Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tee Hee

Okay maybe it's from hanging around teenagers too much. Or maybe it's because those lit up lawn deers that have moving heads just freak me out (I always avert my head because they're creepy). BUT. The other day (daytime) we're driving out of our neighborhood, and I happened to glance towards a neighbor's lawn, and someone had positioned one of the deer on top of the other in a compromising position. ... By the time we had finished our chores both were gone and not to be seen again. What a hoot.

Are there some silly people moving the deer around at night? Now I'm on the lookout. Maybe it's a Twilight Zone episode where they get up to all sorts of peculiar antics when the humans are not looking.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Manners, part 2

A friend and I were chatting at work today, waiting for our last faculty get-together of the calendar year, and he mentioned that his wife worked at an international school in town. What a cool idea. Kids from all over, who are ELL, are at this one school. He said the P.E. teacher has about 50 kids per class (ach!), but then said that the teacher stated he'd take 50 more just like them because they are all so well-mannered and respectful and for the most part, do what they're told. ... You sort of don't want them to get "americanized" in a bad way.

How sad is it that I knew just what he was talking about. The students in my class that have been here for only a short while are so polite and sweet and hard working. I also have American students that are that way, but for the most part, the majority have nothing on their "foreign" counterparts in terms of manners. What happened? What part of our culture (or parts) are the cause of this? And more importantly, how can we (who?) effectively reverse this trend.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Last Days

Yippee! The finals are done. The grades are turned in. We just go in tomorrow to do proof sheets and meet as a faculty. ... Am I motivated to put in some time to be pre-prepared for the first week back? Are you kidding me? That goes against a 40 year grain of last minute-itis. Okay, okay, I LOOKED over some things, and I WILL bring some stuff home.

BUT. We're going to away for a 10 days to visit with my in-laws. So maybe I can squeeze in some work somewhere. In between the book reading and sudoku puzzles and napping and movies and sleeping and yoga and resting and such (who's tired?).

My kids' precalculus finals grades were stinky ... the bulk of them. Too depressing. They were pretty straightforward finals, too. My one saving thought is that the students that WOULD have earned the great grades already had great grades and exempted the final. Yesssssss, that's it. It's not that they didn't study or anything. Right? Right?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wacky Mind

I had the funniest dream the other night. It was "funny" because I woke up so angry and still furious over the events of the dream that I had to calm down. Now what was this horrific thing that happened to me in my dream? I was at Costco without my husband (who has that card in his name ... whose last name is different than mine), and I was buying vitamins, and the cashier was treating me like a criminal because she did not believe I was a member. She kept questioning me and questioning me and asking for proof before she'd even sell me the vitamins.
Hmph. I woke up in a huff.

I'm not even that enamored with Costco. I mean I like it, but I can take it or leave it, so what possessed my mind to have such a dream? What strange things go on in our subconscious that say, hey, tonight this is what you'll dream about. Do YOU make up the dreams or is something else at work, ... how does everything piece together?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Manners, Pass it On

I was shopping at a crowded grocery store this weekend. Usually when I go out in public (maybe like most people), I am in my own shopping bubble thinking of aisles and things to get and what my chores are and such ... people are just, there, sometimes in the way, sometimes amusing. If I walk in front of someone while they're staring/deciding about something in an aisle, I'll say excuse me, but other than that, sometimes I can get into the, "you're in my way" mode ... not rudely, I don't think, but, people are dehumanized, just another obstacle.

In two different incidents, at this grocery store this weekend, and on the road yesterday, I had a refreshing wake up call. At the store, I was tooling along with my cart in the main thoroughfare, and a teenager was coming my way. Then we got into the will-I-go-left-or-right and what-will-you-do mode, while still wheeling away. We both made our decision and didn't run into each other, and he passes me by and says, "excuse me". We kept going. That caused me to pause mentally and smile and want to be a more in-the-present type more often and remember my outward manners.

Then on the road yesterday, there's a pesky off ramp onto a 2nd freeway that is always a merging nighmare. I merge in sometimes, and most times I take the previous exit onto the feeder road and then get back on, so that I don't have to merge. If I do merge, I make sure to do the hand wave to the person behind me as a thank you. I don't turn around, and it's with half my brain on the task, but, a wave nonetheless. When people merge in front of me, sometimes I get the wave, and sometimes I don't. Yesterday, a car merges in front of me, and it was full of college-age boys, and it was still light outside. The passenger in the back, turns around and waves their thanks and makes eye contact with me. .... Then goofy me starts thinking, I'm not worthy of the thanks, I was not even paying attention, and the space opened up because I was slow (not that I would have been all jerky and NOT let them in, but more that I would have been elsewhere in my mind and not paying THAT much attention).

So now (and hopefully it will last, and I can make others aware, and we can spread a wave of manners around), I want to be more focused and outwardly polite in public situations. ... And a big thanks to the parents of these boys who taught them manners.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Self Editing

My first class of the day is filled with streetwise students. I'm always on them about "dropping the f bomb" and their "potty mouths".

On Friday, we were discussing upcoming finals and were reviewing various topics. I wanted them to stay on task, and was *jokingly* warning them not to bug me or we wouldn't get much done. In my mind I'm thinking "don't piss me off, ..." but I didn't want to say "piss", so I edited and said, " don't p. me off". ... Hmmmm, they all ewwwwed and said that that just sounded wrong.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

WooHoo from Texas

Well. I had an okay drive home yesterday, but apparently the world froze over last night, and what started out as a 2 hour delay for our school has turned into a cancellation. We have these humongo "flyovers" on our freeways that are basically skating rinks now. ...

I keep checking the district website to make sure they don't update the message with, "oops, just kidding, get your butt to school". (I guess it's from the same character trait that makes me check my alarm clock settings every night at least 4 times or so: did I turn it on? is it on a.m. and not p.m.? is it the right time? did I accidently turn it off while checking the other times?) ... Who's the crazy lady?

Well, I was used to this school stuff in NJ, but Texas? Yippee. (except now I'm thinking, when are we going to make up the day? will my students spend the extra time studying for finals (hah)? )

Okay, off to check the website ONE more time ... no, really.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

English Practice in Math Class

Every day one of my math students is the first to enter class, and we exchange greetings and gentle ribbing. Today I greeted him (in earnestness) with, "hello, young man." He responded with, "hello, ancient person." After I gave him a mildly shocked and slightly amused look, he said, "what? I'm just practicing my antonyms." I had to laugh.


There's a teacher at work that has a particular teaching story about something that happened in class. It's a good story ... on the first hearing. I don't know why it is, but I seem to be in at least 7 group situations where this person repeats the story ... sometimes to me alone (twice), sometimes when I'm just in the room (3 times), sometimes when I'm part of the group (2 times), etc. I'm beginning to dislike the story. I'm beginning to dissect how it's told and if the pauses are the same and if the punchline is the same. Oh my.

On a positive note. I'm so enjoying listening to books on CD, AND our local library is closing for a year for renovations, that I've decided to join "audiobooks", which is sort of like Netflix for books on CD. I'm excited that my first book is arriving soon (especially since I'm almost done with my current one).

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Weekend Fun

This weekend I went to a 2-day "glass fusing" introduction class. This is where you get to play with pretty colors of glass and cut them and mush them around and let them cook to see what comes out. We made tiles and picture frames and pendants and plates. ... Pretty fun, but tiring to be creative and stressed out about "exact cuts" and guilty because you know you should be grading. ... I'm really interested in the jewelry/glass class, then I can make tons of earrings and such.

I'm also glad my husband and I are piling on the procrastination about doing Christmas shopping. I just popped in to Barnes & Noble this afternoon to stock up on my FAVORITE tea (hot cinnamon sunset), ... okay, and to look to see if there were any "killer sudoku" books around (no!). And I must say, have I become a crank pot? A people-hater? Because the whole time there were a TON of people milling about doing their thing and I couldn't wait to get out of there away from the crowd. ... I'm thinking we'll do our usual last-minute thing on a weekday and not have to deal with crowds (I hope).

Friday, December 02, 2005

Catch 22

I was so sleepy today, so I decided to have 2 cups of caffeinated tea at work instead of the 1 caf and 1 decaf I usually have so that I could be more alert. ... But then again, I was so sleepy today, that I accidentally bumped the table that was holding my 2nd cup of 20 oz. tea, and it fell to the floor and created a big milky pool of lost opportunity. .... Or maybe it's not "Catch 22", and it's just SOMEone being klutzy.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I Love Teaching

Today was one of those days where I re-realize or (confirm) that I love teaching. I wish everyone to have a job where they are mostly excited about what they do.

In all my classes, we (they!) were reviewing for quizzes that are on Friday (or "tuizzes" as they may be). I love to have enough time to individually talk with students who are having trouble and to figure out exactly where their misconceptions or lack of understanding is/are and help them figure it out. I can say one thing and think I'm being perfectly clear, and in their minds they're processing it in a totally different way and I'm not clear to them.

For example, we're working with special right triangles and polar coordinates in precalculus. One key thing to remember about 30-60-90 triangles is that the smaller side goes across from the smaller angle, largest side across from the largest angle... So I'm working with this one student who is having problems, and we come across "sides" of "length" 3 and -3*squareroot(3). I ask him which side is bigger so that he can properly place it across from the 60 ... 3*squareroot(3) is bigger, so I'm waiting for him to see this, and he says that the largest side is 3. I finally had this ray of understanding enough to ask him why he said that, and he said that since 3 is positive, it's bigger than the negative number. Hmmm. He was correct in his thinking, but not correct in how to approach the problem.

But it was so nice to see where he went wrong and to easily fix it instead of both of us getting frustrated and thinking we're clear and not really understanding the other. ....

Another nice thing (and totally random which makes this such a fun job) ... one student calls me over (to a seating group of 3 boys and a girl) and says, "SOMEone in this group wants to know what type of shampoo you use." Oh my.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kissy Kissy

A few weeks ago, between classes, I observed a couple practically pressed through each other doing a tongue swap hug neck kissy kissy act. Now, we allow no PDAs at our school, and besides, who wants to see this stuff? So I jokingly, loudly, said, "ew, get a room. no one wants to see that." ... I must have gone on for about 5 - 10 seconds. They broke apart, but the girl quietly said, "you don't have to shout." ... hmph.

