Monday, March 31, 2008

Drills? Psshhh!

Apparently we can't have normal Mondays at my school. About 10 minutes before the bell rings (for the end of the day) it starts POURING rain.. I have last period off so the secretary told me it might be a good idea for me to go get my stuff before it gets worse. Worse? I go outside and the tornado sirens are going off. Fantastic. I am soaked within 10 seconds, but I go get my stuff and run back inside. Intercom message to the school to release students who ride the bus so they can load early... I'm thinking to myself, do they not know the sirens are going off? 10 seconds later that message has been canceled and we are all now retreating to our tornado safe rooms. That's right... 390 students on our hallway.. 4 tornado safe rooms.

At first the kids are just sitting there because we've just been told to be in the room, so they are goofing around, angry that they are being held after the bell, then not a minute after the griping we get the message to "duck and cover". It sure was quiet then... I take over from the other teachers and explain to the students how to tuck their legs under them and put their hand on back of their heads, because at this point they were just all sitting against the wall. Now we've got kids crying, hugging each other, etc... and your normal adolescent boys who think it's a good idea to fart in the middle of the group. It was already dark outside, but I turned off the lights in case of any power surges and that made it even more eerie. The rain is still absolutely torrential, then all of a sudden it stops. For those of you not familiar with these types of storms, that is never a good thing. I'm under a desk trying to calm down one of my students, surrounded by 5 of my co-workers and we're all looking at each other like this is not going to be good. I keep getting text messages from my sister, who is at home watching the news and is like.. it's on its way right toward you guys! There is sheer marker on the screen right above where you are at(which means there is rotation in the clouds)! So we're all sitting there waiting for the "freight train" sound, but thankfully all we hear are the intermittent sniffles from some very frightened students.

The kids eventually get bored with being stuck in this uncomfortable position and start joking with each other.. then 15 minutes later they call on to release all the students, we walk out of our cave and it is sunny outside! Texas is crazy... I saw later on the news the funnel cloud that formed right near us. Had this happened just 10 minutes later we could have had mass chaos on our hands!!! As for the kids, aside from their goofing around when the fear wore off, they followed directions well and did exactly what they should have. Who needs drills? They'll do it right when they are afraid!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Was she crying?

I answered this question about 50 times today...

About 5 minutes into the start of the day, my principal comes on the intercom to announce that we have received our 8th grade TAKS reading scores. 99% passing and 75% commended... she was so excited! Of course the kids misread the excitement in her voice (because she was talking so fast it and uneven) as crying and as soon as she signed off they all had very confused looks on their faces. It's hard to explain to a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds why numbers like that are exciting to adults. I tried, but I don't think I got the message across to them. Most adults not in the education field probably wouldn't understand either. It's a kind of cult we have...

We have benchmark testing and analysis all this week. It's good in the sense that it gives me time to catch up on grading, but bad because I have to prep 15 different reteach activities, will eventually have to grade 125 analysis packets and have to deal with the less than subpar scores that are normally earned on these benchmarks (Last year the district average was around 35% passing, this year it's around 45%). I'm expecting even worse this time around because they just had 10 days off. Testing after a long holiday is just about the worst idea ever. Ugh.

I only have 27 more instructional days until TAKS, and I'm forced to give up 5 of those for benchmarks. The last 10 of those will be used for our "Olympic Games" (aka 2 week TAKS review)... so I really only have about 10-12 more days to finish out my curriculum. We haven't even started probability yet, but I'm not panicked. Nope... not me. Forget the fact that my kids came back to school today acting like a bunch of #$&%%)*@# and we really weren't very productive. It took about all of my energy not to yell at them or break down in tears. Here's hoping my kids won't be asking each other the question that I answered so many times today...

10 weeks til summer break....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Time Warp

OK So it's been 6 months since I last blogged. Man... that's a long time. But as most of you know, teaching warps your concept of time. This year has absolutely blown by and it's hard for me to believe that it's just about 10 weeks until it's over.


Ahem, I mean... how I will miss my little ones. I have not enjoyed teaching very much this year. My days no longer consist of "WOW" days, just "Ehh" days or "#(&*%#" days. A good portion of it is because of my personal life. I avoided dealing with being abused as a middle-schooler and I basically had an emotional breakdown in December that has required quite a bit of intervention from my doctor, therapist, medicines and co-workers. It's very hard to put yourself first in healing when you are in a line of work that requires you put 125 others first.

My life is very much in the "Sink or Swim" category. I'm struggling to find a balance between my work life and my personal life. I am very much an over-achiever and am often at school til 6 or later. But given my personal struggles now, I have made the choice to do what is considered an "acceptable workload" by my administrators and take better care of myself. It sucks because I feel like I am short changing my students by not giving them my all, but I know if I did that I would possibly regress back to having daily anxiety attacks and undo the progress I've made.

I already despise the second semester of school because of all the increased responsibilities I have to take on...
- Give up conference 2x a week for TAKS tutoring
- After school TAKS tutoring til 5:30 once a week
- Benefits Committee, School Organization and CARE Team Meetings
- ARDs
- Field Trip Organization (ugggh, this year was a nightmare!)
- PLC/Benchmark and Curriculum Trainings

Add to the fact that this year, my team member left in February for maternity leave and basically left me in charge of making sure her student teacher knew what to do!

It has been very hard to lighten my workload with all of that extra stuff looming over me as well as my normal responsibilities. I live for the next day off... which isn't until late April, btw. By then TAKS will be about 10 days away and I'm sure I'll be ready to slit my wrists! Thankfully my students this year are just about as close as you can get to angels. I have yet to need to send a student to ISS and I rarely have to assign detention... but I am still not as strict as I should be when it comes to that. Ehh, another day, another time.

While I'm being thankful, I've got to give a shoutout to my counselor at school. She is basically the most amazing person I have ever met. My students are so lucky to have her as am I. Had she not been there for me at my time of need, I may very well not be typing this right now. I know God put me at this school for a reason. She was meant to help me. It's a very comforting feeling knowing she's there every single day just like I am! :)