Monday, September 30, 2013

Watching Their Heads Explode

Okay. I know I said I would be posting more but this is turning into One Hell of a Year.  Used to be you could count on one hand the number of teachers who were at school an hour early and who left after five.  Now it's the bulk of us.  It's all about bringing up the test scores and revamping just about everything we do.

Mrs. Eagle, Mrs, Angora and I are basically ripping apart our curriculum and rebuilding it to make it more rigorous and to raise expectations.  However, it takes a lot of time to do that.  Friday evenings we're lucky if we leave by eight.  At least we enjoy working with each other.

However today I had a great deal of fun at my students' expense.  For several years I have done a weekly email to parents, usually on Friday afternoon, where I list what we are doing in the week ahead. It works out pretty well except when things change.  And I have noticed this year that we are making more adjustments to our plans than usual.  So I needed an alternative.

One of our new teachers told me about a website called that sends out text alerts.  It protects both the teacher and the students' privacy, you can schedule the alerts for when you want them to go out, and they can even be sent via email if so desired.  I was hooked.  (No, I don't work for them.)

I sent out the notice in my parent email on Friday, and then today I sent home the sign up information for parents and kids to sign up.  However, I wanted as many kids signed up as possible so I blew their minds when I told them to get out their phones, turn them on, and subscribe to the text alerts.

I swear you should have heard the gasps in the room.  

"Is this a trick?  Are we going to get in trouble?" And so on.  They were completely freaked out.

I loved it.  

They finally figured out that this was indeed a legitimate request and slowly the phones came out, were clicked on, and then they started to sign up.

The selling point?  It wasn't getting notices about tests or homework.  Oh no.  It was me telling them that I would text them the night before if they needed their book in class or not.

Anything to keep from carrying their book.  Wimps.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Things I Learned This Week

When teaching two different grade levels, DO NOT plan a lab activity for both grade levels on the same day.

Why didn't I realize I did this?

It's September and We're Already Exhausted

Oh my.

I really intended to blog a lot more this year, but there just hasn't been the time.  I'm getting to school at 6:00 and leaving some nights at 7:00, so it's been a matter of eating, grading, and passing out in bed.


Scores weren't high enough school wide so we're having to revamp lessons.  We're also being told to take more class grades and more homework grades.  We're having to take a lot of looks at a lot of data to figure out what to do with our kids to - you got it - raise test scores.  All in all, it means a lot of time spent outside of the actual teaching.

On the good side, at least Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Angora and I have a lot of fun together.  Fridays are turning into "Friday Planning Parties" where we bring snacks and work together in Mrs. Angora's room, with a few other teachers, mostly 8th grade teachers as they're down the hall, joining us.  It's a great way to kick around strategies and come up with some good ideas.  And it's fun, although perhaps fattening.

I am hoping that things settle down the meantime, some highlights.

The Bully Parent showed up for an IEP meeting and was somewhat pleasant and really nice to me since I sent her a post card about how organized her daughter's locker was.  She is now out of my class (still in homeroom) and moved to inclusion science so I don't have to deal with her academically.  I suspect she's one of those people who hide behind the keyboard.

Open House was fun.  Met a lot of parents but the best part is seeing kids I used to have.  One is a senior and looking to go to the Air Force Academy.  Another is a junior and is going to major in chemical engineering.  The fact that he squeaked by 7th grade and DROVE US CRAZY with his behavior, makes this turnaround all the sweeter.  He's a tall, delightful young man and gave me the biggest hug.  It's nice to see a kid who drove you nuts come back and tell you that they did listen - a little - and are going to turn out okay.
I spent the Labor Day weekend working on lessons and grading papers but hubby and I did take a day trip to Paducah, Kentucky to the American Quilt Museum to see an exhibit on Civil War quilts.  Awesome display but the best part was hanging with my guy.

Knitting and Crochet club starts tomorrow.  I haven't had time to knit since school starts so this may be the only chance I get.