Sunday, September 28, 2003
well, since most parents didn't come to pickup report cards thursday night, most found out their grades friday morn first period. as that is my planning period, they'd had time to consider their grade before they got to my class. however it was apparently not enough time for one student. she spent the first 15 minutes constantly interrupting me trying to figure out why i "gave her" a poor grade. i kept repeating that if she had a question concerning her grade, i'd talk to her after class. i doubt it had anything to do with the work that she refused to makeup. the refrain: "i'm not gonna do that; just give me a zero." comes to mind. i eventually just ignored her (as suggested at the ilt support meeting.)
she still didn't give up. every 20 mins or so she'd say something like, "i have a question." i'd look at her and then she'd start in again. finally a fellow student turned around (she'd moved out of her seat by now to the table in the back of the room) and said to her, "i got the exact same grade. that's why i'm doing this now." (referring to the worksheet assigned as classwork). she was not half-assing it either. there was some really good work going on...but only in 2/3 of the class. this was both quite uplifting and saddening. the 1/3 that was not working hard was made up of quite intelligent students, several who should be at the top of the class.
still they did eventually do the classwork - though there was quite a bit of sharing of answers. (i said they could work with one other student if they wanted, but not all other students.) i need to figure out a better way to stop this sharing. i've spread out the chairs; i think it' helped, but it sure doesn't stop it.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
mary jane's parent teacher conference
today were parent teacher conferences as well as report card distribution. i had three parents show up. i'm quite disappointed. i believe the effectiveness of a teacher is largely determined by the expectations at home.
i had an interesting second period. i decided not to give tests all the same day. (i'm learning.) for some reason, most of the students showed up today. this was excellent. i might not give so many incompletes next six weeks.
several still haven't taken the test from the first six weeks. i did get a couple of them to take the first test instead of the second one. slowly but surely...
i had to kick a student out of the class. he came in while i'm giving the instructions. he was beligerent, loud, and rude. i told him to go to the counselor and take the test. he would not do so. he eventually went to another teacher's room. that teacher came and got a test for him. when the bell rang, he never came back to give me the test. i don't understand the point of taking it if you're not going to turn it in.
if you're still reading, good for you. this was the more interesting part anyway. today while i was proctoring/answering questions/giving hints for the test, the class was mostly quiet and decent (once underway). all of a sudden, i sensed a change and heard/saw something slide across the floor. it stopped like two feet from me. it appeared to be a little baggie of marijuana. i just stopped for a second. at this point, one of the students from the back of the room had jumped up and dove face first and snatched it before i picked it up. he stuck it in his pocket, ignored me and went back to his test. i told him to talk to me after school. like five minutes later i was at the board (still just the one), and it all happened again. this time i was in the front of the room so no one could get it. i picked it up and put it in my desk. there was a fallout from this story.
ignoring what happened to slider, there are several known drug dealers in the school (my classes). having police there made them quite uneasy. when this info spread, it was tough to keep them in the classroom. students kept debating who was the snitch. i got to learn the lovely "snitches get stitches" and be asked if i was the snitch. reading this soon thereafter wasn't too fun.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
grades and their discontent
so i got most of the grades done. spent all freakin workday on them. the substitute who'd been covering the class until they could find a teacher had a fair amount of grades recorded for one class, less so for another, a couple for another, and none for the last. she'd also had given a "thinking maps" test.
i'd seen an entry in the gradebook labeled that, but without any grades recorded. since this is the case for several other entries, i wondered if she'd given the test or not...until i found a stack of them ungraded in the desk. well, i'm not quite sure how these things are to be done or how she'd told them to do them, so i didn't feel too comfortable grading them. i figured i'd have to just give credit if it was done or not.
as she substitutes relatively frequently for different teachers, i ran into her soon after discovering the stack. i asked her about them and if there was any other work needed to be graded. she volunteered to take care of them. this would be quite beneficial as i had much to grade and enter (and figure out how to enter) already. she said she'd come by after school and get them. as i'm pretty much the last to leave (with the principal), that sounded great.
