I had high hopes of going to the gym when I left school today, but my exhaustion from three straight twelve-hour-plus work days caught up with me. I just laid around all afternoon. It's a bad sign when an afternoon and evening off feels like the weekend.
School is going very well right now. I've assembled a regular group of students that come and visit during every coach class and work for an hour or two on their stuff. In my head, I call them "The 55 Club," because that's what grade they all got first quarter in my class. Now their parents are making them come to Coach Class everyday. They're all funny, good kids and their grades are much improved. I really like sitting with them and talking with them because of the way their minds work. We'll be having an academic discussion about something, and it will be going very well, when all of a sudden, shoom, one of them throws something in their that is off-topic, from left-field, but deeply funny. Like this kid "Ichabod." Today, we're talking about To Kill a Mockingbird, when all of a sudden, he says, "Dag, Mr. E, why don't you order some pizza?" And I almost thought about it. Maybe soon for one of these afternoons. Then we all giggle and move on.
I've been keeping an e-mail list all year for parents and students, and it's impossible not to feel inspired when a parent sends something like this back to me - "p.s. Thank you for keeping us informed of your efforts to educate our children. It is my opinion that every teacher can teach, but not every teacher can educate. Taking you for educating (our son), he has really grown from being in your class." I mean, how nice. That just puts the wind in my sails.
In other news, it looks like we'll be moving from a 90-minute block schedule to a 48-minute schedule next year. The faculty vote was 40 for the 48-minute schedule, 18 for the 90-minute schedule, and 2 abstainers with letters. 20 didn't vote at all. I was one of the two abstainers. Of course I was. I'm a bit of a rabble rouser. I wrote a long letter explaining how I thought that only have two options was not good for our students. The schedule has long been a source of turmoil for me. A scheduling committee formed a couple of years ago that researched, polled, and brought findings to the table that were ignored - findings such as a modified block schedule, or a rotating schedule, or other options that would have been better than a short 48-minute class period. However, all of these other options were ignored. It looks like we're going to 48 minutes. And, as it is, it's the lesser of two evils. My student load will go down from about 170 (6 classes) to 140 (5 classes). I also think seeing kids every day instead of every other day will help with skills retention. I like that I can now have a Wednesday grammar day if I want to, every week.
In addition, it now looks like I'll be getting a classroom starting in January. Our principal hates teachers floating, especially those with huge student loads, so they're finding one for me on the first floor somewhere. They're either gong to clear out half of a computer room or displace an office that hasn't been told yet. I'm sure someone will be upset by either move, but I haven't been complaining about floating. It's my department head who hates it, and I'm happy that she's going to bat for me in this respect. Someone with 170 kids shouldn't be floating, period, regardless of whether it was my turn or not. And I don't even mind it too much, in the morning. But having to take huge classes into small classrooms in the afternoon that is a burden. I don't like either of these two particular teachers' room arrangements and the kids have to spend the first and last few minutes of every class arranging their desks how I want them. Then, the recopying over and over again of homework, objectives, and drill gets monotonous as hell. Not to mention my sometimes brainless freshmen *still* can't find me after school. I failed 53 students first quarter and many of them need coach class, and almost every day I hear a kid say he came to my classroom instead of the office, even though I've announced countless times where my office is - even did a field trip for each class. Coach class is another huge problem of floating. Even a light one with ten kids is too crowded in that little office.
I don't mean to whine. Things are actually good. I like the department head more and more every day after the initial dislike period. She does quirky things like decorating the english office with garage sale type of things in order to make it look less like a "cave" - her (accurate) word for it. She's supposed to be popping into classrooms once a week and staying for fifteen minutes, and completing a twenty-item checklist on each of us. They are not formal observations, but informal feedback. Anyhow, her way of doing this is to come after a class, sit down, check out your objectives, and ask questions like, "So, by any chance, did you connect that objective right there to the state BCR rubric?", which I of course answer affirmatively and she checks the box. Complete BS, but at least it seems like she's on our side with that. I haven't seen the principal on a place other than the football field in a couple of months, so he's effectively staying out of our hair and I like the school's atmosphere with him in charge.
The city did a citywide benchmark that I actually thought was pretty good back in October (maybe a questionable reading selection, but it was others that had more of a problem with it than me), and we're having another one this month on theme. In preparation, I'm doing one quick little selection every class where the kids restate the plot, make a list of subjects, and then construct theme statements. It's fun. I did The Giving Tree yesterday. One particularly sweet kid literally ran of the classroom crying at the end. The poem "First They Came For the Jews" was today's selection. I am considering doing "Imagine" tomorrow in honor of Lennon's death, but I'm not sure if I have the guts. I think the theme would be pretty easy for the kids to discern, though.
The month of December will be long, though. A full four weeks. I can't believe we go through December 23.
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