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August 2008

More adventures in classroom behavior

Wednesday REALLY stressed me out.  At the end of the day, I sent an email to the principal asking him for help in setting boundaries.

Then I got in a note in my box telling me of a meeting with him at noon.  I thought it was in response to my email, but no, it was in response to the incident in my classroom on Wednesday.  Principal said that there would be a meeting in his office, 4:00 pm on Friday with the other teacher, myself, him and the associate principal of instruction. 

Seems the other teacher was very upset and angry with me and was threatening to "take me out".  Seriously, he said that twice.  I do know how to handle these situations, taught well in AFROTC in college, and again in tech support at TI.  Basically the customer is never wrong.

I am seeing a PhD psychiatrist right now due to the stress at the end of the last school year and something we talk about a lot is setting boundaries.  I was already booked to see him last night, and he reiterated that position.  Husband felt the same way.  And of course I know it.

The best way to win in a confrontation, is to make the other person feel that they won.  In fact, it's even basic clicker training.  I'd already decided that I needed to apologize for her hurt feelings and acknowledge that perhaps I should have taken the issue out in the hall.  However, I do know that after this incident, no one in my sixth period class is going to pull out a cell phone, and probably no adult.

To my surprise, shortly after 8:00 am this morning the other teacher showed up in my room and walked to talk to me.  I was very taken aback since she'd threatened me, but I allowed her to stay and sit down, and she was willing to leave a student working in the classroom who needed help.  I was glad I had someone there to get help if I needed it.

I started by apologizing for her hurt behavior and that I should have discussed with her in the hall.

She started then by complimenting my classroom management skills and apologizing for her behavior, especially her conversation with the principal.  Of course, all is forgiven and I did ask her for help in learning to deal with people.

Mentioned us computer types would prefer working in the basement with a room for of computers and please throw us snickers once in a while -- a combination of my shrinks classification and my husband's.

Man is life fun.

Classroom Behavior -- for Teachers!

I ran my pink sheets downstairs today and while I was gone, another teacher came into my room looking for me.

First, I don't like sending students out for errands like that, they should be on the computer.  Second, I need the exercise.

So I come back into my room, to find the other teacher ON HER CELLPHONE.  I had to wait for several minutes for her to end her conversation before I could even find out what she wanted.

Here's the issue:  1) she was disrupting my students, and 2), the principal said no cellphones in classrooms by teachers.

I did tell her that I found the behavior objectionable, and that she owned my students an apology.  She said it was okay because it was school business.




I do believe strongly that taking care of yourself means that you can take better care of your students.  Sometimes my students and my duties get in the way of that.

The most important thing I do to recharge is train and show my dogs in dog agility.  What does that have to do with computer science?  Well, training a dog isn't all that different than programming a computer.  Seriously, but you'd have to try it and think about it before you get it.

I took a teacher workday off to go to a dog agility trial and boy, am I glad I did.  My new dog, Macy took two first places in Jumpers with Weaves and she was good enough in Standard that I can figure out what it takes to fix it.

One of the reasons I have dogs, is that they give me unconditional love -- well Macy does, I'm not sure Maggie has the capacity to love, but she is an insane rescue dog - I can prove it, Xanax makes her behave better.  After a tough day at school, I feel instantly happy when I come home and am greeted by my dogs.

Training them gives them more of a personality, and it gives me a release.  Every Monday night I'm at dog agility and very few things can interrupt that.  I only do local trials, though fortunately I live in an area where I can get a decent dog fix.  We have two trials in August, a couple in October, a few in November and December.  We start up again in February and have trials in March and April.  I only do AKC, so that does cut down the number of trials I attend.  I might try Teacup, but haven't had time to do that.

My advice, if you don't do it already, is find an activity that you love, and that takes you away from school.  And if it shows unconditionally love, all the better.

And yes, I'm quite sure the "unconditional love" is truly love, but a inherited behavior that occurred because of natural selection.

It still feels good to come home to it.

First Day

I report tomorrow.  We have two days of staff development, a convocation at American Airlines Center (getting there will be a PITA), and two teacher workdays.

This will be my 18th year of teaching computer science, and the 18th year in the same classroom.

I suspect I handle the beginning of a big uniquely, but it works for me.  I spent this weekend at a dog agility trial, and will do the same next weekend.  In fact, I'm scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which means I'll take one of our teacher workdays as a vacation -- that is IF I decide to go on Friday.

I'm actually pretty ready.  Office Depot had their teacher appreciation discount last week, so I went last Sunday and got supplies.  I spent half a day the week before working on putting my classroom together, and spent Friday afternoon.  (That equals the day I'm taking off, by the way).  Went I left Friday, all computers were up and talking to the teacher workstation, server, and the internet.  So I can teach there now, without doing anything else.

My next task is to build a new student image.  I want to put Microsoft One Note and Microsoft Expression web on the images.  I also want to set of the workstations so building JCreator projects are easy.

I spent the summer writing our curriculum for Computer Science I (Visual Basic), and Pre AP Computer Science I (Java), so right now I'm waiting for our district specialist to start setting that up.  I also have AP Computer Science I (A) set up -- but currently fu-barred and AP Computer Science II (AB) set up but don't have my lesson plans set up yet.  I'll work on that during the evenings next week, and probably quite a bit next weekend at the show site.

I'm pretty happy about next year, I have the schedule I want, and I'll find out which kids and how many by the end of the end.  So far, so good, and I'll use the agility trials to keep me from stressing out about school.

Figured it out

I have apparently figured out the agility blood sugar problem.  Today I ate "lunch" before I left for the trial -- about 9:45.  My blood sugar stayed in the 140-150 range all day until just before my last run, which I started drifting down.  Since they had a concessionaire and it was open, I grabbed a corn dog, ate half before the run and ate half after.

Very nice to see.

Agility runs aren't going well, but I've really got to lose some weight before I see good runs.

Other New Stuff - JCreator

Still not entirely sure how I got this working, but here's the next step for my new image...

Templates for JCreator:




The Gridworld templates are coming in REAL handy, as it takes seconds to start up a Gridworld project.  Not sure if I'll use the others this year or not.

Would also be good for media computation stuff.

Using One Note

I'm taking an AP Computer Science AB teacher workshop at UTD and I'm using One Note.

I've been trying One Note all summer, as I want to use it in my classroom. 

This workshop, the presenter has given us his slides before he presents, which I finally really useful, as you can import the slides into One Note and make your own notes.


I can see making my slides available at the beginning of class, having my students grab them and making notes on them as class goes on.

I really think this will improve class, so one of the first things I need to do when I get back, is to at One Note to the workstation image.

Media Computation

I've finally got a few minutes to sit down and digest the Alice/Media Computation workshop.

First, it was good.

Second, they gave us lots of good ideas.

And media computation is using software, in this case Java, to manipulate images.  One of the first books on it is available on line and was written by a prominent computer scientist: 

Beyond Photography, The Digital Darkroom, by Gerard J. Holzmann

Both Barb Ericson and Steve Cooper have been teaching media computation in their Computer Science courses.  There is some information at