Monday, May 7, 2012

Still Here

This year has been very smooth for me, but busy. I am shifting focus, changing responsibilities, and trying to squeeze in time for myself. I am not sure when I will be back to this blog...hoping to return someday.

Monday, February 27, 2012


This year has been remarkably smooth for me up to this point. I don't know if it's because I totally revamped my lesson plans when it comes to scaffolding skills, or if I just have a great bunch of kids (totally do, by the way) but it has been very smooth, and I am very grateful for that.


I have a freshman advisory class that meets twice a week and things are not going so smoothly there. My advisory class is my largest class, with 30 kids, and has 6 extremely.....rambunctious....boys in it that are rude, disrespectful, and extremely immature. I  have separated them, talked to them, been kind, been strict, been snarky, been direct, and they are just acting like tools. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that the lesson plans that have been designed for the freshmen are too easy and too slow, in my opinion. As a result, we end up with extra days where I don't have anything for them to do, and they don't handle free time well at all. They get obnoxious, I get frustrated, and we all end class upset. I feel like I am failing the kids that actually care about their school work and try to work when I give them time to do so, and I am failing to reach the kids who are goofing off. This class is supposed to help them graduate prepared to pay bills, find a job, fill out a college application, and essentially function as an semi-adult, and so far it's falling totally flat. I really dislike this class and it shows.


This week is the beginning of the multicultural show period...auditions are this week and rehearsals start next week. I am trying to juggle more responsibility this year as the usual coordinator is out on maternity leave and the other coordinator has some major health issues that have forced her to take less of a role than previously, putting the majority of this on my shoulders. I actually don't love being in charge of anything outside my own classroom. I am really good at being a support to others, but I hate being in charge of anything this big and I am feeling really stressed out about it.

Another issue is that each year rehearsals become a battle with one particular coach who does not want his kids to miss any part of his 3 hour daily practice, and while I feel his pain, I'm not going to tell the kids they can't participate in the show because they are part of a sports team. I am planning on meeting with him before hand to work out a system, but an unfortunate and unavoidable issue is the fact that dress rehearsal is scheduled for the exact same time as the first track meet of the season. Oh, and did I mention that I also work the track meets?


Mentoring is going well, my mentor teacher is very good but I feel like I am not helping her as effectively as I should. I hope I am giving her good advice and encouraging her to grow as a teacher, but I just am not sure about what I am doing.


I haven't been able to go to tutoring since November. Sigh.


I am taking over more responsibilities as the co-ASB coordinator, since the girl who does it now will be out on maternity leave starting in May. This means meetings every two weeks starting now, and an additional meeting every Monday starting at the end of March, as well as assisting with elections, and attempting to fill the shoes of an extremely talented leadership teacher who is totally beloved by the kids, all while not messing up things like the ASB budget and her system of doing things.


I constantly feel like I am forgetting something really important and I hate that feeling.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Continuing on a Technological Track

Well the snow melted, and school resumed, and finals were bumped back a week, so we ended up having several days in the computer lab to work on the final project - creating an outline of a persuasive paper. The reason I had the kids write an outline is that I feel if the kids can identify and write the various parts of a paper separately, it will be easier for them to later construct a WELL-written paper, instead of a hodge-podge of partial thoughts and illogical sentences. And I am sooooo tired of reading mashed up research papers that make absolutely no sense...they make me frustrated and angry.

Parts of this project went better than expected and parts of it went worse. First of all, the kids really struggled with making an outline. They have a tendency to put a lot of extra words around the main thought and have to really fight to get it down to a stripped-to-the-bone main idea. In addition, only about 10% of the kids understood how to make an outline. The other 90% tried to write it in paragraph form.

On the flip side, as I am grading them I am noticing that once I convinced them to get those extra words out of the way, most of the kids so far seem to be doing pretty well. I think part of that is that I stood over them for a lot of this project. We were in the computer lab for 3 days straight. On the first day I went around to each kid individually and checked their thesis statements, redirecting when necessary. On the second day I went to each kid individually and checked the explanation portion of their outline (where they explained how the supporting detail supported their thesis). I think this really helped the kids work out some of the kinks and kept them moving in the right direction, and allowed me to get more one-on-one time with them.

In addition, I had the kids send me their papers electronically instead of printing something out. This is something that every other educational institution in the free world has been doing for years, but my district blocks EVERYTHING, including all non-district email access, and they don't provide email addresses to the kids, so up to this year, there wasn't really a good way of getting electronic files from a to b. But last summer we were given teacher websites hosted by the district, and it came with a direct email button, so all the kids simply emailed me their projects on Thursday. Of course, this resulted in my inbox jumping from 100 emails to 220 emails, all with the same subject line, but it was really nice not to have to deal with paper and printing.

And another bonus...I am finding that I am grading these outlines faster, since I can use the Microsoft editing function to edit both word and powerpoint documents, allowing me to leave better, more detailed, and more legible feedback. Yea for technology...better late than never, I guess.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Take What You Need

Today when I got to school, this was outside my classroom.

I'm not sure what was on the missing piece, and there was no information about who had put it up, but by the end of the day, this is all that was left.

And once again, I remembered why I love what I do and how thankful I am to be surrounded by amazing kids and passionate colleagues.