Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yellow Scavenger Hunt

One of the side effects of the accident is that I currently drive a yellow rental car that gets alot of comments.

#1 Wow, Miss D, that is really YELLOW.
#2 I don't think I've seen anything more yellow.

MissD: It's my taxi. I have to find some way to afford to still be a teacher, so now I run a taxi service. Rides home for 2 bucks. Any takers?

#3 How about you drive us to go shopping??
MissD: In the banana?

One my students stumbled upon the fact that I hadn't locked my car, hopped into it and had one of her friends take a picture with her in the car.
#4 Miss D, my favorite teacher, can we borrow your car to go to 7-11??
#5 MissD, where's your other car?
MissD: Remember that Stoopid Lady who hit me? Well, they decided it was her fault. My car is in the shop and they gave me this one while mine is being fixed.

So, in honor of my yellow rental car, I decided to host a yellow scavenger hunt for one of my choirs. I thought I might get one of the large yellow trash cans from Sassy. I didn't. One girl wore a yellow shirt, another had yellow in her bag. Other than that, most of them didn't put much thought into it--yellow in a candy cane, 2 gift cards, a bottle cap. It was fun to take pictures of all the entries by my car. I gave them all chocolate for participating.

What can I say? I had my own yellow scavenger hunt at the store. I bought a banana, a bell pepper and lemon and took a picture of all of them lined up on my rental car. I have to find ways to amuse myself otherwise life would be miserable.

One of the girls wrote Chamber Choir loves Miss D on the whiteboard. I was really touched. Having a different approach to choir has made a 100% difference in how well they sing.

Hemming and Hawing

Another teacher asked me today about next year. I didn't know what to say. I told him I had a change of plans on a project becasue I wanted to be sure that the music was properly catalogued:
CoolTchr:Yeah, you want to make sure that you have a kid who's interested in making sure your music is organized.
MissD: Yeah, and these kids aren't reallu that interested, so I'm renting them out as TAs to anyone who has a need.
CoolTchr: I can definitely use one of them to help me with cleaning up lab equipment.
MissD: Sweet, I don't want their idle hands to become the devil's playthings.
CoolTchr: You can always have another kid do that next year. You ARE coming back next year.
MissD: Next year...um...
CoolTchr: Aren't you?
MissD: Well...I don't want to say either way right now...
CoolTchr: You didn't get a pink slip, did you?
MissD: Pink slip...um...well... I was almost mute with all the stuff in my head.
CoolTchr: It looks like it's complicated.
MissD: Yes, that's the best word for it. Complicated. I didn't want to get into all the details.
CoolTchr: That's OK. I can understand you wanting to plead the Fifth right now.
MissD: Yeah, I plead the Fifth.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Team Building for Choir

In school they taught us about conducting. They taught us notes, rhythms, music theory, music history, how to practice, how to perform. They told us how to teach those academic things because that's all you need. Not true. They did not teach us how to lead kids.

This week I learned that kids need to feel like they are a part of something special, that they belong, that they are important and that what they say matters. Both of my choirs weren't really working well together or doing what I asked, so I decided to take a "fun break." But it wasn't just about fun, it was about engaging in activities that focused on them rather than threatening, disciplining, lecturing and cajoling them into singing better. They didn't feel good, they were mad at me, and at each other.

I coaxed them into playing games, even though they fought me. We played a game with yarn where we said things about ourselves and threw it to someone who also had that in common.
Miss D, what's that yarn for anyways? We aren't two!
What does this have to do with singing? This is so dumb.
I'm not sitting in the circle because I don't want to play.

Soon they were all laughing and going along with it because it was fun.
I have a texting problem.
I have three cats.
I was on swim team.
I have 3 brothers.
I have a pink cell phone.
I'm black!!

Soon we could see a visual representation of all the things that connected us.

When on of the girls suggested we play follow the leader, I went with it. It was the most fun we had all year. We walked through the campus, shushing each other, walking over obstacles, laughing together. My chamber choir did community juggling and wanted to play tag, so I let them.

