I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

28 November 2011

Unit Blocks for All!

Sadly, this article highlights their use at private and charter schools.  It suggests that blocks are the province of the public school, but that may only be true in New York and similarly funded states: here in California, if you don't have unit blocks in your classroom, there sure isn't room in your budget to buy them.

I have about a third of what the article says would outfit a classroom ($1,000 of blocks).  The kids do get an incredible amount of collaborative concept development out of the blocks, including thinking about properties of physics, engineering and social studies (what buildings does a community need?, etc.).  Sadly, what I don't really have are the arches and curves that the photo shows.  I tried to get them off Donors Choose this year, but that project expired.  Maybe I'll try again when I have an open slot.

27 November 2011

My Holiday Cards

Drawn to my image request by a previous Kster, now in 4th.
Inked by to K alums, now in 3rd.

It will be the best holiday card ever.

25 November 2011

Christmas List

Santa My Dear,

You would not believe how good I've been this year.  Seriously.  Please consider providing the following:

  1. Classroom computers the kids can use and on which I can do report cards;
  2. Fulfillment of all my current Donors Choose projects;
  3. Quick diagnosis of current health problem with no more steroids after this month;
  4. Eternal health and excellence for my pets;
  5. Magical complete funding of California state education budget, with full restoration of current furlough days;
  6. No layoffs this year;
  7. In size 38:


E. Rat

P.S. The diabetic cat will eat any cookies put out for visitors.  Perhaps a delicious glass of water and some carrot sticks?

    22 November 2011

    At Last, the Vacation!

    Here's to hoping the room is not too destroyed, the kids not too wound up, and the day smooth.

    21 November 2011

    if they could be crossed...

    I am out today because I need to see the rheumatologist and it cannot wait until after the holidays.  Because of the short notice - it's something of an emergency - the kids are not really sub-ready and the guest teacher, while not the luck of the draw, is not my first choice for absences.

    Still, no matter how badly it goes, I will be back tomorrow (early to clean up, even).  Hopefully I will be back to full shoe-tying, belt-fastening, writing-on-the-white-board, pencil-sharpening skills, too.

    19 November 2011

    Timing is Everything.

    Another teacher at my school and I nominated ourselves as PE Champions, and we won.  The prize is to be interviewed and videotaped, but we should get gift certificates for nominating ourselves and that's pretty neat.

    I had a lot going on this week and kind of forgot to tell the kids until we were in plank position during morning exercises, which caused them to get excited and fall down.  Oops.
    In a decision I should've remembered to follow through upon ages ago, I am removing all links to the K Files blog.  However amusing I originally found it, the unregulated racism, misogyny, hate speech and conspiracy theory are revolting.  I suppose there is some value in recognizing how prevalent these values are in San Francisco, but since I knew that already the educational value is nil.

    Also, to comment on conspiracy theories not involving nefarious San Francisco politicians who are all secretly communists who also love big business, I do now understand why a couple of dedicated trolls can destroy any chance of conversation.  The level of discussion on that blog was never that high, but it did tend to be varied and have many participants.  Now there seem to be many participants arguing facets of one point, all of whom use very similar syntax, vocabulary and rhetorical devices.  These participants make conversation impossible, since they drown out all other voices and restrict the discourse to issues they find interesting.

    18 November 2011

    Dear SFUSD,

    When you use timelines as a cost-savings measure, you harm children.

    This is not good for your employees' morale.


    E. Rat.

    PS: I have impulse-control issues, so the next district bigwig to pontificate about timelines and inclusion and equity in my hearing is getting glitter-bombed.  I buy the stuff by the pound.  You'll be finding flakes of it for years to come.  FEAR ME.

    17 November 2011

    Prop. H Lost.

    However, the fact that it lost is unimportant because it was really, really close.

    ...why do I sense that the reverse would not be true?

    In other news, I really really really really really hate EPC.  They have left me too tired to use exciting words.

    14 November 2011

    Whine, Whine, Whine.

