Thursday, December 9, 2010

5 1/2 Instructional Days Until Break

I have had the worst week.  Most of it was directly related to the worst student I've ever had.  I have a student who has the worst attitude ever and is downright cruel to me.  She refuses to speak to me in any tone other than one that is just absolutely downright mean.  She doesn't like me (for no good reason as I am the easiest teacher to get along with) and she keeps me aware of it for two hours a day, five days a week.  The funny thing is that she does all her work, has an A in my class, and doesn't have the kind of behavior problems associated with a typical problem child.  I have been cussed out by students more times than I can count.  I have some of the most dreaded students in the school, all in the same class, who do nothing but talk the whole two hours and don't do any work, but I don't even flinch with those kids.  Those kids I can deal with, because it wasn't personal.  They still liked me.  They knew I was on their side, and they felt safe with me.  This girl doesn't like me.  It's personal with her and I"m not sure why.  I've never, in my 3 years of teaching been disliked by a student and I'm not sure how to deal with it.  I know this sounds really petty and wahwah.  I don't want her to see me as a friend or anything.  I just don't understand why she has such issues with me without having any reason to.  I'm sure I'll never get an answer.  I would be okay with the her not liking me thing, if she kept it to herself.
    Even if I just ask them to open their books, she has some kind of comment to make under her breath, "Ugh! Oh my god! I hate this class!"  All.  The.  Time.  I had finally had enough of her the other day and wrote her a referral.  Here is an example of everything she did in just ONE day:
Speaks to me in a disrespectful tone, daily.
Was asked to stop throwing paper balls from her seat into trash can.  Twice.  Didn't comply.  Detention assigned.
Continued to yell across the room to friends.
After the bell rang for 7th period and she was supposed to be in class (not mine), she came in with another student, disrupted my class, and erased her name from the detention list and left.
After school, asked twice to clear the parking lot and she didn't listen.  After the third time, she walked as slowly as possible.

So the assistant principal calls her in during my class the next day to issue the consequence (lunch detention till Xmas--HA!) and she comes back and wants to get into it with me about why I wrote her the referral in the first place.  I told her it was because she was disrespectful to me every day and she barked back, "THEN DON'T TALK TO ME!"  I told her that I'm her teacher and I have to talk to her, but that she needs to treat me with some respect.  She rolled her eyes and did another "Oh my god!" 

I seriously dread seeing her on a daily basis.  That's how much she ruins my day.  I'm so done with her.  Thank god she's moving to a different English class after the Winter Break.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My new feet.

Tonight a few of us headed up to San Jose to take a speed skating class from a World Champion Speed Skater.  We were hoping to get some tips on upping our speed and fine tuning our form.  As Nastassia talked about skating, I was rolling around a little, and taking some grapevine steps while I listened.  It was then that I looked down at my feet at my cheap, red, Reidell Diablo skates and was filled with a sense of calm.  I wondered: when had my skates become an extension of my feet?  I've been comfortable on skates for months, but I supposed I didn't realize they'd somehow become a part of me.  I feel like I can do anything in skates now, and be comfortable (short of going down an EXTREMELY steep hill, or maybe driving a car.  Anything standing, really).  It was a pretty neat feeling knowing that I've dedicated so much of my blood and sweat (and MONEY) to derby, and not only gain confidence and improve my skating skills, but to truly develop this new life.  My skates may be cheap, bottom of the line, and made of synthetic materials, but that means little to me because when I see my skates, I see: freedom, speed, expression, stress release, happiness, family, sisters, smiles, sweat, strength, and beauty.  They're better than any mirror you could ever put in front of me because they show me what's inside as well as outside.

Friday, November 5, 2010


This week felt eons long, and it was only a 4 day week for me!  I am seriously over teaching middle school.  My 6/7 period class owed me 8 minutes after school today.  That's how much time they wasted (really, it was actually more like 20 minutes, but I can't keep them that long).  And it's not bad behavior that's the problem, it's just the talking.  It doesn't stop. EVER.  I know some would argue that talking is bad behavior, but when you're me and you've had three years of kids throwing paper, fighting, screaming "fuck you" at each other (and at you), stealing each other's shit, walking around the classroom without permission--talking is really the least bad thing they could do.  I'm so tired of middle school.

