Thursday, September 30, 2010

How is it possible?

Turtle wants to go home.

Q: How is it possible that - being sick - I feel worse at home than I do while teaching at school?

A: Adrenaline, probably. Ugh. I hate being sick. Nyquil is my best friend. The worst part of being sick this time was that having a fever on top of the heat totally wiped my brain of any functioning brain cells. 6th period yesterday was basically an operation of instinct, habit, and sheer force of will.

Q: How is it possible that I've got all the supposedly "bad" kids under control, being responsible, and engaged in class, but the "good" kids are not so much?

A: My training under UTEC, probably. And maybe also because I believe in my students - and the "bad" kids are the ones that have rarely ever had a teacher believe in them. Although you would think it would work with the "good" kids too.

Q: How is it possible that I'm loving this job so much, when only a scant year-and-a-half ago I was seriously thinking of quitting to become an accountant?

A: Miracles happen.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Iriguchi, deguchi, Taguchi desu!

Title of this entry is from a running gag, meaning "That's the entrance, that's the exit, and here's Taguchi!"

Setting: 3rd period pre-algebra class

Context: Reviewing rules and expectations of the classroom. I tell my students to grab lots of tissue before they sit down so that they don't have to get up to get it.

Student: But what if my nose suddenly starts running?

Me: Then you better catch it.

Half the class got it, half didn't. I thought it was pretty clever. Heh.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Record breaking speed

Sick in the 5th week of school! It's a new record! Middle school students are just as gross, if not more so, than elementary kids.

Nyquil, here I come. Good night.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I am totally meeting-ed-out this week:

Tuesday -- PLC groups to make Smart Goals. 3 hours.
Wednesday -- BTSA orientation. 2 hours. District board meeting. 3 hours (but I only stayed for 1)
Thursday -- Morning PLC group to plan. 1 hour.
Friday -- Staff development day for training on benchmark testing system. 6.5 hours.
Total for the week -- 15.5

I hate meetings. Especially the type where, for some reason, I can't get a grasp on what the speaker(s) are talking about, and then I get resentful because I wish I was in my classroom rearranging the seats of my two pre-algebra classes.

Because one of the other pre-algebra classes from another teacher is getting broken up to make room for an additional geometry class - a geometry class that should have been there on the first day of school any way because there is no physical possibility to fit 37 students in that classroom to begin with.

And thus, I'm absorbing 11 students from that class into my pre-algebra classes. It's going to be crazy on Monday. But I think I can handle it.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stronger today

A bit clearer.

Today was better.

I would not mind it at all if I taught two half days every week. That would be awesome. I don't even care about the pay decrease. I teach at such a higher quality when well rested and the paper work isn't piling up constantly.

Monday will start fresh - but first, tear apart the old. This makes completely no sense, I suppose. But I see Thoughts Notebook Kid on Monday. I need to make things right with him.

And yes, Thoughts Notebook Kid has a "thoughts" notebook. As in the kind therapists use for emotionally disturbed people. Yeah. A whole school year worth of that. Let's gear up for the fight.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stronger tomorrow

Streaked and muddy.


I would like to say that I love taking minimum days and staff development days. I really do.

I would just prefer to spend those days doing something that pertains to improving my teaching, in an individual way. I don't like doing things that have no point for me.

This must be how some of my students feel. Oh.

One particular student has made today a bad teaching day. The worse thing is, it's not his fault.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dead bug

Fuzzy bug.

I love my 6th period class. It has the highest number of the most annoying, most air headed, most quick-thinking, and most hilarious kids out of all my classes this year.

I've told them that they are my favorite class because it's the last class of the day. But I like this group for more reasons than that. Reason #1:

Setting: Friday, of the first week of school

Me: ::going on about some math stuff::

Asian Gurl: AHHHHH!!!

Me: ::turns immediately towards her, eyebrows raised, teacher glare on HIGH::

Asian Gurl: There's a bug, Ms. B!

Musician's Son: Ooh! Ooh! Let me get it Ms. B!

Me: Alright, do it quickly and quietly please.

