Friday, September 30, 2005 

Day 27: I'm very excited (and my hubby has nothing to do with it...)

My old life (at work) revolved around organizing, planning, defining, and scheduling every little thing about entire projects, from beginning to end, and including team members' bathroom breaks.

Contingency plans, risk analysis, budget considerations, looming deadlines. Everything about project management excites me.

And I miss it dearly.

Teaching also requires some planning, but because I'm constantly chasing after my tail, often preparing the next day's lecture the night before (and by that I mean making mental notes as I lay in bed) or simply improvising on the spot, planning ahead with a goal, a stepwise approach and a real timeline is more appealing to me right now than a 1/2 day at the spa. (having never spent a 1/2 day at the spa, this is perhaps an unfair comparison, but you get my drift: I MISS BEING IN CONTROL !!!).

So I've been consumed with this idea for the past 24 hours - a special technology project that would combine PROJECT MANAGEMENT and technology.

I can teach the girls the basics of project management, divide the class into 3 or 4 groups, have them choose a project manager who will have to coordinate all these groups and put together a project plan... BUILDING A CITY!!!

I haven't lost my mind - we're not heading south to help with the re-construction of New Orleans (but how cool would that be???) - I'm talking a small-scale city which would include things from each module we'll be studying. It would be made piece by piece over the year of course, and assembled at the end.

It may sound crazy, nonsensical, unrelated or even lame - but I'm excited about my idea, my hubby was NOT laughing at me when I told him about it (perhaps he didn't laugh because the twins were screaming in the background and he didn't hear properly?), and it feels nice to be excited about school because the last couple of days were a bit of a bummer.

The downside is that I need to prepare some hand-outs on project management, what the steps are, etc. But I'm on a green tea and Fiorinal with Codeine high right now, and I feel invincible.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 

Day 26: Survivor - Teacher Edition

It’s only been 26 days – which means another 154 days to go. If this were Survivor, I’d almost be done.

But this is no reality show.

This is my life, and no one is here to vote me out and send me home.

I’m forced to be part of the jury that will sit there for another 154 days, testing and judging these girls, imparting them with knowledge, putting on a show to make the human body look interesting and simple (this could be part of Ripley’s Believe It or Not series because the workings of the various organs are NOT always that simple).

Thanksgiving (Canadian edition) is coming up soon – and as I see friends and family, it will be hard to avoid thoughts about this job and whether I want to do it again next year, and how different it is from what I used to do and how much do I like it – because those are the questions everyone around me seems to be so eager to have me answer.

So for now, I’ll just grab my torch and go back to camp (my desk - AKA kitchen table)– my next challenge is a pile of biology lab reports...

I need to OUTWIT and OUTPLAY the students - OUTLAST however is still out there for grabs...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 

Day 25: Less is more : the win-win strategy

I often learn from watching (some may argue it's "spying") other teachers. I like to look at how they prepare their courses, what they bring in class, how easily they either get worked up or dismiss student behaviors...

That's how I came about today's lecture plan:
* First, finish up the material ASAP
* Then, have them complete everything related to that chapter in the biology workbook for the rest of the period while I sit back and work on my own stuff.

This is what I like to think of as the "less is more" concept - I do less talking, they do more work, and I get to prepare the material that needs to be covered in the next few lectures during class time.

I'm now re-learning all about our respiratory system (to better tell them all about it) while they are quietly (or at least semi-quietly) working on the digestive system, preparing for the upcoming test.

In my beloved corporate world, some may refer to this as a win-win strategy...

There are serious discipline issues I need to think about - I am not good at stopping the useless yapping during the lectures and their behaviour is driving me mad. I'll be thinking about that tonite, as I get to bed.

I better think fast though because my brain is shutting down for the evening...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 

Day 24: More lemons please!

I am feeling tired - 7 teaching periods in a row is a killer - good thing this happens only on Tuesdays. Why is it that I used to be able to work a 10-hour day without blinking, while entertaining the troops for 7 x 45 minutes drains me of 98% of my energy, the remaining 2% being used up completely by the kids when I get home...

