Monday, January 31, 2005

Whee, Monday is over!

It wasn't too terrible, actually. It's the first day of the new quarter, so I gave short lectures to each class about how the grades were not pretty and that they have the chance to start over. I said that every person in the class (to all three classes, because, really it's true) has the potential to be at least a level 3.

We talked about expectations for literature circles that will be starting next week, then we did a quick write about black history. I read excerpts from "I have a dream" and they started writing a letter to Dr King in response. They seemed to have a lot to say about it, but a few students had a hard time getting on task and actually writing it down.

Knock on wood, but I think I may have hope for Class A yet. The Asshole is rumored to have gone to another school altogether, and a few of the troublesome boys seem intent on turning around their attitudes and stuff. Loud E was awesome today--on task the whole time, raising his hand, participating, quiet, it was great. I made sure to tell him he was on the Good Job List.

Shit, I got to get back to work. I stayed late to do a new teachers' meeting, because I need the hours. And I got Class B's grades done, so now I just need to bubble in all the sheets. And figure what exactly to do tomorrow. Grr.

I am so tired, and my legs ache for some reason. I really want to just go to bed right now. I'll do the next best thing and sit in bed while bubbling in report cards. Fun life of a teacher!

Remind me to talk about the recent letter to the editor that said dismissed teachers as being "just in it for the extra vacation time." That's the first time I've actually seen it in print, and as an actual teacher now, I have a lot to say about that! Mostly along the lines of, "If you only knew, motherfucker, you'd be lobbying for a raise for teachers. Jackass."

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Second class done!

Hurrah me!

I did end up doing a bodyflow relaxed me enough to NOT go back to work right away. So I watched tv and did whatever. Then I got back to work, and finished up Class C.
Just Class B is left. Yay!

That's six hours today. STILL haven't really thought about the week's lesson plans. I actually started mapping them out last weekend, but have not looked at them since.

I think this is what I'm going to do. I'll semi-watch Home Edition, and simultaneously work on lessons. Then later, after a shower, if I'm really good, I'll do a bit of Class B inputting. But really, I'll probably do that tomorrow night. One class won't be bad at all. I'm so proud of me!

God, now I really need to celebrate with even more alcohol. Friends?

Oh, and I keep forgetting that the new semester of class begins on Wednesday. Actually, it started on Thursday, but since I have Wednesday class, I get to start this week. I'm terrified that I've gotten used to having all my after-school time to myself and taht I'll jump up from my computer at 6.30 on Wednesday and go, "Oh SHIT!" and run out the door.
No, I'll just make a big note to myself to go straight to class after school on Wednesday. Although that doesn't make sense, I'll have an hour to kill either here or there. Maybe I can get a head start on test prep stuff. I HATE test prep. Die, test prep!

Work-induced ADD

Good lord, I've been working for four hours already. The last hour I've been losing focus and getting bored.

BAH! I hate just sitting and working all day!

I did get all of Class A finished: all the grades put in the computer and even bubbled in grades on the report card forms.

I have one more batch of papers to finish marking and then I have lots to input for both Class B and C.

So it's 2.30 and I just can't take it anymore. Mom suggested I go out for a walk, but that would require getting dressed and we all know I don't like doing that.

I could do a bodyflow workout; I even tidied up my floor. But I don't know. I might just watch some Felicity or something.

Grr, I am bored!

I have so much more to do! How will I get it all done in time?!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The three residents of 1103. That's me on the far right, Jen in the middle, Kelly on the left. You can see our still-new fancy uniform duds (I think this picture is from Induction Day, which was later on).  Posted by Hello

The first two days: AmeriCorps, chapter 2

It was about 8 or 9 in the morning when our 15 passenger van pulled into the Perry Point complex, that first dreary day in January 2002.

None of us had slept. We did not have the luxury of showering, sleeping, or even dropping off our luggage. Christine brought us to the campus gymnasium for the exciting ritual of inprocessing.

There were people at different stations around the curtained-off half of the room. We started by sitting at a long table and filling out a bunch of paperwork. I think there were bagels and juice or something, to help restore us to wakefulness.

Then we took turns putting on a big black fleece vest and smiling for our AmeriCorps ID photos.

In between things there was some extended sitting around and waiting. A good foreshadowing of things to come!

Eventually we got to the musical montage section of the experience--'shopping' for all our gear! Wasn't there a great segment in Private Benjamin or something? We went in partners to the 'back rooms' in the maze of the building and a team leader acted as our personal shopper. We tried on samples of each article of uniform clothing--BDUs, short-sleeve tees, long-sleeve tees, vests, coats, polo shirts. Then we just got to take two of everything (except the vest and coat) in our size. Sweet! The TL helping me and Kelly was called Jess, and she was awesome: fun and energetic and friendly.

After that we got to see the other half of the gym. That was set up like a sporting-goods store, where we picked up a sleeping bag, and a Red Bag, plus a selection of steel-toed boots. None of the shoes were exactly comfortable, and none of the 'women's' styles fit or felt right, so I ended up choosing the generic men's boots. At this point we all got a big clear trash bag to tote around all our goodies.

We waited for everyone to finish their rounds of getting uniform stuff. Then we piled back into the van and got to see our houses! I think that all we had time for was running in and dropping stuff, because we had to go back to the gym for dinner or something. I remember that it was raining when the van stopped in front of house 1103 on Fourth Street. Kelly was in the house too, and excited, we ran up the stairs, onto the porch, and through the front door.

We peeked around for a second, took in the blank walls and sparse furniture, but immediately headed upstairs to the bedrooms. We saw that of the four bedrooms, one was empty, and the other three only had one bed in them. We looked at each other in disbelief, because that meant we weren't sharing rooms! Only three people would be in our house instead of seven! We screamed in joy and claimed rooms. I got the middle one with two windows.

It didn't register with us on that first quick visit how gross the house was at that point. Or if it did, we didn't know it was an anomaly.

There was a cheap buffet-style dinner in the gym. More people had been arriving in from airports, as well as the people who had driven out. They had piles of the boxes that people had had shipped, and I was supremely disappointed and sad to learn that my own three boxes had not yet arrived. Damn postal service!

It must have been that afternoon or evening that I met Jen, the third roommate. She's from Indiana and has a trace of a Southern accent.

Since all my bedding was in those boxes, I slept the first night (in fact, the first two, possibly three nights) in just my corps-issued sleeping bag. Maryland is cold in the winter! Also, the whole world there was brown. Nothing was alive there except the bay. The trains run on the nearby tracks through the night, blowing their horns. The proving ground across the bay makes noises, too. When we discovered the furnace gauge thing, we also discovered what we termed "the gnome in the basement." The furnace banged and popped really loudly, all day and all night. As if someone was down there, angry that we'd locked him in the basement. (Which was not exactly a friendly place; dark, dusty, cobwebby, just ominous enough to make us scurry upstairs as quickly as possible.)

The house is the last one on that side of the lane, and has an unobstructed view of the Susquehanna River meeting the Chesapeake Bay, plus the town across the bay, Havre de Grace. The water is less than two hundred yards from the house, and the sun sets right over the water.

So apparently the next day was sort of left open for all of us to unwind and unpack. Our house also had the exciting task of cleaning. Our house was quite disgusting when we arrived. The kitchen lacked a refrigerator, and the entire stove and oven was covered in soot and grime. The bathroom was especially gross. There was no toilet paper or shower curtain. Pieces of ceiling tile, paint, and dirt had collected in the bathtub. The whole house had wood floors that were dusty and dirty. Windows were brown. There was a hole in the support of one side of the big couch.

We spent the day toiling away to make our abode habitable. We were tired but satisfied with our work.

It must have been Saturday that we learned some important information: unit and team. Name tags were delivered to the houses. Ours were in red marker, and once everyone had gathered in the gym for lunch or dinner, we noticed that some others were in blue. I speculated to my roommates that that must mean we were in the Fire Unit, and the others were in Ice. They were both like, "Oh, yeah! That must be it! You are so smart!" They said that a lot that first month. I was 22 that year, and they were both under 21, I'm not sure if that was why. Anyway.

A bit later (another meal later? right away? I don't remember the details), each of us received a fun-size candy bar with another name tag on it. I got a Mounds bar, and my last name was misspelled by a letter. A few minutes later, we were all released and told to find the other people that had the same type of candy bar. It took maybe ten minutes for everyone to get matched up, and then, voila, we had been divided into our teams. (That wasn't how or when they chose our teams, that's just how they revealed it to us.)

The view out of my other window. The two closest houses belonged to some cute boy team leaders. That's the bay behind them, and Havre de Grace is on the opposite shore. Note all the dead trees and general starkness of the winter scenery.  Posted by Hello

Our humble house on Fourth Street. The top left window was one of mine. As the weather got warmer, the porch became a haven for countless spiders and crickets. We had to fight them with a broom.  Posted by Hello

Not too shabby for not getting any sleep! This was my ID badge photo taken right upon arrival at the Point.  Posted by Hello

A productive end to the day

Well, I came home and puttered around online, not doing anything for a number of hours.

But then! Talked Mom through Snapfish and decided to get myself cracking. So I graded all the holiday packet stuff AND input it all in the computer. Then I put in a few more things in there, like notebook grades and participation. There's many more things to input still, but I made a dent at least.

God, only one more day left of the weekend. I can't even think about it. Shit, I am so fucked. I really want to make this next week of lessons a good batch, so we get the new quarter off to a new start. That requires planning and creative thinking, both of which require extensive periods of time. Something that I do not have this weekend. At least not if I want to remain sane.

