Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Almost Vacation

The truth is, vacation starts the day after tomorrow, but for me, it starts tonight!
I'm leaving to Israel later tonight, and my day in school was really just a way for me to pass the time. :)
I figured that I'd just let the girls have fun today, in honor of Chanukah, and I planned some great things for them to do.
My co needed more time to teach in one class, so I gave her part of my period and I took the other class to computers instead.
In my time, I taught the girls a fantastic memory trick, and then I gave them a couple of pointers in handwriting analysis. The kids loved it.
I got all my report cards done, and I was really enjoying my day, and the meeting with G.S.'s mother wasn't too bad either.
C.O.'s mother couldn't make it, and she said that she'd some in tomorrow, but good for me, I'm not gonna be there! I'm more nervous for Mrs. O. because she's my neighbor who thinks I'm a little baby not fit to teach her daughter. It's uncomfortable to face a mother who isn't going to listen to you anyway.
Mrs. S. was very nice to work with. She listened to what we had to say, and then we called her daughter in. G.S. just looked down the whole time and didn't say anything except for quiet "yesses" and "no's." Mrs. S. looked like she was crying a little, and I don't blame her, it's not easy to get called down to school. No mother wants to hear the her daughter is a menace.
(I know, that's harsh, but I'm going to Israel, and I don't have time to word this properly. But whatever the wording, that's ultimately what I mean. ;p)
G.S. botched up when she refused to apologize, but it was finally over, and the ultimate result was that the day after Chanukah vacation, we were going to switch her into the other class, and take E.F.G. and put her in 7a in G.S.'s place.
S.G.L.'s mother returned my phone call from Sunday, but I didn't pick up. Tonight, I'm over with school. I'm on vacation now. I'll be back Monday if you need me.
My husband made me promise not to say another word about school until we get back from Israel.
I'll gladly give in this time!

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Zoo

Today the girls finally had their long awaited trip to the zoo.
It meant I had to wake up early, after having a long night, and coming to school at 10:30.
I was pretty excited for the trip as well, so I didn't mind.
I packed a bunch of food, and rushed to school to get the kids on the buses.
The buses were pulling up to the school when we found out that 3 girls had brought cell phones along to the trip. This was sooo strange!!! Our teachers didn't even have cellphones when we were in seventh grade! ...Much less the students!
My co was pretty upset and we had to deal with the three cellphones. M.L.'s father picked hers up, G.S. left hers in the office, and C.C.K. gave hers to me to hold.
I was so surprised that parents who felt their daughters needed to take along cellphones!!
After that was taken care of we got onto the bus, began driving, got lost, got found, got lost again, and after an hour, made it tot he zoo.
Needless to say, it gets quite cold in December, and although today was a nice day in December, it was still a cold day in December. My fingers and nose were icicles. (Nah, I had a great time, it was about 45 degrees outside.)
The trip was very nice, I mean, how much can you write about a zoo? The zoo was full of animals and many more smells. We tried to be mature about the smells, but we weren't always successful.
The real action at the zoo was between the students. It's amazing how much better you get to see you students when they're outside of a classroom.
Take for example, G.S. and C.O. Lately, they've become good friends, and not a single person in authority likes the friendship. Both are smart, yet fresh girls, put them together, you have an uncontrollable pair.
These kids really gave me a run for my money.
The entire class was following my co, while these two girls were lagging behind the entire time.
The secretary and I were left at the back of the group just to watch out fot the two of them.
It really wasn't fair, because my co was left with all the other girls while the two of us were struggling with C.O. and G.S.
They got themselves lost a couple of times, and they were fresh in a way that would make any teacher faint.
There was one incident that really got to me.
I had just nudged the pair to catch up to the rest of the class, and G.S. just kept walking, ignoring me. I repeated myself, and as I did, she turned around with a camera and snapped a picture of the secretary and myself.
I was fuming. I stopped just short of killing her. I really gave her a piece of my mind then.
I told her that it was a real breach of Derech Eretz to take a picture of a teacher without permission.
She answered back, "I didn't take it of you, I took the picture of the secretary."
I looked at her sharply and told her, "It's irrelevant, taking a picture of someone without permission is wrong."
She made a face and asked me why.
This kid is like a child, she just keeps asking. She demands an answer for everything. G.S. has no idea what it means to accept something an adult tells her. She needs to know the exact reason for everything that she does.
I for one, don't feel like she deserves to know everything.
The way home was nice, we played a game with the students, and had a great time.
We got back to school around 4:30 and the first thing my co and I did was to talk to the principal about G.S. and C.O.
We didn't like the girls individually, but the friendship was worse. The principal agreed and she asked if we were ready to speak to the mothers of these girls.
We both were ok with that idea, and the principal said that she'd arrange for the mothers of both girls to come down tomorrow.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

I Can't Believe Her 2!!

