Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Monday, September 28, 2009

More Stories from the Grade 8 Classroom...

So I have started and been running a Me to We club at my school for the past 2 years. The basic premise of Me to We is to think more about how your actions affect people on a global level, all of us- "WE" versus how your actions just affect "me", or only you. The overall idea is to learn about social responsibility. If you would like to learn more, and I highly recommend it, go to the Me to We Website.

Last year I took four students to We Day in October and it was a great, motivational, inspiring experience. This year I am taking 13 students and a colleague...can't wait! In preparation for this I have been having poster making meetings with the students and showed them portions of last year's event. This is what was heard at today's meeting.

Student- "I keep hearing that lady (Note: it was Mia Farrow) talk about Darfur, and I have heard that word before. What is it?"

Me- "A country in Africa where there is a genocide happening. People are being persecuted and murdered because of their culture."

Student- "Oh. I thought it was a university in the States."

Me- "No, that's Dartmouth."

Student- "Really? That's a funny name."

Note to me: SPEND MORE TIME EDUCATING STUDENTS ABOUT WORLD EVENTS!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Drama

I will never understand the need people feel to create drama. Real drama I get, fake drama...not so much.

I spend a lot of time in class teaching kids how to work in groups because it is such an "essential" skill in real life, but is it actually? Because as far as I can tell many people can't work in groups and don't care to learn how.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Questions

It has been said that teachers answer thousands upon thousands of questions each day. Here are a few I was asked today.

1) "Is that your husband?" from the student sitting at my desk looking at the wedding picture in a frame on my desk.

2) "Mrs. Lyons, when are you going to be a mom?" Grade 8 girl.

3) "Is this going to be marked?" Grade 8 boy about 30 seconds after I finished explaining a reading assignment. (Note: an assignment!!)

4) Student A- "Should I put this in my binder?"
Me- "No, I am collecting it."
Student A- "I'll put it in my binder"
Me- "No, I want to collect them and mark it."
Student A- "Do you want my binder."
Me- "No, just your worksheet."
Student A- "After I put it in my binder?" (Note: At this point the class is dying with laughter, and no the student was trying to be a goof. He was seriously unsure what to do.)
Me- "I just want the worksheet not your binder. You can keep the binder."
At this point the student got up took the worksheet AND the binder to the In-Box. Sigh.


5) (This took place during the same class as the above conversation. It will definitely prove what a grammar geek I am, and perhaps why I feel the need to drink copious amounts of coffee during the day.)
Me- "So we use a comma in a sentence when there is a series of items in a list, before a conjunction that joins two phrases, and when a subordinate clause starts a sentence."
Student B- "Can we use just a comma and not the conjunction in a sentence?"
Me- "No, that would be a comma splice. You need the conjunction or you must use a semi-colon."
Student B- "So we have to use the conjunction?"
Me- "Yes."
Student B- "So we can't just use the comma and not the conjunction?" (Can you see where this is going?)
Me- "No, that would a comma splice."
Student B- "So we have to use a semi-colon then?"
Me- "Yes."
Student B- "And if we use the comma we have to have a conjunction?"
Me- "AAAAAAAARRRRGH!!" (Not really, but I wanted to.)


In case you were wondering, yes I do like my job, but some days are better than others. (Note: the comma is before the conjunction in that sentence. Just where it should be. Ahhh, life makes sense again.)

Gross

Humidity and teaching do not mix.

You're a Mean Teacher

Yesterday one of my students didn't complete his homework. It was  small thing really, a coat of arms and a 1 paragraph write about what the symbols represent. Because he wasn't finished I did not allow him to enter class for the entire history period and I made him complete a "Think Sheet". The think sheet is a series of 4 questions about what they did, why it happened and how they will fix it for next time, etc. It's basically a way for me to have a record of the fact that the student owned up to not doing their work.

