29 October 2008

Voices from the backseat: A little soothing mousse will do ya

I wish some of my students were as interested in their work as they are in my appearance. Each year, it seems that some feel they must comment on the way I look, often in a complimentary way, but occasionally with suggestions for improvement. This year, Grace seems particularly concerned that my hair is not as full and luxurious as she prefers.

On a bus ride home from visiting the State University College at Plattsburgh

Me: So how was the food today?

Blanche: It was scrumptious.

Me: Scrumptious?

Blanche: Scrumptious.

Me: I thought it was delectable.

Judith: What does that mean?

Me: The same thing as "scrumptious."

Grace (trying to fluff my rain-dampened hair from the seat behind me): You really need to add some volume to your hair.

Me: Judith, is she petting me?

Judith: I'm not sure.

Me: Jeez, Grace! My hair was a lot bigger before it got rained on!

Grace: I know. It's all right. I'm just trying to do what I can do.

Me: Hmmm.

Next day, as I sit at my computer before class begins

Grace (suddenly appearing behind me): So you didn't take my advice, I see.

Me: What advice?

Grace (as she pulls my hair back and fluffs it gently): About giving your hair some volume.

Me: I have a feeling you want me to spend more time on my hair than I'm willing to.

Grace (still fluffing, but more vigorously): Nope. You just need to work on it a little.

Me: I'll get right on that mousse, okay?

Grace: That's all I'm saying. A little mousse.

Me: If I get mousse, will you stay awake during class?

Grace: I can't promise that. You're not boring. It's just that your voice is so soothing . . .

Me (in a studiously low, soothing tone): O, Grrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaccccccce. I will trrrryyyy to give my hair volllllluuuuuummmmme if you try to stay awaaaaaaaaake. Deal?

Grace: Hmmm. Okay.

15 October 2008

Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain.

As I try to use an LCD projector for the first time in three years . . .

Me (muttering to myself): . . . so this plug goes here, and then I have to . . .

Elizabeth: Miss Huth?

Me (on my knees under a table): Uh huh? Hang on. I have to plug this in.

Katherine: Um . . . Miss?

Blanche: Are you sure that goes there?

Me: Yes. Absolutely. Of course.

Katherine: But the light isn't on, and the computer monitor is blinking.

Me: Yup. S'posed to do that.

Katherine: Hmmm. I don't think so.

Me (tightening connections): There. Right?

Katherine: Oh. Yup. It's stopped blinking.

Elizabeth: So why isn't the projector light coming on?

Blanche: I mean, the light is supposed to be on.

Me: Um, I know.

Blanche: I'm just sayin'.

Sara: She's fine! She'll get it!

Me: Thank you, Sara. I appreciate your support. And may I just say that if I had had access to an LCD projector during the last three years, I would have this new one set up in no time. It's lack of practice.

Katherine: Do you want me to get Mr. G.?

Me: Mr. G.? Ha! I can do this myself!

Elizabeth (under her breath): Yeah, maybe by the end of the class . . .

Me: Hey! I'm right here!

Elizabeth: I mean, I have great faith in your ability to make this thing project onto the screen.

Me: That's better. Thank you. And look, that's the little button to turn it on.

Thomas: So . . . there's no light.

Me: And your point?

Thomas: Well, there's supposed to be light.

Me: Thank you. Yes. I know.

(Elizabeth, Blanche, Sara, Katherine and several others posit theories on why there is no light.)

Katherine (cautiously, after several minutes): Um, did you turn on the main switch?

Me: What?

Katherine: The main switch on the side of the cart.

Me: What swi . . . ? Man. No. Jeez.

(Blanche flips the switch and the projector shoots out a beam of light partly onto the wall but mostly onto the ceiling.)

Me: May I just say that I do know how to use technology? I mean, I do have an iPhone . . .

Sara: It's okay, Miss Huth. We know it's been a while.

Blanche (patiently): So now we have to lower the projector so it projects onto the screen, not the ceiling. See? You have to unscrew these little legs in front . . .

