“Just a Quick Note” Friday October 21, 2016

I just wanted to write something quick because I probably won’t be able to check in until tomorrow. My life still sucks, don’t worry about that. Thank you to the readers who have been leaving me comments of encouragement. Especially from teachers. I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles.

But Zooey and I are having people over to our place tonight. She’s inviting her group of people and I invited Johnny, Petty, and T-Bo.

Easy-and-Quick-PRE-PARTY-CLEANING-CHECKLIST-Via-Karas-Party-Ideas

I told them that we’ve been friends for a long time and they should try to stop by. They said they would come. I hope they don’t bring Hank. I also invited Ashley, she said she’s working but she’ll stop by if she gets off early enough and we’re still around.

Those are really my only friends. I thought about inviting Betty, the other 2nd grade teacher about my age, but I’m not sure if she’s the type that goes out. I feel like it would be better if we hung out one-on-one before inviting her to party.

Anyway, I’m excited to just hang out like old times again. I’m sick of hating work. I texted Johnny about my bad evaluation and he seemed genuinely upset about it. He kept telling me about how good of a teacher I am even though he’s never seen me teach.

I’m wondering if something might happen between us tonight. I’m nervous to see him. Isn’t that weird? I dunno. Zooey’s still pushing the smelly guy on me. She said he didn’t have a chance to shower the last time, but she promised me that he would smell better tonight.

I hope it’s a fun night!

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“I’m Just a Basic Teacher” Thursday October 20, 2016

365974I finally stopped crying long enough to write this. I can’t express enough how disappointed, sad, mad, frustrated, aggravated, annoyed, confused, and upset I am. I realize some of those feelings are redundant.

Note, I worked hard on my lesson plan. I started preparing for my observation two weeks before it happened. I had my mentor double-check my lesson plan to ensure that it was good work.

And I didn’t do well on my observation.

Let me explain how this works. There are 4 domains:

Domain 1: Classroom Strategies and Behaviors
Domain 2: Planning and Preparing
Domain 3: Reflecting on Teaching
Domain 4: Collegiality and Professionalism

And there’s a page on each domain of things that I’m evaluated on. Each thing has 4 possible scores: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and distinguished.

Oh, and for the record, they won’t hire back any teacher that isn’t proficient. Which is based on a cumulative observation at the end of the year.

As of right now I wouldn’t be hired back (and half of my class would fail, too.)

Some of the things that were unsatisfactory: my assessment for my students. Her notes were that my “assessment was too subjective and wouldn’t provide accurate data.” This is particularly frustrating since this is something that she has been bitching about since the beginning of the year and has yet to offer anything constructive. ALSO, I had my mentor check my lesson and thought my assessment was great!

I also had lots of unsatisfactory notes in domain 4. Apparently, I’m supposed to be calling all of my student’s parents every night and chatting about their children’s progress.

Most of the stuff was basic. She said I had plenty of time to improve and this doesn’t mean anything yet. It’s the yet that worries me.

I did tell her that I corrected my apostrophe/comma mix-up yesterday by reteaching that moment, but I’m not sure if Connie even cares.

I can’t figure out if Connie has something personal against me, or if she’s just a bitch, or a difficult person to read, but I don’t like her. She hasn’t been helpful or supportive and I’m nervous whenever I’m with her.

If I’m a first year teacher and my assessments are so bad then why hasn’t Connie offered to help me? I didn’t tell my team about my evaluation, but they warned me that Connie likes to pick on certain teachers. I’m not sure what I did to piss her off. If I’m not going to be hired back next year, I’m not sure if I’ll even bother looking for another job. I’m not even sure if I want to be a teacher anymore.

“My Kids Have Only Known Obama as President” Wednesday October 19, 2016

obama-awesome-thumbMy students strangely wanted to talk about everything that’s been happening with the upcoming election next month and it made me realize something. Most of these kids were born in 2008. Barack Obama has been their president for their entire lives.

I suppose I had a similar experience with Bill Clinton, but it made me wonder. To them, having a black president is the president.

