10 February 2011

This Is the End, My Only Friend, The End...

I am not going to be posting here anymore, but I will keep up the blog so I can comment on my lovely blog-roll friends.
Thanks for stopping by during the years I was active. If you have an email on your blog, I can find you and identify myself if you are interested in email correspondence.

Take care, Teachers! You rock...

05 November 2006

A reminder to remember...

You have three reactions when you come across something really well written:
1. Damn, I wish I said that!
2. Damn, I can't write that well.
3. I have to share this with someone.

Consider that all three happened to me about five minutes ago when I was reading her post for 11/4. Consider yourselves reminded.

04 September 2006

Welcome back, to the same old place we've been laughing about...

First things first: my graduate class last week went really well. It will be a challenging curriculum as far as reading material (amounts), but at the end of the semester I will have a final project that will be a multi-genre model for my lovelies in the late winter when they begin theirs. Sitting in night class again, looking at the mixture of students: some teachers like me, working on a first master's (I'm on number two), some new grad students taking whatever is available in the schedule, and some other English MA's who take whatever is offered by this prof. Since this is class number two for me, and since I am taking her next offered course in Fall 07 (Holocaust Lit), I know how they feel. When you are in the presence of a truly great teacher, you want to stay for as long as possible, hoping that some of their aura can be absorbed in 45 hours or so. This class will be a logical extension from the first one I took with her, right before my fieldwork and methods course, the last formal class I took before student teaching and graduation from MA numero uno (a Master of Arts in Teaching: Secondary Ed./English 7-12). It seems almost serendipitous that my first class back in an MA English track is with her.

Tonight I am hoping to get to bed reasonably early since I start my teaching year in the morning with a Superintendent's Day (meetings all morning; classroom organizing in the afternoon). I went into school with my physical children over two days last week and got all my posters and paraphernalia up and made my procedures and rules copies. I finished my annual letter to my lovelies (their first formal writing assignment is to write back) so I can make copies of that too, once I find some interesting graphics to add to this year's version. Other than that, I am ready for the year to begin, although I am starting to feel that knot in my stomach and throat. This knot, of course, is the physical manifestation of my worries that I have forgotton something( like the names of colleagues, the principals, the students I have not met and the ones I had last year), that I am really not so good at this 'teacher thing' and who am I kidding, and that I will have classes of extremely ill-behaved kids, and is my typical response to the start of the new year. Hopefully, the knot will go away quickly once I actually get started on Wednesday. It is getting harder to swallow.

"September, let us go. It is time to migrate." (line 1) I pastori (The Shepherds); Gabriele D'Annunzio

"Summer has come and passed, the innocent can never last, wake me up when September ends" (lines 1-3) Wake Me Up When September Ends; Billie Joe Armstrong

30 August 2006

I am really a geek. Or, "Ms. George goes back to school"

I actually made the step I've been talking and thinking about for three years. I am going back to graduate school to finish my second Master's Degree. The local SUni (my spelling) has a special program for a joint MA/MAT that enables graduates of one to have 15 credits toward the other as long as they start the second within five years of the first and complete the program in seven years total (extensions allowed for discretionary purposes). I hope that made sense.
My first class starts tonight, taught by a prof I really admire who wrote a letter for my applicant file when I was looking for a job. I am very psyched, but a bit scared too. I have been out of the classroom (as a student) for five years. Good thing I get to read Jane Eyre, Wide Saragasso Sea, and The Woman Warrior again.
Did I also tell you that I need to make my video and take my CST in English for my permanent certification this year? Ms. George will be one busy geek.
I'll let you know how the first night goes.

23 August 2006

Poetry Wednesday II

Several posts ago, I asked if anyone lurking had a good short story either about pen-pals, or letter- writing. I have been looking for something to replace a truly wonderful story called "Dear Marsha" about a girl who finally completes a pen-pal assignment with some surprising results. I would rather not replace the story, but apparently it is used in an 8th grade anthology and is verboten for mere 7th grade teachers. Oh well. As I was searching the web, I came across this interesting anthology. I am starting to read some of the stories. I hope one will work out (read: be appropriate for my lovelies), but I always like having a new source for class and I found it cheap on ebay. If anyone has any other stories they know of, ones that students would enjoy/ find meaning in, I'd appreciate it hearing about it.

