Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Forgotten But Not Gone

Ah, my blogs, I have neglected you.  I thought I would post notes/comments/questions about my various substitute jobs, as well as updates on the permanent position search, but  between work, football, 3 boys and life in general, I obviously ain't been doin' it.

I have been using my "Inspired? Or..." to discuss and debate with myself the merits of 5 decades of popular music and the "Best' thereof, stop by and add your suggestions, so maybe that will re-spark the blogger activity...

But for now, I'm supposed to be doing Christmas cards -- we won't get coal in our stockings if we don't send any out, will we?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

read all Van Gogh's letters!

Vincent van Gogh The Letters

includes sketches!

posted this using "ScribeFire" which I think is part of Firefox? Just switched so still figgering it out...

Friday, October 9, 2009

still waiting on that check...

Just when I'm getting into the flow, keeping better track of where the bathrooms are at all the various school sites I've been to (they probably look out the office window and say "hey, 'The Wandering Sub' is here today!"), my favorite district takes a 2 week Fall Vacation and the other districts are suddenly 100% healthy...

I have noticed my name recall skills are rapidly improving as I've repeated in several classes at different schools.  I was worried I'd be calling them all "Dude" and "The girl in the pink/red/yellow/fill in appropriate color Hannah Montana or Jonas Bros shirt"...  The one thing I tend to forget is which grade I'm in, unless it's the jump from 1st to 5th when I need to focus on the proper tone of voice and amount of sing-song cuteness I say the spelling words with.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Long time no paycheck...

Dang, been a while since I've posted anything.  Back to school and football season tend to rearrange and readjust our schedules quite a bit.  I'm coaching for 2 teams, the 5-7 yr old flag football and the 10-13 yr old Jr Midget boys, so evenings and Saturdays are full. Thanks to my wonderful hairdresser wife and her teacher clients, I've been kept fairly busy subbing, mostly 1st (oh, the nose picking! the thumb sucking! and yes, the nose picking and thumb sucking at the same time with the same hand!) and 3rd grade.  Love it. Like the material better in 3rd, but the little ones are so small and cute!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"A Record of Life" video

A Record Of Life from Owen Gatley on Vimeo.

You never know when you'll get to teach evolution...

courtesy of Drawn! Illustration and Cartooning Blog

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like

A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like -- good article on students being able to choose their own reading material.  I think I lean towards the balanced approach: teach kids the same book for that "shared culture" and also let them choose something they like.  But be prepared, if you pick "Captain Underpants" or "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" you're going to be held to the same high standards of comprehension and analysis as the Harry Potter readers...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ok, the picture on their home page is scary, but this would be cool to do early in the year with a class photo -- could print b&w and have students color each square? Cheap, easy to change to match various units throughout the year...

Online Resume?

It's not finished, and it's not perfect, but I think it's my resume/eFolio and maybe quite possibly youneverknow it may help me get a job.

Will Teach for Food

When I was looking for work many years ago, in between retail gigs, I thought I should do something different. I didn't really want to work in retail anymore, I wanted something more exciting, challenging, rewarding, and I was fed up with the traditional help wanted ads/resume job search also. I thought why not market myself, take out an ad that says "Hey, I'm wonderful, I work hard, never out sick, creative and polite and enjoy helping others. Please hire me."

I didn't, and I worked in retail another decade, but now it's time to find another paycheck. Thank goodness I found Education, teaching is definitely, decidedly, 100%-edly what I want to do with the rest of my life. And this time I'm going to try to do things a little different (no, not delivering resumes in a gorilla suit or attached to balloons) to ensure prospective employers know who I am, what I stand for, and why I believe I will be (not yet but some day) a great teacher.

Please check it out, props to LiveBinders, and as always I welcome comments and suggestions (is it to amateur looking? too wordy? hard to navigate, especially if you are a non-tech savvy Principal? are my kids too ugly?)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

LiveBinders -- Your Online 3-Ring Binder! (and haven't we all said "if only I had...")

Just started playing with this, looks cool so far -- share recommended (and previously viewed and tested) websites with students and parents. It's like your Favorites list but expanded and more detailedly (?) organized, and publicly shareable. Need to find out if each page/tab must be a website? How about PDF or...?

3rd grade Math sample: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=1619

Monday, August 17, 2009

the first day of school!

School's IN for summer! At least for one local district...

