updates for 04.16.2011
I can't get away from education, even when I'm on spring break (500 miles from DC, by the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee). Here's the story: Our goal was to hike inside the national park today, before becoming Nashville-bound tomorrow. But the traffic stopped us. For some reason, cars were bumper to bumper on a road that clearly should not have been bumper to bumper. After an hour at a snail's pace, a complex in the distance caught our attention: Tired, thirsty, thrill-seeking--how could we resist the aquatic playground that lay before our eyes? We U-turned out of the traffic and proceeded directly to our new destination. As we were checking in, Julia, the receptionist, in typical welcoming fashion, asked where we'd come from and what we were up to. When we mentioned that we had initially intended to make it to the national park, but had been stymied by traffic, she giggled. How did you not know? Today is the beginning of the annual Grand Rod Run! Remember all those fancy souped-up cars that you saw? They were not a coincidence. Then, Julia threw in the school connection. The Rod Run was such a big deal that her son had gotten out of school several hours early. I asked her--not trying to be rude, of course--why she thought the Rod Run was so important that she would pull her son from school. Couldn't the shiny cars wait a few hours? She then replied that she had not, in fact, pulled her son. It was a district mandate. She had received a letter from her son's principal stating that students would be dismissed early. Oh, right. Now it all made sense. "RC" stood for "race cars," not "reading comprehension." I was trying to use this break to take a break from education. But Fate would have it another way.
My Donors Choose project was funded in less than 7 hours! Who are you people? You're throwing around donations like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. Your donations are buying 100 copies of The Merchant of Venice. I can't believe how kind you are. Because of you, it's about to get a lot more Old English in room 400. THANK YOU!
I've made it to Spring Break...and I couldn't be more excited! I thought this break would never come, and the last few weeks have certainly been busy, but break is finally here! I'm off to Minnesota tomorrow to see my friends and family - I can't wait. I looked a calender last night and realized it is almost the end of the school year - May is right around the corner. It's baseball and softball season - YAY! Soon, we'll be celebrating prom, finals, the end of the school year, and graduation - where has this year gone!? I can't believe how fast my first year of teaching has gone - it seems like just yesterday I was interviewing and waiting to get placed in a DPS school. Now, it's April and all of that seems so long ago. This year certainly has brought challenges, but I wouldn't change the experience I've had for anything - I love teaching, I love my job, I love my school, and I love my kids. These kids mean the world to me and they really have changed my life. Tonight, Becca and I have some Detroit 2011 Corps Members staying with us - they're in Detroit this weekend to take their MTTC exams. They should consider themselves lucky - at this time last year, the 2010 Detroit Corps Members didn't even know that Detroit was an option! We will be attending the middle school dance at Becca's school - I'm very excited to see what they think. I'm also excited to have some of that new teacher/new corps member energy visiting us for a bit. Off to finish packing...I've gotta hide the stacks of papers to grade - Mom said I'm not allowed to bring any home!
I had a Skype interview with a school in Arkansas today! The good news: I thought it went pretty well, I smiled a lot and was myself, and I think I explained my answers thoroughly. The bad news: I found out about the interview an hour before it happened, after pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper, so my ability to judge whether or not the interview actually went well is definitely in question. This was the first time I've ever interviewed for a teaching job, and I really don't know if the answers I gave were the RIGHT ones. I also had no idea what kinds of questions to expect, so I had to think on my feet...which was pretty difficult on 2 hours of sleep! Ahh!!! Finishing up college has kept me so busy that I haven't been thinking about TFA very much at all. Guess it's time to start switching gears!
Tomorrow I get to spend all day taking the lovely Michigan teaching certification tests. My recent life has therefore largely been consumed with work and re-learning the biology and 'integrated science' knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I'm not quite sure that I've done enough studying to pass, but with a day away there is only so much more cramming to do! Studying has now become reviewing the major biological processes through online animations (photosynthesis, transcription, etc)... and getting distracted by somewhat relevant (???????) videos such as this meiosis rap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOCaSUZOFLA Can I have my students make videos all next year?!? ;) Back to studying/cramming! Wish me luck! =)
My babies need to read Shakespeare and my school library does not have any of his works! Your donations will help make the Bard a reality in room 400. Check it out: http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=541581 Thanks in advance. I'll post another update soon that isn't just begging for things.
So, y'all know I'm all about some public schools, but I think that the Ron Clark Academy right in the heart of Downtown Atlanta has an interesting take on private schooling, and how to accomidate it for all different socioeconomic levels. What do you think?
So as I'm reading Ms. Lora's story I realize that it will be hard for me to get the books that I want for my classroom once I move to Mississippi. When I was thinking about building my classroom library a few months ago, I figured I'd go to used bookstores and yardsales around here and add to my collection. I'm not sure if I'll find as many in Mississippi. In the DMV people like to throw or give away old things. Craigslist is always popping with free stuff. So, I decided to set a goal of getting 100 elementary aged books in the 40 days we have left before institute. (It's actually more than that, but that's the deadline in my mind for being ready for institute). Hmm, do you think I can reach my goal? I'm off tomorrow so I'm headed to the yard sales!! Oh, and I don't want to spend more than $20.00
The feedback I keep getting on my blog is that it's depressing. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, since I wouldn't use that word to describe either my life or my job on a regular basis, but I guess it's usually just the upsetting stuff that motivates me to write a new post. So let me say this: My kids were rockstars on AIMS. They worked so incredibly hard on the math sections that I just wanted to hug them. On a test that's only expected to take 45 minutes, I had more than half of my kids still working after an hour and a sizeable group still working after an hour and a half. I know that sounds like they were clueless, but my kids give up quickly when they don't get something or don't care about it. If they had felt lost and frustrated, the whole test would have taken ten minutes. The fact that they took so long means they were thinking it through, doing the work out, and checking their answers. They were covering the test pages in calculations and then flipping to blank pages to do more work there. Granted, they often need so much time and space because I still have kids who use repeated addition instead of multiplying and kids who get the question miserably wrong and have to keep trying again. The amount of work they did and the time they took gives zero indication of their scores (about which I'm feeling pretty pessimistic) but it gives plenty of indication of the heart they put into it and the confidence they feel to at least give the whole thing a shot. And if I can take credit for even some of that then I've had a good year, because I was really, really proud as I watched them put heart and soul into their work this week.
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