Naps Are The Devil

June 7, 2012

Seriously. Naps are the devil.

Today was the first day of no students for us teachers. You would probably suspect that this means today was an easy day.

I regret to inform you that it was not. I moved more textbooks than should be asked of a human. Cleaned all the materials off my desk. Began my scavenger hunt for administrative approval. Played to politicking game. All that and I’m only half done with my checklist, still need to finish grades, and we still have some textbooks missing from inventory…

It also didn’t help that today was a day that was so full of moisture that you practically needed a paddle to push yourself through the air.

So, I got home and decided to “rest my back”.

And you know how it is whenever you rest your back. You lay on your bed, and try not to move. You also have the fan on so you decide that you should close your eyes. It would be annoying to stare at the fan and let your eyes dry out…right? And then, hey, since you’re already there, you might as well slow down your breathing.

And then you start to think about soft music and unicorns…

BOOM!

Then you wake up two and a half hours later.

I’m 99% certain it was a nap. 1% possibility of time travel.

Either way, I’m groggy and tired…still.

Only one thing left to do.

Go to bed.

Goodnight,

D.A.

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5 Days

April 17, 2012

Wow. Holy smokes. Hot cheetoes and rice.

Five days since my last post. It’s almost like I relapsed. I got a whiff of the laziness and I just fell back into the old habit. It has been so long since any original content on here I think my little red moon has some cobwebs around it. You see that?

I guess it hasn’t all been laziness. A good portion of it can be blamed on the increased workload toward the end of the year. For example:

FCAT.

No, I’m not incorrectly cursing about a cat. It’s the state mandated test that occurs in every school in the state of Florida. This week is offically known as FCAT week.

This means kids take a two hour long test on Monday and Tuesday. Then the school scrambles to make sure that every kid who missed taking it on those days end up taking it on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. If they don’t take the test, they fail the test. If they fail the test, they can’t graduate. Luckily this test is given to the 10th graders. So they got 2 more years to make it up. (That happens the week before FCAT Week).

So, this also means the normal hours of the day change. Kids are shuffled around and classes are shorter. Not to mention, we all know kids who just took the test as tired from taking one of the most important tests of the school year. So your day for teaching new material is pretty much shot.

Then I’m getting kicked out of my room for the Wednesday/Thursday Panic-and-make-sure-everybody-has-been-tested days-so-we’re-going-to-steal-your-classroom-all-day sort of thing. That means tomorrow and Thursday I will be in a room other than my own. That also means 12 kids will probably not remember I told them to go to a different room tomorrow. Which means many kids are going to get tardies (teacherism) for not showing up to class on time.

Since I’m in a different room (with a shorter class period might I add), the kids will be distracted and won’t want to learn.

So it’s an uphill battle all week. A guy can’t win.

Oh, and in three weeks the kids take their End Of Course Exams. This exam determines if they pass the class or not. And yes, it occurs four weeks BEFORE the class offically ends.

So what do we do for those four weeks after the class material has all been taught?

I dunno…ask me in about four weeks.

D.A.

I’m going deaf. Most likely.

Okay, not deaf, but I’m sure tinnitus is ringing through my ears.

I am at a concert featuring one of my favorite bands August Burns Red. This is the first concert I’ve been to in about 3 years. I hope I come back and say I loved it and will be attending them more often.

But I’m sure I will come across 5,000 scene kids and I will feel like an old man.

I won’t care as long as I don’t see any of my students there. Then it would get really strange….

D.A.

At 12:00 p.m. on January 19th I will have officially completed my first half of my first professional year of teaching. It’s been pretty insane. Had a kid drop a smoking bowl in my room. Had a few kids never show up. Had some kids really put the pieces together and learn some cool stuff. I’ve learned things too.

Allow me to let you know a few things that I have learned over that past 4 or 5 months.

It wasn’t and will probably never be exactly what I expected. You experienced teachers could read this sentence as “I’m totally a noob.”  I’m trying to get better at this job and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. The good news is, as long as somebody is willing to hire me in the future, I’m going to be willing in trying to get better.

