Day in a Sentence, released

This week’s Day in a Sentence was a bit more than a sentence. I suggested that we slice into a period of time and share that out, and many of you took me up on the offer.

Again, I love reading your thoughts and I feel privileged to hold onto the words before releasing them all together. Due to the extensive nature of the writing this week, I don’t feel the need to do my usual introductions. The writing tells the tales.

Without further delay, then:

From Alice (who has offered to host Day in a Sentence next week):

This week was when the ideas and expectations created in the timelessness of Spring Break, ran into the brick wall of tasks and expectations required by my job. In addition, I tried to add an exercise routine into the week (new gym that we joined opened in neighborhood). I discovered that time and energy are finite resources. In addition, fate seemed to conspire against me in that any instance of poor planning on my parts was instantly met with chaos from others, leading to, well this is too nice a blog to use that type of language here). This left me both exhausted, angry, and cranky at the end of the week. Since I still have to get up early for CR 2.0 conversation, and have events at church both days of the weekend, I’m not sure how refreshed I’ll be. Thank goodness Battlestar Gallactica is back so I have some solace for my over-scheduled/planned life.


Great week in that my last two seniors passed the CaHSEE so they can graduate with their class; my two sophomore boys who entered their video in the Career Skills Challenge took third place; and all went smoothly on our fieldtrip to Sacramento. Bad week in that there were too many absences and we learned that our department is being cut by two teachers.


During April and May it is quite difficult to have any continuity in class, especially after lunch, because of all the spring sports my students are involved in. I used to obsess over the loss of class time, but now I just go with the flow, teaching whoever is in class. No use getting my–well, you know–in a wad over something I can’t control. This week has been no exception. So, on Thursday and Friday, putting Macbeth and Julius Caesar aside, I hosted Scrabble tournaments for my English students. I kibitzed, played some, won some, lost some, and learned lots of new words, thanks to our Scrabble dictionary that we allow ourselves to consult when we get strange letters and don’t know what to do with them. The last game of the week ended with Tom-Tom yelling at Todd, “You can’t leave yet. I get one more turn. You were supposed to stop when the bell rang. I have another word to play.” Todd just walked out of the door, ignoring Tom-Tom, who picked up the Scrabble board (so I wouldn’t put it up), and rushed out the door. “Come back. We’ve got to finish this.” Actually, they were finished; Todd was the last player, and it was Tom-Tom who had stalled until the bell rang, thinking Todd would pack up and leave, and he would be declared the winner of one more Scrabble contest. I guess you can tell Tom-Tom does not like to lose at Scrabble, and until this match, one of his major claims to fame was, not only had he beaten Mrs. Cynthia (me) in Scrabble, but, until this last match, he was also the undefeated Scrabble player of Room 13. Well, Tom-Tom, guess you’ll just have to snap out of it. And, besides, there’s always next Thursday to start a new string of wins, or maybe even defeats. I’ll be waiting for you.

Sara P.:

This week was our state tests – 6th grade Math and Reading, three 90-minute sessions each. So our mornings were stuffed with testing, and our afternoons were just 6th-grade-wide free time and recess. It bothers me that our kids are so low, but hopefully the test scores are much better than last year’s. The highlight of the week, though, was just getting to know most of the other 6th graders – we’re self-contained classrooms, so my 24 are my focus most of the time. I also liked making one of the badass kids sit out for hitting another kid, and having him apologize to me when his five minutes was up. “Really? Anthony apologized? He *never* does that for me,” says his regular teacher. I like knowing my take-no-prisoners approach to discipline works!

Jane S.:

Our yard is a war zone for birds. The first casualty was the bluebird kamikaze that flew into our picture window. Today’s victim is the American Goldfinch. A hanging thistle basket, made especially for goldfinch feeding, proves to be a dangerous platform for our hungry comrade. An errant toe is hooked into one of the tiny openings on the mesh basket and he can’t get away. A trickle of blood brings out my rescuing instinct and I call my husband. The wounded is soon released from his prison and we plead armistice but the birds are silent to our truce.

Ben B.:

At least weekly, my sophomores remind me something I apparently shouldn’t forget.

“You aren’t a real teacher.”

Like clockwork. How do I respond to this? They already have it in their very, very little heads that I’m just a student teacher and that, because my master teacher is in the room, that I do not have any authority.

I don’t blame my master teacher. When he isn’t there, they’re worse.


I’m thrilled that this week, after having recently received a large influx of new ninth-graders into my mainstream class, I feel that I’ve finally been successful at getting a good handle on class management. I’m particularly excited that I was able to do this through using much more of a positive and affirming approach instead of a threatening and punishing one. I wonder how class management issues in an inner-city school compare with those in other places?


Wow. Here we are clear across the continent…and my student teacher introduced idioms to (her) my 9th grade class. She wanted them to find the origin of the phrases and rejoice in their interest, but many simply found them sort of silly. Being mostly polite, they withstood her enthusiasm.
I wondered how often idioms become cliche and why that seems to be part of the process.

Meanwhile, AP and 11th are doing research papers which I always use as the opportunity to look for new ideas and sources myself. In my friend Carol Jago’s new book on teaching writing, I discovered a positively wonderful essay entitled “Your Brain on Baseball” by David Brooks. Carol’s book comes with a CD with handouts (how great!) so if you are interested, I could send it. Cheers.


This week my great moment working with a teacher is all about Moodle and creating a drop box. The teacher was totally amazed, as was I, to add this simple tool that can do so much. How great to have a drop box for an assignment that takes the assignment and funnels it through your grading book in Moodle. The teacher’s eyes were sparkling as she realized that all the assignments would now be on her laptop, not the USB key, not in a pile of papers, not getting lost. The Moodle date and time stamp indicates which enrolled students have dropped off their assignments. How slick! That is what I call technology with purpose! Oh, and saving on paper is still another bonus. Celebrate Earth Day! Over and out. Cheryl Oakes


Friday. Gray morning, but the birds are chirping. Just a half day left on the course I’m teaching. Participants are antsy, want out, want a final day of holiday, want some sun. Finally, we say our good-byes. Then I pack up, clean up, clear out. Out for lunch at last! Then back home I’m smothered with kisses by my littlest one. Weekend begins.


Spring’s finally here and so are my allergies that leave me brain dead.

Anne M:

My week has been tinged with sadness, due to the loss of my mother and her funeral taking place. However, it has also been a time to reflect on cherished memories and remember all the wonderful times we have shared together. The week ended on a high, with the arrival home of our two sons from London, who flew home suddenly to spend 2 weeks with us at this sad time.


A week ago we were just back from Israel sitting around this kitchen table at 3am eating breakfast without milk and a week later, after suffering though a bout of jet lag and accepting some powerful NWP/HVWP challenges, I am poised to begin my first grounded week at home. Any sign of spring?

If you like this idea of slicing into your day, you should wander over to Two Writing Teachers, where the blogging team there has established a regular Tuesday Slice of Life feature that offers yet another way to integrate writing, reflection and community.

Peace (in connections),

  1. I can relate to what is happening in your classroom, Ben. Hang in there. You do build a different bond with your own classroom that is difficult to see when you walk in to teach second semester. Somehow my submission didn’t make it this week, so I am adding it below. (Maybe Kevin didn’t think it worthy. 😉 )

    I spent this week walking a precarious line with my student teacher. Deciding between dictating what should be done and allowing her the freedom to experiment was difficult. Keeping in mind that each teacher is different and different styles work for different people, I may have allowed too much freedom and will probably spend next week trying to provide more support so she will be ready when she has her own classroom. (Watching my nice respectful class of students turn into unfocused rude children was a scary experience, too!)


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