It got me thinking because my students seem ignorant of racism. They live in a community that is almost entirely black. I don’t think they have ever felt like a “minority.”

That said, I don’t think they care. Their heroes are sports stars, many of them are black. The musicians they listen to are mostly black (or act like it.) They’ve grown up seeing black people in authority roles on television.

As far as the “race barrier” I don’t think they consider it and I think they will be shocked when they learn that not too long ago black people were segregated.

So, if my students say something like “someday I’m going to be president” I can’t think “yeah, right. a black president.” Instead I can only think, “Yeah, right, an illiterate president.” But then again, anything is possible.

 

 

“First Formal Observation” Tuesday October 18, 2016

a-observationI had my first observation today. I don’t think it went well. I’m not sure. I’m fairly certain that I called an apostrophe a comma. I didn’t even realize that I did that until I read Principal Belstead’s notes. I’m trying to not freak out right now.

She observed my literacy group. We read a story and worked on using context clues to determine difficult vocabulary words. I specifically chose a text with a lot of unique words. This particular story was called Kiki’s Kimono.

I asked my students how I could determine what the word “kimono” means based on the clues. And the clue was the picture. We inferred that Kiki must be the name of the girl in the picture and kimono must be something that belongs to Kiki because of the little “comma” and “s” after Kiki’s name. (Yes, I know now that it’s an apostrophe and I knew before but I was nervous and my students didn’t even correct me.)

Connie basically just took a transcript of my lesson. There wasn’t anything in her notes that could be interpreted as an opinion. There was Ms. Sinclair did this and then the students did this and Ms. Sinclair said this and so on.

And there happens to be about a half a page of dialogue in her notes about how I kept calling an apostrophe a comma.

How bad is this? I keep going back between “no big deal” and “a total, major fuck-up.

My kids weren’t too awful, however. I warned them that they were being observed and that if anyone wasn’t well-behaved it would be a serious consequence.

Fortunately, Tyrese and one other student was pulled for services. (I planned it that way.)

My plan may not have worked, though. I dunno. I meet with her on Thursday to get my evaluation score. I feel like puking.

The worst part is that I wrote up my reflection (how I felt about my lesson) before I noticed her notes and realized that I confused those words. Which means that she probably thought I didn’t read her notes. I did read her notes, I just didn’t read them closely enough until now. I already sent in my reflection even though it isn’t due until tomorrow afternoon.

I want to cry and throw up.

“Whose Fault is it if a Student Fails?” Monday October 17, 2016

We still have four weeks until the end of the first quarter, but as of right now many of my students are failing. Specifically, they haven’t been doing well on the common assessments. These are the assessments that are used district-wide. I wasn’t aware of the first common assessment, so when it came time for my students to take it I hadn’t prepared them. Because I hadn’t looked at it. Because I didn’t know it existed.

imagesEven still, in order to cover all of the material on our common assessments I often have to move onto new topics before my class has mastered the previous concept.

Which means my kids were also unprepared for the second common assessment because I felt I had to address all of the stuff they missed on the first common assessment.

So it’s really not the students’ fault that they’re failing because I haven’t been properly preparing them for their tests. However, this time I have the next common assessment and I’m teaching the material that’s on their.

I have a good feeling that most of my students will do well. But what about my low group. I’d say two of them are legitimately struggling. Their brains just don’t grasp things as quickly as the other students.

But the other two… well, they’re not stupid. They’re lazy. Tyrese isn’t dumb. He can’t read, but that’s only because he spends all of his class time being an asshole. If he would focus for a full lesson without flopping to the floor, he’d probably be fine.

I also found out that I can’t fail any kids. Our students don’t fail. If that were true than all of my students reading at a kindergarten level would still be in kindergarten.

Anyway, I feel like now I’m just teaching directly to the assessment and I hate it. We have two more common assessments before the first quarter ends and my kids need to pass both of them to pass the first quarter.

