Friday, August 29, 2008

A new winner

Have you ever been wrong about a class? You know, you get a group of kids in your classroom and your initial impression is off by oh 180º degrees or so, or is it just me?

I hope I'm not the only teacher who got fooled, you see I have a new muse, er problem class and it's my 8th graders, the one group that should know better. I mean they've done middle school for 2 years now and should have the best idea of how to get themselves to 9th grade but they act like 7th graders on a sugar high. I gave one id10t a zero on a quiz and sent him to the principal's office for talking during a test. He was done and even though there was 1 student still taking the test decided that I didn't really mean no talking. Yea, and now he gets a zero and dealt with the principal. I really love working for him, he truly rocks. He knows when to show a bit of mercy and when to step on throats. He's always approachable and well let's say were lucky to have him.

Now in addition to grading the quizzes, I need to rearrange my seating again and to just start kicking the blabber mouths out of my room, no matter how much I like them. I'm very disappointed in their behavior, in the space of 4 days they went from my best class to my worst class, they make my 7th graders look like angels.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

6th Graders

I love em, but they're killing me right now. Every day it's the same routine. We grade assignments in class and they never pay attention to the answers. You'd think after 4 days in a row they'd have some sort of clue but I end up repeating the answers again and again and again and again and and and and.....

What is so hard about it anyways? 7th graders can handle it, and most times they can't sit still for more than .0000002 seconds at a time and 8th graders can (and do) grade in their sleep. I find myself repeating the same instructions over and over again, more often that I do for the 7th graders, mind you these are supposed to be the smart 6th graders. What up with that yo? The course I teach is for normal (if they exist) 7th graders, so I should be dealing with the cream of the crop.

In other news, the troublemakers in 4th period all left. (that sound you heard was a champagne bottle popping) Some of the 7th graders in pre-algebra couldn't handle it and had to get moved to my class. This put me way over the maximum level allowed by the school, so the principal who normally only taught them for one period now teaches them for the whole block. Mr. P said that they did really well for him. I think it's because they're used to him and now their block is not disrupted my moving to my room with kids who do better in math than they did. His kids are the ones who struggle with math, like my 8th graders. But unlike my 8th graders, his kids did not comport themselves well in my classroom. I will miss some of them, and I'll miss others like I miss the intestinal flu.

Oh, and our open house for the super cool prep school is a week from Friday. My wife is excited because now I have to clean and organize my room for the open house. She spent 20 minutes telling me how cool the school is and 10 minutes ragging on me because my room is still not organized. I guess all her teachers in school were neat freaks or something.

Finally I had to write the professor who teaches the online course that I am trying to get into, because it's full and I need his permission to enroll. Hopefully he'll take pity on me knowing that some of his students will drop the class soon and then it won't be so crowded. If not then I don't student teach next spring. At least the people in the English department at UNLV were VERY helpful and were willing to point me in the right direction. Kudos to them for their help.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Write up!

Well, apparently not all students realize that I don't make empty threats. This morning I had a fine young man get himself sent to the principal's office for acting like an id10t. This fine gentleman started the day with a lousy attitude, stemming from the fact that I talked to him about missing our Friday appointment and from his illegible homework. When I caught him slouching in his seat at a 40º angle to his desk, I told him to sit properly. That didn't um sit well with him and he proceeded to make a huge production out of it, right until he slammed his chair into position. At which point I tossed him out and then hand delivered the write up to the office.

Tomorrow morning this fine young man, the principal and I are going to have a heart to heart chat about his behavior in my class. A process that will be repeated in my 4th period class now that I know who the chatterboxes are. This is the same class that has 15 out of my 23 students failing right now. Funny how the chattiest class has the worst grades. I guess it's hard to talk and follow instructions at the same time. New seating charts anyone?

In other news I have to drive down to UNLV and take care of the prerequisite in person. Like I have nothing better to do that drive all over the flizzing valley.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


That sums it up in one word. I went to check my schedule for the fall semester at both NSC and CCSN so I could let my principal know what day I could not stay late when I noticed something strange. I had somehow gone from two classes at CCSN to just one. My Brit Lit class was nowhere to be found, and I never got any notice from the college about any schedule changes. I know they have my email because they sent me my receipt when I paid for the two classes. I then checked my balance and my worst fears were realized. They now owe me the money for the canceled class.

The first thing I did was to recheck the available classes at CCSN to see if it was just a glitch, nope, no glitch. I then checked NSC just in cased, no luck there either. Finally I checked UNLV and found that there were 2 internet classes open for Brit Lit. Of course I had to register ($30) for UNLV and now I have to wait a couple of days (which I don't have) for my application to go through before I can even try to register for them.

