Friday, June 02, 2006

End of the School Year (2005-2006) II

Today was the Senior Goodbye. Basically, the next two weeks of school will be done sans the Class of 2006.
I admit...I will miss many of them.
The assembly, which (like every year) ran way too long, was quite upsetting to many (students and teachers). I actually smiled a little as I watched some of my colleagues wipe away tears.
Hugs abound as we all said goodbye.
I really wanted to give some "words of wisdom" to the seniors, but I discovered that our words had to be cleared by the administration ahead of time.
Upon hearing this from one of the APs, my first response was, "Dammit."
My second, however, was, "Wait...why do we have to clear it with YOU? Shouldn't you trust us at this point?"
So, because I was unable to do it at the assembly, I now present: Leab's Words of Wisdom to The Class of 2006. This is how it would have went, word for word.

To my lovely Seniors.
I have some advice that just may come in handy in the future.
I see people here who could be running the world one day.
Let me just give you some easy rules to follow for the years that are to come.
1. Do not ever punch Mickey Mouse. It has serious consequences. I know of what I speak.
2. When all else fails: beg, borrow, and steal.
3. Should you find yourself arguing with a painting of Vincent Van Gogh, stop what you are doing. Something is terribly wrong.
All right, in all seriousness, here is the real advice I recommend you follow.
1. Think before you speak. Speak before you act. Think before you act.
2. Remember that you have a wealth of knowledge and guidance here (at the school) whenever you need it. We don't say, "Oh, that class is DEAD to us now," after you leave. You need help, just ask us.
3. Same as before. If you're arguing with a painting, something is wrong.
In closing I would like to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson:
"The reasonable person attempts to adapt him- or herself to the world.
The unreasonable person attempts to adapt the world to him- or herself.
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable person."
Be that person. Question what is happening. Seek answers. Solve the problems. Make the difference and the changes. Help facilitate progress.
That is my request and my advice to you.
Good luck.

Good luck to you, Class of 2006. May your journey be only beginning.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

End of the School Year (2005-2006) Part I

"Mr. Leab?"
"I don't like my grade."
"Oooook. What do you want me to do?"
"I want an 'A'...regular or minus...doesn't matter which."
"You have a 'C' right now."
"But I WANT an 'A' in this class."
"Ok, you need to do the work over the next ten days."
"Can't you just GIVE me the grade?"
Snort! ""
"Here, look at this. I did it in ten minutes. It's good, right?"
"See, that's why you have to raise my grade on the (Odyssey) project. It may have looked like it was only a few minutes of work, but see how good it can be?"
"You got some of the information wrong, your paper wasn't proofread, even misspelled my name, the name of the book, AND the name of the main character. That's alot to get wrong for having two weeks to work on it."
"That...that is not the point."
"It isn't?"
"No. The point is that I need an "A", and you should give it to me!"
"It's not going to happen."
"BUUUUUT THAAAAAT'SSS NOOOOOT FAIR! If I don't get an "A", I don't get my car. I WANT my car!"
"This isn't helping me to change my mind."
"Look, why can't you just let me have the "A" now? Do that, and I'll be good until the end of the year."
"Be good until the end of the year, and you MIGHT earn that "A"...maybe."
"You're mean and this isn't fair. This is because I'm black, isn't it?"
"SIGH. No. It's because you don't turn in work. It's because you talk to other class mates rather than listen to me."
"Huh? Are you talking to me still?"
"Thank you for proving my point."
I echo Michele. I tolerate the kids.
I tolerate the kids.
I tolerate the kids.
I tolerate the kids. (Only ten more days.)
Repeat and breath.

Monday, May 29, 2006

How You Know I'm Stupid

For the past two days it has been warm. Very warm. Some might even say it was hot.
"It was so hot I saw a little man in an orange robe burst into flames!"
Ok, maybe not THAT hot.
So how do I know I'm stupid?
I've spent the last three days up to right now gardening with my wife.
That's right: I've been outdoors the whole time planting trees, plants, and more. Built a fountain, dug a trench, Planted way too many plants, weeded, and more.
Was it fun? Sure.
Am I cooked like a Thanksgiving Turkey? Most definitely.
Have I done any grading? question.
Ok, quick ramble:
1. Congratulations to
DeRusha and the funky fresh WCCO crew for becoming number one in the ratings. Yes, I'm a week late, but it's the thought that counts. Plus, I'm a viewer...sometimes. Here's hoping for another successful year.
2. The Pope went to Auschwitz. It sounds like the start of a really good joke, but it's actually real. There was a fantastic photo of him standing in front of the gates staring into the camp on one of the news stations. It was almost as if you could hear his mind going, "Oh I remember this place. The memories...."
It's ironic. The man was a part of the Hitlerjunge, and now he leads the Catholic world. Who knew God had such a great sense of humor. Strike that: I've seen a Platypus up close. Still, do you think there's a little irony in him visiting? Just a little?
Plus, do you think maybe the Vatican is doing a little damage control because this new pope is not really well liked? (You try following John II, the Revenge.) He goes to Auschwitz, meets with a Rabbi, and maybe the world says, "Hmm...maybe he's not such a bad guy."
I'm just saying....
Ok, that's it. Happy Memorial Day (Oxymoron) and Happy Birthday Jolene.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Ramblings: Memorial Weekend Edition 2006!

Woooo. I got nothing. It's Memorial Day Weekend, folks. My brain is partially shut down, but many things I saw today got it going.
So, without further ado: DO YOUR WORST!
Anderson a girl:
Ok, not really. However, I have some issues with, and I quote one of my colleagues, "The most trusted news anchor IN THE WORLD!!!"