well, i was in my room working and kept expecting her to come in. after about a half an hour i went down to the room where she'd been substituting. it was locked. oh well. this whole scenario happens again about a week later. then, the friday (a week before grades are due), we have the conversation again. i ask if she's positive she can have the grades in by friday. she's like no problem. she borrows the teacher's edition of the book and takes the ungraded tests. she says that she'll be in real early and drop the stuff off in the office. i'm feeling good.
truthfully, when i get to school, i'd forgotten about it. i see my box is pretty full and think i've gotten something interesting. it's just the teacher's edition. no work. oh well. it's only monday. anyway, big isey hits on thursday and we have the day off. when i come in on friday, i still have not received those grades. the way the grades are looking, nice high test grades would be very nice.
i wait until like 9 and then call. she's surprised grades are still due, but despite being without power she says no big deal and will call back with the grades later in the day. i'm pleased. i spend the rest of the day working.
i call in the afternoon since i haven't heard from her. (i have her home and cell number.) i don't get a response. i call a few more times. still nothing. i eventually have to leave, but i talk to the principal and she says i can just turn in the grades monday morn. i still haven't found how to input absences into the program either.
i call a couple of times over the weekend but to no avail. monday morn, i call and get no response. i just leave a message. i then start trying to figure out how to input the absences. i end up asking three other teachers before i come across one who both thinks we have to input them and knows how to do it. halfway through first period, my cell rings. booyow. she'd been out of town but has the grades. i think the students who are now passing should be pleased.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
i had a student tell me i needed to shave and get a haircut. i found this funny. she's right of course.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
I finally typed up my stories from wednesday. this draft option is kinda nifty.
well i was running a tad late since i've been fighting a cold for a week and it makes it much harder to awaken in the morn. i try some more to figure out the grade program that we need to use since those grades are due friday... i also check weather.com to find out about the coming storm. the principal is up for some principal of the year award so there are "visitors" today. she knocks on the door and asks if i'll be able to put something up on the bulletin board today beforehand. um...no. she gets the art teacher to send some students to fix it up and then cover it with artwork. (i have a pretty cool idea for a bulletin board but i'm not sure if it's quite pc.)
i realize that i need to make the handouts for the day. the plan is to teach a few sections and get those who haven't taken the major quiz or long past test to take it so i can get the grades in. i determine what i want to give as a quiz and classwork and then head downstairs to the copier. as it was a two-sided original i head to the office since it's the only copier that can do two-sized. i enter and immediately seem like i'm interrupting a personal conversation (not chit-chat - something of concern). so i turn around to go to the other copier, oh well. i remember that one teacher had compasses and protractors she said i could borrow so i stop in. she's quite helpful and provides several of each. i then proceed upstairs.
i unlock my door and look at my watch. i realize class starts in 2 minutes, and i forgot to make the copies. retard. i turn around and dash back downstairs to the office (no time to use the other copier now). bell rings right as i'm finishing. i run back upstairs. a few of my students are outside my locked door. i notice the bulletin board is pretty much done. i try to insert my key but it sticks after only going in like an eighth of an inch. once student said she'd touched the handle and got something on her hand. i realize someone has superglued the lock. i'm rather perturbed. i was gone for 3 minutes max. i now have a class but no classroom. another teacher let me use his room since he had only one student that block, and the janitor is notified. this wasn't not good. i had two students who were going to finally make up the test, others who were to make up the major quiz from the day before. all these were locked up in my classroom.
it was rather odd to teach in someone else's classroom (especially with them there). it's sorta like taking a shower in someone else's bathroom with them watching. everything seems out of sorts and one is a tad self conscious.
anyway, i tried to teach a lesson but it didn't seem to go that great. i passed out a short easy quiz and then had them work on a worsheet as a class. this was intended to help boost grades. it didn't have that effect for several as they refused to do it. zeros affect grades rather negatively. sadly, it seems most have a zero or two. motivation is a serious concern.
i brought a decent lunch and was looking forward to eating it. it was still locked up in my room when lunch came. i realized i actually had some cash (instead of relying on the cafeteria lady to let me slide). so i got one of those pizza slices only found in schools, a scoop of pineaple, a bag of chocolate milk. as i was last (it took a while to realize i had cash) she told me to get another slice. woohoo. i go and sit with the teachers. cafeteria lady soon comes out and plops a chicken leg on my plate as well as on another teacher's plate. it's hot and rather good. she is so freakin cool.