I guess I could try the community college in Reno if it comes down to it but the timing could not have been worse. It's bad enough I got hosed on my lit theory class, now I gotta deal with this crap as well?

Did I forget to mention that the fall semester starts on Monday, August 25th?

Monday, August 18, 2008

1st day is done!

I survived my first day at the Super Cool Prep School. There are still a few kinks to be worked out, like getting the bells for the middle school and high school to work properly, but over all no real complaints. I also found out which period was going to be the source of many blog posts, er my challenging class.

And the winner is... 4th period!

Here is how it works. Periods 1,3, & 5 are regular math classes and the even periods are math application classes, where we work on things that will improve their problem solving skills. For 3rd period I have only 8 students, which is wonderful. Life gets even when the kids from the other (principal's) 3rd period class shows up for math apps. Suddenly they get chatty and don't want to pay attention. Add in that lunch is next and you get the idea. Tomorrow, I start stepping on necks and calling parents. Plus I am going to talk to the principal and ask him if they are as chatty in his class as they are in mine. Hopefully he'll talk to them about it!

Anyway, I gotta get back to my lesson planning and dinner preparation...

Friday, August 15, 2008


Now I know that teachers are supposed to be flexible, in fact it's a must if you want to be successful, but I think I got bent into a pretzel this week. As I noted in my last post, I got traded from the HS to the MS at the Super Cool Prep School, which I think was a blessing in disguise looking back on it. I was made to feel more than welcome by the principal and I really connected with Mrs. W., who came out of retirement to teach at the Super Cool Prep School. Just a couple of examples of how nice the staff and administration are. The principle told me not to go to training today because of my son's party AND helped me edit my appeal letter (something Karlana has also helped with) for Nevada State College. The AP and the other teachers has helped me with lesson planning and materials to start the school year and Mrs. W. wants me to help her with her classes during my prep. Oh, and they were going to get me a laptop even if I wasn't going to be teaching a specific class...

Anyway, I was helping Mrs. W. set up her room when I was asked to do the math training with the other math teachers, which seemed kind of odd considering I'm an English teacher but I went anyway, being a good sport and all... I soon found out why I was asked to be at the training. They are short a math teacher and need me to teach 6th grade math until they can get the right teacher in the classroom. So I suddenly have three days to set up the classroom, get a computer, room key and create lesson plans for at least the first few weeks of the quarter until the new teacher shows up. Can you say stressful? I knew you could. I called my friend Karlana to give her the news that day and yesterday she asked me if I was still teaching math or had been put someplace else. I replied that I was now teaching physics, biology and intermediate Swahili...

Don't get me wrong, I am so excited about starting the new school year it's not funny. I'm also so stressed that I can't sleep. Add in my son's birthday party at Chuck E Cheese and this is going to be one hectic weekend for this English, er Math er Swahili teacher!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Well, I got traded to the middle school of the super cool prep school. There was a mix up in the beginning of the week and the HS had one apprentice too many and the middle school didn't have anyone. And while I'm disappointed that I won't be in the HS, the staff and principal of the middle school made me feel very welcome. So, long story short I'm now a 6th grade literature and reading teacher as well as doing a bit of math. The nice thing is that I'll be able to do 7th and 8th grade English as well. The teacher I'm working with is very nice and is happy to have me. He did make the mistake of letting me bring a few (2 inch stack) things in for him to look at. He wants to do 'Of Mice & Men' and I just happened to have a couple of things for that book as well.

I can't wait to start teaching again.

On a side note, my four year old son was watching the US Vs. Angola basketball game chanting USA USA USA!, as we pummeled Angola by 20 odd points...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I like this better

As much as I would LOVE to take credit for it I can't. I found it here.

McCain was not my first choice for the GOP, actually I had not made up my mind who to support when McCain clinched the nomination, but as the race has gone on, I've strengthened my support for McCain. I know his campaign has been understated but when the opposition is self destructing, why not just them do your work for you?

In other news, I finally had Karlana and her family over for dinner (ribs, twice baked potatoes and salad) last night. It was nice to finally repay her for getting me the two long term assignments during last year. We had a great time and she told me she got a job on Friday at the middle school she subbed at the most. So starting in a couple of weeks, she'll be teaching 7th English, and those kids don't know how lucky they are to have her. She has the perfect temperament for teaching 7th graders, who are either angels or demon spawn depending on the amount of hormones raging through their bodies at the moment.

Tomorrow I start my orientation week at the super cool prep school. I am so excited to get back in the classroom it's not funny.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Random Thoughts

First off, my friend Karlana has an interview at a local middle school to teach English for the whole year. It could not have happened to a nicer person and I finally get to pay her back for the jobs she got me by feeding her and her family dinner this weekend. Please stop by her blog and wish her luck, that school will be lucky to have her.