Then I see them at the same time the next day doing the same thing. ... Again with the comments. This time the girl gives me a dirty look. ... I don't see them again for a while. Either I'm not in the halls or they've moved on. ... Apparently not.

Yesterday, one of my girl students walks in to the beginning of class and says that, ew, she was watching this couple practically having sex in the halls, and she said that she must have been shocked because she stopped and stared with a shocked/disgusted look on her face. ... I guess the girl must have noticed her, because they broke apart.

So I'm glad it's not an "old person's" thing. As we were having this discussion, a couple of other kids chimed in that they didn't want to see that. Whew. ... But then I came home and told my husband about it, and he said that in high school, as a boy, his first thought was not, "I don't want to see that", but "I want to be that". TMI. La la la la la. I can't hear you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

First Day Back

Whew. I'm guessing the kiddies were relieved to be back on Monday after 5 long days away from school. Finally! Homework and sitting on our butts all day. Yay. ... I did hear tales of kids that had to work over break, and one student regaled us with his Circuit City job where people were fighting over some computer they had in the store. ... I've never done that get-up-super-early thing to go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. I guess I'm glad because seeing people duke it out and pull hair would just dishearten me.

I brought doughnuts for my advisory period. Sheesh, one kid got others who didn't want theirs to donate them to him. He had three. Blach. I ate 1/2 of one later, and ew, you then have greasy doughnut breath for hours after. Now I'm not virtuous or anything on the sweets front, but I guess doughnuts are not my "poison" of choice.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


We decided to go camping over Thanksgiving. Translation: I wanted to take a trip somewhere since this is basically the only vacation during the school year that doesn't have relatives written all over it, and he didn't want to fight the airport crowds. We compromised on driving to some beautiful Texas hill country locations and hiking and camping. ... City Folk go camping. I think we're a wee bit old or sissified to be able to sleep on camprests in 37 degree temperature. Brrr. We did have fun cooking smores, though, and we had fun cooking on the Coleman stove (borrowed), and we had fun on our 3 hour hike through beautiful red and yellow and orange trees.

So now we're home and back to the pre-work weekend of laundry and schoolwork and procrastination. .... hmmmmm, maybe there's a matinee I can go to.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Clothing Vignettes

Hats are not allowed at our school, so in an ideal world, no students come to school with hats, and if they do, they politely and compliantly take them off when a teacher points it out to them.

I've had various degrees of success with this. What's working for me now is, "A hat in school? Let me see your hair, I bet you have great hair ..." and then I make sure to whistle at their mane when they take off their hat. This works most of the time.

Well yesterday, I was doing a duty in the main hallway, and a teacher was basically screaming at a student at first meeting about his hat. Really screechy like. Blach. The kid, you could see was a good natured kid, and he'd just come in from outside where it was cold. Basically the second sentence out of her mouth was about reporting him to the SRO (security officer). I mean, it's no wonder the kids are highly suspicious of adult interactions.

During my first period, a big football player type of kid comes in wearing a pink, striped shirt. A friend walks up to him (a girl) and hugs him and says it's a great shirt. He smiles sheepishly and said he had to wear it because his girlfriend bought it for him.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


On Monday my last period class of the day was a wee bit chatty. Persistently chatty, I guess, because I kept (half jokingly) taking deep breaths in an obvious fashion. They know I take yoga because I yammer about it, and they know that part of the reason is to provide "calm".

Well, apparently, it didn't seem to be working because one of the students pipes up, "you should ask for a refund". (bunch of comics, they are.)

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Some friends from another state are visiting this weekend. The husband is more my husband's friend ... well I guess originally, and we only know his wife through him. We've seen them maybe once or twice in the last 3 years. Well, what a treat, here I was all thinking, oh, visitors, we have to clean the house and be "on" and such. But. We are having the best time just talking and laughing. You know how it is when you're with people that you just click with ... you like the same things and have had some of the same experiences and find the same things funny. What a great way to spend 2 days off.

And as an extra bonus, I heard the coolest puzzle on NPR's "Click & Clack". Oooooh, all mathie and such. The essence of it is: You are in a corridor with 20,000 hanging lights all with pull cords and all "pulled" off. Someone walks down the hall and pulls every other cord. Then someone walks down the hall and pulls every 3rd cord. Then someone walks down the hall and pulls every 4th cord. ... all the way to .... someone ... bla bla bla ... every 20,000th cord. Is there a way to predict after all this which lights are turned on and which are turned off?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Equation Dexterity

I'm liking how I'm introducing integrals in calculus. I figured we'd concentrate on 1 to 2 functions and work them in all sorts of ways to build up to an understanding of what's so cool about the (first?) fundamental theorem of calculus. So we approximated area, we brainstormed ways to make it more accurate, we found lower and upper bounds to exact area under the curve, and I then built up how to use limits and summation to get the exact area.

Sheesh, these things always take longer than you think they will. In my mind (hah!) I figured they could finish up simplifying this one equation in class and then I'd assign the 2nd problem for homework. Hah. Hah. What took most of them all period was to simplify an equation of this form (note that it's not a matter of calculus right now, it's basic algebra .... or so ... FOILing, distributing, adding fractions, simplifying):

[1/2 (3i/n - 2)(3i/n - 2) + 1](3/n).

Okay, ick (sort of), but doable ..... (apparently doable in 40 minutes and not the 5 or so minutes I envisioned in my fantasy teaching mind).

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I was being SO good at the beginning of the school year. Getting up at 5:30, either going on the treadmill or lifting weights ... and then ... . The treadmill died and had to get fixed, and it did, but by then it was too late. My morning exercise consisted of mildly rapid finger or wrist movements on the computer while I was surfing. Okay, sure, I did some sun salutations and maybe a head stand or 2, but not the still-sweating-after-the-shower treadmill workout.

But I'm a changed woman. Today I get back on the saddle, so to speak. Okay, I'm on the computer now, but I still have 4 minutes. I'm going. I'm going.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Today after school while I was tutoring and after an afterschool meeting, a kid who graduated last year came to visit. I had him for 2 years, and he's one of the memorable ones (in a good way). He's now in the marines, and was talking about his experience. ... How hard was it for me to not wail at him, "BE CAREFUL! DON'T DIE" ... he's an "infantry man" ... if I have that term correct. That means he's on the ground most likely. Oh my. Be safe. Be safe. Be safe.

On the bizarre flip side ... my bra strap came undone, not once, but TWICE today while teaching. Hmmmm, excuse me class while I go and "saddle up" again. ... No majorly obvious "things" popped out. Thank goodness. BUT. How disconcerting.


I thought the kids must have taken "snotty pills" or something on Monday because, oh my, the behavior! But then I just looked out the window. Uh huh. Full moon. On the positive side ... I'm safe for another 28 (?) days.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Professional Development

What a useful day (except that I didn't get any grading done or prep and now have a fun weekend of work ahead of me, but that's another story). At our inservice, we had 3 morning sessions where we were able to pick and choose between various presentations.

I first went to a dyslexia talk. The woman was very informative and passionate about this (her daughter was not diagnosed as dyslexic until high school). I learned about myths and symptoms and modifications. The next talk was about scaffolding. I learned about graphic organizers and how I could use them in math. The third talk was about meeting the needs of and closing the achievement gap between black kids and "other" kids. It was informative and started the conversation. There were no concrete solutions or tactics (well, maybe there were, but they were more hand-wavy vague-ish), but it was productive, none-the-less, because it raised my awareness up a level. So ... a nice way to end the work week. That and the great live music and margaritas and tex mex food downtown after work.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I'll be happier next year when I don't have to get up at 3:00am (or my guilt/body/procrastination forces me up) to make 3 quizzes for my 3 preps in one day. ... Or really now, who am I fooling. This is how it always seems to be. BUT, tres exciting, because I don't have to "be on" today for the little kiddies, and SECOND, tomorrow is an inservice day, so guess who's going out to breakfast?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One Liner Plus ...

In calculus we started talking about antiderivatives yesterday. One student said that it sounded like a vaccine and asked hopefully, "is that something that will make derivatives go away?"

After school I was writing a pass for a student for Wednesday morning, and I was working out what the date would be, so I started counting from Friday, whose date I knew by heart. In my mind I picture the 7 days of the week sort of making an elliptical loop with Saturday and Sunday at the bottom, so in the air, I was kind of pointing to the days and counting forward until I got to Wednesday. The student asked what I was doing, so I explained and then asked how he pictured the days of the week (straight line). That reminded me of my periodically-remembered quest to see if anyone else sees the days of the week in their mind as being in a loop or does everyone see them (if they do at all) in a straight line.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Last year I taught my algebra 2 class a song to remind them of how to work with fractions. (I know, how sad is that that it's needed). This year, my cell-phone-cat-pee girl who was horrible with fractions last year is sitting there working away on some trigonometry problem, finding common denominators and adding things with (gasp) "pi" like the best of them and NOT EVEN REFERRING TO HER CALCULATOR.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Oh My

Dinner with our neighbors/friends turned out okay. Just one prejudiced comment during the whole evening. I happened to mention this reality show where people with "different" (read: non rich/white/cookie-cutter) lifestyles were in a bid to move in free and clear into this uppy-up neighborhood. I never watched it, but I knew of it because I knew of one of the contestants - a great person. So our neighbor was mentioning that, yea, he'd heard of the show (before I mentioned, I think, that I knew of one contestant). He said, "yea, .... bla bla bla ... the scum of the earth ..." refering to the variety of people. You know, people with tattoos, non white people, gay people, etc. Oh my. I mentioned that one of the people was my friend, and conversation moved to other topics. But really.

