A good day...

I had a good day at work today, and since I don't get to say that very often, I thought that I should write it down. This way, I can remember that things aren't always awful in the life of a teacher.

It was kinda strange even... they were all so calm. No one in my class really wanted to do any work, but they didn't mind the learning part of things. I usually struggle teaching any sort of lesson, because they are so out-of-control, and I have to do everything with each student individually, but today as I explained to my kids how the tide is the sea rising and falling as the earth rotates, they listened. They even got up and helped me demonstrate how the earth rotates, and every one of them used the magnets I gave them to feel what the gravitational pull of the moon is like. They were really into it. As I held a globe up in the air bearing my sweaty pits, I rotated it on it's axis as Ricardo held the styrofoam moon in one place and Jay held his hand as though it were the sun. At the end of the lesson they were all able to explain to me exactly how the tide works, and even Amber shouted out answers when I asked questions. (She usually sits silently, with a lot of attitude, until she has a violent outburst).

Then, at lunch time they all begged me to sit at their table instead of going back up to the classroom. I haven't eaten with them since my last post, and I didn't eat with them today either, (just because the food smelled like ass and I didn't think I could bear it combined with the stench of 11 year-olds that just got out of gym...) I figure I'll invite them to eat with me tomorrow. The strangest part about this invitation though is that it was Amber that said, "Ms. G, aren't you going to stay and eat with us?? You can sit here."

It was overall a pretty good day in 401.

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The Lunchroom

On Friday I ate lunch with my students in the "cafeteria"... Elementary school lunch rooms are an interesting and extremely awkward combination of bad food, smelly kid, and absurd rules. The one good thing about the lunch room is that about once every 2 months there is an excellent dish which the lunch staff calls "toodles." They are bready-crysted cheese, and they taste like heaven.

Friday, the students were being served toodles. I decided to join them in the lunchroom, and as I approached their table (they band together like a pack of wolves in the lunchroom), Amber told me to "go away!" I didn't want to intrude, I understand that the elementary school lunch room is a very delicate balance of things, and I didn't want to mess that up, so I instead asked, "hey guys, can I sit here?"

"NO," Amber yelled out.

"YES, she can!" Ray replied with an assurance I didn't think Ray was able to muster (he's not a particularly well liked student in my class).

"Hey, Ms. G, I'm not eating my salad, you want mine?" Rick said, as I started to sit down. This was obviously his way of letting everyone know that he agreed with Ray, without ever having to say that he agreed.

And then, the same way that I had been banished from the table, I was completely accepted. The climate of the table changed, and as Amber started to speak up again about me not sitting at the table, all my other students gave her a look that put her to shame.

"She CAN sit here," Ray repeated.

A few minutes later I offered Amber my bag of chips to make amends. She accepted gracefully, and seemed to enjoy my company at the table. After all, having a teacher at your table gives you talking privledges in an elementary school lunchroom... The security guard has to assume that you're talking about very important things, and not just kid-stuff.

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Stickers = life saver

Today I had a great morning. Weird, I know, but wonderful. My kids were excellent-- no major, or even minor behavior problems, and the only nuisance to me was that I went through 7 packs of stickers bribing them to keep up the good work-- and all I can say about that is that it was worth every sticker....

Ryan was just washing the dishes (the conditions under which I allowed him to move in for the summer) and my dog shit under his foot. He kept yelling "EIW!! Jill, you're dog reeks, what did you feed him, Gawd!" When I went to the potty pad... nothing. Then I looked under Ryans toes, and there it was, a PILE OF SHIT. Way to be, Ryan.

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From the moment I got the class in the auditorium this morning I knew that Amber was a little off, and I wanted to ask her if she'd had her medication, because I knew that she hadn't. When we got to the classroom she was okay for a few minutes, but then she just got out of control... She was screaming and yelling, cursing, and generally off the walls. She had a stick and was hitting the door frame trying to make pieces of it fall down (from the numerous other times the frame has been broken by students this year), and trying her best to make me snap or something. She was standing on tables, and running around the classroom, refusing to do work, and speaking over me anytime I tried to talk at all. She was calling me by my first name, and yelling at me calling me a b*t*h and a slut, a cracker and a honky. She was asking, "Jill, have you ever been raped?" and then announcing to the class that "Ms. Glassbrook's a slut." She then stole my keys from my desk and called the office, yelling "void" when they answered, thinking that it would make them KNOW that nothing was wrong... but they got the message anyway. Then she went in the hall and locked the door, making it so that others couldn't enter the classroom, including the crisis counselor, the principal and vice-principal.

Eventually, we got Amber to return the keys, and we had to "send her to crisis." In Newark, if a child is so out of control that there is nothing any of the professionals in the building can do to help them, the police and EMS are called in and the child is taken in an ambulance, on a stretcher to the hospital. Early in the year this is what happened with 2 of my students, and it was determined that they were in the wrong placement, and that my class was not restrictive enough for them. Today, it happened for Amber, and soon I am sure that we will have to decide that my classroom is not restrictive enough for her. Coney was always saying that "as a special ed teacher you have to love to hate your job, you have to believe that there is something that you can do so that your students don't need to be in your class anymore..." The problem is, I think that I am working things backwards in my classroom. I hate my job. I know my kids are brilliant, I just don;t know that I am the one that can help them get to where they need to be-- and I just keep moving them to more and more restrictive placements.

