Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Oooh, Boy.

Today was horrid.
I spoke to G.S. about all her potential, and basically what her mother and I had spoken about at P.T.A. She didn't really seem very receptive, and I think she only heard what she wanted top hear, that I thought she was great. I have a feeling she went and told al her friends already. Oh well.
I had to talk to the principal about making a presentation with my class, and the small details it entailed. Last year, the class had made a wax museum and I felt that a wax museum wasn't going to bring out all the talent my students had to offer.
I had seen B.E.D. last night, and she was actually smiling during that dance. I wanted to be able to recreate that, and see her smiling more.
My co and I had come up with an exciting theme for our production, "Don't judge a book by it's cover."
The production is really about literature, and this was perfect. We also had the normal 7th grade problem, stereotyping. This topic is really what the class needs. The more we came up with, the more "wax museum" we cut out. By the time we were finished thinking, we had renamed it a production, and basically were wondering if we could eliminate the wax altogether.
Well, my co had gone to talk to the principal about something else, and the principal had brought up the wax museum. My co had mentioned that she really wanted more than just to cover the girls in vaseline and have them stand like dummies. The principal wasn't only not open to the idea, she was adamantly against it.
I knew I had what to deal with when I went over to her.
The truth is, I didn't really want to talk to her today, I figured it could wait until tomorrow. But of course, no such luck. The principal came over to me and asked to see me after school.
I went in to her, and she sat me down to talk. The first thing she went through was the wax museum. Right away I spoke up and told her that I didn't like the idea. She kept arguing that it worked out well last year, so why not do it again. I forced her to listen to herself and I told her that it was she who always told me to bring out the best in my students. I told her that this was the way I was going to do it.
So she tells me, "Well, you have less than 3 weeks to get this done, that's why I thought a wax museum would be best."
I asked her if she was serious, and she said that she was.
I put my foot down then and there. I told her that I was the one doing this, not her, and she should kindly not push her demands on my time. I was going to make my production, and I was going to do it when I was ready.
Well, the principal just pushed me off by saying that my co, her, and I would have to meet to discuss this.
Then she went on to the real reason she called me in. She told me that when she was in my class on yesterday (for an hour and a half) she had noticed that I sometimes contradicted myself. I was surprised, and I asked her to tell me where she had seen this. She stumbled a little, and she really had no answer.
She said that she had written it down somewhere, and she didn't quite remember what it was that I had said. She explained that I was a natural born teacher, a jewel, and she just wanted to polish me.
I told her nice and clearly, "I'm so grateful for everything you're doing, but calling me in here right now is only wasting my time. I didn't feel there was anything wrong with my lesson, but I see you did. I would gladly go look back at what you're telling me, but you can't even point out where I really went wrong. You basically accomplished nothing except making me feel bad. I would love to listen to whatever you have to tell me, but don't try to 'polish' me if you have nothing to show me".
I think she got the hint.
I left school fuming.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Need a Vacation!

I was so tired last night after P.T.A, I barely got anything done. I marked a few tests, and then, tired to the bone, I fell into bed.
I woke up this morning in a panic. I was so pressured with a ton of things I had to do. I had to update my blog, create a new test, mark literature tests and essays, and I had to type up a sheet of review questions for my weaker students.
In addition to all that, I had to prepare for today's lesson.
I worked all morning, until I looked at my watch at 11:30 and realized that if I didn't get dressed soon, I would be late for school.
I felt weak and sick all day, and I was terrified of not being able to handle the full day.
Somehow I did it.
Not only did I do it, I managed under extreme circumstances.
5 minutes into my lesson, the principal came into my class. She went through every girl's looseleaf, and looked at all their notes. She even corrected spelling errors!
The girls were horrified, and to tell you the truth, so was I. A looseleaf is a private thing. Going through a looseleaf is like going through someone's diary. I know that I wouldn't want anyone going through my stuff, and I'm a teacher with little to hide. Imagine these little teenagers!
The principal stayed in my class until recess. I believe that it's a record. I now hold the record for having been observed by a principal for more than a 20 minute sitting. More than 20 minutes was unheard of...that is, until now.
The girls were so upset, and I couldn't tell them how I felt. Instead I had to try and defend the principal. How sick.
The teachers were livid too. They were disgusted and upset about her going through looseleafs, and they were terrified of being observed for so long.
I was just glad it was over with.
By the way, I gave my literature test back without approving them first. It felt so good!
I came home at night exhausted. I was sick, and overwhelmed by all the work I still had to do. I worked so hard in the morning, but somehow I felt that I didn't get anything done.
I called my husband home from the office, because I think I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I just needed to feel that I had someone home to fall back on.
I made supper, washed dishes, did schoolwork, more schoolwork, more schoolwork, more schoolwork...
There was a Chinese auction going on for the school tonight. All the money earned would go to sponsoring trips for the classes.
The teachers were all going to go, but I was too sick and too bogged down with work to move. I wasn't going to go, but my co convinced me, and a bunch of girls asked that I come watch them perform on their index cards. After that kind of invitation, how can I refuse? I'm just crazy over my students!
I went, even though I hadn't accomplished a thing, and surprisingly, I had a nice time.
I was so proud of the students who performed, and I spent a lot of time with my co, discussing the girls and their different talents. We're planning to put up a performance later in the year, and we were discussing which student would do well where.
I came home very late, and I still had a ton of work to do. I updated my blog, but I still have a test, the review questions, the essays, and a lot of preparation to do. This job takes every ounce of strength I got.
It's almost 1 am. I have to go to bed before my husband makes me call in sick tomorrow. I think I'll backdate the date on the blog so that this entry comes out on Monday even though it's already in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
Ahhh...the life of a teacher!

