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.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Weekend Treats

It sure was nice being able to sleep past 3:30am for the last 2 weekend days AND take naps in the middle of the day. I think I'm almost all caught up and ready to "de-sleep" this upcoming week. I also had lunch (after yoga) with S. today, who started at my same high school the same year I did, and left before this year to go to a charter school for various reasons. She's teaching math and science to middle schoolers, and it sounds like she's already making an impact. Oh my goodness, more power to the people who work with little people. I do not think I could handle that age range with their bouyant (sp?) energy and little hormones and tattling and such. Ooh, and the "no time to go to the bathroom" issue? Blach. BUT. Her classes are all less than 18 students. Yum. And it sounds like she gets to do some cool science experiments.

I brought work home (the dreaded 7 day work week), and gosh golly, it sure is hard to get motivated to do it. ... Okay, here I go.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Whew! To the 1st Week

I feel like I should be belting out the "Love Story" song .... "Where do I begin ....hmmm hmmm hmmm HMMM hmmm...." (except the cats would be howling and there would be boots and rotten tomatoes thrown).

I have now just officially finished my first week of school, and shockingly enough I'M TIRED. In fact I am so tired that I kept yawning (quietly) in yoga class after school. I swear if she had turned out the lights and had a soothing shavasana, I would have been one of those people that started snoring.

First week was good, but I don't have my timing groove yet. I have 3 math preps and all week I was scrambling to finish up 1st week craziness in addition to figuring out the pacing for my "regular" class and putting out my best effort for my AP Calculus class and so on and on and on. So I've been good about going to bed at 10pm, but then that whacky 3:30am ... 4:00am eyes-wide-open thing started happening. Then I figured that since I was up, I could find "pockets of time" to finish up lesson plans and correct papers and cut and paste for assignments and such. ... But enough complaining.

I love my classes. In fact there are some students that I'll have now had for 3 years, and they're so cute and happy. Who says teenagers are surly and ill-mannered? ... Okay, I run into some of those. But my heart is warmed by all the hugs and hellos I've been getting. ... Now I'm CHOOSING to interpret the following in a "good" way, not an "oh my god you look old" way.

An aside first. All summer I didn't wear makeup, and I sort of got used to it, and then when I put some on during our 1st inservice day, it felt so fake and gloppy and wrong. Now we're just talking mascara and eyeliner here. So then I started thinking about going all year without wearing it. Sure, I look okay now, what with my piddly little tan, but talk to me during my pasty white days come October. Anyhow. I also stopped wearing my glasses ... my eye sight is not that bad, and I can make do. It's been so nice just to dress up for school and then not have to "do" makeup (especially now since I'm exercising at 5:30am .... BFL) and am super sweaty even AFTER my shower .... that I sometimes have to wait to get dressed (TMI, sorry) until I cool down.

So. Today (Friday) between my last 2 classes of the day, one of my former students who I had for 2 years, but don't have this year, comes to say hi. "Can I give you a hug miss?". Well, sure ... I ask her what that's all about, and she said that "everyone" was mentioning how I looked all tired and stressed out and just wasn't myself and she was worried about me and didn't want me to die. .... Okay I'm only 40 here. Do I look THAT crappy without the makeup? Was she just being genuinely concerned? Or was that some subtle (?) hint to get with the program and stop scaring the kiddies and slap on that face paint already? I'll have to sleep on it (a LOT) this weekend.

Other than that, my regular class .... hmmmm ... I have to figure out what will work with them. They seem to be of a wide range of abilities and attitudes and I know it's only been 4 days with them, but I don't want to lose them. It's a regular precalculus class, and they don't even need it for graduation, so more power to them for signing up. I will keep having to adjust until I figure out what amount of examples will work and make them comfortable enough to do homework. They are working in class, but I'm sensing that I'm going at the wrong pace ... I'll figure it out.

Okay, bla bla bla. Get to bed already, you old hag.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Last "No Students" Day ... (sort of)

I am criminally optimistic every year about my abilities to plan for the WHOLE first week before the start of school. I am now officially ready (mostly) for the first day of school tomorrow. I have a vague outline of what I want to do in my precal and calculus classes for the rest of the week. Do I have work "made up"? No. Do I have copies made? Ha ha. I think I'll just have to face the facts that I'm a last minute person (until next year). It all seems to get done eventually, so no (big) worries.

There were a plethora of students around today from student council and what not putting up banners and decorations and such. I got to see some of my favorite kiddies and chat with them, and some of them will even be in my classes. Yay. Some of them I will have had for 3 years. I love it. ... I'm feeling good about this year. I think AP Calculus AB (ooh, official sounding) is going to be a blast. I have a better handle on the level and depth and strategies and such of how I want to teach precalculus (this being the 2nd year I'll have taught it here). I have "older" kiddies, so maybe less pain-in-the-butt class management issues. So ... I'm psyched for 2005-2006. WooHoo. (talk to me before Christmas, please, and remind me of this feeling :) ).

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

First "Official" Inservice Day (2nd "real" one)

Today we met at school and basically had 3 goals to accomplish in addition to being able to spend time in our rooms. Sheesh the day goes by fast when you have so much to do and are just starting and running back and forth to take care of details and talking with friends and hashing out class ideas and getting keys and going to meetings and going out to lunch and cajoling the counselor to let you get an early peak at your class roster even though it's not official and so on and so forth.

I destressed (not that I'm stressed ... yet) at yoga afterwards, and boy do my back and all my joints feel healthier for going. ... More fun tomorrow.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Inspiration: Day 1

Today was our first day of inservice, and it was pretty inspiring. First of all, it was fun to see all my teacher friends that I hadn't seen in ages. Of course at this point in the year, everyone is tanned and well-rested and they have no evidence of stress on their faces.

We watched some great teacher clips from various movies and saw some amazing quotes that I wished I could write down to think about. Our principal and a few key other people put out their best effort to bring us all together and to think about the 3 R's of school: rigor, relevance, and relationships. ... Makes you re-committed to putting out your best effort for the following school year.

We've also hired 5 new math teachers this year (for a total of 20 math teachers), so I had a chance to put names to faces. It's funny how after 9 years, I've basically/usually been working with the same "type" of math-teacher person for the most part: hard-working, not too put together/made up, sense of humor, friendly, ... Today, one of the teachers struck me as different from the mold, and I found myself going all judgmental on this person. Blach. Who. Am. I? I don't even know the person, and I'm already making some assumptions. Stop it. Be a good person, missy.


Inservice starts today, and I couldn't sleep for the 2nd night in a row. Oh well, I'm guessing that it'll all even out and become routine in a bit ... or I'll pass out from exhaustion and get my sleep that way.

I had a great summer and got to visit all sorts of friends in various cities. Friends rock. I also got the unexpected surprise of finding out that I'm teaching calculus this year. Woo Hoo. I went to an AP workshop and have been studying my little heart out, and I'm way excited.

Other than that, I'm going to try .... no, I'm GOING TO get up at 5:30 (or earlier!) every day to do 20 minutes of exercise (cardio or weights). That plus the yoga and dancing and excellent eating habits (cough cough) should do wonders for this aging body.