Sometimes I worried I could be reported. Let's just say that the endless story (where each person adds a sentence to another and the story gets really bizarre) got a little bit nasty and sexual. I worried that the kids might report me or some adminstrator might walk in. I scratched some things out of their stories as they got me. I also made sure they collected them all. To a certain extent they don't get that it's innapporpriate because they talk about sex with their friends, in sex education and see things in movies. I started to use a rating system with them. We have to keep this rated PG.

I know that next week their singing will be better without the practice because they feel better. Even Sassy respectfully reminded me that he wouldn't be in class for a field trip. I said We'll try to have a good time without out. You were really funny yesterday shoving all the balls in your pockets.

They all got why we had done these crazy activities when I explained it to them at the end of the week. I also told them that we needed to incorporate time to have fun together in class. I told them I wished I had thought of doing these kids of things at the beginning of the school year. It would have made all the difference in the world for how my year has gone. At least I have an expanded bag of tricks for next year.

Team Building Articles from Suite 101:

Crowd Breaker Games
Groups and Classroom Games
Classroom Games and Ice Breakers
Youth Ministry Ice Breaker Games
Youth Minstry Games

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

That Family Feeling (1st day back)

My school went through the WASC accreditation visit while I was out sick. The committee went on and on about the welcome they received and the family feeling of the campus. After all I have been through lately, the only family feeling I have is of being a foster child who is about to go to another home. It made me sick to my stomach. While everyone else was happy and congratulating each other, I felt ready to throw up. I left without speaking to anyone. I just don't have the energy to deal with this any more.

I know that's mean. Congrats to them. I didn't understand the process or my role in it because I was so caught up in my own world of trying to survive a year of going between two campuses and all the other crazy stuff I have endured. I could only think of the people I liked and had worked on forming relationships with that I won't be around to develop. I understand now why teachers might be a little distant with first year teachers. They never know who will be back next year.

I also thought about the students who were so sweet about me coming back.
Miss D, the committee came and we had to sing. No accompanist, no director.
Miss D, we were really worried about you.
Miss D, where have you been?
Miss D, you owe us donuts.

(WASC stands for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Until this year I didn't know that they also dealt with high schools. But not all high schools have a WASC accreditation)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Traffic School

One of the things I have to do on my sick day is complete and 8 hour traffic school course. I was very naughty and on the first day of school made a left turn into the school because I was running so late. Bad idea. There was a sign posted.

One of the problems I am having with the online traffic school is that I read REALLY fast. I am a writer, after all. I have always read really fast. In fact I read so fast that people don't believe it. I read whole memos at a glance when I hand them to people. I have read the MOST INTERESTING documents. When I was temping for a medical manufacturer of breast implants, I read everything that they asked us to photocopy. They were none the wiser that I was doing this on their dime. They complimented me on my fast work.

Apparently my fast mouth is legendary.
Principal: Tell me you did not tell the police officer to put the ticket in your box because you had to get to class.
MissD: Ummm. OK. I didn't tell him that.
Principal: Look, she's turning red. Now I KNOW you said that.

Yep, got me. It was the first day of school. I was totally freaked out and the traffic was way worse than I expected.

It's ok, it's giving me a chance to catch up on listening to all the wonderful things on YouTube. I'm addicted to Royal Crown Revue right now. Check them out!! Royal Crown Revue in The Mask with Jim Carrey. Hey Pachuco! You can also visit their cool website with videos and a music player. www.rcr.com

Last Sick Day

I'm taking horse sized pills and still coughing a little lung butter. This the first time I have ever taken so many days off since I was in high school myself. I missed a whole week because of a stomach flu. My friends thought I was ditching because I had a little bit of a reputation for that. Well, I should also count 2 other bouts with bronchitis and 1 bout of tonsilitis. In any case, it's rare.

I do want to go back and face the music, so to speak. I was going to use the time my accompanist was away for team building activities and teaching them how to get on and off the risers again. I'm thinking of offering to replace their gum if they throw it out.

I still felt pretty gross yesterday. Today I MIGHT have been able to handle school, but figured it was best to give me and my horse pills one more day. Dang, when I was a student teacher I saw other teachers going skiing and having fun on their "sick" days.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Meeting With The Principal

Thursday was not my lucky day.

