I've said this before & I'll say it again: Carol Richtsmeier~known as "Richie" to her students~& I must have been separated at birth.
She's a high school newspaper & yearbook adviser. I ride herd on high school journalistas, too. She's a former reporter for The Dallas Morning News, in my hometown. Ditto, here~I worked for The News way back in the day. She graduated many moons ago from Our Humble High School in the DC 'Burbs. I teach there now.
Now Richie has packaged the joys, the tears, the laughter & the fears of being a high school journalism teacher. Her hot-off-the-presses book, How to Lose Your Self of Steam & Other Teaching Lessons I Never Learned from Professional Development, is the paen to our profession I should have written, but didn't have the time nor the talent!
No worries, though. Richie captures the experience in a brave, loud, opinionated & photogenic way. And while a picture may be worth a thousand words, Richie's student-centered vignettes are worth more than an entire year's stash of "emergency chocolate," which the author keeps in her desk drawer for dealing with meltdowns, putdowns & just about anytime anyone calls anybody a "Big, Fat Stupid Head."
Many of you may know Richtsmeier from her blog, Bellringers, which has been burning up the blogosphere since August 2007. Well, you'll really get to know this Central Texas teacher after reading her rap on deadlines, field trips & inane teacher inservices.
This woman even uses a yellow rubber chicken as a teaching tool. And for book promotion. The photo above comes from her blog, with the caption, "Buy the book or the chicken gets it!" And, Holy Moses, this funny & tender tribute to teaching is at Amazon.com right now!
Here's a snippet of Richie Wisdom, for your reading pleasure:
"Anyone who has ever spent a nanosecond with a teenager knows they appear to absorb every syllable uttered. In reality, not one single word registers; not one instruction, not one rule, not one of anything. Instead, it's more or less like the Charlie Brown cartoon~'Wah Wah, Wah Wah Wah Wah.' When I first noticed this phenomenon, I determined that apparently I must slip into speaking Mandarin Chinese; otherwise, why wouldn't the kiddos know what I just told them? Thus the phrase, 'Am I speaking Mandarin Chinese again?' was born."
Or, what about Richie's opus on high school dress codes?
"Even to the untrained observer, it's easy to see why dress code enforcement tops our list of 'Things We Didn't Go To College For'."
Richie's tales are true, they're funny, they're poignant & are guaranteed either to elicit a good, old-fashioned guffaw or a tender tear. And as for the title? Came from a student-written piece on the need to build "self of steam" in teenagers.
I can tell you that my self of steam has risen considerably since reading Richtsmeier's good-natured rant. I'll leave you with one more of her "Richie-isms," guaranteed to make you feel better about yourselves, as well...
"Life lessons don't come from lesson plans."