omorka: (Doc Shocked)
Help, they cancelled the first day of school due to the hurricane and I can't handle this.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Tomorrow is the TAKS English Language Arts test for all high-school grade levels.

We will be testing from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm, if all goes well. If all does not go well, then we will go longer than that.

We lose two whole instructional periods to this mess. Really, we lose the whole day, because enough of the sophomores and juniors will still be testing during 7th period that we can't really do much, and 8th period is short.

Tomorrow, there will be Ranting. |-(
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Tomorrow is the TAKS English Language Arts test for all high-school grade levels.

We will be testing from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm, if all goes well. If all does not go well, then we will go longer than that.

We lose two whole instructional periods to this mess. Really, we lose the whole day, because enough of the sophomores and juniors will still be testing during 7th period that we can't really do much, and 8th period is short.

Tomorrow, there will be Ranting. |-(
omorka: (Dryad)
I forgot to make my annual "first cicada!" post. It was early this week - Monday, I think. Rather late in the year, but then so was the first spiral in the Gulf, which is the other yearly sign that mighty Summer's power is beginning to ebb.

The kids will come back on Monday. I'm not ready. I'm never ready. This year, I know it will be all right anyway. I'll be ready by Tuesday, and we never get anything done on the first day, anyway. I think I remember knowing it would be all right anyway on my second and fifth years, too.

*sigh* Ten years. Ten years watching the first signs of the death of summer, seeds in hand. Our profession plants at the beginning of harvest-time and harvests at the end of planting-time.

In two more years I will have paid my self-perceived debt. Then what? Do I stay? Move to another school? Go back to grad school and finish a doctorate? Something else?

I'll figure it out. I have time. On Monday, I meet the Hundred And Five for the tenth time, and the first.
omorka: (Dryad)
I forgot to make my annual "first cicada!" post. It was early this week - Monday, I think. Rather late in the year, but then so was the first spiral in the Gulf, which is the other yearly sign that mighty Summer's power is beginning to ebb.

The kids will come back on Monday. I'm not ready. I'm never ready. This year, I know it will be all right anyway. I'll be ready by Tuesday, and we never get anything done on the first day, anyway. I think I remember knowing it would be all right anyway on my second and fifth years, too.

*sigh* Ten years. Ten years watching the first signs of the death of summer, seeds in hand. Our profession plants at the beginning of harvest-time and harvests at the end of planting-time.

In two more years I will have paid my self-perceived debt. Then what? Do I stay? Move to another school? Go back to grad school and finish a doctorate? Something else?

I'll figure it out. I have time. On Monday, I meet the Hundred And Five for the tenth time, and the first.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
So my department head asked if I'd be interested in piloting the new math course next year.

And being a fool, instead of saying "No, I think I have about all I can handle on my plate right now," I said "What new math course?" Which is not quite the same as saying "Sure, hit me," but the distinction is minimal. (The DoI called me a "pitcher-in" earlier this week, and I'm afraid to say he's got me there.)

The answer is this new math course. Advanced Mathematical Decision Making, developed by the UT Dana Center (and other partners, but this is mostly the Dana Center's baby, to be proposed to the Texas Legislature as a full mathematics course - that first link is essentially the proposed TEKS (that's Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the state curriculum, for those of you who are out-of-state or who haven't set foot in a school since the '90s or before).

If they actually teach it to the intent outlined here, this is a Good Thing. It means that kids who are not necessarily ready won't be funneled into Precal just because they need a fourth math course to graduate and weren't scheduled into Math Models; one of the things that's been freaking us out this year is that in two years we're going to have an incredible influx of kids into Precal whose math backgrounds won't be any better than the half of the senior class that stopped after Algebra II this year and will need to pass it to graduate. I refuse to water down Precal. It also means we'll finally have a course in the high school curriculum other than AP Stats that does probability and statistics! I have been arguing that, for just basic media literacy, the vast majority of our kids need prob & stats much, much more than they need to know how to find the zeroes of a polynomial function.

Which brings me to why the department head asked me. I have pointed out before that I teach The Fourth Course. Among other things, this means that I can do mathematical modeling and prob & stats. While the stuff isn't hard, and anyone on the math faculty should be able to do it, I'm the only one who has anywhere-near-current experience, due to having taught AP Stats. And I like teaching seniors.