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Not just any Sunday, this morning I had to get up early for P.T.A.
Understandably, I was a nervous wreck as I got dressed and prepared to leave for school.
The truth is, once P.T.A. started, I was so busy, I forgot to be nervous.
The parents came in, one after another, and I spent 3 hours talking nonstop. It was tiring though. My co and I were shocked at a lot of the mothers. A lot of them were not American, and most of them looked nothing like their daughters. Some mothers walked in and asked me to guess who's mother they were. I'm so bad at it, and I made a couple of mistakes.
C.O.'s mother was very sweet, I know her from down the block, and it was nice meeting her. She said that C.O. was finding school very hard because she felt she had to compare to her older siblings who are immensely talented.
I really pushed pursuing E.S.'s writing talent with her mother. She is such a great girl, and has so many talents, I hoped her mother knew she had what to be proud of.
One mother told me that her daughter, S.J. was a little upset about other girls getting an easier test. I explained to her mother that I'd rather have her daughter get a 75 with regular test, than a 95 with an easier one. After all, in life, no one hands you easy tests.
E.T. and Y.T.'s mother was very nice, but I felt that she compared her children a little. I asked her to tell me who Y.T.'s friends were,, and she couldn't tell me. I felt a little bit like she thought her daughters were taking care of each other and that they didn't need anyone else. We spoke for a while, and we decided that we would look into the friends issue.
S.F.F. mom was so nice, and I completely see where S.F.F. is coming from. Her mother didn't seem the type to stress on marks, she even said that she didn't do well in school either. I told her that as long as S.F.F. did her best, that's all I wanted. She didn't have to be 100 student, she had to try to do what she could.
B.G.'s mother was a PANIC! Right away, I was able to see where this kid gets her personality from. She was so funny and spunky, (Israeli) and now I totally she why B.G. doesn't try hard in school. No Pressure!
It was nice to meet S.G.L's mother in person, (instead of just over the phone all the time) and we went through some notes S.G.L. wrote to me on her tests.
D.T. mother was nice, and she kept telling all the teachers to challenge her daughter. She was so happy with the workload.
B.E.D.'s mother didn't come, and neither did R.R.'s. I sort of expected that to happen, but I would have liked to meet them.
T.K.'s mother was the nicest lady and we discussed how smart she is, and how I especially loved the sunglasses thing she pulled in class. I also encouraged her to save all of T.K.'s writings as she is a great writer.
T.J.'s mother was very nice and a little concerned for her daughter. All she wanted to know was if her daughter was a neb. Her younger daughter was much spunkier and she hoped that her daughter wasn't considered "nebby" by the other girls. I assured her that in elementary school where marks meant everything, not every child had a place, but I guaranteed that as soon as she got to high school, she would shine. High school offers much more extra curricular to the students and most girls end up finding their own niche.
A.L.'s mother and I had a long talk about her friendship with R.R. We both liked the friendship, but I wanted A.L. to have more friends. Both her mother and I were worried that the friendship might seem a exclusive, and A.L. should try and make that effort to get to know more girls and maybe spend less time with R.R. She also mentioned that she would like A.L. to switch classes, and I guess I'll have to look into that.
G.S.'s mother was a little shock, but very pleasant. I found I had someone to talk to in her, and she encouraged me to talk to her daughter about her being a leader in the class and reaching her full potential.
M.R.'s mother was the CUTEST lady in the entire world! She looked so young and sweet, and she was dressed, well, not to kill, but spunky and adorable! She was so cute and funny, and we just spoke about how mature and adorable her daughter is. I also mentioned to her that I figured S.G.L. was taking advantage of M.R. and asking her to study with her. Mrs. R. said that was true. I told her not to allow it, M.R. had to use her time for herself first, and then do chesed. S.G.L. needed a tutor and M.R. couldn't' t do it on her own. Mrs. R. agreed with me 100%.
M.L.'s mother was such a shock! She was this cutie Israeli lady with a short cropped sheitel. She was so understanding when I told her that I felt that M.L. was acting a little less mature than she usually was. I associated it to her being friends with C.O. and her mother said that it had happened before. I told her mother that I wasn't going to encourage breaking the friendship, but I just wanted M.L. to be aware of her image. Her mother assured me that M.L. was a mature, understanding girl, and that she would take whatever I said and really listen to it. So we agreed to speak to M.L.
In 7b, the mothers were just as nice and adorable.
C.K.'s mother was exciting to meet. I had spoken to her over the phone a couple of times, and she was very nice in person. We spoke about how well her daughter was suddenly doing. I had marked a history and literature test. She got a 90 on history, and a 95 on literature. (Compared to her last history test where she got a 61, this was amazing!) Mrs. K. also told me that her daughter requested that she tell only me that there was a problem with the personal hygiene of some girls in the class. I already knew this, and something had to be done, I would definitely have to look into talking to the class...How embarrassing!
