Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another week closer to holidays! (that's Brit-speak for VACAY!!!)

Here they are! English spelling thinking strategies posters. I wouldn't say I'm doing much with them yet. But, they are there which is a good start. If for no other reason than to remind me what a crappy teacher I've become here and that I need to remember my six years of training and professional development! Starting from scratch with 9 preps is rough on a person's creativity!

We had our "open night" where perspective students from primary schools in the area come in to check out the school. The science department really wows it up with lighting kids' hands on fire. I used to do this for my 8th graders when I student taught...great for bribery (or I guess for punishment!) :)
Here was my attempt at a "chalk talk" at the end of our health unit with my Year 9s. They got a little silly with it, I definitely needed more building of expectations. But, for a first attempt, I thought it was okay. They sure like writing poo and anus on the poster, that's for sure! Gotta love middle school kids!

Sorry I've been such a sparse blogger. I’d like to say that it is because I am just so busy that I just can’t manage to fit in blogging. But, to be honest, I think it is a combination of laziness and business. Don’t get me wrong, I still spend a lot of time every single night planning lessons but I just don’t often feel like sitting in front of the computer any more after all that in order to blog.

Despite the time I am putting into planning, I am not going to lie, I feel that my lesson quality is LOW! I am allowing myself this sometimes because I just have so many different classes to keep track of that I am literally just trying to make sure on most days that I actually have a way to keep the kids occupied for the full 50 minutes. My year 7, 8, and 9 lessons are actually not too bad, not surprisingly, since I am a middle school teacher at heart and those years correspond to grades 6, 7, and 8 in the US.

I am having a hard time with the high school classes. And, truthfully, with Year 10 it is partly because the content is so ridiculously dry and boring that I just can’t even figure out ways to be creative. Not to mention, that class is mostly full of kids (I think I’ve discussed them before- or a million times) who have zero interest in school so trying to get them interested in the molecular structure of aluminum is totally a struggle. I’ve literally pulled out all of my teacher tricks and I can still barely get them to sit in an assigned seat, let alone complete any sort of assignment. Honestly, we have had to move to more severe disciplinary action because the behaviors are full-on on the ridiculous side of things. These are kids who have issues all around the building and not just in my room. They are a huge argument against ability grouping (they are the low ones if you hadn’t guessed!). We have made progress in that the belligerence level has decreased as we are getting to know each other. For example, now when I sent a kid out of class, they don’t throw stuff and knock over their chairs, just curse a lot under their breath!

The upside is that I have ceased taking it personally as a reflection of my skills as a teacher or as a new/foreign teacher. So, that said, no tears again this week. I did get yelled at by another teacher, which gave me a little lump in the throat, but he’s just a dick to most people so I’m still not taking that too personally either.

I’ve had a mellow, rain-filled weekend. Yesterday I went to see the Will Ferrell movie “The Other Guys.” It was hilarious and it was nice to be the one laughing at references nobody else got instead of the other way around as it usually is. So now, it is Sunday and I am just sitting here listening to some amazing guitar playing and trying to motivate to actually learn about the parts of a kidney since I have to do a kidney dissection tomorrow with my Year 11 students. YUCK! I am a skin-out biologist and I have ZERO interest in the icky, bloody parts of science…also, no interest in space, or products from rocks (at the molecular level.) Basically, the science I am actually interested in like earth science, is taught in geography. Fortunately, my next unit in Year 10 is evolution/natural selection! And, in Year 11 it is genetics so I will actually have some interest in what I’m teaching. I’m not sure how my acting skills are fairing here in my classroom- products from rocks just sucks all around. All of the other teachers think so too, so at least I’m not alone in that.

I will share though that my Year 7 kids are so easily bribed with a Mr. Sketch marker scented smiley face on their papers that they will do anything I say. I have also made each of them raise their hands and solemnly swear that they will be nice to me, always, even when they officially become snotty teenagers! I had to teach them how to go on amazon and find Mr. Sketch markers because you can’t buy them in Staples here and they are ape-shit crazy for them! It is pretty darn cute! They beg me for certain colors every time they see me around the building . For those who don’t know, Mr. Sketch markers are scented like fruit. I like them because they have a chisel-point and they are good for making posters.

Speaking of posters, I now have my thinking strategy posters up but as I feel even more overwhelmed than when I was a first year teacher, I am not doing a great job of thinking strategy instruction. I have done a bit with inferring and background knowledge but in my high school aged classes, I am just trying to keep it mildly under control so that nobody gets hurt!

On an unrelated note, my brother, Derek, turns 30 tomorrow! OLD MAN! Can’t believe it! He’ll never stop being that pester-y little brother to me who did things like catch a duck through the foot fishing, hide from my dad under a table at a restaurant, and bet me that I couldn’t do things like jump up and fall down on the living room floor. Happy Birthday, Little Brother! Love you!

I’ll post a link on the side to this really irritating video on youtube that the kids are obsessed with. At least 50 times a day, I get asked to say, “Hey Apple!” because of this video. They think my accent is hilarious. I still think that English ones are too, but some of my real jerky Year 10 boys are losing their charm!!

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