Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I think my blog entries are getting worse. It seems I can no longer remember the good things that the kids say that make me think "I've gotta post that in my blog." It's always gone by the time I get here. I need to start writing some of this stuff down.

I've got a couple of kids who seem completely and totally indifferent about school and grades. Did I already say this? If they turn something in at all it's just been slapped together with no thought. The other day I gave one kid a worksheet with ten multiple choice questions. All the answers were clearly there in the book. He got 1 right. He's NOT a slow kid. He's actually pretty smart and creative. That stinks that he's just wasting it. He's the one that makes me laugh in class sometimes when I should be scolding or something. Scolding...never imagined using that word in relation to myself. I'm getting old.

There's one teacher at my school who has absolutely no sense of humor or when you're joking at all. I'll say completely outlandish things to her and she'll answer me with a straight answer and totally not understand that I was kidding. I guess I should watch what I say in that case... I wish I could think of an example of this but again...no memory. There was something just last week that just blew my mind that she took it seriously but I don't recall what it was.

I've got one student in my reading class who reads soooooooo sloooooooow. It's not that he has trouble reading...he just reads really slow. He also takes forever to make a point. Guess what? Every time I ask for volunteers to read he raises his hand. Every time I ask a question to the class he raises his hand to answer. So I spend a disproportionate amount of time calling on this kid and then listening to him speak or read as I resist the urge to say "Spit it out, son!" Sweet kid though.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Whew...looong, busy day today and I need to hit the sack.

One of my kids came up to my desk today with his mouth open and red just all over his bottom lip and his tongue. I thought he bit his tongue but it turns out he just bit his red pen...and it burst all over his mouth. Later he was asking me if it was poisonous.

Had to stay after for tutoring today and then for the rest of a faculty meeting after that and then I had to get some work done after that. Progress reports go out tomorrow. I didn't get home until around 6pm and I had to leave again at 6:20 to go to a meeting. Then dinner around 8:30 or so after that. Tomorrow should be better...although I still probably need to stay late and I'd like to get to the gym at some point. Trying to live well and get things done makes for a busy life. It's nothing like being a slacker and procrastinating.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Howdy. Forgot to check in yesterday. Oh well..pretty uneventful day I think. Oh yeah, the school board guy showed up at morning assembly yesterday. The 3rd graders sang him a song. We made him a poster. I think the kids still have no idea who that was.

Today was pretty busy. Every year on the 100th day of the school year the 1st graders have a "100th day parade." This apparently entails walking around the school with funny hats on and holding up 100 of something. Kids had 100 pennies, 100 piece jigsaw puzzles, 100 baseball cards, 100 pieces of candy etc... It was quite exciting or something. I had to cancel my spelling test because of it. I had the They Might Be Giants song "Robot Parade" in my head for the rest of the day after that. Too bad they didn't walk around like robots because the song wasn't very fitting as it is.

The no-homework cycle is neverending. Probably 10 names on the board today. Blah.

Something you may not know about me is that I'm a total coffee geek/snob. I grind my beans religiously every morning to make my coffee, I special order them from faraway places, I won't touch flavored coffees with a 10 foot pole, etc... Yeah, I'm a real nerd. Anyway, today I ordered a coffee roaster and 4lbs of raw coffee beans. I'm entering the obsessive world of coffee roasting. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully it will work out because you can get absolutely top notch raw coffee beans for 4 to 6 dollars a pound. The kind of beans that, if they were roasted, would cost probably 10 to 15 bucks. You can get really premium stuff like Kona, etc.. for cheaper as well. Wish me luck.

That was irrelevant to teaching but oh well.

Tomorrow is our big Winter Carnival. I have to go up and work the ticket booth. Wheeeee.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Today was kinda rough again but ended up on a better note. They were doing more of the testing. I think my class and I just kind of need that break from each other every day that we usually get when they go to math and that we don't get when they take these tests. Also, being cooped up in the classroom all day probably doesn't help.

They love it when I do this thing where I say "Whoever is most quiet and still can line up first." Then they all try to be as still as possible but I try to make them laugh so they can't be still. Those who resist the laughter can get in line. That's why we ended on a good note today I think. They were really getting a kick out of me making up songs with their names etc... Some of them do some strange things to try and keep from laughing though. Two of them were cross-eyed so they couldn't see me clearly. One had his head stuffed down in his sweatshirt. It's a fun, light time together where we can all laugh though. Some of them don't try not to laugh at all. It's a fun, light time to laugh together though and that's always good for easing things up.

Still had several with no homework today.

Had tutoring after school today. During that time I get to experience first-hand all these wonderful students that the other teachers are always complai...er I mean bragging about. A couple of them are definitely a handful. It went pretty well though. If they can just take one nugget away from my tutoring that will be great and I think they are.

One of my students has this little brother who comes in after school every day and talks to me. He's a sweet little kid but the poor guy has some kind of speech issue and I can't understand half of what he says. Today he's just talking along and then he walks off. One of my students looks at me and says "I didn't understand a thing he said." I just responded with "Me neither, buddy. Me neither." I guess they think I understand because I nod and say "Uh-huh."


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Today was a bit rough IMO. We had the math test that took most of the day and it seemed like a lot of the kids were just kind of in a bad mood. Very snappy and tightly wound...talking back and rolling the eyes.

Tomorrow we get to do the practice reading test. I forgot to tell them about that today so...SURPRISE!! Yippee! The reading shouldn't take as long as the math at least...I think.

