Thursday, December 21, 2006
posted by Q6 at 7:14 AM
The Music Department at our school never fails to please. The vocal concert last night--including the Concert Choir, several soloists, and the Madrigals--was pure delight. The students work very hard, and demonstrate that hard work pays off. I know that many, or at least some, of these kids will be professional someday (I even joked to my girlfriend that, for some anniversary years from now, I'd like to go to New York and see a show on Broadway . . . whatever show that R---- D---- (student) happens to be in).

What really makes the whole thing work, however, is the teacher. We have one (he has assistants, and a kick-ass accompanist), and he handles the entire program. When you think about everything it takes to make a music department successful, it's amazing that one guy can pull it off. (We're not just talking singers here; he's got three or four major instrumental groups as well.) He is truly one of the best teachers, the best artists--one of the best people--on this campus.

AND he himself plays a mean sax . . .
Monday, December 18, 2006
posted by Q6 at 10:01 PM
Toward the end of the day I was told that a parent was on his way in to see me with a complaint: apparently, one of our seventh grade boys sent a degrading, insulting e-mail to his daughter over the weekend.

I am NOT the Assistant Principal of the Internet.

As it turns out, it was actually a text message sent during a birthday party at a movie theater; still, it had nothing to do with the school. I heard the father out as he vented about the kinds of parents that would let their kids use (let alone be exposed to) that kind of language. "They're 12 years old," he said. "How can they already know language like that?" Although I refrained from suggesting that he call the police, as that was really the only agency that jurisdiction over stuff like this, I became concerned when he returned to my office after only a few minutes to tell me that he confronted the young man at dismissal. I explained to him how thoroughly uncool that was, all the while laughing inside about how this young man was probably scared to death to be called on his behavior by the girl's father.

I'm not the AP of your wireless carrier, either.
posted by Q6 at 9:55 PM
There's been a lot of talk at our school lately about the state learning standards, about common assessments and assignments, and about departmental alignment at the course level. In addition to that, the AB75/AB430 courses I'm currently taking have been demonstrating to me how the textbooks in Mathematics and Language Arts (particularly from Prentice Hall publishing) have been rewritten to address the standards. The books practically teach themselves, and come with the lesson planning built into the teachers' edition.

If the teachers of a certain course are all teaching the same thing at (more or less) the same time, using the exact same tests as other teachers' courses of the same level, narrowing all instruction to fit the scope of the state learning standards, and using books that already have the lesson planning included, aren't we just one step closer to turning each teacher into an interactive CD-ROM?

And isn't that just sad? One day I'd love to go back to the classroom. I just hope it's still there when I do.
posted by Q6 at 9:52 PM
I like to tell people that I'm a teacher; my subject is "Behavior" and the entire campus is my classroom. When we started tardy sweeps last week, my class became the least popular--overnight. Students seem to think that promptness is not their responsibility. They must, because when we caught 60 or 70 on the first day, first period, we heard excuses ranging from "My Mom got me here late" to "The line at Starbucks was insane." I'm not kidding about either of those, by the way.

I think what really gets me the most is that everyone has been fighting us on this. Students don't want to get detention for breaking the rules, and they're actually willing to risk suspension by standing there and screaming at us (note: we only ended up giving detention to the habitually tardy and truant; yes, we looked up the attendance records of EVERY SINGLE ONE of them). The parents think it's unfair that we enforce the school schedule. THE PARENTS THINK IT'S UNFAIR THAT THEIR KIDS BE TO SCHOOL ON TIME. They have seventeen hours to get to first period and we're being unfair. A few teachers were caught sneaking kids into their classrooms after the sweep lockdown so that their students wouldn't get caught.

Why am I only one of about a dozen people at this school who wants to teach these kids something about life?
Thursday, December 14, 2006
posted by Q6 at 2:46 PM
Since [our] school gets out so close to the actual Christmas Holiday, the district office has decreed that Friday, December 22 will be a minimum day. (We'll forget, for a moment, that the school year steamrolls right over Hanukkah; it's not our biggest holiday, anyway.) We had a rally scheduled for the 22nd (one which interferes with classtime and requires a separate bell schedule), and we've decided not to change that, presumably so that the 25 kids who show up on the minimum day before the two weeks off can enjoy the rally. As the resident bell-schedule-maker around here, I get to do the math and create all the schedules: the regular bell schedule, the final exam schedule; the late start schedule . . . (I can go on; we have 8 different bell schedules).

I've created a "Minimum Day/Rally" Schedule: 30 minute classes, 30 minute rally, 15 minute break, out at 12:30. If only I could find a way to squeeze a lockdown drill and parent conferences into it as well . . .