Sunday, November 28, 2010

back to the grindhouse

Tomorrow's school again, and I'm wondering whether or not I'm dreading anything. Not particularly. I think the biggest thing is that I have to create some semblance of a final exam based solely on what the DC CAS looks like/is. Basically, I am taking a DC CAS specifically tailored to main idea, details, sequencing, and literary elements, and making that the test. I hate the CAS, think it's boring an not useful. But most of all, I hate having to make my reading class, which is FULL of ELL students that shouldn't really be there in the first place, some form of differentiated instruction of CAS questions. What a buncha bull.

So, my question: do I do what my supervisor wants me to do? Make a bunch of these stupid differentiated questions, or just go about my business with what's already done? I suppose I'm going to have to, because I'm the "lead teacher" of Read 180. So many people in my school try and for the most part succeed in getting away with not submitting things to admin, not doing things that admin asks them to do. I'm trying not to do that so that I can not be a silly teenage rebellion type, and assume my responsibilities. But the temptation is so great, and it seems that so many people get away with it.

Either way, back to DC CAS support class, I mean, Read 180.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

getting angry

See, I have a friend--a good friend--one who's been with me since last year--one who's candid and open and unendingly opinionated--one who makes mistakes like the best of us and will own up to them--one who believes that the only way to make things happen, to really make things change, is to get angry. And he's angry at the school. So, he tries to encourage his students to make change by making them angry enough that they want it. Or, at least the smart kids, he says. He says that what he's trying to do is get the kids to break out of the lie that they've been fed by the administrative body. He does this, and he also puts his race out there by playing the role of "white oppressor." He does it in order to get the kids angry, not necessarily at him, but at certain injustices that "he" is the cause of. His goal is anger. And he achieves it.

I've had a lot of conversation about this lately, and I've come to some conclusions about it. See, whenever he tells me about this stuff--and he confronted me about this, saying that I tend to question his motives a lot, looking at him strangely and not saying anything--it makes me unendingly uncomfortable. And, through conversations with friends, I've realized why:

Most of this discomfort with his style is that I feel that he is playing a part, and tends to manipulate his students into believing in his agenda, however socially just it may be. In a way, another friend said to me, it is "inception." But, the most important thing here is that he is trying to get students angry in order to recognize injustice in the world. His is not a problem of action, rather, or recognition. My thing is not necessarily recognition, rather, action. I want students to have recognized and researched and become passionate about a problem in society, and then change it. I'm about empowerment and action, he's about empowerment in recognition. He is the yang to my yin.

So what does this mean in terms of my own teaching? I want kids to recognize things, but it's never on my official agenda because that's not what I'm teaching, and I don't always have the opportunities to do it. I can't quite put my race out there because there's not much to be provocative about in Read 180, unfortunately. All content is a means to an end goal: being able to read well. I guess I need to find some sort of yang to complete my yin in my community service club...what does it take to recognize a problem in the world?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

is it me, or is it them?

I think one of the things, personally, that I do when it comes to my job is take things personally. Not on the kids side, rather, the things that they say are either funny, ridiculous or annoying (See side note: today in new MS class, I have regained some ground by, instead of high fiving a student, giving him a high elbow--again, what I love about MS is the pure willingness they have to do simple, silly things). This whole switch to MS thing, how can I not take this personally, as if the admin has not much else to do than throw teachers on one place on a whim just simply because they can.

This is hard to swallow, but, it's not me, it's them. It's going to take me a very long time to realize's how the school operates: they make things shitty for teachers, because that's just how they think things should be run. They do it in the name of certain things (data, etc), and, perhaps they're right in some respects; but, I don't think I'll ever quite "win" because there's nothing to win. Maybe that's what I've been thinking about for such a long time. That there's a fight to win, that I can control what my job is. But it's not about that. It's about them being the boss, me being the employee.

It'll take some time, I suppose. Do I sound defeatist?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

well, here we go again

So, to compound the non-sense that happens in my school, I've been taken out of AP, and put into a MS class again, this time with the added bonus of not being the middle schooler's original teacher.

