Monday, December 18, 2006

Today Joshua Stopped Talking

For 1o minutes.
Then another 10 minutes.
Then another 10 minutes.
Thank God for mini pretzles and timers.
The long story will come later. All of you special ed people that have been trying to help me with behavior plans - it finally worked!!
Let's see if it works again tomorrow, and if I can get him to actually work, not just be quiet so that I can teach and not have to constantly speak over him. (all bolds because that's how I speak all day because Joshua never quits talking) - UNTIL TODAY!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The story, the long version, will not be posted here. There's too much emotion involved...too much realness, even for me, to share. In short, I have a medical condition, which my students now know about. They found out in the worse possible way. I didn't get to tell them....they were all in tears, and then they didn't see me for 2 days. The staff at my school couldn't have been more supportive. Neither could my kids. I, in spite of so many things that go wrong on a daily basis, am blessed.
Strangely it was almost what was needed to bring us back remind me just how much I love them and just how much they love me, even though they really have no idea how to show it.
In the days after I had so many people asking me why I was here, at this school and in this city.
"To teach," I told them. "Those are my kids."
I didn't feel it needed more of an explanation. Some people smiled. Some just shook their heads. Either way, I think they all believe me.
I love those kids, maybe not more, but differently than I've ever loved anyone. I'm ALWAYS on their side. Not to say that they don't get a consequence when they're in the wrong or that there aren't days when they frustrate me, but in the morning I get up to fight for them. I live my life, 5 days a week, for them. I've never done that for anyone before. The fact that I only have 13 of them only makes it more intense.
I'm looping with them next year, which means that my entire TFA experience will be with these 13 kids. 3 months ago I would have considered it punishment. Now I can't imagine having anyone else teach them.
I can't wait to see them tomorrow morning; to walk up the sidewalk littered with chicken bones and into my tin building with bars on the windows and teach them something.
PS - On Friday we had a graduation of the level A,B,C, and D level books. (Which are beginning kindergarten level - eek!!) My kids took them from the baskets and gave them to the speech teacher, then I had some kids come with me on my prep to get M, N, O, and P (end of second/beginning of third grade) books from the book room. After school I rearranged the shelves and added the new baskets. I hope they're as excited to see them as I was! Go my babies for working hard to read on grade level!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Optimism Returns

Sometimes all it takes to make you look up is hitting rock bottom.
This day will be remembered, by all of us, forever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

13 Days

-A para who hasn't shown up for 2 days.
-Kids who are increasingly disrespectful to each other.
-A staff on edge and trying to adjust to the fact that there is a room sitting empty while others are overflowing with desks and kids who are falling through the cracks of a broken system.
-Today we started class jobs. They have to earn their position. 9 out of 13 have yet to be hired.
-We slip back in to disillusionment. In spite of the gains that have been achieved kids go home to a culture that hasn't bought it - they haven't really bought it, and I'm not sure if I can sell it.
-13 days until the biggest test any of us have had all year and sometimes it's very very hard to love them.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"There's beauty in the breakdown"
Frou Frou

There is opportunity in this. Today we wore jeans and sneakers and prepared for a day of work. Not just teaching, but explaining and moving and cleaning and continuing to fight this battle that seems to be forever up hill.
It started with our AP telling my friend's kids that she left because they were bad, then splitting her class up among the other two fourth grade teachers. They're not hiring a replacement. A class was split as desks were pushed down the hallway in two separate directions. Classes of 22 turned in to classes of 30 overnight.
During the day her kids were in and out of my room, some in tears, some just being obnoxious. I ate lunch with others, some guilty, some angry, all with questions.
The 'bad' kids from the other 4th grades were in and out of my room today, needing a safe, quiet place to come and learn. This is not going to work, 30+ of them in one room. There's too many of them with special needs. Too many of them that need too much attention. Too many of them that really should be in my room full time. They can't be, so instead they'll come when they can't handle it in their own room anymore. When the cramped space and fast pace is too much for them to handle. It's not legal and it's not what MY kids need but at some point everyone else's 'bad' kids became my kids, too.
There's a lesson in opportunity to come together as a staff and a community. We supported each other today. Listened, laughed, talked, vented...persevered together. One day at a time we'll make it.
"I'm glad you're still here," one person said.
"I can't believe she left and you stayed," said another. "You have the crazy kids."
There's beauty in the breakdown.
I do have the crazy kids and I love them. I refuse to leave them unless I am physically unable to teach them anymore.
We'll look back and realize that this was a turning point.
There is no looking back...only forward.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Right back what is wrong
We move along
All American Rejects

Today a teacher at my school quit. Not just any teacher. A fellow 4th grade teacher who was getting her masters in special ed. A first year teacher I would have dinner with on Friday nights of weeks we had both had a little too much of our students and our school. A teacher who's room I ate lunch in because my students are now self-contained during both lunch and recess. She was not only my colleague, but my friend and confidant. Yesterday at lunch she told me she was quitting. I didn't believe her. She'd said it many times before.
Today she didn't come back. Her room was empty. She was gone.
There were no goodbyes, not to me or her students or administrators.
She was just gone.
Over the phone we talked. I was shocked, then sad, then angry, then numb...then I went back to my kids.
MY KIDS. Who have learned to read and subtract with regrouping and multiply and can tell you all about why static electricity happens.
MY KIDS. Who made me want to quit almost every day for the first month but who I can not imagine walking out on now.
MY KIDS. Who work their butts off for me.
MY KIDS. Who other teachers hate and can't control and don't appreciate.
This system is broken. Things don't happen the way they should. Kids and classes and teachers and entire schools fall through the cracks but at the end of the day some of us are standing up and taking responsibility. These are MY KIDS. This is not my system or my curriculum or my school but they are MY KIDS and I will NOT abandon them.
It's time for people to stand up and fight for them because they haven't been given the skills they need to fight for themselves.
I am so incredibly angry and all I can do about it is get up tomorrow and be the best teacher MY KIDS have ever had.

Monday, December 04, 2006

19 days

The result of planning (and teaching) 3 and a half hours of test prep a day.
It's what we'll be doing until after Christmas.
We're judged on this. All of us.
Oh my goodness.
Please let it be over already.