Now I did give the students 2 45-minute periods and the entire weekend to complete this assignment. I also let them know ahead of time that if it wasn't done they would not be coming into class. We are still doing the Confederation simulation and the coat of arms represents their identification as a government official. Plus, it's the 3rd week of school......DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

So what happened was that when he returned with the section of the think sheet that asks "how will you fix this?" incomplete I was not impressed.

"How is this not done?" I asked.

"I don't know what to say," he replied.

"You don't know how you are going to fix the problem of not getting your homework done?" I asked incredulously.

"Yah."

"You do understand that this is Grade 8 and I am not your babysitter. Get the sheet done by the end of the day before your detention. I would start by answering that next time you will finish your homework. That's how you can fix it." I answered, somewhat sarcastically.

Almost everyday I am more and more concerned by the learned helplessness I see in some students. Yikes.

I learned after school from my friend, his French teacher, that he arrived in class and announced I was a mean teacher. Good. I'm not here to make friends.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Planning....for a variety

I am working on a multitude of plans this weekend- my first History unit on Confederation, English- a mystery unit, and Health- healthy eating and fitness. This is the first time in 6 years that I have had to start over completely from scratch as far as my lesson and units go. I had been teaching the same Grade 7 subjects, with a little change here and there, for the last 5 years and I was starting to feel like I was a really good history and geography teacher. Now I am re-learning all sorts of history and geography information and to be honest, making it up a little as I go.

When I was a student learning Grade 8 History and Geography I was learning it all in french! It was only my second year in French Immersion and even though the teachers spoke 100% in french to us by no means did I understand 100% of what they were teaching, nor do I remember. (On a side note, I don't think the word "nor" is used often enough. While teaching my students about conjunctions this past week none of them had really even heard of the word nor. Let's bring it back!)

So I find myself re-learning a curriculum I learned many years ago and figuring out the best way to teach it to the iPod generation who is bored almost immediately upon entering the classroom. Seriously, they all have the attention span of a rock! Right now we are simulating Confederation, not that they know that. They have been put into 6 groups and are in charge or running their "country". We've created flags, names and coat of arms- all very well done I might add. I have been very impressed so far. This week an "unknown foreign country 10 times our size is threatening to invade" (yes- the USA) and they will need to decide to unite together to fight this foreign power or stay separate. It's going to be interesting.

On top of all this new learning for me and my students I also have an ISSP cluster for the first time...EVER! Now I am sure many people and thinking, "HUH?". An ISSP cluster is where we group students who have IEP (Individual Education Plans- a learning disability) together in one class so they can better receive support from the ISSP teacher. This means I need to plan and create assignments for students working not only at the Grade 8 level but- Grade 2, Grade 4, Grade 5 and Grade 6. All in one room. So my job is to learn the Grade 8 curriculum, teach it to my class and discover a way to assess Grade 8 information with a student who is working at a Grade 2/4/5/6 level. Fun times.

I am feeling a little overwhelmed and tired, and not a little nervous. I mean this is the last year these students have before they start high school and start making some real decisions that affect their futures. What if I mess it all up?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fridays

Not too much to say, I think I am too tired. It's been a long week filled with baseball, scrambling to fill lessons after cancellations, and stressing about student behaviour.

Good thing I have an empty weekend to recuperate. Maybe I'll have more to say in a few days?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stories from a Grade 8 Classroom

Sometimes the funniest things happen in class and you just have to laugh!

Yesterday, someone was talking about rhetorical questions with my class. I have no idea who and no idea why. All I know is that this morning when I asked the class a question one boy raised his hand and said, "Is that a historical question?"

To which I gave him a blank look and replied, "Pardon?"

The rest of the kids were giggling and told me that he actually meant a rhetorical question. At this point I almost peed my pants laughing. We were 5 minutes into the school day!

