Friday, September 30, 2005

So Much Fun!

Today I had absolutely no intentions of teaching public speaking for 45 minutes. I stead, I had the brliilant idea to bring in a taped speech.
The girls loved it.
I brought in a great speech on "suffering" by one of my favorite speakers, and told the girls they had to write notes. I told the girls that we'd be doing this a couple of times throghout the year, and that we would eventually compare different speakers, and their techniques.
I walked into class, turened on my boom box, and sat through the entier lesson, stopping occaisionally to rewind and interesting part, or to explain someting the speaker may have said unclearly.
We only got through half the tape byt the timt the bell rang, but that is fine with me. This means I get to waste another whole lesson!!!
I also described to the girls the kind of speeches they would be giving as sonn as the Yamim Tovim were over,and they were really excited.
I was excited too. As soon as they start giving their speeches, my year is done! I won't have to teach a single thing anymore. Yippee!!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Society and Other Problems...

I spent the entire night thinking of L.K. and the problem she had understanding my lesson on society. Ok, not the whole night, but I did give her a good 10 minutes of my thoughts. (Or was it 2 minutes?)
It bothered me that a girl so bright could get so stuck on such a small issue, but what bothered me even more was the way the class reacted to her.
The girls have no respect when it comes to each other, I saw it in class with L.K., and I saw it other times, when they were doing quiet work in their seats. The girls were constantly breathing down each other's necks, always trying to push each other out of their way to the front of the line (or for my attention). The weaker girls don't even bother to stand up for themselves anymore, because there was nothing to do anyway. When I saw it with L.K. I was surprised, I thought she was a stronger character in the class, but I guess I was wrong.
I know this goes on in every single classroom in the world, there are social classes within a classroom that just can't be changed. I may sound crazy, but if it takes all year of banging my head against the wall, I am going to try and change that.
I've told my classes more than once, each student was created differently. They each have different backgrounds, different likes and dislikes, and different strengths and weaknesses. My students know that I treat them all like individuals, I don't expect them to all be the same, and I don't expect a girl who drags "D's" all year to suddenly become an "A" student. They know that I look at their individuality and the amount of effort they put in as opposed to just considering the marks they get.
So I went to school early today as well, I wanted to talk to L.K.
I called her over after lunch, and personally explained society to her in a way she'd understand. It took me all night to come up with the explanation I gave her, but it worked. And the smile that her face broke into, was worth every bit of hard work I put into teaching.
I taught essays today. They were always intimidating to me in school, so I prepared a fun, interactive lesson on them. We went through the basic essay format, and then, just as we were about done, I blew a white-out scenario out of proportion.
E.T. was using white out, and I took it away. I had never told the girls they couldn't use white-out, so E.T. was really shocked and upset. The entire class had white-outs on their desks, but I took hers. Her eyes were filling up as I spoke angrily to the class about why I hated when they used white-out. The class was just staring at me like I suddenly turned into this scary monster, when I smiled, gave back E.T's white-out, and gave the class a topic sentence on the subject.
I went up and down the rows, and the girls wrote a beautiful essay on the student's views and the teacher's views on the use of white-out. Each girl contributed one sentence and as each girl gave her sentence, the rest of the class wrote it down. When the bell rang, each girl had a beautiful essay to use as a reference for their homework essay on school uniforms.
There was one problem during the class. B.E.D. I called on her for her sentence and she just refused to open her mouth. She just sat and stared at me. She was making it quite clear that I wasn't going to be able to make her take part in my class. I told her firmly that she was going to come over to me after class. Of course she never came, and being the teacher, I don't go running after students. But something has to be done about her. I know that there is a sick child in the house, and that the family also had a teenage boy who passed away a couple of years ago. I also heard that the family is not dealing with the situation well, and that the other kids are being pushed to side. I heard that the parents don't let the kids speak about what is going on at home to anyone, and that they also don't speak to the kids to tell them what's going on. They think their daughter is quite clueless, but I can assure you, having been sick myself, the siblings know much more than you'd believe.
The problem arises when the kids know what's going on, but they're afraid to talk to their parents because the adults are hiding from them. The kids are left feeling confused and more than just a little scared. I can't tell people how to run their lives, but this definitely can't work.
B.E.D. had to be dealt with, but how? I wasn't able to bring up her family situation because officially it was a secret. A few years ago, when her older brother died, the school had her evaluated and she really needed some major therapy. But when the school called the parents down, the parents refused to do anything about it, and it became a huge deal that the school just doesn't want to revisit. So really, it's up to me. I just need an opening.
B.E.D. is weighing down my mind, I have to figure something out.
R.R, my LD kid. She is a character. They were handing in their letter to selves today, (at least those girls who were responsible enough to finish on time) and R.R. came over to tell me that she had thrown out her letter because she hated it, and she had nothing what to write.
I told her it was unacceptable, that she had to hand something in if she wanted me to continue giving her all that extra help. So she started with her story of "I hate myself, so I have nothing nice to say in a letter."
I can't stand this begging for attention scenario, but I gave her the attention she wanted. I still demanded the letter, but I told her that it wasn't possible to have nothing good to say. As her teacher for only 3 weeks, I already saw so many good qualities in her. R.R. claimed that she didn't know what I was talking about.
I winked at her and said, "If you can't see all the things I see in you, then maybe we'll have to make an appointment for Sunday after school to discuss what a great girl you are."
R.R. blushed, laughed, and walked away, but I think I'll still get that letter.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Taking Care of Business

