Friday, September 29, 2006

Little bits of Friday

  • I'm still in love with all my students. I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm no longer teaching "Corrective Reading," a scripted-instruction reading program I headed for the past five year. It was really dragging me down. Could be a whole post in that.

  • I've been teaching an extra class this year, and finally made it to today, payday. My extra $900 was missing. Payroll is blaming personnel, personnel is blaming our principal, and I'm out of luck. Have to wait another entire month to get pay I've already earned.

  • Mid-quarter report cards arrived home today. They were sent out yesterday. I try to call home before the progress report gets there, but was late. I was on the phone today with at least eight parents.

  • Speaking of phone calls, what's the deal? I think out of the eight, only one person actually picked up the phone when it rang. All the others went to voice mail or machines. Then, four parents actually called me back within a few minutes. Which wouldn't be so bad, except I would be on the phone with another parent, so my voice mail would pick it up, then I'd have to retrieve it (which at my school is a circuitous, and time wasting route), only to get the darn voice mail again. Am I that out of it that I answer my phone?

  • The school board met last Tuesday, and approving my Fulbright Teacher Exchange application was not on the agenda. The approval must go in by the 16th of October or I'm finished before I started. The school board is only meeting one more time before that deadline.

  • Even though the students sent in a Scholastic order less than two weeks ago, I have another order ready to go... for over 400 dollars! Who are these kids with so much money? I've been teaching for ten years now, and have never had this large an order. Wow. Readers. I'm smiling. And I certainly don't mind the bonus points.

  • We're trying out the Holt On-Line testing this year. I'm the one going in first. Two days in a computer lab. So much can go wrong. We're scheduled for a week from Monday.

  • I'm not going to get much work done this weekend. Driving inland to where my sister lives for a family get together. It was 94 degrees there today. ugh.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Let the blaming begin

Well, I finished the progress reports, and they've not even gone home yet, and I've been chastised.

By the special Ed. department no less.

Seems that my several ignored emails and face-to-face attempts to get a copy of student IEPs weren't enough to get the case manager's attention. I kept asking about accommodations for two particular students; to no avail.

Until today.

Both are flunking my class, in which they have been mainstreamed.

One has completed one of 13 homework assignments; the other has flunked three quizzes and has not availed himself of the makeup opportunities I give at lunchtime and after school.

So today I get a phone message from the irritated case manager, stating that I need to have better communication with her since she had no idea that boy # 1 was doing anything but fabulously in my class. She then came over and interrupted a meeting I had with another English teacher, and demanded I give her all the work from the past 4 weeks. She also suggested that my requirement that students read at least 10 pages a night of independent reading as part of their homework was excessive; could I change it to 5 pages?

She's under pressure to make sure her students do well, I get that. She's the one the parents yell at first when they feel we aren't "supporting" the kids enough.


I'm known at school as a mainstream teacher that does whatever she can to accommodate kids with special needs. I worked in Special Ed. for seven years, for goodness' sake. But, I can't do anything without information. In addition, I have 32 students per class, six times a day. Unless I know what that IEP or 504 accommodation plan says, I am at a loss.

Cranky I am.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Progress reports

I can't believe that mid-quarter progress reports are already due. It's still September! Gah.

Teaching an extra class this year hasn't been so hard...yet. I have the energy to keep up with it, although next week, when 150 essays come in, I might change my tune. I am trying to get out of school each day before dark, which is still possible (unless you count the smoke-filled air from the three-week-old Day Fire, as "dark"). Once the time changes, I'm going to be challenged.

It's my tenth year. My tenth year spending my days with 12 and 13-year-olds. My tenth year of teaching grammar and spelling and literacy and composition and... you know the song.

For the last five years, I taught Corrective Reading, a scripted, direct instruction program.

This year, I'm not.

And I'm happier now than I've been in a long time with my students. It's a little lovefest I tell you. At first, I thought it was just the honeymoon period. You know, everyone's on their best behavior and all? But we're going into week five, and I still love them. All of them. There's not one kid with a mean spirit in my classes.

Oh, they aren't all perfect, no. Some have trouble paying attention, some do not listen, no matter how politely or repeatedly I ask them to take out a pencil or get their textbook, some have not earned a single bit of homework credit since school began.

However. I like these kids. I look forward to being with them every day. Yeah, yeah, teachers are supposed to feel like that, but we don't. Not always.

I teach general level and honors level of eighth grade English, and a seventh grade class of study skills. There's a range of kids I see. Some just don't get it, or are choosing not to "get it." There's more than a few who will be getting unpleasant progress reports next week.

But still. I have hope for this year.

Just wait though. After the progress reports go home, and I start getting phone calls from Jimmy's dad or Mary's mom; "Why didn't you notify me that my child wasn't turning in his/her work?"

And I'll have to say that by sending the progress report home, I just did.

Talk to me next week. We'll see if my joy continues.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I realize

That to keep a good amount of readers of this blog, I need to post more than once every two weeks. Also to read and comment on other's blogs. Both of which I've not been doing.

Too much to write about and not enough time.The six, instead of five, classes are not too difficult, it's just that I have no time it seems for planning, grading, copying, and talking to parents. That one little prep period of 49 minutes is definitely missed. I'm trying this year to go home by 5 pm every night, but it's not working too well for me just yet.

And then, inspired by Ms. Frizzle, along with some others, I've begun the application for a Fulbright Teacher's Exchange. After school today I have an appointment with the head of personnel for our district, to discuss the "administrative approval" portion. The application won't even be considered if I don't have that.

And yesterday? I spent a good hour just figuring out the stupid Scholastic book order. Wow. I've done them many times over the years, usually the kids order $50 -$75 worth of books as a whole. This year though? $337! I had to keep going through the order forms, checking and double checking that everything added up. I'm glad I can order on line now; it would've taken me even longer with the old paper form. Our class got 5000 bonus points though. Whoo wee.

Only 25,000 more for a lap top.

Hope all is well out there in edu-blogland.