Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Weeks

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. ~Winston Churchill

Play is the beginning of knowledge. ~George Dorsey

Normally, I like to begin these things with a quote, but today I found two quotes which address what is on my mind. The first, I think, is a pretty good summation of where we are right now. The first six days of school went by pretty quick. We talked about rules, schedules, more rules, goals, some rules, and just for fun, a couple of rules. Textbooks were distributed; seating charts arranged, but, alas, the beginning of school is over.

This, much like the end of school, can be a tough time to wrap one's head around. We are still learning each other's names, developing routines, and trying to find the proverbial "groove" while at the same time pressing forward as though we have done it all before. It is always tricky figuring out how to go from the mentality of the first day into the reality of the first assignment, but that is where the second quote comes in.

Tuesday afternoon, the faculty took a personality test, which identified each of us by one of four colors depending upon our responses to pictures, descriptions, and questions. In the end, I discovered what many people probably already knew about me: I am very, very orange. In fact, with a possible high score of forty-eight, I scored a forty-six for orange. What does this mean besides the fact that I have incredible school spirit? Well, according to the people who created the test, it means I like to have fun with just about everything I do. We were given some handouts that describe how people of our "colors" might behave as educators, students, parents, and children. I will give you look at what kind of a teacher someone as orange as I am tends to be:

-enjoys an acive classroom -seeks to energize students
-makes learning fun -expects student involvement and compliance
-uses competitive games and activities -unstructured discipline
-spontaneous, flexible presentations -hands-on, immediate applications
-uses a variety of action activities -strong use of innovative approaches
-learning linked to "here and now" -emphasis on immediate relevancy
-uses media

Now, I don't know how much some of these apply to me, but I do know that I want some of them to be true. I can tell you that I certainly enjoy an active classroom as long as the activity has purpose. I would love to think that I energize my students; I know they energize me. I hope to make learning fun. I have found that anything I have really been able to retain over the years was initially presented to me in a way that made me want to learn it, so I want to deliver that kind of instruction to my students.

I don't know how well I will achieve these things on a daily basis, but I feel like we are off to a fantastic start. I hope we can keep charging forward, together.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

August... Seriously?

I began the summer with the intention of blogging once a week. I didn't figure anyone would really read them over the summer; it was really just something I wanted to try since my fantasy career is to be a syndicated columnist. It is not that I don't love teaching, but I watched the movie Marley and Me last spring and it occurred to me that just hanging out and then writing about my life in and interesting and humorous way would be really fun.

Anyway, the first week went by with me taking full advantage of my wife's "grace period" in which I didn't have to do any work around the house. She let me sleep in, watch TV, read, nap, eat massive amounts of children's cereal out of an oversized bowl; it was great. One thing I didn't do in that week was blog. Week two began my summer of home improvement projects. The list was long and most of it was way over my head. To prepare, I DVR'd episodes of Home Improvement to draw inspiration from America's favorite handyman and spent many hours simply staring at the empty space where the patio would go, and the fence, and even sat in the bathroom trying to figure out all I needed to do to complete its renovation. Again, I did not blog.

Soon, I was up to my knees in piles of dirt and busted concrete leveling the patio area for fresh cement. I experienced operating a bobcat for the first time and only almost flipped it about ten times. The concrete truck came, and with a little help from my friends along with some expert supervision from my dad, I had a patio.

At this point it is the first week of July. I had volunteered to be Paris High School's representative at a national conference in Atlanta, and since nobody else was going, I took my wife. We drove down early and did some touristy stuff before I had to start attending the conference. While there I met up with some people I met while student teaching in Charleston and hung out with them. All in all, the conference was a great experience. I learned a lot that I hope I can spread around to colleagues to better serve our students. I should also add that I didn't blog about any of it.

Upon returning from my trip, it was time to begin installing the privacy fence I had ordered a few weeks prior. I had never put up a fence of any kind, so I did what I always do: I called my brothers and we just started guessing at how it should go. It turned out pretty well. In the process of all the fence construction, I also built my kids the mother of all sandboxes. I could have blogged about any of that, but I didn't.

With the privacy fence up and operational, I realized it was one of my brothers' birthday: August 1st. Holy cow! I still have a bathroom to remodel or my wife is going to strangle me. It's not that she is really all that demanding. You see, I began this particular project over a year ago when I decided to replace the tub/shower. I pretty much gutted the bathroom, ripped up the old floor and pretty much left it at that. Sure we had a new tub/shower, but we also had bare drywall and concrete floors.

This all brings me to now. I am writing this blog at about 1:30 in the morning. I started, um continued, the bathroom last Sunday. This week has been spent finishing the demolition, rebuilding a wall, putting up more drywall, mudding, sanding, mudding some more, and as of now, putting up a fresh coat of paint. I have official overshot my budget for the project by about 70% and still have to complete the tile floor, custom cabinet, and finish work before the 17th.

This wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have so much going on this coming week. On Tuesday, my wife, daughter, and I will be traveling to St. Louis to take a tour of Busch Stadium before taking in the game that evening. Then, on Thursday, I think, I have tickets to take my daughter to Sullivan's Little Theatre on the Square to watch Aladdin. Seems like there is something else too, but I can't remember it. Did I mention I have never done a tile floor either? Anyway, I also put up a new garage door and finished out the cabinet space around the dishwasher I installed over Spring Break somewhere in there.

Well, that is how my summer flew by. If anyone is still reading this thing, drop me a comment to let me know what you've been up to. I look forward to seeing everyone back at school next week. It is going to be a great year. I have a new room (Mrs. Sherer's old room), a new class (Creative Writing replaced Eng 10c in my schedule), and a lot of ideas for how to make learning fun (okay, bearable).