Saturday, October 29, 2011

General Malaise

Here's a succinct way to explain how things are going: today while I should have been lesson planning, I found myself googling for articles and blogs about quitting teaching.  Things have been discouraging lately.  Two classes near completely out of control, administrator behavior that is puzzling at best, and frustrations with other teachers.  Life at home has been wearying this week too, with Spouse home suffering from an ugly GI virus.  This week has been the first time I have seriously thought about leaving teaching.

It's funny because I can't remember whether things like student behavior, my stress level, etc were worse last year.  They might have been.  But I expected last year to be hard, being my first year and all.  I knew things wouldn't be all sunshine and rainbows this year but I guess I thought it would be better than this.  I do remember this general feeling from last year, though: it feels awful to be trying as hard as you can and still feel like a failure.

Of course I'd never leave school in the middle of the school year unless there was an imminent threat to my health, so it's not like anything would change in the short term.  But I've had to remind myself that I promised myself I'd give this a 3-year effort before leaving teaching or leaving this district for a cushier suburban school or private school.

On the bright side, I do adore quite a few of my kids.  I have a handful of kids coming after school to help tutor other kids... the tutees haven't been showing up but the tutors are a lot of fun to have around.  And I showed the OK Go Rube Goldberg video to 3 of my classes and got a near universal oohing and ahhing over it, even from the jaded kids who hate me and my class.  And I love sarcastic yet earnest L from my homeroom, R from homeroom who is a big serious teddy bear, L from second period who is too sophisticated for most things and yet laughs at my corny jokes and comes by after school to chat and help put up my chairs, J from fourth who writes cute little exclamation-point-dotted notes in the margins when she shows her work, and many more.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I am buried in a mountain of grading, which is not very fun.  However, I treated myself to a big pack of Flair pens in a rainbow of colors and it is perhaps the best $15 I have ever spent.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I take it all back

I may have started crowing too early about how the second year is easier than the first.  Things have gone seriously downhill in one of my classes.  I could say more but I am trying not to be mired in the negativity.  Let's just say I had my first kid sent to the hospital from my class.

On the bright side, I do have some ideas about how to get that class back to being functional, my principal seems to mostly be backing me, I am infinitely more comfortable calling parents than I used to be, and some kids are definitely learning.  So I guess I'm still doing OK.  For now.

I killed a cockroach today in my second period class, which is also a new teaching first.

That's about all the news I have.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bad Mitten

I had this as a draft post from last September and it's too good to just let it die...

I gave my kids a survey about their interests and learning styles. One girl's favorite sport: Bad Mitten.

The honeymoon is officially over.

Things are still going relatively smoothly, knock on wood.  I wrote and then deleted a long list of kids who are either disruptive or not learning, but that's an awfully negative way to start this post.  Suffice to say that I have a lot of kids with a lot of challenges.

But on the brighter side, we started doing calculations with F=ma on Friday and a lot of kids think it's easy, including some who have really low math skills.  We did a semi-successful lab on friction last week too (although I haven't graded them yet... hopefully the work is good enough for me to give some high scores so their grades go up because the grades are pretty dismal right now due to the disaster of the Barbie doll bungee jumping lab... and I need to figure out how to grade notebooks more efficiently).  Kids are making connections to what they have studied in science in previous years at a rate far higher than I remember from last year.  Connections to math too.

I am really happy with the decision to start the year with the forces unit.  It's fairly light on math and mostly intuitive.  I had intended to wrap up the unit at the end of this week but it's going to go on for another whole week now.  Which eats into the energy unit, but I think we'll be able to pick up the pace and get through it.  I hope.

So, things look OK at the moment.  The real challenge of teaching, though, is that you never really know what to expect.  Anything could happen at pretty much any time.