“Why are So Many People Terrible At Their Jobs?” Thursday February 23, 2017

i-dont-hate-my-job-i-just-hate-some-of-the-incompetent-people-i-work-with-4ccb1Tyrese hasn’t been doing any better, but he’s not entirely to blame. In fact, when you think about children as products of their environment (or even genetics) it’s hard to blame children. Really a child is a reflection of the parents. I’ve seen this more as I’ve interacted with my students’ parents. Good parents have good kids.

Tyrese is not a good kid, and even though his mother is at fault for feeding him crap food and letting him do whatever he wants, the adults at my school are also to blame.

Tyrese’s behavior plan works on a reinforcement and check in schedule with Mrs. Baker, or if Mrs. Baker isn’t available then Mrs. Walsh. Now the problem is that there are times when Mrs. Baker is dealing with another student and isn’t available to check in with Tyrese. But, Mrs. Walsh is only in our school part-time. Her duties are apparently split between another school. Which means there are times where no one is available to deal with Tyrese.

Every morning Tyrese gets his clipboard and is given his expectation statements and reminded of his reward for meeting expectations. This morning, no one was available to check him in. I had to call the office and ask for someone to bring down his clipboard.

Which means I had to take time out of my morning to check Tyrese in. And it wasn’t long before Tyrese was flopping on the floor refusing to do any work. At which point I called down to the office to ask someone to remove him so he doesn’t distract the entire classroom. They send down one of the secretaries who comes in and is all “buddy-buddy” with Tyrese.

“Awww, what’s wrong, buddy? Wanna come down and work in my office?”

What the fuck is that? You’re reinforcing him for being defiant!

And I can’t even get mad at her. She doesn’t know what to do. I blame both Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Walsh. This isn’t the first time they haven’t been there for Tyrese. There have been plenty of mornings and afternoons where I send Tyrese down and no one is there for him.

How is a child supposed to trust and obey adults if they can’t even follow through on their own expectation statements?!

 

“I Can Fix School Standards” Tuesday February 21, 2017

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It doesn’t matter if a state has adopted the common core standards or not. States that don’t have the common core have their own (very similar) standards. It’s not the common core that’s the enemy, it’s all standards.

Think back to everything you learned in second grade. Now, write down all of the things that you think are important to learn in second grade. You should also include the best ways to teach those things, too. That’s what the authors of school standards have done. The problem is that it’s not possible to include everything you learn in school, and not every child learns the same. Also, the standard has to be specific enough to be measurable on a standardized test, but also broad enough to include a wide range of skills.

Let’s look at a math standard from second grade:

“Work with equal groups of objects to gain foundations for multiplication.

2.OA.3. Determine whether a group of objects (up to 20) has an odd or even number of members, e.g., by pairing objects or counting them by 2s; write an equation to express an even number as a sum of two equal addends.”

This standard is supposed to be a precursor to multiplication. The goal is simple. Students need to know if a number is even or odd between 0 and 20. But they can’t memorize the even and odd numbers. I’ve been teaching my students the “odd man out” method. They pair up a group of objects by 2’s and if there’s an extra object, that’s the “odd man out” and the number is odd.

Simple enough, right? But what about the second part of the standard? The stuff about writing an equation to expression an even number means that students will be able to divide any even number between 0 and 20 into the sum of two equal numbers. These are what should be called “doubles facts”: 2+2, 3+3, 4+4, and so on. But the way the standard is worded seems like a students should be able to write the equation. Which means my students have questions on their assessments like: “Write a number sentence for 12 where both numbers being added are the same.”

It’s subtle, but think about how limiting this standard is. For example, I can’t list numbers and have students circle the evens because the standard isn’t “Students will identify even numerals.” Which means students will only identify odds and evens when given a set of objects. Likewise, I can’t give a test with “Solve 6+6” because it doesn’t fit the standard. Sure, it might fit 2.OA.2 (Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.2 By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.) but that’s only if a student can show me which mental strategy he or she used.

 The standards wouldn’t be so bad if they simplified them. A good standard would be “Students will improve their math skills.” That standard is not only easily measurable, but it also allows me to write math tests without having to worry if they fit a standard. As long as the math I use is the same or more difficult than the previous math test I can prove that students are learning.

