Archive for March, 2011

On the way through transition

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I have to thank my students and colleagues for all of their kind words and well-wishes!  This is an exciting time.

It is also a time full of preparation.  As Spring Break draws ever closer, I am preparing for the switch-over.  My primary concerns until the 21st of April, of course, are for my High School students.  I have begun making a master lesson plan for my replacement to bring him/her from Spring Break through to the end of the year.  These plans will include some flexibility, but will help to ensure that the Curriculum and State Standards are followed.  Although my obligation to the School District ends with my last day, I do not mind going the extra mile and putting in the extra time for the sake of my students. 

3/6 of the way there

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

No, I didn’t just jump forward in time.  My start date for the new position is still set for Spring Break. 

Today I had the job of telling my students that I would not be returning from Spring Break.  It was a difficult task.  And I only saw 3 out of my 6 classes (okay, well, if you count my “extra period” in there, make that 4 out of 7 classes), today.  Tomorrow I will be seeing the other half of my students. 

Never have I felt closer to my students than today.  They mostly congratulated me and told me how they understood that this was a good thing for me.  I even got applause!  They made me feel so happy.  Their congratulations really hit home for me. 

I assured them that I would try to be on the screening committee to make sure that my replacement would treat them well and that s/he would be a good teacher.  My goal is to have plans set up for the new instructor so that there is obvious cohesion between the first part of the year and the remaining LaFazia-less part.

It is a time of mixed feelings.  My colleagues are happy for me, and openly celebrate the fulfillment of something they know I have worked towards since before I was a High School teacher.  I will miss them… 

So tomorrow I continue to say goodbye to my students (and I am happy that we have some weeks before this “goes down” in which to come to grips with the changes) from the other 3 classes.  Some reminded me today that they will “probably see you at the College” and they seemed very excited about that.  I look forward to seeing (and perhaps teaching!) my old High School students in my new position. 

Until tomorrow!

A Change Has Come

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Today I received a job offer from the College at which I work part time.  I of course accepted.  In due time, I will officially be the newest Energy Management Instructor at the College.

The job application has been in since the very beginning of the year–it simply took a while for everything to reach this point.  I am very honored to have been not only considered for this position, but also to have been finally offered it.  The process was a long one, but in itself very rewarding.  I have ahead of me as I continue my education career a broad new horizon.  My primary responsibilities will include classroom instruction, curriculum development, lab-activity creation, and solar panel expertise.  These responsibilities will expand as new avenues grow within the Department and College. 

I will always have a tender spot in my heart for the High School, my colleagues there, and of course my myriad students.  They have taught me so much, and I have grown a great deal (both personally and professionally) because of my six-year association with them.  Never will I forget the “Friday Lights Tree,” the “Foot Pressure” decorations, the “Science Valentines,” or any of those neat little quirks that made Mr. LaFazia’s Science Class unique. 

In a previous blog post I mentioned a goal which was formed during my freshman year at college (in fact, the selfsame College at which I will now be teaching!).  I set myself a period of time in which to learn the ins and outs of instruction before moving on to become a college instructor.  I had observed that the best teachers seemed to have in their background previous non-college experience.  In that first year, I made the following decisions:

1) Earn my degree in Physics Education
2) Develop my lab-making skills (always a passion of mine)
3) Within 5 to 10 years, when the right opportunity arose, become a college instructor

Now I have achieved all of those goals.  My new goals are beginning to rise to the surface, and it excites me!  For a long time I felt that narrowing towards the completion of a stage in my life…now once again there is a broad road ahead.  I look forward to devoting my professional efforts to new pursuits, and integrating my personal goals into my new school family.

I see many of my former High School students at the College.  This trend will last for a few more years.  I know I will miss it when the flow of former high school students crawls to a halt.  Still, by that time I will have become a fixture at the College. 

So, this is my last year as a High School employee.  I have mixed feelings (who wouldn’t, after 6 years?), but I am also very happy to be advancing my career and entering into an exciting new field.  I look forward to working on a Team like that which awaits me in my new position.

Expect many more updates over the remainder of my time here at the High School, and of course I will not stop blogging after the transition (on the contrary!).

Give Home-makers Some Slack!

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Any husband (I’ll follow the scenario that applies to me, although the roles can of course be reversed) who comes home from work and wonders why his wife has not seemed to have accomplished certain chores on which she had planned…needs to cut them some slack.  Tonight, I fully intended to pick up some things, take the trash out, clean some bottles, bathe the baby, and make an online lesson to upload for one of my classes.

What did I end up actually getting done?

Yeah, I bathed the baby…and made some bottles and played with him and talked to him and watched a video with him and fed him oatmeal (he doesn’t really like that stuff…I should try the REAL stuff and not that boxed baby food junkola).  No chores done.

