximize the screen, move it to a second Mac desktop, log into attendance.
Plug in the superfluous icicle lights draped around my digital board. We updated to LEDs at home, I saw other teachers using lights, it felt like an artistic flourish I was ready for.
Plug in the remote doohickey that advances my slides, put it somewhere I won’t lose it, then lose it three times a day.
Turn on the board, connect it to my computer to project my screen.
Make sure I have the right cup of pennies with names for random drawings, a la popsicle sticks.
Eat breakfast (throughout).
I’m sure I’m forgetting something. Some can be done the day before, some can be done as kids are getting there. But no matter if you do it today or tomorrow, it all has to get done at some point. Sometimes I do it all to start the day, and by the time I’m set, I feel set.
The Week in Dog Poo
This morning, a surprise in the den: poo! Using my detective skills, I discerned it was semi-fossilized, so I knew it happened a while ago. Not sure why that matters, but TV detectives are always estimating the time of death, must be important. My first suspect was Ginger, who goes outside so infrequently that I could see her pooing indoors. But you can never rule out Winnie as the prime suspect for any crime, especially ones relating to turning our house into a gigantic bathroom. The diameter gave it away, and Winnie was found guilty. But with half-sploots like the one pictured above, how can you stay mad?
The Urban Blah
One secret plan of my starting a substack was to bait Lovisa back into making new Urban Blah comics, and lo and behold: she couldn’t resist the lure of Halloween. So after amnesiacally re-pitching last week’s Abe Lincoln comic, I pitched a version of this four-panel.
I suggested vampire, she made him Count Von Count. “They call me the count because I inherited the title, ah ah ah.” What fun collaborating again. While we were discussing how to make the fang marks read more, she viewed of the closeup on the hands through the lens of the Simpsons.
It reminded me of a bugbear I still have with the Treehouse of Horror episode with Willy as Freddy Krueger. Lisa says "I dreamed of him too and he got me with hedge-clippers" and it cuts to her holding two triangles meant to be her hair in her hand and it annoys my neurospicy brain endlessly. It doesn't read well. You'll notice it now I've said that. 😆
On a related note: when I was setting up my United Mileage Plus account 20 years ago, they demanded I give myself a title. I was years away from teaching, NONE wasn’t an option, and I recoiled at Mister. United gives a lot of choices, so I went with the funniest, and they put it on my card.
One time I called about a flight and when I gave my number, the woman replied, “How can I help you today, Count Tobin?” Good times.
Jam of the Week
Halloween at school growing up was meh, I don’t remember dressing up, teachers didn’t give out candy. But the music teacher had a film strip for Danse Macabre, and somehow it’s available on Youtube. He used to point the projector all over the room like the ghosts were jumping around, and I loved it. It remains a favorite song, and the rest of my Halloween picks are brazenly down the middle.
My Back Pages
My last blog post of each year featured my favorite posts of the year, and none of 2006’s bests were hitting the spot. Then I stumbled upon a random round-up post called “And you shall knows us by the stain of the spilled coffee on our shirts” from May 22, 2006:
I’ve long proclaimed that the best part of a three-day weekend is the four-day work week.
Wow, I liked that phrasing so much that I say exactly that every three-day weekend. No wonder I’m a middle school teacher, repeating myself is what I do.
Well, now I can add that the worst part of a six-day work week is the one-day weekend. It’s a bad sign when you go to sleep Sunday anxious for next weekend.
I don’t remember this, but I feel bad for me.
From now on, everyone has to run everything by me, starting with ABC Sports. I watched the Pistons-Cavaliers game yesterday, and the score roundup was inexplicably at the TOP of the screen. We’re all used to Fox’s black bar at the top, and ESPN’s at the bottom, but every single channel knows enough to puts their crawl at the bottom. So why reinvent the wheel as a triangle? Those Blue Jays-Rockies score updates flickering above the rim was a headache-inducing disaster, and really, it could have been easily avoided if ABC had just run it by me first. So please, next time just ask. I’m around.
Funny conceit, and “Why reinvent the wheel as a triangle,” I might have to steal that. From myself.
Every time someone orders an espresso-based drink at Job #2, I make a mess. The espresso cakes onto the filter, the milk gets on the pitcher, thermometer, and steam wand, and everything dribbles. Between customers, it’s a game of resetting myself back to zero, cleaning everything, getting it all back in place, being ready to make the next mess. I often think of the Subservient Chicken and how after completing your task, he’d go back to his at-rest position.
I was working a university desk job, and based on that description, you can guess what my second job was. I had to look up Subservient Chicken top remember, but it was a Burger King ad campaign where you typed a request and a guy in a chicken suit did it (mostly). That’s what we call a Dated Reference.
And ten days after our robbery, I’m pretty much reset back to zero. All of the day’s annoying tasks revolve around resetting the apartment, but I’m pretty much in the clear, and done feeling sorry for myself. Thanks for bearing with me.
Right, our house was broken into, lost a couple computers, cameras, jar of change. It was less than a year back in Boston from LA, it was a fairly fraught time, the break-in rattled us good. Also, it was the post-CD/pre-streaming era, The Age of the iPod, so the stolen computer meant a lot of (stolen) music was stolen.
I hope the thieves at least appreciate the music collection they now possess. Do they know those Feelies albums are mostly out of print, that the “Party Mix” playlist will absolutely slay at any social gathering, and that the balance of blues, soul, garage, indie rock, jazz, classic hip hop, and' ’80s pop will instantly make them to coolest kids in class? Of course not.
Most of the music was backed up, so its descendent collection now live on an external hard drive. And streaming made 95% of it vaguely useless. But that other 5%, it’s all pure gold.
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