O.K. so today it's the principal.
Report cards were pushed off because of the principal's having been out for a couple of days, and because the printer had been slow in delivering the cards.
Today, we finally got our rating sheets back. The school would like to give the report cards out before Chanukah vacation (starting Wednesday.) This is a great idea, but I have a slight problem. Wednesday means Tuesday for me, because I'll be leaving to Israel a day earlier, on Tuesday.
I arranged for my co to take both classes together instead of a substitute, and I thought I had it all worked out. This would just be a slight problem. It meant I would be a bit rushed to finish grading everyone.
The truth is, I had already done all my grading, and now it was just a matter of tranferring the marks over to the cards.
But then again, I have found in my experience, ""Why should we give you something only moderately hard when we can torture you?"
The principal seems to be very involved in making my life experiences prove themselves over and over again, and she stopped me to tell me that I had done all my grading wrong.
I had used A's and B's instead of numeric grades. Usually it would be only a simple matter of unconverting the Alpha's to numerics.
Problem with me is that I had done my averages and then used to the Alpha rubric to write down the grade. I hadn't bothered to write down the numeric averages.
Mega problem.
I had a full afternoon scheduled and I didn't have time to do all that work.
I needed to mark some spelling tests, spend at least an hour and a half on a certain program I had began studying, set up the Menorah at home, finish polishing the silver I had left on my kitchen counter that morning, listen to my relaxation tape, and then, when I was all done with all that, I had scheduled myself to have a nervous breakdown.
Between polishing silver and having a nervous breakdown, I didn't have time for this.
I just can't believe no one bothered to tell me that they use numeric grades in this school.
Back to my other "I can't believe her" person, S.G.L. was at it again today.
Same story, took the gum out of her locker when I walked in, and began chewing. I stopped the class for her and made her spit it out, TWICE!!
I think I'll be calling her mother tonight.
I deserve that nervous breakdown!!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I Can't Believe Her!!

No, I'm not talking about the principal as you may have assumed. I'm talking about S.G.L.
I had specifically spoken to her about her chewing gum in school, and especially, in class.
I had also heard from the other teachers that this was a problem in all of their classes.
Today, I stood by the door before walking into class waiting for my students to stand quietly at their desks before starting the lesson. As I waited for the class to settle down, S.G.L walked over to her locker, took out a piece of gum, put it into her mouth, and began to chew in front of my face.
I refused to walk in while she was chewing, and I told her that I would not start class until she had spit out he gum. She looked at me and said, "So don't start class."
This is totally unexpected from her. I was shocked.
I gave her a sharp look, and told her to spit it out.
She didn't look at me.
I announced that I was going to start the lesson whether she liked it or not, but she couldn't sit there. If she refused to spit out the gum, she'd just have to explain to the principal why I sent her out of the class.
She spit out the gum,
I'm not sure how to handle her, or if I'm handling her the right way. I'm terrified of messing her up further, and I feel like it;s my responsibility, because the mother had said she liked me very much. I know she's looking for attention, but this is way to negative.
I can't give her anything but negative attention here, and that will definitely turn her off more.
I'm so stuck here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Good Day!

