Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So Close...

I recently had my students complete a large project.  It had many parts, all revolving around a list of books, from which they had to choose one and read it.  Then, they had to do a list of different activities.  They culmination was a book report, in which they were supposed to give me a short summary of the book, and then spend the rest of their time telling me about why they liked the book, or why they didn’t like the book.

Generally, grading 6th grade essays are an exercise in frustration, since they don’t really write very well yet, for the most part.  They haven’t gotten to the point where they have an essay every other week or so, like they start to do in 7th and 8th, and up until now, almost all of their writing is focused around narrative writing.  Getting them to write a non-fiction work is like pulling teeth… teeth that aren’t ready to be pulled!


For the most part, I work throughout the year on sneaking in the expository writing, by having them respond to quotes or writing prompts on a daily basis as bellwork, instead of saying, “Okay, students, today you’re going to be writing an essay!”  Avoiding the word helps to avoid the negative attitudes that go hand-in-hand with writing essays… at least until they get wise to my tricks, which generally lasts me until well after Christmas. 

Many of the students turn in something that looks gorgeous, since it’s required that their essay is typed, size 12 font, and double-spaced.  I love getting a pristine stack of essays from the children; looking for the ones who put it in a pretty little binder thing, or which kid used a pretty font or fun paper.  

Then I start to dive into their words, and the prettiness goes away. 

Some gems I have come across in this set:


  • “the baby sister likes to use the bathroom in her dipper.”  - I can only assume she means diaper.  Yet, I wonder what caused the student to come to the conclusion that the baby likes going to the bathroom in her ‘dipper.’ I didn’t think babies had much choice, myself.
  • “My opinion of the book is that the book is a good book and keeps your mind wanting more and more.” – So generic.  They didn’t even mention the characters once.
  • “She goes to the wedding and instead of saying the valves and stuff you sing everything.”  - Valves of your heart?  I guess marriage is a joining of the heart.  Sort of.
  • “Billy begs his parents for puppies, but they can’t afford it because this was during the great expression.”  - I wonder what they were expressing?  Discontent, surely, since it was set during the Great Depression, but they didn’t specify.
  • “A Third is a child who is a third child in a family and third children aren’t allowed so to be a Third (the third child born in a family) is dangerous.” – I think that they just liked the word “third.”


Thank goodness there’s not that much school left this year!  I am sure that I can’t survive one more essay.

 But the thought that gets me the most is that the kids are writing astronomically better than when they arrived in 6th at the beginning of the year.  So next year, I’ll start all over.

 Sometimes I am so excited about that thought.  Sometimes, not so much.

 Oh, well.  I am glad I’m still going to be with 6th grade next year.  As terribly as they write and as often as they cry, I do love them the best.

Now, if I can just survive the last half of the last 9 weeks, we’ll be getting somewhere.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why Do Parents Believe Children?

Seriously.  If your 12-year-old tells you that she doesn't have homework anymore because we've had our standardized test... don't believe her.

If your son, a 6th grader, tells you that they don't send report cards home anymore, even though the sign at the front of the school says they go home on the 10th, don't believe him.

I must have had a different type of mother, because she never believed my crazy lies.  I don't believe my student's crazy tales, but their parents do.

And that's really sad.

But if I get one more voicemail or email from a parent, claiming crazy things, I am seriously going to have to restrain myself from saying something to the effect of, "Do you really think that I said that?  That, even though on the progress report, her grade was a 11%, she actually has a 95%, and it was just a mistake?  Are you that stupid?"  

Because this past progress report, the children apparently all joined in a conspiracy to lie to their parents, causing an endless stream of confusion and consternation, culminating in parents yelling about how they can't believe that we don't fix the errors in the computers before sending progress reports home.

Um, parents? 

Your child lies.  It's a phase they go through several times in their growth to adults, and apparently especially right now.  Love them, trust them, but then check everything they say, especially if it seems like it doesn't make sense.

And stop blaming me!  I promise I didn't tell your child that they don't need to pass my class to get out of 6th grade.

I actually said, "Do your work or you'll have summer school."

Believe me.  I outgrew the lying phase years ago.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why I am Crazy...

One of students this year is a mess.  A complete and total mess.  He doesn’t want to do his work.  Not sure why… have asked him about it, have spent time sitting next to him to make sure he understand what’s going on and what he should be doing, have talked to mom, have talked to dad, have asked his friends, etc.  He just doesn’t want to do it.

My co-teacher has also attempted to work with the boy, to see if he’d respond better to a man (nope, he works better for me, and that’s a scary thought). 

He doesn’t want to do his work so much that he pretends that he is doing it so that you think he’s working.  Then, when it comes time to turn in his work, he doesn’t have anything.  Not even his name on his paper.  

Not.  Even.  His. Name.


He routinely pretends to not have a pencil so that, when you ask him why he hasn’t done anything since he entered the room 30 minutes ago, he can say, “Well, I don’t have a pencil!”


However, if you tell him that he will start writing in the next 60 seconds or he will have a lunch detention, he magically pulls a pencil from his backpack, where his mother has packed it for him. 

Sometimes he honestly doesn’t have a pencil, and I have a system for borrowing pencils, which he knows very well, but he doesn’t ask, and even when you tell him to get one, he won’t do it.  He’d much rather not have a pencil, because if he has one, he might have to actually work.

