Archive for March, 2011

Good News…

March 24, 2011

This morning we had a leadership meeting with our superintendent and HR director.  The purpose was to discuss what qualities we are looking for in our new principal.  That did not take too long and they started talking about the budget.  They told us that things are not going to be as bad as they originally thought.  They are not looking at cutting teaching positions in the middle schools (well not exactly, there are 2 positions that are going, but I’m not affected by this).  Most of the cuts are coming from the elementary schools.  We were all happy to hear this news.  The board is voting on contracts very soon and I will be very happy to get mine.

-J

SAT…

March 12, 2011

Today I proctored the SAT.  One of my friend is the testing coordinator at the high school and asked if I wanted to do it.  It pays $98 and is easy work.  For those of you who have administered the TAKS test, it is much easier than that.

Everything went fine.  My friend said it is rare to have problems because unlike the TAKS, the kids who are taking the SAT are there because they want to be there and if they cause a problem and their scores are canceled, it costs them money.  I was able to get some work done and read some.  The book I was reading was really funny and I had to try really hard not to laugh out loud.

The weird thing about it was being in a room with older kids.  I am not used to being in a classroom where most of the guys are my size or bigger.  I am used to being around little people.  It is a little more intimidating being around 17 and 18 year olds.

-J

Freaky Friday…

March 12, 2011

Yesterday was our annual Freaky Friday, where we invite the parents to come to class with their students.  We did it a little bit differently this year.  Instead of having them come all day, we invited them to come to lunch and the classes after lunch.  Because they were not coming to all of their classes, the administration wanted us to eat lunch in the cafeteria so we the parents could get a chance to see all of the teachers.  The other teachers weren’t too excited about it, but I didn’t mind, it was just one day.

I walked into the cafeteria and looked around for where I would sit.  I chose a table with a bunch of boys that I like.  There was an empty seat, so I claimed it.  They were terrified when I sat down and I loved it.  I actually had a good time sitting with them.  They finally got over me being there and started talking.  Their filters started giving out.  I am pretty sure they used some innuendos that I am not familiar with, but I’m not too sure.  I just pretended like I didn’t hear those things.

After lunch, I had several kids ask why I sat at that table.  I told them that next time I am in the cafeteria, I would sit with them and most of them were fine with that.  I don’t know if they really meant it, but I would like to think that they were jealous and actually want me to sit with them.

-J

A great start to Spring Break…

March 11, 2011

We received an email today that gave many of us some room to breathe.  It basically said that the estimate of the number of probationary contracts that will not be renewed has been reduced.  Instead of cutting all 230ish, right now the estimate is that they will only need to cut about 50.  The people they will cut will be based on the need of those areas, which I assume that core teachers are pretty safe. (And I don’t think I am in the bottom 50 anyway, ecpecially based on a conversation with some administrators yesterday.)

“The Executive Cabinet met again this morning to review the proposed list of budget reductions.  Due to the response of the Early Notice of Resignation, our situation with probationary contracts may not be as extensive as originally projected.  Instead of terminating all probationary contracts, we may be able to identify just the employment areas where we continue to have a need to reduce staff.  This would narrow the scope of the terminations from 227 to a number closer to 50.

Another reason that I think I am safe is based on what I have heard from some of the proposed budget cuts.  I have heard some of these things before, but now I am more certain that middle school is the most neglected.  According to state law, the maximum size of a class in graded K-4 is 22.  If you want more in a class, you have to get a waiver.  That is being considered as part of the budget cuts.  Another thing the district is considering is not allowing high school classes to have less than 15 students.  Granted, this mostly applies to elective courses that are more specialized.

I would love it if all of my classes have 22 or less and it would be a miracle to have only 15.  This is where middle school gets screwed.  In elementary, they are worried about class size, so the students can get the basics.  In high school, they are worried about students graduating.  In middle school, (in my short amount of experience) they don’t really care as much.  I think there is a definite need to have small class sizes.  This is the time when many students care the least about school and is hard to control them.  The year before I was hired, most classes in my school had 30-35 students.  They had to redraw the boundaries to fix this.

In my district, the middle schools also have the worst oldest facilities.  We have two middle schools, two high schools and 10 elementary schools.  Both middle schools are at least 30-40 years old (my school opened around 1965 and my room is in the addition added in the mid 1980s).  The oldest high school was opened in the late 1990s (and the old building became the 2nd middle school).  Most of the elementaries have been opened in the last decade.  There is a definite need for a new middle school, but given the current state of school finance, even if we paid for a new building (which comes from different money than operating costs), we probably couldn’t afford to staff it.

