Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Sizzle

It's August, we're the middle of the country on the Kansas plains, and it's supposed to be hot. If you decide to open schools during August, wouldn't it make sense to plan for this heat? And if it gets very, very hot -- shouldn't you have contingency plans for high heat and humidity days?

I love my school district. I think they usually plan well and they care about their charges AND employees. But where heat is concerned, this year they have made stupid decisions based on cost cutting.

At 3 p.m. each Friday they have decided to turn off all the air-conditioners in the schools. My building, built in 1935 in the old classical school model, was retrofitted with air, but it's not really an operational unit. Especially on the far end of the third floor where my room is situated. The rule is that our huge, high old-fashioned windows are NOT to be opened, except in emergencies. We have no room fans. We DO get hot, but in past years this has been acceptable heat. The air circulates and when we complained, a little more air would be filtered our way.

But this year when the cooling goes off on Friday, it stays off until 6 a.m. on Monday, so the heat and humidity build. And build. And build.

This Monday morning the AC in our building did not come on. They jimmied with it all day yesterday. The admin gave in and allowed windows to be opened and we tried to get what cool breezes we could. The temps outside rose to 95 and inside it was 93. We sweated. A lot. Finally around 1 p.m. the air came on and stayed on -- but at 3 p.m. the district shut it back off -- to meet their cost saving goals.

Of course, again, this morning the air would not come back on. The heat continued to build. Outside, by 1 p.m. it was 97 degrees -- and the heat index was 107. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN DEGREES. The humidity -- because a huge storm is headed our way -- must have been at 130%. The air dripped with moisture.

Inside, we baked. It was so hot we could barely breathe. We opened up windows -- but then would be required to put them back down every time they thought the air was working -- but then the air wouldn't work.

If the air comes on tomorrow we might get our huge historic high school just cool enough to walk around in without sweat dripping into our clothes and turning us sopping wet. But every night that air will go off, negating what little cooling has been done during the day.

And to make matters worse, the district, to save a penny, will turn the air back off for the weekend, so for three days (Labor Day weekend) the heat will continue to build and on Tuesday we will be broiling all over again.

Last week I got sick on Thursday night -- woke up at 3 p.m vomiting. Initially, I thought stomach flu -- but it wasn't. I was simply over tired from all the rigor of starting school -- and from the heat we had been fighting all last week. This week the heat is exponentially worse.

The district, however, is adamant about turning off the air conditioning every afternoon. God only knows what will happen if we also have a very frigid winter -- and they insist on turning the heat off.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Put Your Paws Together Please

A little boy in Singapore is having surgery today on his paw -- and his parents are very worried. Please send them good vibrations and hold them in your hearts.
They have had much dog heartache in the past - and like me, they hold their dogs as their children.

Good luck, Roop! We are all pulling for you.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Two weeks of school completed. Yes, I'm keeping track this year. Yesterday, on the way to a movie that we walked out on (Scott Pilgrim -- lordy! did this movie prove we were old fogies! and man! did we hate it), I actually listed for Hubby all the school holidays and how soon they would arrive.

It's not that the two weeks were awful -- they actually were really good in terms of students and productivity. It's that they were so very, very exhausting. Every afternoon, the only thing I could manage on arriving home from school, was throwing off my clothes and going to bed. Eating wasn't an option. Reading was out. No TV. It was sleep. By 5:30 every single evening last week, I was sound asleep.

The collaborative / co-teaching model is going far better than I could ever have imagined, both in junior English and world history. My work with the junior English teacher cohort to develop a new curriculum to meet the new standards is going even better. Everybody is very complimentary of my lesson plans and ideas. And they have started contributing really great ideas of their own. My caseload kids are just wonderful -- smiling, friendly, happy to be back in school. They make every day a joy in the classroom.

The meeting schedule, however, is extremely arduous. I meet with the junior English teachers on Monday morning at 6:30 to 7, on Tuesday evening from 2:30 to 3, on Wednesday from 1:50 to 3, and sometimes on Thursday from 2:30 to 3. I meet with my co-teacher in English from 7:00 to 7:20 every morning. I meet with my co-teacher in social studies from 1:45 until 2:20 every afternoon and on Friday from 1:45 to 3:00. I meet with the SPED community from 2:30 to 3:00 every Monday afternoon.

The only morning without a meeting is Friday -- when I do metal detector duty from 7:00 until 7:20 checking student ID's.

I write the weekly lesson plans for all the English 3 (junior English) teachers in our building and also post them on-line for the district teachers. I write the world history lesson plans only for my co-teacher but he offers them up to anyone who wants them.

In the classroom, we are actually doing co-teaching in world history and English 3. Our world history class of 32 started the year with a text book "investigation" and map of the world review and now we are completing the artistic revolution of the Renaissance. I'm the disciplinarian in that room. I keep the kids on task -- and I teach the "basic" stuff (like vocabulary) and rewrite the lessons (especially the primary resource material) to make them more kid-approachable. I have worked with the social studies teacher now for three years but this is the first time we have actually co-taught the lessons.

In our English class of 31, I'm less the disciplinarian and more the equal partner, partly because the English teacher, a young woman, already has a firm grip on her classroom and because I'm a much better in English than in history. Though, so far, I've developed the entire lesson plans for our first unit, it's clear that eventually we will be sharing more and more the responsibilities of that job. So far, in both classes, I've also done all the grading of assignments -- because I believe that letting kids know exactly where they stand in class (and that you KNOW what they are doing) is extremely important.

Both teachers have opened up their usual processes in the classroom to accommodate my needs -- and this isn't easy. I can no longer stand for long periods of time and in my own space, I arrange students so I'm in the middle of them, sitting -- either in a rolling chair or on top of a desk. Both teachers have gone away from straight rows into group seating to accommodate my needs. This is huge!

Both teachers have pulled back on their own egos to allow me to interject into lessons, to dialogue with them and with their students -- and to find ways to give me equal "billing" with the kids. To teachers who have been "king" or "queen" in their silo-typed classrooms, this a decided and complicated change.

So the first week with kids has been fantastic. I believe we are improving the educational process -- and I think we are forming a pattern that can be copied by other teachers. But -- this is HARD work on all of us. The meetings, the sharing of space by very different personalities, the changing of methods that we have always found comfortable . . . this is real work.

Lastly, as to the title of this little piece -- this IS my 300th blog entry.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

One of the Many Reasons My Marriage Works

After 37 years of togetherness,
this is what a wife does on her weekend to keep her husband happy

(and he didn't snore once -- and his verdict at the end: G R E A T!)

You really don't want to know what I thought of the movie -- and it was too loud to sleep through, darn it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Luie's Gotcha Day

Sweet, nearly blind Ludwig was adopted two year's ago from a rescue in Tulsa, Ok. What a joyous addition he has been in our lives.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Just got an E-mail from my prof on the final paper. Hallelujah!