 Now, when I say that he pretends to work, I mean he has a pencil in his hand, and he moves it across his notebook, so that it looks like he is actually writing.  I mean, you can actually look at him directly, and he pauses in writing, seeming to think, then continues to move his pencil across his paper, not actually writing anything.  The only way to be sure he is actually writing is to go right next to him and look.  I have watched him actually pull out a pencil, look around to make sure no one is watching him, and snap the lead off the top of the pencil.  Then he just sits there, pretending to write.  When asked, a little while later, why there is nothing on his paper, he says, “My pencil is broken.” 

This might just be one reason I feel crazy this year.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Fever - Part Two

So it's official... the kids have lost it, and taken me with them.  

Here are just some of things that occurred, just today.

-The student I call Scatted was being annoyed by the boy behind him.  This is not unusual, as 6th graders enjoy annoying the people around them, but the kid was just breathing.  Apparently (when I asked later) the kid's nose was whistling, and Scattered thought he was doing it on purpose.  

He responds by saying, at the top of his lungs:  "Dude, stop it!  Duuuuuuuuuudeeeeeee, stooooooooop it!"  (he continued in a loop for about 45 seconds, while I stared incredulously, until I couldn't take it anymore. 

-One of my girl students told me that she had to go to the bathroom to take care of 'her girl stuff.'   I gave her a pass, but she said that she wanted to take her friend with her.  I said no way, and she pitched a whining fit, while I stared at her in amazement.  I finally stopped the fit, and told her she could go to the bathroom by herself or not at all, and she said never mind and sat back down.  (I can't wait to hear from her parents, since I didn't let her go to the bathroom, so I'm torturing their child).

-Two of my boys were fighting over my pencil sharpener.  Neither of them needed it at the time. 

-A girl asked me if she could have an extra day for the homework she was just assigned.  I asked her why she would need it, since she hadn't even started it and so she couldn't know she couldn't do it.  She told me that she just didn't want to do any homework tonight.

-The kids have stopped coming back from lunch at a reasonable pace.  I think this is more to do with the fact they're becoming 7th graders, but this is really annoying.  We have split lunch, so we have 1/2 of class before lunch and 1/2 after.  When they take forever to get back we don't have time to finish anything.  Instead, they dance their way back and then all force themselves into the bathroom.  I know it has to be a fire hazard.

And finally, they just continue to ask ridiculous questions, and since it's just time for a break, I don't think it's as cute, funny, or harmless as usual.  We need rest!

Or lots and lots of chocolate.

(For me, not for the kids.  No sugar for them, please.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Grown Up Babies

So Grown, yet such babies…

Today is a perfect example of how young these kids really are, even though they think they are so grown at 12. 

One of my girls came in a giant fluffy down-filled jacket, zipped up all the way to the top, almost choking her.  After being inside a little while, she attempted to unzip it, since it isn’t needed inside. 

She can’t do it.

Her zipper is stuck. 

So she had to come over to me and ask me to get her out of it… just like she’s probably done countless times with her mother. 

I thought it was so hilarious, but also really sweet.  It does make me happy to be that trusted by the children.  Like the girl last year who got stuck in a bracelet and panicky, so I had to use wire cutters to get it off of her.  She trusted me to use sharp objects near her arm.  

And my student today let me attempt to get her out of her jacket, risking a zipper pinch (she had it up so high she had to tip her head back so I could get to the zipper.)

I love forming relationships with the kids that lead to trust!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring Fever

It's truly time for Spring Break.  

We've got awhile yet before we actually get to take a week off, but the children are finished.  They aren't doing their homework, they are texting in class (three more cell phones taken away just today), they are running in the courtyard, they are hiding in the bathroom to skip class, and one very persistent (and apparently tall) girl keeps writing in permanent marker on the ceiling of the girl's room.

In short, we need a break.

And let's not even start to talk about our standardized test, which is coming so fast I can't believe it. 

I will be a much calmer, saner teacher when we come back from our break.  We'll have finished our standardized test, so I will have time to do all the "fun" stuff I love doing but don't get to spend as much time with.

So, let's not go to school this week


Monday, March 2, 2009

No Electronics!

Why, oh, why do so many of my very young students have electronics that I still cannot afford?  In just the past two weeks, I have confiscated:

-five cell phones
-one PSP
-one iPod
-something that beeped that I didn't know what it was (a game, I think.  Not sure)

This irritates me.  I don't take the phones or stuff randomly.  They have to be doing something with it (in the case of the iPod and the PSP, they were playing games on them in my class) or it has to start making noise and interrupting the class.  The school policy that if your parents insist on you having the phone, you may (a lot of the parents feel it's a safety thing so they can call as they walk home) but you must keep it in your backpack at all times, shut off.

This means, the cell phone must remain in the backpack at all times.  

This does not mean in your pocket.

This not mean clipped to your belt.

This especially does not mean pulling it out to show everyone your cool phone.

For other electronic devices (iPods, cameras, PSPs, Nintendo DSes, etc) are not allowed.

