Life in Classroom 9

Monday, October 16, 2006

Computer lab

We have one now! Well, technically, we have access to ours now. The room was there before, but because the students decided to crucify the computer teacher last year all internet and word processing access was taken away. Thanks to the math teacher's wife, we can now have internet research lessons and type final drafts. It's almost like we are a fully functioning school.

Afterschool Club 2

Who knew that hooking up a projector to an XBox would bring a group of kids together that have nothing in common? The computer gaming geeks and the ankle-bracelet thugs enjoyed themselves, with no problems between.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

F'ing Hell

I'm so tired of the cussing. It comes out of their mouths as easily as anything else. I'm absolutely positve that many times they aren't even consciously aware of saying anything innappropriate.

One of the ladies, from the gym, gave me a great idea. Each time someone cusses they have a choice, they can pay me $.50 on the spot or sing. Now, this is not any song. This is the fun part. "I'm a little teapot" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" are my favorites. They have actions. They hold the key to embarrassing the cussing right out of them.


So far it has worked! The three weeks before fall break were virtually cuss free. Granted there were a few who tried....they actually wanted to get up and sing...but it doesn't work that way. If they want it, it can't happen.

Mary

Turns out she's not pregnant. Actually, I wish she was. That would be easier to deal with...mentally at least. She has golf-ball sized cysts throughout her body. I admire her though, while the doctors are planning rounds of surgery and chemo, she's busy being 15. The most pressing matter right now is where to find the perfect dress for her church's winter dance.

Procrastination strikes again!

I'm horrible at keeping up with this blog...this time around. I jot notes, start posts...everything except actually write. Forgive me?


This year grading has become my pet peeve. Why? Why do I feel the need to give them assignments? I'll just have to grade them. Also, how do other teachers do that whole have the students grade it thing? I've tried and I end up going back through and correcting them on my own. Maybe these kids aren't built for it?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Return of the Dillons

Dillon 1 has had fear knocked into him. I'm not privy to what actually went down in the Principal/Parent conference...but it worked. He's mostly on task and almost too quiet some days. It's easy to forget he's even in the room, until after school detention kicks in. He is a permanent resident of the after-school janitorial service. I'm pretty sure my classroom has never seen cleaner floors and desks.


Dillon 2 has yet again got himself kicked out of classes for inappropriate comments. Strangely, he doesn't see how asking a teacher if she makes out with her boyfriend for long periods of time is none of his business. He also seems to be able to understand how asking a female teacher if she had (insert the offical word here) a.k.a. fear of penis' could possibly make her uncomfortable. He's fallen back into his routine of not doing work, disrupting class, and basically not listening. His mother called the school Saturday (because there will be an office full of people to take that message on a Saturday) to make an appointment to talk to the teachers and principal. It looks like I'm being singled out as Dillon just got around to telling his mother I cussed in class. She's upset because I said the "F" word and told them that "this is not a school for losers." I did. Both. This was the day that I about walked out. I'd tried everything. I finally exploded. This was about a month ago. Why is it coming up now? In a warped way I'm looking forward to this meeting...whenever it is.

Too much information!

I've had my first seriously personal conversation with a student. Mary may or may not be pregnant. She chose me to share this with. The whole story. I know everything I never wanted to know about the boy, her father's reaction, her step-mom and sister's reactions, her mother's reaction, and even the way the doctor is tap-dancing around her results.

This is an odd situation for me. I want to be there for her. That she felt comfortable enough with me, to share this, is an amazing thing. Luckily, with her parents already knowing, the mandatory reporting requirements are much easier for me.


It's been two weeks since her first over-sharing. There still isn't a difinitve answer.

Sacrifices

Jeremy has at long last pressed one button too many. After two different extended suspensions he is finally out the door. There was stunned silence in the school as the word passed that Jeremy wouldn't be returning until Spring, and possibly not even then.

I'm really not upset about this. While the classes he was in still have a few problems, there are infinently less disrutpions without his constant barrage of smart-ass, must-get-the-last-word-in comments.

Bog of Eternal Stench

I'm not entirely sure what the issue is. It may be body odor or it could be horrendous gas. Either way the 9th grade class stinks. I've had to clear my classroom out and hold DEAR in the hallway, before I'd let the next class come in. I'm afraid their noses may start to burn.

The science teacher lent me a Glade Plug-in thingy. It helped my room, but unfortunately left her to the mercy of the 9th grade boys.

Quirk of fate...

My American Lit students will be studying the Salem Witch Hunts/Trials in the weeks leading up to Halloween. I swear I didn't plan it out this way!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

9/11

As the anniversary approaches, we are realizing exactly how disconnected our students are. As a cross curriculum project the 7th grade students are working on time lines of their lives. The first major world happening for many of them is 9/11. Sadly, they have most of the major details incorrect. They write "The Twin Towers fell", as if they were knocked down not flown into and destroyed. They have no understanding that the attack/destruction is directly tied to the current war. Many other events have been destorted in their soundbite brains as well.