I was called in for my review and it was not good. It was bad. It was awful.

I could see the handwriting on the wall when someone from the district office was there for our meeting. I didn't really know what to do at that point.

As we went through my review, I could see all the marks that said needs improvement or unsatisfactory. I don't think I've ever had such a bad review in my life, except for the first one. At least now there were a few marks the said meets or exceeds expectations. I started looking at the next page.

Principal: I'm still on the first page.
MissD: I'm sorry. I was just wondering, if we could skip to the end like a book. Sometimes you want to know what's coming.
Principal: There's a process I have to go through.

With me, because I am the choir teacher, there are things on my review that are rather unexpected. They mentioned low enrollment in the choral program, kids asking for schedule changes, the last choir concert not going very well. Honestly, after the things I have been through, I sort of knew there wouldn't be any chance of recovering. I should have quit. I thought I could overcome. My mistake.

I ended up in tears. There has been so much to overcome. Things that were unexpected, things that weren't made clear, secret expectations I could in no way meet. The guy who left the position spent 10 years building up his program. It was based largely on his personality. How could anyone measure up?

Part of the reason for my sick day was because I am very sick, but the other part is that I have to gather myself up somehow to face my students for the next few months knowing I won't be back.

I would have preferred an impersonal pink slip.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Sick Day

I wasn't feeling well at all on Thursday, but felt like I had to go to school because of meetings. Yes, the meeting with the principal.

I was barely hanging on by a thread. My students got really concerned.
Gina: Miss D, are you OK?
MissD: Not really. I feel like I can't breathe.
Gina: Do you have a fever?

Instantly, her high school hand was on my forehead.
Gina: No, you don't have a fever.
Izzy: Miss D, you should sit down.
Gina: Look, you're even wearing a pretty color today.
MissD: Yes, I did it for you. You guys always give me such a bad time about wearing black.

I felt gross. But they were so sweet. It touched my heart.

I wouldn't have made it without my accompanist today. She came a little bit later than class started because we were on a different schedule today.

I took Friday off and now Monday I won't be going in. I've seriously had a cough for a month now. I was so happy until the car accident and then it seems like that triggered everything falling apart.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Mother of All Migraines

Miss D, where were you yesterday?

I was in bed with a migraine. I was seeing tunnels of light and stars. It would have been pretty if it didn't hurt so much.

I've been having strong and frequent migraines since the car accident. Unfortunately, my migraine has turned into a 3 day event, this is day 3. Going to see my doctor for an adjustment to my neck sort of helped, but I was still confused at 1pm, nauseous at 2pm and crying at 4 pm. The janotor brought me water and a choice of alleve and tylenol in those small foil packets. I thanked him profusely. We've forged an odd friendship. Don't tell, but I took all of them.

The stress of the day didn't help. You see, my 3 day event had really bad timing. Grades were due. I was slammed with phone call after phone call. My grades were sent back because I didn't fill them out right. I did my best, but I really could barely think.

I still have to do grades for my other school first thing in the morning. I should have been there yesterday, but sometimes you just CAN'T and that's why there are substitute teachers.

We had a BTSA meeting this afternoon. Other first year teachers go through the same kind of stresses. I felt better knowing that I'm not alone.

The principal wants to see me tomorrow. I hate the sense of dread that goes with that. I feel like I'm in trouble with everyone for something that I could barely help. I'm pretty sure I'll be having to look for a new job for next year.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Time Off

I'm still looking for my prince. You do have to kiss alot of frogs...Maybe my prince is really a frog. Maybe the frog is just fine how he is!!

I had an interesting weekend. I went to see the symphony perform film music. Then I got bored because great songs from film aren't the same when the singers sing in such a contrasting style from the original. Modern vocal style clashes with old standards, but then again, that's just my opinion.

SO after that, I went karaoking. I now have goal with it--I've decided to submit an application for America's Got Talent. Apparently I have a little bit. You see, it's hard for a performer to give up performing. But I don't want to go into it full time again. I hate auditioning. It's abyssmal pay when you get work for the majority of actors. Musicals pay about $800 a week for an Equity union contract. Good luck getting that contract. For now I'm sticking with having some fun at karaoke.

