Thursday, January 29, 2009

i feel like an a-hole

i yelled today. real loud. so loud, another teacher opened the door and peeked her head through to check if everything was ok. i forgot that when i have a loud voice, i really have a loud voice. my problem is, when i get frustrated out of my mind i yell. it takes a lot to get me to yell. i haven't done anything like that since teaching in santiago. i guess it's almost a repeater. i won't do it again, i'm sure. but something's gotta happen with this class. they're so unruly and the idea of controlled chaos as opposed to utter chaos is unknown to them.

one of the teachers suggested an entire class detention. if they can't do anything on my time, do it on their time. they have to learn as a class who's in charge. does that work?

what works for a class that has adhd/add problems as well as a general uber-hyper sense? how does discipline go? i've already done student contracts. tossed out the window, that thing. any tips? i'm puttin this out to the general republic.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

i'm an english teacher, right?

so i had a student point out to me that instead of the word assessment, i wrote "assment."

he says to me, "mr. r, i think you spelled assessment wrong."
i take a look at gasp, "OH!, thanks, n!"

as i was correcting it, i heard him whisper to his neighbor, "he wrote assment..."

yes, indeed, my life is full of friendly surprises.

Monday, January 26, 2009

learning, and learning more

i have a lot of work to do with this literature circle stuff.

this is most definitely the biggest learning experience i've ever had. both in terms of doing things on my own terms (which i will obviously have to do), and how to make up for when i sort of fail.

re: fail

the writing process: brainstorming; draft #1; revision; editing; final draft.
what i got accomplished: brainstorming; draft #1; partly revised, partly not revised; "final(slashonlydraftthatsomeactuallyaccomplished) draft."

what did i learn? that's the subject and title for another blog post.

re: literature circles

it looks interesting, and looks like it'll be completely fun. but, i have to hand out all the different papers that the kids need in order to collect all of their information. otherwise i'm kinda up a puddle without a paddle. i've printed them out, and am hoping that they are in order, and make sense. if not, i'll improve them as they go.

re: general

in general, things're much better than last week, and i think i'm realizing a little more how to handle the different tasks ahead of me. optimism indeed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

more teaching blues

today was not a good day in terms of writing instruction. my second class is just terrible when it comes to self-esteem issues in their writing, and i just don't seem to understand what to do when certain kids give up like they do. accusing me of not ignoring them? crossing out an excellent paragraph because it's "dumb"? what do i do? i gave up. i mean, not during class, but right after--i just didn't know what to do.

i'm trying to prepare the kids for this interim assessment, which is essentially a 7th grade MCAS long-comp. the subject is "empowerment"--it's something that we defined a little bit ago, but there's this real divide between those who get it and don't, and those who, probably because they don't get it, hate the work and refuse to do it and those who do get it and do the work. it's like the mason dixon line, it's that deep.

i'm going to try and re-teach the idea of empowerment. try and get it back into the definition and what it means for them. try and clear the air and clear the air and clear it so that it's more like a spring day than these winter gray days. i just don't know if i'm accomplishing much, and if, at the end of all this year, they're going to walk away with anything. that sounds depressing, but i'm just not sure if the teaching points i wanted to get accomplished are on their way. i suppose it's all work, and that i'm really only, what, seven months into my new career as a teacher, and that i'm still a student teacher at that?

on another note...

i'm learning new stuff about wikis and blogs and such--i mean, really wikis. it's very interesting, and seems to me like a very cool thing to tool around with. i'd love to do this with my kids in class, but i wonder how i can really do that with the kids in school? to create a website to use while they're reading a book? is this something we can do each week? we'll see. i'm going to be experimental: create the wiki for the book and the tasks the kids're gonn' have to do, and then go for the gold and say: extra credit for the groups that stay after school and put the final products up on the web. so...we shall see!

Friday, January 9, 2009

a wonderful surprise in my mailbox at school

Dear Mrs S., Mrs B., Mr. R., Mr. R., Mr. D.,

You guys are great teachers, the student coucil said to pick 1 (one) teacher but you teachers are so wonderful I just couldn't do it so here are individual reasons you are wonderful teachers at how you teach.

(i'm exempting the other teachers, but theirs is either similar and just as amazing as this)

Mr. R.: Always keep it straight. Uses the think & share solution. Never uses the easy road out. Always will be their [sic]. Not a pushover [my bold!!!!! yay!]. Will always help out!

Sincerely, TC [a student of mine]

this has to be the coolest thing i've ever seen in my life. it makes me feel amazing and wonderful and i'm so happy. i'm extremely happy, also, to hear that i'm not a pushover--because i've been wondering about that, and have been quite worried about it, too. whatever the think & share solution is, i guess i use it! that's pretty fun, no?

so, here i am, back in school, and i'm trying to plan out the introduction and subsequent reading of a novel, entitled The Skin I'm In. i've had idea after idea, and i think they might be a little overwhelming and too much in terms of planning things out. i originally planned to have weeks that're themed--that is, getting some supplementary material into the classroom so that it involves a bit of pre-reading. it'll help contextualize what i want them to draw out of this book: empowerment. i really hope i don't milk this thing so much that empowerment loses its life-force, its chi, if you will. but, i do want a few supplementary materials here and there. maybe i'll just do it here and there for the heck of it. or something. anyways, that's my weekend dillemma: how to introduce this novel. there's a children's book that's a tie-in. it's a "first look at racism" book, and my J. wrote a few MCAS-style multiple choice questions for a quick quiz. i might do that as well, copy it, and put in maybe an open-response or a few more multiple choice questions thrown in about empowerment (just so i can tie that in, keep it consistent with the rest of the novel). oh that is going to be an intense little weekend (read: sunday) planning session.

in the meantime, i'm pretty happy bout my technology class (except for missing Shabbos dinner for a complete month with the fam).

i'm considering having one of my students continually sent to a buddy room as soon as she gets her work so she just quits the disruption. we'll see. i need her in sometimes just so i can check her work, but it's tough. she's just so distracting, and the room does so much better when she's not in the room. it's ridiculous. anyways, here's to hoping. and here's to introducing novels!