Next Year

Well, right now, I’m sitting in my living room listening to the wind blow, the rain roar, the hail fall, and the thunder rumble. My part of my state is experiencing a huge late-day storm (we usually get them at night, as far as I can remember) — my parent’s house (they live north of me) has no power. Thankfully, my parents have a non-cordless land line phone.

We had our “plan time” for summer school today — as far as teaching goes, this will be a cake-walk. On one hand, this is not a program that is what you’d want to see happen in a classroom during the school year. However, this is credit recovery. These kids are here to earn their credit — they need buckle down, do the work, and as Larry the Cable Guy says “git er done!” So, this plan to have them work independently (as much as they’re able) and to essentially prove they can demonstrate their mastery of standards via this work — I’m okay with it. Also, the lack of planning that is necessary on my part is fantastic.



Next year, this is what I’d like to accomplish in my junior English class. Let me know if you think it’s do-able.

September/January: 1 essay, 1 speech (memorized poem recitation)
October/February: 1 essay, 1 group presentation (4 to 5 minutes & 4 to 5 people) **Feb = state writing test
Read 1 major work by this time
November/March: 1 essay, 1 partner presentation (4 to 5 minutes)
December/April: 1 essay, 1 speech (solo! — 4 to 5 minutes) ** Apr = state reading test
Read 1 major work by this time
August — winding up stuff (short works, etc)
May — winding down stuff
So…2 major works for each semester, which will be supplemented by various other texts: speeches, essays, short stories, poems, etc.

Remember, I’m on the 4×4 block, at least for one more year — rumor has it that our new principal would like to change our schedule to A/B Block. M&W=A, T&Th=B, Friday = all (meaning each class would meet for about 45 minutes). We couldn’t change it till the 2011-2012 school year. I personally LOVE the idea of an ABAB/All schedule.

Side note: don’t get me wrong, I LOVE teaching juniors. I love that age group (even when I don’t). But I HATE that the feds have decided (or our state has decided?) that this is the age-group that needs to prove they know what they know. They are tested up the whazzoo. It’s ridiculous.


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and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high…

Or, if you so choose, you can think of the Will Smith song Summertime (from my junior high days)…anyway…

The question du jour lately is what am I doing this summer? I’m actually doing a lot. When I don’t have stuff to do, then I take things to the extreme in the opposite direction. I much resemble a slug, in fact.

1) Summer School: I’m teaching summer school at a different school w/in my district. Let’s just say, that summer school will be a cakewalk. Little to no planning, plus $30 an hour for half days till June 29? It’s awesome. Plus, it will help pay for my classes next fall and spring.

2) Grad school: I’m taking two classes as part of my grad program this summer. First class is Colloquium on American Lit, the second class is Reading Problems. My reading list is pretty extensive.
American Literature
a) With Rigor for All by Carol Jago
b) Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
c) Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
d) Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
e) The Fall of the House of Usher and other writings by Edgar Allen Poe
f) Collected Stories by Willa Cather
g) selections from the Norton Anthology from 1865 to the present

Reading Problems

a) Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
b) When Kids Can’t Read by Kylene Beers

After all my “edumication” is over, I have a family trip planned for the fourth of July weekend. I also have to attend PD related to new grading practices my district. We are planning to move to a 5-point grading scale next year. I’m not sure how that will work or look. But, at least we’re not changing our grading practices in one fell swoop.

I have one more thing that I’m hoping to do during July, but I don’t know for sure about that yet. So, when I find out, that’s another post.

What about you all? What are you doing for the summer?

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Filed under American Lit, books, summer school, work

End of Year Three

Well I finished my third year of teaching yesterday. In some ways it seems a bit surreal. There are a number of reasons for this:

1) I woke up in a panic at 6:18 this morning, thinking “crap! I slept through my alarm again!”, only to remember it was Saturday.

2) My 4th block class, which was my worst class of this quarter (but not for this year)…many of them wanted to give me hugs yesterday at the end of class. It was odd. But, sweet at the same time.

3) I wasn’t feeling like I’d gotten through very much with my students this quarter — till I made their final and prepped for their speech. We’ve read a lot. However, I’m not sure we were very in depth with it.

4) I survived this year. Like many of my coworkers at my school, and many fellow teachers in the blogosphere, this was a TOUGH year. 2009-2010 is something we can say we made it through. One of my coworkers who teaches freshmen brought something to attention (to a few of us in the English dept) this week. This year’s freshmen were first graders when No Child Left Behind was rolled out. This year’s freshmen were assholes (sorry for the language) to many of their teachers — a sense of entitlement, of “you can’t make me do anything”, of “so-what” regarding consequences was VERY present in this grade at our school. Is it a coincidence that NCLB has shaped their entire education? I think not.

