Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Must Wednesdays Be So Long?!

Wednesdays are my long days. My days without prep. My days without alone time. My days where I don't generally leave campus until 4:30. My days that, sometimes, suck.

Don't get me wrong. I love me my second period prep. I love that on most days, I teach one period, get a break to regroup, have breakfast, make copies, and do everything else I need to do, and then teach the rest of my day. I had fourth period prep once; I hated it. I dislike afternoon free time because I don't generally use it effectively. I'm too tired by then to do anything productive and spent lots of it eating my lunch, reading the news, or milling around my classroom picking up stuff. But second period prep is awesome. But there's also no way around one day a week being incredibly long since the way our schedule works, Wednesdays and Thursdays each only have half our classes in block periods: Wednesdays are periods 1, 3, and 5, and Thursdays are periods 2, 4, and 6. So Wednesdays, I teach from 7:30 to 2:10 straight, with just a ten minute nutrition break and a half an hour lunch to break it up. Then 2:10 to 2:35 is Tutorial (which was PACKED today), and then 2:37 to 3:37 is Speech and Debate. Which, for us, was packed today, too. Which is excited. But still. The last Speech and Debaters left around 4:00 (they like to hang around. Which is cute. Sometimes.) Then I decided to try to speed-straighten up my classroom, which I do by setting a timer and blitz cleaning until it goes off. It was rather successful today, but I ended up leaving at about 4:40.

At least at that point I got to be alone.

Since I've been home (after a detour to Target and Trader Joe's), I've had dinner, assembled my outfit for the morP fashion show (why do I get talked into these things?!) (legwarmers, for cryin' out loud!), and baked some baby donut muffins (nom). I still need to make my lunch and pack my gym back for tomorrow, but that can be done as soon as I finish this.

But holy moly am I exhausted. Six straight hours of teaching is exhausting, even if two of my three classes today spent 30 minutes at the end of the 2 hour block writing an in-class essay. I still had to get them through rhetorical precis with a really stunningly challenging article from Time magazine called "Tickle Me Obama." They all completely missed the author's purpose of the article, so there was a lot of 'splainin' I had to do to get them through it. And I was a little mean to a student when she biffed it. I felt bad. But sometimes (and it's soooo rare in my classroom), you just have to tell a kid they're wrong. (I don't generally enjoy telling kids in an English class that they're wrong, because in my opinion, there's rarely a wrong answer. But with non-fiction, the rules are a little different and sometimes, you're wrong.) (Ugh politics cloud everything, too...)

Then in my fifth period class, there was a lot of silence, which annoys me on a fundamental level during a class discussion, but I need to get better about using my calling-on-kids-cards. I need to be training them better. I also need to not be behind in my sophomore curriculum! Oh well. All of next week will be devoted to writing instruction to prepare them for their essays. Huzzah writing instruction.

Feeling like I'm starting to hit the wall now -- sooo tired. And even propped up, my feet hurt. I must have done twelve laps around my classroom in each APEL period just passing back their summer assignments... but on the plus side, it's forcing me to learn names! Faster than ever! And with the biggest classes ever! Can't say I don't rise to a challenge.

Must go pack lunch and get right with the world before I collapse into bed momentarily. And yes, it's only 8:15 pm. What? I'm a teacher. It happens.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Two Weeks Down, only Sixteen To Go

Well, sixteen weeks until the end of the first semester, that is. And that doesn't count the three weeks we have of vacations in the midst of those sixteen weeks.

But look what happened: it's been nearly a week (or possibly more; I didn't double-check my last posting date before I hopped into editing) since I last blogged... welcome to what happens when you're a teacher: you have all of your free time sucked away either by work, exhaustion, or the sheer desperation to live like a real human once in awhile and therefore forget to set aside time to hold up your end of the blogging bargain.

Interestingly, last week didn't necessarily feel that long, even though it was the first full week of school of the year. I don't know if it's because we're still in the honeymoon period, or if I really just like the way my schedule worked out this year (all of my AP classes before lunch, my two sophomores classes after lunch). Not that I'm unhappy that this is a three day weekend -- it's a lovely little reward for surviving the first eight days back. But this last week didn't feel like an eternity.