For some reason, 6th graders have a hard time with this.  If they have it, they have to show it.  They want to show it off to each other.  The 8th graders are so much more subtle and sneaky, but not my students.  They'll have it on their desk, then act surprised when I confiscate it.

Each item that I take gets turned over to our grade level office, labelled carefully with the student's name, to await mom or dad coming to pick it up.

This really irritates the parents, generally, and I can't say I blame them.  They have to figure out a way to get to the school while the office is open (generally only while they're supposed to be at work, and not late enough for them to come after work) to get the item.

Sometimes they're irritated with their kid, which I don't blame them.  

Sometimes they blame me.  I am just following the policy that they all signed at the beginning of the year, plus it's not like I decided to text my friend in class.  If their child had shut their phone off or turned their phone on vibrate, it never would have come to me taking this.

Anyway.  I am tired of the whole electronics thing.  

And don't even get me started on hats and sunglasses.

Spring Break needs to be here now.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Conversational Snippets

I spend a good deal of time listening to the children as they talk, either to me or amongst themselves.  I learn all sorts of things this way.  

Sometimes I learn what's in right now (have you ever heard of You*Tube, Ms. Language Arts Lady?  It's really fun!)

Sometimes I learn how much they're understanding the current lesson.  (Or not.  Did you know that setting was not the place/time where something happened, like I thought, but why someone did something?  i.e., the setting is why the boy hit his sister.  Yeah, apparently we need to do that lesson over again.)

Sometimes I hear things that simply hilarious, insane, or silly.  Here are some examples of recent conversational snippets. 

"Ms. Language Arts Lady?  May I have a band-aid?"
"Are you bleeding?"
"Then why do you need a band-aid?"
"I was bleeding.
"But you're not actually bleeding now."
"So, again, why do you need a band-aid?"
A blank stare is my answer.
"They're in the cabinet.  Top shelf."

"Do I need to turn this in?"  (asking about the classwork that I just collected from every other student in the room.)
"Well, no, you don't have to, but if you would like to get credit for it, then yes.  I can't grade it if you don't give it to me."
"So does that mean you want it?"

"Do I need to put my name on this paper?"
"No, you don't.  Only if you want me to know it was your paper, so I can give you a grade for it."
"Okay." (Then proceeds to turn it in without putting their name on it.  I give it back).

"Wait, Ms. Language Arts Lady!  You can't move on!  I haven't finished copying the notes!"
"Did you start copying the notes?  Because there's nothing on your desk."
"No!  I didn't, because I can't find my notebook!!" (Frantic digging around in his backpack ensues. )  "Someone stole it!  Someone stole my notebook!"
"Now, Scattered, I'm sure no one stole your notebook!  Who would want it?  They all have their own notebooks!"
"Well, it was on my desk and now it's gone!!!!"  (Seriously freaking out now.)
"Hey, Scattered?  Is that it, under your desk?"
He freezes, and doesn't move for 10 seconds (not sure why...).  Then he slowly leans over and looks.  "Yes, that's it!!"

(Overheard, two students talking)
"I got lunch detention today."
"Oh, really?  Who gave it to you?"
"Ms. Language Arts Lady.  She said I was talking during the announcements, but I wasn't."
"That sucks!  So are you going to go?"
(I join the conversation)
"Yes, he's going to go, if he doesn't want to receive a stricter consequence.  Oh, and, for the record, you were talking through the announcements.  Again."
(Both children looked quite startled, not realizing I was listening.)
"I wasn't going to not show up!" (asserts the child in trouble)
"Good to know."

 I honestly think that these little bits of their thoughts and feelings, while sometimes driving me completely insane, are what keeps me going back every day.  You just never know what will come out of their mouths next.

6th graders do say the craziest things!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gone so Long...

Well, it's been an insane amount of time since I have been blogging... and I feel rather bad. I have some reasons, of course, but still. I am considering whether or not to pull it down, or work on getting things posted. In the meantime, here are some of my reasons for not posting:

-This summer, with the two graduate level classes I was taking, just about wiped me out.

-This school year has made me inordinately angry. We lost our awesome, amazing AP and got someone who's just not as good... or nice.

-Our guidance counselor is inexperienced, so that made for a TERRIBLE start to the year.

-I am confused about how much I can post without hurting the children's privacy. I mean, I don't think my current approach of 'wash everything of a name' is anything that would be likely to cause anyone distress, but if a parent does complain, I don't want to be in trouble.

-As I started back to school this year, I promptly started another graduate level course. The good news on that is I finish the class in about two weeks, and then I am finished with my endorsement! Hooray!

So... I will likely begin posting some odd bits here and there, but we'll have to see about if I get back to posting regularly. I hope so, because I think it's a good outlet for me... but it's been difficult recently!

Next time, I will post about some of the craziness of starting school... it's such a strange time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New School Year

My classroom is a disaster.

No other explanation. Pre-planning has been completely filled with meetings. Mostly informative, I guess, so not a waste, but some of them had no real point, and this irritates me. I have too much to do to sit there while you argue over the end of the year celebrations.

We can wait until after the "Winter Holiday" break. At least.

Anyway, I have a total of one border stapled up on my bulletin board, no posters, one calendar hung, three clocks, all with differing times, and I have my desk area rearranged from last year and also from the way the technology specialist set it up... I didn't like it.

