August 31, 2007

Okay, now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. I love that the New School has lots of procedures and expectations — I’ve been more supported in the past two days than in the two years I was at the Old School. But I’ve also never really had to have my shit together before. I’ve always been the tallest hobbit, if you catch my drift. It’s not that hard to achieve. And suddenly I have to do things. It’s a lot more pressure than I’m used to.


first day

August 30, 2007

I have a tiny problem with being early, and that problem is I am always, always ridiculously early. I was supposed to be at school today at 8:30 for PD; I arrived at 7:50. Mind you the actually PD didn’t begin until 9; 8:30 was for the optional breakfast. When I was interviewing at schools I had to sit outside across the street for 45 minutes so I wouldn’t be freakishly early.

Other than my inability to judge time, today went well. I’ve never worked somewhere with procedures already in place. I am excited to set up my classroom (although, technically speaking, I don’t have anything to put up yet) and I’m sharing it with nice people. (If, in five months, this has changed to OMG GET OFF MY BLACKBOARD YOU HORRIBLE BITCH don’t be too stunned; sharing space makes people crazy.) Everyone is nice. I am suddenly co-teaching a US history class once a week. I gave all the other history teachers the hard sell on The Story of the World, the greatest supplemental history book of all time.

Now I’m going to kick back with my Friday Night Lights DVDs. Fictional high school is so much more fun than real high school.

someday, when you have a job, you can buy what you want

August 28, 2007

I gave myself some kind of carpal-tunnel wanna-be thing over the summer, typing and knitting, and my wrists ache. It’s possible that means I should buy a desk and type properly instead of on my lap, but… Nah. Too much trouble.

I just saw a commercial for something called “Water Pod.” Apparently, if you’re worried your kids are drinking sugary things disguised as healthy drinks, you should get them Water Pods. It’s pure spring water, and “kids love it because of the fun shape!”

This is how I know when I have kids some day they will hate me; there is not a single possible circumstance under which I would buy that, or even not stop to yell at anyone who did. I can actually hear my parents’ voices when I open my mouth: “Why on earth would I pay good money for something like that? For heaven’s sake, go and get a water bottle!” That was my parents’ reaction to Lunchables, Trapper Keepers, jean jackets, brand-name jeans, jeans with holes in them, jellies, pudding cups, and every other thing I remember begging for when we went back-to-school shopping. Well, not “get a water bottle,” exactly, but you understand the sentiment.

four days and counting

August 27, 2007

The week is here! I don’t actually have to go in until Thursday, which seems crazy to me; I’m used to having PD all summer and going in a week in advance. To be fair, I spent most of that week last year doing nothing.

I finally have a program, too, which is pretty exciting. I do indeed have an advisory but I’m co-advising with a science teacher (cool). And my Regents prep class meets five times a week. (I’d sort of thought it would just be once. Oops.) Both my 9th grade classes are in the same room, which makes me happy. (New teachers tend to get screwed over with classroom assignments. My first year I was in three different rooms three periods in a row.)

So now all I have to do is make the plans in my head plans in reality.

Several things are keeping me up at night: What will the kids be like? What will the classes be like? Are there things I should know that I don’t yet (grading policies, school policies)? Will the other teachers be nice, and how long will it take me to learn all their names? Who will I sit with at lunch? What if my sneakers aren’t cool enough?

Okay, not that last one; I got a pair of insanely comfortable low heels to wear that I know darn well are cool.


August 23, 2007

I just got an email from a former colleague at the school I left.

Dear [me],

I would like you to know that I truly admire and respect you for having to deal with the “children” that did not want to learn through out the school year. As you know, I am teaching some of these students. They are uncouth, mean spirited and unwilling to learn. The rest are yearning for a passing global regents grade so that they pass on to the next chapter of their school life. If you want, I will email you the students who passed the global regents.

Sincerely, the Dean of Hating Students [apparently]

So that’s a lot of the reason why I left. First, because I really liked most of those “uncouth, mean spirited” kids. Second, because if you think kids are mean and unwilling to learn and kind of don’t like them, maybe you shouldn’t be teaching? And I certainly don’t want to be teaching with you.

true story

August 15, 2007

Jd2718 made a good point here yesterday — I’m moving to a new school, so there probably isn’t much point in planning super far ahead. I have no idea about reading levels or class size or school culture, really, so I can’t even guess how much I can get done in 90 minutes. Once I have the first couple of projects planned out (rubrics and directions, at least) I’ll probably be playing it by ear anyway. This does not bring down my stress level much.

Oh! I know all kinds of awesome teachers read this blog now, so I was hoping you’d be willing to share: What do you do the first day of school? I tried playing a game my first year — that was a disaster, because all it did was convince the kids that my class would be all fun and no work. That is no way to start off. The second year I tried doing procedures, but I wasn’t really organized enough to have tons of systems in place, and I’m not comfortable just talking for 45 minutes. (90, this time.) I don’t have 45 minutes of procedures in place, apparently. So what do you do? Any awesome tips for the first day? (I am Harry Wong‘s nightmare, I tell you.)

And now, because this blog has been nothing but whining almost all summer, here is a fun story about a teacher I used to work with a couple of schools ago. He was (is, I guess) pretty traditional, a little bit older, one of those people who has been in the system for a long, long time. He shared a classroom with our awesome Spanish teacher, who was young and enthusiastic and female. So one day she goes in to the room during his class to grab something, and he turns to the students (impressionable 9th graders) and says “Children, do you know where Ms. Spanish Teacher should be right now?” The kids all shrug. “She should be home. She should be raising her children.” No, he wasn’t kidding. “This is why there’s so much crime and violence in the Bronx. Mothers don’t stay home with their children, they go to work, instead. She should be caring for her family, not going to work. A woman’s place is home with her children.”

I’m sorry, did I say “fun story”? I meant “scary as hell story” about the people who are educating your children.

step one

August 14, 2007

I have actually planned some lessons! A step in the right direction!

Then I remembered that, although I always think lesson planning is the problem, the actual problem is making up all the worksheets and graphic organizers that go along with whatever I’ve planned. I’m sure there’s a computer program that would whip them up for me, but I haven’t found it yet. (Any suggestions?)

I finally have a teacher’s textbook, which very occasionally has good suggestions, but is mostly useless. “Have the students make a sketch of what they learned from the text!” “Students should get into groups and discuss!” …Yeah, no duh. Even better, there is a “rubric” for student assessment at the bottom of every single page of the book. The rubric offers the same categories and the same one-sentence explanation for every activity in the book. And then it tells me I should “Focus, instruct, assess, and reteach.” There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and the rubric is sort of helpful if you’ve never seen one before. It’s just, again, DUH. My eyes are getting quite a work out from all the rolling.