third period was fun again. despite there being two male teachers and only four students (all female), it was not smooth. when it was time to return from lunch, there was no class. we soon got a distress call from the office over the intercom. several were hiding out around there (actually had young kids stand at attention so several could squat down behind them to hide). we eventually get those three back to the classroom. (the other had been hiding elsewhere and hadn't been perturbing the office.) it was not a very productive class period. the principal actually came up later and called them out into the hall and gave then a stern rebuke apparently. i was just trying to return the board to the absolute pristine condition that the other teacher keeps it in. (he kept erasing information that was on the board that students needed.)
eventually a locksmith came and drilled out the lock. it was a very palpable sense of relief to return to my classroom. it was at this point i looked at my newly decorated bulletin board. it was pretty nice. there were six (two rows of three) rectangled shaped pieces of art. each had a word or two (such as: peurto rico, d-hood, usa, etc) and were decorated with designs and multicolors. what did the piece in the middle, top row say? "white boy"
principal announced early in the day that any decision concerning school tomorrow due to the hurricane would be announced at the end of the day. i found this slightly silly. the info i was hearing was for a landfall between noon and three. no school district wants to risk that amount of liability. finally it was official that school was cancelled. an emergency teachers meeting was called for after school. i'm wondering if i'm ever going to get my grades done.
we meet in the wonderous media center. pretty much two things of note happened. one, the principal had an aside which implied that grades would now would be due monday. that made me feel better. the other was that the teachers workday would pretty much go on. if it didn't, we'd be called that morning (and we wouldn't be paid for that day). some teachers were quite thrilled to find out they could be called as early as four am if the workday was postponed. i declared them insane.
we were given instructions as how to prepare our rooms for the ise storm. we were told to make sure our windows were shut and latched and to cover our computers and equipment with garbage bags. these bags are not rectangle shaped; they're more like cone shaped. these are not very effective for doing anything. they didn't give us duct tape or anything either. luckily one teacher had a roll of rather thin masking tape. i end up just putting the bags on the monitors and taping some on top of the bookcase near the windows. i move important boxes off the floor. (there's concern about the roof as the roofers aren't finished.)
as i check my windows, i start noticing quite a few holes in the windows. these holes look suspiciously like bullet holes. i attempt to cover the holes with the masking tape. i all of a sudden realize that i'm being perfectly framed by the window and a bullet hole was right in front of me. i got some weird feeling like a sniper was watching me.
i'm still yet to be paid.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
this week will be fun. ignoring "the I" bearing down, the first grading period ends wednesday. grades are to be in friday. i was promised by the substitute that she'd have graded the work she assigned before i started a few weeks ago. i wish she'd done so. (she did some funky stuff mostly to kill time thinking they'd have someone in a day or two.) she also told me she'd do progress reports. i just found out from the students this wasn't done.
so this week i'm giving some tests/major quizes/learning the grading program/entering grades/urging students to makeup work/etc. it's going to be a very long week.
i want a hurricane party.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Friday, September 12, 2003
the post i wanted to make
i'm not sure how this post will develop. like many of americans - and especially my peers, the events of september 11th made me wish i could do something to help in response. there were fund-raisers and community events, but many of us had a deep desire to serve our country - specifically militarily. however this option didn't seem available to me. (i received an rotc scholarship in high school, but they revoked it over my vision. maybe i'll tell that story sometime.) i kept thinking of other options. i've investigated americorps and peace corps on way too many late nights. (i still think peace corps could be an option in a few years.)
so now, two years after that rude awakening, i find myself as a teacher. i can't say sept 11 is wholly responsible for this. i found out after high school that a teacher stayed two years past when he wanted to quit because my mother mentioned to him that i was looking forward to having him as a teacher. when i found out, i felt like i had a debt to repay. being a teacher is a way for me to try to do so. (i need to contact/thank him sometime.) i also needed employment.
please don't be confused; i don't feel being a teacher is an equivalent level of sacrifice as military service. it's just something i can do. last year at this time i felt i had made little positive impact in the past year. this morning i sat at the wonderful computers in the back of the room and went to nytimes.com. i read coverage of memorials and other related stories. i know i'm no hero, and i often question my effectiveness - but it's good to feel like i'm not a drain on the country.
thanks google. blogger will now have many more features for cheapskates (or teachers). i'm looking forward to having syndication (still to come). it also now has a title field - should help remind me to think of a title. i might go back and add titles to posts; don't expect it anytime soon though.