Our trip to the Bronx zoo was cancelled due to a major transit strike going on in the city. The girls were devastated so we tried as much as possible to give them a great day.
They were allowed to eat their lunches in their classrooms, that was a major treat for them. (Never mind what a mess they made!) Then, my co and I took each class for 45 minutes before recess.
After recess we gave the girls a choice of watching 3 different National Geographic DVD's. We set them up in 3 different classrooms, and the girls were able to go wherever they wanted.
10 girls came into my class just because they wanted to be with me. The funny thing is...They even said so! When I was their age, I would've died before I'd have admitted to liking a teacher!
The videos were great, the girls had a blast.
After all the videos were done, they all went into the computer lab to watch one more film on animal clips. It was fascinating. L.K. kept screaming though every time an animal ate another one, and as a joke, the class began to scream with her.
What a riot.
I took advantage of the dark room to hand out my "special notes" to the girls who needed them, but I knew S.G.L. wouldn't take them here.
I watched her for a bit.
She was chewing gum again, and she was making a deliberate effort not to look up at the screen. Instead, she was slouched in her seat, looking out the window. She was obviously trying to get someone's attention, and she definitely got mine.
I snuck out of the room, and stuck the notes into her looseleaf. I can't understand why it's such a problem for her to admit she uses my notes.
I called her over after the film was over and the girls were heading back to class. The first thing I addressed was her gum chewing. I told her that I didn't want to embarrass her when I noticed her chewing before, but I was giving her a warning, that if she'd chew gum again, I would have to send her out.
The first thing she did was tell me that she wasn't the only one chewing.
I already knew that, and I had spoken to some other girls. I told her not to feel that I was picking on her. She made a face that clearly said, "I don't believe you."
Her mother had actually mentioned to me over the phone that her daughter felt that I didn't like her as much. I find it funny that S.G.L. is very quick to blame teachers, when all she has to do is spit out the gum, bring her books to class, and smile, for us to stop punishing her.
I told S.G.L. that I noticed something was bothering her. Her eyes teared up, but she didn't say anything.
"I'm not a good guesser," I told her. "But anytime you need anything, I'm here to talk." She nodded.
I told her that she didn't necessarily have to talk to me, it could be any teacher, or she could even write it to me, but we were all here for her.
I had had a meeting earlier with all the seventh grade teachers and the Hebrew principal about her. We were all very worried, and the other teachers kept saying something about her older sisters. I have to figure out the story there.
The Hebrew principal is going to try to meet with the parents tomorrow, I hope she accomplishes something.
By the way, the principal was back in school today. Her face looked terrible, (she has cellulitis) and she looked very uncomfortable and embarrassed. Her eye was swollen shut, and she had big red blotches on her face. I couldn't help feeling sorry for her, but I still dislike her, don't worry.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Sunday was a short day and the principal was extremely nice to me.
Today she woke up with blotches on her face, and didn't come to school! It was as if Chanukah came early! The teachers were so relaxed and happy, it was truly a beautiful sight to see! ;)
The sixth grade math teacher was going around collecting money so that we could buy the principal a nice present for Chanukah. I would rather give up a day's vacation than give her a present.
Actually, vacation would be nice, I'll have to remember to bring the money in tomorrow.
I got a note requesting that I call S.G.L's mother, and I did, as soon as I got home.
I don't know what to think about S.G.L. anymore.
She sits in my class looking miserable, and lately she began going against the school rules. It's obvious that she needs a lot of attention, and her mother thought so too, but this is negative attention she's trying to get. Two days ago she was chewing gum in my class, I had to send her out because of her missing a book, and teachers have had to yell at her for wearing a hooded sweater.
Today I had to make her face front a couple of times in class, and I had to literally open her book for her. She refused to do anything in my class. It's not only me, the other teachers are worried too.
The mother also sees that she's upset, and S.G.L. told her mother that she feels I'm picking on her. I wish she would see what she's doing to make me single her out.
The mother told me that her older daughter's best friend is starting to "go off" and is on the verge of being kicked out of school. She was worried that this was maybe having an effect on her daughter. I'm sad to say it, but I agree.
If the girl can't get positive attention by being smart and doing well in school, she'll be forced to look for attention elsewhere. In her mind, she sees her sister's friend as the epitome of negative attention, and she seems to be trying to get attention in the same way.
Something must be done. I know that the school arranged to have her talk to the school guidance counselor, but I think she needs real, professional help.
Another thing the mother said that really got ma angry, was that the reason they didn't get a tutor for her when she needed one, was because her son had a tutor, and it was costing them too much money to get another tutor. That wasn't the bad part. What got me mad was when she told me that her son didn't really need the tutor, her husband wanted one for him so that he can be top in his class. Her husband didn't feel that his daughter's education was so important, and he said he'd tutor her himself.
Understandably, he'd never get around to it, and she continued to suffer. He's the one against having her evaluated now, and his girl's confidence and happiness is going down the drain.
Male chauvinist! Even my husband has to agree with that one!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I Used to Like Thursdays!

