Friday, September 30, 2005

Today we attended the big pep rally. That means that our day was pretty close to shot as far as learning goes. When we got back my partner and I were going to swap classes for math and reading/science for 40 minutes or so but the other teachers decided they were going to give their kids a recess time even though we were past that time of day so we did too. It's a good thing I gave them the recess though because I held them all in my room during Friday free day for PE because they really need to catch up on this reading that they haven't been doing despite the fact that it counts as 25% of their grade.

I lost another student today. She told me this morning that today was her last day. That stinks because she's my best student with the best grades. That always hurts..especially when it comes to standardized test results.

The kids were so thrilled to go to the pep rally. I was watching some of them when the cheerleaders came out and they were clapping their hands in hyper excitement and jumping up and down in their chairs. It was seriously kind of amazing how excited some of them got to see the cheerleaders and football players and stuff. The cheerleaders and football players were both trying real hard to impress the kids. The cheerleaders kept doing flips and holding each other up and throwing each other in the air. What's the point of all that anyway? What does that accomplish exactly? Does throwing someone in the air somehow create some wind disturbance that makes for better football throwing conditions? When the football players came out several of them spent about 10 minutes ghetto dancing at the entrance to the gym. Congratulations, you just impressed some 4th graders.

Some other random sights at the pep rally included about 4 or 5 guys in these costumes that were just nothing...just these colored blue and red blobs of material with no face or eye holes or anything. I'm still trying to figure that one out. At one point they were all tackling and falling on each other and wrestling around on the ground. All I could think of is that must be what it looks like when crayons mate. Another guy was wearing a cow costume and there was a group of girls dressed in 50's getups. No idea... I thought for sure there was going to be some kind of skit from the 50's involving a cow and giant crayons but it never materialized. I guess that's just how they dress at pep rallies these days.

This afternoon one of my kids started crying so I took her out into the hall to ask what happened. She said another girl at her table called her "mean." WHEW!! I'd cry too! Then she said that it's just a bad day for her. I asked her why and through crying gasps of air she told me that her best friend "broke up with her." Whoa! Am I in a Seinfeld episode? I was tempted to ask if that friend was Keith Hernandez but I refrained.

Tomorrow I take the second half of my teaching certification test. Wish me luck.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sorry this is late today. This site was down for maintenance when I came to post earlier.

Anyway, today went pretty well. I got some papers graded, had a three good interactions with parents and actually made a little progress on my junkyard desk.

I had one scheduled parent conference and two unscheduled short ones today. The scheduled one went pretty well but I was a little worried about the guy...after just walking from the front of the school and then up one flight of stairs and to my room he was wheezing like an asthmatic in a Bingo hall (anyone who's ever been in a Bingo hall filled with chain-smoking old women know what I mean). I guess he least I hope so...if not then he's got some other problems.

Tomorrow the kids get to go to the big high school pep rally (rah.). Today I told them if they weren't to the point in their writing journals that I've been telling them they need to be at for 3 weeks then they aren't going to the pep rally. I have this one kid who just doesn't write...getting him to write is like pulling soon as I said that about the pep rally though, I'm not kidding, this kid starting whipping out sentences like Bob Saget whips out cheesy jokes. Within 20 minutes he had two pages written. Sheesh...all it took was the right motivation...what'll I use next week?

Another incident that happened this afternoon was that my new kid writes me a letter asking how I'm doing and then telling me she's not doing so good. I asked her why and she wanted to talk in private so I took her out into the hall and she told me that while she was in the bathroom another girl was staring over the stall at her. I don't know what is up with these kids and peeping. I'm constantly walking into the boys bathroom and finding students trying to look through the cracks to see who's on the can. Anyway, it's not that big of a deal but these days it's the kind of thing that can turn into lawsuits and ugliness so we referred it to the office.

I kinda felt like I was starting to come down with another cold today. I don't know...I feel better now. It's hard to avoid though. Any time I call up a kid to my desk and put something down to look at in front of me the kid is immediately at my side practically on me and breathing in my face..I'm constantly telling them to back up. Also if you're standing somewhere in the class and one kid comes up to ask you a question suddenly 5 are there crowding around. I have a rule about not getting out of your desk without permission but when they see that one who did it they all suddenly need to be there. "Where two or three are gathered together..."