5) I bit off WAY more than I could reasonably chew this year. Besides just teaching (which was under a new curriculum, of sorts) I started grad school (online, thank god — it was wonderful doing homework in my pjs), I was involved in a multi-school effort to get kids discussing social justice, I did after school credit recovery…and that was too much. If I had to choose again I would probably have axed or said no to the multi-school project. It was fun, but I don’t feel I gave it enough attention and that was to the detriment of many.

last but not least

6) I DID receive my contract, and tenure, for next year. For those of you have read me this year, I started getting really nervous about whether or not my school was going to keep me on next year. I haven’t been 100% happy, but part of that is that I still am questioning my effectiveness as a teacher. Part of it has to do with my classroom management skills, but…either way, I need a job. Now, I have one, guaranteed until I decide to find one somewhere else. And, I might look next year. I might not. We’re getting a new principal next year, and she might make enough changes (hall sweeps, jeans every Friday, etc) that my school might become the perfect place for me. I just have this feeling that these kids (from my city’s version of the inner city/urban) need me. All students need great teachers, but…you guys know what I mean…

Now, if only I knew what classes I was teaching next year. Yup…we’re told we probably won’t learn till late July. Can we say STRESS?!


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A meme…for lack of anything else to write about…

A meme, stolen from the loverly and talented Mrs. Chili.
What I was doing 10 years ago: Oh crap — 10 years ago in May was the end of my undergraduate career at my Alma Mater. This week or next week would’ve been finals week. I spent a lot of that week panicking about a) leaving my then boyfriend and b) finding a job — IN RADIO.
Five Snacks I would enjoy regularly in a perfect, non weight-gaining world:
1) my mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies 2) cheese — like Gouda & stuff 3) hostess foods 4) mt dew and coca-cola 5) candy (chocolate). I have a real sweet tooth, and unfortunately, I eat this stuff fairly regularly which is why I’m a pudge.
Five things in the real world?:
1) Sushi (yummy!) 2) veggies and ranch 3) chicken (in various forms) 4) Mexican food 5) Italian food
Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1) Buy a house, in cash 2) Pay off my school debt and all my parents debt 3) Buy a car 4) donate money to find a cure for leukemia & other stuff 5) Buy BOOKS!
Five jobs that I have had:
1) Radio News Director 2) Social worker 3) Teacher 4) deli worker at a supermarket 5) Walgreens (ick)
Three of my habits:
1) Slovenliness (I hate cleaning) 2) Procrastination 3) Singing in harmony to the radio, etc.
Five place I’ve lived:
1) this apt 2) house in a suburb 3) apt alone 4) apt w/ roommate 5) parent’s house (all in the same state, so can’t give it away)
Five things that can be found in/on my bedside table:
1) cell phone 2) glass of water 3) box of kleenex/tissues 4) hair elastics & barrettes 5) allergy meds
Well, that’s it for now peeps!

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Upcoming movie

Not sure what to think about this film quite yet. It looks interesting, but I don’t want it to be something that slams everyone and everything in education. There are real problems out there and the blame doesn’t just belong on one set of shoulders.

So…go see the trailer. And tell me what you think.

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Filed under etc, expectations, students, teaching, Uncategorized, work

Teacher Appreciation Week

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. Rather than complain about all the things I could complain about, and contine to be negative nelly…I want to celebrate my favorite teachers instead.  DK, AK, RW, TB, LB, MV, DN, AS, DH, DJ, JH, and TB2– I am who I am b/c of you. less than 5 seconds ago via web.

DK and AK: my parents. Without them, I would be lost, in so many ways. They raised me right and I’m thankful for it.

RW: my high school English teacher. She was always one of my favorite people, and I loved having her as a teacher. In fact, she is who inspired me to become a teacher.

TB: my high school history teacher for AP American History. He allowed be to be creative and didn’t seem to mind my sarcasm. I enjoyed his classes immensely, not just because they were interesting .

LB & MV: my fourth grade and sixth grade teachers, respectively. These women made all the things that weren’t English related fun when I was in elementary school.

EW: my sixth grade reading/English teacher. She taught us to speed read, introduced us to poetry, and took us on walks to the nearby park. I still remember the day we went and had to dry out our clothes on the radiators because of the snow. Perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had while learning.

DN: Ninth grade English teacher. She made me work for my grades and didn’t just accept that my work was good enough. I appreciate that now, though I might not have then.

AS & DH: My high school band and choir teachers, respectively. Though AS has passed on (R.I.P.), I still think of him so often. He was the first teacher to make me feel guilt — my talent at my instrument could be so much more, he said, if I’d only practice. I was a music major because he made me think it was possible. Meanwhile, DH was the first vocal teacher to appreciate my talent in that area. Everyone else didn’t think I could sing.

DJ: My college flute instructor. I’ve never worked so hard in my life as when I was preparing for my senior recital. She never gave up and used just the right amount of guilt, shame and encouragement to keep me working.

JH: My college communication teacher, who enjoyed my research but told me I couldn’t really write. It was a hard pill to swallow, but those lessons were oh so necessary.

and finally

TB2: My poli-econ professor. I didn’t understand the subject, but she taught it well enough and had high expectations that WORKED for that B, and totally appreciated it as well. May she R.I.P. as well.

When I look back over my life, I am blessed to have SO MANY teachers who have made a difference in my life. I can only hope that I am that teacher for at least one of my students. I hope they’ll look back, when they’re an adult, and think, “Man, MidwestTeacher was super tough, but I learned so much from her — and I’m glad she was my teacher. ”

So…thank you, all of you. I’m glad you were my teachers.


Filed under about me, family, gratitude, teaching, understanding