“Happy Halloween.” Monday October 31, 2016

e71b61b1fbaec0d58b511b31ba01b625Let me just say that 1-hour for a party was way longer than I thought it would be. I only prepared one game of “Ghosts in the Graveyard” (which was just “Heads-up, 7-up”) and some Halloween worksheets. I ended up having to improvise and we did a freeze dance with spooky songs. It was lame. The other teachers had cool games and neat crafts and Betty blacked out her windows and gave everybody glow sticks. I guess I just didn’t have any good ideas.

As for the classroom getting “robbed” the students were very upset about their books being taken away. One girl even started crying because she couldn’t find her bookmark.

I also realized that Mrs. Halloway took some of my stuff, too. I had a thing of dice that’s gone and she took boxes of gallon-sized baggies that I had brought in from home.

Connie stopped in this afternoon to give her apologies for my classroom emptying out. I told her how upset my kids were about some of the books and she asked me to make a list of the books the kids liked and she would try to track some down.

I spent all evening scanning Craigslist hoping that maybe some retired teacher was moving to Florida and needed to get rid of a library of books.

On top of all the scramble to salvage my classroom materials, I’ve neglected my lesson planning and now I’m behind.

Oh, and I let my students redo their test from last week and only two kids improved from failing to passing.

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“I Think I’m Depressed” Sunday October 30, 2016

DepressedFairyWhat is it about being around a happy couple that makes you completely depressed? I didn’t have fun last night. I couldn’t keep work out of my head. I went out to a club with Patrick and Zooey and some of their other friends last night. I wore my traditional Halloween costume: a fairy costume complete with small wings and a short skirt. But I just wasn’t in the mood.

Colin had “other plans” so I didn’t even have a date.

I tried dancing for a little while, but I wasn’t feeling the music and my drink was gross. Every time a guy tried to talk to me I just turned them down. I think I made it about about a half hour into the night and told Zooey that I wanted to leave.

She pouted and said “Nooooooo!,” and then made a lame attempt to convince me to stay, but I could tell she really just wanted to grind on Patrick who was dressed as an unconvincing Joker from Suicide Squad.

She made me promise to text her when I got home, which I did and didn’t even get a reply.

I ended up spending my night on Amazon looking for an area rug for my students to sit on. The one I want to buy is $200 and I already used up all of my $ from the PTA.

I’m worried about my students tomorrow. I have no idea how they’re going to react to everything being gone. They don’t deal well with changes.

My only silver lining is maybe my crappy situation will result in sympathy points from Connie.

Tomorrow’s Halloween so I have to go out today and buy a bunch of party favors so my students can have 1-hour of highly structured “fun.”

“What. The. Fuck?” Saturday October 29, 2016

I received a text message from Connie this morning at 8am. I worked last night even though going out the weekend before Halloween is hella-fun.

She told me that the janitor would be at the school this morning if I wanted to check my classroom to see what Mrs. Halloway took. She also said to save the receipts for anything I needed to buy and the PTA would reimburse me up to $150.

I found it both a blessing and curse to discover that I could go in on a Saturday. Because I knew if I went into my classroom, my entire Saturday would be spent at the school.

Simply put, she cleaned me out.

empty-classroom1The library’s gone. All I have left are my leveled readers. She took our rug. She took her comfy chair. She took the bean bags the kids use to read in. She took the calendar, the rules and expectations poster, three pocket charts that I was using for the schedule, word wall, and student work, she took her art supplies, she took math supplies (like play clocks, dice, base-ten blocks), she took all of the board games, a cool pointer, stapler, tape, scissors, etc, etc., etc.

The library hurt the most. My kids were in the middle or reading most of those books. She took them right out of their desks, too.

I hope Mrs. Halloway found another teaching job and needed all of her stuff because to deprive these kids of their classroom is just cold!

I made a list of everything I needed and went to Goodwill and Wal-Mart. I barely looked at the books. I just piled books that looked to be about 2nd grade and spent $150 on those. Sadly, even though the most expensive book as $2.50, my library looks really bare.

As for the other teaching stuff. That shit’s expensive! The calendar Mrs. Halloway had was like $30! I went with the cheapest one they had at Wal-Mart. But the other stuff? Forget about it.

I don’t even have a teacher chair anymore. I’m using just a larger version of one of the student chairs, now.

And the most fucked up part about my day? Johnny texted me asking me how I’m doing and apologizing for last weekend. I dunno what to do. I’m tired from running around all day and setting up my classroom but I also don’t want to sit here alone on the Saturday before Halloween.

Zooey’s over at Patrick’s and said that I could come over and go out with them. But I’m not sure if I want to see Colin again. He never texted me and I don’t know what his deal is. On the other hand, I don’t have any other friends.

So, I guess I’m going to be Zooey and Patrick’s third wheel tonight.

“Testing and New Student Woes” Friday October 28, 2016

We had a math test today that over half of my students failed. It’s really frustrating because I feel like the half that failed didn’t even try. In fact, most of them failed because they didn’t do all of the problems or even missed full pages.

homeworkMy new student is completely lost. Every answer is just filled in with 12345. Every. Answer.

When I work with her, she seems to understand the problems. At least she tries and follows along with what I tell her. On the test I feel like the word problems scared her and she basically gave up.