Same as usual, I dreaded going to school today, and the truth is, I had no reason to. This was supposed to be the most stress free day of my week. The girls were presenting their projects today, and all I had to do was watch them, and the 12th graders were still giving speeches, so I really had no pressure.
The girls performed beautifully! Their projects were magnificent, and you could really see the amount of work, (or not) in each group.
The last group to present in 7b was L.K., T.K., E.T., and C.S. T.K. was a huge kvetch the entire time the project was boring worked on, and today was no different.
The group had made this beautiful banner, I kept looking at it during the times I was bored with the other groups. I finally called them up to the front and only L.K. came up.
She took out 11 pages of notes (that's longer than the entire chapter!!) and began to read. She was not familiar with the material and she kept stumbling over her words. The class felt so uncomfortable.
I stopped her in the middle and called up another girl from the group to read. Not a single girl stood up. That all looked at each other and refused. They didn't answer me, just stared. L.K. was ready to bury herself.
I spoke to a sobbing L.K. during recess and asked her what had happened. She told me that she had been sick the night before, and she hadn't been able to get together with the group to do their banner. Therefore, the group made her do all the teaching and presenting.
I was disgusted. The girls had no sensitivity toward each other. I was actually quite surprised at C.S. She's not at all the type to have sat there and done nothing. I really must look into this further.
I promised L.K. that her mark would be different than that of the group, and I spent some time calming her down.
In 7a, the principal came in to watch some of the presentations, and horror of horrors, my cell phone rang. I just calmly shut it off, but I was ready to cry. My phone is always off in class (unless I'm waiting for an important phone call) and even when I leave it on by mistake, it never rings! Today of all days, when the principal herself was in the class my husband had to call.
The principal stood up asked to speak to me after school, and walked out.
As she walked out there was the sigh of relief I have already grown used to hearing from the class. The funny thing is, A.L. who was taping the entire presentation, got the sigh on tape. Heehee.
M.R. who was doing her presentation when the principal was there, came over to me crying and begging to do it again. She was supposed to speak ion a British accent, but lost her nerve in front of the principal.
What I don't understand is, if the girls don't like her, and the parents don't like her, and we don't like her either, who does like her?
I went to the principal after class, and she took me right in. She told me straight to the point that she had gotten regards that my cell had rang in class and I had picked it up. I didn't deny it, (when my niece got engaged) but I told her that it only happened once and that it wouldn't happen again.
She skeptically asked me why my cell rang in class today.
Try convincing her that this NEVER happens! I gave up pretty quickly.
She then went on to berate me for L.K. coming to cry to her earlier. I was shocked that L.K. still went to the office to call her mother after I had spoken to her, but I kept quiet. The principal told me it was my fault that it got so far. I should've come to he when I noticed there was a problem.
I exploded at her. "I did come to you! I came a couple of times. But every time I come, you're so busy criticizing what I did or didn't do, that you don't even pay attention to the problem itself!"
She was shocked, and she asked my why I felt so strongly about coming to her. I continued by telling her that I don't feel that I accomplish anything with her. The students do not respect a teacher who has to keep running to the principal.
Now I don't really believe that's true. A teacher and a principal should be able to work together, but I can't work together with her.
The principal said calmly, "Well that's paranoia. The students don't have to know when you come to me. You're embarrassingly young, you have a lot to learn."
-Right, like you don't call up the mothers who complained right after you yelled at the teacher. And "embarrassingly young"? What's with that?
She continued, "I think it's quite a shame. A teacher and a principal must be able to work as partners, together. I cannot invalidate your feelings, but if you really feel this way, maybe you should begin looking into other options."
Basically, "Find a new job."
I don't know how I got through 12th grade. I was in such a daze and in a bigger mess.
I wasn't fired, but I was being told to shape up.
I called Mrs. L.K. and the funny thing was, I didn't get the washdown I expected to get from her. Instead, she kept me on the phone for a long time to rant about the principal.
She was very disturbed by the fact that there was a problem in the class regarding the girls respecting each other, but she was more upset about the fact that the principal didn't even care.
She couldn't understand how the principal, who was so involved in all the nitty gritty details of the school, could overlook something this big.
I mentioned to her that I would do all that I could to help this problem, but she would have to talk to the principal herself. For me to do that could very well cost me my job. (I'm already half out the door.)
Mrs. L.K. said that she understood but every time she called the principal, she wouldn't give her the time of day.
"Who am I supposed to talk to in this school if not you?" She asked me.
I didn't know what to tell her, but I was thinking along the same lines. If the principal would just trust her teachers just a little more, and not get involved in every little thing going on, then maybe she'd have time for the big, important things.
I'm not the one with 30 years of experience, but I am the the one who's open to learn. By being open, I've discovered that I don't like this school system at all.
But then again, I didn't have to open minded to see that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

So it isn't Only Me!

I kept falling asleep all evening, I was so exhausted. With everything going on at school and all the work I have to do, I'm not getting nearly enough sleep.
I made it my business to be in bed by 11:30 so that I could wake up early this morning and take care of everything I had to do for today.
I prepared my lessons, and did a million things around the house, but somehow, nothing seemed to get done.
At 11:00 I realized that I had better get dressed or else I might be late for school.
Lately I've been dreading going to school every day. It's not easy to have to work so hard and still get it over the head all the time.
I had a pretty good day, gave a spelling test, taught the girls about dialogue and quotations, and gave them time to finish their history projects.
The girls are under a lot of pressure now. It's right before report cards and they have tons to do. I tried not to give them too much work, and I gave them a lot of class time for this project.
One group came over to me to ask me for more time. You wish I let them get away with that. I told them that in the worst case, they'd finish their poster for Sunday and they'd just present their project tomorrow.
Right way C.S.A. began to cry. She puts a lot of pressure on herself, and she's a real perfectionist. As soon as she started thinking of getting up in front of the class without a completed project, she began hyperventilating. Help.
I tried to calm her down, but she refused to stop crying. I just let her deal with it on her own.
L.K. and T.K. were sitting on the floor doing absolutely nothing, and just plain looking miserable. I tried talking to them, but T.K. just kept saying angry, fresh things, so I just stopped before she'd say something I'd have to punish her for.
I spoke to L.K. after class. She seemed so overwhelmed, that I had to reassure her that everything would be fine.
I told her that if she ever needed anything I would try my best to help. She was very appreciative, and even smiled.
Later that night I got a call from M.P's mother. Her daughter was very upset that she had to do the entire poster for tomorrow, and she still had a test to study for,and the other girls were not helping her claiming that they weren't artistic.
I was understandably very upset too, because I had specifically told the group not to drive themselves crazy. I have the feeling they all conveniently "forgot" to relay the message to M.P.
Mrs. P. was very upset at the situation in the class. The teachers noticed it too. The girls do not respect or care about each other.
I told her that she should rally talk to the principal, but she claimed the the principal wouldn't listen to her. M.P. asked her to specifically call me because I was the nicest of al her teachers and I would listen to her. Awwww....
So even the parents notice that there's a problem with talking to the principal....Hmmmm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

