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.