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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.