Momaical is a humorous look at trying not to raise a flock of assholes. Cursing & copious coffee involved.

Momaical: [mom-mahy-uh-kuhl] = (Hybrid of Mom and Maniacal.)


How To Win Friends and Influence Teachers

It's Report Card Time! The time of year when students "happen" to find lost work, rush to complete a quiz they never took and beg for extra credit so they don't lose their sacred iPhones, iPads, iPods, iDentities until they bring up those grades. Which means a fuckton** of extra work for me. **Thankfully I teach Spanish and not measurements

And, parents I'm going to give YOU a pop quiz!  

You open up the online grade book for your child and you notice that there is a zero in the place where there are normally good scores. Should you:

A: FREAK OUT! Rant and rave to everyone within ear shot (even if you have to call them on the phone) about how this teacher is TERRIBLE and should be fired. Go right to the school board, PTA, NRA, FTW, ASAP.

B: Storm the school and barricade the principal into their office until the deleterious teacher is forcibly removed from campus. Preferably by their hair and in front of all the students and staff. That teacher IS A MENACE to society and perhaps needs psychiatric evaluation. Is Alcatraz still housing inmates? The Betty Ford clinic? That place in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

C: Send emails to anyone and everyone on the school’s website about how it is IMPOSSIBLE that your cherub would ever get a score like this on an assignment and cc: anyone who may have come into contact with this teacher.You just KNOW your child would NEVER do something like this. Then tell the teacher that they don’t know what they are doing and that they shouldn't grade the way they do. So what if you have no formal training as an educator and stopped studying the subject in 10th grade. Like that matters. Call them on the phone AND email them so they know you're serious. Expect answers and results IMMEDIATELY - regardless of the fact that it's a Saturday.

D: Calmly send an email to the teacher and explain that the zero is atypical of your child and ask if we could please discuss?

Perplexed? You're not alone. Many parents struggle with this. On one hand, yes, you DO know your child better than anyone. But, do you know what they do every single second they are not with you? Are you 100% certain that they did the homework assignment, actually turned it in AND wrote their name on it? 

As a teacher I have thousands of pieces of paper pass through my desk and grade book on a weekly basis. I have a bin (aka Homework Purgatory) FULL of unclaimed work with no name on it. I have at least a dozen workbooks from students who left them behind in class who can't possibly do the homework without them. Also, I am a sleep deprived, brain cell challenged, fallible human. There is an iota of a chance I may think I updated it in the PowerSchool but in my distracted state may have made an error. 

These are all the homework sheets from LAST NIGHT'S ASSIGNMENT with no name. 
So, here's some sage advice that I believe would be supported by most teachers: 

Do not believe everything your child tells you with regard to grades/homework/classwork. On a daily basis I write the homework assignments on the board in the same place, I update my teaching webpage and update the grading system (we use PowerSchool). Additionally, I verbally inform the students to write down the homework multiple times throughout the class. There is information provided a WEEK in advance for tests and quizzes. Yet I still have some students who have no idea what the homework is or tests are a huge shock to them.  Shy of tattooing it onto their bodies - there is no other way I can come up with to get them to do it. I constantly have parents tell me their child didn't know they had homework. Really? Really? How is that MY fault???

If you have a concern, very calmly send the teacher an email. Don't attack them with phrases like: YOU DIDN'T or YOU NEVER. Unless you're physically IN the classroom - don't assume the teacher is in the wrong. If you're kind about it - chances are the teacher will also be kind. 

Don't make the teacher responsible for the student doing the homework. We spend enough time trying to educate with no budgets in overcrowded classrooms. No, I don't want to give your child detention for not doing their homework. I have enough on my plate to accomplish after school without holding your child's hand to get them to do a worksheet.  The zero speaks for itself and it's called HOMEwork. Not STAYINFREAKINDETENTIONwork. 

