I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

29 May 2013

Not getting better.

I am not enthusiastic about the CORE waiver.  I recognize the CORE districts believe their stance is revolutionary, but what the waiver adopts seems to be along the lines of our Superintendent's SSC Saturday speech: Our schools and teachers are not broken, but they need to be fixed with professional development.  Our high-needs schools are underresourced, and now that we have admitted that the problem is solved.

None of the changes made for the resubmit make me feel better.  I'm still reading the peer review advice, because I keep bursting into hysterical laughter.  Who are these peer reviewers who note that community organizations, families, and teachers were not actually consulted?  Working only with education reform groups and anti-union firms like Parthenon while claiming interest in talking to families is definitely on the In List for school districts today.

24 May 2013

Tempting Fate

Today I am deciding if I am keeping two or three silkie chicks.  I have been spending  a lot of time perusing this thread at Backyard Chickens, because I don't have the equipment or moral fiber necessary for a two-roo household.

In other news, I let the class vote on whether to write and perform a play called "Don't Let the Pigeon Go to First Grade" or sing a song at promotion.  They voted to sing, but when they realized this wouldn't be the choreographed, postered masterpiece their "Love Train" was they were disappointed.  They'll survive.

18 May 2013

DID YOU KNOW?

I just found out that motion sickness can endure for a few days after the event that caused it.

In my case, the trigger was our last field trip of the year (thereby bitterly ending my two-year streak of not actually throwing up on a field trip).  Despite leaving school for the comforts of toothbrush, clean clothes, and a dark room the moment the kids left for the day,  Friday brought few improvements.

Luckily, the day itself promised relative ease.  My Resident teacher was celebrating her graduation, so it was imperative to take advantage of her absence by having the kids revise and publish their books about her.  (This is a process of several hours, since they have to draw illustrations rather than sketch them, print their work out neatly, and make covers.  I also pull out the best of our decorative materials, because this is Kindergarten and we have the technology giant sequins and sticker gemstones.}

(I did slightly lengthen the process by providing black construction paper, Gel F(x) markers, and my personal collection of gel pens for cover art. "Fine motor development!" I assured myself while swallowing another dose of Dramamine.  "Far more academic than a last-minute sub day!" I added stoutly as a student walked by, face sparkling with the addition of stick-on rhinestones.  But since their books are involved creations with eight or more sentences, dialogue, sound effects, and besides it's the end of the year, I didn't feel like I had doomed them to failure by enabling their artistic impulses.)

It was also the end of the year talent show.  With over twenty acts, we had to make our way to the cafgymetorium early in the afternoon.  As the kids lined up to go, they realized that they were not performing.  They were shocked.  I explained that we had a bigger performance coming up (at promograduation in two weeks) and that we had not prepared anything.  The class was not appeased, but has a lot of good problem-solvers, one of whom suggested that they sing their "Oviparous and Viviparous Animals" song.  I introduced the concept of a program and, with great if manufactured regret noted that we could not be added to the list of performers.

The class loudly and resentfully sang the song all the way to the cafeteria, although once we got there they became excited to see the bigger kids perform.  Alas, we have nine acts to go on Monday, so I may get to have this discussion again.

17 May 2013

And not excepting chickens.

So my spraddle-legged chick lost the splay after two physical therapy sessions and has been renamed Baby Fave (from Baby Splay).  Collectively, the chicks are now too big to be The Chicklets and are The Chicksters.  The chicks are currently nicknamed:

  1. Baby Fave
  2. Gray Wing
  3. Brownie
  4. #1 (the first to hatch), aka Baby Nuthatch
  5. Spot
  6. Super Puff
  7. The Other One
Baby Fave is the universal favorite of teachers and children throughout my site and is therefore mandated by custom and law to be female.  I remind all of the chicks that they are all girls regularly, because everyone knows that totally causes spontaneous gender mutation in chickens.

Since I can keep my chickens school-based next year, I can keep all the chicks at my home if I choose to do so.  However, it would really be better if I didn't, so I have given myself a hard deadline of next Wednesday for making all chick-dispersal decisions.

14 May 2013

may flowers, may baskets, may packing cartons

Sooooooo I'm moving to a different school next year.  It's another high-needs school, but its particular needs are somewhat different than my current school's.  I'm also going to be doing something a little different for the year.