My first group of kids can only be described as “ecletic”. I’ve had kids that are wonderful and introspective toward the material. I’ve had kids that are apathetic/not awake through out my classes. I’ve have some kids who are a handful, but mean well. I’ve had kids who are quite and obediant but are probably wishes terrible things on me.

I’ve had kids who didn’t show up but a few times in the 90 days of class. I’ve had kids that haven’t missed a single second. There were even some kids that I really felt great hope for our future knowing that they will be the decision makers for important companies and organizations. There are some kids that I really feel concern about them being able to function in open society.

My coworkers are awesome. I have been given so much help from them it’s almost a crime. They are super nice and easy to get along with. I really feel comfortable there, as compared to the other schools I have worked at.

I think the leadership at the school is solid as well. I really enjoy working for the people who hired me. I think they have a vision for the school and really want these students to succeed, and yet they still do their best to stay out of a teacher’s hair if they can help it.

Not having a faculty restroom really sucks. This point really explains itself.

Science is hardly any student’s favorite subject. This hurts my feelings as well as affects my kids grades.

I remember when I was in high school, it wasn’t my favorite subject. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I had a favorite subject… I think most kids don’t see science for what it should be and have been led astray in their comprehension on how to perform it. This causes many problems in terms of their understanding of the material.

Eating at the teacher cafe is hardly ever worth it. While the food is sometimes surprisingly tasty, the fries are almost always soggy and cold. $5 for this is really not motivating me to spend any more money there.

Planning periods bipolar. They are both a tranquil escape from the daily grind or a terribly stressful ride on a rocket ship of frustration. On the days when you have planned most everything for the day, you can really take 15 minutes to just breath and enjoy the silence. You can even feel a smile spread across your fact.

On the days when you have 12 things to get done in an hour you can feel your heart rate match the rate of a fighter pilot in battle. You may even feel the sweat drip from your brow onto Timmy’s paper where he kept writing the response “IDK” on the homework from last night. As the bell rings at the end you let out a holler of frustration that sounds like Chewbacca squatting in the woods after a night partaking in the all-you-can-eat buffet at the local Taco Del Rio.

A failed plan is better than no plan at all. If you walk into a classroom and have a plan, more power to you. Even if that plan fails, at least you tried and you can at least try to salvage that. It’s okay, that kind of think happens to everybody.

If you walk in with no real idea what you want to accomplish, then you will have a painful experience. It will be a hard experience to shake off. You may even get that thousand yard stare for a few hours there….

Yelling is always an option. It’s just never a good one. Once you’ve done it, you’ve lost the game.

Pick a time when you’re available after school to help kids/allow them to make up tests. If you tell them, “I’m here everyday after school. Just let me know when you will make it.” two things will take place. 1. They will never remember/lie about when they are going to come in. You will wait. You will hope. They will never accomplish this. 2. They would rather be told when rather than decide for themselves.

Assign lab groups. Don’t let them pick that crap. Because you will get crap from them.

Find a way to keep kids informed of their grades/missing work. This one is tricky. I know there at 1000’s of different methods to figure this out. I know you may have some awesome suggestions (Honestly, if you have one, please let me know what you do) but you need to find one that works.

So far, I haven’t been lucky enough to win the battle on this subject. It’s just a messy situation.

Grading and scoring directly proportional to the work they turn in. If kids aren’t turning stuff in, it doesn’t matter how you grade papers/assignments, they will still get a bad grade. It’s okay to use your own grading system, the trick is being consistent with whatever you pick.

Late work is just… stupid.  I previously allowed for kids to turn in work late at a great penalty. I don’t think this works nor do I want to deal with assignments from 3 weeks ago. On time = full credit. 1 day late = half credit. 2 days or more = no credit.

I’m not sure if that’s fair, but I let my kids know when stuff is due days (1 week in advance actually) ahead of time. If they don’t get it done then, they usually don’t try to get it done even with an unlimited amount of time.

Most kids will look at you like they hate you. Some of them probably do. Most of them probably don’t though. Maybe.

In general, it was a mess. It was a pleasure. And it was definitely a challenge.

