Tuesday, September 26, 2006

School work and underwear

One group of my students is complaining that I don't work them hard enough. Oh, really? Well, I can change that noooo problem. I lecture too much in class. I asked a question today that could have sparked a fun discussion, I think (Why do we wear costumes and uniforms? What's the difference? Is there one?) and a few girls answered and then it fizzled flat as a hot soda pop. So I had to lecture! Jeez! What do they want from me?!? My little froshies love me. Sniff. Maybe the others are still comparing me to last year's teacher, who's hard to live up to in some respects. I think it'll get easier when I can get them with Catcher in the Rye. That's certainly got a lot to talk about.

But next week we go to Stratford (Canada, not England) as a school to see a Shakespeare play and apparently it's a lot of fun. Mind you, it does include me on a charter bus with about 40 freshmen for 3 hours each way, but hey--that's why we have iPods and grownups to talk to. And DVD players.

Oh, and this was bizarro today: For some reason I can't quite figure out, we had a short presentation today in the chapel (our meeting place) on antique clothing. I guess it was historically significant and kind of nice not to have the run-of-the-mill boring assembly, and the girls did ooh and ahh over the clothes, which were those of a wealthy woman who lived during the early 20th century. Admittedly there were some beautiful and intricate dresses. I did have to laugh, however, at the zeal with which these women described hat pins and buttons. "Lovely, just lovely to wear to a tea party." But the fun part (and I use that in broad terms) was the description of the lingerie. This woman really knows her stuff--did you know that before the mid 1850s women wore nothing from the waist down under their clothes? Then they moved on to these drawers (see picture) which are split in the middle so if a woman needs to pee in the woods, she just squats and does her business--and when the woman said this, she mimed squatting right in the middle of the chapel. I think some of the male teachers had out-of-body experiences at that point. The best part was her asking what the underwear was called today and the gym teacher calling out, "Thongs!"...and then this same woman telling us she wore white cotton panties. You can't get THAT at a co-ed school.

Totally different note: Don't you love fall? There was that cool dark, cloudy sky last night and terrific wind...the kind of weather you don't get at any other time of the year. It's my absolute favorite. Makes me want to go apple picking! Yum!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sorry about the wait!

Now, I know that not everyone is waiting with baited breath to read this, but I do know I owe you some decent blogging. Or at least some blogging. Last week I was up to my eyeballs in papers I hadn't graded/handed back--I just didn't realize how much time it would take, nor how much MORE time it would take because I didn't organize my time well. Well, now that I've made the mountain into a few small, manageable piles, my life is not such a RAGING BALL OF STRESS.

So now I can write about how I still love being at my job and I'm still exhausted but the quality of life is 100 times better than it was last year when I was making more but dealing with degenerates on a daily basis.

Two of my biggest challenges are meeting the standards of the students, parents, and myself (and nobody's harder on me than me) and answering the myriad nitpicking questions of my students. As for standards, I was getting used to the pace; hence the piles of grading, and I just had this suspicion that everyone thought I was a slacker (or a laggard--one of our vocab words)and just not quite competent enough to get things done. My sophmores had this teacher who was a dynamo last year and got everything back in two seconds with tons of comments and a lot of them had him on this pedestal that I'm not even going to try to ascend to. I know I'm good at what I do, so I need to remember that...and always be on top of everything as much as I can. I don't care who you are; kids know when you're unprepared. Didn't you, as a student? You knew when the teacher hadn't done anything for class because they were floundering around and then gave you Sustained Silent Reading for the rest of the period. I would never do this...but I'm sure I'll be tempted. Plus it's a place where you're supposed to be all available to the kids at any time and I feel as though I'm committing a felony when I shut my door. Now, most of this probably comes from my own little mind, but the paranoia has to come from somewhere. Right? Right?

Now, the questions. THE QUESTIONS! No, none of us will get smarter unless we ask questions. I just said that to them last week. It's true. That being said, please do not ask me a a question when I am obviously headed into the bathroom. Let me pee! I swear I'll answer your question about how many paragraphs the summary has to be when I am finished peeing! And please, please let me finish talking before you ask the question I have just answered. That's not to say that I don't absolutely love it when they ask a legitimate question regarding our literature that shows critical thinking. I just have to remember that I am dealing mostly with

I think the one thing I have to remember at a girls' school is that there is lots of DRAMA. I call it trauma-drama because it is simply all-consuming and how could I possibly do my work when I am upset with someone for what they might have done to me in fourth grade? I think I need to call my mom and go home. DF and I are having boys. All boys. Who don't talk.

Ah! And I just found out that the sophomores are complaining that I don't give them enough comments on their papers and they want to work faster than the other classes. You want more work? Oh, I can accommodate that. No problem. More discussion in class? Fine; that means less lecture for me! That's what I like anyway; I prefer not to sit on high and run things.

Now, who thinks being a teacher is easy? It's rewarding and fun and amazing, but easy? Maybe not.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A funny for the day

Here're a few of the sentences one of my students came up with. We were doing grammar using participial phrases like "Gasping for breath, she came to the surface."

"Jumping into the air, the elf couldn't help celebrating making his first toy."

"After bringing sexy back, Justin Timberlake was so tired he had to take an afternoon nap."

