Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ridin' the Boat

Over Spring Break we went to Steamboat Springs, Colorado to ski. It was Jackson's first ride on an airplane ("jetplane" if you ask him.) and he loved it. Both going and returning Jackson loved flying.

It was also his first ski trip. He was a bit too young for ski school so we just got him some equipment one morning and slid down the beginner's slope for an hour. He enjoyed it but we'll put him in ski school next year. He really enjoyed simply riding in the gondola on our last day there.

We did have the unusual experience of not being able to ski one day due to weather. Our second day there the mountain was shut down all day due to 80 mph winds. I was bummed about the lost opp to make tracks but it was a relaxing day. The two days we did get to hit the slopes...we hit it hard. The trails were a bit icy in the morning but softened up nicely by mid-morning. We cruised mainly blues and hit the Tomahawk moguls several times that last day. I'm really liking moguls. I've gotten to the point where I hate the easy narrow greens. They go on and on and on and the going is extremely slow. So we mainly hit the wide steep blues where you could really carve some nice turns.

Steamboat's a nice resort. After being bought out by Intrawest Resorts (who own Vail, Breck, Key, etc...) they've had a huge infusion of cash. Lots of improvements built in the last few years. Our lodge was about a five minute walk from the gondola. We usually took the free shuttle anyway. Storing the gear overnight at the base was very nice.

I will definately consider Steamboat again.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Classroom Management: Turf Management

I'm nine weeks away from completing my 11th year of teaching. The question I often I hear is "don't you get tired of the classroom discipline issues?" My response is that I rarely have discipline issues in my classes any more. My first year was a disaster as I was too lax. My second year was quite a bit better although I was a bit too strict. The third year was leaps and bound better...but it all came together in my fourth year.

Seriously...I average sending one to three students to the office a year. That's it. The classroom is the least stressful part of my job. Sure, some are more naturally adapted to classroom management than others. But a lot can be learned. It took me years to get to this place. Good classroom management requires experience and proactivity. You have to anticipate issues before they arise. You must be the one in control of the initiative...not the students.

There are many components to good classroom management. But I'll discuss one in detail today.

You must establish your turf.

Before the first day of school I number each one of my desks. Then on the first day of school I stand at my classroom door with a class roster which is already conveniently numbered by the office. I simply ask the student what their name is and send them to the desk that corresponds with their number.

This demonstrates immediately that you're in charge. Most students will go straight to their assigned desks and sit there until the bell rings because that's all they know to do. This keeps students from wandering around and getting into trouble before your first class of the year begins. When the bell rings there is no mad dash for desks and you can get started much more expediently.

By assigning desks on the first day you've already established your turf and the hierarchial structure. Yes, the chart is often alphabetical and you might have to make adjustments within a few class days. But usually my seating chart stays fairly intact for the entire school year.

The small effort of creating a seating chart reaps big dividends in terms of healthy classroom management. Psychologically you have already shown the initiative before the school year has begun and demonstrated to the students that the rule of law exists in this particular classroom.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The name is...

I used to watch this scene...from Dr. No before any event that I felt nervous about...prom, job interviews, first day of school...

It's the first time the legendary line was used. Classic.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Another Snow Video

Here's another vid from the snow day a couple of weeks ago...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Olympic Quick Hits

Some Winter Olympic Quickhits...

Very glad that Bode Miller won three medals at the Vancouver games. I'm a big fan of Miller and thought the media piled up on him a bit too gratuitously in Torino. Bode is undisputedly the greatest American alpine skiier of all time.

I was also glad that Julia Mancuso was able to win two silvers despite being overshadowed by the publicity seeking drama queen Lindsey Vonn.

Supercool that the South Korean gold medal winning figure skater skated her short skate to James Bond music.

Jackson's favorite Olympic sport by far was the ski-cross...which made it's Olympic debut this year.

I've finally come to accept snowboarding as a true Olympic sport...but I still can't stand short-track skating. I'm still up in the air (pun intended) about freestyle ski aerials and mogul skiing (with the jumps) as legit Olympic level sports.

The Russians aren't trained in good sportsmanship...latest example...that blowhard Plushenko whining about not getting gold. Skating is not a one trick show. Sure, quads are great...but there's more to the sport than managing one trick.

The closing ceremonies were awful. I can't stand Michael Buble and his stage antics. And the Canucks reinforced every Canadian stereotype...giant moose, beavers, mounties and hockey players? Really? That's all you got to proud of? That and drunk cigar smoking female hockey players I guess. Guess you have to proud of something. I've been to Canada and think it's one of the most amazing places I've ever been. Canada deserved a better representation of their culture in the closing show.

Overall I enjoyed these games. Vancouver seems like a fantastic city. Despite some of the glitches I'd rather see an Olympics there than in Sochi, Russia.