Monday, August 31, 2009

First day. 2000 more to go.

We started school today. My class seems to be a pretty good group. A bit sleepy. More than half hadn't eaten breakfast. One of my fabulous games sussed out that factoid. A bit reluctant to work together. That's pretty normal. All in all a good day. Nobody had any problems. I can tell a few students that may be trouble later. I've got my teacher eye on them. We'll see.

It's all routines at this point. How do we sharpen our pencils? How do we ask to go to the bathroom? And so it goes. The thing is, teaching this stuff and team building is the most important thing now. You give up some time but get so much more back later because you don't have to keep teaching and practicing stuff that should be basic. No matter how many years I've done it, there's an impatient voice in the back of my head saying "ok, let's move on." I ignore that voice for a long time.

The funniest thing that happened was long after they left. I was reading the 3/5 cards they filled out. I asked them to tell me if they're allergic to anything. Most wrote nothing. The others wrote things like bugs or pollen. Jennifer wrote "cheap jewelry." I bust a gut laughing. I guess it's ok to surprise them with a treat here or there without worrying about food allergies. Just no cheap jewelry surprises. Someone will turn green.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Room is Ready!

I can start teaching. The room is ready. It's not complete and that's ok. My room is always a work in progress. It's always good to have somewhere to go anyhow in terms of decoration and arrangements. You don't have any idea how the room will work until the students start to use it. You see after a few days that certain things don't work where they are and need to be moved. The kids usually take up more space than you imagine and that blows apart your perfect floor design. The "perfect room" doesn't exist anyhow. Johnny can't sit next to Sammy and Brenda decides she hates both of them and is allergic to peanuts. Suddenly there's a room change. Desks move and it's all gone. Same with the wall stuff. The district or the teaching coaches decide you must have rubrics. Ok, then, these giant rubrics take up a hell of a lot of space. Already have the word wall, number line, job chart, and everything else up. Guess I'll have to take down some stuff.
I have to say the smartest thing I've done this year is to bring in a small level. $2 from Home Depot and it's magnetic. Saves the "Is this straight?" problem. I'm always working alone putting the room together and for years have put things up and got down off the ladder and it was crooked. Up and down. Up and down. This year the level makes it one and done. Much faster wall hanging. Working smart Rookie Schoolteacherstyle.

Here's hoping my community building activities get the year off to a good start. It all begins in a few days. Hopefully, these ladies will like my teaching as much as they liked my room during their visit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beware of morons with 2-cycle engines.

I forgot about the people who ride motorcycles, scooters, and ATVs. Let me explain. I'm out of practice after a summer away from my hood. When it gets warm people in the inner city start riding dirt bikes, scooters, ATVs all over the place. I'm not exaggerating and it's scary and dangerous. They ride the wrong way down the middle of the street, on the sidewalk, weave in and out of traffic, and dart into your lane from anywhere. Sometimes these are kids but usually these are grown adults. Almost all of them have no license plates and wear no helmets. I usually leave work with the windows down because you can hear the note of the exhaust pipe before you see them. That split second warning helps you avoid having one of these idiots as your hood ornament. Yesterday, I was driving home and a guy rounds a corner and rides up the middle of the street on a dirt bike toward me. He's going the wrong way down the middle of a one way street at 30 miles an hour. He's wearing a pair of shorts and a grin. Lucky for me I saw him and had some grace under pressure or he would have been a goner. How stupid can you get? For those novice teachers reading, be careful.

I've been taking things to work and doing the room in between the meetings. The meetings are winning, by the way. Our administration wants to get the safe harbor and we're all about the meetings. We're always trying to make AYP, safe harbor, you name it, and always under the gun. Meetings, meetings, and more meetings. My favorites are the meetings were we meet and report out about the meetings. That way you get to have a meeting and at the same time double or triple your pleasure by virtually attending more meetings.

Anyway, it would be nice to have more time to get stuff put up and put away. I'm just thankful for my hand truck. The best $20 I ever spent. Another bit of advice for you newbies, get a cheap durable hand truck at Harbor Freight and save your back. It will also save you time because you won't have to wait around for the school's hand truck as it goes from teacher to teacher. You'll look smart and make friends when you invariably lend it to a beleaguered colleague.

Enough for today. I don't have any school homework and I'm going to the gym.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back at work.

I sat in meetings all day. Meetings about a whole lot of nothing. Some new folks on the staff seem nice. I wonder how long they'll last. A few were putting down bets on who'll resign first. I don't play those games because bad stuff happens on the way to good teaching. The classes we're dealt will play a huge part in the way the year goes. I've seen good folks eaten alive because of all kinds of factors. Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar eats you. Words to live by. I've done both.

I'm whipped and heading to bed. Sitting listening to blowhards blow is tiring. I'm bringing in a lot of boxes of teaching goodness to my classroom tomorrow. Going to get my set up done in between all the important meetings.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Going back tomorrow.

It's been a while. The summer is winding up. I'm going in tomorrow for classroom setup and some meetings. School begins soon. I'm a bit grumpy about sitting in meetings tomorrow. I find most meetings to be tedious and unnecessary. Hopefully, they will be short and I can get on with the important things concerning setting up the room for the best possible learning space.

I never properly finished up the last year where the blog is concerned. I'm sorry about that. Nothing happened to me or anything. This year's finish up was more involved than most. I had to plan a ceremony for the kids to move up to the next grade and it took up a lot of time. Those that teach know the end of the year is hectic enough without creating a ceremony from scratch involving speakers, songs, music, parents, programs, and food. Not more than 5 minutes of help from any administrator on the ceremonies. Not one word of encouragement or thanks from an administrator after it was finished successfully. Needless to say, I was happy to pack my sh%$ up, hand in my keys, and go home when the contract said the year was over.

This year, hopefully, will be my best ever. I say that every year, but this is the one. I'm still a rookie and this is my 6th year. I'm working my way through Mosaics of Thought to get some new ideas to rev up the teaching through all of the subjects. Read a great book from the ASCD called Rethinking Homework the other day. Lots of good ideas going through my brain now.

Got to sleep and recharge.