Monday, September 29, 2008

Wish it was Sunday

This weekend was great, because I wasn't teaching. I slept very well, because I wasn't teaching.

I rested, I watched tv, I organized some things, I went on a massive shopping trip to Target. I even did some planning. (I'm about a week ahead right now and I NEED to push forward even further!)

We don't get the Jewish holidays off, but I am going out of town on Friday for the wedding of two college friends (yay!). So it's still a short week.

Last week was really up and down. I didn't feel focused. The two weeks before that I gave myself a focus for the week and that seemed to help me a little. (The first focus was timing, and the second was positivity. Actually, I sort of focused on discipline, cracking down with after school detentions. It only sort of worked though.)

I need to push myself to be more positive, a team player, a firm yet caring facilitator of instruction. I'm not even sure if I was those things at my old school, so this is indeed a challenge for pessimistic, introverted me.

So for the next three days, I will be strict with discipline and detention. I need to make sure that the students are doing the majority of the work in class and that I'm not talking very much.

I also need to pack, stay hydrated, and get more than eight hours of sleep a night.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This week:

I've only slept one full night, and that was because I popped a pill.

A girl IMed me and told me I was really cool because I was the only teacher with an AIM.

I had two good writing classes.

The kids made me crack up talking about dog farts; I covered my face and shook with silent laughter.

A kid had an accident in my room (the first time in my career).

I cried.

I was on the verge of tears most days.

I felt hopeless.

I mapped out rough SS plans for two weeks.

We got two days behind our already-way-behind curriculum pacing.

I taught the kids a memory aid poem thingy, and some of them really seemed to like it.

I went home by or before 6.00 most, if not all, days this week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

You know what I miss?

--My bed (In my studio that was the only place to sit, other than my desk chair. I would spend plenty of time lying in bed watching tv or reading.)

--Reading (No time, no energy, no nothing)

--My blue walls (The kitchen has one rust-colored wall, but I don't like it that much. The bedroom is empty and ugly, and the living room is cluttered)

--Free time (I used to have five to seven hours every day after school. Now I'm lucky to have two, in which I need to eat, shower, take a self-portrait, pretend to keep up with blogs and television)

--My boyfriend (we both work long hours and we barely see each other during the week)

--Feeling rested (see above re: time) (During the week, I'm getting just under eight hours of sleep and don't feel rested. Last weekend, I slept for twelve hours on Friday and nine on Saturday. Last night I slept for nine hours.)

--Feeling creative (Brain is fried all the time. Also, if I'm capable of rational thought, teaching/planning takes up most of the neurons. If I weren't so habituated and narcissistic, I would stop taking self-portraits, as I feel completely useless with a camera nowadays.) (This afternoon I took my film SLR (which hasn't seen the light of day since, like, March) and the DSLR to the park to take photos. I tried to keep the manual settings, but I couldn't make things look how I wanted.)

--Feeling like a good teacher (like I said, this past week was a lot better but I was nowhere near good. Although, several people observed me and gave me compliments.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Woo!! It's FRIDAY!!

You guys, I made it! Hurrah and hooray!

This week was at least ten times better than last week. Not good or great by any means, but not miserable either. Case in point: NO CRYING!!

Let's celebrate with some alcohol!

Erm, and then more lesson planning, because holy crap, I have SO.MUCH.TO.DO.

Three of my four classes are improving, and the last one is still kicking my ass but good. Next week there should be a removal of one student that will help, but it won't solve the underlying problem of me not managing them well enough. I've reached out to several people for help though, and they've reminded me of some basics that I've been slacking on. One is serious detention.

Last week I paged through our chapter and created outline notes for the students to fill in during class. It definitely helped because there was plenty for the students to do. The good ones actually went ahead of me at their own pace, which I loved! I did some songs-and-dance (uh, no, not literally, though I probably should think about actually doing that) to talk about some of the places in the book, and had a couple student demonstrations of events, which they loved. And they asked me questions like I actually knew something, when really I only knew what was in the text. (I'm a good speaker. :D) Having the text and the notes as backup allowed me to be more energetic and proactive in front of the kids.

