RBOC: A Week Until Thanksgiving

  • When I’m not teaching, I’m in meetings. Some are good, some not.
  • Just when I think I’m going to have a break, I realize some other big thing is happening that I have to prepare for. Now!
  • Grading, enough said.  I actually have some more to say about that. Later.
  • I have had some down time, but I’ve been so exhausted, I’ve used the down time to do things like play Candy Crush. Sigh.
  • Things at my house are falling through the cracks.  Please don’t visit me.  You’d be appalled.
  • Despite all the work, all the meetings, etc., I still really like my job.  Yes, even I am surprised a little.  It helps that we had show and tell in my 6th grade tech classes, and omg, the projects were sooo cute.
  • I promise to write more . . . after the grading is done.

Random bullets of crap: end of summer

  • Yesterday I visited a friend and her new baby.  I’m not much of a baby person really, but I do like seeing them.  I held her for a while while she slept.  Hard to believe my own kids were once that little.
  • Before that, Geeky Girl and I did some shopping.  We had no specific plans except to get a couple of gifts for the visit above.  We ended up with a few items that we needed without spending much money.  She declared it a successful trip.
  • Some of Geeky Girl’s friends (and my students) came over last night.  At first I felt encroached upon (I’m not ready! I’m not ready!) but then after talking to them for a while, I realized that I am ready.  I enjoy being around young people.  They’re enthusiastic and funny and looking forward to the future (even if they are a little nervous).
  • We visited Geeky Boy today, bringing him a refrigerator and a bag of goodies.  He seems good.  He got to see Aziz Ansari give a stand-up/inspirational show yesterday, which he definitely enjoyed.  His hallmates told us “We love your son!”  He starts classes tomorrow and got a reality check on the cost of textbooks ($220 for a single one).  He’s finding his way around and generally settling in.  His biggest complaint right now is the shower water, which is rarely hot apparently.
  • We had some bad luck on the eating out front today.  We tried to take the girls to a local breakfast place this morning, but there was a line, so we decided on a an early lunch at a place around the corner, but it wasn’t open yet. We tried another place, also too long a wait. So we ended up with doughnuts.  When we tried to take Geeky Boy out to lunch, we had an equally different time.  The area his school is in is kind of a restaurant desert. It caters to college students and poor people.  Lots of fast food and take out, not a lot of sit-down restaurants.  We ended up at a poorly run pub.  Food was decent.  Service was awful.
  • This evening, I took a walk around the neighborhood.  It was a gorgeous weekend all weekend.  Tonight was especially lovely, warm, but with a slightly cool breeze.  There are still flowers blooming in people’s yards.  Kids are still riding bikes and playing ball in the street.  I do sort of dream of living somewhere quiet and secluded, maybe on a lake or river, but for now, it’s nice to see neighbors out enjoying the lovely evening.  I need to remind myself to get outside more often.  I do walk almost every day, but sometimes I’m more focused on myself than what’s around me.  It was nice to pay attention to that just before the hustle of school is about to begin.

RBOC: Too many things!

  • I spent the end of last week camping with the 7th grade, which was loads of fun. I ran. I laughed. I climbed up trees to platforms and walked on ropes. I giggled with my students and screamed louder than they did when the lights went out.
  • Mr. Geeky and I did some work on our remodeling project but we have a long way to go.
  • I only worked on it for an hour today because I needed to prep for class and do some other things for school.
  • I want to get more involved in some CS issues and continue to hone my skills, but am feeling like there’s not enough time.
  • There’s another parent evening tomorrow night, which means less time.
  • Did not make it to the grocery store = take out = more calories & more money. Sigh.
  • Robotics starts in 2 days. 22 high school kids and about 12 MS. Yikes!
  • I managed to get laundry done at least.
  • Desperately trying not to feel overwhelmed.
  • This list is about 1/3 of what’s on my mind right now. Maybe 1/5. I keep thinking of more things.

RBOC: Long time no blog

Teaching

  • My CS class is cruising right along, and have begun their final projects.  I’m quite pleased with what they’ve accomplished so far, and am looking forward to their final projects.  They’ve presented their topics, and I like them all.
  • One of the surprising things about teaching programming has been the subjectivity that goes into grading the programs.  I could grade them purely on functionality.  If it works, it gets an A.  If not, it’s a failure.  But there’s such a thing as programs that almost work and programs that work, but do so in a really wrong way.  I find myself confronting programs that are complex, but don’t work and programs that work but are too simplistic.  Not that different from grading essays really.
  • I’m becoming increasingly aware that I need to reflect a bit more on the structure of this class and make some tweaks to it for next year before I forget.

