Monday, October 31, 2005 

Day 47: Dangerous Curves...

Today was my day at home to prepare for the upcoming week. I did pretty good, even got some planning done, got the upcoming biology test ready for the Xerox machine, and lined up some work for the technology classes tomorrow.

But most importantly, I took a WHOLE HOUR to myself and went to visit the new Curves gym that opened last week. It's very very close by (walkable from my place) and has interesting features:

- the work-out is 30 minutes and consists of interval training
- no men, no mirrors, no fancy/sexy outfits allowed
- also includes a food plan (I'll be getting the book on Thursday, my official first day)

They asked me cool questions like "Are you here to lose weight, gain weight or just firm up?". Just the fact that she was nice enough to offer up the "gain weight" option won me over. They measured and weighed me, determined my body fat pecentage and set some realistic goals.

As I filled out the form, I hesitated when it came time to write what my title at work was. First of all, I don't see the relevance of what I do for a living in these forms.

Regardless of my past titles, I've always referred to myself simply as "Engineer" - it sounds obscure enough to discourage questions.

No one, not even another engineer has any idea what another engineer does unless a few questions are asked and answered... Some engineers have no idea what they themselves are supposed to be doing, but that could be the topic of another post in another blog I suppose...

So I debated for a couple of seconds, and then wrote down "teacher" - I left out the words "fake" or "for 180 days only" because I live in a small community and I don't want to attract any attention, especially with this new hairdo...

After she gave me her whole spiel about policies, monthly fees and methods of payment, I told her she didn't have to work so hard on me because she had me at "Hello, are you here to gain weight?"

I was joining for sure - the body fat calculation would scare most women I think to sign with their first born's blood if that were required.

She then put on a big smile, and said that Curves especially likes teachers:the initiation fee will therefore be waived.

For about 1/10 of a second, I debated whether to tell her that I was only teaching for one year and then I'd see, that I had no idea where or what this teaching business would lead to, that perhaps I was not cut from the same cloth as all the REAL teachers out there, that I am somewhat of a lunatic, that I have the kids work in teams and be responsible for the outcome of the team, that I'm having them work on scientific posters and videos instead of donning their lab coats and mix chemicals...

And then I just smiled and said "Thank you - that's great!"

I immediately thought that between the money saved on the intiation fee and that saved on hairdressing for the next 3-4 months, perhaps I can afford another visit at the spa...

Sunday, October 30, 2005 

Bad hair = bad post

When I got up this morning,I caught the dreaded hairdo in the mirror, I had a couple cups of coffee and sat down to re-read yesterday's hair post.

I wrote that post late in the evening, tired and feeling the effects of the wine I had with dinner.

One shouldn't post in those conditions, not only because typos are published without even so much as a blink, but also because coherence becomes an option, one I obviously forgot to include yesterday...

So in SHORT (pun intended),

1) 3 weeks ago, I let her cut my hair the way SHE thought would be better. It was still long enough for me to change my mind and go back for the haircut I actually wanted.

2) Yesterday, I show up with the picture I wanted (after driving back home to get it because I had left it on the kitchen table and I WANTED TO AVOID HAVING HER DO SOMETHING ELSE THAN WHAT WAS ON THE PICTURE).

3) When she was almost done, as the mirror was reflecting something much shorter than THE PICTURE, I asked her where all the hair in the back went, and she replied that "it would look better this way".

4) I was in a hurry so I paid and left - had a minor heart attack when I saw the reflection in the car window, and a major heart attack when I got home.

5) I'm still pissed and am considering getting a wig on sale tomorrow (Halloween stuff of course) and wearing it for the next three months.

6) My hair got long in the first place because for 3 years I had no idea what to do with it after my old (and trusted) hairdresser moved. I'm starting to think that being indecisive may not have been such a bad thing afterall...

7) Hubby says the cut looks great - but I suspect the compliments could be a ruse to obtain marital favors...

Saturday, October 29, 2005 

Bad hair month

I am SOOOOO mad. Sooo pissed off. I know it will grow back, but still...

Three weeks ago, I had about 5 inches cut off - going from middle of my back to shoulder length, and although I liked it, it was too much of a hassle in the morning.

My hair needs to be courted heavily with the hairdryer to curl the right way.

Three weeks ago, I had my eye on a nice shoulder length layered cut, but I let the hairdresser convince me to try something else, something that I could come back a few weeks later (LIKE THIS MORNING) and change to the haircut I initially wanted.

Well, as I got to the salon this morning, I realized I had forgotten the hair styling magazine - and since I live 5 minutes away, I decided to drive home quickly and get it.

You must understand that I am lazy, and that when I forget something, I usually simply work around it - I just deal with the fact that my memory isn't what it used to be, and that life goes on.

BUT, in this case, I've learned over the years that hairdressers need to have a good idea of what you want. If not, they let their imagination take over - and I am not one to lend my body (or in this case, my HEAD) to the science of hairdressing.

So after zipping home and back, I was happy and relieved to walk in with the exact picture of what I wanted, a haircut I've had and loved in the past. I made it clear to her, I told her three times not to cut my bangs (she loves short bangs - and if you allow her to cut them without specifying the length, you end up with 2/3 of your forehead reflecting the sun).

