I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

31 August 2011

Sartorial Kindergarten.

I am not really a fan of those "one month of outfits, ten pieces of clothing" challenges.  Why restrict one's abundance of garments?  The utilitarian creativity of such frugal attempts may be exciting, but I'd rather mix it up a bit more.

Hence I am challenging myself to no repeats in any four week period: easy from the perspective of total clothing owned, difficult because I tend to get attached to a piece for no good reason and want to wear it repeatedly until it bores me (at which point I shove it in the back of the closet and - hey presto! - within a couple of months it's exciting again).

So far: this is day thirteen, and I'm still on track.

28 August 2011

November is Coming.

The initiative text:

Shall San Francisco Unified School District repair and rehabilitate facilities to current accessibility, health, safety and instructional standards, replace worn-out plumbing, electrical and other major building systems, replace aging heating, ventilation and air handling systems, renovate outdated classrooms and training facilities, construct facilities to replace aging modular classrooms, by issuing bonds in an amount not to exceed $531 million, at legal interest rates, with guaranteed annual audits, citizens' oversight and no money for school administrators' salaries?

This is a clear YES vote for me.  I teach at one of the fifty schools that will be renovated if this passes - probably in the bunch that will be fixed first.  Some of the exciting things that I believe might happen:

  • new pipes featuring lead-free water
  • construction of an actual working ventilation and pipe system to the boys' restroom in my wing (as opposed to the current "hole in the wall" approach being used)
  • electrical upgrades that will enable all four teachers on my wing to use one electric fan each without shorting out the power (honestly, even if we had SMART boards and whatnot we wouldn't be able to use them on the electricity available)
  • heating that breaks down fewer than the current five or six times a year
  • construction of a non-plywood, non-rotting ramp to the portable classroom
and if we get really, really, really lucky
  • asbestos removal or better encapsulation so that I can hang things on the walls
Also on the ballot is Proposition H, a non-binding screed about neighborhood schools.  I suppose this sounds really great.  Of course, even in a strict neighborhood school system, you can't create capacity out of nothing.  And then there's the issue of, you know, equity.  Then there's the kind of problematic association with Paid GOP Spokesperson Michelle Rhee and her exciting organization Students First.  UESF ran a good article on this - as soon as they update the links to the latest issue of the Educator, I will link to it.

26 August 2011

Chicken Impossible, Year Two.

I field questions related to the chicks - where are they, will there be more, when exactly are those more coming, etc. - everyday.  Unfortunately, many of these questions are asked by small children, for whom time concepts are not entirely concrete as yet.  March is far away.

By the time I do get eggs and set up the incubator, I have to wonder if chicken fatigue will have set in...but I doubt it.

I got funding for the Chicken Impossible: Anti-Slug Action Force project, which means I will need to come up with some graphical representation of when, exactly, we will need to set up the hutch and the pen and the brooder.  It also means I have committed to chicken stewardship at my home over the summer, which should be an adventure.

In other news, after reading this, I have decided that in the future I will be referring to Michelle Rhee as a "paid Republican Party spokesperson".

Two kids from my class got waitpool requests; we were reputed to have a waitlist (since EPC was erroneously listing us as full) which means we may receive a bunch of new students over the next couple of days.  We'll see.  Enrollment is up but the Ks are still smallish this year.  I am hoping we can maintain that since this is a year with a heavy majority of students who didn't attend preschool and a lot of four year olds.  That doesn't preclude Kindergarten success, but it does require different strategies and a lot of differentiation.  All of that is easier with smaller classes - even twenty two children makes for a big class when the target is fluent reading and Common Core standards math mastery.

24 August 2011

Crossing fingers, legs and toes

Eeeeewwww, insomnia attack.  This will be my first badly underslept day this year.  The timing is not ideal.  It requires controlling the effects of little sleep - grumpiness, sensitivity to noise, crankiness, mild forgetfulness - with students still new to Kindergarten.  (It's the same with being sick at the beginning of the year).

Plus side, I'm introducing the BOOK BOX today, which should remind me to be positive, and the kids have drama for the first time with our most excellent drama teacher.

