Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Vacaaaaaaaaaaaaaation

I haz it.

More reflective post on the end of the school year forthcoming.

Down to one day a week at NYC Educator for the summer until the school year gears up again.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On the Foolishness of Certain Memos

The teachers at the Morton School recently received a memo admonishing us to wait until the last 2-3 days of school to dismantle classroom libraries, take down bulletin boards, and the like. I appreciate the spirit of this memo, but in practice find it absolutely impracticable.

Those of us teaching with classroom libraries constituting several hundred volumes have a daunting task: sorting and storing books for the new school year. If your school, like mine, is used for summer school, all of these materials must be secured so that they aren't "borrowed" during the summer. If you don't want to spend September in any more pain than you have to, you want to assure that things are put away with some sense of rhyme and reason so that unpacking is not terribly daunting when you come back for the fall.

"But Miss Eyre," you might say, "surely, as a professional, you can understand that this task might require time outside of the school day?" Yes, I do. I stayed at school two hours late today and worked through most of my lunch getting my library sorted out for next year. I am maybe 25% done. New book purchases mean that books must be leveled; books must be sorted according to genre and level; and then stored. When I'm really clicking along, I can do maybe 30-40 books in an hour, but when you have over 100 new books to be sorted and leveled, plus a new sorting system for next year, you're talking a multi-hour task. Saving it for the last 2-3 days of school is just not doable. In fact, looking at the work still remaining after my efforts today, I'm glad I started today.

"Maybe if your classroom library was sorted and leveled to begin with, you might not have to do this." Well, you're probably right. The problem is that when I first got my classroom, I got boxes and boxes of books, most of which were not leveled, none of which were sorted by genre, and some of which were totally inappropriate for my grade. These books I have gradually weeded out over the years, only to have them replaced by more books--purchases of my own, the school's, the PTA's. All of this takes time. Plus the new requirement that 100% of books must be leveled and sorted by genre, as opposed to the old 30-40% target--you can see why this is a substantial task.

Putting together the physical space of a classroom when you teach the lower grades (I'm counting anything lower than 9th as "lower") is a task that takes close to a week of full-time days. Why administrators think that you can take it all apart on your 45-minute prep period over 2 or 3 days in June is beyond me.

Happy packing, everyone. In flagrant disobedience of the memo, I'm already underway.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Passing, and Getting Beyond Passing

Well, whoopee for Miss Eyre. All my little darlings passed the ELA exam. Not like I had many worries that they wouldn't, but it's nice that it's official.

And with school winding down, I've been talking a lot with my kiddies about the future and reading many of their hopes and dreams for high school. My curmudgeonly self has to admit it's been, well, inspiring. A couple of the girls with whom I worked closely this year talked about high school with shy-but-big smiles, saying they feel prepared to go there and do well. (They're not deluded, either; I think they're ready, too.) One of my male students wrote an essay about making the honor roll for the first time and it literally made me cry. That recognition meant the world to that kid.

I guess I've felt like a failure so much this year that it's been wonderful to be reminded, despite my myriad mistakes, that I was still a force for good, on the balance, in my kids' lives. There's so much more I wish I could have done; I suppose there always is. At the end of the year I always feel like Oskar Schindler at the end of Schindler's List; "I could have got more," he frets, "I didn't do enough." (I'm not saying I put my entire fortune and, indeed, life on the line like Schindler did or anything; that is, I'm not equating myself with him. My martyr complex isn't quite that severe.)

But I did a lot. I'm not going to change everyone's life. But if I, working with my colleagues, was able to bring the lion's share of the kids to a point where they feel excited and confident about moving on to high school, I did all right. I can hold my head up. That's better than passing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

No Staycation for Miss Eyre This Summer

Since I'm not getting laid off, I'm planning a real summer vacation. I've staycationed for the past two summers, and while I genuinely love messing around in the city, I have a bit of an itch for travel and I'm looking forward to scratching it.

It's not quite finalized where I'm going yet, but it makes me feel good to be able to put it on the blog.