Thursday, January 29, 2009

First It's Christmas!

And then I vent!

My principal asked me to put together a list last May, of science equipment that I thought we needed, repairs that were needed and inservice or training (out of district, which means $$$) that would be good. The school is over 25 years old, and we have not bought any science equipment of substance pretty much as long as I have been there (10 years). I got a partial list of equipment that they are putting in the new middle schools and started from there, warning him it I did not think it would not be pretty.

First up was cleaning, calibrating, and repairing all the triple beam balances and microscopes we have. That would be around $1500. Next I started looking at what I thought every science teacher should have in his/her classroom all the time - a class set of calculators, a class set of meter sticks and a class set of timers. Add to that the class sets of graphing marker boards that we bought every teacher last year.

There are two trainings I want to go to or send teachers to - 3 science ones at the Dana Center in Austin and a science one by Margaret Kilgo, also in Austin.

Then my list turned to other equipment that we need/could use for various labs - density cubes, probeware, torsos for 7th grade life science, replacing glassware (beakers, graduates etc) etc.

Today, as I presented my principal with the invoice for the balances and scopes work he says that he approved the calculators, meter sticks, timers, and inservices. AND to give him the rest of the "wish list" and we will start looking at what else we can get.

Oh, and we had to turn in a request for capital outlay items last week. These are equipment requests and come from a district catalog, so the choices are limited. I asked for 60 electronic scales (with a note attached that I would be happy with 20, since they were expensive). He approved purchase of 40!!!

I am so tired of hearing teachers complain that they can't do certain labs because we don't have enough equipment, blah blah blah. A few of us make do with what we have and we manage to do some decent labs. Anyway - now there is no excuse. Now to find a way to get them to quit crabbing about their kids in the classroom and actually do something about it!!!

Two of my sweet girls are suspended for three days. One made some wrong choices and was with a group that stole a couple bicycles. She did not steal them, but was with them and did nothing to stop them or turn them in later. She will most likely go to Alternative Learning Center for 6 weeks. Another got in a fight yesterday with the same girl she fought with 5-6 weeks ago. In the fight she got one of her earrings near the top of her ear ripped out. She has a court date for the citation from the first fight this week. She will go to court for the second fight in a few weeks. By that time the judge will have paperwork from two fights and she will likely also go to the ALC. Why do they do these things???

To end on a good note, one of my students was telling Chris today that he loves my class. Asked why, he replied "She gave me a B! My other teacher never gave me a B." Now this was a kid that the other teacher insisted the counselor get out of her class because she could not handle him, she never had a kind word about him in team meetings. (I have inherited 4 of her darlings) Chris said he was going to answer him with the standard reply that he has heard from me a thousand times when kids complain about low grades "She didn't give you a B, you earned it." But instead he said "Yeah that's cool!" because he wanted the kid to go on thinking his mom was cool! Gotta love it! Thanks Chris! You're cool too!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Chocolate shakes can take the bad off a bad day!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Years Again - Sort Of

Sort of.

The nice thing about teaching is that you get "New Year's three times a year - the start of a new school year, Dec 31, and the start of the second semester. You get another chance to start over and do better.

Watkins got a new principal last year (2007-2008 school year) after our previous one retired. Jose did not make many changes at all last year, opting instead to just see where things stood with everyone, and also to see who would abandon ship after the first year. This year he is implementing quite a few changes and many have been needed for quite a while. One of the biggest programs he has implemented is PLC's or professional learning communities. It is a huge challenge for the whole faculty.

The science team has also been kind of rudderless for a while, not really having a department chair for the last 5 years. After quite a bit of discussion and soul searching, it is a challenge I took on (really as a co-chair) somewhat apprehensively. But as the new semester starts next week, I am making some resolutions to continue this journey that started back in 1981 and step a bit out of my classroom box and into the leadership box just a bit. I have some ideas, and a principal that is supportive of them, now I just have to get the rest of the department on this train. So here is to a new year, once more, and moving from the travel car of the train to the engine room.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back to Normal

Catherine left last week, Craig left Monday, and Tucker went back today. Our house is back to the three of us once more. It is kind of a good, empty type feeling. Tucker was nice to have around, cute, lovable, and sweet. He was always so happy to see you when we came home from work or whatever. He pepped Dukie up quite a bit, too. But he was still a pup, and pups take a lot of attention. We miss Abby still (or at least I do), but I think our next dog will more likely be a rescue than a puppy.

Midterm exams are this week at school. Then a new semester starts the 20th. In the past, our class rosters usually have quite a bit of moving around at the semesters. The computers do the kids schedules and I am never quite sure of the logic of the computer that does the scheduling. Kids that do not have any class changes at the semester (b/c they are taking all year long courses) end up getting put in all new periods of the same class. The counselors have promised us that there will be hardly any moving around this year. We will believe it when we see it!

Went to Dallas this weekend to watch a swim meet at Austin College in Sherman. Chris went along. Craig swam OK - not the best, but I have definitely seen him do worse. Think he pulled an ab or groin muscle towards the end of the meet. We did not stay for dinner with the team this time, either. They have a meet in San Antonio and one in Austin in a few weeks. Plenty of time to go to dinner then.

Avoiding laundry etc, by doing this. Had best get back to work!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to Routine

Back at work today, glad to be back in a routine, even if it means getting up at 5AM. Quite a few kids absent today. It was supposed to be a workday for teachers today, not a class day, but thanks to Hurricane Ike, we lost that day. That meant I had to come up last week to make sure my room was ready before the kids got there. Custodians wash and wax the rooms with tile floors over the break. Lost a couple kids, moving, but so far have not gotten any new move-ins. The semester end was also pushed back to next week Friday thanks to the hurricane. Ah well.

The year will be over before I can blink twice I am sure! Time to walk the dog.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Deconstructing Christmas

Happy New Year all! Here's hoping that 2009 is as good or better to you than 2008.

Quiet night, once again, last night. Spent the night watching a movie and playing Wii with the boys.

The tree and decorations come down today. :-( It is the first time in a few years that I am really not yet ready to take them down. But the house needs to be back before I go back to school Monday. So the procecss begins again.

Oh and football and fish soup later today! Yeah for more family traditions!