Saturday, February 10, 2007

She Just Didn't Think I Was On

Our district has begun to require Focused Walk Throughs in the classroom. As explained, a focused walk through has an administrator walking through the classroom looking to see if the students are focused on the tasks presented and to see if they can explain what it is they are doing. Not the teacher. Many teachers are beginning to express concern that these walk throughs are going to become part of the required evaluations - the dog and pony shows that always go on during the evaluation season. Last week, the AP came into my classroom as my student teacher began teaching science and she said to me, "Oh, you're not on."

My first reaction was WHAT?? On what? On review? On show? On crack. Because I figured that is what she was on, making a statement like that. She could have easily determined whether or not the students were on task. She could have ascertained whether the standards were being taught or not. However, the first thing out of her mouth should not have been, "Oh, you're not on." No, I'm not. Get a clue.

On a lighter note, we are changing up a few things in the classroom in the next few weeks.

First, we are doing something for President's Day that I stole from PrepGirl's middle school called Presidential China. (Now, my kids thought we were going to do something about the presidents from China and I had to hit myself in the head; any questions about why I thought we should do something about the presidents?)
Everyone gets a president; everyone researches that president. Everyone gets a paper plate and all that information goes on the plate. Plate is decorated - voila, 'Presidential China.'

Second, the dynamics of my classroom have changed again. I have lost a student. Someone asked me how many students there were in my class and I honestly didn't have any idea. Please, someone tally and let me know. How can anyone teach with all this movement going on?

We are also doing a short play about Langston Hughes for Social Studies. We are studying the Jazz Age and we are right in the middle of Black History Month and I couldn't believe my luck at finding this little gem. So, I gathered the troops and asked if they would like a little extra credit. (Hey, Judy, let's go out back in this old barn and put together a musical!) Of course; anything to get away from the routine. So, my budding thespians are gathered together to create a little play about Langston Hughes. The reward is performing for their old 4th grade teacher who is going to start a mini unit about his writing next week.

The Great Dixon Ticonderoga Pencil Experiment is going well. Again, my students think I am a bit eccentric, but I have banished all pencils from the pencil sharpener except those. I have removed all pencils from the room except those and when they need one, they ask me for one of my fancy new pencils. And I happily comply. The pencil sharpener hums happily along. The line is only long when they decide to stand there themselves. And these pencils erase beautifully. Someone asked - it is true. I'm still waiting for a reply to my e-mail from the Ticonderoga people; just ship my case of pencils directly to teachergirl.

Today, BrownBear has her first interview for middle school. She says she isn't nervous, but she isn't awake yet, either. This is for what she is calling her back up school. I laugh as I write this. This school doesn't take anybody - we can't figure out who they accept and how they accept them. The interview for her first choice is next Saturday. I think that will be a horse of a different color.


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