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Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
11:00 pm
I work with the most spectacular people. I mean that in the best way possible. Some are nice. Some not so nice. Some are considerate. Most are very professional. The one I work with the most is probably the one I like the best. Not to say I don't enjoy having a break or two from her company now and then.

First day I meet her is at a county-wide paperwork extravaganza. The new teachers are all gathered in the main office, pens at the ready, with our new insurance options open to us. We go around the room introducing ourselves, saying what we teach and where we'll teach it. I see her in the front. When it's time to break for lunch I try and make conversation. She ignores me for the most part. We'll be teaching the same subject, you see so I thought it best that we meet. She had more important things on her mind, apparently.

A week or so in; we're making a syllabus. I'm typing it and she's watching me. Several times during my typing, she takes the mouse away from me and copies and pastes something using the buttons at the top of the screen. I try and tell her I can copy and paste myself, but she has a habit of talking, pausing, then starting to talk again after you've formed your reply. And she won't stop either. She'll kinda bulldoze right over you. At one point, we copy and paste something twice. She's looking for the mistake, trying to grab the mouse again.

"Wait. I know what to delete." I say, but she's bulldozing over me again. "Listen. Listen to me." I start to say.

"Fine! Delete whatever you want to, John!" Then she storms out of the room.

I learned that she really likes to be in control. She tells me later that she doesn't see her husband during the week very often. I wonder if the two are related.

At the end of the year, I write a letter to the administration detailing why she should be teacher of the year. She doesn't get it  - mostly because she teaches Spanish, and we can't give awards to people whose subject matter isn't on the CRCT. I show her the paper after the awards are announced.

"Aw thanks, John." She says. Only she says it after she says, "You used the wrong 'there' in this sentence."
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
7:05 pm
Money woes
So, last spring I applied to be a presenter at a conference this fall. I was accepted but I may not get to do it afterall.

Our county has no professional development money. I thought that meant they would not be paying for us to go to workshops and that we would have to foot the bill ourselves. No, it also means there is no money alloted for substitute teachers. This means that unless I can find funding I have two options. 1) Use my two personal leave days or 2) decline the opportunity.

What would you do?
Friday, July 17th, 2009
12:14 pm
Office Manager from HELL
So my office manager at Scientist High* didn't register me for AP Training next week. This means that unless the situation is resolved today, I won't be attending the training. If I don't attend the training, my school can't offer AP English this year. If we don't have AP English, I know for a fact we'll lose some students, who will go to other nearby schools to get the education they want.

Her error is compounded by the fact that she told the Principal she'd done it weeks ago.

This is the latest in a long string of issues I have with this woman. Highlights:

Back in August '08, I noticed that something vital was missing from our shipment of educational materials for our textbook program. I asked her if I should call the company about it myself; she said that she had to do it. I gave her all the information--and she never followed up on it, near as I can tell.

The Senior Trip was entirely paid for by the students. I collected their fees and handed them over to her, as per policy. Over a month ago, I gave her the final invoice from Disneyland--and last night I got a semi-nasty email from Disneyland wanting to know why they haven't been paid.

She says the best way to contact her and make sure she doesn't forget things is to email her--but doing so results in very little actually being done, and in fact I've gone weeks waiting for a simple "yes or no." But if SHE wants something done, it better be done when she wants it, or you'll be on her shitlist for weeks.

The day we got back from Disneyland, one of our drivers--a teacher who, for no extra pay, drove a vanload of kids to Los Angeles and back, and only got a hotel room for his trouble--was basically bitched out for not having turned in his grades yet. Thing is, the grades weren't actually due for three more days--but she expected him to have them done, and by god, she treated him like shit.

The only reason I got reimbursed for my out-of-pocket expenses for the Senior Trip (gas for the vans, the hotel rooms for the drivers) was because I aske the Principal to get on her about it, since I could not afford to be missing that money more than a few days. She did it, but she acted as if I'd gutpunched her daughter when she handed it over. The other teacher, who didn't ask for help from the boss? STILL waiting.

And she repeatedly says that her whole reason for being is to make teachers' jobs easier.

I can't handle this woman. I'm not the only teacher who has these kinds of issues, and even the Principal has told me she's not sure she can trust her anymore. So why is she still employed? Because unions have power, and some have too much power.

I miss the old office manager. She wasn't very nice, and she thought she was the only reason the school was still in existence, but you know what? She got things done, in a timely manner and with as little fuss as possible.

