Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hello there

Is it really Saturday afternoon already? Man, things are just whizzing by me in a flash these days. This past week went fast it seems. Work was crazy as always. I swear there's such a thing as Fall Fever. The boys are being sent down to the office for roughhousing, harassing each other and just generally getting on each other's nerves. And it's only September!! Friday was the day we have every month where we reward the well behaved and fairly studious students. This time we had a Field Day outside. I was in charge of the game where two teams race in a relay where you put your head on the end of a baseball bat and spin around 10 times and run back to your team. That was pretty darn entertaining, watching 12 year olds run around a bat and then attempt to run back, but ending up looking drunk or like they just learned to run. It's pretty funny. Last night I went to dinner with some girls from the school I worked at last year. That was nice. I feel so out of the loop with the gossip and insanity that presents itself every day at that place. Good times. This morning, while my husband was at work, Mason and I went to Old Navy (found a bunch of stuff on clearance!!) and Target (for popcorn, of course! It's become part of Mason's weekly diet). I also managed to get a nap in later, but mainly because my head was pounding like a sledgehammer. Pretty soon we're headed to Mason's babysitter's house for a little cookout. We always have a good time with them.

I guess that's it. I'm sure I would have more meaningful and insightful commentary had I actually written after work any time this week, but this is what you get. Hope everyone is having a great weekend. One more week until Fall Break! And two weeks 'til our Luau! Yippee!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I am among the living

I've just been a little pre-occupied lately, with life and all that jazz...Anyways, here I am. I've heard the complaints (or read, that is) how much of a slacker I've become in the blogging world (you know who you are! you may not have said those exact words, but it was implied), so I am trying to make amends.

Teaching 7th and 8th graders that, yes, Language Arts is important to your life no matter what profession you want in life (even if it's a "would you like fries with that?" job, since you have to at least be able to read the menu and read tickets) is hard work. It exhausts me sometimes. Not to mention dealing with the attitudes and general apathy towards learning. And it doesn't help that the school gave me an unfair disadvantage with my class make up. Case in point.

Here's some food for thought, and you can agree or disagree, but here it is:
I think smaller class sizes makes a difference. I have 19 kids in my 3/4 period class, and they are by far my most well behaved. They work harder, stay on task longer and tend to score higher on tests. My other group of 8th graders totals 28 and there's such a difference. It feels like I have kids that get lost in the shuffle and don't get the attention they need. My biggest class are 7th graders, but I don't think it's fair to compare them to 8th graders. I swear sometimes they are a totally different species. Something drastic happens that summer between 7th and 8th grade. Whatever it is, it's a little scary.

My other point: when a class is dominated by little goof-off boys, trouble brews faster and stronger. My rowdiest class (by miles and miles) is my 7/8 period group. You wanna know the figures? 22 boys and 6 girls. Yeah, that's just not right. In previous experience, I would have said that it works out better when there are less girls (less eye rolling and whiny voices), but I have been proven wrong with the 8th graders (I tell ya, 7th and 8th graders are sometimes like night and day). My girls are the calming force. They just want a quiet class and they want to get their work done. My boys (aside from maybe 2 or 3) are goofballs that think everything they say and their friends say is downright hilarious. And they have smart mouths. And they want to say everything they're thinking (think: a 1st grader wanting to talk about his dog and his neighbor's rabbits and his dad's truck, but with hormones and more random information stored away in a 13 year old's head). It's annoying. Granted, they say something that is actually halfway funny at times, but then I'm giving them leverage when I laugh. I try to keep that to a minimum. It just proves my point that a class full of 8th grade boys is harder to handle than a class full of 8th grade girls.

And I hate that they have banned sugar from the schools. I mean, I don't hate it completely. I'm glad they can't get a a Twinkie and Coke in the lunchroom and call it a meal, but not having the ability to bribe with candy is excrutiating. There have been times in my past teaching experiences that I could have asked the kids to jump through flaming hoops like circus dogs and they would have done it, had there been a Jolly Rancher dangling in their view. Now, I can't use candy during review games or as an incentive for the quiet kids or to give them when I get a good report from a sub (I'm gonna be out on Wednesday for my dad's surgery and I sure wish I could tempt the kids with a sugary treat). It's just not fair.

And I'm off my soapbox. Hope this blog fills a special place in your heart until I find the time to write again. There's not a lot of downtime these days, with my homelife (involving a child that I'm convinced is rushing into his "Terrible Two's" early) and my worklife (involving lots of children that are quite settled in to their "Terrible Teens"). So, live with it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The intelligent anecdotes of a 20 month old...