Good thing I didn't worry about the lemon experiment - it went just fine and the girls had the batteries up and running in no time. They also completed a few other experiments I had designed so that they can learn all about the marvelous choreography of electrons (and static electricity). And even those went really well... imagine my surprise...

Enjoy the shortness of this post - my brain is a vacuum of empty thoughts (even that doesn't make sense...).

Monday, September 26, 2005 

Day 23 - part 2: He's laughing at me - and I don't like it!

Tomorrow is the day I am taking the girls to the technology lab so that we can discover the marvels of electricity together.

Not only do I hate labs to begin with (see this), I also happen not to be too fond of electricity. I am NOT an electrical engineer. I am no MacGyver - you won't see me knitting spider webs into a bulletproof vest, which earlier today, would have seemed a more pleasant task than coming up with something for these girls to do.

So we will be building those batteries using lemons (thank you Internet for the recipe - next week, we will build a nuclear bomb - I'm sure there are more instructions for bombs than there are easy electrical projects for desperate technology teachers...).

My dear hubby, who is adorable and always supportive of all my endeavors, including this 180-days journey, has been cracking up since suppertime, when he realized that I was not doing any lemon-battery practice run.

It's bad enough that I'll be stuck in a lab making this battery over and over tomorrow, getting lemon juice all over the place, with 3 different groups of girls, I have no urge whatsoever to do it myself at home. I am confident the instructions are just dandy, and if it doesn't work, we can brush it off as the perfect representation of experimental science - ie it just doesn't always work...


Day 23: The devil is in the details (and in some of the answers!)

There is a lot more thought that needs to be put into designing a test than first meets the eye...

I'm preparing the second biology test - and there is so much material to include (all of the digestive system) that it becomes a real puzzle to extricate the important stuff from all the "learn by heart" stuff, combining the two such that the test is not too hard, not too easy, not too short, not too long...

And from the first tests I've had the kids write, I've also learned that essay questions are loooooooong to correct, and difficult to grade with objectivity. If a certain student is a pain in the butt in class and has a so-so answer, it is tempting to be less generous with the part marks than for a calm and participative student with an equivalent answer.

I never realized as a student that test correction could be so subjective. Of course, there are subjects like math, where 2 + 2 = 4 no matter how rowdy you are in class, but for almost all the other subjects which require answers than include words, it becomes somewhat of a challenge to remain objective and fair.

Perhaps real teachers will disagree with me - and this only reinforces what I lack in teacher training...

All I can do is try to better design my tests such that I can test the knowledge without testing my objectivity...

The expression "the devil is in the details" takes on a whole new meaning for me...

Sunday, September 25, 2005 

TV Night

I watch too much TV. But I was raised to always aim to be ABOVE AVERAGE - so I should be proud to watch more TV than the average North American.

That being said, I just can't wait to post this and go sit in front of the boob tube tonight and catch up on the stuff I can't watch most weeknights because I'm caught up in my "homework" - or too pooped to do anything but go to bed super early.

Jusy like yesterday. My 3-year twins tucked me in at 7:30PM - they were still full of energy. I was dead to the world. No drugs, no alcohol. Just plain me tired and ready to catch many many zzzz...

Gotta go - I'm desperately looking forward to the premiere of Desperate Housewives - and catching up on a couple of L&Os (Law and Order - I watch ALL of them) that started last week.

Friday, September 23, 2005 

Day 22: 10 things I learned this week...

Teaching and blogging, in my case anyways, is more about learning than it is about teaching or blogging. Here are 10 things I learned this week (in random order, which is exactly the way my brain thinks and accesses information...):

1) Frustration is an emotion I need to manage better - no point in letting my blood pressure rise because a certain group of girls are pressing all the right buttons.

2) I survived the lab experiment (carried out by the girls of course), it was even almost (only almost, I don't want to stretch the truth) pleasant. All is well in the lab as long as everyone stays away from Mr Skeleton. I don't even want to think about what would happen if all 103 of his bones were to be spread all over the floor.