23 August 2011

In These Times of Counts and School Shifts

...a friendly reminder that, in the event EPC calls, do be so good as to inform your child's current school that you won't be returning.  This is just simple politeness.  EPC does not call the school to inform them, and - speaking from years of SFUSD experience - it may take quite awhile for your child to actually be dropped from our enrollment.

Additionally, if you choose to decline your new spot, please do your best to make this clear to EPC.  Otherwise, they call my school, bluster their way into being transferred to my room, and holler at me over the phone during class time.  I'm still not sure how the person hollering figured it, but the opening line was "You can't tell us where the child is going to school.  OR the family."  Eventually I was able to cut in and inquire what, precisely, they would like me to do given that the child was presently in my classroom, eagerly awaiting my return from phone screaming.  Once that point got across, the person hung up abruptly.  I'm still not sure what the point of all that was, but I fear it being repeated.

One of last year's Kindergartners asked me today why the current Kindergartners are so little, because when her class was in Kindergarten, they were WAY BIGGER.  It is for the best that the current Ksters did not hear this, because they may have needed to defend their honor.  This class is like that.

Today it was very warm, and by the end of some quite rigorous groups we had eighteen kids who were hot, tired and doing eighteen different things.  This was a little overwhelming for the new Resident, even though they settled down in two minutes.  One of the nice things about experience is that this kind of thing happens, and you know it.  You have ways to get them back on program and you don't internalize the chaos.  Besides, we gave them rather meaty work today and despite the breakdown after doing it, it got done and done quite well.  Hopefully she believed me that these things happen and it gets better.

21 August 2011

One Week Down.

Saturday I was exhausted and somewhat sick and spent the entire day on the couch rereading Elizabeth George novels.  That's the result of a first week, I think.  The work is particularly physically demanding, and emotionally you have to be on the top of your game the entire time.  Anyway, overall I think I did pretty well establishing the class community and getting started:

  1. I have a hard time with files because there's just so many of them.  Every single master goes into its own file, creating giant piles of files (I have a file cabinet, but one drawer is permanently jammed and the other is full of puzzles.).  This year, I have decided to make a file for each week and put every master I use that week in it.  Since I use the same things around the same time each year, this should - if I maintain it - make it easy to find things in the future.
  2. Our formal Caring School Communities meeting was lacking, but the general ideas of it (looking at the speaker, one speaker at a time) were introduced.  I'll do this meeting again next week.
  3. Reading Workshop is going pretty well; the kids are really into it and they have a lot more interest in the class library than in years past (the loft helps there, too).
  4. I spent half an hour after school every day just cleaning up and organizing.  If I can keep this up, things will go well.  I also spent one lunch break copying - a task immeasurably helped by having spent the afternoon before organizing things to copy.
  5. I didn't introduce a formal classroom management system until Friday, and I won't begin using it until Tuesday probably.  That's the longest I've gone without.  As yet, the class is fairly manageable, and I'm also letting the little things go.  Having a resident helps, since she or I can take on a meltdown while the other deals with the rest of the class.
This week, I really want to get all the Brigances done and start demanding lowered volume.  I have a couple of kids who are just loud - not grumpily loud or not getting my work done loud, just totally unaware of their volume.  I also need to order animals for the year (other than Silkie eggs) and call the local library to schedule a field trip.

Teacher Esoterica: More Stuff to Buy in Bulk...or just buy.

  1. Squirt Bottles.  The applications are endless: misting students with cool water on hot days, getting cool painting effects, demonstrating how rainbows appear, quickly creating a humid environment in the snail tank or greenhouse.  It's worth it to have a lot of these, each labeled with its intended use (or at least some of them labeled "water only").
  2. White Address Labels.  A quick source for important information ("I have a permission slip!" stickers, for instance), name tags, file organization and similar.
  3. Shaving Cream.  Practice writing while cleaning all the glue off the table!
  4. Bubble Wrap.  Sensory pleasure for all ages!
  5. Air popper and popcorn.  For about twenty dollars, you can provide cheap, healthy snacks that just about every kid will eat.  Freshly popped popcorn needs neither salt nor butter, and buying kernels is far cheaper than microwave packages.  One cup of kernels makes two big bowls of popcorn - enough to feed a whole class generously.  This can also provide an extremely cost-effective fundraiser.