The problem is I'd have to go up to the Dana Center several times over the course of the year - up to 6 different times - and that introduces travel issues and, more importantly, the IB Math Studies kids potentially missing me for 6 days of class. I don't think I can do that. If those days are negotiable, or can be done on Saturdays, then it's all good, but I can't jack the IBMS kids for six days of class and still feel like they'll be really ready for the exam.

So - any thoughts? Should I do it? Do I have the right to bitch if I don't, and someone else does it poorly?
omorka: (Educator At Work)
So my department head asked if I'd be interested in piloting the new math course next year.

And being a fool, instead of saying "No, I think I have about all I can handle on my plate right now," I said "What new math course?" Which is not quite the same as saying "Sure, hit me," but the distinction is minimal. (The DoI called me a "pitcher-in" earlier this week, and I'm afraid to say he's got me there.)

The answer is this new math course. Advanced Mathematical Decision Making, developed by the UT Dana Center (and other partners, but this is mostly the Dana Center's baby, to be proposed to the Texas Legislature as a full mathematics course - that first link is essentially the proposed TEKS (that's Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the state curriculum, for those of you who are out-of-state or who haven't set foot in a school since the '90s or before).

If they actually teach it to the intent outlined here, this is a Good Thing. It means that kids who are not necessarily ready won't be funneled into Precal just because they need a fourth math course to graduate and weren't scheduled into Math Models; one of the things that's been freaking us out this year is that in two years we're going to have an incredible influx of kids into Precal whose math backgrounds won't be any better than the half of the senior class that stopped after Algebra II this year and will need to pass it to graduate. I refuse to water down Precal. It also means we'll finally have a course in the high school curriculum other than AP Stats that does probability and statistics! I have been arguing that, for just basic media literacy, the vast majority of our kids need prob & stats much, much more than they need to know how to find the zeroes of a polynomial function.

Which brings me to why the department head asked me. I have pointed out before that I teach The Fourth Course. Among other things, this means that I can do mathematical modeling and prob & stats. While the stuff isn't hard, and anyone on the math faculty should be able to do it, I'm the only one who has anywhere-near-current experience, due to having taught AP Stats. And I like teaching seniors.

The problem is I'd have to go up to the Dana Center several times over the course of the year - up to 6 different times - and that introduces travel issues and, more importantly, the IB Math Studies kids potentially missing me for 6 days of class. I don't think I can do that. If those days are negotiable, or can be done on Saturdays, then it's all good, but I can't jack the IBMS kids for six days of class and still feel like they'll be really ready for the exam.

So - any thoughts? Should I do it? Do I have the right to bitch if I don't, and someone else does it poorly?
omorka: (Graduation cords)
Aaaaaah the kids come back tomorrow and I'm so totally not ready! About two-thirds of my classroom stuff is still on the floor of my study! Fortunately, I did manage to sort out the box that had all of my old Precal and Stats stuff, so that's all in one place (although not in order yet). I also shelved two small boxes of educational books in the study here, so those are out of the way, except for the ones that are going in with me. (I'm going to have to get a second small filing cabinet, or a storage box, or something.)

So I'm in much better shape than I was. But, still, Aaaaaaaaaah!
omorka: (Graduation cords)
Aaaaaah the kids come back tomorrow and I'm so totally not ready! About two-thirds of my classroom stuff is still on the floor of my study! Fortunately, I did manage to sort out the box that had all of my old Precal and Stats stuff, so that's all in one place (although not in order yet). I also shelved two small boxes of educational books in the study here, so those are out of the way, except for the ones that are going in with me. (I'm going to have to get a second small filing cabinet, or a storage box, or something.)

So I'm in much better shape than I was. But, still, Aaaaaaaaaah!
omorka: (Default)
Okay, so the workshop I went to today was called "Motivating Students Who Don't Care." That, by the way, is one of the two Big Problems of public education in a district like mine. If we can get the students to care about their own achievement, even somewhat, the vast majority of our full-time problems evaporate and we can worry about other important issues like language issues, gifted education, and the AP program. (The other Big Problem is the standardized testing system and the vast and stinking accumulation of cruft that comes with it. The two are complexly interrelated.)

The workshop, as previously mentioned, sucked. Continued Behind the Cut )
omorka: (Default)
Okay, so the workshop I went to today was called "Motivating Students Who Don't Care." That, by the way, is one of the two Big Problems of public education in a district like mine. If we can get the students to care about their own achievement, even somewhat, the vast majority of our full-time problems evaporate and we can worry about other important issues like language issues, gifted education, and the AP program. (The other Big Problem is the standardized testing system and the vast and stinking accumulation of cruft that comes with it. The two are complexly interrelated.)

