Friday, October 24, 2008

From the Minds of Seventh Graders

At the end of each quarter at school, kids fill out a course evaluation for each class. They get to honestly critique their teachers, and they relish the opportunity. I actually LOVE this day and am obsessed with reading what kids think of my class. Today was the day. After poring over the results, I have some gems to share with you. I broke the best into two categories: "Hilarious" and "Precious". Don't worry - I also got some negative comments! They were all totally true. Kids can be very insightful! But for the sake of the blog, I'll just post the fun stuff. I copied these DIRECTLY off the surveys. You just can't make this stuff up. Spelling errors preserved for authenticity, as always :-)


  • I have learned alot. I almost think I could be an English teacher.
  • The thing I like best about this class is the carpet. (No rooms in our school have carpet. My team teacher & I bought carpet for our room to make it cozy!)
  • I learned that good readers do a lot of things.
  • She makes lessons seem important.
  • Mrs. Norwood is always on-task and does what she does.
  • I learned that reading can be fun but also very tiring.
  • I learned to pay attention in class and if you don't you will pay for it in quizzes, tests, and things like that.
  • She is very fun. She plays and teaches at the same time.
  • She makes it really clear that we are going to learn something.
  • What Mrs. Norwood taught me is how to read.
  • What Mrs. Norwood could do better is let us get out early and talk to other people. We could have free time to let out what you have on your mind. At least 5 min.


  • This teacher reads in a way that it makes is seem like we are at the movies.
  • She makes me want to read books that I have not read.
  • What Mrs. Norwood can do better is nothing. She is perfect.
  • I learned that studying makes me more smarter.
  • I learned that everyone can be good or grate at everything and to give 100% everyday.
  • I finally learned how to not be afraid of something you don't want to write.
  • I have seen how all of my classes tie together.
  • She is always excited to teach. I like that she's always in a good mood.
  • Mrs. Norwood is really specific and she takes the time to see if everybody knows what we are learning.
  • Mrs. Norwood is teaching me new things so I can go to college.
  • What Mrs. Norwood could do better is give us more time to read.
  • Mrs. Norwood doesn't have to do better.
  • She does everything so well and I love her.
  • She teaches and talks to me individual and that's what I like is that she talks to me alone.
  • I've learned that reading can relate to your life and that books seem more interesting when they're in your favorite genre.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and all the thinking remains kind of jumbled up in my head. I've been thinking about time, priorities, work, and home. I still really don't know how to explain everything (or anything) in my life, but I think what it all boils down to is my own imperfection. I'm a disciplined perfectionist to the point of being crazy. I can be relentlessly critical of myself and others. However, life lately has been a string of good intentions followed by the REALITY of life's imperfections. Here are some examples:

Intention: I'm not doing ANY more work at home.
Reality: I did it. I didn't work at home on Monday. Alas, I arrived at school on Tuesday late, hurried, unprepared, and a total mess.

Intention: I'm going to come home RIGHT after school gets out.
Reality: The copiers at school all broke down the day before midterms, and I cried at the self-service copier at Kinko's until 9:00 at night.

Intention: I'm going to fix lunch and dinner for my husband every day.
Reality: Didn't get to the grocery store on Sunday, so Brent only got two homemade lunches and dinners this week.

Intention: I'm not going to work at all on the weekend.
Reality: Grades are due Monday. Of course.

Intention: I'm going to have a fun weekend hanging out in College Station at the A&M game with Brent.
Reality: I'm flat on my back in bed, sick and miserable. Maybe God is saying, "ENOUGH"?

I wake up every day hoping to make good on at least some of my intentions, but it never quite seems to work out. I can not possibly please my God, my husband, my boss, my co-workers, my family, my students, and myself all at one time.

It's a good thing that I serve a loving, PERFECT God. His perfection is enough to cover all of my imperfections. Brent & I have been attending a "Growth Group" at our church for three weeks now. I'm encouraged by the name "Growth Group" because apparently I've got a lot of growing to do. In the first few weeks, we've been delving into what God says about his love for us and our salvation through him. I am encouraged that our God loved us enough to die for us even though we were yet sinners. We can never be perfect enough and God loves us anyway. I've been trying to rest in the freedom that my salvation offers. But, as an imperfect person, I constantly want to strive and do things on my own, exhausting myself in the process! As I lay here today, I'm going to watch Food Network, grade papers (have to!), and hopefully rest in God's love for me as an imperfect teacher, wife, and Christian.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Mean, Really??