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I really need to get more organized at school. My desk is starting to look like a junk yard (which I'm sure is not surprising to all who know me). I need to get it together before I become one of those teachers who tells students he lost their papers but it turns out that they're just buried in his desk (the papers, not the students). There's just not enough time in the day. Maybe I'll invest in a time machine.

So this new student today is still trying to show us all how smart she is. She was trying to teach the class reading strategies (that I've covered several times) today during our reading time. Also, she told the class that she'd already read this book we're reading "like ten times." Then during science I pulled out a balance because we were studying density and she again pulled out the "we used one of those in like, first grade." I understand...she's new and just trying to impress people but I hope she gets past that phase like, quickly.

Some of these kids are so far behind in this weekly writing they're supposed to be doing even though I've been telling them for three weeks that they need to be to a certain point by this Friday. I've decided that anyone who isn't there by Friday isn't going to get to go to the big high school pep rally Friday morning. Rah.

One of the other teachers is just refusing to wear his long sleeves and tie this week because it's been so incredibly hot out. If only I weren't a first year maybe I'd have the nerve to stick it to the man like that too. Down with the necknoose! Apparently though he sweats like a glass of ice water in Houston on the 4th of July so if someone called him on it he could probably claim some kind of medical reason.

There's so much stuff I still don't know about teaching and teaching specifically at my school. It seems like weekly I get told something new about a requirement or something I need to be teaching that I'm not. Oh well, as long as I teach them how to steal stuff they can make a living and it'll all be worth it. Now...where's my pen...


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I got a new student today. She came from Arizona. I think her family came here to flee the hurricane.

Today I asked the class a question and then I asked her if she'd already learned that. She said "Yeah, we learned that in like 1st grade!"

Oh, ok, Doogie, I'll mark you down for "extra large" when we pass out hats.

Anyway, that's going ok so far but I hope this transition thing is fairly seamless for both of us.

The class had a bad day today..they were just outta control so I had to kind of be in stern mode. Still though we had fun. I did an experiment where I put a couple of alk-seltzer tablets in a cup of water and then covered the top with a surgical glove (to show them that gas can take up space). They loved watching the glove fill with gas. Of course after that they wanted me to put more alka-seltzer in so we did 4 and they got a kick out of watching the glove fill up really big and then shoot off the top of the cup.

We had a test today over the first half of the book we're reading. I fear I made it too easy. In my class the grades were all really high and in my partner's class that comes to me for reading even this girl who seems really clueless made a B. I thought for sure she'd bomb it. Either it was too easy or I spent too much time going over the material. Not that I want them to fail but if it's too easy they aren't challenged and yadda yadda...

Progress reports went home today. That's always a mad dash during my conference period to try and get those printed out and ready to go. Good thing I didn't actually have any conferences scheduled during that conference period.

Friday all the 4th grade students get to take a little trip over to the high school and attend a pep rally. They're all really excited. I'm pretty cynical about pep rallies and the like myself but I'll try and muster some fake enthusiasm when the time comes I guess. Go team. Rah or something.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Going to a concert tonight so I don't have much time.

I'm getting a new student tomorrow. That should be fun getting her up to speed with the rest of us. We're in the 5th chapter of a 10 chapter novel so that will be challenging. "Here, kid, it doesn't matter what happened before, just read."

Today we had another long meeting that didn't resolve or decide anything. Those seem to happen occasionally in this profession.

This was a good day for the class. They only had two names on the board and therefore took their first step towards their class reward. Yeah!

That's all I've got. Until tomorrow...

Friday, September 23, 2005

I hate having a runny nose. Still don't know if this is allergies or a cold but I do know that I have a faucet on my nose that seems to have a constant flow of non-Newtonian fluids (See yesterday's post if you don't know what that means). The sudafed helped this morning but it didn't seem to help so much this afternoon.

We had a good day today I think. We finished up our non-Newtonian fluids activities by having a "Science Conference" on it. I was calling the substance "Ooblek" for the purposes of the activities and we decided on some "Laws of Ooblek" that everyone could agree on. It was a great practice in experiments and the scientific method IMO.

So yesterday we had a tornado drill. I thought that would be it for drills for a while but this morning we had a fire drill. It went well but it's always kind of a pain because that means less time for one class and more time for the other class who didn't have the drill so things get off.

Yesterday I got the denim shirt with the embroidered logo that I spoke about before. Why did I order this thing again? Oh yeah, conformity...wonderful conformity. Today I received a black polo shirt that I ordered. I don't own any other polos but at least I can wear that on least that's another day without a tie. I've whittled it down to three tie days now.