Then came lunch. I was on duty today while the students were eating and I need to walk back and forth between two rooms. As I walked into the 2nd room I supervise (not my classroom) a boy was telling a story about seeing the movie Transformers this summer. He was facing a little a way from me but most of the other kids could see me as I walked into the room. This is the point of the story I walked in on...

"And then there is a part when Megan Fox is running and...(the male student then mimed Megan Fox's breasts moving up and down using his hands) and it was..."

At this point he noticed I had walked into the classroom and had obviously overhead everything he said, and saw what he did.

I waved at him and he said, "...and that was the end of the movie," while turning very red!

The rest of the students were killing themselves laughing. I just turned around and walked out. Ahhh, a day in the life of a Grade 8 teacher.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Playing the Game

I sometimes wonder how much of my job is teaching kids to "play the game", hang the curriculum, the writing, the quizzes and tests, the homework and such...but just the daily game of getting through.

Three other teachers, that's right three, came to see me after school today about students in my class and things they did today. One boy decided to go for a walk and disturb multiple classes while getting a drink. I should tell you now that the fountain is maybe 20 feet from my classroom and there is only 1 other room between me and the fountain. So how is it possible for a student to disturb multiple classes? Fantastic question.

The second teacher wanted to talk to me about the 3 young gentlemen she kept after class because they were disruptive and talking during her class today. You should also know that one of the those 3 gentlemen was the Water Boy from the previous paragraph.

Finally, music class. It took three reminders for one young gentlemen to join the line and properly enter the music room. Three reminders before class technically even started.

So to re-cap we have:
1) Water Boy wandering through the halls
2) Larry, Curly, and Water Boy talking during a class
3) Line Boy not getting in line to start the class

None of this has anything to do with English, History, Geography, Health or Drama- the 5 subjects I teach on a daily basis.

So now I need to talk to these gentlemen and discuss how embarrassed I am that I have to hear about their behaviour in this way, and to convince them that some things just aren't worth the fight. I mean, seriously, can't you just get in line and enter the class? Is that really a battle you feel is important enough to fight about? Aren't there bigger things out there to be worried about? You have grammar homework tonight, I know, I assigned it. Couldn't you at least be worried about that?

I have often wondered....

So much of being a teacher is about teaching kids how to react in various situations, how to get a long with people, how to walk away, how to speak up for yourself, how to say please and thank you, etc. And I know that in a lot of cases if I don't address these things with them... no one will. Sad, but true.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why I Love My Job

There have been many times over the past 6 years when people have asked me, "So, what do you do?"

To which I reply, "I am a teacher."

At this point, they are usually still interested and wanting to know more. So then I often hear, "What grade do you teach?"

This is when things head down hill fast. For the past 5 years my reply has been, "Grade 7", this year they would hear, "Grade 8". It really doesn't matter which I answer with I get the same response from about 95% of people.

"Oh really! That's too bad!"

I'm sorry? Did you just say "that's too bad"? First of all, in this economy and time period anyone should be happy they have a job, and especially those of us lucky ones who squeaked under the wire into the teaching profession. Secondly, I love Grade 7 & 8. Those kids are hilarious, sweet, smart, kind and many other adjectives that I can't really think of right now because it is the Friday of the first week of school....but anyway.

Most people screw up their faces at the thought of teaching teenagers. Now I am not going to sit here and say it's all sunshine and roses, cause I'd be lying BIG TIME, but there are moments that make everything else worthwhile.

I ask my students very often to think and reflect about their life, their education, and themselves as people. To start this year I off I asked my students one question-- What makes you unique?

I got the idea from a book I read this summer co-authored by Erin Gruwell who founded the Freedom Writers Foundation (remember the movie with Hilary Swank?) and other teacher from across North America who have been trained as Freedom Writer Teachers. A few of my friends from baseball happen to be some of those teachers, so we went to the book launch this summer and then I read their book; Teaching Hope.