If you're free on Thursdays at 7pm (and who isn't?!), I've got a show for you. It is so ridiculous that I can't believe no one I know has blogged about it yet! You can watch the commercials and be satisfied, but the show itself is really a treat. I'm not sure what our culture is coming to, but I do enjoy a good laugh at someone else's expense. And you're lying if you say you don't.

The show is called "Hole in the Wall" on Fox. It is a game show that originated in Japan, so you know it will involve painful injuries, people falling down, and water pits. It does not disappoint. There are no voice-overs like those other Japanese shows we know and love, but the real people are so funny, there's no need for translation. Basically, there is this giant foam wall with cutouts in crazy shapes. The players stand on the edge of a pool and watch the wall come towards them. They have to shape their bodies to match the hole in the wall. If they shape themselves correctly, the wall goes right through them. If they don't, they shatter the wall and fall in the water. I mean who doesn't like to watch people falling down? The clip below is my personal favorite. On YouTube it is entitled "Oh Crap Woman". You may have seen it since it's had well over 100,000 hits. Classic. I laugh every time. Enjoy.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wooden Apples and Overhead Transparencies

I used to think that being a teacher was mostly about wearing wooden apple necklaces and writing on overhead transparencies. I don't know if times have changed or what, but my school doesn't really use overheads anymore and I have yet to purchase wooden jewelery.

I now worry about kids who might fail, drop out, get pregnant, run away, get kidnapped, or do drugs. Lately, teaching has been weighing heavy on my heart. The other day I made a list of kids I'm worried about on a Word document entitled "My Babies", and I came up with 20 kids (out of 75). I'm worried about them for a variety of reasons: academic, social, emotional, family. I think about them, spend extra time with them in class, sometimes cry about them on the way home, make action plans for them, tutor them, give them second chances, have conversations with them, meet with other teachers about them, and get up every morning so I can help them. Basically, they consume a whole lot of my life.

I truly feel like for some of them, this is the end of the line. If we don't help them, they will turn 16, drop out, and then who knows what. I know it's not all on my shoulders because we have a great team, but I gotta admit that it's kind of scary to have the weight of so many troubled kids even partially on me. It's sometimes hard to smile and be patient when the very kids you are trying to help become defiant and disrespectful. Today I found out that one of my "babies" told another teacher, "Mrs. Norwood doesn't like me." I don't like you?? Are you serious?? That just crushed me, and I cried right there in my classroom.

But... sometimes... I get a reassurance that I'm doing something good. This week I got a wonderful letter from a student that I thought I'd share with you. Every two weeks, the kids write a letter to me about their reading. I then respond to each of their letters. It's enough to put me in the mental institution, but I think it's one of the best things I do as a teacher. The kids almost knock each other over to grab their notebooks and read what I have written back to them. Here is the letter (I took away the name). Even though I'm an English teacher and it pains me, I left the spelling and grammatical mistakes in all their glory because I think it adds an authentic charm. Things like this keep me going another day!

Dear Mrs. Norwood,

This is my first letter to you. I’m so excited to tell you about my book Flush, but what I think is beast is to tell you about the book Standing In the Light a book I didn’t finish.

I didn’t finish Standing In the Light because I felt that it was not a J.R.B. (Just Right Book) for me. The way I found out it wasn’t J.R. was I started seeing my reading log that every single night I read leas and leas every day. On the homework of reading and posted notes I coden’t remember what I had read and if you could see my post its it was only questions that the book answered. I wonder if I could read this book by the end of the year and it will be J.R. for me?

Mrs. Norwood, I would like to tell you thank you for not forsing me to read but helping me to love reading. What I mean is that the teachers last year only told me to read. What I like about that you give us for homework is that you make us do post its. Pleas don’t tell my teacher last year that I had fake read in her class because I was force to love reading but you helped me love it for real.

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