Friday, September 28, 2007

What's that for?

I italicized the above word because it's important to the question. This came from one of the instructors of the Eastern Iowa Writer's Workshop, which I was privileged to attend a couple of summers ago. I don't know if it's something he coined himself, or if it came out of one of the many inspirational teacher type books he read aloud from. At any rate, from this simple question comes much wisdom. As teachers, parents, human beings, we should often pause and ask ourselves the question, What's that for?
In my classroom, I have students listen to new words and repeat. What's that for? So they can practice good Spanish pronunciation. Good pronunciation leads to being able to spell, since Spanish is a phonetic language.
The students sometimes relate to me what goes on in others' classrooms. I don't encourage it, but sometimes they've just gotta vent. Apparently, one of my colleagues gives only half credit to assignments that do not have the EXACT heading on the paper. Same goes for homework done with 2 different writing utensils- pen ran out, changed to pencil, etc. What is that for? Personally, I don't have that much time in my day or room in my head to be that anal. Perhaps this person has a good reason?
Our instructor told a story of how one of his daughters wrote her name in cursive at the top of one of her papers in first grade- before the teaching of cursive. Her teacher drew a frowny face next to it, I guess because she didn't want her to write in cursive before the Time To Write Cursive. What was that for?
I think it's a good, quick way of doing some self-eval. in the classroom. Assigned an activity? What was it for? Said something to a student? What was that for? Sometimes, I can't come up with a decent answer, and it makes me rethink what I do and say.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Room of My Own

I am quite lucky in that I have several colleagues who happen to be my friends. Not just "work friends", but people that I'd hang out with anyway. I'm even luckier in that I've gotten to travel with my dear friend and plan to again.
I don't know if I've mentioned it, but for the past 4 years, I've been on a cart. This translates to my not having my own digs, so was forced to put all my stuff on a cart and wheel it from room to room. Oh, it was crazy. Kids asking me if I was selling stuff, doing the Frogger bit going down our busy hallway. There was a light, however, because I knew that one of the other teachers in our department was going to retire, which he did last year. I was like the youngest child waiting for the oldest to go off to college and leave an empty bedroom to snag.
So, now I am next door neighbors with my travelin buddy. I popped in to ask her how things were going this morning. She said, "Well, in First Block, I had one kid out for 10 days because he got into a fight at lunch, and another kid out for 10 days because he got caught making out in the bathroom. Yep, I've got a Lover and a Fighter."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why I Love My Students Part 1

I've mentioned before how I HATE our textbook. This would not be so bad, save for the fact that our district is moving toward a robotic, "thou shalt all be on the same page, literally, on the same day" philosophy. So, we gots to all use the book to its fullest potential. Still, I try to squeeze some interesting bits out of it. In my Spanish 3 class, the vocab theme in this chapter is food (all things they should have learned much, much earlier) and art. What the hell? How random, but whatever, we deal. So, I'm doing my dog and pony show, casting pearls before swine (just kidding, I love my students) and we are talking about art-in Spanish. I posed the question ¿Cuál es la diferencia entre el arte tradicional y el arte moderno? Most of the kids were desperately trying not to make eye contact, but one kid- you know the one- the one who laughs at your little witticisms that you say to keep yourself sane throughout the day? Yeah, you know the one. He raises his hand and I could see that he was forming his thoughts, and he comes up with this: "El arte tradicional es de este mundo, y el arte moderno es de otro mundo- el mundo de la cabeza del artista." WOW. He was the only one who got it when I made my "You are without Ruth" comment (ruthless, get it?)when they were dragging some poor teacher through the wringer. AND, he thought the "monja - jamón/ atún - tuna" bits were amusing. We might be the only ones.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Jack be Nimble

Like many schools, our school has issued planners to our students. These are to encourage organizational skills, communicate all school policies and other pertinent information and are used as students' hall passes should they need to leave the confines of the classroom during scheduled class time. When students receive their planner in Homeroom, they also receive a pre-printed label that has their name and e-locker password on it. They are to place said label somewhere visible so that it can be returned to them should they leave it behind. Many teachers return found planners to the office. At the end of the class period, the secretary then calls students to the office to retrieve their missing property. It doesn't happen too often, and especially not so soon into the school year. But alas, it did happen to one unfortunate student. I believe he's new, as I'd not heard his name until Thursday when I- and 1699 other people in my school- heard this blasted through the PA system: "Would student Jack Mehoff come to the office please when the bell rings? Jack Mehoff".

Apparently, one of my students from last year crossed out his own name and wrote in this new one and then inadvertently left it in one of his classes. And apparently our school secretary is not a huge fan of the Simpsons. Good thing he didn't choose Michael Hunt or Amanda Huggenkiss.