Thursday, August 31, 2006

Still undecided what to ask for

I forgot about something.

We no longer have any tech support at our school.

For the last 9 years, "George" was our Keyboarding/study skills/ teach-an-extra-class-of-what's-needed guy, who also was paid to be our tech support one period a day. He did far more than one period a day. He got us set up with electronic grades (through two different grade programs) maintained the computer lab, and helped me when there was a power surge two years ago during Winter Break which fried all my electrical stuff (yep, including my computer, but he saved my hard drive somehow). When a student had trouble logging on, George would have the problem fixed by the end of the day.


He left our lovely 'burb, because it's just too damn expensive here to try and raise a young family. His wife wanted to stay home, and she couldn't here. On a teacher's salary, there's no buying a house unless a rich relative dies.

So he moved.

Today, I realized how much we are going to miss him. The district has decided not to replace him, so we have no one now on site to take care of any problems.

Like this. A mother emailed me Monday. I emailed her back, using my school email. I hit "send" and it went.

I thought.

Today I got a call from the mother asking about the email. That she had sent the email, but hadn't heard back. I went back into the stupid program, and spent an hour trying to figure out what the hell was going on. I sent what looked like several emails, which were not making it to their destination (my personal hotmail address). Oh, they'd show up as "sent mail" and "copies to self" on the school email account, but they weren't going anywhere. They may be still floating around the cyber equivalent to the dead letter office, for all I know.

Never did figure it out. Made me see that getting a document camera, an LED projector, a new laptop is all pipe dreamland.

There's no one to help set it up.

I can't even take my kids to the computer lab, because there's no one there to help when a computer goes down, or won't connect to the internet, or a child can't log on to the student account.

I'm supposed to take my little seventh grade study skills class in there once a week for keyboarding skills; but I can't. Not one seventh grader can sign on at all, because no one has put them into the system.

Oh dear. This really sucketh.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Office Supplies

Why do these give me such a thrill? I mean really, how many highlighters or file folders does one person need?

Staples online has a bunch of 69 cent items, plus those boxes of colored pencils for 25 cents each... and I had three of those ink coupons (turn in your used ink cartridges, and you get a coupon for three dollars for each of 'em), so I ended up spending about fifty cents.

Oh year, I used my teacher reward ID number too, so I got free shipping.

Maybe it's the deal that thrills me so.

Here's a question for anyone reading. Let's say there was a special fund in your town for teachers. All the teacher has to do is write up a little bit (a paragraph mind you) about what it is he or she wants for the classroom, how it will help all students, and turn it in. They can be quite generous; I know of a few teachers who have received items worth around $1000. Anyway, what would you ask for?

I'm really trying to think of something great. I have a computer(pretty old), a TV and a DVD/Video player. I have two rather old computers for my students to use as well. They work fine for word documents, and internet work, but won't do much other than that.

I'm trying to think of what would be best to add to my room.

1) a new computer, with CD burner. I found out just this summer,that since we have the site license for our textbook, we actually do have the right to rip CD's from the audio versions of our textbook. That means I could send a CD home with all those kids who need extra help with reading the stories. That's pretty cool. However, my Honors kids wouldn't really need something like that.

2) a Document camera. These are pretty damn expensive, and the bulbs alone are a couple hundred bucks, but these are great for hands on work! If you don't know how they work, they are used like an overhead, but special transparencies and pens aren't needed. Instead you could take a student's writing, put it on the camera, and bingo, it's up on the screen for everyone to see while it's discussed. Students could even volunteer their rough drafts; the incentive would be that they'd get extra help on their writing.

3) LED projector. Now, the problem with this is that I don't have a laptop, and it really needs one to operate. The students and I could both use it for powerpoint presentations, slideshows, and all kinds of other presentations.

4) A new overhead projector. Mine is from 1989, and is temperamental at best. Right now I can't turn it off, so I have to plug it in and unplug it every time I use it. I think overhead projectors can be found for around $200, so there might be a different way to get a new one of these.

Any other suggestions?

Some of you might be jealous of my good luck with this situation, and others might be wondering why I have none of these technological items. If you have been reading this for a while, you know I teach in an affluent area.

That's just it. We get absolutely no extra funding for our school. No Title I, no extras, no grants, Nada.

Just last year I finally got white boards, instead of the decaying, messed up chalk boards installed in 1959. I'm not complaining, because I love where I live, and I'm happy to be at Unnamed Junior High School.

I'm just giddy at the possibility of bringing some 21st century into my classroom.

1 day down, 183 to go

Busy I will be this year. I've switched from 11o students last year (wonderful, lovely load0) to 186 students this year. Crazy I tell you, crazy.

Five classes of eighth grade English, and an extra class of seventh graders in a study skills/tutorial class.

My throat hurts from talking all day yesterday. I always forget how much talking is done the first few days.

However, on a good note, this is the first first day of school that I didn't come home with sore feet. I think it's due to wearing my new and lovely Hush puppies.

And now, I've just found out that they come in Gunmetal! Ooo... I must have the new color.

I know, they look terribly high, but the front is high too, and they are like walking on clouds. I will never give up my dansko standbys, but for girly shoes, these beat all in the comfortable yet fashionable category.

Time to get to work. Oh the simple joys of my life.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Has it really been a month?


A whole month. I've been on vacation, and generally enjoying my last few days of freedom.

They are over now. The last two days have been spent in "training." Yet another way to teach writing so our test scores improve. We have a bloody API of 821... what more do they want?

The students are back on Monday, I'm teaching an extra class this year, and I'm not ready.

Migraine headaches, stomach aches and nausea have been my companions lately. It doesn't usually hit me this hard, but this year...

I'm. Not. Ready.

And tomorrow? An all day, district wide "inservice." What the hell? Every school district does this silly nonsense. Right before school starts, we can't actually have those teacher "work days" to work. Can't be trusted.

So, we all end up madly working on Saturday and Sunday, trying to get everything set. Rearranging the rooms after summer school classes have been held in them, trying to find out where seven desks ran off to, running to Kinko's to make copies with our own money because we can't get into the main office to use the copy machine.

Welcome ba--aack.