Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Ça me fait mal

Ouch, does it hurt. I assigned a short writing exercise to my students last friday. They had to write a short paragraph of at least five sentences describing their summer. Not a hard assignment, I thought. I just wanted to see how their writing skills were, since the English teacher gave me the grim news about their reading scores... more than half are below grade level.

What did I discover? Three of 50 students understood the concepts of spelling, punctuation, and paragraphs. The rest of them? Well, some just gave me five sentences numbered 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Some had spelling so poor that I had to guess at their meaning. Others were barely recognizable as English.

This is depressing.

I'm going to start a program with a parent volunteer so the volunteer can work one-on-one with all the students on basic reading skills and speed reading exercises while I focus on the group as a whole.

I do not understand how these kids made it out of elementary school with such a lack of reading skills. Pretty sick if you asked me.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Oh, and about the nose thing

The doctor left much to be desired. After a ten minute exam in which he sprayed a noxious, numbing agent up my nose and stabbed me in the deviated septum with his metal lifter thingy, he raced through an explanation of a septoplasty and turbinate reduction and escorted me to scheduling. Yeah. "This is what's wrong with you, let's schedule your surgery. It won't actually affect the shape of your nose though. No time for questions, and I shall escape while you are sneezing and wiping your eyes."

Needless to say, I shall be seeking a second opinion. If I'm going to submit to the S-word, I sure as hell am going to get a straighter nose out of the deal. But the current diagnoses is "deviated septum and polyp-like scar tissue in the turbinates". Anyone know of any good ENT specialists in the Salt Lake area? I have a list from Internet searches, but I'd love some personal recommendations.

How talking about education quickly leads to ranting

Seriously, how the heck did it get to be almost September? (Sonofabitch. Did I just write "heck"? Must get out of Utah soon.) Anyway. My car registration expires in three days, but I need brake work, an emissions inspection, and a safety inspection before I can reregister. With money that I don't have, of course.

I recently discovered that teachers don't get paid until the end of the month. And that the paycheck represents work done the previous month. Yeah. So at the end of September, I will be paid for 2 and a half weeks of work from August. I won't get paid for all my September work until the end of October. How did I miss this little loop hole of teacherfuckingovership? Seriously. If I hear one more anti-educator rant in the papers or other media, I will flip the fuck out. People think they can do better? Come on in. I'd love to see it. I mean, naturally, there's some wackos in any field, but for the most part, the teachers I work with put everything they've got into their jobs, only to be smacked down over and over again. Smacked down by the students, by the parents, by the administration, by the legislature, by the federal government. You want to improve education in this country? Support your teachers, don't demonize them. Sure, test them, ensure their competency in their subject. Heck, test the kids if that's going to make you feel good about our educational system. But for godsake, put your damn money where your mouth is.

There's a huge disconnect in this country between the "management" and the workers, no matter what your industry. I have to wonder if this wasn't the way of things in Rome at the beginning of the end. One of my apocolyptic-minded relatives predicted the end of US dominance (and perhaps the end of the US entirely) in the next 50 years. I'm finding it harder to argue against that.

Yes, I'm feeling cynical today.

Friday, August 27, 2004

still hanging in there

Actually, I'm having a fabulous time with the students, I'm just experiencing technical difficulties. First, I have NO IDEA where to start with the reading classes. So far what we've done has been more organizational than curriculum focused. But, considering these kids are 12 and 13 years old (ie: TOTAL SPASTICS!!) organization is much needed.

The French is going a bit better, since I actually know how to teach that and stuff... but my first period has some girls with... massive attitudes. ohmigad, I can't imagine talking to anyone, much less and adult, the way these girls talk. Ack. I gave them a short 7 question survey on the first day. One question asked "Why do you think people study foreign languages?" One response: "I don't know. Ask THEM." I kid you not.

