Friday, August 24, 2012

well, that didn't work very well

It was one of those days.  Nothing went spectacularly wrong, just a series of little "off" things that stack up into a general feeling of psychological dislocation.

The day started with my desk -- and all the student desks -- absolutely caked with dust.  I don't know what's going on (bad air filters?), but I don't have 15 minutes every morning to clean my room.  Really all I can do is dust, and that just pushes a lot of it onto the floor, which was also filthy.  The students complain, but short of mopping it myself, there's nothing I can do about it.  They don't pay me nearly enough to get me to mop on top of everything else.

Then, my 8th grade lab was such a disaster that I called it off only moments in and converted it into a hasty demonstration instead.  The students were not following directions (you don't measure flour in a beaker, dear) and there was too much chaos.  It's my biggest class and I'm going to have think carefully how to manage them.  Usually I have 10 extra minutes with them, but on block days, they've got the same time as every other class, and that nets out to less time for teaching because I have to spend so much time dealing with distractions.

[On that front: I've heard, and followed, the advice to just answer off-topic questions quickly and efficiently, to minimize time loss... but I'm done with that.  If every time a kid raises his hand it's to ask something like, "Can I go to the bathroom?" or "When do we get out of this class?" it tends to get on one's nerves.]

At any rate, it's not working with that class and I'm stuck as to what to do about it. 

It didn't help that 4th hour's lab went off, apparently, without a hitch -- they even had time to clean up.  I'm not exactly sure how that happened, since it's the class I don't teach.  I did find flour in a lot of beakers, though, so I'm suspicious.   If the other teacher can do it, why can't I?  There are about a million reasons, the chief reasons being he's male, and new at our school, and has a lot of teaching experience... but I worry about him going too fast, that the students aren't getting it but are too apathetic to speak up about it.

8th hour intervention was a serious of minor screw ups, with many students not knowing where they were going.  Everyone eventually got settled but then we realized that my students (in my colleague's intervention classroom) didn't have anything to do because I'd sent their work to study hall, figuring that's where they would be.  I'm teaching a writing intervention for the next 4 weeks which works much better for me than last year's math.

Stayed after until 4PM because an old colleague dropped by to visit.  It was nice to see her, but by the time I got home with the kids I was exhausted, and DS1's curriculum night was tonight.  Since I was literally falling asleep, I made myself a cup of instant coffee, and drank it cafe-au-lait style with coconut milk.  I miss the creamy mouthfeel of half-and-half, but I'm not willing to go there yet.  I was taking a risk with the caffeine anyway.   It tasted pretty good, considering it was instant coffee. And it woke me up, and continues to keep me awake, since I drank it at 6:30PM. 

Curriculum night itself is both delightful and somewhat depressing.  I'm so happy my kids are going to a school with such a fantastic curriculum, but then I get a little sad about where I'm teaching and the general bad attitude that many (if not most) of my students have towards learning.  I feel so starved for that kind of intellectual stimulation that I always end up talking the teachers' ears off, and then I feel embarrassed because I talk too much.  They are uniformly kind and intelligent and have never given me the impression that they want me to shut up and go away, but looking back I always think, "Was that too much? That was too much."

Got home and speed-cleaned DS1's room, much to his irritation.  He didn't mind when I picked up his laundry but got piqued when I started moving some other stuff around.  I don't blame him for being annoyed.  I blame me for drinking caffeine and being both physically and mentally wired.  Too much stimulation all around.

Now it's Friday, I have about 5 pounds of papers to grade, lesson planning to do, and it's nearly 1AM.  Tomorrow will be here way too soon.

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