Sunday, February 25, 2007
posted by Q6 at 10:46 PM
I've been reading a biography of Walt Disney (my second now), and a thought occurred to me. It's about trash at our school, and how Disney theme parks deal with the problem. Not a glamourous comparison, I grant you, but worth looking at. (I told someone, many years ago, that if Walt Disney ran a school it would be a palace and be several million dollars in debt by New Year's Day--only to find out that he did run a school--CalArts--but it was a post secondary school, not a high school.) There was once a joke about Disneyland, one in which you were challenged to throw a piece of trash over your shoulder and turn around fast enough to see one of the custodial staff pick it up. I think often about the trash problem we have on our campus, and I've come to a conclusion: the students aren't very mindful of their refuse NOT because they don't care for the campus, but because (a) they're teenagers and don't think about it anyway, (b) much of our student body doesn't clean up after itself at home either, and (c) they KNOW someone else is going to clean it up. So here's the part I don't get: at school, the students know the trash will be picked up and therefore make a mess; at Disneyland, patrons know the trash will be picked up but still manage to throw their trash away. So is it a respect thing? Or am I genuinely underestimating the amount of public litter at The Magic Kingdom? I keep trying to figure out a solution to the trash problem at my school; more and more, however, I think I still don't have a grasp of the problem.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
posted by Q6 at 12:21 PM
Having a week off from school for the Presidents' Holidays is a double edged sword: on the one hand, you want to accomplish that which you now have time for, and on the other, you want to spend the down time actually being down. During the entire week off, I only went into the office twice (once to meet someone who wasn't actually there--though it was a GREAT bike ride--and once to change the marquees before everyone showed up on Monday). For the rest of the week, I got little odds and ends done. I finished putting years of photos in large collage frames and hung them in my house. I got to spend the weekend with my daughter. I hung my son's new punching bag in the garage without actually breaking the garage. I worked on a new doghouse for the pooch (though it's still LONG from finished). I visited with family, got to read, learned some new HTML stuff for my blogs, and I got to rest. It's probably the most "break" I've had in quite some time.

I may just get the hang of this relaxing thing yet. :)
Saturday, February 10, 2007
posted by Q6 at 6:46 AM
I don't ordinarily tell stories here about discipline issues at work, especially those that are so unique that they can be easily figured out; but the blog is anonymous, and any readers who know who I am would never guess the identity of the student, anyway. The tale must be told, however, for you to appreciate the last line.

This week I busted a student for attempting to sell grass on campus. This may not seem like anything special to those in the education world, but in this case I'm being literal: he was trying to sell grass. He ripped it from the ground from the lawn at the local mall on his way to school and tried to sell it to people as marijuana.

He (and his friend, who managed to dodge this bullet completely) thought it would be funny, and he might be able to get a few bucks out of it. Our campus police officer explained the legal issues (yes, it's illegal to sell fake drugs; there are also civil issues involved if someone tries to smoke the newly-fertilized lawn and gets sick). I explained that where I started teaching, South Central L.A., selling fake drugs is how drive-by shootings are born. He wasn't arrested, but he could have been; and I've learned that's sometimes enough. Then his mother asked about suspension. My reply:

"Yeah, I could suspend him; but if he's going to do things this stupid, I think he needs every day of school he can get."
Thursday, February 08, 2007
posted by Q6 at 9:48 AM
We had a staff meeting today featuring a speaker from the district. Something about Autism; that's what they told me when they woke me up, anyway. It could have been about auto repair for all the attention I paid. Nah--I'd have stayed awake for that.

What threw me was that this presentation was another clear example of why there needs to be more public speaking training in school. (I've blogged about this before, so this is a clear-cut case of "here we go again.") Not only did the speaker have a Powerpoint presentation, and not only did her presentation consist of merely reading it aloud to everyone, but she handed it out on paper to everyone ahead of time. I didn't see the point; this presentation was nothing more than an e-mail on LSD.

When I taught Speech to high school students (a course seriously lacking in both my school and the world), the rules of visual aids (apologies to Microsoft, but that's all your Powerpoint program is: visual aids on steroids) were clear: they're used to augment your presentation. Not to document the entire thing or to be the entire presentation. Moreover, you don't hand out the presentation slides (or anything, for that matter) ahead of time, or your audience will pay attention to what's in their hands and ignore you completely. After seeing several district presentations and WAY too many student presentations, and after talking to teachers about their students' work, I'm convinced that more attention must be paid to teaching students how to speak to other people. Period. Communication is going to be reduced to text messaging otherwise. (Someone recently challenged my opinion on this, claiming that visual learners need the handouts or their not going to get it. My response is two fold: (a) if you're that much of a visual learner you should get dispensation from attending lectures, and (b) if the handout is the whole presentation, there's no need to stick around for the lecture.)

This particular Powerpoint was being projected on the back wall of the theater, and so every slide contained the fire alarm sensor on the back wall. I started to wonder if we might be lucky enough for that particular device to be light-activated. (I knew it was a smoke detector, but I also began to wonder if the projector was strong enough to singe something in the mechanism and set it off--better yet, if you project a picture of fire onto the sensor, will it go off?)

Anyway, I'm told the presentation was about Autism.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
posted by Q6 at 4:41 PM
So my blog has a new format, and it's not just because it looks cool. The yellow legal pad has become the template of my life; I purchase them in bulk, and I get the Tops brand DOCKET pads with very small line spacing. I write lists for everything I have to do. I think it's so I can look at everything crossed out and feel like I've done something with my day/week/life.

When I debated in college we went through these pads like toilet paper. There was a special type of note taking for debate, and yellow legal pads were the standard. "Flow" pads, we called them (the style of note taking in debate is called "flowing"). I've actually had to train myself not to call them that anymore, since no one seems to know what that means (if the funny looks I get from people are any indication).

Anyway, this is my new blog skin.