I don't know what happened, but she decided the haircut I was getting was NOT the one the picture. She decided to make it a lot shorter, because "it would look better". She decided this WITHOUT asking whether or not my pacemaker was adjusted to support severe arrythmia once I stepped off the chair.

As it turns out, I DO NOT HAVE A PACEMAKER. I could have used one when I realized that what she had done was NOTHING like the picture. Oh sure, it was a woman's haircut, and technically, there was nothing wrong with the actual haircut, unless you weren't expecting and/or wanting EXTREMELY short hair.

I am a very calm and collected person (or so I think) and I did not react violently although I told her a few times I really wanted some hair down my neck and now there was NOTHING left. Nada. Rien. Zilch. All gone.

I guess I won't need a haircut until Christmas. Oh Joy - can't you tell I'm happy at the prospect of saving all that money?

Will I ever trust her again? At this point, I don't think I can go back there - I appreciate her creative side, and I know hairdresser have very funky hair because their look is their business card - but I'd rather settle for someone who will happily reproduce the picture I bring in, no questions asked.


World First: Surgery to separate the heart from the brain

Siamese twins are born into a world that challenges every common fiber of their bodies. Separation is the only viable long term solution.

What about those with special bonds within their very person, bonds invisible to the eye? What about those who feel their heart and their brain have united - allowing a symbiosis of two very different yet vital organs?

How can separation be achieved for these individuals?

I think I need to start prying my brain away from my heart, at least in the school/teacher part of my life.

My brain knows that:

- some girls are too lazy to study prior to a test
- some girls are completely disorganized and can't get their schedule (what happens when) right
- some girls just don't care about school - they are 14 and life can wait
- some girls need extensive prodding to get some work done
- some girls are less gifted intellectually
- some girls work hard and get great marks
- some girls work hard and don't perform well under pressure

Knowing all these things explains just about everything with regards to the first semester results of my 100 grade 9 girls.

Why is it that I can't stop thinking of the girls that failed technology and that will be getting into trouble with their parents soon (well, I assume they will).

I have been so focused on getting their biology grades up with quizzes at every single class for the past 2 weeks - and it worked because now only 1 girl (out of the 100) is failing due to her laziness.

But she and many others are not doing well in technology. Despite being easy on the grading, making sure to assign work that was all explained in their notes, they did not meet the minimal requirements to pass.

60% means we allow them not to understand, not to remember, not to be able to solve 40% of what they are taught. I've always believed this was skewed, that the school system doesn't set the bar at a high enough level.

Being a very competitive person, it was with pleasure that I strived for the best marks possible. But what about "normal" people - people who are not driven by the desire to surpass the person sitting next to them. Are we allowing them to be mediocre, to learn only a little more than half of what they should know, nudging them along each school year as long as they meet the 60% bar?

I suppose my skin will grow thicker as the school year moves along, and that somehow, without surgery, without anesthesia, without pain killers, my heart will separate from my brain and allow me to sleep well at night, even when the end of the semester is just around the corner...

After all, isn't it the kids who are failing that should be losing sleep?

Friday, October 28, 2005 

And so Lolita was born at 9:00PM...

I am still somewhat paranoid that the students will find this blog. This is probably worsened right now by the fact that I've been awake since 2:30AM and it's now 9:00PM...

My body is approaching the breaking point - but until I get there I am working on some more correction and entering the grades in the system. Monday is the last day of the semester - everything has to be final by next Friday. And I wouldn't mind taking a couple hours to myself on Monday since it's my day "off".

I've decided to change my signature to Lolita - of course I have no idea whether old posts will now say "Louise" or "Lolita" but it doesn't matter - from now on, I am Lolita and don't anyone dare make any connection between the virtual blogger and the fake teacher.


Day 46: The early bird gets the worm

I've never been one to sleep in late, but this is just a little bit too insane, even for ME. It was 11:30PM before I headed up to bed at which point I was completely wired.

Pissed off may better described my mental state - because many many of the girls were too lazy to open up their notes and simply copy the explanations to some of the questions in their technology lab report.

As a result, many have failed the said report, and have thus lost their last life line to actually pass. Some who were swimming just above the 60% overall mark are now failing because they had better things to do than to put a little effort in their work.

I spoke to other teachers yesterday about some kids who just can't be persuaded into cracking the books. It's as though they think some ugly, slimy creature will crawl out of the book and attack them if they dare take it out of their desk. Each teacher is on his/her own to persuade the kids to do the work. And in the end, if they don't, they fail. And there's nothing you can do about it.

Am I losing my mind? At this point, with a little less than 3 hours of sleep in me, with my stomach growling, because it's insane to be up at this time thinking of a bunch of unrelated 14-yr olds who are snoring away. Add PMS and this is going to be one hell of a day.

There is a big biology test next week, and I'm assigning a 12-page homework to those who failed the last big test (because I can't trust they will study on their own). I'm not even going to correct this because they can do it with their books and notes, and also because I need more correction like I need this cloud of PMS which has taken over since the beginning of the week.

Looks like I'm going to have to do the same with technology and assign extra work, perhaps ask them to have their parents sign the completed work before they hand it in... I better stop now and get a piece of toast before I become the Evil Teacher of the West.

