Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Well, the good news is that the Renfaire is over, so I get my weekends back. I'm looking forward to being able to sleep in for the first time in October.

The not-so-good news is that I've been ready and waiting to start email exchanges, but I don't have any lists of students in my corresponding classes, so I don't have anyone yet to email to. I've sent my lists to the classes in both France and Belarus about two weeks ago, and I dropped them a reminder last week.

Maybe the lesson here is to seize the time, and ride the initial burst of enthusiasm, even if the technical problems aren't fully ironed out.

Hopefully, I'll have better news next time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Almost ready to begin international exchange!

Life is still pretty busy. Last week was our Middle School retreat, and I was frantically trying to get this week set up so I wouldn't have to work over the weekend (well, except at the Renfaire, as I explained earlier). This week we get to meet new candidates for the head of our school. Life happens.

The technical issue I had to resolve was that my original epals account would let me create sub-accounts, but they could not send to the Internet as a whole. I took the question of how to get that access to the epals folks, and they set me up with a type of account called SchoolMail, which made me an administrator, which then gave me the power to change the access of my accounts. Sounds complicated, but, after a lot of back and forth, I believe I've finally arrived at where I want to be. I do want to say that the epals folks have been very helpful and prompt in answering my emails.

I have two classes abroad that I contacted this summer, and I've been keeping up with each of them. One is in France, and the other is in Belarus. I'm hoping to exchange our initial emails with the class in France next week. I hope my students don't get confused between the two classes!

Oh, yeah, and somewhere in all this I have classes to teach. In fact, I was asked to develop a 'new' class this year. Up to this point, our middle school has taught US History over the course of two years. We've decided to change this, and, as I am the only 6th grade Humanities (combination history and English) teacher, I was given the job. Actually, so far, it's been a lot of fun, because I've combined the re-writing of the course with some ideas from my summer reading of Robyn Jackson's Never Work Harder than your Students. The end result is that I did a lot of planning for the new course over the summer, and that is really saving me now. The actual number of students I teach is small, which is one of the blessings of teaching in an independent school.

However, one of the curses of independent schools is the present economic environment, which has made it tougher for independent schools to hold their own. Btw, there was an interesting article on this in the Washington Post a few days ago. The article, "Losing the Jacket and Tie for Jeans and a T-shirt," noted that transfers from private to public schools in the county I live in doubled last year. That's probably a better topic for another post, but I must confess that it keeps me looking over my shoulder...