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One strand at a time...

I hit a car yesterday. I was driving to alternate route, and there was a big SUV in front of me stopped at the stop-sign and I hit it. I don't know what I was thinking... I don't know how I let it happen, but I hit a car. The lady was pissed at first, "what the hell?" she yelled at me. I just threw up my arms, defenseless, "I'm really sorry," I replied, and she got back in her car and drove away. Her SUV didn't look damaged anyway-- my car looks like a wreck though.

I don't want to go back to work tomorrow. My students have been out of control, and I don't think I have the energy to deal with a 10-year-old calling me a bitch again.

My dog is being really awful. He is cheewing on everything, and he is mad at me because I wasn't here friday night. Last night he ate my glasses while I was sleeping. It will be exciting to have to spend money to get new ones.

My house is a disaster, I want to try to clean it before Ryan gets here... I haven't done dishes at least a month.

I think i will go pull my hair out of my head one strand at a time.

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Will you marry me?

As I leave my apartment each morning I walk past the same neighbors, taking the ususal 2 seconds to exchange grettings, and go on my way. But today there was someone I'd never noticed before standing at his stoop. As I approached, he smiled friendly, and said "hello."
"Hi," I replied, "Have a good day."
"Will you marry me," he mumbled...
"What?!" I said, not understanding, "did you just ask me if I was married?"
"No, I asked you to marry me," he replied, with much more confidance.
"Oh," I said, not knowing what else to say...
"Well, will you marry me?" he asked again.
"No," I responded.
"Okay, well can I atleast call you?" he asked.
"No," I said smiling, surprised, and not knowing what emotion I should feel.
"Well then I guess I'll just see you around?" he asked.
"Yeah, I guess so," I replied.

Then I went on my way. As it turned out, I had the worst day I've had in about 6 months, including many "incidents" at school, 2 popped tires on my car, and more worries than I want to face, but still this morning sticks with me, and as I walked to my building this evening, I looked to see if he was around...


I am NOT a mom.

I get called a lot of things... and I am a lot of things. One thing I am not... A mom.
In the past few weeks I have been called "mom" on 3 seperate occasions.

Time #1:
Jerry: "But mom! I don't want to get off the computer!"
Me: "Hunh?" (with startled and confused look on face)
Jerry: "Oh Geez Ms. G- I'm sorry, I'm just so used to talking to my mom..."

Time #2:
Ray: "MOM! I need help!"
Me: "Hunh?" (with startled and confused look on face)
Ray: "Weird, did I just call you mom? haha."

Time #3:
Tyler: "NO! I am not doing this mom! This is too much work, I AM NOT DOING THIS!"
Me: "I am NOT your mother"
Tyler: "God!! It was a mistake, OKAY?? I am not F***ing doing this S***"

I am not a mom. It's strange how scary it can be to have kids call you "mom"- and for Tyler... I didn't mean to say it like that (it's how my stepfather would say it when I would yell through the house looking for MY mom), but still, I'm no mom.

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Nothing rhymes with "orange"

Ricardo announced to the class today that there are no words that rhyme with the word "orange." (Impressive, right?) As it goes, this prompted a slew of thought, which I promoted, because my students were genuinely interested in seeing if this were true. I was trying to think of any slant rhymes, while others brainstormed through each letter of the alphabet. In the course of all this, Ray called Ricardo a dummy... and to my surprise, Ricardo had very little reaction. He simply said "No, I am right about this. I have been thinking about it for a long time, and I know that there is nothing that rhymes with orange."

So, we went on with our work, with an occasional student giving out a possible "roaring rhymes" with the response "no, it doesn't" and on with our work. Suddenly, Ricardo stood up with a box of individually wrapped cereal bowl saved from breakfast and walked to Georges desk. He then peeled open the box, and dumped the contents out inside Georges desk. Everyone seemed in a bit of disbelief, and George, sitting at the other end of the room at the time had little reaction. Ricardo just said that he did it because "I know that it is something no one else has ever thought to do." To this I replied, "that might be true, but that doesn't make it a good choice to make."

Ricardo went back to his seat, sat down and continued to work as if nothing had happened. About 5 minutes later, Ricardo got up, unprovolked, and began punching Ray in the stomach, chest, and back as hard as he could... uncontrollably. Ray didn't even fight back, he just dropped his arms to try to protect himself. Ricardo got in about 10 good punches before Ray fell to his knees, clenching his teeth, grabbing his stomach and crying. I sent for security of course, and the nurse thinks Ray might have a couple broken ribs. Before security got to the classroom, Ricardo went back to his work, silently, as if nothing had happened.

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Carrot Day

Today was "Carrot Day" in room 401.

I don't know why, but my students became obsessed with the idea of having a carrot-eating competition with me... so I decided that it would be a great incentive for good behavior.

Today was finally the big day-- so I bought 4 bags of carrots, and for the entire afternoon we ate carrots while playing "states bingo" and learning the properties of magnets. I lost the competition, but it's probably better that way. My stomach still hurts though, so I can only immagine what my students are feeling right now.

Here's to Carrot Queen Amber and the two Carrot Kings George and Ricardo-- the winners of the Carrot Day Competition in room 401.

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