Today my little space cadet made me laugh again when I should have been telling him to quit it. We're in the middle of taking a spelling test and I look over and he's taking his test with an open folder on his head as if nothing is abnormal. It's weird because the other kids seem to pay him no mind...they must be used to this kind of stuff from him. It wasn't really that funny but the kid himself is just funny.

Today I thought my class was going to make it through the day with only two names on the board, thus qualifying for their first step towards a class reward...I really, really thought they were going to do it and I wanted them to. I was being more lenient then usual as we got closer but then these two were just clowning around with each other during the spelling test. I warned them and warned them and gave them chances to quit and they wouldn't so their names went on the board with only 9 minutes left in their time with disappointing. So close..

Maybe next time...probably not..

Thursday, September 22, 2005

This morning we had a tornado drill so we'll be somewhat prepared in case hurricane Rita hits us and causes tornados. As of yesterday it was supposed to come our way but now it seems to be projected to go east of us. So I was standing in the middle of a hallway filled with a couple hundred elementary kids on their knees with their heads to the ground and their hands over their heads. It won't save them but at least they'll be in a good position to stick their heads between their legs and kiss their butts goodbye, as my dad always said. Yes, one time as a small child I was home alone and we had some really bad weather with high winds and thunderstorms. I called my dad at work because I was scared and those were his instructions to me. Thanks, pops.

During science today we were exploring states of matter by playing with a non-Newtonian fluid. For the layman (ah, I remember the layman days) that means a substance that displays characteristics of both a solid and a fluid. Basically you mix 1 cup corn starch to 1/2 cup water and mix. It's really pretty neat, you can break off pieces (if you get the mixture right) but then they flow out of your hand like a liquid. You can punch it and it will completely resist your fist like a solid but then if you slowly stick your finger or hand into it it will sink into it like a liquid. Needless to say we had fun with it and the kids loved getting all gooey and playing with it. They had some funny guesses on what it was. I asked what state of matter it was and one kid said "Gas?!" It's ok though, we haven't studied that in-depth yet. One kid thought it was candlewax and another thought baby powder, despite the fact that it smelled like bread dough. My classroom was kind of a mess afterwards.

This girl in my room thinks she can riverdance. She keeps showing me as if she's never shown me before and now she's attempting to teach other kids in the class. It looks nothing like that Flatley character..I don't know, maybe if he got really drunk.

I'm out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Today went pretty well. We still had lots of names on the board but whatever.

Today was kind of a weird parent day. A parent sent a note this morning unhappy about my going-to-the-bathroom during class policy and also quite sure that her daughter wasn't actually talking yesterday during silent reading time when I saw her talking and then put her name on the board. So many parents get a severely edited story from their kids and are quite sure their child is telling them everything.

I also got another note from a parent that was just bizarre but that I won't share. Even though I keep myself, the school I work at and my kids anonymous I think this is the kind of parent who would try and sue or something if he somehow stumbled across my blog and recognized himself. I know it's unlikely but better safe than sorry. Let's just say though that sometimes parents leave no question as to where their children get their immaturity and stubbornness. The weird thing about that letter is not only was it flat-out bizarre, it was also enouraging.

Speaking of bizarre, I noticed that there's a boy in one of the younger grades whose bangs are cut into a weird looking widows peak that goes down to where his eyebrows meet. It's weird...there's no way that kid chose that haircut himself. It's straight Eddie Munster. I hate when odd parents get their kid's hair cut in weird ways.

One of my students is moving far away out of state and today was her last day. During the last 15 minutes of writing time I let them write her going-away cards. When most people were done one girl looks at her card and goes "Oh, Mr. Teacher, um, I accidentally made a birthday card." Huh?! Sure enough she made a birthday card instead of a going away card. I don't know if she didn't understand or had a brain fart or what. Weird.

At the end of school when I had them all lined up to go home all the girls were hugging this girl goodbye and she says "Mr. Teacher, everyone has hugged me now except you," (I was gettin' there!) so I hugged her. Then when the bell rang on the way out of the room she blew me a kiss. I don't know if that was a departing confession of love or 4th grade sarcasm. Neither is desirable.

This morning another kid blew chunks during morning assembly. A teacher got him up and walking quickly out. I could see his path went right by me and the whole time I was just cringing and knowing that he was gonna blow again when he was right in front of me. Luckily he didn't.