I came to school early today to deal with the issue of L.O. and her writing/attitude. I asked her to finish lunch, and come to see me.
She was a little shy, I think she knew she had been acting wrongly yesterday, and she seemed even a little excited with the extra attention she was getting. I told her honestly, that she was one of the best girls in my class, and that I loved having her as a student, which is why it came as a shock to me that she felt she couldn't write so much.
L.O. blushed and told me she had felt bad too, so she went home and sat on the assignment all night until she had about 2 pages for each part of the letter.
I was really happy, and I told her so. I also mentioned to her that if I ever gave the class an assignment she wasn't comfortable writing about or felt she didn't have what to write about on the topic, she was always welcome to come to me, and together we would come up with another topic that would be easier for to express herself with.
L.O. walked away smiling so hugely, I was so happy I had spoken to her.
My day was not bad until I started teaching history.
I was trying to teach them what society was, and the girls just didn't get it. I must've repeated myself 100 times before 7b figured it out. I gave examples, we compared the British society to the American society, I even spoke in an English accent to make the lesson interesting for them. In the end, They got it.
Except for L.K. She's a good kid, she usually grasps thing quickly, so I was surprised when she was getting so stuck on this topic.
I tried spending some extra time on this, but the class was getting restless, and I couldn't keep wasting their time. I told L.K. to skip a few lines in her notes, and if she'd come over to me after class, I'd be glad to spend more time on her.
I almost cried when her eyes started filling up with tears. I knew exactly what she felt like, I myself, had been there so many times before. I felt so bad when she looked down and didn't raise her hand for the entire lesson. And she didn't end up coming over to me after class.
Then, in 7a, there was another problem, B.E.D. came over to me with her letter to self. She showed me her finished copy, it was not even a full side long.
I was livid. I know this girl has a family situation, and that she needs serious help, but this attitude was not acceptable.
I may seem to come down hard on my girls, but really, I'm a lot more reasonable than some people think. My family has been through many of the situations some of my students are in now, so I expect and demand from then no less than my family was able to do. I lived it, so you can't take advantage of me.
I didn't let B.E.D. know that I was aware of her situation, I just told her that she was a smart girl, (brilliant, actually) she got top marks on all her handed in assignments, and that I expected a lot form her. I said to her, that when a girl like her hands in a paper like that, it means either one of two things. It either means that there is something going on in her life, or that she's just being fresh, and she's trying to test her limits.
I told her to go home and think about what she was going to come and tell me tomorrow. I put the ball in her court, I wasn't going to pry, but she had to come with it on her own. I told her that I believed this was not in her nature, so she had better come up with an explanation. Otherwise, a smart girl who felt she could hand something like this in, would just get an "F." She smirked a little, but really, she had nothing to say.
If she does come it tomorrow and tell me what is going on in her life, I may not think she needs all that special attention, but I will be more considerate. The problem that I as a teacher face with these kids, is when the parents and the school don't let us know about them. There are certain things I don't need to know, and there are some things I don't want to know, but some issues are important enough that I have to know. Parents think that they'll be ruining their kid by telling me the situations she's going through, but that's untrue. Her problems will still be there, and I by spending the amount of time that I do with my students, I will end up seeing them, and I have to take care my other students, while still trying to help a problem child. The least a parent could do is side with the teacher for once, and work with her, not against her.
Which brings me to my next "case;" G.S. The other teacher had been having problems with her, but I so far had seen nothing, until today.
The letter to self is due tomorrow, and many girls are not going to be finished on time. I know that, but I'm easy enough that I have no problem giving extensions to the girls who really need them.
G.S. did not need the extra time, at all. She had most of her letter done, she had maybe another hour's work left on it. But the fuss that she put up in my class... I can't even tell you what a riot she started. She must've raised her hand 100 times to tell me that she couldn't hand it in tomorrow. She even raised her hand during history to complain about the writing. After class, when the girls were lining up at my desk to ask me for individual extensions on the letter, she felt the need to push ahead of everyone to talk to me first. I watched her out of the corner of my eye as the class was packing up and getting dismissed, the way she treated her classmates was shocking. I was not expecting that at all!
When I spoke to my co, she told me that when she had a problem with G.S., she went to the principal first, and the principal told her that there was something wrong with the kid, but she had to ask permission from her mother to be able to tell us.
When my co called the mother, she asked casually if there was anything we, as teachers, should be aware of. Mrs. G.S. Said "no." Now that is a helpful mother. We know she's not telling the truth, because we were already half clued in by our principal, so this mother is basically just leaving two inexperienced young teachesr to deal with her monster of a daughter.
And let me tell you, she is something of a monster. When I came home tonight and began marking some quizzes I gave, I noticed that on her paper, besides for her script slanting in a million different directions, (which shows instability, and moodiness,) her name was about 5 times bigger than anything else written on that page. When I checked this up in my handwriting analysis book, it said that this meant emotional instability, a major ego problem and a need to feel bigger and better than everyone else. It also said that this may be a cover up for how insecure she really may be.
Oh great! If I ever finish my curriculum in this class, it'll be a miracle. I think I'm going to be way too busy straightening out these kids' lives to be able to teach much!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Troubled Kid(s)?

We're finishing up our writings, and I was going around the class, and helping out the students who needed the help, when I passed L.O.'s desk. L.O. is a great girl, she's smart, has great friends, gets great marks on her quizzes and tests...and when I passed her desk, she had barely anything written. Keep in mind that most of the class had already written 10 pages at least!!
I asked her what was going on ,and she just kept shrugging her shoulders and saying "I can't!" During the 45 minute writing session, she must have raised her hand 10 times to tell me she had nothing to write. I almost lost my patience with her.
I know that this girl lost her father a while back, but I highly doubt that was her problem. I understood If she had a problem opening up in such a personal writing assignment, but there was so much to write about without having to write about her father. I was assuming she was just taking advantage of her situation. That is easy to do in a school like this.
The principal backs every kid to the fullest. She'd probably been telling all her teachers to go easy on the kid for the past couple of years, and L.O. probably learned to use her situation to the fullest.
I spoke to the principal about her, and I asked her what her opinion on the matter was. She was all for helping her out, but when I told her about the attitude, she said I was right. (!) She said this girl had no excuse to be fresh. When it came to maturity and attitude, there was no compromising. She did say though, that this girl's mother didn't handle the situation very well. It was possible that at this time of the year, with all the Yamim Tovim coming up, the mother might be mentioning the father, and the kid might be having trouble dealing with it.
I had to do something.
Then with R.R., (my L.D. kid,) when her class had writing, she had nothing to write of course, she claims she hates herself, and she doesn't know who she is. I gave her her homework back, and she had done a great job on it. She had written a great story about her history, a surprise birthday party she once had. I told her to put that into her letter to self. She can do a good job, I can see it. Oh, gosh is it my girls who have problems, or me?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

