Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for October, 2010

“Thin Line”

The other day a fifth grade student came in with a green bracelet with the words “I Love Boobies” on his wrist. The teacher asked him to remove it, he asked her why. She explained that it was inappropriate for the class and made him remove it.  The next day, he came in with it on again, she told him to remove it. He said, “My mother called the principal and he said I could wear it.” He wore it the entire day making sure he showed off his arm as often as he could.  When the teacher went to complain to the principal, he told her that because it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it was a thin line that he would cross by asking the child not to wear it. Needless to say, the teacher was very,very upset. This parent, and the principal, not only undermined the teacher’s authority, but also gave this child, who is already insufferable, carte blanche to go to mommy and go over his teacher’s head! Wow! A thin line?  His bracelet didn’t mention Breast Cancer Awareness, it said “boobies.” He was showing it off to the boys in his class. And the parent? Her time will come when she can no longer deal with the monster she has created! They want to tie our pay to the students, when we’re not allowed to make decisions in our own classrooms? Please!


Corporal Punishment

I don’t believe in using corporal punishment in the classroom, but boy oh boy, this week certainly had me thinking about it! These kids say whatever comes to their mind, whenever it comes to their mind. During a recent parent-teacher conference, I told the parent that her daughter was always respectful. She replied, “She better be, and if she isn’t you can take her in that bathroom!”  I had to laugh, and let her know those days were over. I need my job!  My girlfriend teaches middle school and she was called an a##hole and a dumb b***h by one of her students.  Makes you wonder if he knew he would be popped with a ruler, or taken to the office and paddled, if he would have thought twice before using those words at a teacher.  I didn’t have it that badly, but the disrespect makes you see red.  One of my students was asked by the intern to sit down, he refused. She told me what happened when I picked them up. As she walked past him, he made hand gestures at her and muttered something nasty. He was called into the principal’s office, but what would he receive, a talking to, that’s what.  Will it happen again? Of course.   I know if he was paddled, that doesn’t mean that he would not do it again. I know there are too many sick people who would take advantage and abuse our children. I know that it doesn’t necessarily stop a child from misbehaving.  I was not a victim of corporal punishment and I have never administered it. But this week had me thinking back to the old days!

Why Can’t Johnnie Read?

It’s scary out there! More and more, teachers are being held accountable for low test scores, low test scores from students who can’t read. Back in the 80’s, you had a small group of students in the “low” group, and the rest were average or excelled. Flash forward to 2010, and those “low” students are now the majority. Why can’t they read?!!! I have been struggling with this question for the past few years, it is so frustrating.  I have tried a multitude of  strategies, refusing to give up.  Is it the lack of books at home?  Is it just that they don’t care?  Is it the lack of conversation and the almost nonexistent vocabulary?   Is it …..?????  What do you do with students who, year after year, program after program, show no progress, literally, none! One parent asked to have her kid tested, she is frustrated as well because her daughter has been pulled out for reading groups for years. 

I volunteer to read to 3 and 4 year olds once a week.  Some of them are so enthusiastic and they can point out numbers, shapes, colors,etc…, they follow the plot of a story. While others, can’t form a single word. One of the parents came to pick up her son, and I overheard the teachers telling her he was using the word “f$#@”.  This same kid couldn’t form words and wouldn’t read with me the following week. Hmmmmm……… 

Today I had the kids that failed the reading test take it online, while I read the questions and choices aloud, they still chose the same wrong answers, while looking in the book for the answers! I tell students my  students every day, “There is no magic reading dust that I can sprinkle on you, the only way to become a better reader, is to read!” If only they would listen. Or better yet, maybe we can get Tony Danza to teach them! 🙂

It’s Parent/Teacher Conference Week!

This week is conference week. So far, so good. I made life a little easier for myself by creating a form that answers questions parents should ask at conferences. I really enjoyed using it because it covered questions , I, nor my parents, remember to ask when we meet. Usually, after the parent leaves, the missed thoughts pop into my head. Of course, I’m seeing the parents whose children are doing well. I’m  glad they still come out, which in turn, is probably why their children do well.  I sent notices home, put reminders on the web page, and followed up with phone calls.  I had two parents just not show up, no phone call, email, nothing. But, one did come, and explained to me how her son comes home, and gets right to work on his homework.  He even wants to give up football practice in order to complete his homework. As I sat across  the table from this mom, I couldn’t help but smile at her pride in her son and the work he has done. Teaching is hard, especially when we get so caught up in what’s wrong, we forget to revel in what’s right!

Come to Me!

When I was a kid,  if there was a problem, my parents went to the teacher. Well, there was never a problem with me, I was a “goody-goody.”  As a teacher during the 80’s and 90’s, the parent would voice their concerns, to me. However, there seems to be a trend now where the parents skip the teacher, and go straight to the principal, or God forbid, the DISTRICT! Yesterday, I received an email from my principal,” Ms H, Jane’s mother (names have been changed to protect the guilty) called and would like you to call her and explain the grading system. ” Huh?  This parent is new to our district, so she might not be familiar with our grading system, that’s not a problem for me, that’s understandable. My problem is that she and I have sent emails back and forth where I have answered any questions she has had, why at this point did she feel she had to call my principal? And no, she never asked me about the grading system. Now understand, I send my students’ tests home with a checklist with the grading system on it. She signed the checklist, if she had a question, why didn’t she write it on the comments line?  Why didn’t she email me or call me?  Thankfully, I have a very supportive principal, because this seems to be a growing  trend.  One year I had a parent write a letter to President Obama(I’m not kidding) because her ill-mannered child couldn’t get used to the fact that there were consequences in my classroom. I believe it goes back to the whole idea of respect for the teacher  has gone out the window.  It’s as if, the teachers are not that important, which is strange, since we spend the better part of the day with their child. I feel as if it undermines my authority when a parent skips me and goes straight to the principal.  Why wouldn’t you tell me that Sam is bothering Trisha in the classroom? Why would you call my principal to tell him your child was upset because she couldn’t get on the SMARTboard today?  If  a parent  comes to me, and is not satisfied with the results, I say go for it. But it would be nice, if they came to me first. 

At our meeting today, my principal said, ” They skip you and come straight to me.”

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