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September 15, 2009

Every Monday we have Professional Development after school. All of the kids get out early so we have extra time each week to work on improving our effectiveness as teachers. Sounds like a great idea right? It could be, but it is usually not.

Case in point: Today we had a district mandated day to discuss, I mean learn about active engagement and writing objectives. Hmm. What is this active engagement, and we have to have objectives for our students? Oh yeah I remember it was drilled into my head during almost every graduate course I took to get my degree and certification. So I spent two hours of Professionl Development time filling out charts and worksheets about topics that I just spent tens of thousands of dollars to learn about. Don’t worry that between planning lessons with objectives, calling parents, responding to e-mails, grading 300+ papers every two days and then re-writing my lessons daily to accomodate what we don’t fit in . . . I forgot where I was going, which happens relatively often now. But don’t worry all you taxpayers out there, the schools are using your money to hire a consulting company that teaches, reteaches, all of this information to your teachers. Then the schools must hire additional personnel to be the teachers to the teachers. What a waste of time and money. I can understand if this was new information and teahcers that graduated ten years ago have not received this information, but they targeted new teachers. Now on Wednesday I get paid to be in a class all day to learn about active engagement, yea! because two hours plus 36 graduate class hours were not enough. Again thanks to the taxpayers who help provide my daily long term sub pay and who will pay to have a sub in my class that most likely can’t speak Spanish and won’t know what to do or how to help the students learn. Then on Thursday afternoon I get to go to another meeting for new teachers about something, I don’t know what but if it is active engagement or objectives I am going to have to try really hard not to show my disgust or slam my head down on the desk.


Should I be worried?

September 15, 2009

It is no surprise that the Lil Toad is my most emotional child. I babied him from the get go thinking he would be our last. He also has to contend with being the middle child and having the most health issues. I sympathize with him having allergies and asthma having watched my brother go through it and experiencing them both myself now. Holding down a toddler for breathing treatments and chest x-ray is traumatic enough for anyone looking and I can only imagine what he thought was happening during those unfortunate yet necessary medical treatments.

We have all seen the scowl he so readily puts on and how he was and is still the least likely to warm up to people, especially when he is in a mood. Yet you probably don’t know about his obsession with Halloween. While most kids think of Christmas when you ask them about holidays, he has Halloween on the brain all year long. He also loves watching Tim Burton films. He wants to be Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas this year. Then we got Coraline on DVD. This movie scared and creeped out P’s so much that she still refuses to watch it or even listen to it in the same room as she is. The Lil Toad will take the movie in his room, sit in the dark with a blanket draped over the bunk bed like a fort and sit by himself on the bottom bunk watching this movie. Now I know that it is just his nature to be more solitary than his chipper and crazy brother and sister, but we’re hoping this doesn’t become too extreme.

Then he wrote his first word. He has been learning letters in his new preschool and can write the first five of the alphabet and an additional five from learning his name. The other day while I was getting ready to leave he came into my room.

LT: Mom did you get my note I wrote you?

Me: What note?

LT: Ughh, It’s right here (around the corner in my room where I hadn’t been in over 20 minutes, and he handed me the paper.) I wrote it just for you.


That’s what he wrote. Aside from his name the first compilation of letters he wrote on his own DEAD. I thanked him for his note and gave him a kiss and a hug. He was so proud he wrote a word. I just hope he continues to like his high and tight haircuts and he doesn’t start wearing all black.

Another Lil Toad story

September 5, 2009

While driving home from daycare, the Lil Toad randomly yelled out “Ohh, I’m never going to go to Japan!”
Me: We can probably go to Japan when you all get older
LT: But I am a man. (In a duh mom kind of tone)
Me: You are?
LT: Yes, I can marry.
Me: You can get married right now?
LT: Yes! To my sister, and I can wear some black pants with a black shirt and like a tie. Yep that will look great!

The next morning as I was just getting up to get ready to go to work, LT stomped into the kitchen. “Mom why are you awake at the night time. Go get back in bed!”

