As much as I whine on this blog - and I know I go through stretches when I whine a lot (last week, I'm pretty sure it was doing my taxes that set me off, plus my pretty extreme exhaustion I've been feeling lately) - this has been a pretty terrific year in the classroom. My ninth graders are great little kids, full of wonder and need. Second period and tenth period are wonderful little classes, full of funny, smart kids who need a lot of work and do a lot of it as well. My eleventh graders are usually pretty good, as well. Out of the two classes at this level, I have the bigger (37 to 33) and rawer of the group, and the group that will grow the most. I look forward to that. I love that a lot of kids decided to take on the challenge of the course because they love to read. If you love to read and work hard, I can get you where you need to be.
Anyhow, here are things going on in my classroom:
1. In what has become an annual tradition (last year, we did To Kill a Mockingbird), the entire English department is dressing up as characters from a work of literature this Halloween. Kids win a contest by matching everyone with their parts. This year, it's The Odyssey. It should be a blast. I'm Odysseus, and actually bought a Greek costume to portray him.
2. My Juniors really can't write very well. I feel like saying things to them like Mr. Weurding used to say to us in high school, things like, "I wouldn't even use these to blow my nose on." And, tomorrow, or whenever I get these essays all the way done, I definitely am preparing a speech, not quite that harsh but harsh. I never want to read that sort of crap again. Then I've got to back up and do more teaching of writing, not just assigning.
3. In general, my 9th graders can't read very well. Or, a significant portion of them can't. I'm going pretty slowly through The Odyssey, though, and giving license to "skim" a few of the books (with other ones being close readings), and I couldn't have asked for the unit to have gone any better than it has so far. Some kids genuinely love it. Some kids love figuring it out. Other kids have bad attitudes, but that's okay. They'll figure it out.
4. I don't know if the 9th graders can write yet. I know they have terrible grammar and that this will be a problem and we're already working on it with daily grammar practice. We're going to write our first essay at the end of the unit. We'll see...
5. Very busy Coach classes.
6. The big 9th grade field trip is Thursday.
7. North Avenue sent some silly benchmarks, giving a day's notice. I decided to send it home as homework. It worked just fine. Then I got to teach that day. I've lost instructional days to a guidance visit, the PSAT, picture day, and professional development in the last couple of weeks. I bet I've had 8 days of instruction this month.
8. Big dog and pony show today with people from "the state" coming in, as well as some bigwigs from North Avenue. Administrator types told us we had to have graded student work on the walls (in high school!), as well as Core Learning Goals posted. Just before they came, folks scurried into my room and made sure I was okay. That my interior decorating skills were up to date. Because that's the only thing that these visit are about - the "look-for"'s. And I barely even mind anymore. My tolerance for system ridiculousness is apparently becoming stronger and stronger.
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