The book is filled with 120 stories from teachers who have worked with kids of all ages and the ups and downs of teaching. It follows the course of a school year, from anticipation, to disillusionment, to obstacles, to triumphs. And a lot of the stories are sad, get a box of kleenex to read this one! There are some kids out there with terrible lives, it's difficult to feel guilty when I am living such a blessed life.

So back to why I love my job. I read the very first story in the book to my students about another middle school teacher who asked her students to write down what makes them unique. If they were no longer in the class what would be missing? And the story tells of a 13 year-old boy who feels that nothing about him is unique, his ashamed to identify his culture as he is the only Latino in the class. It's well written and very poignant.

I read the story aloud to my classes and asked them the same question- what makes you unique? If you weren't here in our classes what would we be missing?

The responses I got, while not grammatically perfect, are some of the best writing I could hope to get from my students....and it's only the first week! Here are some samples of what I am talking about. Judge for yourself. (i have not corrected any of their writing, you are seeing it just like I do!)

~ The things that makes me unique is I am a quiet person who want to learn. If you take my out of this class it would be like removing a part of your brain, which is a wanting to learn piece.


~ What makes me unique is that I have a very vast imagination. I like to write stories because I can think of very different ideas in my head. Once I do get an idea that I think is good I write it down. Then I just keep adding to my idea. I feel that eveytime I write words just flow into my head.


~ What I think makes me unique is my hair. When I was in grade 6 I always did pigtails. From grade 6 to grade 7 I have always tied my hair in pigtails. Now that I am in grade 8 I started to do 1 ponytail. But I will still do pigtails because I like it and most people knows me as "Pigtails". Another reason why pigtails make me unique is because I never did any other hairstyle besides pigtails and it is basically my trademark.


~ Being unique is like having a gift, it makes you special. I feel that I bring happiness into the class. For example, I can never be mean. I can't be rude to people. Also, I always like to smile. (She really is this sweet in real life too!)

~ I have always been a dreamer. I love to fantisize. Things that can never happen, I wish for it. Daydreaming, happens to me a lot. I have thought about many impossible events, that will make a big difference in the world. Reality is not the word for me. It is all about dreaming big and dreaming about the un-real world.


How can people NOT want to teach teenagers?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why does today seem longer than yesterday?

Day 2. Not really, Day 1 1/2 and this is the question I was asked by one of my Grade 8's.

"Well," I answered, "I guess that's because we are doing real work today."

He seemed satisfied with this answered. I am always amazed when students are surprised that they are being asked to do work while in school. I was actually asked yesterday, the first day of school, if we were going to spend anytime playing outside. I'm sorry didn't you just have 2 months of summer to play outside?

I have often wondered after I read an article about the "iPod Generation" (I'm sorry I have no idea where or when I read this article). The basic premise of this article was that teens/kids/students today have always been able to manipulate and change their environment to what they want it to be. They don't have to listen to an entire tape to get to the song they like, they can put any songs in any order they want on their iPod. Same with DVD's, they don't even need to watch the whole movie, they can watch just the scenes that interest them.

Is it any wonder then that a 6 hour school day where they have no choice in their activities or subjects does not interest them?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day = Exhaustation

I am beyond tired. Now I know that many people work for all 12 months of the year and that I only work for 10 and therefore shouldn't be complaining about being tired about working for one day after having an entire 2 months off....but that being said, "Man! I am tired!"

I had a great first day though. I am super excited about my class this year. I think I have a great mixture of kids and personalities...maybe too many personalities! But I would rather have that than a silent room where I am being stared at for the entire day. I have one gentleman who rather enjoys speaking out. It's not malicious or meant to be disruptive, he just really enjoys talking and discussing his ideas. Now you might be thinking that he wouldn't really work well with others, but during a group task today he took charge, assigned roles and made sure everything got done for his group. Then during their presentation he spoke very well and gave detailed examples for each of his answers. I am excited to get to know him better as a person this year and watch him grow as well.