Home-maker + stay-at-home-Mom = TOUGH JOB!  And I only had to be here for 4 hours while my wife (who is feeling under the weather–did I mention she can’t take sick days?) takes a class (she had a test, tonight) towards the completion of her degree.

So give Home-makers some slack, Jack! 

Tips on Pumping Gasoline

Monday, March 21st, 2011

I received a chain-email, today, from an old colleague.  She didn’t mention the source, but I thought the ideas were interesting enough to post, here.  Don’t quote me on the accuracy of any of these statements  ;0)  [I have removed the name of the pumping station]


I don’t know what you guys are paying for gasoline…. but here in California we are paying up to $3.75 to $4.10 per gallon. My line of work is in petroleum for about 31 years now, so here are some tricks to get more of your money’s worth for every gallon:
Here at the _____ Pipeline where I work in _____, CA we deliver about 4 million gallons in a 24-hour period thru the pipeline.. One day is diesel the next day is jet fuel, and gasoline, regular and premium grades. We have 34-storage tanks here with a total capacity of 16,800,000 gallons.
Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening….your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role.
A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.
When you’re filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. You should be pumping on low mode, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you’re getting less worth for your money.
One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL. The reason for this is the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations, here where I
work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.
Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up; most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.

Praising Teachers

Monday, March 21st, 2011

In my 6 years as a Physics Instructor at the High School, I have only ever received one formal commendation for anything I’ve done (and this from an administrator who is sadly no longer here).  However, in my 3 years as an Adjunct Professor at the College, I have received a number of encouragements and compliments from those around me (and above me!)  I never really thought about it before, but there is a close correlation between one’s sense of accomplishment (and worth) and the level of commendation one receives. 

In the teaching profession promotions are pretty much nonexistant.  There is no replacement for this lack, though.  I wish I could look back on these past 6 years and remember specific times where my efforts were pointed out and praised.  A little thanks goes a long way…but one commendation does NOT last six years.  It is very sad that a little slip of paper (which I still have…the start to what I expected to be a proud line) is all that I have to look back on as non-student or non-parent recognition for my efforts and attempts at genuine creativity.

So thank you to all the fellow teachers who lift each other up…and to the students who take the time to come back and thank their instructors…and for the kind parents who support us.  We need you–more desparately than you may think.

Studious Student

Monday, March 21st, 2011

I have one high school student who always emails me when she is absent to see what work she is missing.  It makes me SO happy that she stays up on everything.  I hope that other students will emulate her (this happens all the time in college, but is a tendency that our high school students MUST adopt).  Communication on this level is KEY to the success of students (and the public school system). 

Senior Visitors

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

At the high school, I am getting a lot of my past students who are now seniors coming by to say hello and chat.  Why the change at this time of year?  Is the Spring weather making them antsy and so they want to delay classroom attendance (no doubt during water-fountain or bathroom breaks) by dilly-dallying?  Do they sense the end of their final year as high schoolers and are suddenly feeling the urge to revisit their old (perhaps favorite?) teachers before they leave?

Whatever the reason, it is nice to see them again.  I live a relatively isolated existence at the far end of the science hallway.   They walk in and comment on certain things that they recall from their own year(s) with me.

I wish them all well, and am happy that they remember my class fondly.  One thing has always been true:  no matter what happened throughout a year with a student, the next time that I see them (beit at the high school, or the College, on the street, or at their jobs) we only remember the good things.  That’s a choice you make; it’s mutual between teachers and students.  The teacher hopes that his/her good days are those which are remembered, and the student hopes that the teacher doesn’t care whether they passed or failed or cursed or smiled–they just want to be remembered as good people.

And you know what?  For the most part, they’re pretty darn good kids.  I don’t doubt that as much as some students can frustrate the heck out of their teachers…the teachers can get under their skins just as easily.  Something worth thinking about the next time you consider writing a student up.

But, where was I?  Ah yes.  Remember the good times.  It makes for less awkward chance meetings  ;0)

Another (related) off-the-cuff pun

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Remember that “Incentive for being Attentive”?  Well I added another one to the list, today:  “No Conversation or you’ll have Assignation!”  Get it?  Assignation…assignments??  Yeah, I’m just that cool.

St. Patty’s Day

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Here in the high school, a certain student is going around dressed up as a leprechaun and giving away green-foil wrapped chocolate coins.  It’s hilarious!  Each time I see him I have the irresistible (and so I don’t resist) urge to quote the Leprechaun comedic-horror series.

Although I am not celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (they didn’t celebrate my Italian-American heritage by honoring Columbus Day, so this is in protest!  haha), I find the humor here delightful.

You can only experience a joke like that at a job below the college level  ;0)  Full-time professors, you may now begin envying me.