Stress


I’m a bit behind, as the consistent reader can easily tell from the absence of new material – test prep season is here in full swing, and I’m putting my efforts into bringing this year to a close. I wish I had more time to post, especially since I went to the great IATE 2010 conference in Bloomington, IL, just over a week ago, and it was amazing. I met some great people and heard some great sessions, one of which is likely to alter my entire approach to at least one class for next year.

I’ll update again soon when I have a moment to breathe, and I definitely have a lot of reflecting to do with only a month or so left of my first year. It has gone by fast, and I need the opportunity to look back and critically evaluate what I did – or didn’t do – that affected the course of this year.

[I’m also testing something with WP – don’t mind this.]

This week is going to be a long one: seniors turn in research papers tomorrow, for one. I have two out of a grand total of 19 that I’ll end up grading (hopefully, at least – not turning this assignment in will kill a 2nd semester grade in a hurry), and whereas I don’t expect to take the two weeks that it took last year for 50+, it will still be exhausting, I know.

I also start PSAE/ACT prep for my juniors this week, which will carry us through the last week in April. I have never done this before, and I’m going to be shooting from the hip in many regards. I have taught persuasion multiple times now, including once last year in preparation for the ACT Writing test, so that will be the relatively easy part. On the other hand, I haven’t taught much grammar this year, and now it will kick into serious gear. I fortunately think I have some good resources on this, so I’m hopeful.

Essentially, though, I’m navigating unknown waters, and it will be interesting to see how it works out. I’d say that I’ll get back to you all on that, but anyone who’s noticed my blogging habits lately will be rightfully suspicious of any promises to that regard.

We’ll just have to see, I guess.

I hate politics.

Okay, that’s not true – I hate being involved in politics. Especially when it comes to my vocation.

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And actually, not because of this.

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I started losing my voice yesterday from some inexplicable illness, and I have prefaced all of my classes so far with that fact in order to perhaps elicit some sympathy. (Hey, it worked once during student teaching.) It did make something of a difference, actually, except for…

Mr. B: I’m losing my voice today–

Student: Good! That means we won’t have to do anything.

Just FYI, students out there, your teacher losing his/her voice doesn’t mean you get off the hook; it just means that there will be some modification, and when teachers can’t talk, that modification is generally reading or writing.

[Addendum: This is my 200th post. I wish it were more and that I posted more frequently, but hooray for 200!]

This is take #2, due to a stupid browser and WP failing to auto-save properly.

My sincerest apologies to faithful readers – or perhaps in this case, wait-ers – for the absence; things have gotten a little more complicated this semester, and that’s the best excuse I can offer for my weeks-long blog silence.

One such complication – in a good way – is my own doing: getting our school involved in the national Poetry Out Loud poetry recitation competition, which I was fortunate to experience when student teaching last spring. I’m taking six students in total this week to our regional competition, three who were involved in the school contest and three other students who I’m hoping will be inspired by seeing the contest play out in person. I’m excited about going, in part because I’ll get to see my former co-op, who I have certainly missed, and perhaps (I hope) some of my former students.

This experience has allowed me to learn some important lessons about setting up extracurriculars that I will certainly remember for the next time (and certainly for POL next year, especially the importance of starting earlier). I just hope that the experience is useful for the students, that they will see the point in it. (I keep thinking of Marianne Moore’s great poem on the subject.)

Maybe eventually I’ll get back into a routine of writing; I would greatly enjoy that. For now, I’ll keep trying to get caught up and simply – to use an old cliché – keep on keeping on.

I can’t say that I’ve had a whole bunch of surprises as a first-year teacher, at least not other than what might be expected in the first year on your own in the classroom. I’ve been fortunate in that I experienced some interesting dynamics during my student teaching that prepared me somewhat for what would come this year.

But I can say honestly that I was surprised to find that there is something vital – and clearly outside the curriculum – that I need to teach some of my students.

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School resumes today for a half-day + teacher inservice. I’ll only see about half of my students today (our half-days alternate between the first and last four periods of the day), most of whom should be turning in book projects that I gave an extended deadline on (they were originally due back in December, and I had mercy). The rest will be turning their projects in when I see them tomorrow, which means a lot of grading this week to be ready to post grades by next week, since our semester ends this week.

I’m hopeful, though, that I can get somewhat of a fresh start. I intend on backing up and trying to do some things differently that I should have done at the beginning of the year. One such thing is to rethink my process for discipline, from giving students input into what should be expected of them to how I handle repeated behaviors (and now I’m thinking more in terms of disciplinary contracts). I am also going to try and be more organized, including with my class webpages that I set up at the beginning of the year (none of which are even close to being up-to-date).

I have goals, and that’s a good first step. Let’s hope the next several days show evidence of doing something to meet them.

Teachers, how do you approach a new semester or the second half of the year (after break)? Any ideas that have worked for you?

2mm, but still no funThus is my life currently. Well, now more especially than normal.

Despite the fact that I generally don’t have exciting weekends as a married man and teacher, this weekend was exceptionally thrilling. I ended up at the doctor on Saturday for pain in…well, we won’t go there. Let’s just say it was an exceptionally sensitive spot. I had to go from there to the hospital and eventually the ER.

And the trend continued on Sunday, when an early morning bout of severe lower back pain sent me back to the doctor…and the hospital…and the ER again, to find out that the likely ultimate cause of all of my misery was a 2mm kidney stone. (See the photo for an idea, although seeing one is nothing like having one inside one of your ureters.)

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If you want a quick three-word description of what my life feels like lately, look at the title and you might get what I’m saying. (The Easter egg might also help, if you see it.)

Most of this feeling is unrelated to teaching (and is generally stuff that I wouldn’t want to spill on an unsuspecting and largely indifferent reading audience), but the sudden realization I had yesterday that there are only three weeks of school left before Christmas break most certainly is related. Ooh boy.

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