It also will apply towards students working above or below grade level. We want all of our students to grow. Let’s adopt this new standard.

I also have one for reading: “Students will improve their reading skills.” Done. BAM!

 

“Sometimes a Positive Attitude Can Change Everything” Monday February 20, 2017

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Today might’ve been the best Monday of the year. I came to school with a smile on my face and I tried my best to touch everything with left hand to show off my engagement ring!

I also told my students. They genuinely seemed excited for me. Maybe they were just feeding off of my enthusiasm but I answered all their questions about my fiancee: how old he is, where we met, what he does, what he looks like, it was fun!

I think that minor break in routine and me opening up personally to them made them want to be better students or something because they were actually pretty good for me today. They got a little rowdy in the afternoon, but it could’ve been worse.

It’s amazing how different I feel. Johnny texted me this morning to tell me how happy he is and I got all giddy! We texted each other back and forth all day. We’re going to have to work out a good schedule to spend nights together during the week. Johnny’s over right now, but we’ll probably have to switch on and off. I’ll have to keep clothes and toiletries at his place. I might just move back with him. It looks like Zooey and Patrick are getting ready to move in together anyway.

Oh, and I can tell Zooey’s a little jealous. She’s supportive and all, but I can tell how she feels. I’d feel the same way if she got engaged. Anyway – I need to go now, good night!

“Now I Can Write About MY Wedding!” Sunday February 19, 2017

We-Are-Having-Open-Bar-Funny-Wedding-MemeI get to write about my wedding now! Zander and his fiancée are getting married Memorial Day weekend, so Johnny and I are thinking about getting married late July or early August. I don’t want to have the wedding during the school year or wait until 2018. We think it can be done. We both don’t have a lot of family so I think the wedding will be fairly small.

Also I’ll have all summer to plan and get in shape. I’m a little nervous about not having a job next fall, but I can always fall back on Plan B and substitute teach.

I’m so pumped! Johnny and I had a really long talk and we both agree that this just feels right. If we’re going to be together then we should be together. We know we can make it work because we already did make it work.

I felt like my mom was truly excited for me, but I felt like Lou wasn’t happy about me and Johnny. He was like, “I didn’t know you two had gotten back together.” Thankfully, my mom stepped in and defended Johnny about how he’s really matured and has a good job and truly loves me J

Of course Johnny already asked T-Bo to be his best man and I asked Zooey. Everyone’s really happy for us. They know we have a history and I think the two of us ending up together is just like a fairy tale.

Also, my life doesn’t seem so depressing any more. I’m not dreading going back to school tomorrow. I’m just not sure if I’ll want to do any lesson planning because I really want to start wedding planning! Ha!

My wedding’s going to rock!

“I’M ENGAGED!” Saturday February 18, 2017

engaged-memeAAAAHHHH! I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it! I don’t have a lot of time to write because I still haven’t called everybody, but OH MY GOD! I’m SO HAPPY!

Real quick: Johnny asked if I could come over to his place, he said his car wasn’t working. So, fine, right? He tells me the door’s unlocked and to just walk in.

His apartment was dark but their were tea lights on the floor leading to his/(our old) bedroom. And he was on his knee with an engagement ring open and rose petals on the bed and it was so romantic! HOORAY!

He told me how it doesn’t make sense that we’re not together and he said that when we were committed to each other he felt like we were unstoppable so he wants to commit completely! I said yes and I cried and it was awesome!

I love him so much! I really do! I just feel better around him and knowing that we’re getting married just makes me feel so much better about the future!!

AHHH!! I have to call my family now!!! I’m so happy!!!!!!!!!

“Have You Ever Sworn In Front of Your Class?” Friday February 17, 2017

ch870819I said the word “shit” in front of my students. Not that my students are at all offended or unaware of swear words, but it sure made an impression.

It was during literacy group, I was teaching from the Powerpoint and I actually had most of the class’s attention (Of course). Then a student actually asked a decent question and I wanted to go back to another slide and while moving the cursor towards the back arrow I accidentally clicked the “close” button and said “shit” followed by “oops” hands to my mouth and a red face.

That’s when the class lost their shit and starting with the “Ooooooo, Miss Sinclair said a naughty word!” and then they laughed and laughed.

