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Friday, December 3, 2010

Students v. pocketbooks

Had a good week at work this week!!  Even though my feet are killing me and I came home feeling like my ears were going to explode it was good.  I have definitely come to realize and embrace that my students are not the cause of my stress it is the district and their ridiculous mandates.

They ask why have your scores gone down so much in the past two years?  Because that first year I was allowed to teach.  I could teach what I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted to teach it.  Now I have to stay on schedule or be threatened because of low test scores.  I was talking to a new teacher, like fresh out of college teacher, today and I realized that I am now faced with a new dilemma.

Now that I can say absolutely positively that it is the district officials who are idiots not my students, I am tempted to stay with them.  I know that if our school does implement grade looping (where I would teach these same students through 8 grade) They would leave middle school proficient in Math!!  I know with out a doubt we could accomplish that.  So my dilemma is do I do what is right and stay and teach these students who need me or do I do what will be easier for me and go to a district with sane individuals as leaders??!!??!!  I feel that so many of my students have been left behind and that I can catch them up and adequately prepare them for the next level but staying may make me insane also.  I have already began slacking when it comes to completing necessary district mandated paperwork because it just seems so pointless.

Here is why I call the officials idiots, I just recently found out that our superintendent has never been a teacher or principal, he was a businessman who decided he wanted to run a school district.  That's stupid for the board to elect him, not only that but at the election the candidates were asked how long do you intend to stay here in Memphis, his reply 3-4 years, the opponent answered 9-10 years.  What retards are we electing to sit on this board?

I wish I had more power or was more outspoken to get other teachers out here to protest this stupidity!!  We all agree and get upset and debate it at the lunch table but no one actually takes action.  We became teachers to help students but in this district they are not helping students they are simply trying to line their own pocketbooks.  :(

Monday, November 15, 2010

the state of education

Teaching is a profession for adults who love children and want to have fun helping children grow academically and socially.  As I am going to show, in at least one large school district the focus has shifted from being a profession for people who love to children to a profession of people who are trying to build their own resumes.  
Education claims ‘No Child Left Behind’ but how is this so if children are making it to middle school and cannot multiply and divide?  Well I know that in this one school district that there is a no failure policy.   With this policy and many others like it Principles are always in scramble mode trying to cover their own tails.  Principles are being threatened to be demoted back to the classroom if they are not in line with all of the policies of the district.  Therefore in order for the Principles to do this they put extra paperwork on the teachers.  
This is really a district that does not support, trust, or care about its teachers.  We, the teachers, must “prove” that a student failed our \class.  Supposedly, the district operates on data.  Well, if you look, even glance, at the data it is obvious that the majority of the students in the district are below grade level.  So, if data supposedly ‘tells the story’ shouldn’t we as teachers be “proving” the A’s?  
More proof that the district does not support its teachers is that they blame the teachers for low test scores asking the teacher, “What did you not do?”  If the Superintendent trusted his principles that wouldn’t be a question.  He would see the pattern of many schools with the same problems and he would pull the teachers and principles closer by making it a student centered question like, “Why are our students not performing and how can we help them?”  If you hired the principle and your principle hired me, You should trust yourself to know you hired a great teacher.  If you question that, come sit in my classroom for a week.  If you still believe it is all my fault please fire me.  If you see great teaching with differentiated strategies then look at the data with me and say, what can we do to motivate these kids?
His approach is driving great teachers away.  The great teachers are burnt out and tired of being blamed and threatened.  They are going to better districts where teachers are relaxed, not under pressure to perform, and not being threatened.  To districts where the students are doing wonderful.  Not only are they losing teachers, new graduates are are not even applying.  They are going to nearby smaller districts that pay much less.  But again they are not under constant scrutiny.  
Here in this district we are no longer allowed to teach what our individual students need.  We must teach to a test.  We are not allowed to teach the old fashioned way with books, pencil, paper, chalk etc.  We must use technology and strategies that worked somewhere else.  This is just frustrating because ‘somewhere else’ has students that are very different from ours.  This frustrates the teachers, being forced to teach certain things in a certain way, even if our students aren’t ready.  Oh and don’t forget it is now against the law to separate students by ability.  Which is even mored frustrating.  Students pick up on their teachers feelings.  If the teacher cannot put their heart into teaching and student will not put their heart into learning.  
To make matters worse most of these initiatives and policies deal with technology which ok but here in this district no one makes sure that the technology actually works before putting demands on the teachers.  For example Excel plans must be completed after each report card to show who failed.  Half of the teachers at my school could not even login to use the this system.  We were told last year we must use the online grading system power teacher, well 15 weeks into school and our classes have not been reset for the current school year.  We were also told at the beginning of this year we must complete a series of online training sessions by a certain date, the website was not even up and working!!
Most teachers began teaching because it was fun to interact with their students.  Teaching is no longer fun.  It is all about resume building and test scores and proving data.  This school district has gotten away from being student centered.  Until the focus of education is back on each individual child, things will not improve.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Break Down

I haven't posted in a while.  It has actually been pretty cool until here recently.  These sixth graders have been in middle school for 12 weeks and are beginning to think they are grown.  I have tried to nicely explain to my classes that, I will be nice as long as they are well behaved and make good grades.  Since the first report card I cannot even get decent grades.  Then we have the district wide tests where if the students don't well it reflects on me as a teacher.