Not only that, but I am pretty (okay, extremely) computer savvy, so people who I have helped, generally people I know, ask me to help them with their computers and things.

Then they tell their friends, and they ask me for help, but I don't even know them.

I have a problem saying no.

So, I have been spending my time doing other teacher's rooms.

I am tired, I am not ready, and I am frustrated.

At least tomorrow is another day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New School Year, New School Stuff

Just like last year, I am now doing my grocery shopping and eyeing the kids around me, wondering if they'll be my future students. I am poring over the pages of the teacher back-to-school catalogs that are being delivered with alarming (at least to my wallet) regularity.

But I placed two orders from two different catalogs, and I am so excited! I can't wait for the stuff to be delivered.

One of my new items:

This will be used when we're working on writing, and we'll eliminate an over-used word, and give other options we could use instead. (First to go will be fun, I think. Or cool).

Another fun thing I got is:

My school has a REALLY bad problem with dirty bathrooms, and I'm just not sure why. The janitors refuse to fill the soap dispensers, because the kids sometimes hold the soap open and allow it to pour onto the floor. I don't blame them for being annoyed, but we did not have any soap, in any bathroom, after Christmas.
This is unacceptable, and parents complained, and I'm not sure why the administration allowed it to continue. They talked about changing the soap in the boy's bathroom (since it never happened in the girl's bathroom, I'm not sure why they couldn't give them soap, plus how is it fair that only the boys would get cool, new, fancy soap when they're pigs?) to foam so they couldn't do that, but nothing was done.
But anyway, these 'passes' were on sale, and the kids take it with them to the bathroom, and then they'll have soap to wash their hands. I will make sure to never touch them, because I'm sure they don't all wash correctly, but it'll be good for the kids, I think.
And they were on sale for $.99! I got one for each of my team members. Hooray for soap!
Now, you know it's time to start back to school when teachers are celebrating soap.
I am still enjoying my time away from the kids, but I am getting a little antsy to meet my new students. I keep logging on to my attendance screen to see if I have any students in my classes yet.
(None yet, but I'll keep checking. And I do have classes scheduled! They're just empty still.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Special Child Introduced

I have been debating all year about posting entries about one of my students, because this child is so very distinct, it would make identification of her easy, and that's not my intent at all. I want it to all remain anonymous, and just be a commentary on the crazy things that people do these days with their children, and what kids are doing, since it is so very funny a lot of the time.

So I didn't write any of the numerous, insane things that happened. And trust me, there are plenty. I don't think I'll have another student like this one, no matter how long I remain teaching.

But as the year is over, and I am gearing up for a fresh crop of kiddos, I feel the need to share a few of the craziest stories about this student, as I just can't hold it in anymore. As countless people have said, as I mention the latest thing she did, "I really don't know how you stood it."

I don't either.

For ease in storytelling, I will give this student a name, which of course isn't the real one. We'll call her Sarah.

Now, Sarah was on another team at my school, but after about 1 month was moved to our team, as we were "a better environment for this particular student." This translates to the other team was full of new teachers and teachers who complain if they have any student that isn't perfect, and so they moved her to our team, since they couldn't handle her.

We had been warned about her; we had a whole special meeting about her. She was placed in my homeroom and in my class for language arts. The first day she arrived, she sat on my floor and told me she didn't want to do the work. This was a little surprising, as I do work with 12-year-olds, and generally it takes them awhile to be comfortable enough to say things like that.

So I said that I was sorry to hear that, but she needed to do it anyway. She promptly threw a fit, and laid down on the floor and kicked her feet, and started screaming.

This obviously shocked me. (and the other students).

No matter how they had talked about her being "special" in the meeting, and how we would have to work with her carefully, I wasn't prepared for a temper tantrum that would make a 2-year-old proud.

I attempted to get her off the floor, and eventually managed to get her in a desk, with her work in front of her. When I stopped by to check on her later, she was playing with a piece of plastic. I asked what it was, and she ignored me, so I asked her what she was doing. Then she told me what it was.

She said, "Oh, this? This is just a piece of plastic. But it's a special piece of plastic. It's part of a bomb that I am going to build to blow you up."

Let me tell you, I was floored.

After school that day, I went to my administrator's office for advice. Now, I do love my administrator, but she has better things to do than worry about this child, so I was basically just told to make do, deal with it, and ignore the threats.

I then went to several other people at my school, and I was told just to ignore it, she didn't mean it.

I was angry about it then, and I still am. Whether or not she meant it, she said it. It's not safe to have hear around other students when she is making threats like that. It's just not. If she were of low intelligence, maybe, but she has an extremely high IQ, past Giftedness even, and she could easily figure out how to make a bomb.

But I had to go back and just do my best. Throughout many other threats to me, my co-teacher, and the other teachers on my team, we were told just to have a little compassion for this student, who is going through so much.

What about me? What about the other students? I kept trying to get them to see that if something did happen, and she hurt other students, we would be in very deep trouble, since she was threatening them!

I kept a log of everything she did, so that if anything did happen, I had a list of things leading up to the event.

