Monday, May 9, 2011

C'est la vie

Today was an eventful day.

Third period Jay (you remember him? the boy who used to hate me and who made me dread coming to work some days) told me "you look pretty with makeup on--by the way Miss, I'm going to pretend I'm gay for the whole period," and then proceeded to be as flamboyant as possible for the next hour.

Fifth period two of my boys found me in the office and dramatically complained about how starving they were.  I sent them back to class, then went over to my classroom where Mr. B was teaching his Resource class.  I found my two students sitting in the front of the room with my tea kettle making themselves oatmeal.  I only didn't write them up because it was kind of adorable, and they were participating in Mr. B's lesson while they were waiting for the water to heat up.  I brought them back to class with their oatmeal in their little cups, and JT walks out miserably and says, "Miss, I have to talk to you about something....I took Benadryl this morning and I CANT KEEP MY EYES OPEN! Can I have some oatmeal to wake me up?"

Sixth period my French friend Hindaty came to visit me at work to see what an American high school is like.  Let's just say she didn't get the "typical" high school experience.  We had an impromptu lunch session, where I literally just grabbed students I saw in the hallway and asked them if they wanted to talk to a French person.  They mostly asked her about snails and how to hit on a girl en francais.  She also got to witness my infamous seventh period in all their glory, who asked her if people smoke pot in France and taught her all of their slang words.  Then they managed to cheat their way through several rounds of Algebra jeopardy before I noticed they had found the answers...

Eighth period I worked with Carolyn one-on-one to help her with her Algebra, and she said she understands everything better the way I explain it to her, which was pretty much the highlight of my day.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The home stretch

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I last went so fast.  The beginning of April was even crazier than March with preparing students for midterms and then having to facilitate all of their testing accommodations.  Midterms week was basically five straight days with no free periods--I was constantly with students or tracking them down to finish their tests.  That Friday we had a half-day so the teachers could finish grading, and JT didn't show up until school was over to finish his midterms (and only because I called him 5 times yelling at him to get to school).

Overall, I was really disappointed with my students report card grades, because I know they can do way better.  I've seen it.  Ironically, the only one of my 15 students who passed every one of her classes for the term was the girl I was referring to in my last post, who got pregnant for the second time this year, and had her second abortion a few weeks ago.  I have never seen her work so hard and want to pass her classes so badly.  I'm really proud of her but also really worried about the choices she's making outside of school, but I'm trying to let her counselor deal with that and just focus on making sure she keeps up her grades for the last term.

Tomorrow's the last day of Spring Break, and then the last term of the year begins!  I went on a trip this break with some of the other teachers and our principal for the guidance counselor's wedding, and I feel like it was a really great bonding experience.  Being friends with people you work with makes it so much easier when work gets crazy--and the next two months are certainly going to be a roller coaster.   I can't believe I'm already almost done with my first year of teaching, it feels like just a few weeks ago I was trying to come up with a title for this blog!

36 school days until Regents' exams...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teachers are master manipulators

I've realized recently that my classroom has become my students' living room.  JT and Jon have this new habit of walking into seventh period and taking off their shoes before they sit down.  The farting continues, and today Jon walked around with his khakis around his ankles (he had shorts on underneath, but still...)  It is really nice to see Jon happy though.  For a few weeks he was in this slump where he looked miserable and slept through all of his classes.  Last week I gave him the most amazinguilt trip ever, telling him, "You know you are one of my favorites, and I really don't want to have to write you up...I thought you respected me as much as I respect you, but the fact that you aren't trying shows me I'm wrong.  You're making me feel like I'm a failure as a teacher."  He looked at me, almost speechless, and sat down and finished the Algebra test he had avoided for three days.  It was beautiful.  I feel like I do a lot of manipulating and mind-games in order to get them to do even a little work these days...

During lunch today I looked up my 7th period students' grades, and literally almost had a panic attack.  After freaking out in the hallway to my co-teacher and the biology teacher, I set up my projector and typed a new Do Now:

"Data set:  the number of classes each student in this room is currently failing:  4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, 4.   Find the mean, median, and mode.  Which measure of central tendency best describes this data?"

They sat down and began doing the mean, median, and mode, without even understanding the point I was trying to get across.  When I explained how frustrated I was and how we really had to work at this,  Carolyn looked up at me with an evil little smile and asked, "Miss, you're tired of our shit, aren't you?"  