Can someone please explain to me why the district will not send a paper copy of their stupid tests??  My math classes had to take this test online and it was multiple choice, so what do you think they did?  they will tell you what they did, they aren't ashamed.  They just clicked anything.  

Today was the data Break Down session and the higher powers wanted to know why students didn't do even mediocre on this test.  I explained them to my theory and then she had the nerve to ask what I did differently.  I didn't do jack different your idiots decided to give a multiple choice math test online!!!!!!
but now I am going to be looked at as a failure of a teacher because of it. 

I spent hours on saturday and sunday lesson planning, which is a school requirement not a district requirement.  Then I spend at least two extra hours a week at the school planning and holding tutoring sessions, which no one shows up for, but Im required by the school to have.  AND i teach my butt off never sitting down.  But do the students care do they take advantage of the extra help??  NO  they take advantage of niceness they see niceness as weakness.  therefore i have to treat them horribly, how I would never want my child treated in a school setting, Just to get their attention.  

After being a complete witch for weeks now the majority of my classes have started using more self control which is good.  but my homeroom, the class that has been soo good since the beginning of the year are now horrible.  I will keep being the Witch teacher and they will see that I am an equal opportunity F giver!!  I won't discriminate on that you can't behave and follow directions, I will forget about all the extra points here and there that I was giving.  You can keep yo F!!  

We have another district test next week.  I complained so much that they are going to give me paper and pencil based test.  I guess we will see now if the children are learning or if I am just a horrible teacher.  The children at this point will have to prove me wrong because I have lost faith in them.  I do not think that they can do it.  I have given up hope.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Horse and Pony show

I believe that is all MCS and the people in charge are all about putting on a show.  We were forced to do 'walking school bus day' today.  Don't get me wrong it was a ton of fun.  time to just goof off with the kids, but in the end that was instructional time that was lost.  the superintendent or his second hand man were supposed to be there.  Did they show?  of course not.  Am i surprised?  NO.  This is same old same old.  they never show.  they have no problem saying you must do this activity and then never show up to see it in action and then have the gall to say at the end of the year you should have been teaching more or doing better in the classroom.  Our building actually houses a regional superintendent do we even see her NOPE.   Just sayin I think this is crap.  Why are you running a school system if you NEVER show up to the schools to see how things are going?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Can you believe this????

Oh lord, I lost it yesterday.  Can you believe that one of my students had the nerve to refer to me as racists?   Oh Boy I was livid and my body was shaking.  I kicked her out of my classroom and told her she could not come back until I received a sincere apology.  I just cannot believe how she could have even said that.  Its like they don't realize I could get a job and work with white kids if I wanted too, but I don't, I choose to stay there with them.  They don't realize that until this year I was the only white female that was brave enough to hold down a classroom in that school.  It is so sad that they are raised to believe that white people are out to get them.  The student later wrote an apology letter and I know she learned her lesson.  It was very sincere and heart felt I almost felt bad for being so tough on her but she needed to learn that you cannot say the first thing that comes to your mind.  The other students in the class at the time actually were so upset about it they went to their next class and told their teachers.  It was good to know and hear that the majority of my students did care about me and my feelings and do realize that what I do on a daily basis is for them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Quality Teacher Manifesto

This article was shared with our faculty during faculty meeting today.  This article is a good one.  It is so true.  The second and third elements I can personally attest to.  The teamwork and camaraderie really do make the work place so much more enjoyable and in turn makes you want to do a good job.  Last year, I felt like everyone at the school hated me, well they did, and I hated getting up in the morning and walking through the doors, I used to call the school 'hell' ( to the principle!!)  He moved me this year to another grade where I am working with 5 different adults and they treat me as a friend and I love going to work in the mornings.  I have also seen the results in the students.  I have very few discipline problems this year because we are working and engaged during class time.  My attitude is better which the kids can sense.  Children really do sense conflict and self doubt. This year they have learned to add and subtract mixed numbers with different denominators in one day.  I think my positive attitude and demanding excellence from them has forced them to use their brains.  I don't think that I am that great of teacher but i do think that forcing the students to think made them remember things from last year.  But anyway here is the link to the article, read it, it is a good one.  Maybe someone will email it to the district officials so that real education can take place here in my state.


well the link will not paste correctly but please google A Teacher Quality Manifesto this is an article by Deborah Kenny In the Wall Street Journal.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Unbelievable

I have some absolutely unbelievable situations take place these four years of teaching, most have nothing to do with actual education but with the area where these children come from.  All of these stories are true absolutely unbelievable YES, but completely true.  Today I was on the way to work and right before my exit there was a man asleep on the concrete barrier in the middle of the interstate!!  How crazy is that?!  I want to know how he got out there.  My husband said it was probably in the middle of night and he is just really lucky.  This is just days after a major new story of a woman, crossing I-40, being hit by an eighteen wheeler.   They must have run the homeless out of where ever they normally sleep because there were a lot of them in weird places today.

