Damped and Driven

Ok, snow days are one thing, but lack-of-water-pressure days are of an entirely different flavor, and it tastes LAME
January 28, 2008, 5:58 pm
Filed under: School

It’s fifty degrees outside and everything is melting, quite a change from last week’s snow. A few days ago there was enough on the ground to ski on, which is saying something considering how windy it is in Rosebud. Thats South Dakota weather for you.

I have a theory as to why our students are not doing as well as they could. Now this is just a theory but i’m willing to throw it out there: THEY’RE NOT IN SCHOOL. I know, i know its a strange idea; i imagine you’re skeptical. Last week was ridiculous. Mon:inservice, Tue:inservice/parent teacher conferences (7 parents in 8 hours) Wed:snow day, Thur: single precious day of learning, Fri: inservice on restructuring. Many of my students have attendance issues anyway. Some of them ride the bus for an hour to and from school, some of them aren’t exactly excited to be in school. In any case they don’t need this on top of it.

Now heres the kicker: this week was to be a 5-day week, a week where we could really settle down and sink into getting some learning done, -nope, the water pressure is out in town, no school. A teacher that has a room across the hall from me, who was a peace corps volunteer, got a kick out of it. He taught in Africa; they didn’t have any water pressure to go out.


ghosts of education past and education future
January 25, 2008, 6:06 am
Filed under: School

I went to a workshop/coaches training on a program called Science Olympiad at the UC Colorado Springs a couple of weeks ago. It was interesting as it was both a reminder of college and a step forward in the future of my teaching career.

I was surprised at the emotional impact being back on a college campus, even one i never attended, had on me. College was such a blissful time in retrospect. You are your own master; you direct what you want to do and you main concern is class, learning, its glorious! Now everything i do has connections to the success of other people, affects the education of my students. Responsibility!, i think thats the biggest change. In college, you can sleep in and miss class, and it’s not a huge deal- you’re only affecting your own education. Now though, if i was to sleep in and miss class, that would be bad, for my students, bad for me. The excrement would hit the air conditioning, as Vonnegut would say.

It was an interesting, positive, experience though because i got to interact with other teachers, and although i felt young, i did feel like i was a teacher. I talked about teaching, got ideas of stuff to use in my classroom. It was fun, but also a good reality check, because i was rubbing shoulders with some of the top teachers in CO, and the expectations they held their students to are high. Its a good check and i have a better idea of what i can expect from my students, what they deserve me to expect from them.

It was also the first time i think that i’ve interacted with people, older people, professionally. It struck me as an interesting turning point towards being an adult, a teacher rather than a student. For as long as i can remember, i’ve always thought of myself as a student. This trip helped me to see a bit better what it would be like to be on the other side of things and it was sort of scary, strange, and good.

If you ever thought you LOVED snow days as a student, try being a teacher.
January 24, 2008, 5:21 pm
Filed under: Not School, School

So yesterday, we were to have our first day of class this week on account of inservice on Monday and parent-teacher conferences on Tuesday. I got up around 6:45 as per usual and set about working up a couple things i needed to get wrapped up for class for the day. I put my PBJ in my bag, had tied my tie, and was pretty much good to go aside from a cup of tea. Darius comes upstairs- 2 hour late start, he’s just heard from his head teacher. At this point i feel like the gods have smiled upon us as i can take a nap for at least an hour and am really pretty excited about that prospect.

I putzed around trying to get my school computer to work- good grief i HATE macs. The worst thing about them is that when they don’t work, which is quite frequently in my experience, they don’t just not work, they mock you about it, icons bounce, colored pinwheels twirl, as if to say “not only am i not working, but i enjoy infuriating you, *giggle”. Give me the blue-screen of death! But i digress…

So i drifted off, and was woken up by screaming. I was pissed- wtf?, but then i realized the reason for the screaming. School was canceled. It was really great. It was blissful, sort of like if you were to wake up at the age of 10 and discover that today was not tuesday jan 23, middle o’ the school week, but in fact Christmas morning. We spent the rest of the day taking it easy, making food, some friends came over in the evening for dinner; it was nice.

Oh and the sun came out by about 1pm funny how that works isn’t it?

Cabbage, Oh Wonder-Leaf!
January 5, 2008, 8:07 am
Filed under: School, Science and Other Nerdiness

It’s friday, yeah! We’ve only had two days of school this week but i still can’t resist being happy its friday. I’m at home, sipping some New Glarus, life is good. There have been some pretty big changes at school since coming back from break. Our principal left (whether by choice or by request is not clear) at the holiday break and the high school curriculum guru has taken on the principal job. Having a teacher-minded person in the principals office could be wonderful and it looks promising so far. He has had no tolerance for the distracting issues which have become all too common place over the last few months. Its been a dramatic change. There are no kids wandering the halls between classes, no kids coming in late, no more interruptions! It’s amazing, we’ll see if it lasts.

It was a good friday in class, we have been learning about acids and bases the last couple of days and today we did a lab. I had read about a trick you can do with red cabbage; you boil it to get all the pigment out and then you can use that liquid as an acid-base indicator, apparently (according to the Wikipedia gods) it contains a pigment called flavin, sort of a poor mans phenolphthalein. It worked better than expected, drop a drop of vinegar in the blue solution and it turns redish-pinkish, drop a drop of base in it and it turns a very definite green. I thought it was pretty cool and the kids seemed to sort of dig it, it had been far too long since i’d been able to have us do a lab.