I'm even considering not bringing in the Halloween treats I had gotten them. But I can't because then I'll be stuck with even more goodies than the truckload my three kids will be gathering on Monday...

Thursday, October 27, 2005 

Day 45: A new trick with the treats...

This post will be short.

I am running a correction marathon - the first semester is over on Monday and I need to get all the marks in really soon...

I brought in some little chocolate pumpkins today for my 8th graders since I won't see them until AFTER Halloween. They attacked the poor little things in a manner reminiscent of many frightening dinosaur scenes from Jurassic Park.

Now I know exactly what to do 3 weeks from now, when I run out of hiding places for the piles and piles of candy my three kids will gather on Monday. I will simply bring them to school, set the container on the corner of my desk and quickly step away - no doubt there will be nothing left before I can even change my mind.

This would almost make me want to teach for the rest of my life - or at least until the kids stop trick-or-treating...


A fresh new look!!!

I slapped him around hard enough, he finally caved and worked on a new look for my blog.

Let me know what you think! (and I mean by that what you think of the LOOK, not your feelings about spousal abuse).

Wednesday, October 26, 2005 

Days 43 and 44: I will survive, I will survive...

Everyone knows that Gloria Gaynor classic... I can't get it out of my head. It happens to be exactly how I feel.

Yesterday was somewhat of a hellish day - after 7 teaching periods (which is all day with only a lunch break), I sat down in the teacher's lounge and attacked piles of correction non stop from 3:30PM until 7:20PM, and then I headed down for the both dreaded and anticipated evening where the parents come around to see what we look like.

The evening went well in general - I have to admit that when the parents of a trouble-maker sits down in front of you and asks about her daughter's behavior in class, I was just a big wuss and polished the truth so that no one's feelings would get hurt.

This translates into the following comments to describe less than perfect pupils:

"Your daughter has great oral communication skills. She puts them to use nonstop with the girl to her left."

"Your daughter is one of my most active students. I wish I were teaching Phys.Ed."

"You must remember that the only thing required to succeed in BOTH classes I teach your daughter is some studying prior to a test. Oh, and concentrating during class has worked out well for some of the better students."

"Your daughter participates very well - in fact, I often have trouble getting a word in edgewise!"

All parents were very nice - so nice in fact that despite limiting the time with each parent to 5-10 minutes, I was the last teacher to leave at 10:30PM. I only met the parents of 30 students (out of 102), but the logistics of meeting all these parents in one night, for 2 subjects, are pretty much impossible. It's a blessing more didn't line up in front of my desk...

Today went well, the girls did not really asked about what happened the night before.

It's probably better that way... What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Monday, October 24, 2005 

Day 42: Tomorrow is parents-teacher night...

I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow.

It will be nice to meet some parents (if THEY decide to come and see me) and since I am now at the point where I can match each student with her name, my brain should also be able to activate my jaw muscles in such a way that something nice and meaningful comes out when I meet the person who had a little too much to drink 14 years ago and let loose, and awoke a couple weeks later with a bun in the oven.

Of course, this is NOT how I will explain procreation to the girls when we get to that chapter in a few months, but I must say that this is still a pretty accurate explanation for many people (even if they won't admit to it).

If I'm feeling particularly bold tomorrow, I will post from the computer in the teacher's lounge since I don't plan on coming home between my last class and the start of the meeting.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 

My day at the spa with Paris Hilton

Husbands can be very useful. For one, they are great at taking the garbage to the curb (this sometimes happens even without a reminder that it's garbage day), they are glad to escape the craziness inside the house to go mow the lawn or wash the cars (but don't try to corner them with a mop for anything INDOORS because the heart rate goes up, the pupils start dilating and sweat pours down the forehead, clearly indicating their discomfort with household germs and dirt - big bugs and mud OUTSIDE is not a problem).

Husbands are definitely appreciated when they participate in a contest at work and WIN THE GIFT CERTIFICATE TO A SPA.

This is how I ended up at the spa on Friday afternoon.

The first trip at the spa can be somewhat nerve-racking for someone who has never stepped into anything fancier than a hairdresser's salon. I've always oooh-aaaaah'ed the idea of spending some time at the spa, but until I was holding that gift certificate, I never thought it would happen.

For the spa-neophite (or spa-ignorant), there are many things to think about and I decided to be very open about this as I walked in:

Me: "You have to tell me everything I need to do because I've never been to a spa, and I have no idea if I need to keep the underwear on, take them off, or even where to put my clothes - DO NOT assume that I know anything!!!!"

Spa lady: "OK - don't worry so much and start by taking your coat off - you're still in the entrance way."

I was then told that I would be getting a free oxygen bath. I thought this was simply a bath with jacuzzi jets. As I sat upstairs in a fancy waiting area while she prepared the bath, I quickly called my hubby to make sure he was picking up the kids since I was getting an extra treatment and had no idea how long this whole spa-venture would take.

I was eventually led into the room with the oxygen bath. Instead of a tub with swirling hot water, there was a white plastic coffin-like structure waiting for me, which, upon closure, only let my head stick out. I was instructed to get undressed (completely) and to sit inside and close it up. This was a plesant 25-minute experience - a sauna for all of your body but your head.