End of the Week

The most interesting thing that happened Wednesday, was when the principal came over to comment on my teaching. According to her, I'm a born teacher, and that she loved to watch me. She said that the girls seemed to love me, and that she would love to come observe me more in the future. Goody.
Actually, we did have a great current events lesson in 7a today. We were talking about the rising oil prices because of hurricane Katrina, and I was telling the class about all the different things it would effect. We spoke about how the prices of heating, electric, and filling up our cars would go up. The class began discussing some ideas on how to cut down on how much oil we used, and M.R. came up with a funny idea. In all seriousness, she asked why we didn't go back to using horses as a means of transportation.
The class was in stitches. It was just so funny, I had to laugh too. I started running some scenarios of kids coming to school on horses. We chose a girl to be in charge of checking up on the horses and feeding them every recess....And then came the next idea. M.R. wanted to know why we didn't use fireplaces anymore.
So we pictured a fireplace where the air conditioner was located, and B.E.D. became the monitor who was supposed to keep the fire running at all times. R.R. was in charge of going to Alaska on horseback to bring us the wood for the fire. We wondered if she'd come back before seventh grade was over... M.R. got the picture in the end!
Thursday was the kind of day you just want to end. I was dead tired because of a wedding I had gone to the night before, and I wasn't too sure that I could keep my eyes open all day.
We did a spelling test, some literature, (finally finished my first story!) and of course, history.
When I went into 7b, The class reminded me that it was CCK's birthday, (I had once been in a good enough mood to promise that we'd sing her "happy birthday) so we sang to her! The kid was so embarrassed, but thrilled. It seems babyish, but the class was good about it, and it got the period off to a great start. The kids were just great all day. Both classes were participating beautifully, and I was in a pretty great mood until it came to 12th grade.
As well as my class went last week, I still was nervous. I had very little time to prepare. I also found a horrid, embarrassing mistake on one of the sheets I had planned to give out that afternoon, and I obsessed about it all morning. I managed to fix the sheet before it was run off, so that worked out ok. I basically learned to overprepare so that I have enough to say for 45 minutes. I tried doing that, and I did go over the bell, but I don't think the lesson was very interesting. Oh well.
I was just looking forward to the weekend. But I ended up staying in the teacher's room until 6, just to talk with some of the other teachers. A great way to end off my week.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ooooooh! I'm not happy!

I'm not happy.
My kids in 7a are just not participating. I cannot stand there and beg them to raise their hands. I have no idea what they know, because they never raise their hands by oral review. And during class, I have no idea if they even understand what I'm saying, because they never raise their hands to ask questions. It is so boring to just listen to myself talk all day! I need some distractions, I need participation. It's bad enough that I'm bored of my own voice, but these kids are giving me the impression that they're bored of me too. Help.
I also gave a map quiz/mini test today, and the students were such babies! Whatever the school believes, I believe that these girls are just not mature. They had 15 minutes to complete a map of the united states, and when I collected the papers after 25 minutes (I was being nice) the girls began complaining and some even burst into tears.
I have never ever seen this before. When a test is over, it's over. There is no such thing as giving a test in late, and there's no such thing as going past the allotted time. I'm more than just annoyed. But these girls will learn. I refuse to give into their immaturity. A test is only as long as I say it is.
My father thinks I like this job because I'm a control freak. That's completely untrue. I'm pretty laid back, but when it comes to responsibility and maturity, there are no excuses. Something will have to be done.
Another anooying experience I had today: the principal came in to observe my class. I was totally caught off guard, the girls were cranky, and I was already counting down the minutes for the bell to ring whe she came in. She stood facing me in the back of the room, didn't say anything, and basically sat on my nerves. She'll comment sooner or later on how she found my lesson...
On the bright side though, I gave my LD girl her binder, and I have never seen her so happy. She even came over to me at the end of the day to ask me which questions to do for homework. I'm thrilled about that. I hope this thing will really work. My student seems very excited though. Her dream is to become a regular seventh grader, and she seems willing to make the commitment to at least try.
My co and I switched some seats today. We heard some complaints, but it's working out nicely.
But you know, as frustrated as I sometimes get, I sure do love this job.

Everybody hates Monday

Ok. The title caught your attention,but the day was actually quite great!
I went and showed the principal the binder I had made, and some of the sheets I typed up, and she literally became teary.
She was so touched at the thought of my working hard for this girl, she said that if there would be such a thing as an honor roll for teachers, I would be on it. I wanted to laugh, but I won't lie to you by saying I wasn't pleased.
I had gone to the principal along with my co-teacher, and when we walked out of there, my co told me she was awed.
She seemed to think the principal respected me. She said that this principal was treating me like I was important.
Personally, I believe it's because I don't come to ask her things, I come to tell her things. I think that when you come with confidence, people are more likely to treat you with respect. So I guess my strategy worked. I refuse to give in to everything, so eventually, people realize I have my own voice. It's a nice feeling. ...Especially when all the other teachers are crazy jealous of you!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Early to Rise

