Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Stomach Breathing?

My voice is gone, my neck is stiff, it hurts to breathe, much more to move, but who's complaining? I was so busy this morning, I didn't have time to worry about how bad I was feeling.
I was a little concerned about how I would control a class without a voice, but it didn't turn out too badly.
7b was annoying, as they have been lately, but we got what we needed to done. In 7a, not on;y did we get done, we had a good time as well.
I had told them a long funny story about how I once lost my glasses because M.R. was wearing her glasses after "losing" them for a year.
Today, they were expecting no less than a smashing hit of a tale. It also happened to be that today is rosh chodesh Adar. This is the month that everyone gets hyper and excited, and students, (and teachers alike,) are known to have pulled some wildly funny pranks.
Well, I didn't start with a tale, but I did comment on the girls' voices, which were also going. We began talking about professionals who breath from their abdomens so as not to strain their vocal cords.
Some of the girls were confused as to what I meant, so I had all the girls place one hand on their chest and one hand on their abdomen, and we breathed together.
Most girls felt they were breathing from their chests. We practiced a couple of times until most of the girls got their stomachs to move instead.
The class was in stitches. S.J. was especially hyper about the whole thing.
So then we got back to history, and I tried to review. I was interrupted about 10 times, but it was fun. S.G.L. actually raised her hand to answer a question I had prepared for her. She made a little bit of a joke out of it, by reading straight off her paper, but I was happy that she made the effort.
I promised the girls that if we finished history on time I'd give them a preview of the history song I was planning to teach them tomorrow.
I had stayed up until 2 am last night to make it up, and I had already given it in to be approved by the principal, but I didn't have copies to hand out to them yet.
I sang the song for them, I sounded horrid because of my voice, (or lack of it,) but the girls had a good time.
We moved onto the picture books and I showed them a picture book my sister had done in third grade. In the other class I had skipped a few pictures because I was in them, but in this class, they got to see them.
It was no big deal really, there were a few pictures of my wedding there, and the girls actually were very mature about it. I was impressed.
While the girls began writing, I noticed that a couple of them were dragging out silly details and putting the main idea of the story on the last page.
This is where my tall tale came in.
I told them a great but stupid story that illustrated what they were doing.
My brother had told me this story last week, and I thought it would be perfect.
It was about this boy who was running to school and on the way some palm trees began talking to him. They said something that sounded like "Whoooosh-eeeeee." Basically, he comes late to school, and when he tells his teacher what the trees told him she slaps him and kicks him out of class. When the principal asked him why he was out of class and he repeated the story and said the word "Whoooosh-eeeeee", he gets another slap and gets suspended.
His parents hit him when he says the word too, and they ground him as well.
After a week he goes back to school and meets some friends on the way. They were curious to know why he was suspended and he said that he was afraid to tell them because they'd beat him up. But they convinced him and he said it, and of course, they hit him.
Running away from his friends, he found himself near the palm trees again. All of a sudden, the palm trees began speaking to him.
Startled, the boy ran away from the trees, across a busy street, and his was hit by a car and was killed.
Now what is the moral of the story?
***Always look both ways before crossing the street. Because the boy didn't look, he was killed.
My class got the picture.
And as for Whooooosh-eeee? When I asked my brother what it meant, he just told me,"I have no idea, but it sure kept you interested!"
I chased him around the table for an hour.
I called F.F.'s mother and B.E.D.'s mother tonight. They both didn't make it to P.T.A. and requested I call them.
I had long conversations with each of them, and they both brought up things about the principal. It's not only me who dislikes her.
I found out two things at then end of the say that mad emy life considerably worse. The first is that the principal wanted to talk to me. I found that out from my co who saw it written on her to-do list. The second is that Project Y.E.S. is cancelled. My principal seems to think that our school doesn't need this program.
Right, because she's perfect. She can handle everything.
One problem.....we can't handle it all! (We don't think she can handle it either, but whatever.)
I'll deal with this issue later.
I got home from school at 7 pm. I was invited to the high school Adar Chagiga, and I went. I came in costume, and the girls got a kick out of it, but I was slightly embarrassed. I stayed for a while, watched them play a game, heard a speech, spoke to some teachers and left.
I'm glad that's over with.
I have a load of things to do now, and I have a feeling I'm not going to make it to bed before 2 at least. Welcome to my life.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Meeting With S.G.L.

