Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I went out with the kids at lunch today. We have a big, empty, blacktopped school yard with a couple of basketball hoops in one corner. The kids just race around, toss a football, gossip, and play double-dutch. Funny thing is, the huge chainlink gate on the edge of the yard was open all throughout recess. When I came out with the kids and saw it open, I started to close it, but some other people told me it needed to stay open. I wasn't all that concerned about my students leaving, as they like school and want to be here. A couple of them joked about trying to sneak off to the store, but they know the kind of trouble they'd be in if they ever cut class.... I was concerned about the students from the elementary school that shares our building - they are pretty wild, and don't have that many teachers watching them during recess. It wouldn't be difficult for a little one to accidentally wander off or purposely run off through that big gate. Thus, I stood guard duty all throughout lunch. I think the reason behind the open gate was that parents were picking up their half-day kindergarteners at an exit that can only be reached through the yard. Still, it seems kind of strange to pay a security guard to watch the front desk but leave the schoolyard gate wide open.

I actually enjoy lunch duty once we are out in the yard. The cafeteria is dingy and loud, but on sunny days I like talking to the kids in a more relaxed setting. I got a chance to catch up with some of my seventh graders who wanted to talk about their summers - and, I think, just enjoy the company of an adult. When summer started, they were all so eager to go, but they really missed us! (Some will even admit to having been slightly bored this summer....)

Today was the first Tuesday of the year, which is significant because the Chancellor has mandated an extra 50-minutes of instruction on Tuesdays. Teachers stay for an extra 50-minutes of professional development on Mondays, but on Tuesdays, teachers and students stay for one additional class. It is wreaking havoc with some parents' work and day-care schedules, but I suppose they will get used to it. My extra period is a chess class. In a few weeks, a teacher from Chess-In-The-Schools will come in on Thursdays, and then I will let the kids just play chess on Tuesdays. Today we set some chess class rules and guidelines designed to protect my delicate eardrums from the clinking of dozens of chess pieces, the crying-out of "check!" and "checkmate!", and the heated conversing about who will play white and who will play black.

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