Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy they are gone.

I'm unwinding from my day. I'm sitting in my classroom with the door open and listening to the school empty out. I can't believe how noisy it is. My kids were really talkative this afternoon. Some days are like this. You get your class back from lunch and they're a different bunch than you started with. I trace today's behaviors in the afternoon to the way my students were treated at lunch. They were yelled out by the lunch monitors and the lunch servers for the entire 45-minute period. They didn't go out to recess. They were made to sit longer and listen to more yelling when the period was over because of their behavior. They ate in silence. They weren't allowed to get up and move around. Some of this they earned because of bad choices. A few students were pushing others. A few were talking too loudly and wouldn't stop. That's pretty normal for lunch. Did it require a teacher yelling at them through a bullhorn for 45 minutes?

We talk a lot about discipline and breaking cycles of despair and defeat. We talk a lot about using new methods and restorative discipline. After all this talk, many people in my school just go back to doing the same old thing. Yelling at kids with a bullhorn is the wrong thing to do and results in my class becoming nutty for the rest of the the day. I have a super headache from them because they wouldn't stop talking. Sheesh.

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all of my Jewish friends and family.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fail to plan, Plan to fail.

I'm concerned about the economy. This $700 million bailout frightens me, too. Think about how many screw ups the Bush Administration has gotten us into by telling us we have to act right now. Think about how many people have been maimed, imprisoned, or killed and think about how much money has been squandered. Every time Bush or an interchangeable Bush crony has said we have to act now. No time for debate or contract bids. No time for a plan. Is this what they teach at Harvard Business School?

This rookie schoolteacher gives this new plan and this administration an F. Teacher comments - Fail to plan. Plan to fail.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Isn't it ironic?

I'm always on my students to have their independent reading book with them and ready for action. Guess who forgot his independent reading book at school? I hate when I do that.

I don't have much time to read it anyway because of all the paperwork I have to do. I had a parent/student conference today and writing up my notes from that adds more paperwork to my day. If this boy would simply take his meds my life would be so easy. Before becoming a teacher and a parent, I thought medicating kids was a cruel joke and a crutch. Teaching for all this time has disabused me of that position. This boy Stanley is a case in point. Without his meds he's a holy terror. He's manic. He can't control himself physically and emotionally. With the medicine he's a calm, smart, sweet kid. He's trapped in his own body without meds. I can see the real Stanley peeking out as he's rolling on the floor without meds. So sad. Mom, if you're reading GIVE STANLEY HIS MEDS so he can learn in room 312 tomorrow!

My mountain of work awaits.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Diminishing returns

It's on. I'm overwhelmed with paperwork. The school is under the gun with making AYP and I don't see how we're going to do it. Our state test scores continue to drop instead of rise. This is the law of diminishing returns that I warned would be the result of NCLB. Anyway, raising our test scores is our mantra and I'm going to do it one ream of paper into the copier and then into the file cabinet at a time.

My new crop of kids aren't going to be setting the state tests on fire, unless they use a lighter. I will do everything once again to help them succeed. I hope it is enough. Everything is still the same, however. The kids are the same sullen mess. The parents have high hopes but have already disappeared after the first flurry of detention slips. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it. It's looking bleak as I grade the first math test of the year. Almost everyone bombed it - except for the kid who's repeating the grade.

On a brighter note, I'm mentoring a new teacher. I'm sure that I'll be better than my mentor. I don't ride a broom to work (rim shot).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts at the beginning.

School has begun and let's catch up. I've gotten to know my class and I like them. I don't love them yet. I still pine for some of last year's bunch. It's that way at the beginning. I'll be loving this bunch about Thanksgiving time.

I've given out about 5 detentions so far. Detentions for stupid crap like fighting, talking too much, and not doing homework. Not bad. My other teachers are having varying degrees of success. Many are writing dozens of detentions, yelling, etc. Been there. Done that. Done with that.

I find it really funny how the new kids take the roles of the kids you had before. The teachers do it too. Last year there was a sullen kid that gave me attitude about everything. Everything was too much for him. Well, he's still in my room inhabiting another body. I have another kid who is the talkative one with the enabling mother. Another who believes all white people are racists and that's why she keeps getting Ds in math. Hmm....

The teachers do the same thing. I had two teachers leave my crew. Their replacements are almost the same. One is very concerned about leaving at 3 with the kids. She's not staying one minute longer and she's not doing any work off the clock. (Exactly like her predecessor.) The other is brand new and is struggling to stay afloat in her classroom. (Exactly like her predecessor.) It makes me smile. I smell a doctoral thesis topic.

I've been reading student journals tonight. Oh my God do I have a lot of teaching to do! These kids can't spell, punctuate, capitalize, or write coherent paragraphs. I'm not sure what their previous teachers did. It's unbelievable. Some of the writing touched my heart, though, because their heart shows through the penmanship and spelling. The boy who wrote about going to the corner store and coming back home to his family involved in a confused drunken argument. The girl who wrote with such skill about the sadness of an aunt's involvement in 9/11. I've got a lot of teaching to do with my new bunch. We'll get there.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Obama, take me away!

I'm watching the Republican Convention and I just can't believe how wacko they are. Holy crap! I'm getting scared. Obama has to win. The more I watch, the more nauseated I get. Each speaker is more delusional than the last. Obama! Win Obama! Please win. I can't take 4 years of Track, Willow, etc.

School is on. Got to get my sleep so I'm ready.