*Clearly not the actual name; I'm being "discreet."
Saturday, April 18th, 2009
5:31 pm
Hi! I'm a first year teacher at a preschool and I'm in desperate need of advice on how to maintain control over my students.

Although, in reality my issues are with one child in particular--he's disruptive and somewhat violent towards the other students in my classroom.

So, if anyone has got any advice in behaviour management of a three yr. old boy or any type of class management strategy--I'm all ears. Since I'm getting a bit desperate in this particular area.

Current Mood: anxious
Saturday, April 11th, 2009
2:08 am
Good News!
So it seems the tides have changed in an otherwise shitty situation =o /

I was slightly concerned that any prospective new school would not be interested in interviewing and/or even considering me after talking to my school principal (see last post for details why.) However, to my surprise 3 schools want to interview me within the next 2 weeks. The only issue I'm facing is that they only are having interviews during the morning/ afternoons; therefore, it is hard to go when I am teaching during the day.

So the question is... how do I leave early from school without plainly saying I'm going for an interview for a better position?

I thought... sick day? dentist appointment? doctor's appointment? leave early b/c I don't feel well or family emergency?

I don't know? I feel bad going during the day, but all 3 schools are really nice. Plus it's really hard to get into a job around here so any interview is a good opportunity to have.

Suggestions please =)

Current Mood: energetic
Thursday, March 12th, 2009
11:34 pm
How do you react when a student insults you - not merely by being rude but by pointing out some specific aspect of your anatomy?

What if they do it more than once?
Thursday, January 29th, 2009
1:46 am
Survey: Please help me with my action research project! :)

My name is Lily and I am currently going to NYU for grad school in educational theater (all grades) and secondary English.  I am currently doing an action research project on dramatic activities in the content classroom.  I have created a survey just for teachers.  It would mean so much to me if you guys could fill it out.  It would help me sooooooo much!

Thanks so much in advance.  This is the URL - http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=8D_2fKBNc9HIqM_2fVZeH6jQrg_3d_3d

Saturday, January 10th, 2009
11:57 am
Do any of you work or volunteer at an after school program, girl scouts, a YMCA or day care or anything else where a structure for enforcing discipline isn't clearly defined? I'm having some issues with the kids in my program and it seems like because I can't refer them to a principal or give them a poor grade for behavior, there's not a lot I can do when they start acting up.

Any ideas on how I can handle the situation? I've tried giving a lot of vocal praise to the kids who model good behavior, modeling the behavior myself, posting some simple rules, having the kids police each other, taking away certain "rights" when they misbehave consistently (such as the right to sit where they want - I assigned seating) and giving them back when they behave consistently, and I've still got about six kids out of twenty who continue to behave poorly. I send them to the person who is head of our section but instead of giving them any kind of negative consequence she lets them sit and chit chat and chit chats with them, so now they'd rather be with her instead of doing the activity with me.
Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
10:40 pm
The fatal flaw
I made the mistake of being "too nice" to my kids initially, and now the fifth graders refuse to listen to me.

It got kind of longCollapse )
11:04 pm
Why would you let a cell phone fail you
I am so mad at J that were she my child I'd have to smack her. First, let me give you some background. J began the year failing my class. After a few calls home she realized I wasn't about to let her just sink and she worked really hard to pull a 40 up to a 60 by passing her 9 week exam. She has come in for tutoring whenever she's struggled and done a really good job of keeping her D so she could pass. Her current 9 weeks average is a 68.

So, how does a cell phone play into this. She comes into 2nd block (her driver's ed study hall time) and I hear a cell phone ring. They are not allowed to have them on campus. I know who has it but I don't say anything though I give her the look to let her know I know it's her phone. In other words she needs to take my generosity and turn it off. Well, 5 minutes later it rings again. Our school has a "if you see it or hear it it's a referal" policy. Now, I've already given her a warning and she didn't heed it. When it rings again I just shake my head and she begins to argue that she'd not going to turn it in I and that I can just be evil and turn her in.

Since this is her second offense she is suspended for tomorrow, exam day. This means she has a 0 she cannot make up on her exam and will fail the course. I talked to the principal about it and told her how much I hated that she was going to fail. And while the principal agrees, she confirmed to me that it was the child's choice because I had given her a warning when I shouldn't have and she chose to ignore it.

