Archive for April, 2010

Crazy kids…

April 30, 2010

Why am I up so early?  I might as well make the most of it.

Yesterday, the kids were crazy.  They took the science TAKS test and after they take a TAKS test, they think they shouldn’t have to do any work in their classes.  I knew this would happen, so I had a plan.  Since they still have to take the social studies test, we had to do work.  I had a review and I told them that they just had to sit and listen, but being quiet was still difficult for some.  So I told them that if they were good, we would go outside when we were finished and the longer it took to do the review, the less time we would have outside.  Also, anytime someone would talk, I would make them suffer.  I would start rambling on, so as to waste time.  I wold say things like “When you talk, it wastes time.  I am not going to talk over you.  Every time you talk I will stop.  Then I have to remind you that I am not going to talk over you.  You are wasting your own time.  Every time you talk, it distracts me.  Then we have to go though this speech about not talking.”  It annoyed them so much!

My classes were pretty good.  In one of my classes, we didn’t gop outside.  They started off great, but then decided to make up a game.  Since I said I would talk when they were talking, I would stop every time someone said something.  They decided to makeup their own game of red light, green light.  Every time I started talking they would say “green light,” and when I stopped because they were talking, they would say “red light.”  I must admit that it was clever, but I was not in the mood, especially the day before TAKS.  Of course, I get the last laugh.  I gave some of them detention and when I contacted their parents, I made sure to stress that they were interrupting the very important TAKS review for the very important TAKS test they have.

On the other hand, my worst class was great.  I came in and they were actually seated and dead silent.  No one said a word.  At the end of class, I complemented them on their behavior and said I expected the same in the future.  One boy said it was hard to be quiet, and for him I’m sure it was.

TAKS today, let’s see if I will still have a job next year. 😉  I’m really not too worried.  The only problem is that we had 99% passing on the social studies test last year, so everyone has very high expectations for us this year.

-J

Payback…

April 28, 2010

I made a girl cry today and enjoyed every moment of it.  Today, the 6th and 7th graders continued TAKS testing, so I had my advisory class for most of the day (oh joy).  After lunch, I put on a movie.  I noticed that one boy had a phone in his hands and I went and picked it up.  He said it wasn’t a phone but an iPod, but I reminded him that those are not allowed either.  When he gave it to me, it was a phone.

I went back to my desk and sat down.  A few seconds later, a girl come up to my crying.  Apparently, it was her phone, not his, so her mom would have to pay for it. (The school’s cell phone policy is that your parents have to pick it up.  The first time it is free, but every time after that it is $15).  She said that no one was using it.  I didn’t say anything, but the school’s policy is that if we can see it, we should take it up (even if it is just sticking out of a pocket).

By the way, did I mention that this was the same girl who I was “picking on” a last week.  She told me over and over again that she wasn’t using the phone.  I was loving this.  I replied, “It is hard for me to believe anything that you say.  Like last time when you got in trouble for talking and said over and over that you weren’t talking, but finally admitted to it.”  She said, “But I did say that I was talking.”  I replied, “But not at first, you lied and denied it over and over.” (Not to mention, that because of this, your mom was out for my blood).  I said, I’ll think about what I am going to do.

Then I spoke to the boy, but still didn’t get a clear answer, since both of their stories did not match as to why he had the phone and why it was out.  He wanted me to turn in his phone instead.  I thought that was reasonable, since he was the one with a phone out.  I had a plan though.

After class, she came up to me and asked what I decided to do.  I gave her the phone and said, “Don’t ever say that I never did anything nice for you.”  And I continued in my head saying, “Why don’t you go and tell your mother about this.”

Is it bad that I kind of enjoyed seeing her cry?  But not just because it was her, really I enjoy anytime I make a kid cry.

-J

Fight…

April 27, 2010

Today I stopped a fight.  During 5th period, a girl got mad at a boy in class.  She was seriously about to beat him over the head with a textbook.  I prevented that from happening, but the kids always have to take things up a notch.  After class, the girl told her boyfriend what happened and him and the other boy almost got into a fight outside my room.  I was still in my room and heard what was going on, so I went to see what was happening, then called the office.  I may have secretly wanted the to start beating the crap out of each other (or at least get one good punch in, so they would be suspended for a few days) before I got back from making the call.  I went back to the hallway and separated the boys.  No one got a shot in, so they probably won’t get suspended. 😦  Maybe next time.

From the best I could tell, I think it might have been gang related.