And then the district still hasn't decided if I exist or not. According to the computers in their office, I'm in the system. According to the computers at the school, I have no students, I'm not assigned, I'm not on file, or I'm invalid, depending on which system I try to access. But I refuse to stress about it. The Librarian..oops...Media Specialist and the Asst. Principal are both making twice daily phone calls to the district on my behalf, so I figure it will be fixed by Monday. Until then, I'll just keep up my daily visits to their offices to check status. At least I'm getting to know the Librarian well.

Tomorrow I have to stick around all day, despite only teaching 4 classes (instead of the normal 6), because we have meetings in the afternoon. Hopefully I will be able to get some idea of where I should be starting off with these reading classes. Then I get to try to keep a straight face through the foreign language department meeting... some of the other teachers... I won't get into it now, but oy. AND THEN, after all this lovely time at school, I'll finally be going to the Otolaryngologist to see about starting to get my useless nose fixed. My breathing quality is at an all-time pathetic low and it's seriously pissing me off.

Alrighty. I must go to bed or I'll never make it through the day. Even though I have no idea what I'm going to do with the darn reading classes tomorrow. Ack.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

The nightmares have started

Last night I dreamt about the first day of school. All I can say is that it is pretty much guaranteed to go better in real life. I still don't know what I'll be teaching in terms of the reading classes. French is no problem. I really feel quite comfortable with that subject, but reading... maybe it would help if there was actually a course description, hmmm.

I'm going to scan the state Core curriculum online and see if I can figure out what I'm supposed to be teaching since no one else seems to be able to give me a straight answer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Telegraph: Got the Job

Got home Sunday night, started working 8am Monday morning. First day of school is the 23rd. Am exhausted. Seminars yesterday 8-3. Work at the Inn 3:30-11. Got home 12am. Got up 6:45am. Losing brain function. Parent "Back to School" night starts at 6:30pm tonight. Worried won't be able to form sentences. Must shower. Maybe nap. Definitely eat. Also drink. Dehydrated.

Will update later when coherence regained.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Blog on Hold

Until the 16th... silly wedding to attend back East. On Friday the 13th no less.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Pick me! Pick me!

Interview went well, really well, I thought. I had to resist the urge at the end to jump up and shout "pick me! pick me!"

Principal and Assistant Principal seem like great people. I got a really positive vibe off both of them. And not only would I get to teach French, I would also get to teach Reading. Only my two favorite subjects in the world.

Sorry, I'm giddy with hope. Please please please please please. Pick me!

Added 3 new pictures to the new photo album link. I went through Jay's collection, and trust me, you're not missing much else. He took a lot of pictures from the South Sister hike, and while that's interesting for him, to me it looks like a bunch of snow and sky and rock. Notsointerestingeh?

Tomorrow is my interview. I'm trying not to stress about it.

I'll let you know how I do with that.

Hmmm... maybe that's the reason my tummy hurts. Stress-related ickiness?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Last minute chance

Got another call today about a job interview!! With one of the junior high schools in Granite District. It's for a position that's only mornings, and only until January, though it could last all year, but I don't care. I want it! I want it bad.

Interview is on Friday.

It would just be so nice to be in a school, teaching, instead of scrambling around trying to fill time with something sort of related to what I want to be doing.

I really want this to happen.
Wasting Time with Random Comments

As I expected, the images seem to have repaired themselves with no invention on my part. Where do they go when they disappear? Is there some sort of vacation spot in the Web for "broken" images?

I took down my previous chapters from the critique circle and posted summaries instead. Sure, it's a private board, but I really would like a serious shot at selling the books someday (like, after they're finished) and posting that many chapters just seems like a bad idea.

I'm working on yet another wedding present. Jay's next door neighbor from childhood is getting hitched in New Jersey on Friday the 13th. Jay's been tagged for best man duty, so he heads out this Friday to supervise the bachelor party on Saturday. I'll be joining him on Sunday and we'll be hanging with his family for the week. The wedding's on the north shore, nice and informal (aka: shoes optional) so hopefully it will be a good time. In any case, it's always nice to have a change of scenery.