The full story (before I gotta go to bed): I was pulled out of AP so that the school could create another class of 10th grade Read 180. I was quite fine with that, seeing that having Read 180 be the number one class I have to do means that I would have a) a life outside of school and b) MUCH less work. Wunderbar. So what happened in the interim? I honestly can't tell you--I was told that I was going to be a sub for the MS R180 teacher, since he's sick. I was OK with that, since I thought the 10th grade class would take a bit of time to set up, and it was just a quick one-shot subbing thing. Turns out this is (most likely) going to become my permanent placement for first period. What's even crazier about this situation is that there is a substitute present in the classroom while I am in the classroom. So, the question begs to be asked: why am I actually in there?

According to the powers that be, they need someone who "knows the program inside and out" in the room and doing the Read 180 stuff, etc. Personally, the hell with it...if they have a sub, they have a sub. So, I tried to collaborate; tried to have a meeting about this, but there's no real talking to the administration once their minds have been arbitrarily made up.

So, my observation is tomorrow, and all I pray is that it is not in the middle school class that I cannot control because I just stepped in two days ago. This is the one thing I pray for, either third or fourth period.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

this....really is how our meetings go

I remember an innocent time, a time when collaborative planning meant you take one or two days out of your week during prep (because it was possible, since copies could be made the day of, in the morning), and you spoke to your colleagues about students that were having trouble (because you had them all (though this was middle school) and you brainstormed together how to get things done; that you didn't need to have an administrator around with you as your team planned; that you could ask the science teacher to work with you on some writing assignments and help support the theme you were exploring; when it wasn't about challenges and support and process, it was about a warm, if not sometimes frustrated, feeling towards each other, knowing that stuff would get done.

Going to the AP training a couple Fridays ago (I'm teaching AP English as well as Read 180) was a revelation, and broke me out of the rut of process. I suddenly remembered what studying was like in college, and was over-joyed to talk with my teachers from our school, as well as some other teachers, about the AP test and follow the instructor's directions toward examining the questions and figuring out how to answer and understand them. It was refreshing. This, however, is not. It makes me sad to be faced with this reality, but the question here is not, "Well, I'm trapped, so I might as well eat dirt, cause that's what they're feeding me" rather, "OK, I know the the hell do I get the support I need from an administration that will only criticize? How do I work the system?"

Either way, shit's really annoying...take a peek:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

so, i understand...

that I haven't posted in, what, a month, possibly two. I also understand that much's been left out here. Needless to say, the wonderful feeling I had a while back has subsided, and I'm dealing with some organizational crises here. So this is a shout-out to all my teacher peeps out there: I'm looking for a system. How do you all keep your stuff together? Do you have things in drawers, in files, in folders, strewn about on your desk? How do you all keep it together? I'm strapped for ideas, and I'm struggling to pull it all together.

Plus, this TAS business is going to drive me up the wall. Have you all been up to date on this business? For those who don't know, TAS means Teacher Assessment Something-or-Other. Basically, the school AND each department comes up with certain goals with which their success will be measured. Now, this seems like a fine and great idea, but in some cases, the percentages work out such that, if you were to hit only one percent below your goal, you will get a 1 on your rating. Strictly speaking, that is an unfair technicality. I mean, to say the least. Whatever. It's harder on the English (myself) and the Math (not myself) teachers, because A LOT of their success is riding on DC CAS and other factors like PSATS, interim tests, and other such stuff. Their stake is much, much, much higher.

To make it even more complicated, the SCHOOL's TAS goals are even more ridiculous, and they are linked to the "commitment to school community" section of the IMPACT score. Because they design those goals, they're practically unattainable, and therefore restrict most of the teachers in the school from ever receiving a four. It makes my blood boil, but I like to keep my head down low. So, needless to say things're reaaaally not getting better this year. Or, at least, are posing different, if no less difficult, challenges.

Speaking of challenges and IMPACT, Michelle Rhee just resigned!! HOLY SHIT. More on that as news breaks and things go ASPLODE!!! inside this whole DCPS system. Everybody ready? aaaaaand, ASPLODE!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

the new year cometh, i mean the Jewish one

Fastly approaching is the Jewish New Year and Day of Return (atonement, as I learned at a workshop, is more of a Christian idea (no offense Christians, but it is) (maybe it's not return, but something like that). Anyhow, this means that there's gotta be some sort of reflection and such.