In response, we (another teacher and I) have been chosen to "lead" the next field trip. On the holiday we are going to the local rededication of a flag. Many of the students have signed up thinking they are just getting out of school. Little do they know that there are assignments planned around the dedication, around the anniversary, and around the event in general. Even the students at school are getting it. Nobody escapes.

The After School Club

The first meeting of the ASC has come and gone...almost successfully. Basically, I've become the faculty overseer to a group of kids who want to hang-out at the school. For the first night I rented "High School Musical" and the school store donated funds to buy pizza for everyone. In total 12 kids showed up. Almost double what I expected.

There was a bit of a tiff halfway through between the kids that wanted to sing along with the movie and the kids that wanted to just chat. The solution...next time we open two rooms. One will be the movie, the other for games and/or chat.

AYP

Lately, the most talked about, most dramatic, most controversial anything has had nothing to do with the students, per se. Annual Yearly Progess is big news to our little world. As a school we've been labeled "underperforming" for two years now. Waiting on pins and needles has been the current state of affairs, since school started. This year's AYP standings will make all the difference.

Now to the rumors. 1. That if we are underperforming again this year the charter board will close us down as soon as November. 2. The elementary school is possibly closing. This has little to do with AYP and more to do with enrollment numbers. 3. That even though the highschool has made AYP, we may still close.

Who knows? Strangely, when asked about this the principal tap dances and refuses to answer. The charter board is useless as they appear to know nothing, or are willing to speak of nothing, until the principal tells them. She isn't talking to them either, apparently.

Time passes

It's been a month already and I've not really posted. There have been plenty of happenings. I just haven't had the emotional power to worry about putting them into blog form. Bad blogger. Bad teacher.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A year's worth of apples!

Zach and Nick are back for more this year. Apparently, over the summer they went to Comicon...and bought me a gift. Trigun - limited edition dvd's. Can this be considered a bribe?

Jeremy...again

I feel somewhat guilty. I know teachers aren't supposed to play favorites....but are they supposed to dislike a student to the point of hatred? I can honestly say there is nothing redeeming in this child at all, at least to me.

He is suspended again after being removed from my class for talking back. I personally escorted him to the principal's office when he said he could get me fired for trying to control him. Funny thing that....I still have a job and he's suspended. Huh?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Double duty...

The History teacher is also the football coach...and the janitor.
The Science teacher drives the van after school, dropping kids off.
The Math teacher is responsible for fetching the lunches from the unified highschool.
The English teacher drives the van to and from the Pys. Ed. program.
The School Security Officer now covers classes such as Health and Media.
The Art teacher and the Home Ec. teacher are one in the same.


Oddly, the higher-ups don't believe we are under staffed.

My loss...

Apparently, the seventh graders are angels. I don't have them at all. I'm feeling somewhat slighted by this. I really liked seeing every kid in the school at least once a day. Now, I'm just out of the loop. ~almost sigh~

What to do?

Over the summer our school gained electives and after-school activities. We now offer a physical ed program to both boys and girls, there is a huge art class, a home-ec class, we are getting together a football team, a somewhat haphazzard science club, a couple students volunteer to run the school store, and a once a week "hang-out" activity. Other than a few hard seniors everyone seems to like participating.

Mythology

This class has been pulling attitude with me all week. It isn't really a surprise though, they all signed up assuming they were going to get a class like last year's Sci-fi...movie based. They actually have to read this semester!

Today's assignment was a surprise, for me, though. I'd planned for them to do a mock debate while pretending to be the authors of two different fairytales. The rest of the class then had to decide who had won the debate by who knew their fairytale the best. I expected this to flop. Rarely do these kids like getting up in front of the room and talking. Add that to the way they were bad-mouthing the stories while they read them, there was little room for success. But they surprised me. The entire class got into it. People were volunteering for each new round of authors, they knew their fairytales, and they were really enjoying themselves. I may have to keep this around as a review technique...for this class at the very least.

The Dillons

This year the 8th grade is full of multiple names. There are Sarahs, Shawns, a Travis or three, and the Dillons. They look fairly similar, have voices in the same register, but other than the fact that both are disruptive they are nothing alike. Dillon 1 was at our school last year. He hasn't changed. He didn't grow up any. He's a goof without actually being funny.

Dillon 2 is new to the school. I'm not quite sure what his deal is, but I'm fairly sure he hates me. Or at the very least severly dislikes me. I've not received one single paper that says he has any sort of E.D or violence issue. Yet, every time I direct a comment towards him, he will turn away, put his head down, and flat out ignore me. My next step for his attention is to stand in-front of his desk and/or lightly touch is head or arm to get him to look at me. Every time I am greeted with, "what did I tell you about touching me?" In other instances he tries to stare me down, pulling this attitude that will make him appear to have won any confrontation with me...even if in reality I chose to leave the situation. (Arguing with 13 year olds is not something I feel the urge to do.)

