Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How many ways could a field trip go wrong? Let me count the ways...

So today I went back to the Middle School to accompany my former students on a field trip.  We went to the State House specifically to see the Titanic exhibit, and I was so excited for two reasons:  (a) I've been obsessed with Titanic basically since the movie came out and have wanted to go see the actual ship for ages (but since this obviously isn't possible, I decided to settle on seeing artifacts from the ship and I think that counts instead), and (b) I didn't have to go to any of my classes today since I was chaperoning a field trip instead.  It was really good to go back to the Middle School--all my students were really excited to see me, which is a nice change from high school.

So, I envisioned this amazing trip that would be a total blast.  But it went wrong in almost every way possible.  Let me recount quickly what happened:

1) Our bus was supposed to board at 7:55 and leave at 8 AM.  We got a phone call at 7:50 saying that our buses wouldn't be able to be at the school until 8:30-8:40.  Frustrating.

2) It took 15 minutes to board the buses because we only had two buses for like 120+ kids and all the chaperons.  Every seat was three people deep, including the adults. 

3) We had to stop in Anderson because a kid puked on the other bus.  So we stopped at a gas station so that some of the teachers could get the kids off the bus and clean up the vomit while one of the other teachers took the sick student to the restroom to get him cleaned up. 

4) While we were stopped in Anderson, we got a phone call from the school saying that one of the students who was supposed to stay behind was missing.  It turns out that this student got grounded before the trip, so his father called into school and told the teachers not to allow him to go to Indy with us.  The student decided that this obviously wasn't fair, so he snuck out of his homeroom (next door to ours) and into our homeroom to get a wristband.  The only reason he was able to get away with it is because I wristbanded him and had no idea that he wasn't allowed to go on the trip.  I was given an envelope full of bands and told to put them on all the kids in the classroom--no checklist or anything. So I unwittingly wristbanded the miscreant who caused the uproar...oops.

5) Of course, if there was a student on the bus who wasn't supposed to have a wristband, that meant that we left someone behind who was supposed to have one.  We found out after we returned that the student showed up a few minutes after our buses left.

6) I sat behind an interesting group of boys.  One of the boys had some weird obsession with student teachers and was trying to touch my hair, clothes, and jewelry every chance he got.  I also got invited to live with him and his grandma and when I declined, he promptly asked where I lived so he could come live with me instead.  One of the other students was trying to convince me that society was misinformed concerning the state of life inside prisons and that since in prison you don't have to pay rent or bills or have a job, it was actually a much better place to live.  He didn't believe me when I told him prisoners were a menace to society.  

7) When we finally got to the museum, we couldn't even go into the Titanic exhibit because the museum neglected to inform us that it cost extra.  Three other schools (one of which came from Lafayette!) were turned away as well.  Our funds would have covered the extra cost, but it's sort of impossible to drop another $1,000 the day of a field trip without getting it okayed by your principal first.  
8) When we finally got to the IMAX, the kid sitting next to me puked (different kid this time).  Fortunately for me, he turned to the teacher on his opposite side and hurled all over her.  

9) We were so late in getting back that we arrived only about 5 minutes before school let out when we were supposed to be back 45 minutes before.

All in all, interesting day.  The other teachers agreed that it was the worst field trip they'd ever taken.  I guess it's good that it came early in my teaching career...the trips can only get better then, right?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Made a Student Cry today...

I won't be overly-specific, but here's what happened:

Throughout the class period, one of my students volunteered a lot.  He's always so helpful and sweet and he's constantly thinking of others.  He always volunteers and even when he doesn't know the answer, he tries his best.  

Today after class, I stopped him and told him that I appreciated his comments in class and that I thought he was just a great student.  I told him that I think he's wonderful and just so, so awesome.  He thanked me shyly and I could see him starting to cry.  I didn't want to draw attention to his tears, so I let him go to his next class and told him to have a wonderful day.

I found out from my classroom teacher afterward that this boy has been bullied in other classes and the teachers haven't been too attentive and helpful in stopping it.  She was glad I said something.