What I Saw vs. What You Say

MissD: You need to use your time for practice.
Katie: I was practicing, Miss D.
MissD: Oh, really? Is that why I asked you to go back to your chair twice?
Katie: But except for that, I was practicing.
MissD: Really? Let's review. What did I see in between testing kids?
Katie: I was up out of my chair.
MissD: Yes, and?
Katie: You saw me talking to the girl behind me.
MissD: And?
Katie: You saw me leaning back in my chair sideways, talking.
MissD: And then when you came for your piano test, how did you do?
Katie: Not so hot.
MissD: Why's that?
Katie: Because I need to focus on my practicing more and not talk at all.
MissD: Thanks for telling me what I already know. If you had played perfectly, I might not be so hard on you. But I'm looking at the evidence and it tells me that you aren't practicing enough. You only get one more chance. Now git. Shoo. Outta here. Go practice.

She picked up her piano book, went back to her seat, put on her headphones and put her fingers on the keyboard. Why they think they are fooling me is really beyond me at this point. Now I ask them to evaluate their own behavior. Clearly I have eyes on the back of my head. I am psychic. I've also heard it all before. I am a teacher, after all!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

You Raise Me Up, Josh Groban!!

My kids were barely singing during warmups. I stopped rehearsal.
I don't see a point to continuing if we don't actually sing! I'm done. I will conference with each of you individually about your grades.

Actually, what I really did is I made them talk to me about what they thought their grades should be after I shared with them what the judges are looking for at choral festivals. Truly, I've been having alot of problems with my chamber choir. I think they learned something by me not telling them, but by them having to tell me what they thought of their actions and behavior. Sassy took the paper that had the judging rubric and folded into a paper airplane. He told me he deserves to get an A+. The funny thing is, other than that he was actually nice to me today--nice for Sassy anyway. The two things I heard most often in individual conferences were:
1. They felt like nobody was trying, but everyone wanted to try harder.
2. They love singing You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban.

Quite frankly, I love that song too. I sang it at karaoke to rave reviews by my peers. I could teach them what I know. I might sing a solo at the concert, perhaps some will be inspired. Maybe not. The concert is supposed to be about the students, not the teacher, right? The sad thing is, if they would let me, if they would work, I could take them to where they want to go. I could teach them what I know. But they won't let me.

I listened to every Josh Groban song I could on the web. He's seriously fabulous. I decided to write fanmail to Josh Groban. I told him that the kids love singing the song and that I sincerely hoped that a choral arrangement of Don't Give Up comes out soon because I think kids will really love singing it. I asked him for a signed picture to put in the choir room. That would be seriously awesome. I'm inspired enough to sing that or Don't Give Up to audition for America's Got Talent. I have to do something crazy for me, for my own artistic interest.

Ultimately, though, I have to come up with some kind of strategy to help my choir overcome all the changes and pain they have been through. I don't deserve all of the blame for it either. They are at each others throats. I'm thinking about taking a break from singing and just doing team building exercises and activities with them.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Summer Plans

I got a little inspired lately. Originally it was someone else's idea, but now it's mine. I'm going to start a vocal jazz band.

I trained as a classical singer, but to be honest, I now find opera boring. I don't really understand how this happened. My whole life used to revolve around opera. An opera company came to my school and did a Gilbert and Sullivan show. I have been in Gilbert and Sullivan productions. I was bored. They performed well, but I couldn't shake the fact that my butt hurt too much to sit through it any more. Most of my students had already gone to class. There were only two left. They were entranced and I knew they would behave. I left the performance to get some lunch. At one time I would have starved for opera.

I feel like I have so much money now. I don't really. I just don't blow all my money on private voice lessons. I feel like I have so much time. I don't really, it's just that I don't lock myself into a room to practice my songs to prepare for auditions and performances like I used to. I'm happier in some ways.

