Tuesday, February 28, 2006


It's amazing that one hour of teaching a day can make you feel like you've run a marathon and then had the crap beaten out of you by a passing thug.

Today was funny because we got into some bureaucratic ridiculousness. The school is on the 4th and 6th floors of a building used for other purposes. On the sixth floor, the school janitor does the classrooms, but another guy does the hallways. The school janitor "doesn't do" the 4th floor, so you have to appeal to yet another janitor. There have been disputes within my classroom about which janitor empties which trash can. Which is why I think hiring an independent cleaning company to come in once a day after school and just clean the damn room is probably a good idea. Entrenchment: not a good idea.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Someone encouraged me to start writing again. I appreciated that, so I'm going to do my best here.

I've been exhausted lately because I started my student teaching assignment. I have 2 classes of eighth graders, but each class only has social studies three days a week. So I have one class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the other class Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. It's difficult to teach this way because the scheduling gets all messed up in my head. And I have to try to cram a lot of content into a short amount of time, since they have to take the 8th grade s.s. test in June. And they were supposed to start the year on the civil war and right now be on like the Progressive Era, but my teacher re-taught a lot of 7th grade material, so I am doing the Civil War currently!! I am trying to map out how I am going to get through the rest of the Civil War, industrialization, the Progressive Era, World War I, the Depression, World War II, and the postwar era in the approximately 30 some days they have left in social studies. Easy, right?

It's weird that there's only 3 days of social studies a week. Also we have this weird period after lunch called "Literature group." It's basically group reading, which is good, but they only have 5 periods in the day (plus an hour lunch), so I really think they should tack that on as a 6th period. School only goes from 8:40 to 2:50, which is not enough time I think. It's an ok school, but there are a lot of messed up things like that. For example, every Friday 2 of my girls miss class because they have dance. And that's somehow ok?

I like the kids though. There was one precious moment last week that I loved. I wasn't there, but one of the other teachers recounted this story to me. The kids had this ridiculous speaker for Black History Month. He was a poet, and read some of his poetry about black leaders, which was great. But then he put down his poems and just started ranting to the kids about his far-left political views, like how the first George Bush caused 9/11 and how everything is a conspiracy, blah blah. The kids really challenged him on these views, especially when he criticized black rappers for being too materialistic and mysogynist and then bragged that he hung out with Snoop Dogg. I was proud of them when I heard that.

Anyway, the funny part came when he asked them who the first "gangster" in American history was. He was looking for the answer "Christopher Columbus." But the kids didn't understand what he was getting at in his question. One kid raised his hand and was like, "Um, Biggie Smalls?" Brilliant.

I'm getting more used to behavioral management, although I'm still not very good at it. The hardest thing is the transitions between activities. Also, some activities lend themselves better to quiet than others. My class is sometimes chaotic, although other times I am proud of how it's going. Also, much of the information we're covering seems to be getting across, so I'm happy about that. So much of how the class behaves depends on the lesson plan and how smoothly it operates. Unfortunately I have to do so much on the fly because it takes me so long to plan a lesson that I can hardly catch up with myself.

But for all my complaining, my situation is 10000 times better than last semester, and I am grateful for that. My cooperating teacher is very supportive and helpful, and has given me a lot of free rein to be creative and do what I want. The kids have chafed under some of the changes I've made, but I think they'll get used to them and stop whining eventually.

On Saturday I took 2 of the NYState Teacher Certification Exams. One was a "Liberal Arts and Sciences Test." I think they should redesign this test to have 2 questions:

1. Are you an idiot? ______
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how sure are you that you are not an idiot? ______

I think that test would be pretty much equivalent to the one I took. The other test was a history content one, and that was more difficult. However, it was poorly designed in that, for many of the multiple choice questions, you could make a good argument for more than one answer. In my mind, I would think, do you want the traditional standard textbook answer or the more PC, revisionist answer? Because they're both there. It was frustrating. Still, I'm sure I did fine. Not that I'm done with testing. There's one more, the ATSW. I think it's on teaching skills or something. No idea. Don't care. I'll show up and take it and I'm sure it will be fine.

So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. And I'm constantly wishing that I had a portable cot. Like right now I am wishing that.