I have 75 new faces to learn on Monday. Wish me luck.

D.A.

I’m Proud of My Student

November 10, 2011

What you will see is what one of my students turned in to me today. She has not been doing too well in my class and decided that she needed to do some sort of extra credit so she could help her scores.

For my class, if you want a good amount of extra credit, you will have to write me a paper. It’s got to be a minimum of 500 words and it has to be on a topic that both me and the student agree on. That makes sure I know to expect a paper on a particular subject and that student knows more of the details on what they are going to write about.

As long as this is done correctly I am willing to give them up to 50 extra credit points toward their final grade. That’s the equivilant of making up a homework assignment. All in all, that’s a pretty awesome deal.

So, today, this student walks into my class with a paper in hand.

“Mr. Bancroft, I wrote the paper you told me to write.” said one of my afternoon kids.

“We never agreed on a topic.” I laughed. “So what is this paper on?”

“The stuff we just learned about. You said I could write a paper on that.” she said.

“I did? I don’t remember this. Okay, that’s fine. I guess I will read this today after school.” I said as I walked back to my desk.

“Oh,” she blurted out as she was walking away. “And before you ask me, no, I didn’t plagiarize anything. Everybody who read this keeps telling me it’s cheating. And I’m not cheating.”

I was a little stumped.

“I never accused you of cheating, but okay, I’ll take your word on it.”

This last statement I made is teacher-speak for “Yeah, I totally suspect you of cheating. Now I will go over this with a fine-toothed comb.”

And I did.

The pink writing (my own) says this: “I have highlighted all the sentences that are from the textbook. This is called plagerism. It will not be accepted.”

 

 

There you go. You don’t get to see the two other pages and why would you want to? It’s just more highlighter and scribbles.

All the highlighted sentences are exactly the same as the textbook. Funny enough, I found it under the chapter section titled “Reproductive Anatomy.” How original, eh? I even pointed out the specific paragraphs and sentences in some places.

As I kept reading I couldn’t control my laughter. Overall, of the three pages of text she typed, five sentences might be original. (And this is my very generous estimation. The paper is mostly bright orange and yellow/green.

I’m not sure how this student thought this would be a good idea. Who thinks this can be done and I wouldn’t notice?

This really made my weekend.

D.A.

Like I said. I’m so proud of my students.

So I actually read a book

October 3, 2011

Yeah, it’s been some time…but I finished reading a book today. I did it in homeroom during our mandatory “Must read throughout homeroom” policy. Am I complaining? No chance. I look forward to homeroom every day. I can read…and get paid for it. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Even if it is only for 30 minuets.

The book I read? On Writing of course. Took me about two weeks I think. And that’s only me reading it during our 30 minute blocks at school. It’s also hard to read when you’re constantly trying to play the role of reading nazi in a class of a room full of 11th graders.

Lousy kids… not wanting to read… What’s wrong with them anyway?

How was it you ask?

Flipping fantastic. I will be sure to read it again. Which is saying a lot coming from a guy like me. There are only a few books that I have read multiple times. They are:

  • Go Eat Worms by R.L. Stein
  • Monster Blood; Monster Blood IIMonster Blood III; and (of course) Monster Blood IV by R.L. Stein
  • Matilda by Ronal Dahl
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund
  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Shadows of the Empire by Timothy Zahn
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Yeah, that’s every book I’ve ever read more than once. Yeah there are some strange ones in there. For some reason I love cheesy Halo books. Also, for some reason, I have read and reread the first of the Little House of the Prairie series… Don’t you worry, my masculinity is still in place. I think…
So what do I plan on reading next?
The Windup Girl again… because I still haven’t finished it. I’m going to give it one more real go before I give up. I hope I’m not too far removed from the story to remember important details. And hey, if I am, I will soon find out and will just give up on reading it. That’s alright. I can always try again some time down the road.
Anyway.
There you go. My short and nearly pointless post for the night.

 

:::Sigh:::

September 20, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. That’s to be expected when I’m killing myself with trying to stay afloat in the sea of education.

