Friday, August 30, 2013

Almost 3 months post-op & CCSS will probably be the death of me

Ok, well, I thought I'd be totally pain-free and able to do everything by now. I am impatient. Steve, Sarah and Rene my physical therapists tell me this. Dr. D says so too. Most days, most movements are not painful. Certain movements can be difficult or painful at times, but the pain won't last. Range of motion is still not to my liking. I have 3 PT sessions left that are covered by insurance. I'm not sure what I'll do after that.

 It stinks not being able to do things. Like sitting on the floor playing a game with the kids. It stinks having to either wear sandals or wake Shawn up at 5:30 so he can help get my sock on. And it stinks even more when Shawn is out of town, and the only option I have is to wake a kid up at 5:30 for sock help. I've learned that Bridget doesn't like being awakened. Megan is the most helpful, and she'll fall back asleep quickly too. Four. More. Inches. My reach needs to be lengthened by four more inches before I'll be able to independently "sock myself."

 Steve, the PT, has been rough on me the past two weeks. We are on the verge of a break-up, and we both know it, so he's doing every thing he can to improve my range of motion because he knows how important my sock is to me. (And how cold Joliet will be soon!) I've watched him cross my right ankle on top of my left knee while pushing down on the right knee. I guess it is a good thing that he can do that, because it means that eventually I will be able to do that. But it HURTS like HELL. The first time he did this, I said, "Steve, I just want you to know, that I'm sweating (from the pain), and biting my lip, and this hurts a lot, but I will NOT be a Bob."

"Huh?" he said.

"Bob. That's the knee replacement guy's name, right?"

Steve laughed. See, Bob is an older guy who had a total knee replacement about a month before my hip surgery. Most of the summer we were at Brightmore simultaneously. Bob has a lot of scar tissue that needs to be broken down, and Bob is a screamer. He screams so loudly that it's uncomfortable for everyone in the building. He seems to be in so much pain while he's being stretched out. I get the impression, that Bob is also a bit on the dramatic side. One of the PTs compared it to women during child birth. Some are screamers, others are not, but once you let the first scream out, it's hard to stop screaming. So, I will not be a Bob.

Well, this blog post went off in a completely different direction than what I anticipated...

I see the doc next week. It will be an interesting visit. I predict he'll tell me that I'm impatient and that it took 7 years to get to this point, so it will take awhile to fully heal. It is what it is, I guess.

We've been in school for 3 weeks now, and boy is it the most stressful year since my first year teaching high school. The beginning of our school year was riddled with many snafus. Student scheduling was all messed up. Teacher scheduling was all messed up. One admin would tell me that my duty was in one place, while another person would say I'm elsewhere. Students had my name on their schedule teaching biology in the freshman center, while English Language Learners were showing up to my classroom. It was NUTS. And that was just day 1. Over the course of the following week, our counselors worked their butts off fixing schedules, while teachers dealt with the daily changes to our rosters. And class sizes? Ridiculous! At one point my classes held 29, 30, 31, 35 and 36 students. I can barely fit 36 desks in the classroom, and for the first time EVER in my career, I have to sit the students in groups of 2. The 4 Honors Geometry sections each hold at least 34 students. But things are beginning to settle down now (hopefully).

The school clocks have caused problems with the bells not ringing at the correct time, and the clock being set 3 minutes ahead of the real world. Fun times! Literally! And on top of this, we have a new student information system (attendance/grading program) to learn. Parents are frustrated that their web access is not fully functional. Teachers are frustrated that we don't know how the heck to use this system properly, nor do we know what the parents see, and all we hear is "We will be rolling out this feature soon." or "We will show you that soon." Well, three weeks into the 9 week marking period and many teachers don't have a single grade posted. That's not acceptable. It really is a mess at school.

Thank goodness for Common Core State Standards!   Algebra 1 and Geometry has fully converted to the new Common Core. So on top of all the chaos, half of my course load has a COMPLETELY new curriculum. New lessons, quizzes, tests, projects, answer keys, etc must all be made as we go. And we have NO textbook to follow! I didn't even issue textbooks to my geometry honors students. No point. Hopefully we won't have a paper shortage this year because I'm probably using a ream of paper every couple of days. A co-worker and I did a lot of geometry work over the summer, basically taking it upon ourselves to do all the planning, lesson writing, quiz making, answer key producing for all 6 of the geometry teachers at PHS. Although we did a lot of work in the summer, we probably over-planned. Our lessons are running long, we are figuring out our mistakes as we go, all of which is very common when going through a curriculum change. The problem is that both my coworker and I are stressing too much about it all. We feel responsible for the other teachers who are looking at us for support and advice about CCSS. And by no means are we experts at CC! 

We have a loose interpretation of how the year will be paced out, but every day that a lesson runs long, and we decide to continue the lesson the next day, in the back of our minds we are thinking, "I hope we finish all the content before Final Exams." There are days when we are praying that the copy machine is functional b/c we have to make last-minute copies. It's so day-by-day, and I don't like it! I have spent 10-20 hours on the weekend just doing geometry planning! The artery in my neck has been twitching since school has started because I'm so stressed. The whole school knows that the math department is rolling out common core this year, and we often hear, "how is common core going?" my response is always, "If I get through the year without being prescribed Zantac or Xanax, it will be a miracle." In the past, I could remember all the "little things" that need to be done at school, but this year I must write everything down. I have a to-do list on my phone telling me exactly what I need to do before school, during passing periods, during my planning period, and after school. I have a section on my whiteboard tracking the status of all un-taken tests: who is taking which test on which day at which location. 

I will say this about CCSS: the 6 geometry teachers (4 regular, 2 honors) talk on a daily basis. We may not have a common plan period or eat lunch together, but we make a point to share our thoughts on each lesson. Hey, this was good, this took too long, my kids didn't get this part, there's an error on the key for this problem, etc. I probably benefit the most from this communication since my geometry classes are the last two periods of the day, and I'm thankful for that. One teacher, whom I've never been particularly close to even though we've been co-workers since 2001, comes to my classroom almost every day to discuss how things went. It's been nice, too, bouncing ideas off of each other, commiserating, and trying to ease each others' fears. So we're a pretty tight group now, the 6 of us. It's also very refreshing to have both honors and regular classes working on almost the same material at the same time. It really promotes that collaborative professional learning environment we envisioned while writing the curriculum over the past several years. So, if nothing else, the common core has brought us all together towards a common goal: doing the best we can for our students as we muddle through this new curriculum.

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