Monday, February 27, 2012

Reason #83 not to have kids.

Or, heck, this might be reason #94 to have kids. I'm not sure.

A colleague of mine was regaling us with a tale of her 3-year-old son, L. He's quite the character, and stories about his antics remind me of stories my mom used to tell about my cousin when he was a kid.

L and one of the neighbour kids were playing in the basement, when the neighbour kid came upstairs crying.

My colleague:
Aw, what's wrong? Did something happen?

Kid:
L hit me in the eye with his penis!

...yeah, me laughing my balls off just re-typing that has definitely tipped the scales towards the "this is one of the reasons to have kids" side of the ledger.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Look, I wish I had more to tell you.

Stuff's good, man.

Kiddies are nice, co-workers are (mostly) great, booze occasionally flows.

Oh, I did buy a new ottoman. Great for propping up feet whilst reading in an ugly, yet comfy, pink chair in the corner of my living room. (It's one of the last parental furniture hand-me-downs I own, but despite its garishness, I don't think I'll be getting rid of it anytime soon.)

March Break plans for Florida are pretty much set: flights booked, hotel room reserved, car rented — seriously, Expedia kicked everyone else's ass when it came to rates — and baseball tickets purchased. It's all over but the sunshine and the relaxation and the drinking now. Oh, and a colleague of mine will be in the same general area of Florida at the same time, so I'm going to take my only non-game day down there and slip over for a visit. That'll be fun.

The summertime baseball tour, Midwest '12, is in the planning stages. I hope to see major-league games in Pittsburgh, possibly Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Kansas City, then looping back up and hitting up the annual Bless You Boys game in Detroit on August 4. I'll try to jam some minor-league games in, too... should be good times. Maybe along the way I'll make like Clark Griswold and stop off at the second-largest ball of twine in the US along the way.

If you like organization like I do, pdfcalendar.com totally kicks ass. I print monthly calendars out all the time for work and use them to organize my classes and such. Very, very handy.


Oh, I guess there is a bit of political news — the whole Conservative robo-call thing, which I guess in Canada counts as a scandal. Basically, "someone" called up voters in a bunch of close ridings just before the last federal election, giving people false information about where to vote, perhaps making it so that they couldn't cast their vote. It'd be interesting to see who got called; if the people that got picked had preferentially identified themselves to Liberal/NDP canvassers as supporters, that's a pretty clear sign the Cons were behind it. Personally, I wouldn't put it past Harper & Co. to try these sorts of dirty tricks.

That's about it, folks. If something comes up, I'll let you know.

Promise.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Different students make my job much, much different.

(For reference, IB means International Baccalaureate, a program we have at our school for particularly motivated kids.)

To recap...

Semester 1

2 × Grade 9 Applied Science: lots of indifference, mild insanity, kids possibly raised by wolves
1 × Grade 12 Earth & Space Science: fun enough, somewhat intellectually stimulating early on

Typical classroom goings-on (i.e., with the Grade 9s):
  • near-constant texting being done by at least one person in the room
  • kids often late for class, and/or absent for no reason
  • pen? pencil? Who brings those to class?! It's ok, someone'll give me one, and if nobody will, whatever, I just won't do any work
  • homework isn't going to get done; might as well not bother assigning any
  • "So, I'm getting over 50 percent, right? I'm cool with that."
Overall conclusion one could gain from teaching these kids:
We're probably not doomed as a species, but it might be a bit touch-and-go at times.

Semester 2

1 × Grade 10 Academic Science (IB Preparation): nerds in training
1 × Grade 11 IB Physics: not entirely nerds, but wow, they're a disciplined bunch
1 × Grade 12 Physics: like to have a little fun, but like to get down to work even more

Typical classroom goings-on (all classes):
  • routinely discussing the kids' plans for university
  • if you give them a handout, it never ends up on the floor/in a sink/ripped up/in someone else's binder/covered in pop/covered in a mysterious substance/crumpled up in a desk
  • if they're away a day, it's usually for something legit
  • if they're away a day, they always ask the next day what they missed, and/or they've already got yesterday's notes/handouts/whatever from someone who was there
Overall conclusion one could gain from teaching these kids:
We're in good hands.

* * * * * * *

Today we had a PD day. Now, if you've never been a teacher, your first instinct will probably be to think, "Whoa, lucky! You had the day off!" But, while the kids get a day off, we sure as hell don't. PD stands for Professional Development, and most of it is unbelievably lame... with the exception of PD done by current classroom teachers for current classroom teachers.

You get some bozo in from a Faculty of Education, or from some company or something, or even from up in the Board offices somewhere, they don't have a good god damn clue what the fuck goes on in classrooms. They may never have been a teacher — or, it's been decades since they've been one, so they may as well have never been one in the first place. But today's workshops were, for the most part, pretty useful because they were put on for us, by us.