I was then told to slip on a robe, and wait for someone to get me. It took at least 10 minutes, and as I sat in the semi-darkness and total silence, I kept thinking about Paris. Not the one in France, but the one who led The Simple Life, a seemingly dumb platinum blonde worth a gazillion dollars. I kept thinking about how spas are probably a regular part of her life, much like blogging is for me now.

I followed a lovely young woman and spent the next 2 hours with her.

Again, just to be sure in case she didn't remember, I asked her to be very precise in her instructions as to what I should do, where I should lie down and what was going to happen next. I was given a pair of disposable underwear to change into.

I've heard of disposable underwear before - this was nothing like one might think. She might have better described them as a one-size-fits-all 2" wide thong. It was so dark in this room, I didn't really care so I just put them on and waited.

She came back and started the full body exfoliation. For those who are spa-challenged, this means rubbing a sandy substance on your skin such that the first and second layer of epidermis are shaved right off.

She then applied the seaweed body wrap. I always envisionned this particular treatment as long green weeds slowly wrapped around the legs and arms. Well, it turns out to be a fish-smelling (of course) black paste, applied everywhere it can be rubbed without causing embarassement to either party. A big plastic sheet is then wrapped around the body, and a heat blanket is put on top of all this. It was pure heaven, totally relaxing, for 30 minutes. I fell asleep.

Then, into the shower, and the application of a body lotion and I was good to go.

I was shocked to see that all these shenanigans swallowed 3 hours of my time. And then I thought of Paris again. 3 hours is probably the treatment she goes for when she's in a hurry.

And so I headed home, with my baby-soft skin, I was unfortunately thinking of school, and all the correction that needed to be done and/or reviewed over the week-end...

Friday, October 21, 2005 

Day 41: The light can be dim...

Well, that light at the end of the tunnel was there today, but for one of my classes, it was quite dim...

After it was suggested to me to stop the INSANITY of correcting everything on my own and to put the students to work once in a while (or at least after every quiz), I realized that this seemingly simple task of students being guided closely to go over answers and either put an "X" or a checkmark was nothing simple, and for some something beyond their capacities as 14 yr-olds...

As I read out loud ..v..e..r..y s..l..o..w..l..y.. the right answer to each question, a sleuth of questions were generated - most completely redundant or useless - as to what to do "if the student wrote this" and "what if the student wrote that". Even when I clearly stated that the ONLY acceptable answer was XXX, many had to ask about YYY and ZZZ. Enough to drive me crazy in about 5 minutes flat...

BUT since this will save me 120 minutes of correction per class (guesstimating 5 minutes per quiz, x 4 classes), it was well worth the 10 minutes it took...

The last class before lunch (and coincidently my last teaching period today) was marked by my bringing in some Whippet cookies for the students.

I'm not sure whether these cookies are typically Canadian, but these cookies sure seemed to whet everyone's appetite in our technology class when the students watched the segment of How It's Made which showed exactly how these cookies are manufactured.

As I left school in a hurry at 1PM, I headed to the spa for an oxygen bath, a full body exfoliation and a seaweed body wrap. This was the first time I ever stepped into a spa - I will detail that adventure in tomorrow's post.

For now, I'm ready to crash in front of the tv until my men (hubby and son) get back from their weekly badminton session...

Thursday, October 20, 2005 

Day 40: The light at the end of the tunnel...

I have very little interaction with my co-workers. Nature of the job (some would say "nature of the beast!) is such that between running from one class to another, there is little time for chit-chat and socializing with the other teachers.

However, on Thursdays, I teach only 6 out of the 7 periods and my free time is right in the middle of the day - thus giving me a whole period to get ahead (OK, OK, in my case, it's really catching up) on all the correction that needs to be done.

Because let it be known to all those that don't know anything about owning a dog: you feed the dog, it poops and you have to pick it up and dispose of it(the poop, not the dog!).

Well, students generate tests, quizzes, lab reports, exams, and all sort of other things that need to be picked-up by the teacher and corrected. First semester is done on the 31st, and the girls begged for more chances to bring their biology marks up. So, I have them writing 3 quizzes between now and then.

This translates into 306 quizzes to correct, grade and enter into the little computer program that is used to generate their report card. This means A LOT of time spent with the red pen, and at some point, everyone reaches their breaking point where "NO MORE CORRECTION" should be the law, not just something utopic teachers think about when they come up for air.

And so today, I ended up chatting with another teacher, a real teacher, one who has both a teaching degree AND 10 years experience (and an excellent rating on that website where students rate their teachers). I spent close to 40 minutes shooting the breeze (even though we were technically inside the school) and I happened to sigh about the upcoming correction marathon when the following exchange occured:

Her: "Are you telling me that you are going to correct all those quizzes yourself?"

Me: "Are you telling me these tests can be graded WITHOUT my intervention? No wonder they usually hire REAL teachers with degrees to do this... All this time, I've been using a red pen and my brains... It's about time I start using the robots!!! Where do you keep them?"

Her: "It would be INSANE to correct everything yourself. All you need to do is have the students correct them."