I have quite a few of my students from last year when I taught Grade 7 that I brought along with me to Grade 8. They are just as sweet and prepared to learn as well. I don't remember ever being quite this excited to start a school year with my homeroom. It makes me quite happy because I loved my class last year..I mean LOVED! I would have taken all 24 of those kids with me forever, so knowing that this year's class might be comparable already has me smiling through my exhaustion.

That is not to say that I don't have any "challenges" in my room. I have a young friend who was in a class last year that had many students that struggled with learning (I am striving to be very politically correct here), and this year the administration chose to remove him from that class and reintroduce him to a regular classroom, namely my regular classroom. However, in this case I think peer pressure may be a fantastic thing because he was focused and involved all day, appearing to not want to stand out in the class as the one who "didn't get it". That being said...it was only 1 day! Who knows what the rest of the year will bring?

I am very excited looking forward to this year teaching Grade 8 and all the adventures it promises.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blog of Awesomeness- For Teacher

(First of all, I am borrowing the term "awesomeness) from my friend Brian who seems to have made it his word of choice this summer because there really is no other way to describe this blog!)  
It's Not All Flowers and Sausages  

http://itsnotallflowersandsausages.blogspot.com/  

I have discovered this amazing blog by a teacher who has no problem speaking her mind and voicing her opinions on the comings and goings in her school. It's nice to know that someone understands and seems to deal with similar problems and situations as I hear from colleagues all the time. Not to mention that she is pretty funny, I'm talking hilarious!!! The author of the blog just published a book as well that I have added to my "must read" list.  
Here are some short excerpts from her blog to help convince you to read it!  


"An Open Letter to Staples"- Thursday, August 20th 
Why must our relationship be so contentious? So fraught with emotion? Longing? Mistrust?  
Year after year, you taunt me during my time of rest with back-to-school commercials that seem to appear earlier and earlier each summer. Don't you know that these commercials, while humorous to many, only serve to remind me of the hundreds and hundreds of dollars soon to leave my wallet? I can't count the number of times I have been reclining on the couch with a fruity, cool, umbrella topped drink, happy to engage in utter mindlessness (read: Golden Girls and What Not To Wear reruns) when your commercial (read: cruel reminder) pop up on the screen and my state of zen is disrupted by visions of school drama to come.  
I feel like we keep trying to break up, but can't quite make it stick. 
Every time I think I'm through with you, you lure me back with promises of Big Savings for Teacher Appreciation Day. Come in now! Get your free tote! Filled with goodies! We appreciate what you do! Lies. All lies. Because I DO come in, I DO ask for the free tote and every time, EVERY SINGLE TIME you tell me I have the wrong date. Suddenly, I'm all dressed up with no place to go. Even my cries of, "I checked online and it said today was my day!" don't seem to phase you. With a cool, "that must be the date for another location" you dismiss me, toss me aside.  
I hate myself for it, but I keep coming back. Is it because I'm too lazy to find a replacement? Too used to your ways? Complacent? I don't know.  
There are just enough good times though, just enough for me to fool myself that you are the one for me. Like today. Convinced I had the date correct, I came back to you and as my eyes adjusted to your fluorescent lighting I saw it. Your gift to me. Your apology.  
A brightly colored mix-and-match assorted paper clip stand. Mix. And. Match.  
There were various sizes of containers to choose from which could be filled with big paper clips, small paper clips, animal shaped paper clips, colored paper clips, SHINY paper clips....whatever I wanted. Whatever. I. Wanted. (sigh) 

