Monday, December 24, 2007

shorts -kinda rambly

While Christmas shopping in orange sweatpants and a Simpons t-shirt, I had 4 kids recognize me and say "Hi Mr. Hand." My fiancee told me I'm not allowed to go out in public dressed like that anymore. It still strikes me as funny how often kids say hello to me by name (and of course admonishes me in my role as public authority figure, a model of dignity and respect, cool under fire and all that--must... take... seriously...). [/Kirk mode off]

Kids ask me interesting and unexpected questions sometimes. Recent favorite: "Mr Hand do you know much about electronics? ... Were you on the TV show Mythbusters?"
Two different times a middle schooler has asked if I was Mexican (... "then what are you?" was the next question in the first case). Thought I was as balding-anglo as one can look but I have a beard, which complicates things I guess.

Sometimes I get really cool teaching situations like a music class or a computer lab, but even in such ideal enviroments its disappointed to see how many kids just don't seem to care about the opportunity. Watching the theatrics of kids "going crazy" acting rowdy is disruptive to my work, but less depressing than the apathy and cold distance.

Recently been pulling a good deal of "overtime" which I'm very happy about (doing extra classes during a prep period)--it's interesting doing one-period "tours" of a subject, often elective, and meeting more students. I can tell why it counts of overtime and why teachers are by the rules allowed to have that prep period, not just because there's so much to do but because you need a break from the babysitting duties, which can take a lot out of you!

When I have a chance (most of high school jobs involves reading role and confiscating tech) I leaf through the current teacher's edition of the textbook, occasionally looking over and reiterating instructions about what I don't want to see/hear. It's good experience reading this stuff at the same time that I'm having all kinds of behavioral and even teaching situations going on around me.

Working my holidy extra job to make ends meet at a bookseller, I have been very amused to see what kinds of books people are buying for gifts and school, just as it has been interesting to scan the shelves in different teachers rooms and school libraries. I like the book job not because there are opportunities for reading (there aren't) but it's kinda fun just to be exposed to several titles while getting paid--gaining the experience of seeing what's out there, soaking up an intuitive sense of what's being put in front of people as reading options.

I have very much enjoyed the elementary school jobs I've done. The kids are much nicer and more enthusiastic about learning (when they can settle down) than older kids and are rarely nasty or disrespectful. I especially like 4th graders--abstract thought is beginning to become available but before the full discovery of the complications of "coolness." Unfortunately despite my amusement and instruction in these jobs they are more labor-intensive and anxiety-producing, so I will probably take more high school and middle school jobs. I'm also going to be more selective of which jobs I take--now that I have a second flexible job I can focus on the more lucrative and higher-quality teaching opportunities. Of course, any job is really a toss-up, but I've learned enough at this point to spare myself those jobs that are more likely to be "in the trenches" type experiences, at least until I'm more experienced, disciplined, unflappable.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Scary stuff

So far in a month of subteaching I have been in one lockdown (because of a bank robbery that had nothing to do with the school), and had to breakup one junior high fight. I sometimes wish there was a little more training concerning these kinds of things. When kids don't listen to you under ordinary circumstances, it's part of the territory, but when kids don't listen during an emergency... I guess that's what we get paid the big bucks for.

Something funny a student asked

"Do you know much about electronics?" (well, sorta)
"Were you on the show mythbusters?" Kid was serious.
I have long hair and a beard, maybe I look like one of those hippies.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Studies: Cyberbullying is on the rise;_ylt=AnbvqIr8USShxol62Ox1Or9a24cA

"As many as one in three U.S. children have been ridiculed or threatened through computer messages, according to one estimate of the emerging problem of cyberbullying. Another new study found the problem is less common, with one in 10 kids reporting online harassment. But health experts said even the lower estimate signals a growing and concerning public health issue. "I wouldn't consider something that 10 percent of kids report as low," said Janis Wolak, a University of New Hampshire researcher who co-authored the second study."

proof (despite my reluctance) that this is a 21st century gig

Last week I took a job for a "basic math" course at a high school; it turned out to be a couple geometry classes plus a robotics class, a web design class and a programming class--all in a computer lab! The teacher had Burning Man photos on his computer, which I was allowed to surf on. I was the most popular teacher possible as I told them I didn't care what they did so long as they stayed relatively quiet and didn't kill each other (the teacher had written effectively "get whatever done" on the board)--one girl tells me "you should sub for us all the time" to which I feel I was too cynical in replying "what 'cuz I let you fool around? sorry but I can't help with the grade you still gotta do the work" (which of course was just a page or so of click-form geometry classwork website). Let me tell you, it was pretty rewarding pedagogically to have a kid say "hey check this out Mr. Hand" and then watch a LEGO catapult flip itself over (he explained that after stabilizing it the challenge would be to hit a target across the room--writing a program). It was nice to get a chance to do "on the clock" email websurfing newsreading and PKD research for a change (rather than the labors of continuous attention-grabbing and or silencing/disciplining more ambitious lesson plans require).

see and be scene

Getting on with my fourth week teaching, I've gotten to the point where I'm being recognized frequently by kids at several schools. It came as quite a surprise at first--for example, when at a high school I had only taught at once or twice before, kids were yelling "Hey Mr Hand" across the quad at me in the morning. It amazes me how much of an impression I'm somehow leaving, despite the fact that I basically just read the attendance and then watch them do work (occasionally peering over my book to spot iPods and cellfones). I guess that while I may feel that the cool/fun flourishes I try to put into explanation and interactions usually seem to be lost on them or just go unnoticed, something I'm doing causes me to come across to these kids as worth remembering and later saying "Hi" to. Makes me feel like I should put more of an effort into remembering names and things of that sort (which I'm not really getting *paid* to do but sure make the job more personable).

best teaching story so far

So I'm helping the kids write a paragraph (3rd grade) doing a chalkboard graphic organizer on the topic "If I want to be really happy in life I will do the following things." Sub-topic "get a good job" comes up and all the kids get excited when somebody suggests "president" as a possible job. I asked the class if one would be really happy as president, they almost unanimously cheer yes. I call on the one girld who said no and ask why. She says, "because you'd have to go to war."