Sunday, January 29, 2012

Be Careful How You Land

It's amazing how life can just up and turn your world upside down.

Take, for example, the case of Mrs. Chicken.  One minute she was sitting on her stool in her classroom (most of us use barstools as chairs since our computer teacher stations are so high - I usually stand most of the time). The next minute she had landed on the floor which is tile on concrete.  Apparently when she went to stand up, one of her feet got tangled in the rungs towards the bottom of the stool, and she fell.

Right onto her hip, managing to crush her pelvis and break the top of her femur.

Good thing?  The kids were NOT in the room but were at their elective classes.

Bad thing?  Well duh.  It's a pretty serious injury, especially for someone who's old enough to have been teaching for over 30 years.

This happened the first week back in January and we currently have no idea when we'll see her back at The School.  The kids aren't happy - they love her.  She's a great teacher and one of those teachers that you'll be somewhere with, a restaurant or something, and people will come up and tell her they they had her so many years ago and how she was such a great teacher, and they just loved her class.  Everyone in town knows her.

And so now she's home, spending most of her time flat on her back, trying to heal up.  We're pitching in to send meals out to her place as cooking isn't really on her list of things to do right now.  She can stand or sit for about 45 minutes and that's about all she can do.  According to her Doctor, she's in a great deal of pain and it could be over a year and a half before she's back to her old self.

However, The District, was hoping she could come back to do "light duty" this past week.


She had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday and were expecting her to come back, hence they didn't request a substitute for her class.  Because this is considered an on-the-job-injury, The District is watching her progress very closely.

But really?  A broken pelvis and leg and they though she could do light duty in less than a month?

We're all trying to figure out what light duty is, anyway.  Perhaps they'll retrofit her room so she can teach from a hospital bed?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Insanity of Tearing Down a Role Model

I've been a fan of sports nearly all my life.  Daddy had one child - me - and even though I was a girl, that didn't stop him from teaching me about sports and learning to enjoy them.  We spent a lot of my childhood at the ballpark in Anaheim watching the California Angels.  My grandmother was a dedicated and devoted Denver Bronco fan.  And my cousin, even at 5' 2" but with amazing skills, played college basketball on a scholarship.  I follow hockey, SEC football, baseball, and about the only sport I could care less about is basketball.  Even today, a lot of my conversations with Daddy are about sports - he's a Cubs fan - and it's something we enjoy together.

That being said...I haven't followed the NFL for quite a while.  I love college football - especially SEC football - but the NFL just didn't have it for me anymore.  For one thing, John Elway retired and I tended to work a lot on Sundays helping my husband with his business a number of years ago.  Not much of a chance to watch games.

And, let's be honest, I got tired of hearing about the thugs.  

Players hanging out - constantly, it seems - in strip clubs.  Players getting shot.  Players doing the shooting.  Players driving drunk, beating their wives, engaged in dog-fighting, gambling, you name it.  It turned me completely off to the NFL and I stopped watching.  Just didn't care.  

And then along came Tim Tebow.

As a Georgia fan, I absolutely HATE THE GATORS, but I still enjoyed watching Tim Tebow play.  Granted, he wasn't the best quarterback, technically, but that kid had that something that inspired people to rise about their limitations and do their very best.  He could rise above his own limitations and do amazing things.  SEC football fans saw it time and again as he motivated his team to win after win.  And the fact that he's a good kid, a Christian, someone who sees football as a platform to do greater things and help people, well, that just made it better.  

So, he got drafted by my beloved Denver Broncos (Grandma would be thrilled) and I decided to watch the NFL again to see Tebow play.  I wondered if he could bring that same magic he had during his college days.

And he did.  And believe me, my family in Denver went nuts over him.  He made this team believe in themselves again, which is something we haven't seen in a while.

So we finally get a good role model - a football player who isn't all about himself.  One who takes a city and helps it believe in greatness again, even if it's in an arena such as sports.  One who helps others.  One who sees the big picture and it isn't all about himself.  And what does the media do?  They tear him apart.  

