Carpool Etiquette

carpool sign on dashboard

You know that really talented teacher who announces names in afternoon carpool? Well, I am that talented teacher at my school. I share the job with another teacher who used to be the caller full time. She is really good at it; I am but a humble apprentice. The veteran caller and the caller-in-training (me) switch off every grading period. That way, if one of us is absent, carpool still runs efficiently. I should mention that most teachers do not want this job. It is a fairly high pressure situation. If carpool does not go well, riots develop, mass hysteria; it can get ugly. With that in mind, be kind to the carpool caller.

Rule 1: Keep your sign in the window of your car ALL year round. When your child is not standing next to you, and you are wearing sunglasses, the carpool caller does not know your name or who you are.

Rule 2: Tip the sign up a little when you get within range of the carpool announcer. If it is sunny, and the light is reflecting off the windshield, we can’t read the sign resting on your dashboard. If it is raining, and the windshield is wet, we can’t read the sign resting on your dashboard. Basically, anything resting flat on the dashboard is hard to read.

My daughter’s school distributes tags that hang from the rearview mirror. You write names in Sharpie pen on them. They are easier to read from a distance. I am trying to convince my school to invest in them.

carpool sign hanging

Rule 3: No extraneous conversation of any kind. The only time you need to talk is to let the caller know who is riding in your car if you don’t have the sign in the windshield (refer back to Rule 1 and please put the sign back in your windshield). Don’t try to ask questions about homework or have a parent/teacher conference with the carpool caller or the loaders. I will admit I am a little guilty of this. I will make a quick comment to a parent, and then I lose track of the car order, and then I remember why I should not be talking to drivers.

The caller is counting cars. She/he can’t have a parent teacher conference and announce names at the same time. The loaders are trying to get children in seats as quickly as possible to move the whole line forward.

Rule 4: Stay in your assigned slot unless asked to move forward by a faculty member. If you hear the caller announce your child’s name at position 3, or the green cone, or whatever it is at your school, go to that position and wait. If the cars in positions 1 and 2 load and pull away, continue to wait at station 3 unless a teacher waves you forward. If you pull forward thinking you are making room for more cars, you reshuffle all of the students. I am The caller is still down the block calling numbers based on your number 3 position. Once students are lining up at the wrong carpool stations, it slows down the whole system.

Most of the time, the caller knows who you are. She/he does know who rides in your carpool. But just in case, and for the sake of all the families in carpool, use your sign with the student name, do not talk to anybody, do not talk on your cell phone, do not fill the loading side car seat with groceries or the younger sibling, do not get out of the car, do not pass go, and do not collect $200.

And, that is the way a teacher sees it. To read a totally hilarious carpool blog post from the parent’s perspective, visit this post. The Hot Mess Mom gets it! What are your carpool pet peeves? Everyone with school aged children has them.

Advertisements

Kindergarten Snack, Again

turkey wrap close

Miss Priss is slowly embracing TheRoomMom version of snack after she realized she wasn’t as hungry in the afternoon on our snack days. She requested turkey wraps for her class this rotation. Not only is it easy to make a basic wrap, but it can be a good school lunch option, and you can fill it with all kinds of meat, cheese, or veggies depending on the tastes of your child. I made extras tonight to take with me to school tomorrow to share with my co-teacher.

turkey wrap ingredients

Ingredients

  • large flour tortillas (I needed 2 packs of 10 tortillas)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. thinly sliced turkey
  • cream cheese, softened
  • shredded lettuce (optional)
  • grated carrots (optional)

assembling turkey wrap

Directions

  • Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on one side of a tortilla. Cover the entire surface.
  • Cover the cream cheese with a layer of turkey. I use 2-3 slices.
  • Near one edge of the tortilla, sprinkle a line of lettuce and grated carrot.
  • From the end with the lettuce and carrot, roll the tortilla.
  • Slice into 5 pieces. (I discard the ends– and by discard, I mean TheRoomDad eats them.)
  • Can be made the night before and refrigerated since they don’t get soggy!

turkey wraps sliced

For Adults

  • I like to spread the tortilla with Boursin or Alouette cheese and add additional thinly sliced veggies like red pepper.
  • Hummus makes a good spread too instead of the cream cheese.

I am also sending in bags of pretzels because I think this snack may be too “weird” for some kindergarteners. We did make half of the wraps with cream cheese and turkey only, so I am hoping all of the kids might give it a try. What are other good wrap combinations for children or adults?

turkey wraps tupperware

Recipe for a Good Teacher

recipe for a good teacher one card

Teacher Appreciation Week is on the horizon at my daughter’s school, which completely turns my idea brain into overdrive. We are implementing an idea I used during the nursery school years for the kindergarten teachers this year. We are organizing delivery of a week of freezable meals and a grocery store gift card.

