Saturday, September 27, 2008


Wow, this is a fun, marginally useless website!! 
If you have time to kill, give this a shot. I pasted in the words from my blog, and this is what came up. The words that are written most often are bigger :-) 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where's Ashton Kutcher?

I'm really starting to wonder if I'm being Punk'd. For some reason, we have had nothing but disastrous things happen to the 6th grade at my school this year. I believe I've explained a number of previous events, including having to take on teaching all subjects a week ago (as opposed to 1 and half subjects previously) and having my room broken into and an entire lab worth of laptops stolen. This weekend, I found out that my room, along with others had been broken into again by others. Luckily (for me), this time there was minimal damage done to my room, and nothing taken (not that there was that much else left to take). Just as I was processing all of this, I found out I'd have to take on an extra 9 students, since my co-worker didn't have a sub today. 

In the midst of settling all these kids, I was called out to a meeting in which we found out 3 of our 6th grade teachers are being involuntarily transferred to elementary schools who are short teachers, since our numbers are so far down that we are currently overstaffed based on the number of students per class. The decision as to which teachers go is based on seniority, and so our 2 brand new teachers were forced to leave, unless anyone else volunteered to take other positions. I really felt like the right thing to do was to volunteer to take one of the elementary positions in order to support our brand new teachers who have just moved across the country. However...I like my job (at least when a thousand bad things aren't happening). I have no desire whatsoever to start over at a new grade level 4 weeks into the school year, and so I'm staying. I know no one can fault a person for wanting to keep their job, but I still feel awful for those teachers that are going to have their lives turned upside down (not to mention the students in their former classes who will be split among the remaining teachers, and the students in their new classes who will be taken from other teachers and reassigned). I know I did nothing wrong, but I still feel like the right thing to do would've been to help someone else avoid a terribly unfortunate situation... 

As I take on about 7 new students tomorrow that will come from these departing teachers, I have a chance to create a stronger classroom. I hope I will come out of this a better teacher. Wish me luck. Actually, scratch that. Wish me wisdom. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tornadoes and Menopause

I was in the middle of a science lesson this week on tornadoes. (Reminder: this is the first week I have ever, in my entire life, taught science.) My kids were fairly engaged and of course, asking all kinds of questions I can't answer, so we started a list. They were asking things like, "What happens if a tornado runs into a mountain?" and "Could a chicken survive a tornado?" and "What happens if a plane flies into a tornado?" I was wracking my brain for any bit of information I have about tornadoes, and can't answer any of the questions. In the midst of this, one kid pipes up and says, "What's menopause?"

I lost it. I totally cracked up. I have no idea where that question came from, but I was ecstatic that for once I had a decent answer. I said, "I'll tell you when we study the human body next semester." 

We'll see if he remembers.  I'm not sure if this makes me a good teacher or not, but it sure gave me a good laugh :-) 

Making Them Speak

If you read my last post, you know that I had two kids on the verge of tears after making them speak in the front of the class to everyone. One just flat out refused to go, and the other stood up there for 5-10 minutes before a meager one sentence left his mouth and he fled to his seat. Yesterday I found that those efforts at making them get over their stage fright were worth it. 

Their assignment for this week was to do a book talk (basically a verbal book review) for the class. They had a week to prepare (to plan and mentally prepare themselves :-)) and then everyone got up in front of the class and presented. The girl that had actually been crying last week, hemmed and hawed, and begged not to do it, but finally got up and did a very nice job. That was a victory in itself. The other student who had been terrified, but got a bit out last week also managed to survive another speech without passing out, and did a fine job as well. 

However, the real victory came later on during Social Studies. They had already shared their current events with two small groups, and I asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to share theirs in front of the class in the last few minutes. I looked around and I noticed one of several hands that had shot up instantaneously. It was my crier from last week! She was waving her hand furiously in the air so that she could get up and share. :-) Needless to say, I let her go first (and she did an excellent job of presenting). At that moment, I felt like a good teacher :-) 

Friday, September 5, 2008

Making Them Cry

Is being able to make kids cry a good or bad thing? It's generally not something I strive to do, but in this instance, I didn't feel too terribly bad. I made one kid from each group get up today and share a current event they had recorded. The point was not to share the current event, but to practice speaking in front of a group without giggling, shrieking, contorting one's body, facing backwards, having someone else read it for you, crack up, burst into tears, etc. The first kid flat out refused. When I could tell she was so petrified that she was just about to cry, I let up and said I'd come back to her. Just about that time, another kid says, "Hey, are you crying??" Not helpful. That comment actually did bring on the tears (technically not my fault). Then, after several other kids had gone, the next kid got up and couldn't get a single word to come out of his mouth. After quite a while, and lots of giggling, he managed to get out one sentence (as compared to the required three) while standing next to me, and then sprinting for his seat. He was the last one to go, and then I asked if there were any volunteers that wanted to share their current events. To encourage this, I said, "See look, no one actually died of embarrassment!" At which point, the last kid that had gone, said, "No, but I was scared--to--death!!" No actual tears, but still. Poor things. Would this make me a good or bad teacher? :-) 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Adaptation is the Name of the Game

They say that teachers need to be ready to adapt. The all-knowing "they" is not kidding. In my first 3 weeks of school, my teaching has been turned totally upside down. There are tons of reasons for this, most of which I will not go in to. (I know, dangling modifier...) However, these are the 2 biggest reasons. After 3 years (plus 3 weeks of this year) of teaching 2 subjects to 2 or 3 classes, we've now been informed that since our district is underperforming, we are no longer allowed to trade classes with another teacher. We are all required to be self-contained. As stated, I did not find this out until last Friday. So now, for the first time in my life, I get to do the one thing I wanted to avoid at all costs, which is teaching all the subjects at once. Given that I was never interested in this, it is pretty daunting to me to take it on in a week's time. 

The other major change was that this morning when I walked into my room, I discovered that the laptop lab that had been stored in my room was now empty of all 29 laptops. My room had been broken into, and they were all stolen. This may not seem like a big deal to my teaching, but it is to me. If no one else was using the laptops, (which was about 4 out of 5 days a week), I made a point to use them. Even if I hadn't planned on it, I found a way to incorporate them in to whatever we were doing. Now, without the laptops there to use multiple times a week, I'm almost at a loss for how to teach the kids. The textbooks all seem outdated, irrelevant, too difficult, and worst of all, boring. I guess the infamous THEY says "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." THEY sure better be right. I guess I'll know as I get settled into this new way of teaching...if I'm a good teacher yet. 

Why I'm Here

What you have just stumbled upon is my first attempt at a blog. It is based on a thought that I have had in my subconscious for the last four years of my life. "Am I a good teacher yet?" I am a 6th grade teacher (in my 4th year teaching), and I strive to be good at what I do. For that matter, I strive to be excellent at what I do. However, on many days, I'm not so sure I've hit the mark. I'm definitely making attempts, and I've definitely done some things right. However, I still know that I have a long way to go at getting good at this game we call teaching. Therefore, this blog will basically serve as my documentation of the adventures of teaching that present themselves before me, and the refining process they have on my teaching ability. There will definitely be humor, (since my students amaze me, crack me up, and boggle my mind on a daily basis), there will definitely be advocacy of technology (I'm in an educational technology master's program right now), and there will definitely be examples of my attempts at becoming a better teacher. I hope you'll join me on my journey!