Back in the day, before I started teaching, I worked for many years at the Ernie Ball Company. I made guitar strings on piecework, I made volume pedals, I worked in the woodshop and helped make electric guitars and basses. When I was in the woodshop, Ernie (his real name was Roland, and his grandson, who was in my 7th grade class now runs the company) would come through and watch us work. His favorite expression was, “The wheel has already been invented.” He hated wasted motion or time. “Can’t that cart have wheels so it can moved over there when it needs to be?” Or, “Why do you keep walking over there over and over instead of…?”
(He also hated lateness and what he called “Monday sickers.” Pity the fool that was late on a Monday.)
So. This here blog started back in August of 2008. So there’s a pretty good chance that I already covered “beginning of the year shtuff.”
So I checked. Yup. Sho’ nuff.
Here’s one from fall of 2010:
OK. This time for real. Daily, baby. Well maybe…
It seems like I wait longer and longer each year to get ready for school. We started today. I went in Monday and started hooking things up, but most of that day was spent in meetings, checking out our district’s latest software purchase, DataDirector (more on this later in the post), and hounding IST to fix all the stuff they broke over the summer (they were actually very nice about it…except for…well anyway…)
First Day Quiz Question One:
What was the most common computer issue your gallant narrator had to fix for people yesterday, during our one prep day?
a) printer not working
b) mouse not working
c) software that used to be there isn’t any more
d) monitor resolution
e) can’t play dvd’s
You’d think I might have started earlier this year, what with teaching eighth grade for the first time since 03/04 and all, but you’d be wrong. I was at Refugio Beach all last week, instead of getting ready. Oh well.
Our district has subscribed to a new web-based data service. IST, it seems, has been spending their a good portion of their time entering three years’ worth of state test scores and CELDT (the EL equivalent) scores into this DataDirector thing, and now we can REALLY sort kids according to semi-arbitrary numbers. (Although, I must confess, that in ELA, I find reading comprehension and vocabulary scores very useful. As you will see.)
Usually I try to get all my kids into the computer lab to take the computer-based STAR reading test (by the makers of Accelerated Reader), so I can get a handle on who my lowest ones are, and so I can get them into a reading elective class. I’m still going to do that this year, but I also just looked at their reading comprehension scores, and sorted my kids (lowest first), so I could see the ones that were below “proficient.” (The scale goes “far below basic”, “below basic”, “basic”, “proficient”, and “advanced.” ) I have 20/106 seventh graders who fell below that line between basic and proficient. Seven of those were only 1 or 2 questions away (literally) from crossing that line. This year’s bunch is looking a lot better than last year’s already. Only three were below basic!
First Day Quiz Question Two:
How many kids whom I flagged for needing (a lot of) extra reading help, were also recommended for AVID (in 7th grade for Pete’s sake)?
First day highlights:
Some of my “outspoken” girls from last year crowded around for some (attempted) hugs and such.
“I already miss your class! You always thought I was smart…and annoying…but Mr. X told me I’d be flipping burgers.”
“No, you’re definitely fast food management material.”
Another one, after I denied the hug, said,
“Well then, I’m going to follow you around for awhile.”
Our site decided to give an assignment book/planner to every kid this year. Why didn’t we do that years ago? It sure made the whole homework thing a lot easier today.
Only had to whack the stick once. I think one of them peed a little. Good kids this year. Didn’t rent a single pencil.
Sixth period prep! Last period of the day!
The one eighth grade class was actually pretty fun. They only gave me four kids that I had last year, and I like them all. There was one bonehead who tried to sign the class expectations before he had read them…right in front of me.
“Did you read the part about where, if you don’t get at least a B, you owe me fitty dollah?”
First Day Quiz Question Three:
How old was the sixth grader who was enrolled in my first period class?
c) 11 1/2
d) 13 1/2
First Day Quiz Question Four:
How many doughnuts did mrC eat yesterday?
a) None. He wouldn’t do that to his body.
b) One. Just a little taste; couldn’t resist the pink frosting/rainbow sprinkles.
c) Two. There were maple bars too.
d) Three. There was another rainbow sprinkle one under the glazed.
e) Four. That last plain one looked so lonely at lunch time.
I have a student this year with a severe peanut (and tree nut) allergy. She carries the EpiPen and sits close to the door, and the custodian wipes down her desk every morning. She hasn’t had an incident since kindergarten, and she is very good about managing, but that doesn’t stop some teachers from freaking out.
“What if she has an attack during a fire drill? Or while she’s in the bathroom?”
(the nurse at the EpiPen training) “Well, she has to ingest them, so unless she’s eating peanut MandM’s on her way to the lower field, or snacks on some almonds in the facilities, I don’t think you have worry about those situations.”
One teacher was asking if she could still keep almonds in her desk. And she doesn’t even have the student!
First Day Quiz Question Five:
What/who did mrC inject with epinephrine, practicing with the EpiPen?
b) Nurse Maureen
c) an orange
d) a practice dummy
e) our principal