18 August 2011

Day Four

Okay, we got through Wacky Wednesday.  So far this class has not been untowardly; indeed, their management issues have been straightforward and they're generally disposed to enjoy themselves.  It helps a lot that it hasn't been very warm, so while they get tired they're not exhausted and uncomfortable all at once.  I am hoping to finish off the week on a good note these last two days, but at the same time waiting for the boom to drop.  I've been cutting activities shorter than I generally do so that things finish before the kids do.  It helps.

The lunch issues are still not worked out, and it's infuriating.

15 August 2011

Guess What's Missing!

I teach at an early start school and the Kindergartners go to lunch at 10:30 am.

Lunches arrived shortly before one, ready for their fifteen minutes in the oven.

Even if we had petty cash on hand that could cover, say, an all school deli run, we kept hearing that lunches would be on site by 10:45.  Well, 11:00.  In maybe half an hour.  They aren't there yet?  Certainly before noon.  And so on.  Once it gets past 11:00, it's really too late to do anything but wait.

The kids who expected to eat school lunch got cold cereal with milk and a sampling of granola bars from my extra snack stash.  I also gave them an all-fruit popsicle towards the end of the day.  It was a rotten situation and the kids were great about it, I have to say.

I can't get over this!  I mean, mistakes do happen.  Lunch has been late before.  But this kind of thing - on the first day of school! - is inexcusable.  What kind of message does this send to parents?  I should NEVER be in a position where I have to explain that your child may be famished because SFUSD left us unable to feed your child.

Otherwise, it was an easy first day.  (I'd rather they eat lunch a little later - the two and a half hours after lunch get pretty long for Kindergartners - so in some ways a late lunch wouldn't have been bad.)  This was the first time I never felt that I had no idea what I would do next on the first day of school.  Almost all of the kids on my roster showed up but one of the Ks is very small.  No one got lost and there were only a couple of criers, both of whom settled quickly.  This class is overall very confident, so the usual management issues (frightened of school, too shy to ask for the bathroom) will probably apply less.

I know that most teachers start pretty strict and get looser; I tend to go the other way.  I just don't think they can manage every routine and protocol I'm planning to hold them to on the first day of school.  Tomorrow I think I'll be enforcing sit-on-one-picture on the rug (they love each other and want to be close) and walking in a line (I don't deal with cutting, but today we had some clumping problems).   They should also get imagination stations tomorrow, which they will enjoy.

They also seemed to largely enjoy themselves; this was the first year where a lot of kids apropos of nothing informed me that they like Kindergarten and our class and all that stuff - near the end of the day.  Usually by the end of the day the kids who wanted to tell me they like our class did so earlier and are tired and the kids who aren't sure yet are cranky.  Hopefully they will still like me and the class tomorrow afternoon, too.

14 August 2011

Coloring and High School Math

I saw this story about Michele Bachmann's public school fears and rolled my eyes until I got to the "legitimate" worries Rep. Bachmann experienced when her high school-age foster children had coloring homework in mathematics.

Then I got a little suspicious.  Whether or not the concern is "legitimate", has anyone ever fact-checked this claim?  It's so easy for reporters to believe whatever they're told about the Lazy Union Parasites at our public schools.

As it ends up, a slightly-filled out version shows up in New Yorker profile.  Now the coloring was "involved" in a math assignment, which is slightly less derogatory: the implication is that it was a portion of the work rather than the sum total of the assignment ("Color this picture of Euclid").

And honestly?  An interesting math project might just involve a little coloring.  Here is a project on color for 6th to 9th grade mathematics.  It covers frequency and wavelength.  Or you can explore the perception of color.  And according to this project, written by a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, "Color is a profound mathematical topic with multi-million-dollar industrial applications."

Anyway, I'm not sure I believe Bachmann at all: I mean, she also believes that I am training tomorrow's Communists for a totalitarian government work system.  But even if I accept her claim that there was some coloring involved in high school math, she hasn't said anything profound about the Shocking Low Standards of America's Public Schools.  And it's a shame that the dread spectre of Crayola, coupled with knee-jerk education reformist impulses in reporters, gets a free pass.