Thursday, September 11, 2003
i intended to post something about what being a teacher means to me on this day of remembrance. instead i need to get back to writing discipline referrals. i also need to figure out how to report the theft of my camel hair blazer.
so i could post some stuff about tues/today, but i've graded papers for a couple of hours and i'm tired. i will say that absenteeism sucks. i'll assign homework but half of them won't be there when i assign it and only half of those that were there when i gave an assignment will be there the next day. makeup work is a big headache.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Monday - new week
i thank god for truancy. in my first class, only one-third shows up. i go over the syllabus. i give back the tests to allow them to work out problems they've missed. (they need to describe their error and rework the problem correctly in order to receive half credit back.) all students in attendance have taken the test. this works out well. it's quiet. i assign homework. they don't have books assigned yet since there aren't enough for each student to have one. so instead i have to make copies of the page. they're to come back to pick up a copy.
class two. only half show up. review syllabus. i have a worksheet for workbook student to do. while ringleader is there, it's nowhere near friday. i also give them the option to correct problems for half credit. they put their heads down. i keep urging them to help themselves and reminding them of the class participation portion of the grade which was just mentioned in the syllabus. one student asks what it would take to correct a question. i explain it thoroughly. surprised response. "oh. that's all?" and then he put his head back down. "i'll keep my fifty." i then reemphasize how much tests count. no one is interested.
i help workbook student and explain how to set up several problems on the worksheet. she seems quite pleased to have instruction. i'm pleased to have an interested student. after she starts progressing, i start teaching the other as well. it's 2 chapters previous. i'm now teaching out of the same chapter as i am for a class which is a prerequisite. eventually there's some interaction. lunch.
lunch. i quickly make the copies for the other class. good ole chocolate milk. on our way back, rl is messing around with a scale. he doesn't know how to use it. i explain it and show him. we go back to class. i then explain to everyone how the scale works and talk about mechanical advantage, levers, etc. there was some interest. i figure any chance to teach something.
last class. i have a worksheet. it's completed near the end of class. class asleep. i start cleaning the whiteboard. i have no cleaner. i step out to check in with a teacher next door if they're not teaching for some. i return no later than 1 minute later. i see rl coming out of my room. he's carrying a bag of candy. i ask him what he was doing in the room. he said he was going to mess with a student but she was sleeping. he's carrying a bag of candy.
bell rings. student wakes up. she digs in her bookback. she asks who's been in the room. i say rl. she said that he'd taken her candy that she was going to give to her sister. i go after rl. he vehemently denies it and runs off to the buses. that's just crap.
at the dinner table, i recounted a discussion i had today with a teacher who started the week before i did. i mention that i thought he was late twenties/early thirties, but at lunch i asked him about where he lived in new jersey. he said he went to seton hall, then worked in industry for 19 or 20 years, but also set up his own tutorial center. mom responds normally: "19 or 20?"
me: yeah. i guess he's not late twenties.
dad: "so he's not a real teacher either."
mom and i just laugh. he repeatedly asks us to explain what was so funny.
last few days...
i figure it's time to post at least a few things about the last several days.
friday: i blame friday for my lack of posting. one of those...if i don't think about it, it didn't happen kind of days. i arrived early as i the plan was to give a test in two periods/classes. i wasn't going to just be copying tests from teacher materials however. i'd planned what i wanted to give, but hadn't made them out yet. i decide to type up the questions that i was going to print out, cut to fit the rest of the questions, and then make copies. i load microsoft "works" and start typing my questions. i soon realize that i'm going to have to print at some point but the dot matrix printer (i'm not kidding) was out of paper. i check the teacher's lounge, but that computer doesn't have a printer attached. i'm now starting to wonder if i'm going to have everything ready in time.