(Entire class silently watches Musician's Son get up, gently scoop up the bug, and walk towards the door)

Musician's Son: Whoops! ::trips on the rug at the door, drops the bug, and steps on it. He stares at the dead bug for half a second, with me and the entire class staring at him. Then, he shrugs and swipes his foot over the bug to scoot it it's carcass out the door::

6th period: ::laughter erupts::

I had tears in my eyes, I was laughing so hard. It was a wonderful moment. And hey, he did do it quickly and quietly - on his part at least.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Third back-to-school night of my career

Also, a student broke my sand dollar from Florida because I stupidly, and stubbornly wanted to use it as a hall pass.

Many parents came.

I talked a lot. It was like teaching two days all in one.

I spent approximately 24 hours at school within a 36 hour period.

I am wiped out.

Ms. B - signing out. Good night.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One major thing

Like saying "Thanks for the food, it was awesome!" after a really good meal.

I am definitely doing this wrong so far:

Algebra 1 gets a lot of feedback from me because they are much more free about responding when I check for understanding in class.

Algebra Readiness does not get enough feedback from me because I do not illicit their response enough. They are not free about shouting out answers (when it's appropriate to shout out of course).

Hence, my Algebra 1 classes are going WAY more smoothly than Algebra Readiness. It can be that they are Algebra 1 students, who (at the 7th and 8th grade level at least) are considered "advanced math" students anyway.

But Algebra Readiness students need much more careful attention than I'm giving them so far.

Teacher action: MAKE THEM RESPOND! Coach the answer out of them! Positive pressure them until they say something!

I've been WAY too delicate about "not embarrassing them" in my first three weeks of teaching (to build positive relationships with students) that I don't even bother getting enough CFU in Algebra Readiness.

Well, that's going to change. Starting now.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hilarity in math

I gave out my first chapter test of the year to my Algebra 1 students on Friday.

That same afternoon, I stayed at school grading them.

I laughed my head off at this answer. XD

That is all for today. Everyday has leaned toward the good teaching day much more than not. I'm happy with that.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I handed out my first detention of the year today. A kid - a pretty smart kid - decided it was funny to take someone's backpack and hide it in another part of my room. He did it right when the bell rang, as he was leaving the classroom. He didn't steal anything, but that kind of prank is unacceptable.

On the other hand, Devil Kid has been quite an angel. He listens, participates, is quiet when I need him to be, takes direction, and is generally pretty happy to come to school.

Which makes me think: mischievous kids are manageable. They need re-direction a lot, but on the whole, their attitude and personality are light. Kid-like. Normal.

First Detention Kid, however, has an attitude that stinks to high heaven. He is smart, and he is bored out of his mind in pre-algebra. He lacks the maturity to handle algebra 1 (that and his STAR scores were right under the cut-off mark). He's cocky, obnoxious, and mean-spirited. If he were an adult, he would be on par with those loud talking-heads who spout their opinions with no facts to back it up.

First Detention Kid is also passive aggressive. Subversive. He also has the dangerous skill of setting the mood in the classroom - he's quite clearly the leader, even though he is usually quiet. I need to re-seat him away from his more gullible classmates. I haven't decided if I want to put him front and center, or way in the back corner.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It really has been magic this past week and a half. Nothing is perfect, but everything is running smoothly with only minor glitches here and there. I can't ask for more productivity when teaching 150 students every day.

Today, I'm just savoring this moment: when I look forward to each day in the classroom. When I'm happy to teach, and I'm happy to work, and my teaching is effective most of the time, for most of the students. If my first year continues like this, I'll be satisfied.

I'm also very proud of myself for not bringing work home. I spend 10 hours at school already anyway. I should be able to get everything done without having it follow me around like a lost cat - and I am!

Magic, I'm telling you. Magic.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


As relaxed as napping bunnies.

I have never experienced block period schedule until now. Didn't have it in high school personally. And those four hour labs in college don't count.

I'm not sure what to think about a block schedule though. I like it, and at the same time I don't. I like the freedom of doing something that isn't restricted to the traditional 49-ish minutes. It takes the routine out of the week and adds something fun, social, and verbal/artistic/whatever to math.