So, in general: the year before me: not terrible, but DAMN it was difficult, stressful and terrible at times. Rewarding at others, but damn. This year, so far, I've had good experiences, and now that I'm teaching an AP English comp class (did I mention this? As of last Sat...yikes!), I've been much happier. I know what to expect. So, I'm hoping for a continuation of this, and hoping that my Read 180 classes will enjoy more success than last year. We've got some real shit with this new IMPACT system and the fulfillment of goals and all that business, which is ridic and unfair and makes me feel a tad nervous. Apparently Rhee has said, "Go hard, or go home." Whatever.

In general, I'm hoping for a year of more rest, more productivity, and most of all more balance. This'll work itself out somehow. Ohhmmmmmmmm........

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Baby got back?

School starts tomorrow, and I'm not ready yet. This year I've had to set up two rooms, since I'm still split between two grades. What's a little more ridiculous is that the other room isn't shared--I'm alone--for one period. So, it's a Read 180 room! I've got my books, new rFlex books; now I just need to figure out what my classroom shape is going to be and all that business.

By the way, I don't remember if I'd mentioned this, but I had interviewed at a few schools, all of which sent me the "sorry, but..." letter. It's really unfortunate, but I feel like I'll be starting on a new footleafhorsewhateverthemetaphoris at my old school.

Today's project: buying notebooks, pens & pencils, and whatever else may seem fit for a Read 180 room; more planning for the first week & copying the actual syllabus (gulp); rearranging my room.

Another yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DC-CAS results

Here's a DCist post about the 2010 DCCAS test results. So, secondary school's up a tad, and elementary's down in both reading and math by 4.something%.

What does this say about Rhee's own style of pushing pushing pushing the test? Perhaps it doesn't work quite as well as she thought? Mmmmm???

Thursday, July 8, 2010

the writer's workshop

So. I've been called upon by a certain school to have an interview tomorrow, and I'm strapped into the seat at the restaurant I'm at (cafe, yellowgreen&orange walls, free wi-fi), and am trying to figure out a 20 minute grammar lesson. In the meantime, my mind's racing because I'm reading two books that I love (book 1), and am interested in (book 2): The Power of Grammar (book 1), and Mechanically Inclined (book 2). Both are extremely interesting and lovable (I'm such a nerd), and are filling in the gaps where one seems to falter.

The Writer's Workshop seems to be taken for granted as something that happens during the year in units, but shouldn't students be writing all the time? Or, am I to think that comprehension & ideas are more important in daily/homework writing, and not so much the skill of writing? Perhaps. I suppose it depends upon the English teacher, but I'm trying to think--how does it usually go? In Read 180, we have readings, then we have writing. In English, that's how it worked also, no? No?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I have an interview at another school. Whoa.

Monday, July 5, 2010

summer reading list

1. Ender's Game (780 Lexile)
2. The History of Love (Nicole Krauss) (dunno the Lexile...guesses?)
3. What is the What (Dave Eggers)
4. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (M. T. Anderson) (1090 Lexile)
5. Walk Two Moons (Sharon Creech) (770 Lexile)
6. Love That Dog (Sharon Creech) (1010 Lexile)
7. When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead) (750 Lexile)
8. Holes (~600)
9. Letters from Rifka (~600)

any suggestions? YA fiction? Adult fiction? Poetry?

not abandoned

It seemed like I had all but abandoned this blog. I didn't mean for it to go that way, but it did. The idea of posting as a commitment sort of got really behind the back-burner, and finally the flame sort of went out. But. That doesn't mean I can't recommit, no?

So. What shall I start with? I'll start with the end. It's interesting, now that school's been out for, what, two weeks, that everything ended in a weird, rushed, but pretty calm way. I had one fight in my class, around the end of May, maybe the middle of May. It was intense, and I don't think I handled it the best because I should've seen it coming--there were some signs that I saw, but chose (unconsciously or not) to let slide. I hope this doesn't make me a bad teacher; if not, then I've most definitely learned to look for the signs. When everything calmed down, both of 'em had two weeks suspension.