i continue on to the main office. i try printing from the secretary's computer (running winxp and connected to an hp laser printer), but i can't log in to groupwise for some reason. the secretary says there is paper available in a storage area. i'm really starting to worry now. i hope she says she'll get it in a few minutes and she'll let me know (not like i could ask her as we don't have phones in the rooms and the excessively loud intercom is controlled in the office). instead she beckons me to follow her...slowly...down a hall...down another hall...through a tunnel...past the guards... i enter a decent sized classroom full of chairs and supplies and boxes - all boxes are used boxes with brightly decorated yams on them. all boxes i've seen in the entire school are yam boxes. [make your own ralph ellison comment.] "oh, but they were here." i keep looking, increasingly irritated that i have to find track feed paper in order to use the dot matrix printer. i find in a corner a box with a small about ~ 150 pages. that's plenty for me yet i had to convince her that it'd be fine for now. (despite my anxieties, the secretary is cool and a good resource.) i rush back to my room.
i connect the paper. i print. it's extremely faint. i print again. same thing. crap. oh well. only like 30 minutes until class. i run downstairs to the copier (no there isn't a copier upstairs). i set it for quite dark (just light enough to keep it from adding lines) and run a few copies. back to the room. i cut, arrange, tape. 10 mins left. back downstairs. the lounge copier sucks - no coallating, stapling, etc. luckily no one is using the one in the office. i'm the man with a copier. copy. copy. booyow. head back upstairs. i am putting my key into the doorknob as the bell rings. oh yeah.
the first period, everything went relatively smoothly. students take it pretty seriously; and while they don't seem to be too stressed if they don't know an answer, they at least put effort into it. i am pretty liberal with giving help (i always am), but despite my urging, they didn't seem to check over their work too well. oh well. i'm still feeling pretty good. i have tests. they are complete. it went smoothly. next class.
[string of curses] this is not going so well. students are not in their seats. they are laughing at the idea of a test. (i guess the review and reminders every day that week didn't sink in.) two students refuse to take it. one because she says she's missed all week. i'm too involved trying to get people in seats and working. it's in two parts as lunch is in the middle of the class. (yep. right in the middle of teaching/testing it's pizza time.) students announce they are just going to work together. i state this is obviously unacceptable. this is ineffective. students just ask each other questions and pass papers around. by this point i realize "all week" means the day before. the student refuses to take the test despite having no real excuse at this point. i give her a piece of paper that says "i chose not to take the test." for her to sign. she signs another student's name. i continue monitoring the cheating...uh testing. one student (the main ringleader) asks a question while i'm walking by right next to him. i ask him if he had a question. he says yeah, but not you. i ask who he was talking to - either me or another student - if me, i'd help; if another student, it was cheating. he said another student. great.
the sad part is that while they're cheating and all working together, it's clear they're not doing well. this is particularly disappointing since it was quite a bit of work making out the test and making it significantly easier.
eventually one student asks me for help. (she was the only one with that test.) i give some hints. it's not enough apparently as she gets up and asks fellow students for more help since i'm a failure of a teacher and won't help when a student asks (nevermind that i wasn't done helping, i just told her to think about it for a bit.) i tell her this is unacceptable and she needs to return to her seat. she's quite rude and balls her paper up into a ball and throws it across the room. ringleader is now out of control. as the principal had told me that anytime that a student needed to be removed immediately he could be sent to the counselor. i tell him he needs to leave and he demands a referral. the principal told me they could be filled out later, but he demands it. i figured why not. he leaves. paperballer now queries whether i'm writing her up. i told her i would be as she'd been tardy four times that week and i was instructed to write students up after three. she now really loses it and continues to rant about my teaching and lack of helping her. i wonder how my "lack of help" is relevant to her tardiness as it came afterwards. she tells me that they'll tell her mom but she doesn't live with her mom. but she then adds "i don't give a fuck - and you can tell my mom that."
