Monthly Archives: March 2010

Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences

Our mid-term student-led conferences start tomorrow (and of course, the weather’s going to be crappy for the three days we’ve got conferences scheduled.  I like to dress a bit more formally for parent conference days than I do otherwise – I trot out the really nice teacher clothes to meet parents – but I hate wearing skirts when it’s raining and cold outside.  Sigh).

Anyway, I didn’t start this post to bitch about the lack of sympathy between my wardrobe and the weather; I started this post so I could put this up:

I’ve got 15 kids in my junior-senior class and 10 in my writing class.  Six kids are passing in the first and only one is passing in the second.  I’m not alone in my angst, either; one of my colleagues has a pair of kids with the same single-digit average.

Perhaps I should print Gandalf out and put him up in the conference room so we can all refer to it when the parents wonder why their children are crashing and burning…


Filed under failure

Quick Hit: Not as Smart as You Think, Part II

Remember I told you about Jimmy?  Get a load of what I found in my inbox this morning:

Ms. George, will you please print this out when you get the chance?

Mrs. Chili, I’m sending this to you as my plan C. :]

Jimmy, keep up the good work.


My guess was that he was trying to prevent the “I did the work, I just can’t access it” problem again.  The only trouble with his plan was that he failed to attach his essay file.  I suspect that he’s not going to check his email this morning in time to do anything about it, but I sent him this note as a reply:

Jimmy, you shouldn’t be so quick to congratulate yourself; you forgot to attach the file.


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Filed under dumbassery, failure, funniness, I can't make this shit up..., I love my job, I've got this kid...., student chutzpah, Yikes!

Protected: The Dream of the Blue Turtles

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Filed under colleagues, dumbassery, ethics, failure, frustrations, General Griping, I can't make this shit up..., I love my boss, Yikes!, You're kidding...right?


I’ve got this kid….

Let’s call him Jimmy.

Jimmy’s one of those kids.  I suspect that he’s got a terrible inferiority complex, because he covers and over-compensates so much that it’s almost comic.  Nothing that comes out of the boy’s mouth isn’t a justification for some sort of failure on his part to do what he was supposed to do.  He’s never been one (at least, as long as I’ve known him) to ‘fess up and say that he made a mistake.  He gloats when he does do what he’s supposed to, and enjoys telling the teachers how “happy” they should be about that.  Oh, and he also loves to tell me that I’m wrong.  We had a lovely argument discussion just the other day, in fact, about a sentence I’d written on the board.:

“I don’t mean to be rude, Mrs. Chili, but that’s wrong.”

“Really, Jimmy?  How so?”

“Well, I can’t give you the grammatical reasons, but I know it sounds wrong.  I would never say it that way.”

(after a moment of looking at him with unabashed incredulity, hoping he’d back off of this ledge) “Hmmm.  Well, I’d like for you to take a moment, Jimmy, and consider the possibility that you’ve been saying it wrong all this time…


Anyway, the students were supposed to present a project in class today.  The directions for this project were painfully clear and posted in a prominent spot on the website (you know, the one I refer them to every day, but which no one ever seems to remember to check?  Yeah; that one).  The directions were clear to the point that I told them that written component of this project needed to be printed and out of their computer by the start of class.

Can you see where this is going?

Jimmy had done the work; of this I had absolutely no doubt.  The problem, though, was that he could not access that work in a format that would put it in my hands: some complication of software kept him from being able to translate the file to a format that any of the computers at school could read.

He essentially told me that this was not his problem; that he’d done the work and deserved the grade for that portion of the project.  My contention was that it was entirely his problem; that not being able to put the work into a format that I could access was analogous to his bringing the wrong set of keys to the parking lot; you’ve got keys, you brought keys, you put forth the effort, but you’re still not going to be able to get into your car and drive away.

He didn’t get it.

I really want this kid to do well; I see a lot of potential in him* and I am genuinely worried that his attitude and behavior, as well as his seemingly unshakable belief that it’s never his fault, is not going to help him to get where he wants to be in the real world.  His chosen profession is one where reliability and professionalism are vital; one false move with the wrong gig and he could find himself essentially blacklisted from good jobs for a very long time.  I’m wiling to fight with him – I’m willing to let him hate me (and probably call me a bitch under his breath) because I want him to smarten up now, before the consequences for this behavior are a lot higher than a zero on his grade report.

