Crazy October

Wasn’t it just a few days ago that Mocha and I were at the horse show? It’s been close to a month now, and it seems like that whole time has just spun by.

Part of that has involved a welcome uptick in Day Jobbe activity–primarily extra duty diagnostic assessment at the high school. I’ve spotted former students, chatted with colleagues, and mentally noted some patterns that you don’t normally notice when you’re just testing your own caseload kids. Even before, when I had to do a flurry of testing, that involved younger kids with fairly similar backgrounds. At the high school, I’m seeing kids from different programs than mine, and the things I notice are interesting.

One pattern that I keep coming back to is that I am seeing how a lack of grammar knowledge is not just a composition issue but is also a comprehension issue. I’m chewing on that thought pretty heavily. Key element: it’s dang hard to pick out the main idea in a sentence or paragraph when a reader consistently confuses prepositional phrases describing the main idea with the main idea itself. Just sayin’.

Anyway, there’s some other stuff going on involving the Day Jobbe that I can’t talk about at the moment, and it’s tied into personal life stuff. Potential positives all around, but…can’t talk too much yet.

Writing is in a shambles at the moment. Between testing and wrestling with our new student database program to produce not just grades but IEPs for three students just before conferences, I’ve not had a lot of mental energy for writing. Some of the other stuff going on has interfered as well. It’s frustrating but very real. However, during conferences today I did get some words down. Not a lot, but…Becoming Solo really does need focus and attention. I have to do a LOT of writing, and soon, to meet deadline. But now that that first big set of IEPs is over except for paperwork corrections, and conferences are over and I’ve figured out the new gradebook (for now), things should stabilize. Maybe.

Conferences. Things started going south the day before when kids came up to me practically in tears because they were flunking my class. And these were my A students.

What the ?!#@?!?

I quickly figured out that the damn student management database software had blown up again. Luckily, a bit of wrestling with it straightened things out, and I learned a piece of valuable information. All I’ve gotta say, though, is that if a database designer DOESN’T MEAN to have the main page of a grade book to produce reliable grade calculations, then turn off the capacity to enter grades in that screen. Period. I know enough about databases to know it’s doable.

In any case, I fixed the gradebook, printed out progress reports, and started my parent meetings with abject, heartfelt apologies to student and parent; explained the circumstances, apologized again, and handed the corrected grade over. Several kids were facing grounding over that damn gradebook screwup, and I feel horrible about it.

As it were, I had one of my biggest turnouts ever for conferences. But it was tiring and difficult, with intense meeting time mixed with dead time (we were in the gym rather than in our rooms). But running to 8 pm on Thursday, then getting back up the Mountain for more meetings by 8 am was tiring. Still, I feel like it was a productive set of conferences.

But dang, I’m tired. And October is almost over. Where did it go?

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