ringleader returns - it's only been like 5 minutes. he says the counselor said she'd see him after lunch. everyone in the main class is "done" with the first half. the student in one of the other classes is mostly done. i collect the first half as it's time for lunch.
lunch. - i'm feeling pretty much a loser at this point. i ended up getting a free chocolate milk though.
back to the jungle. i give out the second half. more of the same. yet they're now more wound up. ringleader is now constantly walking around the room, sitting on desks, opening blinds, changing the thermostat, etc. so much for that counselor option. eventually everyone is done copying, and i collect the test. the bitch session begins. for the last fifteen minutes i get to hear how much i suck. the interesting thing is that i required them to speak one at a time and i could respond if i wanted to. while tearing into me, i simultaneously received the most respect i'd gotten all week.
next class. small class. first time everyone was there. they're getting tired of the work books. i don't blame them. looks like i'll be writing some worksheets. ugh.
school day over. amen. i want a pitcher of guinness, a quiet bar, and my own corner. instead, i head to the principal's office. i've submitted quite a few discipline referrals which seem to have little to no effect on a certain class. we talk for the next hour and a half. it's interesting. she basically tells me that she doesn't think they've got great instruction while i wasn't there, they were allowed free range, and that they're still adjusting. she kept saying "they like you, really" and that they'd call her if they didn't. both of these i found odd. she tells me about her first teaching position. it sounds rather similar. she quit - her principal eventually got her back after taking over for several weeks and making life harsh for the students. hmm...sounds good. she doesn't volunteer. she does mention that there have been a recent string of teachers and that they may feel like they're being rejected. also found out that i have a group of students who are concerns for all their teachers as well as some background about students which i won't post but it does make me wonder if those comments were really "idle." i ask what to do about all the discipline forms i am about to fill out. she says to hold off if i can. yeah. i'm sure it was a one day thing. she also advises to go back even earlier to find out where they have a mastery of the material. i'm not sure how much earlier i can go. i figure they'are about 40% behind already. i question if doing so would remove any chance of them learning enough to pass the end of course exam. she says that if they get to a point where they're confident, they'll speed right up and it'll be fine. we'll see.
i realize i have 15 minutes to get downtown to pay for my lateral entry application. however i don't have my checkbook. oops. i cash a check and run up to the office right at 4:59. locked. check next door. someone comes out to let me in. alas, the guy i need to pay has left, and they won't take cash. i'll try again monday.
i go home. i try to do something friday and saturday. i do nothing. i sleep. i recover. i grade papers. maybe i won't get sick as i thought i would.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
i got home from day three. i checked ups.com for an update on the status of my alarm clock of the gods. it said it was delivered. i found this puzzling. (i blame the sleep.) i had already convinced myself it'd be friday at the earliest. i open the front door...booyow.
you know you got one heck of an alarm clock when it comes with a manual as well as an instruction reference card.
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
i'm tired and won't post all of today's experiences or expound upon them right now.
- saw my first young adult white male. he was a computer technician making my groupwise account work. i swear he gave a triple take when he walked in the classroom to set it up and saw me teaching it.
- implemented the seating chart. sorta.
- i found discipline referral forms. i now have a stack of them.
- "we're black. we don't do homework."
- these kids must go to bed after i do. they seem to sleep all day.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
7:30 am. i arrive and sign in. of course my name isn't on the sheet. i'm carrying at least 2 feet of books/notebooks/binders/etc. it's hot. i'm wearing a suit (my black one - without the vest - for those that know). i'm hot. i go to the second floor to my room. considerably warmer on the second floor. the door is locked. having just read school policies the night before (great bedtime reading) and not knowing how long it'd take until the door was unlocked, i wasn't going to leave the stuff outside the door. i head back down. i'm sweating. i go back to the office. secretary calls maintenance guy (i think) to unlock the door. i carry my armfull back upstairs. warmer still. door still locked. increasingly perturbed. i return. she calls over the intercom again to the guy. she then gives me her keys to get into my room. why she called for the guy if she was going to give me her keys, i don't know. it's even warmer upstairs. i get into my room....air conditioning is good stuff. i am quite pleased to put down my burden and take off my jacket.
