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The Root of My Stupidity

Okay, confession time, this is what took me to the point of inattentiveness which led to the disasters in yesterday’s post — all of you will know instantly what I didn’t grasp until long after I ran my mouth:

Fifth grade has compartmentalized and we are running the last semester of 5th grade like middle school.   I teach one period of reading and 5 periods of writing.  Three of my writing classes have 24 students in them; two have 25.   Last week as the students entered my classroom each period, I taught a lesson on writing haiku and left them in the throes of composing their own poems, but immediately the noise rose to unacceptable levels.  In every class I issued several warnings, then told them if they had that much free time, they might as well put it to good use, and I wanted two poems from each of them.

I’m sure you already understand who really got punished.  Each of them wrote two haiku — but I had to grade 240 haiku.  And that wasn’t bad enough, before I had gathered all the haiku into a pile so I could see how much work I had to do, I assigned each student in each class to write two renku.  On top of that, I still had a pile of ungraded Diamonte poems.

So, this weekend I had to grade 612 poems.  In light of that brain numbing activity, I consider myself fortunate to have only dropped my blouse into the pasta.  I could have completely passed out in the plate.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Oh deeeeeear! Well… if they’re going to be treated like middle school students, and you have to give them an “extra” assignment because they weren’t behaving… then after the “extra” assignment is turned in, you tell them there is NO credit for it! Next time be quiet and do your work! … I would have helped ya grade Quilly…. all ya had to do was ask. (and pay my air fare!)

  2. Thanks, Melli — I appreciate your willingness to sacrifice yourself on behalf of my gradebook. I DID only grade one of each kind — but I had to look through them all. I graded the best of each set.

    And the 122 poems they turned in today, I just graded pass/fail — the class poetry books have to be bound and turned in tomorrow to the judges.

  3. Nessa — nap for me. In future, I will remember that my appropriate response to that much noise is, “Okay, since you are all finished, hand your papers in now.” When they protest that they are not finished, then I act surprised and point out that they must be finished if they have all that time to visit. Another response I frequently make, yet somehow forgot was, “Since you are having recess now, I see no reason to go out later.”

  4. Recess has been postponed is my favorite. Perhaps in this venture you will have discovered unexpected tallent. Your sense of humor is always uplifting and brings a smile 🙂

  5. Quilly…….That was an excellent way to solve the problem.

    It was much better than the kid in my class who said his dog accidentally ate his homework. Another time he said his mother accidentally put it in the oven. (chuckle, chuckle)…………….Judy

  6. Just what you need, now, babe. More poetry.

    A teacher in Vegas named Quilly
    Gave homework that gave her the willies
         Her dose of the blues
         Made her pay union dues,
    And they said “On your pay, that’s just silly.”


  7. Next time, give a lesson in constructive criticism. They have to find something good about each one, and something which could be improved. That way, you are teaching them to give appropriate feedback (man, do I hate that word) and you also don’t have to grade any. 😉

    Yeah, right. Fifth graders, I know… The CONSTRUCTIVE part is really hard at that age. 😀

  8. Pauline — the only trouble with cancelling there recess, is that it cancels my lunch break. And the humor and a bit of static cling are the only things that keep me together on most days!

    Judy — somewhere in my archives is a story about one of my first encounters with Pansy Petite. Her dog really did eat her homework — and she brought it to school anyway …..

    Doug — well, the syllabication is great, but it isn’t a Haiku, it’s a Renku. Haiku is about nature. Renku is about the human condition. Hmm, since You’re a dawg, I am not even certain it can be considered Renku . . . .

    OC — yo’re right, if they want to to grade poetry they ought to include hazard pay.

    Brig — I tried half of that once. I told they kids they had to write one nice thing about everybody in the class. They did.
    Joe is nice.
    Jane is nice.
    Julie is nice.
    Jorge is sort of nice ….

    Polona — Yes. I really should be.

    Bazza — the blouse is fine. The grading is done. I am still alive. Frazzled, but alive.

  9. karma happens…

    Instead of punsihing with a second post you shoudl have told them that you wouldn´t mind having your blouse cleaned by whoever trollups otu of line next!

    you´ll live, they´ll live…but you might have to get a new blouse!

  10. ~10,404 awkward syllables of mind number near-rhymes? 122 fifth graders’ take on the human condition? Oh sweat Lord. My heart goes out to you Quilly.

  11. Well that is why teachers get paid the big money. You do get all summer off. I used to say that to my sister when she complained about her students or her work load. Her response was ” You preachers only work on Sunday and then half a day.
    I used to have my confirmands says something nice about each of theother students in the class. It was a horrible task for them.

  12. Minka — I washed the blouse myself — I wanted it clean and stain free. I am certain my students would return it to me in less then pristine shape.

    Morgan — thanks. I survived. It’s over. Next week I’ll get 122 essays ….

    Dr. John — it takes the summer off to quit twitching and drooling ….

  13. I stand by my sleep deprivation statement in the last post’s comments.

    By the way, a wrote a haiku today for a competition: one of those “Tell us why you should win in 25 words or less” things. The prize was Missy Higgins concert tickets and CD. So the haiku makes sense, I’ll point out that the weather here has been dismal for several days.

    On these maudlin days
    Rays of sunshine are needed
    Missy will provide

  14. Cindra — indeed — the kids often teach me, and/or reteach me, at least as much as I teach them, if not more.

    Mumma — yeah — plus, having OC in a time zone where he doesn’t even get off work until my bedtime also means I steal an hour of sleep every night to spend time with him on the phone.

    I hope your haiku wins!

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