“I Don’t Want to Go to Work Tomorrow :-(” Sunday October 16, 2016

I have my first of three formal observations on Tuesday. I’m not looking forward to it. I spent all day preparing for this one literacy lesson.

I have other news—Johnny texted me last night. For the record, I unfriended and blocked him on Facebook. He just texted “How are you?”

Which I thought was unusual. It wasn’t a “How’s it going?” or “How are you doing?” or “How have you been?”

Just: “How are you?”

That’s such a loaded question. Because I think I am lonely. I feel like if Johnny and I were still together he would be the one that I could talk to about how I feel about teaching right now.

But we’re not together. And I even though I have been thinking about Johnny it was really more in a: “I wonder if he’s dating anyone” and more specifically “I wonder if he misses me.”

il_570xN.708020264_ozdi

I wasn’t sure if I should text him back. I was out with Zooey at a bar. I think it was around 11:30(?). I’m not sure. We were just chatting and hanging out with her friends from work. There was a male co-worker of hers that she brought along specifically to fix me up with. But he smelled. Yeah, no. I was really cold to him. He stunk like a sweaty sock. It was gross.

So, at midnight Zooey wanted to go to a dance club. I told her I was going to go home. I was really tired, and I wasn’t in the mood for dancing. She seemed pleasantly drunk, so I didn’t tell her about Johnny’s text. She’d probably tell me to block and then delete his number. That’s probably good advice, too.

She made sure I took a cab home because she didn’t like the idea of me taking the El. That was expensive, but I made it home quickly.

I texted him back around 1am. I said:

“I’m good! I’m teaching second grade. It’s hard but rewarding work. I’ve been super busy. I basically spend all my free time lesson planning or grading.”

He replied back almost instantly.

“I’m glad ur good. I’m happy u found a full time job. My work is good 2. I just wanted to let you know that I forgive you. I don’t like how things ended between us. I’m dealing with my jealousy issues. LOL

I had forgotten that I had done anything wrong. And Johnny never had any jealousy issues that I ever noticed. So I say:

“I’m not happy about the way things ended either. I think I was the jealous one. I think I was jealous of your friends. And I feel terrible about what I did. Thank you for your forgiveness. You’re a really nice guy. We should look back at what we had with happy memories.”

I think I started crying at that point. Then he says:

“I miss u. I think about u all the time.”

So I say:

“I miss you, too. U can txt me whenever u want.”

We texted a little bit more about why we broke up and I feel a lot better about the two of us. We’re going to stay friends. He texted me some more today. Sent me a picture of what the apartment has become. it’s gross! HA!

I’m sure it’s unhealthy, but i do miss him. He was a good listener, even if he wasn’t a great boyfriend. I hope we can make this “friends after dating thing” work.

“Weekends Are Not Long Enough” Saturday October 15, 2016

too-many-chores-woman-image-40501186I spent last night planning, prepping, and grading. And I spent this morning basically preparing for the week. Laundry, cleaning the apartment, grocery shopping, reorganizing my clothes (summer stuff is gone now), and then my family came out for lunch.

I don’t think they like coming to visit me in the city. It can be a long drive with traffic, parking is difficult, and the restaurants are more expensive.

And there was awkward tension between Lou and Daryl. Lou is pissed at Daryl for not only doing drugs, but getting caught with a joint at school. Daryl is grounded until “he can be trusted again.”

Zooey also came out to lunch with us. She had a lot to talk about. Her firm does physical therapy for a professional hockey team and she has a crush on all of her clients now.

My mom’s job is in jeopardy. There’s a rumor going around that they might close her store. I wouldn’t be surprised. She works at JC Penny, but that strip of stores has been slowly declining over the years.

Lou’s not too worried about it. He got a raise or a promotion and thinks they can get by without my mom working. Really? Then why can’t he help me pay down some of my debt, huh?

That’s basically it. My mom kept asking me how work is and I feel like I have to keep up this facade that I love teaching, but that my first year is just going rough. I don’t think I do love teaching. But I can’t tell anyone. Every time I think about quitting it just makes me want to cry.

