Saturday, December 01, 2007

week in review

1. A parent of one of my students was summoned to the school to address a behavioral incident. The student (I'll call him "Luke") is a big (okay, seriously overweight), articulate, and endearing child. In advisory, I sometimes deviate from planned discussion issues to exploring the issue of bullying. Luke offered a number of anecdotes about being bullied, which certainly raised a red flag with me. So I've been keeping an eye on him, both in school and on the courtyard.

The other day I see Luke in our pseudo "all teacher" office. He's sitting there, not looking particularly concerned, and I simply assume that he's waiting for a note to the nurse or something similar. As it turns out, Luke is sitting in our office because he "stabbed" another student with the end of a compass. The student he hit (Alex) is all of 4'5" and weighs about 75 pounds. Alex is precocious, highly verbal, and off the charts in the "cute" division.

When I asked what happened, Luke told me that he asked Alex to stop talking during class. He then warned Alex that he would get him with the compass if he didn't shut his yap during "independent" practice. Apparently, Alex didn't listen, and the threat was enacted. No physical injury resulted, but still. So there's Luke, and as he tells me the story I must have let out a little smirk. As much as I love Alex and his insatiable inquisitiveness, he tends to get on one's nerves by the end of the day. The inner-adolescent in me smirked at the thought of him getting an unexpected jab in the arm. I know, I'm a terrible person for that one.

Anyhow, Alex and Luke's families were called in. IS Prep is not a place you want to get into trouble. We're consistently strict. At the conclusion of the meeting, I ran into Luke's mom who looked totally distraught (which is a totally normal reaction of a parent leaving an IS Prep intervention meeting). After a few moments discussing the incident, she informs me that Luke looks up to me and speaks of me often (yup, huge ego swell there).

"He says no one understands him but you. Will you, how do you say, 'mentor' him?"

I immediately told her I would. Out came my phone number and e-mail. I told her I would contact her on a weekly basis to discuss his academic and social progress.

We've been discussing the formation of a more formal mentoring program for some of our male students, and I guess this is a perfect start for the program. We have 4 male teachers on staff, all stating that they were definitely "in" on the idea. So I'm now brainstorming how to get this program started.

2. A woman cut me in line at Staples. Actually, she cut about 6 of us in line. I wasn't in a particularly good mood, as it was 8:30PM and I had just left school. When I told her that she jumped the line, she went nuts. She actually started hollering into her cell phone that someone had accused her of cutting the queue (my word, not hers). The Staples' folks were just staring at her, shaking their heads, but doing nothing about it. She then tried to do the "purse, hat, cell phone, and credit card juggle" while attempting to pay, and the phone fell from her ear to the counter and totally broke. People on the line started laughing at her. I sheepishly admit I did as well. Again, I am a terrible person.

3. My homework submission rate has hit an all-time low this week. This is likely caused by "end of the month" projects that are due in just about every subject. I delay my projects until mid-month, as the students just get overwhelmed at this time and start hauling in crap. I am not happy about this development, as I issue homework that I think is necessary. There are a couple of avenues I can take to address this problem; I'm just not sure which one.

4. On the flip side, I purchased a timer for my overhead. It's had a big impact. The students actually groan when the timer starts getting low and they're falling behind. I love it! It's pretty hard not to notice that you have three minutes left to complete your work with a six foot projection on the wall. It was on the expensive side (35 bucks or so), but it was money well spent. Classroom productivity has definitely increased.

5. If in need of a plastic surgeon on Staten Island, please visit the homepage of the UFT website. Apparently the membership's dues money can no longer sustain the organization. So when you go to look up your procedural due rights for receiving a "U," you can also consider the impact a nose job may have on your career. Very professional. Kudos to the genius who thought that one up. Why, why, why did I assume the chapter leader position? I am just so thankful that my principal is a just administrator who does not want to see any form of divisiveness with his/her staff.

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