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    Busy Day


    2012 - 03.09

    We both had quite the full day today.  I met Karin after school and we did some organizing of her classroom so that it’ll be more pleasant to come back to after spring break!  Karin did most of the work, but I got most of the checkmarks (maintaining the to do list has it’s advantages).  We dealt with a lot of stuff, and I think that she’s going to be really happy when she walks in on that Monday morning 17 days from now.  I think we dealt with 5 boxes and two aquariums.

    We took a break and had dinner at Red Robin, dinner was nice although they seemed a little understaffed.

    We then made a quick trip over to Ikea to see if we could pick up some extra shelf pins for the Ivar shelves that Karin has in her classroom.  They didn’t have any in the spare parts vending machine, so we looked around a bit then took a number to ask if they had any extra ones that we could buy.  They gave us the 20 pins that we needed no charge.  So that was nice.  Thanks to the nice lady at the returns/exchanges desk.

    Back to the school to finish putting the shelves together and deal with a few more things.  Then finally heading home.

    Oh, also finished the first phase of the eSub System for Abandoned Towers (subject to Karin’s final acceptance testing) which allows for contest submissions.

    Class Size


    2012 - 03.04

    This is the sort of topic that could get me in trouble, given how many teacher’s I know…  Back when I was in school, having smaller classes would have been a bad thing.  Most of my teachers will remember me as being a decent-to-good student who stayed out of trouble.  This fond recollection is made possible by large classes.

    If teacher’s didn’t need to supervise so many students there are countless things which would have been noticed and could have possibly tarnished that teacher-pupil relationship.

    Of course when I was in school there was a healthy respect (and a little fear) of teacher’s which doesn’t appear to exist today (among students or parents).  So maybe today’s kids are less concerned with being caught doing things that they shouldn’t be doing… and likewise perhaps the parents are less demanding that they don’t.

    Thankfully I’m not a teacher so I don’t actually need to deal with that situation directly, but it certainly does seem as though a lot of respect has been lost somewhere along the way, and that’s really unfortunate.  If you look at the turnover in teacher’s and if the loss of respect was actually due to any of the teacher’s, those at the bottom and most hurt by changes are unlikely to have had anything to do with it.

    It’s actually strange thinking back on being in school, given that I graduated nearly half my lifetime ago (that’s a little scary to realize), but schools and the world are a fundamentally different place.  Things which have occurred in the world and dramatically affected the lives of parents and children (and teachers) since then include (in no particular order, and not limited to):

    • Harry Potter
    • Twilight
    • The Internet
    • Cell Phones
    • Texting
    • Columbine (and other school shootings)
    • Integrated classrooms (e.g. special needs students in the classrooms)
    • Bullying
    • Dual Incomes

    There once was a time (and it’s still the case in some countries) where everyone was so pleased or proud to be able to go to school and receive an education that students and parents worked with teachers.  Now it seems that there’s such an entitlement to an education that this respect is no longer afforded teachers or even the education system.

    I’m enough of a realist to not try to defend all teachers and especially not the education system, there are definitely flaws in both at times.  The larger problem though is in a society which essentially requires that students achieve a University degree, but which doesn’t respect the educators which help make that possible.  That same society then elects politicians who share that view, and those politicians undermine the system as a whole.

    So I joke about not wanting smaller classes, but when I went to school although there were smarter kids and less skilled students, everyone was fluent in French and English; behavioral problems consisted of talking too much during class, or failing to follow instructions.  But even so everyone yearned for the teacher’s approval, hoping for positive feedback, or a stamp or sticker.  We were not concerned that a student might bring a weapon to school.  Bullying happened, but it was limited and it was not of malicious intent.  Fights happened, but they resolved issues and everyone moved on (in fact two of my best friends became my friends after such altercations, and we’ve been friends for about a quarter century now).  It was a different time, and dare I say a better time?

    I often think that when people colour the past and remember it as better than today that they are inventing a past which might not have actually existed.  I actually believe that the respect with which teacher’s were treated is something that has diminished over time and to the detriment of all.

    So smaller classes, I suspect that it would help in a lot of cases.  It would help the teachers, but especially the students.  But we would all benefit IF we gave teacher’s more respect for the education and expertise which they have and for the difficult job they do.  If we could repair and rebuild this respect, then maybe we could repair and rebuild the system, and perhaps then politicians would have the good sense to offer some deference and respect when addressing education related issues.

    Busy day


    2011 - 09.21

    Went to Bellingham today to pick up a shipment from UPS, the trip was uneventful, and although I didn’t spend much time in traffic, I still managed to spend about 6 hours round trip.  Karin on the other hand, spent the day working and then went off to investigate participation in a Geek Choir.  It’s a little odd for us to both be away from home that long, and to both be in totally different places.  When we’re better rested we may have more to say.

    Karin: Gift Suggestions


    2011 - 09.06

    Not everyone may know this but Karin has a class tradition with respect to pineapples.  I’ll let her explain the origin of it all, but it’s fair to say that it’s the official fruit (I’m assuming it’s actually a fruit) of the class.  It is one of those cases where you do need to draw the distinction, just as the province has an official bird, flower and flag, etc… so must a classroom.  Or at least one with a couple of Geckos as class pets, and with the history of the pineapple.

    Anyway, on to the suggestions.  I came across some merchandise which might be appropriate, and it’s all pineapple themed.  It’s also TV themed, and although I have watched a few episodes of Psych, I have no idea where the pineapple association in the show comes from.  That might just be because we have limited exposure to it here, given that it’s not carried regularly by a Canadian station*.  So here are the suggestions:

    I’m mostly kidding, but still they would be funny.

