Wednesday, May 30, 2007

62% successful....

In any other profession, that would be abysmal. In teaching, however, it is to be praised (I guess). We finally got SOL scores in, and out of 13 students in my small group classes, 8 passed the test. Of the five who did not pass, three are eligible to retake the test this week. Now, we have to decide who needs to take my final exam. Of the 8 who passed the SOL, 3 of them are failing my class for the year. They were not happy campers when I told them I was not signing the exemption form for the final exam.

In this county, the seniors are subjected to a ritual called 'capping'. I'd never heard of this, outside of reading about it in my old "Cherry Ames, Student Nurse" books. Evidently, the seniors all choose someone (friend, family member) to place the mortarboard on their heads in a big ol' ceremony. This is happening tonight. Luckily, faculty members do not have to be present. I've been told it takes forever - the seniors are called up, one by one, and someone puts on the hat. Now, you know I've got a question about this. Last Friday, we had the senior awards ceremony. 2 1/2 hours in the gym, sitting on the bleachers, listening to all the awards and scholarships given to the senior class. The seniors were there, of course, in their gowns AND CAPS! I wouldn't think that was legal, since they had not yet been capped. Nobody asked me. I would have told them.

As a side note, I think this is one time during the entire school year when someone can say "I'm gonna cap your a**" and not get in trouble for voicing a threat. Not sure.

I think this is the final indignity the seniors must go through, before graduation. They are all finished on Friday, and will have a week to relax before the graduation ceremony on June 9. That's a ceremony I'm not looking forward to. My understanding is the faculty has to be at school by 8:00 AM that Saturday, all decked out in our gowns and regalia. Luckily, we don't have to wear mortarboards (who would I ask to 'cap' me? hmmmm...) I have been told we can wear other type hats - like big, floppy beach hats!?! I hope that's true... The hats may be necessary, since we will be on the football field, from 9:00 AM until God knows when, in the sun, IN JUNE, WEARING BLACK LONG-SLEEVED ROBES! I'm wondering what (if anything) to wear under the robe.

Better not to think about it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

S*** Out of L***

We finished with SOL testing yesterday - after 8 agonizing days. Eight days of crazy schedules, computer glitches, bored or missing students, and stressed teachers and administrators. Today, we actually have a normal schedule, but that won't last. Tomorrow is Senior awards ceremony, then the SOL field day/picnic for the rest of the day. I've been assigned to the 'Dance, Dance, Revolution' room for the afternoon. I guess I need to get my groove on and be prepared to boogie down.

We have 3 days of normal schedule left after today, then we start a final exam schedule for the rest of the year. Yeah - we haven't gotten any SOL scores back yet, so we have no idea who is eligible to be exempt from exams in SOL classes. The idea is, if they pass the SOL, they can exempt the exam. Students can also exempt with certain grades corresponding to certain #s of absences through the year. I guess I will review for the final exam next week, with no idea who (if anyone) will be taking it.

I did receive my summative evaluation the other day, and my contract for next year yesterday. So I am employed - and got a pretty good step increase in pay. There's talk that health insurance is going to increase quite a bit, so I can only hope that the increase will cover my health insurance. So it goes...

Five full days, and four half days to go!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Legal things

I am now, officially, a legal resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Once again, I had to prove I am not a terrorist who lives in a post office box.

Wednesday, I took 1/2 off to go to the DMV and attempt to get my license. I had all the paperwork I used to get the loan at the credit union a month ago, so I thought I had all my bases covered. Wrong.

At the DMV, I whipped out my birth certificate, my social security card, my NC license, and the statement from the post office linking the PO box to the physical address of the house. Not good enough. I was told to go to the post office, and put in a forwarding order. Once I got mail that had been forwarded to the physical address, I could bring that in and get my license.

At the post office, I filled out the form, and handed it to the guy behind the counter. He said, 'No problem, a forwarding confirmation will be delivered in a few days." "To the PO Box, right?" I ask. "No, to your mailbox on the street." "WE DON'T HAVE A MAILBOX ON THE STREET!!" "Oh, well - you need to get one." Grrr.... "OK, not gonna happen. Can't you put the confirmation in the PO Box that is linked to that physical address?" "Yeah, I guess that will be alright." We'll see..

One other way I could prove my physical address to the DMV was to bring in a voter registration card. I picked up that application, and read over the requirements. You guessed it - I needed to provide proof of residency before I could get a voter registration card. Just because, I went by the Board of Elections. One lonely lady sat in there - very glad to see me. I told her what I was trying to accomplish. She looked at my documents, said "These will do", and printed up a voter registration card - - on the spot. What? A person with sense? Is that it? Am I really able to prove I live there?

The acid test: I drove back to the DMV, and once again presented all my documents - including the voter registration card. Things are looking good! During the process, the lady helping me got called to the telephone. When she came back, she said, "The only thing you're missing is your proof of legal residence." "NO! I gave you my voter registration card!" It's not in with my other stuff - as she went to answer the phone, she evidently laid it down somewhere. She retraced her steps, and managed to find it on another counter. Then, she called another woman over and asked, "Don't we need her marriage license as well - to prove her married name?" You have GOT to be kidding me!!! Finally, I get to the eye test. I'm sorry, no one can read those letters in that little binocular box. I passed, however, and walked out with a VA license. Finally.

