Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Rainy Day of Chaos

It doesn't rain in southern California after about April, so the rainstorm on this particular Wednesday in June was unexpected. (It was forecast, but no one believes that we'll actually get rain in June.) 

And there was thunder and lightning, too. 

I was not surprised that the class was missing a few students. I was surprised when my projector wouldn't connect to my computer. 

More like panicked. I was quite panicked. 

I have set up this entire class on Google Slides. I project everything we're working on. 

I did get the thing to work, but it kept blinking out, which was distracting to the kiddos. But somehow we made it through. 

Until the thing completely died towards the end of the period. 

But they had something to work on, so I had them do that while I fought with the electronics. That had worked perfectly every day up until this day. 

My next class was doubled in size. The teacher next door (Ms. B) felt like death warmed over (her words), so she left early. As they couldn't find her a sub, the only thing to do was to combine her class with mine. 

I had the room.

And, at least I figured out how to get the projector working. 

Her class worked on their stuff individually. I was able to instruct my class with a working projector. 

While in class, a car pulled up outside. It wasn't until after school that I was able to verify my supposition (I was right). 

At the beginning of the school year, I covered a vacant English class. The teacher (Ms. W) had taken a sabbatical. Ms. B had been hired to replace her. 

Well, Ms. W has tendered her resignation. She had left some of her supplies in the classroom. She had been coordinating with Ms. B for a time to come and get them. This was the day she arrived. In the middle of the school day. 

But the students were with me.

They wondered about the car. I didn't explain. It would have taken too long, and I didn't want to go off on that tangent. 

I was really glad to see the end of that day. 

As for the projector, it worked perfectly the next day. And the day after that. I wonder if the electrical storm was the culprit.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Thank You for Your Support

Speculative fiction has a long history of taking the issues of the day and reframing them in a new context with the hope that people will look at them in a new way. Our "unprecedented" times are bringing all sorts of old ways and old thinking back to the forefront. On Tuesdays, I present "what if?" questions. Previously, the intent was as an idea generator. It still is. But now, I ask that you really think about all the repercussions that these ideas will have. If only these were just thought exercises. 

What if "you" are supporting the fascists who are taking over? 

By "you", I mean that you as an individual are part of the group that the fascists have co-opted. (I doubt any of us would actually support the fascists otherwise.) And by "who are taking over"... You're paying attention, right? Here in the US, it's happening. Right now. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

A Snail's Pace

Again, I did not make a whole lot of progress on the Calash last week: 

Although, since April 25th, you can see more of a difference:

I am on the second half, and there is no deadline on this, so the only reason I'm concerned by my lack of progress is that my Monday posts have become rather pointless of late. 

The summer school class ends on Thursday. Hopefully that means that I'll have more headspace to work on something yarny (probably crochet as that tends to be easier in the hotter months). We'll see. 

It's been hard to focus on anything lately. Here's hoping I actually get a restful July.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Ace, Not Josue

On the first day of summer school, I gave each of the students an index card. I asked them to write their full name in the corner. And then in the center, I asked them to write the name they wanted me to call them by in class. 

Mostly, they wrote their first names. A couple wrote a shortened version of their first names (think Nick instead of Nicholas). But a couple had a different name they wanted to be called. 

The boy's first name was Josue. He had written "Ace" in the center of his card. 

Okay, then. 

I wrote the preferred name on the seating chart. And I've been calling him Ace the whole time.

On the second day of school, I got an instructional aide. She worked in the ELD classes during the school year, so she knew many of the students. She's been doing most of the grading for me (as I've been busy keeping the classes busy with lessons and stuff). 

Last Friday, realizing that I was never going to get to it, I asked the aide to grade the first assignment I gave them, an "About Me" exercise. I asked a lot of general questions in it about who they are and what they like. 

Third period. About half way through class. 

Aide: "You want to be called Ace? I've been calling you Josue all year. Why did you never tell me you wanted to be called Ace?" (The tone was kind, like she was upset at herself for calling him a name he did not like for a year.) 

Apparently Ace is his name at home. For some reason, he never spoke up. 

I'm not sure when I picked up the card trick, but I've been using it in similar situations for a few years now. The kiddos will write their name on a card, but they won't speak up to say, "call me xxx". I mean, a few will, but the vast majority won't. 

The aide then gave me a list of students who had different preferred names. I looked over the list. I knew them all. They had written them on the cards. 

This is why I keep doing the index cards. (Well, that and I use them to call on students randomly.)

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Another New Kid

As third period walked in, the class cheered. 

"We have a new student," they informed me.

When we started, the class had seven students. On the second day, we got an eighth. The following week, we got two more, bringing our class total to ten. 

They felt a little too "seen" with such a small class. So new students joining was cause for celebration. 

The majority of them have the same math class the previous period. (There are two periods and five teachers. That they have their whole day together was going to happen.) So, they would have known there was a new student as he would have been in their first period class. 

Now, I don't mind getting an extra student. A class of eleven isn't a big deal. But I had just gotten caught up...

The class is "graded" on two assessments. I did the pre assessments on the first day. As new students joined, I had to then test them each as they entered. 

I had finally gotten all the assessments done. Graded. (It took the aide days to get the spelling assessment graded.) Input into the spreadsheets provided by the district. 

And then one more student...

*shakes head*

This is, of course, normal. But it doesn't make it any less irritating. Fingers crossed that I get no more new students starting. It's almost time to do the post assessments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Brick Wall

A few years ago (in the before times), I was covering a math class. The teacher was on campus (for a training or such), and she popped in to make sure we all had what we needed. 

The class was working silently. Everything was going smoothly. 

But the teacher's reaction... She was not happy with them. She explained to me that the class was kind of dull. The students were half asleep. And they were always like this. 

I didn't get what she was getting at.

Now I do.

My first period class is exactly like what she described. And now I get why she wasn't happy with them.

Quiet groups are great. But then there's too quiet. 

Part of the curriculum for this class requires student participation. I read something and they repeat. I go over something and have them answer questions. I ask for them to respond to various topics.

Do they? Nope.

I mean, if I call on someone directly, they'll answer. They do the work put in front of them. 

But when I ask an open-ended question, I get no response. No one volunteers. 

And these are middle schoolers. I should be able to start a topic and have them go wildly off into random reminisces of things that only tangentially touch on that topic. (That's what my third period does.) 

Instead, I start topics, and they stare at me. Waiting. 

Now I get why that teacher didn't like her first period class. It's kind of like teaching to a brick wall, or a virtual class. Sigh. 

At least I'm not dealing with behavioral issues. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Love Is Love

Speculative fiction has a long history of taking the issues of the day and reframing them in a new context with the hope that people will look at them in a new way. Our "unprecedented" times are bringing all sorts of old ways and old thinking back to the forefront. On Tuesdays, I present "what if?" questions. Previously, the intent was as an idea generator. It still is. But now, I ask that you really think about all the repercussions that these ideas will have. If only these were just thought exercises. 

What if they made being gay illegal again? 

I know at one time it was. I know some of those laws are still on the books but aren't enforced. (I know there are some countries where it still is.) If you're paying attention, you're aware that various states here in the US are rolling back protections on the LGBT etc. community. And that is headed one way.