BUT. The main occurrence of the evening was that fact that the wife has in about a month really deteriorated with rheumatoid arthritis. We're talking a young, 40ish healthy, fit person here, and she can't even use her thumbs, and all her joints are swollen, and she has difficulty getting up after sitting for long periods of time. The last time I saw her, she was "normal", and now she's stiff and in pain. Oh my. Apparently, this is a disease in which your body attacks itself. How horrible. .... And another friend has just had surgery for cancer. .... How cliche, but you really do start to thank your lucky stars that you're (so far?) healthy. Maybe this is what starts to happen after you're in your 40's, health becomes a main topic on your mind and of your conversation ..... let's see, weather, health, .... what's next, talk of "regularity"?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

This & That

Sheesh. Can't believe the school year is 1/3 over. I had a grading frenzy on Friday, so that I wouldn't have a pile (extra) of work to do on the weekend. Go Me. I finished just in time to turn everything back. Now all I have to concentrate on is "antiderivatives" and how to start them next week.

My husband whisked me away for a stay at a nearby B&B for our anniversary. How fun is THAT to do something outside of your normal routine. What I like about the B&Bs are all the interesting people you meet that you'd probably never cross paths with. The other 2 couples there were from a Texas town that was greatly affected by one of the last hurricanes, so we heard stories about how they're putting stuff back together there. One gentleman was also a court reporter, and that was fascinating to hear the specifics of his job.

Today our "racist" friends are coming over for dinner. I've had this battle in my head about how to deal ... my husband suggested inviting them over, and I balked, but.... I guess I'd be perfectly fine not talking to them again, I feel that strongly about it. But then my husband likes them, and they're mostly okay except for their viewpoints on certain issues. Do you keep steering the conversation away from such topics? Do you say, "stop being so racist."? Do you make faces at them about the crazy things they say? Blach. Obviously, I must be wrong and most of the US's problems are due to illegal immigrants sucking up all our resources and ruining our schools and the poor people using up all our health care money. Blach. Blach. Blach. Yoga training to the rescue .... or denial .... "go to your happy place. go to your happy place."

Friday, November 04, 2005


Sheesh. Everything seemed to be sex related on Thursday. Gee, what a surprise, high school boys thinking/talking about sex. It started out with the inevitable "69" shout out when I asked for a number. Then it evolved into someone talking about their "weenus" ? but it was supposed to be some "other" part of their body .... then during my lunch duty I get to watch a young couple practically glued together against a wall that I had to pry apart....then someone was talking about this plastic toy that consisted of 2 small baseballs that had a red light that made them glow (???), so then they had to keep saying, "my red balls, my 2 red balls, my small red balls". OKAY, we get the reference. THEN after school with the students I coach for a math contest ..... one boy pipes up with, "Mr. ____ told us that chocolate stimulates (hmph) the same part of the brain as when you're having sex". We had a little discussion about social skills and mixed company.

OKAY. Enough all ready, little kiddies. Put your pants on and do some math.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Chubby Little Eyeballs

Whenever I'm trying to get the students to focus on a place on the board or on a worksheet or in the book or whatever (and to see if they're processing what I'm saying), I say, "put your chubby little fingers on ...." or "put your studly little fingers on ... " or for a variation, "put your chubby little eyeballs on ...".

Well. When I bought candy for our trick-or-treaters, I couldn't resist the inch-in-diameter balls of chocolate that were wrapped in foil made to look like eyeballs. Now, we had hardly any trick or treaters, so, I got to take them to school and I handed out "chubby little eyeballs". That was fun.

Also yesterday after school, a student was getting help on some trigonometry, and then we started talking about Pythagorean Triples. I told him of the ones I knew - (3,4,5) (5,12,13) (7,24,25) (8,15,17) and then showed him the trick on how I remember the first 3 ..... in that for those, the last 2 numbers add up to the square of the first number, so you just think of (say) 5, and its square (25) and then basically you halve 25 and get 12 and 13. THEN, he asked, does that work for every odd number (since it worked for 3, 5, and 7). I said that I didn't know but I didn't think so. Then we tried some out, and by golly it works .... now I have a slew of triples on hand: (9, 40,41) (11, 60, 61) (13, 84, 85) ... etc. Who knew?

Math! What's not to love?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Politics in the Math Classroom

One of my kids piped up with, "hey miss, did you know that the *horrible hate group* is coming here to rally against *an upcoming proposition*?" Which led to an animated discussion about what proposition he was talking about and such. I didn't want to squelch the discussion, but we had 10 minutes left or so, and I had to finish showing them a particular process. So I said, "we should all be tolerant of other people (except hate groups, of course), whether or not they are like us."

We were getting through our process, and I'm hearing a bit of rumbling & talking about tolerance. Then, after one such discussion, a kid pipes up with, "miss, R___ is lactose-intolerant."

Monday, October 31, 2005


Hypothetically speaking, say you had a mother to whom you have not spoken for 5 or so years. This hypothetical mother has an alcohol problem, has forged family names to get illicit credit cards, has forged an ex-husband's name on an insurance form so that her current boyfriend/husband can use the insurance, has lied to get money that she never intends to repay, has her mother and one sister and father die within years of each other. Has a wee bit o' kleptomania. Now this mother has had an operation and at the same time had a stroke and heart attack. You know this person loves you in her own way, and yet what can you say to this person? Now, your hypothetical father and current mother's husband are trying to get you to call her and talk to her. Now if this REALLY happened it would probably be TMI. Good thing it's all hypothetical. Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Free Day

You know, as in, Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh can we have a free day? My other teachers ...... it's Friday ........... it's halloween ................ I'm tired .................... there's a game tonight ................. you never let us have .....................you're going to make us work today? ........................ waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

I tell them that every day is a free day. I never charge them for teaching them. (and yet they STILL don't find that amusing). This was basically how it was all day on Friday. You'd think I was torturing them by making them work. I did get validation, though, at the end of the day. One girl piped up with, "whew. I've been bored all day. We didn't do anything in my other classes (student comments about other teachers/classes should always be taken with a grain of salt), so I'm glad we're doing something here." ......... Thank You.

I remember a LONG time ago during my first year of teaching, my supervisor would make the comment that the kids need a reason to be there (you know, last day before a holiday .... half days ... etc). I mean if no teacher is doing anything productive, then why SHOULD the students come to school that day? I also remember thinking (in my naive, first-year way) sheesh, what a hard-nose (or other part of the body), why not give the kids a little fun from all the structured, rigid scheduling we have every other day. ..... Now I've changed my tune.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Reading in Math

We're doing a short unit on parametric equations in precalculus, and yesterday I borrowed an idea from Foerster (how creative IS this person?) and was having them figure out the equations to draw all sorts of ice cream cones, cylinders, hemispheres, etc. I gave a little prep talk, and then handed them a sheet that had a great example and a definition of ellipse equations, and set them on their merry ways.

Well. How many times did I have questions and such about how to work the equation? How many times did I explain and walk them through how to read the definition and interpret what things meant/did? How quickly did I change my prep talk for my second (last & favorite) period?

So I think I'll be doing more of this where they have to learn how to read a math text. How scary would it be for them to graduate and be deficient in this way.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

ew ...

My treat tonight for working late and missing tap dancing and going to a school event (which turned out to be fun) was to go to my favorite burrito place and get take-out on my way home. Hmmm.

After a brief wait, my "food preparer" asked me what I wanted. As I was answering, I spied something in her nose. Not wanting to stare (why?) I glanced at and away several time to confirm that there was a boogy halfway on the way out of her nose (still in there, though). Okay, what do you do? Do you say, "I'm sorry, you can't prepare my burrito because I'm afraid I'll get extra ingredients I don't want"? Do you pass this person off to the next unsuspecting soul and wait for the next (cleaner nosed) helper? No, of course not, you keep placing your order and periodically checking that the boogy was still there hanging on for dear life at the end of the food process (whew! safe). But then WAIT. She had to turn around to a back counter to wrap it up (the burrito, not the boogy). So then I had to check her nose again .... where did it go? was it still there? argh, I couldn't get a positive i.d.

And to top it off, she told the cashier that I had a larger size than I ordered, so I had to pay more for the boogy experience .... maybe it was for the performance art. THEN when I came home and ate the burrito ... towards the end, something tasted funny. No. Not that. but more like a vegetable gone bad.

Ewwww. I decided some wine therapy was in order (and it will hopefully kill any germs I've acquired).

Getting Along

My cell-phone-cat-pee-snotty-comment girl was actually blatantly putting out an effort today so much so that she had to call me over and ask a question about a process they were practicing and then actually do it. Then after school, she came to make up a quiz, and I asked her what happened on her other quiz that she bombed. I assumed she just didn't study and was waiting for the re-test (blach! re-tests! don't get me started). But no; she SAID she studied the formulas but not how to apply them. She didn't practice with problems. Hmm.

Her cohort in class who is basically an attention grabber in all sorts of ways, tried one of his tricks of putting his head down on the desk. Usually I'm on him (everyone) to keep their heads up. But with him, I have to physically go over and nudge him up. What a fun game. I finally realized a while ago what he was doing .... "Hey, I'm the center of attention, and I'll do all sorts of things to make you & the class whirl around my orbit". Well, this time (as much as it galled me) I let him keep his head down and didn't make one mention of it but kept watch while I proceeded with the lesson. Everyone else was working. Whew. How peaceful that made it. ... I wonder what will happen today.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Cheating! Cheating?

On Friday I gave a quiz, and when the students were done, they walked up their quizzes to the front of the room. As one boy was handing it in, I happened to look at his arm, and big as anything, he had some of the formulas scrawled on his forearm (sp?). It was so big and blatant, and he saw I was there and he wasn't acting suspiciously, but I had to comment on it anyway. His rejoinder was that it was there to study all day. Hmmm. He's a smart kid, and he really didn't need to cheat, and I'm apt to believe him, but what a poor decision .... or maybe it never crossed his mind to cheat, so he wouldn't even think it was suspicious. Trust me, I've had cheaters before, and you can sort of spot their "shiftiness" and "guiltiness" in their actions.

It reminds me of when I was a freshman in biology, and our teacher had given us previous tests to study from during class, and we were to turn them in at the end of class. I ditzed out and took the tests home and didn't even realize it until class the next day, so then I went up to the teacher (thinking nothing of it) and handed them to him and said I accidentally took them home. Well. You should have seen the look on his face, it all but screamed, "CHEATER". His words were basically to that effect, too. I still remember it to this day. For the rest of the year, I shut down in his class. ....