Working on Chapter 2, which is short. Chapter 3 will be fairly vague and cover much more time.
Found more Ameri-blogs today, which is fun. Good luck and have fun to all of the new Class XI!

A productive start to the weekend

I set my alarm for 9am, and went into school. I stayed for two and a half hours, grading posters and reports. I did well, only a few left.

I meant to come home and keep working, but apparently I felt like I deserved a break, because I haven't done anything productive at home yet except for starting a load of laundry.

So let's see. I need to finish up those reports, then enter the numbers into the computer. Then I must attack the written portions of the holiday packet and midterm. Blah. Enter all that and calculate final grades.

Not to mention plan for the week, for my new unit--narrative accounts (fictional and autobiographical).

You know you're an AmeriCorps Alum when...

You Know You Are An AmeriCorps Alumni When:

* All your stories start with "Oh man, this one time in AmeriCorps. . ."
* You think nothing of borrowing someone else's microwave.
* You burn yourself with the hot water because you didn't realize that not all houses were broken.
* Your best friend loves 2000 miles away.
* You're wearing jeans, and you try to put something in your side pocket.
* You're wearing jeans, and you wonder why people AREN'T looking at you funny.
* You're wearing jeans, and you wish you weren't.
* Before going somewhere new, you prep yourself to give "the speech"
* You're obsessed with Wal-Mart.
* You wonder why people don't ask who you are.
* You think nothing of calling up all your friends to ask if they want to go to Wal-Mart with you.
* You think nothing of calling up all your friends to ask if they want to go volunteer 5:00AM on a Saturday.
* . . .and it does not even cross your mind they might say no.
*You know what a "pulaski" is
*You look at every 15 passenger van you pass on the road
*You can make taco's for 8 carnivores, 2 vegetarians and 1 vegan and only spend $18.oo
*You know what TL, STL, CM, PT, ATL, ESL, etc. stand for
*You can tell a story about every paint stain on your BDU's
*You played Mother-May-I or Sharks and Minnows and called it PT
*You have had scabies/lice/chiggers...fill in the blank
*You sometimes wear your steel-toed boots for fun
*You want to put on the orange safety vest to back your friends' cars out of parking spaces.
*You know what a fireline is, even though you're not a firefighter.
*On any volunteer project, you wear your old BDUs and steel toes. You also bring your own work gloves. Then you scoff at people who wore sneakers and jeans to pull weeds.
*You think it hasn't been a hard days' work unless you've gotten dirty in three places. In fact, you love collecting dirt and paint and other "war wounds."
*When doing manual labor, you still want to play games like 20 Questions and the Inital Game. Then wonder why other people look at you funny.
*You really miss those big side pockets when it's time to go on a plane.
*But you're really glad that you bought your round-trip ticket well ahead of time and thus don't have to be searched on every leg of every trip.
*You see people lugging three suitcases around the airport and brag to yourself in your head about The Red Bag.
*You know what it means to "cut in a ceiling" and are very good at it.
*You have stories--more than one--involving wildlife in your living quarters.
*When you hear about a hurricane/flood/disaster, you get excited because part of you still thinks, "Ooh! Maybe I'll get called!"
*You still get a thrill from free t-shirts.
*You think to yourself that those regular folk know NOTHING about true teamwork, diversity, and overcoming odds.

Friday, January 28, 2005

A huge milestone

Today is the last day of second quarter. That means that I have made it through the first half of my first year teaching! HURRAH!

I gave the midterm today (a multiple-choice test), and added a writing portion (a four square and then a five paragraph essay) for Classes A and C (Class B only has one period on Fridays, so they just got the regular test). It proved excellent for behavior control, which surprised and delighted me. The scores, however, proved that I'm not doing a good job of preparing them for the big city test this spring. Out of all three classes, two students got a high of 25. Out of 33. That's not so pretty. I decided to be kind and grade it on a curve. Most of the students will still get Ds or Fs, but at least I'm making an effort to make up for my own lacking.

On a positive note, with all the students silent and engaged in the test, I was able to quickly mark all the homework. Way to multi-task, me.

So it's Friday. I need to finish up the grades. I got the notebook checks done yesterday (whee!), but I still need to grade the posters, the speeches, and the reports themselves. Good god, that sounds like a lot. Oh god, plus the written midterms and the written holiday packets. Jesus, that IS a lot. Then lots of numbers will need to be entered in the computer.

Boo hoo. This is a weekend that I would really love to celebrate with lots of relaxing and alcohol, but instead I'll be at school tomorrow morning, and spending many hours working my ass off.

The grades are due on Tuesday, but if I get them done by Monday, then, hey, I'll be pretty proud of myself, and I can focus more on my lesson planning.

After school, I stayed for two hours, correcting some papers and changing around some posters. I put up a couple new ones and took down older ones. This quarter I really slacked off with charts. Partly because there's not that much room to put stuff up on the walls. They get crowded very quickly. But even so, I need to be better. It theoretically helps the kids remember things, and it helps me with evidence of my teaching for admin and parents.

Tonight there was an "East Indian Cultural Extravaganza" that was organized by Class C's inclusion teacher, and that several of my students were participating in. It was supposed to start at 6.30, though, and I was bored and needed food. So first I went to the library (grabbing two donuts on the way), got four YA historical fiction novels, then stopped at a grocery store for snacks to tide me over. The show started late, of course. But it was fun. My students did well, and the audience was really excited. And, they held a raffle at the end of the performances, and I won a prize! It was a good one, too, a L'Oreal gift bag.

Stay tuned for more AmeriChapters! I was pleased with the amount of things I remembered from my journey to the Point. The next piece I remember a good amount too, but the whole first month sort of blends together.

Damn you, Travelocity. One-day sale to London, Paris or Frankfurt for $233! Just right in the middle of school and the trip I've already planned. Paris! How I miss you, even though it's only been a year.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Getting there: AmeriCorps, Chapter 1

About three years ago this week, I left home and joined AmeriCorps. In honor of this anniversary that makes me feel old, here are my memories of the journey. I'm going strictly from my memory, no reference from old journals or anything.

I know that I'd been nervous about getting the flight information, because it took so long to arrive. And I called Fred at the campus, who assured me it was on its way and also that there would be 10 or 12 other new CMs on the same flight. He told me to put the AmeriCorps sticker on my shirt or coat, and look for other stickers.

I arrived at the airport, it was late evening. Late enough for the gate areas to be quite empty, but not late enough to be the middle of the night. We were in one of the old, blue gate areas, S or N or C, not the fancy, white, modern A gates or whatever. I was so nervous. I went into the bathroom and noticed the girl in front of me had an AmeriCorps sticker on her gray messenger bag. I was excited, that it was all becoming real, but I was too shy to say anything to her. (That girl turned out to be Dezirae, on my team!)

After I got out of the bathroom, I called a friend to chat and talk about how nervous I was. I sat in a deserted stretch of chairs, and I remember the lighting was kind of dim there. I felt anxious and young and shy.

A few minutes later, I spotted a group of young people who were talking and laughing. Then I noticed a few AmeriCorps stickers among them. It was them, the other new AmeriCorps members! At first, I shrank into my seat, too intimated at the thought of trying to go up to them. Then I told myself that they were just like me, nervous and wanting to meet other new people. So I took a deep breath and went up to them. They smiled and welcomed me to sit down and join them.

I met a guy from Bellingham (who ended up being Brodie, on my team also), a guy from Alaska, and a bunch of girls from around the area. One was Kelly, who turned out to be a housemate, and Traci, who was in the house next door. They were all fun and excited and it helped me feel so much better to not be on my own anymore.

All of us got 'randomly searched' before we could get on the plane (we quickly got used to that; every single time we traveled for AmeriCorps we were flagged, since our tickets were last minute and one-way). I think we flew to Detroit or somewhere in the middle, excitedly chattering most of the way, even though the hour was late. However, when we landed at that middle stop, we all had out our pillows and tried to get some extra sleep. The layover was an hour or two, or something. It was a quiet one.

We got searched again on the next leg, and flew to Baltimore. No one was really sure what was supposed to happen there. We were standing around the baggage claim, we'd gotten our stuf, and were asking each other, isn't someone supposed to pick us up? Then soon a serious-looking young guy in a green shirt came to collect us. A girl was there too, and each of them packed all of our crap into their two fifteen-passenger government vans.

Christine drove me and a few others from the Baltimore airport to Perry Point, it was about an hour, and we peppered her with nonstop questions for a good half hour. What are the houses like? What's Perry Point like? When do we find out our teams? What's the deal with the units and teams and houses and stuff? What is a spike? What are they like? When do we find out our projects? etc etc. She was really patient and answered all of our questions nicely, not once sounding annoyed. We were so excited and anxious and had no idea what to expect.

See, all the stuff they sent us was pretty vague, in that department. Not many details about anything at all. And none of us did this newfangled internet thing, like the newbies are now, where the alums tell you about anything and everything. It was kind of fun, going into the whole thing sort of blind. Like a reality TV show. It really is like Road Rules, except without the cameras. Same age range, same cheesy rolling transportation, same blind-adventure mission philosophy.

Anyway, I drifted off for the last half hour of the van ride, and woke up in Perryville. Christine was talking about there being mostly old white people in the town. The weather was gray and drizzly, if not outright raining. We pulled around the corner and entered the Point.