Even though I had no idea, I'm glad I said something, too.

If you see someone doing something great or wonderful, tell them!  Even if your comment doesn't make too much of a difference, you never know.  It just might :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mary Poppins

So when my sister and I were younger, we'd watch Mary Poppins like it was the only movie on earth.  My mother reminds us of the headaches we gave her when it's brought up.  I've had three copies of the movie; the first was dubbed, I think, when my sister and I were very young.  Then, the movie was accidentally "lost" after it annoyed my mom too many times (wonder how that happened).  We got a legit VHS copy a few years later, and I still loved it.  My parents own the copy and although I didn't have to watch it like five times a day when I was younger, I still saw it often enough to be able to quote almost the entire movie by heart (all except for those few patches that you don't really understand when you're a kid so you make them up in your head and that's what you remember them to be).

So, I got older, moved out, and life went on without Mary Poppins.  Sad, I know.  My grandma apparently thought it scandalous that a girl who loved Mary Poppins so much as a kid didn't have a copy of her own, so exactly two years ago at Thanksgiving, she bought me the anniversary edition.

I've had the movie sitting around for two years and have been meaning to watch it with Kyle, but we haven't gotten to it.  Sometimes I was in the mood for a different sort of movie, and then when I would bring it up, he would say something like, "Oh, you know how I feel about musicals," or "I watched that movie when I was a kid and thought it was stupid."  Finally I convinced him on Saturday to watch it with me. 

So even though he DID make fun of it a little bit throughout, he overall enjoyed the movie, I think.  I caught more humor now than I did when I was a kid (mostly because we had the subtitles on and I could tell what the characters were really saying as opposed to making up what they were saying in my head) and Kyle's had the "Feed the Birds" song stuck in his head for the past few days.  We talked throughout the movie about how the film played up some common themes in Edwardian and Victorian literature, which is actually quite surprising because P. L. Travers (the author of the Mary Poppins book) didn't set the story in 1910...that was a Disney creation. 

So I suppose Walt Disney borrowed a lot of ideas from Charles Dickens for the movie.  One of these in particular that we saw was that Mrs. Banks was based on a character called Mrs. Pocket from his book Great Expectations.  Of course, Mrs. Pocket was not a suffragette, but she was a mother who was absent for a cause, much like Mrs. Banks is in the movie.  Other similarities to Great Expectations is the Banks' neighbor Admiral Boom who runs his house like a ship...Dickens created a character called the Aged Parent who sets off a cannon at his castle-like home in the morning and evening.  Also similar to Dickens, P. L. Travers named the family after the father's job.  Therefore, Mr. Banks works at a Bank.  In Dickens, Mr. Baker would be a baker, etc.

Kyle was also in amazement at the quality of the special effects of the movie.  We paused quite often so he could explain how they managed to film the characters while in a cartoon, how Mary was able to draw huge items out of her carpetbag, etc.

So all in all, I think we both rather enjoyed watching the movie together.  And something else happened...this time I cried at the end!  Perhaps it has something to do with feeling sorry for children who are neglected by absent parents (which is something I didn't understand when younger) but now "Let's Go Fly a Kite" is my absolute favorite song of the movie.

If you haven't seen Mary Poppins....rent it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New outlook (Phil's Plan)

So I've decided that I pretty much hate teaching the way I see it.  Our profs get us all excited about creating stimulating units and awesome lesson plans and when we try it on kids in our little controlled settings things turn out great.  

But then you go to practicum, and you see how real students interact with real teachers in real schools.  So the thing is, yeah, I understand kids are always gonna want to cut corners.  Yeah, high-schoolers will always have this attitude problem and think they know more than you do.  But I hated the other teachers' attitudes.  Like...they didn't care either.  If the students are sleeping, let them sleep.  If they don't want to do their work, it's not the teacher's problem because they have a boring lesson.  Just send the kid away to ISS where the student suddenly has a choice of what to do...sit quietly without causing problems, read a book, or do their work.  No wonder kids want to go to ISS--they have more freedom there than in the classroom!