All because he bends down on his knee and prays.

Honestly folks.  We whine and moan and cry and complain - "Where are the role models?" - and we finally get one that is a good and true role model and what happens?  They rip him up.  They deride him.  They make fun of him.  And it's absolutely ridiculous that it's happening.

So, for all those media snots who are having fun ripping up Tebow, let me tell you one thing.  I wouldn't be watching the NFL if it wasn't for Tebow.  Granted, that's one person...but I suspect there are a few others out there who may have given up on the sport, perhaps for some of the same reasons I have, who are now a bit more interested.  Who've come back to the fold, and who are actually following the NFL now.  

And it's because a truly good, inspirational player is out there, trying to create magic with his team.  Give me that any day.  

Because, truly, character does count for a lot.  And Tebow, he has character.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Little Unbalanced, I'd Say.

In the past week, eight new 7th graders have enrolled in The School.  I got five of them.  Mrs. Eagle got one and Mrs. Angora got two.  This is not to be unexpected, because we usually get a lot of kids moving in and out over the holidays.  The Guidance Diva also noticed that many of these kids had the address belonging to the cheap but gang-infested brick apartment buildings down the road, so apparently some units have opened up.  Two of my kids are sort of homeless - Mom has an RV and parks it wherever someone will let her.  Another one is living in a church with his family.


In any case, our numbers are going up because, for what seems like the first time in forever, we didn't have any kids move off the team.  No one left.  So now I have 28 in my homeroom and most of my classes are in the high twenties.  Mrs. Eagle and all the other seventh grade teachers are in the same boat.

So on Tuesday of last week, Mrs. Eagle and I are walking down to the science lab to grab some graduated cylinders, droppers, and beakers to use in a lab on Wednesday.  The science lab is at the very end of the eighth grade hallway so we had a chance to walk by the eighth grade classrooms who were in session.

As we're walking along, Mrs. Eagle says, "Hey, take a moment to check out those class sizes as we walk by."

We walk, and glance in through the doors and glass frames (which give you a pretty good view of the rooms) and realize that these rooms are practically empty!  They have class sizes in their teens!  One of the last rooms we go by belongs to Mrs. Hummingbird's science class.  (Mrs. Hummingbird taught with us a few years ago and we miss her and love her).  She sees us, comes to the door to wave and say hi and we realize that she has 16 kids in her room!  SIXTEEN KIDS!


My first thought was, man, are they going to be in for a surprise next year when we dump the huge group of seventh graders we have on them.  My second thought was that they better find a way to get another seventh grade team next year because the sixth grade currently has about 50 more kids than we do!

Wow.  I wouldn't even know how to deal with a class of 16....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow, well, Ice Day, #1

For those of you who use your precious time to actually read this (including my mother!), you may recall that for the last two years The District had pretty much used up all of our THREE snow days for the year and we were going over our limit by this time in the season.  This was NOT fun because it meant that we had to use up holidays as well as add an additional 30 minutes to the school day to make up for the time missed.  That 30 minutes may not seem like a lot, but if you do after school activities it meant that you didn't get home until after dark, and it seemed that all you had time to do was fix supper, clean up, and go to bed to just get up and do it over again.

So this year has seemed a bit odd because it's been so mild.  We haven't had a lot of really cold, below 32 degree days, and for precipitation we've had quite a bit of rain.  Last year it seemed like day after day after day it was below freezing and snowing or trying to snow.

So yesterday we went from a high of 46 in the morning when I left for school, to about 42 degrees at lunch to 29 degrees by the time we left for the day.  They were calling for snow showers but not a lot of accumulation.

These are the days where I wish there wasn't a single window in the building.

It started to snow in between 5th and 6th periods.  I know this because every single kid was walking in the halls and coming into the room screaming, "IT'S SNOWING!" as if they'd never seen snow before in their entire lives.  IT'S SNOWING!  IT'S SNOWING!  IT'S SNOWING!

