Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November Calm

This was a lovely weekend. We did calming things. We read books. I'm going through the Maisie Dobbs series again. I read it piece-meal last time but I've acquired most of the series now in sequential order (up through 2007) and I'm rereading for consistency. Jacqueline Winspear creates a world during WWI and the Depression that simply absorbs the reader. Hubby is still pouring over his rereads of Robert B. Parker. Parker's death this year made Hubby go back for a third and fourth time to his novels.

We went to the movies and saw Morning Glory, a delightful film. We laughed. We held hands. We laughed some more. Harrison Ford as a curmudgeon just can't be topped -- except maybe by Jack Nickelson.

We visited the $200 store (Sam's) and only spent $95. We bought comfort food -- a roasted chicken, cookies, chips, milk, yams, and real butter (with salt in it -- to h*ll with high blood pressure).

I drank a quart of eggnog. Every year I wait with eager anticipation for the eggnog season to begin. For dinner last night we ate fresh sour dough toast with real butter, grape (for Hubby) or strawberry (for me) jelly and hot tea (Hubby) and eggnog (me).

Hubby started shopping for Christmas. He actually went on-line and found presents for his sister -- which caused the on-line store to send us a coupon for the exact item we had been looking at. We immediately ordered said item -- and then were so excited that we had finally started the process, we actually went "store" shopping for another Christmas present for his sister. We now have a half dozen Christmas presents ready for December.

Hubby baked a lovely pork roast and we boiled up taters for mashing and we've eaten that for the past couple of days. Delicious comfort food when paired with our Sam's cookies -- and a wonderful Sunday dinner.

We slept, of course. We napped on Saturday. We were in bed by 9:00 that night. Now Hubby is napping during the football games. He switches between violent movies and violent games -- but I hear him snoring away during both.

I paid the bills this afternoon -- and since Hubby had gotten us new debit cards, I activated them and changed over our online accounts to recognized the new numbers. We had used the old cards until they had cracked and folks were having to enter the numbers because they no longer swiped easily. I always think that the bill paying will be an onerous chore -- but sites keep getting easier and easier to use (and they remember more and more of your information so you have to remember less and less). And finally -- glory be -- the water company has moved bill paying on-line so I'm not now three months late in paying.

We needed to clean the bathroom. We needed to get the rest of winter clothes up from the basement. I'm sure I needed to do a load of wash. We needed to change the sheets. We didn't do any of those. We DID enjoy ourselves thoroughly.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

10 Days before a vacation

First block started off with a fight. One of my SPED girls who has been spiraling down into angry despair, flew into World History where I collab with a nice guy who is never in class at the start, found her seat, raced across the room and proceeded to beat the pulp out of another kid. Honestly, for the first time in my career, I just stood there and watched.

Last Friday, the girl's aunt showed up for a conference with us and to announced that I had become the girl's "monster." The aunt has taken over guardianship of the child after a horrible transition that began last March when the family home burned. Since then the kid has been spiralling further and further out of control. I'm the "monster" of course because I'm trying to hold her in place and insist that she follow the rules and do the classroom assignments. The aunt believes the child should be allowed to make her own decisions -- regardless of the consequences. At the end of the meeting, we agreed that she could, in fact, make those decisions until they affected the learning of other students.

Yesterday, instead of agreeing to sit our advisory class, the child elected to sit across the hall in an empty room. Today, however, I allowed her to make the decision to beat up another girl which will, of course, force an entirely new series of events.

A behavior plan will now go into effect through her IEP (which has the almighty power of federal law behind it) and this child will no longer be allowed to make her own decisions. This will occur after a blessed 10 day suspension in which we all get to cool off. Then our little miss can decide to either work with me or go to the behavior discipline room where two huge guys hold sway and allow the kids out of the room only under supervision (no breaks, no lunchroom, no attending class -- all work is done in the smallest classroom possible). You get to pee only with a guard at your side.

Bet I won't seem like such a "monster" after two weeks of this treatment!

And if you detect a note of glee in my words, you'd be right.

Next block a whole stream of staff (teachers, administrators, and I don't know who all) paraded through our junior English collab to see what a real collaboration should look like. We didn't know anyone was coming until 7:30 this morning when my collab partner was called by the vice-principal to announce the impending visitation. We had, of course, planned a parallel teaching lesson -- not the best for seeing how well we actually do collaborate. But we decided to do our initial bell work unit, do a brief discussion of MLA standards in which we actually did a team-unit, and then go our separate ways. The students are writing a term paper -- and we didn't divide the class by SPED vs general ed students -- we divided it along the lines of the topics each group was writing about. Some SPED were with me -- some with the English teacher. Generally my group wanted more hands-on help -- but I also had the five brightest kids in the room with me. We have 35 in the gen ed room -- so this division means we can work with more quiet and in a more one-on-one approach without falling all over each other. We wowed our observers (of course -- we really are a great team) by using both approaches in a 25 minute span.

We spend third block standing in a long line waiting to have our sophomore students hearing and vision checked by a staff of student nurses from the local university. Because no one had planned well, all third floor teachers showed up at once and the university staff yelled at the teachers that we didn't have control of our students and everyone was too noisy. They actually got in our faces and yelled! Meanwhile the kids stood around in long, long lines for 45 to 60 minutes waiting for the tests. Clearly ivory towers have little contact with inner city public schools.

With my world history collab partner we ended the day by planning to give a demonstration tomorrow of how true communism works -- facilitated by a huge pile of really realistic paper money. The kids will love it. But we will be noisy. Money calls for noise for some odd reason.