Thursday, October 28, 2010


Trying to control the sixth grade class I was in today, I played "trivia" with them, making them each answer a question before lining up for lunch. Name the captial of this or that state, name someone who signed the Declaration of Independence etc....

Name a famous cowboy. I was looking for Jesse James or Buffalo Bill (not exactly cowboys, but the idea is there) or someone like that.

I got Woody.

Couldn't argue. He's a cowboy, and he's famous.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Early is Too Early?

This week is Red Ribbon week. We tell the kids to say "no" to drugs and give them bookmarks and elastic bracelets to remind them of the word "no."

There's nothing like a kindergartner or first grader asking, "what are drugs?"

I get the idea of planting the seed early and conditioning kids to make good choices when the time comes, but sometimes I think it's too much too soon. They're still trying to figure out the right direction to draw the number 7, and we're telling them about drugs.

College is the other big one for me. One school I work at has each classroom themed like a university. Usually, the one the residing teacher attended. Each room has a bulletin board in the school colors with a banner, streamers, etc. Another elementary school has a line about attending college within their school pledge that they recite after the Pledge of Allegiance.

This is another message I think we might be drilling in with too much enthusiasm. I get that dropout rates are bad, and that we want kids to finish high school and be eligible for college. I also get that the job market 0pens up substantially for those with a college degree, but truthfully, college isn't for everyone. There are many worthy trades where a degree is not necessary. Why are we obsessed with this message? And are we filling young heads with information that only confuses them and adds to the stresses they already face on a daily basis when we give them these broad instructions on how to deal with situations they're not going to face for many years, if at all?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

First Month Down

I was a little bit worried about a lack of work this year because my favorite district put subs on backup in favor of recently pink-slipped teachers. I'm still worried about that in a long-term outlook. It's the district where I live and I really enjoy the fact that so many of the schools are less than a ten-minute drive from home.

However, I am pleasantly surprised to have already worked nine days this year. Most of the days were in what has always been my least favorite district. It is difficult to get to, parking is a mess and the schools are overcrowded. At least, that was my impression after last year. This year I got three days in a row in a school that is on my edge of that district, and only about 8 miles away from home. I don't have to mess with freeways, it's a straight shot down a large boulevard, the school is actually quite nice, with the upper grades being in a brand new building, AND it has a parking lot! There are still too many kids in the classrooms, but, that seems to be the trend everywhere.

I worked a fourth day there just yesterday. So...maybe the Mother Superior in The Sound of Music is correct when she says that where a door closes, an window opens. I hope this is a good omen for the rest of the year. The first month there are a lot of meetings. Of all my scheduled days, I think only one has been to cover for illness. Budget cuts have also cut out a lot of inservices, but maybe it will be okay....maybe. Cautious optimism...