I had arranged with the principal to meet with her and S.G.L. on Monday after school. I had completely forgotten about the whole thing by the time I came to school today, but it appears that the principal must've forgotten too. She didn't show up to school.
The principal, it seems, had important meetings to attend in Manhattan, and it seems she forgot to tell me about them.
In any case, I was reminded about the meeting by my co, (who tutors S.G.L. by the way,) and I made up my mind to meet with her anyway.
I spoke to S.G.L. and I told her that the principal wasn't there, but S.G.L. still wanted to meet with me.
We arranged to meet after school in an empty classroom.
I spoke with her for an hour.
She didn't really volunteer too much information, but I learned that if I kept quiet, she felt forced to say something.
I'm not used to staying quiet that long, but I managed, and she spoke.
Basically, she thinks I hate her.
She says that I treat her differently, but "she can tell" that I don't like her.
I asked her what she did that would make me dislike her, and she said it was because she didn't do things well.
I tried to explain to her that she was pretty much mistaken, because I happened to like her very much. I have a friend's wedding tonight and it starts early. I told her that I was missing part of my friend's wedding to sit and talk to her. I asked her, "Do you think I would do that for a student I didn't care about?"
Of course, she had no answer.
I told her that just because I don't approve of all the things she did, it didn't mean I don't accept her for whom she is.
"Will a mother hate a child for flushing her makeup down the toilet? She might be angry with him, but never hate him."
S.G.L. said that a mother was different.
I told her that I could keep telling her how I didn't dislike her for the next two years, but I couldn't force her to change her mind. If she wanted to believe that I hated her, nothing was going to stop her. I was sad that she felt this way, but I told her that it was her decision.
And then I brought up the topic of her skipping my class.
I asked her, "And let's say a teacher did hate you, what's so bad about sitting through her class? If she's not treating you differently, why would you cut her class?"
And S.G.L. answered, "Because it's not comfortable to sit in a class knowing that the teacher hates you."
And I answered, "S.G.L, it's not possible for someone to be liked by the entire world. I know I have students that don't like me as a teacher, or maybe they don't like me because of the way I look. Does that stop me from going into class? No matter what, I go into class to teach, whether the students all like me or not.
"Your job in the classroom is to learn. Whether you feel the teacher likes you or not. Cutting class is not an option. And don't blame it on the way you think teachers feel about you, especially, when most of the time, you're only guessing. It is impossible for you to really know what other people are thinking, and trying to analyze every little move they make is insanity."
She didn't comment, and we went on to discuss other issues.
The issue with me embarrassing her by giving her an easy test in a way that everyone noticed was brought up. Of course, it was another incident of the principal twisting reality.
I don't call it lying because it's not possible for a principal to lie. They just stretch the truth.
She stretched the truth in this case. S.G.L. was upset because the special tests I gave her had a different font on it, and she claimed the other girls noticed.
I was so annoyed.
The font is the easiest thing for me to change! Instead of taking it to the principal and making a big deal, she could've just told me. But no, life can never go that easy.
Another thing we arranged was for me to prepare some questions for her to answer in class. Before class every day I aim to give her a paper with two or three questions and their answers, so that she can participate in class.
I don't remember everything we spoke about in one hour, but at the end, she still said that she felt I hated her.
I told her that she was entitled to her feelings, but that didn't stop us from accomplishing some of the things we set out to do.
Hey you can't please everyone all the time.....especially when they're not looking to be pleased.
I know when the principal finds out that we had this meeting without her she'll be hitting the roof, but you know what? She'll hit the roof no matter what I do.
At this point, bang your head against the wall as many times as you want, I can only deal with you up to a certain point.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

P.T.A. Rescheduled

P.T.A. was rescheduled to tonight, but we teachers weren't asked about it, and we made a huge fuss when we found out. So it was pushed back to this morning.
I went early to set up the biography projects on a table for the mothers to look at, and the principal came in in the middle.
She went through their books and took credit for all the nice work they did. I wanted to kill her.
Not very many mothers came, but I was glad to see the ones who did.
C.S.A's mother came of course, she was in school anyway because she's high school principal, and had her own P.T.A. We spoke a long time about C.S.A. being very pressured. I told her to look into some methods for anxiety for her to start using. The way she's going is not healthy. The mother agreed with me 100%.
L.K.'s mother was very nice, she just discussed how hard the workload was on her daughter.
H.W.'s mother was upset that her child didn't seem to care less about anything, and we tired to figure out a way to get her more motivated.
C.S.'s mother was as adorable as ever. She kept praising the teachers and telling us what a great job we were doing. Tell it to the principal.
T.K. has an attitude problem. She dropped out of her part in the performance last night, and both I and her mother were upset about that. We spoke about her attitude for a while, but she is doing better. We also brushed over her on and off friendship with R.H. We both decided it's not a good friendship, but it has to play out on its own.
M.L.'s (7b) mother came just to hear good things. That's all I had to say about her daughter. She's the type of girl who'll try hard no matter how many obstacles in her way. I can't get over the child, Her mother was so happy.
R.S.'s mother is the class mother of the class. She's very nice and easy to talk to. We spoke about how well she was doing, and then a little bit about her being so absent minded. I promised I would speak to her about her biography project because she had been absent that week, and I had no idea what she had done for the group.
I told F.G's mother how mature her daughter became, and how much she changed. Her mother was so glad to hear that.
The twin's mother came, and she's always tricky. I have to make sure to separate the girls because they're not the same person at all. They happen to be the perfect average students that every teacher needs to keep her class stable, and I told the mother that. She laughed. I asked her to tell Y.T. to speak up more in class, and to tell E.T. to stop talking to A.L. all the time during class.
G.S.'s mother is the cutest. G.S. happens to be doing very well in the new class. She calmed down a bit, but we think she's lost. She doesn't have a good friend in this class. We spoke about trying to put her together with either C.C.K or L.O. to encourage a friendship. I don't know how that's going to happen, but we'll see. I was also surprised to hear from her mother that G.S. has a soft side toward girls like M.L. and B.E.D. I was so pleasantly surprised.
M.P.'s mother is just as cute as she is. We spoke a lot about how pressured M.P. is and I said that I would speak to her about it. The mother also said that she called the principal to yell at her about all these projects. In fact, the mothers made a chain call to get as many mothers as possible to call up. They all told the principal that the teachers were wonderful, but the principal had to stop giving al the projects. I told M.P.'s mother that I appreciated her calling because the principal needed to hear it, but I didn't think it worked. I told her that I got all the blame for everything. She was shocked because she had specifically told the principal that it had nothing to do with me. She went outside to tell all the mothers what happened. (YES!!!)
A.L.'s mother still wanted her to switch classes because of her selective friendship with R.R. I told her to speak to the principal, and if she would then I would press it as well.
S.J.'s mother got to hear all about how cute and smiling her daughter is. I didn't have one bad thing to say about her.
M.R.'s mother is adorable! She is really not you typical mother. She looks so young and she's really spunky. I basically told her how great M.R. was doing, and then I asked her about her daughter's friendship with S.G.L. I wanted to make sure that she was on top of it, and that M.R. shouldn't be learning from her or whatever. We understood each other on that.
D.T.'s mother was all into praising me. She didn't even want to hear about her daughter. All she kept saying was how crazy D.T. was over me. ...Always good to hear.
T.J.'s mother was so funny. She meant everything seriously, but she made me laugh. She was worried that her daughter was so short and she hoped she would still grow. She wanted to make sure that T.J. was mature, and becoming less shy, and I assured her on both counts. About the growing though, I told her that I didn't think she'd stopped growing yet. She was relieved.
T.K.'s (7a) mother was very upset about C.O. being put together with her daughter in projects. The truth is, I was upset too, they never worked out well together. C.O. was hard to deal with, but T.K. is very bossy. I brushed over the group incident and gently told the mother to explain to T.K. that she didn't have to control everything.
M.L.'s mother wanted to know if she had matured, and of course, she had. We had a pretty nice conversation.
E.S. mother only wanted to vent about the principal. I happily joined her.
The funny thing is, at least 10 mothers had told me that they had called the principal. I told them that it backfired because the principal yelled at me.
They were all shocked. All of them said that was not what was supposed to happen. They had specifically told the principal that it had nothing to do with me or any of the other teachers.
On a brighter note, I got my rating sheets in. Report cards almost due. I'm so thrilled.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Melaveh Malka, and a Lot of Money

