Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Another long day today, but I managed to stay awake this time...for the most part. I was starting to feel really drowsy in a grade-level meeting at the end of the day. I drank some coffee right at the end of the day too because I had to go do reading tutoring. We're now getting the kids ready for the reading and math standardized tests so I've got tutoring every Tuesday and Thursday for an hour.

This morning I got a somewhat unpleasant email from a parent who had obviously just gotten one side of the story on a few things from her kid (my student). It kind of got me worked up because it had some sort of ultimatums in it and she obviously did not even know the whole story. Then after sending me the email, and without waiting for a reply, she called the principal. So I had that on my mind all day. We had a conference all together after tutoring and got all that worked out. I think it went well. It's always a bit awkward going in but I think it came out ok. After that I had to go through a computer exercise that we're doing in class tomorrow. I got home close to 6:00. I still have a lot that I need to do. I brought some grading home and did that as well. Luckily most of my usual weeknight appointments that I normally have were cancelled this week.

I've told you about my kid who regularly picks his nose behind a book. I think I also told you about my kid who picks his nose and then licks his finger. Well today, I saw something else entirely different and bizarre. I think I saw one of my kids stick his finger in his belly button and then lick it. That's right - I've got a belly button lint eater. First time I've ever seen anything like that. Strange stuff.

The coffee roasting is going well, by the way. I spent some time working on it a lot while my wife was out of town snowboarding last week. I'm getting really good coffee fairly consistently now. Beats the heck outta the grocery store stuff, that's for sure...and don't even mention *bucks in the same sentence as home roasted coffee. Never been a fan of the * anyway.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Today I felt like I was on narcotics all day or something. I was sooo sleepy. I was literally trying to keep my eyes open while talking to the class. I don't know why...I was in bed by 11pm last night, which isn't early but it's about normal for me. So anyway, it was a perfect day for the hour and a half faculty meeting that we had after school. I was nodding off for most of the time. I even drank a coke at the beginning (I've pretty much stopped drinking cokes) but it didn't help.

I did nod off a bit at my desk while the class was having some free reading time and I think one of my students saw me. That's kind of embarrassing.

Kids' logic is kind of funny. Today we were talking about alternative fuel sources to oil-based fuels and we talked about solar power and whatnot. They started trying to think of other fuel sources and one came up with "the propellor of a boat moving it through the water." Not even considering that a boat runs on gas...as if the propellor runs itself. I was like "Sheah...what are you? Retarded?" Not really.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

So today we are reading about finding clues from fossils. We get to the part about "ancient organisms" and one of my sweet ten year old students says "ancient orgasms." I just corrected her and moved on. I really hope that was a misread that happened to come off like that and not a Freudian slip!!

Later in a related exercise I gave them an illustration of several fossilized dinosaur footprints and had them make observations and come up with the story of what they think happened. I overheard one kid say "I think this one probably at that one.." and then " I don't know, I just get the feeling that something tragic happened here." That gave me a chuckle. Kind of reminds me of something that psychic midget from Poltergeist would say.

My class was a bit better behaved today despite some 3 of them throwing food in the cafeteria. In the early part of the day they got in line quietly and cooperatively and were somewhat calm. That's a big difference from usual. It got looser as the day went on but still better than the past few weeks for sure.

Ok, I'm out.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

So I got observed today by the boss lady. It went really great. She left me a note that said it was a lot of fun and she told me it was a pleasure to start out her day in there. That's a load off!

I'm glad she came to the class that comes to me for an hour and a half because (as I predicted) it went much smoother than my home room class...maturity levels and all.

Today, I taught my classes a new song I wrote for science. We're studying rocks. I took the tune of Queen's "We Will Rock You! and changed it to "We Know Rocks, Dude!" They loved it. The verses talk about the different type of rocks and whatnot. I had them beating the "We Will Rock" you rhythm/clap thing and some of those kids can't keep rhythm to save their lives. They also had a hard time with vocal rhythm. It comes so easy to me as a musician that I forget how undeveloped most of them probably are in that kind of stuff. I just repeated it and had them repeat a lot and they picked it up. Well, the first verse at least. I'll be teaching them the next few over the next couple of weeks.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

We went ahead with the test today. I think I was more nervous than my kids were. Espeically after I noticed that one of my kids was writing an essay that was utterly off topic from the writing prompt. He couldn't be more out in left field. After telling them beforehand that "You need to stay write about that topic," "stay focused on that topic like a laser," "write what the prompt tells you to write about," etc.. he's sitting there writing this (fairly bizarre) fictional story when the prompt was asking about a personal experience. I wanted to shake him and say "What are you doing?!!" Unfortunately, once they start I'm not allowed to give any guidance such as "You're not writing to the prompt." It's basically a wasted test and a wasted day for that kid who is otherwise an imaginative kid and a pretty good writer. That kind of stuff is frustrating. Also as I walked around I was noticing a lot of other kids completely ignoring things that we had focused on for so many months. It's just totally out of my control at that point no matter what I've done to prepare them.