Yes.  We know.  Now try to settle down and let's get on with some learning.

Then of course they wanted to know if they'd go home early.  "Probably not because it's not sticking and we only have an hour and a half of school left," I told them, but to no avail.  Because, after all, IT'S SNOWING!


Then came the announcement that all after school activities, including the much-anticipated basketball game, were cancelled.  Chaos.  IT'S SNOWING!  IT'S SNOWING!  IT'S SNOWING!

The only thing that got them calmed down and interested in science was the fact that I was bouncing eggs around on my document reader.

The kids went home, and we were asked to have the building cleared by 5:00 which was no problem.  Then the announcement came over the loud speaker that we might want to go out to our vehicles and make sure we could open them as many of them had doors frozen shut.  All the rain that we had earlier in the day had frozen.  So, many of us spent some time in the parking lot prying open vehicles, then letting them warm up to get all the ice off the windshield.  (I was getting a brake job on my car so had hitched a ride with Mrs. Eagle.  $800 in two weeks between my vehicle and hubby's.  I need another job to pay for the vehicles.)

I picked up my car, and got home with no problem, although I did notice a lack of salt trucks on the roads.  The snow was starting to stick, but you could still see grass and it wasn't very heavy.  Mr. Bluebird got home from his meeting, and was surprised at how good the roads were.

However.  The temperature kept dropping, and dropping, and dropping.  About two hours after we'd been home, and Mr. Math had come over to help Mr. Bluebird with a computer problem, our driveway was a sheet of ice.  Mr. Math, who lives a half mile away, reported after he got home that it was one slick, nasty trip home.    School Districts around us started cancelling based on the ice, not the snow.

We cancelled around 4:30 this morning, not because of snow, but because of the ice underneath the snow.  All that rain we've been receiving, when it was in the 50's and 40's, turned to ice when the temps rocketed downward.

So, we have our first snow day, ice day, of the year, and it conveniently happened on the Friday before a Monday holiday.  Yeah!

Still, I'm a bit concerned.  My celery-food-coloring-salt-water osmosis demonstration will be a bit, well, ugly come Tuesday.  And as for the bouncy eggs?  Well, I don't want to even think about those.

P.S. Because I know ya'll want to know what a bouncy egg soak raw eggs in vinegar for a few days to remove the shell.  What you get is the inner membrane holding the egg together and it will, truly, bounce (try it, it's fun).  What we're doing with these eggs is putting them in a cup of syrup to predict what will happen to them in 24 hours.  (We're studying osmosis and diffusion and there's your clue).  I have no idea what will happen after 5 days.  We will see.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Now Let's Enjoy the Rest of the Year

In My State, teachers on a professional license get observed four times a year.  One of the disadvantages of being at the beginning of the alphabet is that I was one of the first, if not the very first, person observed at the beginning of the year.  This was the second week of school and I hadn't even learned all my kids' names yet - mainly because we were still fixing schedules, assigning books, and all that fun beginning of the year stuff.  And, truth be told, it takes a bit of time to learn 130 names.

And now that we're into our second semester, the cycle begins again and I am supposed to have my two unannounced observations some time this week.


For those of you not in the teaching profession, I'm not going to bore you with all that goes into lesson plans, and observations, and teaching to reach multiple learning styles, and being sure to assess at least three times during the course of the lesson, and of course, keeping the kids in check and hoping that they actually learn anything, and of course, making it relevant, sticking to standards, and oh, all that fun stuff.

You can thank me.

For those of you in the profession - you know what I'm talking about.

In any case, I got lucky and The Enforcer did my two observations on Monday and now I am FREAKING DONE with my observations for this year.

So I of the advantages of being at the beginning of the alphabet is that I get done with these nasty observations before the others and can actually enjoy teaching for the rest of the year without these things hanging over my head.

Until next year.  When it starts all over again.