Sunday, January 29, 2006

I'm Going "Sew" Nuts!!!

Back to my "I hate Sundays routine."
I didn't sleep all last night, and this morning dawned dark and cloudy.
I had absolutely no lesson plan for today, and I had so much to get done.
The writing project the girls are doing has to be done by Thursday because that's the last day I have them before vacation.
That was the only good part to my morning, the thought of vacation.
I have a cold, and my voice was hoarse. My eyes were hurting and they kept rejecting my contact lenses. I coughed my way to school, and started them off davening.
I collected some journals during davening, and I was disappointed to see that half the class hadn't bothered to do their double-entry response journal. They were given a week to do them, and they just weren't done.
I had notes from a couple of mothers and excuses from here to Honolulu about why they weren't done.
Right after davening, I gave the girls a speech.
I could barely talk, my voice was so hoarse, but I think they got the message. I gave the same speech to the other class a few days ago.
"You don't put the effort in; the teachers don't send you out to eighth grade."
I made it very clear to them that an excuse from their mothers didn't cut it in life.
I made an abrupt change to history, and I was then interrupted by the principal knocking on the door.
I told the girls to start reading in their books and I went outside.
Basically, a mother had called the school. She felt it was wrong that her daughter was put in a biography group with a girl who did her biography on a secular woman.
She felt that it wasn't right to compare a Jewish leader to the Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor. She said that although she certainly respected Blackwell, she didn't feel it appropriate to put them together.
I felt the color leave my face.
The girls worked on these projects for a while already. They were due Thursday. The principal wanted me to take all the secular biographies and put them together in one group.
It worked out because there were only 3 secular books, and they were all put into different groups. taking one girl out of each group would give me 4 groups of 3 girls and 1 group of 4. It could be done, but I didn't want to tell the girls about the change.
The principal said she would do it after recess.
Until then, I taught history, a great lesson on the Declaration of independence. I am making the girls memorize the preamble to the document, and C.S.A. already got it!
We said it out loud 3 times together, and I think it shouldn't be too hard for them to memorize.
I actually managed to get another whole aim done today! Three more days like this, and I can give a chapter test on Thursday!
Ok, let's be fair, we'll push it to the Thursday after vacation.
Recess time came and I went to the teacher's room and drank a cup of coffee. I never drink the stuff, but I was so nervous, that I downed a cup in less than 30 seconds.
My husband will be so proud. I'm finally growing up.
The principal spoke to the class after recess. The effect of her speech really hit C.S.A., H.W. and C.K. Those were the girls with the secular biographies.
C.K. was absent.
H.W. looked frustrated.
C.S.A. burst into tears.
The principal went on and on and I felt she put it down well, but I needed to figure out what to do with this new group. They had to redo their prefaces, and come up with new themes, and a title.
C.S.A. had worked hard on her group's theme, and now she had to do it all over again.
I told the principal that I was willing to stay after school with the girls and help them with their project.
I sent H.W. and C.S.A. out to call their mothers to ask for permission.
My life gets better and better.
I switched classes then, and got my history lesson done there as well. We didn't have time for writing, but there weren't any problems with secular books there that needed to be addressed. Whew!
B.E.D. didn't have her summary, or her journal entry done. She hadn't finished her test last week, and I gave her the opportunity to finish. She just shrugged me off and said that she didn't know enough about the essay on the test to be able to write about it.
She asked how many points I would take off if she didn't do the essay. I told her that it wasn't a matter of points, it was about the responsibilities she had as a seventh grader.
I have to call her mother.
I have to call R.S.'s mother too. She didn't have her homework done for a week. I have to find out what's going on.
D.T. came over to me to ask me about B.E.D. She was worried that B.E.D.'s missing papers would affect their group mark. I told them that it had nothing to do with them, and that they should just keep up their great work.
The bell rang and H.W. and C.S.A. came over to me.
I told them to go out and have lunch and meet me back in school in half an hour.
I ran home in the rain to grab some lunch of my own.
I came home to find that my dear husband had put our blankets on the porch to "air out." ...In the rain!!
I got back to school, carrying a scrapbook in one hand and a chocolate bar in the other.
The girls and I got to work.
After a good deal of thinking, C.S.A. came up with a brilliant theme: sewing.
She wanted the title to be, "The Alteration of a Nation - How Our Society Became 'Just Sew'. Stitching Together the Lives of People"
I thought that was adorable, and we spent an hour writing the most adorable essay that had everything to do with sewing. They literally sewed the lives of their biographies together.
We came up with some ideas about how to decorate their book, and by the time I left school, at 2:15, I think the girls were excited with their new group, and I was satisfied as well.
But like I said, "This school makes me 'sew' nuts!!"

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Not T.K. Again!!