Woke up with the sun, showered and shaved, ate my Cheerios by the phone with a tinge of anticipation, although I really doubted any teacher would need a sub on the first day of school. Still, you never know, I'm sure some teachers do play the lottery on Sunday nights...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

online dictionary?

Now that MSN Encarta is gone, I need to replace my source for spelling and now what does that word mean? Preferably one without annoying pop-ups and ads so I can actually find the word I'm looking for...

any suggestions?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

white box art

A cool artistic video, good for inspiring intro to art leson?

White Box by Makoto Yabuki


courtesy of Bloglines and Drawn!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Educ 512 Power Point

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Monday, July 20, 2009

My 1st VideoCast

...And just like my first bicycle ride, my first kiss, my first drive on the freeway with a stick-shift, it's an extremely wobbly, lurching, spastic mess... and there's no real video in it, you have to move your eyes back and forth real quick to give the illusion of video.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


One of the 1st things I'm going to look up after posting this? What the heck is a "wolfram alpha" ?!?

What it is, thanks to Ms. Michetti at connect. create. question. is the next level of search engine/encyclopedia, a possibly overwhelming fount of information, the answer to my constant exhortation to sons and students of "look it up!" It is WolframAlpha .

There is a cool "Overview Video" that shows a ton of examples, some way over my head, but it looks amazing with the potential to really engage students in exploring and discerning information, rather than simply copying text from Wikipedia. I'm going to try some real world, relevant to 2nd-6th grade topics and see what happens...

the 10 minutes later update... Well, found out I have 113th ranked name for US births; lots of info on "Boston Red Sox", "Transformers", "Grizzly Bear" and today's date (sunset scheduled for 8:01) but not so much for "Tony Hawk", "Kings of Leon", or even "American Revolution"... definitely like the Scrabble/crossword puzzle cheating assisting potential: put in a word with missing letters, it supplies the possibilities.

Let me know what you think. How can this be used in the classroom?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Real Classroom Ideas website


a few amazon ads but a ton of quality FREE stuff...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

haiku! gesundheit...

only 5 more weeks and I'll have my credential! Well, I suppose I could fail my CPR class and that would hold things up a bit, but I've inflated the lungs on those dummies so many times they know what flavor of gum I chew...

3rd grade is a crack-up; I really do have to turn away sometimes to keep from laughing at the pouting lips or dramatic attempts at self-control when their world comes crashing down with a wrong answer (or when they have to go to the bathroom). I love the serious, concerned concentration faces too, especially when their fingers are moving rapidly adding up 6 x 7.

Did a good lesson with goldfish crackers and adding fractions, very few fish were eaten and/or pulverized before their time. Next up is Haiku, which I've never done or studied or understood (regrettably, I'm not a big poetry fan), and I'll be observed and probably videotaped for good ol' California's requirements.

Dang, just realized that means I need to lose 10 lbs by Thursday!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Courtesy of TEACHERNINJA comes the trip of the day, reminiscent of the old Disneyland submarine ride: go eye-to-eye with a life-size blue whale!

Also love this stuff over at So You Want to Teach? ... the 4th grade reading with dramatic voices and gestures is awesome. Anyone use "Power Teaching" ?

Friday, May 1, 2009

took the words right out of my mouth...

... and my heart, too. An excellent post here at The Cool Cat Teacher Blog , I haven't had my own first week of school as an official teacher, but can already say I want to teach for the rest of my life.

3rd grade has been much slower and quieter, so far, compared to 5th. I'm sure it's largely due to test prep, test prep, test prep, review of test prep, and more test prep. Practice test comes Mon, then finally! the real thing.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New moon is no moon

So I sent the students home this weekend with a chart to fill in drawings of the moon as they see it each night, and then I figure I should do my own chart as well (modeling!)... last night, completely cloudy; tonight, can't find the darn thing. What's going on here?

Oops -- new moon. They can search all they want, but won't find a thing. Maybe a sliver tomorrow? Ok, so I should have timed the lesson a bit better, but now it's an opportunity to demonstrate why all their pages are blank...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Solar System to Scale

Damn, this is one huuuuuuuuge universe we live in!

My class is studying the solar system, which I can't claim to be an expert in but love learning about-- I get so totally blown away and amazed by some of the fantastically un-mind-wrappable concepts and facts, and it's so cool to share things with students and see them be amazed as well. One of my students today was shocked to realize "we" were out in space, just like all the other planets. I asked her where she thought we were, and as the words "on the ground" came out I could see the light bulb flicker (and stay) on.

so I want to do one of those cool Solar System to Scale projects where the students can go outside and place (chalk? clay?) sun and planet models and see just how far apart everything really is -- any suggestions?

