Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A 180 Degree Change

Dear Dialog,

Today has been a much better day than yesterday. It is almost like it was a 180 degree flip! Almost all of my government students attended class today. Our Education Specialist for the district came in today and observed our classes this morning. I haven't heard anything from her visit to my room, so I am taking no news as good news. The majority of my students have been working diligently on their assignments today. Many of them turned in work and increased their grades. It truly is surprising when they realize how much their grade increases when they turn in work.

The day went better over all, and much better than yesterday. Sometimes, I feel like the stress of it all is really going to wear on me and make me cynical, but I know that this is what I was meant to do and while these days will come, they will always go away as quick as they came.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Today was a day (fill in the blank)

Dear Dialog,

Today was one of those days... One of those days that you dread as a teacher, as an educator, as a friend... 
-Today was a day of student problems. 
-Today was a day where some people cared more about being right because they had to be right, not what benefited the student and hurt others in the process.
-Today was the day where I broke up a fight. 
-Today was the day where I got told that my lessons were "fucking stupid".
-Today was the day where I was told to "fuck off".
-Today was the day where I had to remove myself from my classroom so that I did not yell at a student. 
-Today was the day where I questioned, again, why I am in education. 
-Today was the day where I wished we had more direction from the higher ups.
-Today was the day... 
-Today was the day that I know will happen again... 
-A day that there will be more of... 
-A day that will make me question why if students don't want to be at school, we force them. 
-A day that makes me just want a huge glass of wine. 
-A day that makes me want to just scream at the top of my lungs. 
-A day that makes me just want to quit.

Today was a bad day.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Oh, Damn... It's Monday Again"

Dear Dialog,

Today was most definitely a Monday. This photo represents how I felt this morning...

And the day only got better...

My 1st period went well... My students were pretty quiet, but I think it was because they were not awake yet.

2nd and 3rd sped up quite a bit. Students were doing everything but their assignments...

Pathways (4th period) came along and they were pretty mellow. The energy was dying down because lunch was about 30 minutes away...

5th and 6th period resulted in a couple of students drawing a a picture of the male genitalia with hair and all,  and then tyring to keep it from my by sliding it into one of my textbooks. This resulted in me going the textbook, trying to find the picture of the penis and FAILED... I had to have another student find it because I could not.

7th period was PE and the girls were excited to go as always although most of my students are sick. It was ok though because we are starting ZUMBA and were learning the basic steps of ZUMBA today. Unfortunately, a certain someone at school failed to realize that I was teaching a class and continued to call me regarding problems with students that could have easily been dealt with over email or waited till after school was over.

8th period was Core Check out... the dread of my day and the dread of my students day as well... It is the last ten minutes of school but most of the kids just wait by the door and count the seconds till I release them.

Oh... How I loathe Mondays!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Will I make it?

Dear Dialog,

Earlier this week, a student of mine told me that she didn't believe that I would make it as a teacher.... BOOM!!! I felt as though I was hit by a freight train. I have never had a student tell me that I would not make it as a teacher. For the rest of the day, I kept second guessing myself. I kept wondering what I was doing wrong to have her say that. I wondered if any of my other students thought the same.

But then... I had an amazing moment that solidified the reason why I was in education and why I am a teacher...

At school, we are doing Academic Labs and students are doing project based assignments in order to show proficiency in a subject area instead of taking a test or doing regular assignments. Two boys came up to my room, who had another teacher during that time, and asked if they could do a project on the Oregon Trail. They wanted to write a paper, do a diagram and present it to us. They wanted to do MORE than what was required because it was going to be fun and they could do something that they were interested in instead of doing tests or worksheets. They kept asking me for ideas, ways to work the project and materials that they needed. They are taking this project on and I am so excited to see the final project!!!!!!!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

A week of struggles

Dear Dialog,

Warning... This post is a bit of a downer...  :(

This week has been a week of struggles. My Academic Focus class I wrote about earlier has been kicking my butt. When I was first told I was going to be teaching an academic focus class, I was under the impression that I was going to be doing it as a block class where students would be with me for two class periods instead of the typical one. This however, has not become the case. I have some students for one, two or even three class periods in an Academic Focus class.