Well, those are my highlights. Later.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Man, my class is just having trouble pulling it together as far as behavior and following directions. We had more names on the board than ever today. One problem with my discipline system is that the consequences of one check next to your name is 10 minutes out of recess. Two checks is miss the full recess. However, my kids go to math before recess and the math teacher gives them a LOT of work. Then when they end up not finishing it she keeps them in her room during recess and thus I cannot follow through on the ten minutes out of recess because you broke a rule because she's holding them out of recess anyway. I think I'm going to talk to her about it soon...I don't feel like keeping my homeroom in her class during recess is good for me and my system nor my kids. It's kind of a hard thing to bring up..especially since she's my mentor (which I'm required to have as a first year teacher).

Today one of my kids comes walking back down the hall after recess just sobbing. I thought he'd been out in recess and forgot that he'd actually been in math still. I thought surely something terrible happened in recess. I asked him what happened and he wouldn't tell me. I had him go stand in a less crowded area and pull himself together while I went in the room for a minute. I came back out and he had those post-sobbing know? That kind of sucking hiccupy thing people get after they've been crying really hard? Anyway, I said "Now tell me what happened" and between his gasping cry-ups he managed to get out something like "I didn't*gasp* do*gasp* the right homework*gasp* and Ms. Mathteacher *gasp* made me do the right sheet." WHAT?! Are you kidding me?! This kid was sobbing like his family just died and it's over the fact that he had to do his math work?! I was speechless. What is wrong with these kids? It seems like at least one kid bursts into tears during math class at least once a week. When I was a kid I pretty much couldn't care less if I didn't get my math work done...I guess these kids are already shooting for scholarships or something.

What do you think about men wearing pink shirts? One of my coworkers wore a pink shirt and a pink tie today. I'm not so into it myself. I think I'd rather wear denim.

Today we started science (we are on a revolving thing of 4 weeks social studies/4 weeks science/4 wk soc. studies/ and on...). All of my kids seem to have it in their heads that science consists of mixing dangerous and possibly explosive chemicals together. They seemed really fixated on chemicals and explosions. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing. I need to explain to them that they're confusing "science" with "mad science."


Oh yeah, one more kinda funny thing happened. Today during our silent reading time, after I'd asked them to quit talking multiple times I saw a kid talking and said "Ok, Bernie, that's a check by your name." Then the kid next to him pipes up and says "I was talking too!" I guess he didn't want to be left out since I was passing out checks.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Today I instituted a positive, rewards-based reinforcement system. If they have three days in a row of only two names or less written on the board then we get to go outside for a lesson. If they can extend that to five days of two names or less on the board then they'll get an extra recess.

This morning it seemed to be working but they really just fell apart at lunch time. We ended the day with a LOT of names on the board. Oh well...maybe the good morning they had was a start.

This morning as we were reading "Ramona Quimby, Age 8" together when we came to a part where Ramona and her sister realized that the "pot roast" they were eating was actually tongue, because their family was too poor to buy actual pot roast. We started talking about it in class and they asked me if people really eat tongue. I told them it's not uncommon in Mexican culture and then I tried to make them see how they wouldn't think it was so weird if they'd grown up doing it. I then mentioned that people eat dog in China and Korea. One girl raised her hand and said "I didn't know that dogs had meat in them." Awesome.

Hopefully I won't get trouble for telling her that technically, humans are made of meat as well. It reminded me of the saying "If God didn't want us to eat animals then why did he make them out of meat?"

My kids are so far behind in getting their reading done. They have to read so many books per 9 weeks based on their assessed reading levels. They haven't been keeping up with it very well and it's really going to hurt them on their report cards if they can't catch up. I contacted some parents about it today.

Yesterday I went and bought some new "teacher clothes." No, that doesn't mean denim jumpers with apples embroidered on the upper left chest. Teachers do seem to have some fixation with denim though..I don't know what it is. My grade-level team all decided to buy denim, button-down shirts that we'll all wear on the same day before I got there. So, I'm going to buy one to go along with the group but I'm really not so into denim...except for actual jeans of course.

Teachers are also into forwarding the cheesiest jokes and inspirational chain letters via email..maybe that's not just teachers but I never saw that stuff as much before I started working in schools...anyway, that's a whole other rant. Later.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Today a student gave me an apple.