I don't want this to happen with this kid, so I guess I should have a discussion with him.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Air Show Thoughts

On Saturday we went to an airshow that benefits a worthy charity. It was a beautiful day, and I lost some of my indoor-teacher pallor. One of the wild things was this 23-year-old girl who was a wing walker. Apparently, there are only 5 in the world (?). Sheesh, I'd pee my pants doing that, but it was sure fun to watch her get up onto the top of the plane. On take-off (a biplane) she was lying down on the crisscrossed wires connecting the wings. Then after they were in the air, she walked up to the top wing and strapped herself onto an upright bar and was there while the pilot was looping and rolling and doing all sorts of things. Ach. Scared for her, but fun to watch.

Now of course, I couldn't just go and enjoy myself, I had to bring precalculus quizzes to grade - or "tuizzes" as I call them because I never give tests, and they are always asking if it's a test or a quiz (all mine have about the same point value), so I said they're tuizzes. Blach. Some of the kids I had last year or for 2 years in a row who used to just get by on sitting in class and absorbing, are now really struggling. They got so used to not having to study for math, that now they've met their match. Some stepped up to the plate, but others seem to be stuck in their lazy ways. I keep trying to encourage them to study, and I mention that precal is not like what they've had before, but .... to no avail apparently, based on how some are doing on the quiz.

I guess that's a life lesson. Hopefully, they'll learn it at some point. I guess I wouldn't be doing them any favors by easing up on them. They have to learn the hard way .... but it's still painful to see them fail/flail. .... Then that got me to start thinking about how adults/parents probably do more harm than good by taking care of all the obstacles (in various forms) for their kids. The kids then think that *poof* someone else will make all the bad stuff go away and they can just coast and have fun.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Time Warp

What is it lately that my age keeps coming up in classes? I was goofing around on Thursday when a student asked, "raise it up please" refering to the transparency on the overhead, and I made a goofy gesture of pumping my palms in the air hip-hoppy style (?), "please don't do that again" they all laughed (so I did it twice more). But that made me think of "The Gong Show", and I asked them if they knew of it (seeing as all the old shows keep coming back). No, it's too "old" for them.

Then in another class someone was talking about concerts, and I asked which they were going to. I don't know why I asked, I don't know any of the current artists. Then I started listing the concerts I'd been to, and they were joking with me by naming old bands. Hmph, those old bands were bands when I was in high school.

Then! My (favorite) last period class of the day tried to break out into "happy birthday" while we were discussing the homework, and I shushed them, thinking they were singing to a student, and I didn't want the distraction at that time. Then a while later in that class, there was a knock at the door, and a former student comes in bearing a birthday card for me. (It wasn't my birthday). Someone had apparently text-messaged her, and she got me a card ???? Made my day, but she was embarrassed that it was only a joke (on who/whom?).

I guess (know) I'm at least twice as old as the kids, and maybe even older than most of their parents. Ew. I could even have children myself that are their age or older. Ew. Who's old?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Things my students teach me

Various random snippets of conversation came up today ... all courtesy of my students.

* I burned my tongue. You know how when you burn something, you can blow on it to cool it off and make it feel better? You can't do it with/to your tongue (my suggestion of sticking the tongue out and blowing with/through the nose was not appreciated).

* I saw on TV this study they did where math problems were projected on the ceiling and first students had pillows under their heads, and then they had pillows under their feet, and they learned better with the pillows under their feet. I hate these school desks, so I wish we could learn like that.

(immediately following that conversation)

* I saw on TV that students learn better if they have cookies, so I think you should bring us cookies (my retort was that that just goes to show that they shouldn't believe everything they hear).

* You know that e-mail I sent you last night, miss, about freaking out because I couldn't do the math problems? Argh! I did one problem for over an hour, and I kept getting different answers, so I just needed to vent. I'm better now.


Did I mention I loved my last period class of the day? It's filled with great people. On Monday towards the end of class I'm walking around to help them with word problems, and I (half) jokingly ask, "did anyone bring me cookies? I'm starving." Now I said this because 1. I was starving, and 2. they're always asking me in a variety of ways to bring them cookies. One of my favorite students pipes up with, "I have oreos. Do you want some oreos?" ... then I felt bad/rude and replied that I was just joking, but I thanked her for being so nice.

When class was over, she walked up to me and said that she left something for me on my desk. I looked over, and there was a baggy containing a bunch of oreos. ... and that's one of the reasons she's one of my favorite students.

Monday, October 17, 2005


(okay, nothing to do with the post, but I like the word: chi-POt-le).

On the plus side, it wasn't a full moon, on the minus side, the kids were lethargic today ... mostly. I did have some lively encounters. While I was manning the halls between classes, one little kid on his way to class sees me and calls out, "I haven't been to TMC for a week, miss" (our tardy place for kiddies where they sit) .... He'd been in there a couple of days when I had my weeklong duty a while back, and I started talking with him (I don't remember about what), but I'm sure I somehow brought up the fact that he needs to be in class or he'll end up repeating it or some such thing. I guess he remembered me, and wanted to sing his praises to someone. Yay.

Then my funny/goofy last period class, we're all milling by the door before class starts: me to shut it and lock it promptly when the bell rings, and 4 of them just to gab with me and each other. So we have about a minute before the last bell will ring, and as some kids walk in, they sort of question why those 4 are hanging out by the door in a line. I look at them and say, "they're the welcoming committee.". Then they start to get into it. All the remaining people that were coming into the class were greeted and their hands shaked and clapped for and cheered for. We all started laughing. A nice start to class.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Okay, Friday was MUCH better than stinky Thursday. It started off in 1st period while we were doing the ambiguous case of the Law of Sines, and one girl while practicing and getting the right answers bursts out with, "I love this stuff". Then I was talking to another child, and she mentioned how hungry she was because of various things and that they didn't have food in the house (said all matter of factly), after giving her some pumpkin seeds, I don't know how we got on the subject of her FFA class, but then we started chuckling and saying that when she goes to class to care for her animal, she'll have these thought bubbles, "heeeyyyyyy, you're looking pretty tasty", and go out back and have some "food". There also was a girl that raised her hand and showed us all a visual way to remember which side of the triangle can "swing" to create your second triangle. Yay for students contributing and teaching me new methods.

Calculus went MUCH better. I got a great book in the mail and flipped through it and modified one of the activities to use with my kids, and they all had light bulbs over their heads. (Yay for Lin McMullin). Then in my last classes, I had some good application problems for them to work on while I called them back one at a time to discuss their current grades. I got a chance to put in a plug for doing homework and boosting their will to succeed (we'll see) and a chance to talk to kids I hardly ever talk to (you know how there are the kids that are always participating in one way or the other, and then there are the quiet ones).

After school I had some kids staying (Friday! I missed yoga!), and at the end, when I'm walking one kid out, I asked her if she was going to do anything fun on the weekend. She said that no, she'd probably just be arguing with her sister. Turns out they'll be arguing about public vs. private education. Hmmmm. I told her to put in a plug for our side (go public.).

Friday, October 14, 2005


Thursday was a crappy day generally in the teaching department. Is it an October thing? Is it a teaching a course for the first year thing? No. It happened in about 3 out of 5 classes yesterday. In one class a student sits there tearing up paper ... it's noisy, I'm talking, I'm annoyed and pseudo-nicely tell them to stop. In another class (same seat ... hmmmmm, bad seat karma) a kid sits there with a TI83 and just taps at a key. Repetitively. ... it's noisy, I'm talking, I'm annoyed and pseudo-nicely tell them to stop. In a 3rd class after class is over, I see that a student has used white out to write a message on the desktop. In one of those same classes, one snotty child walks in at the start of class, right in front of me and sighs/groans loudly, as in, "oh my GOD, I have to sit here for a whole period". ... So that just set the tone for most of my day.

But then I had good interactions with other kids. One says she has a new nickname for me, Nerdilocks. Others stopped and talked with me in the halls. Yet others stopped after class and had to tell me their latest joke (hmmm, something about gas ... used in both senses).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Chance Encounters

Wednesday was one of those "plus" days of being a teacher. I was in a good mood, well-rested, the "tester" kiddies didn't annoy me, and I had good/interesting encounters with a variety of students.

We did the PSAT as a school-wide, 3 period event. I proctored 2 different rooms with students I did not know. It's so interesting to see wariness on the face of the students when they see a new adult, so distrusting. Now these are kids that may have reason to be distrusting, so maybe their past experience has taught them to be cautious. However, I smiled and didn't bark at them, and things went okay. ...

Then I see a kid in the halls who should be in class AND he's on his cell phone. I have a 50/50 chance that those type of encounters will go okay. I jokingly said, "wow, a cell phone out during school hours. That's weird." He grinned and put it away. I asked where he should be, and he said class. His eyes looked funny, so I asked him if he was on something. He started to tell me that he was very tired since he didn't get to sleep until 4:30am. We discussed health and such ...

I also had 2 great kids stay after school. One girl has not been turning in her homework and had come in for help. We had a nice long conversation about procrastinating and goals and such ... all initiated by her.

So ... one of those smile-making days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Morning Moods...

Practically every morning I feel a low-grade dread going to work. I love my job, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. I think it's honorable work that betters society. The kids are funny for the most part, and I get at least one laugh because of them daily. It's rush rush rush all day, but that makes the day go by faster.

So. I guess it boils down to 2 things. One, I never think I'm quite doing the best I possibly could. It's always, "oh, you could have taught it that way", "ooh, that's more engaging and grabs their attention and makes things stick", "ach, you could have handled THAT better". And second, you never quite know what quirky teenagery things (besides the full moon) will conspire to make various kids change the whole mood of the class/day/encounter.

I guess I have to give myself a break and know I'm doing the best I could be doing at the moment, and just the fact that I reflect and change things up is positive. But that's an analytic knowledge ... I'm sure I'll still be feeling that low-grade dread/worry/knot almost every morning.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Break from Routine

I LOVED having Friday off to go to a math workshop ... and then driving with a great "book on CD" for 3 hours to have a relaxing evening alone (me time) with terrific Vietnamese food (I would have licked the plate if it was appropriate) and then ANOTHER 3 hour workshop on Saturday to be followed by cool mystery book store shopping and a trip home (again with the hilarious book, Hard Eight, on CD). Today (Monday) we had inservice all day. I guess that's a Texas thing where the kiddies get off on a day early in each month, and we all get professionally developed.