The workshop, as previously mentioned, sucked. Continued Behind the Cut )
omorka: (Default)
I had the Spouse drop me off at the Downtown Transit Center train station at 9 am and took the train, and then the bus, out to the school. I got off the bus at 10:50 am. Not sure why the outbound journey should be shorter than the inbound, except for thickness of traffic, which didn't seem all that different to me. Maybe I'm missing something. (Oh, and the bus driver was the saint from last week again. I'm still tickled to know there is someone that fundamentally good out there.)

I went to the school, then the Fishbowl for training, then back to the high school campus again. The training was practically worthless, although I did realize something during it that I will try and blog on after dinner. However, I did get a copy of the materials for the SAT prep class (had to dig them out of the King of Pentacles's well-organized but completely full storage cabinet in what used to be his room). I also got to look at the official AP school score report. I'm very, very proud of some of my kids, especially Third, Tennis, and Debate. I'm also rather irked at a few of them. (Dammit, I taught Hyper better than that - although I'm quite willing to believe his explanation that he panicked on the test, on the Calc test in particular.) I still don't know whether I have a five from Random, though, since Bearville kids don't show up on our score report even though I taught the class.

The SLTM that was scheduled for Thursday and Friday has been cancelled - too many people couldn't make the reschedule. Eh, I get two days back. On the other hand, I will lose a workday Friday next week to the SAT prep class, so I will probably need to go in for at least part of the day next Tuesday to get my stuff in order (read: clean out my filing cabinet and my desk, because, damn, they're totally full right now).

Now I just need to figure out whether I want to try to hit the LotR exhibit tomorrow afternoon or Thursday afternoon. (It has to be this week, or else I won't get around to it at all.)
omorka: (Default)
I had the Spouse drop me off at the Downtown Transit Center train station at 9 am and took the train, and then the bus, out to the school. I got off the bus at 10:50 am. Not sure why the outbound journey should be shorter than the inbound, except for thickness of traffic, which didn't seem all that different to me. Maybe I'm missing something. (Oh, and the bus driver was the saint from last week again. I'm still tickled to know there is someone that fundamentally good out there.)

I went to the school, then the Fishbowl for training, then back to the high school campus again. The training was practically worthless, although I did realize something during it that I will try and blog on after dinner. However, I did get a copy of the materials for the SAT prep class (had to dig them out of the King of Pentacles's well-organized but completely full storage cabinet in what used to be his room). I also got to look at the official AP school score report. I'm very, very proud of some of my kids, especially Third, Tennis, and Debate. I'm also rather irked at a few of them. (Dammit, I taught Hyper better than that - although I'm quite willing to believe his explanation that he panicked on the test, on the Calc test in particular.) I still don't know whether I have a five from Random, though, since Bearville kids don't show up on our score report even though I taught the class.

The SLTM that was scheduled for Thursday and Friday has been cancelled - too many people couldn't make the reschedule. Eh, I get two days back. On the other hand, I will lose a workday Friday next week to the SAT prep class, so I will probably need to go in for at least part of the day next Tuesday to get my stuff in order (read: clean out my filing cabinet and my desk, because, damn, they're totally full right now).

Now I just need to figure out whether I want to try to hit the LotR exhibit tomorrow afternoon or Thursday afternoon. (It has to be this week, or else I won't get around to it at all.)
omorka: (Default)
. . . Oh, dear, that was too obscure for words. Ah, well. (Derivative with respect to what? Distance, or time? Time, probably. How probable? Oh, dear, again . . . )

Yeah, so anyway, I finished the workshop. Here is the list of things I learned:

1) The current orchestra teacher at Liontown is the old orchestra teacher from Ramton. He left because of the political hoo-hah over the arrival of our previous Coordinating Principal. He is also wackier than a sack of drunken jellyfish, and says I should play the cello (those two statements are not intended to be related).

2) What a WebQuest is.

. . .

*crickets chirping*

. . .

Yeah, it wasn't a really successful workshop for me. I think I've hit the point of diminishing returns on these things, at least the ones run by the district.