Referrer Fun

This site comes up at number 2 if you type in "people geting killed" into the yahoo search engine.

Spelled correctly, I'm at number 85.

Both of them come from the series of letters that my students wrote to the president.

Occasionally there is a search actually done for the title "Mildly Melancholy." In yahoo, if you type that in, I come up numbers one AND two. Whee!

On the bright side, this week I discovered two other sites that have me in their blogroll links! Hurrah!

Righteous Indignance versus (forced) "Flexibility"

There's an ongoing issue with the parent of one of the students in Class C. Honestly, she's a bully and no one stands up to her. She goes crying to my boss or his boss anytime she thinks her precious child has been slighted. Even if he's 'broken' the homework policy that his mother signed.

At my AP's suggestion, back in late November/early December, I sent home a letter to the parents that outlined the grading policy and the homework policy. The mainstay of the latter is that NO LATE HOMEWORK WILL BE ACCEPTED.

At the first day back from break, this student didn't have one part of the holiday packet. So he turned it what he had and, the next day, when he'd found it, I did not accept it.

So his mother went straight to my AP and complained about.

WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? He did not have the homework on time, so he does not get to turn it in later. No credit for late homework. NO LATE HOMEWORK ACCEPTED.

And now I'm getting talks from the AP *AND* the principal about being "flexible" and "bending my rules" and "rolling with the punches."

Letting one student get late credit for homework is NOT bending. It's bending over.

And it is total bullshit.

This woman is a bully. She obviously believes she is above the rules. SHE SIGNED THE LETTER EXPLAINING THAT THERE IS NO LATE HOMEWORK ACCEPTED. Why does she want ME to answer to the irresponsibility of her SON misplacing his fucking homework?

I'm having a really hard time with this. This has been going on since October, people. The AP and now the principal acquiesce to all her outlandish requests, so of course she has zero respect for my authority over my own goddamn classroom. Now I'm supposed to "bend" my rules and let her outright break them.

I have high standards for myself and for people around me. Since I am now a teacher, that extends to my students. I don't baby them; I expect them to do the work and get it done when they are supposed to. They are learning that the consequence for not doing homework or losing it or whatever is to get a zero. This will help them learn responsibility. Sure, they're eleven years old. I read a great quote today to support my position on this: "If we are spoon fed all the time, the only thing we learn is the shape of the spoon."

Now, I certainly need to work on the way I write homework assignments, to make it more accessable and achievable by more students. That's something that I'm working on, slowly but surely. But homework is homework, and it needs to be done every night. I'm rigid about it, but the kids know it and they at least are resigned to it. There are no questions or debates about it. It's been written up on my homework banner since November 1, the first day of second quarter.

Why does one pesky parent get to overstep those boundaries and expectations?

Teachers, what do you think about this? Am I being unreasonably moralistic? Or am I in the right? Does it even matter in the long run? Am I wasting my breath, since my principal is now urging me to cave in?

I have agreed to accept the late document and give it half credit. I tried to take a deep breath and just let it go. But then I kept thinking about it and it's really eating at me.

Midterm is tomorrow. I'm sure there's a lot more I should write about today, but I should try and figure out what to do with the classes the other periods after that's done tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Still extremely tired, again, some more.

Um, let's see. So the presentations began in earnest today. Class A finished theirs. Class B had trouble shutting up to hear theirs. Class C tried not to fall asleep during theirs, but at least they were quiet.

A group of girls in Class B actually did a skit. It was cute and the class loved it. All the other groups have just straight read their reports.

To keep the rest of the class interested, I told them that they need to give feedback and grades for each presentation. After we started, I realized that it was really dumb to not quantify the grades thing. We should have created a rubric together, last week, so that they would have been more prepared for doing their own, as well as for grading the others. BAD TEACHER!

I need to figure out what to do with Class A for one period tomorrow. Class B will probably end up with some time to kill too. Quite possibly Class C also. The midterm is Friday, so some review would be a good idea, except that they would not shut up for it. I would need some kind of worksheet or thing for them to copy. Ooh, how about that pop quiz? I'll think about that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A new song

It is called "I am so tired" and this is the chorus. More lyrics coming soon.

I am so tired
so tired, so tired,
tra la la
I am so tired.

Fuck, I already wrote this post once. Blogger, why do you hate me today?

So I am very tired.

Superquick rundown of the day, and then I will go to sleep:
no presentations in Class B, we did Main Idea and then some Cause and Effect.

Two presentations in Class A. Zero eye contact in either of them, but good information.

Class C, no presentations, Main Idea and Cause/Effect.

There was more the last time, but I am tired. No more for you.

Dammit, I need to write an AmeriCorps entry before Thursday, too. I wanted to do that tonight. Maybe after a shower. Otherwise, good night.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Snow Day Monday

This has to be quick, because it is about my bedtime.

Lots of people were absent today--whee! The first two periods of the day, the entire sixth grade sat in the auditorium and watched Catwoman. Just in case you're asking yourself, no, it's not really that appropriate for eleven-year-olds. But anyway. It was a fun treat for them, and for us teachers as well (to not be teaching, the film itself was a bit lame).

So we went into third period. I was a bit nervous about teaching in this condition. On the way to the train, I had to stop--twice--on the sidewalk to cough and hack and gag and spit. Lovely. My throat is still pretty sore. The coughing is acting up more and more.

I was with Class A. I let them know that they really needed to be quiet, since I can't raise my voice. They did alright. Only four kids were absent from that class, but they still did okay. I pushed back the deadline for the proposal stuff til Wednesday, and also announced a contest for best presentation.

After that, we played Apples to Apples. Right? Yeah, for like one or two rounds, I think.

At lunch, I let a small group of kids play the new Taboo for Kids. They liked it.

Half of Class B was there today. That period was quick, we talked about the proposal updates and got in some quality Apples to Apples. The class behaved very well for that. And in fact, here's a good a-ha moment I'd like to share: there's this kid in that class. Sometimes I forget about him because he's only there half the time. When he's there, he does no work and tends to be extremely disruptive, disrespectful, and other negative things.

So today, he sat himself at a table that was sort of isolated, but still acting up. I told him that I'm going to be writing a letter to all the administrators about him and his behavior, so whatever he wanted me to write, he better show it. If he wants to keep talking and disrupting, go right ahead, it will go in the letter. He nodded, but he didn't care.

Anyway, so later, I moved a few students around to tables so that we had five 'teams.' But I totally ignored that kid, moved the other kids around him to other tables, and played a few rounds not even looking at him. To his credit, he just sat there, he didn't try anything.

But after maybe ten minutes had gone by, I went over to him quietly while the other groups were deliberating their choices. I said to him, "I'd love for you to join in and play, but I just need to make sure you'll have the right attitude. Can you do that?" He nodded. So I went to the nearest table, of good students, and said, "I'm going to have him join your team. He's promised to have the right attitude." None of them protested or anything, which was a relief.

And you know what? I saw him get into it right away, leaning in, participating with his group. I didn't hear fighting, cursing, name-calling, nothing from that corner. So he kept that right attitude.

Class C I actually had for two periods. Half of that class was gone too. So they did some independent reading, I talked about the proposal stuff, and then I decided, since that class has already played Apples to Apples in class, to try out Taboo. The teams were quite large, so it was a bit unwieldy. I explained how to do it, what's on the cards and stuff. We rotated clue-giving, and every single time a kid did it for the first time, they did not understand. Even though they'd tried to yell at the other kids who didn't get it. So I had to explain the concept over and over again. Oh well. They seemed to really get into it.

Mr Principal is truly a great man. He is driven and passionate about education, but also humble. He has a real vision for the future of the school, and is implementing plans all the time. One of the great projects is the CD and DVD. Mr Principal himself did some rapping, and so did some students, but it's all positive messages about school and education. Then a bunch of students wrote, produced, edited, and starred in a music video.

Tonight was the red-carpet premiere of the DVD video. There were performances from student groups, many speakers, including the Chancellor of Schools and the Deputy Mayor of New York, and then finally the video documentary and music video.

I'll have to fill in more later, because I have to go rest now. It is late. I am full of coughing. Please work, Theraflu that I have just drunk.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Boo hoo, the weekend is over

But the snowy neighborhood outside is so lovely!

The power went out this morning. I thought, "ooh that's going to suck once it gets dark, but if it stays off all day, then whoops, I wouldn't be able to set my alarm for Monday..." Bugger all, it came back on three hours later. I spent the time well, writing and thinking about my next "unit" of study. I'm getting excited for it, it should be much more fun for the students.

I FINALLY did some work with those holiday packets! All I did was separate the scantrons from the packet, and take out the written portion of the packet too, and mark whether the student got the extra 5 points. It took awhile, and it may not sound very productive, but I promise you, it makes me feel so much better. It will be extremely easy to finish grading them now that that first organizational step is out of the way.

I watched Mean Girls, one of the DVDs I bought what, last week? Funny stuff. I feel old though, because I really relate so much more to Tina Fey's character. Kind of because I want to be her. Partly because Tina Fey herself is awesome, but also because her Ms N is so honest and bumbling, but intelligent.

Then I searched around the net and put together some cause and effect things. That means I'll need to make copies in the morning, that will suck.

Even though the wind was still howling, the sky cleared and the sun came out early this afternoon. So, since I'd been cooped up for two days, and needed food, and I really wished I could just go play in the snow, I got all dressed in layers and walked to the store. There were other people out and about, many of them shoveling driveways or the drifts surrounding their cars. The drifts from the wind and the plows combined to become pretty impressive snow dunes, up to three feet high. That made interesting sidewalk/side street intersections. If no one had already cleared a path through the dune, you just have to figure out how to get over it or through it.

