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Showing posts from December, 2009

12 Things in 12 Months

“If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do” ~ Warren Miller
When I was younger, my father took us to see the new Warren Miller film every fall, just before ski season started. They were the most awesome movies I’d ever seen. Back then, I don’t think anyone was shooting the type of real action, quasi-documentary of crazy people jumping off of snow covered cliffs for fun types of movies. In fact, they weren’t even shown in a movie theater. They were shown at the Opera House and we wore our best ski bum clothes. I swear, once, Mr. Miller was actually there. Even though I haven’t seen one of his films in 15 years, I can still instantly recognize his voice and immediately be transported to the days when I was sure that “ski bum” was the best career choice out there. One of key themes throughout all of his movies was the idea that life should be lived to it’s fullest right now. Just do it and do it now. Sure it may be crazy to jump off of a cliff covered with snow or…

Year in Review

Back to the grindstone

Tomorrow we leave the land of snow to return home and reality. Tuesday should bring an exciting post about the perils of grading sophomore assignments and recreating my poetry unit. Will there be performance poetry? And if I include it, will I actually be able to get students to recite something in front of other people?
If you do this, how do you motivate students to participate?

Judging a book by it's cover

Our library has been hosting a book fair this week. During my prep period, I went down to check out the books... see if anything jumped out at me. I'm going to buy books anyways, why not support our school library.

I found a book I'd read this summer - Life As We Knew It. I almost didn't recognize it. The publishers changed the cover for some reason and made it seem like one those teen chick lit books. No longer a large moon photo; instead the cover is dominated by a cartoon drawing of a pink dresser covered with various girly accessories. Above the dresser is a small window with a moon photo dominating. It's barely noticeable.

A quick check with several students, not one was even close to the supposed content of the book. I think that any student picking up the book would be greatly disappointed. The story is about the end of the world for cripes sake! There is a significant portion of the story devoted to food - not good vs. bad food, but rather, "do we have enou…

Teacher Retention

On Friday, the district released the seniority list. For a small district, it’s not much of a document so we all get to see everyone’s information.See Me After Class has a resource post about retention in urban schools. We all know it’s not good. Teachers leave in droves every year, taking what little training they had and all of their enthusiasm with them. And then there is my school.After 6 years of teaching in the same district I am in the exact same place I was four years go. After I completed my provisional contract. As an added bonus, when the newest teacher in my school completes her provisional contract (should she actually do that – there are already rumors of lay-offs. A story for another day.), I will be below her. Seniority sucks sometimes.What is the difference between the schools? Ok, we have relatively easy access to a copy machine and toilet paper/bathroom, but having taught in a NYC middle school there isn’t that much difference. The students are students in generatio…

A Better Day

The class I gave up on yesterday and I had a frank discussion about what happened yesterday. I explained my frustration, remained calm and listened while they talked. As usual, it boiled down to miscommunication. Like when I say research for a paper I mean, find information and distill to use in a paper. The student definition was look at stuff on the web to use for a paper… someday. We also examined definitions for the words “work” and “prepared”. I’m sure it won’t surprise any teacher that their definition of ‘coming prepared to class’ means ‘walking through the door under your own power’ and everything else is a bonus. I wish I could write something pithy or funny about the scene, but really, it was 20 kids silently staring at me with slightly scared/guilty looks on their faces. They were still talking to me, but treading lightly.

Then we came up with a compromise. I drew a calendar on the board and said, “these days I’m willing to schedule as work days” and asked them what they nee…

A Bad Teacher

Did you ever have one of those days when you just felt like you were possibly the worst teacher ever? Your students have no respect for you, they’ve learned nothing and, in fact, everything you are doing is setting them back… possibly to elementary school days. Plus you suck.I have this never ending conscience battle with my AP seniors. There is a class they are all required to take. In this class, the teacher assigns an extensive research paper. The teacher chooses the topic theme, tells them the due date and never speaks of it again. Until, you know, the due date. The first year I taught AP seniors, I asked this teacher if I was supposed to do anything about this research paper. I was told “no, you don’t have to do anything, unless you want to”. This year the core senior English teacher spent nearly a month dragging those students through the process of writing the paper. He gave me all of his handouts (thank you!), and I gave my students two weeks to do their research. Apparently,…