On My Case Again

I've learned an important lesson today. "Stay out of the Principal's way."
This really all made sense before, but for some reason I like to keep proving myself over, and over, and over, and over again. I'm a people pleaser, and for some twisted reason, I keep wanting to impress this being we call the principal.
Today I had some incidents that bothered me very much, and I was at a loss of what to do.
T.K. had gone a little too far with her chutzpah act. I know she tends to get frustrated easily, but lately her frustration has been taken to a whole new level. Instead of asking for help, she started becoming angry and fresh. For example the incident with her test last week, the way she handed it in after 10 minutes. I had to force her to take the test back, I then sat with her, gave her extra time, and she ended up with a 97%.
When I marked that paper, I was ready to rip it in half. The nerve of the girl! She could've easily done well without my help, and yet she put up such a fuss!
I didn't say anything at that point, but it it did bother me very much.
Today, I gave the girls a literature quiz. The quiz was really supposed to be yesterday, but due to my excitement about my niece and everything, I told them it would be pushed off to today.
T.K. had given me a note yesterday explaining that she didn't understand what she had read in literature, and that I should take it into consideration. I gave the class the extra day, and told them to ask their classmates for help if they didn't understand the chapter that well.
Today when I gave the quiz, T.K. refused to take out a paper. She decided that because of the note she had handed in yesterday, she should be excused form the quiz. I told her that was unacceptable.
T.K. then took out a paper and marked it with a big zero, and sat with her hands folded as I began to read the questions. She marked her paper before I even began the questions. I have very little patience for things like that, and I could feel myself getting angry.
Later, as the class joined their history groups, T.K. refused to join them. Instead, she sat in her seat and looked at me.
I called her over and explained that I knew she was frustrated, but it couldn't be expressed this way. If she had a problem I'd be more than willing to help her, but not in this way.
She listened, and then proceeded to go straight back to her seat.
I was so shocked, I could've slapped her. I asked her to go to her group and she just looked at me.
The bell rang while I was still debating the issue of punching her.
I know that the other teachers have been having a problem with her too.
In 7a, S.G.L. was my recurring problem. It wasn't only me. Again, the other teachers felt this too.
This girl was more that just having a problem learning, it was affecting her socially too. Her father had been against having her evaluated, and so she was sitting in class suffering.
Like T.K. she reached a new stage, she began getting angry.
Not angry in the same way as T.K, though, she was going around breaking rules, and refusing to do any schoolwork because she hid under the excuse of being dumb.
I don't know a lot, but my guess is that scholastic work isn't easy for her, but I don't think she really tries. T.K. on the other hand, will study for hours and then blanks out during a test. S.G.L. is different.
S.G.L. won't study on her own, she insists on studying with her mother all the time. She'll never take out her notes (if she even bothers to write notes) and study by herself. I have a feeling that she's starting to give up before she even tries. She goes around telling everyone that she's dumb, so that she has an excuse to go and fail every test.
The teachers are climbing the walls with her, and so is her mother. We need her to be evaluated, but we need the parent's consent. The teachers all think that if something isn't done with this kid, she could very well turn out to be a child at risk.
She doesn't bother bringing her books to class or updating her journal. I finally gave it to her and sent her out of class for not having a book. She was flaming mad.
I cannot describe to you the letters that she keeps giving me. Every single test means I get another letter. She begs me to take over every test because she feels like garbage if she doesn't get 100%.
I began giving her easier tests, but as soon as one girl hands in he test, she stops working. She's so pathetically paranoid that the girls who are finished are going to look around and see that she taking an easy test. So on the one hand she tells everyone she's dumb, but on the other, she still wants to get 100%, but she doesn't want anyone to know she's getting help. Sheesh!
I was at my wits end, and went in to talk to the principal.
As I had expected, she spent more time criticizing my technique than focusing on the girls with the problems.
Finally, we arranged for her to call S.G.L.'s mother and I was going to call T.K.'s mother.
I did call Mrs T.K. and she was extremely nice, (everyone says she looks like my mother, and I think so too!) believe it or not, I let her do all the talking.
I asked her what was going on in the past week and a half that T.K. was acting this way, and she told me about all the pressure she was under etc. I barely said a word, I let the mother talk.
I learned a lot more that way. We ended off by agreeing that if T.K. needed any help I'd be more that glad to help her and that the mother shouldn't hesitate to call me.
It worked out well.
Now back to the principal. She criticized everything I did, and she even called me "hog" because she felt I spoke too much. (No kidding! That's why I became a teacher!!) I listened to her advice and that's why I barely said anything to Mrs. T.K., and it worked well.
I believe that what the principal tells me is right. She has lots more experience than I do, and she's dealt with many more people and situations. Everything she told me today made a lot of sense, but I disagree on one point.
She's so careful that her teachers should always say the right things in the right way to their students, but she has no concept of how to treat people. Everything she told me could've been 100% true, but the way she told it to me was unacceptable. Calling a person a hog? (Even tough I probably do deserve it, I talk way too much!) That's disgusting and unprofessional. I can't stand to work under someone like that. If you don't treat your employees with respect, why should they treat their students well?
I'm so angry, I'd rather slap her than T.K.
S.C.W. a twelfth grader came up to my apt. before. It's convenient that I live near school and she has where to run during play practice!
I fell asleep before because I was so zonked, and while I was dreaming, I heard my husband talking to my mother on the phone. Even he told my mother he felt sorry for me. I'm working so hard, and all they do in this school is work you harder.....for the grand sum of $6,000 a year.