No one, except for one kid in my high school class and four kids in my middle school class, got F's. Everyone made up their work (although, let's be honest--some of 'em handed things in at the END OF THE ADVISORY...not cool). My lowest grade was a D. I will miss my students, but I know that I'll be seeing most of them next year (yeah, I think I'll be at my school next year--why? That seems to be the breaks--no one's called me back about the schools I interviewed with at the transfer fairs; so, I'm pretty resigned to the fact that I'll be back at my school, but with the added twist and pleasure of having previous students). I think the kids'll see more challenges, more expectation of excellence, and more of a culture of respect within the room. I'm going to research a bit and make some suggestions for the curriculum, and hopefully do some more in-depth shit. I'm hoping to be a more interesting Read 180 teacher next year, and maybe I'll do some good research on on sorts of leveled books, make some inquiries at the library, and have more of an emphasis on the reading stuff.

In the meantime, I'm on summer break, which means reading for pleasure and reading for a purpose. I've got two great grammar books: "The Power of Grammar" and "Mechanically Inclined." Plus, that teacher's guide, "Teach Like a Champion" (lamest title ever, but apparently a great help). I'll also try to read some young adult fiction (if I can get my hands on any). Any suggestions?

Well, here's to summer break! I'll be posting every once and the way, everyone hear about Rhee and how she plans on leaving if Gray's elected? WTF, man: way to give up on a system you've tried to build up and up and let fall. Whoever the person is (if Gray's, what a hard choice), he can't be weak in the knees, that's for one thing. He's gotta be a data-monger AND a teacher-lover, I suppose. Oy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

addendum to previous post

I don't hate Texas, I hate the school board that decided that capitalism should be called "the free-market enterprise," and "imperialism" something even more absurd.

I also am pretty opposed to a school board of education deciding that it is ok to say that the US was founded by Christian men and Christian principals. I don't think "All men are created equal" is written in Matthew or Paul.

Anywho, I do not hate Texas, apologies to my Texan readers, ahem. Just the above-mentioned.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


This makes me terribly sad, angry and even more angry at the state of conservatism in education. It's so apparent that our lives are dictated by old white men, and it makes me furious to know that most textbooks of public schools buy their stuff from Texas, because it's the biggest market.

It is even more apparent that in the United States, we need to have teachers that are willing to teach a revisionist history of the US and the world, and not those things that come from textbooks. And, that, in fact, revisionist histories of the US should be made into textbook formats instead of those expensive books that are released in small presses and only sold at places like "Teaching for Change" (based at Busboys & Poets--a lovely institution).

Man...what will happen next?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

question of the morning...

Just a slight rumination from a reading teacher:

Why do a lot of my students--and I remember this from last year, as well--have a tougher time reading & understanding a book when they read by themselves, and yet have a much better time when they read aloud? Is it learning style, or is it compensation?

I'd be interested in finding out! Research for the summer, or do any of my blog readers have some tips.

By the way, I'm still here....just wicked busy. Had an interview at a charter school, and it went super well! I'm hoping upon hopes!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

why i will never be black

A long while ago, when I first started this blog, I had this huge piece of sadness that occurred to me one day when a paraprofessional back in MA started talking to the kids in street, to help the kids along in a concept. It may not necessarily make me sad in the way of, "oh, that's depressing, he's talking street," it was more of a "wow, I will never know how to do that, nor will I ever be able to relate to my students in that way."

Race is powerful, and it's even more powerful when you look at yourself and you realize that there's something you just won't ever be or get, because you're not black/Latino/Asian/American Indian, whichever. It makes me sad that I can't ever connect to my African American kids like the other African American teachers can...I don't have the language, the attitude, or the understanding.

Today, the guidance counselor helped dispel a kid's anger about getting rid of his carrots (which I knew he was going to eat in class and/or throw) by just taking him by the arm, guiding him along the hall and covering his face. She moved in this ridiculously fluid motion, saying, "Nah, nah," making him laugh. She moved toward him, puffing her chest out like she was going to hit him--a fake, if you know what I'm talking about--which was more than obviously a joke. He calmed down instantly. I would never have handled that that well, at least not now, and it made me extremely sad. I don't know if I'm describing this so well, but there was this air of it that really said to me, "You won't be able to do this; you can't relate like that; you're not black."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

the battle with sleep continues

As vacation ends, another day begins, and another sleepless night. Man, I couldn't fall asleep again, and it's driving me insane. Why is sleep so erratic in my life? My guess is the anticipation and anxiety of starting another (the last) quarter at school. I'm dreading it, which is terrible, but I've built it up as such a terrible place that I don't think I can make it otherwise. Because, honestly, I'm just not that into it anymore. That's sort of a bad thing to say, but I just feel it.

