Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sh!t My Students Say

During Leadership, we were talking about the activities for the upcoming rally.  We always have a competition between grade levels, where we play part of a song, then turn it off, and the class has to finish it.  We joked about giving the 6th graders something really silly like "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes."

Then Ruben says, "I always mess up that song.  It's the knees and toes part that gets me."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

People I Can't Stand

I feel like this type of post may turn into a regular thing---like Sh!t My Kids Say.  Because there are a lot of people I can't stand.  Today, I'll be talking about teachers who can't handle issues in their classroom on their own, so they blame someone else.

In my 8th Grade Honors English class, we are reading To Kill A Mockingbird.  Approximately 7 of those kids have to go to the high school 1st period to take Geometry, and then come to school.  So, those kids are super smart.  At least I think they are.  I didn't take Geometry until I was a junior in high school!  Anyway, that's beside the point.

Tonight, I received an email from my principal that told me to talk to my students about reading To Kill A Mockingbird during other classes.  Attached to the email was the the forwarded message from the Geometry teacher.  She said something along the lines of giving a final warning today and that if she sees kids reading it in class, she would confiscate it.  She was tired of kids reading and making notes during her time.

I had a snarky reply ready, but it's not my principal that I'm irritated with.  I'm irritated with the Geometry teacher.  Don't "tell on me" to my boss about something that you can't handle in your own classroom! Deal with it yourself.  Take their books for the period and give them back at the end of class.  Confiscating their To Kill A Mockingbird books would be the equivalent of me confiscating their Geometry books.  We aren't using our textbook right now.  Those are their textbooks!  This is the second time this year that I've had to "talk" to my students about something because another teacher couldn't handle their own shit and complained about myself or my own class.  The first time it was because a teacher complained that I let my kids snack in class (they always cleaned up after themselves) and it was "causing a problem" in their class.  Which, to me, means that they couldn't handle the situation on their own. I have 5 preps (meaning I teach five SEPARATE kinds of classes---5 separate lesson plans each day), I'm the department chair, a support provider (mentor teacher) for a newer teacher, on the positive behavior reinforcement team, am the only teacher who goes to the kids' sports games.  I'm a good teacher.  Leave me alone and let me do my job!

Monday, January 13, 2014

On the state of education

One of my students came back from the bathroom and very excitedly announced, "They actually had soap!" She then smelled her hands 4 or 5 times. It was adorable, but also really tragic when we can't consistently provide soap in our schools' bathrooms. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

On leaving your phone unattended

This is what happens when you leave your phone unattended during Leadership class:

You end up with creeper pictures on your phone...

On Free Trips!

I just got word that we have enough students signed up for the Washington DC trip to warrant an extra chaperon and I get to go--for free!  I can't even describe how excited I am.  I've never been to DC.  We are also going to NYC!  Color me ecstatic.  I feel like I will forever be drowning in student loan and medical bill debt and will never be able to afford a trip like this.  So grateful.  Someone is smiling down on me!

In other news, derby started up again this week.  Oh boy, did it start.  I had so much to do for work that I didn't make it to practice on Wednesday, so last night was my first practice back--Travel Team practice..  6-9pm.  And at the end of all that, we did this body-weight workout.  I happen to have a LOT of body weight.  Needless to say, I am having a hard time moving today.  So sore.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On New Years and New Starts

The second semester started today and I didn't waste any time jumping into content.  I don't like to ease them into it.  I like to pretend that no time has gone by at all!  Also, I might just be a little excited to be teaching To Kill A Mockingbird this year!  It's always been a high school book.  Even I read it in 9th grade.  But, after talking to a friend who teaches at the high school, she said that the high school teachers decided it should be an 8th grade book.  No one told the middle schools, so I spent Winter Break re-reading and planning to teach TKAM to my advanced class. Unfortunately, my school only has 24 copies and I need 35, so I'm banking on the idea that one of the high schools will let us borrow some copies and I've already started having my students take notes on the historical context.  We will spend some time studying the Scottsboro Trials and hopefully by next week, we'll have enough books.

My other 8th grade class is reading The Outsiders.  This is for 2 reasons: 1) We won't have enough copies of TKAM for both classes and I was already planning on doing The Outsiders anyway. 2) They're immature and I don't want to deal with them not being able to handle all of the n-word dropping in that book because I know the first time a kid giggles about it, I will freak out at him/her.  I know that sounds horrible, but these kids don't really experience racism, so they often perpetuate it in the form of a joke.  We are lucky to live in a beautiful place that is extremely diverse.  These kids are used to it because it's all they know, and so we don't really have race issues here.  All of the kids crack jokes about each others' races and their own race and everyone laughs because no one means it maliciously.  It is because of this that I am afraid they won't know how to take the TKAM seriously.  And I refuse to drag them through it because it is a beautiful book and I don't want them to ruin it for me.  Selfish, I know.

The Outsiders will be more interesting to them anyway.  One of my students asked if they needed their textbooks today and I told her they wouldn't for a while.  She said, "You mean, we're reading a real book?! Yes!"  They hate the textbook just as much as I do :)

I can't wait to start reading TKAM with the advance 8th graders though.  I think they're going to love it.  They already have so many questions!