Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It's Not the Homework...It's the Hormones

I just thought we were in the middle of an overtired, homework induced meltdown. But what was I thinking? Of course not!!! We are in the throes of girl number two becoming a woman. Where the hell was I last night? I thought the second one was supposed to be easier.

After two weeks with my class, I have come to the head on realization that it is one of the most diverse in academic backgrounds I have ever encountered. I have kids who can and will ask for more and kids who can't and will struggle with what you hand them and won't ask for any more. Kids who can't read and hate it and kids who love to read and read a novel a night. Hence, my dilemma. I have to keep the able ones engaged while I get the others on track. That's the hardest part of my job. That's what wakes me up in the middle of the night and keeps me worried. The ones I am trying to get on track are the ones who could get left behind. But if I spend all my time with the ones who are struggling, the ones who want to learn and do more get the short end of the stick.

Best thing of all today. Our district put out an e-mail to the entire county lauding our seniors and their great performance on the SATs. However, there was a glaring (GLARING) error in punctuation that just made me want to poke a nail in my eye. Sure, it 's great to send out an announcement praising our efforts in education, just as long as we don't say 'we done grate.' I wonder how many teachers will resend it to the superintendent with the mistake corrected.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Does Homework Have to Take Forever?

Just watching BrownBear hem and haw over a writing assignment I believed to be minutes from completion an hour ago. Opening sentence. Her opening sentence didn't fit, so she threw away the rough draft of her plot and started over. (For the want of a nail...) I am not sure how to help her. She has to understand that writing is private and personal, but for heaven's sake, she is taking it to extremes. She is way too smart to make it this hard. Tears over a story you get to make up?

I just wonder how many of my students are crying over at their houses about the homework I've assigned.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Let the Games Begin

Ready or not.... here they come. Tomorrow is the big day and I think I'm ready for another year. Or not. We'll soon see.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ready to Rumble?

I could have used a good happy hour yesterday, but I didn't dare, because, as always, I am not quite ready for the first day of school. Pre-planning in my district is a misnomer because while it occurs before school opens, I hardly find time to plan anything. Pre-planning time is sucked dry by the central office; meeting after ludicrous meeting where we discuss AYP, data...data....data... (did I mention that all those charts and graphs and lines and bars make my undiagnosed ADD kick in super fast?) and some more data. After a while, my butt just gets so numb that I can no longer process anything else you are telling me. Central office practices those things that they tell us not to inflict upon our students.

The ethics DVD we had to watch this week was just icing on the cake.

So, right now, I am finishing up the back to school laundry, planning the menus and grocery list for next week and getting my first day of school plans off the sticky notes and into the plan book.

Now, don't get me wrong; I love the first day of school. Well, not really. I like the second day much better. The first day is all about procedures and rules and how are you're going to get home. Handing out books, explaining agendas, defining the dress code and all that stuff. I am so hoarse by the time the day is over that the rest of the week is a crap shoot. The second day is when school really starts. Let's talk about the Civil War. Tell me what you know about a whole number. That is what I like.

PrepGirl survived CheerCamp. LawyerBoy had to go to a cheerleader parent meeting and I didn't think he was going to make it. Do the cheerleaders really need matching water bottles? I thought his head was going to explode.

PrepGirl got her high school uniforms and they are adorable. She still has a whole week before she goes back. She still has a whole book to read for summer reading, too.

BrownBear is thrilled with her class. She has a great teacher and some friends to be with. This is her last year at the elementary school. She goes with me on Monday.

Monday. Can you believe it? Are you ready to rumble?

When is Christmas vacation?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Back in the Saddle, Part I

Already back to school and already overwhelmed to the point that I cannot move. Caught in the middle of the worst damned heat wave and the air conditioning in my "portable" has a mind of its own. Back to School Night is in two days and I don't have anything to wear and nothing to say. Yet, I have to show up dressed and ready to talk. Damn.

PrepGirl is in her second day of Cheerleading Camp and came home with her uniform and hairbows and shoes and pompoms and she was adorable. BrownBear is going to school tomorrow to do some work for the ladies in the front office. How come I can't get her to do some work for me? I have to start teaching science this time next week. Damn.

This is the part of the year when I want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head. No, really. Once this part is over, and I start rolling, I am all right. It is just getting this train started down the track that I absolutely abhor.

Getting dinner together is a chore. And I love getting dinner. Until it cools off, it is salad for you. And you. And you, too.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

August is the cruelest Month...

T.S. Eliot's poem spoke of April being the cruelest month... but if he had been a school teacher here with teachergirl in my part of the world, he would have realized that August is truly the cruelest month. I am down to days left of vacation. I have turned the page of my calendar and have found that I have meetings and deadlines and Meet and Greet and... oh yes, that little science project I have put off all summer long. PrepGirl and BrownBear are scrambling to finish summer reading; BrownBear got her back to school wardrobe yesterday... PrepGirl gets her high school uniforms today.

Wednesday puts me in the principal's office with a mother of a child who failed the state test a second time. Joy, joy, joy. What will my recommendation be? Can't tell yet. Been pondering that one since I heard he failed again. I love him but what good will it do him if we push him up to the sixth grade if he can't perform at the fifth grade level? The new math standards are going to catch him in the sixth grade and he can't do the basics. The entire team worked with him this year, and it was almost to no avail.

Now, you tell me, when the state tells us that in 2010 we will have to have 100% passage rate for our students in order for us to make adequate yearly progress, what are we going to do with those kids who just don't get it? Those kids who don't have the support that I can't give if they don't live with me? BrownBear missed about 4 questions on the state test; principal said that maybe my class should move in with me. I said that I had had BrownBear with me in the house since she WAS BORN!!!!!! We eat dinner together at the table and have conversations about whatever and talk about PrepGirl's Civics classes and let LawyerBoy chime in about politics. Education just doesn't happen in a classroom!!!! Education isn't just measured on a standardized test!!!!! Anyone listening? Hey Oprah???

Got to get this day started. Lots to do. Hey, it's August and while the Virginia teachers are still on the beach, this teachergirl has a classroom to set up.

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