For the birds…

There’s nothing like starting the day off with a little stress… My Algebra class was clipping along at its usual pace. We corrected homework, started learning about slope. Rise over run. They get it… Time for homework.

One of my kids had a navy blue bandanna hanging around his neck, but underneath his sweatshirt. I saw it. I was going to be discreet about reporting it to the appropriate assistant principal to deal with it. Well… One of my other students, who had previously gotten in trouble for a similar situation intervened. In an effort to be helpful set him straight, the student walked over to the other and said something about not showing gang colors and getting rid of the bandanna. He probably pointed to the bandanna and touched it while he said it. Maybe he even flicked it.

I am busy trying to help other kids and print out grade sheets and do my normal crowd control, talking with my new student, finding out one was leaving, helping answer questions, etc. Then the thing that I hate happens.

Boys are different than girls. There’s a whole bunch of posturing before they actually fight. They’re like birds. Their chests are puffed out. Their feathers and all the plumage are in full display. They’re standing close. Staring. Waiting for the other to flinch. Just waiting for that right moment to strike.

These boys are actually not a couple that I’d expect to get into it. One is a sort of happy-go-lucky kid (#1). The other (#2) has already had a stint in jail and has been keeping on the straight and narrow. So at first I wasn’t sure if they were actually serious. There’s something about all of this experience, where you can tell when it’s serious and when it’s not. I hate it when they do this.

My first instinct is to get them separated. Yes, little me, raises my arm and puts it down like a railroad crossing arm in between them, in turn, putting myself in the middle. I didn’t care who went out in the hallway. I just wanted them apart. This worked. I got one in the hallway and started talking. But then, the next thing I know, the other (#2) comes out there too! I then told him to go back and get his stuff while I take the other one to the office behind my room to keep him locked up, so to speak. I get boy #2 to go to his assistant principal to explain the situation. After he had cleared the hallway, I had another teacher walk the other one to the office making sure she took a route that didn’t pass the office of where boy #2 would be.

They both were dismissed for the day. They have to come back with a parent and have a little mediation session between them. I’m kind of hoping that they parents aren’t early risers and these kids don’t make it in until after 1st hour tomorrow. That’s probably really wishful thinking on my part.

I haven’t had a fight happen in my room for several years. Do I have a sixth sense for when a situation will escalate to that point? I don’t know. But I can definitely feel it when it’s coming. But then again, if you just look for the signs of wildlife, you can have a pretty good clue.


F Pass

At lunch today we were talking about naughty kids.  What can you really do with them?  You send them out, they eventually come back.  As teachers we do have ways of dealing with unruly kids.  But even with your ability to kick them out, you still end up taking a lot from them.  When they’re on their way out, it’s not uncommon to be the target of an angry remark.  We all have pretty thick skin after being called a bitch, or being told to F off.  For some reason, I don’t think lots of people have that occurrence in their jobs on a regular basis.

One teacher added, “Wouldn’t it be great if you had a couple of passes per year where it was ok to say F off right back?  You know, sort of like a pass to be in the hallway, or a pass to turn in a late assignment.”  Now there’s an idea… 

I’m guessing it won’t quite catch on.  But for those who just need an outlet for their anger… you can always hide behind your desk and flip them the bird.

**Disclaimer: This really isn’t a common occurrence.  But sometimes they really push your buttons and teachers end up taking a lot of abuse because a particular kid is having a bad day or whatever the case may be.

Just how cold is it?

Since yesterday, the temperature has dropped 53 degrees. And it’s still going down. The wind chill is even worse. I knew it was cold, but with the wind blowing, I’m experiencing another kind of phenomenon.


Yes, that is ice forming on the inside of my door. There is a draft strong enough to freeze the moisture in the air in my house to the metal. The funny thing is that I got a storm door as a Christmas present. Too bad my dad is in Arizona and won’t be over to install it until the spring.

Bad TV

Why do I have it on tonight? The only thing on, has my least favorite person – in the world. I wonder how long he has to practice his speech? I wonder who helps him with the big words…

He sounds like such a fraud. Now he’s on the bandwagon of global warming. He’s saying things, but it’s really in response to the overwhelming press that this topic has gotten in recent years. Has he signed the Kyoto treaty? Nope.

Oh God… Now he’s on the medical research topic. Like he knows diddly squat about it… Ethical medical research… What does this many really know? What the teleprompter tells him to say.

