Tuesday, April 28, 2009

25, please.

Hours, that is. I think I need an extra one every day to keep up.

See, it's crazy how much goes on at a school. I am just one person, and last week I had:
Open House (consider the prep time for that)
Bible Club
our class's auction basket to arrange
bracing for the CST (the high stakes test we take that seems to determine whether our school lives or dies)
a test with many short answers to grade
tutoring with kids before and after school
unscheduled visits from former students
a request for a 1,500 word essay and award nomination
an invitation to review a book for a publishing company
a pile of papers about whether John Brown was sane or crazy
another about the Dred Scott case.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

there's the rub...

teaching kids to write
would be so much easier
if it weren't so hard

from The Cornerstone Blog

I read this on Angela Powell's awesome blog, The Cornerstone Blog. I love what she writes, I love how she thinks, and I love that even though she teaches littler ones that the issues we encounter overlap as much as they do--the meta-issues of pedagogy and learning....Here she is:

It seems like teaching is getting harder because it IS: we’re attempting to reach more kids than we used to, and address a wider variety of issues and needs. It’s critical for educators to understand the magnitude of what we’re attempting without letting the results overwhelm us.
Low-performing students from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ and those with learning problems are no longer siphoned off into special education classrooms while we wait for them to drop out. As much as we bemoan the pitfalls of NCLB, in our daily practice we are in fact attempting to leave no child behind—not even the ones who WANT to be left to their own devices, or who don’t have the cognitive or emotional capabilities to try. And the 3 R’s are just the tip of the 21st century iceberg: we want our kids to graduate with technological and communication skills, well-developed creativity, interactive problem-solving abilities, financial savvy, an applied understanding of personal health and nutrition, environmental awareness…and the list is growing every year. We are trying to do it all, and we’re expected to succeed. Yet we cannot become discouraged when our students, our administrators, or we ourselves fail to achieve an increasingly impossible mission. When teachers become overwhelmed, the cycle of learning and growth is stopped cold.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Not-So-Super Vision

The auditorium was full of kids deemed "good" by the Powers That Be. They were consequently being "rewarded" with a movie in the auditorium, but since this was close to twenty years ago, the movie was shown on two TVs and our seats were in the back, making it hard to see or hear whatever was showing. I sat in the back with Thao, one of my wonderful students, who ignored the microscopic reward movie and took the opportunity to tell me all about whom she liked, and why, and all the various details that make up ninth grade girl drama.

As she went on nonstop in that inimitable ninth grade girl way, a stranger we presumed to be a substitute strode purposely toward us. "Young ladies, keep it down," he sternly urged. "Sorry, sir," we replied. Thao inhaled, and off she went again, but a bit more sotto voce.

Five minutes later, Stern Substitute came back, brow further furrowed, and he addressed me exclusively: "Young lady, you have done nothing but talk the whole time you've been here. It is time for you to go back to your class." Mind you, I had only said a few words the whole time ("Really?" "Wow." "No, what?"), but I grabbed my sweater and keys and stood. "Where are you going?" asked Thao, shocked that I was obeying Stern Substitute. "To my class," I shrugged, and as I headed out the door, the auditorium was filled with greetings from all the angels quieter than Thao: "Bye Miss M! Where are you going?"

I at 25 had just been mistaken for a 15 year old girl.

Later, SS found me in my class after school, surrounded by students. He apologized beautifully, and then ruined it by saying, " You have to admit, you WERE talking quite a bit!" I just smiled, but have always remembered both his huge error, his humility in seeking me out to apologize, and his persistence in his original mistaken belief. I try to keep this in mind when I am supervising--not that I have sent adults to class, but that maybe what I think I'm seeing isn't as accurate as I believe it to be.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

my goal (double haiku education on so many levels!)

to be a teacher
like jaime escalante
and mary poppins

combined into one
(but looking more like mary
than jaime, I hope)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

best sub ever?*

It was the last day before vacation
and all through the class
the kids were all quiet, no whispers, no sass,
The sub held them all in the palm of his hand
He was determined they'd all understand
the Kansas-Nebraska Act on this last day
before the kids were released--yes, he'd have his say
And I, the regular teacher, came back for some papers
was happy to see no child cutting capers
And they turned in their chairs, their eyes shining bright
"Miss M!" all broad smiles that were laced with delight
As I gathered my papers and strode out the school
I yelled,"Have a great week!" and thought, "My job is so cool!"

* and he was fine, too!