Crazy Teacher’s Guide to Helping Reluctant Writers

In honor of summer vacation, Crazy Teacher, my alter ego, will be posting to this blog. Crazy’s advice for dealing with difficult people and situations is, “Show them that you are crazier than they are.”   Here is an excerpt from The Crazy Teacher’s Advice Book.

Question to Crazy Teacher

Johnny Smith, a student in my 10th Grade Global History Class, does no written work. Like many of my students Johnny is either a gang member or a wannabe gang member. He is failing the class because he hands in no work. I’ve tried to motivate him, but he just sits there when I give a writing assignment. What would Crazy Teacher do?

Crazy Teacher’s Answer

It’s time for the Crazy Teacher transformation. Blink your eyes three times and become Ms. Toady, the humble secretary. Say, “Mr. Smith, I know you are a busy man, but I would be happy to serve as your personal secretary today. Please allow me to record your thoughts for you.” Pull up a chair next to him, pull out your pad and pen, and wait.

“Huh?” Johnny will go into his this-lady-is-crazy face, but you will note how he bites his lower lip to keep from smiling.

Blink up at him rapidly and say, “All you need to do, sir, is to listen to the question and say what you are thinking. As your personal secretary, I will be happy to write down your ideas for you on my pad here.”

Johnny will smile out at his classmates, gauging their reaction.

Bend your head in a posture of great obeisance, occasionally looking up at him as you wait.  “Sir, you’re a busy man. Let me help you get these other tasks out of your way.” Lower your head and pretend not to see his sneering face and the little triumph dance he does in his seat by rocking his big shoulders back and forth, back and forth. “Now, sir, perhaps you might want to say something related to the essay question: How did the Black Death in the Middle Ages contribute to the decline of Feudalism?”

He mumbles something.

Bite your lip in concentration and write.  “OK let me repeat what you just said. Oh, my heavens!  Was that, ‘I own this bitch.’”

He will turn his hat around, recline in his seat, and make a gang hand signal over your stooped head as he thrusts his long legs out in front of him, and the class laughs.

“Sir, perhaps it might help if I started you off.” Say as you write,  “In the 1300’s the Black Death…. ,“ and then wait.

“…lead to the end of feudalism because lots of people died from the plague which was carried by rats.”

“And,” put your hand to your ear, and look up at him hopefully.

“…And there was a labor shortage because everybody was dying,”


“…So, the feudal lords told the serfs they would give them freedom if they would do some work.”

“Thank you, Sir. It was a pleasure working for you. Have a great day!”

“You too, Miss.”

Disclaimer by Crazy Teacher Who Is Very Old

It’s all about image, and Johnny wants to maintain his as a tough guy. Often these wise guys are so insecure that they don’t want to look like they bend to anyone’s will, let alone a teacher, in a class, in front of peers.

As my alter ego, Crazy Teacher, I draw from 45 years of experience in elementary, middle and high schools, and I write about what I have lived. True, “being old” has its advantages. If you are a newbie teacher just starting out, you might want to reserve some of these strategies for those days in your career when you too will be wearing sturdy thick-soled shoes.  I believe, however, that humor and a bit of keep-‘em- off-balance if done with love and care actually does work. The kid in this tale became my best pal after this lesson because we ended our power struggle. He won and I won too!

Do You Suffer from Too Much Stim?

4837735360_644ed14665_ohref=””>Abode of Chaos</a> via <a href=””>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a>h

Are You Unnerved by Too Much Stim?  Take This Test to Find Out.

  1. Your dear friends invite you and another couple to a small dinner party.

a. You can’t wait because you love being with good friends, and you enjoy eating great food.

b. You look for an excuse not to go.

c. You never received the invitation because you and your crowd are all forty-ish, and you don’t do dinner parties at home. When you entertain at home, you offer drinks, snacks, more drinks, more snacks, and dessert.

2. When you arrive at your friends’ home you hear the strains of music coming from their stereo or hi fi or whatever the heck we used to call that thing that plays (ahem) records. The music you hear is jazz. It is very loud jazz.

a. You start snapping your fingers and saying things like “Groovy, man, groovy!”

b. Your upper lip starts going numb, which your doctor assured you is a sign of stress.

c. You say, “Thanks, I’ll have a white wine,” while you’re still wearing your coat.

3.The drinks are poured; the hors d’oeuvres are luscious and:

a. The conversation flows; everyone (including you) is bright and witty.

b. The conversation flows; everyone (but you) appears to be bright and witty.

c. You smile, nod appreciatively, and when someone asks you, “What do you think?” you answer, “Yes, I have a new shrink.”

People who can’t do “Too Much Stim” have given the following answers:
Question One: a\
Question Two: b and/or c
Question Three b and/or c.

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Dr. Hawking, Where are My Socks?

Photo Credit: toxi via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: toxi via Compfight cc

Right now, as I write this, I am thinking about aliens. A few minutes before thinking about aliens and space colonization I was wondering about whether I should prepare paella tonight and have leftovers for the next two nights, and no cooking.

Isn’t the human brain a marvelous thing?

Dr. Stephen Hawking’s brain and his ideas on the universe have always fascinated me, at least those concepts I can grasp.  Dr. Hawking is hot these days.  There’s that wonderful movie about him called The Theory of Everything. I loved it.

Then, courtesy of one of the blogs I follow, Be Like Water, I found this Ted Talk by Dr.  Hawking. ,

According to Dr. Hawking, if I understood his Ted Talk, there is a strong probability that a “few hundred light years” out there, there is a strong probability that there are alien civilizations. Dr. Hawking mentions probability quite a bit in his talks. I tune in to probability because, as both a teacher and a student, studying probability was “easy” for me. We flipped coins to figure out probability of getting heads or tails, and we played with dice to figure out somethingorother.

My favorite math problems were the ones about the probability of pulling out a chartreuse sock from a drawer filled with ten black socks, two chartreuse socks, and assorted single socks of lemon yellow, tan, navy and gray. I learned that, after washing, drying and sorting my laundry, the probability of my ending up with the same sock pairs that entered my hamper happily mated was highly improbable.  Talk about everyday math.

According to Dr. Hawking, there is a strong probability that our human race may not survive the next one thousand or even one hundred years. He says we must explore space and consider colonization.   I’m all for that. Maybe we’ll find the answers to some of his questions about the universe, and I might find some nice aliens wearing my long lost socks.