Mentoring

  • This is something I have done a lot of and continue to do, and I love this part of my job.  I’m helping some individual students, and I’m adding some extracurriculars that I hope provide some more informal opportunities for students to be involved with computing.
  • I often wonder what I’m mentoring my students into.  The field is still male-dominated, and can be hostile. Though I know they can hold their own on the programming front, I worry about all the side issues: the sexism, the lack of women in the field, etc.
Other job-related things
  • Can I just say I love the faculty I work with?  I went to a meeting the other day with other people who do my job at other schools, and so many of them complained about how no one did anything with technology, or they had to be pushed into it.  Not me.  I could tell story after story about different teachers doing some really cool things.
  • The year is winding down.  There are awards to hand out, special dances, celebratory dinners.  Light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.

Health and Exercise

  • As my clothes get increasingly tighter, I’ve tried to integrate some kind of exercise into my life.  It painful to do.
  • I’ve tried to get technology to help me, but it’s imperfect at best.  It still requires me to actually enter information. And tracking calories in and calories burned is tedious.
  • What I know I need is better habits.  I’m giving the couch to 5k program a try as a kickstarter, but I’m really not a fan of running.  But if it can get me in the habit of running/walking 3 times a week, maybe it will be worth it.
  • On the diet front, I’m not perfect but better.  I find it relatively easy to stick with a decent diet.  Today, I had oatmeal, salad, some chips and guacamole, and a ham sandwich with a side of applesauce.  And water all day.  Where I fall down is chocolate and alcohol.  My hope is more exercise will allow me to have those treats and not put on a pound just for looking at them.
  • I try not to think about it, but part of me just wants to let myself go.  Which isn’t a good idea for multiple reasons.

Back to the grind

Day 1: Dog tired
Image by lorda via Flickr

Well, here it is. 6 a.m.  A time of morning I haven’t seen in a while.  I have not really thought much about  school for two weeks.  We’re in the middle of everything, so there’s no new beginnings post new year.  In fact, we have exams in a few weeks.  I’ll be doing a few things and then beginning to review.  It feels weird.

I’m looking forward to going back and seeing colleagues and students again.  I missed the routine of school.  But I also enjoyed the lack of routine the days have had, where I decided from moment to moment what to do.  This week is short, at least, a good one to get back in the swing of things.  By the time Friday rolls around, 6 a.m. will seem normal again.

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Random Bullets: Is it October already?

  • You’re never fully prepared sometimes.  I spent the summer developing my course.  And yet, the other day, after going over my plan, tweaking a few things, and adding others, I still didn’t feel prepared enough, and I still feel like, afterwards, the lesson could use some work.
  • Once a week is not enough for my middle school technology classes.
  • Prep and grading sometimes fall to the bottom of the priority list when you have other things to do.  And I really hate that.
  • I feel way more comfortable in the classroom than I did last year, especially when it comes to classroom management.
  • I sat down at lunch today and said, “I love this place.” And I meant it.  My colleagues are awesome.
  • I’m running in-service day this Friday.  It’s been a real pleasure organizing.  People have stepped forward and really helped me out.  And really, it’s run by the rest of the faculty who are leading workshops for the day.
  • On the home front, I’m a little obsessed with Geeky Boy’s impending (in two years) entrance to college.  He seems not just ambivalent, but downright uninterested.  Sigh.
  • I’ve signed up for an online CS course that covers some of the advanced stuff I haven’t really gotten into much.  I’m looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to taking some more CS-related courses in areas that I might teach–iOS programming, for example.  Always something new in my field.

Notes on the first week of summer

Some highlights so far:

  • Went to a cooking class with my colleagues.  So much fun! Plus mojitos!
  • Took care of several myriad appointment stuff–dentist mainly, but also car inspection.
  • Have worked every morning on my class–going well so far.  The sad thing is I know that even if I create fairly detailed lesson plans, I’ll still be tweaking the day before each class.
  • Discussed in-service day plans with the keynote speaker, Chris Penny.  Very excited about this, but also lots of work ahead.
  • Had coffee with a former student, whom I’ve served as a job reference for.  She’s turning down job offers left and right, waiting for the right thing (and the right salary) to come along.  She’s an amazing student, who’s a great example of combining arts and humanities with computing.  She’s an art history major who does web development.  It really can be done!
  • Had dinner with a former colleague who is also considering a career/job move.  Good conversation, good food, can’t beat it.
  • I am up to 3rd grade math.  In two days, that’s not bad.  Actually, I’ll be doing some algebra later today more than likely.  I’m moving at a pretty good clip.
  • Having lunch today with colleagues (different ones from the cooking class).  Looking forward to seeing them outside of school.
  • Today is also Geeky Boy’s last day of school.  Last night was the last day of nagging him about homework/studying (which I think does absolutely no good, but makes me feel like I’m doing *something*).
  • I’m not sure yet if I’ll take the weekend off.  I suspect I’ll do some work since I’ll be away M-W. I live in fear of getting too far behind.
  • Though it sounds a little hectic, I’m really moving at a pretty relaxed pace.  And I’m looking forward to real downtime later this summer.