A problem with T.K. means a test day.
I gave out my history test, and T.K. made faces and began "kvetching" about how hard the test was. I refused to help her out until she actually looked at the test and tried to answer the questions.
By the time she looked at it, it was 5 minutes to recess. I called her up to my desk, only to find that she hadn't bothered to fill in a single answer.
I asked her if she was trying to play some sort of joke on me. I told her to ask me a specific question, and that I could help her with that. I couldn't fill in her entire test for her!
I told her to come into my class after recess so that I could sit with her and explain the test to her.
She refused.
She handed in an empty paper and put her head down on her desk.
I called her mother.
Her mother was actually about to call me!
We spoke at length about T.K.'s attitude, and I offered to let T.K. take her test at home for now.
She would have to work on the attitude, and then we would try to figure out a way to help her on tests.
We both hung up happy.
I finished marking all those tests and I am amazed.
It was not an easy test and the girls scored beautifully!
The class average in 7a was 95% and the average in 7b was 98%!
I will most definitely have a good weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

History Overload

History is one of my strong points. Ok, well so are science and writing. Um, come to think of it, I'm good with everything as long as it isn't math.
But getting to my day.
I had promised the girls a review game for their history test tomorrow, but I had set a goal for myself of teaching them an entire aim in history first. I found this really condensed summary of the history I'm teaching, and I was ready to put it to use.
Problem was, there are a lot of topics squeezed into that summary, and I didn't count on class 7b who kept peppering me with questions all day.
The reason I'm doing this is because I made up my mind to start and finish this entire chapter in 5 days.
During my meeting with the principal, I had come to realize how behind I was in history, and the principal mapped out a course for me. She basically wanted me to finish a chapter a week in history from now on.
Keep in mind that until now, from September to January, I have only managed to cover 5 chapters.
I see where I've gone wrong and I could've speeded it up, but I didn't think her goal of finishing all this material up so soon was realistic.
I decided that I would give it a shot anyway, and I ultra condensed my already summarized lesson.
It took a full hour instead of the usual 45 minutes, but I got it done. In both classes. It was draining, and I made a mistake in one class that I better make sure to fix tomorrow, but it was satisfying.
If I can finish this chapter by this time next week, I'm going to Florida on vacation!
Wait a minute, I'm already going to Florida.
Oh well, I guess I'll just get a manicure instead.
I think the real test will come when I actually finish the chapter and see how much the girls retained. I'm really forcing them to stay on their toes in order to keep up with this pace.
Let's just hope that I have the stamina to keep this up. The principal is good at expecting the impossible. And I'm terrible for trying so hard, and not proving her expectations wrong.
But the truth is, I would like to do this, even if only for a week, just to see if I can do it.
'Cause hey, you can't live a full life unless you're ready to try everything at least once; right?
So then, after this tiring history lesson, we still had a history game.
The students were enjoying the game, but I was in history overload. I needed a break.
The 4:15 bell couldn't ring soon enough today.
I ran all the way home, (down the block) and got on the computer to make up my "special" history test, for my "weaker" students.
The "special" test is usually just a list of questions, but this time I added some skills as well. I added a matching and a "fill in the chart" section. I know that the girls are going to cry tomorrow during their test, but I've really had with them.
They're 5 girls who really are sitting on my shoulders, expecting me to carry them, while enjoying the view.
I can't keep doing that.
I'm ready to work harder to come up with a better test but they have to work harder to get closer to the lever they're supposed to be at. If they're not even trying, than there's no point in me doing all the work for them. It's not going to lead anywhere except to more frustration when they'll meet a teacher who won't do all of this for them.
Rather get that wake-up-call now than to get it when you're older and it's not as easy to do something about it.
Whatever it is that I'm feeling right now, all I can really say is that between teaching, playing, and updating the history on my blog, I've had me enough history to last quite a while.
Now I need to go treat myself to some ice cream.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bad Friendship

I had to meet with the principal today to finish what we had begun to discuss yesterday. I arranged for my classes to have computers right before and right after recess so that I would have at least an hour to talk to the principal.
I felt I needed the hour because the principal has a tendency to go off on a tangent and keep talking without really saying much. I made sure to allot myself extra time.
Turns out, I couldn't go in to her right away. She had forgotten that she had a meeting with me, and she was in a meeting with another teacher.
I just hung around the office until she was ready. My girls were being supervised by the computer teacher, so I didn't feel too guilty about it.
While I waited, I taught the secretary how to play solitaire. I was quite shocked that after 18 years she hadn't mastered the game. It's a classic!
My grandfather taught me how to play, and it has come to use many times during boring computer lessons in school. LOL
I only got to meet with her after recess, which, of course meant that we went overtime.
But the meeting itself was not half bad. I think we're learning to talk to each other. I walked out of there actually feeling happy.
The answer to your question is yes, I did lose some marbles.
I walked to class only to find half of them in the hallways making a racket and disturbing the other classes.
Sometimes you think they're so big, and other times you realize they're as little and as dumb as they come.
I gave a little speech to the class about working nicely in groups, they really needed it. C.O. and R.H. and L.O. already came over to complain about their groups. (See, I told you they're little!)
As I was talking, S.G.L. was busy waving to someone peeking into the window of the door. She then did a stupid thing by asking me if she could go out.
I asked her who it was at the door, and she told me it was her older sister's friend. Her older sister is a problem case in the 11th grade, and this "friend" was in the 9th grade. What's beyond me is, why is a 9th grader so interested in a 7th grader.
Obviously, she wasn't a very "cool" kid.
A cool kid doesn't hang out with 7th graders.
I put the girls into groups and I walked out into the hallway. The 9th grader hid from me, but I found her and asked her who she was looking for.
She told me that she wanted S.G.L. I told her that as S.G.L.'s teacher, I couldn't allow her to go out of class, but if she would like, I could have her join mine, since she seemed so interested in the 7th grade. I got her name, and she went away.
I don't like the idea of S.G.L. having an older friend. It's ok if she would have other friends, but she doesn't, instead, she's hanging out with the losers in the other grades. She worships her sister and she's trying very hard to go on the same path.
I specifically do not like this 9th grader, because I did some research, and she IS a wannabe. It would be a different story if she were the Honor Roll student who was reaching out to help S.G.L.
Another thing is, 9th graders and 7th graders have very different focuses in their lives. 9th graders know things that are not meant for 7th graders, and 7th graders have to get there on their own. A 9th grader who isn't that smart (this one didn't seem to be so brilliant) doesn't know where to draw the line.
From 7th grade to 9th grade is a big jump, and if we're not careful about where this is going, S.G.L. might not make it to the other side of that jump in one piece. I'm more than just a little afraid that she's going to fall down somewhere in the middle.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Long and Quiet Day