No Stress Free Path

I'm debating whether or not to go into school for a little bit today.  I spent five hours there Saturday, completing the following tasks:
  • accepted a delivery of popcorn kernels, yogurt, all-fruit popsicles, healthy granola bars and bottled water for my class snacks this week
  • whacked my head on the freezer hard enough to raise a big ugly bruise at my hairline
  • filled out, had signed and faxed four bus requests to the Transportation Office (a trip to the Farmers' Market for each K and 1st and a trip to the California Academy of Sciences for my class and another Kindergarten)
  • Received a final roster.  I'm back up to 22 students, but a child who toured my room and had his picture taken with me last week was switched yet again into another class.  Someone or some program at the District office is constantly fiddling with class lists over the last week before school starts, and it's really irritating.  Anyway, I'll be starting with 23 on my roster.
  • Made copies and filed everything.
  • Set up baskets, etc. for Reading Workshop.
  • Collected and stored some of my classroom workbooks.
  • Ordered this, a couple of these* and some hand sanitizer
  • Wrote out lesson plans for the week
  • Did some final cleaning
  • Got first day intake materials together.  On the first day of school, I have a worksheet so that I have a single, in-room class list that provides the following for each child: 
    • a telephone number guaranteed to be answered that day at all times,
    • any allergies
    • what the child will be doing after school, with a back-up plan if the child is planning to attend the afterschool program but has not been officially registered (there will be a full waitlist), the exact bus stop at which the child disembarks and the name of the adult who is picking up the child there, or the name of the adult picking the child up at school.
  • In addition to getting the list filled out, I pass out my class letter, a general field trip form for all walking field trips (for those occasions when a child forgets an event-based walking trip form) and put a name necklace on each child.  This is hectic.
  • Made sure I had gone over my rising first graders with each first grade teacher
  • Failed to fix the dollhouse and refusing-to-open file cabinet
  • Confirmed that my incubator still works (yay!)
  • Missed not one, but two buses
If I went over today, I would drop off some Sharpie markers, a chart tablet and these.  Then I would just walk around my room a little, make sure I had plenty of sometimes and anytime snacks pictures for our collage and write a list of sparklers.  No matter how many years I do this, there will be at least one brief moment every day the first week wherein a significant minority of the class is exhausted, hungry and hot and I suddenly forget everything I know about teaching.  I do not think a list will keep this from happening, but it might inure me against feeling a total failure when it does.

The biggest thing I've learned about Kindergarten is that the first couple of weeks are the hardest part of the year.  I feel especially horrible about the kids being tired and cranky toward the end of the day because it is the beginning of the year: they don't know about all the cool and awesome fun we will have as the year goes on.  Moreover, since this is the first week, my Resident will be leaving an hour before the end of the school day, so the most difficult portion of the day during the most difficult portion of the year will be just me.  

I have a giant fan now, courtesy Donors Choose, and I think that will help a great deal.  I also filled four spray bottles for misting, and scheduled PE (indoor and outdoor), cooperative and imaginative play for the last hour.  Historically, I have avoided outdoor PE the first week due to the hassle of collecting backpacks, placing them on the lower yard bench without anyone fleeing for the Kindergarten yard, etc. This year, I'm going to have the Resident help me get them to the yard before she leaves.  The first day will be either parachute or ribbon wands, depending on child fatigue (the parachute is a lot of work, physically).  So I'm crossing my fingers against the likelihood of someone deciding to test the teacher's boundaries by bolting for the lower yard play structure.  My goal this year is to go with the flow: five year olds are five, and that's going to mean some tired, cranky kids.  Getting tired and cranky because they won't do what I had planned does no one any good.  Still, I don't intend to flow to lower yard play structure use on the first day.

Typing this up has made me feel less stressed out: the benefits of navel-gazing on one's internal psychodrama are real!  Maybe I won't go in.  That would be ideal, honestly: I'd like to go to the gym before I go to Outside Lands.

My only other major worry is around eating.  Having ended my medication holiday, I am readjusting to Adderall, which was originally developed and marketed as a weight-loss drug.  For me, the drug improves my focus enough that I don't so much forget to eat as

a. I decide to eat whenever I finish, but since there's always something else to do I don't ever finish.
b. I have adequate focus that I do not get distracted and decide that I need a snack.