On the plus side, there was a dance after school.  I went for a little while and giggled at their version of "dancing."  Really, it seemed only the 6th graders were dancing and the 7th & 8th graders were just hanging out.  Really funny though.  Last year, at my old school, there were 4 young female teachers and we always had more fun at the dances than the kids did.  The kids barely even danced.  Maybe they were embarrassed/put off by their teachers dancing. :)

On another plus side, next week is only 3 days long and Thursday is the 2nd Annual NPH Day!!!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Name change?

I am thinking about changing the name of this blog.  I am terrible about updating it and it it probably in part due to the fact that I feel like I should only post school-related material.  I had the idea for this blog when I was teaching high school, and honestly, high school kids just have more personality than middle schoolers.  I could have written a book about my high school kids.  Middle school kids just aren't as entertaining.  Besides, I have pretty much decided that I'm not going to teach much longer, so I'd have to start a new blog or change the name eventually.  I am tired of teaching middle school.  I am even more tired of teaching intervention classes.  The curriculum is terrible (it's completely scripted.  I spend so much time reading from a teacher's edition textbook, because I have to read it WORD FOR WORD, that I pay no attention to what's going on in my classroom.  It's awful.  Since my district is in trouble, even the regular core classes suffer.  We have to teach from a pacing guide in which there is NO TIME to teach even one novel.  All I get to teach is short stories out of a textbook.  It's terrible.  When I think of the connections I made to literature, I think of the novels I read.  I can't remember even one short story I read out of a textbook.  There is no room for teacher creativity because we have to use all of the ancillary materials that came with the textbooks, which are BO-RING.  There is no more trust in the professional educator.  And I know I teach in a bad school district, but it's more systematic than that.  Public education in this country is a joke and it's not going to change even in my lifetime.  (Go see Waiting for Superman, seriously.) 
    Now, despite that, I've volunteered my time to work with a program through my school called Friday Night Live.  We take basically the chronic behavior problem kids and work with them, but sell it as a leadership program.  We have a curriculum from the Boys and Girls Club that we will use.  We meet with them twice a month--once with just our group, and then the second meeting is with the first round of Friday Night Live kids who will now be the mentors for the current kids.  It sounds like a great program, and I left the meeting tonight with such a positive feeling.  One of my most challenging students, Jorge (I wrote about him before, here)  is in it and despite his terrible behavior, he is one of my favorites because he is genuinely a great person at heart.  He's always in a good mood, always smiling, but has no idea how to act in a classroom, and makes poor choices--he has romanticized the gang life and wants to live his life that way.  He's the only kid I know in the program, but the rest of the kids are really genuinely good kids--they just have a lot of personal issues.  Tonight was a challenge.  We need to get them to respect each other and us, the staff, before we can even think about getting into the curriculum, but I think it will come.  When Jorge left, he gave me a hug which he's never done before, and my heart soared.  I really hope this program has a positive impact on him because he's such a special kid.
    I enjoy these types of things much more than teaching.  I'd rather talk to the troubled kids and mentor them, than try to convince them that school is fun and they should love English class.  I think rather than teaching, my efforts would be better spent on intervention programs.  I know I'll never truly leave the "education" field, but I can't keep teaching with things the way they are.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


