Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to School

We started back to school (teachers only) last Monday, and on Thursday, the kids joined us.  There are many changes this year -- new principal, a new position (Dean of Students), many new teachers, and an incredibly frustrating, unfriendly schedule.  Our 6th graders got brand new lockers which replaced lockers that were close to 50 years old.  And I got new-to-me desks.  Or rather, instead of the top-opening desks I inherited 20 years ago (and they were old then!), I got flat-topped desk-sized tables for my room.  So there's been a lot of excitement and a lot of angst this year.

The schedule is probably the most angst-producing factor in our back-to-school anxiety.  We are following a 6 day schedule rotation, and not one day is the same!  And each of the 3 grade levels in the building has a different rotation of subjects.

So in 6th grade our schedule goes:

Day 1 - Homeroom, 40 min Content 1 , Unified Art (U.A.) A, RTI, 60 min. Content 2, Lunch, 60 min. Content 3, 60 min. Content 4, UA C.

Day 2 - Homeroom, Content 2 class, UA-B, RTI, Content 3, Lunch, Content 4, Content 1, UA C.

Day 3 - Homeroom,  Content 3, UA-A, RTI, Content 4, Lunch, Content 1, Content 2, UA-C

Day 4 - Homeroom, Content 4, UA-B, RTI, Content 1, Lunch, Content 2, Content 3, UA-C

Day 5 - Homeroom, Content 1, Content 2, Content 3, Lunch, 88 min UA-C, Content 4, Academic Study

Day 6 - UA-A, UA-B, Content 1, Content 2, Lunch, Content 3, Content 4, Academic Study

It's nuts!  The schedule is driven by budget-concerns. Since our high school and middle school share a campus, the school board thought it made sense to share Unified Arts teachers between the high school and middle school.  That meant that the middle school has to follow the high school schedule.  It doesn't make any academic sense.  The 8th grade schedule is such that they have a Content block that's broken up with a UA -- so it's 20 minutes of class, UA, and then the 40 remaining min. of the Content class.  The poor science teachers are having a fit.

Despite the ridiculous schedule, there ARE good things.  Our new admins. are bending over backwards to boost our morale and support us.  They gave us breakfast on the 2nd day of school (at their personal expense -- no district $ can be used for feeding staff), and at the end of the 1st day of school with kids, they called a brief staff meeting --- to give us all ice cream sandwiches!  If you want to find either of them, don't look in their offices because they are in the halls and in the classrooms.

We have a very small 6th grade class this year --  under 100.  This is the first time in the 20 years I've taught here that we've had fewer than 110 students. Our town hit a really bad patch during the last few years, and many people lost their homes.  It's had an impact on the school population.  We were fortunate to keep all of our 6th grade teachers this year,mostly because next year we will be back up almost 120. Meanwhile I will enjoy sharing 30 students with my teaching partner!  And since this probably going to be my last year, I plan to enjoy the small class size!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Busy, RESTFUL Summer

Here it is, the last week of summer break.  Teachers go back next Monday and I am trying to squeeze out every last drop of rest and relaxation.  I'm not even thinking about (much) all the things I planned to do this summer and didn't get to.  It's been crazy, at least the beginning of the summer, but weirdly it's been one of the most relaxed summers I've enjoyed.

We spent most of June and about 2/3 of July on the move.  Once school got out at the end of June, moving tasks went into high gear. We managed to take the belongings that have amassed over 37 years of marriage and 30 years in one house, and pare them down to something more manageable.  We still have a little bit left in the barn/garage, but everything else has been moved, donated, sold, or thrown out.  We had some renovation work done at the old house, and we've rented it to some wonderful people.  At our new house, we've started the task of settling in. . . finding places for the necessaries and the precious items we've saved.  We still need to hang art work, do some more landscaping, add some shelving and organize the boxes and bins of things that now reside in our basement.

But amid all these tasks, I've really relaxed. We took some day trips, a mini-trip, and I've slept about 6.5 hrs each night, sipped on my morning coffee in a leisurely manner, eaten my breakfast on the deck watching the sun peek over the trees, birdwatched, read, knit, watched all my DVR'd shows.  I've thoroughly enjoyed my time.  I can't say that I'm ready to go back to the pressure cooker of school, but I am more ready than I've been in other years.  Maybe it's because I'm pretty sure that this will be my last year.

The old house - (Can't find the lovely spring picture of the house that is lost in an obscure folder), 5 bedrooms, 3400 sq ft.

The new house -  about 1/2 the square footage - 2 bedrooms, one floor-living, 3 miles closer to town!

A day on Lake Sunapee:

A day on Block Island, RI

Sunset in Galilee  (Rhode Island!)

From the deck of my new house - I've spent a lot of time here this summer!