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Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day Shoes

They must radiate professionalism but be reasonably priced. They must match any of the skirts I grab indiscriminately from the dark closet in the wee hours of the morning.  They must slip on easily without the aid of complicated straps, buckles, or zippers. They must be comfortable enough for extended periods of standing and walking. But most of all, Teacher Shoes must make the right noise.

Shoes by Unlisted
On the first day of school, the authoritative clicking of my shoes across newly buffed linoleum floors must be of just the right timbre to give me authenticity. I must sound like a teacher in order to feel like a teacher. The soundtrack of my heels prompts me to stand straight, square my shoulders and glare threateningly when necessary. Their echoes down the hallway are my auditory equivalent of wire-rimmed glasses and a bun.

The noise must also immediately establish to the students who is in charge. As I walk around the classroom, weaving between students’ desks, elaborating on the finer points of school rules, my shoes bark, “I [click] am [click] the [click] teacher [click].”

Click-clacks reverberating off the poster-covered walls must also delineate how the students are to behave. Don’t you dare pinch the girl next to you in the vicinity of shoes that sound like this.  Paper throwing will not occur in the class of a woman whose heels pierce the air with such certainty. And you can just forget about talking back when feet like these are within earshot.

Later in the school year, I am able to pull out shoes whose whisper invites students to grow as people and as intellectuals and to share in decision-making, but for the start of the school year, the best are those whose repertoire is simply: Get to work.  [Click].  Now.  [Click].

Day one down, and you can be sure I'm wearing those shoes again tomorrow!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cleaning Frenzy

If it could be wiped, I wiped it.

If it could be disinfected, I disinfected it.

If it could be scrubbed, I scrubbed it to within an inch of its life.

If it could be squeezed out of a rodent's behind, I attacked it with no less than seven different exclamations of disgust and no less than five different cleaning products.  “Kills 99% of bacteria” read one label.  “Hmmm.”  I thought.  “That’s not going to do.  Better get another couple of products in here.”

Yes, today was my Major Classroom Cleaning Day.  I’m a week away from the first day of school and spent many hours today wielding Goo Gone, cleaning spray, nail polish remover, white board cleaner, sponges, rags, paper towels, and cleaning wipes.

Dust, stray tape, pencil marks, crayon streaks, label residue, mouse poop, sticky blobs—you name it, I conquered it.  When I had finished with all the hard surfaces, I rounded up all of the pillowcases, rag rugs, and fabric shelf covers in the classroom and headed home to hit the laundry room.  On the way out I stopped in to check in on another teacher who had spent the afternoon in a similar cleaning frenzy. 

“Wait—you’re washing your stuffed animals?” I asked, eyeing a bag of fur.  I guess I had thought that plush alligators were somehow immune to the layer of grime that accumulated everywhere else in the classroom.  As images of sneezes, nose-picking, jellied fingers, and pencil shavings flashed through my head, I calculated that I had never.  Actually.  Ever.  Washed those stuffed animals.  Ever.  And some of them I’ve had for 10 years.

At home, I crammed heaping armfuls into the two industrial sized machines in my apartment’s laundry room.  Who knew that stuffed animals could just be…washed in the washing machine?  And who knew that the kangaroo’s belly was actually white and not a dull gray?                                                                                                                                  

Tomorrow everything in the room will be multiple shades lighter than it started off today, and closer to being ready for the first day of school.  I plan to request that the children refrain from sneezing, nose-picking, eating, and sharpening pencils until at least the second day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Army of Ermas Day!

Today is An Army of Ermas Day!  We're not talking a militant army here, but a humorous one.  If you haven't checked out the Ermas, they're a collection of writers causing chuckles about everything from disgusting found items to household mischief.

I was thrilled to join the ranks as an Erma last summer after winning their submission contest with a short piece about misplaced undergarments found around the classroom.  Ermas was created by the wonderful Stacey Graham, who also writes a dating guide for zombies.  Fits well with my dating advice from eight year olds, no?

So to celebrate An Army of Ermas today, why not pop on over to check it out