Monday, January 29, 2007

Glad the day is over

I had a hell of time sleeping last night. Cat was yeowling for some reason, and I was just "awake". Drifted off at around 1 a.m.

Woke up at around 5 a.m. Damn, I feel like I didn't even sleep. Get up and shower with the notion to kick it up in the classroom today. It might be the only way I make it.

Out the door and at the classroom by 6:05. Print out a copy of the Choices Model U.N. guide that I downloaded, and bought, last night. The printer is taking too long and my laptop is booting weird. I'm trying to fix both.

By 6:20 I go into the Admin building. Two vice-principals are already there working away and I chit-chat with them while the copy machine warms up. I start to print-out of staples. Move staple trays around and start to print-paper jam. Another teacher walks in and we chat while I clear the jam. Start to print and everything goes smoothly. I'm back into my classroom by 6:40.

I turn on Imus (who is conducting a great interview with NBC's Brian Williams) and put in grades into the computer. When finished, I head back to the Admin building to place a call to the Choices people at Brown University for purchase order information. I stumble with the voice message and return to the confines of the room. At about 7:15, students begin to filter in. I write the day's agenda on the white board and crack jokes with students.

7:30 and International Studies begins, minus about 6 students. It's Monday, I guess. I'm down to about 25 students from the 32 I started with in September. Those that left said that they liked the class, but hated coming to school so early. I mention due dates for Berkeley Model United Nations Forms. Then we watch the news. No questions. The students look dead. I give a little introduction about The Voice of America, and connect it to the concept of Foreign Policy tools that we had just finished learning about. We watch a Newshour Focus on the current state of VOA. The students pay attention, but it wanes in the final few minutes. The discussion that follows is pretty good, but some of my students always drift towards the topic of impeaching Bush. When that topic goes away, they loose interest. We begin to read a handout about the creation of the United Nations and I ask them to highlight. Most do, while others ask "What do we highlight?" Only five minutes left and 1/3 of the class is chatty, while the rest look tired. I end the class a bit irritated at the energy level. I gave more than I got. When the bell rings I head back to the Admin building and through another classroom. A student that is in my Global Studies class is there for his next period, and just didn't show to mine. I look at him, raise my eyebrows, and move on. Seniors know, and either it will be figured out or it won't.

I go to the intercom in the office and announce the basketball practice times for today. There is a girls game today and our practices will be short. On the way out, two teachers stop me and tell me that my voice is excellent and that I should give morning announcements. I also overhear that 11 teachers are out, and almost half have pneumonia. Ew.

I drop by the varsity coaches room to check up on things and then return to my classroom for my prep. The class that is usually there is somewhere else today, so I turn on Imus again. Then I call the District Office looking for a date when I will receive funding for Model UN. The contact is in a meeting. I then print out a Wall Street Journal article on politics and the Stock Market, and go back to the building to make copies. Upon return, more Imus, and I sit and work on a Stock Market power point, read some newspapers (Sac Bee, Chronicle, Daily Journal), and drink tea.

Second period is Econ. The news goes by uneventfully again, even though the students are more attentive. I catch one girl playing with her I-Pod Video player and take it from her with little fanfare. Cute gadget, but becoming more of a problem. Investment quiz, and most do fine. We are starting a Stock Market project. I introduce the unit by showing them a 10 minute clip of Mad Money from Jim Cramer. They are to write down things they see and hear, and ask questions. By the end, most kid's heads are spinning. It goes fast and furious, and some are left confused. But many start asking questions about IPO's, bulls, bears, earnings, etc. It starts to take hold and I start my Brown's Bagels and Buns simulation, where I own a business and sell stock. At the same time, the market price for my shares fluctuates and other people sell their shares. It is a great little introduction to stocks. This class is not as involved as my 4th period, and again, the energy is down. I think they got it, but I'm not positive.

Break in between 2-3. I drink tea and sit out at the community table. Some of us talk of coaching and disk golf.

Third is Intro, a more basic level of Economics. I collect homework, which only 30% of the class has done. We have silent reading for about 20 minutes. I read the Wall Street Journal. Everyone is reading, although two are having a go at staying awake. Sleep earlier people. Silent reading ends, news is uneventful, and we talk about Factors of Production for a pizza. The lesson goes rather well and the students are getting it. I make it tougher and assign them Factors of Production for a bottle of water. They meet the challenge and begin working immediately, helping each other out. Best energy of the day so far. The class ends on a high note.

Fourth is Economics (like Second). They are a day ahead and after the news we watch the Nightly Business Report's "Stocks in the News", while I pause it to explain the charts, numbers and graphs. They are interested, some a taking notes about stocks to purchase later this week. Investment quiz. They don't do as well, but many are kicking themselves for missing answers that they should have known. That's a good sign. They won't miss it again. I show them Yahoo Finance and take them through a simple stock quote. Then we begin the Stock Market Power Point. Lots of interest, lots of questions. Good period.

Lunch. I'm eating a small mac n' cheese and two lean pockets. The community table is buzzing with talk about the recent Santa Rosa Press Democrat article (which I'll get to later) about the health care crises at the Sonoma County schools. One person states that an economist should take California's budget and stop doing bond measures. I agree to do it and they ask what I think. I give them honest, economically sound answers and they hate it. The liberal division of the crowd roll their eyes and make snide comments. They really don't want a solution, it would seem, because it would be painful. Then talk goes to the usual, impeaching Bush, the Iraq War, yada, yada. They last conversation is about the current Internet censorship problem at the school. Basically, the district does not trust the teachers to know what content is appropriate. Really good management technique.

5th period is Intro (like 3rd), but a lower level. Only 5 students are in the class today, and only 7 are officially registered. The news is uneventful. I then discuss the Bottled Water factors of production while they follow along. They are really trying to understand, and are on the verge. One student comes totally unprepared, is cursing out another student, and is asked to leave. We then change gears to the idea of Rare vs. Scarce. I show them a Canadian newschannel video of the Tickle Me Elmo craze and we discuss the idea of scarcity. I bought a Tickle Me Elmo on Ebay two years ago and it again becomes a great tool. $2000 at one time, $6 on E-Bay now. The difference is easily understood, and the class ends well.

I visit with a couple of counselors about students that I'm concerned about. All are supportive and willing to work with me.

At 3:15 I head to the gym, talking to a teacher about mistakes we made on report cards, and talking to students about basketball. Practice is about 30 minutes and is excellent. The energy is great, the plays are tough, and the players are executing moves that they learned. I'm excited about Wednesday against Cardinal Newman. The players look satisfied when they leave and I visit the athletic director. I give some bad news to the freshman coach and return to ask about parent evaluations. Apparently, I got some bad feedback from parents about some issue or another. I'm royally pissed. I've done everything pretty much by the book this year and I think that this was my best year coaching yet, regardless of the record. Then to find out that some parents are pissed about something........makes me pretty sick. In fact, I'm still angry. However, I'm trying to remember the many parents that have came up to me after games to tell me that I'm doing such a nice job.

I go home and play a little baseball on the PS2, trying to basically forget the parent feedback information. Then I ate dinner with the wife and started to write.

A day in the life.
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