Eventually I had enough, and wrote a referral for a threat to me and one of the other students. Nothing really happened, just one day in ISS, but it made it so that she was aware it was not okay to make threats anymore, and she mostly stopped. But she still did things like throwing herself on the floor, screaming, telling the other kids they were stupid, yelling out during tests or when was reading out loud, etc.

I really do not know how I made it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I am ashamed it has been so long since I have posted. I am terribly sorry if you have been checking for updates. It is summer, yes, but I could perhaps tell you some of the stories I had not shared throughout the year because I didn't want to post things that were so identifiable.

I will begin posting anew soon, I promise. This summer I have been busy since school let out, taking many classes to add things onto my certification. I am currently in a class and I'm supposed to be researching physical impairment, but I decided to take a mini-break and head over.

Soon! I will be back.

Thanks for checking!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Teaching Teachers

As last year, I am taking classes during the summer. This means I have to get up at the crack of dawn, stumble about getting ready and trying to remember everything I need to take with me for class, driving across town, sitting in traffic, and then the class starts...

I teach in a large, spread out county. The classes are never on my side of town. Not even once. So... I have have a drive of 45 minutes before each class, and when a class starts at 8 or 8:30, that is terrible for me, being a complete night owl.

Anyway... enough whining about that.

The classes that I am taking this year are two that i need to be certified to teach Gifted children. I am adding it to my certification, which is required if you want to teach the Gifted children.

Most teachers ask why on earth anyone would want to teach Gifted children.

I admit, they are a tough, nutty group, but I do love how creative they can be.

For the first class that I took this summer (and the real reason I have not been updating this blog), it was a 2 week long class, in which we met Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which the in-between days to work on assignments. I don't remember ever working so hard on assignments, even in college.

It has something to do with the fact that this is normally a class that would take an entire semester, but we did it in 2 weeks. So you have an almost immediate turn around on assignments.

While this is good at getting the class over with quickly, it also was just plain hard. It's not easy to create an entire unit on a set topic, and then create all the lessons, handouts, and the create fake student samples, so that you have something to show the students! This is, on the one hand, nice because you're supposed to actually use what you are creating, and since you create everything, it's all there.

On the other hand, you have 4 days to create all of the unit. I had my best friend pretending to be 12 year olds and filling out the handouts and writing journal entries and drawing pictures, something that thrilled her I'm sure.

But I do love learning more, even if it was painful. It makes me a better teacher, and I do like learning new things.

If only it wasn't so very far away.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Days, and Great Leaders

Well, it has been awhile since I have posted, and I apologize for that. Ending a school year is always crazy, plus I immediately got sick after the last day, and I am starting my summer classes this week, so it's been hectic.

Now, I don't believe I have mentioned the assistant principal at my school before, but she's awesome. She's the type of person who is able to see the humor in what the crazy kids are doing, and yet makes you feel better just for stopping by.

Before I continue about my assistant principal, I wanted to mention the principal. My principal is honestly the best principal I have seen; she does a really wonderful job inspiring the teachers and students, enforcing rules regardless of anything else, and works as a liaison to the community in a way that helps the teachers do their jobs and helps the parents know how to help their children. She's great, but not someone I would feel comfortable ever actually having a chat with.

Now, I'm not saying that everyone feels this way; there are quite a feel people in my school that easily have the type of passing-the-day chats that I would never dream of having with her... but she kind of scares me. Just a little.

My A.P. is the type of person who is always everywhere at once, and always knows what's going on regardless of where she was when it happened. She's always able to give you an idea of how to deal with a parent issue or concern, and doesn't hesitate to take over is she feels the parent is being irrational.

My first year at my school, I didn't feel this way. She was new to the position of A.P., and a little tightly-wound, and she ended up making me a little nervous, never quite sure of what type of mood she was in that day. By Christmas time, however, she was settled in the position, I had figured out how to read her, and I learned she had the same type humor that I have.

She's seriously awesome, and one of the main reasons I didn't think to move to a different school for this coming school year. We have had a major shake up here in our school district, switching around things that I have loved most about teaching middle school, a shake up which made me seriously consider moving to high school.

I decided against it, because I am so happy with the leadership at my school. I figured I would just make the best of the things I hate to stay with the leadership.

Then just this week, I found out that they transferred her to a different school.

I am seriously not happy.

I am not looking forward to figuring out how to deal with a new A.P. With the budget cuts, we may not even replace her, which means that 6th grade will have no administrator, dean, or A.P. to assist with discipline. That will mean the kids will be divided among the other grade levels for discipline, and they will slip through the cracks.

This is not good at all!

And I am left seriously wishing I had applied to the high school which is less than 1/2 mile from my house.

I am not going to hate them before I meet them, because that's unprofessional. I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and just wait and see what happens.

But all I have to say to them is this: you have some big, impressively awesome shoes to fill.

You have been warned.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Last Days...

As we close the school year, I am packing up my room, which saddens the kids.

I am also realizing that, for some very inexplicable reason, teachers like to load the children up with sugar seconds before the class switches.

I am not amused by this.

Sugar and kids = bad things.

I was also talking to the lovely lady who processes referrals and she had a stack that was unbelievably thick, both from teachers who have had enough and students who have finished being nice.

Please, please let the year end right now!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Common Sense No Longer Common?