*potential.  I remember hating that word as a student.  “Chili’s got a lot of potential, but she’s not living up to it, blah, blah, blah.”  I remember thinking, as I contemplated my eventual career as a teacher from the vantage point of an under-achieving high-school student, that I would try to avoid using that word in my own practice.  I know now that this is entirely unavoidable.  Students DO have a lot of potential that they just can’t see.  It is the curse of grown-ups to be able to discern all that wonderful, not-yet-realized energy, and to exhort, with varying degrees of success, the holders of that energy to release it.  Sigh…


Filed under concerns, dumbassery, failure, frustrations, I can't make this shit up..., I love my job, I've got this kid...., Learning, self-analysis, student chutzpah, Teaching, That's your EXCUSE?!, You're kidding...right?

Quick Hit: Not as Smart as You Think

Poor kid.  He thought he had me.

Here’s the post I had on the class’s website:

• For homework tonight, please:

* begin your primary research for your paper and start work on your annotated bibliography.  I’ve attached a sample annotated bibliography for you at the bottom of this post.

* re-read the first five chapters of The Handmaid’s Tale, taking careful notes.  Please write a short – 2-3 sentence – summary of the chapters as you go.

* re-read the article I handed out in class (I’ve attached a PDF to the bottom of this forum post).  Write a brief summary of the article, making note of the elements that stood out for you, confused you, frustrated or angered you.  You’ll use this to help guide your participation in our class discussion tomorrow.

Sample Annotated Bibliography:

• “Kristallnacht; A Nationwide Pogrom.” (Citation: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Kristallnacht: A Nationwide Pogrom.” Holocaust Encyclopedia.
(accessed October 27, 2009).

Summary: The article is about the pogrom and covers both the events leading up to it and what happened afterward. The article goes into detail about who was targeted, what organizations and people were behind the riots, and what effect the riots had on German policy toward Jewish citizens.

Evaluation: The article is fact-based and does not offer opinions or arguments. I have good reason to trust that the article is accurate because it is posted on the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s web page, and I know that the USHM is a reputable source for information about the Holocaust.

Connection to research: This article will be incredibly helpful for my research. In fact, it answers just about all of my guiding questions. In addition to having a lot of useful information, the article also includes suggestions for further research, and these are sources which I can also trust to be reliable. These other sources may have more – or a different kind of – information that I will find helpful.

One of my kids left this as a comment:

“The article is about the pogrom and covers both the events leading up to it and what happened afterward.”
Spell checker here! proof reading is a good thing 🙂

To which I replied:

Jess, a “pogrom” (not “program”) is an organized massacre or race riot, specifically of Jews. It’s not a spelling error; it’s just a word you haven’t encountered yet.

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Filed under funniness, I love my job, student chutzpah

Thank God I’m Not From Texas!


I mean, really; what the fuck are these people thinking?!

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Filed under Civics and Citizenship, concerns, critical thinking, dumbassery, ethics, failure, frustrations, I can't make this shit up..., politics, Yikes!, You're kidding...right?

Wednesday WTF

So, here’s what happened.

I decided to take my juniors and seniors to Local U. to take advantage of the really great library presentation they offer there.  Every semester, I take my freshman writing class to the library where a reference librarian gives them the “this is what you need to do to get all kinds of great, reliable, peer-reviewed resources for your papers” in a practical, usable format.  When I called the library on Monday (and talked to David, my favorite guy over there), they told me they’d be more than happy to host my CHS kids, too, and that, because it’s spring break at L.U., we’d have pretty much unimpeded access to the computers, to boot!

“Great!”  I thought, “Let’s go!”  So, I pulled up the bus schedule (because CHS has no access to school buses) and found out how to get there and back, printed out permission forms, and planned today around taking the kids out into the world.

Except we didn’t get far.  Because the university is on spring break, the bus is running on a curtailed schedule.

I managed to miss that vital piece of information on the website.  As a consequence, I and 14 of my students were standing at the bus stop waiting for a ride that never came.

We’re going to try again tomorrow.


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Filed under dumbassery, failure, frustrations, I can't make this shit up..., Local U., You're kidding...right?