1. In the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, the man admits that he watches and records (No, I will not use "TIVO" as a verb) My Super Sweet 16. What?! This man is delivering important news about the Pope at Auschwitz (more on that later), yet he goes home and watches a show about rich girls whining about needing Bengal Tigers at their parties? He needs THAT drivel? I don't know a single guy who has ever really stopped and watched that show. HE RECORDS IT! I hope he's being sarcastic.
2. He cried at Katrina. Anyone else cry? Anyone? Oprah, even?
3. He wants an "Ice-Capades version of his life" done. Again, hoping for sarcasm here. Wanting an ice show starring Elvis Stojko as "The Hip News Guy," is a little scary. Then again, so is the fact that I know who Elvis Stojko is (Thanks Sister #1).
4. A VERY Real Quote: "Going gray is like ejaculation. You know it can happen prematurely, but when it actually does, it's a total shock."
Ok, maybe it's unfair of me to pick on the guy. There are many people in the world (and I can't believe people have this much time) attempting to "out" him. My issue? I couldn't care less if AC (Not to be confused with OJ's buddy) is gay. I'm just shocked that a serious news anchor can let himself go so far as to watch a horrible MTV show. Next you'll tell me that Rush Limbaugh is a huge fan of The O.C.
What do you mean he is?
What the HELL happened to NORMAL NAMES!!!!!
Ok, so Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had their baby. Yeah...I guess. It's a girl, but get this name: Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. Shiloh? Shiloh?! Ok, it's a dog. See the book jacket? It's a freaking dog! My sister (still Sister #1) also informed me it was a battleground as well. What the hell is going on with people and crazy-ass names?!
You want examples?
Frank Zappa named one of his kids Moon Unit.
Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow had Apple and Moses.
Jason Lee (of My Name Is Earl) named his kid Pilot Inspektor.
Penn Jillete may have the best, however.
Kid #1 is Moxie Crimefighter. Kid #2 is Zolten Penn. Zolten, by the way, was the name of Dracula's dog.
It's not just celebrities who are coming up with crazy names to torture kids throughout their lives. When I first started teaching, I had a girl in my class named (Oh, I really wish I was kidding) Leukemia. Spelled JUST LIKE THE DISEASE! I asked the mom the one time I got to talk to her, "How did you come up with the name?" This was the response:
"I heard it in the hospital, and I thought it was just so pretty. What, don't you like it?"
I was dumbstruck. I just smiled, nodded, and pretended a colleague called me over.
Navaeh is now popular. That's "Heaven" backwards (but if it's a boy, I would name it Lleh....Yes, I am a nerd).
There was a girl in my Master's program named Sierra Ciara (Both said the same way). Why would you do that to your kid.
Look, I get that giving your kid a really unique name means that NO ONE else will have it, but there is such as thing as creating major issues. My mother used to joke with her sisters that they would name the first of their kids "Crud" just to hear their mother say it. "Hello, Crud." They didn't do that, however. They realized it would totally alienate a kid. Pilot is a great name, but imagine how much that kid is going to be razzed.
Am I saying you shouldn't try to give unique names? No, but have common sense.
That being said: If I have a son, his name will be Rangers Mets Leab after two of my favorite teams...or maybe Mister Leab Leab, just to confuse people.

If I have a girl, her name will be Princess Leia Leab, because who could ever forget it. That one tops my original thought: Rose Bud Leab.
Pretty Kitty:

I am nowhere near the photographer that
Margaret is. However, every once in a while, I manage to stumble upon a shot that I think other will like. Ms. Sopheava put out the challenge to see if there was a cat cuter than her kitten. Slightly unfair as kittens are almost always adorable versus adult cats. One reason why my Ex wouldn't take the one cat was, as she said, "adult cats are boring and ugly." I disagree, but I digress. This is my neighbor's cat, Mork. He likes to come into my backyard and hide in the Lilacs for shade. I was weeding today and discovered him there. He didn't move. I think he's adorable.
Eventually, I hope to get some nice shots of my own cats, but for now you'll have to look at Mork.
And finally:
The Anger of a Teacher:
I get along with everybody. It's really hard, but I somehow manage to stay on most people's good side. That being said, one of my colleagues really pushed me last week.
I had a bad week. I was feeling slightly down, very hot, and a little frustrated. My students' grades are starting to tank. They aren't taking the work seriously here in the last weeks, and it's hurting them badly. One student dropped from a B to a D-. Turn in no work, fail a test, and don't show up...and that's what happens.
Now, I gave the kids a project to finish The Odyssey: Draw a comic, act out a scene, or modernize one part.
The kids didn't take the 150 point project seriously and most bombed the presentation as well as the work.
I felt guilty. It had me believing that I was failing as a teacher. After all, if I were a good teacher, the students would be doing well. Of course this ignores the fact it's a two-way street, but remember: I was tired.
So I'm feeling bad, and I start to think: Maybe I need to concentrate on the kids who want to work and allow myself to be available for the kids who don't care, but not concentrate on them.
I talk to this colleague who shares many of these kids, and he says to me, "Usually it's a teacher who has been around for ten, fifteen years that quits on their students."
Here's the rough part: He repeats my some of my students. Now I have a few kids flipping out at me and believing that I don't care about them.
Thursday and Friday were a crisis period. I was angry at myself, my colleague, and my students. At one point, I actually stopped one of my classes and explained to them why I was disappointed and how their projects were not good. "I'm not going to sugar coat it: Your projects were not very good. There was very little heart put into them. Most of you look like you did them at the last second. Most of you got the information about the story wrong. Most of you can't even listen to each other."
This caught their attention.
So I ask you students, teachers, former students, former teachers, whoever: Am I overreacting to my colleague? Am I bad teacher for feeling that I may need to concentrate more on the kids trying than the kids not trying?
Am I just being stupid?
I don't know.
Have a good holiday tomorrow.