I had a meeting with the principal today.
You know what, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be.
I am behind in curriculum, and we tried to map everything out on a calendar. I still have to meet with her tomorrow to go over my literature curriculum.
Of course, I can't leave the prinicpal's office without hearing some criticism, so here it is.
She's onto my personality again. I'm too spunky and spontaneous. I come across as the girls' older sister rather than their teacher. The truth is, I can she where that's a bad thing, but I am aware of this so-called problem since the first time she brought it up. I know it's something I'll have to work on, but it's annoying to keep getting it shoved in your face.
Anyway, I got out of her office 2 minutes before class, and I ran around to find a copy of Paul Revere's Ride. I then realized I was starving as I hadn't yet eaten, but there was no food to be found anywhere, so when the bell rang I ran into class hungry.
I finished the chapter in history, and then I divided the girls into writing groups. They actually managed to work well! I was thrilled!
Of course, three girls already came over to complain to me about their groups. I expected that. Tomorrow I have to speak to the classes about not bossing each other around, and treating each other with respect.
I read and answered index cards while the writing was going on. We had some interesting ones this week, but nothing major.
S.G.L. wrote how happy she is in English, but she HATES her Hebrew teachers.
M.R. told me about her father who lives in England with his wife. He just had a baby with her and they named her the same name as her mother's new baby.
It took me a minute to figure out what she was trying to say, but I got it.
G.S. wrote, "My head hurts."
I totally don't get her sometimes.
It was a long day, but not much really happened.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Combined Class

I had a ton to do today, and I didn't know how I would get everything done. The periods are much shorter on Sundays, and I have more time in one class than the other because you have to allow 45 minutes in the beginning of the day for the class to daven.
Today, the principal called a teacher's meeting during davening. All the teachers were miserable about it, and it was so boring, it was almost stressful.
It turned out that I had only 20 minutes left in 7b, while I would have an hour and a half in the other class.
Now I know why I'm always behind.
My co had a meeting with the principal, and her class was doing nothing, just waiting for her. I decided to combine both classes and have a full hour and a half.
It worked great. We got some writing and history done. Of course, the principal came in to my class as soon as her meeting was over so that she could observe me.
It wasn't half bad though. I think I might be getting used to this whole business, as much as I think the idea stinks.
I have my meeting with her tomorrow though. Yay.
I had to spend a lot of time this afternoon putting their writing groups together. The girls are being put into groups for their writing project. Each group will connect the lives of the people in their biographies. This is nowhere near on a 7th grade level, but hey, what can I do?
I had to put the groups together based on the girls' preferences, and based on similarities between their characters.
This was not easy. It took me a while, and I sure hope I got it right. These group things aren't much fun. For me, and believe it or not, for the students either.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not Bad for a Thursday!

Wednesday was quite boring. I gave a Literature test, and I basically spent the first half of my day writing a birthday poem for my co, and after recess, I marked the tests from my first class.
Most girls got in the high nineties, only 2 girls in the grade scored in the eighties.
S.G.L. of course handed in an empty paper, and this time, I just didn't bother. I gave back the paper the same way I got it. I didn't even attempt to mark it.
The principal saw it though. I'm supposed to give all my marked tests in to her so that she could go over them. (Not that I always do it...not even that I sometimes do it!) I know she saw S.G.L.'s test, so I'll leave it in her hands.
This morning we held a good-bye party for the 6th grade teacher who's leaving. It was actually a lot of fun. We prepared a lunch and organized some cute activities as well.
I gave the tests back today, and we had a good day. I accomplished a lot in both classes, and I was pretty satisfied.
The secretary cornered me and scheduled the meeting I kept avoiding with the principal.
Oh well, I guess it's inevitable.
I was in a pretty good mood by the time I got to 12th grade, and I was also pretty excited.
I had prepared a great game for public speaking, and I hoped it would work. I know that my subject is considered a joke to the girls. Public Speaking always is. I wanted to do something that would keep all the girls participating in the lesson.
I went out this morning and bought a deck of cards. I prepared a list of topics and each card represented a topic.
The girls were to take turns coming up to my desk, picking a card, and talking spontaneously for one minute about that topic.
It worked something amazing!!!
The girls were actually participating, and fighting for a chance to come up and talk. We didn't do it for the whole period, because we didn't have that much time, but the girls can't wait to do it again next week.
To tell you the truth, neither can I.
I think I'm finally getting the hang of this high school thing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What is This Girl Thinking?!?

