Monday, August 27, 2007

I say 'Hey! What's going on?'

A new school year has fallen upon us, to the chagrin of the scholastic aged everywhere. Or, at least, those in the south. Which brings up an interesting question. Hold on while I wipe that bead of sweat rolling down my back.......ahhh. Oops. There's another. Ok.

Anyway, WHY THE HELL DO THEY MAKE US GO BACK TO SCHOOL IN EARLY AUGUST WHEN IT'S SO FRIGGIN'HOT HERE!?!?!?! There are a million and 12 days better to start school than August 14. I mean, really. I don't mind getting out in early June if it means we start in September. I had two window units, two ceiling fans, and a bottle of deodorant in my desk, but I sweat profusely. Part of this is because they're rewiring the school for better Internet capabilities. "Gee, what does that have to do with you sweating?" you ask? Well, I'll tell you. I am on the second floor. Heat rises, right? Well, it also tends to filter down through missing ceiling tiles from the attic of the school and into my cooler classroom. More specifically, right above my desk! Thank God last year's rodent problem was solved. Mmmm...Post-Katrina Mid-City New Orleans! God, if this had been last year... Ugh. I'm grossing myself out.

Other than that and the way they keep tinkering with our schedules, school is the best year yet. No evil bitch teaching partners. Nothing but helpful teaching partners who get involved as far as my eyes can see this year. People splitting journal-reading duties, no one treating my like I'm incompetent...I am teaching just as many classes, plus working on updating the school website, plus running a club by myself, plus having a homeroom this year...yet I'm so much more relaxed. I'm ENJOYING myself again. This is what it's supposed to be.

First, my homeroom is amazing. I love, love, love them. I had half of them last year as 7th graders for both reading and writing. This year, they are 8th graders. Got a bunch of cool new kids and the 6th graders who moved into 7th this year are awesome. Including a former camper from the Day School. Love her. Everyone agrees that my homeroom is the best. They enjoy having them. I think I may get back into baking at holidays. I did that my first year for my homeroom. Last year, I didn't care and was stressed too much to be bothered. This year, it's a whole new ballgame.

Also, they listened to me. Do you know how much it means to have a boss who listens to you and takes your suggestions to heart? It's so rare to find in today's world, where everyone is replaceable, and if you don't like the way it's run, you get a pink slip. But last year was rough. Let me backtrack to every year until last year:

Our student-teacher ratio is 18:1. Sometimes, after the storm, we've gone over that. We co-teach in many subjects, and the two teachers split the room into two groups and teach on opposite sides of the room for reading and math, (with a 9:1 ratio) while one does science and the other does social studies to the whole class. Their co-curriculars and religion classes are together, too. Writing would be half and half, but the ratio there is 9:2.

Then, last year, we departmentalized. We had two reading and two math teachers co-teaching in the same room at the same time the same subjects. In reading, this is hard. The reading teachers tend to be dynamic. If we were in different books, or different parts of the same book, even, it was very disrupting to hear a round of "HUZZAH" from the other side of the room. And for writing, it was two teachers, as usual, but 18:2. Not the 9:2 we'd had before. And it was impossible to keep up. I'll be the first to admit that our students were cheated. As you may recall, we teach children with learning differences. These differences could be ADHD, Dyslexia, OCD, Asperger's Syndrome, and a billion and one other things that hurt you in "regular" school, but keep you out of special ed. We're the bridge between. Our low ratios are paramount to the success of our program. And it wasn't working last year.

This year, we have two rooms available for reading. Two teachers, two rooms, 8 or so kids per group (since we aren't at capacity yet). It's peaceful, relaxing, and "noncompetitive." This year, we are still putting all of them in one class for writing, but a third teacher filters in. For two of those classes, we have an extra room available, so we can pull smaller groups out for individualized attention.

Again, it's a whole different atmosphere. I feel like the kids are going to get the attention they deserve this year, and that they will learn a lot more in the process.

I'm moderating media club again, so that's good. And, Sabrina, a fellow teacher, and I are going to coach the bowling team. It's our first year of sports! We finally have a senior class, after 3 years of steady growth and hurricane interruption. There's 7 of them, but by golly, we have a senior class!

The house is at a standstill of sorts. It is too hot to do anything else outside. Gardening will have to wait, as will painting the rest of the outside. Dad put mortar in the brick gaps and we painted the front, but we are afraid of heat stroke. It's slowly starting to cool off here, though. In the next few weeks, we can move back to the outside.

Inside, we just got a garbage disposal this weekend, and our dishwasher is being delivered Friday. I grew up with both of these luxuries, plus we had a dishwasher in our old house. I have had enough of plastic and paper goods, as well as dishpan hands. I won't use gloves. Sorry. Just a few more days.

Started up at UNO again last week. One class on Tuesdays this semester. They only offered one of my three available, remaining classes. Joy. Well, three plus the third "internship," followed by the capstone internship/student teaching semester. Maybe 2008? But this frustration over this formerly great university has halted my master's pursuit. I have given it up in favor of only my certification. Maybe someday, if they get their act together, I'll get that hood I covet so badly.

The anniversary of Katrina, number 2, is this Wednesday. I can't tell you that it weighs heavily on my mind. There isn't a day I don't think about it. There's still so much work to be done. Lakeview at night is great, simply because I can see how many places have lights on. Mid-City, where my school is, is largely back. Sometimes, I'll sit in the house and feel content, but then I remember what got me here. The other day, we were unpacking a box that was in our attic, and I found the most inane keepsakes from college. But did I throw them away? Hell no. They're all that remain of a former life. They're going nowhere, no matter how useless they seem.

When Dean was making a beeline for the Gulf, I had the worst sense of losing it all again. God...can I put up with that? I don't think so. I mean, this time, we're homeowners, so the insurance would be way better. And Mark refuses to stay again. So we'd get to load both cars. But two cars of stuff is ridiculous. I really questioned our decision to return. But then I realized that to leave would kill me slowly. I have to stay right now. I have to help revive my city. Call me crazy if you will, but can you truly dedicate yourself to any one place? There's something about her...something so seedy and sultry and splendid and swampy and steamy and tons of other things my lisp won't let me say. Call me crazy, but I love her.

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