 Another amazing thing from this morning, not amazing in a good way, but amazing as in these people blow my mind!!  On Friday  a 6th grader made some child abuse claims, all of the authorities have been notified for those of you concerned, but her father had the nerve to show up at the school this morning.  I cannot believe they did not arrest him on the spot.  I cannot believe he had the nerve to show his face in the school.  The only explanation is that DYS has not done an investigation yet.  I couldn't even look him in the face when he asked if his daughter could come to tutoring knowing he rips up her homework.  CRAZINESS.

Then on another day last year I was waiting at a red light in this same dangerous area and a man starting walking toward my truck.  Being the safe person I am, I quickly locked all my doors.  THEN as the light turned green he fell face first directly in front of my front bumper, again being the cautious person I am, I thought he was trying to make me get of the truck so he could steal my shiny new red f-150.  I sat there with the doors locked, windows up, and hands gripping the steering wheel.  At least 30 seconds went by and he never moved, people began getting out of their vehicles and checking on him.  after another minute I decided it was safe to leave the safety of my truck to see what was happening.  As I got around to the front of the truck an ambulance came around the corner.  Lucky for that guy.  I thought he was a junky or something but apparently he was waiting at the bus stop and had a seizure he just happened to seize in the middle of traffic.


One day last year on the way home I saw an old man laying on the ground with a grocery cart dumped over right beside him, must've had a little too much to drink, passed out by 2:30 pm lol.  I also stayed behind one day to watch one of our own students be handcuffed and transported for having a firearm on school property.  this is what my children are exposed to every day.  Is it an excuse?  no but if they never see how 'normal' people live how can they want better?  

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friends

Sitting here on this wonderful Friday night!!  With nothing to do!!  Its funny how "friends" work.  I get nice stuff, all of a sudden I have 3 friends.  Weird.  I am tired of being in competition with people.  Can't we all just get along?  I thought I had a few friends, but as soon as my husband got his job out of town for some reason I'm not invited to hang out anymore.  I just want to know why!!!  Please I would understand if you have a good explanation!!!!  Right now I am going to assume it is the money issue.  I have no other reason to think otherwise.  Every time I get something new these so called friends answered with something new of their own.  And to think I invited these people to some of my favorite activities and now they show up like they are the freakin' !#&*  Just enough to piss me off.   I am going to have to find another class because I used to go here to relax now I just get more pissed off when I attend.

I would understand if these one of these people knew the 'whole story', can these folks not hang because I have been with the same group for ten years now????!!  Yeah I have special relationships with these guys I've known them longer than you!!  DUH.  GET OVER IT!!

REAL friends TRUST no matter what!!  REAL friends AREN'T afraid to say whats on their mind even if it could be hurtful (at least its the truth!!)  REAL friends are by your side through STUPID ideas and BAD decisions cheering you on or being the little voice in the back of your head!!  REAL friends DO NOT  abandon you when times get tough!!  REAL friends are there for life near or far FOREVER!!


I have three friends that truly follow these rules!!  One of these ladies I know I could trust with my life, she has already saved me numerous times!!  Another is always there she's been through a lot of hard times and always understands and is happy to share advice!!  And the last one is always there (well almost) when I need a laugh a pick me up.

I know that these 3 are for life.  It sucks that others cannot receive my trust but they have not earned it.  when someone is going through tough times does not mean turn your back.  When someone is finally successful, maybe a little more than yourself, you shouldn't turn your back and write them off.  Like I've said before, money is nice but family is better!!  Jealousy is a natural feeling, it's ok, but don't let that stand in the way of a friendship.  ( don't mean to sound uppity there but just sayin)

Anyway having a lonely Friday night, can't go to movie, no baby sitter, would go myself at this point if i did.  Need to vent all my hubby says is find something to do.  I have scrubbed the kitchen top to bottom, not much fun in that.  He says he is out of town and is away from all of his friends but he at least has people to go out to eat with after work.  I know working all day sucks and then going to a hotel room instead of home is not ideal but at least he is busy most of the time, working or talking work on the phone or going out to eat with bosses.  I wish I had people to talk to at work.  but I don't even have that.

Speaking of work, just got a new white woman, she is actually skinny and decent looking.  I haven't really talked to her yet but she is in my old classroom.  Yesterday, a male teacher asked me, "Have yo talked to your competition yet?"  I was like, "What are you talking about, competition?"  He said, "You know, down there in your old classroom."  So weird because I never thought of it as a competition.  I would like to have been at least acquaintances with her but now that I know everyone else is seeing it as a competition, I guess that is not going to happen.  he referred to our looks.  She is a bit taller than I, blonde, and fake tan.  So really I guess its just what you into.  But we are both married and so are most of the other adults we work with so why are being compared like that?!?!?!?  I'm not even sure if she knows this is happening.