Why on earth do parents let their children see movies that I would not see? Movies rated PG-13 should not be common fare for my students, as they are... not 13 yet.

Unless there is a redeeming feature of the movie (like important historical content), or if the parent has already seen it and was confused about why it's rated PG-13, 6th graders shouldn't watch. (For instance, when I first saw Ever After with Drew Barrymore, it was rated PG-13, but when it was released on video, it was revised to be rated PG).

They just shouldn't.

They are CHILDREN, who already live in a world that forces them to grow up way, way too fast. They don't need this pictures and ideas and words in their heads, especially when their minds are not mature enough to process them properly.

For instance, there simply is not very many students in my class who has not seen Epic Movie. This movie is rated PG-13 for these reasons: crude and sexual humor, language and some comic violence (according to www.cara.org, which is the Classification and Ratings Administration, which gives reasons for moving ratings).

Why would you want your 11- or barely 12-year-old to see anything with sexual humor? They are babies!

Another movie most has seen is 300, which is rated R for these reasons: graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity. Another winner for your 6th grader.

How about Scary Movie? Rated R: for strong crude sexual humor, language, drug use and violence. Most of the kids have seen one or all of these movies.

I am just a little depressed thinking about this. It's bad enough the life some of the these kids are forced to live, and things at home and at school they're forced to see. Why give them even more things to worry about and clutter up their minds?

I tell them I don't think it's a good idea for them to watch that type of movie, but they then go on to tell me what else they've seen, and it just makes me sadder... they have seen harmless movies (like the recent Prince Caspian or Alvin and the Chipmunks) but they have also seen movies I won't watch.

It's just really sad to think about...

Really sad.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why Are you Talking To Yourself??

I have one student who is seriously unbelievable. Just completely unbelievable.

We have had 3 parent conferences, because he's failing everything.

None have worked.

He doesn't do anything. The classwork everyone else is doing, even the fun activities, the homework, TESTS, he doesn't do any of them.

But the worst of it is, he talks. Pretty constantly. This is not that unusual, of course, but what makes this child unusual is that when I moved him to the seat by my door, the one that has no one even close to it, he still talks. No one is listening, no one can even really hear him, but he still talks. I ask him if he's talking to the wall, and he says yes. (There is nothing mentally wrong with him to cause this, either).

I really think that there's something very wrong with him, to have such a deep-seated need for attention that he must continue to talk after being corrected, and even when there is no one listening.

We have referred him to the counselor, to make sure there wasn't anything going on to cause this, and nothing was discovered.

But whether or not there is something going on, in the meantime, it's very, very annoying.

I mean, who talks to a wall?

Friday, May 16, 2008


We had an incident on the field trip this year that just amazed me.

After spending an entire day talking about what is okay and what is expected, the day should have gone easily, and we should have all just had a blast.

Instead, several girls took it into their heads to separate from their group (which they had not wanted to be in the first place, but since the group they really wanted to be in already had 6, it wasn't an option) and join the group they originally asked for. Since we had lots of parent chaperones, plus the teacher group, the largest group of kids was 6, but most had 2-4.

After the chaperone who 'lost' the girls looked everywhere for them for an hour or so, she called the teachers, a little panicky.

Eventually, we tracked them all down and got it sorted out, though it was accompanied by many tears.

The girls said it was an accident, so we brought them all into lunch detention to discuss the situation.

After we heard their explanations (all different of course), we then tasked them with writing a letter explaining and apologizing, so that we could decide what their consequence would be.

Three of the girls did it, and mostly their stories made sense, and they all said they were very sorry.

One girl, however, was different. Instead of writing what happened and how she's sorry, she yelled at the teachers.

From the letter (titled, "Apoligy Letter"), exactly as she wrote it:

"I have now realized that what I have done was wrong. From now on whenever I go on Field Trips I will never go off with another chaperon, I have learned from my mistakes! It's mainly not my fault though....."

She continues and explains what she things happened, though she apparently wasn't too sure and said different things in various places.

Remember, she had wanted to be in a different, already-full group. She denies this, however:

"Now dont get my wrong I DID like my group for the field Trip I wasnt complaning, but If I'm being honest in this letter than I will say this... When Ms. Language Arts Lady said that I was in ______'s group, I didnt like it but than I realizad that I should give her a chance."

That's sounds good, right? Well, it gets better. Apparently objecting to us remembering that she was upset when we formed her group, she goes on to say:

"So I did. And guess what! I was fine with my group!!! I didnt leave the group cause I didn't like who was in it, I left because I had permission! Okay?!! Now listen remember when me (and the other students who also switched groups without permission) had lunch detention? Well and you teachers occused me of not caring that I was in trouble well..... NEWS FLASH! I do care not If I didnt care then I wouldnt be writing this!"

I really don't understand why she was trying to get out of a punishment by yelling at the people she has annoyed... During the lunch detention, the other girls tried to explain what happened, and sniffed little tears, etc. She sat and positively smirked, smiled, grinned, and laughed, completely not caring as she had already gotten her way, and since she rarely comes to school, she knew she just would avoid the remainder of her punishment.

"oh also thanks For making me fell EXTRA Sad I mean I already fell bad as it is. When you teachers were talking to me in lunch detention I know that I didnt look like I cared but trust me I care a lot!!!! also I realized I could have got stolen! and I would want that to happen so....." (about 1,000 more periods)

Then she added:

"I'm SORRY" covering the whole last page.