I did see that for most models, even the smallest, the nearest star is still apprx 4000 miles away! See what I mean? Wow!

Monday, April 20, 2009

so quiet, so cute, so small

Ah, 3rd graders...

btw, the most common phrase heard today* -- not "good morning" or "welcome back" but "44 days!" as in the number of school days until summer break. And it was an overwhelming landslide, not even close...

*at least until the temps hit triple digits, Praise the Lord for air conditioning!

Monday, April 13, 2009

power teaching?

My first thought was WOW! -- this is how I want to teach! The students are paying attention, engaged, hanging on her every word, teaching each other...

Does it work? The more I watch I wonder if it's too busy, are the students just playing a game, talking all at once (some are even talking to classmate's backs?)... are they actually learning the material? I realize "test" is a dirty word among classroom-level educators, but does this method/style produce positive results?

Inquiring minds need to look into this further...*



one hour and 52 videos later...

It helps to start at the beginning; I would love to sit in a classroom all day and observe this in action.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

a week to reflect

Ok, 1/2 way there -- finished with the 5th graders and on to 3rd grade! Should be a piece of cake, right? C'mon, how hard can cute little 8 year olds be?

I did most of my first semester observation time with a 3rd grade class, and actually spent a lot of additional time with them since the teacher was very receptive of the additional help, and I felt it was an opportunity to see how a classroom was managed over the course of 3+ months. I also got to sub for my new Master Teacher right before the break so I could meet the students and get a feel for the classroom -- 13 boys and 6 girls!

So how to sum up my time in 5th grade? Hmmm...

First and foremost, I think I learned a ton, both from doing things and from watching the teacher/student dynamics on a full time basis. I was just reading an article over at TheApple.com on how the instructor's behavior has a direct, observable correlation to student behavior, and I could see that first hand between my MT and the class. And since my MT stayed very much involved in the teaching, I could see how my manner and technique (read: lack of experience and a clue as to what I was doing) caused sometimes quite different behaviors from the class than hers did.

I also have a stronger feel now for how I would want my classroom to operate, and part of my retail management past definitely kicked in: if it ain't productive, don't do it. If something isn't resulting in profit-- the students learning -- then why do it? I also know I'm sure as heck not spending hours collecting and recording and researching and re-collecting and re-recording, etc, etc, whether homework has been turned in or not! Even 3rd graders need to be responsible for their own work, and I'm not a big believer in homework anyway...

Oops, Mrs. Bunny just called me to "get my ass downstairs and hide some eggs!" Sheesh, hope she's not surprised when all her candy has bites missing...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The perfectly timed holiday

Not that I think God had the future's stressed-out overworked and underpaid student teachers in mind when He did the whole Passover/Easter deal, but who knows? The week off sure comes at the perfect time, so I'm going to say my heartfelt thanks just in case...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Free Stuff (?)

My wise father always said "There's no free lunch" but a teacher I met the other night told me he has received 2 free laptops, including a cool all-weather military style field experiment model, and other new tech devices for his science class in the past 2 months from this website ...yes, Free!

I have not looked into any details myself yet, but if I had my own classroom I would jump on this quick before it goes the way of our 401(K)s and classroom supply budgets...

I also saw a brief article about entire districts doing away with grade levels -- what you learn and what you know is where you are? Anybody worked with anything like this?
“Pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. All other tangible rewards will come as a result.”

Maya Angelou

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ok, now I can breathe...

Not very deep, relaxing breaths, but at least the danger of hyperventilation is (briefly) over.

Got all the major course assignments complete, all the classroom observations done and over, and one week left with my precious 5th graders before Spring Break! After which, of course, it starts all over again, but this time with a Master's degree course and 3rd graders (13 boys & 6 girls -- who planned that class?)... but I plan on enjoying the moment while it lasts. I also miss my boys -- after 2+ years living the life of "Mr Mom" and some major Son/Dad time, it was hard to wake them up on my way out the door in the morning and kiss 'em goodnight when they're already snoring.

Now I need to go watch the video of my teaching and see just how large and shiny my forehead really is; I'm sure it* needs a great deal of editing before I present it to Professor and classmates. My (very) amateur cinematographers were 3 bickering adhd/gifted students, and my MT makes several timely appearances, needing something coincidentally wherever the camera happened to be focused!