But anyway like I said long evening alone nothing to do but think, needed a way to vent.  This seems to be it.  :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

parent conferences in the ghetto

Tonight was open house.  As soon as I walked in two students already started pointing me out.  UHHH ohhh I thought, I hate dealing with these parents.  After nearly getting beat up last year, another parent going to the principle because I yelled at her daughter, and all the parents who try to intimidate me because I failed their child.  But I have learned from my experiences, and now I am keeping a file folder for every student with all their graded work in it.  So when the first parent wanted to know why her daughter had a 79 I showed her the folder and she was all of a sudden on my side because she saw first hand her daughter failed an assignment on adding and subtracting decimals.  This parent had a "shit don't stink' attitude which was amusing in itself because I had proof for all of her complaints.  She thought she was going to call me out and catch me doing wrong, I may not be from Claeborn homes but I know the 'game'!  lol

More entertaining was a parent who showed up in leggings (like spandex) and a very tight shirt.  Needless to say she didn't have any business wearing that!!  Not to mention she had tracks in her hair only problem was, they were not covered by her real hair, they were out in the open for everyone to see!!  lol again!!  From looking at her daughter I pictured the mother very well manicured and put together but boy was I wrong.  It is funny this year, there are a couple of children I looked at thought their parent must be a working well taken care of person and when I actually met the parent I couldn't have been more wrong!!  I guess that is good though, that our children are making sure they are presentable everyday.  But anyway another train-wreck of a parent showed up drunk with her fake eyelashes halfway hanging off her face!!  Hilarious.  But she did give us her number and said she does spank at school and will give permission for teachers to spank her children!!

Anyway, good advice keep track of your attendance, keep up with your students work like elementary school, and keep track of specific students unwanted behaviors in a log with date and time.  These things will make parent teacher meetings go much smoother because the parent sees the proof there is not really an argument as to the teacher lying.

Monday, September 13, 2010

TVAAS my *$$

Well interesting news today, a colleague of mine has one of the highest growth rates in the district.  What puzzles me about this is the fact that this particular teacher is late to work everyday and is very nonchalant I don't understand how this person is getting these results when the rest of us work our tails off.  We have been told we are going to be watched like hawks, the housing projects right across the street from the school closing in October, we only have 322 students and will be losing 96 with the closing.  So with such a small student to teacher ratio, our principle was told to "spank" (words from the district official) anyone who did not comply.  It sounds great to have small student to teacher ratio, We are good at closing the gap (pulling up students who come to us below grade level) but that doesn't count for enough.  We now must provide enrichment for those who are on grade level to move them above and beyond.  DUH you say that is what teaching is all about, but it is easy to forget about these guys, they are few and far between here at my school.  I think it is a lot of extra work to plan a 'challenge' lesson for only 2 or 3 students per class.  I think about it and it would be ideal for them to all be in the same class, grouped by ability, but that is now against the law.  So these kids could stay after school and get some higher level enrichment but that is another day I have to stay after work.  I keep telling myself thats what the teachers in the movies do, my goal this year was to be the best teacher I can be, but I do have a family of my own, and staying after school 2 or 3 times a week is not family friendly.

On top of all this I can't help but almost want to give up.  They are going to get rid of teachers who don't perform, well get rid of me.  I want to be a stay at home mom anyway.  Them getting rid of me would just speed up this process!!  It is hard to put my whole heart into my classes when I am so bogged down with feelings of my family, my daughter at home needing her parents and knowing my husband can't be here for her I need to be but can't because I am required to stay after school 2 or three times a week.  Not to mention I think that being pregnant and teaching in this environment would not be healthy, too much stress, a nasty building and dirty kids, not a good place for a pregnant woman.

Anyway, again just venting, I have no one to talk to, my husband doesn't understand how feelings of babies can take over a woman's thoughts.  To put icing on the cake a pregnant, girl that I don't even know her name, chose me to be her go to girl today (after my melt down last night), she's 8 months pregnant.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What comes next??

This has absolutely nothing to do with education.  I am just having a hard time right now and need to vent somehow.  I just had to once again watch my husband leave to go 400 miles away.  Something I guess I should be used to by now.  I hate it when he gets to come home and then has to leave again.  This job was- and is- a blessing but it is so hard to be away from him.  I know tonight I will be up all night because I won't be able to make myself go to bed alone.  I keep telling myself at least he is not overseas in the military but that doesn't help much.  I never thought I would be the wife of a man who has to be away all the time.  I am not exaggerating, he is gone unless the government gets tired of paying for their hotels and per diem or if a hurricane is threatening to hit the gulf.  I know this is the best job for him and of course the money is good too but I wanted a family.  Maggie needs her daddy and I need my husband.  I hope he can be moved back to Memphis somehow.

I know something good is meant to come out of all of this but it is so hard to wait on it.  In 2008 (I think maybe 2007) Justin was laid off, we were living off teacher salary and unemployment.  I just so happened to get called on for jury duty and sat on a jury with a man that worked for the Corps.  We were talking one day and I told him my husband was a heavy equipment operator and was currently taking college classes and just did a research paper on the Corps.  Well two days later this man came into the jury room with a email he had gotten that said an equipment engineer job was opening up.  He gave me the info and explained exactly how to put in an app. for the job and I went home and did it for Justin.  (he didn't believe me)  It took a while but we finally got some calls and found out he got the job.  This was a blessing.  We never would have known about this if I hadn't been put on that jury with Mr. Newman that week in January.  God had this in his plan.  But this is the tricky part, I want to know what comes next.  I need to know what comes next.  Surely God doesn't want us to live our lives married but separate!!??!!  God has to have put this desire in me for a large family but how can that happen with my husband four hundred miles away and me only getting older.  I just don't understand and I guess Im not supposed too.  but it eats away at me.  I can't help but get teary eyed when I see a happy pregnant couple.  I feel like I am going through this alone.  I know other women have had to be on their own but I don't know any.  Just know that if you have your husband and family are together every night that you are lucky.  I always thought money would make everything better we have gone from having to worry about how much we spent on groceries to buying $400 sunglasses :)  The money is nice but family is better.