My co's and I all went to school tonight to watch our students perform.
They were cute, even though their performances made us laugh. There was a dance, and a choir and a little play.
S.G.L., M.R., R.R., L.K., C.S.A., and some other girls had solos in the choir. They were pretty good actually.
B.E.D. was on dance, and she was smiling so nicely! We were all so happy for her.
T.K. was also in dance, and she was bossing everyone around stage. Typical.
The play was silly, but the girls worked hard.
T.K. in 7b wasn't in anything. She dropped out. All the teachers were bothered by that.
C.O. also dropped out. But she did it because it was beneath her dignity to perform with the seventh graders. She stayed in the back to be with the eighth graders.
This melaveh malka was very nice, it looked like the girls were having a good time.
After watching a cute slideshow, my co and I went to the supermarket to buy the goodies to fill our mishloach manos for the students.
We spent and hour and a half picking out the "nosh" and then an other two hours having panic attacks about the costs.
it does come out to a lot. If you spend two dollars per girl, it already comes out to $65. We tried to keep it under $2. The nosh itself cost $1.07, and with a container and maybe something else, it'll come out to just under two. Perfect.
I wonder if they include all this in our paycheck this month.
Yeah right.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Principal and S.G.L.- A Team?

The first thing I did this morning was call the principal at home. I should've known better.
According to her, it was all my fault everything happened. I still don't know what happened, but apparently, it's all my fault.
It turns out that S.G.L. had gotten caught running around the halls, and when the principal asked her what was going on, S.G.L. handed her a letter.
S.G.L. told her the entire sob story of how she wasn't doing well, and how I hated her, and how I never helped her and only made life harder.
I know she does this to her Hebrew sessions. She makes trouble, gets her teachers to yell at her, then she claims that her teachers don't like her, and that's her excuse for flunking life.
She cuts Hebrew classes, and really gets on everyone's nerves, and now she's trying to do it to me.
S.G.L. is a shrewd child. She knows exactly where everybody's weak spot is, and then she uses it to her advantage. She is now crying to the principal (who is known to give in to students,) to go hard on me. She knows that she herself can't really do anything to make me let her get away with things, so she's targeting me through the principal.
I must say that I admire this girl's way of thinking. She is brilliant. The one I hate here is the principal for the way she's choosing to deal with it. (Which is precisely the thing S.G.L. has in mind.)
She even lied to the principal about me, telling her that I embarrassed her in class by giving her an easy test in plain view of the class.
Of all the lies, this is the worst. It's because of HER, not any of the other "easy" girls, that I am so careful to staple the "easy" tests to the back of a regular test, so that no one should notice who gets what. I was even the one who gave the other teachers that idea!
The principal kept insisting that even if it was a lie, we had to make allowances for this girl.
Allowances?!? Any other girl caught cutting class would be suspended, and now, when she's cutting class and lying, the principal won't do anything.
She told the principal that the notes were too hard for her, so I explained my point of view to her.
The nerve of that principal, she insisted I make up special notes just for her. How thin do you want me to spread? Butter can only be spread over a certain amount of bread, and personally, I've more than reached my "buttering" limit.
I told the principal that I wanted to confront the girl myself. I wanted to have a meeting with the girl, and have the principal there as well. I wanted to see if S.G.L. had the guts to lie when I was there, and what she would tell the principal about it.
Listen, I'm not out to get S.G.L. I really want to help her. But when the principal is getting involved, and falling into the traps this girl so carefully planned for her, I need to establish my position here. I hope it will work.
Anyway, the school is implementing a new program for the teachers called Kesher. It's a division of Project Y.E.S. which deals with at risk teens.
We had a very nice orientation meeting with the two people of Kesher. They explained that they would have hours in the school where teachers, (Hebrew and English,) would be able to privately talk with them about specific students or problems in the classroom.
I didn't really get any feelings about them just from the orientation, but I'm sure that as soon as we begin doing one on one sessions, I'll figure out the way I feel pretty quickly.
What irked me the entire time, was that during their presentation my principal kept raising her hand and asking questions, and pushing her techniques. She was acting all chummy with the people, and the teachers were all sick. She acts so nice to everyone, but she treats us like dirt. There's a reason we have problems with kids in this school. The principal gives them everything and the teachers aren't allowed to do or say anything.
But when something goes wrong, it's always our faults. Or to be politically correct; my fault.
When we got to our classes it was already half an hour into the period, and both classes were busy taking a math test.
We had realized that the meeting would go into class time, so my co and I had decided to give her math tests to both classes at once so that we didn't waste any time.
I proctored the test in 7a, handed back their history tests, and passed around a picture of my "German friend" for the girls to look at.
The girls were so excited with the picture. I'm glad I brought it in. It made the whole Holocaust discussion more "real" to them. Instead of just reading an interview, they got to see the person behind it as well.
Thanks, German friend!
After recess, my co and I spontaneously decided to combine the classes, and I took them for the rest of the day.
I had the girls begin writing their picture books. Most had no problem, but there are always the few that do.
The class was pretty rowdy, but they got the work done, so I didn't mind that much.
I wrote a note to S.G.L. telling her that I really wanted to help her out, and if she had any questions she should call me up. I gave her my phone number and the hours she could call. I think she was thrilled when my co gave her the note and she discovered it was for her.
I think I saw her writing a letter for me, but I guess I'll find out.
I have to play it by ear.
For now though, I have to get started on my report card marks. They're due next week and I didn't start.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cutting Class?

