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21. Ms. No - 9/17/2008 12:30:56 AM

We did improv sketches again today with some specific criteria and most of the groups did very well. I'm thinking of making a "no more violence" rule for scenes. I have yet to have a class that doesn't have at least one and usually two or three scenes that involve drive-by shootings, school shootings, muggings, gang attacks etc.

Now, I know this is simply reality for a lot of my students. At the same time they think it's pretty funny and while to some degree it is, the joke is getting old.

I need to figure out some more specific parameters for the next exercise as far as subject matter goes.

Part of my problem is that my students are incredibly literal. They just don't get what the purpose is of miming action and reaction. They want to use props and furniture etc.

Now, there's nothing wrong with props and furniture and speech (I haven't let them talk yet), but all of those things can be crutches and can get in the way of some of the basic principals.

So, I'm trying to figure out a way to explain it to them that can keep them engaged --- lecture is not the best tool to use with a lot of them because they simply tune out.


Anyway, tomorrow I have no classes but I've got a meeting on campus at 9:30 with the district liason for the National Forensic League to talk about setting up Speech and Debate at our campus.

Woo-hooo. Now I'm taking a nap!

22. Ms. No - 9/17/2008 12:34:22 AM

Oh --- about our enrollement.

We were set to have 560 students this year, but currently only have about 462.

The reason for this is because we pull students from all over the region and with fuel prices and the economy being what they are, parents just can't afford to drive in from outlying areas when their kids can go to their local schools.

To the best of my knowlege, we have no actual school busses. Our kids are either driven in by parents and carpools or they come on public transit. Some of them have over an hour of transit time in the mornings.

So, because of our numbers the district says we only need 16 teachers. Currently we have 18.

23. wonkers2 - 9/17/2008 1:30:13 AM

Jen, abstinence perchance? :-}

24. anomie - 9/17/2008 2:41:30 AM

I hope that kind of student validation of yuor teaching makes up for the higher salary we SHOULD be paying you.

25. arkymalarky - 9/17/2008 4:45:04 AM

hope that kind of student validation of yuor teaching makes up for the higher salary we SHOULD be paying you

If she's anything like I am after 28 years of it, it does. It occurs to me, the increase in pay should be a reflection of how much the public (NOT the individual communities, which are often very poor but show appreciation of teachers in many ways more valuable to them than money) values their teachers--not how much teachers are supposed to value their own jobs.

The thing I find most irritating about how teachers are treated other than low pay is that some administrators don't get the fact that I'm not in their shoes because I like being exactly where I am. If I wanted to be a principal I'd be one. Sometimes when they try to hint at passing stuff off to me, I just tell them that's why they get paid the big bucks. It sounds cocky I guess, but they need me, not the other way around. That's true of any teacher who's competent. I could retire and/or get another job any time. I've been fortunate to work for people who get that, though, for the most part. Sounds like No is going to have a job like that as well.

Isn't it just exhausting, though, No? You get used to it--after a few years. ;-)

26. alistairconnor - 9/17/2008 10:47:46 AM

Some of them have over an hour of transit time in the mornings.

My daughter has an hour each way every day, on public transport, with two changes (this is stressful because the bus she HAS to get on the way home, because it's the last one on that route, sometimes leaves several minutes ahead of schedule).

This is part of the price she pays for going to the school with the drama classes. She seems interested in checking out this thread, I'll make sure she does this weekend.

27. alistairconnor - 9/17/2008 1:07:27 PM

Arky : That's exactly how I feel about my job. I'm a technician, not a manager, so there must be something wrong with me? No, I like my job... and I value the managers when they do theirs well (for me, that means running interference for me so that I can get on with mine).

28. arkymalarky - 9/17/2008 1:32:56 PM

Absolutely. I've worked with many--too many to count--principals and superintendents, and only one stands out as an excellent manager. Schools shouldn't be run like businesses, but good management is good management, and the more I see and research and check out how schools work, the more I realize it comes back to that. And the ones (and this goes for administrators and teachers) who get praised are often the ones who court the most attention or tow the party line most loyally, not the best ones.

29. Jenerator - 9/18/2008 2:59:21 AM


Ha! No. I would love to teach health though, I would scare the crap out of those kids and be comprehensive about birth control.

30. wonkers2 - 9/18/2008 2:12:38 PM

I would, too. In my comprehensive sex ed class way back in the fifties we were shown the famous Army V.D. films. There was very little sex and no pregnancies at my high school. Our class which was the first year it was implemented covered the waterfront from A to Z---contraception, venereal diseases, deviant behavior of all types, e.g. fetishism, necrophilia, etc.,prostitution, etc,etc. It was probably The Cap'n's most useful course!

31. arkymalarky - 9/19/2008 2:05:04 PM

A caution to consider as a first year teacher that people often don't mention--boost your immunity and get a flu shot, etc. Getting sick this week (from a sinus infection going south, not something contagious) reminded me of that.

32. arkymalarky - 9/20/2008 5:34:47 AM

Well, another week behind you, No! Are you tired? You get used to it, but it amazed me how tiring teaching was when I first started.