* the video, not my forehead

Hearing vs. Listening

Maybe it was because it was Friday. Maybe because it was the Friday they got to do dance practice and mini-society. Maybe it was because it was the Friday they got to dance and mini-society and it's 1 week until Spring Break. Maybe it was because it was the Friday yada yada yada and I was the Sub and they all had Cap'n Crunch with brown sugar and chocolate syrup for breakfast and haven't had a Q-tip near their ears in several weeks... whatever the hell it was, they were not listening!!!!!!!!

I had to pull 2 tests and 6 other collections of misc. materials off students desks despite letting them know at least 3 different ways, including having 2 of them answer the question "what should you have on your desk?" And now that I'm grading the assessments, I see a lot of them missed/forgot/ignored the very first instruction I gave them! That's okay, I kept 'em in at recess and gave them a lecture lesson my sons have heard a few times on the difference between hearing and listening.

Good thing I practiced, 'cause the boys needed it again this morning!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How long 'til Spring Break???

I know, I know -- I've been a bad, as in non-existent, blogger.

I have a Master Teacher that likes to stay late after school to do all the talking, planning, copying, talking, reviewing, talking, tutoring, scheduling, talking.... I have an observer that feels there is not a lesson plan created that she cannot say needs "more detail" -- I may assign specific times for my breaths and heartbeats on the next one. And I have professors that amazingly and wonderfully eliminated assignments to ease our workload, but still require 30+ page papers that due to procrastination and stubbornness I am having to make up 80% of as I frantically type to meet the deadline.

Not to mention Facebook, March Madness, and sunshine -- how am I supposed to get anything done around here?!?!?

; )

Saturday, March 21, 2009

No, you are not such a great teacher you turned all your students into geniuses in one week...

Learning Experience: Remember to remove the current vocabulary words from the word wall and erase the root word definitions from the white board BEFORE giving the tests!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Fact Drop"

One student bangs his shin on a table, another student asks "Did that hurt?"

Wincing, the student rubbed his leg and said, "Well, not as much as it hurt the Incas when they did brain surgery without any anesthesia."

This is from a textbook, but I would give massive bonus points if I heard this in my classroom! We've been studying figurative language and idioms, and I've told them if they catch me using an idiom I'll give them a ticket (redeemable for candy or a lottery for privileges); I've also passed out tix for actually using the vocabulary words they study all week, or for identifying a root in a new word I use.

On the other hand, I have told them they will lose every privilege in the book for the rest of the year if they make me laugh while taking a drink, especially when standing over the desk of a classmate, which did almost happen. I can just imagine the parent/principal/never-to-be-employed-student-teacher meeting for that one...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

why be nervous?

My university supervisor came in for her first visit, and I choked. Not literally, although that would have been a lesson the students would remember for a long time ("dude, did you see his face turn blue?!?!?"), but as I introduced the lesson I jumped in 3 or 4 steps beyond where my lesson plan said I would and uttered several more ums and uhs per minute than acceptable. I did recover nicely, if I do say so myself, and the rest of the lesson went well. The students got a little antsy and the volume went up (so say her official supervisor notes) but it was just before recess...

I need to power up the video camera this weekend so I can see myself teach. I'm sure I'll be appalled -- does the camera really add 20 lbs? and increase forehead depth by several inches? and cause that tie to really clash with that shirt?


MT out again Mon and Tues, so I'm desperately reading many science chapters to review/prepare the class for a test Tues, and introducing "Mini-Society" as well, which sounds cool. Wonder if I can convince them to name me Supreme Dictator for Life?

smarter than a 5th grader?

passed along from my smartest friend and his Math Teacher wife:

There are 7 girls in a bus. Each girl has 7 backpacks. In each backpack, there are 7 big cats. For every big cat, there are 7 little cats. The bus driver is not on the bus at this time.

Question: How many legs are there in the bus?

This is not a trick question (easy for him to say...), it is a real math problem, so "a bus doesn't have legs" is not any part of the answer.

any ideas?

When I copy/re-write anything like this, especially up on the white board in front of the class, I get OCD/paranoid I'm spelling words wrong, or omitting a word, or accidentally spelling some word I'll get calls from the parents about -- for example, do not abbreviate "after school session" !

Friday, February 27, 2009

Not proud of myself...

...but I suppose it had to happen sooner or later: made my first student cry today.