Since I had organized myself for the week, I was sure I'd get started on the next weeks and finally feel ahead in planning. Yeah, not so much. I've been checking and inputting homework more regularly, but realized that even one day behind leaves me under a mountain of papers. Still working on the logistics and what I want from them.

Oh, and how's this for a fun fact? My air-conditioning is being installed. Just in time for the cool fall weather! Sigh.

And now it's time to EAT because I'm starving and then crash because I'm exhausted. Happy weekend, everyone!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Humbled

Wow, friends, thank you so much.

Thank you for the kind words, the encouragement, the support. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am giving you all a big friendly hug right now.


The time away from school this weekend helped immensely. I slept for eleven hours on Friday and nine on Saturday, which was divine. I got my week planned, and right now I'm looking ahead to the next chapters so I can finally get ahead. I think we've all been treading water the last two weeks, with extra time demands before school and endless meetings after school every damn day.

Those are mostly over now--I think--and I have promised myself to leave before or by 6pm every night. It's funny; in August, I made what seemed like the lofty goal of staying at least one hour after school three days a week. HA! Now I'm lucky to stay fewer than two every day. Again, I'm pretty sure this will get better with time, as my units build themselves and management improves and my confidence increases.

Y'all's reaction about the homework issue is making me feel better. I've always been a strict proponent of daily homework in the past. It was a pain in the ass to grade, but I got disciplined about getting it all done at school. I could also 'read' a whole page in a few seconds. Now, I have roughly the same number of students, but no organization. I haven't been worrying about it, exactly, but the piles have been on my mind and stress me out every time I notice the bins on the ground. I finally got a couple stacky things for my desk. I hope to throw the assignments with little to no reading of them. So thanks for the reassurance about not doing much with them. :)


On Saturday, I chatted with my good friend Ms Math from last year. She was telling me about all the crap going at my old school. It reminded me that I need to be grateful for the administration's attempts to help and intervene in discipline/student issues. I need to get used to sharing the pain instead of keeping it all inside my classroom and my head. :) I really miss Ms Math and a few other good folks from my old school, but I don't miss the mass craziness and looseness.

Since last week felt so difficult, I am determined to not let that happen again. I am going to feel positive this week, dammit! It will be a good week and I will improve! As you can probably tell, my positivity looks a more like grim determination than sunny smiles. But I can do it!

Today was today. There's one class--that I see twice a day--that I am having trouble managing and motivating. That one is kind of the worst part of my day. However, there is a class--the biggest one--that I'm seeing some improvements in.

And lest you or I believe that I haven't been improving, there are a few students that I've been working with and who aren't quite such disruptive assholes anymore. There are still plenty that are, and there are way too many who aren't working. But I'm making inroads with a few, at least.

I'm sure there was more I wanted to say, but my brain is full now. Thank you, goodbye.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sigh. I made it.

So yeah, yesterday was bad. I cried *three* times--during the school day.
That has never happened before.

In fact, I've only cried at school two or three times ever, total, over the last four years.

The day itself wasn't disastrous like it might sound--it was more of the same shit, and I guess I reacted badly. I've been feeling stressed about making things in my classroom better, and they keep not getting better.

My lessons are sucking, my management is crap, and my timing is ridiculously awful. And me being late messes up the other classes and people get irritated. I certainly don't blame them. I'm trying, I swear! But since the kids won't shut up or focus or work, it takes forever to do anything. Then I run out of time and get even more stressed out when there are several dozen people just waiting for me to get my shit together.

There's been an issue with mixed signals and authority. Mainly that the new (to the school) teachers tell them something, they don't do it, an old (to the school) teacher steps in, they do it. Supportive, sure, except not, because it just taught the kids they don't have to listen to me until someone else--someone they respect--tells them to.