My test today was very short, and I worried all night about what I would do if the girls all finished quickly, and I would have to start teaching.
I came up with a plan. Before I gave the history test in each class, I had them listen to a song I had brought in, Joe Dimaggio's card, on Journeys III. I had brought it up in class when we had discussed inflation; how when there is more of something. ie: money, it becomes worth less. Whereas when an item is rare, the price will go up.
This song was about a baseball card that was very rare. The girls really loved it, but I could see they were edgy about the test. They didn't believe me when I said that it would only take them 45 minutes.
I had them daven mincha, and then I gave out the test.
I was right. Most girls finished within 45 minutes.
Going back to lunchtime, L.K. cam over to me to tell me that she wasn't able to take the test because she had been absent the day before and she had missed some material for the test. She also had not studied because she hadn't been feeling well.
I wasn't happy, but I told her that if her mother spoke to the secretary and the secretary wrote me a note, I would let her take it the next day.
I spoke to the secretary and asked her to play along. I just wanted L.K. to see that there was an authority in the school, and that she couldn't just do what she pleased.
Well, she sure got authority. The principal, made her take the test.
I was really angry, but L.K. took it and failed.
I have to give it to her anyway tomorrow, but now she has the advantage of knowing all the examples on the test. This policy of the principal is brilliance. Sheer brilliance.
Another thing that had happened lunchtime was that I got a message to call S.G.L.'s mother.
I knew right away what this was about. S.G.L. had left all the studying to the night before, and she wasn't able to take the test today. Same old story.
I spoke to the mother and explained to her that her daughter needed to show more responsibility. I had given her the notes a week in advance for this very reason, and she still didn't bother to study.
The mother had to agree with me, but she did also complain that the "easy notes" were now harder than they used to be and her daughter wasn't coping.
The truth is, the notes were harder. I had found these great summaries that were on a 5th -6th grade level, perfect for the girls. Perfect for me too, I now didn't have to spend all that time typing up special notes for the girls.
My old notes were on a third grade level and I really though the girls were ready to move on. the only girl who was really having a problem was S.G.L.
I believe her real problem is that she doesn't bother to study in advance.
I told the mother that I would have to speak to the daughter before deciding what to do about the test.
I came into the 7a class after recess, and lo and behold, S.G.L. wasn't there.
She cut my class.
I couldn't very well leave the classroom and go after her, but I made up my mind to speak to the principal about it.
Of course, I couldn't catch the principal after school, so I figured I'd wait until tomorrow.
But then I got a call from my co. She told me that the principal had come over and spoken to her about S.G.L. and my co had mentioned something about my test.
I knew right away that the principal had probably gotten the wrong message, so I called her at home to settle the issue. (I mean, if she could call me at my house, why cant I do it to her?)
I called, but there was no answer. I left a message for her to call me back.
I left the house soon after to go to a meeting, and when I cam back 4 hours later, my husband told me that I had missed her call.
She had given him the message that she had spoken to the student and she knew what was going on.
That's exactly my problem. She did not know what was going on! Was she going to take the entire story from a student that was wreaking havoc in my class without even asking me anything? Who's word is more important, the student or the teacher?
The highlight of my day was as I dropped into bed. I was so exhausted, I was half asleep when I heard my husband say, " When your principal called, I wanted to kill her over the phone."
It's nice when my husband tries to take care of me, but this situation is one I'll have to deal with on my own.
I need to teach this principal a lesson.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Clean Classrooms and Folding Sheets

I had been taking care of personal business yesterday, and I couldn't be in school, so when I came back today, I expected index cards and spelling homeworks on my desk when I came in.
Of course, only about half the class bothered, so I had to spend a lot of time giving out minuses and warnings.
Once we got to the lesson I was in trouble because I was way ahead in 7a, because I hadn't taught 7b on Sunday.
I had to improvise, and I tried to catch them up as quickly as possible. But between finishing the history chapter for tomorrow, and catching up on literature, it took until recess.
So when recess came around I tried lagging behind after the bell so that I would have less time in the 7a class.
But the principal took care of that for me.
She stormed into the teachers room. The teachers all looked in my direction.
I know that kind of sounds funny, but by this time of the year, the teachers all expect trouble to have something to do with me. I have no idea why.
"I am LIVID!!!" The principal shouted.
I got on the defensive, ready to fight.
"Your classrooms are a mess! All of yours!"
I just had to laugh. The teachers were also breathing sighs of relief. Sometimes this principal can be so strange.
"Well," she continued, "the fifth grades are decent, and the sixth are fine too, and your classroom is not bad, and yours isn't either..." And soon she had gone through everyone except me.
Why am I not surprised?
She went on to ask if we had all washed our breakfast dishes before we had left for school.
It so happens to be that breakfast is a sore issue at home, because I eat on plastic and my husband drinks his coffee in glass, and I never feel like it should be my job to clean his cups. So yes, my dishes were still in the sink.
She of course, decided that my dishes were probably in the sink at home and made it a point to say so.
But I didn't say anything in defense. Not because I didn't want to, but because she didn't shut up long enough for me to open my mouth.
Old problems...
She instituted a cleanup contest throughout the entire school, and then she left the teacher's room. She left all of us giggling.
But it caused the distraction I wanted, and I walked in 5 minutes late.
I had an amazing time in 7a. They are so capable, and funny, and I always manage to have a good time with them.
In the beginning of the year, I had thought that the other class, being more spunky, would be my more favored class. But now, February time, I'm getting sick of the whining and chutzpah in 7b. I would have to say that 7a is the class I look forward to now. They're becoming less shy, and raising their hands to say more. Every day gets better and better in that class.
Today I managed to have a history review, start the picture books with them, and even do a little literature.
There was one part in literature where a teenage boy is helping a woman fold her linen.
That sparked a discussion about how boys are so inept at doing anything around the house. One girl entertained us with the story of her brother climbing in to the duvet cover to get the blanket inside evenly.
Then A.L. asked why that was so funny, she did her blankets that way all the time.
The class was on the floor.
I called S.J. up to the front.
I over using her as an example. She's tiny, always smiling, and always ready to volunteer.
I had her take off her sweater and using the sweater I demonstrated how to put a cover onto the blanket.
I turned it inside out, put my hands inside, took her hands, and put it over her head. It got stuck halfway thorough, so the class was in stitches watching her struggle to get into it.
I remember that I used S.J. in the beginning of the year to demonstrate how hard it was to travel by dressing her in 3 coats.
She's just the cutest when I ask her to help me demonstrate anything.
I reminded the class about the history test the next day, spoke to R.R. about taking it later, and breathed a long sigh of relief.
My day was over.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Half of a Half Day

