Thursday, September 27, 2007


Life is better today. Can't tell you what changed, but things are okay. A dose of Finding Nemo, some venting and promise of a best friend visit certainly helped. Extreme heat causing lethargic students was an added benefit. We played math vocab hang man (my way of bringing literacy into the math classroom) with most of the lights off - that was a relaxing end to the day.

Its good to be back to calm and happy. I like it here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

trying so hard

I don't want to write about being grumpy. I don't want to be grumpy. I don't want to end the day exhausted, without feeling like I've accomplished that much. I don't want to give up or give in.

The fact is, we're a month into school and everything I told myself (and others told me) was temporary is still true. My classes are too large, there are students grossly misplaced, we don't have enough materials. The administration means well, but their hands are tied. My class feels boring, all we do is problems from the textbook. The students don't seem to mind, so maybe its only boring to me because I do it four times a day. I still don't have an official mentor, or anyone to talk to who is good at this (all the Algebra teachers I know are new).

I want to be thrilled with the impact I'm having. I want to be flattered that one student would rather spend the entire day in my class than go to her other classes. I want to laugh when they try to find creative ways to ask how old I am (turn it into a math problem, calculating from the year I was born). Maybe I should leave my happy teacher face on all day- everything has to be okay when I have a smile on my face!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Its Saturday, and I'm motivated to get out of the house and go on a bike ride. Two hours and an impressive number of internet searches later, I decide that the only place to go is the farm I got a flyer from when I first moved in. I was hoping to bike somewhere interesting from home, but that doesn't seem to be a good option. Instead I strapped my bike onto the back of my car and headed to the next town over. When I arrived at the farm converted to nature trails I found an empty parking lot and a bike rack. Why would there be a bike rack at biking trails? That question doesn't make sense, but this one does. Why would there be a bike rack at walking trails? So one could bike there and then walk around in the forest. The paths were far too narrow and sometimes had wooden plank 'bridges' over muddy areas- not intended for bicycle use at all. The area warrants exploration another day, but it will have to be on foot.

I tried to drive toward town where I knew there was a bike shop, but got lost and at some point came across a sign pointing towards America's Stonehenge. Curiosity took over. Apparently by this point I had landed in NH, where you can purchase a self guided walking tour of a 4000 year old megalithic (stone arrangement) site. This looks fascinating, but should wait until I can discuss it with someone as we explore.

The afternoon ended with me finding a sign directing me home. I basically went on a very early leaf peeping drive with my bike attached to the car for kicks. I do have some interesting hikes to do in the near future, but the bicycle may remain neglected for another weekend.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I had a meeting of math teachers today and going in I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised: it wasn't a meeting to discuss teaching but a 'study group' that meets to do math. It was nice to get to explore some interesting problems and be the student rather than the teacher for a while- plus we discussed what relevance this has to our students, so it wasn't completely for our own enjoyment. Considering I get paid extra to go, I'm not complaining at all! They mentioned a masters program run at BU that takes 3 6-week summer sessions and you get paid to do it! I'm working on getting more information on that. Pronto.

Students get their first quiz tomorrow. Which of course I wrote less than an hour ago. Should be interesting to see what page everyone is on. I have no expectation that they're all on the same page, but it'll be nice to have some more concrete information about their ability and comprehension. Especially after the special education teachers came in today and told me I have 8 students with math learning disabilities in one class and 9 in another. I should get a sp.ed. teacher in my class once a week... thanks?

40's as I was driving into work today, high 80's predicted for Friday afternoon- yay New England weather!

Interesting note- leftover rice pilaf and string cheese work surprisingly well in a burrito when combined with black beans and masked with salsa. Creative use of leftovers always provides unique results.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Today was great! Public transportation is so helpful (even if the subway in Boston is totally illogical- I had to take the inbound train to get where I was going and back- what??). I took the commuter rail into the city this morning, got some work done and read a fascinating article. Spent some time wandering the city and catching up with a friend. Then spent 3 hours sitting outside, enjoying the grass and sun while I got some grading done. On the ride home I finished grading and set up my record book for the year (I feel so official!).

Tomorrow I am meeting with the principal to try to get an appropriate number of students in my classes. Cross your fingers that it isn't going to be as incredibly complicated as I'm sure it will be.

