Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Plantains


The air conditioner unit "just froze up solid" says the maintenance man and he adds that he's done just about all he can do for me.
Wiping the sweat from my face, I ask politely, "What do you think I should do, Brad? What would you do if this were your air conditioner?"
He seems completely stymied and I don't really know how to help him. The unit is less than a year old and it should work. We both know this to be true. He's going to come back tomorrow, but he keeps shaking his head as if to say, "What's the point, really?"
I want to tell him that it's going to be brutal frying up the plantains for #1 son's Nicaragua project in an 88 degree kitchen, but that seems like too much information. I'm sure he's done the best he can. Why make him feel worse than he already does?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Comments

One sixer's been sending me messages on my edublog for the past 3 days. If they post a comment, I get an email. These 85 emails have been a nice distraction from grading. We've talked about some poems she's writing, the book she just read for my class that she did not care for at all, her plans to swim at the local pool, her nervousness about opening her locker next year in middle school, and, of course, we had a plethora of back and forth emails giving directions for making various emoticons. At one point the sixer complained that she hates all the homework I give, and in another email she told me that she was trying to put in an essay for me to win the Classroom Makeover. She was having trouble with the contest site, so I have a feeling I'm not going to win by her efforts. Still, the thought was nice. The edublog has few visitors, but every few days, I'll get to chat back and forth with some kid I never get to yak with. And I enjoy that.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Gusto

I may work on the diss today. I'm reading a book about writing by Ray Bradbury. He suggests that writers absolutely approach the writing with gusto. Gusto's been missing from my project, I have to admit. Getting some gusto could be the key. I'm working on a chapter that describes all the work that went into revising a kid's story. We traded that draft back and forth quite a few times. Sometimes my suggestions seem pretty good. Many, in retrospect, seem kind of dumb. That's why it's hard to find the gusto. Sitting down to write about dumb things I have done just isn't a heck of a lot of fun. Sure I think about my dumb mistakes almost constantly, but writing them down for committee members to read is a wee bit tougher. But with some gusto, I'm going to be knocking that chapter out. A four day weekend is the perfect place to find gusto. No worries.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Conference

I will have a life again in a few weeks, but for now, I'll just keep blogging about school. I had a conference with a parent last week. The parent wanted to know about helping her sixer get ready for middle school. I won't supply the details, but over the 20 minutes of the conference I ended up recommending that the family not only watch The Simpsons, South Park and Sweet Sixteen, but also urged her strongly to get her sixer accounts on IM and My Space. The parent seemed a bit dazed, but amenable to my suggestions. After all, I am the professional. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Handbasket


Hell in a handbasket kind of week. Enjoy these goslings, why don't you?

Foto credit: Lewison.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Odes



Today some construction paper pencils were created with our little second grade buds. After finishing the artwork, we all wrote odes to pencils and these odes were quite good. The sixers got into it, gushing lines like, "Oh lovely pencil, how I love your squishy eraser" and "Dearest pencil, how sad am I, that you're now barely a nub and must be discarded."
My favorite was, "Pencil, you had me at hello."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Auditions


Depressing day with the sixers yesterday. I perked up after talking with other teacher pals about their own frustrating weeks. Misery truly does love company. It’s that time of year I suppose.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m cut out for this gig because I've been noticing that I repeatedly sabotage my own objectives.
Example: Before heading down to the computer lab yesterday, I gave a big yak about hall etiquette. I suggested that we all pretend we were auditioning for a movie about a normal school with normal students who move normally through the building. Then I demonstrated normal walking versus insane walking. We got out into the hall and they were actually moving along behind me in a remarkably quiet clump. It was then that images of West Side Story popped into my head and I began snapping my fingers and sashaying like a Shark or perhaps a Jet at the head of the pack. All hell broke loose of course. I had no one to blame but myself. As usual.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Doubting

Next year I'm going back to work full time. I'm not too sad about it. I've jobshared for a way long time and I'm ready for single life again. This decision adds pressure on me to finish the diss this summer. I think it can be done. But I'm not sure.

Foto Credit to Lewison for this stunning grosbeak. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Dating

Friday I told the sixers about speed dating. Then we went outside to the picnic tables and did speed dating literature log talks. Each date lasted about 90 seconds and couples talked about different topics with their various partners, stuff like: predictions, representations of power, character report cards. After five or six switches, the final dates spent some time together reading on the playground. Before we went back inside we had some time for mixing, mingling, and idle chatter. One sixer told me that the activity was fun, but asked that I call it something else because the whole idea of speed dating made him feel awkward. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Disorders

#1 son's done with his science fair poster. It's about sleep disorders. Now he just has to work on reports about Bulgaria and Nicaragua. He also has to read a book that was read by one of his parents during their childhood and then write a report about our various perspectives about the book. And he has a story to finish. He's writing a story about a coffee maker that does not want to be taken to the Goodwill. I don't know how he's going to get it all done. I've hit the wall with homework and school work and am seriously slowing down. I am sorely lacking in the will to go on department. Summer, you can enter any time now. Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Makeover


Good pal Menosky told me about a classroom make over contest kids can enter. If they write something nice about their teacher, she or he may win a classroom makeover worth 25,000 dollars. I want this very badly, so I introduced the contest rules to the sixers.
After a long silence, one sixer said, “I guess we shouldn’t mention all the homework you give?”
Another added, “Or the annoying singing that goes on constantly in here?”
When I told them they should focus on the good, rather than the quirky or the odious, a sixer asked, “Good points may have to be exaggerated. Is that okay?”
“Look,” I answered sternly. “Just get me that classroom make over. I don’t care what you have to do. Just get it.”
I could have pointed out the plethora of carpet tears, furniture breakages and door carvings that they’ve left as their classroom legacy, but I’ve let go of all that. I hope a few sixers rise to this occasion. They really have been hard on that old classroom, the place where I’ll remain after they move on.