Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So Much for Good Intentions

I really honestly was going to try to post ever single day this school year but obviously that isn't going to happen.  As my grandmother used to say, "I have too many irons in the fire."

Oh well.  Least I tried.

In any case, amazingly enough, when I returned to school on Monday, after leaving my kids with a sub, the stack of crap on my desk wasn't too horribly bad.  Even better, she didn't run out of the building screaming so that's a plus.  One of the reasons why I asked this particular sub to fill in for me is because I know she can be tough, but she also knows all the kids as she student taught for us last year.  She's fair and she's organized.  And she leaves wonderfully detailed notes about who was naughty and who was nice.

Seventh period, of course was hideous.  So hideous in fact that Mr. Math came over to tell me how hideous they were.  Sigh.  I knew that was going to be the case.  I did have to write up two other kids in other classes for their behavior, but that was almost to be expected.

Let's just say that seventh period wasn't very happy on Monday.

On another note, all the report cards went home along with a parent conference letter.  Our parent conferences are this Thursday and next Thursday.  Basically we ask parents to send the form back with the date, the times they'd prefer and the teachers they'd want to see.  Then we have to sit there and slot of the parents into our individual conference schedules.

This is a mess when you have a bunch of kids who have teachers who aren't on the same team - like a lot of the seventh graders who have an 8th grade teacher who's teaching a couple of sections of seventh. It's not been too horribly bad, however, because, sadly, we haven't received many conference requests.  I only have 11 parents signed up for tomorrow (most of them are parents I really don't need to see), and another 5 for next week.

But, on the up side, I did get a parent in here today for a meeting to meet with her, a principal, and her daughter to come up with an education plan since her daughter failed my class this nine weeks.  Mainly it's not turning in work and not studying.  We ironed out a plan out and, if they both do their end of the bargain, she should pass the rest of the year. Big if.  But hey, I'm trying.  And I think Mom may be on board as well.

And today?  Weirdly enough, the first night in weeks I don't have school work to do. Feels odd.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Digging Out...on Monday

Mrs. Eagle and I took a personal day on Friday so we could attend a two day conference in another part of the state.  

This means we left our kids alone with a sub.  

At this point I always feel sorry for the sub, but this year in particular I really feel sorry for the sub.  Our kids have been just awful for the subs.  No, I take that back.  They've been beyond awful.  

I'm not sure if it's because we've had a lot of subs or what.  Mr. Math has to go to some meetings downtown for the math department, Mrs. Grammar has little ones that either get sick or need to go for a checkup, and Mrs. Language has had to deal with sick parents and sick kids as well. We've been out a bit more than we usually are, and truth be told, than we'd like to be.  About the only people who seem to be here day in and day out are me and Mr. Rooster.  

Granted, for some reason kids think that having a sub means they can act like absolute monsters. I never could figure that out (and I subbed for two years).  They just lose their minds.  Then again, they lose their minds with just about any change in routine, like a fire drill for example.  And it doesn't help that our pool of good, quality subs has shrunk a lot since most of the good ones either got hired permanent or they are on long-term assignments.

In any case, it takes forever to get ready for a sub and forever to deal with the aftermath.  I am, however, hopeful this time.  I got a sub who student taught in P.E. last year so she knows most of the kids.  And, amazingly, they like her.  She has strong management skills and she's young and pretty so that helps.  She's one of those good subs that gets snatched up fast so I snagged her way back in August for this day.

So I'm hoping it went okay.  I do know, however, it may take me most of the week to go through the tests to be graded, homework to be checked and so forth.  And we have to deal with parent conferences this week, which is usually a bit of a scheduling balancing act.

Oh boy.  Here comes Monday.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Busting Out the Seams and Tech Hell

Back to school today after a week off for fall break.  As much as I was dreading today, because, let's face it, it's nice to sit home with my felines, and my hubby and knit and read and make jelly and work in my yard and all that fun stuff, today, well, it wasn't too bad. 

Except for Tech Hell, but we'll get to that in a bit.

What was weird, and surprising, is that we got an email today from Guidance informing us that they had enrolled 14 kids today.  FOURTEEN!  In one day.  Now, we're used to getting a boatload of kids after the Christmas holidays, but after fall break?  Nearly unheard off.  But fourteen enrolled today - and of course half of them were seventh graders - so now we're expecting 3-4 new kids for each team.  Yay!  

And all this, after The District, with all their number crunchers, predicted our enrollment going down (it's gone up by about 100) and we're rezoning next year and expecting another 100-200 kids from that.  So, will we be going back to three seventh grade teams?  The Principal told me she's almost certain we will, but it remains to be seen.  I'm not so sure these guys know how to forecast that well.

And for the Tech Hell.  (Isn't there always Tech Hell?).  We got an email over break from The Principal which was a forward from a Tech Genius, that basically said they had come in over break, did some work on the network, and while they were there, went into classrooms and fixed stuff (that we probably didn't know was broken) and that we'd have a tech guy here in the morning on Monday in case some printers didn't work, etc.

Which is weird because a few weeks ago a Tech Genius spent all day coming into each and every classroom (never during planning, ALWAYS when you didn't want them) changing all the IP addresses on our printers.

So, today, I'm all happy camper because my printer is working.  Until third period.  When it stops.  

So Mr. Math comes over (and he's even more annoyed than most of us because he's way smarter than the Tech Geniuses) and he fixes my IP address on my printer.  Yea!  Printer works.  