I am ready for a baby, but i do not want to  be here pregnant by myself, I've done that once already, and why would he want to have a baby just to know he will have to leave again and not get to see him or her for weeks.  But I know if he quits this job there is nothing that can compare here, if he were to quit we wouldn't be able to afford a baby.  Our goal since Maggie was born has been to not have another until I could stay at home.  This is the only job where he can make enough money for that to be possible.  I am so torn and don't know what to do.  For the time being I am trying to pass the time making myself happy by spending money, buying nice things, but I know Tiffany & Co.  will only make me happy for a little while.  I would like to have a cat, I think a cat would help to fill the void that I am feeling, but Justin says no pets.  He doesn't understand.  To make matters worse, I think that Maggie blames me or is mad at me somehow, when he has to leave.  I know that when he is here she will do anything to make him mad at me, I guess so that he will give her all of his attention.  For example, before he got here Friday evening, I took Maggie to CICI's pizza to see my family.  I told her before we left we were only having salads and not to fill up b/c I was cooking a big dinner for Daddy.  Well when he got home and I put dinner on the table she told him she wasn't hungry b/c she just had pizza, which was a total lie.  She somehow blames his absence on me or resents me for it or something I can't quite figure it out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

oops!!

     Not a lot going on in the world of education but I am keeping myself busy these days!!  Maggie has started gymnastics, I am soo proud of her, with my old coach.  I assembled a file cabinet by myself.  Driven to new orleans gotten my windshield cracked and fixed.  And still planning great lessons for my students!!  ;)
     Today I had an oops moment in the classroom, it was hilarious!!!  (New teachers don't be afraid to laugh at yourself)  A student was begging to go to the restroom I wasn't letting him because it was not restroom time but he was persistent so i gave him the hall pass and let him go.  It was a good thing because he was waddling like a duck down the hallway.  Well i never noticed that he didn't come back when that class period was over, I didn't notice that he wasn't at lunch and I didn't notice his stuff was still in my classroom until the end of the next class period.  I sent a boy to check on him and he was still in the restroom 2 hours later!!!  We cannot figure out why he never came out and asked to call home.  When we finally got him out of the restroom he said he fine and went on to his next class!?!?!  It was really weird but soooo funny.  I am lucky he was ok and I have got to start being more observant!!
     Oh yeah and one more thing went well today!!  The principal just happened to peek his head in the door while a really good lesson was going great all the students were engaged!!  It is always nice when someone gets to see your lessons going the way they are planned because in middle school, especially in inner city schools, it is hard to carry out a lesson exactly as planned.  If there is not a behavior issue then it is a reteaching issue so new teachers stay flexible.  On Tues.  the principal stuck his head in the door for a few minutes and I was carrying on my lesson as planned in the printed lesson plan but as I was passing out the worksheet I realized that it wasn't as great as I thought it was, so I had to quickly think on my feet and not let the children know anything was wrong and quickly find another ticket out the door for them.  luckily i had some other resources readily available and no one ever knew the difference.  This is good advice too, keep a short assignment at hand just incase you need to run out of the room for a minute.
     Now I know it sounds like the principle is in my room a lot, but if you are teaching in a big city in a big district, chances are people will be peeking their heads in all the time.  Our principle does not tell us how to run our classrooms or how to teach, he simply likes to make sure that everything is running smoothly in case a district official decides to do a walk through.
     Anyway got a little off track with this one but hope someone somewhere might get something helpful from this.  And by the way leave comments for me.  If you agree or don't agree with things I've said, i would love to hear what everyone else thinks!!  :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

$578,000,000

   I just watched CNN this morning and saw the report on the $578,000,000 school in California.  I am not sure how I feel about this.  Sure they went a little over board with flat screen tv's in the sidewalk, but when students are given a nice place conducive to learning they will be more likely to feel comfortable, they may enjoy coming to school just to be in a nice place.  The teachers will absolutely be happier in that teachers lounge :) lol  The flip side of this issue is, that to learn students really just need a good teacher.  Putting those extra $$  into hiring teachers and ensuring high quality teaching is taking place would have been enough.
     I am currently teaching in an inner city middle school.  Our feeder pattern (the elem. and high school that we get students from) is the first to have new technology in every classroom.  Every classroom in this feeder pattern has a smart board, classroom performance systems, new mac computers, and access to many helpful websites.  Although the students do not realize that most private schools do not even have access this level of technology, it helps the teachers provide a variety of learning strategies and a high quality diverse education to these students who need it most.
     Again $578,000,000 seems excessive, but we must keep in mind it is a k-12 school.  It will service over 4,000 students in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood.  If the school has good leadership and the students are not left to destroy everything that has been paid for and put in place for them, they might take pride in their learning environment and taking pride in their education and school, which could lead to them taking more ownership in their learning, leading to higher test scores.
     Is it fair that all of this money was put into one school in one area?  probably not, but hopefully something can be learned from this school.  Maybe instead of wasting money on 'new initiatives' in the next few years money can be put into a fund to help fix up other dilapidated schools.  On CNN a parent was upset because her daughters school, in a better part of town was dilapidated she even showed pics.  Why does her daughter deserve this school more than any other child?  If she really cared about her daughters education she would be wanting to ensure that highly qualified teachers were being hired and kept, and that her daughter was receiving a high quality education.  Again, looks are not everything no matter where you live or what background you come from, someone is always going to have something bigger, better, or nicer.  Looks are not always what matter, in this case what happens inside the doors is what will make the difference.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

