Monday, May 31, 2010

On a personal note ...

Today is my cat's SIXTEENTH birthday!! (Well, adoption anniversary. We just figure if he was 6 when we got him, then each Memorial Day he is definitely one year older.) Still going strong.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Multiple Endorsements?

Well, the job search is still freaking me out. I hear too much and too little gossip about who's retiring, transferring, getting hired, getting cut ... and come up with way too many chess-like strategies for how to get a spot in the district. So I think it's time for a REAL strategy - getting more endorsements on my license so I can teach multiple subjects.

Time was, (and I'm a young'n, so by that I mean, two years ago,) to get real job security you added a special education or ESL endorsement to your pedigree. I resisted, because while I love my special-needs students, I like having them mixed into a regular class, adding variety and diversity, not cooped up in a room doing slowed-down curriculum. I just don't work at that speed. And it seems that may have been the right move, because the district is announcing all sorts of "restructuring" to the delivery of SpEd and ESL content, which is a fancy word for "cuts." Some of the best teachers at OHS are getting cut to half time or cut completely. So there goes that theory of job protection.

So, I've been thinking about getting a middle level math endorsement (that would let me teach up to Algebra.) I think it would open up the number of jobs I could apply to or, if I get a job and then get cut, the number of jobs that the district could re-assign me to. And while I don't want to teach math forever, it could be a nice touch to an application for an art post: maybe instead of a study hall duty period they give me "Math Support," or again, if cuts are proposed they share me between art and math.

Does this sound like a solid plan? Do any of you have multiple endorsements?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My, how they've grown.

One of the main things that I miss about being a classroom teacher is the bonds and relationships one forms with their students, and the opportunity to see those students grow. Sure, I get to go to OHS and check in on my former charges, but I am not experiencing the growth with a fresh batch this year.

Even as a substitute, though, you can see some growth. For example, I was at AK-8 today, with the Wednesday kids that I used to see weekly in the fall. The eighth graders today came in, were relatively polite, mostly did their work in a non-messy way, noticed the time, cleaned up completely, and headed back to class! Color me speechless! Now, of course I can't take credit for more than a tiny percentage of their education, so at the end of the day I went down the hall and complimented them to their teacher. She said that's the third compliment she's gotten today - they went on a field trip and were praised by the Courthouse staff and the city bus driver who took them there. So they really are growing!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Irregular Economics

While that could be the title of my bank account, or my current career path, it was actually the title of the lesson I was left for two periods today. Now, I take pride in my ability to deliver a wide variety of high school curriculum, from Algebra to German to Ceramics to Physics labs to US History, plus all of that modified for special ed or English learners ... but seriously?!?! A powerpoint lecture on how irregular economic events cause inflation or stagnation in the GDP and unemployment figures, as evidenced by graphs of aggregate supply and aggregate demand, plus how governments get themselves into and out of this with lassaiz faire, supply-centric, or demand-centric policy ... all illustrated in historical events such as the Great Depression, the 70's recession, and Reaganomics.

No. Freaking. Way.

If I knew how all that worked, I wouldn't be where I am today, I can tell you that!

Luckily, the class has also been watching and discussing "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" so saved the day with the season finale that they hadn't seen yet.

I left an apologetic note to the teacher, but I don't feel that bad for not sticking to the lesson plan.

What is the craziest lesson you've ever been asked to teach?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Left Right Left!

I have been at OHS since Tuesday and I'm going back tomorrow, but that is not unusual. (Seriously, I had a student and a fellow teacher who both only just realized last week that I don't teach there anymore!) What is unusual is that my schedule was Science, Art, Science, and tomorrow, Art.

How fun to switch from left- to right-brain daily (if you believe the old brain theories)! The students do a double take when they see me in Science, too - "Ms. GT, I thought you were an ART teacher!"

"Well, I am, but today we are doing a physics lab together! YAY!"

If nothing else, this year has given me an opportunity to show that art people can also be Science, Math, PE, English, or History buffs too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Teachers, take note ...

OK, I've been in both spots: a substitute teacher and a classroom teacher who is afraid to ever get sick because of the daunting task of picking and planning for a sub. So please excuse the advice, but teachers, seriously ...

"Free Day" is not a lesson plan. It's a nightmare. The kids already think they can get away with anything when there is a sub, that just makes it official.

Ideally, you leave an activity that is relevant to the current unit so we can teach something. If you teach something like calculus or AP Biology, leave an answer key. Having something relevant means that kids will know that the assignment will directly affect their current grade. It can even be a film IF ...

... you have a set "Movie Day" routine that is practiced and reinforced BEFORE YOU GET SICK. For example, I once had a lesson plan to show a movie and "have the kids take notes." It was obvious that this teacher has never shown a movie before because the kids didn't know how to take movie notes, didn't know how many points it would be worth (no answer on the sub plans either), and THE TV DID NOT GET LOUD ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE TO HEAR. Please, please, please test your equipment before you go. If you are the kind of teacher who never shows movies (and I am one of them too), don't make the sub do it for you because all hell will break loose. So, before you need a sub, select a relevant film, create guidelines and expectations, actively watch and coach your students through watching, and reinforce their work by grading it and reviewing expectations for movie day.

You can create other sub routines ahead of time, too. There could be a set of one-hour activities that you do on say, every Friday in September and October. (Examples: reading time, imaginative writing project, art challenges, article reviews.) Then explain to the kids that you won't be doing them anymore with them but when you need to be gone they will do one of those activities with the guest teacher. Let them pick or vote. You can also have a list of rewards (Heads up 7-Up, iPod time, whatever) for the sub to choose for the last 10 minutes. Just communicate to me the expectations and rewards.

Lastly, I put my e-mail and phone number on my business card for a reason: I want to talk to you. Let's decide on a lesson plan together, or discuss rewards, or let me ask questions.

Spring fever

The fever is not cured by cowbell.

It's cured by job postings!!

Ah, yes, it's that time again when an administrator's cool indifference turns to fancy as they realize that September will be here soon. And strangely enough, in my region, there have been quite a few art jobs posted, no small feat in this economy. Still, each one is getting hundreds of applicants, and since it is all online nowadays there is no opportunity to "stand out" - even having nice resume paper is outdated.

Any ideas on how to shine in a black and white digital world?