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.