The weather was not bad. The wind wasn't constant, and the sun was pleasant. Some of the big lawns were still covered in pristine blankets of white snow. It felt nice to crunch over the packed snow on the sidewalk, and look at the other crazy people walking around, wearing too many clothes.

So now it's already nearly 9.30. I need to hop in the shower and "finalize" my lessons for tomorrow. I'm not sure what sort of day it will be, normal or snow-different. Meaning, will everyone make it? If not, and we have lots of absent kids, that would so rock. We could just read and play educational games. So that's why this week's plans are a bit hazy; they could actually start on time, or up to two days late.

Speaking of absences, I wager I'll be wanting to take one myself. My throat is not really progressing much. The coughing/hacking/gagging act is still the main show, and, well, trust me, I am gross. Yuck. But I really can't spare a day at all, big surprise. Wish me luck in getting through the day. And week, if it comes to that.

Thank you, kind commenter, for your apology. I'm glad you understand better now. Negative comments do have the benefit of making me closely examine my habits and attitudes, which is a good thing to do every once in a while. But again, thank you for being nice about it.

Wheee!! Blizzard!!

Still hasn't stopped snowing. The wind is now going fairly strong, occasionally blowing the snow completely horizontal. Awesome.

It looks like there's about a foot built up around here, but again, it's hard to tell without actually going outside. I have absolutely no clothes that would even pretend to be snow-appropriate, so it's a good thing I'm comfortable being a hermit. I'll just stay inside until tomorrow morning.

Also, the phlegm has arrived. Causing lots of coughing fits, hacking and gagging. FUN.

Last night's attempt at sleep was only marginally better than the night before. I appear to have use of one nostril, but not the other. That's not enough to actually breathe normally, of course, so I kept waking up, moaning in frustration and pain.

I dreamt about being a teacher, I think I might have even been a male teacher. Anyway, I made up a project and it was awesome. Wish I could remember something more about it.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Five hours into it, and getting dark

It looks like there's at least four inches of snow out there. It has not stopped, and like I said before, it's supposed to just keep on going. Is that all a blizzard is, just lots of snow without stopping? I thought it would be a stormy, frenzy of snow...or something.

I'm definitely thinking about the project deadline for Monday. With this snow, I'm not sure how we're going to do things. Or how I'm going to try and orchestrate it. I think I need to wait until tomorrow after the snow stops. I could let them turn things in on Wednesday, but no time in class to do it. There's a reason I made the deadline on a Monday, so that the kids could meet up and go to the library and everything. During the week, a bunch of kids do the after school program and don't get out until 6 or something, and then they and their parents complain about them not being able to get on a computer. There's no way I'm going to extend the deadline a whole week, especially since grades will be due next Tuesday. No, I think Wednesday might have to work, and they'll just have to do what they can to finish it up. Thank goodness it's a group thing and hopefully one person in each group has a computer and can type stuff.

Regarding the most recent comment here:
"...You don't sound like you have the patience to be a teacher. If he is a problem child, you need to give him extra attention....i mean that's your job!"

I've been trying to think how to address this, without just reacting. Negative comments bug me for the obvious personal reasons, and sometimes I can let it go without defending myself. Because really, these people may read this, but they don't know me. They're not in the classroom with me. These kinds of personal judgments and name-calling, that's not okay with me. So here I am, I'm going to respond to this, to try to shed a bit more light on the issue.
I have several points I need to make, so bear with me. Let me know if I'm articulate enough.

1. Giving a struggling student extra attention is one thing. That IS my job. That's not the problem. The problem in this case has several aspects that you may or may not have gotten from my entries. First, most obviously, the abuse of my personal time. SIX PHONE CALLS IN LESS THAN TWENTY FOUR HOURS. That is not okay with me. Occasional calls to check up on things, or to clarify an occasional homework assignment, I have no problem with that, I'm more than happy to help. But that's not what this is.

I'm not getting calls from the student himself. I'm not even getting calls from his sister on his behalf. The calls are on HER behalf. Her words are always things like, "I don't understand what he's supposed to do," not something like, "He's confused about this part of the assignment."
Do you see the difference?

Here's one example from the Friday conversation. She told me that she asked him what his group said, but that she didn't understand him. So she was like, what should he do? I told her, "He needs to call his group and find out. *I* don't know what they said. It's up to him to remember or call them. I am not responsible for their work, THEY are. You need to talk to him, not me. "

Like I think I mentioned, this child's homework is clearly not done by him, so the phone calls are for her to tell the tutor what to do. Does this make sense?

If he was paying any kind of attention at all in class, he might have a clarifying question or two now and then. That's cool. But I get these calls on a regular basis. So clearly, he's not doing anything in class, and instead of making him responsible and accountable for what happens in school, she just calls me, asks me what to do, and then has the freaking tutor do it anyway.

He's not the one getting extra attention here. SHE is. He is the one that needs it. I let him know about my suspicions yesterday, and next week I plan on calling his sister and talking to her about it, to figure out how we can make sure he is understanding and doing the work. THAT IS MY JOB. My job is not to constantly answer redundant, repetitive questions. That is just dumb and it gets on my nerves. I don't deal well with people who act stupid or ignorant like that.

Let me see if I can help you understand this. Imagine someone coming up to you and asking you the time. You respond and say, "it's 2.45" or whatever. Then they stand there and say, "so do you know what time it is?" You try not to roll your eyes and repeat that it is 2.45. They reply: "So it's 2.45?" "Yes." "So you're saying it's a quarter to three?" "YES." Would that get on your nerves? I'm not joking, that's the type of conversation I had with her on Thursday AND Friday nights.

2. There's so much focus on students' progress and stuff (which, of course, is the whole point of school), but the teachers get ignored. It seems like there are a lot of idealists out there who believe that all teachers are or should be mellow, loving, hippy-dippy sorts.

Well, two things about that: one, any teacher like that, at ANY school level, in New York City schools would seriously get their asses handed to them. I'm not even mellow or loving, and these eleven-year-olds keep trying to walk all over me. My colleagues tell me over and over to get meaner and bitchier, to make them feel bad about themselves so they'll behave. It's a completely different world here than where I went to school.

Second, teachers are people too. We are not blank robots who spew out times tables or parts of speech without reacting to the students or teachers around us. We have emotions and problems and all that. Each teacher is a unique person with their own characteristic strengths and weaknesses, and as long as they are actually working hard and doing their job, there is nothing wrong with that. It sounds silly and obvious, but it's true. We are doing our best. I am doing my best. I am learning every day.

Patience IS a virtue. I would be the first to tell you that I am far from perfect, and that I have plenty of things to work on, in my personal and professional life. This job is beyond difficult, and anyone not in the profession really cannot empathize with that. If you think that reading the blog of a teacher enables you to know what that person actually goes through every day, and gives you the right to judge it and them, then you are mistaken. You are not in the classroom with me. Judge what you like from this site, but you need to realize that you are not making a fully-informed decision, as you only see part of the picture. Yes, often that picture is a frustrated one, because this is the toughest year of my life. So deal with it. That's all I'm trying to do.

If I hung up on her, or refused to answer her questions, or yelled at her, or some other inappropriate thing, then go ahead and tell me I'm not doing the right thing. I'd agree with you. But I'm standing up for myself, my integrity and privacy, and goddamn it, I have a right to do that. I'm also trying to stand up for the integrity of this kid. Projects and homework are not assigned for parents or siblings to DO for the students. Helping is one thing. DOING for them is wholly another.

Blizzard Updates 2005

It is noon, and the snow is falling fairly gently here, nothing really sticking yet. I just heard on NBC that it will snow until noon tomorrow and there may be up to TWO feet of snow. I doubt that for around here, though. Maybe further out on the island. We'll see.

So last night was pretty ugly for me. My throat hurt really bad and I could hardly eat because swallowing was so painful. I finally went to bed at 12.30, but could not at all breathe through my nose. I hate that and I can't sleep that way. Plus, for some reason, my phone rang four times. The calling number was just listed as "425" which is the area code of my phone. Hm, suspicious. The last time, I woke up and answered it in time, but got no response. And then I just turned it off. No voicemails this morning.

All of that was around 2am. Then, at six, I was awake again, not being able to breathe. I popped some decongestant and returned to bed, tossing and turning.

At 8 I was awake again, and I got up that time. Good news is that swallowing is not as painful now, so I can eat normally again. Haven't done anything all morning, and also took a little nap.

Snow looks a bit thicker now. Eee!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Blizzard Warning!

Between six and twelve inches of snow are expected to fall between tonight and Sunday. Whee! It has been years since I've seen that kind of snowfall. I'm excited. As you and I both know, I'm more than comfortable staying in my house all weekend.

So it's now Friday! I am thrilled, of course.

Thursday was a long, busy day. My throat hurt, but I could still talk fairly normally. I think my classes were okay. I went over the expectations for the final written proposal, the oral presentation, and the presentation board. Class C got all whiny and indignant about the typed requirement, which was just ridiculous because they knew about that back in December, as did their parents, if they actually read the notice I sent home with them. Grr.

While handing back drafts yesterday in Class B, I stopped by this one girl's desk and said to her, "[Student], you are such a great writer! You do a really good job of writing with voice and engaging the reader. I hope to see more work from you." She grinned and got all squirmy. It was cute.