It was meeting, meeting, meeting all day (with a mix of useful and such), so I still have papers to grade, but I beat the traffic, and here I am. Procrastinating.

The workshops on Friday and Saturday were useful really only because I was with other calculus teachers and through some persistent questions, got some good ideas/suggestions for one of my main concerns: how do you get the kids to go beyond just regurgitation of steps to solve a problem and to the state where they can use those "steps" to solve less straightforward problems without whining (too much).

I'd just given what I thought was a straightforward test, and they had bombed. They don't know that they don't know the material in some cases, so they come in all cocky and self assured. In other cases they don't realize that they DO know how to solve these "hard" problems, they just have to step back and think and realize what they know.

Some suggestions: 1. group quizzes structured so that everyone participates and learns and is held accountable. 2. a preview of all possible questions (challenging and not) to work through and study, and then they come into the room and blindly pick a question out of a hat to get graded on. 3. give 3 problems and they can pick the 2 to solve on a quiz. 4. BIG time curving so that they are not penalized if they at least try and make some progress. ...

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Another human nature post ... or a human *something* post. For 2 years in our copy room, the hole punch has been neatly tucked away in the corner butted up against the wall and squeezed between a big copy machine and the paper cutter. A wee bit of a tight squeeze, but, whatever, it worked, it was there, it made holes.

Today I went in to the workroom, and the hole punch was moved just 3 feet more into the room, to the other side of the paper cutter and microwave, and AHHHHHHH why in the heck did we not think of this sooner? SPACE. Is it that you just take what you're given? Is it that it's not really your property, so where it is is where it is? Is it that we don't see it as a problem to be fixed, but just one more little annoyance in our daily existence to bear, and bear it we do?

I don't know.

... but the "funny" post note is that later when I went back to use it again and was happily punching away, someone came in to use that space for an official purpose and politely said they'd just move the hole punch back into the squished corner.

Tap Dancing Lessons

How much do I love my Wednesday tap dancing class. AND there are lessons I can learn/relearn/reitereate for my own teaching practice. She taught us a small portion of a dance. We practiced. She helped out struggling students. We were then confident that we knew the material. She taught us a bit more of the dance. We practiced that portion. We practiced the 2 portions together. She assessed and fixed subtle misconceptions. We experienced success. We learned a bit more. Practice. Put it all together. Praise.

I'm thinking that I have to carry this over to my calculus class. I have this underlying rush rush rush feeling because I HAVE to cover certain topics in a certain amount of time because it'll be on the AP exam in early MAY. Rush. Rush. Rush. I feel "guilty" if I slow down and reteach or have a day I let them practice because, oh my goodness, I'm running out of time. It's only October. I think I need a reality check. They need to have it in smaller chunks, practice, feel confident, before I move on.

In other news, how excited am I that I get to go to a math workshop on Friday, and then I'm "treating" myself by signing up for yet aNOther math conference 3 hours away this Saturday ... so I reserved a bed and breakfast for Friday night, and have already checked out my book on CD for the drive and am SO looking forward to my mini math nerd vacation. PLUS there's the best mystery book store EVER in the city I'm going to (to which I'm going, ahem).

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Deciding Point

Since I've taught different levels of math in high school, I've seen various students come to the realization every year at various grade levels that just sitting in class and paying attention won't make the grade. The kids I've taught are pretty bright, and in the past for most of them, they've been smart enough to just do class work and not study for quizzes and actually do pretty well (A's and B's). Of course some of them always do work and study for tests and come in for extra help if they need it, but then there are the lazy ones that get by on their brains.

The bad part is that all of a sudden, that doesn't cut it. Now if they want to get A's and B's they actually have to put out an effort. Gasp. ... I'm seeing that this year in precalculus with a former A/B student. Now, he's not turning in work, he's not studying for tests, he's barely squeaking by with a C. He's not stepping up to the plate yet, though. I'm crossing my fingers for him because I've seen changes in others in the past where they have the work ethic enough to realize that they have to change their sorry ways.

On a totally unrelated note, we did hand stands in yoga on Sunday. Too exciting. If someone had told me ahead of time that that's what I would be doing, I wouldn't have believed them. I've shied away from them in the past because I just picture my arms buckling, cracking my head/back/neck/... BUT. What good teaching this person did. He started us off slow. We practiced. He upped the bar. We practiced. And all this time, he did not say where it was leading. THEN. He mentioned the "H" word. We all looked at each other in class. Right. But, sure enough, we attempted and did (against the wall, of course). WooHoo. How exhilarating. He always gave us an out and let us stay at any of the previous levels. ... Of couse, then I started relating it to teaching. I should force (nicely like he did) the students to do hard things, because when they attempt it (and not necessarily 100% successfully, but at least with progress), then they'll be impressed with themselves.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Squeaky Annoying Wheels

What is it about the one or two kids that change the whole mood of a class? What is it about a teacher that allows the mood to be changed by focusing on their bad behavior? What is it about human nature that you KNOW this is irrational, and yet it happens over and over again.

I should reread Fred Jones' book, "Tools for Teaching" to get some inspiration to deal with these boogers.

On a positive note. I LOVE my last period class of the day. What a sunny way to end the teaching day. They're so funny and positive and they work hard and work with me and even laugh at my jokes.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Math Party

I frequently joke with my kids and start statements with, "at your next math party ... ". As in:
* at your next math party, you can use the word "asymptote"
* at your next math party, you can impress the babes by being able to work fractions
* at your next math party, you'll get dates by proving a pythagorean identity.

Well, last night my husband and I went to a math party, one given by a math teacher at our school. Teachers were there, spouses and s.o.s were there. I didn't realize we did this, but about an hour into the party, we started talking math. Now, I'm talking math puzzles or thought provokers. I mean who WOULDN'T be interested in such things. One of the sig. others starts chuckling, and his s.o. (a math teacher) says that he had actually not wanted to come to the party because he thought that all we would be doing is talking about math.

Then later, I'm sitting in another grouping, my husband, 2 retired math teacher / friends, and me. Okay, okay, the talk found its way to MATH. So sue us. My poor husband (though he's a computer geek himself), meandered away on the excuse of refilling his drink and never came back. Whew! free to talk math without apology.

Who's a nerd?

Saturday, October 01, 2005


When I was a kid and in high school and even throughout college I ALWAYS went to the movies. I was a movie freak. Loved movies. In fact, one spring break, my goal was to see 10 movies during break. "Going out" movies. Theater movies. Not rental movies. I did it, and I have the frame of movie stubs to prove it.

These days, I can't tell you the last movie I went out to see. This saddens me. I'm guessing it's because I go to sleep at 10pm, get up at 5:30, get home from school at 7:00pm (if I haven't gone to yoga or tap) or 8:00ish if I have, dinner, slight relaxation and then bed. The weekends seem so short and are filled with school work and chores and naps and just being quiet after a noisy week, that I hoard my time and seem to "resent" possibly wasting 2-3 hours of it on a potentially bad movie when I could have been reading or "surfing" or doing puzzles or such. ... What an old fart I've become. I need to break out of this mold and do something totally different. ... Or not :).

Quote I read, and believe, and will put up in my class:
"Do your best. Even when no one is watching."

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Yes, serving duties has its positive side. Again today I had discussions that may never have come up for me otherwise. One kid was telling me about his friend that goes to jail on the weekends and is let out during the week to go to school. The kid is apparently 20 and still in high school ... (robbing houses as a sideline, apparently). Hmmmmm, which high school? ... I didn't ask.

Another kid asked me if I was one of those "crunk" teachers. Pleading ignorance, I got the "low down" on this word ..... you know, it could mean a LOT of things, ... crazy and drunk, ... fun, .... OR if someone does you wrong, you've been "crunked".

On an even MORE positive side, I don't have to serve my duty tomorrow. WooHoo.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Duty Reprieve

The same people I was ragging about yesterday for the duty we share .... we talked and decided that 4-5 teachers doing the duty is overkill, so we're going to split it up in the future and do "part" weeks each and have 2 teachers per duty. ... a win-win situation. I still walked around today and talked with the kids. They're mostly all a different type of kid than I see regularly. A large majority of these "late" kids are the ones not interested in school, waiting to drop out (or at least talking it up), maybe doing drugs, bla bla bla. Of course there are the ones that just get caught up and can't quite make it to class on time this ONCE.

I talked to one kid today who was telling me about this fight he was in and was suspended for for 3 days. I talked with another that was talking about his math class and what he likes and doesn't like about it. And then I had the following conversation with the "jolly" math teacher, a litterbug student, and myself (courtesy of something I saw on a talk show once ... Oprah?).

This kid accidently pushes off this paper onto the ground in front of us 2 teachers. I say, "thanks for coming to pick it up and throw it away." and I wait. Then he asks me if I'll pick it up. No. Then he asks jolly man if he'll pick it up. Jolly teachers cups his hand to his ear and says, "what" .... they go through this a couple of times until the student says, "please". Then jolly teacher picks up the paper and hands it to him. I make a face. "Well, he said please." .... So I turn to the kid and say, "I like your necklace. Can I please have it?" ... "I said 'please' ". ... I was polite.

If your request is off the wall, just saying please doesn't make it okay to ask. ...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Pulling Your Weight

Once a month we have a week long duty supervising kids who were late to class (locked out and forced to sit all period silently in the cafeteria). There are about 4-5 teachers per period. We are supposed to walk around and make sure the kids are not on their cell phones, no heads down, no talking, etc. We're supposed to keep each other on track in case a teacher doesn't show up or doesn't do their work. ... My group makes me cranky. I barely know them, they're all guys, the coaches just sit there and write out their plays or whatever it is they do. The negative science teacher just stands in one place and says, "if the security guy is not going to do anything, I'm not.", the other math teacher just jovially stands by cranky math teacher and chats with him. I'm the only one walking around (or even one of the few showing up). Who ARE these people?

