DIXIE DELIRIUM: Ramblings On The Fine Art And Act Of Teaching
Extra Credit Reading: I Was A Wide-Eyed Substitute Teacher, Too, Before All This Got Started
A DIXIE DIARY: The Spring Semester Of My Rookie Year
Is Teaching Fun?
Old Burrell Almost Killed Me In High School Lit Class. Now I'm What You Call His Colleague
Classroom Confidential: Bodily Funktions
Teachers Have To Write Essays, Too. Here's 932 Southern-Fried & True Words Of My Own
Essay A Go-Go: What's Up With Them Adults?
Rebel Yell: Give Todd A Holler

August 14

You are about to begin a study of Georgia.  You live in the state of Georgia.  It is one of the 50 states of the United States of America.

In the early 1900s, education was one of the few fields of work where women were leaders.

Georgia, by Elmer D. Williams


Dear Dixie,

We’re still getting organized.  All of us.  Children and adults.

For example, a kid I don’t even have in class, Ted, a seventh grader, walked into The Cozy Room of Learning with his algebra book in his hand and just started looking around.  I said, to be helpful in a man-to-man sort of way, that chicks don’t dig guys who walk around with algebra books in their hands.  Without saying a word he instantly turned around and left the room.  I don’t know what happened to ol' Ted after that.

Hoover was hanging around my desk so I asked him if he dug chicks and he said there aren’t any chicks around here to dig.

A few minutes later another kid I don’t even have in class, Klause, a seventh grader, just walks right on in and interrupts everything and everybody to say that he knew how to do the Rebel Yell because last night on YouTube he saw a video on a bunch of Confederate re-enactor people doing the Rebel Yell. 

What the heck.  I asked Klause to do us one. 

Klause did one. 

It was pretty goofy the way he wrenched his lips back and starting shaking and whatnot and then he cut loose with a pretty lame screech.  No wonder we lost.

I got Jimmy Joe mixed up with another kid in another class named Huckleberry because they look exactly alike with their wild hair and all and I called Jimmy Joe, Huckleberry.  We chuckled about that one and I said to Jimmy Joe are you and Huckleberry connected in some sort of cosmic relationship sort of thing?

Jimmy Joe said they were connected by voodoo.

We finally got to that deep and sentimental moment where I told them it’s important as a Georgian or a resident of any state to understand your state and its role in the development of the nation and its history and regions and who the governor is and how he or she got to be the governor.  I said I feel so strongly about this that if I moved to Kentucky I’d immediately want to know more about the history of Kentucky and its state symbols and all that.

Then Tempest says that she’s got a great-grandmother who lives in Kentucky and if she brought her great-grandmother to class could she get extra credit for it?

As politely as I could, I said not really.

Then Tempest blurts out did I know there was a county in Georgia called Butts County! 

I said yes ... there’s a Butts County.  I did know that.  You’re looking at the big map of Georgia over here, aren’t you.

And there’s also a Coffee County and a Bacon County! Can we go there, Tempest shrieks, to drink coffee and eat bacon and see how big people’s butts are in Butts County!

Petal said all this was making her butt and her head hurt.  She wasn’t trying to be funny.

Later in the day I got an e-mail from Lurlene about my recent announcement about how you’d get an automatic F if you forgot to bring in a writing utensil on the day of a test or quiz that I thought was a real super great idea that promoted responsibility under pressure. 

Here’s her e-mail message ...


I would like for you to reconsider the policy you have for automatically giving a student an “F” on a test or quiz for forgetting to bring a writing utensil to class on the day of a test or quiz.  That strikes me as outside our mission and too punitive.  I think the smarter and less negative approach would be to reflect the lack of materials on their daily performance sheet, which is what it is for.  I am uncomfortable with the idea of tying a grade to no pencil.  Either just have a stack of pencils or let them return to their lockers.  If you have someone who is a constant offender, then let’s deal with that person individually.  Remember, if you, as an adult, needed a pencil, I would give you one without penalty.  Please feel free to discuss this with me further until you see it my way.

Your Boss, Lurlene Bougainvillea, Principal, All Knowing and Always Right

I stared at the e-mail a long time.  Then I blinked.  Then I laughed.  Then I felt swoonish.

Now, just three days of school are in the history books and I’m already wondering about the quirky academic motivations of certain kids, and the subtle, sneaky wittiness of my principled boss.  She really does know how to write memorable performance reviews.

But at this early point in my rookie teaching career I honestly don’t feel like I’m in control of anything yet, except turning the classroom lights off.

Before I run out.



Next Entry ... August 17: Such Noble Work This Is