And then when I do eat I am not very hungry.  This side effect doesn't last that long, but what with the endless tasks of the first week of school, I didn't eat very much.  I didn't notice any major low blood sugar side effects, but when managing twenty three brand new Kindergartners, you want all systems at go.**  So I think I'm going to pack small but powerful lunches (packing a lunch being one of the skills Adderall helps me master).  I'm also going to stay at the very small dose level at which I restarted.

*I have everything I need to make kaleidoscopes except caps.  My theory is that making these easier ones will enable me to make caps and use my materials next year. Making a good kaleidoscope is a little complicated, and since this will be an early in the year project, I really want it to work well.
**I have efficiently managed Kindergartens without medication; however, currently I feel that my life in general - including all portions that do not take place on school grounds - benefit from a combination of ADHD management strategies including medication.  Besides, other than the eating, the improved focus, decreased fidgeting and lowered stress levels really make for a happier me.

12 August 2011

The Low Hum of Heads Exploding

For my own sanity, every time I get a new iteration of my class list, I make new name badges, name writing sheets and name project pages for that student.  I do this because it's the kind of thing that keeps me up at night, even though it is not difficult or time-consuming to wait and write a name.

This is why I know I have had as many as 25 students on my roster.  In total, I've had thirty different children enrolled in my class at various points.  When I left school today, I had a final (ha!) roster of 19 students.  Two are siblings of students I had in the past, three came by to say hello and three are new to the country within the last four months.  Pretty cool.

Tomorrow when I go in, I will pull all the sheets and projects for students who have disappeared from the roll and put them in a folder just in case.  I also will make sure I have a few blank everythings for students who come in the first few days.

And I will resign myself to some of my students leaving when they get a placement offer at a different school.  This bums me out even though I understand it; our school is not convenient for everyone.  And some people want programs (immersion, etc.) that we don't offer.  And some people have concerns about our school that strike me as unstudied, unjustified and questionable in motivation.

Whatever the case, it always feels like a personal rejection, you know?

Tomorrow, I've also got copies to make, a shelf to organize and will be expecting a delivery of snacks and water that I've ordered for the first week for my class.  The room's ready to go and my Resident graciously took home some laminated stuff to cut.  I'm also planning to meet with one of the first grade teachers and give her a quick overview of her students who were in my class last year.  And then it's just Monday.

Perhaps ambitiously, we are cooking a healthy snack on the first day of school.  Well, we are mixing yogurt, (healthy) granola, frozen blueberries and ten mini chocolate chips in a cup and calling it cooking.  Should be fun, though.  Since I am planning to be dressed extremely well, if not in a fashion generally seen in Kindergarten, I have already made sure a large apron is ready and waiting for me.  Now I must only remember to put it on.  And if the worst thing that happens this year is that I get some yogurt on the McQueen, then I'm a very lucky person.

09 August 2011

Death Match!

IN THIS CORNER, me.  On a scanty three hours of sleep after an attack of ADHD brain, wearing a disappointingly plain outfit and equipped with an ipod.

IN ALL OTHER CORNERS, my classroom.  Left in the disaster state I thought appropriate Saturday.

I'm staying until it's done and hoping to stroll out of school by 8pm.

I ended my Adderall holiday today by taking half of my old morning dose.  That should partially hone dulled brain.  Since ADHD was responsible for dulling it in the first place, I think it's a fair trade.

I have relatively good coping strategies for getting by with a lack of executive functioning.  I also am of the school of thought that believes there are positives to ADHD: it can make you quick on your feet, willing to try new things and intensely creative.  I think I'm more accepting of learning needs in the classroom, too, because I know there are environments in which I cannot be successful.  That said, I really love Hyperbole and a Half and somewhat identify with this.

In other news, here is the dress that the USPS finally saw fit to deliver.  Providing that weather reports hold, I'll be pairing it a turtleneck shell as a first week of school ensemble.  I also have a kicky Byron Lars suit and a Fendi sundress for first week looks.  Today, however, it's going to be a scruffy day.  I may even wear pants.

In further other news, I have a Resident again this year - hooray!  I also have a document outlining my responsibilities and the program's early goals to read.  I am looking forward to perusing it since it should help me be a better mentor for my Resident.

ETA, 7:05 PM: Barring about an hour's worth of scrap-collecting, I'm done.  The new set up rocks my socks, too.

