Thursday, March 29, 2007

Grumpy pants

This will be my last tirade about the 9-weeks test - promise. A little back story...

We (as a department) take turns making up the tests for the end of each quarter. Tom and I took the 2nd nine weeks, and did the test for it. Not a problem. Leah (another Earth Science teacher) did the test for the first nine weeks. Our illustrious dept. head, Lenny, should have done the 3rd test. He did not want to. (lip poked out, and shaking his head). So, Tom volunteered to do it again. What did he do? He gave me the released items from last years test to 'look over.' I took them home a few weekends ago, and marked some I thought should be included in addition to those Tom had marked. On Monday (a week ago) Lenny comes to Tom and says, "The office needs that test today!" So, I spent last Monday cutting and pasting questions, answers, and graphics for the test, and putting it all together in a usable form. Gave it to Tom, who gave it to Lenny, who gave it to the office to be copied. Neither one of them checked behind me. I made some mistakes on the test. Stupid, fixable mistakes - but mistakes, nonetheless.

After the test was copied, THEN Tom looks at it. He freaks out over the mistakes. Lenny says - don't worry, we'll just fix the problems. I apologize to Lenny, who tells me he blames Tom for not following through and authoring the test. Tom blames Lenny for passing the buck, and not authoring the test.

Fast forward to today. The kids took the flawed test yesterday. Lenny is going over the test with his class (I'm in there as a collaborating teacher), and as he goes through it, he decides he doesn't like a couple of the questions. Says those never should have been included. Makes some comments about how bad the test was. I apologize again - he blames Tom again. Tells me that I never should have been put in the position to put the test together, since I'm not the Earth Science expert. (I'm Sped, after all - evidently not just as a vocation, but I'm now part of the population!)

I'm grumpy about this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I hate 9-week tests. It's crazy to get so excited over barely passing grades on these things. The first 9-weeks, my students did poorly overall. I think my highest score was a 50-something. My department chair told me not to worry - these were Sped kids, after all - and as long as they scored over 50%, they had a good chance of passing the SOL at the end of the year. (Tells you something about that SOL, don't it?) So, I felt a little better. Then, my principal did a hall drive-by on me - letting me know that I had to do something to get my test scores up. What did I have to do? Start remediation classes right away in order to help these darlings, and get them to pass the SOL. OK, so my remediation classes started right before Thanksgiving. Every Wednesday morning, for the last 4 months, I've remediated my students for 30 minutes. Now, I'm supposedly going to get paid for this - not sure when, but money has been promised.

Second 9-weeks, my students did a little better. Instead of just about everyone failing the test, only 2 failed. Much better. Were these all the students I remediated? Not a chance. Only 5 were in remediation weekly. The others were in other remediation classes (because they failed more than one 9-week test.) My principal did the dance of joy, and told me to 'keep up the good work.' In other words, keep remediating every Wednesday morning for phantom pay.

Today, my students are taking the 3rd 9-week test. I graded my 2nd period class, and all but one student passed. Then, 8th period. These guys are lazy, and I have 3 girls who are absent more often than present. In this class, I had - guess what? - 3 failures. Meanwhile, Tom is sticking his head in my door, crowing: "One failure out of all my classes!" Like it's some kind of teacher competition....


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Oh, to be young again...

TC and Dave came up for a visit this weekend, and they decided to go for a little hike on Saturday afternoon. A few miles outside of Madison, there is a mountain called "Old Rag." This mountain is unique, in that it is a granite outcrop - billions of years old. Very cool. (Yeh - there goes the Earth Science nerd again) Anyway, Dave and TC left around 11:00 to go to Old Rag, and hike to the summit and back. About a 9-mile hike. And 'rock scramble', as the website described it.

They didn't get back until just before dark - making me a little nervous. They had a great time, and Dave took many, many pictures of the trail and the rocks. I don't know if TC was sure what he was getting in to, but he gamely went along for the hike and scramble. He was a good sport - even paying for the entrance to the park - on his birthday weekend, no less!

It was a good weekend, and it was really good to spend some time with them.

After they left this afternoon, I went to the high school for the Spring musical - Oz. Several students in my classes were in the play, including the girl who played Dorothy. It was very good, and I was impressed with the talent level of the students.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pass the Clorox, please!

This morning, about 6:30, I got a call at home from on of the school secretaries. "Mrs. L., I hate to bother you at home, but we have a situation in Mr. M's room." What? A situation? Are we going to DefCom 3? What does that mean?