After school, I talked to another first-year teacher who has some great resource books for test prep. Then, all too soon, it was time for the big meeting.

I think altogether eight parents showed up. That was good, I was happy with that. The parents seemed amenable to the AP's message: basically, the kids need to shape up. I showed them the ELA conduct sheet, and a parent made a couple suggestions to make it better. I agreed to redo it and try to get it out to all these kids at the beginning of next week (or possible the week after, since that will be the first week of the new quarter). Little C's cousin was there, she's also a new teacher and knows not to fall for Little C's sob stories about not feeling good. I already knew that because the day before, he'd tried to claim he felt sick. I told him straight out, "I do not believe you, because ten minutes ago, you were running around and wrestling in the hallway!" Anyway, she was nice.

Then, right as I was about to leave, another parent showed up and I talked to her and her son for another twenty minutes or so.

I left at six o'clock. Phew. My stomach had been rumbling for hours already, but right as I walked into my room to drop my stuff, the phone rang.

It was the sister of one of my struggling students. I get a lot of calls from her; she called me twice last night and tried to call FOUR TIMES today. She keeps asking the same questions over and over, not listening to my responses. She calls and asks me questions about what her brother is supposed to do. Either he does not pay any attention, or she's doing the work for him.

I very reluctantly just answered her most recent call. I was really irritated at last night's two calls, but I thought, ok, it's a new day, try to be patient. But then she went and asked me the same stupid questions over and over, and asking, "what should he do?" and "I asked him what to do and I couldn't understand him," and then, "so is the presentation board about the group project or his topic [the random tangent that he went off onto]?" After all the talk last night about group work, I was done. So I said, as stern as I could without being openly hostile, "Look. You need to talk to him. I don't know what he said. You keep asking me these questions that you should be asking him. Talk to him first, not me." Apparently she got the hint and said "um, okay, well, thank you, bye." This is what I get for calling people on my own cell phone and leaving my number too. So far no one has abused it, I've gotten a couple random calls from parents with questions, which is totally cool. But this? Calling four fucking times in one day? Not okay. She does not get any more of my personal time OR my daytime minutes. IT'S OVER.

Ohhkay. Deep breath, it's over, moving on.

How was today? It was Friday, and it was okay. Started off with Class A first period, and we did some quick test prep together. They were pretty good. Actually, quite good. I made sure to keep a very close eye on those boys whose parents I'd just seen, and praised and thanked them for their work. I've started making "good job" lists in my anecdote book, and I let the kids know when I'm putting their name on it. Then, they get a jelly bean at the end of class.

Once they went into group work, the group that includes Little K and Little C were not exactly model students. There was definitely time spent out of their seats and goofing around. Oh yeah: before class, Little C came up and said quietly, "Ms C, maybe next time we have new seats, I shouldn't sit with my friends, cause they distract me. And next time we do a project, maybe I'll take someone that does their work, because these kids distract me." I told him that I was sort of afraid that would happen, but I was glad he noticed and that he knew what he needed to do. It was very sweet. I was touched that he had the courage to admit that to me. He's a good kid.

Another group of girls has done not a thing in class all week long. The other group of boys that can be troublesome was fairly mellow today, if not exactly productive. The other three or four groups kept up their tradition of being mostly good students.

Altogether, pretty cool way to start the day.

Many kids had actually listened to my suggestion that they come in today at lunch to work on their projects. A few groups brought in their boards and got started cutting out letters for their titles, and figuring out their design. There must have been at least thirty kids in there, because there was a group crowded around each of the six tables. It was a bit chaotic. I tried not to get too cranky; I hate noise during lunch.

Class B was chatty, as usual. After waiting a good six minutes for them to get ready in the hallway before entering, it took awhile to go over the rubric checklist, so they had a mere four minutes to get in some logistical planning. Four minutes of chaos, and I just let it go. Probably not the best idea, but today is the last day of it, so I'm going to just relax and make sure to plan the next group project a lot differently.

Class C...I had to yell at them for excess chattiness and attitude. (I do my best to do it to keep them on their toes, not because I'm angry. I do get irritated, but I take it to the next step to keep them in line a bit. Like I've said before, it's kind of fun, putting on a mean teacher act.) They did well with the test prep, though. The group stuff was a little chaotic, but I guess I've seen worse.

With all this blizzard hullaballoo, I'm contemplating allowing them to turn things in a bit later. I won't tell them this, of course. We'll see how the weekend goes.

"Why English Teachers Die Young"

I apologize for sticking an emailed forward in here. But this one, it's just too funny. I do apologize if it's been going around for months and you're tired of it.
Actual Analogies and Metaphors Found in High School Essays.
1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.
9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.
16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.
18. Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Jack. But unlike Jack, this plan just might work.
21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
23. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells,as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
26. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.
27. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
28. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Y'all, it hurts, even more now

The throat, the glands, the headache....owww, and waaaahh.

Despite this unwelcome development in my health, I was a good, productive girl. I made those calls and then actually graded papers! Hurrah for me! (I'm proud of myself because I graded last night's homework on the train this morning, and then very hurriedly during a prep while simultaneously finishing an informal conference with Ms F. Bad me! No more procrastination!)

Between 8.20 and 9.00, a few of my brain cells died while watching the atrocious something Swimsuit Model Search something. Good lord, it was all either whining or gratuitous shots of bikini-clad young girls. LAME.

It's 9.05 now and I am going to bed. I'm not holding out for much improvement in the morning. I wonder how well I'll be able to talk? Oh jesus, there's no way I can call in tomorrow; I have that meeting at 4 with all those parents! Please help me get through all that, I think it's going to suck.

"Help Meeeee" says my throat

Ooh, my throat feels weird. It hurts to swallow, but sort of like there's something squeezing my throat from the outside. And I can feel my lymph nodes, a bit swollen. Not to mention some sinus pressure. Waah, boo, etc.

So. Today was alright. They were supposed to write the Background/Historical Info section and get started on the Issue section.

Ms F came in for Class A this morning. Of course, they did excellently for the first half of class. The second half they were a bit chatty, naturally. Four or five students stayed on task the whole time. I gave them a jelly bean.

Ooh, I had a coverage fourth. That meant none of my lunchtime regulars could stay and get some work done. But the class was not too bad, actually. I brought in the BrainQuest that I got over the weekend, and played that in teams. They behaved pretty well and were involved. That's cool. What a difference!

Class B was not very ideal. Three students were on task the entire time. Big D might have his name changed to Dispicable Jackass. He absolutely does not deserve to be in school at all. I'm going to be writing a letter to the administration about the fact that he verbally and physically assaults other students, blatantly flouts the rules, and to top it off, does not even pretend to work.

Anyway. Class C was okay. Only one student was on task the entire time. Eh.

Shit, I need to make some phone calls. And grade papers. And then go to bed. I went to sleep at 10 last night but am still worn out.

Oh, I forgot--it snowed today, twice! For awhile during second period (it only briefly distracted the kids, thank god), and also after school. Whee, pretty.

This is classic: yesterday at our 6th grade ELA common planning (three of us are new teachers), someone mentioned midterms. As in, we have to give them. They get their own column in the report cards. Has ANYONE mentioned a WORD about midterms, at ALL? NEVER.

Then the "weekly circular" that was distributed yesterday says, "Midterms must be given the week of Jan 18." Yesterday was the 18th. That's this week.

Any of you out there want to call bullshit?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Friday Countdown starts early this week

Okay, yeah, I don't feel good. In mind or in spirit. It's still fucking cold inside. Okay, I just put gloves on. GLOVES ON. INFUCKINGDOORS!

My headache is still there, a little more dull, a little more achy. It sort of feels like it's in my sinuses too, or something. Uh oh, that's not good. Maybe the throat tickle (which is a little louder than a tickle) is not a fluke. Dammit, if I'm getting sick, I can't let myself take another day off. I just took on not even two full weeks ago. SHIT. Three more days until the weekend!

At the moment I'm just feeling defeated, down, depressed, and some other negative D words.

No, I'm not much more nutritioned than I was last week. Still not enough food, or sleep either. I think I will crash very early tonight, maybe that will help. See how icky I feel? I don't even care about television. True, I will be taping Scrubs and SVU, but normally I would watch The Amazing Race. I don't care about it anymore, though, so I might as well quit watching it and wasting time.

You know what I do want? Just a hug. Someone who will listen to me groan and reassure me that things will be fine and then give me a nice big cushy hug. It doesn't matter too much; a friend, a boy, a parent, I'm not choosy.

These gloves seem to helping my cold-ass hands. I guess that's something. Dangit, now I'm shivering (don't worry, it's probably more emotion than temperature; I'm pretty sure I can't get hypothermia indoors. The ice water probably does not help either).

Holy Numb Hands, Batman

It's another frigid day--according to Yahoo weather, it "feels like -1." I must say I agree. I was outside after school for perhaps four minutes without gloves or coat, and it was painfully cold. Even with coat and gloves, my hands went painfully numb (that may or may not be an oxymoron, but it's true nonetheless).

Last night there was no heat on inside, and I could hardly feel my hands, even after I'd been in my cozy bed. (My bed has a top sheet and then five blankets--no sane reason to be cold in there!) And it's not any better so far this evening. I can't tell you how much I loathe being cold when inside a house that should be warm. To get feeling into my fingers, I literally have to warm my hands over the flame of that yummy pear candle. RIDICULOUS.