08 August 2011


I really hate the "teachers need to be held accountable" argument.

To what, exactly, are you planning to hold me accountable?

You see, I go to work every day and spend at least eight hours in close contact with children.

Do you really think so little of teachers that, despite that close contact and all the empathy it requires, we don't hold ourselves accountable to those children and their families?

Are you really willing to say that I don't care and refuse to take responsibility for the children in my class whose needs keep me up at night?  Who make me laugh and laugh and laugh?  Who have heart palpitations over the awesomeness of snails?  Who memorize the Hog-Eye spell* and pore over Zeralda's ogre's herald (baby crying, crossed by fork and knife) just like I did when I was a kid?  On whom I will spend in excess of a thousand dollars this year because you won't?

Because if you really believe that - if you really believe that teachers don't care about what their students learn - there's no argument to have.

Anyone who really and truly believes that really and truly believes that teachers are some evil ogre organization, unionized to destroy children.

There's no debating with someone who refuses your essential humanity, and if you think I don't care about my students' progress, you refuse mine.

In the end, every teacher I know holds him or herself to higher standards than John Arnold, Lloyd Blankfein, John Paulson or the capitalist of your choice.  And no matter how bad you think the schools are (and you're wrong on that anyway), teachers have done far less to harm children than any derivative or collateralized debt obligation has.

*Hog-Eye, Hog-Eye, magic stare/Make him itchy everywhere/on his nose and in his hair/even in his underwear!  Fetch me a Goldman managing director and we'll see if it works!

Why Kids Want to be Kindergarten Teachers

About 20% of my students decide they want to be Kindergarten teachers when it comes time to decorate their promograduation sashes.  Scientific study suggests the following reasoning:
  1. Kindergarten teachers have all the cool toys.
  2. They can play with their cool toys after the kids go home.
  3. And then, they can use the paint and the fuse beads.
  4. Also, Kindergarten teachers have the best books.
  5. They can read whichever ones they want to the kids.
  6. 'Kindergarten' is a very long word, and that means you get to use more glitter paint on your sash.
  7. The teacher gets to be the boss.
  8. The teacher can play on the recess equipment, too.
  9. Only the teacher gets to turn on the oven, choose the snack, blow the whistle and decide if it's going to be a crafternoon.
  10. Kindergarten students are really smart, so teaching them stuff is super easy.

07 August 2011

Saturday at School.

I didn't get the furniture sorted.  I did get some counters cleared off and I put up light filters on some of the windows.  That was a bit of a production number.  After that, being finally in possession of my potential First Day of School Dress, I had to triumphantly show it off around the school.  That led to joining a caravan to the Children's Book Project, and that was that.

I really really really want to be done Tuesday, so that will probably be my stay very very late day.

06 August 2011

Charles Blow of the New York Times breaks down how children are doing in the United States.

The anti-intellectual, offensive and illogical "Blame the Schools First" Movement is carrying a lot of water for the "small (except for subsidies my funders support) government" crowd.  But it's getting very difficult to argue that they're in this "for the children" when they seem to care very little for the actual lives of those children.

Unless Michelle Rhee actually believes that I evict families with young children and steal food stamps from five year olds, I think she's ignoring reality.

Oh Boy, Saturday at School.

I'm leaving at noon.  Or at least by 1.  Definitely.  Absolutely.

Today I want to get the furniture sorted so that I have a cohesive structure for movement built into the classroom design.  This may involve stealing back the Very Dirty Rug and convincing a loved one to drive up to Amador County to borrow a Kirby, but whatever.

I have a tendency when on Adderall Holiday to leave jobs half-finished when I think of something else to do, and that means there are a lot of piles of books, manipulatives, etc. sitting around the classroom.  I need to get these put away.

There are also some crates I want to move, and I'd like to re-organize some shelves.  That should probably wait until next week, when I come off holiday.  I also need to kit out the tables.

The training that we just finished has left me feeling particularly stressed-out and underresourced.  It's very hard for me, after all these years, to get excited about trying new things that depend on materials I don't have and can't afford.  The thrill of MacGuyvering wears off, you know?  Rather than weaving my own baskets out of shredded plastic bags, I'd like to hang out with my family on the weekend.  Or clean my own house.  Etc.  Hopefully what with the release of the Scenario A budgets, we'll get some of the materials purchased (and a Behavior Coach).