3) Teachers gossip about the students - discussions about distressed students (one 10th grader whose father died when she was in grade 8, and whose mom is now undergoing chemotherapy with a poor prognosis) as well about about distressing students (like that group that drives me mad). I do "eavesdrop" on these conversations but it makes me uncomfortable to participate and criticize the girls.

4) A teacher's work is never done.

5) I brought in some donut holes (Tim Bits) for one group of girls today because I was so happy with their behavior in the lab. I found out that they are just as happy about being treated to empty calories as corporate weenies are (sorry Fred, no pun intended). The utter look of astonishment on their face when I came in with the box lead me to believe no other teacher had ever done that. None ever did for me, in 21+ years of schooling...

6) Keeping the blog a secret (especially considering what happened to Dooce) is a wise thing to do. It might not be that hard after all for a couple of reasons... For one, some of the teachers don't speak all that much English (can you imagine watching the translated version of Desperate Housewives? I can't...). For two, most teachers are not too computer-savvy - I explained to several (all with an innocent look of course) what a blog is.

7) It was brought to my attention that if you Google the following "Alligators in Louisianna", my blog is the #2 search result. The bad news being of course that I had a typo in Louisiana, and that people who can't spell find this post which supports their erroneous spelling...

8) A teacher's work is never done. Never.

9) My blog was actually referenced by another blogger (see here) - this is very very exciting for a novice blogger like myself - someone (outside my family and circle of friends) read and enjoyed what I have to say. Very cool...

10) A teacher's work is never done. Never. Never.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 

Day 21: The big skeleton in my closet...

A funny thing about me is that I hate labs, lab work, and everything involved with lab experiments.

I hated it when I was in grade 9 biology, some 22 years ago.

I hated the 16-hours per week I spent in labs while completing my Biochemistry degree.

I hated all the labs and workshops of various kinds we were subjected to when I was an engineering student.

And now, as a teacher, I have to GO TO THE DARN LABS - and even though I am not carrying out the experiments per se, I have to plan ahead, check that we have on hand all required chemicals and materials, I have to THINK about the labs. I've been happy so far because I was able to justify NOT going to the lab.

Until this week, I was terrified to take a group of 25-26 girls into the lab and be responsible for what happens for the next couple hours.

A lab is a strange and scary place - not only because there are dead frogs, eyeballs, brains and stiff rats waiting to be dissected, but also because the previous biology teacher (the one who retired after 32 years) organized the chemical products in alphabetical order.
This would suit the left side of my brain just fine - if only the right side of the aforementioned brain didn't create visions of the horrible reactions that can happen when old and almost mouldy chemicals are lined up according to the first letter of their name, ignoring defiantly the properties and reactivity that make them so special...

I was also afraid to screw things up, to trip over the skeleton, scatter the bones everywhere, and NOT be able to rebuild the scary fellow because let's face it, apart from the popular bones like the humerus, the femur, and (my favorite) the funny bone, who the hell knows all the bone names and where they go when they fall off??? Well, I suppose doctors would... AS WELL AS REAL BIOLOGY TEACHERS...

What these girls don't know, what I can barely admit to myself, the big skeleton in my closet, is that I am literally teaching by the seat of my pants - I read the textbook, make some notes and dispense the knowledge. I constantly pray they won't ask a relevant question that bounces me forward to material I have not prepared.

By the time I've given the same lecture 4 times, I barely glance at my notes, and students often comment:

"I can't believe you know all this stuff by heart!"

And I always reply : "You have no idea..." And then I think to myself: "And I intend to keep it that way..."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 

Day 20: How to torture the teacher - this group deserves an A+

FRUSTRATION... that's the only word that can describe today.

Only 4 teaching periods, bright sunshine, not too hot, not too cold, and yet, frustration is the only feeling that lingers...

So there's that darn group of girls who seem to have landed from another planet - they're completely different from the other 77 girls I have.

