viernes, febrero 25, 2005
un pasito pa' adelante
parent conferences are coming up the monday after next, promptly followed by report cards. that should make things interesting. have a good weekend!
miércoles, febrero 23, 2005
a landmark, of the dorky kind
but i take offense that some of you call me at 9 and think it's too late. I CAN STAY UP UNTIL ELEVEN SOMETIMES!
my sweet-on-the-outside, rotten-on-the-inside kiddos graffitied (sp?) the girls' bathroom last week. the asst. principal called all the girls into the office and kept them for 45 minutes and not a peep. i don't understand how they keep getting away with all this stuff. i'm not BLIND. what gives?
after school i did my reading group with my lowest readers who are all in danger of being retained this year... of course, out of my twenty students, ten of them were invited to join my reading group. scary numbers. today i decided to give those students' progress reports to their parents in person when they were picked up. i stressed the importance of meeting to decide what steps we need to take next and to demonstrate what support services their children are receiving. the mothers started talking amongst themselves and showed some serious frustration. i guess the fact that i'm working with so many kids makes it obvious that a lot of the class isn't where they should be, but at least they didn't seem too pissy with me personally. it's a sad situation and i am NOT looking forward to parent conferences. how can i put these parents at ease? some of these kids are getting all the support services i can manage, some have multiple tutors/mentors a week, but even that may not get them to the level they need to reach in order to be placed. first grade is rough: it's the year when kids truly learn to read. their DRA level goes from a 3 (supposedly, in my case most kids came in at a 0 which is just basic letter recognition but no ability to put words together) to a 16. that's the biggest leap kids make in reading EVER. you get behind a couple months, which is what happened with their previous teacher leaving and several subs in and out, and you're hard-pressed to get caught up. i know my buddies tell me that i shouldn't put so much pressure on myself, but i don't want half of my class to stay behind if they don't have to. this is where i truly do feel an obligation to do absolutely everything i can manage. even if i have to risk a little of my sanity.
domingo, febrero 20, 2005
the truth hurts
she's a nurse, it's gotta be the truth.
viernes, febrero 18, 2005
in other news, i got to experience first-hand our team leader's nasty passive aggressive side. from the get-go i sensed that she was someone i would eventually butt heads with, since she has that know-it-all, my-way-or-the-highway type of attitude and bitchy personality that makes it difficult to work with her if you don't agree on everything. i had to leave work 45 minutes early for an MD appt, so i asked my mentor teacher next door if it would be cool for me to split my class between her and the team leader. as always, she said it wouldn't be a problem. part of being a team is supporting each other, right? i've watched the team leader's entire class before when she had to leave early, and she and my mentor teacher regularly watch each other's classes. i honestly didn't think this was going to be an issue. so imagine my surprise when the team leader sends a student into my class yesterday morning with a leave request form topped with a post-it telling me to fill out one of these next time so i can get a half-day sub. a half-day sub? i should lose a half-day's pay or waste half a day's leave on 45 minutes? are you JOKING? i know for a FACT that she nor my mentor teacher get subs when THEY have to leave early. but rather than dwell on this, i just stuck another post-it on top and stated simply, i turned it in monday, thanks. the poor runner kid came back a minute later with a new post-it telling me to just keep the form for future reference. WHY? clearly, having turned in the form several times BEFORE, i am quite familiar with it and don't need the team leader to shove an extra copy down my throat. she loves a good old power trip and isn't afraid to show it. sure, things could have started off a lot worse, but i resent the fact that because i'm new, she's trying to make me waste what little leave i have simply because she doesn't want to ever cover my class--DESPITE THE FACT that i've helped her out before and she knows i would never refuse to do it again in the future. i'm also wondering if maybe, just maybe, it's because my kids are bilingual.
either way, what a bitch.
so in case you're wondering why i'm blogging before noon, i took a personal day. i needed a break from the bullshit and i didn't want to drive back and forth between cities two days in a row. after my MD appt yesterday, i had my interview at the middle school. i think it went well despite the fact that i didn't even think to prepare for it and anticipate some of the questions i would be asked. an hour after my interview, i attended a teacher informational meeting at the school for all interested applicants. i was pleasantly surprised that they mentioned several of the key points i touched on in my interview, and that i'm apparently already halfway through the application process. at this point, i think if they offered me the job, i would take it. i would teach three different levels of spanish DAILY... quite a step up from my two two-days-a-week classes last semester where hardly any real language learning could take place. i'd also teach some other sort of extracurricular club-type class based on something in which i have an interest. seems like a great opportunity. now we just have to wait and see if it will actually happen.
