Tuesday, February 26, 2008
posted by Q6 at 7:36 PM
Way back when, I was always the teacher that liked to think outside the box. (No, that's not true. I didn't even acknowledge the existence of the box, really.) I loved the concept of cross-curricular lessons. Teaching English and Public Speaking was great, but it was nice to spread my wings and take on some of the other subjects--it made me feel more like a teacher. I knew one English teacher who taught Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, and crossed in the science lessons so everyone understood the DNA aspect of things. Let's face it: crossing Math and Science is easy; but cross English and Science, and you're on to something. I sometimes wondered if the elective courses tried the same thing; so when I ran across the Flicker Song Chart Pool, I was pleasantly surprised. Music, and Math.

The whole thing took me back to one of my favorite lessons; it never really worked with the results I wanted, but it might have if I had ever taught Honors-level classes. The theory was designed to make the pen-ultimate crossover: English and Math. (Yeah, yeah, meter in poems and such. This was SO much cooler.) Math uses its own vocabulary, its own language--most subjects do, which makes this accessible to a lot of teachers. To use the language of Mathematics to create a poem is meaningful to both subjects. And so, lost long ago in the pages of now out-of-print Omni magazine, there is this limerick:

A dozen, a gross, and a score,
Plus three times the square root of four,
Divided by seven,
Plus five times eleven,
Is nine squared, and not a bit more.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: man, I miss the classroom.

Saturday, February 23, 2008
posted by Q6 at 9:43 PM
For the Presidents' Day holidays, some schools take a four day weekend, others take two Mondays. Us, we take the two days off together in one week, then take the rest of the week off for kicks (some might refer to it as the "Ski Week" that private schools take, but we discourage people from calling it that--especially when skiing). And while we've been away it seems that imaginations have run wild.

Our HS principal had to leave the country suddenly to tend to her ailing mother (leaving the MS principal in charge of the whole she-bang, and losing his mind amidst the chaos); in her absence, certain staff members seem to be under the impression that she's not returning (now, she's not been well liked by some, but her reputation has improved over time; apparently, though, it's not improved enough). I don't know where this even started, since it has--to my knowledge--no basis in fact. I'm chalking this one up to "wishful thinking."

The students in our AP Language classes, on the other hand, just seem to be playing with whatever Play-Doh we put in front of them. They haven't liked their teacher since September, and over time we've slowly joined them. The teacher left under very amicable circumstances (I might blog about this more later), and we found a very competent substitute to hold the fort while we get the new teacher out of her current contract and through the district paperwork queue. The students think this is the replacement teacher. They were told this was a sub, but apparently that didn't take. The irony? They like this teacher immensely. This one is now classified as "AP Cluelessness."

Finally, a statement was made by a teacher union rep that seemed to slip under the radar and stay there, for I seem to be one of only two people worried about it: during a monthly "shop talk" meeting at lunch, a staff member voiced a concern about the relationship between me, an assistant principal, and one of the English teachers (note: we've been dating for two and a half years and are engaged to be married this summer--this isn't a breach of Ed. Code or anything, since I'm not her evaluator and have little, if any, dealings with her grade levels).* The union rep's response was "Well, they won't be working together much longer." Now I'd like to think that I'd be involved in discussions--or at least questioned--about this topic, and I'm more than blindsided by the voiced concern, especially since it's from a staff member with whom I thought I got along. I'm filing this under "union rep blows smoke"--for now, anyway.

I can't wait until school starts again so that we can deal with the usual the-sky-is-falling routine. Nothing seems to get the rumor mill going more than a week off.

* I guess it's also worth noting that several years ago a married principal here was having an affair with the English Department chair (to whom he is now married, I believe), and that went down very badly for everyone, professionally speaking. This probably has something to do with the current complaint (and I use the term "complaint" loosely).
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
posted by Q6 at 9:41 PM
I've mentioned before that the students at my school are in dire need of a severe humbling experience. We have one student in particular, a junior, who needs this more than most.

This kid walks around campus day in and day out as if the whole school is under his control (it doesn't help that certain high-ranking staff members have contributed to this). He's had issues with the school's music program in the past, and the music program gets undeserved flak as a result. He's in an AP class that has endured teacher-competence problems, and has been reporting information to his classmates that has, at best, a casual relationship with the truth (including, according to reports that he denies, erroneous claims that he got the teacher fired and is helping to choose the replacement).

His folly--and it's long overdue, believe me--was relaying information about the interview process for the new football coach (including, again, exaggerated accounts of his level of involvement). After being told not to convey any information, he did so. So he's out. He met with all three administrators present and was given the "opportunity to step down." He took it, and I made damn sure he knew how upset we were with the situation. In the end, it was clear that he was getting an education in the way things work around here--and he knew it. I don't hate the kid, but I have the obvious problem with the crafted perception he's presenting to the student body.

So the humbling experience is possible in some cases. One down, two thousand to go.
Monday, February 04, 2008
posted by Q6 at 10:18 PM
I find cluelessness a fascinating trait in people. I'm not only fascinated by the degree of cluelessness one can find in an educational institution, but also by the sheer volume of it at times. The questions I've been getting lately should be easily answered by common logic, basic teacher training, existing printed material, or experience. I've been the answer-man around here for a while, but some of these things are just plain stupid. What was it that Jeff Goldblum's character said in Jurassic Park when things started going bad?

"I hate knowing everything."*

* Arrogant, I know, but if everyone around here is going to keep coming up to me and asking me the obvious . . .