I do NOT feel comfortable saying something to them. What am I to say? ... I tried joking with them about walking around and "working", but to no avail. ... I'm trying to be all yoga about it and make my peace with it. ... Apparently, I'm not THERE yet. Then I feel like, why should I worry about what they're doing or not doing. I'll just do my job to the best of my ability, and it does make the period go faster to walk around instead of just standing there. Deeeeeeep breaths. This is teaching me patience and acceptance and restraint in kicking of shins.

Monday, September 26, 2005

1/6 done ... 5/6 to go

Grades were due today for our 1st 6 weeks. Of course, SOMEONE (no names mentioned), left the grade completion to the last minute (seconds actually), but ... I got them done. Tons of papers to grade and enter and formats to send and export and ...... DONE. Whew.

On a side note. My neck has been aching/sore every morning for a while now, and yesterday I just clued in that MAYBE it's my pillow, so my husband and I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond and plunked down a pretty penny and bought one of those "curvy" "foam-ish" "heat-sensitive" type of pillows, and wouldn't you know it, my neck feels great this morning. Small treats. AND I got to go out to dinner tonight (a TexMex delicious burrito). AND I got to use my new "frog" and "cat" stamps to mark homeworks "graded". .... A nice way to start the week.

Oh yea, and a student told me he saw the following tee-shirt: "5/4 ('5 out of 4') people don't know how to work with fractions" ... or something like that.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Homecoming Mums

Is it just me? Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in the South ... or is it just Texas? Last week was our homecoming week, and on Friday, the homecoming game. Well, so then all the girls and some of the guys are wearing these humongo "mum" flower dangly jingly streamer-y school-color-y things on their arms and shirts and heads .... ew. What's the attraction?

..... But I guess these are famous last words because in two incidents in the past (new VW bug, and the "interesting" school color for our local university), first I was horrified by the ugliness ..... and then, I don't know, I'm thinking there's something misted into the air, some kind of brainwashing product, where slowly over time I find myself first saying, "it's not SO bad", to then eventually, after enough chemicals have been introduced into my brain via the highly secret mist, "well I guess it looks okay".

Pretty soon in a few years or so, you'll see me at Michael's buying supplies for my own mum atrocity.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Student Interactions...

One of my favorite past students ("miss! I'm going to tell my mom you touched me inappropriately." ... when my arm accidently brushed her chest 2 years ago) had to come up to me at lunch today and tell me that I was in her dream last night. She was trying to get out of another math teacher's class and transfered to mine and then the other math teacher started yelling at her and then Hurricane Rita started affecting our school ....... I'm guessing that she was having a disrupted sleep because her room is by the front door, and she told me that she had to keep getting up to answer it at night because relatives from Houston kept arriving. ... She's so funny. She also sold (her mom told her to) on e-bay some concert tickets she wasn't able to use but got at a cheap price. And in response to my question of how much profit she made and was she going to donate it to charity, she said, "yes, the _(her name)_ fund". Hmmm.

Then there's this kid who I've never had as a student, but I see him daily at lunch on my 15 minute duty. He practically always strikes up a conversation with me in a matter of fact voice .... for example: "I'm DYING for a cigarette" .... which led to a long discussion on health ... or "do you like my pants? I fashioned them myself" (studs and reworked bell bottoms) .... or today's, "the reason I wasn't here yesterday was because I skipped 3 periods." (then goes on to tell me ... again matter-of-factly ... that he was mad at his foster mom who was mad at him because he called his real mom who he's not supposed to have contact with ....... Oh my. Well, at the end of the day, when I was tutoring a bazillion kids, this same kid comes by and is doing a fund raiser for/with his class and wanted to sell me cookie dough. Apparently he's a good salesman, because he had a ton of others listed on there and mentioned that his class sponsor told him he's in the lead for sales. Go him. Hopefully, he won't turn out to be too much of a damaged human when he grows up.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pesky Little Buggers

Ach! ... On a positive note, I'm learning *a little* not to hold grudges. On another positive note, I'm learning patience. On yet a 3rd positive note, I'm so sleepy, that my reactions are slowed down, so I am not as p.o.ed as I could be.

I have a student in my precal class who I had last year in algebra 2. He can frustrate the bejesus out of me in class .... he'll pout and not do work when certain things aren't going his way. He does things for effect or reaction. He's a wee bit smarmy and "brown nosey". And yet ..... he's interested in getting a good grade. He comes in after school and is intelligent and makes an effort to understand the material. He has a good sense of humor. He is a generally good natured kid (except for when he's a booger).

He comes into class today late with a note. Obviously something had happened. We'd already gotten started graphing and working with the calculators, so I asked him twice to get out his supplies and work. Nothing. I walked over to him and asked if something was wrong (it was). I also stated that he couldn't just sit there, he had to do something or get out. He chose to leave class. Ick. ...... And yet, here he comes after school to get tutoring for a makeup quiz, all polite and hard-working.

Deep breaths. I'm SLOWLY learning not to see people as black and white ..... good or bad ..... I say slowly, because I'm still trying to make peace with the fact that our neighbor friends we've known for 2 years have slowly revealed themselves to be prejudice against various segments of the population, and if there's one thing that does not sit well with me, it's that. ..... And yet they have a lot of good in them ..... but I can't see myself (yet?) sitting down to a meal with them and carrying on a conversation when I know this fact about them. .... Still processing this scenario.

Seating Arrangements

On Tuesday I asked my kids 5 questions on the overhead, and gave them a few minutes to write their responses before I collected them:

1. Do you have any seating preferences (near/away from the air conditioner) , front/back, and why? List 2 people you can WORK with effectively.

2. How is class going for you so far and why and what do I need to know?

3. What could you do to improve your grade?

4. How can I help you?

5. Tell me at least one good thing that's happening in your life right now.

The answers are always illuminating. It's always confirmed that the people I've seen dazing off in the back row or chatting with their neighbors are struggling and they actually say not to put them with so and so and not to put them in the back row. Others admit that they should be studying more. Invariably I get the "less homework" answer .... (I only give about 10 math problems a night or so ..... am I unreasonable? I don't THINK so). ... Then I find out that some poor kiddies answer #5 with NOTHING good is going on right now. I'm having a tough time in my personal life, and that's why I'm failing ...

It always helps to remind me that they're people and not math machines and makes sure I don't make any "seating chart faux pas" like ignoring the hard-working girl's request that "I'd like to be in the back seat of a "4 pod" because I don't like anyone behind me ...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Squeaky Shoe ... Really

I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I get hot easily. It could be perimenopause, it could be just my make up ... who knows. And because such, I wear tank tops (work appropriate ... knits) most every day ... or sleeveless dresses, etc. Well, today was the start of homecoming week, and we have goofy dress up days, and today was one of the days I could actually participate .... it was "Maui Monday", so I wore a white tank top under one of my husband's Hawaiian shirts .... Ach! 2 layers .... imagine the heat eminating off me. .... I also wore birkenstocks .... those and crocs are my shoes of choice.


Here comes the last period of the day, and I'm hot (and not in an egotistical sort of way). I feel the heat and moisture. I'm walking back and forth between the overhead and the screen to make a point, and an air bubble is CAPTURED between my foot and shoe, and IT SQUEAKED. So, not wanting anyone to think I .... you know .... I said, "oh! my shoe squeaked." .... Then I realized that was probably not the optimal thing to say to convey the actual situation because I can just hear the kids' thought bubbles, "riiiiiiiiight. squeaky shoe. good phrase."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Friday Funny

Okay, so it took me this long to actually LOOK at the stuff surrounding the posting area and realize that some of it could be fun/useful/overused in the near future.

One of the funny things that happened on Friday. I was having my precalculus class explore various angles on their graphing calculators to show that, yes, cosx*cosx + sinx*sinx = 1. We proved it together on paper, and then I had them enter various angles on the calculator. So I would start off saying and entering on the overhead calculator and having them enter on their calculators at the same time, "cosine of ...... what's your favorite angle?" and basically the first person that said something (36, 11, .... the inevitable 69 (ignored)) we'd all put that number in and lo and behold,
cos(13)*cos(13) + sin(13)*sin(13) ... hit enter .... and 1 magically appears. We did it a few times and also graphed and such. Well. One time, I again started off with, "cosine of ...... " and someone pipes up with, "your mama". Totally random and cause for giggles.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Black Humor and Sleep Deprivation

I can now in my infinite wisdom (from repeated experience) recognize symptoms of my own sleep deprivation and bite my tongue before I'm overly snarky to students just being kids. For the last couple of days, I've been subsisting on a lack of sleep (welcome to a teacher's world) because I am blessed with tons of meetings and tons of tutoring and tons of materials to make up for each day.

So. One of the symptoms is going off into that glazed-eye stare and fantasizing about COMPLETELY inappropriate ways to deal with rude teenagers (not in class, but say oh .... lunch line cutters / liars / hall wanderers / litterbugs ...) and all the while in my fantasy having an evil grin on my face. mwa ha ha ha, take that, you inappropriate child!

Someone needs some sleep.

Okay, you also know you've taught in high school for too long, when practically any innocent thing you say has some sexual connotation (sp?). While I'm in class and trying to get kids not to yell out answers .... so everyone has a chance to think and respond, and I can get a better sense of how many and who knows what .... we were doing something with graphs, and they had to name which OTHER quadrant that sine was positive in. So I was having them hold fingers up close to their chests signifying 2, 3, or 4. I said, "okay, put your fingers on your chest" ... pause .... tee hee hee hee "okay, don't finger your chest, but put your fingers NEAR your chest to ...." . Oh my.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Once again, I have to say that I love being on the student side of a teacher/student dynamic because it allows me to see things in a different light, and then I can translate that into my teaching and see what's what.

For example, I take tap dancing once a week, and I have since January of this year. From January to about May we had one of the directors of the school teaching our adult class, and from May until just tonight we had a hodge podge of teachers (all good). Well tonight the original teacher came back from her hiatus.

Now I'm sitting in the hallway, and she passes by me several times, and she doesn't acknowledge me like she has some of the other students. Now from a teacher's standpoint I was reflecting on what I do to my students during passing periods and right before class starts. I'll say hello to everyone I can, but I know that if I get caught up in a conversation with one kid, then I basically ignore a large portion of students that come into my class. Also, it's easier to be chatty and friendly to the students that have made an overture to you, so you (I) tend to acknowledge them more.

