Archive for January, 2010

Substitute, Part 2…

January 26, 2010

Missing two days of work is like drinking a lot- it was fun at the time, but the next day sucks.  So today was my first day back from being out for those two days.  I knew I would be struggling to catch up, but things were worse than I expected. I stayed after school for a long time trying to catch up.

There are several things that happened yesterday, that made things even worse.  First, I had a parent come up to the school yesterday and want to talk to me.  They rescheduled that since I was out, but I found out why.  I am not going to go into it, but this child must be telling his mom a lot of lies.

Second, I spoke to the kids who got in trouble with the sub.  Apparently the subs are lying about everything.  None of them did anything wrong.  I told them, “What the sub said is the same thing that I see from you every day.  If you behave this way for me every day, why should I believe that the sub is making everything up?”

Finally, and this is the best.  So when I went into the room yesterday, I noticed a bunch of yellow powder in the room, mostly by the door, but some in the desks and other places.  I didn’t think much of it, I thought it was chalk dust.  This morning, it was still there.  Apparently, the custodians didn’t sweep my room last night.  During 2nd period, I heard some kids say the word “fire extinguisher.”  Then a bunch of alarms went off in my head.  I casually walked over to my fire extinguisher and looked at it.  The gauge said it is empty.  I called down for an AP and showed her.  We are trying to figure out who did it.

Luckily tomorrow is a half day for the kiddos, so I should be able to get all caught up.

-J

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Substitute…

January 25, 2010

I told you about my first substitute back in October.  Well, I finally had my first real substitute experience.  I was out on Friday and Monday to go to a wedding in South Texas.  When I got back in town today, I decided to go up to the school this afternoon to see what I had waiting for me and to get things ready for tomorrow.  As it turns out, my sub was still there.  I looked over the notes and talked to her for a little bit.

What happened was not shocking.  The kids who misbehaved were the ones I expected.  The interesting things came from talking to the sub.  She said that the kids said that they take notes every day and that I never let them work together.  The funny thing is that we probably take notes on average once a week and I usually let them work together on everything but tests and quizzes.  She told me that they made me out to be the meanest teacher ever.  I am actually kind of proud; however, I am actually too nice and let them get away with too much.  She asked them how old I was because they made be out to be a grumpy old man (I don’t want to hear your comments on this).

If gets better.  They told her that I have never had a girlfriend.  Which I don’t know why they think that and what brought that on.  Maybe it was because the sub was cute, but unfortunately very pregnant.

There are some kids who are going to be in a lot of trouble tomorrow.

-J

Rosaries…

January 20, 2010

One thing that I noticed at the beginning of the year was that some students regularly wore rosaries around their necks.  Most of them were Hispanic, so I figured they were Catholic and thought nothing of it.  Today, I found out that it is a gang symbol.  I knew they weren’t praying them.  I guess I am going to start collecting rosaries.  One teacher told me that she makes them tell her what the order of the bears is otherwise she takes it.  I have an idea for what I could do.  When I pick them up, I could hand them a “How to Pray the Rosary” pamphlet.  The only problem is that I would probably get in a lot of trouble.

I guess I’ll see how many people say something when I take them.  Too bad for them I am Catholic, so they can’t accuse me of discriminating.

-J

Responsibility…

January 19, 2010

My kids have a lot to learn about responsibility.  I don’t know how many times they get mad at me when they get in trouble for something they have done.  For instance, today I picked up a paper today with inappropriate things on it (I know I am being vague) and turned it in to the office.  They student got suspended and is mad at me.  He told me that I got him in trouble.  This is not uncommon.  My response is always the same: I did not get you in trouble, your actions/decisions/etc. got you in trouble.

I know he is angry because I turned him in, but he acts like he did nothing wrong.   Make better decisions and you won’t get in trouble.  Grow up and take some responsibility.

-J

Fire drill…

January 11, 2010

So today, the fire alarms were going crazy.  For some reason, they kept malfunctioning and we had to evacuate the building 4 or 5 times, three times during one class.  One time we were outside for 15-20 minutes.  Did I mention that it was 4o degrees outside?  Yeah, it was cold.  At one point, I hoped that the building was on fire so that it would keep me warm.  But I am a trooper and I survived.