Have I forgotten about you? No, of course not internet. How could I forget about you? I’ve just been really busy pretending to be a teacher for the past week. We have report cards and a very strange amount of meetings to worry about. I’ve also had to deal with “situations” involving rather racist language between students involved in my classroom (very long story that you will hear nothing about).

All in all, I guess I could say that I’m feeling pretty dead in the water.

Killing….floating in water…. Pretty morbid stuff there D.A….

Yeah.

“How is it going?” you ask me in your best Freudian manner. You then take a long draw on you handcrafted tobacco pipe.

Oh pretty bad I would say. I haven’t graded anything that I should have and my grades have to be turned in tomorrow. Also, my kids in Biology failed a pretty easy test. This makes me contemplate whether I’m a bad teacher or my kids just didn’t study. Now I understand that it’s probably because they didn’t study but it’s really hard to believe that after I talk to them. They do a really good job at making me feel like I’m the smelly turd in the corner of the room.

That was a gross analogy, but whatever, it’s true.

Since I’m here. And since you’re here. I’m going to vent for a little bit. Feel free to tune out during this whole episode of The life and times of D.A. “da boss” Bancroft and tune in another day. (Maybe next week we’ll talk about trains or something.)

I would like to say that my students have managed to work very hard at staying “disengaged” during class. Maybe it’s my poor classroom management skills (which is true). Maybe it’s my inability to understand how to reach out to whatever learning style they have (which may or may not be true). Hey, it could even be that these kids really hate me (unlikely, but since I’m not in a good mood I’ll just say this is totally true). No matter what the reasoning is they still manage to do a great job of letting me know I’m not doing a very good job.

Here are some really pleasant and motivating things I hear for an hour and a half each day.

“You’re not very good at this.” “I don’t like taking these notes.” “Why is this class so boring?” “How come you don’t do things like (Insert teacher’s name here) does? They do it way better.” “Why are we doing this?” “Can I go to the bathroom?” ”

Oh, and my personal favorite…

Every 3.5 minutes I get to hear a long and loud

::::Sigh::::

I’ll admit it now. I dread 4th period every day. And I mean dread.

I’m not talking about the dread you feel when you have to take out the garbage at night and you already took off your shoes. Or even the dread of cleaning underneath your oven because you know you’ll find something awful.

I’m talking about the waiting in a hospital lounge to find out if somebody survived surgery or not. The dread of having to walk up to the bully and give up your lunch money….again…

I don’t know what to do with them…

Sometimes I wish I could just check out of caring about the whole thing. If I could do this job with no emotion I would probably not feel as drained as I do at the end of each day.

As for my other classes, I find myself enjoying and looking forward to seeing them each day. They manage to get interested in the material and ask useful questions. They’re even naturally well behaved (mostly). It’s also important for me to note that I have managed to get a much better grip on the material for those classes as compared to biology. (Remember, I’m supposed to be a biology teacher, not an earth/space teacher). While it’s good that I really enjoy how things are going in those classes (could be better, but I’m working on them), it’s also another demoralizing moment of realization.

Why?

Because my degree, (that lame piece of paper with my name on it) specifically says I am a successful student of biological sciences. I have  a statement of faith that says I learned how to teach biology, so well,  that a board of intelligent and successful educators allowed me to earn said degree. They believed I could do this one thing.

And, apparently, I can’t really do it at all.

I am so bad at doing it I end up going online on a blog that doesn’t even use my real name to complain about my teaching ability.

What if I wasn’t supposed to be the teacher I always imagined I wanted to be?

I still have that dream. I want to be a great teacher. But how can I pull that off in this situation? What do I need to change? Is it my personality?

Yet, I can teach earth/space science with relative ease?

What’s wrong with me?

I hope that I wake up in the morning and it just “clicks”. If the pieces come together in a way that I haven’t tried before, I would feel so blessed. I would feel so relieved. I would feel invigorated.

I would feel like I wouldn’t end up with ulcers by Christmas break.

Trying to chill before I go back to the trenches,

D.A.

(P.S. Bah! Humbug!)