Saturday, August 22, 2009

yet ANOTHER superintendent

Had Alan Bersin. He implemented so many positive reforms! What a shame his bedside manner was so lousy that he alienated most of the people who now benefit from his shake ups. He left for a more powerful position working for Ahnold up in Sacramento, and now he is working for Obama as the border czar. His legacy = focus on literacy.

Got Carl Cohn. Genial. Silent. He held "Cookies with Carl" meetings to listen to the people. His legacy = a new logo (he didn't like SDCS having a different one than SDUSD) and cookie crumbs.

Got Terry Grier. He implemented something called SMART goals where we had to fill in paper grids on everything imaginable using this little acronym.  His legacy = acre upon acre of deforestation and--brace yourself--a new logo. 

The new logo was announced in the same letter he announced his probable acceptance of a position in Texas that will pay twice what San Diego does, and will have half the headaches.

Boy, can't wait for that new logo. That oughtta really improve education, right?

Super Duper

come and go like fashion; leave
us new logos--thanks.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wait, don't bring it!

I went in again today for another 2 1/2 hours, and this time? I dug deep, kids, but I am wiped out. 

Knocked out another few shelves. 
Filled another can. 
Recycled another ream. 
Took more stuff home to organize.


Know how your closet looks when you decide it's time to really deal with it? Yeah, well that's my classroom. It has to look worse before it looks better. (shhhh, that's what I'm telling myself.)

I go in on Monday morning,  but that is more of a planning time (and social too, not gonna lie). After lunch I'll try to give it a few more hours, energized by hope and planning. 

Right now, though, I feel like a tsumani just hit me. Nap time, big time.


What have I unleashed--
opened one little closet:
paper tsunami!!!!!!

Bring it!

I went in yesterday! Room's all sparkly and shiny. :-)

When you return to your classroom after summer vacay, there is so much work to be done before you can get any work done. Lemme 'splain.

You have to remove everything from the surfaces of the class so the custodial crew can work their magic. So that means all the stuff sitting on all the surfaces (pencil holders, tickler file, framed picture of Aunt Margaret) has to go in a closet somewhere. And THAT means when you return, all of the Sitting Stuff has to be pulled out and put back before you can get to the juicy curriculum and organizational challenges!

This year there is another level of challenge for me. I will be teaching English for the first time since 1914, you recall, and the retiring teacher graciously left me the units she developed. What a precious gift! Ah, but the Precious Gift (six boxes!) needs a home. So I spent almost three hours in my jigsaw puzzle classroom, weeding out, making decisions, and making room.

I am so glad I did. The anxiety cloud is less dense. And I was hit again by that tingly anticipation of what could be The Best Teaching Year Ever. I'll know it's time to retire if I feel dread, but every year I am so dang excited!! In fact, I'm going back for round two today! Bring it!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The anxiety cloud is hovering.

What the heck will happen in English class? Some of my friends are going back to school way early. We are to report back three days before the kids, but these teachers are going back three and two weeks earlier. I only go back one day early just to devote attention to my room and the Almighty Copy Machine.

Maybe peace of mind is worth it. Maybe I am making a big deal over something that isn't.

I get a teeny resentful about allowing my career to impinge upon my vacation (see post entitled "Used to" below...).

Should I go in early and dispel the cloud? Or take my novel to Starbucks and the beach and carpe these diems?


anxiety cloud
raining on my teacher soul...
call it "September"

Friday, August 14, 2009

money money

How much do teachers spend every year on their kids and classrooms and supplies?

Dunno. I only know how much I spend each year.

I have begun the annual spree. At Office Depot I dropped $118, and Target another $10. It's not even September yet! I buy donuts for some classes, candy for rewarding answers and participation SeaWorld-style (like when the trainer gives the sea lion a dead fish for barking on cue). I haven't even been in my classroom yet to know what else I'll need--well I know I need a new CD player--, but fifty cents for a comp book is a great bargain, and I like to hand some out on the first day to kids who raise their hands first, just to show them that engagement itself can be a reward. 

[Some years I spend more than others. Last year I sent away for a talking Thomas Jefferson doll ( I put him in the closet and FORGOT I HAD HIM!! OK, so that was dumb. But this year TJ is in the house. Fo shizzle. I will be sure to post the day my presidential purchase makes his first middle school appearance!]

$$$o Far....

Fifty cents will buy
A bound composition boo(I bought twenty five)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


what if....
teacher taught kids the way she'd
want her own kids taught

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Used to

Used to feel a little guilty on Monday mornings, rising at 9, finding the gym empty, reading book after book on the balcony, ordering take-out sushi. Or as guilty as a person can feel when she is blissed out.

But one day it dawned on me: I work nearly every Saturday of the school year for at least three or four hours, often more. Some days I work Sundays, too. I am at school for an average of nine hours a day. And I cannot use the restroom or walk away from my desk or any of those mini-breaks that most professionals do to refresh their spirits. (Five minute passing periods are like blinking and the exiting kids from period 2 always overlap with the entering kids for period 3.) What it boils down to is that my two month summer vacation is all my Saturdays and many Sundays and potty breaks and water cooler breaks and "let me just step outside and quiet my mind" breaks all strung together like pearls!

Used to feel guilty, and now I feel fine, just fine.

summer days

"Summer days".... these words
dance, long and warm in my heart,
but end before I--

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Plan

OK what I'm gonna do is assign each kid as one of the thirteen colonies right when we study them. The New England kids will be sitting together, the Middle Colony kids too, and of course the Southern Colonies. Then when we learn the songs, they'll likely remember at least their own and have some others to chime in together, built-in camaraderie, and since the state name tags will have the state shape on it, that's one-thirteenth of them memorized simply by association. Seeing the states of the others in their region should boost recognition, too.

(You would be shocked at how many kids do not know the names of states on a blank outline map. Oh, they can tell you the capital of Louisiana, but they can't find Louisiana.)

And then as we eventually study states' stands on historic issues, they'll have stance, just like a real congress. And as our country expands, maybe each kid will get another state on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line, so when we discuss North/South issues, they will have a deeper understanding.

Do I make and laminate cards that look all pro and use these? Nah. I think kids will have to make their own and keep it--the cards will have the OUTLINE of the state in the color of the REGION (ie, all the Middle Colonies will be green) with the NAME of the state on the back? And the ABBREVIATION on the front. Later the kids can add key facts/peeps/stances as we travel through time together. So I need to find an easy way to have kids draw their states. Choice of free hand and overhead trace, I suppose. I'll need yarn. (Can you believe it? Yarn? I don't believe I've never typed that word before...)

OK. So kids will have to keep them in their backpacks. They'll wear them first semester. I'll bring out the tricorn hats. Flava, you see. Drama, don't you know.

my new first week idea

B e M a s s a c h u s e t t s
F o l l o w S o u t h C a r o l i n a
B e c o m e h i s t o r y