Queen of the Quadratic

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I've been appointed "leader" of the Algebra 2 team this year. In the past, this position has required little leadership except passing along papers that come from the central office. I was expecting much the same this year.

Imagine my surprise to learn that several on my team (3 of them) haven't taught the subject before and were expecting me to teach it to them!?!?! Now, this is pretty shocking in itself, but it gets worse.

At least one (and perhaps more) apparently think that I am too gruff and short with them when they ask me questions and give off an "attitude" of "You should already know this." Here's the deal...

We teach 6 of 8 periods a day. One period is lunch and one is conference. My class average size is 30, so that makes 180 (give or take) students. I teach two subjects, one of which had a "revamp" on the curriculum over the summer and came out a complete mess. Unfortunately, that is the one that is new to me, so I am not only failing in being an effective teacher, but I'm also NOT learning anything about the course.

The course that I am "leading" hasn't been changed much in the past three years. It's good, solid, and the kids learn a LOT. It's all laid out on a CD along with pacing, standards, and supplementary materials. In addition, we also have a textbook that we can refer to if we need some teaching advice and approach strategies. Apparently, these other teachers are expecting me to write out everything that I do and say so they can emulate it. Flattering as that might be, it's simply impossible. Most of what I do, I don't think about in advance. I can't possibly tell them what I'm doing.

One of them (at least) seems to think that I'm not doing a spectacular job with this leadership position and rather than talk to me about it, she is going to the department chair who later relays the message to me with no hope of knowing who thinks this or what incidence is being talked about. I have no way to know why she thought I was being snooty because I haven't a clue when I was being snooty. The only thing I can figure is that she mistook my silence after making a statement for having a condescending aire. I typically make a statement and then shut my mouth to allow the person to whom I'm speaking to process the information. I find it frustrating when I am trying to understand something and the person "explaining" it won't shut up and let me assimilate the information.

I'd like to know who I should talk with about this so I can clear the air. It is very frustrating to know that there is a problem and not know how or with who to deal with it.

I'm about ready to start looking for a new position next year. This nonsense is getting ridiculous.

Monday, August 28, 2006

How can it be...

One week. Just one little week. It felt like it lasted about two years!

On the upside, my students are wonderful, my classes are "gelling", and I've already built a good deal of rapport with my kids. I think we are going to have a highly successful year.

I convinced a friend of mine (and the admin at school) to come work at my school. She is having a rough time adjusting to the new environment and job description, but I feel confident she'll do just fine. There are several other newbies in my department, some of whom I am very concerned about. Many of my students from years past are stopping by for tutoring in the mornings, and some have decided to switch from the alternate 3rd year math to Algebra 2 in an attempt to get into my classes. It's a little flattering, but at the same time frightening to watch my rosters grow at an exponential rate.

I'm taking a half day off today to visit with my doctor and get the low-down on what's next in the line of ankle repair. I'll report to work for the second half of the day and have a goal to LEAVE WORK no later than 5:30 this evening. (Last week, I didn't leave earlier than 7 on ANY of the 5 nights.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

First day

We made it through the first day. We have 5 new teachers in my department this year (roughly 1/4 of the department), so I spent my conference period assisting one of them. After school, I went to check up on the one to whom I am assigned "buddy". She was a little run down, but still standing. Two of the others looked a little glossy eyed.

I felt pretty energetic at the end of the day (which makes NO sense). I can't imagine why I would feel so full of life since I didn't have a conference period.

I am now feeling quite drained and think I'd better head for bed so I can be lively and spry tomorrow.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Inservice Week

Inservice started on Monday. It was really great to see everyone again, and to meet the new people on our campus. My room needed (and still needs) a lot of work. My students, in an effort to help me close out the year, boxed up all of my things and took down all of my posters and various other decorations. While I greatly appreciate it, I am having a difficult time finding everything again!

I stayed very late last night (3 hours past when they turned off the air conditioner) to try to get a few things accomplished. They've kept us very busy so far this week going to meetings and trainings and the convocation (a sort of "pep rally" for our district) that we haven't had any time to work in our rooms. I was able to move a table over to incorporate it as part of my desk/workspace. All of the student desks are in an eclectic dissarray and most are topped with various file folders and papers that I found while "cleaning out" the file cabinet.

In addition to all of the meetings set upon us by the administration, we have meetings with our subject teams. I'll be teaching Geometry (for the first time) and I'll be leading the Algebra 2 team. We had those meetings yesterday also!

Today will be packed with inservice with only about 3 hours total time to work in my classroom (and part of that has to be spent on lunch!) I intend to figure out how the student desks will be arranged and make it a reality, hook up the two student computers and figure out exactly where they are going to live, and if there is any time left (yea right), start working on specific preparation for the first day (photocopies, syllabi, agenda, procedures, etc.)

The start of school...

What a wonderful time of year!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Almost time...

Inservice starts on Monday. School starts the following Monday. I can scarcely wait!

It's been a long, wonderfully relaxing summer (I had an extra three weeks due to a disabling injury) but I am ever so ready to return.

My children attend schools in a different district from where I work. Their first day is this Monday (sort of worked out nice for me). This evening is open house for the elementary kids so we will meet the three smaller school-aged boys' teachers tonight. One is entering kindergarten, so this is a VERY exciting time for him. To help them count down the days until the first day of school, we made a paper chain that has the days of the week written on it along with a pictoral depiction of important events happening each day until the first day of school. We hung the chain in the hallway between the little one's bedrooms and each night before bed, a different kid gets to rip off a ring to symbolize the end of another day. They seem to think it's a really wonderful idea and I have a feeling they'll want to do it again next year.

I am eager to see my colleagues again. I have been able to see several of them once or twice during the summer months, but not all of them at the same time. It will be wonderful to catch up again. It's a little like a family reunion that lasts 10 months (with a slight change of cast each year)! I firmly believe this rebirth each year is perhaps the best part of teaching. If you made terrible mistakes, you get to start fresh each Autumn. If made wonderful leaps, you get to continue to build and traverse new territories. Throughout the journey, personal learning never ceases. I really don't know how corporate employees can survive the monotony over 30+ years. Perhaps that's why so many change jobs so often in life.

To all my fellow educators gearing up for yet another new year...

I hope your enthusiasm oozing from your pores so when your students arrive, they can't help but feel energized and ready for that grand adventure known as learning. May you inspire at least one more than you did last year. May you find the wrecking ball that will tear down the walls the students have encapsulated themselves in against real learning. May your internal rewards continue to fuel your fire (since your paycheck still doesn't ;) ).

Happy New Year, and here's hoping they fix those pesky calendars to reflect the "year" as we know it!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

TV Students

I found this article and started wondering...


I have 5 children that I am raising with my husband. We greatly limit the amount of TV the children watch and send them outside to play daily. We play board games, card games, sing songs together, and have a relatively traditional itinerary of activities that do not include TV.

My students quickly realize early in the year that I won't be turning on the TV if there is "extra time" in class. During the spring semester, I typically have to administer state exams to students that I don't or haven't taught before. I found last year that they whined because I wouldn't turn on the TV when everyone was finished. I advised them to bring a book or magazine for the remainder of the testing days.

I do believe that television has caused numerous problems with children/students. They are not expending the energy that children inherently possess, and as a result are fidgety, have trouble concentrating, and do not place very high value on true learning. Parent's response? Medication...

I often wonder if TV networks are in cahoots with pharmaceutical companies. At the very least, they scratch each other's backs to the detriment of our nation's future.