Let's see. What is there of note to report about this week? Well, there's the ongoing drama of the potential gas leak in our building. Now, I think there are two kinds of people: Those who are naturally alarmist about these kinds of things, and those who are naturally apathetic. I fall into the "naturally apathetic" category, if only because I generally tend to feel that I have way better things to expend my energy on than chasing people around to make them come and smell my classroom. Yet several of my teaching homies seem to fall into the "naturally alarmist" category, and this is probably because they are older and wiser than I. So all together, we've sort of whipped ourselves into a frenzy about the issue.

To backtrack, our rooms smell of natural gas often. And as one of our science teachers pointed out, if there's enough of it that you can smell it, then there's potentially a problem, because as Ross Gellar explains in the episode of Friends called "The One Where Ross Flirts," they actually add a scent to gas so that you know when it's leaking. Marie and I have been smelling it pretty much since we moved into our rooms, but lately it's been really bad. When we asked about it, and when the district looked into it, they basically waved it off as being no big deal. Something about the A/C units having a gas ignition and so when it's a cooler morning, we'll smell it. But most of us aren't buying that.

The thing is, I've had all kinds of very bizarre health things happen since I've been working at Poway. Generally, I have passed them off as being stress-fueled, or genetic (I tend to pass off all stomach-related issues as being genetic), but now I'm starting to rethink this. I have had vertigo off and on for about two years now, and though the doctor and I had chalked it up to stress and dehydration, I'm starting to think that my bouts of headaches and dizziness might be due to this gas leak. And Peter said that he's already been getting headaches and he's new to that room this year. So ... yeah. We've all been trying to convince the powers that be that there's potentially a real issue happening in the building, but they've decided that they've looked at it enough.

What makes matters more interesting, though, is that I actually had the first student smell it and comment on it; I've never had a student notice it before, as generally it is strongest in the morning when I first get there and then because I open and shut the door several times before school starts, it usually dissipates by the time they're in there. So I was surprised they said something, and this was enough to make me think that perhaps we need to look into it further.

Other than that ongoing drama, though, there's not much else to report. Had to stay late on Wednesday for a department chair meeting, which though informational, sometimes make me want to jam my pen in my eye. Most of the time it's productive and produces good conversation, but other times, I wonder why it seems like others aren't as anxious to go home as I am. I don't even think I would be annoyed with anyone ever if they really thought carefully about what they were going to say before they said it, but then again, I think that might be a lesson we all need to learn.

Have had a few kid-related issues so far; hopefully these aren't a preview of my year, but one of them involved a parent angry when they didn't hear from their child's teachers, when actually none of us received the email because our spam filter ate it for some reason I've yet to determine. (Their email address was from a legitimate carrier and all that stuff..). Thankfully I'm savvy and can go through the spam filter reports and find things, but it also makes me start to wonder how little email people are getting if they don't know that if you don't get a response after a first email, that you should always send a second polite email. After two, you're allowed to get mad. But let's make this more concrete: last year, I had a parent really, really angry with me because I didn't respond to an email in a speed that satisfied them. So after one email, they went straight to anger, when I hadn't even seen the original email. Turns out it had gotten lost in a swirl of all-department emails about some really contentious issue that I can't recall now -- probably about the schedule changing discussion we were having last year. So I was getting three or four emails every four minutes as my department attempted to provide their perspectives and feedback on whether or not to pursue a change in schedule at this time. So this one email was sandwiched between about fifteen or sixteen emails generated by my department. I simply hadn't seen it. But instead of recognizing that possibly it just didn't reach me or didn't get read somehow, and writing a polite but firm follow up along the lines of "I emailed a few days ago; just wanting to make sure you read it and have had a chance to think of a response. Thanks," they go straight to anger and snark and that's just no fun for anyone. I will email you back. I'm actually really good at it. Sometimes it'll even be from my BlackBerry if the answer to your email can be short. But sometimes, they physically don't make it to me, and sometimes, they just get missed.

On that note, it's Sunday night and I've been grading and am sleepy. I'll continue catching up tomorrow.