miércoles, febrero 16, 2005
to all concerned parties:
i used to have a 10-year plan, but in the last 8 months i seem to have decided to let the wind carry me where it may. let's hope things work out for the best, no matter where i land next fall.
tengo la camisa negra
tomorrow is family learning night. since i have to go out of town tomorrow afternoon, i won't be there, but our wonderful reading specialist will be taking my place in the classroom. thank god. given all this parent-related craziness, the last thing i wanted to do was spend time with all of them, all at once, at NIGHT. what a happy coincidence. however, my team wants us all to be aligned in terms of the activities we discuss... that's fine and dandy, but they left me with about 15 documents to translate/re-create. and they gave all of those to me on Monday. i don't think i've bitched a whole lot about how isolated i feel as the only bilingual teacher at my grade level simply because the parent stories are more interesting, but it's become a real problem in the last few weeks; or rather, it's finally become so evident i can't really overlook it anymore. i would really like to be doing what the english monolingual classes are doing; given my class' weird teacher situation last semester, that's not possible right now, but i've still been trying my damnedest. i've translated rubrics, word problems, criteria charts, etc. i make all my own materials when the spanish versions are lacking or too expensive for me to buy. typical problems for a bilingual teacher, but all the more difficult considering it's my first two months teaching. if a new monolingual teacher can spend every day after school working on normal stuff, imagine what i could be doing if i didn't demand so much "me" time.
to lighten things up a bit, before the reading circle i teach after school on wednesdays, one of my kids walked by me and declared, "¡Maestra, echaste un pedote!" For the record, I didn't, but it still took me aback and made me laugh.
martes, febrero 15, 2005
their height and high-pitched voices are sooo deceptive
adding to my confusion, my nightmare mom's son received two warnings today. being a good kid, he started bawling immediately upon receipt of the second warning at the end of the day. coincidentally, at 8 minutes 'til the end of the school day, my phone rang. i've taken to not answering the phone anymore to avoid annoying and irrelevant parent phone calls, but when it rang a second time i figured it must be important. of course, it was nightmare mom asking if she could have a minute of my time. i said no, we were in the middle of our end-of-day routine, and she spit fire through the phone lines and told me that she just wanted me to know that her son needed to go home with his sister. great, i thought, next she's gonna make a phone call to the asst. principal about how rude i was to her. when i saw her stalking toward me after school (i thought she couldn't come, isn't that why she called? JESUS woman!), i thought she was going to rip me a new one. on the contrary, she came to speak to me about why her son received two warnings--which was, of course, because he was being mercilessly attacked by two other boys. now for the record, the reason i gave him the second warning because he and three other boys (one being one of the named "attackers") were chatting and giggly. but she wouldn't hear of it. she began to cite several instances in which her son was picked on by these boys, and when i asked her why she nor anyone else had ever mentioned it to me, she said she didn't want to burden me with gossip. OH MY GOD. i wonder if she heard my jaw drop. bottom line, her son refuses to tell me whenever other kids are bothering him... something i can't quite believe since he's the first to tell me if someone sharpens their pencil without permission. my solution is to give him a little notepad to write in every day, that both his mother and i will sign, so he has to communicate with both of us daily about what happens in school. i think mom will go for it. wish me luck.
lunes, febrero 14, 2005
día de amistad... y remediar
i decided not to have a class party for several reasons. one, i'm not big on encouraging my kids to gorge themselves on sugar. i bought them some cheddar goldfish which we didn't even have time to eat today. two, mexican moms are awesome cooks, and why should i settle for store-bought cupcakes and candy when i could have them make tamales, tacos, enchiladas and tres leches? three, i have some jehovah's witnesses in my class and didn't want them to be totally excluded. i think that turned out for the best. they got some extra recess time and we saved all the gift exchange for the very end of the afternoon so everyone was happy... and most importantly, in a few weeks i can start planning my mexican feast!
since today was so good, i'm assuming the rest of my week will go down the tubes. ah well... i'm leaving early thursday and am taking a personal day friday. i'll be interviewing with a charter school in another major city thursday afternoon; i'm not sure what i want anymore, but this job is a) a great opportunity to teach spanish, b) pays about $10,000 more a year, and c) gives me a chance to be part of a stellar staff. so i won't make any promises to anyone, i'll just see what happens.
and i got a new student today. back to 20 students. i have to test him for his reading level this week... lord help me, please make him at least reasonably close to grade level!
domingo, febrero 13, 2005
i am not alone. who knew?