So what with the other teachers who are as apathetic and lazy and rude as the students as well as schools who don't pay close enough attention to their charges or even follow the law (did you hear about that girl that got raped at Muncie Central during lunch?), I've had it up to here with teaching.  But what I mean is...I've had it up to here teaching it THEIR way.

So my friend Phil heard my woes (and read about them, too) and asked me if I'd like to participate in an experiment he and another colleague/peer/student teacher are working on...and I'm so excited about it!  I think this will help to make the change that classrooms need.  Check it out for yourself:  compromism.weebly.com.  I'm still formulating some thoughts about this, and I'm looking forward to getting together with Phil and/or Luke to discuss it.  I think that as either a parent (present or future), a student (past or present), or even as just a citizen, you SHOULD check this out, evaluate it, and give feedback to them concerning your thoughts on the matter.  

This is real life in real schools in YOUR country, folks.  Let's make it better!

Friday, November 12, 2010

After teaching high school for a week...

...I think I might stick to middle school, at least for a little while.

The students at the high school seem to have a hard time taking me seriously.  I get asked way too many personal questions, I get whistled at in the classroom, and no one does the work or takes their classes seriously.  They are in for a rude awakening after they graduate.

I thought my middle-schoolers acted up from time to time, but I can't fathom even them turning into the students at the high school.  It's a little hard to believe.  

I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the middle school!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Something's gotten into my husband.


On Friday afternoon, he came home from work, gave me happy kisses and wanted to take me out to a nice dinner.  I had to turn him down because I got called in to work and only got to see him about 30 seconds before I walked out the door.  But, instead of taking me out, he made some yummy lasagna and buttered asparagus for dinner, complete with non-alcoholic wine, wine glasses, candles, and cloth napkins.  He was even wearing a nice outfit and pulled my chair out for me!  Needless to say, I was shocked.  He then talked me into watching a movie and he chose one that I've been wanting to watch with him all month.  Hmmmmmm....that never happens.

Saturday was a busy day as well.  Since Sunday was Thanksgiving at my parents' house, I planned to do some baking after I'd done some homework and gotten back from work.  We also needed to pick up some groceries.  But, when I got home, Kyle had already gotten groceries (he even picked up some makeup that I needed!) and made rice crispies.  Then he offered to give me a massage.  I almost had to pick my jaw up off the floor because when I ask him to rub my back, he always says he will but NEVER gets to it.  And while he's massaging, he casually mentions that he found me a birthday/Christmas present and already had it put away.

We also watched another movie on Saturday.  Another one I've been wanting to watch.  Then yesterday we spent a few hours together with no homework, no work, no other people...just us together.  Then when I freaked out because I'd forgotten to finish my webquest for my sixth-graders this week, he told me to sit down and work on it while he did the dishes and tidied the house.

He's also made plans for Friday to go out to a real dinner (nice restaurant) and we might go to a movie afterwards.  It's my rain-check for last week.

Okay, people.  My husband is a sweetie for sure and he treats me very well, but only sometimes like this, and NEVER in succession!  Kyle rarely plans ahead too far.  I'm wondering by now what's going on.  Is he going to ask for something he thinks I'll say no to?  Has he bought something he believes I'll think is too expensive?  He says he just missed me, but hey, he didn't miss me THAT much last weekend OR the weekend before!  

Very suspicious.  He sort of reminds me of one of those kids who are just average all year long and then the month before Christmas are extra-well-behaved.  I know the past few weeks we've seen very little of each other, but hey, he won't even let me do anything anymore without offering to do it first!  Don't get me wrong, I love it!  But I'm at a loss as to what could possibly be at work here.  I have a lot of friends who have boyfriends and husbands who would never do this for their girlfriends/wives. 

I'll be sure to let you know if the other shoe ever drops....maybe something to do with his Christmas list....