Sunday, February 8, 2009


My husband says that he did not realize what an overachiever was until he married me. He is always trying to get me to slow down. My personal opinion is that I can do more but I am too lazy to actually do more. (My father used to say, "Good enough never is." I think that idea really stuck in my heart and soul.) Anyhow, I am now in the midst of overachievement. I volunteered to teach some teacher renewal classes on using certain technology in one's classroom. I planned on doing these classes in small groups after school. We have an upcoming inservice day, however, and the principal did not have any renewal classes planned. Hence, I am taking my small group ideas and making them into a big group idea (the principal's, not mine). Overachievement.

Over this weekend I have to write up the basic concept and plan so the superintendent can approve the renewal credits. I'll send my write-up to the principal, (God bless email!) who will make any changes he deems necessary before he sends it on to the superintendent. So much for this weekend. Next weekend I will be putting the finishing touches on my 2 1/2 hour lesson since the inservice day is Monday, Feb. 16, i.e. Presidents' Day. Do I have everything ready? No, but I will have the write-up done this morning and in the principal's email. I have been planning my lesson all week, but it will take this week to finish the plan prior to putting all the technology into action. Plus I'm still teaching 6 classes a day including grading, etc. Overachievement. No wonder my husband always tells me not to volunteer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Day!

I always liked snow days when I was a student. In my last year of college the governor even closed my school for a blizzard; that was the only time during my first degree stint in which I had a snow day. I guess it was fair since there were no snow days when I was a high school senior, the only year of my 1-12 schooling that I had no snow days to be off. Anyhow, today is an official snow day at my school, and that is the theme of today's blog.

Tom Batiuk put it right in his comic strip "Funky Winkerbean" when he had the teachers more enthused about a snow day than the students. Most teachers at my school really enjoy the occasional snow day -- the operant word being "occasional". Too many snow days makes education a difficult task because the students lose their focus. Back to the topic.

When I taught in the public schools, only teachers who had enough years in the public schools to have more "vacation" days than the school year allotted could stay home on snow days. Since I did not have those extra days, I had to risk my neck getting to the school at the normal start time. For those of you in private industry, like I was for 14 years, schools are unforgiving. If you're in private industry and know that you may have trouble getting to work, you call in and make adjustments. In the public school system, you basically cannot do that; you must be at the school at the usual start time -- when I was teaching in the public schools, my high schools started between 7:15 and 7:45 a.m. depending upon the system. It's a bit perilous driving into school when: (1) you are ahead of a lot of the snow plows in your area; and (2) there may not be anyone to open up the school for you (Yes, Virginia, most teachers do not have keys to their own places of work.). Thank God, that in my non-public school the faculty do not have to come to the school on snow days. The principal believes that we are professional enough to do our work at home. Considering how much of our work is on the internet, it's much easier to do schoolwork at home. (In fact, I have suggested that we have school on the internet on snow days when there are a lot of them. My suggestion has not been taken up as of yet.)

When I moved from the Pittsburgh area to the Southeast, I thought that people holed up when it snowed because they simply did not have enough experience driving in the snow. That's a little true (I had never lived in an area before where people did not know what studded tires were.). What's really true, though, is the fact that most snow down here is wet. Cars slide on the wet snow because it gives no traction. Then, it gets really cold, and that wet snow becomes ice with no cold, dry snow in between. Ice storms are an occasional problem here, too, with the loss of electricity. Of course, we do get the cold, dry snow also, but that is the exception, not the rule.

Hence, on our presidential inauguration day, I will be sitting at home watching the inauguration while grading papers. I hope that my students will be watching the inauguration, also, but that's an iffy hope. We had the okay from the principal to have our classroom monitors tuned to the inauguration prior to this week, but I would have missed much of it because the monitor faces the students and not the teacher. My suggestion for the future: either make every presidential inauguration Tuesday a school "holiday" or have a special school function to take it in by all students and staff. Just an idea.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Boredom attacks!

I just finished giving the first semester exams this past Friday, so I've been very busy. However, I did notice something about myself when I was doing the exam review for my 3 functions and modeling classes: I discovered that I was bored. I make my math exam reviews as animated PowerPoint slide shows and tweak them from one year to the next; hence, there was nothing new in them for me. Plus the said 3 classes I teach in a row (periods 2, 3, and 4 to be precise), so I guess that going over the same stuff in the same way 3 times in a row just bored me silly. I am thinking this over because I realized that I've probably been unconsciously bored all along. It's definitely time to put some spice into my teaching!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I remember (even if it's a false memory) my mother saying that what one did on New Year's Day, one would do all year, so I try very hard to do things each January 1 that I want to do throughout the year. That's really how I deal with my resolutions. School resolutions I make every summer based upon what worked and what didn't work during the prior school year. So what am I doing today?

1) I am back to exercising. I got out of the habit in late October when I had a cold. Illness does that to me. I kept on trying to start up again, but lethargy is so much easier. I actually started working out on weekends and continued during Christmas break, but my lack of practice/exercise definitely showed up. Hence, I already exercised today. By the way, for those couch potatoes and teachers who already have no time to exercise, let me tell you a secret: exercise is one of the best panaceas around. I sleep better, I have more energy to do any and all work including grading papers (my anathema), I do everything faster, and I do not have as much trouble with depression over time. Better than any pill available. Teachers, find the time to exercise, and you will have more time available for everything else!

2) Talking about procrastination, I will get those projects graded today! I plan to be teaching all year, so I need to do some teaching activities today. I also have a few quizzes and tests to grade plus the always-popular make up work.

3) There are other things I'll be doing, but they are the home things involving my husband and my adult son, so I will not include them here.

Happy New Year!