Anyhow, I'm applying to new schools--got some cover letters and resume done. I applied to two charters, and am looking into other public schools. We'll see how that goes. Let's hope that gets me better sleep!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

just when you think you don't like a start to talk about poetry

I love poetry. Love love love love it. It's my life, afterall--I write it, I read it, I advocate for it. My administrator and I share that love,'s crazy to think that such a hard-headed, autocratic, and pretty insulting guy can be such a lover of poetry. And make me impressed and want to befriend him (in the way that only an administrator and teacher can befriend each other--by talking about cool things besides school and not in the let's get some drinks kind of way).

So, judgments are what they are...and I think I'm pretty right to say that he can be a jerk--he's the causal of many a frustration on my team and also his dept...but, at the same time, man, he's got some poetry history! Was in this famous African American poet MFA called Kave Kanem (sp?), and was taught by Yusuf Komunyaaka and Marylin Nelson...damn!

Well, anyhow...I'm still stressed to the nines, though a tad less so. I went pretty militant on my students the other day (my fourth period), and kept them there after the bell rang for three whole minutes of silence while they practiced their rotations from station to station. It was murder for them, and myself, but it certainly worked. Also, that day that I was feeling terrible, my lovely colleague came to watch me and helped me re-structure my room, so now I have a clear small group area that avoids all the chatter and ridiculousness that led to my downfall (of sorts). Now, my small group runs relatively smoothly, and I think we've been doing pretty well for ourselves on getting the reading done. Almost done with it, anyhow.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

from a letter to myself

I really want to make sure my mainstream kids are doing good things with keeping track of their books--they're going to feel really dorky about it, but it's really going to help them. I hope. They say they don't understand the book, so i really want to help them with that. It just SUCKS that i can't have the time to actually make this class a real reading class--to help them focus on the real strategies that will get them to understand main idea and details, etc. But that's a completely different battle.

Either way, i'd like S., M. and V. to write me a bit on why they think the book they're reading is not understandable...and I think I might have to read it with them so that i can understand it myself.

I think, also, on the high school side, things need to heat up with my fourth period. Perhaps our admin coming in and observing will really be an asset. However, I think he's going to have to know a little bit about how this program runs before he comes in. Maybe. I dunno, we'll see--I hope he pulls through with it. And, I think Ms. C. is supposed to come in tomorrow to watch for T (a recent skipper, tough to keep him in the classroom). I hope he's is actually there.

Lots of things to think about, and all of this is just a sliver of the shit that I have put myself under. I hope that next year, I have a place where objective calendars are either not a big deal or are something I can do practically in my sleep. I hope next year I have the creative ability that i've been pretty much longing for since i got into this business. I hope these next couple of months keep me busy and interested and wanting to succeed and have my students succeed. These new students have needs that I just haven't gotten to know yet, and i'm wondering how best to serve them. This is the trick that seems to be worrying me the most, getting me nervous again (i can feel it in my heart, it's beating pretty wildly, and i'm wondering whether or not sleep will be fitful or restful tonight). My hope is it'll be restful.

Monday, March 1, 2010

PS: my june will be longer than expected

So snow recovery til June 21st? I'm just thanking that it's not til June 30th or whatever, man. Last year was ridonc--Massachusetts had it til June 25th, and it was sweltering, and we were SO done with school, seriously.

Also--I just watched today (we had parent teacher conferences, so I got to go to school late, yay!) Obamarama on the television talking about some steps to improving the graduation rate of the United of those steps was firing principals and whole staff or part of staff as a last resort. Controversial!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't say whether or not I agree with that, because it seems very Rhee-esque. Does it work? Maybe, to aid in changing the climate of a school...or perhaps it just takes an attitude change? Do principals ever get proper training on how to turn around their schools, or do they just go around as they are, without considering that they, in fact, might be a problem?