Two out of the three sessions I went to today were thought-provoking, useful, and a little bit education-nerdy. (The third was really not my cup of tea, but somewhat interesting regardless; one of the presenters drove me crazy by inserting the word "actually" into every sentence he spoke, sometimes two or three times.) Hell, it's Friday night — prime-time for picking up prostitutes down on Jarvis, believe me — and I've spent an hour so far reading up on inquiry-based learning in physics classrooms.

* * * * * * *

There's a larger point here, and it ties together both of the items above.

Last semester, I was focused on managing all the bad stuff the kids were doing, and it wore me out; in addition, I was counting down the days to the end of the semester and looking forward to it as a break. Now, I'm all energized and excited and thinking about all the great stuff I can do with my classes, trying out new things — and, because my kids are mostly energized about school (or, at the very least, they fake it pretty well), I know they'll buy into it. I'm counting down, but mostly because I want these kids to stick around a little longer.

Now, this is me we're talking about, but I'm a very small cog in a very big machine. Ultimately, it's the kids who walk away with either a good or a bad experience — whether they learned some science or not, whether they enjoyed themselves or not, whether they were interested or bored — and, frankly, I get paid either way, so if I'm emotionally drained at the end of the week and want to booze myself into a fog on Saturday night, well, that's pretty much only my problem.

To use a sports analogy: you gotta leave it all out on the field. Especially for the non-academic kids. Those are the ones who take all the time, take all the effort, and end up driving you crazy... but, and here's the point, they're the ones for whom you can make the biggest difference. So you suck it up, spend your sanity, and hope you made an impact. (Hell, I overheard one of my students from last semester — probably the one who drove me the third-craziest, and that's saying something — say to another kid, "Aw, that's Mr. L, he's greezy, yo." If you'll recall your South Scarberian, that is a compliment, so at least I did alright with him.)

Anyway, I'm rambling, and the whores downtown are waiting. I just hope Clitoria is still there.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I think I'm starting to understand why I hate Valentine's Day.

It's not that I'm misanthropic; I genuinely like people.

It's not that I'm always single on February 14 (34 times and counting).

It goes deeper than that.

It all started when I was in about Grade 1. We had to do the standard "fill in a Valentine's Day card for every kid in the class, regardless of what you think of them, and go around the classroom putting a card in the paper bag taped to every kid's desk" exercise. I think everyone did. But, as a moderately introspective 6-year-old, I knew I didn't like it.

There were some people that I genuinely didn't care for — they weren't necessarily my enemy, but they also weren't my friend. And yet, I was still forced to put a card in everyone's paper bag. It was all so... institutionalized.

Fast-forward to high school, when girls mattered: this, I believe, is where the true bitterness began. It's not like there was a lot of drama in a school of 400 kids; hell, we weren't even big enough to have honest-to-goodness cliques, because everyone pretty much knew everyone else. But, it was pretty clear to me that there weren't too many girls swooning over thoughts of the J-man. Fine, whatever.

Bitterness is a funny thing, though. It builds. And whether or not it's a fast or a slow burn, year by year it accumulates.

As a so-called adult, I'm bombarded with messages about romance from every damn angle. Laura Di Battista on the fucking CBC drive-home show couldn't shut up about it. You turn on the TV, it's there too, screaming at you on the evening news. The majority of the people I know on Facebook who posted something about it put up something neutral or slightly negative; I went full-on negative, natch, but there were some that put up pictures of the flowers their man sent them, or how their significant other is the bestbestbest, or some other claptrap.

Ah... I dunno, man. Maybe I'm just mad about always being single. During those rare stretches where I'm successfully partnered-up, things like this seem a little more tolerable. I'm romantic in my own way, so I'm told — so it's not like I'm a total heartless dick.

Frankly, I'd prefer to just live my life without being reminded about shit like this.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Look, world, I GET IT.

I know that IT'S GOD DAMN VALENTINE'S DAY soon.

Jesus FUCK.

So I'm flipping aimlessly around the dial tonight, and come across the fun, MXC-like show Wipeout. It's ridiculous and fun, obviously. But I was wondering why everything had a romance-ish kind of a theme.

Because I'm an idiot, it took me a good five minutes before I clued-in to why this was. And then, duh, I realized that they taped it whenever, but made everything look like winter (e.g. fake snow) and dolled it all up with hearts and such because they knew they'd air it now.

"It's better to be single on Valentine's Day," everyone says. Y'know what, though? That's just straight up bullshit.

Actually, let me clarify.

If you're single and saying this, you're delusional.
If you're coupled and saying this, you're patronizing.

Hard to say which is worse, really.