First week, no make that first month

September 5, 2009

Where to start? I found out at 5pm on Aug 5th that I was officially hired and needing to start teaching on the following Monday.  Four days to prep for five classes and over 150 students. Actually it was more like 4 days because I didn’t actually get my keys until late on Thursday. Then there was the issue of all of the leftover stuff in every file cabinet, drawer, and shelf in the room. The previous teacher was obviously not Type A and there were football uniforms and pads, cords and cables, old student papers and a bunch of other crap littering my room. I waited most of Friday morning thinking and mapping out my ideas while I waited for him to get back from a meeting and move his stuff out. I should have taken a picture of the trash pile he accumulated after the move. Not so much of a pile as it was a mountain of filled boxes and papers . . .

It has now been two weeks since I started this post and obviously from my lack of time and energy to post, life as a high school teacher has not gotten any easier or smoother. After having so few days to prepare and not even having books for my Spanish classes until 4 days into school, going into week three should have been easier than the first two. Not so. I had four sections of Spanish and one Frosh Focus class. I was told the Frosh Focus class was all mapped out and that the lessons were already prepared so I wouldn’t have to do much of anything outside of class, except copying. This was not the case as the books and lessons that were used for the class last year were now being used in the AEP (Academic Enrichment Period) classes for the freshman. So with no books and only the internet as a resource for the class, I spent most of my mornings and prep period Googling activities about communication, stress management and future planning for my group of 30 kids. As for Spanish things were going well and my classes were actually going down a bit in size from close to 40 in each class to a more manageable 28-34 as my native speakers tested into higher levels. Again I started to feel like I was getting into a good routine and then WHAM! Now there is a freeze on all student schedule changes. There are too many students and not enough open sections for Spanish, English, math and business. As the administration decided how to handle the overflow of students I was presented with a myriad of possibilities: switch from Spanish to English if they find another foreign language teacher, teach another section on my prep, lose my Frosh Focus and add an English, math or Spanish class to my schedule  . . . So now 2 days ago I got a new class. I no longer have 1st hour prep for 6th, I lost my Frosh Focus class when they were finally starting to work for me during class, and now I have a class of 3-4 Spanish that is filled with students from three different teachers and all of the students at 3 different points in the lessons form never starting to being ready for the next unit. Thank goodness there is a three day weekend so I can hopefully get ahead or at least not be preparing materials and lessons in the morning on the day I plan to deliver them.

On a positive note the lack of time to eat and snack, constant running up and down the stairs to copy papers and necessity to drink a ton of water all day has led to a 10 pound weightloss. I can also un jam and refill a copier with 10 reems of paper in under a minute.

Tech adventures

August 4, 2009


I took P’s to see the new Harry Potter movie. DH knew we both really wanted to see it and I hadn’t been to a DBox movie yet. The DBox seats move and vibrate along with the movie, like Star Tours only a thousand times smoother and more accurate. The seats are in a regular stadium style theater and take up two of the best rows for optimum viewing pleasure. On the down side the seats are taller than normal and my feet couldn’t reach the floor so they got really cold and almost fell asleep by the end of the movie. You also can’t put your feet on the chair in front of you because it could lead to an ankle injury. The tickets were $13.50 each, which is better than the $18 DH spent to see Terminator a month ago. I would not pay more than what we spent to see Harry Potter. The seats were really cool and even though I read the book and knew when something would jump out, having the chair vibrate and jostle at the exact moment almost made me scream out loud. I think this would be very cool for a thriller movie, especially for people that like to be scared. The seats also have a sensor control so P’s turned her chair off when she knew the movie was getting to a scary part. She did like the flying, but we will wait a year or two more before she goes again. Harry Potter didn’t have as much action as other movies so the motion portion vs the still portion of the movie was about 40 – 60. DH said Terminator was more the other way around which would be more enjoyable. This is definitely worth trying out.

Down with Cable

For those of you that don’t know we got rid of cable to save some money and justify buying a new computer. So far it is pretty awesome. I am currently laying on the couch and typing this via wireless keybord onto the nice 42″ flat screen on the wall. We have taken full advantage of Hulu, Netflix, Youtube and Boxee for our viewing pleasures. DH can also still order his PayPerView UFC fights on the computer. We still get all the basic Network stations, minus ABC, just by hooking up the cable in the back to catch the digital signal for any live events we want to watch. The biggest downside is no ESPN, Golf channel and other sports games that are only on cable. Not a problem for me just for my DH. I have Hulu already set up to put all of the new shows for the series I watch in my queue, so the DVR has been replaced. The kids can even watch their favorite shows streamed through Netflix or on DVD. We are saving $100 on our bill by eliminating cable and I don’t think we will ever go back, at least not for that much $.