They are the same age, same gender, same biological functioning as far as I can tell, and yet, they can't seem to concentrate for more than 2 seconds in a row, and many can't seem to control their jaw muscles long enough such that their tongue is immmobile and they are QUIET.

I encourage participation in the class - but they seem to prefer whispering unrelated things to one another.

And even when they aren't yapping uselessly and annoyingly, when they are all quiet and appear focused on the right topic, not a single one of them, not one out of the 26 girls, no one wants to answer questions, suggest an explanation or attempt to participate in any shape or form.

By contrast, in the three other groups, the girls are happy, well-adjusted and eager to answer questions. Many even share personal experiences of this and that, the class is more interesting, and the whole process is invigorating.

The easy way out for me would be to go into that classroom, do my thing, and leave. And not care. That's the hard part - I've always cared about what I do and the outcome always matters to me.

Comatosed students are boring, and constantly whispering students are insufferable.

These darn kids have figured out a way to combine these two things such that the result is the perfect teacher torture...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 

Day 19: What can I do with the Mexicans?

I was approached by one of the nuns at school about whether I can welcome 25 Mexican girls in either a biology or technology class in the 3rd week of October. The 9th graders I'm teaching are into their 3rd year of Spanish, so most can hold a basic conversation and make themselves understood.

At first, I said "Sure, no problem" - not realizing that these lovely Mexican girls, who are here via a student exchange program, do not speak a single word of French or English. My Spanish is pretty good, albeit a little rusty, but more than fine to have a casual conversation or discuss a simple topic.

Finding something to do in class, in Spanish and for 50 minutes, relating to either biology or technology, is a whole different story.

I've been lucky so far every time I've had to improvise - it even allowed me to bring the students to corners of my brain I had never been to myself.
It allowed me to shape the way I present things to them differently than if I had taken the time, like a REAL teacher would have, to plan out the lecture.

The only thing that keeps popping into my mind is that we could watch an episode of The Simpsons - the DVDs have Spanish as one of the available languages.

I can't however think of a single episode which would relate to the subjects I'm supposed to teach...

Monday, September 19, 2005 

Day 18: Keeping this blog a secret...

Three months ago, I had no idea what a blog was. Then I noticed my dear hubby laughing out loud whenever he read a certain "blog".
"A blog? What is THAT?"

Being married to a computer/software/techno geek has great advantages (like never having to work the electronics around the house - and being the first we know to have a home-made version of a TiVo which feeds my TV addiction so much better than the old VCR).
It also has the great disadvantage that I always feel like an idiot because he knows about things way before I do - he'd been solving Sudokus online for 6 months on his lunch break before I even heard of the darn thing...

So, I started reading the same blog that made him laugh so much, except that I was laughing harder because I'm a girl, I'm a mom, and I'm usually constipated, just like Dooce. I was happy with reading her blog every day when it occurred to me that perhaps I could start blogging - about being a teacher for a year.

The thing about Dooce is that she LOST her job because she wrote about co-workers.

I don't know the details, but what I do know is that I am NOT telling anyone at school about my blog.

I don't want kids acting out - hoping it will appear on the blog the next day. And I don't want to have to say anything nice about the other teachers because they read my blog and expect flattery (even if and when they deserve it).

It shouldn't be too hard to do because none of the teachers (with perhaps the exception of the one who teaches the kids how to make a web page) are even comfortable with computers, the internet, and all that "technology". There is one computer for all of us to share in the teacher lounge - I barely use it preferring to log into the network from home to enter the student marks.

And so I must bear the weight of this secret for the remaining 162 school days. I feel like Agent Sydney Bristow on yet another secret mission...

Friday, September 16, 2005 

Day 17: Finding the answer in your sleep

It's been proven (how, I have no clue) that sleeping on something (and I mean by that a thought, a question, a problem) often allows the solution to surface the next morning.

As I head to bed, I am hoping sleep will bring the answer to a question a student threw my way today:

"Why did you become a biology teacher?"

It's been bothering me all day, because there are several possible answers. I guess this is how multiple choice came to be.