I thought that was just a stereotype but I guess it really happens. Either that or it is a stereotype and the student bought into it. Either way it was nice though. He's a good kid. As I said last night I left pieces of paper out at parents' night for them to leave notes for their kids. Then I got to thinking this morning that a lot of kids might feel left out or something because their parents didn't come (or in one case this girls dad wasn't the least bit interested in leaving his daughter any kind of encouraging message) so I wrote a note from me for all the kids who didn't have one. Then this morning the girl who's dad was there but didn't leave her a note goes "Mr. Blank, who wrote this?" as she held up the paper that was clearly signed "Mr. Blank" at the bottom. I pointed that out and she said "well some people are saying it's from their parents." Ho hum..they just didn't get it I guess.

My space cadet kid reminds me of myself more every day. He does things that I should be punishing him for but I find myself laughing at his antics. I was like that at his age. I was out of control in my high school chemistry class and I had this teacher who would try really hard not to laugh and he would try to get mad at me but you could tell he was straining his cheek muscles to try and stop the smile. I did some atrocious things in there and never got in trouble.

Today was grandparents day at the school. I was really amazed at how many of my kids' grandparents showed up for lunch. It was more than the number of parents who showed up for my parents' night. It's amazing to me that some of my 4th grade students' parents are my ageor even younger. I don't even have kids yet myself. I can't imagine having had kids 8 or 9 years ago. Wow..

Well, I'm out. I would be really looking forward to the weekend but tomorrow I have to go sit in an all-day mandatory review for the upcoming second half of my teacher certification test.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Another fairly rough day behavior-wise today. I really had to crack down and get mean a couple of times.

I started out the day though by stopping by Wal-Mart and buying a Spongebob Squarepants necktie. I have to wear a tie every day (as you know if you read my diatribe about it) so I decided to make it fun. The kids dug it. I would hear them whispering to each other "He's got a spongebob tie" and then they'd come up and say "Do you like Spongebob?!" It was funny.

Today my partner teacher, the one that teaches my kids math, was out and she had a sub. He was substituting today for the first time ever. Apparently my kids were taking advantage of the situation because one of the other teachers came in after they got back to my class and chewed them out. From what he said before I met them and when they were coming down the hall with the sub they were just going ballistic in the hallway. So I made them sit inside during half of recess. Also today I had a bunch of kids that didn't turn in their spelling homework. I put all their names up on the overhead and was calling them out when the principal walked in. After that she ripped them a new one about not doing their homework. They got thoroughly raked over the coals today I guess you could say.

One thing I've been trying to do with some of the more misbehavior-prone kids is after I dole out the consequences I try to converse with or work with them on something very neutral in a helpful way so that they know that it's not personal and that it's truly just a case of consequences that naturally follow bad decisions and not me "hating on them" or something. I've been making headway with one kid (the snot rocketeer from yesterday) doing this kind of thing. Last year this kid wouldn't work for his teacher much at all but he's been working pretty well for me so far.

Today we were talking about economics in social studies. It went really well. Things were really clicking and these examples were just popping into my head that the kids seemed to really connect with. Even my little space cadet was getting into it. It was really amazing.

Tonight we had the parents' night for my class. It went well but I wish more parents would have shown up. It was great talking to and meeting the parents and I hope I didn't come off like some slacker cad who's just starting his first year of teaching. One thing I did was put out a piece of paper and markers at each kid's desk so the parents could leave them a message to find tomorrow. Most of them did and some of the messages were kind of funny. It was freakin' hot in my classroom though. It faces west and has two big windows and I think someone forgot to tell whoever controls the A/C to keep it on into the evening. I was sweating like crazy.

Tomorrow's Friday but I don't think I'm going to take my guitar. I just haven't had time to work anything up and we really don't have time as I'm way behind in social studies and we're supposed to start science on Monday. I know that the other class I teach reading and social studies to is going to be especially disappointed but oh well.

I'm tired, I'm out. GOOD NIGHT NOW!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Had a better day today. Pretty much back to normal.

The big event today seemed to be that one of my students sneezed when he was working in his writing spiral and apperently a big wad of snot came out and landed on his paper. He had to tear it out and throw it away but he and some people around him could not stop laughing. It got to the point where I had to have one go sit at a desk against the wall and another to go outside and get control of herself. It was kinda funny though. I almost laughed myself.

I think I have a kid who is suffering panic attacks. That stinks that an 8 year old is dealing with that kind of thing. His mother knows and says he's going to see a doctor. I hope he does because he needs help. He cries often and gets stomach aches...and I'm pretty sure they're not the fake "I want attention kind." I really feel for the kid. I think math is what he worries about the most but I don't teach that.