Okay, moving on. Everyone knows that it's rude and gross to eat on the train, right? Well, on the F train this afternoon, there were two teenagers, a boy and a girl. They were conducting some kind of potato chip taste test. There were four or five small bags of chips, and they kept switching between them. "This one?" Crunch, smack, crunch. A few minutes later: "How about that one?" Crunch, crunch, smack. There was talk like, "One hundred calories." "TWO hundred calories." And more crunching and smacking. Not to mention the half-bag's worth of chips and pretzels littering the floor beneath their seat.


Right, so continuing the day's journey backwards....

Today's lesson/work (in extended writing workshop--no reading) was to write the introduction and start the conclusion. I used another food metaphor--the Belgian waffle--to teach the introduction paragraph. (I don't think any of the kids had ever heard of a Belgian waffle, interestingly.) They all thought it was eggs or a donut or something. Anyway, my paper waffle had whip cream and a cherry.

The cherry represents the opening sentence to draw in the reader (I am quite pleased at how that worked out!). We quickly reviewed the strategies to engage the reader, and for two classes I played a couple of the songs that we had worked with back in the fall. Then each member of the group was supposed to use one of the strategies to write an opening sentence about their own topic. Then they'd have five engaging sentences to choose from.

The waffle is obviously the most important part of the breakfast treat, right? No Belgian waffle without the waffle. Just like you can't have an introduction without a thesis! Ta-da! Theses are tough to explain; my attempt was that it's a topic sentence that also includes a judgment. I helped the groups along and I thought they sort of got it. Or not. Who knows.

The whip cream follows the cherry, continuing the train of thought that then leads up to the waffle. Meaning, after the opening sentence, you have two or three general sentences that talk about the topic and then lead right into the thesis.

THEN, the conclusion is a Belgian waffle that fell to the floor, face down. Now the thesis (rephrased this time) is first, followed by two or three sentences that generally and quickly summarize the problem and solution, and last is the closing sentence, which also must be engaging.

So there's my lesson. I thought it was pretty clever, and also useful, and productive for the students, because if they did their work, their intro should have been done by the end of class, and the conclusion should not have been too tough after that.

By now you're on the edge of your seat--how did they do? Class B was first and second period.
They were good first period, and second period were chatty. Big D was great first period, but not on task second. Another troublesome boy, M, did very well both periods.

Class A was not good at all. Well, that's not true. More than half the class wanted to learn. The last eight boys, including The Asshole, Little K, Little C, Loud E, and a few more would not shut up or stay in their seats. Nothing really got done. At all. Boo. I was irritated at them and at me.

Class C did fairly well. They were chatty during eighth period, but most of them still got some work done.

I suppose the test is to see how many people turn in their intros and conclusions tomorrow (the homework).

I made a bunch of phone calls after school, letting parents know of behavior issues and the Thursday meeting. Did I talk about that already? The AP has set up a meeting for all the parents of all the students who have behavior problems. I'm very glad that he's supporting me on this, I just hope it works. If I had any pride to begin with, it's certain to be gone by then. I just had a parent imply that *I* was the problem because I couldn't control all the other problem students in the class--not caring about her own kid. Just because some kids are not doing the right thing does not mean that no one can.

I have a headache and feel slightly nauseated. And my throat hurts. Hm.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Service and giving

"It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."


I need to keep this in mind about my own teaching. I joined this program for a reason, and that reason is to make a difference, plant the seeds for future fruit (or something). I need to remind myself that even if the everyday struggles are tough, those seeds can still be planted and nurtured.

A Day ON, Not a Day Off

This morning, sometime between 1.30 and 8.30, it snowed! Only about an inch, but still, it made our street very pretty. It's been a lot colder the past couple days; the last three weeks have been nice and mild, so this cold comes as more of a shock. I mean, my hands are numb even with my newer, thicker gloves. Brrr.

This morning was the volunteer event with Children for Children. It was held in a gym in Manhattan, with a bunch of tables with different projects aimed to help different communities (kids in hospitals, homeless, elderly).

TWO of my students came to the event for extra credit! I was afraid that none would show up, so it was a relief. Plus, they seemed to have a good time. S and I worked putting together craft kits for hospitalized kids, and then stuffing 'surgery pal' dolls. F joined us later coloring 5x5 squares that became a mosiac mural. It was fun.

Even better than just volunteering, the organization had a Newsday reporter come out and interview us! The kids are really excited about that. (I'm a little excited about it, too, truth be told.) The reporter lady asked both of them how they felt about volunteering and Martin Luther King, Jr, and they both were articulate and heartfelt. Hurrah.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

"If you die, love continues..."

"Peace of mind is not only affordable, but priceless." "Rates of life insurance:..."

Whuh? That ad goes in about ten directions at once, and pretends to be all poignant and evocative, when really, it's just stupid.

Here's another one. A blurb on the cover of one of those women's lifestyle magazines:
"Walk the weight off" or something. Underneath, in smaller letters, "In 7 easy steps."

Um, how does walking to lose weight require seven steps? Unless they mean, like, TAKE seven steps, with your feet, out of your own door.

I say, two steps at the most: Start walking. Then walk a little more. DONE.

Needless to say, I had to see more of this charade. So I opened up the magazine, and Step 1 was: Commit to walking. Um, okay. That's reaching a bit, but I can see where they're coming from. Step 2: Start walking! "Dumbshit!" I add mentally. How are they going to stretch this out to seven steps? Step 3: Keep walking. No, really. I have no words. Then, they threw in a twist with Step 4: Add strength training. Steps 5, 6, and 7 I didn't really look at, because obviously they're stretching stuff out.

There was a sidebar blurb about a woman who had weighed 240 pounds, but with this fitness regime and diet, got down to 120. I was duly impressed, but was confused at the part when she talked about "I never thought I could lose weight in my own tiny living room, but I did it." Huh?

The gist? This regime is the 'brilliant' brainchild of some fitness guru with a walking tape. I am going to say that again so you can appreciate just how ridiculous it is. YOU ARE MEANT TO BUY THIS WOMAN'S WORKOUT TAPE AND THEN, SOMEHOW, WALK OFF THE WEIGHT. IN YOUR LIVING ROOM.

God forbid you get your lazy, pale ass out into the sunshine (or rain! Someone invented umbrellas for just that reason!) and see the light of day while moving your muscles to and fro.

"'s hard!" "I have kids and a job and stuff!" Whatever, it's not rocket science, you certainly DON'T NEED TO BUY A FREAKING TAPE, you just go outside and walk around. Got little kids? Strap them into a stroller and take them with you. Got bigger kids and no job? Go outside during the day. Got kids and a job? It's called a lunch break. Or go to work an hour earlier or stay an hour later, just fit it in somewhere.

JUST GO OUTSIDE. I did it just about every day, rain or shine, for six months. It made me feel better, it reminded me that my job was not the end all, be all of my existence, it let me smell delicious blackberries in the heart of summer, it made my legs more toned, and it gave my mind a break from all the silly bullshit that goes on the rest of the day. I took it to the next level, changing shoes and clothes and stuff. If I was five or ten minutes over an hour, no big deal.

I really miss my daily lunchtime walks. It's a lot tougher as a teacher; I can't leave on my lunch break, because we aren't allowed to leave school grounds, and you can't be late to teach a class. So I get in a bit of walking on the way to and from the train/school. I need to work on that more, because it doesn't really have the same relaxing effect. For one, the scenery is not pretty or interesting. No blackberry bushes, no gurgling brown stream, though there are trees and regular bushes. And eight minutes of regular walking each way probably does not have the same aerobic effect as forty-five to fifty-five minutes of stronger walking. But still, it's something. I do know it has contributed to my size-eight ass and thighs.

Random stuff from this weekend

Last night I had a dream about being in France. Specifically, at Versailles (that looked nothing like the real Versailles, of course), with a group of people including my mom. We left the complex and I asked some guard/gatekeepers where the metro was (in French). The man guard said something, but he was speaking fast and there was background noise, so I couldn't hear/understand him. And so he goes, "I speak English, why don't you speak English!" Then the lady guard took us and told us at first that the metro was over there, but closed.

Then, by exploring and stuff, we found two metros, both open. The signs were yellow circles with the letter F, but marked something in French. And so obviously I was irritated at the lying guardlady, and tried to tell her that she was small. Yeah, I don't know.

Then I was at a circular track, riding an ATV. Within the track was a giant elephant, and some friends of mine were swinging from the elephant's trunk, going three thousand feet into the air, coming down on the other side of the elephant, then swinging back again.

Oh, and another dream was school-related. In this dream, I had started the year teaching at a school, doing math and other things. Then, I had switched to what I thought was a permanent classroom somewhere else doing English. But I got a call to return to the first school. I had plan a math lesson and I was nervous and felt unprepared. But I got to the room and it started okay. Before much time had passed, I was told to leave and go back to my 'permanent' school and class. I was so confused! There was a dream very similar to this awhile back, but without the second return.

Very odd mind I have.

Yesterday, I learned a new word, solipsism. It's a philosophy wherein the only thing you can fully prove and believe in is the self. Interesting.

I also decided to come home for a visit over midwinter break in February! It will be for four nights, I think. I'll still have a whole weekend before and after to relax here and do some work (or pretend to, anyway). Anyway, I am excited. It should be fun.

While verifying the dates of break, I noticed that our spring break is a week later than we'd thought--meaning we need to change our reservations asap. I got the hotel changed, and it actually saved us nearly two hundred dollars altogether. The airfares, however, have gone up a lot in only six days. No matter what, we'll have to pay more. We may also get less time in Vegas because of the cheap flight times.

