I could be working on my lesson plans right now. I could be getting ahead on my school work so that when I go back I won’t be under pressure to get stuff done. I could do that. But I think it’s also important to relax. I actually have more than enough work to spend all of spring break planning and prepping. That’s an awful feeling. Considering I’m never more than a week ahead in my planning, I’ll be feeling like this until the last week of school when everything is planned and I have no prep work.
Teaching is too time consuming. Time off is really just more time to plan.
I did start looking for jobs for the fall. It’s early but things have been posted. I’m really hoping that something comes up at Dania’s school. Now that she’s going to be the vice principal I think her recommendation would at least get me an interview. But so far the school she’s going to be working at has only posted for a PE teacher.
Ironically, when I am lesson planning I’m not stressing out about my personal shit. Johnny gave me the whole “I was drunk last night, I’m so sorry, I love you, I didn’t mean any of what I said, I’m just not ready to be a husband and father” speech this morning. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before.
Me: “Whatever. I’m sorry, too. So what do you want our first song to be at our wedding?”
Johnny: “I don’t care. … I’m hungry. Do you have any more cinnamon toast crunch?”
He hung out with me last night, but he spent most of the night texting somebody on his phone. I couldn’t figure out who. He said it was Hank, but I don’t believe it. He kept smiling and shaking his head. I don’t like it. I mean, I shouldn’t have any reason to be jealous. Historically speaking, he shouldn’t trust me, but still.
Ha ha! He has to go to work tomorrow and I have the week off! Score!
Longest. Day. Ever! My kids were absolutely out of control this afternoon. The morning wasn’t too bad. But the afternoon was a waste of time. I was really hoping that they’d earn their last marble so we could have extra recess, but they were just too noisy.
Which is fine. It’s over now. I have a whole week off! I’m so excited. I’ve been feeling really nauseous lately. I have a doctor’s appointment next week so I’ll get to see my baby finally! I figure I’ll tell work about my pregnancy when I get back. Johnny hasn’t told his work yet. And my mom and Lou are still acting strange when I talk to them.
Anyway, I’m exhausted. All I want to do right now is watch TV. In fact, that’s all I want to do all of spring break!
I think I figured out why my second graders suck at lining up, sharing, raising their hands, talking quietly, taking turns, using scissors, and keeping their hands to themselves. It’s because they no longer teach those skills in kindergarten.
I ate lunch today with one of the kindergarten teachers and she was telling me about how her students are learning division. Division! Like, as in math!
She said she’ll give them a pile of counting cubes and several circles and the students have to divide the cubes among the circles so each circle has the same number of cubes. She’s even teaching them about remainders!
My kids can’t divide. We only started division. I don’t know what this kindergarten teacher is doing, but it needs to stop. Kindergarten is supposed to be learning how to be a student. This is the grade where they learn to play nice with their peers, and learn to raise their hands, and line up and master the procedures so when they go to first grade they can function as a class.
Nope. Apparently there isn’t even play time in kindergarten anymore. There’s routine and procedures, but it’s all academic.
My students are terrible human beings. They don’t respect authority of each other. I have one student who has started to smash other people’s lunches. He likes to steal their juice boxes and smash them on the ground, or take a bag of chips and just smash it. He makes a mess and he wastes food and he hurts the feelings of the students who were planning on eating their lunch.
It’s out of hand and I really think if kids were whipped into shape in kindergarten I wouldn’t have so much trouble now. We think we’re helping our kids by following academic standards, but the fact is there are skills that kids need to learn before those standards can even be addressed.
Some of my good students are finally catching on that the best weapon against the trouble-makers is to not pay them any attention. I’ve gone full ignoring mode for Tyree’s disruptive behaviors. Basically, he’s dead to me. I treat him like a ghost and pretend I cannot see or hear him. His behavior usually escalates when I ignore him, but fortunately he usually walks out of the classroom and I can lock the door and call the office.
Unfortunately, he’s not always seeking my attention. He can be satisfied by pissing off his classmates. In the beginning of the year, the other students responded to Tyree by giving him silent signals, verbally telling him to stop his behavior, and telling on him. All of these proved ineffective because it served the purpose of giving him attention.
What works better than redirecting him and punishing him, is to remove the other students completely. What’s even better than that, is having the students remove themselves.
So, when Tyree is flicking his boogers, playing with his water bottle, throwing pencil tips, etc. I tell the students around him, “You can move to a different spot in the room if somebody is being distracting.” And it works!
The students around Tyree have made a new home at the back table. They work together and at this point have refused to do any group work with Tyree. I tried to go easy on him, but I couldn’t help telling Tyree, “Gee, looks like none of your friends want to be around you.”
Tyree’s desk is now in isolation, away from as many students as possible. I’ve also been better about when students choose other students to come to the board by asking them to pick people that are paying attention. I think the class is tired of Tyree’s constant distraction and finally learning to stop reinforcing him.
What the fuck do I care? I’m not hired back next year. Here are the 5 things that I hate the most about my school and I would change if I were in charge.