Puzzled look on my face...

Then she gently explained that they take someone else's copy, sign their name, and correct using a green pen. The teacher can spotcheck copies randomly (which is not really random since you target the ones most likely to cheat)- since I know who corrected who's test, there can be retribution if it isn't done properly. It takes about 10-15 minutes of your class time, but what a timesaver for me at home afterwards!!!

And so today appeared the light at the end of the tunnel - and to celebrate, I'm about to go enjoy a little Thursday night TV. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 

Day 39: The power at my fingertips... or is the power really at THEIR fingertip?

I have the seating arrangements for two of my classes - and it's up to me to figure out how to move people around so that they stop chatting and pay a little more attention to what's happening. Of course, when a class is volatile and chatty, it's usually the doing of 4 or 5 kids, who in turn ruin it for everyone else...

I happen to have a pretty keen sense of observation, I've noticed who rubs whom the wrong way (or is it "whom" rubs "who" - I'm no English teacher - technically, I am NOT a teacher of any sorts!).

So tonight, my evil plan is to figure out the seating arrangement that will allow the isolation of the trouble makers - or more precisely, to surround these pains-in-the-butt students with calm-quiet-perfect students. Power, power, power...

OK, OK, I've only been in the world of education for 39 days (plus 20 years if you count my student years) and I know there are no "perfect students" - but some come pretty darn close...

I got a very very cool email today - an engineer who is considering going into teaching (after being in the industry for a while).

I have so much to tell her.

I have to tell her how wonderful it can be (yes, can be) with the right classroom dynamics.

I also have to tell her also how much work this involves, particularly the first year.

I have to tell her that students can be masters of torture (see this post) and that a teacher's work is never, ever, ever completely done. Even when all the tests and lab reports are corrected, when the marks are entered into the grading program, when your next test is ready to be handed out, even when you think you're all done and ready, something always comes up. Something you hadn't thought of, like a different way to teach something, a different approach, a new method, a cooler or hipper explanation.

Of course, you also have those teachers who couldn't care less about the students and who simply come in, lecture and leave.
I haven't seen any yet, but I am certain that, just like in every company, every industry, these people exist.

And they must be really really unhappy in the world of education - because how can you not care one bit about the kid who may be performing surgery on your old frail body one day...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 

Day 38: Playing dentist or the pleasure of pulling teeth right in the classroom...

I decided to go ahead, bite the bullet and allow that difficult group of girls to also participate in the technology year-long project.

I'm doing so for a couple of reasons, the main one being that I am too lazy to actually come up with something else to occupy them while my 3 other groups will be spending lots of time in the shop/lab building the various pieces of their city.

Another reason is that I am hoping to finally reach out to them, grab them by the guts and shake some sense into them. Isn't that what all real teachers do?

They seem to have no interest still, although I have to say that our talk on tobacco (in biology class) was the first and only really good connection we had. It was of course a fleeting moment, a fleeting 30 minutes to be more precise. I REALLY want to get back there, not only in biology but also in technology. Just call me crazy, I don't care, I can't hear you - this is the internet!!!

So today, as I forced them to get into teams of 4 and come up with a project definition, the method to pick the project manager and decide how long this person would be queen of the castle, I was amazed (in a bad way) at how little energy they have, like at most one measly Joule for all 24 of them.

It became obvious they did not want the Project Manager to be picked by pulling a name from a hat. This may have proven to be a difficult task since no one was wearing any headgear, but I digress...

So I asked by show of hand (just so that I could get a mental picture) those who DID NOT want under ANY circumstance to be project manager for a month. Every single girl raised her hand. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Not one, not a shadow of one, not an inkling of one even wanted to give it a shot.

As I looked out the 4th floor window, I wondered who should be jumping out to a better place, me or all of them...

Perhaps this will lead me to a new way to pull together a project - one where no one is interested in participating, no one has ideas, no one has energy, and most importantly, no one is in charge.

Hmmm.... this almost sounds like the way the government runs its ship... perhaps I have a future bunch of bureaucrats in the making...

Monday, October 17, 2005 

Setting the record straight regarding my addiction

I just want to set the record straight regarding my addiction.

First of all, watching Primetime TV is NOT a real addiction. This can easily be proven, and here is my scientific method for doing so.

First of all, I googled "Top 10 addictions", and after skipping the non-related first entry (which is a Top 10 Music list), as well as a self-coaching list of actions to take (The Top 10 Ways To Help Stop A Bad Habit Or An Addiction), I came upon the following list, which of course has to be taken seriously since it was written by an engineering student (and we all know how serious those people can be):

9) Gambling
8) Magazines
7) Reality TV
6) Food
5) Hockey
4) X-box
3) BEvERages
2) Heroin
1) Sex

You see: there is no entry for Primetime TV!!!

Well, although I do admit I was hooked on a couple of reality TV shows way back when, I don't watch those so much anymore (actually, I don't watch any - especially since Biggest Loser is no longer at a convenient time for me...).

So, for the record, here is a list (random order) of the shows I do indulge in on a weekly basis. This list includes (but is not limited to):

Law & Order
Law & Order Criminal Intent
Law & Order Special Victims Unit
Desperate Housewives
Las Vegas
House MD
The O.C.
Commander in Chief
Without a Trace
Grey's Anatomy (I'm starting tonight after a girlfriend recommended it...).