Anyway, Zooey and I are going to go out tonight. She keeps telling me that I need to get laid. She thinks if I have sex it’ll ease some of the stress. She might be right, but I’m not really in the mood.

“I Die a Little Inside Every Week” Friday October 14, 2016

e8ae1c1db40797ca41742f11a2011c6bToday I made two of my girls cry. Don’t feel sad for them, they don’t know how to shut their mouths.

My class is loud. It’s noisy because all of my kids talk constantly. They don’t know how to whisper. They talk out without raising their hands. They have opinions about every topic.

The best way to deal with the noise level in class has been the marble jars. When they’re quiet I add a marble, when they’re loud I take a marble. Well, they’ve been out of marbles for some time now. So I took a new approach and singled kids out.

I know it’s not a recommended classroom management technique but these two girls honestly can’t stop talking.

In this case it was during Social Studies. We were reading a scholastic weekly reader about a zoo and the children’s assignment was to write a fictional letter to the zoologist from the passage.

It was an individual writing assignment, no partners needed. So when they started their letters the two girls, Angie and Princess started talking.

“Angie and Princess! Is there any reason why you should be talking?”

“I was just asking her a question, gosh!”

“You have all have an assignment, it should be silent in here.”

I’d say less than a second later those two are whispering.

“Angie and Princess. Both of you can move your clips down.”

“We weren’t the only ones talking! Drake was talking, too!”

“Who can you control? Can you control what other people do?”

They move their clips down and then I’m not shitting you, as soon as they sit down again they start to whisper.

“Angie and Princess. You can both move your clips down again.”

“But she was talking to me!”

“Then why don’t you go sit at the back table so she can’t talk to you anymore.”

Now they’re on red and if they end the day on red they have to write a letter home to their parents. So Angie moves to the back table and I shit you not, they still try to talk to each other.

Another student comes up to my desk to ask me a question and I guess the whole class took that as the okay to start talking because everyone starts whispering and while I’m helping the student the noise just builds.

And when I look up I see Angie quick turn away from Princess and Princess’s eyes go wide as she tries to act like she wasn’t just talking again. I casually get the forms to have them write why they ended the day on red and what they can do to improve their behavior for next time.

“Angie and Princess. Both of you can now write notes to your parents and explain why you’re having trouble completing your assignment.”

And then they both just lost it, and I get it. I was picking on them, I’m sure whatever they were talking about was important to them, and I did not offer much patience.

So they both cried as they wrote out their forms. They didn’t finish their assignment, but neither did a lot of students so we’ll continue it on Monday.

After school Princess apologized to me. She said that they were having a playdate tomorrow and she was trying to tell her some of the details. Then she gave me a hug.

This job is hard.

“Let’s Talk About How to Make Our Kids Succesful” Thursday October 13, 2016

Principal Belstead decided to drop in on my class today during reading groups. When she walked in I had just completed modeling a Venn diagram on how to compare two similar stories and sent the class to independent work while I pulled the low group to practice reading Dr. Seuss.

That’s right, Dr. Seuss. Specifically Go, Dog, go_dog_goGo. Not a folktale. Not a fable. Just a book filled with one or two syllable words that follow a rhyming pattern.

It has nothing to do with my lesson plan. I’m making that group read it because I feel it’s the best way to make them read aloud. The activity is something I pulled off of the internet about opposites.

I was worried that Connie would see that I was going off script, but there was little chance of that since Tyrese decided to take the opportunity of another adult in the room by gaining more attention.

I had him read first and we worked on this same book yesterday. He got some of the words, but on others I would tell he wasn’t even looking the the letters, his eyes kept moving to the pictures and then he started to randomly guess the words. Very loudly.

So I told Tyrese to please use a quieter voice and to sound out the words that are on the page.

He grunted and sighed loudly again and then leaned so far back in his chair that he tipped it backwards and fell to the ground.

I’ll admit it was kinda funny. Like a car slowly falling off of a cliff. And I probably reinforced him by giggling.fall_down_middle

But then he just laid there. I told him to come back to the table and he ignored me and chose to stay on the floor. So I moved on and had another person in the group read.