I can't get ahead with planning, which is strange because I'm also way behind on lessons. I mean that things take way too long to do. Or they go wrong. Or the kids don't get it. Which is bullshit because they're not dumb, they're not new to school, and everything is perfectly reasonable. Still, I'm changing or adapting things every single day.

The second subject is KILLING ME. I have zero plans, zero idea of what the kids know, and with the stupid management problems, no fucking time to do anything in class anyway. We haven't done anything for two solid weeks now.

I am drowning in paper right now too. I see six classes a day, teaching two subjects. I have nowhere to store all these papers, before or after they're graded--right now all of last week's work is still in bins stacked haphazardly on the floor. I'm pretty sure I'll never look at it.

Since I'm not looking at homework, and I don't have time to assess them in class because we can't even get through a lesson, I have very little idea of what they know and what they can do.

My homework assignments themselves also completely suck. I have to figure out what the hell to do, how to decrease the volume, how to miraculously make them actually put some effort into the assignment (instead of dashing off something in five seconds during breakfast). And again, the two subject thing is KILLER and so fucking stressful with the homework.

All week I've gotten between seven and eight hours of sleep, but still feel exhausted every morning. I feel like I can't catch up on rest either. This week I've been trying to eat more, too, so my general health is better than last week, when I wasn't rested or eating.

I'm working twelve hour days and feel I am getting nothing done--hours of teaching plus hours of meetings equals mental dullness.

Overall though, I feel like a generally shitty teacher. I'm totally not doing my job.

I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that all the other new (to the school) teachers feel this same way.

Shit, I keep coming back to edit and add more stuff...

I can feel a cold coming on--my throat has been tickling the last couple days and this morning I was congested a little.

I have actual holes in my shoes. I need more pants that fit and more work tops that won't make me die from sweating. We need to go grocery shopping and do tons of work cleaning and organizing the apartment.

If you have a blog, I haven't read it in weeks. I can barely manage to remember to look at facebook and change my status. I need to come to grips with the fact that I'll probably have to stop even trying to read blogs. There's just no time anymore. :( So if you're reading this and I haven't commented lately, I'm sorry and I still love you. :) And if you're one of the extra-awesome people who comments, I love you extra! Thank you for reading and thank you for the support!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

DUDE.

It needs to be Friday NOW. Not tomorrow. Mmkay?

Today fucking sucked.

Monday, September 08, 2008

stuff and nonsense

One of my favorite songs (Missy Higgins! Go look her up!) and my day.

Strangely, I'm in a pretty good mood, considering that my morning classes sucked and I was at work until 7pm (I should start a count of my twelve-plus-hour days). The other classes got better because an admin was in the room. Hey, I'm cool with that.

I made a lot of copies and tried to make my plans a little more concrete for tomorrow.

This weekend my car was broken into! Fun stuff!

A small window was shattered and a suitcase full of school things was stolen, along with an old candy bar; I guess thievery requires a lot of calories?

What's funny is that I specifically set aside a pile of things that were important enough that needed to go to school and put them in my car instead of the moving van. It was so important that for the life of me I cannot recall what it was. Haha.

My insurance was great. I called them right away and reported it. A claims rep called back within a couple hours and told me that I had 100% glass coverage and that I wouldn't have to pay anything out of pocket at all. It took awhile to drive there and wait, but it looks as good as new and it didn't cost anything (well, other than the thousands I've paid in premiums over the last couple years! :D). Mostly I'm glad it was pretty easy and painless to deal with. And oddly, I wasn't that upset about it. I suppose because nothing valuable was taken? It kind of scares me that my new neighborhood is not nearly as safe as my old one. Not much I can do about it now though.

We made tons of progress on the apartment, getting nearly through the boxes and the big hurdle of organizing the living room. Internet and cable will be hooked up tomorrow, thank goodness. I got some planning work done while doing laundry. Still need more groceries, although I bought a ton of snacks for school at Target. (I'm going to have to give myself a limit on either the number of trips there or the amount of money I can spend there.)