Monday, December 12, 2005

What a Day!!

My day was nuts!!!!
I was waiting all morning for a phone call that never came, so I kept my phone on all day in class. I was nervous and jumpy, just waiting for it to ring but it didn't until 3 pm.
When it did, it was with the good news I had hoped for, my niece (who is my age) became engaged!
My students had a field day when I picked up the phone in class, but I managed to keep them learning whatever I had to.
I had introduced the history project to them last week, and they were having a lot of fun with it. I gave them a lot of free time today for the projects so that I could sit down and digest my wonderful news.
I also began marking some of the things I needed to get done, because I believe I have a busy night ahead of me. I feel like a little kid, I'm so ready to jump up and down and make a fool of myself!
But the truth is, I'm really under a lot of pressure right now. We have report cards coming up, my rating sheets have to get handed in Sunday, and I have family matters to deal with as well. I didn't begin to fill in the rating sheets or do any comments on the report cards, I didn't even finish marking all my "Letter to Selves."
Pressure is an understatement.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Test Again!

It seems that all I do is give and mark tests.
And what a test this was.
It wasn't different than any of my other history tests, but this time I had everyone crying. Really I think they were just overwhelmed. They had tests every single day this week, and today they had history as well a science quiz.
C.C.K. was crying, T.K. handed in an empty test after 5 minutes, and L.K. almost did the same thing.
I was so busy running around answering questions, I thought I would lose my head. Between C.K, T.K, R.H, and L.K, I barely had the time to help everyone.
As girls gave in their tests I begged them to look them over and see if they had any questions.
I finished marking them, and I feel terrible. C.C.K. got an 85% while R.H. got a 97%. C.C.K. doesn't deserve that mark and R.H. only got this mark because I helped her. I'm so caught in the middle of this game. I'm literally going nuts now just thinking about their reactions when they see their marks. M.L. in 7b drove me insane. She crushes me to pieces, and unfortunately, she's not one of those cute kids who can crush you and you're actually able to love them back.
This girl waits for my sister to leaver her house every morning so that she can stare at her because this is the closest she can get to me. She gives me updates on my sister every day. She needs me to look at her and smile, but sometimes it ain't easy. Especially when I found out that my sister was going to take out a restraining order on her.
Today she kept interrupting me while I was helping other girls to ask me dumb questions that have nothing to do with history. She's extremely needy, and she feels special that she gets to see my sister every day, and that I give her easy tests. I think that because of the "special" attention, she thinks I love her and that I would do anything for her, even at the expense of other students.
I have to have a talk with her.
The second class was much cooler about the test. They even finished with time to spare. There were much fewer questions, and I think the marks show it. Of course D.T. got a 106% and M.L. got a 99%, but there were other girls who got in the 70's. I was happy to see that S.J. got a 97%. She works so hard, I really like it when she does well.
M.R. got a 70 something and I feel horrible. I wish I could go home every night with these girls and help them study so that they'd know the material.
I wonder if this is what my teachers felt like when I flunked a test. What could I do?! I wish I could give every single girl a mark in the 90's. I want them all to do well and be happy.
S.G.L. got her special test again, and I was disgusted. She did moderately well, she got an 80%, but she has this sick habit of writing self deprecating letters on all her tests. She's out to prove to her teachers that she's dumb. She is so focused on telling me how stupid she is, she didn't even leave time to write the answers on her test!
She's also horribly afraid that other girls will find out that she's taking an easy test. So as soon as girls finish their tests and begin looking around, she stops working because she's afraid they might discover her deepest and darkest secret.
I almost hate her for it. My job is hard enough without having to create special lessons and tests for girls like her. And with all that work my job is more than hard enough without having to become her psychologist.
We've requested that she be evaluated, but her father refused. This kid has a MASSIVE self esteem problem and it will NOT get better. The longer you wait, the harder it is to treat. I hope her father realizes that, and I sure hope he notices that soon, because if her doesn't, I might have issues of my own to deal with!
12th grade was cute today. Only 3 girls gave speeches, my cousin included, so I was left with some free time.
I called a girl up to the front and had her tell a story without using the words, "um" "like" "you know" and "whatever." Every time she said those words the class had to bang on their desks. It was cute.
It turned against me in the end because the girls did it on me too, but it was fun.
End of another week!