Stop making excuses for your child. It is their JOB to do homework - regardless of how ridiculous you may think it is. If they don't do their work - then deal with the student. Set up a tutoring schedule. Get them peer support. Physically sit their asses down and have them do it next to you. Email a copy to the teacher. I mean, if you're not doing your job - does your mom call your boss and tell them how mean they are? Most likely no, right? 

If your child failed a test - don't just assume that it's because we totally suck at teaching. Are you sitting right next to them during class? Are they paying attention and not playing Candy Crush? Or, are they Snapchatting selfies to their friends with ridiculous faces? Did they come for extra help? Did they actually complete the homework so the teacher can make sure they are up to speed? DID THEY STUDY? ARE YOU POSITIVE OR DID THEY JUST TELL YOU THEY STUDIED?

If you attack me for your child not doing their work - as much as I don't want to - I will begin to dread dealing with your child. I absolutely love my students. I'm happy to fix my errors - but when you tell me to photocopy a THIRD set of homework assignments because your teenager keeps losing them (several weeks after they were due) - it becomes annoying. 

As a mother, I understand the flash of anger when your child has too much work, gets a bad score or a note home about behavior. It brings out the protective side of you that makes you want to get all Mama bear on the person who is doing the "attacking". However, as a teacher with many years experience, several degrees and thousands of students with whom I have worked - I am aware what your child is capable of doing, what I am doing and what my kids CAN accomplish when they try. I want to work with parents to do what's best for each student - but the first step is remembering that I am a person who puts my heart and soul into this job. Kindness goes a long way. 

Oh, and if you agree - please share! If this helps just ONE person then we have just made the education world a better place!


Halloween Costume Rant

Everyone has all these great weekly wrap-ups. I was here, here, here, here, here and here. Well, this is NOT one of those wrap ups. It would be like this: I was here (and link directly to my classroom) and here (link directly to a mountain of laundry). Oh and I was also here: I have a rant on In the Powder Room about how the costume industry is making a FORTUNE off objectifying our little girls. Please check it out - and if you agree - SHARE!


Real World 101

When life gets overwhelming the first thing to go is self-fulfillment. I like to say that is why I don't work out - because that sounds WAY better than I'm too lazy to even get motivated to think about working out. But the fact of the matter is as a mom/woman/human, what have you, it's our instinct to put others needs before our own. There's this perception that you can have it ALL - and you can - just not necessarily all at the same time. So today I'm taking a few minutes for myself. The dishes can wait. The laundry can wait (I mean, it's already waited eleventy days - what's one more at this point?).

I haven't COMPLETELY stopped writing - just shelved my blog for a little while to try to maintain some shred of sanity. I do still have a weekly spot on In The Powder Room. But, because my brain is overwhelmed with parenting, teaching full time, wrapping my brain around all that's going on with my mom (Stage 4 cancer and now my stepfather has been hospitalized with pancreatitis) - my heart and writing are suffering. So, my posts get placed in the least popular of time slots at ITPR - Fridays. Which means I won't get many hits on it - which means I won't get paid for my efforts. Sigh. So, I'd be thrilled to pieces if you'd go check it out so I don't get booted from the site. Please, please, pretty please with sugar on top and a Hershey's kiss?

The premise for this article came from my job. I was in the teachers lounge making photocopies when the foods teacher was talking about assigning book work because she didn't have anything prepared for the students. Because I am so helpful - I offered up my opinion that they should give students a handful of ingredients to create a dinner for their family. And the foods teacher (who was now accompanied by another foods teacher) actually laughed at me. So - here's my opinion on all that. Let me know what you think.


The Pursuit of Happiness - AKA Get a Helmet

Some things overheard in my classroom:
Student: "I eat nails for lunch. Without any milk." (said in a Batman voice)
Student: "I tried out for American Idol but didn't make it." Me: "What did you sing?" Student: "Parting the red seas by Moses. You know that song, right?" Me: "Who doesn't?"

A lot of hilarity ensues in my classroom. And between all that some Spanish is taught. Once and a while some good life lessons emerge. Here's one that happened a few weeks ago. I talk all about it on In The Powder Room:

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