03 August 2011

Things About Which Worrying Is Unnecessary

1. Kindergarten Enrollment at my school: We've got 71 kids booked for three classes.  Presumably some of those kids will disappear as the never-ending drama of the enrollment cycle (talk about Wagnerian) sorts itself out, but that gives us three full classes for sure.

...and that's all I have right now.  I was sick today, so I spent my day at home feeling bad and stressing out. I need to take a mindfulness class, seriously.

Where Are These Eager Replacements?

Gary Rubinstein, a far bigger person than I am, has been writing a series of posts that are a "debate" (by email) with Whitney Tilson.

Having ADHD, I lack the patience and impulse control to deal with such people.  I don't approve of Mr. Tilson's profession, which I believe is morally suspect and bad for public schools.  And I definitely don't like his attitude, his inability to take data seriously, or his utter lack of reflection.

This, though, BEGS a challenge:

My bottom line: deliver results in the classroom for kids, or go find another profession. There is no shortage of college-educated adults who would be grateful for that job, especially in this economy! 

Mr. Tilson.

Get over yourself.

I personally teach at what is, for the third year in a row, an offically-designated "Hard to Staff School".  That's right.  There's something about my school such that people - college-educated adults who are "delivering results in the classroom for kids"* - leave.  Indeed, they leave without the prospect of future job.  They leave even though they're not beholden to a now-ended two year commitment.

I suppose it could be the terrible, child-hating veterans like myself scaring away these eager young educators.  But ancedata suggest otherwise: my Resident Teacher just signed on, so I didn't drive her away.  She'll be joining my long-time classroom volunteer, who moved back to the Bay Area to take a job at our school.

I suspect that it's the annual pink slip, the lack of supply money, the ongoing march of ten-hour days and weekends at school, the endless need to write another grant, attend another IEP or make another home visit, the relentless drain of media and education reformers denigrating your work, and secondary trauma visited by hands-on work with seriously traumatized children, families and communities.

Or it could be the worker's compensation-covered allergic reaction from mold, asthma aggravated by vermin infestations, and the prospect of yet another 15% pay cut if state revenues don't meet projections.

Whatever the case, Mr. Tilson, there aren't a whole lot of eager-beaver unemployed persons - even unemployed teachers - lining up to take the jobs at my school.  The District even chucks a little extra money at us as an enticement to take the job and stay.  It doesn't seem to have had a big impact, since we haven't cleared that list of hard-to-staff schools.

But there sure is a shortage of adults clamoring for my job.  And you're certainly unwilling to take it, no?

*As opposed to delivering results in the classroom for America's DVD producers or something.  I think that at Ed Reform School, they teach you to tack a "for the children" sentiment to every sentence you piously pronounce.

01 August 2011

On the Subject of Teacher Laziness

Over half the staff of my school spent their Saturday at school, for which they were uncompensated.  Among the chores completed: moving classrooms, cleaning classrooms, hauling in supplies purchased with one's own money over one's vacation.

I will be seeing well over half the staff in a couple of hours, since we're all attending a week of uncompensated training, for which several members of our school staff (and another school's) put in hours and hours of grant writing to afford.  Thanks to their efforts, we don't have to pay.

I recognize that Joel Klein's proprietary and totally secret study of New York public school teachers found he was the only person in the district who cared about children, but since I can't see that study or its design to understand how he got those conclusions, I have to go with what I see.  It contradicts his claims, to say the least.

...The training this week should be extra-exciting since I still haven't ended my summer ADHD drug holiday.  That may not last too long, since we'll be starting every morning with a presentation/lecture.  As aids, I've packed my special archival glitter pens (for your most fabulous archival needs, I suppose), but only those.  (I have a box of pens containing several hundred metallic, puffy, glittery, UV-sensitive or otherwise awesome pens, helpfully labeled 'Ridiculous Quantity of Pens'.)  That should provide distraction without enabling me to entirely tune out while I create a masterpiece.  Also, I'm going to wear soft-soled shoes to protect against noisy tapping, and we're supposed to bring two books, so I can read under the table.  I forgot to grab my quilling papers, though.  Oops.