Yesterday was a rip-roaring day for Dillon 2 and I. Apparently, there is some in grade teasing going on. The kids were throwing around the catch word in class. I was trying to stop it, when suddenly Dillon turned from joking to being offended and chucked a book across the room at the head of another student. I kicked him out of the room. As he was leaving (the first time he's ever done anything I've asked) he looked right at me and told me to, "Take a f***ing midol." Only he actually said the words. That got him escorted straight to the office where he proceeded to first try and tell the principal that he didn't know why he was removed from my class. Aparently, as their discussion continued, Dillon sang on pretty much everyone in the eighth grade class. One by one they were all pulled down to the office for a talk.

Strangely, I'm counting my blessings that he wasn't in my class. Thank you Dillon's mom for scheduling a doctor's appointment in the middle of the school day.

Study Skills

Part of the new state standards includes study skills. Things that our students are much in need of! Because of this I've started the year helping every English class, well all of mine, set up an organized binder. We are going over note-taking skills, test-taking skills, how to read a text book vs. a novel, and the oh-so-important keeping a schedule/calendar. For my part every class is required to bring their binders daily, have at the very least my class section organized and functioning, and to not leave anything in my classroom as storage. They loose participation points if it doesn't come to class. Granted it has only been a week, but so far only one student has forgotten at all. I'm hearing from other teachers that students are asking if they are required to keep notebooks in those classes as well. Hopefully, they all will say yes!

Monday, August 07, 2006

I heart Amazon

This year, instead of the Science Fiction class, I'm teaching fantasy fiction / mythology. Thankfully this is an elective, as this could be a bumpy ride. I was faced with the task of choosing a text book. Even though I had my choice in near the middle of June, the books weren't ordered until last Friday. I'd bet that they don't arrive until sometime near Christmas.

To fill the time, I've planned for the students to tackle "The Hobbit." I don't want them to read LoTR as I'm positive most won't read it, but will instead rely on the movies. After scouring the thrift stores for decent copies, I turned to amazon.com. Such a wonderful store that is! I was able to pick up ten copies for a penny a piece. Within the next two weeks I will have a class set of books!

And we're off!

Jeremy. What to say about Jeremy? He's a returning student. He's 15. His grade level is 8th. No, that math doesn't add up. His lack of promotion has very little to do with not being capable of the work. He can do it, well. He chooses not to do anything...except mouth off. Jeremy is a sneak. He is one of those people that can talk anyone else into doing anything, no matter how stupid. Jeremy also believes that he can talk or argue his way out of anything. He puts on a big bad act, starts cussing and mouthing off, and honestly believes that will make everyone forget anything he's blamed of. He doesn't realize that the big, bad, tough guy routine is thwarted by his stature. I'm sorry to say it, but when there are elementary students who tower over you, you can't be that big-bad.

Jeremy also provided the one and only issue for the day. Unknowingly, he is also going to be used as an example for the other students. Today, Jeremy felt the urge to bring a baggy of unidentifiable (type/brand) pills to the school. He the proceeded to try to stash them in the boys restroom, with someone holding the door closed (from the outside). The thing he didn't factor in is that the restrooms are in the same hallway as the staff door to the kitchen. The history teacher walked by and noticed the lookout blocking the door. To add to this drama, Jeremy was returned to class by the police officer, who came to take his statement and check the pills, because the principal was not in the building at the time. Jeremy took this as a free pass. He then decided that the smartest thing he could do would be to come to my class and mouth off all the way through the introductions and rule activities. He was promptly sent to the hall. He had good timing for his attitude though. Just as he was sent out the prinipal, school safety officer, and the police officer came back to remove him from class.

We are waiting for the final word on what the pills were to determine what is done. The minimum that will happen (according to the new discipline matrix) is that he will be removed from school until he can go before the charter board. They will then decide if he is to be expelled or not.

Ugh.

Today kicked my ass. Material-wise, I was prepared. We went over the rules, the handbook, the class rules, the syllabus, and even did some icebreaker activities. Every thing went fairly smoothly, and the few glitches were dealt with in short order.

My feet hurt. My brain is whirling around in circles without any true connections being made. I must have been extraordinarily lazy these past two months to feel this way! I don't like seeing 6am on purpose; and why can't I take a nap?

Year 2

Today was the first day back to school. It went fairly well overall. All but three students showed up in their uniforms (school t-shirt). Noone pulled attitude with the new and improved (see stricter) discipline policy. Sadly, we aren't at a new building, but the old one works fine.

This past week has seen at least 40 hours of work put into making my classroom livable again. I'm not sure what happened over the two months of break, but this wasn't how I left it. There were huge chunks of dirt scattered across the bookshelves, desks, chairs, and floor. The ghetto book shelf had been taken apart - leaving all the textbooks in random piles on the floor. I cleaned. I moved desks. I rearranged my space. I put up posters that I like, with sayings and authors I admire.