After the test I wanted to let them relax a little so we played some games and had some fun. As usual though they lost all self-control once anything fun became involved and I cannot have a room full of screaming kids when there is still this testing going on around me in other rooms (or any other time for that matter). So I had to clamp down on that at the end and put them back to reading their library books. *sigh*

Anyway..that was my day. It's really gloomy today. It's been foggy and drizzly all day. I don't want to go work out. I don't want to do anything after today. Later.

Well this is it. Today is the first of 3 "big days" as far as standardized testing goes (the other two aren't until the end of next month). It's still morning now. Today we test on writing. I'm really nervous. I just don't know which of my classes is going to show up today. My class is capable of doing well but sometimes there is a contingent that just wants to get through the test and doesn't really care about doing well.

They were kind of stressing me out yesterday too. I was just trying to review some basic stuff and they couldn't come up with the answers! That doesn't instill confidence in me.

I'm pretty much an optimist though. After all, it's just my job hanging in the balance at the whims of 10 year olds.

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I think I've found a new method for controlling their talking in at least one place - the hallway. Today we were walking down the hall and they weren't behaving so I made them turn around, walk back upstairs to the room and try it again. They hated that and were perfect the second time. Too bad I can't do something like that in the classroom.

We started back on science today. We rotate social studies and science every four and a half weeks. Science is so much more fun and we actually had fun during that time I think. Tomorrow I hope to do an experiment or two. We're studying rocks. I started out by writing "Science ROCKS!" on the board and yelling that. They all cheered. I yelled it again and they sorta cheered a little. Then I said "No, seriously, science rocks." And I then placed a ':' on the board after science and handed out an info sheet on rocks. They got it after a few minutes. I'm cheesy, I know.

Just a couple of days until our first big official standardized test. Today the 4th grade teachers went to our little mandatory training on what we can and can't do in the test. It was actually kind of fun because we were joking around the whole time. I don't know if our instructor thought it was as funny as we did.

I'm nervous about this test. I don't know how my kids are going to do. I just hope mine aren't the worst ones.

That's about all I've got to say. Later.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I don't really have anything to say today. The kids are still nutz. That's about it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Today was Valentine's Day if you didn't know. Me? Well, as an elementary school teacher it's impossible to not know that it's Valentine's Day. The kids all brought their valentine's cards today and passed them all out. We made bags yesterday so they'd have something to put them in. I was pretty proud of my handcrafted Mr. T Valentine's bag. Unfortunately none of my 4th graders knew who Mr. T was. Kids are so uncultured these days.

Luckily it seems that no one sent anyone any upsetting Valentine's Cards. I received cards of various themes including Star Wars, Bratz (whatever that is), Dr. Doom and one that featured what looked like a very angry pill (caplet style) with a mean look on his face saying something like "You're cool." That one was random. Maybe there is some cartoon that's popular now that has the adventures of various caplets. I don't know... Maybe you could follow one as he gets swallowed and then dissolves? Not much of an adventure.

I got lots of candy too. They're usually not allowed to give out candy but we're allowed three days a year and Valentine's Day was one of the days our school uses as their FMNV days. What? You don't know what FMNV stands for? Where have you been? It's "Foods of Minimal Nutritious Value" of course. No, I'm not making this stuff up. A kid can go to high school and eat nothing but pizza and fries every day courtesy of the school's cafeteria, but don't you dare let them give candy to another kid. Of course I don't work at a high school so at this stage the meals are usually still slightly more nutritious than pizza and fries every day. Since watching the documentary Super Size Me I just can't understand why more schools aren't doing like the one up in Wisconsin (or whatever God forsaken place that was) and serve fresh, healthy meals every day.

Well, I'm out. Happy V Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The kids still seem to be in the same mode as last week. Lots of talking, not listening etc... I hope this doesn't last until the end of the school year.

Today we made Valentine's Day bags. Tomorrow they get to trade Valentines. I hope I don't have any people leaving kids out, writing ugly things on someone's card or writing actual "love notes" to each other. Even while hoping those things don't happen I'm guessing that all three probably will.

I made my Valentine's cards for the kids today. They're pretty dumb but the kids might find them funny. You wouldn't understand them at all because it's sort of an inside joke.