In this case, possible answers would include:

a) I am not a real teacher.

b) I wanted the 4-day work-week not realizing along with it came a 3-day work-week-end.

c) I want to make a lot less money and still try to be happy.

d) I wanted the summer off.

e) I wanted the summer off.

f) answers d and e

And if the true answer to all this is "None of the above", I have some thinking and some sleeping to do...

Thursday, September 15, 2005 

Day 16: Teaching from the gut

In the lunch room today, as everyone was gulping down their lunch (because leisurely lunches are unthinkable unless all your work is done, and in a teacher's case that only happens when the schoolyear is over...), I was the center of attention, with questions pouring in from all sides about my "old life".
By "old life", I mean of course my past jobs in the industry/corporate world.

It seems to be extremely intriguing to all that I was "out there" for so long before committing to teaching.

It's hard for me to tell them that I am not "committed" per se, that this is basically a one-year contract and whatever happens happens after that. It's hard for them, these over-dedicated REAL teachers, to even think that someone could do this for just one year. Just 180 days.

And frankly, now that I am barely keeping my head above the surface, either busy re-learning all about the gastric glands, the liver and the marvelous workings of the rectum (and the anus is just a muscle by the way!), planning the next lab experiment, designing ways to use lemons to make a battery, or correcting the endless tests and quizzes the kids write, I realize how C.R.A.Z.Y. it is to be a teaching for J.U.S.T. one year.

Course planning and preparation is unavoidable the first time you teach a class - if I were to teach the same class again, all I would need to do is show up and correct tests. Like those teachers who have been at it for so many years...

Also required to be a great teacher is that endless and continuously renewed source of dedication to the kids.

I feel dedicated right now, on day 16 of this adventure. The real test for me will be the level of dedication remaining on day 180.

It's funny that the vary basis of teaching would occur to me the actual day I lecture the girls all about the way their intestines works...

... but the fact remains that teaching has to come from the gut.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 

School of parenthood - lesson #1

Why is it that the ones we love THE most (yes, that would be our kids, our children, our little "miracles"), why is it that these little creatures are THE BEST at getting right under our skin and oozing poison-ivy. If it sounds like I am losing my mind, perhaps it's because I am!!!
Why is it that kids think they can win stupid useless battles with their parents? Why is it that parents feel compelled to dig their heels and make big (empty) threats?

Does patience come in a predefined and finite quantity? Can one use up all their patience, say during their work day, and then come home and not have any left for their little angels because patience renewal is possible only when everyone is sleeping?

And if they ACTUALLY ARE ANGELS, why is patience needed in the first place?


Day 15: Teaching is a lot like driving...

As I was making my way into school this morning in traffic, I needed to change lanes to catch the exit ramp to my right.
So I put my blinker on well ahead of time, checked many times the distance between my van and the two cars I wanted to squeeze in between, and when my brain figured the timing was optimal, my arms worked the steering wheel and the change was done. Changing lanes in Montreal is always somewhat of a leap of faith - you need to believe the cars around you will allow your move to happen without accident.

And so I realized that changing lanes and driving in traffic is a lot like teaching.

Every time I walk into class, I feel like I'm changing lanes... I'm taking charge (sort of) of a group of 25-26 teenage girls who aren't necessarily interested in learning about biology and technology (much like the drivers who feel competitive about "their" lane and aren't interested in letting a car in ahead of theirs).

These girls have to let me in, they have to let me invade their space and allow me to leave something behind - hopefully knowledge related to the subjects I teach.

Every time I walk into class, I need to take that leap of faith that everything will go well, that the students will be receptive and that I won't majorly screw up and make a fool of myself. This is especially true when I walk into class and basically improvise the lecture.

Improvising is possible in technology, but is becoming increasingly difficult in biology. I can't invent things about the human body - someone would figure it out eventually and rat me out.

I had some ideas of what teaching would be like before taking on this position, some pre-conceived notion of what teachers do (all of which turned out to be wrong thus far), but the last thing I expected was to feel a connection between driving and teaching.

And even less expected was that some groups of students would feel like a huge traffic jam...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005 

Day 14: Can I sue them for this?

