Sunday, July 06, 2008

Goodbye Classroom

On June 26th, 2008 Mr. Benjamin spent his last day as a teacher in the service of the NYC Department of Education.

He (I) have accepted a position with a non-profit education consulting firm.

Thanks for reading. I will soon post a link to a new blog exploring education policy issues.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

entry on the way

So sorry for the lack of posting.

Terribly busy and living on the edge with 14 hour days. Small schools, large workload.

Will be kicking up some posts this weekend.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

chronic teacher fatigue?

CTF? I doubt the AMA recognizes such a condition, but if they did - I suspect I'm suffering from it.

Perhaps it's just the ELA prep that's getting to me. The simulation exams, the "incorporation" of testing skills in all subjects, the "pumping them up for the exam" hype ... it's all a bit much. The kids are trying their best; that I have to admit. But even they begin to become tired and need an outlet. Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly at the time of my class. So today's chatty class got the consequence for not completing their work. A 30 minute lunch detention. 30 minutes of agony for me. But once you say you're going to do issue a consequence, you have to follow through. Even if that means a loss of one's own lunch.

I'm slipping further and further behind in the curriculum due to this damn test. I can't wait for it to be over.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

the quiet time

It's a slump. A feeling of feeling caught, trapped, and contained in a situation I take responsible for creating. In my other career, we had what was known as the "three year hump" to get through. This is different somehow. It's an issue of really questioning whether I can continue at the pace I've created for myself. I've taken on a lot of roles, wanting to challenge myself. Too many roles, not enough time. For me, that is.

The break made me realize, yet again, how much of my life requires neglecting to see my family. I spent the break almost entirely at my parent's home. Those days made me recognize how many times I've spent cutting conversations short on the phone in order to to run down the stairs of the subway to attend yet another meeting of some sort.

On a good day, I'm home by nine at night and up at three in the morning to attend to the paperwork/lesson plans/newsletters that have to be completed. I'm too tired and drained to attend to these things any longer at night. Too exhausted, unable to concentrate. Family and friends fall by the wayside. A text and/or quick e-mail with my Blackberry have become the norm. My monthly planner has to be with me at all times. I can't even "book" a lunch with friends on the weekend. And when I do, I have to always state something like, "I'm good at X PM, but have to be at XYZ by such and such time." And then I eat and chat, while constantly trying to look at my watch inconspicuously.

Keeping up with this blog is an outlet, so excuse the self-pity that this post contains. I'm just running on empty, and taking a close examination of what I can do to get past this hurdle. Some how, some way. There is always an answer. I just can't seem to find it. Not without giving up things that mean something to me. But I guess that is the answer, isn't it?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

the tag

Well, 17 (really 15) at Have a Gneiss Day has hit me with a meme, so here goes:

Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.- Tag 7 random (or not) people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I have a phobia with apples. The sight, the smell, and even a simple discussion about apples can cause me to fly into an anxiety attack. My family has absolutely no idea as to how this phobia developed. I once came home from a business trip to find my roommate baking an apple pie . I didn't return to our apartment for two days.

2. I failed one class in college. Art History 101.

3. I rarely watch television, but I am relatively addicted to Project Runway.

4. I feel guilty when I'm at a clothing store and examine a sweater or shirt which is perfectly folded. I then try to "refold" the item just as I found it.

5. I attended university in Paris for two years.

6. People tell me that I'm very well organized. They just don't know where I hide my messes.

7. 9/11 took away a career that I loved and believed I could never replace. I was wrong.

Monday, December 17, 2007

why bother with best buy?

Today, we discovered that yet another computer was stolen from our school over the course of the weekend.

Angry? Yes.
Surprised? Not so much.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

how small is too small

I think that the last couple of posts deserve some clarification.

IS Prep is extremely small, even for a school in its first year of operation. Our register is only in the double digits, and our student to teacher ratio is approximately 7:1. At any given time, one will generally find 2-3 teachers in a classroom. Some are in the classroom for professional observation (our first year teachers observe at least five classes per week), while others are in the classroom for delivery of special services. Coaches are also prominent in the classrooms during the day. Even the guidance counselor pushes in throughout the week to provide character education and conflict resolution strategies.

My position entails working with just about every class, every day.

I guess due to this small community, we're particularly close to our students. My colleagues talk "kid" all of the time.

Which kid isn't turning in homework?
Which kid seems despondent?
What am I going to do about this kid's difficulty grasping a thesis sentence?

It's just the way it is right now. Believe me, I'm not running around the school crying about kids that we lose from time to time. But I do feel the loss, as does the rest of the staff.

NYC brings up an excellent point. Administrators do seek out weaknesses. But I'm fortunate that my principal is far more concerned with the teachers that seem (or are) disconnected from our students. Will IS Prep make it as as an effective school? I think so. The real issue we face as a school is managing the stress that comes with the multiple responsibilities the staff assumes in addition to teaching.

Is this the right place for me right now? I think so. Am I busting my ass? Oh, yeah! But being part of the development of a new school, and heading the development of a new department of special education, is a challenge I'm comfortable with. Can a school really develop into a "community" of students, parents, and staff? From what I'm discovering, it can. But the one variable you really have to control for is each stakeholder's intent of purpose. You really need to believe that what you're doing is the right thing, for the right purposes, and for the right outcomes.

There was a point to this post. I'm just too damn tired to remember what it was.