  I feel really good because I think I made a good connection with a student yesterday.  I have a student (ok, I have over 100 of them, but that's beside the point), one of those kids that all of the teachers go, "ugh" when they hear his name.  We just finished our fourth week of school, and he already has 43 office referrals.  Sometimes he manages to get more than one in a single period.  He is a wannabe gang member who has a terrible mouth and talks about smoking weed all day.  He yells out things like, "I'm gonna be a drop-out and sell crack."  These kids always end up worming their way into my heart somehow.  
   He really doesn't do any work, but he'll usually work for me most of the time.  Yesterday they got in trouble and had to write an essay about how they had or had not demonstrated the Community of Caring Traits in the last week and why it was important to live the traits.  He was going to write that it was important because your parents will be proud of you (also that the cops will leave you alone, lol) and as he was writing, he said, "I made that up because my parents are never proud of me.  I could be on tv for doing something really good, and they still wouldn't be proud of know I never go home?  Ask Olivia, she seen me walking in Marina at 3 in the morning.  I just walk around to my friends houses sometimes to get food because sometimes I don't eat." 
  He breaks my heart.  And we wonder why some kids always act out.  Because at least he's getting attention some way.  We wonder why kids join gangs.  Because they have no family at home.  After school, I was going to my car and he was walking down the street in front of the school.  He asked me for a ride and I told him I couldn't legally give him one.  He said, "I'm not going home."  I said, "I know.  You told me.  So, is this what you're going to do all weekend? Walk the streets?"  His response was, "Yep.  If you don't see me on Tuesday, then something bad happened."  I was like, "Don't say that!  I'm going to be worried about you all weekend!"  He said, "Ok, then I'm gonna be okay!" and flashed me a smile.
   I just want to hug him.  I want to find some way to get it through to him that he can do better with his life, but he has romanticized this idea of  a gang life.  On days when I don't know how much longer I can teach, things like this give me a little more energy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Classroom #4

Yesterday, I received the keys to the 4th classroom I'll be in in 4 years.  I know some people don't count student teaching as a year of teaching, but I do because for a large portion of the year, I co-taught.  I had an amazing master teacher who made sure I was well prepared to take on my own classroom.  Anyway, I digress.
    I know my principal is awesome.  I've known that for 3 years, but it doesn't make me any happier about teaching middle school.  What IS awesome, though, is that this will be the first year I only have two preps.  I could have hugged my principal when I found out I only had two preps.  I hope this means that I'll finally catch a break this year.
    On a different note, our league had their first fundraiser today and I think it was pretty successful!

I fell pretty hard at practice today, but got major air on a jump right before falling!  However, I hit my head against the ground and have been more or less fine for the last 3 hours, but suddenly don't feel so great.  I don't think I hit it hard enough to get a concussion, but I did hit it hard enough to give myself a good headache.   Thank God I have a day to rest before the next practice.  I <3 Derby :) 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Making decisions

It's no secret that I'm less than thrilled about the thought of teaching middle school again.  Perhaps it is in part due to the fact that I taught all intervention classes last year and had probably the worst middle-school teaching experience.  Anyway, I was checking the vacancy list and saw that there was an English position open at the continuation high school.  I considered asking for a voluntary transfer because I figured I would know a large part of the kids already as I had them in in high school two years ago.  Then, I ran into one of my former students who had to do a quarter at the continuation school his senior year to make up some credits from freshman year and he pretty much scared me out of it.  He reminded me of a valid point--"Take all of the worst kids from all of the high schools and put them in one school."  It's sad, but true.  I mean, not all of them are "bad" kids--and really, the "bad" kids often become my favorite and I don't know why.  Perhaps it's more rewarding to see a light-bulb turn on in a kid who has never had any confidence in his/herself or has never had anyone who has had confidence in them.  Anyway, I'm getting off-track. 
   He told me some horror stories about what goes on at the campus that made me think perhaps middle school was the lesser of the two evils.  He literally told me, "You'll get eaten alive."  Gulp.  I don't know anyone who teaches there, so I don't have anyone to ask.  I suppose I'll stick to middle school.  I really need to get out of this district.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Roller derby is effin up my feet

 I have always thought feet were really gross.  Most people don't really take care of their feet and pamper them the way they should.  But think about it: your feet probably work harder than any of your other body parts.  They support all of your weight (and most of us don't distribute our weight in the way we should--so our feet must work extra hard) and if you have a job that requires you to stand a lot, as I do (hello being on your feet about 8-10 hours a day), that is some serious support being given.  I've always made it a point to take care of my feet.  I pumice them regularly and rub lotion in them to make them soft and release the tension.  Now, my feet are nowhere near perfect.  I have permanent callouses because I don't distribute my weight evenly.  However, now that I'm doing roller derby (and skating damn near every day--and not leisurely skating, actively skating--sweating and huffing and puffing) and my feet need TLC more than ever, I feel like it's a lost cause.  I have new callouses, and my blisters have blisters.  I am coming to terms with the fact that I will have really gnarly feet and it's just the price I'll pay to participate in this truly rad sport.  And if all that I end up with is gnarly feet--I'm getting off REALLY easy.  Check this out.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Already slippin...

