Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The First Day of School

Yesterday was the first day of school, which went surprisingly smoothly. 100 kids either forgot to come to school, were sick, or their parents forgot to unenroll them, and many more enrolled who had not enrolled when they were supposed to. But not one kid got sent to the office! And I do not have the emotional problem class this year! I mean, there are emotional problems, but in a proportion closer to what I'm used to. Not EVERYONE has a huge overpowering issue.

As usual, I spent hundreds of dollars on necessary school supplies and I'm not done yet. (Someday I'm turning this blog into a book to make millions. Any leads??) I got a class pet (a leopard gecko hatchling as shown in the photos). I am waiting for my class list to be finalized and attempting to teach children in English and Spanish, as there weren't enough spaces in the Spanish bilingual classes.

The administration is reasonable this year - it's pretty awesome. Two assistant principals and a principal who are all intelligent (unfortunately, a trait that is not a given in educators), reasonable, and who I think were all really good teachers themselves.

The district continues to be... well, silly. There are four workbooks needed for third graders. Only one of them is needed for the first week of school. Guess which one is the ONLY one we don't have. Yep. Sigh.... The newest stroke of brilliance is that math is being taught in a different order this year. We are told to teach multiplication and division, THEN get to the addition and subtraction units. Never mind that multiplication builds on addition and division builds on all of them. Never mind that half of these kids don't really remember ANY addition and subtraction from second grade, so they won't even be able to START multiplication. Never mind that we start teaching from Chapter 14, so the "review" section on the workbook pages is stuff they haven't learned yet, so we can't use the workbook! Seriously, I think the district's goal is to make us crazy. And it's working.

Two more things, then I'm collapsing and going to sleep.

One: a second grade teacher asked me to be her official mentor teacher today (I get paid for it!), so I must be doing something right!

Two: today Oakland surpassed (in 8 months) the entire 2005 homicide count. Yes, the total of 2006 homicides is more than in all of 2005. And more of them were gang or drug related. 95 people have been killed so far (Oakland is not a large city as cities go, only about 400,000 people), and 60 of those were 25 years old or younger. 17 of them were 17 or younger. One this weekend was a 14 year old who went to the middle school that shares a parking lot with my school. It breaks my heart that my students have to grow up here.

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