Sunday! Ewwww. I was up late last night, (think 3 in the morning) and when my alarm clock rang at 7 I was in no mood to get up.
I dragged myself out of bed, and forced myself to get dressed. Sunday is my glasses day. There's no way lenses are going to go into these tired eyes!
The day didn't go as badly as I'd expected.
The principal called a meeting DURING class time. Now that is the strangest thing. These girls were running up and down the hallways while we were stuck in the resource room learning how to use a new teaching chart called the about point chart. When I'm ever going to use it? I have no idea. The principal heard of something new, she got excited over it, and pushed it on us. Yay. The other teachers said this happens every week.
I get so angry with these charts, the principal may think she's helping us, but in reality, she's not letting her teachers use their own creativity. She seems to have this dream of making all her educators just like her.
Sorry, I'm too spunky for that.
Well, anyway, by the time I got into class, there was only 20 minutes left to the period, and I had them take out their writings and continue. I will be so happy when these writings are handed in. I'm anxious to start something that's on a seventh grade level.
It's not so much that these letters they're writing are not on a 7th grade level, it's just that a ten page letter is asking a bit much form the girls. I want to start a writing that won't look so scary to the girls. (Then maybe I can start getting them used to the idea of not getting a syllabus for every project they do!)
The day was over quickly, I had some good laughs in class 7b, as usual, and as soon as that bell rang I was out of there!
Well, not really, I was actuality stopped for a minute by my learning disabled girl.
She looks so overwhelmed most of the time, like she doesn't even know where to start. I told her to copy someone else's notes for tomorrow, and I would then discuss with her what she'd be responsible for.
Really, I just wanted time to think.
It's hard for a teacher to devote so much time to just one student, and that's why this girl is the way she is today. The teachers have all given up on her within the first month of school and she spent 9 months of the year just sitting in class doing nothing. I needed to come up with an idea to help her.
I know plenty of LD people, and most of them are just LD, not dumb. Most people don't know the difference between the two. I saw right away that this girl was far from stupid. She would laugh at the jokes I made in class even before some of her classmates did. She caught onto things quickly. I think her problem is comprehension. She reads beautifully, but she cant' understand what she's read. She can't write notes as I'm speaking, because she has to pay a lot of attention to be able to understand what I'm saying, but as soon as I say something that gets her even slightly confused, I lose her for the rest of the lesson.
Maybe she panics, or maybe she just doesn't have a large attention span. I have no idea. But she's definitely smart enough to fool her teachers. She's done it up until now!
I went out and bought her a 1" binder this afternoon. I decorated it and put her name on the cover. I then went and typed up a weeks worth of history lessons in about a half a page. I added some review questions on the bottom, and put it into the binder.
This is my idea. I can't make her responsible for everything, she's nowhere near that level. What I did, was summarize some high points of my lessons, written on a third grade level, and I plan on making her responsible for that summary.
Her homework is to read the page, and get those questions done. Each page can take her a week to do. She gets one or two question a night, and eventually, these questions will be her tests.
I was nervous the entire time I made this binder up for her. Am I going too far? Should I tell the principal about this? Will it work? Am I just being insanely idealistic again? Sometime I think that I just think too much. I drive myself up the wall sometimes with al those thoughts flying around my head.
Whatever it was, I spent time on that, and then I fell asleep on the couch, for most of the afternoon.
Teaching sure has a way of wearing you out...Or maybe it was the fact that I went to bed at 3?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Week's Almost Over!

I was sooooo nervous this morning. I dreaded today all week. I have public speaking today.
Last public speaking lesson didn't leave me feeling too good, and I really wasn't excited about doing it again.
So for today, I overprepared. I prepared a ton of things to teach so that if the girls just sat there like last time, I'd at least have what to say for 45 minutes.
My seventh grade was ok today. I surprised one class with a quiz, and when I marked them tonight I was horrified. There were 8 questions on the entire quiz, and the average of the class was a 3/8. There was one 8/8 and one 7/8. I'm beyond disappointed.
Other than the quiz thing, we had a great day. We analyzed the story "Charles," and did some easy history. The day was over pretty soon.
And then it was off to 12th.
It went sooo great his time, I'm thrilled! The girls participated, and because I had prepared so much, I was much more confident. I even went two minutes past the bell! I hope next week will be just as good!
No big incidents in school today, everybody left me alone...No comment about the things I did or wore...Maybe it's just the calm before the storm, but whatever it is, I'm as happy as can be....Well maybe that's because I'm not teaching again 'till Sunday!
Anyway, have a great weekend!