I have mixed emotions about this.  Learning a new school culture is hard and I am not very good at it (ADHD and social cues, bad combo).  On the other hand, I'm mostly cheerful, generally polite and very harmless, so my enormous pratfalls, inadvertent copier destruction, and so on will hopefully not doom me.  I also had some other job opportunities,  including some working in fancy schools and some that would be teacher coaching (since I've done it, I think I have experience sufficient enough to state authoritatively that coaching is seventy million times easier than teaching).  I think I feel more nervous about whether or not I made the RIGHT CHOICE (although technically I could still make a DIFFERENT CHOICE, but that could lead to unparalleled mental confusion and anxiety so I would rather not, I think).  Throughout the process of deciding to leave, which was months of consideration, I became pretty certain that staying at my site would be the WRONG CHOICE that would sooner than later lead to BURNOUT and GOING BACK TO GRAD SCHOOL OR SIMILAR.

I am not presently deeply saddened about leaving my current school site; what I feel right now is relief.  My current class just mowed their way through the end of the year assessments and they are more than ready for first grade (more than half of my students are above grade level in reading and nearly all hit the benchmark; the only real difference to account for their performance is that their writing was better aligned with the reading).  They were (are, for three more weeks) also the most difficult class I have ever had, full stop.  While I could consult with site experts, this year I was absolutely stymied in receiving district support.

This was especially frustrating because

  1. I was asking for pretty minimal assistance;
  2. There was 100% agreement among professionals at my site that the services I sought were necessary;
  3. We are supposed to be doing inclusive practices, which is supposed to include serving kids BEFORE they need an IEP.
Anyway, I will have lots of time this summer to reflect on what made this class such a particular challenge, and to experience the five stages of grieving over leaving.  Right now I am trying to enjoy the end of my time at my school with my class and colleagues while not freaking out about how much stuff I need to move out of my classroom.

10 May 2013

I don't get why SFUSD is proposing spending $30,000 buying ten Teach for Americans for the next school year.  SFUSD is a popular district; it maintains an active job pool and has plenty of fully credentialed candidates who don't get hired.  Why pay TFA to do what the district has already done itself?

Moreover, the district is anticipating TFA providing some Special Education candidates.  Since I read ALL the board agendas, I know that many probationary Special Education teachers were removed without cause this year.  I don't think the answer is to replace them with entirely uncredentialed if well-meaning candidates, especially candidates who the state of California is unwilling to consider "highly qualified" no matter what the feds say.  Moreover, these candidates are also for hard to staff schools.  Hard to staff schools generally have a lot of English Language Learners.  The state is at present also unwilling to unleash alternatively credentialed-ish teachers on ELLs.  So where are these expensive recruits going to work?

Not to mention, sending two-year missionaries to "hard to staff" schools is unlikely to make these schools easier to staff in the future - unless you anticipate a never-ending chain of Teach for Americans, each link lasting two years.  Not that that means easier staffing, exactly, or ensures that students have trained, able educators who have been there long enough to build relationships with them, of course.

Additionally, there is an its/it's typo in the reso, and I strongly believe that such errors demand not only correction but utter destruction and contempt for the reso in question.

06 May 2013

Operation Chicken

Hatch Count: Seven healthy chicks in a variety of cool, fluffy colors.  (They are all silkies).

One has a splayed leg.  I'm 99% this was caused by its membrane drying after it had freed one leg and its rear end, which caused it to flail around a lot.  It can walk, run, eat, and drink despite the leg so it is getting short bursts of spraddle leg treatment (tying the legs together with self-adhesive gauze).

(Eight chicks actually hatched, but one of these may have been hatched/heavily assisted by Baby Splay Leg (I have video of chicks pecking industriously at other chicks' shells, and Baby Splay was the only chick in the incubator at the time).  Anyway, this chick had serious deformities and would not eat.  After two days of intensive care in a clean incubator at my house, we humanely euthanized it.)

I want to keep ALL THE CHICKENS, which means I need to get Mickey and Minnie (last year's hatch) adopted.  Or maintain them in two separate homes.  Or get insanely, miraculously lucky and have had an all-hen hatch this year.  Mickey and Minnie are socialized.  Minnie lays more eggs than the average silkie and Mickey is a show-quality rooster, so I figure I may be able to entice someone to adopt them.