C.S.A.'s mother is the high school principal, and she was the sweetest, most unprincipaly lady you have ever met. Of course I gave her all the compliments, and then came the topic of C.S.A. getting very stressed during tests. I have to speak to her about letting go a little.
L.K.'s mother was nothing like her. She was very serious, and down to earth. I told her about her daughter's failing to hand in several assignments, and we agreed to work on that together.
F.G.'s mother was exactly what I expected. Short, round, and her face looked just like F.G.'s. I told her a little about F.G. needing a lot of attention, and she totally knew what I was saying. I stressed that right now I was giving her a lot of positive attention, but it was only after a bumpy road.
T.K. had such a wonderful mother. We went through her friendship with R.H., which I felt was very competitive. I told her that I refuse to break up friendships, The girls have to do that on their own. I just wanted her to be aware that there is a lot of competition between the two. I also mentioned an incident that had happened last week where I spoke strictly to T.K. just so that the entire class should stop what they were doing wrong. T.K. was my scapegoat and I apologized. The mother was so thrilled that I apologized to her daughter, she was extremely impressed. :)
H.W.'s mother and I both agreed that H.W. definitely had more potential than she cared to show, and we both wanted to make sure that it was going to be used. She's a great student, I just think she can be the best. I also waited to know who her friends were. She's the type of girl who's quite content to stay home and read a book all night, she doesn't try to invest in friendships. I was slightly worried and pointed it out to the mother who said she would encourage H.W. to go out more.
I already knew F.F's mother from the copy room in school, and she was one of the first who came to see me. It was a relief to see her in the beginning, because I was so nervous. I discussed with her the possibility of her daughter being too good in the way she helped the rest of the class. Every other mother said that her daughter was friends with F.F., C.S.A., and C.C.K. It's almost funny (if it weren't so pathetic) how these mother's have no clue. Every insecure girl considers the 3 smartest, nicest girls in the class her best friend. I told Mrs. F. to make sure that F.F. knew how to say "no" to some girls who needed help.
E.F.G.'s mother was so convinced that her daughter was perfect, she didn't bother asking about her. She just went on an on about other things. She did say something very beautiful though. "A teacher has to pretend that one of the girls in the class is the kings daughter. Her only problem is, she doesn't know who it is." I thought that was very nice.
C.C.K.'s mother was my most major shock!!! She looked nothing like the sweet girl that sat in the front row of my class. Her mother definitely knew what a great daughter she had, but we also had to talk about how good she is. I need her to realize that she is not a professional tutor, and that she shouldn't do chesed before she took care of herself.
L.O.'s mother was another shock. She was a short little old lady with a hearing aid of all things! she seemed so fragile and old, that I felt bad telling her that I had a slight problem with her daughter. I managed to gloss it over by saying that she was so special because she was G.O. and that now the class looked up to her, and she had to realize that everything she did was being watched by everyone in the class. So that went ok.
C.S.'s mother also works in the school, so I already knew her, and she has the sweetest daughter, so she was a pleasure to talk to.
R.S.'s mother reminded me of someone I knew. She looked like R.S. and she seemed very nervous. I assured her that she had a great girl, and she just needs to space in a little in class. She warned me that R.S. has a low tolerance level, I already knew that, but I didn't say anything, and let her do the talking.
I very much wanted to meet R.H.'s mother. She came, but she didn't wait around for me. I want ed to discuss a lot with her, namely the fact that quite a few mothers had mentioned that their daughters were friends with R.H. and they all felt that it was competitive. I felt that R.H. needed her friends to make her feel good about herself, but she wasn't doing that for them. Instead she used them as a stepping stool to get higher. I didn't look at her in a bad way, it's a normal thing for seventh graders, but it's not healthy.
M.L.'s mother knew exactly who her daughter was, and she discussed a tutor for her. I told her that I was so proud of her daughter for trying hard even though she didn't always do so well. The mother walked out beaming.
The mother of M.P. was concerned at the way her daughter was coping with the workload. 7th grade is a lot of work, and her daughter, usually a laid back girl sometimes felt she couldn't breathe under the stress. I told her that I wasn't happy with the amount of work the girls had to get, and that I personally tried to give as little homework as possible. I told her to tell her daughter to pick 3 subjects to work hard on and sort of slack off a little on the others if she felt she couldn't do everything.
The principal walked in in the middle of one of the mothers and asked us to hurry up, because there were other people waiting their turn. The mothers hate her too.
This thing was supposed to be from 10 to 12, but I walked out of there at 1:15.
I came home zonked, and went straight to bed. I had a ton of things to do, but I pushed them all off. This job sure takes a lot out of me.