Since I didn't want to inconvenience the nice lady who runs the professional development office by making her wait around until the Spouse could pick me up twice in one week, specially since I'll have to do it again next week, I went ahead and headed to the bus stop when they let us out. I swung by the Ramton main campus to see if anyone was in the offices, and found that (a) the A/C is still out (this makes me nervous) and (b) there was no one in the building as far as I could tell, despite the main doors being unlocked (I'm not real thrilled about that, either). However, my bus fu was pretty good, and I got to the George & John bookstore out at Westheimer and Hwy 6 before 5:15. (My Shuffle fu was pretty good, too. I'm growing entirely too fond of this thing.)

I then proceeded to wait around at the bookstore for almost two hours. I asked the clerks when I came in if they wanted me to drop off my bag at the counter, and they cheerfully waved me in with it; this was sort of nice, but it did mean I was carrying around a messenger bag with two textbooks in it the whole time. However, they got a pretty penny out of me, so I suppose it worked for them. (One of the books will hopefully be read this week. That reminds me, I should review the two books I finished in Mississippi.)

While I was there, I didn't run into any of my students, but I did see one kid I know is a Ramton student (he was on our pre-UIL trip to College Station) and ran into one of my colleagues, the Pre-AP Geometry teacher from our campus. It was kind of nice to catch up with him; moreover, I got to let him know something I'd observed - My Nemesis over at the NGC no longer has his name on any nameplate in the building. I am hoping he has retired, but we'll just have to find out when the school year starts.

We also went to the Better Sell next door to replace the headphones attached to this computer (which have been slowly disintegrating) and the iShuffle (which just suck). The replacements for this thing sound much better, but they're slightly less comfortable. Haven't tried the others yet . . .
omorka: (Default)
. . . Oh, dear, that was too obscure for words. Ah, well. (Derivative with respect to what? Distance, or time? Time, probably. How probable? Oh, dear, again . . . )

Yeah, so anyway, I finished the workshop. Here is the list of things I learned:

1) The current orchestra teacher at Liontown is the old orchestra teacher from Ramton. He left because of the political hoo-hah over the arrival of our previous Coordinating Principal. He is also wackier than a sack of drunken jellyfish, and says I should play the cello (those two statements are not intended to be related).

2) What a WebQuest is.

. . .

*crickets chirping*

. . .

Yeah, it wasn't a really successful workshop for me. I think I've hit the point of diminishing returns on these things, at least the ones run by the district.

Since I didn't want to inconvenience the nice lady who runs the professional development office by making her wait around until the Spouse could pick me up twice in one week, specially since I'll have to do it again next week, I went ahead and headed to the bus stop when they let us out. I swung by the Ramton main campus to see if anyone was in the offices, and found that (a) the A/C is still out (this makes me nervous) and (b) there was no one in the building as far as I could tell, despite the main doors being unlocked (I'm not real thrilled about that, either). However, my bus fu was pretty good, and I got to the George & John bookstore out at Westheimer and Hwy 6 before 5:15. (My Shuffle fu was pretty good, too. I'm growing entirely too fond of this thing.)

I then proceeded to wait around at the bookstore for almost two hours. I asked the clerks when I came in if they wanted me to drop off my bag at the counter, and they cheerfully waved me in with it; this was sort of nice, but it did mean I was carrying around a messenger bag with two textbooks in it the whole time. However, they got a pretty penny out of me, so I suppose it worked for them. (One of the books will hopefully be read this week. That reminds me, I should review the two books I finished in Mississippi.)

While I was there, I didn't run into any of my students, but I did see one kid I know is a Ramton student (he was on our pre-UIL trip to College Station) and ran into one of my colleagues, the Pre-AP Geometry teacher from our campus. It was kind of nice to catch up with him; moreover, I got to let him know something I'd observed - My Nemesis over at the NGC no longer has his name on any nameplate in the building. I am hoping he has retired, but we'll just have to find out when the school year starts.

We also went to the Better Sell next door to replace the headphones attached to this computer (which have been slowly disintegrating) and the iShuffle (which just suck). The replacements for this thing sound much better, but they're slightly less comfortable. Haven't tried the others yet . . .
omorka: (Default)
So I'm slogging through a district G/T workshop on Differentiated Instruction, which is Educational Buzzword for "giving the kids who already know this shit more advanced material, not just extra problems, you idiot." Unfortunately, the district has adopted Dr. Tomlinson's approach to differentiation, which reduces it, ultimately, to a "you should be doing this for all kids." If we're doing it for every kid, it's not a G/T strategy anymore, is it? And then we're back to my perennial question, "Yes, but what are we doing for the gifted kids?" I prefer VanTassel-Baska's approach, but the district shies away from anything that might even remotely be considered elitist. (And the training leaders haven't read Dr. Silverman's book, either. And I think I left it in my classroom. Maybe I should order another copy.)