50%

     Well I gotta say today was great.  Probably the best day yet.  I began using a simple class conduct chart on the calk board, smiley faces, question marks, and x's.  Te children really took to this and I really never even explained it to them.  Guess I'm gonna have to come up with a lot of fun Friday activities if they keep it up.
     One thing that is not so good though is that another teacher is not having a good time of it.  Adimin.  told her to figure things out on her own, that she shouldn't have experienced teachers helping her get control in her classroom.  I guess they want her to earn respect from the kids but our children will do everything in their power to drive their teachers crazy.  If she needs help the admin. should be willing to give it to her.  They did hire her and the rest of us.  I wish there was some advice I could give her but I can't really seem to figure out what to tell her to do.  I think there are too many people trying to give her advice now!?!  I'm not sure but I think letting new teachers get to their breaking point in the first few days of school is what makes them quit within the first 3 years.
   This brings me to the thought of the new teacher initiative.  The districts, powers that be, are monitoring all of us 'seasoned' teachers, and if we 'fail' they threaten to fire us.  But what is their genius plan?  To replace us with NEW teachers.  Well I'm sorry to say but if you fill an inner city school with NEW teachers the freakin walls would fall down.  One problem with this is, like I've said before, I chose to work in a school where sixth graders come to us from the 4th grade!!  So any gain is good gain, to me anyway!!  this year the majority of them did not know their multiplication, NOW they are converting fractions to decimals, and decimals to percents by hand!!  We are still working on simplifying fractions but they'll get it eventually.
      Isn't that crazy that the  50% of teachers quit within the first 3 years?!?!?!  Wouldn't it make more sense for the district to survey new teachers who choose to teach here and find out what they need?  Rather than driving them to quit with all the new initiatives, stress, and lack of help from administrators.   The initiatives and push for test scores is enough to drive a veteran teacher crazy.  I was lucky to come in when we had 2 assistant principals and a tone of 'extra' people (for lack of a better term) to help with behavior problems.  Now all of a sudden 4 years later, "your on your own."  It almost seems that it is worth your while to be on 'the list' so that you can get all the extra help!!
      I  am glad and surprised that I have made it past the three year mark.  I love to teach and am glad that I have had the experience of this inner city school.  The school may not exist next year but it will always hold a special place in my heart for teaching me to be the best teacher I can be.  Working in a challenging environment forces you to use your imagination and do anything in your power to make the concepts STICK.
 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Looking Back

   While working on lesson plans I was looking back on old notes I left from my first year teaching!!  A lot if this stuff I forgot about but it funny how things have changes soo much in only a few years.  My first year I taught 8 grade pre-algebra.  We had gender based classes which I loved.  The girls were hard to get along with at first some of them had outstanding personalities.  Some had to go.  By the end the girls who were left and I decided we would really miss each other!!  The boys were funny they loved math, some needed more attention than others but I loved the boys classes.  They would not let anyone mess with Mrs. Ward!!
     At the beginning of the school year, I was told that "these kids can't learn without calculators." Even though that person will never know the difference, "these kids" did learn, and we made AYP.  I will never forget her making that comment.  I still stick to my guns on the calculator issue to this day.  I was told this year my students would be sooo low, but with a bit of tough love the have studied their multiplication and most of them memorized their facts and have learned how to do long division!!
     Speaking of the students from that first year, I also found a few funny quotes i wrote down that they said to me through out the year.  A girl told me on a Friday when I had on jeans that I "look like one of those white women who go to the grocery store and stuff on T.V."  On a field trip we walked to a community center and had to cross a major intersection, I was being safe waiting for the walk sign to light up, the next thing I know the a boy steps in the road and says, "Mrs. Ward, white folks don't know how to cross the street."  That same day I was wearing a pair of clear jelly sandals and another boy said, "Mrs. Ward you have on your glass slippers, are you sure I don't need to carry you?"
     The adults are what left the year very interesting.  I never missed a day of work until my grandmother passed and the principle made me leave early.  I even taught with bronchitis (not suggested).  But it seems that there was always a teacher missing on our floor.  This is still true today, the same people are late every day.  I don't get it.  I got written up for not having my chalk board set up correctly but other people can just stroll into work whenever they feel like it!!??!! When everyone was there, two of our 8 grade teachers had major personality clashes which lead to a complete blow up one day.  Another teacher had to leave after the first six weeks and another went out on maternity leave for a looooong time, then one moved to another country.  We had substitutes in and out which was hard.  After a lot of ups and down mainly from the adults I found out that no one was to be fully trusted!!  Oh yeah and don't let me forget the crazy janitors too.  One day I let some girls into the restroom after school which lead a janitor to cussing and throwing garbage cans it was NUTS!!  then one got hired and fired within just a few weeks for hitting on me, making rude comments, and asking for my number.
     Even with all of this going on I still did well in the classroom. My goal this year is to get the 6 graders conditioned to middle school and have another year like this one without all the adult drama.  6 graders are just different some have still not been tested special ed and it is obvious that they need it, but the elem school teachers did not do the proper paper work and the child is now in middle school falling further behind.  Hopefully we can get the paper work processes underway soon and get all children in their learning environment, but who knows. One more funny thing and I will quit reminiscing, the admin that first year, actually told me in January or Feb.  that they didn't think i would make it the whole year!!  Look at me now 3 years later!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wearing Many Hats