Nowhere in my contract is there a mention that the most likely hazard was catching colds when it was still hot enough to swim outside.

And yet, here I am, totally congested, with mucous pouring down the back of my throat and thus keeping the nausea factor on the forefront. My kids are not even sick. What is going on????

So I am off to school with lots to do before the first bell, and then I have a 7-hour live show to put on...

Sunday, September 11, 2005 

Vitamins cause hypertension - and other interesting findings (like my hubby likes role-playing)

With over 100 biology tests to correct, Saturday night was far from the relaxing, fun, cozy-up in front of the TV evening. So around 8PM, when the girls were tighly tucked in bed (did I ever mention their door is locked so that they can't get out? Whoever invented that doorknob thingamajig is a genius!!!).

Soon enough, hubby was hovering around, reading some of the answers and trying to contain outbursts of laughter at some of the nonsense that was written.
Like vitamins cause hypertension. Imagine the horror in both the medical and pharmaceutical communities if this turned out to be true...

I am very sad to report that the spelling and grammar is horrendous. I don't take any points off for that (so far) - other science teachers told me they have a hard time giving points for what's there - so taking points off for spelling would NOT be a welcome gesture. Plus, it means more correcting. Who needs more correcting?

It became obvious pretty quickly that I would be at it all evening, so my lovely hubby volunteered to correct some of the questions, those that were either right or wrong and required no OBJECTIVE part marks. It turns out he actually really enjoyed correcting, using his red pen (I have MANY red pens now, remember?), PLAYING TEACHER for one night.

I suspect there will be many more of those nights.

And as I get better at writing tests, I may even attain the ultimate: tests designed such that they can be corrected by my 3-yr old twins - imagine the leisurely TV evenings I can have at that point...

Friday, September 09, 2005 

Day 13: TGIF - and pumping out alligators in Louisianna

I'm home - I have a million things to do, the first of which is getting my post done for the day.

So far, I've promised myself not to draw any conclusion with this adventure, not to compare my old job with what I am doing now, but one of the teachers has been asking lots of questions - she's never done anything but teach so she is curious about the "corporate world".

Having to explain what I used to do, how I loved what I did, how I was hopeful that our process would cure some forms of cancer, how it was a completely different kind of pressure, all this made me miss my old life.
I miss dealing with money issues, I miss being plugged to the world and finding out breaking news when things happens.
I miss the boardroom dynamics - the whole human aspect of making something work despite the idiosynchrocies of all the individuals involved.

And yet, today as I drove home, I also appreciate being with these kids, having their youthful love of life influence the way I approach various topics. I spent a whole period today spinning the technological point of view of what is happening in in Louisianna...

The ONE student question that makes me smile when I think of today:
"Are the alligators pumped out of the city along with the water?"
Would YOU be able to answer that with a straight face???


Day 12: When sleep becomes a necessity

I'm writing this post after sleeping for almost 11 hours. I went to bed before the kids. At 6:45PM last night, I asked my lovely hubby to take care of the kids because I needed a little nap before The O.C.

Well, next thing I know it's 11PM and I am a complete zombie.
And the next thing after that, it's 5:33AM, and Christine (who went to bed later than I did, and is 33 years younger than me) is waking me up, and requesting some breakfast.

Today is "Test Day" - I have 5 teaching periods and I am seeing all 4 groups - they are writing their first biology test. That means more correction on the horizon for me... I still have 75 Technology tests to mark - which I think I will work on while they write today's test.

Good think I have the Bic Red Pen Super Pack...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 

Day 11: The short post

I wish this software would start ringing and flashing when a blogger writes a NEVERENDING post. As I re-read yesterday's post, I was wondering if anyone fell off their chair while reading it - not because I documented a particularly astounding discovery, but because my migraine-drug-induced keyboard diarrhea was somewhat overwhelming after a while. Bla-bla-bla- somebody stop me!!!

To counterbalance yesterday's post, this one will be extra short.