Yesterday I stopped by the library and then went to Target. I bought a VCR, Taboo for Kids, a yummy pear-scented candle, and some other random things.

Today, let's see. I went to the grocery store, finally. I picked up some cables and tried to figure out the VCR. It took a few tries with different outlets and things, but now it's all hooked up. Woohoo! Better reception than the TV alone, too.

It is so fantastic to know that I still have another day of weekend. I have a lot of work to do, and I have done none at all so far. I really need to get started on those holiday packets that have been sitting on my floor for two weeks. Then there are lessons for next week to be written. God, I just don't want to do anything. But I better start kicking my own ass into gear, because it's going to be trouble if I stay so unmotivated and unproductive.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Tsunami: A Concert of Hope

So Madonna is not a very good live singer. I know, big shocker.

1-800-HELP NOW--that's the American Red Cross phone number. So if you call, it's not just a middleman organization that is getting your money.

Holy crap, Brad Pitt, Jane Seymour, Leo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon are answering phones? Maybe I'll call just for that. What, what's that? That's the whole point of having famous operators? No way!

I kind of thought this would be a concert, like Live Aid. But it's totally a telethon. That's sort of disappointing. It's pretty awesome that so many celebrities joined the effort, though. Way to go, celebs!

Maroon 5 is a little annoying. I know, big news.

Norah Jones, however, is awesome. I love anything that she does. And now she takes the stage with just a guitar, a backup vocalist, and a violin player. Sweet. Hurrah, acoustic music is not dead along with MTV Unplugged.

Shut up, Chris Matthews. I've never really seen you before, only Darrell Hammond's impression of you, and apparently you really are that much of an ass. Who cares where the money comes from? Isn't the point of this whole thing to join together as a global community, where things like nationality and politics don't matter? (Obviously I know that would never actually be the case, because our wonderful government always has some kind of agenda, but this is the idealistic picture the media want us to buy.)

Good job, Red Cross President. I have seen firsthand the work the Red Cross does, and she's right, they will get the stuff out, whatever it takes.

"You can't give, and remain the same," says Robert DeNiro. I can't tell you how true that is. If you know me in person, you already knew that, and hopefully have participated in giving yourself. Volunteering changes you even more than just opening your wallet. Please, do some work in your community. Global change begins with a single person!

Sorry, Mary J Blige, but you can't sing.

I like that they are showing before and after satellite photos.

No way, Sarah McLachlan? And singing a song from 1998, too! Although I suppose singing "Train Wreck" would not exactly be appropriate for this occasion.

That's cool that Jay Leno is having the famous folk sign everyday things to sell to high donators. (Erm, people who donate a lot of money, not people donating while high on things.) First a coffee mug, now a phone. I wonder what next?

Speaking of high peope, hi, Robert Downey Jr! You are adorable! Hope you are doing well with rehab and acting and stuff.

I think Goldie Hawn was hypnotized before her speech.

Josh Groban really has an amazing voice. It's gotten lost in the "adult contemporary" genre, but really, he's fantastic. I still remember when he was "debuted" on Ally McBeal.

Quentin Tarantino keeps waving at the camera like a starstruck geek.

A village population going from 3800 to 142? Wow. That is serious decimation.

Ooh, Don Cheadle!

I love John Mayer's music, but man, is he goofy-looking when performs.

Is that Nelly? Whoever it is, he's totally ripping off Usher's look. Not to mention doing something weird to a very good song (True by Spandau Ballet, right?) that's already been ripped off by PM Dawn in the early 90s. Was he saying "NBC" at the beginning? The whole thing wasn't too bad, actually, it was a pretty mellow interpretation.

Hey, no one told me I'd have to hear COUNTRY. Mute button!

Johnny Depp and Lucy Liu, too. The phone lines are so jammed that it's giving me a dial tone instead of ringing. Hi, Tim Robbins!

PLEASE DONATE. If not now, then soon. Just donate. Jay Leno just brought up something very important: what if every person watching donated just a dollar out of the change in their pocket? What a difference that would make! People think it's hard to "make a difference," but when millions of citizens come together like this, a tidal wave of giving is created. Anyone can give a dollar, most of us can afford $25 or $50, and every bit will count. Please, click to the link on the right. If you don't trust me, type in and get to it.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Woohoo! Friday! AND a long weekend!

Class A:
B: Miss, you put 2004...
Me: Oh, dangit! Sometimes I'm a little dumb. But that's okay.
J: Why is that okay?
Me: Because I can admit it. Isn't it freeing to be able to admit your mistakes?

Kids: blah blah blah...
D: The military is gay.
Me, scornfully: You're gay, shut up.
[and he sure did, while the other boys at the table cracked up.]
Others: Good one, Ms C!


Today was actually a decent day. Did a little different kind of test prep. They sat in their regular seats and I modeled reading a test passage and answering questions. Then they did a page of test, practicing making predictions. For writing workshop, they made predictions about themselves and wrote a four-square about what they want to be when they grow up.

First period, Class A was very decent. Little K, Little C, and The Asshole did really well. Second period, not quite as much, but oh well. Three or four stayed on task the entire time (including Loud E!), about half the class was working about half the time, and the rest (Little K and Little C, unfortunately) weren't really doing anything at all.

Oh, this was awesome. I had a coverage third period, and it was Girls Gym. I picked it up in the morning, and was like, "Wha? Gym? How...?" and the office people were like, "Yeah, the girls gym. You'll just be assisting, you're not in charge or anything." I said, "There's a girls' gym?" "Yeah, on the fifth floor." "Yeah...I've never been to the fifth floor."

Anyway, so I made it up there, it's a teeny-tiny gym, even smaller than the auxiliary gyms from my high school. Five or seven classes worth of sixth-grade girls were in there, seated on the floor in ten rows.

I 'monitored' the (tiny) locker room to get the slowpokes moving. They had about ten minutes of activity, where each girl got to, one time, practice dribbling and shooting a soccer ball. Then they had to get back to the locker room.

Again, it was awesome. I really had no responsibility, didn't have to worry about anything, it was great. Plus, since Mom was a PE teacher for so much of my life, it felt very normal. Ooh, and there was a broken-down, upside-down balance beam in one corner, and I kept eyeing it on the off chance I might get to run around on it. Heh.

So. Back to the real world. Fifth period, Ms F came in to do a sample modeling with Class B. They did very well, and it was great for me to see.

Seventh period, I did the same thing that Ms F did, with Class C, and really, they were awesome. Everyone was paying attention, and a bunch of them kept chiming in to my "think aloud." Eighth period writing, they were quite chatty. I had to keep yelling at them to "WRITE! DON'T TALK!"

Then, the day was over! Cue sound of angels on high.

I am so tired. But I'll probably stay up late, just because I can! Because tomorrow I can sleep in! Good lord, I am so excited.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

More Miscellany

1. Found out the other night that the landlord is hoping to sell the house, and the third-floor lease is up June 1st. Niiiice. Right in time for the stress of teaching in warm weather, plus end of year chaos.

2. Looked up my fall semester grades, and I got an A in math, and an A- in science. Rock on! My cumulative GPA is now 3.85, with 12 credits. There are only 39 in the program, so that's nearly a third done already. Whee!

3. I miss boys. :(

So,'s not Friday yet?

Dagnammit, I kept thinking it was the weekend now, instead of tomorrow!

Today was another day. Heh, I meant, another "meh day." You know, it's just a day, nothing good, nothing terrible.

The group of kids that comes to my room at lunch has gotten pretty big, and a bit out of hand, so today, I demanded that everyone leave the room and stay out in the hallway. I gave them all a lecture: "If you're in here, you're doing something. You're not running, yelling, spilling. You can help clean up, you can do homework, you can check the newspapers, you can play one of my games. But you have ONE CHANCE. If you run, hit, yell, whatever, BYE."

So today's lunch was quieter. They love Apples to Apples. I'm glad, because I love it too. Also, there are great conversations. The first couple times, I led the thing and judged, but now kids are doing it, and they do well. I love their rationalizations and discussions. (God, if only I could get them to have that kind of talk in class!) About the category "huge" and the subject "rainbows": "Aw, you've been watching too many Skittles commercials."

So we started with Class B, and they were quite chatty. Big surprise, right? Actually, yeah, sort of; when I have them first period they are normally rather quiet and well-behaved. Oh man, Big D is such a pain in my ass, I can't even tell you. He does no work, and doesn't even pretend about it most of the time. No notebook, no reading book. He yells at people, he calls inappropriate names, he hits, throws, and otherwise endangers other students and himself. And frankly, I've had it. I was irritated, so I decided to put on a little show for him. I bent down to his desk, so I was kind of in his face, and I yelled at him, and slapped the desk loudly for emphasis: "Listen! I am going to talk to the AP and principal about you--I am going to get you OUT OF THIS SCHOOL! Clearly you don't want to be here! I have HAD IT with your behavior! IS THAT CLEAR?" He answered meekly, "Yes, ma'am."

It was kind of awesome.

The whole class was noticeably quieter for the next two minutes, probably in awe of my display of anger or whatever....but then they went right back to goofing off.