I'm getting observed by my principal next week. It's kind of weird. The people who trained me said when they send an observer don't put on a dog and pony show. Just teach as normal. When the vice principal came to observe me last semester I assumed the same went for her. It turned out though that they basically DO want a dog and pony show because they have to check off that you're doing all this stuff so they want you to do it all. So now I have to plan my dog and pony extravaganza for next Wednesday.

My days have been seemingly twice as busy over the past two weeks as they were before that period. I hope it slows down soon. There is just one thing after another. I had about zero free time today and my conference period and their recess seemed to be my busiest time of the day.

Well, I've gotta go now. I need to go wash my dog...maybe I'll groom the pony after that.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Today I said my first curse word in front of my class. Yep. The 'C' word. "Crap."

Ok, so it's not really a curse word but by their reaction you'd have thought it was. I was in the middle of teaching and trying to have some discussion about writing and these kids at my middle table, which is ALWAYS where it seems to start were talking and doing whatever. I said something like "I'm so fed up with all this crap that is always going on at this table while I'm teaching." I immediately had visions of angry parents and I wished I hadn't said it. I apologized to them and said I should have used a different word but that I'm basically at the end of my rope with them this week. Anyway... I told some other 4th grade teachers and they didn't think much of it. One said she's said that before to her class and another said she once told a girl in her class to "Quit bitchin'." This is a 70 year old lady who's retiring after this year. She said that year that she had the daughter of one of the school board members in her class. I guess nothing ever came of it so I guess that bodes well for my little outburst. Really I don't feel that "crap" is a bad word myself (just not a pretty one) but these are 10 and 11 year olds.

I was a tad bit relieved today though to hear that it seems like whatever has gotten into my kids this week has infected the entire fourth grade. This morning I looked out in the hall during bathroom time and two of my kids are just kicking the snot out of each other. They spent their PE class in the vice principal's office doing deep knee bends. Then right after that another kid told me that one of my other kids tried to choke him. Sheesh...

Well, that's my day. Still didn't get everything done that I needed to get done today among all my other chores. Now I'm going to go veg in front of the TV and watch Beauty and the Geek.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My last 3 days have been so incredibly busy. I haven't even had time to think about blogging. For the most part I've been away from home from 7:30-9:00ish every day. Bleh. I finally have some free time tomorrow after work but I really need to get to the gym...also I realized I have a headlight out on my car so I need to take care of that.

Anyway...school has been going ok. I've just been getting really sick of my entire class completely ignoring directions and whatnot this week. It's been getting really bad. I cracked down today and said anyone who doesn't follow directions the first time given will lose half of recess tomorrow. I gave out two of those and could have given out more. I don't get it. I've been starting out the days in a great mood, trying to be contagiously upbeat, but the kids just seem to be indifferent to it. I love my kids, I want to show them that, but sometimes I also just want to grab them and shake them just once. This is probably what it's like to have kids of your own to some extent.

I went and observed one of my fellow teachers teaching yesterday. He's really good with reading and writing. I liked one of his ideas so much that I went straight back to my class and did it with them. :)

Today was class picture day. You know..when we all take our picture together? One of my kids (one of my worst behaved) actually wore a full suit and patent leather shoes. Yeah, the suit was ill fitting and he was wearing white athletic socks but I was still impressed nonetheless. I had two other kids who wore ties. Maybe I can turn that into a tradition for my class as always being the sharpest looking class on class picture day. Next year I'll say "We looked the best last year so let's see if we can do it again this year," and see how many other kids wear ill-fitting suits and white athletic socks. He ditched the suit and put wadded the suit coat up in his backpack as soon as the picture was done. One of the other kids took his clip-on tie off and attached it to the back of his pants like a tail.

Ok, I'm out.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A semi-rare Friday post.

Today a student asked me if "everything was black and white back in the old days?" Wow.

Another student asked me if I saw American Idol the other night when they were conducting auditions in a town that's not far away. I did not see it. He said that his mom missed it and "it's like a lifetime event because they're only an hour away." Wow.

That's all. Carry on.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Today we were supposed to wear the colors of whatever team we were rooting for in the superbowl. I had on the shirt of my favorite team (Who, as I mentioned before, is NOT playing in the Superbowl) and was all set to go until my wife gives me this guilt trip about "What kind of example are you setting for your kids? That they can do anything they want?" So I ended up changing. Then I get to school and there are a TON of people wearing shirts supporting teams other than the Steelers or Seahawks. The sweetest little old lady in the school is wearing almost the exact shirt that I originally had on. Women...