I don't like it because sometimes, those block periods seem So. Freaking. Long. Also, it takes me forever to memorize the bell schedule. I have a hard enough time remembering the regular bells, let alone a whole new set of them during the week. I've had the bell times posted on nearly all four walls of my classroom, plus on the overhead projector, plus on my desk, plus in my Data binder, plus saved on both my school computer and my own laptop. I still have yet to remember the entire schedule.

Today was the first block day. I passed out textbooks and the students recorded damages. We went over the homework, did warm-up problems, and the students took notes and did in-class practice on the lesson. I gave them about ten minutes of in-class homework time (to make sure everyone knows what to do, and to answer questions that might pop up). Then we did a Get It Together activity - the "What Went Bad?" one. It's a medium difficulty word problem, and I scaffolded it MAJORLY by creating a graphic organizer for the students to fill out in their teams.

It was fun to listen to all the discussion and logical arguments they had. Some were quite heated. It also gave me a lot of insight on who was a natural leader and who liked to be in the background.

The productivity continues. I'm so amazed at how well behaved these kids are. I've gotten a lot more buy-in to my classroom than I've ever had before, even with Mr. B's one-in-ten-years classroom. I like to think that is partly me, although it's still too early to tell.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Lobster roll! Yatta!

Yay! My district email is up and running!

Yay! I can log in to the school scheduling system!

Yay! I'm going to spend a good portion of the weekend putting up my Teacher Web page!

And last but not least, in 6th period today:

Me: The homework I am passing out today isn't due until Wednesday, since Tuesday is a block period day, and I won't see you for 5 days.

Student Sitting Smack in the Front Row Right Under My Nose: YES!

Me: *spins around and glares at him* You sound WAY too happy about that.

Everyone: *laughs*

It's been light-hearted for the most part. I still need another layer of teaching to get my lower students more fired up about math. I already have a list of potential tutoring students. And I'm keeping up with the paper work, even if I do have to get to school early and stay late.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Yep. Mr. B was right. If I don't keep up with the paperwork, it'll be crazier than a band of monkeys on Prozac.

Third day was great too - not as good, nor as smooth as the second day - but overall, good. Productive. I have to think of some other things for my Algebra Readiness class to do before the actual lesson - they are all blowing through the homework during in-class work time like nothing else. Which should be a good feeling, and they need that kind of thing every so often, but not every day.

I've been staying until 5 or 5:30 every day this first week, and getting to school two hours early. Today, I pretty much spent 12 hours at school. I've done that before, and I swore I would never do that again. But surprisingly, I don't leave school emotionally and mentally drained. I'm still tired - oh, I am SO sleeping before 9pm today! - but it's not the type of tired that continuously sucks the life out of you. It's more like I-did-a-lot-of-work-and-it-was-fun-and-we-all-accomplished-something-so-it's-time-to-go-home type of tired. The good type of tired.

I hope my students are feeling the same. Overall, they are performing well on informal assessments, and they are going about math with confidence. Trying to maintain this level, gotta mix it up with other things too. It's not going to last at this pace, I know it. They will get antsy with the same old routine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Oh. My. Freaking. Pooh. Cow. WHY was I so obstinate about getting a single subject credential? WHAT on earth was I doing in elementary when I don't even like little kids that much? WHERE have you been 8th graders, and WHY have I not taught more of you sooner?

You get my jokes.

You get sarcasm, and appreciate it.

You don't have to go to the bathroom every. Freaking. Minute.

You get logic. You're reasonable.

You can read my messy handwriting.

Most of you don't have helicopter parents anymore.

Today was the most golden teaching day ever. Better than yesterday. Better than ANY day I've ever spent teaching. Sure, I got to school two hours early. Sure, I stayed two hours late (aka something I promised myself never to do again after Spring 2009). Sure, I have swamped myself in paperwork right off the bat.

But boy, is it worth it. Even Devil Kid was an angel today. Not saying I'm letting my guard down. I'm just saying he hasn't shown any reason to make me want to wring his skinny little neck out, or put him in detention until he's 80. I WILL NOT let my guard down.

I'm so exhausted, but I'm so happy right now.