Wednesday, May 25, 2011

15 level jump

Student: Ms. Ng! You have a tumblr?!
Me: Yes...
Student: Wow! You just upped like, 15 levels of coolness!
Me: Um, thanks.

The dangers of tutoring and reading emails from my non-school account at the same time. This kid has eyes like an eagle - or maybe she is just particularly sensitive to the word "tumblr" - to be able to see that one message title among 50 on my screen.


On a more disappointing note, I caught one kid whispering the answers of a test to the kid behind her during class today. The saddest part is that the test wasn't even for their overall grade! It was a diagnostic test to see how ready they are for Algebra 1.

I sent them to the office with referrals right away. Head of student services has a tendency to slap kids who cheat with an automatic Saturday School. Which is well deserved.

But I can't say how much that bummed me out. I really like these two kids too. I am so disappointed in them. They need to be disappointed in themselves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

So goes life

It's the end of the school year and I'm wrapping things up. Perhaps it's because I have my eye on next year, but there are so many things floating around my head, bouncing through that space like little lightening bolts. The constant thought I have throughout the day is, "Oh, that would make a good blog entry."

But of course, can't blog through the great school firewall. And I can't be attached to my email all day with 160+ young people waiting to react to what I do and say. So the ideas wait. And then I forget about them the moment I get a second to write something proper.

On a different note. I'm beginning to hate those old non-digitized scantrons - the ones where you have to bubble in your own name and ID number. Mainly because I told my class to bubble in their ID number left-justified when it should have been right-justified and now I have to go through 33 scantrons by hand and fix them myself. Idiot.

Monday, May 16, 2011

STAR is over!

w00t! It's over! I know my students are super tired and cranky, but I kind of liked STAR week. I got 2 whole hours first thing in the school day to prep. Got. So. Much. Done. Seriously, we have to get this teacher work day going! Actual work: no meetings, no students, no nada except me, my brain, the curriculum, and my lesson creations.

Let's create something cool! Like this thing! What is it?

More than once this past week, I've had students and parents complain about how we didn't learn the entire curriculum before the STAR. No surprising, since we start on the waning days of August.

Well, I've remedied that - at least for next year. I used iCal to plan the entire 2011-2012 year of lesson pacing (terminology?) during STAR week, and I'm going to BOOK IT from August 29th up to spring break. The goal is to teach everything by spring break, leaving the time from early-mid-April to review for the STAR. This also means that I have to get through half of the curriculum before winter break in order to hold the semester final before students go on their 2-week brain drain.

After STAR, we'll do fun projects and games, I'll also assign homework packets to be turned in once a week rather than on a daily basis (yay! less paper work for me!). We'll spend the week after Memorial Day to review for the semester final and boom! Done!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wiskey cookies

Dear Parent,

Thanks for notifying me that your child had strep throat when I saw him last - a day which just happens to be the last day my throat didn't feel like it was on fire.

Because at least I know.


I think teaching is turning me paranoid about all the germs I'm exposed to on a daily basis. Should spend this summer getting updated on my vaccinations, really should.

Oh yeah, the title? Total inside joke. May not be the best idea for a title, but I'm a little delirious right now from all the Nyquil.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fancy feast

Really, NYC prep schools? Really?

Not that a kid shouldn't have one of these hippie-dippie-haute cuisine meals every so often (it's a good experience). But every day? What are you, a trust fund kid?

Oh. Wait.

I'm super interested in meals served at school. Super fascinating topic to me. I've seen the lunch menu at my school before, but I can't rattle it off the top of my head. And I don't really know what each complete meal looks like. When students come to my classroom for lunch, they tell me they don't usually take the complete meal - it's either only the hamburger, or corn dog, or orange chicken. I don't usually see vegetables or fruit (unless it's an apple, and that usually gets thrown away by the students) on their styrofoam plates.

New project: have school lunch?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weird things

I think I just taught my worst lesson in front of my principal today. It was disjointed, disorganized, rather haphazard (see Monday's post).

But I kinda had fun. I think the students did too. Quote:

Me: So, tell me what P.S.T. stands for.

Student: Pacific Standard Time!

I had to laugh. I think my principal did too.

Note: P.S.T. is my short-hand for Perfect Square Trinomials.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Don't tell my admin...

Three wheelin', free wheelin'.

...or my department chair, or my BTSA mentor, or my old CT's, or any of my pedagogy professors, teachers, and, most of all, my students:

I have not created a solid lesson plan in a week, starting with the first day we came back from spring break (aka last Monday).

And it has been AWESOME.

Hm, that sounds kinda weird. Let me explain.

What I mean by "not created a solid lesson plan" is that I have not written something like this in my plan book:

~ warm up
~ homework check
~ new lesson: 10.6 Solving quadratics by completing the square
~ in class practice: problems 1, 2, 3, and 4
~ homework assignment: page and problem #s

I know what I'm doing today, but I don't have a very clear idea of what I'm doing tomorrow, or the day after. I kinda let that sit on the back burner until today is done before I figure out what needs to be done tomorrow.

Some people may consider that as "planning," but certainly not the old me that plans literally down to the minute of what goes on. Things that I should be doing, things that my students should be doing, the outcomes and expectations, objectives, procedures, the standards, list of needed materials, and how it's connected to previous and/or future lessons. I'm the type of person who keeps journals like:

10:46 am - Wash face and eat breakfast of toast and oranges
11:21 am - Leave for post office and bank
11:32 am - Arrive at post office, drop off packages, leave for bank.

Really. I am not joking. I should be officially diagnosed or something.

But something happened during spring break, when I was sitting outside in my backyard, enjoying the sunshine and humming birds and the blue, blue sky, with my plan book and pencil in hand (n00bie lesson #1: always, Always, ALWAYS plan in pencil!) that something inside me snapped.

I put down my pencil.

I closed my plan book. Haven't opened it since.

I showed up last Monday. I relied on my pedagogical practice, my content knowledge, my knowledge of my students, the routines I set up, and my decision making skills. I had a vague idea of where I needed to take my students, but other than that, it was a flight by the seat of my pants.

And it was GOLDEN. I felt so free and unconstrained by an agenda or a list of goals. I could take a teachable moment and go with it. I never realized there were SO FREAKING MANY teachable moments in a day. I enjoyed my time with my students, and it was fun.

Granted, I know this isn't the most sound method of teaching. Which is why I know I'm going to return to solid planning sooner or later (later?). I also don't want to forget what it's like to walk into a classroom with 35 people staring at you and BE IN CONTROL WITHOUT STARING AT A POST-IT LIST OF PROCEDURES ALL THE TIME.

It's great. The lesson plan as my best friend? Nah. My well-honed and practiced skillz are my best friends!