I feel sorry for some of these kids. One poor girl said "I think I did really good," and she ended up getting one of the lowest grades in the class. Overall though the grades weren't that bad and there are some that will definitely benefit from the tutoring that we'll be offering.

In other news, I had 8 kids today that did not complete homework of one type or another. Some of them didn't do any at all. That's so frustrating.

I still don't know the names of so many of the teachers at my school. I'm a total idiot when it comes to knowing and/or remembering names. The worst part is when I see someone at the grocery store or something whose name I should know...especially if I'm with my wife and I should be introducing her. That's the worst feeling, and yet I find myself feeling it quite often. I've been trying to catch a glimpse of the nametag of the custodian that cleans my room for a long time but it's too faded. I always say "Hi!" and she says "Hi, Mr. ____ ."

Today at the end of the day I had the kids do this typing practice computer program that they're required to do. I make them position their fingers properly on the keyboard so they'll learn to type well and with some of them it's like I'm forcing them to walk the plank or something. At the end I told them if any of them think their way of typing is better than my way then they can challenge me to a typing contest and if they win I'll never correct them again.

So far no challengers.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Today was a Monday. I couldn't seem to really get my brain working on all cylinders today. I just kept making these dumb mistakes, mostly in my speech. Confusing kids' names and telling kids to do things they'd already done... Am I already heading towards alzheimer's?

I'm doing the tutoring on Monday and Wednesday afternoons now. That went pretty well. As long as I have a plan then it's not too stressful and I have each group of kids for no more than 15 minutes on a rotating schedule. I think it's good because they can get little chunks at a time and it doesn't require all that much planning on my part.

Tomorrow we continue the endless testing with more practice for the standardized tests. Blech..

What's up with the extreme prevalence of wigs in the african-american culture? My friend brought this up the other day and today I noticed an african-american girl wearing just about the worst wig/extensions I've ever seen. It looked like some bad halloween wig just plopped onto her head. Is that bad of me to say?

I'm currently trying to get social studies books for all my kids. We've been sharing up to this point. Turns out there are none left. We don't have enough for each kid in the school to have one. Oh well..

Ok, I'm out. Not that much exciting happened today. Maybe I'll try and shake it up tomorrow for your entertainment. :P

Thursday, January 19, 2006

So yesterday we had testing most of the day. The kids were going bonkers by the end of the day just ready for some activity. They did get to go to PE at the end of the day though.

Today they were still pretty crazy. I had to repeat directions many times to get them to do anything. I hate days like that.

Oh yeah, yesterday we also started tutoring for writing to prepare some of the kids that need it for the standardized writing test. I have to do that every Monday and Wednesday for about a month now. It's not too bad though...we're out by 4:20 or so. I've got some crazy kids in this tutoring. A couple are just completely hyper...never stop talking, can't stay in the seat etc.. I have to try and be energetic and channel that energy. I think I did OK with it yesterday.

It was kind of funny to watch some of the kids in their own world during that testing yesterday. They'd be silently singing to themselves or dancing in their seats or acting something out and then suddenly realize that I'm watching them. Then I'd give them the one raised eyebrow.

We have a member of our school board coming to the school to visit next week and we're supposed to come up with a song or skit or something for him. The other 4th grade teachers decided on a song and naturally it fell to me to compose this song and the lyrics. I've had a bunch of funny but sarcastic lyrics pop into my head but nothing that we could actually sing. Ho hum...now I have a responsibility and a deadline. I hate those things.

It's hard to teach and get through the things that are required when you have so many things that pop up and get in the way. Yesteraday it was the testing almost all day, today we had required reading fluency tests, next week we have to give practice tests for math and reading on two separate days. I'm getting SO far behind...especially in Social Studies, where we have a strict schedule of what we have to be through when.

Ok, I'm out. Good day.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Hey, sorry. Hope you had a great Christmas and a good new year. I had plans on things to do during my last week of vacation but that didn't work out. I had the flu for the entire week. Now I have a sinus infection...the snot just never stops coming.

The kids have been back in school about a week now. The first day back they were actually pretty calm. They had a great day. It kind of disintegrated from there though. I thought maybe they'd turned a new leaf over the holidays...turns out they were just sleepy.

Today the kids were out for MLK Jr. Day. We had "teacher development" all day. That means you go to a bunch of talks. I was struggling to stay awake after lunch. I've completely gone off caffeine. That was tough because I really love coffee. It doesn't affect me that much most days but when I have to sit and concentrate is when I really feel it. I didn't realize how much caffeine helped me concetrate and stay alert I guess. Aside from that though I haven't had any headaches or withdrawal or anything.

The second semester is officially the testing season. Last week we gave the kids a practice test of the standardized test they have to take. This week we're doing a state mandated "field test" where they use us to try out new questions and whatnot. Then the week after next we have our first section of the official state writing test. We're starting tutoring this week for that to try and get some kids up to speed.

My kids did surprisingly well on the practice writing test last week. I'm proud of them for that.

Report cards also went home last week. So far no angry calls or requests for conferences. Knock on wood. My class was the only class in the 4th grade in which none of the kids had all A's for the semester. Oops. I had one kid who missed it by one point and another that missed it by two. Oh well...the good news is no one failed last semester.

Ok, I'm out. I'll try to get back in the swing of writing this blog thing. You get back in the swing of reading it.