Until I come back from lunch and it's apparent that someone came in during lunch and restarted my computer.  So now my printer doesn't work. (I was lucky.  Only my computer was restarted - Mr. Math had all his equipment turned off which means 10 minutes of class time trying to get everything back up and running.)  Keep in mind, we have to turn in grade verifications at the end of the day so I kind of like need my printer to work.  

We get an email from one of the secretaries up front informing us that the Tech Genius told us that all our problems would be solved if we restarted our computers.  WRONG.  In inform her that my computer was working fine until SOMEONE restarted it and now it didn't work.  She said that they'd add my room to the list.  

Finally, Guidance Goober comes in and fixes it himself after I basically went over and asked them how on earth I was suppose to submit my grades if I couldn't even print them?

When did Tech Genius show up?  After bus riders were dismissed.  I told him thanks, but I had it taken care of.  He looked relieved.

So, my question still is...what was the point of all this?  I think the IP address on my printer has been changed five times in the past month and for what reason?  None that anyone can truly tell me.  My guess is that this is a way for the tech department to justify their continued existence even though, from what I've been told, they cause more problems than they solve.

Just ask the Guidance Department.  They were still there at 4:30 when I left today because they couldn't get the new schedules to print for tomorrow...what a mess.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Nine Weeks Down

And only three more nine weeks to go.

But now, it's Fall Break!


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Looking' Good for Picture Day

Ah picture day.

Talk about a school ritual.  It's always a fun day to do hall duty because the kids are, in the words of a former student and courtesy of Mrs. Cardinal, "all P-Diddied Out".  There are always a few kids you aren't quite sure you recognize, even though they've sat in front of you for nine weeks, because they finally have their hair out of their faces and their clothes are actually clean, pressed, and they don't look like they rolled out of bed and onto the bus.

Of course there are still a few, including Happy Boy, who are sadly in need of a comb, but for the most part, it's an improvement.

This is also the time of year where The Principal, kindly "encourages" all the staff to make sure we get our picture taken - or else.  Many of us dread this ritual (I do) but one advantage of first period planning is you can get the stupid thing over with.

And 80's Girl was happy today.  Not only did she get a new tube of black lipstick ("And not even a Halloween brand but one I can buy all year long!") but she wore a new dress.  It was of a fabric that shifted purple and green depending on how you looked at it.  It definitely wasn't silk on this kid's budget, but it was definitely different.  It had fashion code no-no spaghetti straps which she covered with a ratty red zippered sweatshirt, which I am sure was removed for the picture.  It was tight across the bodice, and down to just about the knees, where it flared out into a whole bunch of gathers of fabric.

And she made the whole thing the night before.

I'd asked if she'd followed a pattern and she admitted she "sorta did", but that she'd modified it somewhat.

I'm telling you, this kid may be odd, but she's got style.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

When CoverGirl Just Won't Do

I have a student this year that reminds me of a much younger and goofier (and less responsible me).  We're talking  MUCH younger.  She's missed her era.  This child should have been in college with me (the first time) in the '80's.

First off, after growing up in Los Angeles, and spending quite a few years helping hubby with a business in the music industry, there's not a lot that I find to be all that weird.  Which may be why some of the stranger kids sort of gravitate towards me.  In any case, 80's Girl manages to pull off looking weird and turns it into a fashion statement that - for whatever reason - usually works.  (Let's be honest, most middle schoolers tend to look a little dorky through no fault of their own since biology is against them at this point in life.)  I know some of the teachers are put off by the abundance of black in her wardrobe, the fishnet gloves, the pink and bright blue extensions in her dark dyed hair, but she cracks me up.  She's smart as hell and a sweet kid.

And the fact that she wears a Rocky Horror Picture Show t-shirt - and knows what the Rocky Horror Picture Show is - has totally endeared herself to me.  We had a discussion about the movie and I asked her if she'd seen it live (no, that's one of her dreams) and when I told her I had (1979, Cove Theater, Hermosa Beach, California, thankyouverymuch), I became The Coolest Teacher Ever.

Cracks me up.

In any case, the past few weeks she's taken to wearing black lipstick which, well, actually kind of works with her.  You know how most of these Gothy, Punky kids always dress in black and pout and sulk?  Well, not this one.  She's got her black lipstick on and she's all smiles.  In fact, she's all smiles most of the time.  (Even though, truth be told, the lipstick tends to get a bit, well, smeary, and it's often on her teeth giving her a bit of a pirate look, but hey, she carries it off.)

In any case, on the way back from lunch she sidles up to me and says, "I'm sad."

I look at her and she's looking a bit frazzled.  For one thing, it's obvious she's had lunch because most of the black lipstick is gone except for a dark ring around her lips.  (This look she does not carry off.)

"Why, what happened?" I asked her.

"I've lost my black lipstick," she says, her eyes downcast.

"Oh," I say, "you did?  Did you check your pockets?  Your purse?"

"I've looked everywhere," she says.  "And I can't afford any right now.  Not until mom and dad get paid and I get my allowance."

"Well, hopefully that will be soon," I say.  I meant it.  She looked odd without the black lipstick.  I kind of got used to it.

"I do too!" she said.  "Picture day is Wednesday!"

And of course, plain red lipstick just won't do. Although some of my 1940's colors would totally work on this girl.  Perhaps I'll give her some tips on red.