I assume this was based on his saying he had done this--and Prince getting angry, saying sexy had been around for quite a while, thank you. Do you see now how, even though I'm tired, I'm so excited that I get to have this kind of interaction with my students every day? It's the best.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Getting into the swing of things

I'm beat, kids. Beat. Right now I should be grading my umpteen papers but instead I'm venting a bit before the bell rings and I head out for crew practice. Again, don't get me wrong, I love being here. The students are enthusiastic and bright and always make me think. Call me crazy, but I love it when a student asks a question about a book that I can't legitimately answer; I love it when they make me think. It's a fantastic way to spend my day, actually getting to do what I was trained to do instead of babysitting and comparing notes on who got suspended today.

However, I am not used to the pace yet and I am exhausted. DF has been wonderful and supportive and I don't know how I would be doing any of this without him. Also, in case you didn't know, September is Schmooze the Parents month, at least for the first two weeks. Last night was Parents' Night and once I stopped talking a mile a minute and relaxed, things went fine. Don't give 'em time to ask questions--that's the key! But apparently I came off ok and have passed that first judgment, so that's a relief. Plus afterward my boss paid for dinner, so you can't fault that.

The best part? I GOT MY LICENSE PLATES! I can drive my car!!!!! Last night was gross and rainy, too, so I was deeply relieved not to have to zip around on my trusty little bike. I'll still trot it out, but I was wearing a short skirt and heels today (I do that about once a week; the rest of the time it's flats or the fabulous Dansko clogs) and was glad to have a car to get into instead of cramming my clothes in a plastic bag and changing once I got to school. No more Clark Kent moves.

But the bell just rang, so I'm going to correct some more papers before I drive a small bus full of happy, screamy freshmen girls to practice. One more parent meeting tonight and then I think I'm done with those for a while--whew.... I promise my posts will be more varied soon!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Let me just catch my breath

So I survived my first week of school relatively unscathed. I'm exhausted, yes, but not one student has cursed at me or in my presence (although I did overhear someone in the hall--shame, shame) and almost all of them have shown up. Additionally, they all do their work and ask questions about the homework! It's like heaven, as compared to last year. And not one of them has asked me for something to write with.

The biggest thing for me is figuring out how to schedule my own time. As DF's father said, I'm totally out of shape for this kind of teaching, IE real, actual teaching. I've got papers up the wazoo but that's just part of the deal--I just need to schedule myself properly and make sure I can get everything done, coach crew from 4-6, and maybe get to bed before 11:30. September is the busiest month, too, with all of these parent thingies at night to show them the school, how great we are, etc., etc. All necessary but boy howdy am I going to make good use of 1) the microwave and 2) the crock pot.

And tomorrow....I GET MY CAR BACK! Well, the plates, technically. Thank God--I do really like riding my bike, but I wasn't looking forward to hauling around in the rain. This also means I can bring my nice new rug to school. The one I have now is actually one I removed because of its brown 70s color and ratty edges. Just not nice-looking for the parents, my dear. It simply won't do.

Ah, but it's 3:23 and I have to get ready to head to practice! Yikes! More when I get a free thirty seconds.

Happy Monday, everyone, and my thoughts go out to those who have special reason to remember September 11, 2001.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Fat? Thin? Muscular? What????

Feather Nester's post makes me feel so much better: I have gained weight in terms of muscle in my legs and I CAN'T FIT INTO ANY OF MY PANTS. I almost cried. Oh, wait, I did, broke down sobbing in bed because I thought I was fat. I may also be eating too much. Solution? Toning, working inside my "fat burning" zone more than cardio, and doing Pilates. I don't mind the muscle so much; it's more that I simply don't have the money to buy all new pants and skirts. So I guess I have to tone down some of the bulging, massive, exaggerated muscle I have created and just go for scary Lisa Rinna skinny-toned. Maybe not.

I feel it's almost unfair: I get myself all healthy and strong and then I can't wear my clothes! This means more skirts, which is pretty and all, but makes it harder to ride the bike to and from work. Just a few more days of that, people! I'm going to try to keep riding to work as long as I can, especially since my schedule has me home after 6pm four nights a week--then I get to grade stuff, lesson plan, and, oh yeah, eat. But I'll save that for a later post. I do like being able to exercise and I guess the bike is one small way to get it done.

So what to do? I do like the muscle but realize it might not be fiscally possible to sustain it. Who knew these parts of life were so intertwined? Although I always like an excuse to do some shopping....

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Try Again

I'm just trying something short to see if it works, since I've had error messages every time I've tried to post in the last two weeks.

Today is my first day at my new school and with 20 minute classes and students who are actually attentive, it's a nice change from Ghetto High of last year. Of course I've already had one student give me some story about "Wait, we had another summer reading assignment other than the one that took me ten minutes?" I gave her until Friday and then found out she does this a lot, so it's her one get-out-of-jail-free card. She doesn't know this, but she will.

Girls' schools are very shrill. Lots of energy, lots of noise, most at a high pitch. Right now the students are taking pictures and having meetings, and I'm taking the opportunity to calm down, catch my breath, and start grading things. This is going to really whip my procrastinating butt into shape!