Secondly, I start my orientation on Monday for my internship at the super cool prep school. To say I'm excited would be a massive understatement along the lines of saying there are a couple of neon lights on the Las Vegas Strip. I really really miss teaching. In addition, I finished not only the Grapes of Wrath but The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I really enjoyed both of them. I'm glad I stuck it out with Dorian Gray because it did take a bit to get going and then it was 100 miles an hour until the end of the book. And yes Lady, you did tell me so! So now I've read 16 books with 34 to go. Looks like another trip to the library is in order since I read all those books I bought earlier in the summer and I need to return a few before they're due.

Before I forget, I found a cool new blog/cartoon that I added to my must read list. It's called Diversity Lane and it's quite the read. When you get a chance you need to check it out. Of course if you lean left and have no sense of humor, then you best go elsewhere, consider yourself warned.

Finally, I found it interesting that when local reporter John Ralston called Barak Obama on some of his statements, Barak's first reply was to call him a McCain proxy. Now John is lots of things, but a McCain proxy he is not, he goes after all politicians and cares not for the letter after the name... Watch it here. Barak is in for a rude surprise if he thinks that his stands and statements won't get questioned by the press at some point before the election. Welcome to reality sir, I hope you enjoy your stay.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

You may be a racist...

Since the democrats and Obama's supporters have been charging that the people who oppose Barak Obama are racist, I thought it might be handy for people to see if they really are a racist, when it comes to this year's election. If you have no sense of humor you should probably go elsewhere...

25 Reasons You May be a Racist [Peter Kirsanow]

The tendency of Obama supporters to see racist impulses behind every criticism of their candidate has evolved into absurdity. Now even the first black president feels compelled to declare he's not a racist. By this measure, nearly every American is at risk of being branded a racist at some point in the campaign. To assess whether you're at risk just consult the list below ( apologies to Jeff Foxworthy ):

1.If you think Obama's the most liberal member of the senate you...may be a racist.

2.If you object to Obama raising your payroll, capital gains and estate taxes you...may be a racist.

3.If you'd prefer a president have at least some foreign policy experience you...may be a racist.

4. If you're in favor of drilling for oil and building nuclear power plants you...may be a racist.

5. If you think "Vero Possemus" is Latin for "Massive Ego" you... may be a racist.

6. If you wonder why Obama was hanging around William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn you...may be a racist.

7. If your pastor is nothing like Rev. Wright or Father Pfleger you... may be a racist.

8.If you don't want the majority of justices on the Supreme Court to be like Stephen Breyer you...may be a racist.

9. If you're not impressed with Obama's 100% NARAL rating you...may be a racist.

10. If you're not sure whether Obama opposed or supported FISA reauthorization you...may be a racist.

11. If you don't think America is a "downright mean" country you...may be a racist.

12. If you think Obama should've visited wounded troops at Ramstein and Landstuhl you...may be a racist.

13. If you think the surge is working and that's a good thing you...may be a racist.

14. If you oppose racial preferences in employment, school admissions and contracting you...may be a racist.

15. If you think "we are the change we've been waiting for" is a line from a Monty Python skit you...may be a racist.

16. If you prefer that a president have a smidgen of executive experience you...may be a racist.

17. If you're appalled that Obama voted against treating infants born after an abortion attempt the same medically as other infants born alive you...may be a racist.

18. If you were proud of your country even before Obama's candidacy you...may be a racist.

20. If you don't think American troops are just "air raiding villages" you...may be a racist.

21. If your grandmother isn't a "typical white person" you...may be a racist.

22. If you don't think rural, working class people are bitter and "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them" you...may be a racist.

23. If you're not sure invading Pakistan is a particularly good idea—what with their nuclear weapons and all— you...may be a racist.

24. If you don't want the president to meet without precondition with the leaders of state sponsors of terror you...may be a racist.

25. If you don't care how Hollywood or the European elite think you should vote you...may be a racist.

This campaign has, to paraphrase Moynihan, defined racism down.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

50 Books... Update 3

I'm back from vacation (I'll post on it later) and aside from the fun of camp, I got to do some serious reading in and have an update on the 50 book challenge.

When I started the challenge I had read these books

Old Man and the Sea
My Grandfather's Son
Sharks over China
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Screwtape Letters
Catcher in the Rye

Then, I was able to finish four more by the 25th of July.

The Coldest Winter
Mere Christianity
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Black Arrow (Finished 7/25)

While on vacation I finished the following books

Dragonquest (Dragonriders of Pern book 1)
(Dragonriders of Pern book 2)
The White Dragon (Dragonriders of Pern book 3)
The Great Gatsby

I'm reading
The Reagan Dairies
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Grapes of Wrath

So I've finished 14 books out of the 50. I should finish The Grapes of Wrath this week I hope...