Wow... We really didn't know how to take this. I know she was upset, but an apology letter should contain an apology, and most definitely not a tirade.

So the other girls got one more day of lunch detention for disobeying and putting themselves into danger, let alone scaring the chaperone to death.

She got two more days... one for the same, one for the attitude.

Heaven help the 7th grade teachers.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Sometimes I really dislike doing projects.

The kids did a really nice job this year with the projects. I got some amazing things, that showed the really thought about it, worked, and then were able to explain why they did what they did.

We got cakes, chicken dishes, salads, muffins, cupcakes, and more food items. We got a stage for the actresses one of the kids made out of dolls, a castle, a prairie type wagon.

But the problem with these projects is that the never, ever get taken home.


The projects were presented about three weeks ago. Most of the items are here.

I really wish they'd take their stuff home.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week in our... well, I'm not sure if it's our state, or our county, but it's this week. It might even be national, but not sure.

Anyway, the point is, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. They advertise it everywhere, like in stores, where they tell you that they are having a sale on things to buy for your child's teachers.

Local restaurants are having specials on various foods (like a free taco) for teacher this week, and Barnes and Noble had a special discount.

At my old school, I got a few really nice things and a couple of wonderful cards made by the children.

Last year, at this school, I received nothing. Not even a card. While I don't think I'm entitled to something, it is really nice to receive cards from the children, because that shows I made a difference in their life.

Or at least taught them how to write.

This year, I have received the strangest things.

From one of my kids, I received a HUGE bouquet of long-stem flowers. So big, I currently have them in water... in my trash can. (Girls in my first class today washed it out, then filled it with water, and then plunked the flowers into it. I think it makes a statement. Not sure what that statement is, though).

Then, got some home-baked mini-muffins, a candle, a box of candy, and some bath things.

All very nice, plus I got a lovely card with a poem about me on it. (SO CUTE!)

But the present that broke my heart was from one of my students that doesn't have a lot, and it was obvious that she does not have a lot. Her present was painstakingly wrapped, in a bag that has been used before, and it had a candle and a ring, both obviously having been found somewhere around the house.

The sweetness of that breaks my heart. She wanted to get me a present, and since she didn't have a way to purchase a present, she found things to give instead.

That, right there, is one of the reasons I keep teaching.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Oh, The Drama

Now, I love my students, almost all of them, and even the ones I don't love I love the idea of them, if not them as a person... Like, you cannot like everyone, but as long as you treat them fairly, it's okay.

(Wow, that was a confusing chunk of words. I guess I just mean I love the kids, but some I don't love.)

I particularly feel empathetic with the girls. If I were to chose to have one or the other as my particular student (for a group for a field trip, or something) it would likely be a girl.

Might be because I am a girl, I don't know, but I do know some of my other teachers (who are also girls) enjoy boys better, and then some male teachers who like one or the other, all for various reasons, so I guess it just depends on your personality, or your previous experiences.

But something I do not like about the girls: drama.

The boys do not go in for drama, usually. Of course you cannot just make a blanket statement, but mostly it's true. When boys fight, they hate each other, then smack each other, then they're over it, and are friends before boarding the bus in the afternoon, and hangout that night at each other's houses.

Girls do not do that. If things escalate into something so severe as a fight, it takes much, much longer, with much more drama than a mere punch or kick, to resolve.

Case in point, one of my team's best friend duos, never seen apart, always together, best buds, had a huge fight recently. Over, get this, the book one of the girls was reading.

Why did this cause a huge, painful drama? I still don't understand, but I do know they are now total enemies, who have drawn all the rest of the girls in their class onto one side or the other. They write mean notes to the other girls about each other, they call each other names, they ignore each other, etc.

They were best friends, but now they cannot even stand to look at each other, and now, instead of being far apart in the seating chart because of the possibility of them chatting, they're apart so they won't fight while I'm trying to teach.

Not all of the teachers on my team have the two together, to which I say loudly, "Not fair!"

Boys just don't do things like that.

I noticed at the theme park how calm the day was with just boys (we had five of them with us the whole day). There were no mean words (except for friendly banter), no sudden changes of allegiance, no worries about looking dumb, and most importantly, no tears.

Now, this is not to say the boys don't cry, because they do. They actually cry more than 6th grade girls, but boys don't cry over friend stuff. They just smack each other and feel better.

So while I do love talking to the girls, I am really, really tired of the drama.

In 6th grade, I guess because of puberty coming and the difference between boys and girls, the girls get down-right mean. They are mean to their parents, their best friends, their teachers, and with whomever else they have contact.

Now, because they still mostly are young and sweet, they will be mean to their friend (like, your shirt is UGLY and you're DUMB!) then cry about how they will be hated forever, and they're sad they're not friends anymore, etc.

As a teacher, I spend way too much time soothing their little conflicts. I don't mean to say they aren't worth it, and I know that it's important that I am teaching them how to interact with others.

But still, they didn't teach me this in college. They didn't mention I would be soothing tears because so-and-so called them stupid and said their shoes are too big.