Friday, November 25, 2005


Yesterday and today were spent taking tests. The girls took a history test Wednesday, and a Literature test today. I also took a test. My patience was tested to the fullest.
Giving tests aren't easy. Everyone has questions, and they all need to be answered at the same time. Some girls need a ton of help, and some girls just need attention.
I was looking over some of the test scores from last test, and I figured that I have some girls who need more time. I didn't think it was fair that I got 7b first. I don't specifically mean this class, but any class. My last test was given to the entire grade at the same time, and anyone who needed more time was able to go through recess, and even a little after.
This time, I was letting one class go first which meant that only one class had the option of extra time.
I decided to take some weaker students from my second class and have them take the test with the first class because I knew they would need and appreciate the extra time.
I spoke to M.R. first. I couldn't remember if she had needed extra time last test, and she said she didn't need it and besides, she was embarrassed to go into the other class.
I had spent the entire night on the phone with S.G.L.'s mother, and I was going to give her an easier test along with the essay of the regular test. I wanted her to take it in the first class as well, but she objected. S.G.L. was terrified with the idea of being labeled "dumb." She even refused to take the easy test because she didn't want other girls to see that she was given a separate piece of paper.
I had to arrange for her to have a real test with the special test stapled on in the back. And I had to arrange to get it on her desk. I managed. (Whew!)
I did get B.E.D. to come in to the other class, and it was great for her. She needed a full 3 hours to complete the test, and she got a 97 1/2. I was proud, but she has to be taught that she has to move a little faster in her work.
I spoke to C.K. before the test to assure her that I would answer her questions, and that she shouldn't giver her test in right away, even if she got frustrated. She was so relieved.
C.K. needed extra time as did T.K. and I was proud of the marks they got.
I spent all night marking them, and then today they took their very first literature test.
I went in to the 7a class first today, to give them a chance to take the test first. I called C.K. and T.K. to take the test first and the funniest thing is, every single girl finished before the bell rang. Even B.E.D.! I was so happy!
In the middle of the test, the principal came in to give back the history tests. I mark them and she takes them and goes through them and writes comments. The kids hate it, but it's part of school rules.
So anyway, she came in, and she stopped the test to tell them that there was no such thing as handing in a sheet that wasn't written in cursive. The girls were understandably upset. Actually, so was I.
To tell the truth, I find it much easier to read print than cursive. I feel that by seventh grade, most girls develop their own handwritings, and you can't change it. They discover on their own what is the most comfortable for them, and they go their own way.
Of course I couldn't tell the students anything, but I hope they won't take her seriously. What a killjoy. :)
I like to make the kids smile when they take a test, so I gave out some twizzlers during the history test. I told them it was really helping them cheat because a certain Indian tribe used to use strings for something very important. (The Incas used to tie knots in strings to keep records called quipus.)
I was thrilled to see every girl smile and understand my joke. I gave out jawbreakers today for no reason, but the girls seemed relaxed and confident today.
I went through some test without marking them, just to see how they did. I was definitely impressed! They're first literature test and the grade average was a 95!! This is unreal!
Sometimes I wish I could take these girls home with me and keep them. I heard something a while ago from an old, experienced teacher that really rang true.
She said, "At the end of every year, when a class I've gotten to know and love leaves my class, a little piece of my heart goes with them."
I feel the same way. I barely got a chance to know these girls. It's only December, but already I know that I'll miss them terribly.

Monday, November 21, 2005


I was pretty confident today. I looked good, I felt good, and it was raining. (Don't ask, I just like rain.) Because it was raining, I wore a pretty pair of booties, nice and conservative, but still different and pretty.
I felt so good in the morning, I knew it couldn't last.
And it didn't.
The principal again. She took one look at my boots, and made a face that could kill. Now I'm lucky that the principal has this policy not to make you feel stupid in public, because I was surrounded the entire day, and she didn't have the opportunity to tell me something.
I have this feeling that she thought I was too pretty to teach in her school. I guess if you want to be a teacher in this school, you have to give up all femininity. Or, it could just be that she's picking on me!!
I know this sounds babyish, but this principal has a reputation for doing that- picking on her teachers. (Especially someone like me who refuses to bend to her mind control.)
I was happy, I taught a nice amount today, and I spoke to some girls.
My history test is on Wednesday, and I had to talk to S.F.F. about her taking an easier test, and M.L. who also needed one. I thought that B.G. could use some notes, but she didn't need an easy test, so I arranged some notes for her too. S.G.L. had a problem with last test. She gave back a blank test.
I spoke to her mother last time, and we arranged for her to take the test at home. She had it for three weeks, and when I asked her to give it back, it was still blank. I definitely had to talk to her too.
Of course, being Monday, my planbook was collected again, and I didn't have a plansheet for myself.
In the middle of class, I suddenly blanked out. I finished teaching everything I had planned for today, and I wanted to go on to something new, but I had no planbook to refer to. I improvised, and it worked out well, but I was so mad. Who am I writing a planbook for? Myself or the principal?
If you want to see it, look it over and give it back! But no, she takes it Monday and gives it back Thursday!!! Hello? Is there anybody in there?
Everyone is convincing me to start looking for another school to teach in next year. I don't really know if I want to, but this isn't the way things should work.
At least not according to my logic.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It Was Only a Joke!