Even Worse

Today, was if possible, worse than yesterday.
I didn't do any writing, but I did give out the copies of those syllabuses I worked on. The students were so happy they were already starting to read them in class. I was still not happy about it though. There isn't any reason these seventh graders should feel the need to rely on a typed sheet of requirements.
Anyway, the day was slow, the girls were cranky, I made some jokes, lightened the mood a little, but I got the feeling that the girls were impatient.
It was a hard day, we spent most of the time filling out literature definitions and terms. It was boring work, but it had to get done.
10 minutes to the end of the day, the principal came into my room. Why she couldn't wait 10 minutes until dismissal is beyond me, but she walked in and importantly made the class do some quiet work while she spoke to me.
So this is what was on her mind.
Number one, I had asked her for the next writing assignment my class was supposed to do. As I already mentioned, the principal is very involved, and she gives out detailed writing assignments to the teachers for the class. So in a way, it's a good thing, because she gives me all the material, I just have to present it to the class. There's not much preparation on my part in this subject. (Except for maybe writing an example of what they should be doing, and of course those syllabuses!)
So the principal suggested doing creative writing for a week before I continued with a structured piece, that way, the kids relax a little, (and maybe even enjoy it! LOL) The idea is that the students get time to write something short in class, and then we read some of them out loud. It's not like a formal writing that gets handed in.
The next thing on her list was not so great.
Part of my job is to come to school a little early, and supervise the students during lunch.
Earlier that day, when I was downstairs in the lunchroom, two of the counselors that worked under me in day camp, came over to say hi. It was nice meeting them in their school setting, they were wearing uniforms, and I was carrying a teacher's bag. (LOL)
It seems that the morning principal wasn't so thrilled with the idea of me socializing. (Should I tell her that I'm not thrilled with the idea of coming down to lunch?) So the principal now has it out for me.
My principal came and told me that from now on I should be strictly business, not pleasure, and that I should leave my socializing for after school.
I told my principal that it was a reasonable request, (although I still think it's absolute garbage,) but I had one problem with it.
I told her that there was no reason the morning principal had to go over to her. The way I see it, she should've come over to me. If she's the one supervising the entire dining room when I'm there to watch my class, why wouldn't she come directly to me if she had a problem? I am a responsible, mature adult (although some would argue with that!) and I would've listened respectfully to whatever she had to tell me.
Why she felt she had to go behind my back, and go to the higher authorities before she even tried talking to me is beyond my comprehension. It doesn't matter though, I know now to steer clear of her, and it makes me feel better that on this blog I can call her a Scheming, Conniving, Pain in the Neck.
One more thing the principal threw at me before she left. There was a problem in the way I dressed.
Now, I'm a conservative dresser. I dress better than some of the other teachers in the school. She was referring to my wig that has a very natural, white part to it.
A month after I was hired to teach, the school board came out with new rules for the teacher, and wearing a white part was part of the list that was not accepted.
I discussed this last year, and told the school that for the amount of money I was getting paid, I couldn't even buy a new wig. I also told the school that these rules were not in effect when I signed my contract, and that were they part of the rules then, I may have opted no to teach there.
The principal met with the board, and the board ultimately decided that they'd make an exception in my case, because it was too late to hire a new teacher, and this rule was really extreme. Wearing a white part on a wig is really a personal decision, and it's between you and your husband ad what you feel is right.
I also made the principal aware that were I to come home and start telling my husband about these rules, there would be no way in the world he would let me go teach. He thinks it's a waste of time as it is, for this money and the effort I put in, and if I'd have to change my entire lifestyle to revolve around $6,000, he would not stand for it.
Thankfully, the board understood, and although they weren't happy with it, they let me wear my white part.
So back to today, the principal got a comment that I wear a white part.
She defended me by saying that this was the only way I would come teach, and that she had arranged it with the board. But she warned me that it wasn't over. She told right there in my classroom that if an influential person in the school decided to get involved, I would be hearing lots more about this issue. (I'm actually kind of looking forward to the challenge, I have such a big mouth and I sure do love to use it!)
She walked out of the class leaving me feeling really upset and angry. I wrapped up the lesson as best as I could and counted the seconds for the bell to ring.
Boy, did I instigate that teacher's room!!
I already mentioned that these teacher's are terrified of the authority in the school, and I was, and still am determined to change that.
I went on about my dumb hairpiece for quite a while, and I got the whole teacher's room steaming.
I waited until they were in the middle of a heated argument, and then I made my quiet exit.
Well, not really, the teachers were all sypathetic, but they went with the attitude of, "Well what can we do?"
(Repeat after me...)
I refuse to let myself be intimidated by this school. I am not going to be turned into some mindless teacher who just does what she's told. I'm better than that!
I am by nature an extremely sensitive person. I think that's starting to change. Usually I would've bust into tears as soon as the principal left my classroom. It's a couple of hours later now, and I still am as apathetic as before. I really do not care what this school thinks of me. I'm doing this for myself and for my students.
A white part on my wig will not make a difference to the type of teacher I am.
I am trying to be the best I can be, and I can't let something like comments about my natural looking part stop me.
My husband just wishes he would see this side of me more often. Maybe being a teacher is a good thing, huh?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Yeah, that sort of day. The kind of day where things just don't seem to go right.
I spent last night crying, felt very overwhelmed. I had no idea what was expected of me as a first year teacher, and I just didn't know what to do next.
Do I type up a syllabus? Do I give in to what the school thinks is right? I was confused, and besides, the principal wanted to meet with me, and that made me even more nervous. In addition to all that, we had to give in our planbooks yesterday, and when I did, I got to see some of the other teacher's plan sheets, and they were so detailed, that it was all I could do to keep from crying.
I asked one of the teachers why her book was so detailed and she answered, "because that's what the principal wants to see!" I was so annoyed. These teachers all seem to be terrified of the principal and they do anything she tells them to, even when it makes absolutely no sense. I'm not that type of person, I have to understand what I'm doing and why I'm doing it before I do something. I am completely and totally ready to burst into tears at any second. What else don't I know!?!
I spent the morning typing up a syllabus. I decided that for now I would give out the syllabus and see what I could do to slowly get them used to writing on their own.
I also spent time typing up some really cute sheets introducing a contest I was starting in the classes. The contest basically stated that if each class collectively read 400 books in a certain amount of time, they get to go on a trip. They don't know what the ultimate prize will be yet, but along the way, they have to fill out book reviews for every book they read. For every ten books a girl reads, she gets a plus 1 and a half on any one of my tests. So I did give them some incentives along the way. Hopefully, it'll work.
So I ran to school, and met with the principal. She wanted to talk to me about the learning disabled girl in my class. Over the past few days, I learned how learning disable she was. She couldn't comprehend things she read, (even though she read like a dream) her spelling was atrocious, and she was writing on a fourth grade level. Understandably, she couldn't write notes, and she also couldn't follow along in class.
Problem was, she had already given up trying. She labeled herself as stupid and she was determined to prove it to me. She refused to even give me the slightest effort. So the principal wanted to teach me how to handle her. Did I learn anything new? No.
But I did learn never to mention discipline problems to my superior again. Somehow, it slipped out that the girls were not afraid to test me on the first day of school, and boy, did she feel that she should get involved. I was kind of annoyed.
I'm not an incompetent teacher, I had the class under control, this was just a small incident that had happened a week ago, and she was blowing it out of proportion. I learned never to discuss these things with her again.
Actually, I pretty much made up my mind not to discuss anything with her again.
I did ask her about the writing syllabus though, and she told me that she believed that it helped the girls, and that it should be given out in high school as well.
I politely disagreed with her, telling her that this method of teaching taught the girls not to think. They took everything off my paper. They didn't bother using their own imaginations, which basically meant that they weren't accomplishing anything in writing.
I told the principal that the good writers didn't need this, and that the bad writers were not going to gain anything from it. If they weren't taught to write properly, and instead they were told exactly what to write on this syllabus, what was the point? The whole thing was just a huge failure, and a colossal waste of time.
She basically left-fielded all my questions, and sent me down to lunch.
I made up my mind. From now on, the principal will run the school as she sees fit, but I will run my classroom as I think it should be run.
I don't care how involved she thinks she's going to be in my class, but I've decided that for the kind of money this pays, I can't afford to let myself be intimidated. After all, what is she going to threaten me with? My $6,000 paycheck? HAH HAH HAH!!
If I needed the money I wouldn't be teaching. I'm teaching because it's something I want to do. And I want to do it my way, not that way she thinks it should be done!
Just a little note. I don't mean to sound like the principal I work for isn't a great person, because she really is. It's just that right now I am frustrated, and I don't fully agree with everything she does.
That doesn't mean that she isn't a brilliant educator, and that she deserves a lot of respect, because I do respect her a lot.
It's just that at this point, when I am trying to assert myself as a teacher, I feel that I have to do things my own way for a while, I can't be forced into something I don't feel is right, especially when I'm new to the whole field.
So when you read a blog entry like this, don't get the wrong idea. I CHOSE this profession. I wanted and still want to do this. But I still need time to adjust, and that may mean that I will get angry and frustrated easily.
Like my husband always says, "Take everything my wife says with a grain of salt!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

