Monday, November 28, 2011

Small logistical steps, big leap for me.

Riding on a positivity wave, results of the 10 day Thanksgiving Break. It wasn't great in 6th period today - but it wasn't terrible either. Chatty, at least no one was rude.

I also have a plan. A glorious, mind-boggling, complicated, life-long-work-type of plan. It involves that D-word: Differentiation.

I love the idea of differentiation. I love it in theory. I have yet to love it in practice. So many places to begin, and seemingly each thing can't live without the other being implemented at the same time as well. Which only adds to the "Dude, I am SO. Not. Doing. That." feeling.

But I must. Hell if it's done piecemeal in a haphazard fashion! The kinks can be ironed out later - nothing can be ironed out at all if it isn't implemented first.

It also looks like those 12-hour days are coming That doesn't sound appealing. Setting a limit for myself to no more than two 12-hour days in the classroom.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Things I'm looking forward to

Winter assembly is coming up! I wonder what the teachers' skits will be like? It's time to start brainstorming.

Wrapping up the first half of the Algebra Readiness curriculum and giving the semester final BEFORE winter break. Gotta love that!

Writing more. Just, writing more. Carving out time to write, on purpose. Not just because I feel like it, or want to, or have a few minutes to spare. But consciously making it a priority.

This time of year makes me want to set and plan goals. Come on ideas! Bring it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I remember it being really difficult to go back to work after Thanksgiving break last year - much more difficult than after winter break. Not quite sure why - it certainly isn't because of length.

Perhaps it's because Thanksgiving break comes during a time when a break is needed - highly needed. I've needed this break a lot. I've cut my hair (after 1.5 years without a hair cut!)//got a flu shot (after 5 years of no flu shots!)//got my car serviced (6 months since the previous service!)//baked//read//wrote Christmas cards and sent them out//bought a pair of waterproof boots//organized personal papers//slept a lot.

I love Thanksgiving break. I also love the fact that I got to spend a whole day in the classroom - no students, no colleagues, just me. Prepping, cleaning up, grading, organizing. You would think I do that everyday anyway - and I do. It's just never enough to keep up with the rest of the action. New system perhaps?

Leisurely breakfasts were also taken during break. So nice.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Recent teaching mistake

I make a lot of these, from the small, to the big. This time, I'm telling the whole interweb, just so I remember and can prevent it next time:

I. Printed 36 copies of the old Algebra 1 benchmark 1 test, instead of the new one. Only found out when a student noticed that the number of bubbles on the OARS scantron didn't match the number of questions on the test.

PREVENT: Double-check the hell out when setting up materials for class.

Paper is expensive, and we only get two reams each month from the school. Also: it's a pain in the butt to correct scantron tests by hand.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Baby names: teacher version

My colleagues, like myself, have vowed to never name their kids after certain students - mainly because of the student's personality. There's just a connotation that is difficult to get over.

We also all agreed that it's a horrible thing to name your kid after yourself - as in exactly after yourself. Not the "Jrs" or "the IIIs" or nicknames based on your name - those are ok. But the exact same name? Bad move.

Yes. Get a bunch of teachers together, two of whom are preggers, and you get this kind of conversation. It was kind of fun, actually.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We do conferences different

Yesterday and Thursday were parent/teacher/student conferences at my school. I love conference time. It sounds a little weird I know, but no matter how low a student is, or how poorly behaved they are in class, the conference always turns out positive - and from what I remember last year, it always ends up with at least some positive results as well.

Things I love about the way we do conferences:

~ It's right before Thanksgiving break
~ We take a minimum day on Thursday to make room for conferences starting at 1pm
~ Then we continue in the morning the next day
~ Which means we get to do conferences without the pressures of daily lesson planning and grading on our backs
~ The PTA makes an AWESOME soup supper for the teachers on Thursday night, since we are usually at school until 8pm
~ The 8th grade team chips in for breakfast the next morning
~ Some of the younger teachers go out for Cheesecake Factory after all conferences are over on Friday
~ All the teachers are there, and it's pretty insightful to hear from the other subject matter teachers on any one particular kid

I don't usually have down time during conferences - at least on Thursday. If I'm not at my own conference, I'm translating for someone. I had 2-3 appointments at each time slot from 1pm through 7:30pm on Thursday and it was INSANE. However, I only had two conferences on Friday morning. It was just nice to sit, and chat, and grade, and help the other teachers do some organizing, and munch on snacks. Especially the snacks part - I don't normally get a chance to eat anything from 6:30am through 12:40pm on a regular work day.

Notice all the comments about food? Yeah. I like food.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Jonah day

But the thing is, it wasn't all bad! The good stuff:

- I did yoga!
- I did laundry!
- I left school before the sun set!
- I arrived at school after the sun rose!
- I had a really good conversation with a parent of a student
- I had a really good conversation with the student who is the child of the parent
- It was just a really good conversation between the three of us. Productive.
- I scrounged together a last minute cumulative review on the past first four chapters for Algebra 1...typed it up, printed it out, xeroxed it, hole punched it, and set it in the "Today's Handouts" tray in record speed.

But it is all for naught when one bad class period ruins the entire day. It's worse when that class period is that last class of the day. Reminders to self:

These kids are NOT bad - their behavior is bad.
I am NOT a bad teacher - but I can be better.

We can all be better. It takes blood, sweat, tears, and time. But we can all be.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On problem solving

Problem solving is funny. It is hard, it is both long term and short term. True problem solving doesn't create another problem in the solution. True problem solving contains truth.


I walked in on an EL teacher's meeting today at lunch, thinking I was just going to another colleague's classroom to hang out. To be in some place other than my own classroom. It was rather interesting.


I traced my hand onto a sheet of blue construction paper, and cut it out. I glued it onto a sheet of yellow construction paper, then used blue painters tape to attach it onto a spot next to my clock. It is a visual aid for me - to remind me to be more consistent about hand-raising procedures. To value the procedure more than the answer. Because I've got WAY too much blurting out of turn going on, especially in 6th period.

On change at a time. One goal at a time. Focus. Follow-through. Flake-outs eliminated. There are enough flake-outs in my students lives. They don't need to add their teacher to the list.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Am a Teacher

I am:

~ an eScript subscriber
~ a card carrying member of the Will-Shush-Your-Child-On-Airplanes-If-You-Don't club
~ a suburbanite
~ a spectator at school sports events
~ a dance chaparone
~ a "homework nazi," as one kid I overheard say today
~ a change machine for whenever your child wants a drink from the vending machine
~ a Girl Scout cookie shareholder

I do nearly everything on the list of things my 18-year-old self would have thought was too mundane/boring/suburban/2.5-kids-and-a-mini-van-soccer-mom-ish.

I've had approximately 650 kids in my life, an counting.

I am a teacher.

What are you?