Sunday again. I wish it didn't have to be the same every week. Why can't there be different names for days? Like "Icecreamday," or "Stormyday," or even "Stupiday?" Sunday sounds so fake. Please put the word "sun" in there. As if this day is the brightest and cheeriest day in my week. IT'S NOT. It's just the day I like to call "Function/on/little/or/no/sleep/day."
The principal wasted our entire first period on a dumb teacher's meeting, so she could prep us for PTA.
She started off with flattery, as she told us what great teachers we are. She then went on to warn us that we probably have the most under-appreciated job, and that we probably have the least paying job.
I interrupted with a wisecrack, "Probably? My cleaning woman makes more than I do! My father's illegal employees make more than I do!"
I honestly meant it as a joke, and the other teachers laughed. The principal though, didn't think it was too funny.
"That wasn't meant to be said." She told me, "It was out of place and uncalled for."
I was taken aback and replied, "I'm sorry if I misspoke, but I meant it as a joke. Obviously I knew what I was getting into when I signed the contract, I'm only making fun of the fact that you used the word "probably" in this context."
The principal didn't like my explanation, and went on to reprimand me.
Even the teachers noticed that she was taking it to an extreme.
Something is going on, and I don't like it. I'm definitely being picked on.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

End of the Week

...And Thursday is the day where you just want to jump into the weekend, so you have absolutely no patience dealing with school.
My students were off the wall today. But I was nuts too, so it was ok.
I came into class, and the girls were trying to fix my desk. It appears that some screws had "fallen" out (with the help of my more devious students) and the desk was now standing on three legs.
No surprise to see that after everyone had returned to heir seats, C.K. still felt that she had to personally support the desk. She got a personal invitation, and we started our crazy day.
7a had prepared chalk, some flowers, and a stick (so that I could point at the map which is too high for me to reach) on my desk. They also left the lights off so that I would be convinced to give them some rest time.
Unfortunately for them, no such luck.
I actually managed to get really far today. We covered a lot of ground in History, and I think that after their test on chapter two next Wednesday, I'll be ready to give them the test on chapter three.
I have a feeling the principal has it in for me now. I don't think she took that conversation we had yesterday very well....
I got my planbook back today, and the principal commented on it. She wrote, "Your plans are very sketchy. Please see me so we can discuss ways to make your book more understandable."
One second she forgetting that she's talking to master of detail here? I mean, would I take the time to write a blog if I were a "sketchy" writer? I have one word to say:
There, I feel better now.
My twelfth graders gave great speeches. I had a great time with them, and believe it or not, I can't wait to go back in next week.
Oh, wait. Next week is Thanksgiving. My husband has no work then because Thanksgiving the market is closed.
I wonder if I can get away with pretending to be sick...Or will that be too obvious?

Same Old, Same Old

Wednesday is the kind of day where everything sort of blends together, and you're not sure what's happening anymore. It's too far into the week care about anything. Even my students feel the same way.
It was a rushed morning, I had an appointment in New Jersey, and I barely made it back to school on time, but I made it.
My 7a class is really livening up, and G.S. is at the helm of their ship!
When I started teacheing history, G.S. and the rest of the class groaned. G.S. aked if we could do something different for a change. So I told her top come up to the front of the class, and start teaching.
She came up, but of course she souldn't think of a thing to say, besides picking up a paper and telling the class that it was pink.
It was the break the class needed, and we had a succesful day.
I ran home to be there on time for the pharmacy delivery (I have an EAR INFECTION!! I haven't had one sinceI was 2!) and I sat down and began doing school work. I did school work until 11:30 at night! I revised a history test, made up a literature test, created a histoy sheet on the explorers, marked spelling tests, and did a bunch of other things for school.
I cannot believe I get paid $534.10 a month.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Experience Shmexperience

During class today, I got called out by the principal.
First of al the good part. I got paid for the full month of October. I received the grand sum of $534.10. That's the only exciting part.
Then, as I was about to go back into my rowdy class, the principal confronted me by asking if I had ever told a student it was her fault for not knowing something when it was me who had made the mistake.
Now this was absurd. I am always the first to admit I made a mistake, and that the principal should have to coma and ask me was pretty weird.
So I tried to be diplomatic and I told the principal that I didn't remember such an incident. The principal looked me up and down and said, "Well the reason I'm asking is because we had a parent call the school to complain about you."
My heart went into my toes, as the principal suggested I see her after school to discuss how I could work on myself to be less abrasive to my students.
I gave her a dirty look and told her I'd see her after school.
And after school I made sure to go over to her. But I did that on my own terms.
I went in to her and without waiting for her to start, I started talking to her about a bunch of kids I was having a problem with. F.G. C.K. L.O. and a couple of others. When I mentioned L.O, her eyes lit up and she asked, "Oh, tell me about her!"
So I knew now what I had guessed all along, it was L.O.'s mother who called.
L.O. is a great girl, but she definitely got on my nerves lately. For example, yesterday, I was making a very strong point to the class in literature, and the girls were all sitting quietly just listening, It was self understood that this was not the time to ask questions or even write notes. I wanted them all to listen, and they were. Except for L.O. of course, She kept raising her hand noisily, and I could see that besides for making me annoyed, the class was bothered my her too.
Now, this is the season where everyone is getting sick, and I had a number of girls who weren't feeling well, so I figured L.O. needed something urgently. So I called on her.
I was ready to slap her when she calmly asked, "What's the date today?"
I totally gave it to her, I was so mad. And she does this often. Sometimes, she'll be so busy raising her hand with a question, she won't realize that I'm already answering her question. When that happens I refuse to repeat myself and I tell her it's her own fault she missed what I said. That's why I figured it was her mother that called.
I also know that L.O. is extremely sensitive and I heard her mother is too. That would explain her mother believing this twisted story.
Well anyway, I made the principal see my side of the story. And when she finally agreed with me, I asked her if she would call back the mother who complained to tell her that it was her daughter who was the problem, not me.
The principal said she saw no reason to call her, because this mother was already made happy.
Now I got really upset, and I shot back at her, "Well that mother is happy at my expense! And you know what happens now? That girl was told by her mother that she is right, and I was told the same thing by you! That means that this girl will continue doing what she's doing wrong, and I will continue doing what I do, and it's a cycle that will keep repeating itself. I guarantee that this won't be the last phone call you'll get from her."
The principal tried telling me something about her years of experience, but I cut her off. "I cannot turn into the person you want your teachers to be based on your experience. History keeps repeating itself because people don't learn form each other's mistakes. Don't try to fight the system. I will not learn from your mistakes, I have to make my own. And if that means talking to angry parents, so be it.
Don't try to protect me from those parents, because if I was right, I will defend myself all the way. And if I was wrong, I will be the first to say so. There is no reason you should be talking to the parents instead of me. You weren't there during that situation, you have no idea what I was thinking, and you don't know if it really even happened. Do me a favor, and let me fight my own battles. When a mother calls, give her my number, I will gladly talk to her."
The principal was more than a little shocked, but I continued to tell her that this was coming from all the teachers. I went on to tell her a little more, and then I picked up my stuff and walked out.
I don't think this will change a thing, but at least I got to yell at someone.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Nothing Much