"Yes, yes I am."

I mentioned to my principal how bummed I was that their grades dropped so dramatically, and she told me this point in Term 3 is a huge slump for all of the students, but it hits the Resource kids the hardest (and she saw this exact same thing happen with my kids last year), so I'm going to try not to stress too much.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

No such thing as a day off

My students had a lot of tests this week, and all day Thursday I was bombarded by teachers handing me stacks of unfinished exams and mixed up scantrons with no names on them (because my students, bless them, never ever remember to put their names on things unless I watch them as I tell them to write it), and by students ADVOCATING for their right to take their exams with me, rather than in their classrooms.  This meant that during my resource periods I was doing a lesson with my 8 students while simultaneously trying to answer questions by the 5 other students in the room who were each taking a test for a different subject.

I may be good at multitasking, but no one's brain can handle that much information at one time.  At one point, all of my students were asking questions at once, and a lot of them were being really rude about it, so I just walked over to my desk, sat down, and ignored them for a full minute so I could breathe!  By the end of the day I was feeling really run down and like I was coming down with a cold.

Friday morning, I called in sick.  I'm the only teacher that hadn't taken a day off yet, so I figured it was about time!  By 9am, I had text messages from three different students asking where I was.  My response, "I'm sick, and you're not supposed to be texting in class!!!"  At 3pm, I got a text from my co-teacher, who told me that one of my students (who is her advisee) took her into my classroom because he needed to find the Algebra test that he had completed.  She told me not only did the room smell like sweat, but the tests were scattered all over the floor and she found his in the corner by the garbage!  

A half hour later, I get a text from Cristy, and I asked her how 7th period went without me.

Cristy: "Lol we was loud ms c and CiCi was going crazy and ms h was gettin mad cuz she heard us from her room and dey heard us from the hallway lol."  
Me: "WHAT?!"
Cristy: "Lol, I no, we need u."

As much chaos as there is when I'm there, at least I now know it's worse when I'm not!  

Next I got a text from a student who found out she got an 82 on her global test. I told her I was "hype!" and she responded: "Omg miss, I can't believe you just said hype."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Slang Dictionary, in progress

On the low    =     secretly, unexpectedly

Wavvy    =     cool

Swag(ger)    =    nice, cool, awesomeness

I'm hype     =    I'm excited

Tight    =  angry

That teacher's got me tight    =     that teacher's pissing me off

Shakin my head     =     you're stupid, what are you thinking?, i don't want to deal with you

Diablo!  =  I know this means devil in spanish, but I have yet to figure out why students run around saying this randomly

You're wiling    =   you're crazy

Thats flee    =    that's cool

She's feening    =   she's getting overworked/overexcited

OD    =  very  (as in, "this is OD hard")

Dead ass  =  I'm serious.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Sorry Miss, I won't be in school the rest of the week..."

It's 7:30am, I walk into my classroom with my two travel mugs of coffee--it was especially hard to wake up this morning.  It's almost a half hour later than I usually get to work, and as always I become immediately flustered by all of the posters falling off the walls, the papers that are everywhere, and the desks that are arbitrarily strewn about the room.  I wish, for the ten-thousandth time, that the teacher I share this tiny space with would help me keep our classroom clean.  No matter how much time I spend organizing, it never lasts more than two days.   I'm now remembering all those times I made a mess after my mom cleaned and she would say, "I can't wait until you have your own kids, then you will understand why this makes me so mad."  In a funny way, these are my own kids.  The only way I could love them more would be if I gave birth to them myself.  Before I can even take my coat off I hear my phone ring: it's a text from Arnelle.  

"I had a miscarriage, I lost the baby. I can't stop crying."  

So, my girls are having babies, abortions, and now miscarriages.  My boys are in gangs, watching their cousins get shot, spending their winter breaks "locked up," missing school for court dates.  I try to remember my most traumatic high school moments.  No matter what I come up with, it pales in comparison to what these kids are going through.  I realize no matter how great of a relationship we have, I will never completely be able to understand where they are coming from.  I've learned never to say, "I know how you feel," because really, how could I?  

This was a wake up call for me.  As frustrating as it is when my students have those days (or weeks, or months) where their grades and their education aren't priorities, I have to remember that it's not necessarily because they are lazy or they don't care.  But every now and then they do need a gentle reminder that education might very well be their only chance to make safer, happier lives for themselves.