Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I Have Now Been Professionally Developed

Yesterday was a professional development day. Let me share with you how it went.

School upon arrival: blisteringly hot. The heaters were on over the holidays. In Texas, this is completely unnecessary. The temps have been in the 70s, except for 2 or 3 days right in the midst of the holidays when no one would have been at the school. In an attempt to fix this the system was turned off, whereupon we lost any air whatsoever until noon today. Very, very hot.

Breakfast: promised to be delivered by the Army - four baskets of breads. And some napkins. Nothing else. Nothing. No cream cheese for the bagels, fruit, water, nada. Four. Baskets. Of. Bread. We ran out.

"Differentiation" strategies learned:

1) Two teachers holding hands and touching a modified lightbulb can complete a circuit and make the lightbulb light up. Two hundred teachers stretched out around a cafeteria cannot. Time to get teachers in circle? 10 minutes. Time to try it four times, just in case someone was not actually touching the person next to them? 10 more minutes.

2) If you hold your arm out straight and think positive thoughts, it's easier to keep your arm up longer. If you think negative thoughts, your arm gets heavy. No. Really. We learned that as a differentiation strategy, which you will no doubt recognize as an engagement strategy, and a dumb one at that.

New Policies: No Homework? Why Not?

Students who do not do their homework will be held unaccountably responsible for not doing the work. Strategies to get them to do the work should include: having students call parents right during class and tell their parents in front of everyone that they don't have their homework.

HOWEVER. We want to give students who may have good reasons for not doing their homework every opportunity. After all, that student may not have had breakfast that morning, or is living in a hostile environment.

SO. No homework? Why not? Call your parents in the middle of class in front of peers. "Hey Mom. I didn't do my homework because it was really upsetting to see Jimmy beating the snot out of you last night."

Games Played: Drug Awareness Jeopardy.

Not one moment for us to work in our rooms. They kept us from 8:30 until 4:05. When we all got back to our classrooms, we found out they'd sent an email which required a responsive action by 4.

Later this week I want to write more about two strange trends I saw coming, but seem even stranger now they've hit our school: the No Homework, No Problem trend, and the Dumbing Up, Dumbing Down to get to on-level teaching strategies.

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