More about my test later.
The real issue today was G.S.
First, she came late to class. She came in carrying a whole pile of cake and peanut chews. I refused to give out my tests before she settled down and cleared her desk of all the food.
She made such a fuss of it, it took at least 5 minutes for her to get everything in order.
The class was waiting impatiently so they could begin the tests, when C.S.A. saw the peanut chews.
She's allergic to a lot of things, and peanut putter makes her reactions terrible. C.S.A. had a panic attack as soon as she saw the peanut chews.
I told G.S. to take her briefcase out of the classroom. She made a HUGE deal of it, asking why it was so major to take the peanut chews out of the class. She made fun of C.S.A. for getting so scared, and I was ready to strangle her by the time she finally took it out.
FINALLY, I gave out my tests.
When the first 3 girls gave in their tests, I let them go out to my co who needed some girls to help her clean the lab.
G.S. was one of the first three. She went out loudly with the other girls and helped them make a racket it the hallway.
After about 20 minutes, they all came back in, and I noticed that G.S. was chewing something. It was 5 minutes to recess, so I didn't make a big deal. I saw her sneaking something out of her pocket into her mouth, trying to make sure I didn't see. The girls should only know how much I can see from the teacher's desk.
L.K. started yelling at G.S. that she wasn't being fair, it was dangerous, and right away I realized that G.S. had brought in peanut chews.
C.S.A. had another panic attack right away, and I thought I was going to slap G.S.
I asked her what she was doing, messing around with someone else's health. She just laughed and said that C.S.A. makes a bigger deal of it than it really is. I answered that it still wasn't' her place to test the severity of C.S.A.'s allergies.
I sent G.S. out of the room. As she was leaving, I told her, "Sometimes it's beyond me what you're thinking up there. Or even if you're thinking at all."
I spoke to the principal about this. She was upset too. G.S. has shown no improvement since changing classes, and this wasn't even a behavioral problem. It was something much deeper. WE have to do something.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Index Cards Again

Index Cards first.
B.E.D. gave me one that said, "My brother's yahrtzeit was yesterday. Last night my someone tripped over my younger brother's feeding tube and pulled it out. He had to go to the hospital and he came home at 4 in the morning."
S.G.L. gave me one that said, "I'm so excited for this new writing. I already wrote 120 words."
It's good to know she likes something. I wrote an encouraging remark on hers.
C.O. wrote a continuation to last week's card. "I'm not embarrassed of girls seeing me come over to you. I'm embarrassed of you!"
I wrote back, "You weren't embarrassed when I lived down the block!"
Hee Hee
Most girls asked me if I had enjoyed the high school play. To tell you the truth, it was a waste of a motzei shabbos. It was SO DUMB!!
M.R. cute as ever, wrote, "Did you enjoy the play? I didn't."
G.S. wrote something borderline fresh, "If you want to know how to keep an idiot busy for hours, turn this card over." On the other side she had written the same thing.
I just wrote, "Very cute!" Even though I would've loved to kill her. J/K
T.K. wrote "I'm so excited for the biography project."
I knew for a fact that she was being sarcastic, so I asked her if she was sarcastic, where were her quotation marks. (We just finished learning about them.)
I taught the girls today about the Committee of correspondence and I was trying to explain to them why it was so effective at spreading the feelings in the colonies.
the girls weren't getting it, so I taught them the "smile game."
I made them all stop smiling and I was the only one who was allowed to smile. I them took the smile off my face and "threw" it to a girl in the class. She them "caught" the smile, showed it off, and threw it to someone else.
Well, that's the way it's supposed to work, but of course, the girls weren't very good at it, and they kept giggling out of turn.
I stopped the game and asked them why they were giggling if they didn't "have" the smile. T.K. (7a) told me it was because it was catchy.
She proved my point. Spirit is catchy. That's what the Committee of correspondence was.
Best spontaneous lesson I've ever given. I'm still smiling!
Later on, I tried to teach the kids what is what like in the colonies without tea. I had them imagine the Coca-Cola company going out of business.
The girls were really getting into it, and then I asked them what would happen if coffee beans were outlawed in this country. I meant for them to tell me what their parents would feel like, but C.O. yelled out, "Starbucks would go out of business!"
Big Problem. Starbucks' milk isn't certified as stringently as the milk that most people in this community drink, and therefore most girls didn't even know what Starbucks was.
I had to explain to them that Starbucks was a cafe chain that specialized in coffee. And I crossed my fingers and hoped it'd be the end of it.
But C.O. continued, "Yeah, I go there all the time, if you don't drink their milk, you can ask for soy milk. It's kosher."
I had to explain to the girls that it was not something most of them would drink, and C.O. finally shut up.
I was terrified that a kid was going to tell her mother about our lesson on Starbucks, and the mother would call the school.
I didn't need to get it from the principal, so I went over to her. I told her what had happened, and she saw it from my point of view (!). Now, if a mother calls, she'll know what happened and she might defend me. Yay!
Now, if you don't mind, I will go back to the teacher's room and go get my Starbucks Frappuchino. There's nothing like an iced coffee at the end of a long day.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