RBOC: End of year edition

  • I so want to make this: http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-A-Mobile-Bar-BaR2D2/
  • Schedule for the next couple of weeks: ice cream party, senior dinner, chaperone a dance, chaperone a day-long field trip, exams, grades, graduation.  And that doesn’t include the normal every day stuff.  Lots of things to wrap up.  All of it kind of fun in its own way.
  • On the home front: homework trouble again.  And let’s just say it counts now. Sigh.
  • Realizing I’m going to lots of conferences–all good, but now my summer feels packed.
  • My robotics students gave me a signed photo of me going down a log flume ride.  Made me very happy.
  • It’s been a good first year, and I still feel pretty warm and fuzzy about it.  In fact, all these end-of-the-year events sort of make me even more warm and fuzzy about it.

Random Thoughts on Random Topics

Technology

  • Really irked about the FCC’s “Net Neutrality” ruling.  I think one of the side effects of the ubiquity of computing has been a slide into complacency among users.  Mr. Geeky thinks an alternate Internet will pop up.  I’m not so sure.  Yet another reason why I think delving into the more technical issues of computing is important.
  • Delicious‘ demise.  Unfounded or not, I think I will have to move my bookmarks.  This won’t be the first time.  Way back in the dark ages of the Internet, I used Furl, which in some ways was a superior product.  It actually saved pdf’s of your links.  No link ever went dead.  I moved to Delicious out of a need for more social aspects–there were more people there.  I still haven’t decided where to go.  I’ve never been a fan of Diigo.  It’s too busy.  Suggestions welcome.
  • Blogging.  Feeling very blah about it.  Of course, many folks are not blogging at the moment because of the holidays.  Ironic, since this is the very time I have to read and write.  Oh well.  I’ll keep plugging away for a while, but who knows how long it will last.
  • Gaming. I deactivated my WoW account.  Which makes me kind of sad, but it doesn’t make sense to pay 14.95/month for something I don’t use.  I might step back in over the summer, but I don’t see having time to game during the school year.  Plus I have to get the new expansion.  Too many hurdles.  I definitely miss my guildmates, though.

The Holidays

  • Whenever I think I’m done, I realize I have one more thing to do.  Sigh.  I’m hoping to get everything absolutely completely done today.
  • Gifts.  We’ve tried to scale back this year, and have been mostly successful.  There will be no Santa this year for the first time ever.  Last year was the first year Geeky Girl didn’t believe, but we still did the whole putting gifts out thing.  This year, by the Geeky Kids’ request, we’re just doing stockings from “Santa”.  Everything else is from a real person.
  • Food.  The kids also requested I not do anything complicated for Christmas Eve dinner because they want to spend time with me.  Which I think is probably the sweetest thing ever.  My kids are totally awesome.  So, we’re keeping it simple.  Ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, maybe a salad.  The dessert will be made the day before.

Weight

  • I downloaded LoseIt at Jody’s suggestion and so far, I love it.
  • I haven’t done a huge amount of exercise over the last couple of days (mostly walking the dog and doing housework), but knowing I can eat a snack if I do something for 1/2 hour is pretty motivating.
  • I replaced the batteries in my Wii Balance Board, so I’m ready to rock some Wii Fit.  I have a real aversion to cold weather.
  • I’m planning to pretty much blow my calories out on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but who knows, maybe it won’t be so bad.
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Reboot . . .

Almost a month since my last post–whoa!  Over the last few days, I considered closing up shop.  I barely have time to read blogs anymore much less write in one.  But, like Janet, I do find writing here when I can useful.  I have a ton of things to reflect on and talk about.  Here are just some bullets of stuff going on in my life right now:

  • Running two robotics clubs, one of which meets every day after school–lots to say about what I do/don’t like about these two very different clubs
  • Rethinking one of my courses, which is requiring new prep
  • Promoting computer science, which is well-supported by the administrators and my colleagues here, though not always understood.  I’m still fighting the perception that CS = learning Word and Excel or that CS is unneccessary because either a) these kids all know how to use their computers and so don’t need CS or b) all the jobs in CS are being outsourced.  a) drives me more crazy than b).
  • Struggling to find time to learn new skills.
  • Getting frustrated by the CS education blogs I’ve been reading that make some odd assumptions about how K-12 works.
  • Loving, loving my job.  My colleagues are just awesome.  The students are great, and despite working really, really hard–and a lot!–I love coming to work every day.  I’m still getting used to the fact that people support my work and me.  I’m used to something very different.  I’m loving feeling like I’m in the right place.