No Way!

I'm fed up.
Ok. Let me tell you the good part first.
I started this index card thing today. I told the girls that every Monday, when I walk into class, they each have to have an index card with something written on it. I could be a joke, a question for the teacher, a quote, or even something personal.
It worked out very nicely! The girls wrote some interesting things there. Some girls asked me to go slower in history, some gave me some cute quotes, ("A joke is like a frog, when you dissect it, it dies" -I must've gotten that 10 times!)and one girl even gave me her address.
I was a little, ok, a lot surprised, when one kid passed up an index card saying that she had a problem with her temper and that she went to to special classes after school to help her out. It was so unexpected, especially from this girl.
It was also a little shocking that she mentioned something so personal so early in the year, she barely even knows me as a teacher, much less as a person!
But the idea behind this index card thing is that each student had once a week where she has some personal time with me. In the form of this card, she can tell me anything, and I answer back.
The girls seem to really have enjoyed it, they were comparing comments that I wrote back on their cards, and some, like the temper girl, just put hers away quietly. I gave them the choice. They had personal "time" with me, and they were able to use it whichever way they wanted.
So that's the good part of my day.
We had writing again. The kids were beyond frustrated, and so was I. I walked around the classroom checking some of the compositions the girls wrote as they moved on to the next part of their writings.
I was shocked. I had no idea that 7th graders could write this way. And I'm not saying this in an impressed sort of way, mind you. The writing was not impressive at all. About 3 girls were really talented writers, and I saw that right away, the rest? Well, in one word? Pathetic.
Ok, maybe I'm being harsh. I know that I can be critical sometimes. Maybe this is one of them. I happen to know that I write well, never scored anything less than an A on a writing, so maybe I just haven't been exposed to too many average writers.
But these writings did shock me, especially from a school that prides itself on it's writing program. Like I said yesterday, the born writers love the 45 minutes they get to express themselves on paper, the majority of the class sits there on the verge of tears.
One girl raised her hand and even asked for a syllabus. She told me that her teacher last year had always given out a syllabus stating what was expected of them in each writing assignment, when it was due, and with some ideas of what to write.
I was unpleasantly surprised. No wonder these students had absolutely no idea how to write! They had been spoon-fed all through school! I was not about to do the same. I told the girls I'd check into it, and started history.
When I came downstairs to the teacher's room and asked the 6th grade teacher about it, she handed me a 4 page writing syllabus. This syllabus was for ONE writing assignment!! She said that the principal required it!! I was a little taken aback that first of all, the principal required something I thought to be very stupid, and two, that I wasn't even told about this.
I was determined to get to the bottom of it, and to abolish it as well.
My husband says I my dreams of changing the world are never going to take shape with the kind of salary I'm getting paid.
I know, how encouraging!
Oh, and by the way, I was given a w4 to fill out. Can you imagine that I have to pay taxes on the kind of salary I'm getting!?!?!
Crazy world out there!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Week, New Discoveries