Monday, December 05, 2005

You do the Dirty Work

The principal requested to see me about having the class do a history project.
It seems that she's extremely worried about how behind my classes were in history. She decided that instead of me teaching the 13 colonies, I should have the girls put into groups, have each group prepare one section of the chapter, and then teach it to the rest of the class. It should take no more than a week and their presentations themselves will be considered their test.
It isn't a bad idea considering that this topic could take anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 weeks to cover.
I also liked it that the girls would be doing some of their own work instead of having me spoon feed it to them.
Because I smiled a lot, and really agreed with the principal, I believe she has put me back into her good graces. She was very excited about the whole thing and she even walked me to class.
That's when the trouble started.
The science teacher was doing life forms with them, and she had brought mealworms in for them to study. The worms were left under the windows all night, and by this morning they had literally frozen to death. Aside from the science teacher, everyone thought this hilarious.
When I walked into class, the board read the following:
"We cried and cried, it's very sad. The funeral will be held at 2:45 pm and we will be sitting shivah in room 406"
underneath this message, someone had been giving a history lesson, so she had written a bunch of history facts and my name.
When the principal saw all this, she thought that they had put my name under that message on purpose. She ran into that class to give them a talking to like they've never had. Aside from the fact that my name was on there, (which was a total misconception,) she was upset because two kids in the class had lost family members and funerals were not a joke to them.
I agreed that they needed to be spoken to, but I didn't like her approach, and I told her so.
The principal yelled at me too telling me that I'm very young and inexperienced and that I didn't know anything about how to teach young girls important lessons. She also asked me not to come into class and that I should wait out in the hallway.
So, for the second time in less than a week that I'm stuck walking in the halls while my class is being spoken to.
When I walked into class the girls were pretty upset, and they tried talking to me.
I turned the situation to my advantage and told them that I have a policy not to get involved in class politics.
I told them that I like to make my own impressions of my students and were I to be involved in every petty situation I might start looking at them differently. I might begin thinking of girls as troublemakers or as immature. I told them that I leave it in their hands to impress me and that not necessarily is the Principal's problem one that concerns me.
The girls were so excited and they told me how they loved that I'm so neutral. (I just hope they don't get their hands on this blog and see how much I really know!)
I totally don't mind the principal making issues out of tissues because now my students just like me more. It definitely makes my life easier. The down side is that the principal just wasted an hour of my classtime in a class that I'm already behind in. Yippee.
The principal also tried coming in to speak to both classes about the hygiene problem in the grade, but she didn't even get two words in before the bell rang.
I have a feeling that I'll be hanging around the halls for quite some time!

Sunday, December 04, 2005


It began snowing at about 5am this morning. Don't ask me why, but I wasn't sleeping. I actually went and woke my husband up so he could come to the window and watch the snow fall. Being that he has some sense, he remained in bed. I, however went to all the windows in the house to see how the snow looked from different views.
I know, I'm still a kid at heart.
So basically, I went to school on about 4 hours of sleep. I'm getting the feeling that this is becoming my Sunday morning routine.
I must've called the school a hundred times, full of hope, believing that school would be cancelled for an inch and a half of snow. No such luck.
School was annoying as anything, the girls were antsy, and I was tired.
I had a funny experience in 7a though.
We were discussing how hard it was to make journey in the olden days, and of course, G.S. claimed it wasn't so hard. She was convinced it would be fine to wear her whole wardrobe one on top of another, and then she would always have what to wear.
So then I asked her where she would carry her food and provisions. She was sure it would be no problem to carry them.
I called R.R, T.K, and S.J. up to the front and I had them all bring their coats and scarves too.
S.J. was the smallest of the bunch and I had her put on her coat, hat, gloves and scarf. Then, I had T.K. put her coat on top of S.J.'s. R.R. then helped S.J. into the third coat. By this time, not only was the class in stitches, S.J. couldn't move.
I then had to give her food and supplies, so I packed up my heavy teacher's bag and placed it on S.J.'s shoulder. With this new addition, S.J. toppled over. Literally.
I thought the class got the message, and G.S. as well, so I asked S.J. to please take off her layers. She was crying with mirth as she told me that she couldn't move to take everything off.
I could barely keep the class under control, much less keep a straight face, as I asked R.R. to help her out.
R.R. had the guts to ask if she could take a picture of me first, and I agreed. I stood next to S.J. and R.R. snapped the picture.
I was happy for S.J. I know she likes me and I think the attention was good for her.
The bell finally rang, and I dashed out of there as soon as I could.
I realized as I passed the principal when I was leaving that I made a mistake by wearing my knee high boots today.
She gave them a once over, and by doing that she basically gave me a look that said, "Now that I know you have regular boots, you can't get away with short ones anymore."
Oh well, she has much to learn about me I'm afraid.
P.S. I just got a call from a third teacher who wore booties today. She said that the principal gave her boots "the eyes" but she didn't say anything.
I'm left wondering, did my speaking up to her work, or is it that she only wants to torment me?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Too Far