Misguided Behavior Plans — Whoever was in charge of coming up with the behavior plan must’ve just gotten done reading an article on positive reinforcement because that’s all we’re allowed to do. Our school doesn’t believe in clip charts because it involves telling a student that they’re misbehaving. Their idea is, whenever a kid is being good, give them a ticket. Therefore, kids will always want to be good because they’re always going to want to have tickets. The problem is some kids get more reinforcement out of being able to do whatever the fuck they want without an consequences. So basically a kid can do whatever he wants in my school without consequences.
Focus On Standardized Tests — I get that my school loves to advertise that they have the largest improvements of test scores in the state or some shit. Sure, because they fudge the numbers. Our kids are purposely made unprepared for the first test given in the fall, then the school pumps a shitload of incentives and pressure on teachers and students to improve their scores in the spring. So it’s no wonder that test scores improve. Also, teacher bonuses are tied to test scores so now staff has a financial incentive to cheat. Apparently, we followed the rules to not help kids with testing in the fall, but in the spring we’re allowed to pull them into small groups for testing and read the test with them. Cheaters!
Emphasis on All Work and No Play — When you get down to it, these are still children. Children who only scheduled for one 15 minute recess each day after they finish eating their lunch. Extra recesses for incentives are allowed with approval. That means if my kids work really hard on a test or something I can’t reward them by giving them a recess unless I have approval beforehand. And who knows when my kids are actually going to be good? Other things not allowed: special days where kids can dress up, any type of class party on days that aren’t a holiday (those holiday parties are only 30 minutes), any sort of reinforcement with food, and birthday parties are forbidden. I think it’s been proven that students are more productive when they are given more recess or physical activity.
Subjective Performance Evaluations — My principal observes me and basically she rates me based on how she feels I’m doing. My students’ grades, parent feedback, attendance, and other staff members have no influence. I can be the best teacher in the world, but if my principal doesn’t like me, then she can let me go at the end of the year.
Poor Support Staff and Coteachers — I have two resource teachers and one paraprofessional that help out in my classroom and they’re all retarded. My team, the other 2nd grade teachers, is pretty good. Sometimes we combine subjects and that works out. But for math and literacy my class is broken into groups by grade levels and I have staff “push-in” to help out. They come unprepared, they’re not good teachers, and they don’t follow through on behaviors. It happens all the time where my co-teacher will come up to me and say, “Shanise has to stay in for lunch recess. She wasn’t listening.” What the fuck? So now I have to give up my lunch because she misbehaved for you? A better teacher would have found a better punishment.
That’s 5. I have so many more things that suck about my school but it feels good to get it off my chest.
Our school has a spring break later than most of the other school districts. It’s nice though. The earlier the break the colder the weather and then the longer the stretch is before summer. This spring break is going to be nice. When we get back there’s only two more weeks in April, then all of May, and like two more weeks in June. And you can’t count this week or the last week of school. Or the week we get back from spring break. Or the week with Memorial Day. Basically the year is almost over.
I haven’t told my students or my school that I’m pregnant. I don’t know if it’s bad luck or something. I guess it’s smarter to wait until the chances of a miscarriage are low.
But why does it have to be so secretive? Like baby’s names, too. Or the sex? I feel like mothers keep the names a secret because they don’t want anyone stealing it. I’ve been thinking about names, but usually only when a I hear a name I like.
I’ll never name my baby after any student. Ever.
Oh well, today was not bad for a Monday. I feel like the lesson plans my team have been making have been more shitty than usual. I feel like the math excel lesson wasn’t even close to what we were doing last week. But what do I know? I’m only a first year teacher.
I’m feeling good today! Johnny and I made progress this weekend nailing down more wedding plans. Considering we’re having a June wedding and it’s already April we’re lucky that we were able to lock everything down.
I’m supposed to go dress shopping next weekend. I made some appointments. They have maternity dresses that I can wear no matter what size I am.
A family friend is going to be our photographer. He’s only done one or two other weddings, but the pictures turned out really good.
We decided to just use our laptop and the hotel’s sound equipment instead of booking a DJ.
I ordered flowers from the local florist and the hotel gave us a discount to go through their bakery partner for the cake.
I can’t believe how much of the wedding came together! We printed out the invitations ourselves and and got them all stuffed and labeled. It was a lot of work! Also stamps are really fucking expensive. We asked people to RSVP by text or email. That might get annoying considering we’re having so many people and having 3 dinner choices.
We had to make some last minute additions and subtractions. Basically out of town relatives that we really only see at weddings. It sucks. I’d say I don’t give a shit about 80% of the people coming to my wedding. And the arguments are the same for each person: “We have to invite her. She’s my great-aunt’s best friend’s neighbor’s dog sitter! She’d be pissed! I don’t want to start any drama!”
Also friends are tough. I feel like I haven’t kept in touch with my friends from high school. And I lost track of my college friends. But I also don’t want a bunch of old aunts and uncles, either. I want people to dance and have fun!
Of course I’ll be in my 2nd trimester and probably incapable of dancing. Maybe we made a big mistake having a big wedding while I’m pregnant. We should’ve just gone to the courthouse and then had a big reception next year after the baby’s born. Oh well. Wedding on!