While I was living in New York, I also started getting into jazz standards and musical theater a little bit more (again). But I don't want to do musicals anymore either. Not only am I the wrong type physically for what I want to sing, modern musicals kind of stink. In addition, then you are trapped into a month of instense rehearsals plus an intense run of 8 shows a week. It royally stinketh.

I was thinking of starting a 3 woman acapella choral group, kind of like the anonymous four. I might still do that. I could also get a women group together for caroling and do a christmas concert.

But what I really want to do now is jazz like Diana Krall but without the keyboards. I want to put a vocal jazz group together. I did get some of my inspiration from spending time at a jazz concert and from dating a guy who is in a vocal jazz band where they sing and play their instruments. Well, I don't play anything well enough, and that was his idea--to have a women's group that would tour with his band. I decided to name it the Four Coeds when he asked me what I would call the band. I like the name. I'm keeping it. I was in college for a really long time, so that's why I thought of it. The idea to have the women play their instruments was his. I don't really want to do that. I mean the rest of the girls can, but I want to sing lead. The guys in Sha-na-na were a combination of guys who just sang and guys who played instruments. It could be like that. They also wore gold lame suits. Gosh they were/are? cool. Plus, most of the groups have just a bunch of guys. Maybe there is a MARKET for a women's vocal jazz group.

Or I can sing solos like Michael Buble and Josh Groban.

PLUS, it will really help my social life. I realized way too late that the things I liked are populated with women and gay men--opera and teaching. If I branch into jazz, I will be meeting alot of straight guys. I wish I had realized in music school that was where the straight guys were. I might have switched way back then. In any case, I have lots of options with my summers off. Being single without kids leaves a whole world open to me. I might as well get out and have some fun with it.

Another bonus: I can call it professional development.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nasty Little Rumors

The high school was having an open house and the 8th graders got a list of all the 9th grade teachers. I wasn't on it. I asked my little TA about the list.
D: I wonder why I'm not on it. I teach 9th graders.
Kid: You do?
D: Yes, I have all the grades in my class. Maybe it's because I'm an elective teacher. You can have me next year though. Don't you want to be in choir next year? We'll do songs from Wicked.

She got really quiet and looked sad.
Kid: Maybe you aren't on the list because you aren't going to be here next year. I heard they aren't going to have you back.
D: Really? Honey, I haven't heard anything. Where did you hear this? Sometimes people start rumors. Don't you think I would be the first to know?
Kid: Well, it's just that I heard it from my brother. He doesn't gossip. He's friends with alot of teachers.
D: Well, I haven't heard anything. As far as I know I plan to be back next year.

I have to admit I was a little upset. I've had problems this year with kids starting rumors about me. I honestly can't remember what half of them were. One was that I had told a kid he was excused from his homework for the week because of the choir concert. The principal of the junior high called me into the office for that. Unbelieveable.

It's also been really horrible following a teacher that all the kids say they loved. It happens all the time in choir programs. It takes time to rebuild a program after a much loved teacher leaves. I know they don't love me as much, except maybe a few who have told me that the other teacher hated them. Happens, right?

I found my union rep at the junior high. He basically told me that they would let me know in May. Probationary contracts are designed to be like a no-fault kind of thing. They can let you go as long as it's legal. Like they can't let you go because of race. But they can let you go if they just don't like you. Hmmm. That was a no answer kind of answer.

I then found my union rep at the high school. She had a different answer. If you didn't get a pink slip, you should be safe. The first year teachers they are letting go have already been notified and one of the positions has already been flown. You're good. Thanks be to God.

I have to admit, as much as I hate the little rumors, they really do have an impact. My afternoon was basically wrecked. The very least I could have go well in my life is to have a job for next year rather than spend my whole summer panicked about trying to find something.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Being Quiet

It's hard not to talk when you are in junior high and your best friend is sitting next to you in class. I have two girls in my piano/choir class that just loooove to talk to each other. I really ought to move them, but I honestly hate doing seating charts, too. I want them by kids they like for peer tutoring on the piano. Plus, I just hate being strict. It's boring. Plus, if you reallllly like to talk, you'll talk across the room. They have done that plenty of times.

