Saturday, June 30, 2007

Feeling Unloved

Every year, on the last day of school, I give students their report card envelope. In the envelope is the report card, of course, and a final letter to them and their families. Included in the letter is my home address and my email address. I tell them that if they write to me, I will write back to them. Some years I get as much as half of my class writing to me at least once. Some years only two or three kids write. This year, almost two weeks out, I haven't heard from one kid. This class had a higher percentage of kids with email addresses than any group I've ever had before. And still, none of them have even sent me an email. Was I that unimportant in their lives? Or are they just that lazy?

Despite a week long tirade of dramatic moans, eye rolling, and sighing, RC teacher camp was not that bad

I guess the song singing, group hugging, back patting feel good atmosphere melted my cold, cold heart. I can only vaguely remember what pissed me off on Tuesday. Was it the food? Was it the morning time story? Was it the one hour morning meeting? I won't remember until next year. Like AB, I am still thirsty for the kool aide.

That, or I am just addicted to conversations that include open minded and well read individuals who are continually re-evaluating and reflecting their approach to teaching, to talking, to learning, to life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer Camp for Teachers, checklist

- Song singing about dirty socks, feelings, and animals.

- Many opportunities to over eat.

- Over-enthusiastic head counselor, easily frazzled junior counselors, and random fix-it guy.

- Art activities that involve piper cleaners, feathers, and things that re-color your hands blue.

- Humidity and afternoon thunder storms.

- Mandatory group fun.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Checked Out - I Wish!

Today was the last day of school. For fifth graders that means our promotion ceremony and celebration. At least that means I didn't have to think about what to do today.

On the last day the kids leave at 10:30. We have an end of the year luncheon, but the rest of the day is ours for packing up our rooms. We don't have to pack up everything; we simply need to make our rooms ready to be cleaned well. Sadly, mine is nowhere near that point. This is the first year in quite some time that I've needed more time past the last day. So, I'll be back at school tomorrow (and possibly again on Friday).

I was feeling quite pathetic about this until I learned that half of my teammates will also be in tomorrow. We are clearly the nerdy team; something I'm slightly proud of.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Checked Out

I thought vacation started sometime last week; I maybe mentally in the middle of July. Suggestions on how to get through two hours on Monday? Grant it, my day will already include autographs, shaving cream, and reading. But what day doesn't?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Using Towels to Fling Rubber Chickens over Volleyball Nets

Field day was last week (not all of the week, only one day, regardless of how it felt). I was stationed at the frisbee throw - simple, enjoyed by the kids, and requiring little effort from me. Sounds perfect.

The station next to mine was the Rubber Chicken Toss. I don't think that was the official name, but it sums it up well. It involved working with a partner to use a towel to fling a rubber chicken over the volleyball net. Kids on the other side tried to catch the rubber chicken and fling it back over. It's genius! I want to work that station next year.

The best part of it all was the first group. The two teachers running the station were not completely clear on how it worked and they did not have the towels out. As a result, kids were just flinging the rubber chickens over pell-mell. Rubber chickens flying through the air is a sight to make anything bearable (even field day).

Just as an aside, I have to admit how exceptionally well run field day is at our school. I complain, but I'm grateful for the impressive organization our PE teachers have created. I can't imagine anything that could be done to improve it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Learning is a social activity

I'm a firm believer that learning is social. My kids have many opportunities to talk to each other throughout the school day so that they learn from each other and develop their thinking through discussion. We even have discussion boards on our classroom blackboard site (thanks Tree!).

However, sometimes this goes too far. While creating websites for a social studies project many kids added guestbooks. Not a problem - yet. Instead of working on their projects they then began 'conversing' on the various guestbooks.

I'm not impressed with their intelligence as evidenced by this episode. Many are complaining that they won't be able to finish the project in time, but they're using their class time to post on each other's guestbooks. And they're signing their posts! I can't possibly believe that they think this is a valid use of their time on this project. Do they not realize that I can look at them, too? Are they really so clueless that it hasn't occurred to them that I'll be able to tell how much time they spent doing this? Does their self-absorption truly extend to delusions that their comments and these conversations are so important that they should be participating in this during class?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


I spent most of the day day-dreaming out my window. Do you think it would be possible to teach from the pool? Through conference calls? After a margarita?

I decided that yes, it would be possible. I would, however, need to fax in my morning letter. One of the over enthusiastic patrols in training could pick it up from the office and write the message on the white board. That could be their post. Then, the morning meeting leader could run both morning meeting and calendar math.

The rest of the day would be a giant literacy - research block. My students would continue researching, planning, and writing their class outer space report. After awhile, they would need to edit and revise their future published pieces. But, like real authors, they would harass their loved ones - or in this case their classmates -to edit their work. Then, and only then, they would fax a final draft to me at my pool side desk. As their editor, I would make many changes, fax it back to them, and then demand they take a book tour promoting "Outer Space Stuff" down the third grade hall.

What a great experience I would have created for my students - autonomy! real life publishing experience! appreciation for distant figure heads! My students would know more then the writer's process, they would know never say under their breath comments during a conference call. Their editor can hear them and can give them detention. Even from the pool.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Teaching? Not at this point.

I did the math recently. With two weeks left in the school year I will be out of the classroom for half of the time. I feel some guilt about that, but mostly relief. I don't feel like any real teaching is actually happening anyway, so it doesn't seem like the kids need me.

We're in the midst of the end of the year assessments - reading, writing, word study. We're preparing two huge social studies projects - one individual and one group. Anything else that gets done is just a bonus right now.

Is there a way to avoid this? Is there a way to ensure that actual teaching and learning continues until the end? Or is it just a fact of life that the last month of school is a wash in many ways?