     My dad complained that I did not use proper spelling and grammar in my last posts, I tried to explain to him that in a blog it doesn't matter but he didn't get it.  But anyway not a hole lot going on in Coxy's life right now.  I have been helping with cheerleading tryouts which has been a blast.  I am so sore I can't stand it though.  Helping with tryouts has triggered my eat, sleep, and breath cheer reflexes.  I have been having my infamous cheer dreams, and last night my hubby stayed out late and then called me late and woke me up, all these ideas for cheers and dances kept running through my head and I couldn't get back to sleep until 1:15.  Then had to go teach without any coffee this morning because I did not go grocery shopping over the weekend.  I tried instant coffee but it did not do the trick I ended up getting a soda out of the vending machine at 7 am!!  lol  
     On a more serious note as mentioned in an earlier post education is in a crisis and no one knows how to fix it.  Guess the folks at the Board have never heard the saying 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'?  I just got on the other large school districts website and they have all sorts of resources for their teachers.  Too bad their stuff is for a completely different text book.  I stole a few ideas but their curriculum is so different.  This other school district is always doing well though, maybe consolidation is a good thing?  IDK Seems they know some secrets and aren't sharing.  I also tried to find the NAEP (national assessment of educational progress) Standards online and can't seem to find that either.  If the state standards are not being tested I need the National ones!!  I know I can get them from the PDSCC at work, but it would be nice if this much needed info was readily available.  
     Now don't get me wrong I am not saying teach to the test, believe me I don't.  But it would be nice to know the stuff that has to come up throughout the year.  If any teachers or almost teachers read this, and have some classroom strategies to share please do!!  
     On top of all this, tomorrow night is Title one parent meeting night.  I was asked to work the sign in table which means I have to be back at school at 4:45 and leave who knows when.  Monday was the chew out faculty meeting we didn't leave until 4ish, then I said I would cheer tryouts which didn't end til 4 tues and wed, and now this.  I have a family people!!!  Last week was about the same, and this coming week doesn't look much better, pretty in pink on Monday afternoon!?!  Then Judging for the cheer squad on Tues.  who knows what else will come up between now and then!  I have to stay calm and take it all with a grain of salt.  After all I don't want to gain 'stress' weight :)  Needless to say Maggie will be returning to Title one parent meeting tomorrow whether she likes it or not!!
     Guess I should just be happy to have a good job!!  I do love it but blogging is a good way to vent and let it all out without bothering anyone else.  tootles

Monday, August 23, 2010

being left behind

     No Child left behind, Ha, what a joke.  More like every child in Tennessee left behind.  It has been rumored for years that the south has some of the lowest test scores in the nation.  That really doesn't mean much to most of us because we all turned out ok.  But now all of a sudden in 2009 the state decided that Tennessee should start adhering to and testing by the national standards.  They did not slowly trickle this initiative up starting in elementary schools, moving to middle schools and fully implementing in high school after a few years, they decided to throw it at us.  What this did, is basically make every child miss one year or so of school.  What was taught in the eighth grade is now taught in sixth and eighth graders were all of a sudden in pre algebra.  This hurt all children but for the children in inner city schools who were already 'left behind' it hurt them and their teachers the most.
     With this change of standards and testing, no one told the teachers what to prepare for, what to teach or even how many questions would be on the test.  We were all driving blind.  Now the people in high places are pointing fingers like we are horrible teachers, schools are in danger of being shut down, principals are being removed and teachers being fired.  Yes teachers are now measured by how much their students grow in a years time.  Well, obviously with these new standards and the new test, it looks like the students have not only not grown but regressed.  It is not because they have bad teachers the students are not getting dumber there are simply more idiots in places of power!!  DUH  I say you make the test harder the standards more rigorous and leave everyone in the dark about what to expect, what do you think is going to happen??  They set us up for failure!!!!
      I just left a faculty meeting where my principal got chewed out by higher powers because we had very low scores on last years formative assessment.  Well they look low, but if you compare them to the previous years scores our students are growing, they are learning they are leaving middle school knowing how to do math and being able to read and comprehend.  Even with the new standards and more rigorous curriculum they made gains until the new cut scores, the national scores, were put out.  Now every student in our district is below proficient, but was it their fault??  Was it the teachers fault, in some cases maybe,  or were we all dealt a hand of injustice by someone trying to make a bigger paycheck.
     Our school is an inner city school, people are getting killed robbed and sent to jail all around us.  The school is the safe haven.  Should we the teachers be discarded because the elementary teachers gave up on our students??  My worry is that even after working out asses off for three years in a row and staying off "the list"  We have now fallen right back onto it.  If They deem me as an unfit teacher and fire me will I be able to find another job?  Remember this is inner city children we are dealing with.  Not students who have mothers to remind them to grab their backpack or remember to do their homework.  making any progress is good progress. The score in Math before I taught there was 53%  my first year as a teacher it went up to 76%  the next 80%.
    I am confident that in a different setting I could have much higher scores.  But i love the children I serve, the children who need me, the children who have taught me soo much.  Would I like to teach in a school where the demands are not so high??  Sure I have thought about it, who wouldn't but in the end those children have parents at home that love them and will make sure they get what they need.  It takes a special teacher to teach in the inner city, teachers who care, who do not judge, and are willing to play multiple roles; mom, teacher, and sometimes friend.  Will anyone look at my background and take into consideration I chose this challenge, if my school is shut down or i am fired?  Or will my four years of college and my four years of blood, sweat and tears be thrown to wayside and leave me searching for another calling in life??