Then, I drove to the car dealership to get my VA tags. I couldn't officially register my new car in VA until I had a VA driver's license. After they copied my new license, and a little wait while the salesman found someone who was authorized to give me my permanent tags, I had VA tags. I'm official. I can vote, I can drive, I can serve on a jury, I will (eventually, I suppose) get mail forwarded from my old address, I can write a check on my VA bank account at the grocery store, I can pay VA property tax, and I can infiltrate all of VA's most secret societies. (Oh, wait...did I say that last part out loud?)

Monday, May 14, 2007

SOL Review

Woo-Hoo! For the next week or so, we are taking SOLs (end of year tests). So, we only have 3 class periods daily while this goes on. That means each class period lasts 2 hours. 2 hours??? Aargh!! Right now, I'm sitting in a 3rd period Earth Science class. We are reviewing for the test, which will be on Thursday. It is 11:15, we've been in here for about 20 minutes, and will be in here until 12:45. Kids eyes are glazing over, heads are on desks, eyes are rolling. It's a lot of fun.

At this time, Mr. D (collaborating teacher) is going over the review presentation. I get to take over in about 15 minutes or so. We are taking turns, mainly because our voices are giving out with all the reviewing. After this class, I get to review the same material with my 8th period class for 2 hours. I already did so with my 2nd period class. Crazy schedule. Crazy days. I did get to eat lunch - at 10:30. I will be starving by 3:00.

On the plus side - we have 17 days of school after today. One month from tomorrow, I will be at the beach. There is light at the end of the tunnel....and it's glinting off the Currituck Sound.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I was not voted prom queen

'cause I chose not to run.

Last Saturday, I went to my first high school prom. A lot of people find that hard to believe (not because I was so gorgeous or datable in high school - but because everyone goes to prom, don't they?), but when I was in high school, you didn't go to the prom unless you were dating someone. I really didn't date much in high school - mostly went out with groups of friends. So, most of my friends didn't go to the prom. I don't remember it mattering much.

In any case, last Saturday I was a chaperone for the prom. The school is pretty small, so the prom was held in the school gym. Pretzels, chips, and punch for refreshments. DJ set up in the corner. Very dark room. Loud music. I think one of my jobs was to prevent conception on the dance floor, but I really couldn't see anything. I'm hoping no one else could, either. My other job was to check students in and out. Each student had to sign in when they arrived, and we had to check their names against the 'debt list'. Owe money? Can't get in to prom until you pay. Didn't turn in your freshman science book? Can't get in to prom until you bring the book back. (Yes, a girl actually walked in with her long-lost science book.) So, by 9:00 there was a pretty long line of students waiting to sign in. Then, the reverse at the end of the night. Not sure why students had to sign in and sign out - I guess in case someone didn't make it home, parents could call and find out what time little Jenny left the dance. (or, if she ever arrived!)

Lots of skin showing - so much so that undergarments were not possible in some cases. Lots of drama. Evidently, prom night is a prime time to break up with someone. One of my students arrived, and said she was waiting for her date. She sent a note by someone else to this guy the day before, telling him to meet her at the prom. He isn't even a student - graduated last year. Inevitably, he didn't show. Undaunted, she started down her contact list on her cell phone. No takers. I saw her later in the night, dancing with a group of other dateless prom-goers. Today, as she walked in to class, she informed me that she has a new boyfriend. Evidently, as she danced she caught the eye of a young man. She went up to him and asked, "Do you have a girlfriend?" When the guy replied, "No" she asked "Do you want one?" Ahhh....romance.....

Did I dance at the prom? You betcha. Just one dance - the Cha Cha Slide. Kelly and I almost went out on the dance floor again, to 'bring sexy back' but the principal was watching. Spoil sport.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Don't hate...

I attended a 'scoring event' today. Yep, that's right - a scoring event. I know you're jealous, but don't hate.

Today was the day to turn in the portfolio assessments on those students who (for various reasons) do not participate in standard SOL testing each year. I had one to complete, and (as described elsewhere in this blog) it was not a fun process. Anyway, the Commonwealth leaves it up to the local systems to score the portfolios. That means that all the teachers in the county who put together a portfolio of work on a student for assessment have to participate in the scoring of same.

So, our local testing guy (who happens to be pretty cool) decided we would all go to his house to score portfolios. There were 5 of us (not including Justin, the testing guy), scoring a dozen or so portfolios. Each portfolio has to be scored twice (and you can't score your own), and the scores have to agree. If they don't agree for any section, then you have to fight it out with the other scorer. Fun. Not.

I've done scoring of this type of assessment before, so I'm pretty familiar with what needs to be done. Basically, you have to look at the standard, then match up the evidence presented with that standard. Does it fit? Did the student show mastery of that standard as evidenced by the work/photo/video/whatever included? Each standard is rated from 1 - 4 (4 being the highest). Good deal - shouldn't be a problem. EXCEPT - we got derailed by language and semantics. One standard for math skills states that the student will sort and classify according to size, shape, color, and thickness. What's the difference between sort and classify? I'm a pretty smart person - I thought I knew this. Apparently not. Before it was over, we had out 2 dictionaries and a thesaurus!
You tell me - if you have pictures of a student sorting silverware, blocks by color, coasters by shape, and paintbrushes by thickness of bristles, is s/he also demonstrating the concept of classifying?

Yeah, I'm not so sure now, either. We actually spent quite a bit of time arguing this point. In the end, we compromised, and decided to agree to disagree.

I have a headache.