I've already made the decision that for as long as this school year continues, Sunday will be considered the worst day of my week.
I had to be in school form 9-12:15, so that already killed if not my day, my beauty sleep.
I didn't sleep well the entire night, just dreading the school day ahead.
I was already up and waiting for my alarm clock to ring at 7 am, and as soon as it did, I got out of bed and took my time getting dressed.
I walked the block to school really slowly, one of my students was walking in front of me and I just didn't want to have to greet her this early in the morning.
I have no idea how I made it through the day.
It was September 11th, so we spent some time on talking about what had happened, and one class went on and on telling me all the stories they knew about the twin towers and people they knew who had worked there. The other class, (the dentist one,) really drove me up the wall. I didn't even think it was possible foe a class of 16 girls to just sit, unmoving, uninterested in anything interesting I had to say. I was astounded. They sat in their seats and looked just as bored as they did when we learned history. It's totally beyond me.
I kind of get frustrated in the class because I have no idea if they even understand what I'm saying. I see that I'm getting way ahead in this class than in my other one, and that's because they don't participate, they just sit quietly and wait for me to spoon feed them. So I spent a while just talking about September 11, and then I figured that if they didn't seem interested, I'd just go on to something else, so I did some history.
I also introduced writing, and I was doing a fantastic writing project with the girls. I wanted them to write a letter to themselves. They were going to get them back in 6 years, at their high school graduation.
This project was always my favorite project in school, but when I told the girls to take out their writing folders, they all groaned.
This school is extremely into their writing program. They have writing three times a week for 45 minutes a day. The students that are born writers absolutely love the time they're given to express themselves. The problem arises with the girls who are lacking the talent.
The girls who aren't writers will never be writers, and giving them writing 3 times a week will only make them frustrated, it won't help them at all. I wish I had a say in the matter, but I don't make up the schedule, the school does.
So they spent time writing. I was a little confused as to how a writing class was supposed to work, but I basically, explained the writings to the girls in detail, gave them some ideas and told them to write. You have no idea what I went through then.
The girls were so confused, they almost cried. They kept complaining they had nothing to write and they wanted me to help them, which basically meant that they wanted me to write the compositions for them.
Wait, they didn't want me to write them, they expected it.
I was completely and utterly confused, and I really was relieved when the bell rang to end the day.
I reminded the classes to study two lessons back in history, and to bring a journal, and index cards for Monday.
The rest of the day was a pretty busy one for me, and I didn't really have time to think about school too much.
I did meet two of my students in the street that day, and they really are babies! They both laughed and blushed and waved to me like I was the most exciting thing since sliced bread.
I feel so good! Today I made two 12 year old girls feel special.
But whatever the case is, Sunday is still a bad day!

Friday, September 09, 2005

12th Grade

I was even more nervous the morning of the second day of school.
I guess I already knew what I was facing and that scared me. I spent the entire morning with a tremendous stomach ache. (I later discovered that this was to be a daily thing, I got nervously nauseous every morning.)
I made it to school, finished a literature story in each class, did some history, and let them go for the weekend.
Then came the hard part, 12th grade.
I ran down to the principal, approved a stencil, had it copied and barely made it to class before the bell rang.
I walked in to teach a class of girls who were all twice my height. Even when they were sitting they were intimidating.
I wasn't as nervous as I expected to be though, I just started talking. Problem was, the class didn't seem to be very responsive. It could've been just because they were tired, it was the first day of school for the high school, and it was already 4:30, they'd had a long day. I hope it was that.
20 minutes into the lesson, I was totally out of what to say.
Well, not really, If you get to know me, you get to know pretty quickly that I always have something to say. So I bluffed. I spoke for 45 minutes. By the end of the lesson my head was spinning. I didn't feel that great about how the whole class went, and I am totally dreading next week.
I think, no I know, that I bit off more than I could chew.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

First Day of Terror

OK. Not really. It wasn't that bad. They always say, "If someone has to go home crying the first day of school, it better not be the teacher!"
I didn't cry, far from it. I actually came home exhilarated.
Let me start from the beginning.
I woke up really early, even though I didn't actually have to be in school until 12:30. I spent an hour getting dressed and putting my makeup on "just so."
Funny thing is, I wasn't really that nervous. I just sat around the house most of the morning. I spent some time doing laundry, ironing, looking over my lessons, and looking at myself in the mirror.
I even went to school early!
It's a good thing I did, because as soon as I got there, the principal found me and shipped me off to the resource room where the remedial teacher was already waiting for me.
Turns out, I have a learning disabled kid in the class.
The truth is, I've spent time with learning disabled kids before, so that didn't bother me too much. They were making a big deal out of it, so I pretended to care, and listened for a bit. She was going to get a lot of tutoring this year to help her catch up to the class (or at least to bring her to a 5th or 6th grade level) but they still needed a lot of cooperation from the teachers. Wonderful! I should become a therapist for the work I'm already doing. (They get paid much more than I do!!) A therapist specializes in the field, I'm expected to do this as part of my daily routine. Someone help me.
I met up with the teachers in the teacher's room after that, but the bell rang, cutting my break short, and off I was to class.
I walked into 7b, trying hard not to show how terrified I was, holding tightly to my briefcase so that my hands wouldn't shake, and told the girls to sit down.
Instead of taking attendance, I went up and down the rows, and intimidated the girls by making them tell me their names first, and as they did, I wrote their names into a seating chart I had made.
I was only up to the second row, when a girl in the 4th row, F.F, started coughing. I looked up and saw her looking around, motioning for the other girls to start coughing with her. In less than 12 seconds I had a full fledged coughing chain on my hands.
I was shocked at the audacity of the class. On the first day of school, some kid thought she was going to test her teacher? I was not about to let that happen to me.
I slowly looked up from m desk at the girl who had started the whole thing, and said in a firm, but quiet tone, "If I have to ask you for your name on the first day of school, before I even have it on a seating chart, it's not a good sign."
The kid did not know what hit her, the class was dead quiet. I later heard that this class never had a teacher confident enough to stand up to them before.
That was all I needed, They were perfect angels for the rest of the period.
I got to know some names as we learned history and began reading a literature story, and I sort of got a feel for some of the girls.
C.S.A. seemed to be a bookworm, she had something to add to everything I said, while F.F, the coughing master, remained quiet for the rest of the day.
E.F.G. was also a real participant, always raising her hand. C.C.K. was always asking me to repeat everything I said, so that she could have it down perfectly in her notes, and L.K. also needed things repeated to her until she understood them.
Some of the girls were quieter, but it could be that they were either intimidated or shy, after all, it was the first day of school.
The bell rang for recess, and as soon as I dismissed the class, I called the coughing chain girl aside and spoke to her sharply.
I told her, "I was a student once too, and it wasn't too long ago. I want to you know, they say that the worst students make the best teachers, do you know why?" The girl looked at the floor as she shook her head. "They make the best teachers, because they've already done things you haven't thought of yet. So remember, think 100 times before doing something in my class, because I'm always two steps ahead of you!"
I almost felt bad for the girl as I watched her join her friends for recess.
The teacher's room was naturally filled with teachers discussing and dissecting their new classes, grabbing something to eat, and hurriedly preparing for after recess.
The bell rang all to soon, and I found myself walking into my next class, 7a.
I immediately learned that this class is the one that I should've taken that dental course I had seen advertised in the paper. This class made me feel like I had to pull teeth waited patiently in their seats for me to spoon-feed them information, and they never raised their hands.
I discovered that D.T, C.O, and M.L, were the only girls who ever felt like they had something to say to the teacher, because those were the only participants I had all lesson. It was so frustrating.
Like in the other class, I started off by telling them my 3 rules for the year, Maturity, Responsiblity, and Respect. (Or, like my husband says, Maturity, Responsibility, and Respectability. I think I'm getting to his brain!)
I continued with the same history lesson and literature lesson I had done in the other class.
Finally, the bell rang.
That bell is the most annoying sound in the world. It's really, really loud, and it's not one tone, it clangs. It actually sounds quite like a very loud alarm clock. I jumped a mile when that rang, but it meant that I could dismiss the class.
I hate having my life ruled by such a dumb sounding bell.
Oh well.
I gathered up my books, said good night to the teachers, and ran home to prepare supper.
I finished supper, prepared some sheets for school, reviewed for the next day's lesson, and I'm ready to go to sleep fully dressed. I'm tired, but happy and proud.
I'm not the one who came home crying the first day of school.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Teacher's Orientation

