When it rains, it pours

I find myself in surprisingly good spirits at the moment, despite the fact that my laptop broke (probably for good this time) and that my classes have been mostly a complete clown show these last couple days.

A little bit over an hour ago, I was getting ready to get some serious lesson planning done when my computer suddenly cut off and I smelled a smell that is unmistakable to any electrical engineer: the smell of an IC shorting and burning. Suffice it to say that my laptop is dead, because to plug it in again would be to risk starting a fire. Pretty much all of my critical documents are stranded on the hard drive, until I can get my hands on an enclosure so I can access it. Fortunately, I still have my mom’s spare laptop, which she airmailed to me the last time my laptop died. So, I’m not completely hosed.

Yesterday was a wake-up call. My Hopkins supervisor showed up unannounced and was witness to a completely out-of-hand class. She gave me a much needed reality check. I have let my expectations for student behavior slip dangerously low. I am tolerating behavior and disrespect that is totally unacceptable. I am letting the kids walk all over me. I need to hold these children to a much higher standard of behavior, not just so that I can get through a lesson, but so that they can learn to operate socially in the real world.

Today was day 1 of putting kids in check. I made about a dozen parent phone calls today, most of which I should have made a long time ago.

My laptop is dead, but it might not really be such a horrible thing. This give the chance to start fresh with my grading, which has been in shambles. It also gives me an excuse to let the kids start off on a clean slate, which is just the lifeline they need, because out of my 90+ kids, probably about a dozen are not failing currently. Progress reports just came out, and needless to say, they crushed some souls. And although much of the bad grades are as a result of abysmal effort by my students, I also must take some of the blame, mostly due to planning mistakes, failed ideas, and poor organization. It might be a good thing for all of us to have a chance to start fresh.

I realize how cracked-out that sounds, but I’ve learned to celebrate the major defeats as minor victories…but hey, in B’more, every day I’m still breathing and my car is where/how I left it is a blessing.

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