I feel pressure. Nothing to do with lowel bowel pressure or yesterday's post. Just pressure to prepare course material and get my act together. Yesterday evening was unproductive (I obviously couldn't get my fingers off the keyboard)and it's close to 7PM tonight and I have to think of a way to occupy one class for 2 hours (I'm thinking of setting them up with the laptops and having them research something - what I'm not sure yet - but then that means more correction/work for ME!!!).
I need to plan biology as well since all four groups are writing the test on the first chapter - now I have to learn the digestive system again so that I can teach it to them. Hmmm...

Signing off, stressing out, but at last, DRUG FREE - so all is not lost...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 

Day 10: Migraine is the word of the day... but just don't say it too loudly because it hurts...

Started the day with a mild headache - took hubby's car instead of my van, I had no sunglasses (they are in the van) so the sun aggravated the whole thing.

Once at school, I had the adrenaline to keep me going - Tuesdays are the roughest day with 7 teaching periods in a row. Non-stop teaching.

I used to love being on the receiving end - but being the one who is up there DOING the teaching is a whole different ballgame. You need to be alert all the time, you can't let your mind wander off to a better place, not even for a minute, because then your mouth will start uttering stupid unrelated things - and the last thing any teacher needs is to fuel the kids' restlessness and gossip channels (like "Oh my God, she's quite the looney!").

I feel like I'm different from the other teachers. I don't approach the classes the way the others do, and even though I feel like I'm doing fine and that the girls are learning, I'm also very aware that I have no FORMAL knowledge of how their brains assimilate knowledge and how knowledge should really be dispensed.

I'm one of those "Show and Tell" teachers - I've never had one while I was in school so I have no idea where this is coming from. Perhaps I should rephrase that to "I'm THE Show and Tell" teacher. For biology, I walk around with food wrapping and the nutritional information of McDonald's, Subway, Wendy's and Tim Hortons. I have them make up healthy menus at these places, count grams of sodium. I waive women's magazines around to steer them away from fad diets (anyone ever notice there is always an incredible diet that can make you lose 10 lbs in 3 days and yet America is getting fatter every day!). I want them to be critical and skeptical about all the info thrown at them. Other teachers in the teacher's room look at all these things on my desk - some ask me what subjects I'm teaching - I must admit that Woman's Day is not exactly a typical 9th grader textbook...
Today, in our technology class, we watched short movies that explain electricity and atoms. I also had some Power Point presentations from the previous teacher. As I was lugging all this equipment from classroom to classroom, the computer/projector cart AND the TV/DVD cart, I was wondering how many other teachers rely on this type of media to convey information. I'll be keeping an eye out on the other teachers walking around with the video equipment...

My migraine is slowly subsiding - the house is in shambles, I just now (8:00PM) got all three kids in bed (hubby is out helping my dad with something) and tomorrow's lunches are not made yet.

I sometimes wonder what life would be like without the chaos kids create - for a short moment, I imagine a clean house, a floor that shines instead of being littered with the day's toys and meal crumbs, and evenings that start at 5PM when I get home (instead of after 8PM when they are finally in bed). That being said, I would not trade my life and my kids for anything (well, make me an offer and we'll talk - I can even throw in the hubby if the price is right!).

Sunday, September 04, 2005 

Writing the thin red line... or at least "wishing" I could...

Well, Saturday night, 9PM, the kids are finally in bed, the main floor has gone from major mess to "you can walk around in the dark without tripping over anything dangerous" and I still have a little bit of energy despite Christine being up since 4:30AM some 16.5 hours ago. She gives a whole new meaning to the "early bird" - and I envy my friends whose kids get up between 8:00 and 9:00AM without any chemical/pharmacological intervention on their part.

So I'm thinking that I should tackle my first pile of tests - I know the girls did well in the test - it was an easy one and since they participated so well in class, they did most of their learning without even knowing. That's my goal - I want them to walk out of each class with some of the new material embedded in their brain. It makes studying easier later, AND they'll like my subjects (because the effort required is minimal).