-J

Delayed starts…

January 7, 2010

Are more fun you when get to sleep in.  This morning I woke and it was cold.  I looked out the window and it was wet outside.  I thought to myself, it is cold and wet, maybe school will be canceled because of icy roads.  So I get on the computer and check it out.  I get on the school district website and there was nothing.  I start checking news websites and some schools were canceled or delayed, but not mine.  I am about to get in the shower and my mom called.  She was about to turn the tv off to leave for work and she noticed that mine was closed.  I start looking to double-check.  I check the websites and there was still nothing.  I turn on the tv and wait.  Finally I saw my district!  We are opening at 10.  Sweet!  Now I get 2 more hours of sleep.

Wrong.  By this time I am awake and it is hard for me to fall back asleep.  I am laying in bed and I get a call from the school telling me about the delay.  I try to go back to sleep and I start getting texts from other teachers telling me the same thing I already know.  I guess I am not going back to sleep.  So much for enjoying my late start.

-J

Things I lie to my students about…

January 6, 2010

Well, lie might be a little misleading; it’s more like truths I don’t tell them.  My district has some policies that don’t help motivate my students, and as such, I try to keep them from knowing.

I teach social studies, which is a core class.  However, students do not have to pass social studies to pass 8th grade.  I’m not exactly sure of all of the details, here is what I know.  Students have to pass math and English to be promoted.  They also have to pass either social studies or science, but it is not necessary to pass both.  I don’t know about their other classes and how that plays in.  Anyway, my kids don’t have much incentive to work hard in my class if they know they don’t have to pass my class, but I don’t tell them that.  If they ask, I lie.

There is also something similar with the TAKS test and what they need to pass.  I am not sure of the requirements (but I think it is similar), so if they ask, I tell them that they have to pass it.  Again, what incentive do they have if they know it doesn’t matter.  Sometimes they ask and I tell them they have to pass the class/TAKS and someone will say, “But we don’t have to pass science.”  I tell them that that is science, not social studies.  It mystifies me that the science teachers would tell them that.

I recently found out about another, more surprising policy.  According to the district, students have a week to turn in an assignment.  Yes, I said it right: A WEEK, 7 DAYS!  If I give an assignment, I have to accept it up to a week past the assigned due date.  Now here’s the thing.  I will accept work up until grades are due, but usually for kids who are failing and need to raise their grade and it does help them learn.  I do not advertise my policy, so that they will get it in.  I am more appauled by the fact that I have to give them so long.  I think a lot of teachers do not know about this, because when we were talking about it, other teachers who have been in the district were surprised as well.  One of them asked our assistant principal, “Do you think this is preparing them for the real world?”  She replied, “No, but that is the policy.”  Again, this is something that we do not advertise.  If they know they have a week, then what is their incentive to do it when I give it to them?

On a side note, I tried to find this in writing, to see exactly what and how it says it, but I couldn’t.

-J

PS – I have been surviving the first week back, but my voice hasn’t.  The kids were out of control yesterday and I was still half asleep.

Reflections on my first semester…

January 1, 2010

I made it one semester as a teacher and now officially have one year of teaching experience.  I meant to do this earlier, but I got lazy.  I figure today is as good as any.

I have enjoyed my time teaching so far.  I am at a good school and I work with good people; I got really lucky.  I am happy where I am at and hope to stay here for a while.  I originally wanted to teach high school, especially government, but I like where I am at.  Maybe one day, but for now, I intend to stay where I am at.  I know that I will improve a lot if I stay in one place for a while and I want to get the hang of what I am doing before I change it.

I have seen a big difference in how I was at the beginning of the year compared to where I am now.  I expect to improve a lot more over the coming semester.  I can’t wait for next year, because I know I will be an even better teacher once I am teaching the material for a second time.

Now it is off to enjoy what is left of my break.  Happy New Year!

-J