Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You look like...

As a white teacher of black and Hispanic students, it is interesting to hear how they perceive me.  I am not talking about deep discussions about racial issues, because I don't normally get into those.  More like, another white woman stops by my class and the kids ask if she's my sister because they say we look exactly alike.

Today we went on a field trip to the aquarium and while watching three aquarium workers scuba diving in the big tank, a group of my students asked me if I ever worked at an aquarium, because, "Miss, you look like a person who would work at the aquarium."  I pressed them a bit about what they meant by that.  I think they just mean that I am white.  I asked them if they would want to work at the aquarium and they all said no.  I'm wishing for more diversity in what my kids see as their options.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Today was not only the last day of the first term, when I have my kids do self and class evaluations, but also the day of my annual observation/evaluation.

I haven't gone through the class evals yet, but from flipping through it appears that 1st and 2nd period mostly like me and my class, and 3rd and 4th not so much.  Not shocking.

I didn't know what to expect from my administrator evaluation, since last year my principal basically pasted my name into a document written about someone else (I don't know who, but someone who runs a very different class from mine).  This year I had a brand new Academic Director doing mine and he actually had a pre-conference with me and then spent an entire class period, bell to bell, in my room.  And then after school we sat down and had a nice, productive, encouraging half hour post-conference about what he saw as strengths and "deltas" (gosh I hate that euphemism).  It was actually 100% awesome and I went home smiling after an exhausting day.

Last year, whenever visitors came to my class and chose a student to ask about what we are studying, how class works, to show their notebook, etc, they had the uncanny ability to pick a kid who has no idea what is going on and/or actively dislikes me or school enough to portray the class in an unfavorable light.  Not today.  Mr. W. sat down next to R, one of my absolute favorite students, who DEFINITELY made me look good.  So, big thanks to my buddy R for convincing Mr. W that I am organized, offer useful feedback to students, and have class procedures that run smoothly.  I should probably buy you a whole bag of Kit Kats.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Last year I sent kids out to the stairwell to collect walking and running data, so we could calculate work and power.  This year the principal vetoed the activity since things have been a little crazy around the freshman academy lately.  I really think my kids could have handled it (well, OK, I would only have sent the ones I can trust) but she's the boss.

So we collected data for pushups instead.  In 3 of my classes I had a dozen volunteers clamoring to be one of the 3 kids who got to come up and do pushups on my front lab table with the entire class watching.  And an impressive mix of boys and girls.  But in my second period class, where the kids are more academically oriented and apparently more self-conscious, I only got one volunteer.  With a bribe of extra credit points, I got another good sport.  But nobody else was willing.  So I took off my sweater and my lanyard of keys and climbed up on the table myself.  The activity required 5 good form pushups.  I managed 3 with decent form, then the fourth was weak, and I barely made it through the fifth.  The kids were rolling and I was laughing too.

And the best part was, the data in that class came out GREAT for proving the difference between work and power.  I did the most work because my weight was the biggest, and the two students had the same weight but one moved a significantly larger distance, as measured by my meterstick-brandishing volunteer, so their work values were different too, despite the identical weight.  And my power was much smaller than theirs, despite my larger work value, because it took me almost twice as long to get through the pushups.

I could not have rigged the data any better if I had tried.  I guess that's the hidden benefit to being sadly out of shape?