350 Words

I was bored this morning and I sat in the teacher's room writing numbers. I spelled out the numbers from one to three hundred and fifty.
I did it because I wanted to introduce a new writing to the girls today, and I didn't want any of them to think they can get away with writing two paragraphs. Or even three pages done in a big handwriting.
Most girls compare the amount of space on the page their writings take up instead of how much they've actually written. I wasn't going to stand for reading a dumb two paragraph summary when I was looking for perfection.
I introduced the writing; a summary of the biographies they'd read, and I held up the paper with 350 words. I showed them what 350 words on wide ruled paper, done in a small handwriting looked like.
I then passed around the paper and when the girls read what was written on the paper, they all had a good laugh.
Four girls in 7a were doing their biographies on the same book, and they kept looking at each other's notes. T.K. seemed to be having a huge problem writing her essay, so I asked her if she would like to take C.C.K.'s notes and make copies for herself and the other girls.
She just shrugged and said, "No."
C.S. went out and made the copies. T.K. ended up using them. But she made it very clear that she wasn't going to do anything I wanted her to do.
New problem? No problem. Just add it to my growing list.
We had to vote on moving the literature test that was scheduled for Thursday because another teacher was giving them a murder test on Monday and she wanted them to have that extra night to study. Between you and me, these girls will never study in advance, but anyway...
I gave them the choice of having it either Wednesday, or next Tuesday. I really wanted them to take it Wednesday, so I made my offer better. I told them that if they'd do the test Wednesday, I'd cancel their spelling test. Wednesday won unanimously. Well except for T.K., but she's another story.
I called T.K.'s mother after school and I had a pretty long conversation with her. She was pretty shocked at her daughter's behavior. She said that her daughter was very stressed, and I understood that, but I said that her behavior was unacceptable. She agreed, and she asked me how we could work this all out.
I told her that the only way to work it out was by T.K. coming over and talking to me. I couldn't help her if she didn't tell me what was wrong.
Her mother agreed and said she would talk to her. She said that she had left messages for all the teachers to call her because she noticed that her daughter had been behaving strangely, and she wanted to see what was going on in school. T.K. wasn't telling her anything, and she was doing her detective work.
I hope something works out.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Big Day

It was a big day for my students. They presented their books to the school today in a mini science fair.
I took 10 minutes in the beginning of the day to give a literature quiz on chapter four of the book we're learning. The girls were majorly upset about it, but I couldn't give up the quiz. I'm behind as it is, I can't let them get off with not reading the material.
G.S. failed, she just handed in an empty quiz. I'm not at all surprised. M.L. got a 9/10, and I was so happy for her. She's severely learning disabled, and she tries really hard to do well.
After the quiz, T.K. from 7b (who walks around these days looking like she's going to blow a fuse) and S.G.L. stayed back in the classroom looking all upset. I was alone with the two of them and I tried talking to both of them. Problem was, neither of them wanted to talk in front of the other. So I didn't get anywhere, and I just ended up looking stupid.
I decided to get out of there with whatever dignity I had left, and I ended by telling them that my door was always open.
I would love to help these two, but I can't keep running after them if they won't talk to me. T.K. especially. She seems to have a problem just in my class. I tried talking to her more than once, but she won't say anything. How am I supposed to help her if she won't tell me what's wrong. She makes it very obvious that she's angry at me, but she won't do anything to resolve what's wrong.
I went downstairs and joined the class' science fair.
I had bought cupcakes for the girls but I kept forgetting to give them out. They sat in my locker overnight, but I finally remembered them, and I gave out the half melted cupcakes as they were setting up the fair. The girls were so appreciative. :)
I left for a minute to run down the block and get my camera. the kids were so adorable, I just had to get pictures.
I snapped a few of G.S., C.S.A., S.J., M.R. and R.S. who were sitting on rocking chairs and reading their books out loud to girls sitting on little rugs on the floor.
I took pictures of all the other groups and one of R.R. dissecting a real frog.
I then had to take a break and "psychologise" E.F.G. who was dead upset at T.K. (7b). Now I understood why T.K. was upset as well.
It's a funny thing though, T.K. seems to be turning up in everyone's problems.
I sat around most of the day just supervising and observing my students.
Lately, C.O. became friends with S.G.L. I don't like the friendship, but we'll see. S.G.L., C.O., M.R., and G.S. were running off together all day. I managed to snap a picture of S.G.L. and C.O. together, even though C.O. kept trying to run out of all the pictures.
My co and I stayed late to clean up, and the principal came to talk to us about doing the wax museum.
I think we've come to the conclusion that the girls already were too priveleged. They really didn't need the wax museum. We still have to see about that.
I left at about 5, but my co stayed until 6 with some girls who helped her clean up. M.R. stayed behind with her, and my co tried talking to her about her friendship with S.G.L. Both principals had already spoken to her as well as another teacher, so M.R. already knew the drill. She looked up at my co and said, "I don't need a psychologist, don't worry."
I love the kid, she's so cute!
I got a message to call T.K.'s mother. I can't wait for this conversation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I wasn't looking forward to going back to school after a day off, especially since I wasn't feeling well.
I had been feeling really badly last night, and I wasn't feeling that great this morning either. Luckily, I want going to be doing too much today. My co was doing this huge science project with the girls. They were studying animals and they each had to make a book on animals. They came out amazing. Tomorrow, they're going to have a major presentation for the whole school. They needed time off today to make signs and booths for tomorrow. They're bringing in actual animals and everything.
I gave the girls a grammar quiz, and then tried to teach a little bit of history. It didn't work too well. I switched classes halfway through the period, and did the same thing in the other class. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Anyway, by the time recess came, I needed it. I was feeling terrible. I was considering leaving as I wasn't going to be doing anything anyway after recess.
I decided to stick it out there anyway, and I got some aspirin so I could go into class.
I came up to the fourth floor and the principal was already standing at the door. She gave me a telling off for coming late to class. I was polite, I got my point across, and I told her that I would appreciate it if she would talk before she'd judge.
I walked into a class of 10 girls. 20 of the girls were downstairs in the lunch room setting up for tomorrow, and the girls I was stuck with were making signs.
I was enlisted to draw Hebrew letters for a group's sign. I like to draw, but it was funny, how the girls thought I could do anything just because I'm a teacher.
I am all powerful!!
Now, If you'll excuse me, I need to go throw up.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Index Cards Day!