-J

One more week…

April 23, 2010

The social studies TAKS test is coming up next Friday, so things have been busy. I have been kind of worried about how our kids would do, but we got the scores back from 8th grade math and reading and the kids did great (more than 90% passing in each), so there is hope.

Last week we had tutoring and this week, we had review.  Now the way we did the review was different.  We divided the all of the kids in each period into 3 groups: high, medium, and low.  Each of the 3 US history teachers took a group for 2 days (including next Monday).  We each had a third of the material that we reviewed.  So I have taught each 8th grader about the Constitution and Early Republic.  So this week, in total, I taught the same information 15 times.  Next year when I teach this information, I will be a pro at it.

We did give the kids a warning: if they got sent back to their teacher, it was 2 hours of detention, no questions asked.  If they got in trouble when they were back with their teacher, it would be ISS.  We did have some of those, but not many.  Now there is something that I noticed (and predicted).  There was a clear difference in the behavior of the low groups versus the medium and high groups.  Granted, not all of the high and medium students were good, and not all of the low were bad.  This week had already started off bad and got worse when I had the low kids on Wednesday and Thursday.

Today was much better.  I had the medium kids and they were better than I had predicted.  Then comes 5th period.  The teacher next door to me came in and asked me to identify a student.  I was confused why she didn’t just ask one of the kids.  She told me that he had really been enjoying himself during class, but that is all I will say.

Today even got better after school, besides the fact that it was Friday (which also happens to be payday).  My dad took my car to the dealership because of a problem.  Luckily it is covered by the extended warranty.  They also found a problem with the air conditioner, which is also still under warranty (otherwise it would cost about $1500).  My car will be in the shop for a week, but they are paying for a rental car and I got a new F150.  I have only had it for a few hours and I don’t want to give it up.

I had hoped that I would be able to post a happy post soon and here it is.

-J

Irony…

April 20, 2010

I was thinking about this the other day and thought I would share.  Some of you may remember that when I started college, I intended to become an architect.  After about a month into architecture, I decided that it wasn’t for me.  Eventually, I decided to switch to history.  I never really knew what I wanted to do with it, even when I was in grad school.  When I told my parents that I was switching to history they said, “What are you going to do with a degree in history? Teach?”  I emphatically said “No, there is a lot I can do with a degree in history (and political science and international affairs).”  Well, look where I ended up.

On another note, for the senior awards ceremony in high school, I knew I was getting a departmental award, but not which one.  I assumed it was most likely that I would get the math or science award, since I had always done well in those classes, but I could think of a few other people who were more likely to receive those.  Well, guess which one I got?  The social studies department award.  I think I was most shocked because I was not in a social studies class my senior year; I had taken dual credit government and economics over the summer.  Once I switched my major to history, I took it to be a sign that history was were I should be.

PS- The issue I am having with this parent just keeps getting better.

-J

Are you serious…

April 19, 2010

This story is a good one.  However, I am going to go through it quickly, because it is long.  Some of you heard me tell this story this weekend and it continued to today.

On Friday, a girl had made me angry during advisory (1st period) because of her attitude.  Then when I had her for social studies later, she got in more trouble.  The students were taking a test and after she finished, she kept leaning over the desk next to her and talking to the boy there.  Every time I told her to stop talking, she replied with a major attitude and said, “I’m not talking”  (this part is important later).  Finally I had enough and I told her that I was assigning her to detention.  After class, she came up to me and said that her mom wasn’t going to make her go because I hate her and I am picking on her.  Because of that comment, I decided to schedule a parent conference.

Now, this girl does not cause problems in most of her other classes, so I can see why her mom would think that, but don’t trust the student over the teacher.  Kids use the excuse that a teacher is picking on them so that when they get in trouble at school, they won’t get in trouble at home.  This mom used to be very cooperative, but the daughter has found a way to manipulate her.

We got the parent conference set up quickly and it was this morning before school.  We get there and the mom is just out to get me.  Despite what the other teachers said and notes that I had from a sub last week who commented on this girl’s behavior, the mom still refused to believe what I had to say.

The mom also said that she talked to some of her daughter’s friends and they also said that I was picking on her.  Really?  I don’t know who you are referring to, but if it is the girls she hangs out with in the halls, I do not have or even know any of them, so how would they know?

During the conference, the girl gets her lies mixed up and says that she was talking.  She then further incriminates herself by saying why she was talking.  Apparently she had taken the boy’s binder and was writing on it.  He asked her where her pencil was and she was telling him (I know this is not the whole truth, because she was saying more than that). Now here is the best part. My reaction (in my head, because I had to keep my words civil) was along the lines of “You basically just admitted that you have been lying to me, your mom, and everyone else in here.  Not only that, you admitted that you took some other boy’s things and were not doing the work you were supposed to do.”  Now, her mom’s comment was a little different.  She said, “Did you give the other boy detention for talking?” SERIOUSLY!?!?!