Ho hum, blahblergh, what else? I'm not sure. My toe hurts. Today I wore a skirt. I need to either cut my hair or make it get a lot longer, I don't like it right now. BF just got Rock Band and I really want to see if I can sing in tune--but NOT in the company of anyone else. I miss watching tv, kind of, only certain shows. Don't really have time for much anymore. I hate getting up during the 5am hour. What shall I eat for dinner?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I'm here

...sort of. techically.

Mentally, I don't know where I am. I certainly don't know where some of my stuff is. I don't know when I will have time and/or energy to do laundry. I do know what I'm doing in class tomorrow, and that's been my priority all week.

Let's see. The actual move on Monday morning went really well. The movers were fast and thorough--the entire thing, including the drive, took only four hours. I spent several hours unboxing things and attempting to begin organizing the mountain that is my belongings. BF and I had to defrost the mossy freezer--and then chip out the solid ice blocks, mainly with a makeshift chisel consisting of various kitchen knives and a hammer. We did a grocery run, but we still seem to have no real food. Not that either of us have been home at a time to have a normal meal anyway. The earliest I've left school in the last two weeks is 5.30, or maybe 6. At least now my commute is super short.

Tuesday was a rather insane day. My sleeplessness continued and compounded, so I was literally trembling mildly all day from exhaustion and hunger. The alarm has been going at 5.30am, which is painful enough on its own without a real night's sleep. The actual day was pretty decent. The schedule was a little wonky, and without bells, it's going to be even more of a challenge for me to end classes on time.

We have now completed two full days (ONLY TWO DAYS?!?!) of school. My lessons haven't been interesting, (I told you I wasn't a great teacher), but the kids did a good job playing along with rules and practicing talking to one another. I'm going to start some real stuff tomorrow. So far I'm doing okay with the two subjects, but that's just because it's the first week. I have no idea what one of the classes will do starting next week. (Well, not zero idea; I have vague plans but no specifics yet. Also, there is no one to even ask at my school. Everyone's super supportive and involved for every single subject--except this one this grade.

People keep asking me how things are going and how I'm doing, and I'm still not sure how to answer that. I think I haven't really formed opinions yet, because it's the first week and it is what it is. Things are a little good, a little weird, a little bad, it all depends on a lot of things. It's all still in the set-up stage. I don't know.

Again, I haven't been resting or eating enough, and staying at school late. And I STILL don't have a working doorknob OR air conditioning! Most of the rooms do, so it's kind of like torture to spend all day in my classroom. There is a shiny new unit in my window, taunting all of us. It's just not near an appropriate plug. And let me tell you, it fucking SUCKS to be sweating all day long, never cooling off. And then to deal with all the kids fanning themselves and swanning around, oh, it's hot in here. No shit, sherlock! at least you get to be in cooler classrooms in the rest of the day!

To make things more complicated, this afternoon I was told that I need to be warmer. Two hours later, another teacher told me that some of my students said I need to be stricter.

My toe is infected and it hurts more each day, and I can barely walk by noon. I left school at seven tonight.

Then I got home, exhausted, hungry, sweaty, frustrated--and my new keys didn't work and I couldn't get into my apartment.

When I did get in, I saw a giant fucking roach in the kitchen. I ran away shrieking.

I never had a real lunch and I haven't had anything pretending to be dinner. I'm soaking my feet and stealing unsecured wireless to check facebook and pretend to write a coherent post on this silly, silly blog and trying not to cry and also wishing I could just cry and sob and flail and wail and maybe that would make me feel better.

But it's 8.45 and I should really go to sleep at 9. Thank god I have a small stockpile of Ambien.

Edit: It's 9.09. Still awake, tears have started. I'm really hungry but it's too late to eat. I promise, I'm going to bed right now.

Monday, September 01, 2008

In half an hour...

...The movers will be here. I've been up for over an hour, finishing up with the little things. I feel I should at least vacuum once all the boxes are gone. I hope the official move doesn't take all day--I won't want to afford it.

Last few hours in my lovely apartment. Off to officially begin a new life.