    This has been the longest lull on Donors Choose I've had in years.  I'm not alone, either: I think that donations have slowed quite a bit this year.  Certainly teachers at my school are not having the 100% success and endless runs of exciting boxes we have enjoyed over the last couple of years.

    I'm still hoping for great things with Mustaches 4 Kids active right now and holiday charitable giving coming up, but since school has started I've only had one project funded...and I've watched three expire.

    Presently I have five active projects, of which three have match offers.  I am hoping that at least one of these will get funded.  One of the five is a "Hey, I Have the Points...Why Not Shoot for the Moon?" project that rings in at over $4,000.  But the rest are standard items that my kids could really use and I can't get any other way - a listening center, summer materials, and so on.

    Although I believe in public financing for public schools, I also believe in getting my students what they need.  Public financing isn't getting my classroom much more than pencils; Donors Choose has afforded tens of thousands of dollars in supplies and materials for my classroom over the last seven years.  (Yeah, literally.)

    If you are able to do so financially, do take a look at their website and support our public schools today.

    This is How "Counseling Out" Works.

    This article puts off mentioning a key point until the end: after a meeting, there was "mutual agree[ment]" that the child attend a closer, non-charter school.

    Not mentioned: homeless children are harder to educate.  Their lives are in flux.  They are likely to be underslept and badly nourished.  Their families are under stress.  It's unlikely that they have a clean, quiet place for homework.  It's not just the tardies and the absences: Ascend is saving itself some cash in resources by having this child go elsewhere.

    It's unclear to me how New York City schools, what with their ready millions for consultants and educational technology, were not able to come up with school bus service.  Providing Metrocards to subsidize a one hundred and fifty minute commute seems like a violation of the spirit if not the letter of McKinney-Vento.

    Of course, it could be worse.  I read last year that districts tend not to offer families services for which they are eligible under McKinney-Vento since they are expensive and underfunded.

    08 November 2011

    YES on A, NO on H.

    That's all.

    ETA: YAY, less peeling paint and maybe lead-free pipes in my future.  As far as H goes...it's not over until it's over.  I feel the same way about the mayoral race.  Isn't it likely a lot of Herrera voters had Avalos #2?

    06 November 2011

    Fall Back.

    I'm tired.  We're in the final push toward the Winter break, and this is a hard part of the year for everyone.  The kids - who had Monday Halloween on top of everything else - haven't had a vacation in ages, the teachers are tired from getting through conferences, and the weather is changing to rainy-day recess.

    It's not a great environment, and my personal slice of it was made worse by having a number of out-of-classroom people on vacation/leave/at conferences this week.  This actually made me pretty mad.  Anyone who's been working at a school for a couple of years knows November is hard.  One year is enough to tell you that the day after Halloween is miserable.  And none of the adults are at their best.  All hands are needed on deck.  By taking stress-relief days, you impact everyone around you: they pay for your relaxation with extra stress of their own.

    Anyway, I intend to politely but definitively let the out-of-the-classroom people who left us short-staffed and flailing how that felt and what it meant for those of us who showed up every day.

    It's not that I am against taking personal days.  It's taking them and not arranging for your position to be covered, or taking them without leaving plans, or taking them and calling in with demands you want filled immediately even though everyone is swamped and you're not at work.  I also favor them more for teachers - who have the hardest job, hands-down, of anyone on a school campus - than I do for out of classroom employees.

    05 November 2011

    Not Feeling Nice.

    In some ways, I love the "Yes on H" people because they are a microcosm of all my favorite white liberal unthought political positions:

    1. Demographics are for losers!  The sad fact is that on a block-by-block basis, San Francisco is incredibly segregated.  (Notice that their plan would also restrict all of the public housing stock, which is the least diverse in the city, to specific schools.)
    2. The other guys are totally racist because they don't agree with the people of color who agree with us!  Yes, because all people of color agree, and because "not being racist", for whites, means lockstep agreement with any position put forward by any person of color: apparently, you show your anti-racist ally credentials by not showing the respect that civil disagreement and debate require.  I think this also has a touch of modern Ann Coulterism going on, too.
    3. We hate unions!  See, when a union disagrees with you and you respond respectfully, that's one thing.  When you call the union "jack-booted thugs" and other such names, you make it clear that your real issue is a hate of organized workers.
    4. Wealthy white people fix everything!  Even if you grant the idea that some neighborhood schools plan will send white people running back to SFUSD, it doesn't change the fact that this is more pandering to the population already the best served in the district.  It's also the population most able to advocate for itself without any help.
    5. This will be the impetus that lazy district/government organization needs to fix their terribleness!  Not only does this totally ignore reality (uh, a Consent Decree couldn't get it done/have you seen the state of school funding?), it's just not true: the demographics of the city would easily enable even higher-needs schools.  And all data - every bit of it - show that diverse schools benefit all comers.
    6. There are poor people everywhere!  Yes, and the vast majority of housing projects and concentrated poverty are on the southeast side.  We are not interested in unicorns.  We are interested in horses.
    7. Whatever is needed to make this work is free.  I did not realize that the Prop. H people had access to a magical money tree.   However, they apparently do because their answer to capacity issues is that the district is going to build a whole lot of schools.

    03 November 2011

    Unsent Letters

    Dear SFUSD,

    The Data Director system continues to be so fun, what with the crashing and the overloads during report card season.

    But now that the sixteen year old eMacs in my classroom are no longer compatible with the Internet, I can look forward to hours of mandatory work at home.

    Admittedly, completing report cards is something no teacher can do within contract limits.  But it bothers me very much that I am not given the materials necessary to complete my job requirements.  You assume I'll spend my money on the supplies you don't buy, become the PE teacher so that your state requirements are met, and provide own technology so that I can provide written assessment reports on my students on the system you require me to use.

    I'm not sure if you're more thoughtless or arrogant, actually, but please keep your spokespeople from bragging about out technologically ready schools and awesome student opportunities in my hearing for awhile.

    Sincerely, etc.

    02 November 2011

    Crazy Doctor Hospital

    Sometimes children have oversized reactions to minor injuries (for instance, being inadvertently poked in the arm or a very minor recess collision).  This can be tiredness, being upset with the circumstances of the accident, a need for adult attention, a response to something else entirely, etc.  Some ways to assist children in these cases:

    1. As much as possible, try to calm the child down before taking his or her statement.
    2. Do not take eyewitness statements until the injured child has been heard.
    3. Ask the injured child what he or she needs to feel better.
    4. Suggest a drink of water.
    5. Invite the injured child to seek care at the Crazy Doctor Hospital, the cutting-edge facility of medical care.  CDH has only one technique: total amputation.  Once the offending body part is removed, there will be no pain.
    Actually, CDH is so fun we play it all the time.  A retiring teacher gave me a giant pair of fake scissors a couple of years ago that make the amputation all the more fun.  With a few "This might hurt...a lot"s and evil laughs, you will regularly have to close the hospital to take a break (I refer to this as "cleaning", since CDH is soon awash in a pile of heads, arms and legs).

    Keep the Candy at Home

    "Halloween candy should stay at home.  Candy is not an everyday snack and is not allowed at school.  Also, candy eaten at school is taken away.  We do not throw it away.  We eat it in front of you while laughing like this (insert maniacal cackle).  After all, we are too old to go trick or treating and therefore do not get bags of free candy to eat...unless you bring yours to school."

    Nearly singlehandedly, I am bringing Halloween back to my neighborhood.  Even though I did not pass out my address at school this year, we got quite a few trick or treaters and all but one family was from my school.  Every year, we get more despite the calendar date becoming less and less trick-or-treat friendly.  Key factors:

    1. Prior years of address-giving,
    2. Notorious electricity-wasting light displays,
    3. Candy portioned out by the handful,
    4. Possibility of viewing my pets.Preview

    01 November 2011

    Very Quick and Scattered

    1. Why progressive reformer types don't get education: technophilia, whiteness, predilection for capitalism without progressive critique, still angry at 2nd grade teacher for benching them unjustly.
    2. It is amazing to me that San Francisco can support both a blog on Kindergarten choices...and another blog to critique that one.
    3. The Prop. H people need to get over themselves.