I go through my pencil case, and find NO RED PEN.
Search the desk drawers, kitchen counters, family room nooks and crannies, and emptied the school supply bin, NO RED PEN.
I am so desperate at this point for the red pen that I enter a live minefield (ie my son's room) without turning the lights on because he's finally sleeping, and I grab all the pens I can get my hands on - NO RED PEN.

Now if there is a SINGLE, BASIC tool any and all real teachers have, it has got to be the red pen. I don't remember ever getting a test back that wasn't corrected in RED. And I went to school for a total of 21 years...

It's the universal color of knowledge retribution.

The color that makes results official.

When you apply for a Bachelor of Education program, you must check a special box and swear you will always have a red pen within reach. Those who don't check the box cannot enter the program. Just like the "I swear I am at least 18 years old" button on the porn websites. It's a failsafe - those that aren't 18 or over are never able to enter - and students that don't check the red pen box can't become teachers. I'm just that special case that fell through the cracks (no to worry, that never happens with the porn websites...).

And here I am walking all over the house frantically looking for one red pen.
It's now 9:23PM, my search for a pen has ended, and with it my desire to correct these tests. The closest I come to red is some fancy PINK. I doodle with it for a few minutes on a old envelope and decide I can't correct with pink. Who will take it seriously, really? Not me...

And so ends my first evening of correction - having to acknowledge that I am lacking the most basic of tools.

Friday, September 02, 2005 

Day 9: My little rant about the rescue efforts in Louisianna

Today went well at school. First test was written, and I have it with me, ready to correct it over the week-end.

I can't concentrate on school stuff right now because I am haunted by the pictures and video clips from what is happening in New Orleans.

I don't understand that this is happening in the United States. The greatest power on Earth.

These people are stranded, dehydrated, hungry, abandonned to rot there while Bush is all talk and no action. I can't believe it's happening, and yet as I watch clip after clip, what I see are POOR BLACK PEOPLE, and POOR BLACK PEOPLE don't command as much attention as RICH WHITE PEOPLE.

It's completely unfair.

Newborns that were in hospitals there are dying from dehydration because their little bodies needed fluid and there is no clean water to feed them. This is happening in the States. The US is so quick at helping other countries around the world when disaster strikes, why are they so useless NOW????.

That's it - the post is finished because I have nothing nice to say about anybody in charge of these rescue efforts.

I feel helpless, my heart aches for all these people. Everything else seems meaningless right now.

God help those people because the authorities sure aren't...

Thursday, September 01, 2005 

Day 8: The proof is in the pudding

Well, so far all is well in teacher world.

Tomorrow is Friday and one of my classes has their first technology test so I get to sit there and watch them sweat it out. I suppose I'll be thinking of my (well, THEIR!)upcoming biology test questions and even getting some of MY work done while they are writing away.

It's not easy to write test questions. My last school years were in engineering school - the norm was one midterm and one final exam so a lot of material was covered in each exam, and typically the teacher would make it as hard as possible, just to see us squirm. Most brains and calculators ended up overheating in the process, and everyone was in dire need of a cold beer as soon as the test was over, regardless of the time of day. I must admit, some were in dire need of a beer BEFORE the test as well... Hmmm... what does that say about engineering students?

I find all my questions on tomorrow's test easy - the answers are (in my opinion) obvious. I suppose we'll see whether that is true once I start correcting. I get to take out the red pen, and be a real teacher - you can improvise a class, you can lead kids (and even yourself!) into believing you know what you're talking about, you can find great material on internet to get them interested in your course, but you just can't fake correction. "The proof is in the pudding".

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  • I'm Lolita
  • From Canada
  • Challenges... don't we all love a good challenge? University, married life, a mortgage, kids, keeping my sanity while we cruise through life at 100 MPH... why not try my hand at teaching for a year. After all, a school year is only 180 days - anyone should be able to survive 180 days, right? Well, I'm about to find out - follow my journey and enjoy my trials and tribulations as I embark in this 180 day rollercoaster ride of teenage hormones and drama, spiked with discipline, homework, exams and surprises I'm sure...
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