Posts Tagged ‘school’

So my school is doing something to boost attendance, and every month the 3-5 class that has the best attendance gets to do a scooter race. My class won for September (there’s only 10 of us, so it wasn’t TOO hard…).  Here’s a few pics and videos from yesterday’s race.  You can hear me cheering; one of my kiddos was using my camera since he couldn’t race.



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Today, technically the first day of my fall break, I went to school.  This is the first time I’ve actually gone to school on a break.  I’m supposed to be “sharpening my saw” — Habit #7 from the 7 Habits, but the custodian said he’d be at the school from 12-4, so off I went.

This may require some explanation.  I have complained long and loudly about TUSD’s habit of giving teachers only three days to get ready for the first day of school, and then taking half or more of those first days up with required meetings, trainings, what have you.  I worked very hard during summer school to get a lot of things organized, and so was not…completely…lost these first two months.  Last year; wow.  We won’t talk about last year.

I’ve enlisted the help of students after school (you can Tom Sawyer them at this age), and even come in on an odd weekend day, but the organization was not in place, and I keep making piles of papers.

I finally got to the bottom of the pile of things to be filed.  Not everything is filed, but I know where everything is and will be able to file it, little by little, over the next week after school (I hope).

My core library was leveled before school started, but I still have not gotten to that.  I would much rather have piles of books around than piles of papers, however, so I will continue to work on that as time allows.


not this bad, I promise!

I brought home “teacher crafty” things to do this week (I’m NOT going back in again, so I did a lot of laminating today), and everything I might need for “Fall” centers.  Haven’t touched Halloween yet, and I may only have a couple of things on the day itself, rather than a couple weeks of spooky activities.

The fun thing about teaching elementary is the chance to be creative with assignments, to make centers that fit a theme while still aligning with current standards.  The tough thing about teaching elementary is to keep up with making the centers fun and cute, while not tearing one’s hair out.  I try to keep an even keel between the two, because I am short on time (especially now that after-school tutoring has started).  So some of my centers are not cute and some are.  We try our best.

And sometimes, sharpening the saw means having things ready to walk in on the Monday after a break, so I can sleep Sunday night.


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28 songs scanned

8 quarts of tomato puree canned

and 3 pints of apple butter canned

1 large pot of apple butter cooking

1 messy church cleaned — or at least enough for now

2 classes taught (1 good 1 bad)

1 post-observation conference and the accompanying paperwork (grr)

2 piano lessons

1 pot of stew made — and eaten

1 pot of beans cooking

5 loads of laundry done

1 grocery shopping list done — almost!

5 books read


back to clean the church some more!


That is all.

(except that it wasn’t all today.  Some of those were yesterday.)


Is this a poem? 😉

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Well, Wednesday I had parent-teacher conferences.  Eight of my 29 kids’ parents showed up.  That was actually ok, because my reading masters class ended Wednesday night and I had two half-finished assignments from before plus the huge ending assignment to do.  (Note: If you assign weekly papers that are involved, don’t assign double the work for the last assignment.  It’s just rude.)  I worked on my band blog, shameless self-promotion, cough, cough, then did the research for the ending assignment.  Took forever.  I had to write a grant for a $10,000 gift to allow digital reading devices (Kindles, etc.) in my class.  I chose to do it on Kindles and found some good information, but it took a long time.  I printed it out at the school, spent some time with the other band teacher fixing trumpets, and then went to teach piano and have choir.  We needed to set up 10 tables with 8 chairs each in the fellowship hall for a funeral on Thursday and a birthday party on Saturday, plus I had been working on washing all the church’s dishes — there were mouse “things” found in some of them.  They must have 500 dishes.  I only got about a third of them done, but that was ok.  I went home about 9:30, played on the piano a little, and then settled down to slave away.  I didn’t finish the assignments till 6:15 am. Grr.  At least I didn’t have to teach on Thursday.

I slept till 9 and then went over to the church to practice before the funeral.  After the funeral, I went to the MEA teacher workshops over in St. Paul (the reason we didn’t have school Thursday or Friday).  I went to two and then headed back over to the church to clean some more.  I took a little detour and sat in the parking lot with a book.  I felt like I had been quite good enough and deserved to be a little irresponsible 🙂

Friday I slept in and basically did nothing except read all day.  I ran a couple errands late in the afternoon and made supper for Kent (quite an occurrence, let me tell you).

