Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I know, I know, Its been a while...

School blew into session hiding in the dust left behind by the birth of my first child and moving to a new home. Someday soon I'll breathe again.

Lydia was born August 10th after a long day. Karin survived hours of labor only to receive a last minute c-section. But all went well. We went home on the 13th and found that my gracious mother-in-law had done most of the unpacking. A blessing considering we had been in the new home about 4 days. That next monday, the 15th, I went to school and began it all again.

This semester has been a blast. I'm working and seeing the beginning signs of improvement in the program. I doubled the high school band, added about 5 to middle school, and had both 5th and 6th grade bands up and running with instruments within 2 weeks of school starting. I have some quirks that make my own life harder though:
First, I do everything in my power to help students learn to practice. I re-do the 5th and 6th grade practice sheets every tuesday to correspond with that week's lessons. It takes a lot more planning and curriculum-wide vision, but the practice sheets are designed to help them through the practicing process and push them toward the mutual goals we set the first week of school.
Secondly, I'm a blue. I'm a relationship oriented teacher and my personality tends toward creativity and not organization. I've known for quite a while, and set goals and plans in place, that I would struggle with organization, structure, and discipline. My paranoia over such has led to a multitude of file folders and lists and schedules.... My school does not require me to turn in lesson plans, but I do them in a short hand form to keep myself in track. I struggle with disciplining students and have a few class clowns who abuse that, especially in the 6th and 7th grade. I struggle with the immediacy factor in discipline because for minor-medium type infractions, such as disturbing class by talking, I have them write their name on a sheet along with an acknowledgment of their misbehavior and loss of a point in their daily grade. I don't think they get it. The daily grade goes in the grade book at 10pts a week or 2 per class. This is the majority of their grade and I have at least a dozen kids with F's and D's in band because they repeatedly disturb class in minor ways. This week I am going to begin making some phone calls, its still early and grades will change a lot. But I'm nearing exhaustion in my attempts to create a learning environment. Oddly enough, the 5th, 8th, and High School bands have the same grading system and have lost very few points and behave fine. There is something about 6th and 7th grade.
Add on to that the fact that I do not have enough instruments. I am using everything the school owns except a nearly destroyed baritone, a nearly destroyed horn, a bari sax, a junker bassoon, and a marching snare or two without heads or harnesses.  I have students sharing horns and cleaning them each class. The school decided, against my best advice, to order a few no-name brand flutes and clarinets which won't be here for at least another month.
So I've applied for a few grants. Please let something work...
OK gotta go.