Ask teachers about the best part of their job, and most will say how much they love working with kids. Ask them about the most demanding part, and they will say dealing with parents. In fact, a new study finds that of all the challenges they face, new teachers rank handling parents at the top. According to preliminary results from the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, made available exclusively to TIME, parent management was a bigger struggle than finding enough funding or maintaining discipline or enduring the toils of testing. It's one reason, say the Consortium for Policy Research in Education and the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, that 40% to 50% of new teachers leave the profession within five years. Even master teachers who love their work, says Harvard education professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, call this "the most treacherous part of their jobs."
Today I had lunch with my parents. After hearing about my horrible week over the phone and in person, I guess they've both come to the same conclusion: they want me to go back to school and get my masters. Dad says I should open a day care; Mom says I should go to pharmacy school. What do you think?
what book are you?
by Alex Haley
While almost everyone agrees that you're brilliant, no one knows quite how to categorize you. Some say that you're a person with an amazing family tree. Some say that you're just a darn good storyteller. Others say that you're both and don't much care where to draw the line. What is known is that your people have been through a great number of trials and that you are where you are because of hard work. You have nothing to lose but your chains.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
I gotta say, my people have definitely been fucked around for several hundred years. Funny how things have turned out, with the Spaniards invading and controlling my mother's country (and raping her people) and here I am speaking their language instead of an indigenous tongue. OH THE IRONY.
sábado, febrero 12, 2005
how many days of school are left?
i wanted to walk out of the assistant principal's office, throw my keys on the floor, and drive off into the dawn. i wanted to walk up to these parents that are making my life hell and tell them how dare you treat me so intensely disrespectfully, how dare you refuse to resolve anything with me first before running to the assistant principal and turning on the waterworks. i wanted to scream at the administration for fronting, for saying they will support and help me and not actually doing anything to alleviate a situation that they knew gets worse with each passing day. i wanted to shove the various letters i've sent home in the faces of these parents, and tell them that if they had actually read the damned things before signing them, they would realize that they have been given excessive opportunities to talk to me, which i spell out explicitly, but they are too damned impatient or lazy or stupid to take my words to heart and respect the fact that from the hours of 7:40-3:00 my obligation is to the 19 children in my room and NO ONE ELSE. you can't interrupt that and expect me to take you seriously if you're not taking the education of the other 18 children seriously. AND I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE.
well, i guess i will, because i've been instructed to, but i'm not gonna do it in a timely manner and i'm not going to get too carried away with it.
friday was better. i trudged into school knowing i didn't want to be there and thanking god that it was friday. three of my kids came to the classroom early, and rather than sending them off to the area where they are supposed to wait in the morning, i let them follow me to the office so i could check my mailbox. they were being really cute. once we got back to the classroom, my favorite little girl gave me a big valentine's day gift. once school started, two more kids came with awesome drawings for me. it's like they sensed that i was having doubts about my job and wanted me to feel loved and appreciated. or maybe they just thought i'd really like a drawing of a shoe and a panda. whatever. my big bawling baby of a student actually had a terrific, work-filled day, and the parents that insisted on talking to me after school were pretty cool compared to the others that have become the bane of my existence. over dinner with la nuevita, i did a count: in the last six weeks, out of 19 students, i have spoken --either on the phone or in person-- with 15 of my students' parents. Four remain elusive, but i think that's pretty damned good. I speak to at least 5-6 parents on a daily basis about their child's performance and behavior. for those of you (esp. madhatter) who don't know what it's like to have so much constant parent contact, let me just tell you: it's not fun. although i gotta say, two of my daily moms are super nice, so they're not all horrid and annoying.
anyway, enough of this. it's the weekend, and i plan on enjoying every damned second of it!
(last night i went to a show and ran into the only two cool co-workers that i'm aware of... one of them frankly stated that one of my teammates is a rigid bitch and another said that my nightmare mom tried to get her son's pre-k teacher fired. geez.)
miércoles, febrero 09, 2005
look! it's noon and i'm at home!
thumbs down to:
martes, febrero 08, 2005
tricksy: an update
at this point, she moves from the doorway to my guided reading table and has a seat two feet away from me. class officially started two minutes ago, but no other students have shown up. she starts talking about the specialist that her insurance covers and a friend that is a social worker. she starts talking about hereditary conditions and how she only had diabetes while pregnant. time seems to be going backwards and no students are arriving. but when at LAST the teacher next door comes in and asks me to watch her class, and i'm forced to get up and talk to those students, she gets up and wishes me a good day. igualmente. what the fuck? yesterday i was incompetent, today i'm your comadre?
but it goes without saying, today was much better than yesterday. classroom management training tomorrow. let's see if my peers are more annoying than last time.
lunes, febrero 07, 2005
How To Drive Me Crazy In 9 Easy Steps
1. Be highly spastic about your 6-yr-old's education, despite the fact that he is one of my most polite, consistently well-behaved, considerate, helpful (although occasionally to the point that it's annoying, much like YOU) and smartest students.
