January 28, 2008

Hi, guys.

The deal is, I have tendonitis in both wrists and some carpal tunnel and a little RSI and possibly nerve damage. I’m not really allowed to type until it gets better — and that could be a while.


at this exact moment

January 7, 2008

I’m writing this from my classroom 25 minutes (ETA: 50) after class ended. There are ten students still here, asking me for help. I’m a little overwhelmed, frankly. Seven of them are freshmen who have projects due tomorrow (they are writing speeches based on primary source documents from the Crusades) while two are sophomores writing essays who need help outlining, and one is a senior who is working on a different essay.

Right now I am trying to teach one student how to write a topic sentence. I am explaining to someone else what “evaluate” means. Someone else is learning how to cite documents properly. The 9th graders are arguing over what a thesis is and how to write one. Another group of 9th graders have just realized that if they use a quote, they must explain it. (We have discussed this approximately once a day since the beginning of the year.) The girl sitting next to me is struggling to come up with a reason Mao was using his power in a negative way. The problem is English is so far from her native language that I have to spell every word for her — she spelled “each other” as “eacher” and “positive” as “postipe.” The young gentleman on my other side speaks French (he’s African) and I have been attempting to teach him what “natural resources” are in my shitty high school French. There is a young lady here I teach who has her very first credit card bill, which she brought in to show me so I can teach her how to to write a check and arrange the envelope.

I’m pretty freaking overwhelmed, actually. It’s hard to help kids one-on-one, and it’s hard to run a class of 34, but it’s really hard to help nine different people with twelve different things.

Boy, I can’t WAIT for projects/portfolios/finals/Regents to be over so I can go back to teaching.

boiling point

December 12, 2007

I teach a class once a week that I don’t give grades to. We just review for the Regents. They are unmotivated to do any work, and I don’t really blame them. It’s a little bit of a disaster. It doesn’t excuse straight-up fucking rudeness, though. Today they talked over me for twenty minutes, while I used all my good-teacher techniques and felt increasingly frustrated and helpless. I don’t yell, usually, and I don’t call students out individually, and I don’t like punishing.

And then I realized I hadn’t felt this shitty and out of control with a class since I was a student teacher, four years ago, and just started yelling. I yelled and I glared and I shouted them down and told them exactly what they were going to write down and how they were going to do it and if they didn’t like it they could go to the AP’s office and I woudn’t miss them a bit. Then I yelled about how the Regents are only a month away and that they were in the class because they hadn’t passed yet; if they wanted to roll their eyes at me and never think about global history again, all they had to do was PASS this time, and I was trying to give them the tools to do that.

Then I said something about how it was impossible to teach if I wanted them to succeed more than they did. Then I yelled a little more.

Okay, it wasn’t my finest moment. But every kid in the room got out a notebook and started writing down notes. And they shut up, and they started asking for help. I wouldn’t say it was a model lesson, by any means; it was about the opposite of that. But I didn’t leave crying or angry. Sometimes that’s a win.

it’s not his fault

December 8, 2007

For the record, all the normal problems teaching children the difference between “succeed” and “secede” are multiplied times a thousand when the child in question is a native Bengali speaker.

busy backson

November 7, 2007

I’m not dead!!!!!

Yeesh, sorry. Things have been really busy and I’m super tired and my whole “Plan the whole week over the weekend” schedule fell apart because I got sick. So all my free time is devoted to making worksheets to teach paragraph writing, and I haven’t eaten food that wasn’t microwaved in a week. But there is a three-day-weekend coming up, and I intend to celebrate by SLEEPING.

And then I will be back.

Plus, I didn’t sleep at all this weekend

October 22, 2007

Tomorrow we start talking about Hinduism and India, so I’ll be showing Bride and Prejudice. As an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice it’s mildly terrible and awfully confusing, but as a showcase for Bollywood-style dance numbers and the Indian countryside, it’s awesome. I am also considering showing Jesus Christ Super Star on Friday, to celebrate the half-day. Today a student asked me if Jesus knew he was going to be arrested (why is their secular Jewish teacher the authority on this kind of thing?) and I had trouble not bursting in to song. Luckily, all the other teachers know the movie and we had a sing along at lunch.

“One of you here dining, one of my 12 chosen, will leave to betray me…” 

Don’t ever change, I’ll see you in the fall!

October 15, 2007

It’s yearbook photo day! I haven’t had a yearbook photo taken in years. Boy, I hope I get to do the chin-on-fist-look-over-your-shoulder pose. That’s a winner. Plus, I forgot it was today and am wearing a ratty old sweater, my hair is not combed, and I am wearing no makeup despite a giant zit on my forehead. I love teaching! It’s so glamorous!

If anyone comes after me with a black plastic comb I am out of there.