No matter how many times I explain that it doesn't really matter what someone says, because it doesn't change reality (i.e., if you are dumb, then someone saying it doesn't change anything, or if you are smart, if someone says you're dumb doesn't make it so) I still have the same issues, and the same ruffled feathers to smooth.

I tired of it last year, but then I discovered this:

I love that poster. I sometimes just indicate the poster when they're obviously being silly, and not truly upset.

That poster has saved me so many words this year.

I love posters!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Seating Chart Woes, Part Two

As I have mentioned, the ideal seating chart is elusive. But it is necessary to change them around at least once per 9 weeks, or you will have a full-out mutiny. Because I was planning the field trip, I was not very quick this 9 weeks to devise a new one, as I was busy.

It makes sense, right? Making sure that we don't forget to order a ticket for one kid, making sure to get all the lunches we are required to get, etc, plus doing the regular teaching and grading duty doesn't leave much time for shuffling student desks.

But to the kids, it doesn't make sense.

I kept telling them I was not doing it because I was busy trying to make sure we could actually go on the trip. They were almost insane with excitement about going, but they did not understand how much work it was. It was just fun to them, no work involved but surviving until that day.

They ask why I don't do it at home. I explain I do have to, you know, eat, and clean various things at my house occasionally.

They stare blankly at me.

Apparently, it's a hard concept for kids to understand that their teachers do indeed have lives outside of school. Teaching is a different type of profession, sure, but it's still a job, and you still have things to do at home, just like their parents.

So I am going to do it today, barring all major interruptions, while they are working on their assignments. This is generally hard to do, because they constantly ask me questions, mostly unnecessary ones.

I will tell them if they interrupt me, I will never finish.

This might work. I can always hope, anyway.

(Probably not.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Save Me from Theme Parks

Now, I love theme parks like most people. I love the rides, the fun, the learning experiences provided by them (some of them, at least), and the shopping!

But please, don't make me take 100 12-year-olds with me.

We recently went on a large, end-of-the-year field trip. It was lovely. But it was exhausting.

On my team, I did all the work. All of it. I made the letter to send home. I made the permission slip. I made the list of the kids going, the kids not going, the bus list, I collected the paperwork for the parents who wanted to chaperone, I made the groups, I made the free/reduced lunch list (even down to milk choices), I filled out the form, then I drove to get all of our tickets.

I seriously did almost everything.

Now that it's over, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. I managed to get 100 kids out of school, to the right place, and back to school with no losses or injuries!

I know that on my team, at least two other people would have helped me (the women, I'm sorry to say, as I have come to the conclusion that men (or at least the men on my team) stink at organizing things, and can barely do things if told exactly what to do), and one of them was very willing to help, but still, I did it all.

We did have lots of fun, I admit. We have much better behaved kids than last year, so that was a huge plus. The bus ride to and from was awesome when compared to last year. The kids just sat there, and talked quietly (or sang. Not sure what's going on, but the newest thing they like to do is sing in groups. It drives me crazy. They're supposed to be working, and they start singing.) Last year, we had yelling, kids up and walking around, eating, throwing things; just general chaos.

Riding on a bus (with air conditioning no less!) that just rode the bus was restful.

Upon arriving, the kids quickly ate their lunches, then entered the park with their chaperones and scattered. The teachers all heaved a great sigh of relief, as we managed to get there unharmed and managed to get approximately 400 6th graders away from school, off the bus, and in the park, with no damage. It amazes me how much logistical planning it takes to get the kids off of school grounds, and taking the entire 6th grade makes it even more difficult.

Then we enter the park with our group of kids, and simply enjoy the day.

I got completely soaked on the water ride.

One of the boys (we had all boys with us) dumped his lemonade all over my pants and foot.

One of the other boys showed an alarming tendency to wander off, as he didn't really want to be with us in the first place.

But otherwise it was a fun time had by all.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Worrying Times...

Due to the budget cuts that effecting everywhere thanks to the housing issues and the recession (especially our area, due to an ill-advised tax cut that is going to cost us our shirts, instead of save us thousands as they promised), our school had a special meeting today.

In it, we learned that we have to cut our budget for next year. To the tune of about $500,000.

I'm sorry, but that's a lot of money.

And since most of the money needs to come out of the personnel budget, that's a heck of a lot of teachers that will not have a job next year.

This makes me nervous.

I am a good teacher. I receive good reports. I have areas I need to work on, but who doesn't? I shouldn't have to worry about losing my job, especially since it's not like we have less students. We are actually getting more students.

We have and awesome administration, and they have been very honest with all of us, and told us how they will tell the people who will need to look for a new job immediately, so they have the greatest opportunity to get a new position somewhere else.

I am not one of the teachers who will not be coming back, and I am very, very grateful.

Still, it's an absolute shame that education should be so underfunded. None of our good teachers should have to find a new job in a new profession, or a new state even, when the number of students hasn't changed and they are good teachers, not mediocre teachers.

I am very sad as I hear about who is not coming back to various schools. It makes me very nervous, even if I am good for this coming year, what happens if more cuts are coming our way? Then it will be even worse, and more teachers will be "released" or reassigned.

I really hope something very positive happens very soon, and this will all be just a bad memory.

I really, really don't want to do another job interview.