33. arkymalarky - 9/20/2008 5:35:41 AM

And I was only 22.

34. judithathome - 9/20/2008 4:25:18 PM

Run out of planned material? No problem. Fill 10 or 15 or 20 or 40 minutes? No problem.

Flip 'em a copy of Waiting For Godot and have them perform it!

35. Ms. No - 9/21/2008 2:25:26 AM

Yeah, I'm tired and I'm having these really big mood swings....well, I'm having big mood dips --- I'm not really getting any highs unless you count the moments when I feel like this won't be so terrible. ;->

Mostly I just really want to go home. I'm getting great feedback, but I'm telling you this kid-wrangling is exhausting. I'm refining my classroom management a bit, but I'm having a hard time putting my curriculum together because I just don't know how I'm going to get them to sit through the necessary lectures.

Fortunately I don't have to have all my lesson plans for the year laid out at once. I just have to have a schedule of the units and when quizzes and tests are, but I've been avoiding it all week and I spent the last two days running errands and vegging out rather than grading journals and making my calendar. bleh!

Honestly, I feel like a wimp. I only work three days a week and only two of them are in a row. I've got it so much easier than anyone else I know, but at the same time I feel how I feel, ya' know?

whine whine whine.

Jeeze, I need a swat.

36. Jenerator - 9/21/2008 3:28:20 AM

One of the things I am doing is running the school's TV studio. I teach three additional subjects that are not necessarily related - I am working my ass off.

I got observed on Friday and the new AP didn't mark me that well. It actually upset me. I wasn't having an off day, I was on task and the kids were super and super 'engaged' in the lesson.

Her major complaint was that it took too long transition from subject to subject.

I'm freaking floating half the day (I can't teach all of my classes in a televion studio!!)

37. arkymalarky - 9/21/2008 2:56:56 PM

Jeeze, I need a swat.

No you don't, No. Like you said, you feel like you feel. You don't owe anyone explanations for that. I told my principal that just the other day (not about work, but about something else), and you can only do what YOU can do. Don't let anyone suck you into the super-teacher/failure canard. And imo, it's important to have at least one day a week set aside for you, no matter how busy you are. Not that I necessarily do that when I'm super busy, but I keep it as a rule of thumb, and what's non-negotiable is having some personal down time every day--at least an hour.

And the best advice I got was in my first year of teaching: Don't quit after your first year. It gets way better. I don't even know why, but it just does.

WRT lesson plans, units, etc, put down something that works for now and don't look at it as something you have to stick to. You're filling a requirement for now, not committing yourself to an intractable roadmap for a full year. A favorite and somewhat tiresome line in teaching, in AR anyway, is "monitor and adjust."

38. arkymalarky - 9/21/2008 3:02:43 PM


That's one thing I am very glad not doing, and I don't know how I'd handle it these days, and that's changing classrooms. My kids painted murals on my walls a few years ago and I'm very much a nester. Uprooting upsets me, regardless of the advantages or disadvantages of a new situation. I'm sure it's a big part of the reason I need a small school environment.

WRT observations, I don't like the whole mentality of what's going on in AR, which is peer observations. People can come in and out of my classroom at will, but this critiquing system is lacking. Long ago, when we were all doing "PET" and everyone was supposed to follow the same "best practices" we were told that every evaluation should contain a "glow" and a "grow." RETCH!!

The education system is what has been the hardest for me to tolerate in teaching, by far. Leave me alone and let me do my job and judge me on the outcome. I had a student come in the other day who's in college to be a teacher and she was railing about the same thing. She's a no-nonsense person who'll make a great teacher if the system doesn't run her out before she even gets started. That's why when I grow up I want to be an education activist/reformer/researcher.

39. Jenerator - 9/21/2008 6:09:26 PM

It's really frustrating, Arky. This AP believes that all teachers are *average* unless they can PROVE they are above average. How do they do that? Good question. I have heard that we must document when we work well above the 40 hour minimum (which I do since I claim overtime/supplemental pay every month) and showcase our out of school training, and have a magic wand, I suppose. In other words, there is no real attainable level - it's entirely subjective based on whether or not that AP likes the teacher.

I thought this one did, but I am in the 'average' category.

I was voted best employee in the entire district last year - I guess I am just average!

I don't think I am super woman, but what the hell are they looking for?!

40. arkymalarky - 9/21/2008 10:03:17 PM

OBviously nothing having to do with how well you teach the kids, based on the criteria you describe. Which goes to my point the other day. Most of those people attained their own positions in ways I don't approve of as a school teacher.

What is an AP? I'm assuming it's what we call a "coach" here. Math coaches and literacy coaches are peers who review their colleagues in exchange for fewer classes to teach and more paperwork. Something about it reminds me of the worst traits of people in prison or dictatorships. Luckily I don't work in a school that uses them. They tried to tap Bob for that at his school and it made him miserable just thinking he might have to do it. Fortunately for him he didn't. They kind of dropped it, evidently.

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