This week was just insane. I was so pressured. I had a ton of things to do this week, and somehow, the more I tried, the longer my list became. I felt like nothing was getting done no matter how hard I worked on accomplishing everything I needed to.
I was so looking forward to the end of the day, even before I got to school.
I got to school early though, I had to start preparing lessons again. The lessons I worked on during the summer were fast running out, and I had to prepare some more. It's tedious work, but it has to be done. I can't risk the principal coming into one of my classes and catching me unprepared.
Speaking of the principal, she was on a roll today. She called in a teacher who wears short boots and told her that she can't wear them anymore. She claimed (and I stress the word claimed,) that a mother had called the school to complain about the teachers wearing booties, and now the principal decided that booties are against the rules.
This other teacher wasn't wearing booties today, but I was. I had a strong feeling that I was going to get a talking to too.
I wasn't wrong. I was heading to my class after recess, when I was stopped by my chief of staff.
She called me over nicely, but by this time, even her nice voice makes my skin crawl, so no points on that end. She told me that she preferred that I didn't wear these boots anymore. She made sure to assure me that she had spoken to the other teacher who also wore booties, and that it wasn't only me. I had a hard time believing that, but whatever.
I got a little angry, and I had the guts to say so.
"Mrs. ______," I said firmly, "I wasn't you to know that I'm not happy. I'm already making a lot of changes fort his school, and I don't like being taken advantage of. If these boots weren't against the rules last week, or the week before, I don't' feel that I have to stop wearing my winter clothing just because you're trying to please a mother who called up. You can't please everyone all the time, I don't feel one mother is worth driving myself crazy for."
I think that over this week the principal has begun to learn that I have a mouth. I also have a head that can think for itself, and I have common sense as well. I don't know how her mind works, but I really don't care. I need her to stop messing with my life.
The principal quickly changed her mind, let me wear my boots, and told me that she was just giving me a head's up, and if anything came up she would let me know.
I'm fuming. I think she's pushing me too far.
7a was fun today. We had 5 kids absent, so out of 16 girls we had 11. This classroom is the one they use for hebrew where they're 32 kids together, so basically, we were 11 girls in a classroom with 32 desks.
I had everyone move up to the first two rows, and I moved my chair inthe front of my desk. We experimented with story hour. This is how we learned, and it was pretty nice! I wouldn't do it all the time, but it was worth it this time.
Twelfth grade was pretty fun, thankfully, it was over quickly.
I cannot tell you what a relief it was to come home and just stretch out on my bed.
Finally! The weekend!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Not Again!

Well this never seems to end.
My class was observed today too! For 20 minutes the principal sat in my class during writing. She came over to me, asked if she could see me during recess, and then thankfully, she left my classroom.
I came to her recess time, and she went on to criticize my writing lesson. I was doing personal narratives, and she got angry about it. She asked how I was teaching if she hadn't given me writing lessons.
I told her that she had never given me the lessons, but she had told met to teach, so I went online and did my own research. I got a lot of nice material, and the class was really enjoying. She got angry and said that her research was much more thorough, and she didn't really like that I was teaching with material she hadn't made up herself.
I hate this! I'm trying to be a good teacher, and all she does is criticize.
We went through the materials I had and then she said,"This is why I don't like when you do your own research. You're teaching memoirs, not personal narratives!"
I told her that memoirs and personal narratives were similar, and that I had done my research, and explained the difference to the class. She refused to listen to me, and she insisted that I tell the class that we were going to do memoirs instead.
I told her that I wasn't going to do anything of the sort. Besides that it was degrading for me to go into the class after two days and tell them to scratch their projects because we were going to do something different, I worked hard, and I didn't' feel that she was right.
She saw that I wasn't going to give in, and she just told me to make sure that this writing should not take more than 2 weeks, and then they would do memoirs.
I told her ok, but I already planned for this writing to take a month, the way she had outlined it to me on curriculum day.
I'll play it by ear.
Before I left, I asked her why she was going around checking all the girl's loosleafs.
The principal looked at me and very simply said, "Oh, that's just my way of checking up on what you've accomplished."
I was disgusted and I asked her why she couldn't just ask me. I mean, she was already collecting my planbook every week.
She just smiled and said, "Well, it's just part of my jobs."
She asked me if I would mind if she went into my class for 5 minutes to talk to them about an important topic, and being the good one, I told her it was ok.
Guess what? 5 minutes turned into an hour and fifteen minutes, and I walked into the class with 15 minutes left to the school day.
I was about to leave the building at the end of the day, when there was an all call asking me to come to the office. Frustrated, I went back upstairs, and met with the principal who proceeded tell me how disappointed she was with me that I had never called B.E.D.'s mother when she didn't come to P.T.A.
I really got angry then, and I gave it to her. I asked her why the mother didn't call me when she had a problem. The nerve of the principal to side with whomever opened their mouth to her. I told her I'd call the mother anyway, but I was upset at her for being so one-sided.
I got a little more upset when I realized that none of the teachers had called this mother, but the principal only called me up to tell me how disappointed she was in me. I guess she just likes to make me feel like garbage.
I assume the other teachers aren't jewels she feels she has to polish.
I came home so annoyed and discouraged, I was close to tears.
Even my husband sat down to seriously talk to me about school. I don't know if I can continue doing everything I do without pay, without appreciation, and without trust.