Back to watching the Emmy's- if only I knew what all these shows were...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Yea, so anyone who thought that teachers get off easy with a great schedule: its 10:00 and I'm still working. I get to school at 8 am and am happy if I get home before 5 pm. Now I'm going to take a brief break before dreaming about school. I swear I'll stop working so hard, I just need to finish this list of 5,000 things to do before tomorrow....

Other than being a lot of work, school is great. My kids are involved, interested and generally willing to try things. Even the blind student is good natured as he goes through the day, attending classes he isn't equipped for with an aide who isn't any help, even when she is there. (Don't despair, he'll be in a substantially separate classroom actually learning soon).

Friday, September 07, 2007

of course I still need that!

"The average American throws away more than 68 pounds of clothing a year" -Grist

Seriously? I never throw clothes away, I guess clothing can be heavy, but I imagine that 68 pounds is a whole lot of T-Shirts.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

index cards

My students are fascinating. I had them fill out index cards with contact info, how they feel about math and some of their interests. One listed the top 5 bands she listens to. Lots said they hate math, one said 'no offense.' This was frequently followed by: 'you have to teach me slowly,' 'break it down' or 'teach me well, I don't understand math.' Many of them can't spell, and I can count on one hand how many students have the same last name as the guardian they listed. One girl mentioned she has an IEP but neglected to tell me what type of learning disability she has.

I felt really bad today because I asked a blind student to write at least his name on the notecard. I didn't know he was blind, his aid told me she was going to lunch and that she'd be down the hall if I needed her. The student seems really sweet though, and he told me that he couldn't write, so I went with the flow, took back the pencil I had lent him and went on with class. It wasn't until I asked another teacher who had him that I found out he's 80% blind! These are the things that I should know before class, really.

I think someone is secretly stealing hours from me. School ends at 3, but I didn't get home until 5. I had dinner and did some work, suddenly its after 9. I just know that as soon as I go to bed my alarm is going to go off. Life is here and speeding by quickly!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


And we're off!

Yesterday the juniors and seniors had a half day and things ran quite smoothly. Especially for me (I don't teach juniors or seniors). I got my room nicely decorated, directed students toward their classes and accumulated more textbooks. After school all of the teachers in the district met and were greeted by the superintendent, lots of political figures (who just wanted to get into the school) and a comedian. Yes, our 'special guest' was a comedian. The district paid over a thousand people to sit and listen to this guy, he might have been funny if I had been in the mood, but I had a lot of better things to be doing. In fact, another teacher and I spent the last 15 minutes listing the things we could have done in that hour that would have made us better teachers. My favorites were: eat pie and go out to lunch with our co-workers, there were also the more practical ones like: find someone who knows how to teach Algebra I and talk to them. That one is still on my list of things to do, preferably really soon.

Today I actually had kids in my classroom, how exciting!! My classes keep growing, not quite exponentially, but steadily nonetheless. I'll actually get to know them later, today was just 9 minute periods, which means enough time to take attendance, send people who weren't in my class to the right place and remind them they were in math class. We might actually talk about math tomorrow, interesting concept, I know.

Monday, September 03, 2007


School starts tomorrow. I suppose I'm ready, but I've been too busy the past few days to really think about it. Friday morning I brought in a bunch of decorations for my classroom and set things up somewhat. I'm happy with the placement of the furniture but I haven't decided how the walls will be organized yet. I also spent a lot of time moving and sorting books. I'm trying to nab all of the newer edition of my textbook so all of my classes can work out of the same book. It might not work though.

Once my stomach decided that I was done at school I headed home for sustenance before driving to a friend's lake house in Maine. We went out in Portland and spent a lot of time on/near the lake sailing, swimming, motoring, sitting and lounging. Sunday night brought me home, to meet with other friends and head to the Italian festival in Lawrence. It was a cultural experience including a parade with 3 saints as the focus and a political feel with the baby kissing and money collecting. There was an abundance of confetti (much of which made it home), music and dancing. Small children dancing are amazingly adorable. Today, Labor Day, presented another festival in Lawrence. The labor movement started here and is commemorated at the Bread and Roses Festival. We wore our white dresses (from Laurel Parade) in solidarity with the suffragettes, of course. There was a walking tour, museum visit, ballet performance, Raging Grannies, African Dance, jazz, spoken word, bumper stickers, buttons, jewelry, stir fry and ice cream. Plus it was super hot out, so the experience was enjoyable but exhausting.

School starts tomorrow!!