Saturday, August 21, 2010

just getting exciting

    Remember, when your a teacher everything has to be done after 3pm or on saturday!!  I do not know how single working mothers make it.  Two weeks ago my cable simply quit working they were supposed to come fix it on friday morning while my hubby was home.  They never showed.  Saturday I canceled them.  I called a new company the following Wed.  made an appt.  and they called me while I was at work and said they would be there in one hour.  I told them I have a class of sixth graders and wouldnt be able to make it.  So they never showed and I have not been able to make contact with anyone who could reschedule me.  (I think the janitor answered the phone friday afternoon LOL) Amongst all of this I was washing dishes one night about 6:30pm and realized I was standing in a pool of water.    ~ Emergency plumber needed immediately!!! ~    Luckily my dad came over and fixed it with out breaking anything in the process, but i had to take everything out of the cabinet and leave it all in the kitchen floor until the cabinets dried out!!  Not fun!!  Then the tire pressure monitor (tpm) has been on in my truck for a long time now.  I took it in over the summer and one the guys said there wasnt anything they could do about it at the time.  I called this week they told me to bring it in anytime and they would take care of it.  I also have a recall that needs to be fixed, a plastic part needs to be glued down.  I got to the shop at 8 am today and they said my tires needed air and the tpm light would go off and that they could not fix the recall at that time.  When they sent me on my way the tpm light came back on so I U- turned it, yes in Bartlett, and went back to show them the light.  The techs checked it out and no one had put air in the tires the first time I was there.  While they were running the tester thing this time to reset the monitor, the truck went into theft lock mode and wouldn't start!!!!  It took about 20 minutes for them to get that figured out and fixed.  Luckily after that, I got my air and was good to go.  They told me to came back during the week to get the recall fixed, I told them I was a teacher and needed my ride.  He said well Im sure theres a day you can make it, I told him, i would just go home and super glue it myself!!  LOL   But the funs not over yet.  My daughter had a slumber party last night and we were outta toilet paper so I stopped by kroger to get some and when I was looking for my kroger card i realized it wasnt in there AND  it is on my house keys, so I had to walk across the street and get the key!!
     I am not saying at all that I have a horrible life this has been one exciting morning and I am happy to say that I actually feel like I did accomplish something today!!  And I really do not know how single mothers can work, keep appointments, and take care of things around the house.  Recently I have felt like I am going to work to relax and get away from all of the crazy people I have been dealing with (cable companies, car companies, plumbers etc..)  Oh yeah and I did at least figure out how to get the local channels on my t.v.  Thanks kim!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

getting started

        Hi all  I really wanted to start a blog about the life of teacher.  This is my fourth year as a teacher in an inner city school district.  My first year was wonderful and full of learning how to get along with different people.  The next two years were hell.  The children were not well behaved and the teachers all turned on each other.  I am now teaching 6 grade and the school has become more diverse.  (there are now 6 white teachers.)  The students are all african american and all economically disadvantaged.  I grew up in a middle class family and went to a private middle school where I was the 'poor' kid.  I never really knew what poor meant.  Just yesterday in class i had to step out and get some fresh air because I almost threw up while a little girl was talking to me, her breath smelt horrible!!  From what i have been told the project housing these students come from do not have washer/dryer hook ups so they have to hand wash their clothes and hang them on the line to dry.  the laundromat is too far away, most of them do not have transportation.  We hear the children saying they only come to school to get free breakfast and lunch and to have heating/ac.  I always wondered growing up why someone would drop out of school but now i know, i get it now.  All these kids know is the streets, most of them come to middle school and cannot read, multiply, or divide, but they do know how to have sex, count that money, and fight.  I tried and tried to explain to them that people outside of thier 'projects' didnt fight everyday.  They looked stunned.  This 'street' life is the only one they know, many of them have never left the one block radius between home and school.
     I love to feel like i have made a difference.  Just this week students came to me and said that they learned something today, like they were surprised.  It is funny, in sixth grade after hollering at a student he came and gave me a big hug the next day.  that would never happen in 8 grade!  Although i miss those big babies too.  They still come back to see their middle school teachers.  One even told me she was sorry for acting so bad in my class because her 9 grade math teacher was horrible!!
     And on top of all this madness I have my own drama that plays a part in the crazy life of Coxy!!  a 7 year old who is "grown" so she thinks and a hard working husband that i love but like any husband tends to make me crazy at times.  I hope someone will find my blog helpful, interesting or just plain amusing!!