“Beginning of the Last Stretch” Monday, April 17, 2017

I actually began the day with optimism. My students came into my room saying, “I missed you, Miss Sinclair! I missed you!” Some of them ran over and gave me hugs. One of them even brought me a present from his trip to Indiana.

I was touched. I was thinking, “Alright, maybe my students realized how much they need a strict adult to hold them to higher standards.”

Then I tried to start class. That was the end of that.

Ralph-Wiggum-image-ralph-wiggum-36389348-420-315Children are stupid creatures. What makes it worse is that they act like they know everything. My students were off for a week. They might as well have been off for a year. They had forgotten our routines and procedures. I had to remind them that they have to raise their hands to speak.

I had to argue with our policies on the bathrooms. And Tyrese proved that his life’s purpose is to make my life a living hell. I don’t think he sat in his desk once all day. He wandered around the classroom for most of the morning. I asked him twice to take a seat. He replied with, “I will, I will. In a minute, Miz Sinclair.” And he continued to wander.

I can’t physically touch him. I can’t force him to behave. I can’t threaten him because I have nothing to threaten him with. I should threaten to hold him back a grade. But I can’t. It doesn’t matter if he never sits down all year. He’ll still move on to 3rd grade.

I can’t threaten to call his mother. His mother has no control over him.

I can’t threaten to send him to the office. Because he’ll enjoy the attention and then just get sent back to class after 20 minutes and he’ll miss out on valuable instruction time.

He has all the power. I wish I could beat him. I wish I could take a yard stick and smack the black off that fucking kid.

And I’m stuck with him for 3 more months. I’m not going to make it.

 

Advertisements

“Getting a Jump On Work vs. Relaxing” Sunday April 9, 2017

ch900512I 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!

“What Happened to Kindergarten?” Thursday April 6, 2017

icankI 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.

“Using Exclusion to Manage Behaviors” Wednesday April 5, 2017

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.fyspring

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 kirekesztésand 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.

 

“5 Things I Would Change About My School” Tuesday April 4, 2017

2972efdcba6c090f9b6350701f757631809ace50996a05d79d32a95e94d7af00What 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.