Saturday, March 29, 2008

Quality Review

She said it well here.

Quality reviews are a big show. Want to know how schools really are? Show up randomly. Talk to random kids, go in to random classrooms, and pick the parents you want to speak to. A great school would be okay with that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The old Jose is back.
His journey complicated to say the least...he came in 20 minutes early today so we could go over his individual behavior plan. "Do you think I'm a trouble maker?" he asked me.
I paused.
I remembered his actions in all the time I had known him, nearly 2 years now.
"I think you are a very good kid who sometimes makes bad choices," I said. "But we all make bad choices sometimes. But smart people learn from their bad choices and don't make them again," I said. "They also never hurt others on purpose."
"Sometimes I do that," he said in a way that made him seem so small and me so big.
"I know," I replied. "But today is a new day, and I believe that you can change."
We went on to have a conversation about the 4 schools he has been to this year, how none wanted him, and how he eventually ended up back at ours.
"We want you here," I said. "This is your classroom now," I said.
This child, who caused such havoc in my room last year, is now back, and it is now my job to make him feel more welcome than he has felt since September.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

From the Mouths of Others

"At the end of the day, our story is just about kids. Real living, breathing, eating, drinking, sometimes loud, sometimes annoying, sometimes funny, always beautiful, always amazing kids."
-An excerpt from a letter we received from our SpEd Program Directors

Brief Update

The Old New One is still in the psych ward/mental's been over 2 weeks now.
My New New One is such a character and a good influence on my room.
My second long term sub just got another job, so we go back to the 'different para every day' routine tomorrow. Time, once again, to band together.
3 months left.
To educate. Inspire. Teach. Learn.
Some days it still feels like just surviving.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The New One is no longer the New One, for I got a new student on Monday. Jose, not to be confused with my old Jose, came to us with a smile and a stern warning from mom about not being on meds.
By the end of day 1 I was in love. Yeah, he's ADHD. It took me about 30 minutes to figure that out. But I've never had an ADHD kid who wasn't angry. Jose tells laffy taffy jokes. He says 'psych' about 50 times a day. And he asks 'trick questions', to which there are no answers. "That was a trick question," he says, "which means there isn't an answer, cause it's a trick, get it?"
I love him. He's little, genuine, and lightens the mood of my 13 year old, angry at the world because they're still in 4th grade classroom.
"Hey, this class is fun. We never did anything fun in my other class," he said today.
It's nice to have a kid appreciate differentiation :)

Meanwhile, the Old New One is in a psych ward, where he has been since Friday. He was taken away from his legal guardian by ACS. Keep him in your thoughts. He needs intense counseling, but we all know how those places can be. We're just hoping doesn't come back worse....

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


The New One, who is not so new any more, but his placement so complicated that I will never use his name on this blog, received his second superintendent's suspension of the month today.
This is the most severe kind of suspension you can receive in NYC, and it involves being sent to another school.
This incident is for throwing a large rock at a class that was lined up to go to an assembly, then cursing out the teacher....but his rap sheet is such that any thing that goes in the system warrants a suspension.
Today he tore things off the door, banged on our windows, and screamed at us while kids were working in small groups. I told that principal, who replied, "that's him,".
I'm again left with the sacrificing one for 11 dilemma....but somewhere inside of me is a voice that knows that 1 is somebody's baby and a child that will someday grow up to become an adult who will remember everything we said and did to him.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Today is March 1st

Which means that in 4 months, school will be over.
I am tired.
A kind of tired that sleep, or even a week off, does not fix.

In the past year and a half my kids have made incredible growth in reading. Some grew over 2 and a half years in 10 months.
We met grade level math standards with 87% mastery even though some didn't know the addition and subtraction sign when we started.
We took field trips to places my students had never seen and proved so many people wrong over...and over....and over again.
And Mario incited a riot and assaulted the principal of the other school in our building.
And Elvis's mom died.
And some of my kids went to more restrictive settings.
And at the end of the day I walk away heavier. Sometimes I carry books, sometimes their work to grade, other times just the weight of their lives, and my own, that was relocated half way across the country for this experience and most days still doesn't really fit here.

Nevertheless, a year and a half later, it has been a long journey, and I need to wake up and do something else in the morning. It's not even about leaving them anymore. I will never leave them, I just won't be their teacher anymore.