I really had good intentions with this blog.  I was hoping to blog once a day.  That hasn't happened yet.  Oh well.  I hope you all had a great 4th of July.  I went to a pool party at my friend's house.  It wasn't as epic as his party last year, but it was still pretty fun.  Luckily, the sun was out.  It was breezy, so it was just BARELY pool party weather, but I think everyone spent some time in the pool, and that's what's important.  We don't have many opportunities for pool time in our fog-covered peninsula.

Lately I've been skating a lot and worrying about money.  I live in one of the most expensive areas in California, but work for one of the lowest-paying districts in California (makes sense, no?).  Even though I have a career, I still live paycheck to paycheck and really have nothing in my savings account.  Some of it is my fault--credit cards are the devils, and other expenses are just...unavoidable--student loans, medical bills (I was taken to the hospital via ambulance at the beginning of June and my bill was over $2,000).  I hate living paycheck to paycheck.  I got paid  a week ago and already, I have less than $200 until July 30th!!!!  All of my bills are paid, thank God, but I'll be eating a lot of pasta for the next couple of weeks.  Can't wait to go visit my parents and brothers on Sunday.

Okay, I'm not going to complain anymore.  One of my goals this year is to be more positive.  So, on that note, I'll say that I'm really excited that tonight Jolicious and I are going to go skate with Rogue (she used to coach Santa Cruz and she's an AMAZING skater.  I know we'll learn a lot from her).

Here's a quick "hello" from me to you! (I was waving and the webcam freaked out)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday morning musings

It's 11:52 on Saturday morning and I'm still in bed. :)  Because I can be.  I don't have any obligations until practice this evening.  I hope to God that the rink is not nearly as hot today as it was last night, or there is a good chance that some people may puke.

I realized today that I haven't said much about teaching since starting this blog, despite its title.  The main reason for that is that I am currently on summer break, so there isn't much to say.  Once August hits, there will be no stopping the onslaught of complaints, musings, and bragging that I do, I'm sure.

I will leave you with a little bit about my teaching background (I'm not sure if background is the right word.  Situation? Hmm...) This year will be my 4th year teaching (if you count student teaching, which I do--because my master teacher is someone I'd known and worked with for a couple of years before I started student teaching, so she kinda threw me into it and let me do my thing.  Plus, she was gone A LOT due to being in charge of putting together the accreditation binders as the school was brand new and going through accreditation.  That was more information than you needed).  Anyway, like I said, this will be my 4th year teaching and the 4th school I've been at.  There were no English positions at the school I student taught at, so when interviewing for my first teaching job, I was offered a position at one of the other high schools in the area--the "ghetto" school.  I'm sure I'll post on this more later, but just know that I was really sad and depressed about having to teach there at first and ended up absolutely falling in love with the school and students--not that both weren't without their (extreme) difficulties.  Then, they cut the budget (surprise, surprise) and I was transferred to a middle school--the lowest performing one in the district.  10 times more "ghetto" than the high school I just left.  Talk about a challenging year (this was just this last school year)! Now, our district and many of its schools had been in Performance Improvement for many years and the state had intervened (yay, California).  The schools who made the Worst Schools in CA list (both the middle school and high school made the list, in addition to two others) had to take some action as mandated by the state.  The middle school I was teaching at was closing and merging with another middle school to create a new, bigger, restructured middle school.

What did that mean? Oh, only that I was going to be transferred AGAIN--along with all of the other teachers in my middle school, 50% of the teachers in the other middle school, and 50% of the teachers at the high school.  In sum, over 100 teachers were being shuffled around the district in order to meet these state requirements.  I was actually stoked about the transfer.  Last year was one of the most stressful years of my life and I had no desire to teach middle school ever again.  I was almost certain I'd be back at my beloved high school.  After all, the kids loved me, the assistant principals loved me, the staff loved me.  Case closed.  Right?