I was up early, and I was dreading every minute of today.
At 9:00 am, I called the teacher who had taught my class last year to ask her some questions. While I was questioning her, she mentioned that she was looking for a literary terms sheet. Guess if she's going to be using mine this year? You got it.
And I even sat on the computer for an hour revising it...Again. I can't believe myself sometimes.
Well anyway, the teacher's thing started at 10 , and it was the most stupid, nerve-wracking thing I have ever been to.
I listened to a boring speaker for about an hour, then the principal spoke.
This lady...Sometimes I wonder if she has a life other than school. She said she had read about 40 books this summer and come up with "fantastic" programs for the kids. Guess if it all ultimately falls onto the teacher's shoulders?
It does.
I'm thrilled. I feel like I'm being choked. I came here to teach, NOT run an institution. I sometimes get a little confused when she talks. I don't know how it makes sense that I should be teaching these kids new things that I've never evev learned.
I don't mind reading an educational book occasionally, but I have the feeling that this principal expects us all to be like her. There is no way in the world that I am going to be able to accomplish everything she has set out for me to do. I was warned that this school really bogs down their teachers, but I had no idea it would be anything like this!!
But after the meeting, the teachers all said, that they didn't either have any idea of what she was talking about, and that she always spoke a lot, but it wasn't really this bad.
Then we went down to the most gorgeous teacher's room I have ever seen, ate something, and watched a dumb video that was at least 20 years old about being consistent in the classroom.
All the time, I was busy looking at my watch, I had my dentist appointment at 3:15, and in order to get there on time, I really had to be out of there by 2:30.
The principal was having another meeting with the first year teachers, but I had already told her that I couldn't make it, and I ran out of there.
I stopped briefly on the way downstairs to introduce myself to the high school principal, and then I flew out the door.
Now I was in a dilemma, I had no car to get to my appointment. My husband had the car, and he works on the other side of town. There was no way I would have time to get there, pick up the car, drive to the dentist (who was way, way on the other side of town,)and still be there on time.
But my sister in law came to the rescue, she was going to the neighborhood where my husband works, and she gave me a lift.
My husband was already waiting outside with the keys for me, and I ran to the car. It was 10 to 3.
By the time I got to the dentist's place, it was 3:15, and it took me about 20 minutes to find parking. I'm a total stickler for coming on time, and I didn't even have the dentist's number to call and tell him that I'd be late.
(It's a long story, my cellphone fell on the floor, the screen broke, and since all my numbers were saved to my phone as opposed to my sim card, I lost all my numbers.)
The phone still worked though, so I called my husband frantically to see if he would call the dentist for me, but he insisted that it would be fine, the dentist knew him for years, and he was always late, the dentist expected that already.
I wasn't so sure, but I made him stay on the line with me anyway to calm me down until I found parking.
I should mention that I'm a new driver, and that my parking skills...Well, they leave much to be desired...
I finally found parking, ran three blocks to the dentist, came panting into the waiting room, only to find out that because I was late, they had cancelled my appointment.
They wanted to reschedule, but I was devastated, I was just not having a good day. I called the husband, and he said that there was no way in the world this was going to happen. He called the dentist on the other line while I waited anxiously on hold.
Turns out, the dentist had no clue who I was, because my file was under my maiden name, not my married one. Had he known who I was, he would've expected me to be late just like my husband!
So he was nice about it, he took me in, and guess what? I didn't need a root canal after all! The medication helped, and all I needed was a filling.
I asked the dentist to put as little novocaine as possible, I really need my mouth for tomorrow...
Anyway, I had a rushed night. We bought supper, ran to visit someone in the hospital, came home late, and I still had to prepare for school.
It's pretty late now, I hope I'm prepared...The novocaine wore off already, and I just have to get some sleep.
My stomach is now a knot of nerves.