Friday, March 15, 2013

treasure trove

I mentioned how I dipped my toe back into teaching and this prompted a cleaning of my 2-drawer file cabinet in the basement.  You know, the one stuffed with over a decade of my teaching career remains. I've finished culling it, which led to one and a half drawers of empty space.  This led to clearing off a shelf in the basement, which led to a new spot for my canning supplies...but I digress.  I also have almost 40 pounds of paper for next week's paper drive at Happyland Elementary sitting in the garage now. 

I discovered all kinds of treasures and trash.  One thing that struck me was how many handouts on teaching literature I possessed.  Truly, if I were to return to teaching, I'd stick to a heavy emphasis on writing over reading.  Unfortunately, most college English programs are overrun by girls like me who love to read.  This begets teachers who love to read and want their students to read everything under the sun.  Teacher preparation courses encourage this book lust, sending new teachers into the workforce well-equipped to present a hundred different activities related to Hamlet, but almost no clue on how to assess student writing.

I ditched most of the literature stuff because it's just not relevant.  Also, I discovered a strange thing about myself when I started teaching English:  as much as I lovelovelove to read, I kind of hate teaching it.  I really love to teach writing.  Because I was overprepared to teach literature, I had to make up a lot of my own stuff to teach writing.  Some of that stuff was crap, but it led to some better lesson plans and I ended up keeping the best of the best. 

I also discovered amusing things.

Like this Scantron answer page.  Remember Scantron machines?  I used to love the sound those tests made, zipping through the front end and coming out the back all mechanically corrected for me!  Plus "Scantron" is such fun to say.  Go ahead.  Say it.  SCANTRON.  Just rolls off the tongue in your low robotic voice, doesn't it?

 A letter I wrote to a class of slacker students in Comp 101.  I was gracious in giving second chances.  Christians make a big deal about forgiveness and redemption...

Fond of fonts much?  Why, yes, I was!  Ridiculously fond, it would seem... 

Wonder what I looked like as a teacher?  Behold--one student's artistic rendering of me:

Yes, I did wear pantsuits.  I loved my dress pants with a jacket combo.

This cracked me up--a student's appeal for mercy points at the end of the semester.  I wish I could recall whether I gave him the passing grade or not...  I don't know what happened to him after graduation, but I have a hunch he turned out okay.

It's snowing out because it's still winter in Wisconsin, but we have good award-winning cheese and plenty of beer on hand for St. Patrick's Day weekend.  Mr. D has finished his juice fast and now weighs less than when he did on our wedding day!  Mr. B made a volcano out of clay and brought it to school with a pint of vinegar and half a box of baking soda.  He did it for fun, bless his curious heart.  We have a book of science experiments and he's on a mission to complete them all.  Mr. G has selected one he'd like to do, too.  We're eating Chinese food for dinner and our bowling season wraps up tonight.  And we get to attend a St. Patrick's Day party tomorrow--where I will not drink the green Bud Light, but indulge in a couple pints of choice stout.  Life is so full of good stuff, isn't it?

Spill it, reader.  Tell me about something you've found in the bowels of a desk drawer or filing cabinet lately.


  1. Very true about teachers loving to read, but don't know how to teach writing as much. It isn't easy to teach a kid how to organize their thoughts and put those thoughts on a piece of paper in a way that readers can follow. There definitely needs to be more focus put on it when training teachers.
    I haven't organized much recently, so I have no memories to tell. Thanks for reminding me to get on that.

  2. This is fun stuff. I love the appeal for mercy points.

    My kids still take Scantron tests. I think teachers like these very, very much.

    My file cabinets are very much in need of cleaning out, but it ain't gonna happen until school is out. Last week I was cleaning the TOP of my desk, and found... some bills that needed to be paid! That's how bad it is.

  3. A roll of black and white film that I shot at my daughter's high school graduation...7 years ago!

    A Barnes and Noble gift card. No idea if there's anything left on it.

  4. Oh my gosh! You found some fun stuff. I love the student's letter to you. Hilarious!

    Things I've found?- Clouds. There and many, many clouds in the sky.
    Things I still haven't found?- The sun.

    Told you I'm grumpy. ;)


    I have boxes of stuff from my mom's house: grade school report cards, some old pictures from my childhood, and many letters and cards -- complete with pictures -- carefully put back into the envelopes in which I had sent them. Apparently my mom would open the mail, look at it and then put it all back without hanging her grandchildren's artwork or photos on the fridge or bulletin board. This has solidified my prayer: Lord, please don't let me be like my mother.

  6. Having moved halfway across the world not too long ago, I already went through my stuff with a fine tooth comb. However, whilst looking for Ryan's portfolio, I did find two fabric scraps with the Dutch flag a former co-worker scored for me at a flea market in Washington. I had forgotten all about them. I also finally located my third ecobag, the cutest one. And I found all of my purses. The portfolio unfortunately, was nowhere to be found. Alas.

    Happy weekend!

  7. I love cleaning out drawers and such that I haven't been through in ages and finding things I have forgotten I had...........I have a largish box that sits near my telly which has a heap of stuff in it that I will not allow anyone to through away........but I can't remember what is in it I just know it's my stuff and you are not allow to touch What I never find is money but I so wish I would find money at

  8. I have two good friends who have Comp & Rhetoric degrees. They moved on from teaching at the CC because the other English faculty (the lit folks) didn't appreciate being told that they weren't actually teaching writing very well.

    I don't give scantron exams, although I do have multiple/choice sections on my exams. It never fails, even on the second or third exam I'll have students ask me "Can we actually write on the test?" Yes! Write your little hearts out --I want to know what you were thinking when you were coming up with that wrong answer. You get no feedback from scantron exams, and I feel lucky that lab classes are small enough that I can do the grading myself.

    Today, good stuff is being home from the Medieval Times torture (okay, that may be overstating it a bit), and wine on my horizon :-)

  9. There's certainly a lot to know about this subject. I love all the points you made.

    My page: cheap legal highs

  10. Logan had a wonderful 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Purcell, who taught writing. He wrote some great stories that I have kept. Although Logan's love is Chemistry and Computer Science (double major over achiever), Mrs. Purcell deepened his love of reading (I made sure he was a reader, what writer isn't??) but also a love of writing. It has come in handy even for lab reports. Two years after Logan's class she went to the Region 16 office to train other teachers. I think you would have liked her.

  11. There has been much uproar among parents at my daughter's school this year because the emphasis is so much on writing that they have read almost nothing. Somewhere, there's a balance....

  12. I need to start digging out photographs and putting together a slide show for my daughter's wedding. Need to, but don't quite have the energy. Maybe next week.

  13. Scantrons! Now that's a blast from the past! :)

    We had our stuff in storage for 7 years while we traveled this great country in our fifth wheel and truck. We had no home as a base. Just the truck/trailer. Last April we got off the road, and last August took things out of storage. I came across a box that I'd never seen before and don't know how it ended up in storage. It was filled with memorabilia from my parents - diaries my mom/dad kept BEFORE they got married and their first year of marriage, (AWESOME to read!!!), immigration papers from my Grandfather, baptismal certificates for both parents, and so many other momentous documents. How I ended up with this stuff (there are 6 kids in my twin and I are the youngest), I'll never know! But what a joy to dig through this plethora of memories!


Spill it, reader.