Sunday, September 9, 2007

Back-to-School Blues

Now I remember why I dislike the start of the new school year. Have I mentioned that I wish we could fast forward to the second nine weeks?

The new school year means that all new students and teachers need network accounts, SuccessMaker accounts need reset, 2nd and 7th graders and their parents need Edline accounts, the bugs have to be worked out of our grade books, new supplies and equipment must be inventoried, etc. etc. etc. Fall is a very hectic time!

When I was in a classroom full-time, I (and most likely my students as well) was bored by the introductory lessons in my textbooks. I always breathed a sigh of relief when we made it through the first few chapters and got to the "good stuff."

On top of the usual back-to-school activity, we're also scheduling meetings and planning implementation of our "Classrooms for the Future" grant. I'll be presenting our project to the School Board tomorrow evening and hoping for their official blessing to accept the $168,305 grant. The PA Department of Education is still negotiating pricing with the two major vendors, but once that process is finalized, things will move fast. All equipment must be ordered by November 2, with installations scheduled for completion by January.

We're also implementing our EETT grant in Grades 7 and 8, and we will be testing those students to gather baseline data on their technology skills. But first, this week we are conducting 4Sight testing in both buildings. 4Sight predicts success on PSEA tests and allows teachers to identify students' academic strengths and weaknesses. Instruction can then be modified to address the areas of deficiency.

The high school students are using the online version of 4Sight, so I sure hope the technology gods are smiling down on us this week!

To make the new school year even more challenging this fall, we had to deal with broiling heat and high humidity. I can't really complain too much since I can steal some cool air from the conference room adjacent to my office just by keeping my door open. But I did feel for the teachers and students who didn't have the luxury of nearby air conditioning. People looked absolutely wilted, and sometimes ill, by the end of the day. Temperatures near the computers in the labs exceeded 100 degrees, and there wasn't a breath of air moving. Some of the computers even turned themselves off from overheating.

Not exactly optimal teaching or learning conditions. Luckily the forecast is for cooler temps this week. I suppose when we're fighting sleet and snow and below-zero wind chills in a few months, the heat won't have seemed so bad!

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