My tablemates are a 2nd-grade teacher, a 5th-grade teacher, a 9th-grade music teacher, and the orchestra teacher from Liontown. The latter is about 25 years older than the second-oldest person at the table, the only male, frantically extroverted, and jokes about being bipolar. This is simultaneously somewhat amusing and rather frustrating, especially since he keeps talking about church and "the Lord" constantly. Ai.

I left a voicemail with the Ramton secretary letting her know that I will be at the Leadership Team Meeting. Later, I got a voicemail from the school, in turn - but not from her. From my API.

Our King of Pentacles is moving on from our department - whether he got hired up higher into the system or retired to focus on his other business is anyone's guess right now. That means that the SAT-Prep class is open. Guess who gets to teach it? Guess who gets to take yet another training? Guess who will now have three whole preps?

The bright side of that is that someone else now inherits my on-level Precal classes, so it won't just be me and Coach D on the team. No idea who gets those two classes; I'm hoping for Mr. D, but no telling, really.

Wonder if I can get them to give me the English half of the SAT Prep class, too . . .
omorka: (Default)
So I'm slogging through a district G/T workshop on Differentiated Instruction, which is Educational Buzzword for "giving the kids who already know this shit more advanced material, not just extra problems, you idiot." Unfortunately, the district has adopted Dr. Tomlinson's approach to differentiation, which reduces it, ultimately, to a "you should be doing this for all kids." If we're doing it for every kid, it's not a G/T strategy anymore, is it? And then we're back to my perennial question, "Yes, but what are we doing for the gifted kids?" I prefer VanTassel-Baska's approach, but the district shies away from anything that might even remotely be considered elitist. (And the training leaders haven't read Dr. Silverman's book, either. And I think I left it in my classroom. Maybe I should order another copy.)

My tablemates are a 2nd-grade teacher, a 5th-grade teacher, a 9th-grade music teacher, and the orchestra teacher from Liontown. The latter is about 25 years older than the second-oldest person at the table, the only male, frantically extroverted, and jokes about being bipolar. This is simultaneously somewhat amusing and rather frustrating, especially since he keeps talking about church and "the Lord" constantly. Ai.

I left a voicemail with the Ramton secretary letting her know that I will be at the Leadership Team Meeting. Later, I got a voicemail from the school, in turn - but not from her. From my API.

Our King of Pentacles is moving on from our department - whether he got hired up higher into the system or retired to focus on his other business is anyone's guess right now. That means that the SAT-Prep class is open. Guess who gets to teach it? Guess who gets to take yet another training? Guess who will now have three whole preps?

The bright side of that is that someone else now inherits my on-level Precal classes, so it won't just be me and Coach D on the team. No idea who gets those two classes; I'm hoping for Mr. D, but no telling, really.

Wonder if I can get them to give me the English half of the SAT Prep class, too . . .
omorka: (Default)
So that week was . . . not entirely unlike having to run a marathon while up to one's ankles in blackstrap molasses. Exhausting, frustrating, sticky, and vaguely unpleasant-smelling, but at least it was different.

The week that was behind the cut )

I have a staff development in freaking Rosenberg tomorrow. Why are the G/T Co-Op sessions never in HISD?
omorka: (Default)
So that week was . . . not entirely unlike having to run a marathon while up to one's ankles in blackstrap molasses. Exhausting, frustrating, sticky, and vaguely unpleasant-smelling, but at least it was different.

The week that was behind the cut )

I have a staff development in freaking Rosenberg tomorrow. Why are the G/T Co-Op sessions never in HISD?
omorka: (Zaftig-casual)
The Mu Alpha Theta group is having an induction ceremony for new members, for the first time since I've been at this school, much less a sponsor. Unfortunately for me, the school calendar fell such that it had to be on a Thursday. And the night before, I need to pick up candles and snacks. So gaming Wednesday has been postponed by one week, and Movie Night is on hiatus unless people want to drift in late and just watch random anime. (Not that this is significantly different from what we did last week, but nu.)

---

In other news, I think I pissed off Debate. This makes me distinctly unhappy for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that he's smart enough, and, perhaps more to the point, clever enough to make real trouble for me if he wants to. (I mean, this aside from the fact that he's a very gifted kid and I care about him a lot just generally.)

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