    * Note: a little ironic given that it’s filmed in and around Vancouver, yet we can’t actually watch it locally.

    Day 1


    2011 - 09.05

    Karin is as ready for tomorrow as we could make her.  She’s not stressed out about it, and her new classroom is well organized and hers.  Today we made lunch for the week which if everything goes well she’ll take tomorrow and keep in her mini fridge.  She’ll also have enough food that she can have dinner if she ends up satying late photocopying or something.  On this week’s menu:

    • ham and cheese on sourdough
    • cheese strings
    • salt and vinegar chips
    • vanilla greek yogurt

    We’ll see how long we can stay this organized…

    The Classroom


    2011 - 09.03

    Duh Duh Dugh!  Definitely the storyline for the week has been unpacking Karin’s classroom and getting it ready for students next week.  Normally you wouldn’t think this would be a big deal, but last year Karin’s school underwent seismic upgrading which means that her classroom needed to be packed up to be moved to a new school/classroom, and this time last year unpacked and setup, then at the end of the year (June) packed up and moved back to her old school (but a new classroom).  That’s probably a little hard to follow, here’s the timeline:

    • June 2010: old class packed up for moving to new school/class
    • August/September 2010: unpacking at new school/class
    • June 2011: packing at formerly new school/class
    • August/September 2011: unpacking at old school in new classroom while construction is still ongoing to finish the seismic upgrades

    So she’s back at the old school, in a new classroom, HER classroom.  She’s organized, and it shows.  Here are some “after” shots of the classroom setup (there’s still a bit of work to be done, but the heavy lifting is finished).  Perhaps Karin will post the “before” pictures in the next couple of days.

     

     

    Her desk and area:
    2011_09_02_IMG_6569

     

     

    The pop machine last year’s class made for her:
    2011_09_02_IMG_6576

     

     

    View out the windows near her desk:
    2011_09_02_IMG_6577

     

     

    View out the windows at the other side of the classroom:
    2011_09_02_IMG_6579

     

     

    The bulletin board on the cloakroom (I did the papering):
    2011_09_02_IMG_6582

     

     

    Another bulletin board, and are those expertly assembled Ikea Ivar shelves?  Why yes they are:
    2011_09_02_IMG_6587

     

     

    Another bulletin board, and are those expertly connected computers?  Why yes they are:
    2011_09_02_IMG_6588

     

     

    Rolling cubbies with books in front of the radiator:
    2011_09_02_IMG_6592

     

     

    Full room shots:
    2011_09_02_IMG_6593

    2011_09_02_IMG_6594

    2011_09_02_IMG_6595

    2011_09_02_IMG_6596

    2011_09_02_IMG_6597

    So it took a lot of work this week, most of it by Karin, with help from her mom, and minor contributions by yours truly.  The results thus far are very impressive and satisfying, should be a great year!

    The downside is that Karin has a very sore back from all the work she’s been doing, so hopefully that will pass quickly, hopefully.

    Photomatix: Educational Pricing


    2011 - 08.29

    The other week we contacted Photomatix to see if Karin qualified for their educational pricing, and it turns out she did!  So we now have a licensed version of the software for 60% off the regular price.  We sent in a scan of her BC College of Teachers card and that was sufficient evidence.

    Amusingly we have done next to nothing with the software since we bought it, but it does mean that we can now put together HDR photos without the watermarks on them, so maybe we’ll soon have some of those decorating our walls.  It’s also a good reason for us to do more of that type of photography… so you may see more experimentation in the coming months.

    Sunny Weather


    2011 - 06.05

    Of course, after I was in a freezing cold dunk tank on a freezing cold day, the weather turns nice…just in time for the weekend I set aside to do pre-report card marking.

    I’m finding it particularly frustrating today because I’m getting my report card time inspiration to paint, garden, bake, etc.  I know that I shouldn’t do those things, but I don’t want to mark either, so I’ve been drifting all day without feeling like I’m getting much done.  Time for a list!

    Things I managed to accomplish today:

    • read some of Beloved (on The List)
    • eat breakfast
    • get dressed
    • do a couple of small visual journal entries
    • reread the beginning of a short story I wrote yesterday
    • decide I shouldn’t reread stuff so soon after writing it
    • feel depressed about my fiction
    • clean up some stuff from the table
    • sort marking
    • realize that “holy crap I’m missing a bunch of math tests”
    • play some Facebook games
    • read some of Beloved (on The List)
    • create some draft posts over at Random Synapses for the six (6?!) books that I’ve read but haven’t posted about.
    • agonize over the fact that I’m so behind in my posts
    • admire my garden, and realize that I’ve got a half dozen baby cherry tomatoes and two baby brandywine tomatoes.
    • glare at my marking
    • play some Facebook games
    • draft some math comments for report cards, hopefully saving me time for next year
    • consider whether 11 am is too early for wine
    • decide it is, regretfully
    • play some Facebook games
    • try to figure out what would be good for dinner
    • decide to delay that decision
    • realize I forgot to go to the library yesterday
    • think about putting on nail polish
    • play some Facebook games
    • feel guilty about neglecting Cowbels
    • write this post

    I’m taking away from this that I have in fact accomplished some things today…so YAY! I’m also taking away that I feel guilty about many things, and negative about many others…so BOO! I need to work on that.

    Fun Fair


    2011 - 06.02

    Today Karin’s school had a fun fair to raise money for the Parent Advisory Council (PAC), and she took the first shift in the dunk tank.  According to a student who was counting she got dunked 15 times.  I was there delivering towels and taking video, which after it’s reviewed may be shared.  I’ll leave it to Karin to talk more about the fair if she wants.