Me (heavy sigh): Oy. So this is what I've become. . . Look, I at least know how to do that.

Katherine: It's okay. We know. Now let's look at that SUNY Plattsburgh website, okay?

10 October 2008

Kentucky road trip essentials: GPS, sandwiches, and twenty-three 17-year-olds to share the driving

Some of my students have a hard time visiting colleges they might want to attend, so I provide them with opportunities to visit five or six different colleges over the course of the year. On Wednesday, we visited the State University of New York at Cobleskill, a great ag and tech college fairly close to home. Many of my students have attended Cobleskill over the last few years, and I am always impressed by the care the admissions staff takes with my students.

Today, I began class by asking my students what they thought of the school.

Me: So is anyone going to apply to SUNY Cobleskill?

Katherine and Douglas: It smelled like cows/It was just like a petting zoo.

Me: Really? What trip did you two go on?? And, by the way, that doesn't answer the question I asked.

(Rest of class murmurs agreement.)

Katherine: Well, it did smell like cows. And there were cows there.

Me: Uh huh . . . So how about we hear from someone who liked the college?

Katherine: But I did like it! It was peaceful, too, and I know I could get some work done.

Me: Oh. Okay. Traditionally, if you mention that a place smells like cows, most people don't take that as a positive. . . . so what else did you like about the campus? The programs?

Grace: The coffee was delectable.

Me: Really? Delectable? Wow.

Grace: Yes. Delectable. But the ice-cream was mad fake.

Me: Okay. Food quality is certainly one thing to consider when applying to colleges, but what about the possible majors? Or what the EOP director was telling you about?

Blanche: The dorm room was mad small.

Me: Actually, it's pretty large for a college dorm.

Blanche: Miss? I'm definitely applying, though. I really liked it.

Katherine: Me, too.

James: We should take a trip to that college with the free tuition.

Me: Hmmm. The one in Kentucky? That's an overnight.

Amanda: Yeah! We should do that!

Me: Honestly, the idea of doing an overnight trip gives me chills . . .

Thomas: Miss? What are you saying? That you don't have faith in us?

Me: No, I actually have great faith in you, but I'm also a realist.

(Class laughs knowingly.)

Me: Besides, that would be an expensive trip.

James: Naw, Miss, you can drive, and we'll pack food to eat.

Thomas: Yeah, and I"ll bring the GPS!

Amanda: We could take turns driving!

Me: O, good lord!

James: And we'll just drive through the night.

Michelle: Yup. We need to get on planning this right now. We can leave on some Friday.

Me: Hmmm. And when you say "we" you mean "me" (pointing to myself), right?

Michelle: Well, yeah.

Thomas: Hey! I got you covered with the GPS!

07 October 2008

Study halls said to breed OCD in some, slovenliness in others, study reveals

It is a rare and lucky teacher who has a classroom all to herself. At least at the secondary level, all of us, share classrooms. Granted, I am one of the lucky ones who teaches all of my classes in the same room; therefore, the room I'm in is considered to be mine. However, the reality is that at least four of us use the same room for various classes and study halls throughout each day.

Unfortunately, study halls are notoriously messy things; the teacher in charge is usually bored, and so are the students. Things happen to rooms during study halls that would not happen during an academic class (we hope). If, god forbid, a substitute is in charge of the study hall, there is no telling what damage might occur.

Today was a case in point. When I returned to my classroom after a study hall had used it, I found the following:

1. Nine pens under a student's desk. I mean, nine pens. They all work. I tried them. And then I put them in my pen can.

2. Two balled up and dirty kleenexes on the chair at my desk.

3. A half-empty seltzer bottle at my computer.

4. A graphing calculator.

5. A travel mug

6. My other chair on the opposite side of the room

7. Two newspapers spread out over five desks

8. A picture of genitalia in black Sharpie on one of my desks

9. My pile of New York Times articles divided into two piles scattered over a table.

And so I spent the first two minutes of my class cleaning up the study hall mess. Oy. If only study halls were useful things used for, I dunno, studying perhaps.