I didn't try to, and I wish he wouldn't have, but he did. And of course I caved, reduced the punishment and gave him the second chance speech. Whatta wimp.

Not only, that, but those little germ-mongers have me coughing upa lung and going to bed early.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

paychecks a-comin' !

Kind and wonderful MT let me take a break from classroom life today to go fill out the paperwork for sub-hood. Now, when she is gone for the next 3 days I'll get paid to do what I was doing with a sub getting paid to not do what I was doing.

I think.

Anyway, just home from class and picking up Son #1 at practice, and MUST write clear and beautiful lesson plans for tomorrow since my University Supervisor is coming out for her first visit... aaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!!

quick notes: aren't 5th graders supposed to know who was who in the American Revolution? or at least know what side George Washington was on? how is it possible to have 1 classmate weigh 57 lbs and his buddy 179? they look like entirely different species...

Monday, February 23, 2009

I AM in charge here!

That, class, was much better. Thank you.

On my own again today, except for the sub getting paid to watch me for signs of helplessness...

it's apparent, either due to my teaching style (if I'm allowed to have one yet) or my lack of experience, that I allow the class to get a bit more talkative than MT and her former student teacher/today's sub are accustomed to; I encourage discussion once in awhile, not just hands in the air, and I think it takes time to train a class to adjust volumes to the right level and learn to have more open discussions. In the meantime, I have a sub shushing "my" class as I'm attempting to have a conversation. grrrr...

My struggle has been more with the clock than the chatting, so in my outline/notes for the day has times listed in BOLD RED when each topic and event is supposed to start, end, be at the 1/2 way point, 2 minute warning, 30 seconds late, etc, etc. It worked out almost perfect today, the only subject that got squeezed a little short was Math, and who really needs math these days anyway...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

reading list

btw, found a great book, especially if you like 6 page long lists of homonyms! I have barely cracked the spine but already know it will be on my desk for a long time...

The Reading Teacher's Book of Lists

the blue-footed what?!?!?!?

So is this a joke you veteran teachers like to pull on the rookies, sort of like sending an employee to find the "room stretcher" or sending the scouts out on a midnight snipe hunt? I had the struggling readers, complete with mini-gang member and adhd not-stop talker girl, for a small reading group: no problem. Ah, but you couldn't let it be that easy. I had the struggling readers, complete with mini-gang boy and adhd non-stop talker girl, for a small reading group ON A STORY ABOUT THE BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY AND ITS MATING HABITS: problem.


Those jelly-like blobs convulsing with giggles on the floor distracting everyone else in the 5th grade? Yep, my reading group.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Obviously, MT's sick day (last Tuesday) so completely obliterated me I'm just now recovering...

actually, it wasn't that bad. The substitute, the official teacher that got paid for the day while I did all the work, was very supportive and helpful and thanked me for the easiest sub job he'd had (although he did not offer to send me part of his paycheck). He was fairly new as well, so we brainstormed a bit as to what we could have done as the class got incrementally louder and louder. Praise ______* it was a half day!

It was just one of those days where things popped up that weren't on the day's schedule (Library Day! Pass out new weekly packets Day!) and that threw everything out of synch. Interesting that MT didn't ask for a recap the next day, but between still being sick and preparing for the District Superintendent's visit on Thurs, I wasn't high on her priority list. Which was good, in that I could help more with classroom operations, grading and organizing and helping individ students, so I feel more in the flow of the class. I still have issues with the clock, never remembering when recess is or reading groups or whatever...

*just who is the god/goddess/patron saint of teachers?

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm in charge here!

(cue maniacal laughter and fiendish control-the-world hand wringing)

MT is going to be out sick tomorrow, so who's the man? I'm the man!

Of course there will be a paid sub sitting at the corner desk judging my every blunder, but for all intent and purpose it's my class tomorrow! I'm feeling a bit more pressure than a regular sub job, since I'll be standing right there when the teacher comes back on Wednesday and the students all give their reports.

Maybe I should bring candy for bribes...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ummm... anyone have a copy of Katie's Trunk I can borrow?

I'm teaching it on Tuesday, but 2 libraries and 4 bookstores later, I haven't read it yet.

It looks like I'm in charge of most of the Language Arts; not really "in charge" since we're following the HoutMiff program and Master Teacher's years and years of prior lesson notes, but she is letting me do most of the teaching. Morning activity, main lesson, grammar group, spelling tests...

