Monday, September 27, 2010

you are my sunshines, my many sunshines...

So far this year I've had 5 sunshines come back and visit me at school, and another coming in later this week. In fact, I talked to 4 today! I can't tell you how wonderful it is to hear from all of them, and to still be part of their lives, whether they're looking for boxes for packing (who else should you call but your obsessive recycling teacher!) or wanting help applying for college, it's wonderful to still be a resource. Absolutely wonderful.

With all the crazy changes going on in my world this year, it's really nice to hear back from these guys. I've said many times "once a sunshine, always a sunshine"... and I'm so glad they feel the same way.

Friday, September 24, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual from my friend Wendy, who got it from SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

another brick in the wall

There's lots going on in our happy district... and lots of it is not so happy. So far this week I've had concerns about things happening at all four levels. I'm under no delusions that our district is perfect, nor that it is the worst around. We do many things well... and have many things that need to be improved upon.

I don't want to focus on the negative, because, well, my brain doesn't work well that way. So I've been asking myself what can I do to make it better? How can I help my friend and colleague get through her struggle? What suggestions can I make to spark a productive conversation instead of just complaining? How do we fix it?

What can I do to make things better?

[Believe me, when I answer that question, I'm going on tour.]

Saturday, September 18, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual (becoming a Saturday ritual for me) from my friend Wendy, who got it from SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

something to ponder

This is from What Ed Said, a blog WB suggested but hasn't really hooked me yet. I don't have time to read this post now, but I definitely will later.


Friday, September 10, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual from my friend Wendy, who got it from SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

highs and lows

Yesterday, contrary to what my sister who lives in the future indicated, was not a good day. We got it all in-- wired kids; a severe disagreement between me and Sunshines about what it means to answer the question "What happened?"; kids needing to be dismissed because staying the day would have resulted in something being broken; another needing dismissal because his GF was in labor; the FBI (no joke) showing up to question a student about someone else who had enlisted last spring; and one kid thinking about dropping out. Oh, and after school the local police called to follow up on a complaint and another called upset about something that happened at home.

Today was much better. Still wired, but at least willing to be roped in. I'll take it as it comes.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

the bright side

One good thing about getting 7 school days under your belt before Labor Day weekend is that the day off actually feels like you've earned it. We had a great weekend-- lots of friends came over to hang out by the fire, I got all our laundry washed and hung out on the line, and we cooked like crazy people yesterday; Girly made chocolate chip muffins while I handled the bread and butter pickles, zucchini relish which will get canned tonight, zucchini whoopie pies, and cole slaw to sit on top of the pulled pork best friends invited us over to share. When the alarm went off today I couldn't even be upset.

And now it's a short week. Sweet!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

ch ch ch ch changes...

I don't remember how much I've said here about all the changes in my classroom, but we've got lots going on. First of all, we've gone from a teacher and an ed tech to two teachers. Which is huge, because instead of being responsible for all 24 credits our high school requires for graduation, I'm only responsible for 12. That may not seem like much when you just read it, but trust me when I tell you, 12 is a very manageable number. We also changed locales over the summer. We had been down the street in a building that housed central office and 4 other HS classrooms. Now we're in a stand alone house the district purchased.... a long time ago. It really functions like a portable classroom, except it's not portable. Anyhow, both of us have our own classroom, which is wonderful. Next weekend they're taking a wall out of my room to make it better able to fit a dozen or more adult sized bodies, and at some point (I hope some point soon) they're going to get the basement ready for us to have one big room that will fit all 2 dozen students we share at once. So to translate... our classrooms weren't ready for the first day of school, and if they're ready by the first of October I'm going to be thrilled.

But all that is pretty easy to deal with. The really big deal is that we are now, in effect, employed by 2 different high schools. Another school in our region (I'll spare you from my rant against our state government's budget balancing scheme) does not have an alternative ed program, and the best plan for all (meaning kids, parents, teachers, administrators, and taxpayers) was to bus them up to ours. This was decided last spring, and at face value, it's not that big of a deal. Sunshines are sunshines, no matter what their zip code. But graduation requirements, well, those are definitely different. To say that it has taken me some figuring out is an understatement; I didn't leave work before 4:30 all week. Naturally, this other school reports grades on trimesters, while the first reports quarterly. Quickly doing the math... that's 14 times we'll be reporting progress reports and grades. One school awards credit at the end of each semester, the other at each trimester, which means some of our students need .5 credit of health while others need .67. None of this is insurmountable either, but it would have been helpful to have known before the first day of school workshop.

The good news is we have a plan and have it as figured out as it can get until going through it once. Two logins for the two different schools; everyone's transcripts have been reviewed and assigned to our appropriate classes. We each get a prep period, WHICH IS HUGE. I have not had a prep period since taking this job, and can you tell how thrilled I am to have one now?? My classes are basically English and history while hers are math and science, and we split the electives. It changes a bit second semester, but it does get everyone what they need. The returning sunshines aren't thrilled to have to learn a second teacher, but it really is in their best interests.

I guess the most significant part of this week was how quickly the kids from the other school assimilated. They are all interacting with each other, sharing stories about cars and cops and parents and realizing what I knew from the beginning: they are the same kids, they just have different school colors.... which they're still not sure they care about completely. It took us less than a week to start to form this community, which is all the proof I need that none of them are bad kids. They are now my kids, for good or for ill. I will defend them when necessary, and I will call them on the carpet when needed, too. Mama Bear has 22 sunshines, and it doesn't really matter where they come from. They're here now, and that's all that matters to me.

Friday, September 03, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual from my friend Wendy, who got it from SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.