2. Be jobless. Have nothing better to do than to hang out at my elementary school all fucking day long.
3. Make sure you run into me as often as possible during the school day. If you see us go to the library, follow us. If your child has forgotten an article of clothing or a bottle of water, bring it after the school day has started (an additional visit because you already walk him in to the classroom, not just to it). And if for any reason you have to go home or leave campus, call me during our learning time to interrupt me with something extraordinarily inane, like asking me if your child is still coughing off and on.
4. Get suddenly chummy with my student mentor from the local university. Keep her from helping with my class because she's stuck in an endless conversation with you.
5. When you ask me a question, do not allow me to answer before you begin your rebuttal. Do not even allow me to respond with more than a full sentence before interrupting me. If I say anything about doing things for the benefit of the entire class, either dismiss the other students by saying you are only concerned about your child, or bad-mouth other students in their (and their peers') presence.
6. After bitching at me, proceed to the vice principal and complain to him. When he asks if you have directly addressed your child's teacher, tell him you have, and you did not like what you heard. Then call my classroom to bitch at me some more, even though we've already discussed how you can't bother me during the day in person nor via telephone.
7. When I ask you to meet with me at a more appropriate time (such as when students are not supposed to be learning), tell me it will just take a few minutes and that it's very important. When I insist that I cannot talk during school hours apart from planning time, bitch away as if I haven't said a word. And if I begin to explain or defend myself, bitch a bit more, then walk away.
8. Do all of the above on a daily basis.
9. Be sick for a week just to give me a taste of what it's like to not deal with this bullshit on a daily basis, then come back in full force. Better yet, come back raring to go and declare "I'm gone for two days and all this* happens?", because you are in fact the center of the universe.
*"this" refers to the theft issues, which have become small potatoes compared to the high-maintenance mom bullshit.
domingo, febrero 06, 2005
You Might Be In Education If...
La maestra: I also like the implicit assumption that "you might be in education" if you're married. I'll follow up on the stealing later, it's been pissing me off too much for me to acknowledge it at home.
miércoles, febrero 02, 2005
esto me duele el corazon
every day, my students take home a behavior/reading log for their parents to sign. at the beginning of january, i started stamping all the signed sheets in the morning. the first day, i used a stamp my principal gave me, but the next day it was missing. i figured i was just disorganized and got out two more to leave on my desk. The next day, those two new stamps were gone. And one of my students had one of the stamps all over her behavior sheet. Curious, but it was my first week and i had a million other things to worry about, so I let it go.
about two weeks ago, la nuevita gave me some awesome spanish stamps and two lovely ink pads. i brought them to my classroom but not before i gave my class a big lecture on stealing and how special the stamps were for me because they were a gift from a friend. today, i had the stamp container out because i used one of them this morning with behavior sheets. one ink pad and one stamp were on one side of my desk, the rest were in the container on the other side. while i was working with some students, i noticed a student (the one whose paper had the stamps all over it last month) playing with the stamps in the container. after my after-school reading group, i noticed the whole container had been cleaned out, and the only stamps left on the table were the ones i used in the morning.
i don't want to make excuses for this kid. she's one of the sweetest students i have, always giving me a kiss on the cheek before she goes home. she came from mexico a couple months ago and is adjusting quickly, although she tells me that her mother doesn't have a lot of money and she just had a baby sister who was hospitalized yesterday. maybe there's a reason for this behavior. but obviously this time i can't let it slide. i could definitely have worse problems to deal with, but this is the most devastating thing to happen to me so far. she's SIX. and now she's stolen from me TWICE. advice? (and yes, i'll be talking to my mentor teacher and the assistant principal tomorrow before i address anyone in the class)
martes, febrero 01, 2005
now for the funny stuff. one of my kids ripped a gigantic fart during morning group time, then wrote a comment (to avoid tattling and gossip, my kids write me little "comments" to put in a collective comment box that i use to determine topics of discussion during class meetings) about someone saying he farted. well you did and everyone knows it, don't be in denial, kiddo! later another kid swore that a fellow student grabbed his "huevos"... once again, my kids were having some difficulty with reality because i was standing right in front of them the whole time and no such thing happened. an unfortunate accidental brushing of the hand at best. finally, i took pictures of my kids walking in a "perfect line" and showed them to a friend. she immediately stated that it looked like they were in jail. cause that's the kind of teacher i am!