I also have several bulletin boards to do... is this in my job description?

odds and ends from the first "full" week:

1. I think I'm going to love teaching.
2. Oh man, do I wish I was getting paid for this.
3. 5th graders really, really should brush their teeth well every morning before school. Twice.
4. How big is the crate the Math materials come in? There's a several edition volume for the teacher, a reference book, a skill book, a worksheet book...
5. There could be two clocks on every wall and my Flava Flav edition watch on my wrist and I still would have no idea what time it is...
6a. There is a brief occurance of pure stillness, a moment as close to peace and calm one can find this side of the Pearly Gates, every afternoon at 2:51 as the last student leaves the classroom.
6b. There is a similar moment of stillness every morning, in that last second before the bell rings, but instead of peace it is filled with anticipation-- the same sense of anticipation I assume one feels right before a Great White shark attacks. Or more precisely, 30 Great White sharks attack.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day Four

I'm too tired for Day Four.

That, and American Idol is on.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day Three

Okay, sounds like I'm teaching my first lesson tomorrow-- something about verbs and subjects, and how they are supposed to agree...

3 days in and not totally comfortable yet, but I do know most of the students' names; the 6 that start with K get me confused. I get the feeling my Master Teacher ("MT" from here on out) would like me to take over as much as I want as soon as I want, which part of me feels like resisting while I know it's probably the best way -- jump in the water and just start paddling...

One very important subject not discussed in any class so far, and I would think at least one of you "fount of wisdom and experience" education experts would think to bring this up somewhere along the line: holy urinal cakes, when do you take a bathroom break?!?!?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Digital Learners

here's a cool blog from a student teacher, with an interesting "engage me" video encouraging the use of technology in the classroom:

"Today Miss V. taught me..."

I don't see a lot of technology at my new school, but it has only been 2 days; still, I hope I get to use the overhead projector this week!

Reading List

glad it's a 3-day weekend* so I can get some reading done:

  • What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know
  • Everything Your 6th Grader Needs to Know ('cause I want my 5th graders to be smarter than the average bear student)
  • Everyday Mathematics
  • Houghton Mifflin** Reading
  • several juvenile books grabbed from the library on the Rev. War, including Longfellow's The Midnight Ride... which I may get to read to the class this week; strange coincidence (or is it?) that I just finished Johnny Tremain before getting assigned a class studying Paul Revere...

*and not just because I "worked" 2 days in a row and -- whew! -- I'm exhausted...
** isn't that the company from "The Office"?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Do I get Extra Credit for all the Blogs I Read?

I probably spend too much time cruising through various blogs and websites, or linking them to my iGoogle and multitude of blogs, but to be fair most of them do relate to education. I have found a wealth of practical knowledge and advice as well as lesson plans and classroom management tools, and although I may never be in the same half of the U.S., let alone the same school district, as some of the people I read, there is a sense of communication and community that many feel is integral to becoming a complete educator.

But sometimes I realize an hour has gone by and because I haven't completed a chapter in a text book or written a full page of an assignment, I feel as if I've wasted time (yet again)-- are blogs merely empty calories? Is online information the same as grabbing US magazine instead of a literacy assessment guide? Is it all attractive colors and fonts, and the ease of reading without truly digesting (as well as the convenience of being able to click back and forth between Facebook and LibraryThing) that lends itself to going online rather than cracking the spine on a textbook?

Anyway, saw this excellent post on The Cornerstone Blog regarding testing and how to help students (and teachers) survive with wits intact...

Day Two

felt more comfortable, still observed a lot but walked around the desks more, offering help and asserting my teacher-ness; if some of the students think I mumble incoherently to myself, it was only in attempting to memorize all their names. I am traditionally/habitually terrible with remembering names, but refuse to take the generic nick-name route -- "Hey Sport/Dude/Missy," "Good Morning, Slick/Champ/Kiddo" -- so I try to be sly glancing at the class picture taped to the back cabinet before I venture out among the nameless mass...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day One

First day as a student teacher, first staff meeting, first unintentional (I hope) insult from a student... and so it begins!

From 1st impressions, including the Principal scaring the bejeebers out of me, I think this will be a good fit for me-- the school and especially my classroom is well run, well behaved, and focused on doing the best for and getting the best from the students. My Master Teacher is a crack-up, serious and caring at the same time, making sure her students have what they need to succeed and insuring they each take the personal responsibility to do so. She's given me several "homework" assignments for this weekend, lessons to do next week in Math and Language Arts plus a classroom clean-up project, so she's not wasting any time getting me involved (glad school's out Monday, gotta an extra day to work on everything)...