With that said, how the hell are we going to change our graduation rates if we constantly focus on testing, testing, testing. Obama, let's get rid of AYP, please...and let's figure out what to do with the standards that 48 states want to focus on regrouping, yah? I doubt this'll happen in the next year or so, but let's get it soon, can we?

dr. tatum and the long road to reading

Middle school, for the longest time hasn't been much of a challenge. In fact, it's been pretty fun--very little classroom management, very little to do besides let the kids go and be a great teacher. Except now I'm finding myself up against a new challenge: really noticing and assessing their reading abilities.

In a very revealing moment, I finally got to separate myself from my small group and talk to some of my straight-English speaking kids (mainstream, rather) about their reading. And they said to me, "I hate reading, I feel dumb when I read. That's why I hate all my classes." They don't have access to vocabulary, they can't keep track of the books they're reading, and it's hard for them to keep it all together. So what can I do when we start reading an equally, disturbingly hard text in the rBook, "The Fall of the House of Usher???" Oy! Our first page has words like "ease," "moat," "obliged," and many, many what do I do, kids? Again, I ask?

I'ma try and figure this out, because the ridiculousness of it is perplexing and really grinds my gears (to coin a phrase). But also, speaking of Dr. Tatum, I'm thinking of re-writing the text with small parenthetical phrases that give definitions of the words. For my other kids, I'm going to print out some pictures, I think--these'll be for my ESL students. Very important that they don't get too, too confused with these words an' trip up on 'em. Oh, I mention Dr. Tatum cause he's this dude who's pretty bad-ass, and is a wonderful reading advocate and teacher. I believe he's a professor at U of Illinois, Chicago, and worked with kids in Baltimore--talks a lot about transformative texts for black students. Anyways, he had mentioned this thing about building background knowledge, or at least allowing students who can't read well, to access grade-level texts. He showed us a normal text with parenthetical phrases giving short definitions of words, so that you don't have to dwell too much on explaining these things. So, that should be fine. Also, he stressed guiding questions while reading, so that the thing isn't so daunting. So, perhaps that will be part of my Wed. night preparation?

Oy, oy, be a reading teacher. In the meantime, I hate to admit it, but does anyone know anything about Oyster-Adams, Takoma Ed. Campus, or Stuart-Hobson MS? Or, does anyone know of any other interesting middle schools in DCPS that're looking for people? I wonder what this year's turn-over is going to be like in DC? Predictions?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

challenges, 2010

A whole new classroom full of mainstream students. The energy level is increased by a billion (now that we're filled to capacity 21 kids--don't scoff, that's way out of proportion for Read 180), and I'm finding myself exasperated after each day. The constant reminders, taking time out to talk to people outside the door. The management is crazy. It beats me up, surprisingly. It's also 4th period, so things do get a little nuts then.

One student, D., is having a tough time keeping track of things he's reading. I'm really trying to sit down with him and get him to read, but something's blocking him terribly. He's reading Walter Dean Myers's "The Greatest," which is a biography of Muhammed Ali. He read part of the introduction, and after some pages, he wrote in his reading log "Today I read that Ali and Clay fought." I took a look at it, and sat down next to him and said, you know that they were the same person? He said, "WHAT?" and reread some pages, and gave up (the bell was about to ring). This disconcerts me, and I'm wondering what can I put into place for him so that he can be accountable both for reading (he's been very ridiculous about never reading or writing in his reading log), and also his comprehension of the text. It's just above his reading level, but he's interested in it, so I'd rather he read something he's into than nothing at all.

Does anyone have some tips? He's a 9th grader, stubborn, and loves to wander. He's an attention-seeker, farts in class, and, I think, at his core, wants reassurance that he's doing ok.

school lunch

You know what grinds my gears (to coin a phrase)? School lunch. Kids are starving when they get back, because they think that everything the school offers is disgusting. Which, could very well be true--but the question is, can the kids stomach the pain (as it were) and eat anyway? It'll keep their energy up, and keep them going. Nope. They barely eat breakfast, even--coffee, said one student of mine. That's it.

Well, let's take a look at school lunch menu this month at high schools.