I didn't get a chance to teach 7b today.
All I did was daven with hem, and then go out to a "2 minute meeting" about the picture books.
Old news. The 2 minute meeting turned into an hour and 15 minutes, and all I had left was my 7a class.
I had no choice but to go ahead of the other class, and I did. This class is such a pleasure! We finished history, and got a load done in literature.
We had about 8 interruptions during the period. The principal and the secretary kept coming in to deliver things and give me messages.
The girls thought it was fun.
I spent some time with R.R. after school to answer questions she had on her test, and I was so proud that she scored an 85%. She wasn't happy, but I sat with her and gave her a pep talk. which was what she really wanted. :)
Now I'm home with a ton of things to read, and a severe pain in my back. I'm taking off school for an appointment tomorrow, and to tell the truth, I'm looking forward to the blood tests more than I now look forward to school.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Have it Her Way

The principal came over to me in school today to "discuss" what had happened yesterday.
The word discuss is in quotes because the principal seems to have her own definition of what a discussion is.
I had always lived with the misconception of the word discussion meaning "an exchange of views on some topic." I learned today that this definition has a slight mistake; the words "an exchange of views." It should instead be changed to "Listening to someone's view..."
Because that's what I did.
I listened to her view of the world. I wasn't allowed to open my mouth.
She claimed I was an "individual soul" but that also caused me to defy authority. No, not authority... Her Authority. That's like going against G-d's word.
I tired reasoning, but I've discovered more than once that it's useless.
After wasting 15 minutes of my class time, (yes, she had called me out of class for this) I finally got her attention elsewhere, and she became quite civil.
I learned this method as a young child in the park when I was being chased by dogs. As soon as I was able to throw a stick in another direction, I ceased to be the center of the dog's attention.
I had no idea it worked so well on humans.
But then again, she isn't really quite human, is she?
But anyway, the day somehow ended.
I had the girls read a lot of picture books today in class. They were not very mature, but they seemed to have fun.
I also took a survey of the students.
They each took out a piece of paper and wrote down if they felt this writing was a pressure, and why.
Then I asked them to give me any suggestions to help make this writing easier.
I read the papers on the phone with my co. Every single girl said that yes, the project was a pressure, and it was because they had so little time, and too much work.
they all suggested having a lot of time to complete it.
B.E.D. was one girl who wrote that it was not a pressure. I find that very ironic. She never hands in her work! I guess she doesn't plan on doing anything anyway, so she doesn't find it hard. LOL
My husband actually suggested that I do this survey so that I could hear what the students had to say about all of this.
It really is a great idea. The principal can tell me whatever she pleases, The girls just told me that it's the projects they hate, not the way I present them.
I doesn't help much, but it does make me feel a bit better. Or at least a bit more aware of what's happening in my classroom.
So the principal is getting her way, again, and I'm not happy. But I will make sure I get my revenge someday....MUHAHAHAH!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

