Friday, April 26, 2013

Oh but seriously.. two good days in a row. I knew, I KNEW, it was TOO good to be true. Maybe it was because it is Friday; maybe it is because the rainy snowy dreary weather just won't quit. Maybe they just wanted to see me grouch.... I don't know.

Third hour is split, half before lunch, half after lunch. On Fridays, if you are working, I usually let students listen to music if they have headphones, use a playlist so they aren't spending all their time surfing for music, and keep the volume such that others cannot hear it.

Well, several students didn't have headphones today, so they asked ME to turn on my iTunes. They even relented and begged for country tunes. It didn't even last through one song. They wouldn't stay put anywhere. They couldn't be quiet. Everything from banging on the walls and tables, to making rude comments to each other... SERIOUSLY??? Music does THAT to you??

two steps forward, three steps back...

I turned the music off, but the half hour was a waste. They were simply too distracted and distractable to accomplish anything.

Math didn't go much better. Swearer Boy moaned about his headache, the one likely caused by not wearing his glasses. The others really honestly tried, but somehow, just cannot remember to SQUARE the radius before doing the rest of the problem. I've had them circle it, highlight it... they still either forget to do it altogether, or worse, they multiply the number times 2.

I'm thinking our probability unit will be done on Compass Learning. That should give them a break from me, give them some individualized instruction, and a chance to sink or swim on their own.

I'm worried about the higher level kids I have. I think they will be going into a regular math class next year.... I will be pulling out for a 7th la and 7th math, an 8th la and 8th math, but there are too many students to pull them ALL out. How will they survive? Will they? Did I give them enough skills to be successful in the gen ed curriculum? Time will tell. That group has worked soooooo hard this year, and come so far. I only hope it is far enough....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I don't know if it is just because things have been so rough lately, or today really has been a good day, but the sun is shining outside (YAY! Maybe the snow will melt???) and I feel like it has been shining inside as well.

Guided Study went well. For the most part..... Most of them actually brought something to do and DID it. The ones without something to do managed to not drive me over the brink of CRAZINESS.

Then my low math group - WOW. What a difference today. I don't know why, and I have no fantasies it will be a long lasting effect. But we worked AGAIN on volumes of prisms and cylinders, for the third time. AND.... drum roll, please.. they GOT IT!!

Granted it took much patience on my part.. and I acknowledge that often a lack of that is my fault... But we managed to work through 3 problems together, and then they did 6 problems on their own.. OK, 6 problems with me supervising and hand holding. They all got them done, except my swearer kid. He refused to do anything yesterday and ended up walking out of class so he was behind. But he did try today. He gave me a good 75% effort, and for him, I will take that any day. He was even talking about high school, and wanting to graduate, and not be a bum someday. He is thinking about the military. YAY! That is the first time he has ever expressed any intention beyond dropping out....

**Fingers crossed the rest of the day continues along this path**

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We've drawn circles. We've labeled circles. We've learned definitions. We've drawn MORE circles. We've labeled THOSE circles. We've colored coded the words and definitions. 

And... they still don't consistently know the difference in diameter and radius, center and circumference. 

I am supposed to be teaching volumes of prisms and cylinders. How is THAT supposed to work when they can't distinguish between the radius and the height? 

You go into teaching thinking you are going to save the world, make a difference one student at a time. And... that is true. Your reach, your touch, your impact, is more powerful than you often realize.

A carpenter, at the end of the day, has something to show for his efforts - a building standing tall, casting a shadow in the evening sun. 

A doctor, at the end of the day, has something to show for her efforts - a patient healed, resting comfortably in their bed.

A policeman, at the end of the day, has something to show for his efforts - the bad guy, locked behind bars, society safer for his heroics.

A teacher, at the end of the day, has little tangible to show for her efforts - a dirty whiteboard, desks scattered in crooked rows, papers to be corrected piled on her own desk. But the long term impact is not often seen, sometimes, never seen. 

For me, this lack of tangible result makes difficult stretches in my teaching career longer, bleaker, and more defeating. 

I don't need a pat on the back, or a blue ribbon; I just need the acknowledgement that I HAVE made a difference, that my efforts are worthy, that my hours of trying, in the end, made a difference somewhere, somehow.

Instead, it seems the media bashes me: Tells me I am unworthy. Tells me my worth is measured by a test score. Tells me my years of service are nothing. Tells me to do more with less. Tells me EVERY student should succeed (like I don't believe that myself already.... but to them, success is measured not by growth, but by bubbles, consistent bubbles for every child regardless of their God given talents). 

I don't know... anymore, I question my own worth in the classroom. I wonder if I AM truly making a difference. Or am I just a warm body filling in scores, counting tardies, and tracking office referrals. Does the feel goody part of my job exist anymore? 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A new week.
A positive attitude.
A determination to see the good in all students.

