Saturday, October 22, 2011

As The Desks Move


Or Turn. Whatever. It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegon, but not so quiet in Snarkyville. A week before report card day (RCD was last Friday), at the end of the day G went home a few minutes early because he was picked up. We had been outside playing soccer, and didn’t hear or understand the announcement looking for us. No matter. He was already packed to go home, as they all were, so he grabbed his backpack, said good-bye, and left. Got to school this past Monday, and when I went to do attendance, he was already marked absent with an E code (I’m guessing that’s for Excused). Same with Tuesday. The office said it was a family matter, and they’d explain it when he returned. I could guess what that was, and was partially right. His mother had been doing overnights at the jail, I’d found out about a month ago, for DWI. It was hard on the kids because she didn’t get out in the morning until they were at school. I’m not sure who they were staying with during that time. This was making it hard for her to work (and feed herself, because she was concentrating on feeding the kids), which is how the school found out I guess. We’re used to that, and they got her hooked up with a food source. She was working with some organization, though, that had an educational component, and she came and did something fun and sciency with the kids one day. Well, apparently she got another DUI during this time and her overnights were over. She became a full-time guest of the powers that be. This meant that the kids had to stay with a relative on the other side of town, and wouldn’t be coming back to our school. Not that we pick favorites, mind you, but if we did, he’d be at or near the top of the list. He’s the sweetest kid, always trying hard, and a total Harry Potter geek. My kind of kid. In the meantime, this past week I also found out that yesterday would be A’s last day. (I have about 7 As, by the way!) He was on the sweet-but-exhausting list. We got to say good-bye to him, though, which was nice. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was notified at lunch on yesterday that I’m getting a new student — from the ELD (English learners with some other letters in there) class. She is upset about coming, of course, but she did know one of the girls (because her twin is in that class), so she’s willing to sit in her group. She’s new to the school this year. It’s turning out to be a good thing that we have Circle Time (restorative circle) every Monday morning, because we’ll have closure and new student issues to deal with. We made A a going away sign, Y a welcome sign, and we wrote letters to G, which I included in a packet of stuff that I shipped over to his school (his notebooks, folders, report card, etc. I don’t imagine his grandmother can get all new stuff, since she doesn’t have a car.) So it’s been a tiring week, to say the least. In the midst of this, they keep trickling down all sorts of stress and last-minute stuff and unorganized stuff. I decided not to go for National Board Certification at this time. It came down to the concept that I can’t have my whole life revolve around my job. It already takes up enough of my free time, and I just don’t have any more to put into it at the moment. If the school hasn’t imploded by next year, I may rethink it. Or not. And that’s the news from Lake Woebegon. Or Snarkyville.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rigor


Yes, that’s the buzz word of the year. Rigor. The longer version is Cognitive Dissonance. All school work should be hard and uncomfortable. If they can do it without your help, if they can do it without you teaching the skill first, it’s too easy. More importantly: Rigor means that not a single child over Kindergarten may color at all, period, during the school day. If you want them to color, it has to be homework (where there are no crayons, let it be noted). Obviously, I’m not against children working hard. I’m also not against age-appropriate practices, and for first graders, coloring is an important skill. As they learn to stay within the lines, they learn to use crayons and thus are also learning to use pencils to write legibly. It’s a scaffolding of skills. It is also a Zen brain-dump time. That’s VERY important, especially for children…except at our school. Others are having Rigor dumped on them as well, but I don’t know how it’s manifesting itself. Did I mention that the district foolishly sent out a survey, asking our opinions? Well, rest assured that I shared mine. For example, one question asked how we could make our district better, or better able to reach its goals, or whatever. And so I set forth on my opinion — which a lot of others shared and expressed. How about the drastic notion of equal distribution of resources? Our school has been at the short end of the stick for all resources. Do they seriously believe that my students will be just as successful as those from resource-laden schools? And then they have the nerve to dump an incredible amount of money and resources into the school down the street — such as everyone having laptops. There are two computers in my classroom, and I had to fight for the second one. I only got it because my Promethean board was put in the wrong spot. The school year is 1/4 over, and we’re all exhausted. Morale keeps dropping. Our weekly PD is totally about the new math standards. The problem is that most of us won’t be using them until AT LEAST next year, and those using it this year are already taking a ton of workshops throughout the year on it. So of course, we’re not doing anything useful for this year. When they said at the end of this past week’s that we were doing this yet again (we’ve had 3 or 4 weeks of this, so far), I asked if they could put it at the end of the year. Otherwise, I’ll not only forget everything they said by next year, I’ll also have lost everything they’ve given me. Sigh.