i am now on a mission, a mission for an overhead projector. i lock the door and return the keys. i overhear the principal remarking to the secretary that the toilet had been running all day saturday and the maintenance guys didn't come. (i believe she realized it was still running sometime sunday.) i am given my own key. woohoo! i go to the "media center." (i think it's called that since it doesn't have enough books to be called a library. other than several different newspapers, i didn't see any other types of media. ) locked. i head back to the office where i'm told to go to the media center. after several misses i finally find it unlocked but deserted. i find three projectors but none with the little device to wheel a roll of film. alas. eventually the median (centerian ?) returns, and i now officially have an overhead projector and cart. too bad it's on the first floor and there are no elevators.
i lug it up the stairs and push it to my room. it's unlocked. the custodian got around to it. i set up my new toy. everything's good to go except it won't turn on. there's only one outlet in the front of the room. the overhead works in the other two outlets (back left and back right of the room). i have never tried the outlet before. i don't know if it normally works. i ask other teachers if the outlet in the same position in their room works. theirs did not. we turn to the infamous breaker box. fellow teacher tries several breakers to no avail. i'm now rather perturbed. i eventually find the problem - it was a breaker afterall (#20). now i have power and an overhead - just nothing to write on. i return to the office.
there i am led to a storeroom where i grab some dry erase markers, overhead film, and overhead markers. i repeat my request for another whiteboard for the room - preferably not two whiteboards with a wooden divider about 3 inches thick (how stupid.) when she realizes i have one whiteboard already, the request is met with a questioning look. i'm told i'll have to fill out some extra form and try to explain why this would be needed. principal seems to have my back though. back to the hangout.
i have planning first period. it's a good thing right now at least. the substitute who's been "teaching" wasn't even there last friday. i'm not exactly sure where they are in the book. after doing some weekend planning, i'd think those in algebra 1a should be at least finishing chapter 2 - more preferably - into chapter 3. rifiling through some more papers, it seems they've yet to finish chapter 1. i try to figure out what i'm to be doing and make some guidelines on an overhead. this is good since before i know it...
it's time for my first class. the students come in and notice the room has been cleaned and rearranged. i overhear one student remark "it's like a real classroom in here." despite the arranged desks, the students all head to the back of the room where there are chairs arranged around a table. with considerable effort, i manage to get everyone into desks. here goes.
i introduce myself. (no ms. _____ won't be back.) i mention some brief expectations - pretty much effort. i mention there will be a seating chart. i then pass back packets that review most of chapter 1 and put some problems on the board. class was quiet and productive. if it wasn't complete, it was due wed for hw. (at this point, 180 mins of classtime had been spent on this packet.) there is one student who is not in the same class as everyone else. i don't feel like he's being adequately served.
next class - 3rd period. planned a similar class. didn't get it. more of a struggle getting students in the seats. it's clear there are are some strong personalities in this period. there are also 3 different classes. as i try to teach, i'm interrupted and interrogated. i'm not sure when it was commonplace for students to ask their teacher if he drank. several have their heads down and react angrily or are unresponsive when i attempt to rouse them. then things get fun. in the middle of the period lunch is served. really. 20 mins in the middle of a class, they have lunch. i'm not sure how this works when there's a test. i'm thinking i'll give two parts. one due before lunch, one due after.
there was a reception for new teachers in the media center held during the lunch periods. lots of good food. i get a plateful and then get a piece of cake. the lunchroom is very sparse during this lunch period. (i guess they realized dividing up a class period is not a good idea.) when it's time for class to begin again, the other teachers don't move. i eventually take my uneaten piece of cake and return to the classroom. i thought it best to get there early and unlock the door. i covered the piece of cake wiht a napkin and put it in a small little footlocker contraption. students do not arrive. about 15 minutes later, the most "active" student arrives all proud that he's found a way to show up late. it was fun watching his reaction when he realized he was the first student in the classroom. most of the girls are all in the bathroom; several others are elsewhere. i believe smoking in an empty room or something.
