Saturday, December 16, 2006

Some days teachers should get hazard pay. Yesterday was one of those days. In the past, our student council has sponsored a door decorating contest for the holidays. Somehow this has tranformed from a simple door design, to an all out school-wide decorating feat. Now each grade level, 6th, 7th and 8th, decorate their designated part of our square school. The overall theme is decided by the student council, but each grade can come up with their own ideas.

Last year was simply winter. We decorated like December in Hawaii complete with teacher replicas on the doors in grass skirts and yes, coconut bras. This year, the kids wanted something more traditional so our theme was "Awesome Winter Scenes."

Traditionally, the 7th grade wins. Maybe it is the enthusiasm of the teachers, the fact 7th graders are just at the perfect age for something like this, I really don't know... but we always win.

Yesterday was decorate day. The entire day was set aside for work. Whatever was to be done had to be done this day.

8:30.... chore assignments based on what the kids had chosen to do. My door was to be a hockey rink, another was to have polar bears skiing with Coke, the other one was to have polar bears bowling with penguin pins. A skating rink hanging from the ceiling in the hall, snowflakes everywhere, snow people in every available empty wall space, a sledding hill with more penguins, trees, icicles, snowmobiles above the lockers. Each 7th grade locker would have either a set of skis, a snowboard or snowshoes with the student's name on it.

Glue, glitter, paint, construction paper, tissue paper, scissors, aluminum foil, tinsel, cardboard, ladders..... everywhere!! The entire middle school hall so thick with kids and supplies you couldn't walk. CLassrooms full of worker bees, diligently attacking their assigned tasks.

The first hour or so was amazing. Every kid was engaged, learning, accomplishing great things... the second hour... well, things started falling apart. To be fair, a large number of the kids were still doing what they should be, their decorations coming together wonderfully. Others were bored with their tasks, there were not enough ladders to go around, and visiting with friends in other locations seemed more fun. Let the wandering begin...

We, the teachers, tried to keep track, but with so many kids, so many places for them to be, 6th graders intermingled with our 7th graders, 8th graders coming to borrow supplies or scope out the competition. Chaos was on the edge of our peripheral. Some of the decorations were starting to look amazing. My door was a 3-D hockey rink, complete with advertisements on the boards, penalty boxes, and nets. It won't even open all the way because the design sticks out so far. THe penguin sledding hill is terrific. Sparkly snowflakes hang everywhere. But there is a winding red and green paper chain from somewhere tanlged down the floor all through our hall and into the 7th grade hall with "guards" by it yelling, "DON'T STEP ON OUR CHAIN!" "GET OUT OF THE WAY!" to everyone walking or working near.

I asked the big plan for the chain. "We don't know what we are doing with it, we just got bored with what we were doing and made this instead."

and so the rest of the morning went...

We cleaned up before lunch, or rather, herded the kids to clean. Brooms, dust pans, glitter, rags, water, garbage cans.... it almost looked worse when they were done than when they began cleaning! :-) My guess, many have never used a broom or wiped a table before!

But alas, the hall is beautiful, the paper chains are hanging low, the aluminum foil skating rink glistens like real ice, the giraffes on the sledding hill are simply adorable.

I am so tired I may not be able to walk to the parking lot....

and I am quite certain that my Christmas bonus check is "in the mail"!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Yesterday we took a HUGE chapter test in math - this chapter is the worst one every year - it covers order of operations, integers, writing algebraic equations, balancing one step equations - too much stuff piled into one but I give the ending test anyway. (Yes, I can think of many reasons not to... but I do)
My policy is if you don’t get at least a 75% the first time, you will redo until you meet that magic mark. Today was reteach/retake day.
Brooke... Brooke is this large, loud, obnoxious young lady from one of "those" families. She does as little as possible in school, reads at a low level, performs low across the board. Brooke's first test score was 34% - typical for her. Today, with her retake Brooke got 91%!!!! She worked so hard, you could almost see the smoke. I asked her, jokingly, "What happened? Did you get smarter over night?" She said, "NOPE... I knew you were going to keep making me redo it til I got it right so I STUDIED last night!" I don’t know who was more excited - Brooke, or me...
Joe... my little Joe who sleeps through almost all day every day. Doesn’t do much of anything anywhere. Joe got 42% first time through. Pretty good for Joe.. not good enough for me. First retake today - he added 20%. I almost just said, "good enough" but no... I gave it back with some more pointers, hints, pushes in the right direction. ANOTHER 18%!!
I love my job.. I love my job.. I love my kids... I love my kids....what a WONDERFUL way to head off to a weekend!