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.