Then tonight I got to thinking (as a tap student .... in my heart even though I know it's not so in my brain), "hey" she doesn't even know I exist ... I'm not as "important" to her as the other students ... I don't feel so good. .... Then I flipped back to teacher mode, and I can just pinpoint the students in various classes that I've hardly acknowledged at all (in their minds ... I'm guessing). You know, you have 21,000 things going on at once, and you want to start class and get down to business, and the niceties get pushed by the wayside unless someone else initiates it. ... How many kiddies are sitting in my class and thinking what I thought tonight?

Note to self, have a personal conversation with at least 2 new kids in each class that you hardly ever say boo to.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


SOMETIMES I feel "sorry" for our little kiddies. Imagine you have to go through an 8 period day, 50 minute classes, 8 times your brain has to shift gears. 8 times you're "shushed" and made to think. 8 times you really, really, REALLY want to just chat or hang out with your friends and can't. 5 days a week, 36 weeks a year. I'm tired just thinking about it. We give them 6 minute passing periods. They have a wee bit of chance to yap in the hallways. ... I just remember for a few of our summer in-services, we were put through a similar day (only I think out periods were a bit shorter). Oh man did I start clock-watching after about the 3rd period.

Sometimes it just helps to refresh my memory that these are little people, and not math machines. Sometimes I let them talk just for 1 extra minute or so in class. Not often, but sometimes.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Education Hierarchies

I went to a meeting after school today for all AP teachers. We met with 2 uppy-ups in our district. Oh my. The whole meeting they're all, "tell us what you need. tell us what you need." you know, to raise AP exam scores and make the program more successful. Well, the funny thing is that to every suggestion we had, the answer was either, "oh, we can't get that", or "it's coming" (and that has apparently been the answer for 2 - 3 years. Then one of the people had run some statistical analysis on questions they had asked AP students RIGHT after they had taken the exam. On some of the low scores that reflected on our school, I wondered out loud if we could further probe the students why they answered that way, to get a better feel on how to rectify the situation. The statistics man just would not get it. He kept thinking that I was dismissing the questions and trying to justify why the score shouldn't have been low. All I wanted was to further clarify what the problem was. So .... I guess I don't know the upshot of the meeting, and I don't know how helpful the "central office" people were. Hmmmm.

In other funny news. I'm trying to get my precalculus students to memorize (relearn) the special right triangle ratios, so I'm holding a contest and they have to come up to the front of the room and on 2 projected triangles, they are timed on how long it takes them to put down the correct numbers. .... They were a bit "heckle-crazy" the other day, so we talked about manners, and practiced, and then I said, "okay, who wants to come up here and test their mettle?". They thought I was making up words and wouldn't believe me that "mettle" was a word because I'm a math teacher. Google to the rescue. Hmph. Mettle, mettle, mettle. Goofy little kiddies.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Strizzie .... Strusy .... Strizzy

Way back when we were living in New Jersey (go underdog state!), we happened upon some local dialect where people would use "yous" to talk to more than one person. Like, "how're yous doing?", etc. Okay, first it grates on the ears, but then you kind of get into the groove of "yous". Well, also NJ had a big high tech component to it with lots of companies hiring such people, NEC, Bell Labs, ... , so I thought, wouldn't it be great to create a new slogan, toss it around a LOT, and then pretty soon I'd be hearing it right back and thinking, "yup, I made that up". So my saying was, "New Jersey. Yous're Friendly." ... to combine the two ... now people might not think of NJ/east coast people as friendly, but we loved our neighbors and basically the first week we had moved there, we were invited to parties by people who barely knew us, but knew we were new to town, etc. .... Well, I never got the phrase tossed back at me, and I never saw it on a t-shirt ... so I'm throwing it out once again, and crossing my fingers.

I bring this up because I thought I'd make up a new word and one day (cough cough) we'll see it in the dictionary. You know how nowadays people are all about, "hi. how are you?", "oh, busy", or "oh, stressed out". .... Well, the word is "Strizzie" (spelling still up for grabs) to combine the two concepts: stressed and busy. So the dictionary would look like:

Strizzie: adj. stressed and busy. usage: "how are you?", "oh, you know, strizzie".

Now I'll just sit back and wait. mwah ha ha ha. .... I've used it in one class for one day so far, ... I think I need to up the usage. ... an aside: I'm actually not that strizzie today even though I still have to make up some practice worksheets (ala pizzazz sheets) for my calculus class, and some fraction practice (oh my) for my regular precal class (okay, if pi radians are over here, where is pi/4 radians? 3 pi/4 radians? .... um student fingers wildly roving around the circle and playing "pin the radian on the circle", here? NO)


Oh my. My dad's visiting. My dad that is a really good cook and worked many years in a restaurant in varying capacities and even owned a small restaurant at one time. My dad is Persian. We went to a Persian restaurant that he requested from remembering it from the last time he visited. Oh. My. ... On the plus side, I'm not as mortified as I used to be. Why is that? Am I older and wiser? Or older and more tired? Or do I just know that it's no reflection on me ... his bad behavior. Or that he's just visiting for a while and will be gone soon.

So he plops all his silverware into the water glass and leaves them there until his food arrives. To clean them. Obviously in a subtle fashion, clinking them loudly and ceremoniously. He orders food and when the Persian owner comes by, .... right after my dad says in an aside to my husband that the meat was tough ... and asks how the food is, my dad says in a smarmy fake laughy way, "oh, I'm not one to complain". When the belly dancer comes by and then leaves to dance for other patrons, my dad is mentioning that she's not a REAL belly dancer. Besides the fact that she's dancing. In a belly dancing sort of way with her belly dancing get up and belly dancing music. When the Persian ice cream comes for dessert, he grills the American waiter about the contents, and then proceeds to say, oh, then it's not "REAL" persian ice cream. Oh. My. ... Is it just me? Or is that just all too embarrassing for him. Or just plain sad.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I've learned through trial and error never to assume a kid is putting his head down in class for no good reason. So now I either just quickly interrupt my flow of math discussion with a general call out of "heads up please" or a joking "hey, if I can't sleep, then you can't" or "you're making me jealous". The other day, I walked over to a kid who had his head down and gently asked him if he got enough sleep last night. He said no, he had to "close" at work and didn't get to bed until 3am! I asked if they knew he was in high school and isn't there a law against that. He said that he's 18 and he doesn't live with his parents and basically he needs to close or they wouldn't hire him. Blach. Go figure the poor child is sleepy during the day. What's wrong in the general scheme of things where poor high school kiddies have to go through this (and it's not an isolated case in my school). Today I chatted with the kid and wondered why he didn't live with his parents. He mentioned something about his mom not being interested in him and she had him when she was young and he hasn't talked to her in years. Oh. My. Goodness. ....

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Days

That's one great thing about teaching. Even the kids that get on your LAST nerve the day before basically get a do over the next day. Every day is a chance to start again. Now I'm not saying that I forget the crappy behavior (not doing work, chatting too much, being a nudge), but I guess for the sake of everyone's sanity, we put it aside and try again today. For the most part I have great kids that will work in class and are generally respectful.

Now that I'm typing this, I just remembered that as I was checking my attendance taking program today, I see that I'll have a new student entering one of my upper level math classes soon. The same girl from last year that was one of my biggest sleep deprivers. Ms. CellPhone. Argh. Now I have seen her in the hallways, and she is in my advisory, and she was in the SAT prep class I taught this summer, and ALL those times, outside of my class, she was pleasant. Oops, her real name is Ms. CellPhoneCatPee (due to what happened during finals last year, tee hee). Okay, now here is a girl that is just not that into math, and I'm wondering why she's putting herself through the pain of taking precalculus preAP if she doesn't have to. ... The plot thickens, and I guess I'll find out soon enough.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

My Wednesday


Get up at 5:30 and do cardio on the treadmill. Shower & get ready for school. Take care of the morning duties for the dog we're sitting. Eat breakfast. Plan in my head what's going on in classes today. Get on the road by 6:45am - ish. Drive to school and map out the day and listen to NPR and Old Rock and the Spanish station in a ping-pong fashion to: get news, relax, learn my 2nd language.

Get to school by 7:30 ish. Quickly make the copies I need to make. Brush my teeth and hair. Work through 1/10th of the pile of shtuff that's accumulating like nobody's business on my desk. Promise to get to the rest soon. Regard the funky smell in my classroom & make plan #103 of how to stave it off. Baking Soda? Plants? Open door? Fumigation?

Help students that come at 8:00am for tutoring and multitask putting up the homework on the board for 1st period and setting up and thinking about how to teach sine and cosine to my regular precalculus class.

First period at 9:00am. Teach sine and cosine on the unit circle. Wonder why I'm insulted that they comment that "this is EASY." Second period off. Rush to get ready for 3rd period by making copies and entering grades and grabbing some caffeine and handing back hwk on their desks and putting up the homework on the hwk board.

Oh yea. 3rd period assembly. Herd the kiddies into the gym. Stand duty in the rafters. Ineffectually try to shush the rude kids that continually talk while the poor presenter is talking away. Get embarrassed for our school and the kids' behavior. Pick up trash in the rafters while waiting for the kiddies to herd out the door.

4th period 15 minute lunch duty. Shake my head at the rush of kiddies that actually get out of the long line to rush outside to watch a fight (same kids that would probably go to a hanging in the old days to watch). Wolf down my lunch. Curse myself for eating something with garlic and onions and quickly pop some gum so I don't make any kids pass out. Enter some grades.

5th period. Low key day because I don't want to get too far ahead of my 3rd period class that missed today for assembly. Realize that some students still don't know how to find the slope of a line given the line on a graph. Reteach politely.

6th period. Help a student and rush to get ready and figure out how I'll present stuff for 7th and 8th periods. 7th and 8th, pat myself on the back because I think I found an effective way of having them memorize the ratios (rememorize) of the 30-60-90 and the 45-45-90 triangles.

After school, bounce between 10 students that have stayed after either to retest or do test corrections or get help. Shoo them off and rush out the door to tap dancing.

Rush to the store after tap to pick up supplies for my dad's visit tomorrow, and to get a perscription refilled. Curse the insurance company because what cost $15 last month now costs $40/month. Wonder how much vasectomies cost.