I think I like only two things about Mondays. The first is that I get the index cards from my students, and the second is that the day ends at 4:15. LOL
Today I had a busy, rushed day. We're not having school tomorrow because of Asara B'Teves, so I really wanted to cram things in as fast as I could.
I tried explaining this biography project to the girls, but it was way over their heads. I knew it would be. I'm totally overwhelmed and even more annoyed. I can't keep stuffing these projects and writings down my students' throats. Even the syllabus didn't work.
I thought I had written it down so clearly but it seems that the girls wither need it on a second grade level or that they're just huge kvetches.
Whatever the case may be, they're definitely pushing my nerves to the limit.
To make things worse, the principal still told me that she had to talk to me about putting on this Wax Museum with the students. To tell you the truth, I don't think they need it, they're already having this major science presentation this Thursday in front of the school. And besides, I don't think I can handle this now.
I'm already way behind in my curriculum and a Wax Museum is the last thing I need right now.
I really would love to do something special with the girls. I was a headcounselor this summer, I love this stuff. But when I'm put under pressure to do this, all of a sudden, it's not something I want to do anymore.
I went into this job because I believed in it. I didn't do it for the money, but looking back, I didn't realize it would be this pressuring. I speak to some of my other friends who teach, they don't have it so hard. I guess this school didn't get it's reputation for nothing. Like I said, I went into this job because I believed in it, not because I wanted a nervous breakdown.
The girls were nuts today. H.W. was so fresh, I was really put out by her. I was teaching about John Adams, and she kept calling out to ask why I didn't teach about her father. I put up with her for a bit, but after a while it got really out of line. I told her that when I wanted to know about her father I would ask her.
F.G. also said something that made me give her a look. I don't remember exactly what the exchange was, but I asked her some sort of rhetorical question, and she still ha the nerve to give me an answer. I gave it to her too.
Today could maybe be considered excusable because of there being no school tomorrow. But H.W.'s and F.G.'s mothers will get calls if any of them put a toe out of line.
C.O.'s index card was interesting, it was a continuation of last weeks card. She wrote that she was embarrassed to come over to me.
I gave her an index card that explained to her that we needed to get this sorted out, and if she was shy to come over to me she could always continue to write to me on her index cards.
The one thing that made my day was M.R.'s index card. She wrote,
I love everything you wear, you always looks so good. I also love everything you say, it's so interesting, and I really love you.
It's the small things like these that make teaching worth it.
I stayed late in school to discuss some things with my co, and when we came down tot he teacher's room we found that the door to the room had been replaced. I have no idea what was wrong with the old doors, but the school is busy replacing all of them.
Our door was built with a window so that you could look straight in, and that annoyed the teachers. When we retreat to the teachers room we want privacy. The students are always knocking at the door and trying to call the teachers out and it annoys us to bits.
I got a piece of construction paper and made a sign to cover the window that said, "Think Before You Knock! Thank-You, Your Teachers.
My co and I were laughing about it when the 6th grade teacher walked in and started telling me off about how babyish it was that I was just playing along with the students.
Off all people, she's the one who's always running out to her 8th and 6th grade students who crush her and she thrives on the love she gets from them. And she's accusing me of playing along with them. Of all people.
I'm so glad she's getting married and leaving school next week. I hate being made to feel like I'm one of her students.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Sunday again.
Believe it or not, I'm actually starting to get used to this schedule.
So, back to all my "problems."
First matter of business, S.G.L. was chewing gum when I walked into class. She's trying me again. I looked her up and down and told her, "This is second term, we're starting all over again. This is your first and last warning for this term. You will spit out that gum now, and if I ever catch you with gum again, you will not be allowed to keep sitting in this classroom."
S.G.L. spit out the gum and looked down, blushing and angry.
What is the dear child thinking???
I'm trying to be nice to her. I give her extra time, special notes, all the attention I am able to give her, and then she keeps taking advantage by chewing gum in my class?!? What in heavens name is going on here?
I feel like I have to walk on eggshells. On the one hand, this kid head a real situation, and she's being dealt with. But on the other hand, she's still breaking rules and taking advantage of the help her teachers are trying to give her.
D.T. gave me a problem today as well.
She's a very smart girl, but I have a feeling that she's not that mature. She has the highest average in the grade, but by her actions, I can see why she didn't skip a class.
Today, I offered the girls extra credit, a plus two for whomever remembered a certain name we had mentioned earlier in the year.
T.K. in 7a was trying so hard, she was searching her notes frantically to find what she was looking for, and I was excited to be able to give her the extra credit, but then D.T. called out with the name.
D.T. is the last girl who needs the credit, and I really didn't want to give it to her, especially since she had called out.
I had to give it to her, because I can't punish a student for being smart, but it bothered me.
D.T. has one friend in the grade. E.F.G. They are both very smart girls who always feel they have to show me how much they know.
The truth is, teachers like those students in the beginning, but then they get to be show offs, and after a while, we can't stand them.
The other students are intimidated by these two girls. They're really very nice kids, but when it comes to giving answers and showing what they know, they can get pushy. The other girls in their classes don't like competing with them.
Usually this is something I would ignore and not make a big deal of. I mean, there's usually one of these in every class. The problem is, E.F.G. is going to be switching in to the other class to take G.S.'s place.
I'm dreading having both D.T. and E.F.G. in the same class. I hope it turns out well.
On a brighter note, B.E.D. raised her hand today in class and said a pretty funny story. I actually heard her voice and I saw her laugh.
I called her mother to tell her how well her daughter was doing. I don't know what happened, but B.E.D. is changing. The teachers are all thrilled!
I tried calling T.K.'s (in 7b) mother but there was no answer. I really need to find out what's going on with the kid. She's so frustrated and angry lately, I have to get to the bottom of this before we have another "case" on our hands!