Saturday we slept in a little and then got up and drove up to Duluth.  We had sweet potato fries at the New London Cafe, then went and hiked another section of the Superior Hiking Trail.  5.4 miles and back, so that was a nice little hike.  We got back about 10 pm and raided the freezer for the birthday ice cream I’d gotten at Cold Stone and put there for a “rainy day”. 🙂  We watched some Boston Legal and I went to bed with a book.  (Yes, I read a lot.  If you are around me much, you know that for sure.)

Sunday I slept in again and we worked on cleaning up the house.  I read a little, cooked a little, and got over to the church about 8:45 pm.  Oops.  I did the very least I could do to get it ready for Monday, but I was still there for over 5 hours.  Got to bed just before 3 am, and Kent was still not home from closing Taco Bell.

And today, I had two good classes, a nice breakfast in a pretty-clean kitchen (in a fairly-clean house!), and now I will go to the chiropractor and piano lessons, then to the church again….

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In government, business, and personal life, bribery is considered a no-no.  Sure, some people accept money or other favors, especially in countries like Thailand, where it’s almost de rigeur.  But “nice” people don’t accept bribes.  And you certainly wouldn’t expect to get a little “sumpin-sumpin” slipped under the table for just doing your job.

According to a recent article in TIME magazine, education researchers are doing just that — bribing students to get better grades, score higher on tests, stay out of trouble, or just read books.  The results, unsurprisingly, were good.  Students read more, and as far as they knew how to change the grades or test scores, tried to do better overall.  The study found, in fact, that students were able to better achieve when the goal was measurable, like getting paid per book read, rather than a more nebulous “improve grades/test scores”, which, as any teacher knows, very few students have any inkling of the process of doing so.

When I initially read the article, I thought, “Wow! Kids are doing better on reading!  They are staying out of trouble!  How wonderful!  Just think how much better they’ll do when they get to high school if they have a good foundation of reading and studying in elementary school!”  Then it hit me.  Students in second grade were getting paid $2 per book read (and quiz taken to prove said reading).  So what would be the “fee” for books read, homework done, or grades raised when these students got to fifth grade, ninth grade, or twelfth grade?  How much of a school district’s budget would go towards bribe money?  And what would happen when the students graduated and went on to college, where they would be doing the paying?

Those who look on the bright side (which usually tends to be me) would say, “Oh, by that time the students will be motivated by a love of learning and will learn because of the intrinsic benefits.”  Not bloody likely.  Spend some time in a high school twelfth-grade classroom, you know, those who are separated by a few short months from “real life” and college, and you will quickly reassess.

For that matter, how many of us do something purely from a love of learning?  Would you, having once been paid for running on a treadmill, be likely to continue once the payments had stopped?  Yes, I belong to the group of people who pay for access to a gym, and try very hard to go often enough for my health insurance to kick in that benefit of paying for two-thirds of it.  Oh, wait.  I’m getting some form of kickback, aren’t I?  Hmmm…

It was brought up in the article that “adults get paid for their jobs.  A student’s job is school, so they should get paid.”  I’ve heard that said, by high school students, whose only real gripe was that they had to stay in school until they were 18.  They didn’t do any actual work, so the problem was just that they had to get out of bed, dress in a uniform, make some pretense at coming to school at some point in the morning (and maybe leave after lunch), turn in one or two assignments a quarter (just enough to complain that they had DONE work when they got the F), and quit showing up the second they hit that birthday.  Oh, and they were too busy working that after-school job to do homework, so really, they couldn’t be expected to turn in the assignments anyway.

Honestly, I’m torn.  In my heart of hearts, I guess I’m still the idealist who wants to believe that students should be “inspired” to learn, and that teachers, if they are really good teachers, can accomplish that inspiration.  Unfortunately, having spent one year in a spoiled-brat private school and two in an inner-city school (where above scenario was compiled, although the private school students’ attitudes weren’t much better), my inner idealist is a bit battered and a bit more cynical.  Maybe paying students to learn is one answer.  I don’t like it, but if it works, maybe it’s what we need.  I hate to believe it has to be that way — I’m scared of the consequences down the road when the bribed students grow up.  Is there some other way to motivate students?  Maybe we just need to keep trying everything all the time.  But maybe we can find something else other than bribery to achieve our goals, just because it doesn’t set a good precedent, whether it works or not.

(Do I get paid for this blog?)

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