Archive for September, 2009

Reduced Class Load

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Last Tuesday was my last day teaching the honors section of Algebra II. I told my principal that I was running out of time to update my blog, so he agreed that the best thing to do was to find another teacher who could take the class.

OK, that’s not entirely true. The administration realized that I had an oversized load of classes, particularly since this is my first year teaching, so they found another teacher to take the class. I am certainly thankful that my academic load has been reduced by this five-days-a-week class. I enjoyed the challenge of teaching math, but I am glad to be able to concentrate on teaching computers now.

I also look forward to sleeping at night.

In other news, we had a fun fair at school yesterday to raise money for the building project. If you’d like to see the current progress of the new building, you can watch via a webcam the school has set up.

This week is the last of the first quarter and is followed by a week off for the students. We teachers have three in-service days that week to catch up on things and to prepare for next quarter.

Take care,
Mark

Four-day Weekend!

Monday, September 14th, 2009

This last weekend, we were scheduled to have a teacher retreat; something I was looking forward to, but something which I knew would also eat up a lot of time. However, thanks to a cold epidemic that knocked out many students and a third of the teachers at school, we got a four-day weekend and no teacher retreat instead.

All that to say, I had a profitable weekend. We were told to rest up, and I was diligent in that task.

On Thursday, I went to a tuba ensemble concert in downtown Bogotá with a friend. It was great. It was the concluding concert of a tuba festival that had been in town since September first, featuring Mel Culbertson as clinician. The first half of the concert was a new composition (I believe) for solo tuba (Mr. Culbertson) with piano, timpani, and brass ensemble. The second half consisted of a variety of pieces which included such varied repertoire as a setting of an “Ave Maria”, a couple of Sousa marches, a number from the Phantom of the Opera, the Beatles’ “Rock and Roll Music”, and a few pieces typical of various regions of Colombia.

Notice that tuba players’ Joie de vivre is universal (note the evidence of the following video). I think my favorite part is at 0:48.

You may notice that in most ensembles, the low brass section is significantly smaller than other sections. Now you know that this is to prevent any ensemble from having too much fun.

In other news, you can subscribe to my blog via RSS.

In the Swing of Things

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Well, I’m four weeks into school now, and I’m starting to feel like I have an idea of what I am should be doing.

I’ve realized a few things in teaching middle- and high-schoolers:

  1. They’re not adults yet.
  2. They’re not necessarily interested in the same things I am. They may even think there’s something more important than computers or math.
  3. There’s a fine balance between challenging your students and pushing them so hard that they want to give up. At least, I presume there’s a balance. I’ll let you know if I find it.

This week, we had open house. As it worked out, the one hour my students’ parents came to, I gave a test. I made sure I had enough copies for the parents to also take the test. Here’s a sample question:

Give the equation, in point-slope form, of the line that passes through (2,1) and is perpendicular to the graph of y = 3x + 31.

In other news, I’m learning the importance of balancing my personal life few hours of sleep with my school-work. I’ve had a few people remind me that I need to be realistic in the expectations I set for myself or I will get burned out here. They’re probably right.

Occasionally, I get a chance to do something that doesn’t involve grading or lesson-planning. One such occasion was last weekend, when a number of us teachers (and one non-teacher friend) went out to eat in honor of Suzette’s birthday. Here’s our happy bunch:

ECA Teachers eating out.

I hope you’re all doing well! Drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing. It’s always nice to hear about things back home, even if I’m not there.

God bless,
Mark