When 24 starts up again this winter, I'll be watching. And I'm also catching up on series I missed out on (finished Six Feet Under which was just AMAZING, starting the Sopranos soon...). But these don't really count.

So there you have it.

Gotta go - TiVo is waiting...


Day 37: Today started at 3:00AM...

3:00AM - some kind of noise comes out of the girls' bedroom. I immediately poke hubby. He's so comatosed, it takes a good 4-5 jabs in the ribs and a kick in the lower leg area (I was hoping to hit the shin as that seems to be quite effective) until he FINALLY gets up to rescue his fallen, and now crying, daughter.

Of course, had he been a little swifter, had he reacted the first time I hit him, he would have gotten there before she was in full wailing mode.

He isn't able to soothe her, and by now it's 3:09AM, and I am thoroughly annoyed that she won't take comfort in having her sleepwalking father telling her to go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep.

3:10AM - I get up to go rub her back - he quickly escapes the room and leaves me with TWO babies that are staring at me and wanting their backs rubbed.

3:11AM - The beds are too far apart to rub them both simultaneously, so I rub one for a minute, then switch to the next, and so on for about 5 minutes.

By this time, I am completely awake and am getting anxious to get back into bed because being very awake at this time - 3:15AM - is NOT a good sign of things to come (like "Hello Insomnia!").

I get back into bed and watch the minutes go by on the clock. I ponder the use of various meds that could conk me out, but there are less than 3 hours left to the night, if I'm very very lucky and that the girls sleep in until 6AM.

Besides, what I really need at this point are either earplugs - hubby is now snoring loudly - or a sledgehammer to keep him from ever snoring again (but since I'm not sure what the status on our life insurance policy is, I decide to let him live just a little longer - he is the one with the better salary after all).

3:41AM - I give up, I get up and walk down to the kitchen and I start correcting technology tests...

As I look at all I have done so far today, I am amazed. One must of course consider I've been at it for almost 12 hours...

Sunday, October 16, 2005 

Days 35 and 36: The plumber is coming.

I haven't blogged in 4 days. Not that there wasn't anything to say... or write... it's just that many things have kept me away from my computer.

For starters, on Thursday (day 35), I had classes all day long, and then stayed at my desk (in the teacher's lounge of course) correcting and organizing things until 7PM. It was the FIRST night I came home WITHOUT my schoolbag - this meant that I would enjoy a duty-free evening, just me, my hubby and the boob tube.

Friday was an exciting day as well, not only because I am done teaching by 1:00PM, but because I was meeting up with some girlfriends to celebrate one of them getting older. I love girls' night out because

1) there are NO babysitting arrangements to be made

2) there is no need to get all dressed up (we're all married and have no desire to impress anyone else...)

3) I get to sit through a whole dinner without having to get up 20 times to get stuff for the underage eaters at the table

4) we usually see a movie - and the only thing I love more than TV are movies (sorry hubby!).

The week-end went by very quickly. I spent most of it in malls, shopping for shoes, boots, and clothes for my fashion-deficient husband. Although I had him with me all day Saturday to try on a whole bunch of things, it was today (when I went ALONE) that all the purchases were made.

I am gearing up for yet another week - lots to correct tomorrow, and some course prep to do as well.

Oh yeah, and the plumber is coming over tomorrow morning. The kind of plumber who really doesn't let life and customers get in the way of HIS life... He came over mid-July to fix something and it's taken all this time just to get the darn parts to fix the bathroom sink.

I wish he looked like Mike, the plumber from Desperate Housewives...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 

Day 34: Got home, got high, and allowed this...

What a day. First off, it's my shortest day - only 4 teaching periods (in a row of course).

For the first time, I feel like I connected with the class of aliens (that one group of girls who don't know their arse from their elbow, and who have nothing, NOTHING to say when I ask questions despite the constant chatter/whisper that runs in the background while I lecture).

We had a discussion about cigarettes and smoking - very fitting since we are about to learn all the nooks and crannies of the respiratory system. I will be dividing the class into 2 groups - one group will be making scientific posters while the other will be putting together an anti-tobacco commercial (on video).

This will replace the lab we would have done - which would probably have been somewhat controversial with the administration since I was going to have the girls watch a cigarette being smoked (there are contraptions that do this for you)- the scientific part of this is analyzing a the filter that captures the smoke and shows how a cigarettes pollutes your lungs.

For the first time, the girls got excited about something, they had something to say, they were interested and full of questions. It was as though they were in a trance - or perhaps I was - and I was almost disappointed when the bell rang (which is unusual since with this group, I count down the minutes to the end of the period...).

Montreal was a gridlock today - a truck spilled its content on one of the two main arteries - a load of sodium hydrosulfite. This happened at about 8:30AM and when my hubby came home at 6:30PM, the highway was still closed in both direction and everything was at a crawl. Makes you think about how you would escape the island if ever there was some kind of disaster... very scary...