It is a good thing the conference was before school because we could have gone at this for hours.  After the mom left, the assistant principal, one of the other teachers and I all looked at each other.  We didn’t say much, but we could not believe what we had just witnessed.

Luckily, the day got better.  I would be crying now if it had gone downhill from there.

-J

He’s picking on me…

April 7, 2010

I’m tired of hearing kids and parents saying that I am picking on them/their child.  If you are causing a problem, you are going to get punished for it.  They have no idea how/when I punish other students.  Kids choose which classes they are going to misbehave in, so sometimes they will only cause a problem in one class and not others.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I have too many other kids who are causing problems to pick on your “innocent” child.

So I think this post makes it sound like it is a bigger problem than it is.  I do not hear this all the time, but I have heard it a few times.  I also hear it from other teachers.  Why do so many parents believe their children over their teachers?  I’m pretty sure your child is lying to you when they say they did nothing wrong.  Seriously?  In the words of one of my fellow teachers, “If their mouth is open, I assume they are lying.”

-J

TAKS testing…

April 7, 2010

SUCKS!!!  Yesterday and today, 8th graders took the math and reading TAKS.  Having to proctor the test is terrible.  We have to actively monitor, which means that we have to walk around constantly.  We cannot sit down, read, use a computer, or anything else that keeps us from watching the testers (which means we can’t do anything).  The testing lasts for about 3 hours, which is when they start moving the ones who are still working to the library.  It is over for now, but at the end of the month, we get to do this again for social studies and science. Oh, joy!

-J

My ethical dilemma…

April 6, 2010

Am I a bad teacher?  I have this dilemma.  I have a few students who do not want to learn and I have given up.  I would like it if I could say that I was the teacher who put in the extra effort to help these students succeed, but I can’t.  These few kids are constantly failing and do not do any work in class.  Normally when a kid is sleeping in class, I say something, but for these few, I prefer it when they are sleeping, because then they are not distracting the rest of the class.

So here is my dilemma: is it better for me to cut my losses or do I need to put in the extra effort to get these students to where they need to be?  The problem is that these students do not care and the rest of the class suffers because of them.  If I devote more time in class to getting them to where they should be, then I cannot devote as much time to the other 99% of the kids who are doing what they are supposed to.

Now I don’t usually quote the bible, but the parable of the lost sheep came to mind:

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.'” Luke 15:4-6

Certainly, I would be happy if I could “save” my lost sheep, but I don’t think the other 99 sheep suffered the way my other students do when I go to help the lost ones.

In reality I don’t think I will be able to reach those few, but I am not going to completely give up.  I will still try to work with them, but there is only so much time I can devote to them.  They are (by which I mean they should be) smarter and more mature than sheep.  If they do not want to do their part, that will be reflected when they fail.

Oh how quickly my youthful optimism has faded. 😉

-J

And the winner is…

April 2, 2010

Me. Obviously.  But I’ll get to that.

Also, 6th period.  Yesterday, the class took a test.  I thought the test was not that difficult, but the results disagree.  Recently, I have started to post the class averages for each test, as well as the high and low scores.  This way the students can see how they did compared to their classmates.  Let’s look at the averages for this test:

2nd period 63.5
3rd period 59.4
4th period 71.5
5th period 65.6
6th period 85.3

That’s right, the averages ranged from 59.4 to 85.3.  Clearly I have taught the information.  Now here are some things to note about this.  4th and 6th periods usually do the best.  While they rank in the order that they usually do, I have never seen the averages as spread out.  Usually the difference between my best and worst is less than 10 points.

Another thing I see when I look at this is behavior.  I bet you can guess which classes I have the most behavior problems with.  I hardly ever have any behavior problems in 6th period and only a few in 4th.  I’m sure you can guess which three classes I get mad at constantly because they constantly talk while I am trying to teach and when they are working.

So back to the winning.  This week they announced teacher of the year, but it was not me.  Yesterday, we had a bake-off for Relay for Life.  Some of you may remember that I won the cornbread portion of the Relay for Life chili cook-off.  Yes, I won the bake of.  Of the 15 or so entries, my sopapilla cheesecake was the winner.  For my prize, I got today off.

-J

2nd period 63.5
3rd period 59.4
4th period 71.5
5th period 65.6
6th period 85.3