Friday, January 07, 2005

NKOTB

I've got this new breed of kids in my sociology class: APers. On Day One the first question asked was, "Is this an AP class?" It's not. AP kids are needy in a more obvious way, they're pseudo-pretentious (because they usually don't know enough to actually be pretentious), they're super chatty and hyper. The biggest change I've noticed in the AP kids is that they are way more dramaaatic. Today this little girl runs up to me and cries, "Ms., I reaaallly need some gum. Do you have gum? I have this icky taste in my mouth because I haven't eaten anything and it's imperative that I get gum. I'm simply going to die if I don't get it. Do you have any?" Was I about to waste my Trident White on her? I think not. I don't even know this kid. It's the fourth day of school.
The AP kids make me laugh and I can tell the quality of our classroom discussions is going to skyrocket. But don't worry Thugs de la Dirty South, I still have a place for you in my heart. I always will.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

let the procrastination begin.

I've got this huge headache. I don't know if it stems from the absence of caffeine or my teaching schedule. I teach five straight classes before my off-period. I prefer this schedule but by sixth period I usually have a headache. Ouch.

I'm also hungry. My little microwavable SmartOnes doesn't fill me up. Today I rummaged through my purse and found a few sticky coins, enough to buy some 50 cent cheese crackers. I was a nickle short of those chocoloate chip cookies.

Enough complaining. What I need to do is get off my ass and finish my lesson plans for the week. I surfed the web for more comprehensive definitions for my sociology class. I need to get material for collages. Glue. I need glue. I need articles about monarchs for my history class. And then it's always important to blog about menial crap rather than prepare for tomorrow. Oh God.

It's funny how the kids are the same after Christmas. I feel like I've changed, I've made resolutions (I'm probably fooling myself). But the whiny ones remain whiny, the testy are still testy...or hyper, messy, rapping, singing, sleepy, sweaty, hormonal, moody.... They're still 15 year olds. And I'm still their teacher.


Monday, January 03, 2005

elaboration

This time last year I arrived at school with an arsenal. I was armed to the T with behavior management plans and curriculum ideas in hopes of ensuring a more orderly second semester. I'm one of those bleeding hearts who knows how to "reach" kids but can't organize her class or set procedures and expectations (uh oh, the jargon begins). I asked a behavior whiz (sped teacher) to observe my classroom and took her advice (you have no procedure, you need to follow through on your expectations). It worked... better.

This year I have a greater handle on the organization and discipline. Okay, I'm still working on the organization but my classroom runs way smoother. Now I'm concerned with curriculum and organizational skills...which is like getting uphill with no legs. But this problem will resurface in later entries, I'm sure.

My new requirements for this semester are:

  • journals. My students wrote journal entries last year and, frankly, this year I postponed the journal writing because they require so much grading. At first they were academic in nature but slowly morphed into character development. I will add the necessary daily test-prep questions in there. Just to bore the hell out of them and me.
  • folder checks. One thing that shocked me last year was the co-dependency of high school kids. They can barely find their ass so you can imagine what their folders look like. At first I stubbornly refused to do folder checks and note checks and book checks (although I got scared into this in the first week). I was fresh from the college environment and I expected my kids to keep track of their stuff. But if my student's grades plummet because they can't find their homework than my ass is grass. It's one of the wonders of teacher accountability. In addition, this past semester I realized that you can't just require them to have a folder. You can't just check it once a six weeks. They'll turn in a mangled, nonsequential mess if you don't establish a regular checking routine.
  • more tests. I'm a huge fan of collaborative group work. I love "big picture" projects. I count them as test grades. Unfortunately, my kids live in a test happy culture and I'm not helping them by giving them one written test a six weeks. Maybe I'll settle for quizzes. I haven't decided.