The Principal met me bright and early and impressed upon me the Two Rules to Succeed: never e-mail-- the more real, live conversations you can have with people the farther you'll go, and never, ever be alone with any student. I'm paraphrasing; he made both statements with much more intensity and emphasis than I can convey.

As for the student slam, when asked to welcome me and say how they'll help me or say something nice about me, one boy said my forehead sure was nice and shiny...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I got one!

Or, more accurately, one got me-- I have a school to go to for student teaching!

I was beginning to feel like the last (rejected) puppy at the pound, my classmates had assignments and I was just sitting by the phone, waiting, hoping, jumping to answer the second it rang (sorry I hung up on you, Ma) -- I had depressing flashbacks to those pitiful High School years when she said she would call, but never did...

But I did get the call. I feel like I've been drafted, way down low in one of the final rounds, but at least some team is willing to take a chance on me... now I need to work hard, learn from the veterans, practice my skills and make sure the coaches notice my talent and determination. Who knows, I might just make the team next fall...

So: 5th grade! Real live students! Lesson plans! A tie! Oh no, there's the first thing to stress over decide: what should I wear tomorrow?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Okay, so I've changed the blog's title 6 times this weekend. Had to have the "Inspired" in there, right? It's kind of my trademark (see other blogs, copyright me 2009, patent pending, etc. )

This is it, really it.

Oops, spelled inspired wrong...

and Oops, I think I just changed the blog address-- http://inspiredtobegin.blogspot.com/ and I promise I won't change anything else.

'cept maybe the color-- too pink? or could we call it salmon?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Education Anonymous?

As I scrolled through and deleted a lot of the past Observation and Sub job posts, I was noting (and trying to figure out) all the initials, acronyms, and cryptic abbreviations I used to preserve all elements of anonymity. The students, of course, the teachers/admin, school names... I think in some cases I pretended to work in Des Moines just to cover my tracks. That may have been a tad unnecessary.

Back when Gore invented computers, user names and online personas were part internet fun and part internet safety; we all tried to create cool email addresses with the word "hot" in them somewhere, and were worried our photos would be used to ruin our reputation if we ever ran for public office. People would freak at the mention of posting a picture of my children or of talking about my job -- what if the boss read your blog?!? Well, for starters I had a boss with her priorities straight: if my sales figures were up, what did she care what I typed late at night that no one would ever read anyway? And I wouldn't post proprietary material or personal attacks without expecting to be fired. If you're the kind of person to bash your company, boss, or co-workers online, you are undoubtedly a lousy employee anyway; good riddance when they can yer grumpy, back-stabbing ass.

I began posting online with hiding as much as I could; for my first blog I was "6footOneandaTonofFun" from somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere and my profile picture was a mango, yet even then I thought I was giving out way too much information and everybody on the www knew EXACTLY WHO and WHERE I was. I also combed my hair and wore a nice shirt since I knew they could all see me, but that's really a whole 'nother story...

So my point, before I became obviously lost on that tangent, was how much do we need to take the bold black marker to, how much should we NOT reveal online -- legally, personally, and/or respectfully? Do school districts or principals have guidelines, and an administrative assistant to monitor compliance, regarding online activity?

Oh, and I probably shouldn't say "ass"...


Okay, time to make some changes -- a break in the Sub schedule and on to, boldly!, bravely!, the the unpaid world of Student Teaching!

Just one week before I'm supposed to start... somwhere? Don't know yet. Don't even know which district, just that it will be in a lower grade for 6 (?) weeks and then a 4-6th grade until the end of the school year (hoefully both assignments at the same school!)...

I am nervous. Expecting to fall flat on my face. Unsure of knowing enough: fractions, science, ELLs... What if I have a mean master teacher?

I am confident. I'm smart, clever, able to think on my feet. I've been responsible for 3 boys, 30 football players, and 3000 employees. I LOVE fractions!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Countdown Begins...

Didn't get as much subbing under my belt as I hoped/would have liked-- the boys are in year-round schools, so they had a nice long 4 weeks off (until tomorrow, ha ha!) and between those nudnicks and homework and the holidays in general, I find myself with only 2 weeks to go before my student teaching begins!

Don't know the school/grade/district yet, should find out soon... ?