I love you Staples. I just can't seem to quit you. 
Love, Mrs. Mimi 

"Thanks A Lot Calvin Klein"- June 11th, 2009  
Today I went on a field trip with my friends. If you are a faithful reader, you are amazing. AND, you also know about my issues with field trips based on the ghosts of Horrific Field Trips Past that continue to haunt me. However, I am dedicated to my calling, and therefore, continue to subject myself to that yellow school bus, public bathroom emergencies and other potential disasters.  
On this gray, gloomy and God-why-isn't-the-year-over-yet day, nudity struck before we even got to the museum. Now, I had a run in with Field Trip Nudity last year, but for some reason, it keeps coming back to bite me on my (clothed) behind. We're rolling along on the bus when we get stuck in a bit of traffic. As I chat with a fellow colleague, an uproar spreads across the vinyl green seats, followed by intense laughing and cat calling.  
Little kids cat calling? (is something you might ask incredulously)  
Yes, little kids cat calling.  
At a Lady Ga Ga poster. In which she is essentially wearing only pasties and a frizzy hair-do. (I would find the image and upload it here, but am not going to for several reasons. 1) I don't know how to do that. 2) I think the image is permanently burned into my brain and I am trying to get it to go away and 3) I have a feeling that the regular readers of my blog aren't chomping at the bit to see her and her little tassels...am I right or am I left?)  
As the bus pulls away from the Boobs, I think we might be out of the woods. But no, there's more. I am alerted to a Calvin Klein ad which stretches the width of an entire building and depicts a young, very muscular man as he evidently begins to, um, pull his pants down? I mean, good for you Mr. Model, but really? There are small children here who definitely don't need to ponder what you have on under your Calvins.  
This is the point where I begin to desperately search through my Teacher Bag for some Advil, or my travel coffee mug, or a whistle to divert their attention.  
Thank goodness the field trip was fabulous. But on the way home, don't you know we took the same route and stopped outside the exact same images? Of course we did. I wouldn't have it any other way. And as I watched these images literally push all their recently acquired knowledge out of their little heads, I wondered what they will say when their parents ask about the highlight of the trip today...  
Although really...am I any better?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Girl's Only

I spent yesterday at the Big House, that is Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbour, MI enjoying the season opener for the Wolverines. They played against Western Michigan and the game, although a bit of a blow out was nothing short of exciting!


This is the view of the student section from our seats.


This was the first time in many years that I went to a Michigan game a) without my husband, and b) with just girls! Tailgating was a little more reserved for sure. Less BBQ'ing and more lounging. Less drinking all around, but that's just because we ran out of time really, not because we didn't have enough booze. (On a side note, I was carded at the convenience store while we were buying the booze! Pretty exciting for a 30 year-old. I do think everyone in the store thought I was a little crazy for being so excited, but that might have been because they were all 17 year-old freshmen praying NOT to get carded!) When we arrived at the stadium making it to our seats for kickoff was not a priority, however going to the all women's clothing store located inside the stadium was. A bathroom break is also a priority when the trip involves all girls. However, due to the fact that we only had 2 Victor's Club passes we could not go to the bathroom in Chrysler Arena in a group as girls are likely to do when out together.

The view down Hoover Street as we walked to the Big House for the start of the game.





The view behind us down Hoover Street as we walked to the stadium.


All in all the trip was great. Lots of boy-watching, a great game, and dinner at Gar's Bar on the way home! I am already looking forward to my second game of the season in October versus Penn State. That game will involve tailgating with 3 boys- so a lot more BBQ, beer, football and no boy-watching! But it'll still be a great time. And who knows how many games will be won by the Wolverines between now and then. If the season opener was any indication it's going to be a season to remember.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Contentment of the Mediocre- Warning!! This is a bit of a rant.

So I was back at work for 2 days this week before the students arrive next Tuesday for the start of the school year. This is due to the new Family Day Holiday in February and the lateness of Labour Day. At least that is what I have come to understand.

The two days at school were scheduled to be for "professional development"- no setting up rooms, or individual work, and we were told that the the superintendent would be coming around to do spot checks. Serious stuff. So I arrived at school on Wednesday prepared to sit through the mandatory meetings, which would not probably thrill me as other things in life do. However, as a grown-up and a professional I have learned that there are somethings in life that need to endured.