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I had gotten an index card Wednesday that had no name on it. All it said was, "Why do you hate me?" I spent a while trying to figure out who it could be from, and I automatically assumed that it was from S.G.L.
The only problem with that theory was that S.G.L. had given me a card that did say her name on it, so I was confused.
I spent the night thinking about it, and I wrote a pretty long response on the card.
I told the girl that I didn't believe I treated anyone in a way to make them feel that I disliked them, and that it would be a shame for anyone to have to sit through the rest of the year feeling like I had something against her.
When I came to school today, I held up the few cards without names, and it turned out this card belonged to C.O.
Of all people, I didn't expect this to be hers!
She didn't come over to me, but I did mine. As soon as she's ready to come talk, I'm open.
I'm just pretty confused now.
I wasn't involved in the whole meeting we had with her mother. I was going to speak to her separately, but in the end we agreed to drop it. So now, if she's really trying to start off fresh in the second term, what's she doing bringing up first term issues?
The workings of a seventh grade mind...
By the way, S.G.L. didn't bother to raise her hand even once during my lesson. I guess she doesn't care all that much about that honor roll.
Funny thing is, my co told me that S.G.L. did raise her hand in her class. I hate to have to spell things out for people.
She can raise her hand all she wants in my co's class, but if she doesn't do it in mine as well, no honor roll. She has to understand that we work together. I'm at a little bit of a loss.
Thank goodness for the weekend.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