After a minute or two, I gave Tyrese the direction again. He didn’t move so I gave him a strike. This was strike two. He earned a strike during group instruction when he broke his pencil and then flicked the tip at the girl next to him.

At this point I’m feeling all hot and nervous because I’m being observed. And if Tyrese gets a third strike then he would have absolutely no motivation to come back to group.

Then Tyrese started to crawl away towards the door. I was about to strike him out when one of the resource teachers walked by. It looked like she was on her way to make copies. She saw Tyrese and engaged him.

I know she was trying to help, but engaging a student who is seeking attention is just like giving into a bratty child. This is not the proper way to get attention.

“Whatcha doing on the floor Tyrese? Why don’t you get up and show me what you’re going with Miss Sinclair, huh?”

“Uhhhhhh, it’s too hard.”

“How ’bout I help you. You can work with me in my office.”

What was I supposed to do? Tell the experienced teacher to back off. Let him flop on the floor. The direction was to come to the table. But, I just hand her the opposites worksheet and a photocopy of the book and Tyrese gets reinforced for being a total ass.

After that Connie leaves without saying anything and I get an email later with the subject: “Let’s talk after school about ways to make Tyrese successful in class”

When I met with her she said that I need to be reinforcing Tyrese more. She’s worried that I just wait until he’s misbehaving to use his clipboard. Fine, except he’s always being obnoxious. I couldn’t even reinforce him for how he walked to the group table because on the way he knocked the paper off of another kid’s desk.

So I’m very upset about it. I’m mad that the resource teacher pulled him because he got special attention and he got out of work.

He has too much power and I honestly don’t think there’s much I can do when I’m surrounded by people who want to reinforce kids constantly. How the hell are these kids ever going to do something when there isn’t an incentive or a reward at the end?

 

“I’m I the Only One That Thinks Kids Are Spoiled?” Wednesday October 12, 2016

imagesWe had a staff meeting today and the lecture was about behaviors. Our school has a lot of behavior problems, so it’s not just me.

The special services teacher told this story about a girl who refused to take down her hood. (Now that it’s getting cooler the students can wear school sweatshirts.) The teacher said that it was disrespectful to have her hood up and gave her a warning to put it down. The girl refused. So the teacher wrote her up for being defiant.

To me, this makes sense. The child is being disobedient. I think the teacher did everything right.

Well, the special services teacher said that she handled the write up and knew that something was wrong. The special services teacher wanted to find the cause for the behavior. In my opinion the cause is that she’s being a brat. But the special services teachers asks her, “Are you upset about your hair? Is that why you don’t want to put your hood down?”

cant-keep-calm-cuz-im-going-insaneStop. Right there. I call bullshit. You’re giving the girl an excuse! If she didn’t communicate that originally, then that isn’t the reason. The special services just gave the girl an out.

Of course the girl says “yes, that’s why I kept my hood up.” And do you wanna know what the special services teacher does? She gives her a fucking headband to hold back her hair and sends her back to class.

Not only did the girl not get a consequence for her defiance, she got rewarded for it.

This is a serious problem. I’m all about identifying the cause of behaviors. I’m certain most of the behaviors in my class are to get out of doing work or to get attention. The natural consequence for both of those is to stay in and do the work or ignoring them.

But what do they give my worst student? He gets extra attention and he gets out of class!

And the worst part is that all of the teachers don’t see any problems with how we’re treating these students!

I know I’m new so I can’t say much. But come on, people! Who’s running the school here?

I have one student that literally is making it hard for the other students in my class to get a good education. He’s loud, disruptive, and takes serious time away. I guarantee that if he were removed, no banished, from my classroom that everybody else would benefit.

Instead I have to give this little shit special treatment and continuously apologize to the other students and the parents of those students because there’s nothing we can do about it. And that’s a fact. We can’t touch him and he knows it. No matter what he does short of something excessively violent, he’ll be sent back to class.

That’s not fair. To anyone.