Not exactly.  They brought in a new principal halfway through the year (who is rad.  The last principal was the devil) and then got rid of the two assistant principals at the end of the year--there goes my foot in the door.  Then they brought in a new assistant principal from within the district who doesn't know me.  So, it all cams down to who you know in the end, and I didn't know her.

I waited and waited for the district to call me with a placement.  I accepted the fact that I may not be at my beloved high school, but would have settled for either of the others.  Some of my colleagues had been placed in May.  We were up against the end of June and I hadn't heard a peep.  Finally, I got the call and they offered me two middle schools.  I chose the lesser of the two evils (hopefully.  We'll see) and so I'm stuck teaching middle school once again. :(

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What to wear?

I've changed my outfit for practice three times.  I ended up with what I originally started out with.  I didn't want to get too hot by having thick thigh-high socks over knee-length leggings, so I went back to put some tights on and then realized I would have no time to change between practice and running over to the theater to get in line for Eclipse.  I will run into numerous students (and probably some of their parents) at the theater so I didn't want to wear anything too outrageous or suggestive (booty shorts and flesh-colored tights were both out of the question, obviously).  It it certain I'll see at least a couple as they are holding my place in line :)

So, I went with this outfit.  I'm crouched in derby position even! (Really, I had to do that so I would fit my whole self into the shot--my webcam doesn't have a timer so I had to be within arm's reach of the keyboard). I'm excited to wear my new tank top.  It looks awesome!  Thanks to Hue Refner of SCDG for the awesome lettering!

I want...

these adorable Hallowed Halls Oxfords, from anthro.  I think they would be the perfect shoe to start off my new fall wardrobe, don't you?

Monday, June 28, 2010

I wanna be the girl with the most cake...

Jesse, Marissa, and I planned on chasing the sun up to Santa Cruz today, but instead ended up leaving the sun behind in Monterey only to find that Santa Cruz tucked in under a blanket of fog.  Determined not to be defeated, we decided it wasn't too cold to go lay on the beach and read/nap, which is exactly what we did. I borrowed ShopGirl from Marissa.  So far, it's entertaining.  Interesting.  Different than I expected Steve Martin's writing to be--not that I had any preconceived notions about Steve Martin's writing to begin with.  The sun joined us around 1:30, so the day wasn't a total loss.

After beach time, we walked around downtown Santa Cruz.  I bought some socks with roller skates on them, and a used copy of Hole's Live Through This.  I absolutely love 90's alternative and adore Courtney Love--crazy/drugged or sober, she's a fucking poet.

Tomorrow we move to our new practice space.  I don't know how 30 girls are going to fit on that floor, but we'll make it work because it's a flippin steal.  The league meeting should be interesting as many, many, many things are changing (which will both please and disappoint many) and our recruiting chair just resigned.  Annd, after practice:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I wish they all could be California girls...

Teachers will tell you time and time again that they didn't become a teacher for the summers off--myself included.  I work 70 hours a week (on average).  I get to school an hour early, don't usually leave until 5-6 in the evening, and usually work an entire weekend day on lesson plans and grading--and for those of you not in the know, teachers don't get paid overtime for work they take home or do after school.  I earn those summers off.  That being said, I'll now say this: summer rules.

Today, Racky and I went on a 7 mile skate in the awesome Monterey sunshine.  It isn't hot very often here.  Even if the sun does come out, it hardly breaks 65 degrees at any point in the year.  It felt so great to be enjoying the sun, skating parallel to the ocean, barking back at the gagillion sea lions who have been gathering on the sand to sun themselves. We didn't even mind the extra people on the rec trail today--weaving in and out of them was just a bonus challenge.

After our skate, we had a yummy lunch at Islands and then were a bit disappointed when the wind kicked up.  Instead of battling traffic and crowds to get to the beach, we went back to Racky's, laid out beach towels, stripped down to our underwear, turned on the oldies, and laid out on her deck.  No wind, just the hot sun.  Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.  This really is the most beautiful peninsula.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happiness is...

Realizing you have two more Skittles left in what was assumed to be an empty package :)