When I planned for this class, there was going to be a focus on English and History, more specifically World History. Since this obviously has not happened, I have been going around in my head trying to figure out what the hell I am supposed to do!

At this point, I have come to the conclusion, that I am going to have to do packet work (something I am not a fan of but works well if you have to differentiate multiple lessons for many students). I guess that my kids this term will be doing a lot more independent work. Not that I don't mind the independent work at all, I just like working together and feeling like I am doing something in my classes instead of just answering a question or two. I like having those "ah-ha" moments and I don't get those with the packet work. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to create a single lesson plan for 50 students that I can differentiate for all... It just can't happen and that upsets me.

I guess the fact that it upsets me is a good thing.

Oh well, I guess that next term I will just have to be a little clearer when talking to my boss about what I am teaching and how I am teaching it. That way I don't make this mistake again. Lesson learned!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

A successful first day of classes

Dear Dialog,

Unlike a traditional school who rushes students into classes hoping that their "track" and speed will work for the student, our school takes a week to get to know the student and help them chose their classes according to their skill levels. Today, was the first day of classes classes. This term I am teaching, Government, four Academic Focus Labs where I am focusing on English, World History and Math, in addition to a Girls PE Class which is a first for the school. This PE Class is not your traditional PE class either. I am teaching kickboxing, yoga, pilates, weight training, circuit training and Zumba! Holy crap on a cracker!!! The girls in the class are really excited as am I!!!

This is the first term where I am not teaching Economics. It has been my safety comfort as I know that class and know how I like to teach it, but I am looking forward to teaching these Academic Focus Labs which is something that I have not taught before.

My Academic Focus Lab classes are going to be a struggle for me as I am differentiating the material for each class as some students are in my class for one or two or even three class periods. Typically they are in either two or three classes in a row or have them as a block where they are combined, but mine are all over the place and I am trying to decide what is going to be the best way to do this. It will most certainly be trial and error but it will only make me a better teacher in the end.

On a non-blog note, my roommate from my freshman year of college has moved back to Eugene and we are having a glorious girls weekend this weekend. It also happens to be her birthday on the 13th so we are celebrating that at the same time!!! I am really looking forward to this as I have not seen her for two years!!!

Best and more to come soon!!!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Survived... The First TWO Days that is...

Dear Dialog,

I survived the first TWO days of the new school year! We do things a little differently here at school. During the first week, we get so many new kids with no transcripts that instead of automatically putting kids into classes and hoping they are right, we get to know them, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, test them in reading, writing and math... THEN make a schedule WITH them. It takes usually the whole first week, but we have fewer kids failing classes and going to them more often because they have a say in what they take.
Each teacher at my school has a class called Pathways. It is like a homeroom class. We act as counselor, college and career counselor, parent, friend. We call it Pathways, because we help them create a "pathway" to graduating high school and succeeding after. This year I have A LOT of seniors. Last year I had no seniors and this year, I have 12 out of 18!!! This is going to be one crazy year but one I am so very excited about.

Today we are finishing up our testing and getting to know each other, with games of kickball and softball at Sunshine Park which is not too far from us. We take all of our kids over, all ~170 of them, and let them have fun as one last hurrah before classes begin on Monday.

I am not as prepared for my classes as I thought I would be. I am teaching World History and Literature this year which is a class I have not taught before but I am very excited about it. I have a lot of fun activities planned and since I get two whole class periods with them instead of one, I am able to do more hands on projects. One big project that the kids know about but are not looking forward too is their Final project. This is a Book report that will take around 4 weeks to do. I will help them with it the whole way and since many of them will not be able to or willing to read at home, I have blocked two weeks out just for reading in class.

Well this is it for this morning anyways. I will write again later tonight!


Monday, September 3, 2012

On the Other Side of the Door

Dear Dialog,
I found this poem today. It is a good introduction to the new school year. 

On the Other Side of the Door

On the Other Side of the Door
I can be a different me,
As smart and as brave and as funny or strong
As a person could want to be.
There's nothing too hard for me to do,
There's no place I can't explore
Because everything can happen
On the other side of the door.

On the other side of the door
I don't have to go alone.
If you come, too, we can sail tall ships
And fly where the wind has flown.
And wherever we go, it is almost sure
We'll find what we're looking for
Because everything can happen
On the other side of the door.

-Jeff Moss