Now, because it is poetry Wednesday, another selection from the esteemed Mr. Stafford. Thursday I will bring my physical children to my parents' home for a few days and we will walk to the lake where maybe, if we are lucky, we can watch the willows as they listen, gracefully, to our thoughts.

Why I Am Happy

Now has come, an easy time. I let it
roll. There is a lake somewhere
so blue and far that nobody owns it.
A wind comes by and a willow listens

I hear all this, every summer. I laugh
and cry for every turn of the world,
its terribly cold, innocent spin.
That lake stays blue and free, it goes
on and on.

And I know where it is.

----William Stafford

15 August 2006

So about that Sunday night tv...

I really enjoyed The Ron Clark Story on TNT the other night. They will repeat it, in true TNT style, on Thursday at 9 if you missed it. Ok, so in the first 20 minutes Matthew Perry had to channel his inner Principal Richard Vernon with a very familiar hand gesture (rest in peace Mr. Gleason; you live on in those great characters). Other than that, the movie was quite well done. I read Ron Clark's The Essential 55 a few years ago and was struck by how much good sense it made. If common sense were common, more people would have it. With upper-middle and high-schoolers, the whole program would be hard to implement since so many of their school behaviors have already been formed. Can you see high school kids being told they had to form lines to walk in the hall or go down to lunch? In addition, Clark was teaching fifth grade and saw only a fraction of the students I see every day. It is far more manageable to try to visit with a class of 35 (or less if you are lucky) than 125 students spread out over 5 classes. Forget teaching multiple subjects or levels.

I did find about ten or so of the suggestions doable. For example, my lovelies learned very quickly not to complain about the amount of homework/ classwork I assigned. Just one comment had half the class saying, "dude, shush up or she'll double it!" I only had to double work about three times and never with the same class, so word got out that I meant what I said. That lesson had to be one of the most powerful from the book and the tv movie. Clark's students saw he meant what he said/did. He set the bar high and expected them to rise to it. He wanted to instill in them some sense of value about themselves and their educations. He believed in each and every one of them. He expected them to succeed in school/life and follow their dreams wherever they led.

As fellow teachers, we can only hope to do as much. Good luck this year to all of you who have started already! I'll be right there with you in three more weeks.

27 July 2006

Teachers, Part One

I went to a private grade school. I had quite a few good teachers and a few that weren't. My seventh and eighth grade math and science teachers were memorable because they helped me to understand and do fairly well in subjects in which I was not all that interested. I had to have extra help/ remediation for math in 5-7th grades, but by the end of 7th, I was eligible to take Algebra as an 8th grader.

My 7th and 8th grade English teacher was memorable because he was demanding of us. We wrote a lot, and since it was Catholic school, continued to review and refine our grammar. He also did something that my mother thought was completely ridiculous: he read out loud to us every Friday for the final 45 minutes of the day. My mother thought we were too old to be read to; now of course, all the research proves what Mr. Fitz knew all those years ago: that students who hear good readers reading, become better themselves.

What did I learn from my grade school teachers?

To have a sense of humor like my science teacher did when we walked around with dissected frog heads singing, "Put your head on my shoulder..." I think about her when I realize that sometimes, kids just have to have a paper fight, throw pencils in the ceiling, or draw on the chalkboard.
I learned to be patient like my math teacher was with me when I struggled with word problems. Really, who cares what time those two trains will intersect anyway? I think about those days when I have to explain, for what feels like the upteenth time, how the subject of the sentence does (or is) the verb.
I learned that sometimes, even 13 year olds need someone to read to them. I realize this every time I read a short story or a picture book and the kids can't wait to sit on the floor in front of me (or on their desks) and are hanging on my every inflection and gesture.

Thank you Mrs. L, Mr. Fitz, and Mrs. H. I really appreciated being in your classes.