If I have to name a post for a student, she must be on my mind big time.
There was a lot going on today with S.G.L.
Her parents finally agreed to have her evaluated. This is a major step in what we're trying to do here.
We looked into the friendship between her and M.R. and we agreed that we should stay out of it for a while and see what happens.
My co and I made up the monthly honor roll today and we were debating whether or not to put S.G.L. on it. She wasn't misbehaving, but she wasn't doing anything else either.
Every time a teacher looks at her, she turns her face to the side. When she catches herself smiling, she makes sure to stop. This is a desperate plea for attention, so desperate, it's bordering on insanity.
The other teachers and principals agree.
We know that the family has a lot of problems that could be feeding this. We officially labeled her an "At Risk Teen." It sounds a little extreme, but it's true.
I knew that she was dying to get in the honor roll. The honor roll is a huge deal in this school. If a student gets on the list 5 times over the course of the school year, she gets a silver medal at the end of the year.
S.G.L. is dying to get a medal.
I called her over and spoke to her. (Her face was sideways, of course.) I told her that if she would make sure to raise her hand at least once a day in my class, I would out her on the honor roll. She didn't have to get the answers right. She just had to participate. She smiled and even looked at me for a second. She is thrilled with the idea.
I made sure to give B.E.D. that extra attention today. She thrived on it. I'm so happy for her.
I found out that 12th grade is cancelled for tomorrow on account of their play, so I'm extra thrilled today.
I got my Chanukah money from the students. $180 bucks. I'm so not impressed. That's less than 5 dollars a kid. I guess they're not big on showing appreciation to the teachers around here. My husband thinks my job is a joke. Now I'm starting to see what he means.
I got out of school and ran home. I had a ton of things to do and I tried to do everything really quickly. I marked history quizzes, answered index cards, and did a million other little things, because I had somewhere to be.
My nephew got engaged (to a girl I know!!), and I had to run to his Vort.
He has no idea how he saved me. The principal stopped me on the way out of school yesterday to ask if she could meet with me today. I used my nephew's engagement as an excuse.
She didn't believe me at first because my niece had just gotten engaged two weeks ago. But I managed to convince her, and got the meeting pushed off.
I love my nephew.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

First Day Back

I was nervous about coming back after a great vacation. I got back to America early yesterday morning.
My co had already called me last night to update me on her problems with C.O.
Her mother had come down to school ready for a fight. I knew it would happen, but I didn't think it would be that bad. After all, the principal was backing us, (for once,) and she would be in the room to keep everything going smoothly.
It didn't quite turn out that way.
First of all, Mrs. O. came about an hour late to the meeting. This set my co really on edge. She was nervous as it was, and this messed up her schedule so she had even more to worry about, and more time in which to do so.
When she was finally called in to the office, they had to rush 'cause the principal had to go around to the classrooms to hand out the report cards.
My co was left alone in the office with C.O. and her mother, and basically, nothing got accomplished.
She was very upset, and the principal had wanted her to write up a contract for C.O. outlining clear and specific rules she had to listen to.
This morning, my co and I were on the phone making up the contract, when my co got a call from C.O.'s mother.
She said that C.O. was very upset over her whole vacation, and she really wanted to go into the new term with a fresh start, but she felt it wasn't possible because she felt that her teacher hated her.
They worked it out over the phone and we came to school hopeful of a change.
It was great to be back to school. Back to the work, the stress, the late nights, the criticism, and of course, the girls.
S.G.L. was as sullen as ever, and I began believing that her friend M.R. was a little torn as to what to do with her. I discussed it with the other teachers, and we agreed to look into it further.
I had three girls come over to me to ask me about their history project mark. That was the group in 7b that had left L.K. to do all the work herself and ended up embarrassing her in front of the class.
I had given L.K. an A- on the project, and the rest of the girls a B+.
C.S. really didn't deserve it, it was really only for T.K. and E.T. They were all in it together though, so I had to give it to all of them.
I told them that I had extra credit for them to do if they wanted to raise their marks, but they had to do it together, because that was the issue I was trying to address.
Right away T.K. said she wouldn't do it. She wouldn't give me a reason, even when I spoke to her privately. I asked her to think about the rest of the group, but she said she wouldn't change her mind.
I went to the principal, (which would usually be against my better judgment) and surprisingly, she listened and even agreed with me. Something has definitely come over her. I'm just wondering how long it will last.
She didn't like T.K.'s attitude, but she agreed that I shouldn't let the other girls make up their marks without her.
YAY! One for me!
I spoke about S.G.L. with her. She also vowed to get more involved, and promised to look into the friendship with M.R. as well.
G.S. switched into the 7b class! We were excited about it, we thought it would do her well. Unfortunately, she adapted all too quickly, and she's not much better in my opinion. My co is in love with her and she refuses to see what I see.
Oh well.
E.F.G. was supposed to switch out of the class into the 7a class, but it hasn't happened yet.
I'm not so sure I'm very happy about her switching. She has a very exclusive friendship with D.T. in that class, and I think that it's the best thing for them to be separated for at least half the day. Putting them together would just add to the intimidation the class already feels around the two "geniuses" of the grade.
I introduced a new writing topic to them. It's a biography unit called "Connecting Lives." I think it's way too much for a seventh grade, but the curriculum is not up to me. I tried to make it sound as exciting as possible, and I even spent loads of time typing up a syllabus for them on this.
I remember being upset at doing the syllabus in the beginning of the year for the "Letter to Self," and I really am very proud that I managed to teach the class how to listen and take notes without me having to spoon-feed it to them. I made the syllabus here, because I am purely lazy, and I have no patience going over this with them 100 times until they get it straight. And the truth is, the syllabus made this whole project easier for me to understand.
I hope it works out well.
I told the girls to do their index cards for tomorrow, because we weren't in school Monday. I am so hooked on these index cards. I think it's the most brilliant idea I've had all year!
While I was thinking a bit before, I realized that I had sort of let B.E.D. fall to the side. I noticed she's been smiling lately, and I'm really happy about that. I must make sure to giver her some attention tomorrow.