I've had to find other ways to get them to be quiet like thanking them for not talking. Then I might say, Headphones on, fingers on the keys, mouths closed. This works for about 10 minutes. I also ferret out who has been practicing by how well they play the keyboard for their tests. It's not really about talent at this point. It's about practice and focusing on the skills that you need to focus on.

MissD: What you REALLY need is to practice more and talk less.
Kid: I doo practice.
MissD: Practice more. Talk less.
Kid: OH, Miss D, how do you KNOW?
MissD: I just know.
Kid: Alright. I admit it. I could practice more.
MissD: Thank you. I know.

I was fixing another student's book with clear duct tape when I noticed two girls chatting away quietly, not practicing.

OK, girls, that's enough. Headphones on, fingers on the keys, mouths closed. They honestly tried. I'm sure of it, but soon they were back at their merry chat.

Alright, that's it. I had a small piece of extra tape left over and started walking toward one of the girls as if I were going to put it on her mouth.
Miss D, you can't do that! called one of the kids.
She took the piece of tape and put it over her own mouth.
She did it herself, it wasn't me!
Everyone laughed. Every time I turned around, something new would happen. The other girl made a piece and put it over her mouth. They weren't talking anymore, they were practicing. Then the pieces of tape kept getting bigger. Finally, I put a piece of tape over my own mouth and wore it as I went around to help the kids with their keyboard skills. We were all smiling while we practiced.

Senior Ditch Day

For some reason, senior ditch day had seniors still hanging around a little. I don't know about you, but when I was a senior, I didn't go anywhere NEAR the school on a ditch day. But the principal decided to schedule the college application workshop the same day as senior ditch day. Teachers scheduled tests. Kids were told if they missed those things on that day and they were seniors that they would not be allowed to make it up.

What did that do? We had a rash of seniors around the campus to go to those periods that had those tests. They also showed up for their application workshops. Sassy and his posse visited and left quickly.

When other seniors came I asked them,
What are you doing here on Senior Ditch Day?
We already ditched on Friday, the day it was changed to.

That's when I heard about all the tests and the application worskshops. Some seniors ditched for both the days. In the end, Sassy and I got a break from each other for the day.

The problem is that it gutted my choir for the day. I decided I would still make them work as a small ensemble. They need to learn that sometimes that happens. They need to work on holding their parts. I worked with one of my soloists. It was still a productive day.

We had Open House in the evening. One of my seniors said, I came by to see you because I missed you today. Awww, that was sweet. He also told me he was feeling ill until about 3pm when it suddenly cleared up. I had those days back then, too. I hate to admit to HOW MANY!!

College Application Workshop email

Career Counselor 4/4/2008 1:20 PM

>>>I am attaching a list of the seniors who signed up for the Community College Online Application workshop on Tuesday, April 8. The list also includes the period they are to report to the library for the workshop.The Seniors should already have a letter telling them what period to come to the Library. They are supposed to report to their class before they come to the library.To review the list, please right click on the attachment and open the document.

Dear Career Counselor,
I looked at the list. Can you PLEASE take Sassy out of 1st period instead of his second period. I have him ALL DAY-- 1st and 3rd. I need him 3rd, but he can be a real pain 1st period!!!Thanks!!
Miss D

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Seniors Hate Freshmen

I am planning a concert with a 1950s theme. It's going to be alot of fun. The repertoire looks like this:

Mr. Sandman
Sixteen Candles
Bye Bye Love
Why do fools fall in Love?
Rock and Roll is Here to Stay
Rock Around the Clock

From Grease:
We Go Together
Hopelessly Devoted to You

I was hoping to include Graduation Day by The Four Freshmen once I found it.

The high school choirs will sing We Go Together as a group. This is going to be a really fun concert. They are really warming up to it. Some of them sing along with all the du wop hits of the 50s and 60s. I'm not the only one who has my car radio permanently tuned to an oldies station. Two of my boys started asking if we could sing Earth Angel. I decided it was worth looking into. I didn't find just Earth Angel, but it was a part of a medly with Graduation Day, originally recorded by The Four Freshmen in 1956 or something like that. I thought it was pretty and sweet.

