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Friday, September 19, 2008

An Odd Occurance

One time when I was putting together final grades I rode my bike home at 5 a.m., only to find the electricity was off in our building. After carrying my bike up 19 flights, I couldn't take a shower because the water tank on the roof was empty because there was no electricity.

Another time I couldn't get out of the building. Every door was chained closed. It was stupid o'clock a.m., and it took me ten minutes of wandering around to realize that if it had been locked from the inside, then someone must still be inside who could let me out.

Those are the highlights of grading stories for me.

Today we had to have grades submitted for progress reports. In our jr. highs, they get progress reports midway through each quarter, so 8 grades per year. These grades are due, will be due, at midnight tonight. I found myself in the very odd position of being done at six o'clock this evening, fully six hours early.

I didn't quite know what to do. I'm still kind of reeling. Just waiting for something to happen. An urgent phone call telling me that I've screwed up.

Instead I'll probably get ten or fifteen urgent phone calls next week from parents telling me that I've screwed up.

My first real assignment for Baker is due Sunday night at midnight. I should be working on that, but instead I am going to go to bed. It is a reasonable hour, and I am working a volleyball game tomorrow for some extra bucks.

One positive thing I heard today. Edith, my mentor teacher, told me that one positive thing she's heard about me from many people is that I am good at forging a rapport with the kids. Granted, that is not sufficient to be a good teacher, but it is an important aspect. One which some teachers never quite get.

For one week I got to change classes. I had been working as a para with Edith, but another teacher, Charlotte, had kids who needed help in her learning strategies class. So I got permission then switched. I helped some kids in there to get over some tricky ideas, and they actually told other teachers that I had been helpful. Word gets around.

I suppose I should throw in a word or two about learning strategies class. It was formed for kids that have trouble learning (obviously), especially in the language arts. They don't have documented learning disabilities,

I like this job, but it is a lot of work. The first year of teaching always is. Learning the system, the curriculum, how to deal with the kids, it all takes more time than I have. I hate to say it, but it's so much easier with Horyon and Maxine out of the house. I miss them so much that I can't put words to it, but if they were here I would be even more tired than I already am.

We talk on the phone. Sometimes on Video Skype. Maxine doesn't really have the focus for prolonged video conversation. She actually does much better on the telephone. She's picked up all kinds of fun mannerisms that I hadn't noticed until now. She says, "I'll talk to you later, okay?" much more clearly than any almost-three-year-old should.

I finished the last of their laundry with a load of mine last night. Maxine's clothes are cute and small. And they don't have her inside them. I want to pick her up and spin her around. Horyon says Maxine is gaining a lot of weight in Korea. The diet must agree with her. I don't care. I'll still pick her up and swing her around.

That's enough whining for tonight. I've got a busy day tomorrow and Sunday, so I should get to bed.



Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Good Feeling or Two

Today I had my first evaluation from Baker University. It was a fairly typical class for me in a lot of ways, both good and bad. One suggestion that the professor had was that I make a file in my drawer labeled "Encouragement" or "Cheer Up" or something like that. In it, I should make note of the times that I have been complimented on my teaching, and I should throw in notes that students write to me. It should be something to help me on the days when I feel like throwing in the towel (or a ham grenade).

I had dinner with Mom and Dad today, and Dad suggested that I also throw in things that students have said or done that made me laugh. Smart guy, my Dad is.

A quick side note on dinner, as I rarely mention a meal without going into detail. We ate a Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse, and it was a reminder of days long gone. When I was a student at K.U., my parents would come to visit fairly often, at least once a month. When they did, they always took me out to dinner. One of my favorite places to go was always Buffalo Bob's. There were five reasons for this:

#1 Meat.
#2 Big pile of it.
#3 Curly fries piled on top of that.
#4 Hunting trophy heads mounted on the walls.
#5 Classic Rock n Roll being played, but not too loud.

Buffalo Bob's is not an expensive place to eat, but on a college budget it kind of is. Right now I'm kind of on a college kid budget. I'm not even paycheck-to-paycheck, as I am still waiting for my first paycheck to finish coming in.

We had a nice dinner of ribs, and talked the whole time about a variety of topics which I will not go into here, other than the one I started with:

Keeping track of the happy times to get you through the hard times.

I've decided to do that here, starting now. Here are a few things:

One of my algebra students, an eighth grader, told me last week that the work we did in my class really helped him in science class. This, I am told, is an amazing thing to happen, especially this early in the year. Jr. High students are just not inclined to compliment their teachers. At all. I felt good when he told me that my class helped him, and even better when I started to hear about how rare it is for students to do this.

Today the teacher I share a room with, Sharon Dwyer, told me (and my Baker prof. and our resource teacher, Jackie) that she thought I was doing a great job. She said that I have a lot of energy in front of the class, which is something they need. She has spent more time in my teaching classroom than anyone else, so I'm taking that in a good way.

A couple of weeks ago a student teacher followed one of my students around for the day. At the end of the day she told me that my class was the most interesting of the lot. That's good to hear. And I'm pretty sure she meant the good kind of interesting.

Our vice-principal, Lisa Clipsham, has mentioned to me that when she pops into my classroom, I project an air of authority and control. "That's a big part of the game," she continued.

There are times when I do not feel in control. Those times are more frequent when I have not planned well, but they sometimes happen when I think I have a great lesson planned. While this can be frustrating, I know from experience that it will get better. When I started teaching at ELS, back in Korea, it was an intense split-shift schedule. Usually four hours in the morning and seven in the evening. I would go home in the afternoon and sleep.

[Another incomplete post, but worth putting up there.]

A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.