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    28th November 2012

    Every once in awhile…

    …it’s good to have those days where I feel like I’m good at my job, like my classroom isn’t THE least orderly classroom in the world, and that my students are actually starting to enjoy reading.

    If you want to read what we started reading today, that had 90% of my students mesmerized, check out Standing Up: Davien’s Story at the LA Times online edition. It’s a powerful story of a young man in the LA area who was the victim of a gang-related-drive-by – paralyzed by a bullet – and the neighborhood problems that led to that act of violence.

    We watched the short video as an introduction and then read Part 1 today. We’ll read Part 2 next week.

    19th November 2012

    Where did we go wrong?!

    Or maybe I should say: Where did I go wrong?

    Some days as a teacher are great and some are frustrating, and some are ok, and some are good-good-good-good-good-good-good-horrible. Like an adventurer skiing across antarctic glaciers and reveling in the beauty just as he skis off a beautiful icy precipice. Or a man with short term memory loss beholding the beauty of the Grand Canyon, turning to walk away, and then, forgetting where he had come from, turning once more and walking straight off the edge.

    Was it my fault that situation escalated? Or was it my lack of sleep coming up as frustration? Or a semester’s worth being ignored by several students finally boiling over? Or was it the students who started it? Were they really sooo bad as to turn me from being “hold on a minute, let me help you” teacher to being “get out of my room, now!” teacher?

    I know many of these issues I needed to stop at the beginning of the school year – but I like my students’ personalities and didn’t really want to stifle them. And yet… allowing a few students to cause chaos reduces the learning opportunities for all the other students. So, I have to move those students somewhere. I think I should probably be better and more compassionate in moving them to other classrooms to work instead of vindictively kicking them into the hallway causing them to get in trouble with campus security. But part of me wants to see them get in trouble… while the other part understands that they’re just high school students and most of us were not the people we should and could have been in high school. That there is a lot of growing and maturing for them to do. How to best foster that? Showing students you care? Does tough love do that? Or does grace do that? And where is the place for grace when the functionality of the whole class is also at stake?

    As happens so often, I have more questions than answers today.

    14th November 2012

    Mid-November – can you believe it?

    I was going to title this post “Grading, Parent Conferences, and Performance Evaluation…” But then I realized that, while I am in fact posting this during a session of our every five weeks parent conferences at my school (estoy practicando Espanol todo el dia), and I am also about to go through my fall performance evaluation, there have been some other great things I’ve been doing, too.

    I got in some great riding over the past weekends, going to Huntington Beach pier and back two weekends ago, and then going up to the West Fork of the San Gabriel to ride last Sunday followed by riding the bike paths from Rancho Palos Verdes to Marina del Rey and back on Monday. Then I did stay up grading until 2:30 in the morning, of course, but it was still worth it to get in some sweet rides.

    A final note before signing off of a short short entry, I’m excited to have my younger brother Michael coming to visit next week for Thanksgiving. Having a staycation in the area will be awesome: beach, food, riding, Notre Dame vs. USC, and who knows what else.

    Ok, back to my day job and another hour of parents wondering into my room!

    PS… I’m adding this post-parent-conferences to note that I’m either really tired or really proud or both, but I teared up when I told a student and his mom that because he’s been working hard, studying vocabulary and coming to tutoring sessions he got 19/20 on his quiz today he is no longer failing my class. So pumped for him.

    Copyright 2005 by Daryl Holmlund - All rights reserved.