Anyhow, after taking all sorts of short cuts to get off the island and to the daycare, I picked up the girls, dropped one girl off at my mother-in-law, and took the other one to an appointment she did not have. Here's how that conversation went:

Receptionist: "I'm sorry Miss, but Christine's next appointment is only on the 26th"

Me: "No problem - my husband loves to get a good beating on Wednesday evenings when he sends me into traffic to virtual appointments. I'll be sure to pass on the next appointment date, as well as any leftover frustrations on my part."

So I strapped her back into her carseat, drove back to my MIL, grabbed the other kid, strapped her in, and drove home while my very bad friend, Mr Migraine, was having fun pounding at my temples.

As I popped a couple of Fiorinal w/codeine once I got home, I was dreading the evening ahead - I had at least 3 hours left of toddler entertainment to come up with.

The meds don't always work, but when they do, I get a bit of a high, similar to that you'd get if you had 3 dark roast Ventis, followed by a tequila shooter. (Please note that I've never had this particular combination of liquids, and that this would probably set off something much worse than my usual migraines...).

So once the meds fully kicked in, the kids were soooo cute and could do no wrong. I quickly cleaned the kitchen and fed all three of them, and put away the dishes. Effective, effective, effective.

Then, I heard these words come out of my mouth, like some echo you hear without knowing which direction it came from:

"You girls wanna do some fingerpainting?"

They probably wondered where this lovely lovely and RARE proposition came from too, but they did not overthink the situation, and next thing I knew, they were down to their underwear and ready to paint.

By the time they were done, they looked pretty much like the piece of paper on the table (which is why they always fingerpaint in their underwear...).

And so went Day 34 of my 180 days...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 

Day 33: Scarface and other dangers of teaching...

Warning: this post is NOT for the faint of heart.

It's a well known fact that people who work in offices are exposed to the constant threat of paper cuts. Many have unfortunately fallen victim to the sharp edge of a piece of paper as they were trying to pass on to someone else work that was assigned to them.

Of course email has been a great factor in reducing the incidence of paper cuts, and this has forced band-aid companies all across the nation to downsize and even cut production - very tragic.

Well, I've had my share of paper cuts trying to push away work that was being thwarted my way - but never, NEVER, did I incur a paper cut elsewhere than on my hands.

This morning had to be different...

Perhaps this is because I was feeling a little stressed out because I left the house later than usual, traffic was as bad as usual, and I'm still as constipated as ever.

Oh yeah, and I needed to make photocopies before first period because the girls had a test to write.

As I parked and quickly jumped out of the van, I swung over my left shoulder my lunch bag, my school bag and my hand bag.

And since at this point I was looking pretty much like a lopsided donkey, I had no quams about balancing a stack of tests I had corrected over the week-end with my free hand and my chin.

And that's when it happened.

Sudden burning feeling. Very rapid, no time to react or to stop it. A double paper cut on my chin. It still burns right now, 12 hours later.

Lesson learned today: not only can teaching cause

1) Colds in the summer time (see Day 14 in the September archive)

2) frustration (because the kids don't listen and/or don't study)

3) high blood pressure (from trying to keep your cool when a vulcano of frustration is mounting in class because they JUST.WON'T.SHUT.UP.WHILE.I'M.TALKING)

4) constipation (no need to elaborate on this one - just check out this post)

5) disturbances in one's TV schedule (because of the darn corrections!)

Teaching can also cause facial lacerations of the most painful kind.

Even before you set foot into the school.


Monday, October 10, 2005 

Parent-teacher night -

Parent-teacher night is coming up on the 25th for the 9th graders.

I have NO idea what to expect on this fateful occasion, mostly because the ones I have been to in a parent capacity are the second week of class, and all parents are in their child's classroom and the teacher does a 20 minute speech and leaves nothing much unsaid - there isn't that much going on in grade school, and parents whose child is having problems probably doesn't want to discuss these under the judgemental frowns of the other 23 parents present.

As for what to expect from a teacher's perspective, well, I had no clue about it until I started asking questions as Grade 7 and 8 teachers were fretting about the parent-teacher meetings that took place in the last couple of weeks.

Tiring, exhausting, loooooong and dreadful seem to be the concensus.

So there is relief from the darn piles of tests and reports to correct, and that's parent-teacher night.

Sunday, October 09, 2005 

Zero is good!

I'm not referring to a test mark here, but I'm thinking of the new Coke Zero which I tasted last night.

I have always been a fan of Coke (as opposed to Pepsi).

A long time ago, when it became apparent I had somewhat of an addiction to the black stuff (well, I was drinking about 2L of it every day or so) I decided to switch to Diet Coke to avoid the empty calories. The phenylalanine (contained in the aspartame) obviously does not scare me...

Diet Coke is something you get used to, but I can't imagine anyone REALLY liking it for the taste. Quebec has the sweetest Classic Coke in North America - with this in mind, it's a wonder some people even made the switch in the first place...

But Coke has come out with a new Coke - Coke Zero - one that has no carbs, no calories, no nothing but the sweet taste of regular Coke (unless you count a couple more chemical substitutes to trick our taste buds).

And so now I look forward to stocking up on this new Coke - until of course the new Diet Coke sweetened with Splenda comes out - I'll have to get a taste of that too...