Mr. M is the teacher in the classroom across the hall from me. His class is for students with severe/profound disabilities. Evidently, all but one staff person (a classroom aide) were down with a stomach virus today - Mr. M included. I happen to be certified to teach students with that level of disability, so I was asked to be in that classroom today - with my small-group assistant (who's worked in this classroom in the past), and that one poor assistant who was not sick. Turns out, she's like the Typhoid Mary of the virus - she had it first, about 3 weeks ago. Great.

The up side? I can wear jeans when working in that class.

I still had to teach my small-group classes, and have my home-room group. Other than that, I was in this classroom today. Fortunately, (for me - not for the students) all but 2 students were ALSO out with this virus. So here we were, three adults and 2 students. Had to be that way, because you must have 2 staff in that class at all times, in case of medical emergency (or diaper changes, where you have to have 2 people in the bathroom to lift a heavier student on to the changing table.) Too much information? Welcome to my world.

It was a relatively stress-free day, however. One student is very self-sufficient, so we mainly had to deal with the other. We also were able to go out after lunch and walk around the track for their PE time - something I never get to do on a normal day. The weather was beautiful today, so that was great.

I also decreed (being the head honcho for the day, and all) that we spend some time cleaning all surfaces and materials in the room. Since it was a nice day, we also had the windows open all day - getting the bad air out, and letting the good air in. I washed my hands more today than I have in the last week.

After being in this "hot zone" all day, I think bathing in Clorox might be good idea. The assistant principal thanked me this afternoon for helping out, adding, "Now I hope you don't get sick."

Me, too.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blessings 3/11-3/17

  1. Managing a full week at work without losing my mind

  2. Two days of Spring-like weather

  3. One day of snow

  4. Catfish -- mmmmm

  5. Held my last IEP meeting of the school year on Thursday. Unless you're a SPED teacher, you have no idea how good that feels.

Catfish Serenade

Semi-annual VFW Catfish Dinner tonight. MM-MM-good. Don't tell Ken - he'll hate that he missed it. (and no - fried catfish is NOT on my diet. Don't care. It's twice a year.)

While we ate, a quartet entertained us with a medley of tunes. Very eclectic. Following "One Day at a Time", came a vaguely tropical sounding instrumental. Then the group announces that, since it was St. Patrick's Day, they thought they should play "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." They put on their green baseball caps, and launched in to the instrumental chorus of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." Mom and I almost choked on our hushpuppies. After some fumbling around with music, and whispered discussion, the group started over - this time singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." Good deal. Except, when they got to the instrumental bridge, once again we had "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."

Then, we heard a rendition of "Blue Hawaii." All this done with guitars and banjo. We figured we were in for a musical trip around the world. Next song? "Louisiana Saturday Night", and as we were leaving, "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You." Great stuff.

I am so full.

Friday, March 16, 2007

You just never know...

what's gonna happen.

Couple of random things: 7th period today, I left class to head toward the restroom. I heard faint sounds of music out in the hall, but didn't think much about it. When I opened the bathroom door, I see a student in the bathroom - practicing her violin. I guess the acoustics are good in there. So, I had a 'pee serenade.' Pretty classy.

Girl walking down the hall, wearing a T-shirt that says "Stop imagining me naked" Also pretty classy. I stopped her, and let her know that the shirt was not appropriate for school. She looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Maybe because this was at the end of the day, and no one else (evidently) called her on the shirt all day.

Yesterday, the weather was absolutely beautiful. Mid-70's, sunny. Spring, right? By the time I got home last night, the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees. This morning, it was raining and in the upper 30's. Rained all day, and started snowing around 2:30. Right now, we have about an inch of snow out on the deck, and the driveway is covered. Strange weather.

I have a student in my homeroom who drives me nuts. He's a nice kid, but very annoying. Ray doesn't have an 'off' switch. Everything he does, he does for attention. He's also in one of my collaborative classes. I see Ray as much as I see any student I teach. Have I mentioned - he drives me nuts.

The other day, Ray started talking about the show 'Southpark'. Now, despite the political incorrectness of the show, I am a fan. I think it's funny. Comedy Central ran a marathon of the series a couple weekends ago, and the students in my homeroom were talking about the episodes seen.
In one, Al Gore makes a guest appearance, warning everyone about the dangers of 'Man-Bear-Pig'. Of course, no one believes him that Man-Bear-Pig is real, so he goes to great lengths to convince the boys of Southpark that the threat is real. As Al says "I'm so serial". At the end of the show, Al goes off in a huff, saying he's just going to go make a movie about Man-Bear-Pig.

