Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Nerd Herd and Tattle Box Tales

The Nerd Herd at Cobo by Megan Black
Kevin Honeycutt kicked off the MACUL 2013 conference by challenging all of us to tell our story. He said, "We (educators) are dying of humble. We are so busy helping kids that we don't feel we have time to tell our story. Other people are doing it for us and they are getting it wrong." Telling our story, promoting the work we do, was reiterated time and again at nearly every presentation I attended. All three of the keynotes at #MACUL13; Kevin Honeycutt, Adam Bellow, and Steve Dembo were on point, inspirational, funny, and poignant. All tell a great tale. My gratitude for having sat in their presence among like minded/hearted others is immense. 

Gwyneth Jones, The Daring Librarian, calls us, affectionately, the nerd herd. Incidentally, she championed story telling as well. However her focus, at least in the presentation I saw, was on telling the story of libraries and librarians. She challenged book lovers, in this age of budgetary cuts, to unite under one banner and promote the importance of having a trained expert on staff dedicated to the modeling and teaching of all forms of literacy.  

My spot is in the school library. I call it my spot and not my desk or office because it is simply a chair and a couple of drawers at a lovely platform in an expansive room of beauty and community scholarship. I am not the librarian. Nor could I hold a candle to the generous, mighty woman that runs the library at Grosse Pointe Academy. Jane is indeed humble. I am not sure others notice the careful thought and quiet passion she puts into her work. She reads. She organizes. She listens. She has the uncanny ability to match the right book to the right kid. To my great fortune, Jane is rooted and wise. Not sure how I could have managed this year without her to talk me out of a tree or two. I love to listen to her read and it is clear the kids do too. But I digress. 

Personally, I'm more at home in the hype girl position, telling the story of others, giving my students the credit. Likewise are most educators. Teachers will not sit, or use the bathroom, or drink water so that they can go without using the bathroom.  They will survive on stolen nibbles from recycled snack bags so that they can return messages or xerox or laminate during the 20 minutes allotted for lunch. Non-Believers think school personnel only work from 8-3 and get the summers off. No, from 8 to 3 is the time most adults who work schools deny every bodily function in order to serve. The rest of the waking day is spent planning, reflecting, problem solving, grading, and holding the ginormous weight of the responsibility of every child in their care. And when a student of theirs accomplishes a great task or is recognized for their growth and character, most of the educators I know will deflect or deny their own contribution and shine the light right back on the student and their parents. That's the way they roll.

So, while I don't feel comfortable sharing my successes, I promise to work on that, in the meantime, I love a humorous anecdote. The Tattle Box was a classroom management strategy I put into place to keep my sanity. It paid off in unexpected ways.  The purpose was to let kids state their truth but also make certain it was important before I took time out of the rest of the learning to address it. They wrote down their beef and I dutifully read them at the end of each day. The hidden treasure was this, kids are hysterical. These are a few that earned me a free adult beverage in the past. The names have been changed and the spelling upgraded to protect the innocent.  

"Hector burped in my face. And it smelled…..And he laughed." 

"Amber S keeps using the word marvelous over and over again even though it is really annoying and she calls me SeƱor Smarty Pants and I DO NOT LIKE THAT ONE TINY BIT." (Yes, that's right, all capitals and each word was underlined.) By the way, Amber S (not her real name) racked up a whopping 412 tattles that year. She still holds the record.  She was a fantastically talented button pusher. 

This next one was sweet. "QuVon called you white, Ms. Black!!!!! (I am) But I told him you jus' light skinned." (I can't tell you how honored this made me feel.) 

And my personal favorite of all time tattle must have taken place in the boys bathroom. It went like this, "Miguel and Oscar peed on our shoes. On purpose. They were holding their privates like pistols and told us to pick up our feet and dance." Ah...I miss the Tattle Box. 

This is a link to Kevin's Keynote Address at MACUL. It cannot be embedded but you can stream it and it is well wroth the time. It is titled "Launch Me" and it is just the rocket fuel you need to get through to Summer. (Currently the video is not playing but there is a work order in to fix it. Try book marking it and coming back later. I promise it is worth it.) http://www.mistreamnet.com/vidflv.php?who=macul2013.openkeynote.032113


  1. Tattle Box. Epic. Kids ARE hysterical! OMG, I might need an online Google Form version of the Tattle Box! Wouldn't that be awesome? Thank you so much dear for kindly mentioning me in this post. The other part of my preso was this - Having a web presence as a teacher or librarian is not showing off - it's sharing with the community! http://www.slideshare.net/gwynethjones/web-presence-isthenewblack2#btnNext Oh and by the way? You rock.

    1. Awe! Thanks. And I have been trying to use that message of sharing with the community being the right way to look at it with my peeps....and myself. If you make that Google form in your signature way (Super cool looking) please share. :>)