My New Job . . . Sort Of

August 4, 2009

Today I had one of those days that most people would dread that would lead them to punching some customer service rep just to vent the frustration. First off it was 110 degrees today and I really needed to run errands and drive all over town to complete them. Actually it started with one errand: go get my substitute certificate downtown. So I started off around 10 am after DH got home from work and the kids were all settled and lunches premade so he could get some sleep. I have heard that the lines could get pretty long especially with a new school year starting so I prepared myself for a long wait. The line wasn’t too bad, only about 10 people in front of me so I was happy that I could get home early. No go. Apparently when I paid $65 for my fingerprint clearance card a year ago there were two different applications going out. The one I got is no longer accepted, and I was informed I had to get the new one in order to get my certificate. Not only did I need to pay an additional $69 for something I already had to have an extra number on it, but it required me to make two additional stops in government buildings with long lines and masses of people in 100 degree weather. Next stop the bank to get a cashiers check. So I drove 20 minutes back towards home since  I no longer have internet on my phone to check for a closer bank. Yes I could have called 411, but everytime I was on the phone in the car I missed my turn. I did get a nice tour of downtown following the one way streets to get back to my original destination. I decided to make an extra stop to pick up my official transcripts since I would need those later anyways and I was right there. After the bank it was back to downtown to the only police station that does fingerprinting every day. By now I was on my second Starbucks Green Tea and it was 1pm. I walked into the office and was greeted with a waiting room with over 100 people inside, no chairs and one line. I figured my day was over and there would be no way I would make it back before 4:30 to get my certification. Luckily most of the people already went through the intake line, but I heard the info cop tell someone else that there was at least a two hour wait. The girl in front of me in line was all flustered and getting annoyed with the wait wondering why she couldn’t request a police report online. I remained positive enjoying my time with nothing to worry about or any kids to take care of and I figured a smile might help the ladies behind the bullet proof windows feel better about their day. I got to the window and handed my paperwork, cashiers check and additional $6 through the one inch slot (That’s what he said) and was told to wait over there, where 30 other people were waiting. Fabulous. I took out my phone to tweet about the situation and the door opened and my name was called before I could get any testing done. Yippee. I was able to get back to the certification office in time and get my sub certificate, $60, at which time they also pulled my original English certification application and entered that $60 check as well. I still have to wait 2-3 weeks though before they will issue my certification.

Part Two: I decided since I was out, and I would have to turn in my documentation for the job anyway, that I should stop by the district office on the way home. Another line and more waiting. I originally was called for an English Learning position, but the school had someone back out of a Spanish position and wants me to teach that instead. I’m not certified in Spanish yet, haven’t even taken the test, nor have I used my Spanish regularly in two years. So now I must take the $120, three to four hour long test in three weeks, wait another four weeks for my results then go back downtown and pay another $60 for my Spanish certification. Yes I have a Bachelors degree in Spanish with over 30 credit hours of Spanish courses. No this does not seem to be enough to qualify me to teach Spanish. So I will start in the classroom on Monday as a long term sub until I have the rest of my cerification in order at which point I will be offered a full time position and a contract.

Is anyone else confused?

Little Toadisms

July 28, 2009

This one time when I was a little boy like Booger, I was like 5 or 7.

In the car: Mommy when am I going to get these like you? (As he points to his chest. Never only girls get those.) Oh man! But I want to be a girl.

Tomorrow I am going to go to somebody’s house today.

I want to go boxing. (Okay we can play on the Wii.) No I want to go boxing out in the world.

Dad let’s go play tennis. (Not right now) Oh man this is ridiculous!

Playing catch with Dad: Lil Toad you need to catch with your hands not with your head. Dad you need to catch with your hands not with your pee pee.

D: Should we be worried about the lil Toad? He is in his room alone wearing all black and watching Tim Burton movies.

Lil Toad on Music: Birthday Text! Birthday Text! I am going to tell GG Birthday Text! Birthday Text! (No please don’t, just say Happy Birthday)

Birds are fire! Birds are fire! Dance Floor!