Ok, I guess you had to see it to think this makes any sense.

ANYWAY...Ray decided he and I would bond over our belief in Man-Bear-Pig. For the past week, Ray has been driving me nuts (yes, I'm so serial) with Man-Bear-Pig references. Mostly, he's just been saying the name whenever he thinks I can hear him, and giggling hysterically. Yesterday, in the middle of class, I glance over at Ray (who's been watching and waiting for me to look his way), and he holds up his hand where he's spent much time crafting paper 'claws' on his fingers. Today, when I went in my class for 8th period, there was a message on my board: "Man-Bear-Pig was here. GRRRR"
I'm hoping he will get another obsession before Monday, or I may have to hurt him.

This morning, on the school TV news channel, the three administrators of our school had their hair dyed. One purple, one red, and one orange. They did this because the school met a fundraising goal. So they walked around all day with Easter egg hair, and no one took them seriously. Good job.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Madison Moment

On Sunday afternoon, just after lunch at Blue Ridge, came a knock at the side door. Now, no one ever comes up the hill just to visit, and almost no one knocks at that door. I went to the door, and opened it to see whom I could see. (How's that there grammar?) Anyway, a woman was standing there with a copy of The Watchtower. With her, was a student from the high school. She looked almost as surprised to see me as I was to see her. After a few minutes of questions and answers (the total Witness drill) I accepted the copy of The Watchtower, and told the girl "See you tomorrow!" She looked a little embarrassed.

To be continued...(the bell for 6th period just rang)

Monday, March 12, 2007


Back at school. So far today, I've had about 5 things dumped on me. This week is going to be so busy! I guess I'm paying for 3 days away, last week.

We have about 10 teaching days left before the 3rd 9-week test. In that time, I have to teach my students all about glaciers, and the geological history of the Earth. In 10 days. The history of the Earth. Yeah. Rotsa ruck with that.

I came back from the conference with all kinds of ideas, and new technology promos. My principal has been running from me all day. Seriously. Every time he sees me, he turns the other way. He knows I'm going to hit him up for some budget money. Normally, I wouldn't mind if he left me alone (he's kinda annoying), but now he's just being rude! That's OK - I got friendly with our tech specialist for the county at the conference, and she's already said she'll go to bat for the HS to get some new stuff next year.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Blessings 3/4-3/11

  1. 3-day workshop - time off from school. I forgot how re-energized I get when I go to conferences.
  2. Adjunct to #1: beautiful drive both ways for the conference. The hour-long drive took me over the mountain and back each day.
  3. Continued weight loss
  4. The beginning (?) of Spring - maybe?
  5. Talking to Ken and Dave (oh, TC? Where are you?)

Friday, March 09, 2007

I {{heart}} educational technology

Spent the last 3 days at JMU, at NTTI (National Teacher Training Institute),learning about all kinds of neat educational technology. Too bad my school system doesn't have any $$ to spend!

I do get one piece of equipment for my classroom when I finish all the requirements for the institute. Probably won't see it until next school year, but that's better than nothing. Very interesting 3 days, overall. I learned how to make a podcast! Whoo-hoo! Pretty cool stuff.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Dave has a hippo on his head. College has been such an enriching experience for him!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Blessings 2/25 - 3/3

  1. Weight loss of almost 3 pounds - total of over 15 pounds in 7 weeks!
  2. Beautiful weather over the last 2 days.
  3. Getting approved for a workshop at JMU I applied for
  4. Hearing from my family.
  5. Taking an hour off work for myself on Friday (and surviving my walk!)

Friday, March 02, 2007

It's all downhill from here


Beautiful day today - sunny, in the 60's. I have Spring Fever. So, I decided I needed a break, of sorts. I have planning the last period of each day, from 2:15 - 3:00. I've been very good all year, using my planning time the way I should.

We can sign out from school for up to an hour without being docked pay or time. I've never done this - until today. At 2:20, I signed out. I had an appointment. With the afternoon.

I drove home, put on my walking shoes, and took off. I've been walking on the treadmill at the gym, and usually walk for an hour (over 3 miles.) I turned on my iPod, tuned to my hour-long walking music, and headed to town. It was great! Moving at a good clip, I made it all the way through town by the 30-minute mark. Turned around to head home, and realized I would be walking uphill all the way back.

'Bout killed me...