Saturday, February 16, 2013


I made it through last week in one piece.

School science fair was a success other than a bit more of the  adult and child angst about the color of the ribbons awarded.  {This is very much why so many schools don't do science fairs anymore -- if it isn't a blue hanging from the board, the whole endeavor is deemed a failure}  I gave all the 4th and 5th grade students whose projects are going on to the county level info packets on ways to beef up their projects over the break.  Now all I have to do is register those 20 projects online.

I also went through two classroom observations in good enough style.  The first observation was from a 4th grade teacher who I'd invited in to watch my time management as I taught through my language arts block.  I never seem to get through all of the material on my lesson plan in a given time period and was hoping for pointers on how I might tighten things.  She was a sweetheart to do this for me, although, in the end, she had no suggestions.  It seems that my time-flow works pretty well for my style of teaching.  I'm still not sure how to get through all the lesson content I have to teach, but we'll leave that for another day.  She did make me feel good with the positive comments she gave -- that means a lot, coming from a fellow teacher.

The other observation was on Wednesday.  This one was fraught with more anxiety on my part because the group of observers included our district's assistant superintendent along with 6 or 7 administrators from different school districts.  Naturally, I put on myself the pressure that I was not only representing myself, but also our school (this pressure was completely manufactured by myself, by the way).  So I was pleased and relieved when that went off well too.

Confession time:  I'm a pretty good teacher (30 years practice does help), but always feel a bit of a fraud when I get compliments for my teaching after I've prepared in advance for an observation.  Human nature being what it is, I always try harder when I know that people with little notebooks and laptops are scheduled to come in and scrutinize what I'm doing.  I have off and on lessons throughout the week that are of high quality, but I haven't the energy or the will to put that much effort into doing this 100%, all the time.  Not yet, at any rate.

Here I sit on the first morning of my February break from school, and my head is spilling over with thoughts of the classroom -- not all positive.  It doesn't help that yesterday was not such a good day.  I was tired and had a headache and the children were boisterous and eager to tattle on each other, kick under the desks, and sail the occasional paper airplane across the room.  Like that.

In a judgement lapse of monumental proportions, I set a plant in the sink and turned the tap on gently so that it could thoroughly get watered while I continued giving a spelling test.  Then I forgot about it.  Ten minutes later, a student asked me why water was running down the cabinets.  I looked and saw the water was funneled by the leaves of the plant directly onto the counter.  The water formed a river that flowed through all my stacks of tests and other papers and from there divided and spilled down onto the carpet in twin waterfalls.  How a little trickle of water from the faucet could turn into a flood of such proportions is a mystery.

If any observers had been present at this time, they would have been able to document how the classroom erupted into complete pandemonium as one pissed off teacher and 23 delighted students sprang towards the disaster.

"We'll help you!"  they shouted.

"Sit down IMMEDIATELY!!!" I roared back. And they did.

But they didn't mind too much because they got to watch their teacher frantically moving stacks of dripping papers and books and then sweeping cascades of water back towards the sink with a sopping rag.  Fun times.  The water had gone all the way around my fish tank and I looked up to see the fish eying me with a kind of detached amusement from their own watery world.

Eventually, the worst of the water was sopped up, and the spelling test was completed.  Then it was recess.

And now it is break.  Thank God.

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