Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Today's posts will be random ramblings, so be forewarned!

Sunday afternoons invariably find me at school, prepping for the week. With 3 academic classes to prepare for and one hour of prep time during the day, I simply do not have enough time to get everything taken care of - lesson plans written, website and PowerSchool updated, assignments corrected and recorded, etc. I could take things home at night, but I choose to do that very rarely. Instead of hauling things, I find it much easier to come in early each morning, and then on the weekends to keep caught up. I am one of many teachers in my district here on the weekends doing the exact same thing. Winter has kicked in here in the Upper Peninsula. Our building has a terrible, old heating system. It is now being shut off on Friday afternoons and turned back on Monday mornings. When I was in school this weekend, it was 54 degrees in my room! Just a tad chilly for working. To me, this is treating teachers as un-professionals. I can guarantee if central office personnel had to work on weekends, they would certainly not expect them to sit there in the cold! It just irritates the heck out of me that because we are "just teachers" it doesn't matter if we have heat or not!

Onto other ramblings now...

Each year, when my social studies class begins its study of world religions, I invite our district's transportation director into my classroom to talk about Native American spirituality. Because we have a significant Native population in our area, most students are somewhat familiar with powwows, various medicines such as tobacco and sweet grass, as well some of the tribal contributions to our area. He does a great job of explaining how most world religions actually have much more in common than they have differences. His overarching talk sets the tone for our more indepth look at religions which often seem foreign to my almost entirely Christian students. What a great way to utilize a school employee in a new way!

The homework saga continues..... I gave my math class 7 problems multiplying fractions for homework yesterday. They had about 10 minutes in class to get started, enough time that several students finished the work. Those were kids who know their multiplication facts, and who came to me fairly well prepared for 7th grade math. Keep in mind that multiplying fractions is actually NOT 7th grade material, but we review it quickly before moving on to other things. However, even with this short assignment, I have students who did not take it home, who do not care, who refuse to work unless I am standing over them. I have made parent phone calls, to no avail. The one young man just sat in my homeroom during seminar, the half hour class period each day, much like a study hall, where students can get extra help with assignments. He came with part of the first problem done from yesterday. The entire half hour found him having completed that one problem and one more. Unless I was standing over him, he will not work. I cannot stand over him! I have 25 other students, more concerned, and wanting and accepting help. It is unbelievable to me that as a 12 year old, a person has already ingrained these sluggish habits into himself. It is almost as if breathing is too much of a bother for him.

The flu is making its way through our school, though we have not been hit as hard as some areas. Yesterday, there were over 200 schools closed in the state of Michigan. Some of them have closed for a solid week in an attempt to slow the spread of H1N1 among their students. I applaud their efforts. It is difficult for students to keep up with assignments when they are gone for extended periods of time. While all my work is posted online, math concepts often require students more help than they can get from the book alone. They need that adult coaching to grasp the process of the new concepts. It becomes a balancing game of how slowly can we move with the students who are here, while trying to not leave behind those who are absent.

Whew.. enough of a rant for today :)

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