Queen of the Quadratic

Friday, September 29, 2006

First year teachers

We have several brand new teachers this year. They are experiencing their first end of a grading period now, my least favorite part of the year. Today, after school, I was finishing up my grades and had the math team in my room practicing (we meet every Friday). One of the new teachers came to my door and asked to speak to me in the hall. I could tell from her face that something was dreadfully wrong.

She was having a breakdown (as we all do several times the first year). She had just turned in her grades and noticed how terrifically high her failure rate was. On the way back, she had a miniature panic attack thinking that she would be fired for it. I assured her that this was not the case.

The powers that be, in all their infinite wisdom, decided to rewrite the curriculm for one of the math courses over the last summer to improve the scores on the state testing. Essentially, they packed all of the prior year's subject into this one AND included all of the material that was originally there. Then, they mandated that we all use the curriculum. As a result, there is far too much information packed into each "lesson" and the kids simply can't assimilate it that fast. The result...most of them are failing (across the board). I assured her that the aforementioned powers that be really needed to see what they were doing to the students with this ridiculous nonsense. Perhaps now we'll see some action from them to fix the problem (or at least sever the tethers on our hands to fix it ourselves).

I am buddy to another of the new teachers this year. For some reason, they gave her the worst hooligans that our school has to offer. Imagine a whole room full of kids that have failed Algebra and are taking it again. Most failed because of behavior issues (and complete lack of upbringing). Needless to say, she is in tears several times a week, and she is not new to teaching. I am quite peeved that they have done this to her. She is a dear friend of mine.

We also have one man who is new to teaching. He is my neighbor this year. He is learning (the hard way) what a hard job teaching really is. This is a second career for him. What possessed him to do it...do any of us know why we do this?


I have only one of these this year (as yet). I've never had one that was female before. Guess the gender roles are truly blurring.

She arrives in class every day, places her head on the desk and closes her eyes. I wake her three or four times a class. Today, I told her that she had to either sit up or stand up and left the choice up to her.

She does NO work, doesn't take notes, and has an incredibly low average (grades were submitted today for the six weeks). I've asked her what her plan is and she claims that she is moving soon. I can only hope that it happens soon.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


We have a strict cell phone policy on our campus. Phones are not allowed to be in view from the first bell in the morning to the last bell in the afternoon. Naturally, the students see this as totally unacceptable.

During fifth period yesterday, one boy who sits in the back had his phone out and was doing something with it. He was of course being oh so "clever" by hiding it under the desk, as if I wouldn't know what he was doing directing all of his attention to his hands which were in his lap. I told him I would have to take the phone. He argued, begged, pleaded. I offered to write him a referral and let him turn the phone in himself and face other consequences as well as losing the phone. He still begged, so I turned around and walked back to my desk to get a referral form. He walked over and acted as though he would hand over the phone again, but pulled back at the last minute. I went back to writing the referral. He the put the phone on my desk. I put it in a drawer and went on with my lesson.

He asked about it several times, and I informed him that an office referral would follow the next mention of the phone. He dropped it.

At the end of class, he apparently took advantage of the chaos of the herd and TOOK THE PHONE OUT OF MY DESK! I feel totally violated. I wrote him up, and I am near the point of wanting him removed from my class. I cannot even describe how furious I am.

I wouldn't have caught it until the end of the day if I didn't have to take another phone from another student during the next class period. This other student handed it over without a fight and just asked when he could pick it up from the office.

I can't understand what goes through these kids heads. I think I was convinced that my hands would rot and fall off if ever I touched a teacher's desk, but this kid felt it was okay to OPEN IT and TAKE SOMETHING OUT! I am mad beyond belief.

I hope they throw the book at him.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Kids and their interpretations

Yesterday, when the kids finally arrived home after their adventure at Sea World, they were so excited and wanted to share their experiences with me. The littlest one just couldn't wait to tell me about "Shampoo" the killer whale.

(BTW, he is nearly 4 years old)

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Last night, I arrived home around 7:45 or so after another gruelling week. I was recruited again by the AVID program teacher to tutor her students who are in pre-Calculus and Calculus this year. It is a treat to work with those kids, and since I could use a little extra pay, I agreed to do it two days a week.

Fridays always have me coming home late because I coach the UIL math team and our regularly scheduled meeting time is Friday after school until 6:00. I also truly enjoy working with these kids and look forward to Friday for this moreso than the fact that it marks the beginning of the weekend.

It seems that weekends are just changing the venue for my work. I haven't been able to spend but ONE day relaxing since school started, and that was because we had Labor Day off. The next "holiday" is Columbus Day and is a scheduled workday for the faculty.

My husband ran a hot bubble bath for me last night and forced me to go in there for awhile with a Reader's Digest (that had just arrived by mail) and a bath pillow. The water was scorching hot and I was a smidge annoyed at first but decided to cook myself anyway. When I finally got about (nearly 45 minutes later) I felt like jello. It is positively amazing how much stress a person can bear without even realizing it.

The icing on this cake is... today ALL of my children are not at home. The teen spent the night with a friend and is enjoying the day there too. The four youngest are out at Sea World with their grandpa today. I can't even remember the last time hubby and I had a day alone together. I also can't remember needing a day off so desperately.

I think I might be able to face the coming week with my trademark characteristic zest after this lovely day.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Wind Dies Down

I haven't heard any more about how condescending I've been (or am being). This is probably a result of my lack of comment at all, and my nature of pre-writing tests/quizzes and such and then sharing them with everyone for review/revision/and mutual use. Perhaps the previously unhappy nay-sayer has found a "buddy" who is not condescending to take advice from.

My students are WONDERFUL. We have already had some superbly invigorating lessons and discussions and I am hearing over and over again "OH! Now I get it!" It is truly a wonderful feeling.

Monday, I'll start teaching systems of equations. We'll start with graphing and the next day learn to solve them algebraically. I always found this topic to be a LOT of fun, and my kids who have always been "good" at math will have a chance to shine. This is also the section where I have students start saying, "You know, this is kinda fun!"