I can’t keep these scores. All of the math assessments go into the grade book. I’m going to have the students who didn’t finish the test finish it on Monday. And I’ll let the other students check their work.

I graded all of them, but didn’t write down scores. So the students will be able to see which answers they got wrong.

I’m not sure if that’s legal or ethical, but I don’t feel like the test in it’s current state is an accurate assessment of my students’ abilities.

I don’t give a fuck. I’m going to have them work on this test until the class at least averages a passing score.

This is super frustrating.

“The FULL Story” Thursday October 27, 2016

I finally found out what the deal was with Mrs. Halloway. To recall, I was hired as a long-term substitute teacher a week before school started because it was unclear whether Mrs. Halloway was going to return.

imagesI had assumed that it was a medical issue or maybe a sick family member. The reason I assumed that is because none of the other teachers ever talked about. I finally got the gossip from Dania. We were both working late tonight. She wanted to change her lesson plans or something, but anyway she stopped by my room before the building was closing up and we go to talking.

It turns out Mrs. Halloway and her family are perfectly healthy. Mrs. Halloway didn’t return this year because Connie (our principal) had given her a less than proficient cumulative evaluation. For the record, Mrs. Halloway has been teaching for 20 years. Her and Dania go way back.

The reason for the poor evaluation is because Mrs. Halloway was a strong believer in big projects. She felt the classroom worked as a team to build giant models of things. Last year they apparently built a scale model of downtown Chicago. She taught her kids to use proportions and scale and Dania said her kids spent a lot of time in the library and computer lab researching buildings. It sounds really cool, actually.

Well, Mrs. Halloway was upset and repealed the evaluation, citing that Connie didn’t have anything to back up the score and that Connie didn’t like Mrs. Halloway’s style of teaching. She had to appeal to the district office. The office sided with Mrs. Halloway, and Connie said that next year she would just be better about acquiring proof.

Now I totally get why Mrs. Halloway didn’t come back. Connie was out to get her. Dania told me that Connie has too much power and if you don’t teach the way she wants you to, you’ll be RIF’d at the end of the year and won’t be hired back.

This is a new term for me. It means that a teacher’s contract isn’t renewed and technically the teacher is out of a job.

Dania said that more than half the school was RIF’d last year, including her, in March. She was hired back by the end of June.

It’s basically guaranteed I’ll be RIF’d. The question now is whether I majorly kiss Connie’s ass and get on her good side somehow, or just teach the way I want to teach.

“It’s My Classroom Now!”

I received word today that Mrs. Halloway was officially not returning to Beech Elementary School! All year I’ve had to include this woman’s name on all of my communication to parents and her name’s also above mine on my classroom door.

That feeling like any day she could return is gone. That’s not exactly a good thing. Secretly, I was hoping she would return and then the pressure would be off of me. I would be a resource teacher/floating substitute and just help Ms. Baker and I’d get to keep my current salary.

6429395-380x221That hope is gone, now. It’s my classroom and completely my responsibility.

The worst part is that Mrs. Halloway was coming in this weekend to pick up all of her stuff. And, as a first-year teacher, I don’t have any of my own stuff.

I’m not sure what this woman is going to take. Connie only told me to put my things aside. I hope she leaves the books in the library. I’m not really sure what things in the classroom belong to Mrs. Halloway and what things belong to the school.

This could be really bad if she takes a lot of things that I use…

“Benchmarking Failure” Tuesday October 25, 2016

via-pingerRemember how I thought that I had bench marked my students wrong? Well, turns out I was right. Ms. Baker, the special services teacher re-benchmarked the students she pulls, and yeah, my levels were too low.

This came to me through a very curt email from my principal.

It’s come to my attention that your students are in the wrong reading level. See me.

I talked to Connie after school and I could tell that she was pissed off. She asked me how this could happen and I told her I followed the benchmarking rules that had been sent to me. Then she asked why when Ms. Baker had children read they were at a totally different level. I told her I was really unsure what I was doing. She told me that Ms. Baker would be pulling all of my students this week to re-benchmark them. She told me that if I’m ever unsure of how to do something that I need to seek help.

I left there feeling awful! I knew something was wrong, but I did the best I could. I don’t think it’s very fair to be so hard on a first-year teacher. I stepped into my position a week before school started. There was probably hours of training on this over the summer that I missed. It’s not my fault!

“Halloweenies” Monday October 24, 2016

__this_halloween_sucks____by_kailana_samaNext Monday is Halloween, so I thought it would be fun to do a Halloween theme this week. Unfortunately, I can’t do much.

We can have a party on Halloween, but it is limited to only the last hour of the day.

Children can dress up, but they may not wear their costumes to school. They can change into them only for the party. Also, they can’t have any costumes that cover their face or have any violent imagery whatsoever.

Candy is strictly forbidden in our school, as is junk food. Children are allowed to bring cards to share with their classmates provided they bring a card for everyone or small, non-distracting Halloween goods that are related to school, i.e. pencils, erasers, stickers, etc.

For my party, I’m encouraged to only use non-competitive activities such as crafts, an educational G-rated movie, or dancing.

Also, I think it’s lame that I have to plan the entire party. Aren’t I supposed to have room moms or a PTA or something. It’ll probably just be an hour of Halloween word searches.

Lame.