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updates for 03.07.2012

3 new posts today

Well-Deserved Spring Break

3/6/12 Just when I got home and thought I only had one more document to create, I was reminded of the need for a parent letter home outlining expectations for our Hunger Games outing. Joy. But I'm going to take a minute to decompress before beginning. It was quite the day. Classes were just alright. I'm putting so much effort into my tutoring and remediation that classes are just kinda on the backburner, as sad as that is. But, one improvement is that the state test crunch didn't really begin until this week, 10 days before the test this year, as opposed to last year, where it was all I was doing for a month. Hopefully, next year there will be no crunch.   I'm debating if I'll be able to attend the movie with my students. The majority of students who stay behind will be due to behavior, but for the ones who haven't mastered objectives, I probably need to stay behind and do extra practice with them. I mean, I'm going to the midnight showing, so I'll see it, but I was really looking forward to experiencing the movie with my students. So we'll see which emotion will win out next week. My student, Ricardo, got after-school detention today because he didn't complete my homework. They had an essay due today and one due tomorrow. Yesterday, during tutoring, he had started working on the wrong one. I told him he had to complete the other one though because we were going to work on it during class. I guess he didn't take me seriously because he showed up this morning with the wrong essay completed. I was so nervous about behavior regression, but he didn't get angry.....just depressed of sorts. Then, our team met with him to address his behaviors from a few weeks ago (it had gotten so bad he had been removed from a field trip). He got upset and started crying, but he said he wanted to continue his upward trend. Then, during tutoring today, he was on fire. He comes to my intervention class every day for the extra help. And afterwards, I told him he could go to soccer practice tomorrow instead of tutoring since he had been working so hard. He told me, "No, I need to come to tutoring." Me, "Ok, but I just wanted you to be able to go to one practice this week, since I"ll need you again on Thursday." Him (with a little fake attitude) "Miss, what's more important, soccer or this?" Me: Alright then. (Inside: Ahhhhhhhhhh!!! Tear) He also has figured out that if he stands right behind me, but a little to my left, he can startle me into saying random words (thankfully not expletives) when I turn around, and besides writing beautiful essays, that is his new fascination. Oh, children. After tutoring ended, I had to count money for book orders. I had been taking book orders left and right, and I just knew I was going to come up short b/c a few students had given me money at different times. Well, my first calculation left me $50 short, and I was almost hyperventilating. Then, I realized some of the checks were for bigger amounts (parents combined book orders for different grades), and I ended up only $16 off, which I just wrote a  check for. Book orders = major headache. If I miscounted something, then we'll get two extra book to donate to a student who didn't get it. After that, I created a beautiful spring break project packet that is going to cause my students to BALK when they see tomorrow. But I'm not assigning any reading, so this is really nothing. There are 3 components: Analyzing a song of their choice, grammar review, and researching summer options. I'm most excited about the summer options part. So I really wanted to have my students applying for summer opportunities. But I haven't had time to research it. And then the other day, one of my students asked for a recommendation letter for a summer camp at Texas Tech this summer. And I realized, DUH, I need to get them to do the research and see what they turn up. I'm not sure what to expect, but hopefully there will be some financially viable options. I already know of one at UTPA, which is a fully-paid for week of engineering camp. Anyways, we'll see what happens. 3 days until spring break!!!    


East coast callin'.

Yesterday teaching was impossible; today it was impossible to leave. I haven't been well-planned this week. I keep telling myself I cannot be burned out because I feel like I'm never actually doing school work. My past three weekends were: Alicia visiting from NYC then taking me down to New Orleans; Alexis visiting from Michigan (and els from down the road!); Professional Saturday. Because of these, I haven't sufficiently planned for my students in about a month. Not like they deserve. The result has been one game-changing conversation about LGBT, one stack of papers ungraded, yesterday's chaos. Today I had to make six parent calls home for behavior. In my defense (because usually that means bad management), I got my game back and didn't stand for any ridiculousness. I caught most problems in the first ten minutes of class, which meant the majority of students were awesome and fairly productive today. Problem is, my planning isn't giving legitimate ends for their hard work. What am I doing?! I'll tell you. I'm getting my head stuck in the clouds, because while Achievement First decided not to hire me in New Haven, they did offer to fly me back out to Connecticut, this time to Bridgeport, to go through "Finalist Day" take two. My first recruiter was pretty enthused over the phone, when she passed me off to my new recruiter, apologizing all the while for the inconvenience. Excuse me? Another flight to the east coast is an inconvenience? It's your recruitment budget that keeps dropping hundreds of dollars on showing me around an elementary school in a unfortunate neighborhood. I love this travel, love the exposure to excellent schools, love talking to principals about what they're doing and why. That leads me to spring break: east coast reppin'. After ten more teaching days, I'll duck out of school 10 minutes early to rush to Little Rock. Board a plane to NYC. Two nights in NYC, one night in CT, two nights in NYC, two nights in Philly, two nights in NYC. Mixed in is my sample lesson version 2.0 with Achievement First, and, AND! Francie Alexander, Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Scholastic, is a woman I won an hour long conversation via telephone with as a result of responding to this contest on Teach For Us. It was a great conversation, that lead to some great resources for my classroom. It also lead to a Scholastic rep telling me that "having a connection to Francie is like knowing the Queen of England" at the NCTE conference in November. Best, though, is that Francie and I are having lunch when I'm in the city. Funny, because when I first entered the contest I did slightly out of spite, and without any consideration of the positive consequences of entering. Not even a little bit did I consider I could win, and begin to foster this amazing connection. Thanks, Teach For Us. I don't think I've ever said that, but this blog has lead to some amazing things.



Misconception #2,532 about teaching: teachers get summers off. We don’t -- not really. I have a week of curriculum planning at the end of May, Pre-AP training/leadership the second and fourth weeks of July, and district professional development beginning in August. So I do get June off, but after that I’ll pretty much be working. My plan was to go home for June and come back to Arkansas at the beginning of July. Since it’s March now, all of the sudden everyone is asking me what I’m doing this summer. I have an unhappy dilemma. I’m still hemorrhaging money and maxing out my credit cards, and I need to pay off my debt. Basically I need to work this summer. I could work for TFA at Institute, but my professional development for my school interferes with that. There aren’t really any job opportunities here in town. This leaves me with the option of ditching my Pre-AP training in July and going home for June & July and trying to find work, probably at one of my former jobs. It’d be more convenient for me to be in Arkansas for the summer; I’m moving to a different house in town in July and I have a bird to take care of. If I spent the summer in CA and expected to work, I’d probably have to drive my car across the country again and find someone to take care of my bird. On the other hand, if I stay here, I will continue to spend money I don’t have and accrue even more debt. I might not even have a choice – I still have to talk to my principal and see if missing Pre-AP training is an option. What are you doing for the summer?


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