Friday, August 3, 2007

School technology is my favorite thing...

Whatever. When the printers don't work, when the Mailwasher won't open (whatever the hell a Mailwasher is), when your old, obsolete computer is the only one working, just think of a few of your favorite things...

If I were a computer tech person (in some alternate universe), I would be so incredibly ashamed if all of the teachers in one of my schools came back to start school for the new year, and the computers would not work for them! At my school, we have become so used to tech problems that they seem more common than for the computers to work well. After all, the tech people have ALL SUMMER to prepare for us. Why doesn't everything work? Why are teachers going home to print out their syllabi using their own ink so their evil-eyed administrators will be appeased the next day? Why are all the passwords on the student computers suddenly changed YET AGAIN, and no one has been told? Why are teachers new to the system unable to get their laptops for DAYS after their arrival? Why are the grading and attendance programs different EVERY YEAR, so that teachers begin the year without access to their rolls?

Because. That's why.

I remember those dandy mimeograph machines we used to use. Yep, those were the days. A teacher might go home with violet fingertips, but the sheets had that SMELL when they were freshly run off, and you could stand there and watch the machine run hypnotically around and around and around, making the copies for your passwords, no arrogant tech people talking down to everyone else, no "access denied" messages. Just that lovely toxic purple ink...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"...share the fun."

I swear that my horoscope says this today: "LIBRA: Your job may be the pits, but your social life will be quite fabulous! Indulge yourself and share the fun."

Well, my job wasn't exactly "the pits," and my social life isn't exactly "quite fabulous"! Today wasn't bad, if I disregard getting up early and trying to function on no sleep. We had a long faculty meeting before lunch,and then we had an English Department meeting from 2:00 until 3:00.

Naturally, we talked about NCLB and AYP. All the schools in the system made it, but the school system didn't make it. How can this be? First of all, it is being appealed. There is a problem because some kid transferred out of the school, then came back, then transferred out again. The figures apparently do not add up, and the state department doesn't have a big old calculator to figure it out.

We watched the ethics video, same one as last year. The acting is bad and situations exaggerated. We laughed at the video, but that doesn't mean that we don't take ethics seriously. I think the administrators are troubled by the laughter, because they always say something about it the seriousness of this information. One of the "teachers" portrayed in the movie has a gun in his drawer; another jumps out the window with drugs. We know how serious it is; we see the news. The items in the news are not humorous...this video is.

There are lots of new people in our school, and I find it worrisome that so many teachers left. It is important to build a faculty that will last and can plan ahead to structure the future. Starting over every year with new folks is not a good idea. I believe this because we have had a high turnover in our English department at the ninth and tenth grade level for years.

Maybe I just don't tolerate change well...! One change involves my coteacher--she is leaving to teach at the primary school level because her certificate is for that age. Fortunately, the school has hired her daughter to teach in her position with me! I taught her daughter a few years ago. Her first assignment is to clean out my file cabinet (joke). My file cabinet is the most ungodly mess of unfiled piles and stacks of papers that anyone has ever seen. It will take all year to dig through. My new coteacher might find some of her old work in there if she looks hard enough.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tomorrow is the first day...

Summer has ended at an usually early can the first day of preplanning be on July 31? Here it is already. For many years, I would lie awake before the first day, nervous and excited, sad for my free time yet looking forward to seeing everyone again. And, although I seldom admit it, excited about seeing my new students. How could I make the new year better?

Nowadays, I am an insomniac who is usually awake in the night anyway. I don't feel that same level of excitement. Still, it's my last first day, since I am going to retire in May. How will I feel next year when they start without me? (All "mature" teachers believe the school really cannot operate without them.)

No, I'm not too excited to go back already. However, I have been thinking over what supplies to get with the $100 credit card we Georgia teachers receive from our governor. The $100 is just enough to expand the imagination--like one of those writing assignments I used to give ninth graders, "What would you do with $100?" I bought fairly mundane supplies last year: pencils, notebook paper, magic highlighters. Well, they were magic. My high school juniors who were somewhat reluctant to read literature were very pleased to highlight anything rather than take notes or whatever. Also, I noticed that the highlighters were magical enough to disappear by the end of the year!

I need to go to bed, so I won't doze off in an important meeting of some sort.