I had a kid go home today with some kind of "highly infectious" medical condition. Crud... I was wishing I had some Lysol at school but there was none to be found...so I just burned his desk right there in the room. Was that rash? (technically it actually was a rash)

The coffee roaster that I ordered was sitting on my front porch this afternoon. I'm psyched. I read the instructions as well as the tips from www.sweetmarias.com and started roasting as soon as I could. I kind of under-roasted the first batch but the second and third look really good. You have to let them rest for 12 to 24 hours before you drink if you want them at their best. I'm going to try some tomorrow morning. I hope it's as good as it smells. Surprisingly though, the actual roasting doesn't smell all that great. Definitely doesn't smell like the finished product. It's kind of an earthy, grassy smell. It's cool though...really easy and it takes about 7 minutes per batch to roast. Today I roasted Costa Rican La Candelilla and Guetamalen Huehuetenanga.

Tomorrow I'm not going in until 11 am. I have a doctor's appointment. The kids are probably ready for a break from me anyway. Today I lectured them again. They were so bad today just ignoring me every time I was trying to speak or tell them something and talking over me etc...

I'm out.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Here's a departure from the norm. My friend, who shall remain nameless for the sake of my anonymity but whom we'll call "Smarties," has "tagged" me with this list of fours thing. At least I think it was me he tagged, there was just a last initial. So I'm supposed to fill out this list of 4 of this and 4 of that I think so here it is - an exercise in pure narcissism..then again, that's what a blog is anyway right?

Four jobs I’ve had,
1. McDonalds
2. 12 Hour night shifts building computers on an assembly line
3. Mail delivery dude for the mail service at a large university
4. Social worker at a middle school

Four movies I’d watch on repeat,
1. Bottle Rocket – enough said…
2. Office Space
3. American Movie - documentary bliss
4. Raising Arizona (and most other Coen brothers movies)
(there are so many more I could put on this list..those are the ones that pop into my head now)

Four TV shows I love,
1. The Office – it took me a little but to get used to the American version after seeing the brilliance of the British version, but now I am on board 100%.
2. The Amazing Race
3. News Radio (syndication anyone?!)
4. Dancing With the Stars (OMG, OMG, George Hamilton!) Not really.

Four vacation spots I’d love to frequent,
1. Northern California (spent the summer of 98 there and then my honeymoon)
2. Chiang Mai, Thailand (lush, mountainous beauty)
3. Italy and Greece (so close together they count as one)
4. Hearne

Four websites I visit daily,
1. my favorite bass player's message board
2. my favorite coffee message board
3. my favorite guns/shooting message board
4. another message board that is just too darn geeky to mention
(Yeah, I like message boards)

Four radio talk shows I love
(my friend added this category)
1. Jim Rome (sports/humor talk) - He can be hard to get used to but he always says give him two weeks before you decide. If you listen in the summer when I'm not teaching and you might hear some of my emails. I get read pretty regularly on his show.
2. I used to listen to some of the political dudes but now it's mostly music.
3. Oh yeah, Coast to Coast is good for a chuckle.

Four foods I lust for (I don’t know if I actually lust for these foods, but I do really enjoy them.),
1. IN-N-OUT Burger
2. REAL Chinese food
3. Good Thai food
4. I love coffee
(I could really just put "All food" in that category. Personally I love the stuff, I salute food's entire catalog.)

Four changes to my house, (I assume this means 4 things that I want to change about my house. What a strange category.)
1. Tile floors
2. Different paint and fixtures in the master bath
3. Trees in the yard
4. A usable freaking attic!

Four beers I like, (Don't like beer)

Four artists I like, (a category "Smarties" added)
1. Van Gogh
2. Bryan R. Tyler (http://www.bryanrtyler.com)
3. Picasso
4. Whatever Peruvian peasant painted this picture in my dining room. I call it "Fat woman holding flowers."

Four tags (i.e. tag you’re it, meaning this is where I list people that I would enjoy reading their four list.) I don't know many people with blogs.
1. Estefania (fer real, dawg)
2. Vic Nelson (hey, you have a blog)
3. Dubya
4. Robert Fripp (let's hear it, Bobby!)

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Ya gotta love "gifted and talented" kids. I don't have any in my class but today one from another class came up to me and asked where I got my Spongebob tie. I told her that Spongebob personally gave it to me. She then said "Spongebob is a personification." Gee, thanks.

The other day another GT kid came up to me and told me my home address. Scary.

Apparently the Harlem Globetrotters were in town last night. Today all the kids had books, programs and souvenirs from the big show. A couple of the GT kids had their programs with them at recess examing the "How to" section and trying to learn the tricks. It was pretty funny and they weren't even coming close to getting them for the most part.

Tomorrow we're supposed to wear the colors of the NFL team that we're rooting for in the super bowl. I don't live anywhere near Seattle or Pittsburgh so I decided I'm just going to wear my favorite NFL team's shirt. They didn't make it to the playoffs this year but they have played in Super Bowls so that's good enough for me.