I started my day, my week like that....

First I had to tackle the note left by my sub from last week outlining the behaviors exhibited by my best and brightest, and the rest....

Some were good. Some were "horrible". Some made her life a nightmare for the day.

In their defense, she messed up their assignments which led to some frustration on their part. Still, throwing paper, writing notes, using cell phones, being rude & disrespectful, etc... NOT acceptable, regardless.

Tackle them one by one. Listen to their side of the story. Try to emphasize my expectations for them meeting my expectations whether I am here or not. Move on.. today is a new day. PERIOD.

Student #1 - Sleeping. Wake her up and talk to her. She doesn't know why she is tired. She got 4 hours of sleep last night! I tried talking to her about how important sleep is, how you can't learn without sleep, etc... but she insisted she has to Skype and SnapChat her boyfriend at night because that's the only time she gets to talk to him.

Student #2 - Reviewing for math quiz - This student has missed 15 days of math class so far this semester(She also missed 15 days first semester, but we still have 7 weeks of school to go this semester.....). She is perpetually behind. The review was for her more than anyone else. While I was reviewing, she doodled and wrote a note. When I tried to draw her in, she argued that she didn't have to take quiz because she has been gone so she doesn't need to listen to review. In theory, she is 'sort of' right. Students get 2 days for every day they are absent to make up work. At this rate, she will be making up her 7th grade work when she is in 9th grade.

Student #3 - Nice girl. Very low IQ - in the 50's. Completely mainstreamed. Overwhelmed with our recent launch into geometry and formulas. Too abstract for her mind to grasp the concepts. She is trying but no matter how much effort she or I put into this process, it is simply too difficult for her. (Not to self, find alternate assignment for tomorrow for her.)

Student #4 & 5 - Arguing loudly with each other before class over some non-issue. I tell them to chill out, trying to lighten the moment. She gets huffy and leaves, to sit in office and sleep for hour. He stays, settles in and works for the hour, but refuses to get a calculator so is constantly behind. He tries to do math in his head but doesn't know his multiplication facts so this task is impossible. I finally go get a calculator FOR him.

Student #6 - She is drawing an elaborate picture during math class. Swirlies, hearts, etc... all around her boyfriend's name. I try to reign her in. She just dreamily smiles and almost laughs as she continues her doodles. Then in the middle of my demonstration of finding circumferences, she loudly asks to borrow colored pencils to finish her doodles.

Student #7 - Cell phone out, under table, SnapChatting with a friend in another class. Ask her to put away. She argues, saying she was ONLY turning it off. Give her a break. 5 minutes later, back in her hand. Take phone. She announces she hates school and me.

Call home on #7 to discuss cell phone issue. Mom says it is impossible because phone is taken away from daughter. She is not allowed to use it, much less bring it to school. Describe phone. Yep, it is hers. hmmm....

Call home on #1 to discuss sleeping. Mom says she knows daughter is up all night, but doesn't know what to do about it. hmmm....

Call home on #2 to discuss attendance. All numbers disconnected.

Call home on #6 - no answer on any of the numbers I have.


It was just another day.
We'll try again tomorrow. Again.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

I think I am tired and ready for retirement. I think I am at the end of my ropes. It seems I spend more time begging students to be cooperative than anything else. My toolbox is empty of tricks. 

I ask a student to copy down a math problem. He refuses. It's too hard. He doesn't do math. He doesn't understand. 

No, I asked you to copy the problem. There is no too hard, no understanding, just copy down the problem. 

Another student I am trying to help with a science worksheet. I underline the answer they need to write. I have to write ALL that?? she whines. Seriously, it is nearly half a sentence, word for word from the text.

Another is editing her memoir. Can you switch around this part to make it more interesting? I ask. You mean rewrite it? she grumbles. (and it is done on the computer so the fix is a 3 second job...) I will just turn it in the way it is. I don't care about the grade anyway.

Two students get suspended because of a fight in the hallway, so one of them convinces her best friend and her boyfriend to skip school the same 3 days. Five students gone for 3 days. And none of them will even consider taking their assignments from when they were gone. 3 days of learning, gone. 

I've tried everything I know, all the tricks I have learned over 20 years of teaching. But it is like being slammed against a brick wall over and over and over again. 

Hands on activities, connect it to their lives, work with them one on one, work to develop relationships, treat students with respect, acknowledge small gains, talk to parents, etc...

NOTHING works. NOTHING WORKS. Somedays I think I might be making a small in-road, but then, slam, back into the wall. 

The paradigm of education has changed. Students are rude, disrespectful, unconcerned. Parents are too busy being friends with their children to set expectations. Curriculum is dictated and boring. 

I give up..... I just can't stand the day to day bashing.