October 26, 2007

Back from Being Buried Alive

I understand the teachers who go missing from their blogs for weeks, but I can't understand those of you who somehow find the time to blog everyday. I know it's a discipline, but I've a few weeks where I seriously could not find the time. I thought about it a lot, though! So, here are some random ideas in HappyChyck's brain:

  • Safety Issues. I noticed in the news that there was a gang/race riot in the area where I work last night. Specifically, it was in the neighborhood where I work and drive through at night. Note to self: It might seem quiet at night, but when residents are quoted as saying that fights happen there often, they know more than you do.
  • ChChChChanges.We've had a change in administration at our school in the last month. Our wonderful principal was offered a job in the district office. You can't go around being Principal of the Year, leading a Title 1 Distinguished Award-winning school, and dragging a school up from Watch List to Meeting AYP (and High Achieving one year) without getting snatched up by district level administration. It's been a rough few weeks for us, but the district wisely hired our vice-principal to take over as principal, so we are again in safe and competent hands. Our new principal is not as beloved as our old principal, but those who don't love her are quite happy with having the devil we know at the helm. I get along quite well with the devil and am happy for her promotion. Isn't it nice to have administrators that we hold in esteem?
  • Get a Book! For the most part, my students read a lot of books. Some do it willingly, while some are forced. We use Accelerated Reader at our school, although it is more elementary geared and we 8th grade teachers don't do much with it. I use to to set reading goals for my students, and these goals are based on individual reading abilities. Meeting the AR goal counts as a test grade at the end of the quarter, and it's basically an independent project. It should be something every students can do during a quarter, yet every year I have students who do not read even one book! This quarter it I had about 20 students who chose not to read anything. Therefore, they also chose to take a 0% on a test grade. Assessments are weighted at 50% of their grades. Average a 0% into that, kiddo! Can anyone explain to me how damn hard it is to read a couple of books in a quarter--especially when it's a standing homework assignment to read 30 minutes a night?
  • What Essay, Miss? It took me two weeks to give feedback to my students on an essay. I cannot believe what a struggle it is! Sure, I only teach one English prep, but when papers are due, there are over 100 of them. It took me a few years to figure out why it has become so hard for me to process essays. At my last school I taught 2-4 preps, but I certainly did not assign essays all at the same time. So, if I had over 100 essays waiting to be graded or evaluated it was my own poor planning. Now, it's just life. Unfortunately, some of my students waited so long to get their essays back that they forgot about them. (Student mentality: I did it. It's done. Don't give it back to me.)
  • What if... While I've been buried under a mountain of essays, I've caught myself daydreaming about a different path my life might have gone down if I had made a few different choice. I was hired for my first teaching job just days before school started. I didn't want to leave Utah, but there weren't any full time jobs in hometown area, so I did apply all over the West. I also applied for some less-than-desirable jobs in my hometown area, just in case I didn't get a teaching position. The whole idea of not getting a teaching position was an fear I'd had, so minored in business information systems, thinking that if I had to I could work in an office. (The need for computer knowledge and skills was just becoming a necessity when I was in college.) I had some opportunities on that business/computer related path that came up just about the time I left Utah to take a position in rural Nevada. (By the way,CaliforniaTeacherGuy's Jewel School Town sounds suspiciously like my rural Nevada town.) One was for as a computer lab "aide" at an elementary school 3o miles away, and the other was for a computer/keyboarding instructor at the local technical college. Both were part time. Part time work does not pay the bills, especially when student loans are coming due. Although I really wanted to stay in my hometown area, I needed a full time teaching job. Of course, I made the right and only decision I had to move to Nevada, I can't help but wonder where the business/computer path would have eventually taken me. Probably not chained to a bottomless file folder of ungraded essays...
  • Mama Drama. Last weekend, I discovered that my stepchildren, who live with us, had Myspace accounts. Wow, pretty interesting considering that they don't have e-mail addresses and their computer usage is monitored and limited! The edgiest site they visit is Starfall.com--they are only 6 and 8 years old, afterall! It took a few days, but after notifying Myspace, the accounts were deleted. As it turns it, the accounts were new, and it was one of the first thing my first grader told us about when he came home from visiting his maternal family: "I got a Myspace!" (We found the spaces first, though.) Of course, the accounts were created so the kids could communicate with other family members, and that is a nice idea, but a tad ignorant. I seriously doubt our kids would fall prey to pedophilic predators on Myspace, but Myspace is an adult space. It is designed for adults and features adult things. Here I mean simply, grown-up, but we all know there are other kinds of adult things that young eyes could accidentally stumble upon--more easily there than another other place young people might go. In fact, these other kinds of adult things can be found on profiles of their own family members. Talk about poor judgment! I don't really consider myself conservative, but I feel like such a Pollyanna in trying to keep our children innocent, and well, simply children in our world.

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