It still sucks though that this student allowed her pride and stubborness over a cell phone to fail her after all the hard work she did.
Saturday, November 29th, 2008
12:20 pm
Are there more damaged kids ever?
Is it just me or do there seem to be more “special needs” or otherwise damaged children in the system than ever before? Along with the standard learning disabilities, my school seems to be inundated with ADD, ADHD, semi-autistic and other behaviorally and mentally challenged students. I’m in the public school system, and it appears that my school is the final repository for every student who can’t hack it in other schools. Consequently, our test scores plummet, and the NCLB police come looking for some one to blame. So who gets punished? And why?
    The parents blame the teachers, the teachers blame the parents, and the students just continue to fail, sometimes spectacularly. One parent told me “There’s something in the water.”  ...Makes as much sense as anything else.
Friday, October 31st, 2008
9:09 am
Anyone speak Latin?
I seem to remember that someone does, and I need a quick translation:

"Opertet me hoc facere". I think it has something to do with something being easy?
Thursday, October 30th, 2008
9:09 pm
I really hate grading papers after 3 days of instruction and very few show they've learned anything
I really wish there was a way to make students give a damn.

I have 22 10th graders who all just barely got out of Algebra 1A and are bound and determined not to pass Algebra 1B. They all want to gripe and complain that I'm failing them all when most of them haven't even turned in half the assignments. The sad part is this is work they ought to be doing in class but simply don't turn in on their way out.

Then there's the whole issue of their never having really learned the basics they in the needed to have in the first place. For example, the most recent topic we are tackling is factoring. The kids all threw fits that I was making them do factor trees and basically refust to write the work out and do what they need to do to ensure they really know the skill. Then they only want the short cut methods that require little writing instead of doing enough problems the long way to ensure they can effectively transfer the short cuts.

Then again, I'm just a teacher I only want them to waste paper and time doing stuff the long way because I'm trying to unteach them everything their previous teachers showed them because my secret desire is to see all of them in summer school.
Friday, September 19th, 2008
7:12 pm
Discipline Hell
I am teaching 2nd grade this year after teaching fourth grade for three years.  I hated teaching fourth grade.  I loved most of the kids, but I always ended up with a rowdy group with lots of emotional problems and discipline issues.  It also seemed to be a time when many kids develop attitudes and smart mouths, so that was very stressful for me. 

Anyway, I was very excited to get moved to 2nd grade this year.  I worked all summer on developing a Positive Discipline strategy to use this year.  (My school has many many discipline problems to deal with.)  Things went wonderfully the first week of school and I was so proud of them!  The principal wants to implement Positive Discipline for the whole school starting next year; she loves the idea. 

But the problem is, that since that first week of school, things have progressively gotten horrible!  I only have 15 kids in my homeroom class but ten of them have turned out to be holy terrors.  I hate to sound negative, but I'm running on empty right now.  I love teaching, but at this point nothing has worked for me when it comes to discipline and I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm just not cut out for this.  I'm so discouraged!  I'm trying to make a difference in these kids lives (I teach at a school that has a population of very poor, often attention starved students)....I'm trying to teach respect and responsibility and honesty.  Honestly, I feel like they are just throwing it back in my face. 

I don't know what to do anymore.  I feel like quitting. 
I need some advice...any advice! 
X-posted a bit.
Friday, September 5th, 2008
9:16 pm
The "Peel & Eat Kleenex" Teacher Meme
This might be just the thing for some of you who are already being driven crazy by your classes.

I need to start with the original Peel & Eat Kleenex storyCollapse )

I told this story to a friend who teaches Spanish to seventh-graders in a rough neighborhood, and who has some particularly difficult-to-manage kids. She started posting signs in her room in Spanish, with various "Dos" and "Don'ts". One of the signs, of course, translated to "Do not eat the tissues." After a few days, one of the kids noticed and asked why not. "Because it's a rule." "But why is it a rule." "Because they taste bad." "What if I want to eat one anyway?" "I'll tell you not to." After several rounds, the student couldn't stand it any more and ate the tissue, with predictable results.

She told me her story over the summer, claiming that this was in danger of becoming a classroom meme, and that teachers all over the world would soon be leading their unsuspecting students down the citric-acid-and-SDS path.

This year, I once again put out a tissue box with the same handwritten warning. So far, I've had two instances of students eating tissues in the first three days of school.

If you decide that you have a class that truly deserves to be told the "Peel & Eat Kleenex" story, please feel free to comment here with the results and/or email them to me at jcb [at] mit [dot] edu.

Current Mood: mischievous
Thursday, August 14th, 2008
10:16 pm
Damned if you do.....
The school I'm at this year has a no cursing policy. If a child blatantly curses or makes an obsene gesture it is reason for an automatic referral. Since the beginning of school, I have had five instances where students have purposefully cursed. Therefore, as per the rules I have written them up. Today, I get called into the principal's office because I've had too many referrals in the first few days.