It's Monday and I feel bad about not writing since Wednesday, so I figured I'd sign in, even though there isn't anything much going on.
Well, Thursday, my twelfth graders began their speeches, and they were pretty good. I was really impressed. Now I'm just stuck with the troublesome task of marking them.
Basically, I have their marks, it's just that I feel horrid being only a year older than they are and giving them marks that are going to go on their permanent records. Sheesh.
Yesterday, Sunday was a regular Sunday. Didn't sleep well the night before, (that was due to a surprise anniversary party in my honor!) and I woke up sick in the morning. I had to rush to school, like every other week, and I basically managed to get through the day without hurting anyone.
Well, anyone besides myself.
During class in 7a, I banged my hand down hard on the desk as I was trying to prove a point, and I banged my hand right onto a thumbtack. I almost howled with pain!
I pulled the offending tack out of my palm, and nonchalantly commented to the girls, "NEVER EVER bang your hand down onto a tack. It hurts like crazy!"
The girls had a laugh, and of course, C.O. was the first to offer to go and get me a band-aid from the office. She's just a cute little attention seeker.
She also brought up the topic of cancer in one of my lessons last week. I think she was provoking me, trying to see how I would take it since she, as the rest of the class knew I had been sick. I took it calmly, it's not a big deal to me, and I didn't mention that I had been sick. I just explained her misconception and we went on with the lesson.
Oh, to add to my misery, the principal observed me AGAIN (!) in my 7b class. I believe this is the sixth time already! More than any other teacher in the school. I absolutely hate it when she sits in on the lessons. And when she interrupts to give her thoughts and to partake in my lesson. It's a whole lot worse! Someone should knock some sense into her! ...Maybe it'll even be me....Well, only after I leave this school!
Today was just like yesterday. I went to bed sick, and woke up sick. There was no sleeping late because my husband's grandmother died earlier that morning, and the funeral was at 10. I had to rush out of bed, prepare my lessons, (which I neglected to do last night) and do a bunch of household chores.
I came to school in another world, but somehow I pushed through a day.
I had spoken to R.H. yesterday about her behavior in class, and I did see an improvement, but I forgot to call her over and compliment her, because my head was somewhere else. But R.H. wrote a great persuasive letter to an ice cream company, so she'll definitely be getting some praise tomorrow.
She actually wrote the letter because I promised the class an ice cream party at the end of the year if we persuaded this ice cream company to make some of their products kosher. So R.H. being the type of person she is, went and began writing to them.
What a cute character!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Curriculum Meeting

The principal wanted me to stay after school today for a curriculum meeting.
Actually, she had wanted to meet with me for the past week, but I was busy, and couldn't stay after school. Would you believe that she wanted me to cancel some of the things that I was busy with to talk to her? I pushed her off for as long as I could, but I figured Wednesday was as far as I could push it.
Turns out, today worked out just fine.
My husband had a business meeting today, and so I figured it would be fine to do curriculum planning after school. But this morning, the principal called to tell me that she was busy with PTA, so she would only be able to give me an overview of the curriculum in the afternoon that would only take about 20 minutes of my time.
So right after school, I found her in the office, but the eighth grade teacher needed to speak to the principal, so I let her go first. I figured that 20 minutes wouldn't be 20 minutes so it wouldn't be fair to make the other teacher wait. Turns out, the eighth grade teacher took a lot more than just 20 minutes herself. I managed to finish reading an entire book during the time I waited.
Finally, I went in for my meeting, and I guessed right, it did take much longer than 20 minutes. Try like and hour. Or maybe an hour and a half. Or more.
By the time I got home, it was almost seven p.m.
And this was only an OVERVIEW!
Problem is, I'm completely lost, overwhelmed, annoyed, and angry. I keep being hit by the same question. How does this principal expect me to teach what takes a public school 8 hours to cover, in less than an hour and a half a day?!?
I think I've learned an important lesson today. Nod and smile, and then do whatever you want.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

So it's True!