E-mail the parents in the class with a list of suggested freezable dishes and ask for volunteers to deliver one item each day of the week. For those who don’t like to cook but want to participate, suggest a $5 donation (per teacher if there is an aide) and use the collection for a grocery store gift card. Finally, send 4×6 blank notecards with directions home via kid mail about 2 weeks before Teacher Appreciation Week. Ask the students to write a “recipe for a good teacher” on the card– or write a note– or draw a picture.

grocery gift card

The Giftcard to Kick Off the Week: Collect donations and purchase a gift card to the local grocery store. You can also pick up one of those hot/cold bags, so the teachers can transport their casseroles home. Deliver the gift card and freezer bag on Monday with a card letting them know that meals are on the way!

sausage artichoke soup

The List: I don’t want the teachers to end up with 5 pans of lasagna, so I send an e-mail to the parent group with days of the week and casserole suggestions. Parents sign up for a day and reply all to the group. Depending on your teachers, you can add bottles of red and white wine too. If your child has 2 teachers, ask that volunteers bring 2 9×9 pans of the same casserole, so both teachers get the same thing. Food should be delivered in disposable containers, so the teachers do not have to return the dish.

  • Tuesday: Italian
  • Wednesday: Soup or Chili (Sausage and Artichoke Soup is an easy freezable soup. Click the name for the recipe.)
  • Thursday: Chicken
  • Friday: Breakfast

recipe for a good teacher card

The Recipe Cards: The concept of a “recipe for a good teacher” is tricky for small children (and some parents). Children do not have to write a recipe. Any thoughtful note or picture will work. Teachers like to be recognized by their students in some way. If students write a recipe, it should list things the teacher does in class that the kids like and then put measurements next to it.

Deliver the recipes on Friday to wrap up Teacher Appreciation Week. In my experience, this gift is the most well received of any that I give. Delivering a freezable meal to any busy friend (not just teachers) is always appreciated.

Fairy Tale Spin Offs

grimms fairy tales

One of my students loaned me a book called The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer. You might recognize the author name as one of the Glee actors (yes, the TV show). The book sat on my nightstand for over a month before I finally picked it up. The student was starting to ask questions, and I was getting embarrassed. I judged the book by its cover– or rather the actor/author name and had pretty low expectations, but I needed to be able to make a few comments to my sweet student about the story. I was pleasantly surprised. It is a fun spin on the “ever after” of all of the best fairy tale characters.

Throw a library card, and you will hit a fairy tale spin off book. The books are everywhere right now, and I am hooked. Here is my suggested list. I have read only a few and most are on my “to read” list. Which one should I read next?

land of stories colfer

Upper Elementary

  • Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (Enchanted series)
  • The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley (The Sisters Grimm series)
  • Happily Ever After by Anna Quindlen
  • The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
  • Rapunzel, The One With All the Hair by Wendy Mass (Twice Upon a Time series)
  • A Tale Dark and Grimm series by Adam Gidwitz
  • The Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker (and others by this author)

entwined by heather dixon

Middle School

  • Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (Woodcutter series, mixed reviews)
  • Entwined by Heather Dixon
  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman

red riding hood

And a picture book that I thought looked fun…

  • Honestly, Red Riding Hood was Rotten by Trisha Speed Shaskan (and others in this series)

Buffalo Chicken Dip

buffalo chicken dip

It has taken me several days to write about the final party dip decision for our dip-for-dinner meal while watching the Super Bowl. After considering all of my dip options for Super Bowl Sunday, I opted for a new RoomMom recipe. Several years ago, I ate something like this at a friend’s house. She picked it up in the pre-made section of her grocery store. Then, I started seeing a variety of Buffalo Chicken Dip recipes popping up on Pinterest. If you like hot wings, you will like this.

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 chicken breasts, skin on, bone in (about 2 lbs)
  • 1/2 c. Louisiana Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
  • 1/2 c. blue cheese salad dressing (or ranch)
  • 6-8 oz. shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
  • Tortilla chips or Frito Scoops
  • Celery sticks

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put chicken breasts on a roasting pan. Rub skin with olive oil and season generously with Kosher salt and black pepper. Cook chicken for about 40 minutes until golden on the top and cooked through. Remove from oven and tent with foil. Let rest until cool enough to handle. When cooled, remove skin and pull chicken off the bone; cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.

roasted chicken breasts   chopped chicken

  • Beat cream cheese, hot sauce, and blue cheese dressing together until smooth.

beat cream cheese

  • Fold in chicken pieces.
  • Spray baking dish with Pam and spread mixture into the dish.
  • Sprinkle Colby-Jack cheese on top.

dip before baking

  • Bake at 350 degrees about 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Serve hot with chips and celery sticks.

Notes

  • You can use 2 (10-oz) cans of chunk white chicken, drained if you do not have time to cook your own chicken. Although, now that I have perfected roasting a package of chicken breasts, I recommend the method above.
  • A pie pan or a 9×9 baking dish is a good size for serving this dip.

buffalo chicken dip close up