All I could do really was say I was sorry and move on as quickly as possible. Which if the class was mature, probably would’ve happened. Except I have a student named Darnell who is very bright, but also a total dick and decided to have fun with my mistake by raising his hand and speaking without being called on:

 “Miss Sinclair, what does ‘shit’ mean?”

“It’s not an appropriate word and shouldn’t be said.”

“But you said it.”

“It was an accident, let’s move on.”

“Shit. Oops. Sorry. Accident.”

And he said it deadpan staring directly at me. The class loved it. They love it when I’m tested. But I wasn’t going to bite. I realized if I punished Darnell right there then he would argue that I was punishing him for something I also had done. So instead I ignored it and moved on.

Darnell tried to speak again and I interrupted him interrupting me and told him to save whatever he has to say until the end of the lesson. The class actually got back on task. I’m actually pretty proud of myself.

In personal news, Johnny’s coming over tonight. I don’t know why, but I’m actually kind of excited about it. That’s pretty fucked up.

“Dealing With a Poor Co-Teacher” Thursday February 16, 2017

ch880128I work with a co-teacher named Michelle. She’s a resource teacher, which means she pulls out kids in different classes for groups. All year she has worked with my lowest group of math students and all year she’s sucked at it. Apparently 2nd grade mathematics is too difficult for some people because I’ve caught her several times teaching some of the topics incorrectly.

And if she’s not teaching it incorrectly, then she’s teaching the wrong subject. I realized that everyday she’s always asking me what to focus on. This is bullshit because we’re all supposed to be preparing for the same common assessment that all the second graders take. She’s asking me what to teach? She’s been teaching her group all year!

Not only that, but our team prepares the math lessons and makes them available on Sharepoint for all the teachers in the school to see. But yet, everyday Michelle comes and asks me what to do.

I didn’t realize that she was supposed to be taking responsibility for her own group until I realized that the teacher that pulls those same kids for literacy never asks me for anything. Michelle only comes in for that one math group, but it’s her job to teach them! Sure, their my students, which means that when they fail I get the blame!

What the fuck? I thought that group was just a group of low students but maybe they’re low because their teacher doesn’t know what the fuck she’s doing. I mean, seriously, she should know where her own students need more work—it’s called teaching!

 I wrote Michelle a nasty email showing her where all of the lesson plans d01d9601ec074ee46006a6feb0f59b0fare, and I also told her that she’s allowed to make her own worksheets. Most teachers use have to modify the worksheets to fit their students. I’ve just been giving Michelle extra copies from my group which doesn’t make any sense because my students actually know what to do.

I didn’t fully comprehend that this woman has totally fucked me over. Those three students haven’t passed a common assessment all year and I’m going to take the blame even though I haven’t taught them any math. I might need to switch groups, but my group is doing so well.

Also, Michelle never cleans up her area after her group and she’s never asked how her students have done on the common assessment. Granted, Michelle is a new teacher too, but given how shitty of an educator she is she doesn’t deserve the position she has.

“Teaching While Sleep-Deprived” Wednesday February 15, 2017

ch891022I did not sleep well last night. I had trouble falling asleep and then I was restless and couldn’t tell if I was awake or asleep. It was awful. My alarm almost made me cry.

And teaching while tired is the worst. I was buzzing from energy drinks but those just made me twitchy.

I had very little patience for bullshit and I was really hard on several of my students for talking. One student raised her hand to tell some stupid story that had nothing to do with anything we were doing and I sort of lost it. “Do you really feel like that comment was helpful to the class? Why did you feel it was so urgent to tell us that? Now you’ve just wasted everybody’s time. This goes for everyone, if you don’t have something to say about this current lesson then just keep it to yourself.”

Not cool, Miss S. And Tyrese was a lost cause today. I basically told him that he doesn’t have to do any work as long as he isn’t disruptive to the rest of the class. I was giving him a free pass today. I wasn’t going to force him to work as long as he just kept quiet. He did not keep quiet. He continued to yell and argue about bullshit. He kept playing with his sweatshirt so I took it away from him and then he just started whining about how I’m always taking his stuff, blah, blah, blah. He was trying to spin his sweatshirt around like a towel to snap people with it. It’s not like he needed it.

It was a very long day. And as for Johnny: he texted me a couple of times today. He was asking if I was free this weekend. I gave very short, non-committed responses. I’m still thinking “us” over.