In actuality the meetings weren't too bad, a little dry in parts, a little redundant in others but on the whole important. As an epi-pen carrier I fully support that all school staff are trained in how to administer an epi-pen so that I may continue to live in the case of being stung by a bee. As an english teacher and a lover of reading I full support strategizing ways to help students increase their understanding of the written word, even if that is through the use of a standardized tests. (No matter what you think of them, they aren't going anywhere) Finally, as a teacher of students I have come to realize, and understand, that all students are not going to learn the same way, some may need a little more help in some areas. So in that case I am in full support of the special education teachers taking the time to teach us something that may helps us all in our own classrooms.

What I do not support is people coming and expecting that work is fun all the time. If it was always going to be fun, they would have called it fun not work. I do not support people who feel they already know everything there is to know about our profession, or really any profession. If you have learned it all already, then why the hell aren't you in charge? Oh right, that requires extra work on your part. G-d forbid we do anything other than the bare minimum when doing a job. I do not support so-called professionals talking, whispering and other wise behaving like children when a colleague is giving a presentation. You wouldn't allow the students to behave like that in your class, so why do you do it?

I also don't appreciate being made fun of because I take my job seriously. These children only have one chance at their education. No one gets to go back and repeat elementary school because their teacher sucked. So of course I take it seriously. These children are going to need to read and write EVERYDAY to be successful in the ever increasing literate world. People read and write more nowadays with the inclusion of computers and the Internet everywhere, so why would I want to learn all the newest and best strategies to help prepare them for that?

There are a lot of people out there who need to grow up, and the majority of them aren't the 13 year-olds that will be entering my class for the first time on Tuesday. If you aren't willing to keep on learning...don't take a job in education.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Best Time of the Year

For me, September is the new year. It's the time when anything is possible. For anyone that has ever been in school (so everyone) and those of us who remain there as an occupation knows this is true. It has a newness that January could never achieve. How can things be new when it's snowy, slushy, and cold? By I digress...

At this point in the school year everything is plans. I plan to do this. I plan to do that. Everything is in the future and everything is hopeful. It's a great feeling that is often duplicated. Today was the first day back at the school for all the staff, no kids, and it looked like a pretty boring day of meetings, goal planning, etc. In the end though it turned out pretty well. I got quite a lot accomplished and even set-up some partnerships to work with other teachers over the course of the year.

The best plan, however, came from blogging! My friend, Brian, who writes The Zoey Blog introduced me to an amazing spoken word artist, Mayda del Valle. I had actually been thinking about incorporating spoken word with my poetry unit this year, and by happy coincidence this came along at just the right time. My poetry unit involves my students choosing an issue that means something to their life (war, body image, crime, etc) and writes an anthology of original poems. This year I am going to have them perform their poems as well! Can't wait.

Everything is fresh and new. A new room. A new class. A new grade. I am very excited to see what this year brings.

If you are interested in Mayda de Valle's spoken poetry you can check out Brian's blog, or search on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Starting to feel concerned!

For some reason I am having a very difficult time concentrating and getting down to work to plan for next week. NEXT WEEK! Wow, I can't believe the students will be back at school next week. Where has the time gone.

I am wondering about why I am having such a hard time planning and creating lessons for the start of the year. Is it because I have done this 5 times before and it's old hat by now? Or is because for the first time in 5 years I am teaching a new grade and am not really sure what to expect since I have to start over from scratch? I am taking almost 1/3 of my Grade 7 students with me to Grade 8 on Tuesday so they will not be impressed if anything is a repeat. Not only will they not be impressed, they will be bored. And 24 bored 13 year-olds in a room is a recipe for disaster!

Well tomorrow and Thursday I am back in the school for two PA Days. Two long days of meetings and "development" and the Friday is off for an extra long weekend. Hopefully by then everything will have sunk in so that I am ready to go on Tuesday!

Last Words...

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe