Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why I've Been a Bad Blogger

A few of my students designed our poster today. Et puis, voila. (Click on the picture to see a larger version of it.) I like the idea they came up with of making it like a note they'd passed/doodled on. The English teacher in me is working hard against forgiving them for misspelling "Borachio", though. :)

We have a set (totally break-downable - we have to clear the stage each day after rehearsal until the day before our show because of other concerts, etc.), costumes are promised (I'm selecting them this weekend from the rental shop), and I gave the "it'll be you up there feeling embarrassed, not me" speech earlier this week (why, why, why don't they get that memorization is the first step, not the last?).

Two weeks!


I have had yet another soul sucking day. My 5th hour is full of loud crazies that won't listen, back talk constantly and honestly don't care (believe me I've tried). I'm out of ideas on how to deal with them. On top of that, ever since I submitted my letter of resignation, my principal (light on the pal...) has decided to make it a point to stop in and observe me about 4 times now, scripting the entire time! I have no idea what this is about and she isn't forthcoming with any reasons. I doubt it's in the hopes of making me a better teacher, since she knows I am leaving in under 16 days. Any thoughts?


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

SNOW DAY 3: I Am Getting Paid To Write This

So, today the roads are clear -- but since no one bothered to clean the walkways or parking lots of our schools completely (read: at all), the district couldn't even do a 2-hr late start today...and cancelled again. Since we have a new snowstorm brewing tonight, chances are zero for school tomorrow, extending my T-day holiday to 11 days (including weekends). Of course, this means my summer break will start at some point in AUGUST, but hey, who's counting? I'm catching up on every piece of graded material I've ever been handed!

I have gotten some rather frantic emails, though, from kids who had Dec 1st deadlines for colleges and waited until the very end to try to send them. However, no school = no counselors = no school paperwork sent by the deadline. Here's hoping that colleges don't really check postmarks....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow Days - Day Two!

So, with the cable modem going off and on all day yesterday, Snow Day #1 was wasted on student recommendation letters (15 -- a new record for a single day!) and a review of scraps of paper from my desk. Today, the roads are a sheet of ice, but I'll actually head up to school to grab a stack of papers to grade. We were supposed to have a 4-day week, with "prof dev" on Friday. Now it looks like a two-day week! With the Thanksgiving Break still fresh in my mind, I'm really digging this new teaching schedule. Let the COUNTDOWN TO HOLIDAY BREAK BEGIN!

Friday, November 24, 2006

A day late, but still heartfelt

"Let me give humble thanks for all at once."
(Name the play!)

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends and colleagues!


Thursday, November 16, 2006


I was having trouble getting my seventh graders to express emotions during check in instead of judgements, so I brought in copies of the emotional word list that we got this summer. I'm keeping them in a folder on the wall so they're always accessible. Students use the lists like a buffet: choosing the words that fit how they're feeling right now.

Better than that, I've taken colored paper (cut in half longwise), and whenever students (in 6th or 7th grade) finish their classwork, they have the option of illustrating an emotion word. I started this two days ago, and I've already got 20 something words on the wall. My goal is to have every word on the list illustrated and stuck on the wall before the end of January. Then we won't need the lists!

This has been extremely successful. I suggest it if anyone else has kids that have trouble verbalizing their emotions.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Ghost Carries the Play....

Rowan Atkinson and Hugh Laurie take on Hamlet. All they're missing is the giant white globe....


Friday, November 10, 2006

Thank you

Though I was accepted into Shakespeare & Company’s month-long intensive, I couldn’t reserve my slot without paying the non-refundable tuition, which I couldn’t do until I found out how the lawsuit against my school panned out. I received a phone call today from Rob Issen, head of the training program at Shakespeare & Company. He had been graciously following my plight through e-mail with me. Today he said that he couldn’t hold a slot for me without my tuition payment, and that I had been wait-listed. This means that even if my school district caved, I still might not be able to go. It’s finally official. I’m not doing the month-long intensive.

Those of you close to me know how this has been consuming my every thought for the last two months. I have ruined any possible working relationships with my administrators and employers, and possibly jeopardized my future employment, and I have nothing to show for it. I feel like I’ve been shackled with weights at the foot of a mountain, even though I know I could reach the summit if allowed to try. I’ve never felt so sad.

I wanted to let all of you know how much you mean to me. Your words of encouragement and letters of support meant the world to me. Please, never let anyone tell you how high you can climb. I love you all.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oh, Hurrah!

Let's celebrate check-in with two stories from Salt Lake, shall we?

Story #1
My AVID class was observed by a lady from our district office the other day. A week or so later, at our district AVID meeting, she acknowledged my class in particular - "Amanda's class has a great sense of community, which I think is a direct result of something she does each day called 'check-in'." She then asked me to explain the concept to the other teachers, which I did gleefully (yet subtly) spreading the revolution.

Meanwhile, my students are creating waves all on their own-
Story #2
Yesterday, the dance teacher at our school stopped by my room to share the following with me:

Kelley (the dance teacher) was taking roll, during which her students normally just sit and chat. Suddenly, though, right after the bell, she heard, 'Hi! My name is Clara. This weekend I went to church, and this is Claudia.'

'Hi everyone! I'm Claudia. I'm feeling happy and this weekend I hung out with my friends.'

And so on. Kelley just let them continue. The other students, the ones who don't have me as a teacher, were confused at first, but Clara and Claudia just explained that they were "checking in", and continued passing it on around the group. Kelley said the best part was at the end: the last student finished and Clara whispered "Pass it back to me!"
Student: Um... Clara?
Clara: Great! And that is us. Today's business (she looks at what Kelley's written on the board) - our dance concert is in two weeks....

At that point, Kelley volunteered to take over, and they let her since she was the teacher.

This story made my day! Especially when Kelley said she thought she would continue it, as long as it doesn't take up too much time.

I loves me check-in!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Joys of Travel

Happiness is visiting Sharon!

And if you haven't done it yet, I strongly encourage it. With a three-day weekend (thanks to the end of the term), I flew to NYC Thursday night. Friday I went to Sharon's school where I got to watch her, her colleagues, and her students in action. Fascinating! I advocate all the more that we begin rotating around to see each other teach - so much learned, not to mention the curiosity that's satisfied when I saw Sharon in front of her classes.

We had a delightful Italian lunch, gossiped about all of you, and took a tour of her school. It was quite interesting to see the New York small school movement in action. I also loved how different and how very much the same her kids are compared with mine. Very polite students, though, I must say. The rest of my weekend was wonderful, too, but I'll be blogging about that elsewhere.

I would post pictures, but alas, none were taken. Instead, I give you a photo of Julian Louise Dreyfus. You can pretend that's Sharon. Enjoy!

Los Angeles?

If anyone's in the LA area on Nov 19th, I'm having a small lunch to celebrate my birthday. It's eight days early because of Thanksgiving. I guess I don't really expect anyone to be there, but I thought I would extend the invitation just in case. I'd love to see all of you!

Don't let this happen to you

He that hath kill'd my king and whored my mother,
Popp'd in between the election and my hopes,
Thrown out his angle for my proper life,
And with such cozenage--is't not perfect conscience,
To quit him with this arm?

Don't let someone pop in between the election and your hopes! Get out and vote!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Queen

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Saw The Queen today. It fascinated me. I would totally recommend it. I think the movie was far more compelling to me as I watched the cast play status. It is almost entirely a film about status--all the more interesting with the realization that it's not Helen Mirren playing Queen, but the rest of the cast giving her status. Watch also for the moment that Mirren gives status to Sylvia Syms' Queen Mum. She is at once transformed in those moments from a charming old woman who tends to murmur to herself to one worthy of her title.
Nice, nice stuff and just another example of how Shakespeare Camp has ruined me for the rest of the world.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Julius Caesar For A Crowd

We're in the thick of Julius Caesar around here. Implementation of everything we learned is gradual--the kids are really clinging to their desks. I am trying it with them daily, and sometimes it works.

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Here we are, all lined up for text layups!

My question for the group is this: A week from Friday, I am doing some entering JC work for all the 10th graders. We see a production the next week and want to get them thinking a bit about the play.

So they'll be as many as 80 kids in the room at once. How would you handle this? How well do you think our activities will play with 80 kids at a time?


Starting over

In years past, I would assign a speech, the kids would the speech, the kids would perform the speech, and I'd assign a new one. That was my day-to-day, every year. This year was totally different, and I've got to say, working for a living is tough!

This week marks the end of a trimester for me. While my failure rate is regrettably similar to years past, I did notice that kids were passing almost everything we did in the classroom. Homework and memorization went undone, but classroom participation was up. Not every kid "got it," but some did, and the others saw it happen.

I'm really tired, and Monday I start the whole thing over again. All of you northerers will be facing the same thing soon, what with your fancy quarters and summers at sea and whatnot. So I thought I'm open the floor for discussion: how do we have the same level of enthusiasm and optimism that we had in August? Or, failing that, how do we fake it?