There's Only So Much I Can Handle

I was pretty nervous last night about starting this whole new writing with the girls. They're to start writing picture books, and I wanted to introduce the lesson in an interesting way.
I started off the class by having the girls tell me what the qualities of a good picture book might be, and the girls really seemed to enjoy reminiscing about their favorite children's books.
After we had talked about what makes a children's book great, I had the girls sit on the floor as I read them a personal favorite of mine; The Jester Has Lost His Jingle by David Salzman.
The girls were thrilled with it.
After we had discussed that one, we looked through the book Look Alikes Jr. It's similar to an I Spy kind of book, where they find objects hidden in pictures.
They had a great time.
For homework, I had the girls go home and see if they had any good picture books at home that they'd like to bring in, and I also told them to begin thinking about a story they'd like to write.
I had to be a bit strict, and I said that a girl who came to class without an idea tomorrow would not be able to join the lesson. I have had girls take advantage of my being easy with homework before, and I have had to send some students out for not completing their homework.
If they wanted to continue taking part in the lesson tomorrow, they had to make sure they were following along.
I had a few attitude problems, but not anything I haven't seen before, namely, T.K, F.G, and a few others.
I was actually quite proud of the way my day went until I got home.
I just got a call from the principal.
She had gotten a call from an irate mother who's daughter had come home crying that she was pressured to have a plot for tomorrow.
The principal berated me for a half hour, blaming me for every problem she ever had in her life.
So it wasn't enough that I had stayed late in school yesterday, she now finds it important to call her teachers at home.
She said that I was irresponsible because I had forgotten to ask her for something that I had needed for my lesson.
I had not forgotten, they were not part of my lesson today.
She hated that I didn't come over to talk to her when my students were pressured to figure out what we could do about it.
-How should I know to come to her??? And more importantly, why would I want to?
"Whether you like it or not, you are going to have to work together with me to make this succeed."She said.
Somehow, she had turned me into a huge problem, I almost quit over the phone. It would be such a relief not to have to go back there. But, being a little bit of a logical thinker, I decided not to do it over the phone, I'll wait until school tomorrow.
Quitting over the phone wouldn't have worked anyway. She didn't' let me get a word in edgewise. She wouldn't have heard me if I said I quit.
She claimed that the seventh grade this year was having more problems than any other year, because I didn't know how to explain things to my students in a way that would excite them and make them understand.
I spaced out in the middle because I began typing to my husband over MSN messenger so that he could keep me calm, but at one point I had to open my mouth.
I began talking, but the principal didn't let me.
I refused to let her walk all over me.
I firmly said, "Please let me finish talking, I think you've said more than enough to this point." and she actually shut up for a minute so that I could finish me sentence.
I told her that she was not in my class today. I had done everything a good teacher should do and more. It was not my fault her writing projects were hard, it was not my fault that I had to be a little strict with my students today, and it certainly was not my fault that a student had taken my words out of context.
But she seemed to think otherwise.
At this point I realized that she had already made up her mind to be right, and that whatever I was going to say would not make nay difference. So I simply stayed quiet, and let her talk. (Which seemed to please her.)
She went on and on while I didn't make a sound. Sometime in the middle she thought I must've hung up, because she asked me if I was still there.
I made some sort of unintelligible noise which she took to mean, "Yes, I'm here, go on yelling. I don't mind at all."
So she did. She got confused that I wasn't answering back to her, but what she didn't know was that I had put the phone on mute and gave my lungs some exercise. I had a few good screams, and then I put the phone back on.
She was still talking.
She finally finished, and without even waiting for me to say anything, she abruptly hung up.
While I told my husband what had been going on, she called back to apologize for hanging up so abruptly. It was just that her car service was waiting outside.
She wants me to come talk to her during lunchtime so that we can go over some ways of making the girls feel less pressured.
By the way, I got my paycheck today. $500.00.
It isn't fair that teachers don't get disability pay. How in the world will a paycheck like that pay for my psychologist?
Officially, I'm a teacher with heart, but sometimes I like to punch people too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Test again.
I've learned to dread giving tests. The girls get so bratty, whiney, and frustrated, that it really wears me out.
I had to give L.K. a minus, and I was tempted to do the samw for R.H.
S.G.L. and R.R. didn't study, and they'll be taking the test tomorrow. I really ought to fail them.
S.F.F. was absent yesterday, but she managed to study anyway. I am so proud of her.
T.K. totally took advantage of me, and I HATE her attitude!! She made me go through recess answering her questions, and at the end, she had 3 left.
I was not going to answer those questions, and I demanded she give in her test.
She refused becuase by leaving out 3, she would start off with a 94.
I smiled and told her that if her paper wasn't in my hands within 5 seconds she'd fail.
After an entire day of answering questions, the principal came over to request I saty at a short meeting to discuss the picture books I'm supposed to have my students write.
The short meeting took 2 hours.
I just got home.
I didn't get a chance to put my stuff away yet. My coat in on the back of my chair, and my briefcase is on the floor. I am so angry.
I wasted 2 hours of my time in this meeting, and I still don't understand this project. I spoke up a few times, and asked questions, but the principal either avoided them, or answered vaguely. I cannot go into my classes now, and do this with them. I seriously can't handle this.
I am tired, upset, hungry, and I have ton of things to do. I don't know where to start, so I came here.
Now that I vented, (sort of) I guess I'll go mark tests.
Starting to make supper at 6pm isn't something I can do. My husband will just have to bring something home.
I called other schools this morning, but they all told me to call back in a few months.
I feel so discouraged.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

P.T.A. 2

I spent the entire night sick.
Between my migraine and throwing up, I didn't sleep at all. My husband didn't know what to do with me, but somehow we go through the night.
It had been a warm winter up till now, but last night we were hit by a blizzard full force. By this morning we had at least 10 inches of snow, and even more than a foot in some places.
I got up early to prepare for P.T.A., but before I bothered to get dressed I called the school's hotline.
School was cancelled!!!!!
They cancelled the P.T.A. on account of the snow, but I take personal credit. It just shows what prayer can do when people really put their minds to it.
I called my co to tell her he good news, but she had already called the school at 7am. She was nice enough not to call me and let me sleep in, but it backfired, because I called her, and woke her up. :)
I finally got myself together and went out with my husband to clean up his car. We had a snowball fight and then drove around town to laugh at the cars without 4 wheel drive.
But the last laugh was on us when we went to get a hot chocolate and we realized we forgot our moneys back home!
But the cafe was really nice, and they said they wouldn't let us go back out in that weather without a hot drink, and they gave us our beverages on the house.
What a great day!
Such a great day, in fact, that I don't really want to waste it writing this blog!
See ya'll tomorrow!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