I mean, it doesn't look so bad, does it? Personally, I could never eat that stuff, so I just had the usual of pizza on Thursdays, and salad bar galore (at least, that's what senior year was all about). But, I wonder if the kids aren't eating because they don't know that there are more options than just pizza and burgers? That there are two lines, and (although I don't know), that those lines most likely have different options. In fact, there are salad options daily (with hearty ranch dressing, gross!), plus deli sandwiches, plus the main meals. It seems to me like there are plenty of options. So what happens? Is it ignorance, or that they follow their guts and it leads them to pizza? It'd be interesting to do an advisory lesson on school lunches, what's healthy, and what's

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

insomnia watch: 2010

Hey there, folks! Welcome to my blog...again. Sorry for being so dull. So here's the scoop: I'm doing better, and adjusting myself more into non-survival mode/depression mode, which means I'm trying to care more about my kids' education in the classroom. Serving their needs along with my own. Sounds like a good thing, I suppose, no? I'm not saying I've been selfish, I'm saying that along the way, I disengaged myself from what the kids were learning because I didn't want it like I would've wanted, say, The Odyssey. Regardless, things'll be getting better now, I think. I hope. Either way, I've still got this tiny little problem:

INSOMNIA 2010!!!

To the untrained eye, it might seem like a movie. To the trained eye, it'll seem like work--or the thought of it, perhaps--is steeling away into my subconscious, making me wake in the middle of the night. I will say, the periods of time when I wake are short (thus, not really insomnia), but my mind wakes completely for a sec, thinks I have to go to work, looks at the clock, then tries fitfully, and finally successfully, to go to sleep again. I've been trying to use guided meditation and warm glasses of milk. It's worked, for the most part, in that it gets me back to sleep. Last night was a little different, though.

I woke up at 5 this morning, turning absently and then groggily awake, to the sound of a bus. I started to dream (in the I'm-about-to-go-to-sleep dreamy way) that I was a waiter, and asking someone's personal opinion on something. Then the dream muddles into all sorts of other unidentifiable things. All in all, not a great rest from 5 til 6:30 am wake-up time.

What do I do? Has anyone had similar experiences? Any advice?

Monday, January 4, 2010

first day back: plus twenty experience points!

So, in general, I had a pretty great first day back! This is a huge change from all the negativity I've been reeling from for the past forever, so I'm pretty happy about it.


Student A: Are those new glasses, mister? You look real gangsta in 'em!
Student B: *titters*
Student A: No, for real!

My usual ridiculous guy in 3rd period started off his year by handing in a project (woo!), farting in class real loud (not woo, at all), and then making up for it when I gave him a "it is your choice to be inappropriate, your choice to do all this stuff, your responsibility" schpiel.

One kid who totally shut down, kind of opened up to me, said he didn't want to go to this school anymore. I told him that he'd been doing so well (in class...outside, really, he's doing pretty in, grade-wise) in terms of being a leader in his group, helping out this other kid who doesn't know diddly (not my words, but ya know, I'm a blogger, so I can say things like that, right?). I want you here, I said. I think all that cheered him up, because he went back inside the room and did all his work.

Off to a good start, Read 180, let's continue chuggin along!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

new year, new everything!

So, as the new year dawns, and school starts tomorrow, I've got plenty on my plate:

1) Grapple with time management and the anxiety that it produces
2) Being reflective about appropriate homeworks
3) Predicting future weaknesses, and planning appropriately

The third one is what I'd like to focus on today. This is the question of the day, it seems! Recently, before the year let out, I grouped my high schoolers differently in one of the classes: low-medium-high (3 groups, respectively). What a relief that was! Now I have students who're much more engaged, and they seem to be learning on a higher rate (except for this one kid who's an utter space cadet), and, more importantly, understanding at a higher rate.

So, now I have to do the same for my middle schoolers. Yikes! I've grouped them pretty well, I think, with one who's about a medium-low, with the rest being low and very low. I'm a little apprehensive about including the medium-low student, because I don't want her to get lazy or fall behind simply because I need to explain or show better. Though, I think she'll benefit. It's tricky. We'll see how it goes.

Either way, I'm scared that this group is going to become an ESL group, where I'm going to have to differentiate a shit ton of language that needn't be in any part of the lesson plan. But, I suppose that'll have to be something done at the end of the day for kids who need more attention.

I'm starting this new year off with a pop (no bang...not just yet), so let's hope this works out.

Here's to a whole new start!