Today was a great day, I got work done, had a great lesson, and avoided the principal all day!
There was one major "event" that bothered me.
I came to school early like I usually do, and found one of my class' morning teachers sitting there. Now she's usually there at this time, and that's when we catch up on news, and talk about our students.
Today she was beside herself with something that had happened in her class.
Her brother had gotten married last week, and because of it, she was behind with some of her sheets she gave out to the class. Today, she had given out more stencils than she usually did in an effort to catch up to where she should be. She gave the class the stencils to be filled out for homework, and although there was some grumbling and a general attitude of unhappiness, these stencils were for homework and that's that.
Well, one student came over to her after the class, and started talking to her in such a disrespectful, fresh way, that she was shocked.
This girl never uttered a peep in her class, and now she was saying things the teacher never expected to hear from anyone, least of all this quiet kid!
The student called her an idiot, and said that she was mean and crazy..and she did it all to the teacher's face! She even shook a fist at her.
The teacher told me she had gone to the principal, shocked, and the principal begged her not to say anything to anyone. This student comes form a very important, respected family, and she didn't want the word to get out. She told me that the girl's mother was called down to school, and something was going to be figured out.
The teacher didn't tell me the girl's name, but I guessed, and I got it right.
The teacher was shocked, and asked me if I had ever seen her act this way. I told her the same thing she told me, that she was the quietest girl in the class. I knew, because she was the one who gave me the index card saying that she went to an anger management class every Monday after school.
The other teacher was shocked! I was too, to tell you the truth. It's true that she had told me about her problem, but I had never seen it, so I kind of put it out of my mind, almost believing that it was a made-up story trying to get my attention.
The bottom line was, we agreed to keep it between us, the other teachers never ad a problem with her so we didn't feel they had to know, and we figured that if the mother was being spoken to by the principal, the mother herself would probably tell the school about her problem.
What I can't figure out is, why does a situation have to reach this point before a parent will tell the school some important information that we should've known 100 years ago!?!?
I said it as a teen, and I'll say it as an adult.....I'll never understand parents!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Eventful Days

I was out all night, so it was a royal pain to have to get up for school when my husband had the luxury of staying in bed.
School was uneventful except for one very funny incident that somehow came up in class.
C.C.K. said something about her being one of 10 children. Another girl, I don't remember who, said something about a family who had 16 children, and the media was making such a big deal of it. She couldn't understand what was so huge, because many Jewish families have lots of kids.
So E.F.G. raised her hand to say that the typical American family has a girl, boy, a cat, and a dog.
The class laughed, but then someone, I think it was M.L, asked me why it was that the "typical American family" had about two kids while we had so many. She wanted to know who decided on the amounts.
Immediately, a few girls began smirking, and I felt all the blood leave my face.
It's the kind of situation where you'll get in trouble for whatever you say, and if you don't say anything, it becomes a big issue with the girls who were smirking.
In an instant, I had an answer, and it came to me out of nowhere. "That's how we see how special we are as a nation." I told the girls. "Hashem knows that maybe they can't handle having 10 children so he doesn't send them 10 special souls. He trusts us to raise children well, to be able to give each child what he or she needs, and that's why we are given more children."
Even the smirking ones stopped smirking long enough to ponder this idea.
Now that was a close one!
I was up until forever marking their essays on "My Special Day," while my husband was making supper. (!)
The supper wasn't ready by the time I fell into bed, but I was so tired, I ignored my stomach and promptly fell asleep.
My husband took all phone calls that night and told all my friends that heaven help them should they call and wake me up before 10 Monday morning.
Monday was just a bad day. I don't know if it's because it'd the beginning of the week, or just because I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
The kids were terrors. I couldn't get a word in edgewise with all the calling out I had all day.
R.H. was really taking advantage of her seat in the front, and using it to have personal conversations with me all day. I guess she thinks she's above raising her hand.
C.K. was still a problem. Calling out, making stupid comments, basically acting as the "class clown." My patience ran very thin.
When I reviewed history, C.K. interrupted me to ask me some dumb questions that wasted half of my day.
L.K. also raised her hand a MILLION times to tell me stories. I kept trying to ignore her hand, but she would start oohing and it got on my nerves. L.K. also kept raising her hand to tell me that they had learned this material a few years ago, and she was bored.
I lost it there. I banged on the desk and got everyone quiet. "Don't make me walk out of this classroom with a different opinion of you than I had when I walked into this classroom." The class was quiet, and I was able to finish my lesson.
In the other class, I noticed a friendship I didn't like starting to evolve. G.S., a major bully, was turning around to talk to R.R. my insecure. learning disabled kid, all through class.
I kept telling them to face front, and even warned them a couple of times, but this friendship was what bothered me more than the talking during class. G.S. is a bully who has no friends. She is using R.R. so that she can look at her disabilities and give her ego an even bigger boost.
R.R. is this insecure thing who gets very excited when a girl like G.S. actually notices her. Something will have to be done.
the principal came around to introduce the girls to our new guidance counselor. I was pretty impressed at the way the girls reacted. Usually, I would've expected a lot of snickering and maybe even some giggling, but these girls were just looking and listening, trying to get to know her. (If I know these girls, they're just sizing her up so that they can make her miserable! Hah ha aha aha hah!)
But seriously, C.C.K. and C.S.A were both looking at her in awe, as if they couldn't wait to run down to her and pour out their hearts.
The truth is, I wasn't a seventh grader so long ago that I shouldn't remember what going to a guidance counselor means.
It means ridicule and embarrassment once your classmates find out. I have no doubts that the timeless story will play out in this school, in this grade again.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