German Misconceptions

I had a great time in class today.
For some reason the girls couldn't get that holocaust interview out of their minds, and they brought it up again.
I didn't mind going off on a tangent, especially one so interesting, so I went along.
It took time away from history, but that was ok.
We first reviewed most of what was said in the interview, and then the girls had a ton of questions.
L.K. wanted to know if the guy I had interviewed was a Nazi. -I couldn't stop laughing, as I explained to her that he is in fact quite a nice person, and that not all Germans are Nazis.
M.R. needed to know how people could be so mean. I spent a while telling her that they weren't necessarily mean, they were just mindlessly following a twisted leader.
M.R. had actually gone home and researched video clips of German soldiers marching. I had mentioned to them something about the Germans being beautifully coordinated as they marched, and that video clips always focused on their marching feet, to show how neat they were. M.R. came to tell me that the clip she had seen had focused on the feet, exactly as I had said.
The girls were pretty hurt that the world could be so bad. Their naivete is so charming.
The truth is, I'm still naive and idealistic, and that's why I had this holocaust conversation to begin with.
I had been chatting with my "German friend" for quite some time, and I always had some questions in the back of my mind. That's what prompted me to ask him about the Holocaust.
It took a while to make the girls understand that people cannot be generalized, or put into categories. It can't be that all Germans are bad people, in the same way that not all Americans eat hot dogs. Or in the way that not all Jews have Semitic features. And in the same way that not all Italians are mafiosos.
It was hard to get through to them because they aren't exposed to the world in that way. They don't mean to be racist, but they don't know what's really out there, they only know what they're taught.
In school they're taught that Germans killed Jews. That makes them bad.
They're taught that Africans were slaves. I guess that makes them lower class.
Their knowledge is limited to what they read and learn. Most of them never try to investigate and find out more about their world.
That irks me.
By nature I am a curious person, and I need to know everything. I can never understand how people can go through life not even caring to know more than what they do.
Especially in this school.
If I walk into the classroom one day and tell my students the sky is red, they'll calmly write it in their notes and study it for the test. My students only challenge me when they're trying to waste class time. Never because they really want to know.
So that's one issue. The girls see everything in black and white. Germans = Bad.
Another issue I had in trying to explain this to them is that they are, after all, just 12 year olds.
Sometimes I feel like they're bigger, but in truth, they're really tiny.
They were pretty shocked that I even had a "German friend." They couldn't fathom why a German would even look at a Jew.
Oy, do these kids have a lot to learn.
They wanted to know if I could bring him in for show and tell.
Yeah right. I guess it wouldn't be a problem if I wanted to lose my job.
We had to end the conversation eventually, and go on to history, but It was really nice to spend time on it.
In the 7a class I had a great time. M.R. kept me laughing all day. The class was thrilled to see me in such a good mood, and they caught on to my mood quickly.
In 7b, my mood had stayed with me, so I managed to handle the "calling out" and still keep smiling.
Somehow, L.K. got to telling me that she had seen a young married woman who looked just like me. She wanted to know if she was my sister.
I laughed and said that I didn't have any married siblings. They then asked if I had sisters that looked like me.
I told them that she was 6 years old.
The girls were thrilled to hear that I had such young siblings. They begged me to bring her in. R.H. wanted to know how many siblings I had.
I just smiled and told her that I'd leave it to her imagination.
It's funny how these girls are so into every aspect of my life. Hee hee.
The principal came in closer to the end of the day to announce the newspaper jobs.
Very few girls got jobs in the paper. It's supposed to be a big privilege.
But of course, in the 7b class, they don't appreciate anything, and R.H. who had gotten the job of reporter, immediately said she wanted to back out. L.K. who was assigned to graphics, followed R.H.'s lead.
I have no doubts that T.K. will soon join as well.
I'm more than slightly turned off.
I had sat for hours trying to make sure that these specific girls had gotten jobs. I guess there are some people you can never seem to please.
By the way, who do you think is in charge of the entire newspaper?
I love to write, and a career in journalism would be a dream come true, but taking charge of a seventh grade newspaper...? Not my cup of tea.
I'll be staying late a lot, pressuring my head off to get to print on time, and making sure the girls all have their jobs done.
I did not volunteer for the job. It seems that it was a hidden part of my duties. It's a seventh grade newspaper, and I'm the seventh grade English and writing teacher, so that makes it all my job.
And how much do you think I'm getting paid for this?
Yep, the grand total of $000000.00.
I am definitely going to start making calls to other schools Sunday afternoon.
It's time to start applying for next year.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

First Day Back

The first thing my students noticed when I cam into class was my tan.
Or actually my burn.
I spent a good deal of time in Florida tanning, and I came home fried. I couldn't move, couldn't sleep, couldn't shower, and couldn't wrinkle my nose without yelping in pain.
As soon as I got into class, my students all began giggling. (Just wait until they see my co, she's even more tanned than I am.) I had to take my watch off in class because the burn on my arm was stinging, and the girls saw my beautiful watch/tan mark. That inspired another round of giggles.
I can't wait for my face to begin peeling. They'll split their sides laughing.
I tried to ignore the giggles, and I began the most boring day of my life.
I gave the girls a speech about the second half of the year. I made it sound like they were so special, almost eighth graders. I enforced some rules, (namely the no calling out in class rule,) and had a small review.
The history I taught today was dead boring and hard to understand, but I was too lazy to really explain it well. If I have any student who still believes that teachers don't enjoy vacation, someone has to tell her that she is sadly mistaken.
I definitely could use a couple of more days.
My literature lesson was even more frustrating. I was in no mood to teach, the girls were in no mood to learn, and the material itself was stupid.
What a day.
Over vacation the principal had given me a 15 page booklet to read. It was a syllabus of my next writing project; the book fair.
Every girl in the school has to write a book and display it at a fair we are going to hold in March.
My girls cried when they heard they were having a book fair. They just finished 5 projects, one after the other, and this really was unfair to them.
Another problem I have, is that I didn't understand a word of that booklet. She wants me to do so many things with these girls, that I would need to teach 24 hours a day in order to get it all done in 4 weeks. The other teachers feel the same way. And as a side point, none of the other teachers understand the booklet either.
Over vacation I put it aside, because I couldn't be bothered to think of school, but I took it out last night. I looked at the cover and my blood ran cold.
No kidding.
The first page of the 15 had a little header that read: Week One.
All of this has to get done in one week. When I pointed it out to the other teachers they had the same reaction.
If you ever wondered when you were a student if teachers cry, well they do.
I went over to the principal to tell her I didn't understand the syllabus, and she just smiled and said, "Don't worry, I'll 'unconfuse' you."
I'm so thrilled.
I came home with so much pressure on my head, I didn't know what to do.
I spent most of the night making up a history test, and then I quickly made up a rating sheet for the biography projects. I just realized that P.T.A. is this Sunday, and I have to have the marks in by then.
We got rating sheets for report cards again. I can't believe second term is almost over, we just finished first.
This school seems to like doing things a little rushed.
The 6th grade teacher's wedding was tonight and I went over for a while. It was beautiful. I didn't dance much because I had to scream every time someone touched me. My burn was hurting more than ever.
I met a student's mother at the wedding, and she told me that my makeup was stunning.
I had to laugh. I wasn't wearing any makeup. My face is so red from my burn that I didn't want to put anything on it. All I was wearing was a little eye makeup and lipstick, and she couldn't get over me.
I just smiled and took the compliment.
What was I supposed to tell her? That I had just roasted in Florida? :)
I am so overwhelmed now, I've got a load to do.
3 days of vacation isn't nearly enough!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Projects, Introductions, and the End of a Week