Now granted, I am trying a different kind of instruction than the traditional sit in rows and listen to the teacher. I have placed my students in TEAMs based on a cooperative/discovery learning format which is the model the local math initiative which is an acceptable curriculum guide. Now, my first block students are struggling with the concept and I have already reached out to my mentor from the local initiative to get some ideas about how to sell the kids on the idea. 2nd and 4th have not had any problems and are doing a pretty good job of staying on task and working toward various goals.

So, what is the principal's argument. She claims I've moved them into teams too quickly allowing them free time to simply talk without enough work to keep them busy. Because of course, we all know that when kids are given assignments they are so busy jumping to do them they don't have time to think about cursing. Therefore, we should blame the teacher for giving them time to formulate a curse in their mind because it's not stuffed with new information.

Seriously though, please read about the referrals I've written and offer up any suggestions you have about how I could have prevented those curses from occuring.
The referralsCollapse )
Tuesday, August 5th, 2008
7:07 pm
So much drama over a document camera
This summer: Went to a workshop on using teams and discovery learning. The presenter had a document camera and I fell in love with it. When a student shows all their work on paper you no longer have to waste instructional time getting them to copy their work onto an overhead or the board, just use the document camera.

Monday morning: I walk into my new classroom and fall instantly in love because there is a document camera there. I am super excited.

Monday afternoon: Ms. M walks in and introduces herself before jumping and saying I have things in my room that belong to her and she will be sending someone to get it later. I am crushed and go talk to my department chair. He tells me that the library has some and to his knowledge no one uses them so I shouldn't have a problem getting one to use in my classroom. From there I go talk to the librarian who informs me that the one in my room should be mine because the teacher before me used his instructional supply money and paid half out of pocket so it belongs to my room specifically. Still, if Ms. M wants it I need to just let her have it because she is supposedly the principal's homegirl. I am told I can come get the other this morning.

Tuesday morning: I go visit the library and the librarian checks it out to me for the year. Of course she continues to talk about Ms. M and I am seriously beginning to wonder what I've walked in on around here. Seems the librarian likes to stir stuff.

Tuesday before lunch: I hook up the document camera and notice that a prong is bent on one of the connectors. So, I walk down to Mr. V's room and ask him to help me fix it. He asks where I got one and I told him I'd checked it out from the library for the year and he begins to get huffy. I told him we could share it and when he needed it just let me know and I'd let him borrow it.

Tuesday afternoon: I have now hooked up the document camera and take the bulky box back to the library for storage. The librarian pulls me to the side and tells me that I opened my mouth to the wrong person because Mr. V is a kiss ass and will run to the principal if things aren't exactly perfect. This meaning I have to return the document camera to the library in two weeks as per library check out rules.

My solution: Screw them all. Buy my own. I can write it off on my taxes. Then I don't have to worry about anyone fussing and complaining. I've also already talked to the tech guy who has told me that. I can indeed hook up my own to the computer.
Tuesday, July 8th, 2008
5:09 pm
i hate summer school.
Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
5:40 pm

The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition is pleased to announce the release of its 2008 GENIUS Survey in partnership with Ernst & Young. GenderPAC works to ensure that classrooms, communities and workplaces are safe for everyone to learn, grow and succeed.

The Gender Equality National Index for Universities & Schools (GENIUS), GenderPAC’s most recent effort to end discrimination and promote awareness, encourages colleges and universities to recognize the benefits of a GenderSAFEtm campus - supportive equitable and protective for all students. Choosing to participate in GENUIS sends a strong public statement that bullying or discriminating based on the race, sex or gender of a student, faculty, or staff member is not tolerated at your institution

Fill out the survey at: www.gpac.org/GENIUS2008survey, and make sure that we have data for as many schools as possible. Your voice will help us continue to work towards a safe and welcoming environment for every student.

*While we greatly appreciate the interest taken in GENIUS by students, staff, and faculty at academic institutions outside of the United States, at this time GENIUS is only able to track schools based in the U.S.

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
2:52 pm
School is hell, indeed.
If you're a teacher, you should see the film Chalk. If you're a student, you should DEFINITELY see the film Chalk. Presented by Morgan Spurlock (the guy who did Super Size Me), this film is like The Office, but in a school setting. I know a couple teachers and while I have no idea what teaching is like, a friend of mine who teaches science told me it's not far from the truth. Which is scary, because this is a mockumentary.

Anyway, I thought y'all might like it. Enjoy!


X-posted... everywhere? :)
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