The cool thing though is that now that I'm a teacher and I spend this much time with these kids every day I'm already starting to feel really involved in their lives. They tell me about things that they are dealing with like one of my girls who just wanted to inform me this morning that sometimes she cries and her stomach hurts because her mom is in the hospital and it worries her. I guess she felt like she might start crying during class or something and she wanted to let me know why. She did fine though. All I can do is offer them comfort and prayers and I do pray for them.

I was reading over some of their original writings today. I have this one kid who is really far behind but he seems bright and I think it's just due to a poor education that he previously got in Podunk, Utah (this is also after talking to his mom about it). I think he'll be able to catch up but right now he's relying totally on phonics to write and it shows. A lot of words are misspelled pretty much like they sound. I have another student who writes with no periods or capitalizations. Just long strings of words. Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road on one long piece of paper with no punctuation and he was a quirky genius. Sorry, kid, you're no Jack Kerouac.

The good news (I guess?) is that I'm teaching in a way that should work to improve their writing and spelling according to my textbooks. I guess we'll see. One thing I think I need to start doing is have them write in a journal in class every day. I'm already so pressed for time though...we'll see.

Ok, I'm out. My wife is gone and I'm home alone so it must be time to play video games.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My class did not have such a good day today. Just seemed to be having a hard time following directions and keeping from chatting. There was some negativity too with fingerpointing and bickering during a group project. Personally I had a pretty good day but that part of dealing with behavior isn't so fun and definitely puts a damper on things. Also, the principal had to tell my class to be quiet when I was waiting for them to get lined up to leave the cafeteria. That's kind of embarrassing for me that I didn't have them doing better than that.

Still trying to get things cleaned up and together for my special little parents' night on Thursday. The kids are still digging the group project thing (despite my homeroom class not working together so well in two of the groups).

Got some really great news after work today. The HR lady wanted to meet with me and she informed me that the district will be paying for the rest of my (sizable) fees that I still have to pay to the people who trained me to be a teacher. It's really an incredible blessing. They said that they got these grants approved for 5 teachers that came from alternative certification programs. They'd already filled those five positions and had me and another lady beyond that which made seven and they got approval to give us the grants too. I was blown away because I was going to be paying that off with pretty substantial payments every month for ten months. That made my afternoon. My wife needs a new car and we just found our payments.

Well, that's about all. Sorry I don't have any funny stories today. It just wasn't really a "funny" day I guess.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Finally had my first Monday today and it was successful!

Friday is constitution day and today I'm told our 4th graders are all supposed to memorize the preamble. So I've gotta do that on top of trying to catch up to the other classes in social studies. Not looking forward to it.

It's really amazing the kind of response you get in activities that really engage the students' minds. Today I started them doing these posters where they each take an aspect of Texas and make a poster about it in class. Then they'll present the poster to the rest of the class, in effect (or in theory I should say) teaching the rest of the class about their subject (and thus getting this social studies chapter done very efficiently). They really dove into it and seemed to enjoy it and everyone took part. I wish I had the time to come up with those kinds of activities for everything. That's the thing...not enough time.

I have this one space cadet kid who secretly cracks me up. He's constantly just completely immersed in his own world. Today though I couldn't help but start laughing as I watched him go through this routine of playing with his nose, taking his disposable paper towel back to the line with him after washing his hands and then going through this whole slow motion basketball slamming sequence at the trash can when he realized he'd brought the towel with him. It's funny but at the same time it's so challenging in the classroom because he never pays attention. Today we had the counselor come and do a special presentation and the whole time the kid was playing with his eye and trying to look at the inside of his eyelid.

Oh man, I just remember I have this parent night for my class coming up on Thursday. I've gotta be ready! Most of all I've gotta get my desk cleaned off so I don't look like the sloppy slacker that I am. Today the assistant superintendent of the school district randomly walked into my classroom during class! I'm glad I had them doing something productive!

Anyway, I've gotta go now. I've got things to do.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Another week down. I still haven't taught a full five day week yet because of Labor Day.

Today was good. I think everyone was in good spirits because it was Friday but things felt smoother and a little more laid back in general. Also, I didn't have to wear a tie.

