21 January 2009

I should not try to teach tenth grade while under the influence of cold medicine. That's what sick days are for.

I'm sure there is a funny story that should go here. I honestly don't remember most of what happened today. But I'm certain that my kids have some excellent stories for their friends.

19 January 2009

Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day

I would like it noted that the world is a better place when one is wearing dry socks. Seriously, go test it out. The next time it is raining go run some outside errand: check the mail, get something out of the car, get the newspaper, or leave cookies on the neighbors porch. Then come back inside and replace the soggy sock with dry ones. Instantly the world transforms into a much more magical, cheerful, happy place. Hooray for dry socks!

This theory can also be tested by walking into the kitchen or bathroom in stocking feet and inadvertently stepping in a puddle.

16 January 2009

Homework Policy

My school has policies and paperwork for everything. The new principal has decreed that we cannot even get a roll of tape without filling out a form and getting approval of the department chair and an administrator. In order to get new tape I have to explain how the use of this resource will help improve student performance, write a proposal, and get it signed twice. Next year she might require it to be notarized as well. I think she has a goal to keep us from teaching. Instead we spend all of our time filling out forms. Forms to get copies made, forms to get a red pen, forms to get materials from the library, forms to get a new box of paper clips, forms to fill out if you are late for work, forms to fill out if you are on time for work, forms for failing a student, forms for getting new forms... (I'm not even exaggerating for the sake of making the point. She really makes us fill out forms to get new forms.)

In an unprecedented event, the principal decided to share her policy making power. She declared that each department needed to have an official homework policy in writing, and she would even let us come up with it on our own. My department chair did what she always does when we get a new assignment from the principal: she gave it to me to do.

I decided not to reinvent the wheel and just write out the policy that I have been using for the last three years. I arrived at this homework philosophy through much thought, contemplation, and research. I have found that it serves me (and the kids) quite well:

They don't want to do it, I don't want to grade it, at the end of the semester they all have to be passing anyway, so I usually just don't give it.

After I typed that out I decided that the principal probably wouldn't approve this policy, so I translated it into more education friendly terms that she could relate to:

Homework grades will be given for assignments that extend and reinforce daily work and help students prepare for formal assessments.

So far she hasn't noticed that this policy in no way requires me to assign homework on a regular basis.

13 January 2009

Inquiring Minds

My professors in college painted an interesting picture of teaching. They told us that it was our commission to quench the thirst for information in youth. I assumed that this vision of imparting valuable knowledge to the rising generation was a rather idealistic view of education, but it turns out they were at least partially correct. 10th graders are remarkably inquisitive. I’m certain I answer hundreds of questions a week. I have collected some of my favorites:

Lesson on the Magna Carta
Student: Miss*, do you got a husband?
Me: No
Student: Do you got a boyfriend?
Me: No (This was in the days before I met the Texan)
Student: Miss, do you have any friends that play halo?

Lesson on the American Revolution
Miss, if Mexico and Honduras went to war who would win?

Lesson on the Columbian Exchange
Miss, in real life if you break out of prison can they shoot at you?

Lesson on Greek Mythology
Miss, Does God have a mom?

Lesson on the fall of the Roman Empire
Miss, what do you do when someone really ugly tries to talk to you?

Lesson on the Civil War
Miss, if you were black would that bruise on your leg look as bad?

Lesson on the Scientific Revolution
Miss, have you ever liked Mexican food?

Lesson on the French Revolution
Miss, if we build a Guillotine who could we kill first?

Lesson on the Incan Empire (specifically terraced farming)
Miss, why do they call suicide bombers terrorists. That don’t got nothing to do with farming?

*The kids really do just call me miss. I used to think they would eventually learn that I have a name. I have since changed my mind.