Eat dinner at 8:45. Walk the dog that we're sitting, clean the toilets and pick up around the house. Look at the clock, and it's 10:10, 10 minutes past my bed time and I still have about 20 minutes of things to do.

Think about a majorly caffeinated day tomorrow.

Deeeeeeeeep Breath.

Yet Another One

This is my 3rd year teaching at this school, and it's the 3rd year I have *at least* one pregnant person or a person with a baby in one of my classes. Crap. And she's one of my favorite students (not that I have favorites, of course :)). Her mom wanted her to have an abortion, she didn't want to, so she's moved out. Oh my. What hardships are going to lie ahead for this child. ... It's going to be pretty soon, that NOT being pregnant is going to be the odd thing to behold here.

In other news, my dad is coming to visit for the weekend. Hopefully, I'll find time to clean the "ring around the toilets" and vacuum and dust and such. Food for the fridge? ... I think he has a new girlfriend, since he doesn't seem to be so depressed when I call him on the phone. It's always, "M. this", and "M. that", and "I'm over at M.'s place". ..... Hopefully, this will last and make him happy.

Friday, September 02, 2005

After the First Time Around

Sheesh. I'm teaching precalculus for the 2nd year at my current school, and it just never ceases to amaze me the difference between how I deliver the material the 1st time and subsequent times. For example, last year after teaching the trigonometry topics, I could see that I wasn't as successful as I wanted to be. I (people?) don't know the types of issues the kids will get hung up on or what they'll find more confusing than you think it should be. Then time rushes on and you have to move on to a new topic, and there it is. ... Then the next time around when you teach it and you look at your notes from last year and you read, "they DID NOT get this" , or "they had troubles with this aspect", or "make sure you try that idea you read about on ...", and then you try it out, and wham! they get it! they really get it! ... I love when that happens.

So .... in a sense, I'm a wee bit sorry for my calculus students this year, because I'm sure I'll have a much better grasp of how much to stress certain things and how to approach other things, and how much time to spend on yet other things NEXT YEAR. Ce la vie (sp?).

On a yoga note: I used to teach aerobics, and sometimes you'd get subs and sometimes you'd be a sub, and I really disliked when people were all set in their ways and crabby because they had a sub, and I'd think, "get over it and try something new for one week". Well. We had a sub last week for "Hatha Flow". Now the flow classes I've been to have been more physically challenging than the regular hatha classes, and yes the sweat was flowing and yes after a while you're all whiny and thinking it's hard and it's hard to do the tree pose when your sweaty self is all slippery, BUT. Then you're all pleased with yourself because you've persevered (sp?) through something challenging. So. Our sub was more of the "hatha" variety last week during the "flow" class, and look at me getting all "ew. sub" on her. Blach on me.

On a yoga/teaching note: so then I think that as much as the students at school may whine about something being hard, I think that we have to stand our ground and say to them, "yes it's hard, but that doesn't mean you can't do it" because if they step up to the plate and push through and do it, they'll be proud of themselves. So. Note to self. Don't make things too easy because where's the fun in that?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Early Morning Wake Up Calls

Blach. My husband came home from a business trip sick, and guess what he brought me as a present? Yes, scratchy throat, stuffed nose... Oh well, it's been worse, and hopefully this one is on its way out. ... I've also been getting up at 3:30am for the last few days after going to sleep at 10pm. Who's sleepy and stuffed up during the day? Me! Me!

On a positive note, I didn't get cussed out once on Wednesday. By anyone. In fact, no surly looks even. High school kiddies are great. Who knew?

During my TMC duty (all during one of my prep periods for 1 week a month. this week.) I've been meeting the most interesting characters that I'd otherwise not have interaction with. Big thuggy looking guys and little thuggy looking guys, late to class, so that's why they're in there all period. Apparently, the shirt of choice these days, other than the red tee-shirts, is any black tee-shirt with some picture of Al Pacino as "Scarface". I can't tell you how many I've seen. Shockingly, all on thuggy looking boys. Hmmmm. Well anyway. One little guy on Tuesday nicely recapped the whole movie for me because I haven't seen it. Then on Wednesday I had a long, pleasant conversation with two larger guys. Just chatting. They were very polite and goofy. Who knew?

Okay, it's 4:40am, and I don't have to exercise and shower and get ready for school until 5:30, so I'd better do some work to alleviate later scurry-ing as today BOTH my prep periods are gone due to duty and a faculty meeting. ... But, yay, Bunco tonight.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


That was what one charming child said to me today. My lunch duty for the first six weeks is 15 minutes in the cafeteria to make sure no one cuts in line. I had this same duty for 18 weeks 2 years ago. It's okay for the most part. You get to meet kids you'd never see otherwise. You get to observe crazy teenage behavior outside of the classroom.

And kids (being the "humans" that they are) are set in their ways and always go to the same line and sit in the same place, so you get to know faces. Two years ago, I had the most trouble with a group of 3 boys. They were always trying to cut or steal. I wouldn't let them get away with it, but it was still a pain in the butt to monitor.

This year hasn't been too bad so far - just some lippy behavior & some half-hearted attempt at cutting. Today. Blach. One of my "cherubs" from that 2-years-ago experience, sort of wanders around, and then cuts in front of a heap of students. He's now right at the front of the line with a friend. I "nicely" several times try to get him to the back of the line, but the booger is not moving. I tell the lunch person not to serve him and go get an AP. From what I see, nothing happened to the kid, but I don't think he got food. Later in the courtyard as I'm walking back to my class, I hear, yelled across the way, "F--- that B----". Very charming. Oh my.

And to top it off, this week I have TMC duty .... for kiddies who are tardy. We lock them out (lovely), and they have to go to the cafeteria and sit and be quiet and "pay their dues". Little miss uppity with an attitude also gave me grief today. .... but enough said about that.

In other news, let's end with something funny. I printed out a grade sheet today that lists the kids by their id number and has their grades and missing assignments and such on it. Before I passed it around, I made mention of the fact that they should just look at their scores and quickly pass it to the next person. I hammed it up about what not to do what with loudly yelling, "who has a 0?" or "wow! who is number #####". I ended with just do your business and move on (pantomiming quickly skimming the page and passing it on). "Do your business and move on." .... It went fine for 3 classes, and then my last class of the day, I guess we collectively all had the same thought .... because I then had to say, "well, not THAT business. not in class." Tee Hee.

More Mature?

I remember fondly my excitement before school started of teaching "older" kids and not having any classroom management issues. Can I just say that my 2nd to last class of the day - precalculus preAP - has the most chatty, goofy kids in there. I've tried seat changes. I've tried talking privately with the students. I've done the stern look thing. Tomorrow, (today!) heads will roll (figuratively, of course). ... Is duct tape a good option?

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Super cheesy, but I just got home from a LONG day at school/yoga/football game, and I have to say that I'm feelin' the love for my school and all the "family" it encompasses. It's nice to be on my 3rd year of teaching there, so now I see kids in the hall, and I can smile and make small chit chat with many of them. I was also at our first football game of the year (did anyone ever mention that football is BIG in Texas?), and I also saw many friendly warm faces. I like most of the teachers I work with, and now that I got "surly girl" out of my 1st period class, and "goofy boy" decided to drop that same class, things are grooving. .... Of course .... I know it's a rollercoaster ride of how each day goes, but right now, I'm at the top and feeling the breeze.

Funny things that happened this week:
1. We were walking down the hall to get our math textbooks, and I reminded them to walk like quiet bunnies (or dead bunnies who are also quiet). I see this one boy and girl linking arms and walking together. I forget what I said, but the boy answered me, "I'm a male escort".

2. Same period, and now that I think about it, same boy. On another day, the bell has rung, and we're about to get started and everyone's in their seat, and I have the door propped open (funky room smell), and all of a sudden the boy says, "ow you twisted my nipple" to some other kid. I turn around and say (now I'm at the front of the room near the door), "okay, no talk of nipples in class." At that moment, the whole class, me included, see a person walking past our door .... our principal. We all start giggling. ... She either did NOT hear us, or she chose not to hear us.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Guaging ability level

Yesterday after school our statistics teacher mentioned a conversation she overheard from 2 students about how my calculus class so far is easy and a review of precalculus. I agree with the "review of precal" statement. In our precalculus strand, we spend quality time on limits and even start a pretty thorough discussion on derivatives. Now in calculus, the first 10 days or so is spent on limits. Then we move on to derivatives which I believe only the first part will be a review. Now granted, this is only a total of about 15 or so days overlap .... 3 weeks .... but it got me to rethink things.

My initial intention at the start of the year, was to thoroughly hit limits, and then to throw AP exam type questions at them. ... I had to wait because the questions I found involved stuff we hadn't gotten to yet. Well, so today, I gave a brief discussion on our current limit topic: continuity and one-sided limits, and then gave them 5 really challenging problems to start on and finish for homework. I'm curious to see what I get back tomorrow. Based on some of the performance in class, I'm guessing that we'll have to discuss what are acceptable answers. It looked like lots of students had that "deer in the headlights" look.

I always find it fascinating that you can do the best job that you are capable of the first year you teach a subject, ... I mean, you really, seriously put thought into how you will teach something, and then after you've road-tested it, you see what problems the kids have, or you have a brainstorm in class about how better or different you could have done it, and you make notes for next year. I'm thinking that the 3rd year you teach a subject is when you really start to get your groove going.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Spare the kiddies

Well, I caved in, bought "fabulash" mascara, and started slapping the ol' makeup on again today for school. I even had a comment from a kiddie: "OH! THAT'S what was different about you. You weren't wearing makeup." Oh my goodness, now if I could just get them to pay as much attention to the math aspect of things, we'd be great.

In other news, I made a "funny" today in our precal class where we were working out a homework problem that involved them dealing with something like (x + 3)^2 ... some/many students frequently rush through something that's written in this form and say that it equals x*x + 9. So I said, yes that's a COMMON mistake, and what does squaring something really mean? and they correctly answer "multiplying something by itself", and then I write down (x + 3)(x+3) and to their collective "aaaahhh"s I said, "Hah! FOILED again.". ... Okay, it was funny in class.