Tuesday, December 18

Teacher Christmas List

Inspired by a few other teachers posting Christmas lists and one of the most frustrating days of my life, here are some things I would like for Christmas:

Schedules for my students and rosters for my classes next semester that make sense
Just a little bit of appreciation and positive feedback
A stronger professional community (TFA and beyond) and much more help with what I'm doing
Graded papers and an updated tracking system
Some organization in my life and my classroom
Enough make-up work returned to me to pass a few key students
A long term plan for next semester
Increased productivity during prep time and after school
A list of books to read next semester, plus many copies of the books themselves
A qualified special ed and literacy teacher
An endless supply of white board markers
A silent pencil sharpener (or self sharpening pencils)
"Because" "would" "should" "just" "kind of" "probably"-- all spelled correctly all of the time
Students who love to read
Students who are safe and loved in and out of school
A much bigger house
A Starbucks/coffee house with wireless internet that I can walk to

That all said, in the spirit of not focusing on all negative things, here's a few things I'm thankful for.
I'm thankful that I don't feel anxious every morning and that some days I actually have fun with my students.
I'm thankful that I have pretty much absolute power to make curriculum decisions in my classroom.
I'm thankful for my classroom library
I'm thankful for students who come to school and want to learn and make me laugh
I'm thankful for other teachers who blog
I'm thankful for new friends who feel like old friends
I'm thankful for old friends on G-chat and in person
I'm thankful that I'm here and have the opportunity to be a part of this movement
I'm thankful that I am able to share my experience with you (and I promise to keep it up and increase frequency and quality in the future)

Wednesday, December 12

test bias

How's this for a classic example of tests written to favor middle class suburban students:

"The city council is considering an ordinance banning cycling on all sidewalks. Consider the effects such an ordinance would have, and decide whether you support or oppose the measure. Then, write an essay in which you express and support your opinion on the issue."

What??? Some of my students have probably never SEEN a sidewalk! And kids around here to not have/ride bikes. This is strait out of our brand new language arts text books. You'd think they'd be getting better about this by now. Something else that kills me about these books is that is comes with a separate soft cover book called a "Multicultural Reader". As in, "we think literature from other cultures is so important that instead of putting it in the text book we put it in a flimsy little separate workbook." jeez. What worries me is that the text books are written by the same company that writes the test.

Monday, December 10

Looking for a little Gemütlichkeit in South Dakota

I miss this...So, to satisfy the craving for Glühwein that I've been having since the end of November, I'm having a little Weihnachtsfest in my trailer on Wednesday. I even made Lebkuchen, or attempted to-- it's pretty close if not exactly the real thing, I think it will adequately compliment the wine at least.

It's winter here. How did that happen so soon? There are inches of snow on the ground. My nose is always running, my lips are always chapped, and last week I fishtailed my car into a ditch. It doesn't get much more winter than that.

My students are either more subdued because of the weather or more out of control, depending on the student and the day. Classes are going fine. Kids seem to be disappearing into thin air, however. I'm not sure where they go, but they aren't in school. My classes are tiny, sometimes 3 or 4 students in a period. The average the last week or so has been a total of 24 kids spread across four class periods, that's out of about 46 originally enrolled. That's little. Too little. I feel crazy saying that I want bigger class sizes, but I do! It's just not fun with four kids, there's no energy, there's no discussion, there's no group work. It's basically tutoring. Plus I'm bored teaching the same lesson four times to five kids when I could just teach it once to 20 kids and be done with it. I've requested fewer sections of my classes next semester. We'll see if I live to regret my whining here ;)

Other stuff at school....

Basketball season has started and it is a HUGE deal. I'm not sure that I can convey to you what a huge deal basketball is out here, but let's just say- it's huge. Tons of my students are on the team and I'm hoping that that's going to motivate them to get their work done and keep their grades up for the season. Meanwhile, I'm going to be attending a whole lot of b-ball games in the near future.

Also, Christmas is apparently a pretty huge deal too. I wasn't quite expecting this since, I don't know, it's a federally run school! Not to mention that it's an Indian school. How the over the top cheesy Christmas decorations mesh with that I'm not sure, but everyday when I walk into school there is some new garland or tree or lights or inflatable snowman in the commons, it's weird. I guess being PC doesn't apply out here.... Anyway, there will be no Christmas in my classroom. We're working on a unit on writing assessments, so all they're getting from me for Christmas is a test! ha!

Today they put up a real pine tree and I couldn't help but smile at the thought of a European pagan tradition being Christianized, brought over here, and making it's way into another native culture, it makes a nice circle in a way!

Only six school days until Christmas break! And boy am I ready. I like teaching and all, and it's not like I'm generally THAT stressed out, but I do feel very very ready for a break about now. It's going to be so nice to spend two weeks at home to see friends and family and get some planning done for next semester. I'm ready to rock my literature classes- or I will be by the end of break!

Happy Holidays!