Thursday, September 13, 2007

Maybe We'll Be A Teacher Movie After All

Happy Rosh Hashanah to everyone! (Hence why I'm posting when I would usually be teaching Reading...) In NYC we get Jewish holidays off, too, which is part of the reason why we have a 10 month school year. (3 or 4 extra days off = a month more of school)
Things are still going well, and I must admit, all of this political restructuring (which seems to ALWAYS be happening in our school system) is making a big difference in our school this year. An important thing to know here is we share our building with another school (common in NYC). In the past this has been a big problem because our kids fight all the time. They couldn't even go to lunch when the other school was at recess because they would fight. The 'our school is better than yours' attitude is so contagious that when I see yellow uniform shirts on the street (our kids wear white), a little part of me thinks, 'ew, ps (fill in the blank of their school number).' Bad, I know, but true. It's part of our school culture.
That is, until this year, when the regions are gone and the principals have much more power over their schools (and are, supposedly, going to be held accountable for their decisions). All of the sudden they're stressing unity. Our school goes down, basically we're going to bring down the other school too, and their principal won't have it. So over the summer they got together and developed a plan to turn things around. Now we have this behavior system that's building (not just school) wide where the kids get points for every period and the class in each grade level that wins at the end of the week gets a free period. They've provided us with all kinds of board games and money for pizza parties at the end of each month. I keep waiting for a camera crew to jump out and be like, yeah, this is a joke, this isn't your school. I asked for this last year, and they actually did it, and the WHOLE SCHOOL is buying in to it. Our kids actually wear uniforms every day. That NEVER happened last year, even though it's a city wide policy. Kids keep each other in line for POINTS. They care about learning. They do their homework. Don't get me wrong, it's not a hunky dorey suburban school. There was a fight during lunch yesterday between Elvis and Malik. But my AP broke it up, told me to go eat my lunch, and it was put in the system (for suspensions) THAT DAY. They're not playing around this year. I still can't believe it. They're serious about turning things around, and I don't even care what their motives are because it's good for the kids.
It's going to be a different year and maybe we'll be one of those teacher movies after all...with the crazy beginning and the music montage and the happy ending?
Probably not.....but my kids are finally getting what they deserve, and that's an incredible feeling.


dorkyteacher said...

Dude, buy-ins are so effective. And not the "this is your future" buy-in. They want stuff that is now, that they can taste and touch and watch. My Communications class MIGHT get to go to a play, and they make suggestions to me all the time about what the requirements should be, like you have to be passing and have 80% of your homework in to get to go to the play. I'm so way happy for you and your kiddos. :)

Jake said...

i just REALLY want there to be a music montage. please be a music montage!!!

X said...

Looking forward to your next update...