I don’t want to sound like I am ranting, but it is just an observation, which I have noticed before and kind of tied into the beginning of my post.  Afterall, the whole purpose of this blog is to give you an insight into the things I see as a teacher.

I am so glad I made it to spring break.  The past two days have been rough (most of the struggle was suprisingly on Thursday, not today), but I have a week to relax and catch up.

-J

Ash Wednesday…

March 9, 2011

Today is Ash Wednesday.  I decided to go to the 6:30am service, mostly because it was only 15 minutes long and I hate going at night because it is always super crowded and lasts forever.  I wore my ashes on my forehead at work today.  I had many people tell me that I had something on my forehead and it got kind of annoying.  Most of the adults knew what it was for and were joking around about it.  Most of the kids had no idea why I had ashes on my face.  Some kids were very amused by what I had on my head.  Despite all of this, it did serve as a learning experience.  I briefly explained what it was for and most of the kids were respectful of that.  Although the best comment of the day was when someone asked me if it was human ashes.

-J

Bitch…

March 3, 2011

I am getting really pissed of at one of my coworkers.  She has been such a bitch lately and I am probably going to go off on her if she keeps this up.  The funny thing is that I get along with most people and I don’t know if she just has something against me or what.  At our grade level meeting two weeks ago, she made several bitchy comments and everyone was talking about it.  She also put out an email about pitching in for a gift, but instead of saying something like “Don’t forget to give me your money for the gift,” she basically said, “Since no one had pitched in, I guess everyone is getting their own gift.”  That made a bunch of us not want to go in with her.

Today, she made me really angry.  We had a baby shower for a teacher at work and she assigned to get the cake.  I wasn’t too happy because the teacher we were having this for is a bitch too and doesn’t ever talk to us, but I guess the bitches stick together.  Anyway, she came to look at the cake this morning and didn’t say a word.  I asked, “What do you think?”  She still didn’t say anything.  That really pissed me off.

At the shower, another teacher was asking about the cake and I told her about it and she walked off.  Then, bitch and I were the only two people standing there and she says under her breath, “I don’t like fondant.”  I was about to tell her that it is not normal fondant and is actually really good, but I walked away so I could cool down.  At fat as she is, I didn’t think there was much that she doesn’t like.

The teacher who the shower was for wasn’t much better.  Long story, but we haven’t seen her since December and her baby was really early.  She didn’t talk to most of us who were there.  She never said a word to me and even when I served her some cake, she didn’t say anything.  By the way, there were more people there than we expected, but most of them left right after they ate.

Everyone else loved the cake.  They thought it was beautiful and that it tasted great, but some people are very unappreciative.

-J

Cheater…

March 3, 2011

I caught a cheater today.  This isn’t uncommon on test days, but this is entertaining.

During the test, I noticed a student acting strange.  He kept looking around, so I kept an eye on him, so I could catch him.  I didn’t think I was going to find anything. But then…

He turned in his test toward the end of class.  Now, let me describe this kid.  He is a good kid.  He is friends with the trouble makers in the class, but he has never been a problem. He always does well on his work and usually finishes quickly.  So, I graded his test and put it face down on the graded pile and I noticed something.  The last page was blank and on his, he had written an answer to a question very big on the last page.

I held him back after class and asked him about it.  Apparently, he did not know why he had written that.  I told him that it didn’t look good for him and I was going to talk to the assistant principal.  A few seconds later, I saw the assistant principal.  I showed him the test and asked if would talk to the kid.  (I don’t think he even recognized the name).

While my next class was taking the test, I emailed the kid’s parents and told them what happened and that I talked to the assistant principal and didn’t know what was going to happen.  A few minutes later, he came to my room and told me to write-up that kid and another.  The kid had admitted everything.  I knew that would happen.  Most of the 8th graders are terrified of their principal.  Especially the kids who never have to see him and I hope he would crack him.

A few minutes later, he brought the other kid to my room and asked to see his test.  He had not even answered the question that the other kid gave him the answer to.  He asked me if I had seen this kid cheating, and while I wasn’t surprised that he was the other one involved, I didn’t see anything, so he was off the hook.  It was no wonder the kid wrote the answer so big, the kid he tried to give the answer to was 2 rows over and 2 seats back.

If he would have just erased it, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

-J