I don’t know where he was getting his education stats earlier. NCLB is a good law? C’mon. Anyone directly involved knows otherwise. His push for scholarships for inner city kids to go to some faith based school instead of their failing inner city school is crap. The second they mis-behave, they’re outta there. And why is the inner city school failing? We all know where that blame game is going. I’ll choose not to go there in this post…

Now he’s onto illegal immigration. Has anyone figured out that Americans won’t do the labor that these so-called illegal immigrants are doing? Many of these immigrants are using somebody’s social security number and are therefore paying into it. What about the companies that are hiring them?

Yep. Now we’re to the war on Tare. Can this guy learn how to say the word TERROR? I’m incredibly opposed to him on this. Last year, his speech directly affected me. My brother got stuck in Iraq for an extra 4 months. Does anyone have any idea how devastating that was to the troops there? No matter how you look at it, there are over 3000 US military deaths since this war started. I attribute that directly to this one person.

I really should shut the TV off. But part of me want to hear just so I know what crap he is spewing. I guess I’m trying to be informed. If you’re a fan on the man, I was going to say “sorry”. But I’m not. When he is gone, history will tell the story of the worst president in US history.

Oh… the positive aspect of this? It’s the last one.

Just had to share…

I had a good food experiment tonight. I used the Pillsbury Pizza dough and topped it with chicken, bacon, artichokes and green onion. It looks pretty impressive. It tastes pretty good too! I’ll be eating it for the rest of the week… But at least this time I won’t mind eating it for the rest of the week…


Lap #12

January 27th.  It’s the anniversary date of when I was hired as a teacher.  I don’t know why I liken it to laps around a track.  But for some reason I do.  I student taught at the same school and another teacher retired mid-year.  So I moved across the hall and was on my own.

The gal I replaced was one of those bitter teachers at the end of her career.  She wasn’t exactly a student favorite.  I learned that it was nice to replace someone that kids didn’t like.  “What?  Ms. M is gone?  You’re our new teacher?”  All smiles.

A lot has changed since then.  The student body has changed.  The minorities are the majority.  We have more kids on free and reduced lunch.  (That’s how they measure the poverty level of a school.)  Standards are higher.  But they’re coming in with less.  The curriculum has changed from traditional, to integrated, back to traditional.

The lowest level class we taught back then was Pre-Algebra.  A few years later, we changed that to regular Algebra.  Now, supposedly every 8th grader is in Algebra and next year our lowest class will be Intermediate Algebra.  Who are we kidding?  Like every other school in the state, we’ll be making the name different but teaching the same thing.  The people who make the policy don’t know fantasy from reality.

I used to think that I was a “lifer” at the teaching gig.  Being a teacher was part of who I am – what makes me, me.  I don’t necessarily think that anymore.  I still like my job and enjoy teaching.  But I really wonder if I can last another 20+ years.

I love a challenge.  But I don’t know if I’m up for the long haul on the way things are going.  Kids today seem to have so many more issues.  Then again, maybe I’m just more aware of them.  The instant gratification world that they live in makes it much more difficult.  I won’t pretend that I’m nearly as exciting as a video game.  Cell phones and texting drive me crazy.  I wish we had a cell phone scrambler thingy…  They seem to have less motivation.  We don’t accomplish nearly as much as we used to.  I don’t recall them whining as much a decade ago.  The standards are higher but they don’t seem to care as much.  Everyone wants to blame someone for why their kid is having troubles and teachers are often the target.  No one seems to want to take responsibility.

So, I’m starting lap #12 tomorrow.  My eyes are wide open.  I have more tools in my toolbox than when I started.  I’m much better at using them.  I don’t seem to take anything personally anymore.  I look for the bright spots and try to focus on them instead of the bad things lurking in the shadows.  I know I make a difference.  We’ll see what the next year will bring.

Self Evaluation

I can tell when I do a great job. But when I don’t, I definitely know it. Confused looks, whining kids, “I don’t get it.” I hate that.

I should have known better. I was actually teaching the same topic in Pre Calculus and Algebra 2 today. In Pre Calc it was review. In Algebra 2 it wasn’t. In Pre Calc it went great. We even had a laugh while learning it. In Algebra 2 it was another story.

Another teacher had a worksheet type of thing that could be used as a good note taking vehicle. When I saw it, I thought it looked great. But I didn’t carefully look at how to use it. I was going back and forth between the worksheet and notes they should be taking in a notebook. “Where do I write that?”

The time was ticking and I felt like I was going nowhere. Confusion reigned. I spent way too much time “lecturing”. Two o’clock came and I was relieved.  After taking a minute or two, I started to plan how I was going to dig myself out of this big hole.

I don’t usually feel like I bomb my lesson that often. But all you can really do is just figure out how you’re going to fix it and move on. Maybe that’s the important lesson.

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