Here's what Mason has to say about life:


Yes, that's the word "wash" in the middle. And yes, he actually typed it..maybe he was telling you all that he just had a bath...Hey, it could happen!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

They're not as old and as big as they think they are

So, I took my kids to the library yesterday (we go every two weeks), and something amusing happened. The kids are all wandering around finding books to check out and I come across a pack of my 8th grade boys (I want you to get the full picture: 3 out of 5 of them are football players, and all of them are taller than me) making a bunch of noise about a book. You know what my first thought is? They found something inappropriate in a book and they're all basking in it. But no. I hear things like, "Oh, which one's Bert and which one's Ernie?" and "I like the one in the garbage can. What's his name?" Yes, they are gathered around a Sesame Street book (they keep Beginner Reader books around for ELL kids and Special Ed). I thought about nagging them about finding a book in their Lexile (reading level), but then I decided to just stand there and smile and add some input like, "I remember the show before there was Elmo" and "my favorite was always Snuffy, the elephant". It amused me so. It just proves my theory that middle schoolers aren't too sure all the time if they want to be big kids and get freedom and be treated like young adults, or be little kids and color and read Sesame Street books. And that's why I love them.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Things I'm learning in the 7th and 8th grade

I was reading my friend's blog about what she's learned since she started a new semester of college, and it got me thinking: I'm learning everyday the in's and out's of teaching middle school are quite the experience--even with this being my 5th year teaching. For instance:

1. ANYTHING you hand the kids, there will be some genius that asks, "is this homework?"
2. Some students need a personal invitation to follow directions. Apparently it doesn't apply to them until you walk up to them and say their name.
3. No matter how long school has been in session (we're going into our 5th week), they will make a comment like, "it's so cold in here!" like I suddenly changed the thermostat. It's cold people, get over it! And wear more clothes, for Pete's sake!
4. Apparently even in LANGUAGE ARTS class, using "i", "cuz", "w/", and not using punctuation at all is acceptable. I hate the IM generation!!!
5. Girls are getting away with wearing shorty skirts by wearing leggings underneath. It's just wrong.
6. Boys are determined to try to sneak by teachers with inappropriate shirts on. Case in point. A couple of days ago, a kid had a shirt on that read, "Save your breath. You'll need it for your date," and it had a picture of a blow-up doll. Nice. And he was surprised when I told him he needed to turn it inside-out!
7. Most kids hate reading and writing. Oh, boo-hoo! Get over it! You need both skills to get anywhere in this world! I just wish they'd understand that...
8. 8th graders don't know what proper nouns, pronouns, verbs and adjectives are. Are you kidding me?!?
9. Teachers are required to read chicken scratch. If I have to hold the paper at an angle and squint one eye and hold it at an arm's length, it's illegible!
And the last little tidbit of info I have come to realize is...
10. Middle schoolers aren't much different than my 20 month old toddler: they're needy, whiny, unable to follow simple directions, are downright goofy and have the attention span of a gnat.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Here's our little Maxie while we were visiting my parents. Doesn't he look like he's in the sequel to Castaway, and that he should befriend a volleyball and name it Wilson?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday, in the park, I think it was the 2nd of September...

Okay, that's a weird subject, but I couldn't think of anything else to title it. Anyways, I'm sitting here in my parents' house, waiting for dinner. We came down last night to visit, and tomorrow we'll head to the in-laws'. Thought it would be a nice weekend to see the fam, since it's a longer weekend. We've had a nice visit already. We went in the pool this afternoon and Mason had a blast. I'll try to post a picture when we get home. And I got in a nap and I went with my mom and aunt to their Target this morning. It's been nice to just relax. Yeah for no school Monday! And yeah for next week being shorter because of it!!

Friday went fast, because we had yet another Early Release Day. Of course teachers had the special opportunity to sit in meetings within their departments. My Language Arts one was a bit of a waste of time, but at least I got some journals graded as I sat there. I still have some more to grade, along with Thursday night's homework. This is actually the first time I've taken work home this school year. I find myself very productive, coming in at least an hour before school starts and having lunch and my Prep Period together. Progress Report grades are due by the end of Tuesday, so I thought I should get cracking on getting this stuff graded, so I'm not down to the wire on Tuesday. If I wait, then something drastic will happen and I won't be able to get it done and then I'll get reamed for not getting it done in time.

Well, dinner's about ready and I guess I should get back to being social or something. Hope everyone has a great weekend and doesn't have to work Monday!