I took my guitar again today but I didn't have time to play it for the homeroom, only for my reading/social studies class. They love it...they eat it up. I started out with "In the Jailhouse Now" (the classic Jimmie Rodgers tune as heard in O, Brother Where Art Thou) but for some reason they love this little song I made up about latitude and longitude and they demanded another round of that. So I did that and then I made up a new verse for it. It's a cheesy song but they love it and if it can help them remember latitude and longitude then great!

I've got this one student in that same class who's an incredible student. Very intelligent, extremely polite and well-behaved, always knows the answers and does his work. Dream student, basically. He's a Jehovah's Witness and today we were talking about hurricanes (and therefore Louisiana) and he suddenly whips out this little book and starts to say something like "Speaking of disasters.." or something like that "I've got this little book" and he started to pull out a JW pamphlet from a book that appeared to be full of various tracts and pamphlets. He was about to share some "religious literature" with us right in the middle of our lesson on hurricanes. I just said "Sorry we don't have time" but I probably just should have said "Not during class" to avoid any future issues. Anyway, it was kinda awkward, moreso for him than me it seemed.

I've got a couple of kids in my class who are way below the level they need to be for reading and writing...especially writing. It's really a challenge and I'm not sure how I'm going to bring them up to level. I'll find something but I'm still searching for an effective method. So far I just want to get him writing as much as possible. We'll see if that starts to show any improvement for now.

I'm tired. Later.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thank God tomorrow is Friday and I don't have to wear a tie. Sadly that's one of the things I look forward to the most. It stinks that men have to wear ties while women get away with wearing stuff that is not even CLOSE to being equivalent to the man's button down shirt and tie. Women are wearing t-shirts, capri pants, short casual skirts, etc... That's it, I'm wearing capri pants from now on.

The dreaded stomach virus is still claiming victims. Today I think I caught a kid getting wound up to hurl. He looked like he was about to pass out or something. I'm quite sure he probably blew chunks at some point after that. He never returned to my class after I sent him to the nurse. Apparently he was sitting next to the kid who threw up during assembly yesterday.

I want to take my guitar again tomorrow but I'm struggling to find a good song to play. Maybe another They Might Be Giants tune...they have a lot of fun stuff but I have to learn it tonight.

Yesterday and today I had kids illustrating tongue twisters (alliteration study) and we had some interesting pieces. One kid's tongue twister dealt with "Uri Udall's unicycle." I didn't have the heart to tell the kid that unicycles don't have five wheels. Another kid had a tongue twister about a guy drawing a vampire. For some reason this guy was surrounded by grenades and bazookas. I still haven't figured out where those come in. I'm all for creativity though...keep it up, tikes. One girl though was illustrating a tongue twister that talked about someone flipping flapjacks and I swear this little girl drew Adolf Hitler cooking pancakes. It's pretty bizarre looking. There's also a little baby Hitler cooking baby pancakes in the same picture. I'd post it here but I think that'd be a compromise of privacy or something.

Kids are awesome. Teaching rules.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

So, I had my first parent teacher conference today. It's over...I'm fired.

Seriously went really well. The mom was a polite, caring parent who was mainly concerned about one of the student's subjects that I don't even teach.

In other news apparently we've got a bunch of kids out with a puke-your-guts-out-while-bowing-at-the-porcelain-alter-for-24-hours-straight stomach bug. This morning a kid threw up in morning assembly. Luckily, I was up front with my little pledge leaders supervising the leading of the pledge so I didn't get to witness it. Apparently it splattered on several other kids and a girl's lunch...that hard gym floor and all. Sure hope I don't get it seeing as how I haven't even set up a substitute teacher plan yet. Maybe I should do that.

My class was incredibly well behaved for the first part of the day but they kinda crashed and burned right before lunch and it got worse from there. It's a start I guess. I feel like I'm starting to crack a couple of tough nuts in there though. That's a good feeling. Things really do feel like they're coming together.

Oh yeah, today was progress reports day. With the help of my coworker we were able to get the progress reports and the graded work that the kids take home all together in a mad flurry of papers and take-home folders just in time. Feels good to have that outta the way.

Also I got home at about 5:20 today. That's an improvement from yesterday too. Next week we're having a special parent night just for my class since I wasn't teaching yet when we had the first parent night. That's good despite having to be up at the school for a while that night...I'll be glad to meet some parents and whatnot.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Whew! Long day! Went in a little before 7:30am this morning and drove away at 7:10pm this evening. The reason? Progress reports. They're due tomorrow and until this afternoon after school I didn't even have my computer grading set up.

