Monthly Archives: January 2009

Day 92 AIM: How can I proctor effectively?

Do Now: Despite what your administration says, you can “multitask” while proctoring the Regents. Try reading a book. Newspapers are unwieldy, but a book is small and compact. We don’t recommend texting on cell phones, but we do recommend strategic eye contact. That way your momentary glance lasts an eternity in the minds of the children; or at least for a few hours.

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Don’t be a Teetotaler

spencer-drunkWhen I first started my teaching career, I was presented with two statistics that revealed what was to come with my tenure in New York: The first said that there was an achievement gap that resulted in my high school students graduating with, on average, an eighth grade reading level and the second said that, falling closely behind chefs, we teachers had the highest level of alcoholism among working professionals in the city. The former was sobering and the latter was anything but, but as I have found, both define the life of a teacher and indirectly explain all the teacher deals at local watering holes.

Any educator will tell that their existence revolves around a pedantic schedule of routines. You punch in. You grab your attendance folder. You grade papers. You teach. You eat your lunch or go to the same coffee shop for the same sandwich. You go home. You zonk out. And through it all, you struggle to maintain your exuberance and spirit when you’re round pegged being is hammered into the square hole of conformity.

By the end of the week we are frustrated, tired, and in desperate need of a pick-me-up. And while a cold beer isn’t a panacea to the pedagogical usurpation of the work week, it comes awful close. There’s something unnerving about the scrutiny of the classroom, where we are constantly on stage to both administrators and students. And by the end of the week, the thought on most teachers’ minds is the thought of self, the original desire to just remain original. This might explain why most teachers head to happy hour, and while most bars in New York aren’t places where everyone knows your name, at least the cute brunette from the English department does. And she likes Yuengling, just like you.

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Day 91 AIM:What do I do with Regents Week?

Do Now: Sorry middle school teachers, this one is just for those of us who teach high schoolers and are blessed with the thing we call Regents Week. Basically, you just have to show up to work for the rest of this week. Grading is finished, no lessons to plan, and if a kid misbehaves in class now, they fail a high stakes test. With that in mind, you now have some free time in the afternoons. We here at the ULOT believe in differentiation (outside the classroom), so here is a menu of options:

1) Work on your next Unit plan and a weeks worth of lesson plans so you can chill out a little next week, nerd.

2) Consume alcoholic beverages. Lots of them. Trust me, when you come in to grade the Regents and say, “Damn, I’m hung over”, at least one other teacher will say, “Me too”.

3) Chill out. Read a book, catch a sunset, enjoy the fresh air.

At this point, do what you need to do, even mix and match. Let’s face it, you’ll need it to get through this next semester.

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Day 90 AIM: What, exactly, is Regents week?

Do Now: Check in with your school for the schedule of events. Chances are you have a proctoring assignment and, most likely, you’ll have to report to school at the normal time. But sometimes you get a late proctoring assignment and you’ll be able to sleep in. That’s always nice, especially after a long semester of teaching. And don’t forget to bring some running shoes or a good book, because you’ll probably have some time on your hands as well. Remember, they give you a week for this, and as long as you get your grades in, you should be savvy.

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Day 89 AIM: How should I end the semester effectively?

Do Now: Congratulations! You are one day away from the midway point in the year. You’re faced with one last day, one last class, one last moment to truly inspire your students. And let’s be real: your students probably won’t remember 2/3rds of the information presented in your class. They probably don’t even remember what you taught on Friday. But they will remember the last day of class because its, well, the last day of class. So leave them with your Robin Williams moment. Stand at your desk and proclaim their right to their fragile little minds! Pump your fist in the air and stroke their conflagrations of edification. And have them write how they plan on changing the world in front of them. After all, the purpose of education is the nurturing of young minds, not just the aptitude for a said subject. If so, then our last day’s lesson will be a universal one, one that transcends chalk boards, graphing calculators, and lab manuals. And if your poetic wit is restricted by some sort of writers block, then you can always go back to the default carpe diem schpeel.

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Tips for Saturday Grad School IV

Happy New Year, and welcome back to Thunder Dome, bitches. It’s January, it’s cold, and everybody is restless. We have a new year, a new president, and a whole new set of problems, and you have 99 other problems, but grad school shouldn’t be one. So take a load off, recharge your computer and mental batteries, and take a nice long bathroom break. After all, it might be Saturday grad school, but it’s also Saturday. 

So, to tickle your pedagogical fancy (that’s what she said), try a few of these pass times to get through the day. And remember, there’s no other day to get to than Satur-day. If there’s nothing else, then here we go:

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Feed your Inner Book Worm

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Head to Barnes and Nobles by Sunday January 25th and receive a nice teacher discount. And be sure to keep the receipt: teacher’s choice forms are due soon.

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