Having kids now means I only have soft drinks occasionnally (giving the good example and all...).

After grading good and bad tests all day, it is a refreshing (and opposing) thought to see Zero is a good thing.

Saturday, October 08, 2005 

Day 32: The Art of War...

I'm at war with piles of tests and reports to be corrected. I am attacking the piles as quickly as possible and have devised a new technique (well, new to ME - probably a regular strategy of all REAL teachers out there...).

I have the girls work on something on their own during class, something that takes up all or at least most of the period, and I sit there supervising them - WHILE I ATTACK THE PILES. I got a lot done yesterday while they were planning a little project (I'm still running with my project management idea here...).

I'm planning to do some more correction in class next week as well, especially since they will be writing 2 more quizzes...

I'm learning, slowly but surely, that it's almost impossible to lecture ONLY for 22 periods in the week. First of all, lecturing all that time requires a lot of preparation (at home) and implies all corrections are also done at home.

But I happen to have a life at home - one that involves 3 kids, 4 if you count hubby, and this life of mine includes LOTS OF TV SHOWS.

Fred and Dan are probably laughing right now because they figured this out this timesaving strategy a looooong time ago...

What better battleground for the darn PILES than the classroom... if anyone has suggestions, please send them to me!!!!

I'll be warming up my army of red pens and still try to enjoy this long week-end...

Thursday, October 06, 2005 

Days 30 and 31: how two days became one... and how I crave Ex-lax...

Well, I had a good post yesterday but Blogger went into maintenance as I posted and it was LOST. How dare they LOSE my post, just like that...

One thing I mentioned yesterday is that I made it to this site, which is basically a teacher bashing or praising site depending on the teacher.
And the good news on my part is that I have the “smiley face with shades” rating – just like this: of course that’s from the contribution of all of THREE students who took the time to send in their evaluation and comments, but still... I’m quite happy – of course this rating may change once I hand back their biology test results...

The past 48 hours are a blurr of correcting tests, adding small numbers, ticking and x-ing things – this becomes such a mechanical activity, I feel much like a robot. Except that I look at the name of the student once I write down the final mark, I see their face and I wonder why they did so poorly, or I rejoice that they aced it. My hubby is getting the straight jacket ready. I’m just about done the bio test (all 102 of them) and I still have biology lab reports, technology experiment reports (lemons anyone?) AND 102 technology tests fresh from today.

Thank God tomorrow is Friday – the classic TGIF takes on a special meaning for me because that’s the day liberation occurs.

Liberation from lecturing all the time, from running from one classroom to the next, and MOST OF ALL, being able to use the bathroom as soon as I get home ALL ALONE and for AS LONG AS I WANT.

Teachers are probably the greatest consumers of Ex-Lax and other products of the sort. Schools and school schedules are not conducive to maintaining healthy bowels – there is no way you can even make time during the day for such an activity, let alone the fact that there is little to no privacy and someone is always waiting to use the loo...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 

Day 29: Why is it????

Why is it that the girls (all four classes) wrote tests today and I am so tired...

Why is it that the first biology test was too easy, and this one was too hard? How do you design the RIGHT test such that the correction is not too painful and long, with just the right dose of poking their knowledge?

Why is it that coming home with 102 biology tests to correct, 48 biology lab reports and 48 technology lab reports becomes a game of hide and seek - I need to hide these from my girls who just looooove to use scissors on EVERYTHING.

Why is it that there are cool new tv shows when my evenings consist of correction and course preparation?

Why, why, why... stay tuned and find out - as I try to find the answers in the upcoming posts...

Monday, October 03, 2005 

Day 28: The leopard who wouldn't change its spots...

"Teaching" and "being a teacher" are two different things.

It's been 28 days now, and I don't quite feel like a teacher yet. I wonder if I ever will.

I feel like I stepped into a very well known character (Mrs Teacher) but my acting skills are not the ones all the other teachers seem to have. I won't be happy standing in front of these girls and lecturing in the traditional fashion for much longer.

It's hard to admit, but I'm getting bored already - and I feel terrible for the students who would have to endure another 152 days of lectures and tests only.
This is how the idea of introducing project management and a year-long technology project came about. I'm still very excited about this - I can't wait to tell the students about it (and I will be crushed if they tell me they'd rather have just theoretical lectures).

However, this crazy idea of mine has spread like cancer to my biology class (how ironic is that?). I am now imagining ways to speed up the theory part of each module to have them carry out little projects.

My first idea is a poster competition. Technical posters allow us to summarize and highlight information while presenting it in a standard format (a poster) that is easy for all to read and understand. Use of images and graphics enhance the words, allowing in fact to minimize the verbiage and maximize the learning effect through the impressions they create.

Poster presentations are a classic in the biotech industry (and many other industries as well). I don't have a single artistic molecule in my body and can't draw to save my life, BUT I would love to see all the artistically gifted girls who are bored with biology create something that will tie their gift to biology.

There has to be more to all these things in our body than names and functions. Or at least, I'm hoping to find a cooler way to look at them and learn about them.

Just like a leopard can't change its spots, I can't become a "real teacher". I haven't decided whether this is good or bad - just admitting it to myself (and all of you!) is enough for today...

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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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