d&d for professors

January 30, 2007

A handy list of spells for professors.

Sure, it’s for college, but do you know what I would do to be able to cast this spell?

CANCEL MEETINGS. Professors at Level One may cancel department meetings only. This spell may be countered by another Professor’s Spell of Urgency, and will always be blocked by a Department Chair’s Reminder of Contractual Obligations.


favorite story

January 30, 2007

I can’t remember if I’ve written about this before, but it’s my favorite moment of the year, and maybe of teaching ever, and it came up in conversation today, so here it is: The Best Kid Story (Yet).

I taught my classes Communism in a pretty basic way, but of course I differentiated it so that some kids were really focusing on “It means no one owns stuff” and others were getting more “Workers of the World Unite!” It’s always hard to tell who’s really getting it and who’s just parroting it back, of course.

A couple of days afterwards I was in my room grading and eating Teddy Grahams (lunch of champions) when one of my 10th graders came in. He started badgering me to share my Teddy Grahams, and because I have zero sympathy for 15 year old boys, I said “Absolutely not.” He whined, he cajoled, he pointed out how unfair I was being. “Miss, you have a whole box. I just want one!”

“Sorry, dude; they’re mine, so I get to eat them.”

He looked sly for just a second, and then pouted “Miss! People like you are the reason to become Communist!”

It floored me. He understood everything I’d been trying to teach, and he could joke about it! I was so excited I called all my friends to tell them what he’d said — the non-teachers were awfully confused. It was so nice, thought, to have actual, tangible proof that I taught someone something. Finally!


January 29, 2007

I understand that bulletin boards and student work up in classrooms make a school look more friendly and successful, and that a good atmosphere can help alleviate student behavior problems. I understand that it’s hard to judge whether a lesson is successful or a unit was effective, but it’s easy to decide if a room looks good, or a bulletin board is complete.

That doesn’t stop me from resenting all the time I could be planning lessons or grading work, which instead goes to stapling edging on a bulletin board. ESPECIALLY when I’m supposed to have these two days to grade and prepare, and instead have been scheduled for 8 hours of PD a day. Grrrr.

things I learned today

January 25, 2007

The best part of grading the Regents is all the fun and interesting information I get from the students’s essays.

“In the midst of WWI Hitler was aboard. Hitler was a German and sought to see that Jews were bad. That Jews were to blame for everything that was going wrong. The only reason why the violation stopped was because the Europeans heard what they were doing and were going to put a stop to it and next thing you know Hitler and his people disappeared.”

“Hitler killed the Jews because they wanted to trade with China despite the Mongols in Kiev which makes the Jews want to go to Europe and there was predestination in Switzerland.”

“Jews in Europe were blamed by the Roman Empire for spreading the Black Death in WWII.”

“Many people in Europe died and Nelson Mandela was sentenced to jail.”

get your head in the game

January 24, 2007

I’ve been having insomnia for a week or so; I don’t fall asleep until 2 or 3 AM and while I’m lying there not sleeping my brain plays the soundtrack to Disney’s High School Musical over and over again. (Don’t ask.) It’s partially stress, and it’s partially just something that happens to me every now and then, but I’m grateful not to be teaching this week, because when I’m tired I’m a terrible teacher. Some people can get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep, but I can’t; any time I have less than 8 I snap and grump at people, and when I get mad I cry. Nothing stops a classroom cold like a teacher who suddenly starts to sob “WHY won’t you STOP TALKING?”

My students were good about coming in to take a mock Regent today. Had it been the real test, about half of them would have passed. I’ll know for sure after a few hundred more hours of grading. It’s about what I expected. First I have to grade all the real tests. Today I “learned” from the DBQs that every year Chinese students lead a parade in France to honor the French Revolution. (Other exciting things I have “learned” include Hitler’s role as leader of the Jews, and his liberal use of “pizza ovens.”)


January 23, 2007

The students are gone, and we’re just grading Regents. For some reason the grading on this year’s Global is really harsh, and out of 70 kids taking the test we only have 5 in range to pass after scoring the multiple choice questions. Last year only one student passed in January. I don’t know what we’re going to tell our seniors who have taken it 6 times and still aren’t on the road to passing.

One of my co-workers just looked at another teacher’s notebook and said “What is that? Is it a teaching journal?” and everyone laughed. “Sometimes I wish I could do that; I wish I could reflect on teaching and take something more away from it than just anger or frustration.”

I was very quiet, because that’s sort of why I’m blogging here. Some of it is for my records; some of it is to get help from other teachers, or UFT members, who know more than I do. But a lot of it is just to think about what I did today, and what I want to remember tomorrow.

history smells bad

January 19, 2007

English Teacher: So, adorable 9th grader, what have you learned this semester in history?

9th Grader: Miss… I don’t know, history is like, not that exciting, you know, but it’s like, I can’t believe it!

English Teacher: Er, can you be more specific?

9th Grader: History smells bad!

English Teacher: …?

9th Grader: Yo, those people didn’t take a BATH! I mean, I can’t believe it, but that’s what our teacher says, and I guess she’s telling the truth. Ugh.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I guess that’s what I get for eavesdropping.