"Ms. 100 Farmers, why isn't Canada its own country?"
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I've been trying to figure out the big difference between teaching junior high and high school(besides the fact that all the girls are taller than me now). It finally came to me today as I stared down a quiet long hallway. I don't teach with my door open. During that last afternoon class, when maybe my lesson wasn't quite as tight as it was second period but my kids weren't as mentally alert anyway, I liked to open up my door and slip my own teaching murmurs into the the light education sounds coming down the hallway. There was a cohesiveness there. It might have been a sinking tiredness on that hot Friday afternoon in October(oh god, where's Fall?) but you could walk to the door and catch the eye of your fellow teacher and smile in sympathy. Here at suburbiaville, boom! my door goes shut when the bell rings. Creak, it slams open again when it's time to go. We might quickly chat between bells but there's a definite feeling of isolation. It's almost like teaching within a bubble. Don't want those Geography germs to get into our Geometry edudome, now do we? My god, that collaboration might bring down edumacation as we know it. We've got the same kids but it feels kinda stingy. My class, my kids, my core subject. Funny thing is that I have to wedge my door open with a cart between bells because the doorstop is broken. Maybe I've been symbolically trying to rebel all month long. Cue Just another Cart in the Door sung to Pink Floyd's, The Wall.
Friday, September 21, 2007
We lost our Mighty Hunter sometime last night. He found us as a yowling big fluff of orange in a parking lot 16 years ago. He was an orange tabby's orange tabby. He talked constantly, tried to drag squirrels into the house, peed on every rubber mat I ever tried to put down and slept next to me with his paw on my arm. We knew his time was very near but it doesn't make today easier. He was the senior member of our family and I feel like I have lost a part of my past. I am going to miss my Gabe.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Evidence that I have been working myself into a stupor this past couple of weeks: I just realized today that this student I have 2nd period looks so much like a student in 3rd period because they're identical twins. I had somehow managed to put them in the same seat too. I kept thinking that the face looked awfully familiar. I sat at my desk and just laughed at myself. I think I scared my third period. Good.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The class is intently creating world maps. Some students are working cooperatively, some are solely fixated on getting the coordinates perfect. There is a slight murmur of conversation but there is education happening in this classroom. Then this cracks open the calm in the classroom, "Why can't you just speak English??!!!" My class falls silent and you can almost see and feel the walls of hostility slamming up. You have to understand that my classes are amazingly diverse. Every class represents just about every continent except for Australia and Antarctica. To make a list of all the nationalities would take up all of this blog. I'd like to say that I've never had to deal with a problem like this before in my years of teaching but I have. This situation kinda caught me off guard though. The girl who yelled this out is actually one of my better students. She is motivated, mature and very pleasant to have in class. She is African-American. The girl she was yelling at is also motivated, pleasant and has a very, very strong Honduran accent. She struggles with English at times. Absolute silence rings. I have a moment of panic. Teachable moment ideas run through my head. Damage control is of course paramount to the situation. "Frequently skipping, already suspended the second week of school" Hispanic boy jumps up and wants to bring it on. Class is now shocked beyond sound and movement. I now have two incidents to handle. Boy sent outside. Boy won't go to office. Nice big coach from across the hall assures him that he will. He's off to the office where his short term memory problems keep him from remembering just exactly why he is down there. After emails and a phone conversation with the assistant principal, young man is sent home and I am back to the original situation. Quiet conversation with first girl. Explain the problem to me please? She says, "They might be talking about me and I don't like it." In my head I'm thinking that I can't believe I am having this conversation with a 9th grader. But I explain in my best teacher voice that I don't have a problem at all with Spanish being spoken in my classroom and especially not if someone needs help. I ask her to speak to me privately next time if she believes that the conversation is directed against her. She apologizes and the class relaxes as nods are exchanged between the two girls. My 45 minute cultural sensitivity seminar/soap opera draws to an end. TGIF
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Well, one week down as a high school teacher. My 6th period continues to try my patience to extreme lengths. I have never had a situation where I have had a number of students with such defiant and disruptive behaviors in class together. I called in my lead teacher to observe the class and emailed my principals while I am trying to not focus on the negativity of that class because my others are pretty good. I've got a couple of boundary pushers in the others but that one class is a doozey. I have yet to master the intricacies of watching the announcements instead of listening to them. The fact that we actually have broadcast announcements and In Focus machines is still thrilling to me. Imagine how cool it will be when we don't have to imagine the announcements. Taking attendance every period on the computer seems to take up an awful lot of time especially since my attendance roster doesn't match my class roster and even if I print it out, sometimes kids are dropped off or added while I am taking roll. Visual me shaking my head like a dog getting water out of its coat. I have had several wonderful teacher moments as I've run into several kids I taught as 7th or 8th graders in my previous district. Woo Hoo!!! To finish out the week, I even went to the football game and learned the fight songs. I really had a good time. To sum my week up: It's different and it's hard but even though the self doubt is crushing sometimes, I know I am in the right place.