The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.


Those who don’t know me as well, or haven’t known me for long, probably don’t know about my work with the drug prevention field. If you’ve dug through my archives, though, you may have come across a post or two on the subject.

I am a man of many different passions. My students have surely caught on by now that I have an insanely large number of favourite books, favourite authors, and favourite people in the world. I talk about them a lot. I also talk about the things that I love doing. Oddly, though, my work with the volunteer drug prevention field does not come up nearly as often as one would think. But it really is something that gets me quite excited. (What doesn’t get me as excited is how slow my computer at work seems to be when I am trying to update my blog because I am done with everything else at work and I am still waiting for my wife to come get me!)

Anyway, one of the organisations with which I volunteer regularly is Operation Snowball, Inc. This is a program for high school students that I first started working with in 1998. The main focus of the chapter I work with the most, Washington Community High School’s Operation Snobwall, is their weekend lock-in in January. During the weekend, teens are placed in small groups and come up with a group name. One year, the group names got so ridiculously long that the Powers That Be decreed that group names could only be one word.

Enter my introduction to cloudcuckooland (sometimes spelled cloud-cuckoo-land).

As at least one of my students can tell you, cloudcuckooland is a domain of imaginative thought. The land of make-believe. Alternately, it is a world in which everything is topsy-turvy.

I love my job. I love my students. And I love that there are days when I feel like we have all gone through a rift in the space-time continuum and entered cloudcuckooland. It is taxing and frustrating and tiring, but it is what I love doing. I have my students go from doing exactly what they know they are supposed to do to bouncing off the walls and I can’t help but wonder how this happened. Then they manage to pull it all back together again and I marvel that they can so easily switch between model students and a substitute teacher’s worst nightmare and back again without batting an eye.

The oddest part of it all? I often hear that a first-year teacher spends the year just surviving. I don’t feel like that is what I am doing; I feel like I am thriving, that I am exactly where I have wanted to be since I was in my student’s place some 19 years ago.

And today I learned that there are some boys in my class, and girls as well, who may come to take my place. That’s pretty awesome, if you ask me!


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