Monday, August 22, 2005


this year is off to a fuzzy start. i say fuzzy because i'm walking around in a haze of doubt and confusion. something doesn't feel right. our bell system is off. co-workers are pissy because their classes are overflowing. really, nothing is that bad (the bells will be fixed and classes most likely leveled) but these kinks complicate your day. i have a feeling that most of my frustration stems from my apprehension with teaching a new subject. still, this is not the way i like to start off the year. i have no flow. if i've said it once, i'll say it again: i need flow. ugh.

so i'm blogging because i made this lesson plan about the thirteen colonies and i don't know if i like it so i'm stalling. i could call someone but my conversations as of late have averaged about an hour and i don't have that time. i will make the time, which is the problem.

i drafted the basic thirteen colonies idea--the map or outline of the colony, descriptions of geography, climate, religion, government, culture, etc.-- but i gave it an advertising spin. the kids will have to come up with a slogan and try to convince someone to move to their colony. they will also have to draw a picture of some sort of cultural phenomenon, be it clothes or a house or a meal. i don't know. i can't figure out what to do about the shitty parts of the colonies, you know, like malaria, brutal winters, slavery-- the things that are hard to sell. really i need to finish reading the fine details about these colonies because, i'll admit it, i got through the first five and then stopped to jot down this idea. yeah, it's going into effect tomorrow. top teaching right here people.

oh, and i tried to introduce a higher level article today and was reminded once again of how low my kids function. they're bright kids and they need to be challenged but they don't have skills and they don't want the skills or the challenge. i basically have to manipulate them into accepting the challenge and hold their hands the whole way through. that's an issue to tackle another time though.

i'll let you know if this 13 colonies idea totally bombs.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

the run down

This year I moved up with my kids, meaning I'm teaching 11th grade instead of 10th. Thus, I have some of the same rugrats from last year. It's awesome.

My classes can be temporarily categorized using a color-coded advisory system, but instead of the rainbow connection I'm employing a traffic light theme. One class has earned the RED label because of the potential drama that may ensue in my classroom. I have four girls in there with major anger problems and who hate each other. One girl talked mess on the first day, "I see someone mean muggin me." Lord. I laughed and playfully said, "Girl you crazy. Nobody's even lookin at you," while praying she'd shut up before the other girl heard her. This particular jewel, we'll call her Sunshine, was testing me, and I mean testing, from the minute she arrived in the classroom. My strategy with these kids is to kill them with kindness while consistently enforcing the rules. I know what happens if I let shit slide thanks to my first year of teaching.

My next class is a green. All the way. It's a humongous class but the kids are really fun and bright and ready to be there. After lunch I have two yellows and a green. The yellow classes are full of kids who absolutely hate school and look like they consume or sell drugs regularly. I mean, lots of kids at my school take drugs but they don't look like they've been leanin for the past 48 hours, slumped over on the floor of their buddy's apartment. My yellow classes are full of long silences and pauses where I'm waiting for a response. Some kind of response. Anything. We'll get there.

I'm also sponsoring the Key Club this year. Apparently the club fell apart two years ago and the members and sponsors are working on putting it back together. I'm going to do the best I can. That's all I'm going to say about that.

I must continue reading. I have to develop lectures for next week because they won't give us textbooks. Apparently it's going to be another week or two. It's difficult to ask kids to read or participate in group work when they don't have a book. Instead, they will hear my lovely voice crooning to them across the room.