Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ruby Tuesday: Tomatoes


honeyed by hot sun—

© 2010 by Magical Mystical Teacher
For more Ruby Tuesday photos, click here.

Thanksgiving Break Begins

The kids would not wait for the bell;
They weren’t going to work, I could tell.
They jumped at the chance
To jabber and dance—
’Most all of them raised holy hell!

© 2009 by Magical Mystical Teacher

Six-Word Saturday: Seeing


When I pay attention, I see.

Click here for more Six-Word Saturday.

Have Fun!

The lessons are over, they’re done;
The gradebooks are closed, every one.
Fair summer is here,
A time of good cheer—
So, teachers and students, have fun!


© 2009 by Magical Mystical Teacher

Mellow Yellow Monday: Playground

14.June.2009 012

yellow triangles—
handholds for fearless children
swinging and laughing


© 2009 by Magical Mystical Teacher

For more Mellow Yellow Monday photos, click here.

Crowd Control

Dear First-Year Teacher,

Your classroom management skills will make or break you as a teacher. If your class is out of control, you can’t teach—it’s that simple.

Please, however, don’t expect all the kids to be quiet all of the time. That’s an unreasonable expectation, and teachers who hold it are bound to be disappointed.

Every classroom has its kid who thinks it’s all right to talk whenever he or she chooses. For that kid, I have an especially loathsome consequence. I tell the culprit to come to my room during lunch recess. I hand him (usually it’s a boy) the following paragraph and tell him to copy it exactly as it is printed:

I was not being responsible when I talked without permission in class, because I know it is against school rules. I was showing disrespect to myself and others by breaking the rule against talking without permission. I was not doing my personal best when I disrupted the class with my talking, because I knew there was a better way and I chose to ignore the better way. From now on, I will try to live up to these words of wisdom: I will be responsible. I will respect myself and others. I will be on time and choose to learn. I will follow directions. I will do my personal best—and that includes not talking in class without permission.

“Every word has to be spelled correctly,” I say, “and every punctuation mark has to be in place. If they’re not, you’ll start over—and keep starting over—until you get everything right.”

For some kids, one of these distasteful experiences is enough; they don’t want to miss one nanosecond of their free time, and henceforth they comply with the no-talking-without-permission rule.

For other kids, it takes several missed lunch recesses before they finally give up their chattering in the classroom.

This is my method for bringing peace and quiet to the classroom. It works (most of the time) for me. Maybe another method will work better for you. If it does, use it—and share it with your colleagues!

Yours for better crowd control,
Magical Mystical Teacher

Mangling the Mother Tongue

Dear First-Year Teacher,

When I e-mailed you recently to find out how your CT scan went, you sent me this reply:

It was odd. They had me lay down on my stomach and put my chin on this pillow. Then they moved me in and out of this crazy looking doughnut. I meet with the actual Head and Neck surgeon on Monday.

I truly hope your pending surgery is successful and that afterwards you will be able to breathe freely. I also truly hope that you are not teaching your students to say things like, “They had me lay down on my stomach” or “I laid on the couch for a nap.”

I realize that the English language is constantly evolving, and that probably 99% of the population doesn’t know—and doesn’t care—about the difference between the verbs lay and lie.

But because I’m a teacher, I care. And because you are a teacher, you should care too.

Lay is a transitive verb, which means that it must have a direct object. Example: “Please lay the book on the desk.”

Lie is an intransitive verb. It has no direct object. It is the correct verb to use when you announce that you are going to recline for a nap or for the night. Example: “I’m tired, and I’m going to lie down now.”

I’m not surprised when my students abuse the English language, but I am shocked when I hear teachers mangle our mother tongue. (Recently I shuddered when I heard one of my colleagues pronounce macabre, MACK-u-bree.)

If I were to teach my students consistently that 2 + 2 = 5, my qualifications as a teacher would be called into question. However, if I were a teacher of very young students and said every day, “It’s time to lay down for a nap,” I would probably never be censured by an administrator, even though my grammatical error was every bit as egregious as my mathematical error.

I know that you’ve been saying, “I’m going to lay down” for many years, and I know that life-long habits are hard to break—but for the sake of literacy, for the sake of the English language and for the sake of your students, please get into the habit of using the right verb at the right time.

Yours for good grammar,
Magical Mystical Teacher

A New Strategy

That dream trip to Argentina and Uruguay I mentioned in my last post? Not gonna happen.

I handed over about $5,000 in taxes to the federal and state governments today (I applied back in April for an extension of time to file), and there’s not enough left in my bank account for something as frivolous as a trip south of the equator.

Too bad. I was looking forward to a break after teaching summer school, not to mention having a peek at a part of the world I’ve never seen before. Now I’ll be sticking close to home and making frequent trips to the local library—just like Vegas Art Guy and his daughter.

The heart-stopping moment came this morning when I realized that my wife and I had made just a wee bit too much to be able to claim a deduction for our 2008 IRA contributions. (Until today, I never thought it possible that a teacher could make “too much” money.)

If I had given the money away to charity instead of putting it in an IRA, I could have written it off as an itemized deduction. But I did what I thought was the prudent thing—saving for retirement—and ended up paying way more in taxes than I had anticipated.

Now I’ve learned, much to my dismay, the truth of the saying: “The more you make, they more they take.”

So I’m adopting a new strategy for 2009: Forget about saving for retirement. I’m going to give away as much as I can to charity. I’d rather my money go to some worthy organization that does good in this world, than to the federal government, a bumbling behemoth whose right hand never knows what its left hand is doing.

Summer Plans

This morning I started to poke around on the state job board for teachers, hoping to find an exciting position somewhere.

“Hey!” I said suddenly. “I already have a job! I don’t need to spend all summer filling out applications and hoping for an interview!”

So what am I going to do the next two months?

Summer school comes first. It’s a great three-week opportunity to help kids who have fallen behind catch up. It’ll also put a few extra dollars in my pocket.

After summer school, Argentina and Uruguay are looking mighty nice. One of the major airlines is offering el cheapo airfare from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires—assuming I don’t take too long to make my decision. Getting to Uruguay from Buenos Aires is a snap: a 45-minute ferry ride to Colonia del Sacramento or a three-hour ferry ride to Montevideo. The currency exchange rate in both countries makes it advantageous to be carrying U.S. dollars right now, and the weather in July will be cool and brisk, making hiking a pleasure rather than a chore. Oh, and the daughter and son-in-law of a friend have a cabin in the mountains near Cordoba that they’re willing to let us use free of charge.

A trip south of the equator could be an exciting way to round out the summer and refresh my spirit before going back to my classroom the last week of July.

How are your summer plans shaping up?


16.May.2009 015

Single yellow star
blazing over barren ground—
light for wayfarers.

© 2009 by Magical Mystical Teacher