Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A New Low

"F*** Ms. G" was written in huge letters on the inside of the closet.
It happened during the school day.
Most likely during the transition before or after lunch.
It was brought to my attention by my para as the kids were packing up to go home.
No one admits to it, of course.
There was no punishment, not today at least. I don't want to punish the innocent or accuse someone who didn't do it.
I showed it to my AP, expecting a reaction at least for destruction of property.
"It was probably one of your nasty children," she said. She closed the door and left the room.
I took a picture of the door and left.
No planning.
No cleaning.
No grading.
No extra investment in a system where I'm constantly abused. Did I mention I got hit in the lip by a kid's head yesterday? Yeah, bloody lips are now all in a day's work I guess.
This is not what I signed up for.
This is not a healthy work environment.
I have two more months and then I have some big decisions to make. So much of what goes on in my classroom is illegal. Not only did I have my 13 today, but I also had 2 kids who were supposed to be in suspension. Paras don't come when they're supposed to. Security never comes when called.
The program I'm in is a 2 year commitment. They don't like to transfer people from their original school. I don't want to leave the program. I also don't know if it's mentally healthy for me to be at this school for another year. Kids don't know that there's any other way to be's so incredibly sad.
Teachers...any suggestions on what to do about the whole closet situation? It's still up, for now. It's the first time those words have ever been written, or said, to me in my classroom, and I don't want it to set a precedent.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Is It June 27th Yet?

Because we all need a break.
My kids and my para and my feet and my brain and my spirit.
Today we were multiplying decimals. I was talking them through a 2 by 2 digit problem on the board. Part of the problem said 2 x 4.
"What's 2 x 8?" I asked.
"16," someone answered.
"What's 2 x 8?" I asked.
"16!" they answered again.
I was annoyed. They know this. Why are they saying 16?
"What's 2 x 8?" I asked I could feel myself glaring at the kids who weren't speaking up. Why aren't they giving the right answer? I thought to myself.
"16!" they answered again with blank stares.
"Someone please use tallies or count up or do whatever you have to do because you are not focused," I scolded. "TWO TIMES EIGHT!" I said, obviously annoyed, tapping the marker on the board like I do when I'm frustrated with them. It's a habit they, too, have picked up.
Finally the speech teacher in the back spoke up.
"You mean two times four?" she asked? I looked at the board.
"Yeah," I said. I apologized to the kids.
"Okay, two times eight," I said.
I wish it had been on purpose.
The kids laughed. They joked that I needed to be on first warning of our negative consequence system.
I need a break.
A very long one.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Buckled In

Jose stayed after school. We laughed and learned and I realized that I spend more time with him than I do my family, friends, boyfriend, or any other person in my life. He's 10 and emotionally disturbed and incredibly bright and he sits with me every day while I write my lesson plans, and writes a book on the computer next to me.

Yahkemp responded to me without yelling. His mother told me I was an angel from God.

My kids got so in to the multiplication game I made up they were jumping up and down. My assistant principal walked in to see what was going on. She saw 13 kids incredibly engaged. I didn't ask them to keep it down. I shut my door.

I was spit on on my way to work this morning and called white cracker. I kept walking and couldn't help but wonder why some people think we're doing a disservice by being here.

There was a fight between a 9 year old boy and 10 year old girl today in the lunch room. The boy is one of my after school kids. She knocked him down, picked up his head in her hands and beat it repeatedly against the table while aides and students watched. It took paramedics over 20 minutes to revive him. The kids went on like nothing had happened. The adults were scared. I'm not sure if it was for the student or their jobs.

My para isn't showing up or calling in, which means sometimes there's someone in my room and sometimes there isn't, and it's never consistent. My kids are having a heyday with all the new faces and personalities. The revolving door needs to stop.

**We have 3 months left. So much progress needs to be made. I'm tired. Today, for the first time since I started teaching there, I felt like my school was an unsafe place to be. The kids are not protected from each other. The culture of disrespect is scary. To see it spiraling out of control and to be somewhat responsible for the outcome is terrifying. How can one affect change in this type of environment? I came here to do just that...but saying it and knowing how to do it are two very different things.**

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My Poets

One of them, at least. We're in the middle of our poetry unit and my kiddos are coming up with some pretty good stuff.
Here's one of Malik's. More to come if I remember to post :)

Why in a big world
Is there fighting and tears in people's eyes?
I can't think that you can just be born in a world
Where people fight
Fist in your face
Why and again why do people do gang banging?
That is the question no one knows
So I ask why.

I wish I could scan the picture he drew to go along with it.
We're doing free verse, focusing on content rather than rhyme or rhythm or anything like that. That will come this week when we start writing raps. They can't wait....

Monday, March 12, 2007

What Goes Up Must Come Down, Over and Over Again

I'm realizing that this is a roller coaster.
That in September I shook the hands of 13 kids, asked them to sit down in seats that were (then) randomly assigned and we began a ride together. I knew there would be good days and bad days, but was in no way prepared for good months and bad months.
I'm not sure if it has to do with the weather or me or them or the academic content or a combination of things or the fact that we're all just human but this year has been incredibly up and down. When it's down I scramblelikeamadwoman to bring it back together again. This takes away my time to call, write, blog, workout, sleep....breathe...hence, my absence here.
I can't even really explain what brings us in to a downward spiral or what pulls us out. It's always gradual, and I'm always relieved when it's over.
Today I attended a workshop on reading comprehension. It was my first professional development day all year. It was so nice to wake up and know I would be a normal, peaceful person for a day. To be filled instead of just absorb and ask questions instead of constantly giving answers.
And no one asked me to go to the bathroom. All day.
Still, the workshop was only a few blocks away from my school and I found myself wanting to go visit my kiddos. To make sure they were okay....that Elvis wasn't kicking people under the table and Yahkemp wasn't goofing around in the hallway and that no one was picking on Kevin and that Kevin wasn't retaliating. I missed them. A lot.
It was a nice reminder that, even in the spring, when we're all in a countdown to summer, I love my job at least 8 days out of 10. There are probably 2 days out of 10 when I get up because it's my job and I have a rent to pay and food to buy and it's just what adults do. They get up and go to their job even when they don't want to. But the other 8 I go because I love my kids and believe in what I'm doing. On the 2 'pay the rent days' I beat myself up for my attitude and lack of passion. I tell myself that my kids deserve someone that wants them 5 days a week, 10 months a year. Then I remember what I was told when I came in to this job, and the attitudes of so many people in other professions, who chose their jobs solely to pay the rent, and I realize that my percentage is pretty good.