First though let's rewind to this morning. I had to show up early so I could get copies made for my lessons. I went in on Labor Day and made my lesson plan for this week and the copy room was locked then. I think there were a couple of teachers who also waited until the last minute who weren't real excited that I was in front of them making 200 copies. Early bird gets the worm or something...

So I walked into the morning assembly a few minutes before go time and was told that the "pledge leaders" (two kids who announce the pledge and the Texas pledge in front of everyone) are supposed to come from my class this week. "Surprise! Now you have 30 seconds to inform some kids that they have to walk in front of the whole school and do something they had no plans of doing 30 seconds ago!" So I turned to the first two kids and asked them to do it. All the girls in my class wanted to do it but none of the boys wanted to. So after I chose the first girl in line I picked a boy too and said "You're up!" He seemed kind of awkward about it and apparently I now have a parent/teacher conference scheduled for tomorrow with his parents. Don't know for sure if it's related to that or not but he never told me he wasn't allowed to or anything...and the reason I chose this kid was because he seems bright and confident and I just felt like I could count on him. It might not be related to that at all but I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

Today was library day so that was 30 extra minutes of free time in the morning and then in the afternoon. Well, I wouldn't really call it "free time" since I have a pile of stuff to do but it was time I wasn't teaching so that's something I guess.

One of the funny things about these kids is the shock and indignation that they register when you call them out for their behavior or put their name on the board. It's as if you just wrote the name of Jesus Himself up there and told Him he couldn't go to recess. The kid could be blatantly looking directly at someone else's paper during a quiz and then deny it up and down. You could be staring straight at them as they talk and hear the words emanating from their mouths and then they'll swear to you that they have just broken a 5 year vow of silence simply to defend their good name which you just put up on the board. Sometimes it's funny and sometimes it's annoying. I just try not to respond to anything that I'm not absolutely sure of.

Another thing I have to do as a teacher is check off on these "computer skills." I have to go to the computer lab after school and show them that I can do certain things. So I spent an hour after school today (when I REALLY needed to be entering grades into the computer) in the magical world of computers learning how to "minimize" a window, "delete" a file, "turn off" a "CPU" and "double-click" a "mouse." It was "incredible." It's really a whole new world for me now. Who knew that all those little buttons actually "DID" something! Surprisingly we didn't cover blogging.

After that I spent the next 2.5 hours setting up my grade program, entering grades, organizing and getting ready to send home progress reports tomorrow. Then dinner with my honey at Quizno's since neither of us had time to go to the grocery store and not much time for anything else. Of course...I'll always make time for you, faithful blog reader.

This was kinda long...kudos to you if you've read this far. Now its off to practice my "double-clicking."

Friday, September 02, 2005

Today went very well IMO. Although we did get 9 names on the board and two with checks beside them (indicating increasing consequences such as sitting inside during recess). Really though most of the teaching went pretty well.

I took my guitar and the kids loved that. First we sang the song "Older" by They Might Be Giants. If you're not a familiar it's a fun, silly song. Then we sang a little song I made up about latitude and longitude. Pretty cheesy but it's catchy and I think it will really stick in their heads.

I also had them doing more cooperative stuff today, working together on assignments and that seems to be a very effective type of thing if done right. I'll try to do that a lot more I think.

We're going into a 3 day weekend now for labor day. I'm going to go up to the school on Monday. I'm actually relieved to have that day to get some things done. It will be nice. My wife has to work anyway.

As I sit here and think about it though I have SO much stuff I need to do. I may be up there for a while on Monday.

Well, I'm out. Sorry no entertaining stories today. Have a good holiday!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Don't have a lot to say today nor much time for blogging. Today was a little better than yesterday. I'm learning a little more about how t o be their teacher and they're learning a little more about how to be my students. I tried to keep on my students that seem to always be zoned out and in their own little world and they did a little better today. With one of them when I'm doing exercises I've started saying "Richie*, I'm going to call on you after the next person so be ready to answer." As long as I address him pretty regularly it seems to help overall with his not zoning out as much...although he still does it. We read our first chapter of Ramona Quimby, Age 8 today too. I think they like's kinda hard to tell.

Don't really have any amusing stories today...well one student, my little attention-seeker, at one point told me "My head hurts and when my head hurts it makes me feel like hitting someone." Then she kind of slowly pounded her fist into her palm a few times for emphasis. I told her to cut it out and do the assignment.

Tomorrow I'm taking my guitar. That should be fun.

* real name not used