Sunday, December 09, 2007

Time marches on

I am thankful for two things. I became quite aware of this thankfulness while driving home from work this week.

First, I am thankful for my laptop. I never realized what a time-saver this piece of technology would be. The day I embraced this bit of thankfulness was a packed day (most of my days are packed to the hilt). I had an incident of a student repeatedly using the same inappropriate language three times within a class period even after admonition from me. After the third time, I sent the student out in the hall so I could finish class. My discipline for these minor, but authority-challenging, behaviors is to give the student "The Wall." If he/she earns that discipline, he must stand on both feet with his nose to the classroom wall from 3:00 to 3:30. My rules are that students cannot lean on one leg or the wall, and they cannot turn around or squat down. Of course, they cannot talk.
For an eleven or twelve year old, it is a miserable time. I want them to be miserable. I want them to never want to do anything to earn "The Wall" again. Word is about about my wall. Students discourage each other in behaviors that earn "The Wall," so I think the effect is productive. So, the student with the potty-mouth earned "The Wall." Later that same day, he told me he couldn't stay because of another event. I told him that he would have to make other arrangements and he was to be in my room from 3:00 to 3:30. He said he wouldn't be and for me to "deal with it." Not the best thing for a student to tell the teacher. In the end, the student earned an in-school suspension.

That day was packed with instruction, but it was also packed with meetings concerning this incident. As if time were not already short, I had to document it all. What was helpful was that I could type it all up and save it on my laptop in the privacy and quiet of my own room and then send the write-up to the printer and walk in there and pick it up. Easy-peasy on an overfilled day. I was very thankful for my laptop.

The laptop is also so handy on those days when a student will be out for several days and the parent shows up and wants the assignments for the next three days. Now, I just take a few minutes to cut and paste the assignments from my lesson plans to a sheet for the student. It is easier for them to read and much less time-consuming.

The other thing I am thankful for is self-checkout at Kroger. I do not regularly shop at Kroger because it is more expensive and isn't the one-stop-shopping I often need. But lately, Kroger fits the bill. After that long and hairy day described above, I had to pick up milk and eggs and bread. With self-checkout, I was in and out lickity-split. So, I was very thankful for technology that day.

This next week will be a review week for exams that follow the week before Christmas. My sixth graders have never had exams and tend to become rather dramatic about the whole event. I finished writing my seven page grammar exam. Of course, it is in size 11 font for readability and has line spacing of 1.3. It covers all the grammar studied this year with enough sentences to add capitalization and punctuation for help rather than hinder student performance. Spelling will be easy to assemble because it will all come from the every four week challenge lessons. Sixth grade history will cover lots of basic geography (hemispheres, lines of latitude/longitude, landform definitions), the West Indies, and maps. We are in the midst of studying the Mayans as preliminaries to Central America, and I have decided not to include any of this material. The eighth grade world studies class exam will come from previous tests. I will simply cut and paste those questions.

After exams are over and graded and school is finished for the year, my oldest son and I have planned to hunker down and indulge in the newest and just-out season of 24. We have decided to have sub sandwiches and chips out for self-preparation and just veg-out with 24. He is just finishing is (hopefully) next-to-last semester in college and needs some decompression time too. After Christmas, I may take my yearly trek to my sister's for some R & R, or I may just stay here and do the same. Lesson prep will happen during that time anyway I look at it, but after spending several days vegging with 24, I'll be ready to hit the books again.

On a different note, I am so glad to see Kathleen at Rock Creek Rumblings hosting the Winter Reading Challenge. I am tempted to participate but will have an embarrassing few books to attempt. Maybe during Christmas break I can get together a belated list. Right now I am almost finished with Jan Karon's Home to Holly Springs. If you are a Karon fan and have not read this yet, you are in for a shock. I'll not say more lest I post a spoiler. Tomorrow I plan to go by the library and pick up Miss Read's Village Christmas. It is short and hopefully I'll finish it before Christmas. I do hope that someday my reading habits will return and I won't continue to fall asleep after two pages. Then I want to read the next political thriller by Vince Flynn, Act of Treason. High quality, huh? Mindless? Yes. That's what I want right now. Easy. Mindless. Page-turners.

I'll close this long post with a quote I found today. It will find its way someday to the quotes on my room wall. I've learned that the students see and read everything that is up there. Even if they never say a word about them.

"The ideal geographer should be able to do two things: He should be able to read his newspaper with understanding, and he should be able to take his country walk - or maybe his town walk - with interest."
~ H. C. Darby (1946)


Carrie K. said...

Good to hear from you, Janie. You sound so busy - I know your Christmas break will be well-deserved.

Stick to your guns with those students - they need it, and if their parents have a head on their shoulders, they'll thank you for it.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Carrie K.

Kathleen Hamilton said...

Janie, it is so good to come here and see a new post (I check all the time). Yes, I am hosting the "challenge" again (I did it in autumn, too), and we've picked up lots of new people (and Carrie has joined, too ;-)).

Please join, even if you only can read a few books.

Michelle said...

Janie, I'm so glad to see your new post as well! Every time I think of you I pray for wisdom for you with your students. It sounds like you're doing a great job of implementing good discipline.

Anonymous said...

What I would give, WHAT I would give to have a morning to sit down with you and hear your thoughts on teaching in a classroom, exchange thoughts on music, books, art, teaching.

You don't know it, lady: you do not know how much you have influenced me. So many times, my mind flits to something you wrote months (or even years) ago and how it applies to this or that situation. Or I am just getting to a book which you recommended so long ago.

Here is a great quote to tie in with yours from Williams Armstrong's "Study is Hard Work."

"It is the responsibility of the student to be interested. No one can be interested for you, and no one can increase your interest unless you so will. It is the basic obligation that you must take to class; it is the basic obligation which you must hold up to each assignment...

...Do not expect that all assignments or even all subjects will hold a natural interest for you...Life is full of little duties that carry no immediate appeal, but the individual who can tackle a job where liked or not, is the one who is going to be successful and happy."

Blessings to you, my friend,

Carol in Oregon

PS - guess who I am going to meet in exactly two weeks? Our mutual friend with whom you had a Cracker Barrel lunch. I'm so excited, my family is going to have to put Valium in my tea to calm me down!