Thursday, October 21, 2010

things looking up and tomorrow's friday! yay!

my plan for the special ed department was approved, however it couldn't be implemented because of our block scheduling, unless the AP of instructional support taught 10 periods a week. my principal gave me two options:

1) bring in a retired sped teacher for $3000+ per session for the year (she said she'd find the money)
2) receive more training and support from our AP and outside sources and keep it as it is.

I discussed it with my team and we decided on option two. We made the ICT class our subject of inquiry study this year, and discussed strategies in depth. We are going to structure a continuum between all of our classes. Two teachers made phone calls to all the parents and I held a parental conference with one of the difficult children. And we've been ignoring the poor behaviors whenever possible and acknowledging the positive behaviors with tons of praise.

They whipped their butts into shape and have been amazing for the past two days. All we need is ten minutes of their attention for instruction and they just fly with it.

today after the warmup (which they all did!) i taught them how to do two step equations. we had planned on them practicing equations, breaking, and then moving back to instruction to break down word problems, then having them practice again. i had 2 different levels of problems prepared.

what happened at first is that two kids found the lesson to be too easy. my co-teacher gave them a scaffolded workbook that let them advance to the next level independently. after the kids started their individual practice, some wanted the advanced book, too, so they worked extra hard on their problems. then other kids just raced through so i gave them the word problems sheet. some kids finished more quickly than others so i plucked them from their seats around the room and grouped them together to create their own challenging word problem on chart paper, with the corresponding equation and solution.

by the end of the class, 6 kids had successfully worked on a worksheet of two step equations of varying degrees of difficulty. four kids had worked through the workbook section on combining like terms and mutistep equations. 4 other kids had begun working through word problems successfully. and six kids worked in 2 groups to create their own challenge word problems with equations on chart paper. to top it all off, the most ED kid in the group agreed to sit outside for concentration's sake and did quite well.

they all ended up doing different things naturally, but the bottom line, they were all able to solve the two step equations. it was the best lesson all year, and it was naturally so differentiated without much planning.

i'm hoping for continued good results, but i know there will always be ups and downs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

better day

i stayed up late last night working on a document for my principal's brainchild. when i handed it out this morning, at first my principal said "wow." but upon further inspection, she said "this is a starting point..." umm no, this is it. this is all i'm doing this semester with this work. i feel confident enough to tell her i've worked on the process and feel that we have made ample progress and need to move on. we will revisit the document at the beginning of next semester.

i'm finding my voice again.

we have a supposed ICT class that's 77% IEP's. it's also our most crowded class. we are spoiled with small classes in our school; we have two cohorts with 12 students each, one with 14, and then the special ed cohort with 26 kids, 77% of them special. and we are so understaffed, they only have a coteacher in math and ELA. how is this servicing their needs?

as teachers, we can't even manage that class. it's practically a self contained class of 26. i know i'm really good at what i do, however, i'm struggling beyond belief with this class. and they're worse with other teachers.

teachers voiced their complaints to the principal today. she didn't know what to do. i did a little investigating and some aris work and realized we could move half the IEP kids into one of the smaller cohorts and move one of the ICT teachers to give math and ELA support to the second group. of the two new cohorts, one class would have the legal 60:40 ICT ratio, but the other would be 47:53. not ideal, however it's better than the current 77:23 ratio. and both classes would have 18 or 19 students.

i did my researched and pitched the idea to my AP. he said we can reprogram the handful of kids tomorrow and start them fresh on monday. so tonight i put together a document outlining the changes for the cohorts. i feel like i accomplished something worthy. now i hope my AP of special ed approves the plan.

my music students are learning how to play jingle bells with two hands. it's frustrating for them but they're excited to play a "real" song and not just the baby songs with one hand.

tonight i had grad school. last week i had a paper due, and i seriously half assed did it 30 minutes before class. it was really substandard work. but i got it back tonight and got an A. my teacher said she gives tons of A's, but you only keep that grade if you eventually hand her your corrections and edits. but she's awesome, because she asked specific questions for me to address and basically edited my paper for me. i never expected such hand holding in grad school, but i'll take it given the stress i'm under!

and lastly, my coworkers and i started a biggest loser competition today. i weigh a freaking ton. i'm also ultra-competitive, so i'm hoping the competition will keep me losing and i can lose 15-20 lbs by december 22nd.

Monday, October 11, 2010

i wish i was *just* a teacher

the issues with my coworkers as mentioned in the last post have blown over. i had a talk with my team and everything was cleared up.

but in my ultimate quest for money and responsibility, i feel that i'm cracking. i'm handling everything but i just lack me time. my whole life is spent running around for other people. i'm finally heading to bed every night sometime between 11pm and 1am which is an improvement, but that means i have even less me time.

sometimes i wish i could just teach and come home. but i can't.

for the month of november, i've been asked to run a 90 minute campus wide PD (for over 100 teachers and staff members) and to travel to florida for one day to run 6 hours long of PD activities at an educational conference. both of these tasks involve me selling something i truly don't even believe in, the brainchild of my principal that i've been asked to implement. i feel my work in this area has been lacking, and my school poorly implemented the idea, thanks in part to yours truly. even though i have a few weeks to plan what i'm doing, i still feel my heart beating quicker every time i think about it. including now.