Today was an insanely rushed day.
I woke up very early so that I could bake with my husband, and then of course, I was left all alone to clean up after him.
I spent most of the morning running around,m getting stuff together for my vacation, and dumping them onto my couch.
Too soon I had to leave to school, where I was taking over both classes at the same time because my co had taken her mid-winter vacation a day early.
I came to school, and my kids were a wreck. They were busy trying to get their projects done even though they were supposed to be done already.
C.S.A. was having a panic attack because H.W. who was part of her group wasn't there yet, and she had things they needed to finish the project.
Other girls from other projects kept coming over to me to ask if they could have more time in class today to finish.
The principal then came over to me to tell me that almost every seventh grade mother had called the school to complain about this project because it was so pressuring on the students.
And whose fault is that, may I ask?
I felt like kicking her.
Having the classes together wasn't half bad. I actually enjoyed it. We did history, literature and even current events.
I did give the girls some extra time to finish their projects, and by the end of the day I had all of them.
During history, G.S. asked a good question about how the British troops were so organized in fighting. I compared it to the Nazi's in WWII and the lesson went great. I used a technique I had rest about in a book called The Wave, and I made all the girls sit up straight, with their hands on their desks.
It worked wonders. The girls were so much more alert and attentive. I was impressed! Now I really could understand why Hitler's strategy worked so well. I almost got carried away with that power myself!
And that was only for 5 minutes!
The girls really caught on to what I was trying to tell them.
I then read an interview I had with a German friend of mine. I was planning to keep it for the 12th grade, but because of the direction my lesson took, I read it to them.
basically the point I brought out them was that discipline is a key element in achieving a goal. The interview I read had a small part there about the Germans still being very disciplined until today.
There was a part where my friend had said that he believed another holocaust could happen any day, because his country had not changed.
The class was shocked and upset. I felt that maybe it was too much for a young class to really grasp, but they did well for their age. M.R., the cutest kid in the class, didn't look so shocked as much as she looked hurt. Her eyes were tearing for the rest of the lesson.
The one problem I had all day was the talking. Between R.H, L.K, L.O, T.K, and C.K. I can't get a word in edgewise.
They're all in class 7b, and their class suffers because they won't keep quiet. I really have to talk to them.
I also had a group coming down to me to discuss T.K. is 7a. It seems that she was being extremely bossy and she had controlled the entire group. The girls were all crying, and I told them I would try to do something about it.
Now I just have to figure out what.
I got to twelfth grade, and read them that same interview I had about the holocaust. They went nuts over it, and it sparked a huge debate. That's exactly what I wanted, (as this is a speech class) and it took up a nice amount of time.
I also gave every girl a slip of paper with a classmate's name on it, and they each had to come up and introduce the "next speaker." It worked out well.
My day was over. I got a 12th grader S.C.W. to help me carry home my 7th grade projects, and then I packed.
Florida here I come!!!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Nerve!

I was proud to give back my history tests today, as the classes had gotten a 95, and a 98 average. The girls were thrilled too, and they all looked excited as I gave them back.
Except for T.K.
I had sat with her all during lunch yesterday going over her test. I even let her take it back home so that she could do the essay.
I don't know why I gave in to her and did it with her. All she did was speak to me with an attitude, and refuse to think for herself. I practically had to force her to write the answers on the page.
Today, when I gave the tests back, she came over to me to tell me that she wasn't happy with her mark.
She had scored a 96%.
I was tempted to take her test and rip it up.
Instead, I looked at her sharply and said, "I don't believe you are in any position to complain about your mark."
She looked annoyed and went to whisper to her friends.
I don't get these girls. What do they think? That they deserve all this? In Yiddish we have an expression, "Sie kimpt sich mir." Basically, "I deserve special treatment and good things."
But this is a little too far. After I was nice to her, let her take the test home twice, put up with her attitude, and sit with her during lunch, she still has the nerve to fight over a 96? There is something so wrong with this picture.
And it's not only her.
I had been sitting in the teacher's room during lunch today with my co, and my girls did not stop banging down the door.
My co was giving a math test, and the girls had questions. My co was busy and she wasn't going out to them. Instead she sent out a message that she was not available and that the girls should stop knocking at the door.
They kept knocking anyway.
When another teacher told the girls that it was pretty disrespectful to keep knocking, they insisted on seeing my co. The other teacher said that my co was eating lunch and she should not come out.
R.H, one of the girls there at the time said, "Well she better come out, that's her job."
I was so disgusted.
My co sent a note out to R.H. saying, "Being respectful is more important than passing a math test."
The girls just laughed when they read it. I wonder if it's just in this school, or if other schools have this problem too. I don't remember students doing that in my school!
Maybe the times are changing.
Change isn't always a good thing.