Of course the line about dancing at the senior prom until three was really amusing since I think I was at the beach then went to Denny's and stayed up all night. I think I climbed in my window in my formal gown around 3 so I wouldn't wake my parents--or that was my junior prom? No idea anymore. It was also amusing about the ivy covered walls. We don't have ivy covering anything really where I live and teach. I don't think that The Four Freshmen still sing that song at their concerts. I really don't know. I was sort of seeing one of the guys from that band for a little while. (Whatever that means.) I texted him to let him know that my "kiddies" would be singing that song. He always used to text me Hope your week with the kiddies was good. He knew I taught high school. Kiddies. Whatever. He was funny that way. He used to teach high school band for a year before joining The Four Freshmen.

I didn't hear back from him. It's just as well. My kids hated the song. Not really hated--they thought it was pretty, but kind of slow. It was that Do we have to? look in their slightly glazed eyes. It didn't really hit them like the songs that they know. Maybe they were worried I would replace those songs. For graduation we will be doing You Raise Me Up with the mixed chorus and The Wind Beneath My Wings with the girls chorus. Maybe they didn't want to lose them. It's also just that those are modern sings and I did want to include something that fits our theme.

I AM the teacher, if I really wanted to, I could make them sing it. But I could also have them sing Route 66 which is also vocal jazz. They might like that better. I like to have the kids be interested in what we sing, even though they seem to change their minds alot. Suddenly they hate their Grease medly. Whatever. Kids are funny.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Principal Search

One of my teacher friends was chosen for the interview committee to find a new principal. She is also the union representative at the high school. I wrote her a little email about some of the things that are important to me in finding a new principal.

This is really important. He should be good-looking, single and available. If he is married, he should have some really cool, good-looking friends that he can introduce us to. Actually,he should have lots of single guy friends either way. It's so hard to meet eligible bachelors at work as a teacher. Thanks for looking after our interests.


Her reply:

My sentiments exactly!!!

Observation Day

I like to make my kids laugh to help them remember stuff. It's taken a long time to be able to really joke around with them without things getting out of control, but I just think humor is essential in the classroom. Sometimes my junior high kids even encourage me to act a little bit crazier.

I have one student who always wants to know about my love life. However, today I was being observed by my support provider, so I was really not expecting the joking. Maybe it was OK because it shows I have good rapport with my students.

I made them repeat after me in a choral response:

In the key of F major...

LOUDER!!! I can't hear half of you!

In the key of F major
you must always play
B flat.
Play what? B flat!

I went to each of their keyboards to make sure they understood how to apply this to the new songs they are learning.

Miss Diaz? Have you ever been married?
Me? Why do you want to know?
Well, dear, I'm so glad you are concerned about my happiness. That's really sweet. How about I have you be my flower girl when I get married? Now get to work. B flat!!

She smiled. She can be kind of manipulative and conniving at times, but she's also cute in that endearing way 12 year old girls have about them. It tickles me.

No, I've never been married.

I Can't Count

Sassy told me I can't count today. I asked him to be quiet 4 times and he insisted:
S: You need to learn how to count.
D: You need to learn how to stop mouthing off.

I thought about it later. I haaaaate being challenged in front of everyone. He works me, but then he backs off. I never know if I have won the confrontation. Maybe he just wants to push me to test how far he can go before he starts losing senior privileges. Maybe it was a draw.

Later in choir, since I have him for two classes, I just started telling our accompanist what Sassy said. I just wouldn't put up with his attitude. I was about ready to throw him out for throwing his backpack across the room--as if it weren't enough that he was already late. I spoke loudly so as to get through his thick teenaged skull.

D: So, Sassy says I can't count, but really, he's the one who can't count. I told him to be quiet 4 times. He forgot to count the time I told the whole class to be quiet. I guess he thinks that it doesn't apply to him.
M: Isn't that the truth. They never do.

For some strange reason, Sassy didn't make a peep for the rest of the class time.

Again, I don't know if I have won. It could be that he's just regrouping and planning his next attack. That requires thought and planning. Best not to talk in those times, right?