30 March 2012


During my third year of teaching, I taught fifth grade science. It was probably my best year of teaching. I love ALL of my students, but my kiddos that year were just...so incredible. I have a soft spot in my heart for my students who struggle academically but work so, so hard, and Rivers was one of those students. Rivers was in my school's special education program, and at first, he would sit in my classroom silently. A month or two into the school year, he started walking by my classroom on his way to the bathroom from other classes and making a funny little face and the "ok" signal with his thumb and pointer finger and wiggling it back and forth in the window of my classroom door to say hi. After a few more months, he began participating in class, especially after I began letting him draw his responses to questions because he couldn't write. All along, he knew the answers; he just didn't know how to express his knowledge before being able to draw. (Side note: I know that drawing his responses was not a permanent solution, so we also worked on his writing skills during homeroom and silent reading time. But I had to start somewhere and get some gauge of his understanding of science.)

Each year, as we approached our TAKS state test time, we would hold Saturday school to help the kids review the content and skills that they were still having trouble with. Rivers attended all of my after school and Saturday tutorials. A few weeks before the TAKS, Rivers and I had a funny conversations:

"Rivers, are you coming to Saturday school this weekend?"
"Nombre-na, Miss, nombre-na!" [No way, Miss, no way!]
"Rivers, why not? TAKS is coming up and you're so close to passing!"
"Becos, Miss, I gotta go to the March par Christ, March par Christ, jeah! Jeah!" he replied while sort of rocking/dancing back and forth rhythmically while clapping his hands.

I wish I had a video of this event, because the way he sort of bopped back and forth as he exclaimed about going to the March par Christ (an annual evangelical rally that takes place in Rio Grande City) was just precious and hilarious, and it's impossible to convey in words. Absolutely everyone I've re-enacted this convo for has burst out laughing.

Fortunately, Rivers decided to show up on Saturday after all. (Turns out, March par Christ was an afternoon event.) After Saturday school let out, we both went over the March Par Christ. I mean, after that endorsement, how could I not go?!

You may be wondering how Rivers did on his TAKS test. He got commended, which means that he missed three or fewer questions! So proud of him. When I told him about his achievement, he replied, "I got commend?" So sweet.

27 March 2012


Have I ever mentioned my student Angel who had a huge impact on my entire school district during my first year of teaching? No? Ok, here goes...

Picture it: I'm preparing my students for the substitute teacher who will be coming the next day. (Read about the first time I had a substitute here.) Angel, a student with extreme behavior problems, just sits there, grinning silently as I go over my expectations.

Fast forward two days, to the morning after my substitute covered my classes. I went to my school computer to check Gmail to open up some lesson plan documents, only to find that it's been blocked. ??? I went across the hall to check with my grade level leader to see if she knew if our school was having internet problems.

"No, it's nothing like that...you should go to the computer lab to talk to Ms. Bendy," she told me.
"Why? What's wrong?" I demanded.
"Ms. Bendy caught Angel looking at porn while your class was at the computer lab yesterday, so the district decided to block a whole bunch of sites."
"Ahhh! What?! How does he even know how to do that?!"
"I don't think we want to know..."

I don't even know how to wrap up this story, except by saying, "What the hey?!"

25 March 2012

procrastinate later

It's that time of year again...for most of the teachers I work with, grades are due today. Grading papers is an unpleasant task at best, and if you don't keep up with your grading, the papers can get really out of control and the task can become completely overwhelming.

During my first year of teaching, LR, a teacher friend from my school saved ALL of her students' papers to grade until the weekend before grades were due. (What can I say, the first year is completely grueling in so many ways, and grading can seem like the least of your worries...until it's a week before report cards are due and you have literally hundreds of papers to grade and scores to enter.) After school on Friday after a particularly tough week, she couldn't stand the idea of staying at school long enough to go through all of those papers, so she decided to take them home to work on them with the tv playing in the background. It's the small things, you know? So she got out to the parking lot, put the papers on top of her car while she was loading everything else into the car, and...drove away! With all of the papers still on top of the car! Naturally, they flew all over the highway that my school was on! Luckily, that road never has much traffic on it (my school was in a tiny town), so she was able to get out and recover most of the papers, with the help of the technology teacher from my school, who saw her plight and stopped to assist.

Not surprisingly, LR has stayed on top of her grading situation since then!

23 March 2012

after school special

Kids are just the best. One day at recess during my second year of teaching, I found a very tiny student of mine wandering alone while the other kids played four square and basketball or just ran around.

"Tiny Man, why aren't you playing with the other kids?" I asked.
"I never played sports," he replied rather forlornly.

At that moment, one of my favorites from that year wandered over and held out a kickball to Tiny Man. "Do you want to play ball?" he asked, in the sweetest little voice. At that, Tiny Man grinned and they ran off together to play with the ball. Sigh. What an after school special-type moment!