Thursday, February 28, 2008

Back to School? Looks That Way...

Note: Visit my education blog, The Green Cup

Well, after two days off for the weekend (during which I was pretty sick), followed by two days (Monday and Tuesday) off for the flu, followed by two days off for snow, it looks like we'll have school tomorrow on a regular schedule.

Depending on your source for weather information, we have a 20-30% chance of snow flurries in the morning. Tazewell County here in Virginia is on a two hour delay. McDowell County, acorss the line in WV where I work, is not yet on a delay. And at the moment, no West Virginia school system is on a delay. It's conceivable that we could get one: run off from melting snow will probably freeze on some roadways. But the temperatures are only suppose to drop into the mid-20's, so salt should fix that...

I think I remembered the routine for getting ready to go. The coffee maker is set, the lunches are made, the clothes are ironed.

If we keep with our normal calendar, I think we give up about 90 minutes of instruction tomorrow for activities connected to our school behavior program. It's called Free Fun Friday. Kids who haven't violated the behavior policy go to a fun activity. Kids who have go to "re-teaching" - which, in the context of a behavior program, I always thought sounded like something out of Solzhenitsyn The Gulag Archipelago.

Anyway, it will be nice to be back at school...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Healthy Again - but Not at School

I actually feel pretty good today. Whatever my doctor gave me Monday, my sinuses are mostly cleared up and I can actually go to sleep with my mouth closed (which is nice).

I'm hope today, anyway. So is everyone else. We have about four inches of snow at my house this morning. Tazewell County closed last night; McDowell County (along with the rest of West Virginia) closed this morning. We went to bed knowing we had a two hour delay and then got the call at about 6am this morning saying we were closed.

meFriday I went to the Board offices for a training session. We have a new IEP form and, more importantly, new requirements within the document. The meeting took about tow and a half hours. I'll spend part of today looking through the new material and browsing the new form.

Every year in March and April we have annual reviews on each special education student and create their individualized education plan (IEP) for next year. I have nine special education students at the moment to think about. Two are leaving the elementary school for the middle school this year, so I don't have to actually write their whole IEP; but I do still have to write their PLEPs (present level or education performance) and send those on to the middle school.

We're also implementing a new program to help struggling readers as part of the response to intervention framework at our school. It's called Recipe for Reading. It falls within the pale of the Orton-Gillingham approached and our county got the institute for Multi-Sensory Education to come in at the end of last year and train us in how to use it.

I'll probably spend part of today looking back over those materials. Our two reading specialists started using it with a few students each on Monday. And I've got a couple of students to start it with, too; but I was out sick...

We'll see whether I get to teach tomorrow. At the moment the weather forecast makes it look quite feasible that we could all be home again for another day.

Monday, February 25, 2008

When Your Doctor Says the "F" Word

I saw my doctor today. He was swamped. I've never seen his staff sit extra chairs out in the waiting room before. But today they were bringing out folding chairs for the overflow crowd...

My doctor said the "F" word. I have the flu, in his opinion. And a nasty sinus infection to go with it. He gave me an antibiotic for the infection and told me to rest and drink fluid.

No school tomorrow for me. Maybe Wednesday.

Today is Cancelled

I remember Monday, a week ago. It was right at 1pm. I had just let students into my classroom for an intervention period. Two or three of them were seated and a couple of them were in the bathroom next door...

Mr. Cruey! Mr. Cruey! T.J. spewed.

We don't really have a student named T.J. and I've changed the names to protect confidentiality. I recognized the colloquialism "spewed" to mean that he had rejected his partially digested lunch. The bathroom our older boys use is next to my classroom.

Is he okay? I asked.

He's still working on it..., came the reply. Mr. Cruey, he missed and it's everywhere!

Marvelous, I thought. Will you go find the custodian for me? I asked.

I went into the hall and opened the bathroom door. I couldn't see the student. But I could hear something that sounded like a scene from the classic movie, The Exorcist.

T.J., are you okay?

There was a pause. I heard heavy breathing. I went in...

The colors were amazing - fit for the cover of a Pink Floyd album, or something similar.

I'm okay, T.J. said. I'll be out in a minute.

And he was. He took a quick drink at the water fountain. I asked him if he wanted to go home. Surprise: the answer was no. The day was mostly over. I let him stay.

And so it started. Sickness swept the building in the next few days. It seems like almost every student was sick for at least a day. We had one day when half or more of our fourth and fifth graders stayed home.

Maybe T.J.'s problem was completely unrelated. Not many of the kids threw up. But we had fevers and misery in children whose spirits I'd rarely seen dampened before.

They come to school. They tell you early that they don't feel well. You try to be extra nice to them when it becomes clear that they are sick. I was rewarded for this by one young girl with an unexpected hug in the hallway when her mother showed up to take her home. The child threw her arms around me and squeezed hard. Probably she left a million germs on my shirt. I was touched...

Friday night I realized I had a fever. I slept most of Saturday and Sunday. I won't bore you with details of my symptoms other than to say it is either a bad head cold or something like the flu.

My doctor is very busy today, but I have an appointment to see him at 3pm. Hopefully I'll be back on track tomorrow and back at school tomorrow or Wednesday...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New Blog: Constructivist Leanings

Note: Visit my education blog, The Green Cup (which replaced Constructivist Leanings)...

I have a new blog: Constructivist Leanings. It's a hosted on a server run by the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) - "Just another WV K12 Education Blogs weblog."

The WVDE blog site lists a total of 39 West Virginia teachers and education professionals who are blogging.