7a is really shaping up.
I don't feel like I'm pulling teeth anymore, and I'm actually starting to look forward to teaching that class.
Yesterday, we even joked around so much, I barely managed to finish the material I wanted to cover. And I thought the other class was the slow one!
Anyway, I noticed that 7a had this big problem with their windowshades. The shades are way too thin, and I find the most of the girls end up squinting, and moving their seats around, to avoid having the sun in their eyes. It's a big distraction, so I commented that we had to take a vote in class to decide if we should ask the school for better shades, or just invest in good sunglasses.
So today, when I walked into class, a whole bunch of girls were wearing sunglasses.
I am so proud, I can't tell you. These girls are developing a personality!
And by the way, I had my own pair of shades in my teacher's bag, I planned to wear them into class, but when I heard that my students thought of doing it on their own, I let them have that moment of glory all to themselves.
Today was a 12th grade day. I was surprised to discover that these girls were actually taking my class seriously enough to have started to prepare speeches(!)
We spent the lesson finishing up the speech we had started before Yom Tov, and that took until the bell rang. I spent an extra two minutes telling them about the speeches for next week, and that was the end of my very loooooong week!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

It's Only Tuesday?

It seems like I've been back at school for ages, even though it's only been about a day and a half so far.
I had to go in early today because the 6th grade teacher got engaged last night, and the teachers were throwing her a party. (Now I know what our teachers did in there...they partied!)
Of course I was the first to come, and the other teachers barely made it to school before the 6th grade teacher walked into the room. But it turned out pretty well.
I went down to lunch, which in itself is a royal pain, and leaned against the wall while the girls finished lunch.
Bored, I called over S.G.L. and asked her if she had finished and brought back my test that I allowed her to take at home.
S.G.L. blushed, and didn't answer me, so I asked her again if she brought in the test. She looked down and told me quietly that her mother wanted to call the principal about the test.
My heart plummeted to my toes. The last thing I need is for the principal to go analyze my tests. She previews all my things before they get copied, and she had of course seen the history test as well, but I don't need her to go through it thoroughly now and start finding fault.
I told S.G.L. that it was fine for her mother to call the principal, but I still needed the test back, even if it wasn't filled in. I told her that yes, I would discuss it with the principal, but she should definitely bring the test papers back to me.
It turned out that her mother felt there was nothing wrong with the test, she only wanted to discuss her daughter being evaluated, but I'll still feel better once I have that test back in my locker.
As I walked into class, ready to hand out my maps quiz on the middle east, I found 11 girls crouched under my desk, scrambling to pick up a million tiny tacks that were scattered all over the floor. One of my students had opened the desk drawer to find a piece of chalk, and the entire drawer had somehow come out and spilled all its contents on to the floor.
I was impatient to start my day, so I sent the girls to their seats and had them start their quizzes. While I had 5 minutes of quiet in the classroom, I bent down, took a piece of paper, and shoveled the tacks back into the drawer. It didn't take long, but with my luck, the Principal chose to walk in at the exact moment I crawled under my desk.
Mortification is not the word. I didn't think that protecting my delicate feet from those dangerously sharp tacks should've been a problem, but apparently, in this school, it is.
The principal was upset why I was the one bending down, when the students should've been doing it out of respect for me.
I tried explaining to her that I was the one who sent them back to their desks so that they could start their quizzes, and I explained it to her again. I turned around to check on my students and I caught them all looking and listening intently, taking gin every word. Sheesh.
She finally got my point, but she didn't want me to continue picking them up in class. I hate to sound fresher than my students, but as soon as she left I bent down to finish the job. After all, my feet deserve some respect too, don't they?
While we were discussing the social classes in the ancient Aztec empire, madam principal walked in again. She interrupted the class to brief me about the writing projects she wanted me to do with them, and then she walked to the back of the class and stayed there.
Now I was pretty flustered, I tried picking up from where we left off, but the girls were suddenly very quiet, and not participating.
I somehow managed to keep up my enthusiasm, and pretended that I totally didn't mind teaching with a person breathing down my back. Eventually she walked out, presumably to bother some other unsuspecting teacher.
As soon as the door closed behind her, 16 girls breathed a very loud sigh of relief. There was a two second gap of embarrassed silence, and they all started laughing. I had to fight to keep a straight face because I was dying to laugh too. That's a great disadvantage of being a teacher, you always have to set an example.
But I'm so happy this happened today. It just goes to show that no matter what the principal brags, and besides for F.G. who would walk in a garden with her, most girls are not comfortable being observed in class. The teacher's room erupted in cheers when I told them about this incident. One point for us!
Another, pretty disturbing thing I saw today was in the other class, 7a.
We were continuing with our creative essays, and as I was going around the classroom, I noticed that B.E.D. hadn't written anything yet. I was surprised, and went over to her to try and help her, and she was barely looking at me.
I left her with some advice and went back to the rest of the class, making sure to keep an eye on her. I noticed that her hands were literally shaking for the rest of the period. She didn't write a word, but her hands shook terribly.
I don't know what her parents think they're doing, but they're really messing around with their daughter's life, and as a teacher, there's only so much I can do.