I forgot that I had Class A right after Class B, whoops. That felt weird, I sort of felt ill-prepared.
Class A was okay. The Asshole and Little K made a concerted effort today; both of them actually sat in their assigned seats. For the first time since this new seating chart. I made sure to notice and tell them that I liked that. Yesterday and today, for some reason, I have been high-fiving kids that do something good on random occasions. So, The Asshole got one when I told him I noticed about the seat he took. Little K got one when he answered a question correctly, using big words. One of the normally-talkative girls from Class C got one yesterday when I noticed how quietly and well she was working. It's kinda fun. Maybe I'll make it my "thing."

Anyway, so Class A did okay. I already said that. Oh, wait! When we did the moving to project groups, they did it quietly!

Have I already talked about how I do that? I start counting, they start moving. I keep a little chart on notebook paper on the board; it has the number of times it took, how long it took, and what the noise level was. Last week, I made them just keep doing it if it was loud. Now, I only give them three chances to get it right. It's kind of neat, because they motivate each other and themselves to get quiet so that I'll start counting, and then they're all, "No, we can do it faster! Do it again!" I must start finding more things like that where they can take ownership of their own behavior and have fun too. Because they totally think this is fun. And good lord, that part of class could potentially be a nightmare. I'm glad this is working out this way.

Had lunch, with the aforementioned lecture and game, then the one prep all week when I have my classroom all to myself. I spent it figuring out the book order stuff. There is already $80 worth of orders! I am totally going to buy stuff, because it's cheap, and I so loved book orders when I was a kid.

Class C did pretty good. There was an assembly eighth period, so I did writing workshop during seventh with them. The second time they moved into their groups, they actually did it quietly, but not with very good time. So about half of them wanted to try it again, and they cut down on their time, but they were loud. For the work period, most of them were not really working. I knew that would happen, I obviously can't be standing at all six tables at once, so I just did what I could and made note of the students not even attempting to do anything.

Ms F gave me a ride home. That's cool. I was all, "oh, I'm going to actually be productive tonight! After not doing shit all week, I really need to get back into the game of, you know, working. But um, now it's been more than an hour and a half, and I'm still goofing around on the net. Ahem. Not a nerd.

Actually, I've been indulging in some Ameri-blogging. Found a livejournal message board about NCCC, and so all the comments/posts are by alums or current corps members. I found one site of a guy at the DC campus right now, with pictures, and I just felt such a sense of loss and longing. Seeing anyone in those khaki trousers and gray shirts feels like seeing myself and my old friends. I suppose that's what the "brotherhood" of the military and Greek system is all about. It feels like I know them, because I know their experience. What an experience.

Fire 4 Schmire 4, I miss you!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Getting close...

Two more days until the three-day weekend! Hallelujah!

Some miscellany:
a. At lunch yesterday, two of the girls from Class C drew on the board: "Ms C is the BEST ELA Teacher!" Aw, how sweet is that? They are both really sweet, attentive kids.
b. Another girl from Class C seems to make a point of greeting me quietly. Yesterday, their class came in when I had a prep, so I was at my desk doing whatever, and she said, 'Hi, Ms C. How is your day going?' And I made a face and said something like, 'Is it Friday yet?' She smiled. Then, as we were all walking outside to the fence exit, she came up next to me and said, 'At least the day is over already.' She is a very nice little girl, quiet and earnest.
c. All the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition stuff this week was in the Pacific Northwest, near Poulsbo. It was beautiful, and all the people exclaimed over the natural wonders of the surroundings. Aw, I miss home!

Today was another okay day. Not horrible, not great. Like I said before, I think it's a matter of how thick my skin is, and how high my patience level is. It seems like yesterday and today has been better than Monday (some me and some the kids). By no means have the classes been good, don't misunderstand me. Class A is still rowdy as ever, but I guess I am just putting up with it better right now. Who knows.

Anyway, so I had them do a bit of copying off the overhead, because although it is manipulative and dumbing down, it is an easy way to get peace and quiet, and get them all working. I say, that's all they know how to do: copy things down into their notebooks. All the higher-level thinking I want them to do, that's why they're out of control...their hands aren't busy.

Class A actually had some moments of quiet while copying. Hallelujah! It was short-lived, of course. I kept a small group of the more disruptive boys in at lunch and had them write me an apology letter, and an explanation letter to their parents too. The Asshole kid was one of them, and of course he refused to do anything. See, after I announced that there would be people staying in at lunch, he tried to turn around his behavior. It was definitely better, but still not ideal, and hello, he does not get off scot-free just because the threat of trouble changed his mind! Anyway.
I do want to give myself props for staying patient after the bell for lunch rang. Three of the boys I told to stay in clustered up near the door, declaring with some attitude, "I ain't stayin'." I just calmly stood rigth on the doorknob and told the rest of the class that I couldn't let anyone go at all yet. In a few minutes, all the boys sat down and waited for me, and none of them rushed for the door to escape! You might remember that's a problem I'd had earlier in the year, but look how my patience won out! Hurrah!

I had Class B after lunch for two periods. They were fairly chatty during reading, and during writing too, I guess. The AP popped in for a second, and I had him stick around while they had their last chance to beat their record of getting into their project groups quickly and quietly.

Class C is getting good at cleaning. What I've done is stop class five minutes early, dispatch volunteers to work on the board, floor, and notebook collecting, and then dismiss tables to the lockers. It goes pretty fast that way. The last thing to work on is making sure they get their stuff and then get in line, quickly and quietly. But it's cool that we're making progress.

I'm really glad that I end with Class C every day, because they are the easiest to deal with. It's such a relief to get to the end of the day because of that. Imagine if I had Class A at the end of every day! God, that would be horrid.

I ran home right away, because there was supposed to be a cable-internet installation guy coming...but no one came. In any case, it was excellent to be at home for such a long time. Naturally, I did not take the opportunity to get any work done, and I just this minute remembered I need to come up with a reading lesson for the morning...erm, yeah, no clue yet what I'll do. But I'm exhausted and Alias is on, I'm going straight to bed after that. So I'll see what I can do during commercials or the half-hour before school tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Another day done


Today was good, for a not-that-great day. I don't know, I guess I had a better shell today.

Oh, first, let me remind myself that yesterday after school, Ms F, Ms C and I booked our trip to Las Vegas for spring break! We got cheap fares on my old friend Jetblue, and found a cheap rate for the MGM through them, too. I can't believe I will be going on a trip, and have it planned more than three months in advance!

Last night I stayed up again until 11, so I could watch Medium and finish my book, and I felt like ass getting up this morning. I need 10 hours of sleep a night. GOD, I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE LONG WEEKEND!

So today was another unstructured, boring lesson courtesy of America's Choice. I gave them some new charts to fill in that will help them synthesize their knowledge and research. I knew that it would be chaos, but it needed to get done. In each class, I spoke quickly about how to fill in the chart, and then let them go. I went around to each group to make sure they were getting started. There was much noise, yelling, and nonwork going on all around me.

Okay...let's see. Class B started off today. They did alright today, I suppose. Definitely better than yesterday. But not good or anything.

At lunch, a little group of kids from each of my classes came to my room. We played some Apples to Apples, and some of them ran around noisily. To be fair, several of them also made sure to help tidy the room before the "fun" started. That's cool.

Class A was after lunch. They were noisy and stuff. Somehow, there were a couple moments of silence. I think it was just that seven-minute lull...or else the AP peeked in the window or something.

Class C did well. For reading workshop, I did the "I see" poem as a visualization exercise, and they did very well. They were pretty noisy for the work period, but that's not really a shock or anything.

Let's see. Tomorrow they will read a sample proposal and discuss its merits, or something like that. I haven't really planned it yet. (Don't worry, I know that my lack of energized lesson-planning is contributing to my lack of classroom control. Yeah, yeah. I'm tired, dude, so let's move on.)

So now I'm home, have done no work or anything, but...yeah, don't care. I do want to actually "plan" for tomorrow before I go to bed, which means before Gilmore Girls and The Amazing Race, assuming I don't crash in the next two hours.

Going now. Bye.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Just gonna count down until the long weekend...

because if I think too hard about this week it's going to put me over the edge.

Today sucked. Class A was extremely rowdy, loud, talkative, and I'm at my wits' end. I don't know what to do. They don't listen to anything I say, and I'm really going to start losing the good ones soon. It's been four full months already, and there hasn't been much, if any, improvement in that class (excepting the students that have been switched out).

Class B was also rowdy and loud. Also, there was another fight. Thank god, the Dean answered my call, and the AP and other discipline guy also found us quickly. They grabbed out the offenders.

Class C was okay. They got ready really fast at the end of the day, which was cool.

I made sure to sit down with the AP today and tell him that I really need help with Classes A and B. My rules and consequences have no effect on them whatsoever. Notes, calls home, they don't give a shit. It's the same handful (a big handful) in each class, every day, that creates a problem. Anyway, he suggested having a mandatory meeting with the parents of troublesome students, and streamlining the procedures. Still no advice on dealing with in-class disruptions or incidents.

I chatted quickly to the math teacher, and you know what? Class A was in there, quietly doing their work.

Clearly the issue is me and the lack of something in my room. I don't know how to fix it. I really don't know if I can.

I also chatted quickly to the Dean after school, and I told him that last week I was at the point of considering quitting. He was very surprised, and also said that now it's an administration problem. That was nice to hear.

I need help, yo. I feel like I'm letting down the students, because the good kids are really losing their patience. So am I. I keep telling myself that next year has to be better, but how do I get through this year? How do I make a success out of the good kids if I can't ever actually teach them because the "bad" kids won't shut the hell up?

Surprisingly, I haven't cried today. I just feel frustrated and depressed and disappointed in myself. And really fucking tired.