eventually, i get a few students to return to the classroom. this is where my hardheadedness becomes an asset. i teach hardcore for rest of the period. it's not like were actually learning, but i think they at least realized i wasn't going anywhere. one student kept saying if i wanted to know what they knew, i should just look at some quiz they'd taken. blah blah. i told them they'd have a quiz and made packets due wednesday (same with previous class, they'd now had 180 mins of classtime.) eventually that class was over.
i felt like i needed a cutman. the next period i'm to have 3 students in what was described to me as a largely self-directed class (actually 2 classes). i had one student. she expected to sleep. however, it seemed she did like working once i got her to work problems at the board, etc. i figure if i can't get one student motivated when she's got no one to distract her, i really should do something else.
after school, i worked on trying to get things ready for wed. i also tried to get my groupwise account set up. here i got to have my first known run-in with school politics. as the account was being setup, i was asked for my email address. i was told it was for things like if someone signs up for a workshop. i said "that's poor." i mean c'mon. that's the whole purpose of groupwise. the lady seemed stunned. i knew i'd emailed principals (one out of two worked) and received several business cards with email addresses at the bottom. she said that they allowed email for the principals. i knew they used to have email addresses. she said that it started costing money to provide them. she said the county school policy was for teachers to sign up for yahoo accounts. i once again stressed that it was rather unprofessional and that i guess i was used to wake county. she responds with obvious vitirol about how they have many things that wake doesn't have. i'm thinking...yeah, windows 95 on all the computers. she then said something about her sister being involved with it for the county and that she'd have to leave since she was getting upset. i can control my voice, and i chose my words carefully. i found this rather childish. (no i didn't express such.) she then said something about contacting some head it guy if i had any questions. i said i would since i had some questions about the website. she seemed absolutely shocked. i mentioned that i wondered when the new one would go live. (i'd discovered what appears to be a partially completed site on the intranet.). i also was wondering about if school sites would now have the same template as the main site. she starts talking about how i'm totally wrong and she's in charge of the school's page and that all schools do their own and it's totally separate and that she hasn't done the one for the school since she was waiting for all the teachers, etc but that when she's done she'll send over the disk with the website. she talks about how it's been a low priority and that they're moving the schools over to frontpage from netscape gold. i asked her if they had ftp access. she didn't respond - was clear she didn't know what i was talking about. i then show her the one on the intranet. it does seem that the schools will now have the same template. "well they haven't told us anything about that." no kidding. also she never got my groupwise account working. oh well.
i threw out my now ant-covered slice of cake. went home. crashed on the couch. wrote up a certain quiz. worked on some lesson plans. eventually went to sleep around 2.
- i don't want to buy a maxi-pad - wake county has emergency kits for each classroom teacher. i don't believe there's anything similar in my classroom. i'm considering making one.
- oh and i went ahead and ordered the hammacher schlemmer alarm clock. i'm so excited. i'm so excited. i'm so...scared.
Monday, September 01, 2003
i'm not a morning person.
i've never been one. i now have to be at work at 7:30 every morn looking presentable. this isn't a good combination. i've been trying to make myself get up earlier to prepare. it's not working too well. i have no windows in my bedroom. i think this is partially responsible. i'm now looking for an alarm clock that turns on a light progressively brighter to aid in waking me up. i found many clocks which use them, but i am not interested in waking up to a strobe light and have not linked to them.
i've found a couple. if you know of others/better. comment away.
- cheap coffee - no not thrown in my face. surprisingly to me hammacher schlemmer has the cheapest alarm clock i've found. it also has an aromatherapy feature which lets you wake up or fall asleep to different aromas - like coffee. it's still not cheap at $50 plus shipping. (along with the must have popup hotdog cooker, they also have all-terrain skis on sale!)
- not so sad - these folks have lots of products to let the sunshine in. all quite expensive.
- another common clock - this one uses your own tablelamp to provide lighting. still not cheap.
- awake. check. worship ra. check - these folks sell a more eye catching clock. don't miss the fake windows below on the same page! i think i'd have to choose hawaii. maybe kate could send some digital pics of some other vistas.
- good price - well not really a good price, but one of the best i've found for the ever-popular glowslug clock.
- under a franklin - here's a glowdome alarm clock just under a $100.