Year one complete...

My first year of teaching is officially over! Yay for me!

The last day was weird, my kids were really good, even though their behavior was pretty much awful for the rest of the week... I think that it finally hit them that they weren't going to see me for a while. I am leaving town for a while and they all continually asked me if I was going to come back and if I would see them this summer. I assured them that I was only going to be away for a few weeks. I also made a deal with them... Once they finish half of their summer homework pack I will take them on a field trip. And then again, when they finish all of the work I will take them out again. I actually think that they will do it, and they all seemed excited about the work I put together for them! (I was actually very proud of my summer homework packet...)

More later, now it's time to relax!

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No, I'm not in 8th grade

I was mistake for an 8th grader yesterday. I was in the girls bathroom on a middle school Newark Public Schools field trip to the Skating rink, when I was asked by a 6th grader, "what school do you go to?" A little befuddled, and thinking that I surely misheard her, I responded, when she said, "oh, I think I know you, you're in 8th grade, right?"

"No, actually, I'm a teacher."

Roller skating was fun, a good use of one of the last days of school. I am getting anxious for tomorrow to come and go-- I have so much to get done before then... There are a million things that have to be complete and my students are just so off the wall and crazy right now that it seems impossible to get anything accomplished! I am so frustrated with my aide that I think that we would get more work don't if we weren't working in the same room with one another, even though all of the work is in one classroom. She is driving me crazy, and she has all year, and rumor has it she is being placed with me again next year-- yikes!

Well, here's to the last day of school... The last day of my first year teaching... The last of a lot... But more importantly, here's to the first day of summer!

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Ghetto Pigeons

Over the weekend I took a couple of my students on a field trip to the Statue of Liberty.

While we were eating lunch, Amber threw a french fry-- and that's when all the fun started! Seagulls and pigeons flocked towards us, screeching and cawing, pecking at the food on the table. Amber was screaming, and Jerry was trying his hardest not to let his laughter turn to screams. He likes to seem tough, but he didn't look so tough as he darted from the table trying to escape the attack! I stood, scared out of my mind (I have a fear of birds) trying to play it cool-- shooing them away with my hat and repeating "go away birds, get away from out food!" This is a phrase that I don't think I will ever live down, because my kids heard it so many times they repeated it throughout the day.

Seagulls are much more daring than pigeons at the Statue of Liberty. They go straight for food, scaring away humans, to get to their plates. Pigeons on the other hand seem much more patient, waiting for dropped food, and then rushing in to get it; trying to beat the seagulls to eat the dropped crumb of food. Amber noticed this right away, pointing, and telling me, "look at that pigeon right there! Ha! He thinks he's a seagull or something! That pigeons trying to be ghetto like the seagulls!"

It was so funny, I couldn't help but laugh, and I was actually really proud of her for noticing small details about the birds.

Today when we got to school we walked up the four gigantic flights of stairs to the classroom only to find all of the other 5th graders standing out in the hallway chasing a pigeon down the corridor. The kids were screaming and yelling, and as I rushed my students into our classroom, trying to keep them away from the potentially behavior-triggering situation, I closed my classroom door only to hear Amber let out a high-pitched scream followed immediately by Ricks mischievous laughter.

"Look Ms. G, we got pigeons!" Tyler shouted, and sure enough... pigeons! Two of them. I called for the custodial staff, but they were busy with the 3 pegeons that were in the 4th floor hallway, the one in the boys bathroom, and another couple of birds in the teachers room. Amber looked to me and said "go away birds, get out of my classroom, right Ms. G?" (hinting to my reaction at the Statue of Liberty) I laughed with her, but only for a few seconds because just then both pigeons started flying in our direction. "Those pigeons is ghetto, they must thing they seagulls or something," she said again.

45 minutes, 10 piles of pigeon droppings, 3 pigeons, 2 students, and 1 custodial staff later, we got the birds out of the classroom and began our math final exam.

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Awards Ceremony

We had an unannounced awards ceremony this afternoon, which I was pretty frustrated about because I had a lot to get through with my students today, but as it tends to be, most teachers have stopped teaching this year, so they don't seem to think that surprises should inturrupt anyone's teaching schedule.

Anyway, I won the big award, which was really surprising. I got "Novice teacher of the Year." They even gave me a plaque with my name inscribed! Jerry called it before they awarded it to me-- he looked at me and said "this one is yours Ms. G!" I shook my head at him to let him know that it wasn't fo me... but then they called my name.

When we got back to the class Amber asked, "Well, are you going to leave it here and hang it in the classroom?"

"No, I don't want it to get ruined or broken, I think I'll take it home," I responded.

And then Jerry said, "That's a good idea Ms. G, you earned that."

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I'll shoot all ya'all in 401

I had a pretty normal day today, but there were a few things that just leave me unsettled...

The unusual parts came from outside of my classroom. As a teacher it seems that sometimes your classroom becomes your entire world. Then, when your doors open there is something entirely different outside of them; a school, regular education teachers and students, administrators, and more. There's my principal who refuses to admit that she is anything but super-woman, and that she really just needs some help someties to keep things together. And don't forget the self-righteous grade-level partner who thinks that she is the "savior and profit send from God himself to bring salvation to all people" (her actual words, I SWEAR!). Last but certainly not the least of my concerns, there's the students from other classrooms, who begrudgingly threaten and curse room 401 (no coincidence that this happens to be my classroom).

I can't say that I blame other students in the school for disliking my class. For most of the year my students have acted as a posse sent to terrorize the rest of the school; both students and faculty. They destroy others' projects in the hallways, knock on their classroom doors, curse at them in the hallways, trip them in the auditorium, and generally create an environment that is not conducive to anything productive. So, I get why the regular ed. kids don't generally like them. I even understand why I get the 'look-of-death' from other classroom teachers when I walk through the halls. I mean, I wish that other teachers and students could understand a little better that my classroom and my students have a very specific set of needs that our school and administration just are not ready to help effectively, but thats not to say that I don't understand their frustrations with 401. I just want them to know that as bad as it seems in 401, we really are making great strides, but I don't think that this will happen anytime soon, so until then I guess I will just have to deal with it.

Anyway, the entire point of this rant is to stress my frustration level with the fact that a 6th grade student, Remi, threatened Tyler today, saying that he was going to "shoot" her. When my other students retalliated with threats of juming him and what not, Remi announced; "you better watch out, I'm gonna come down there and shoot all ya'all in 401." I was there when this took place. I heard and saw it.

Remi was in the hall because the office said that they would not take any students today. He had been causing so many problems in the classroom that the teacher couldn't get anything done with him in there, so she sent him out. One of the security guards is on maternity leave, and the other is too old to walk the 4 ancient flights of stairs to get up them, let alone wrestle Remi all the way down them. The crisis teacher was unavailable because he he was dealing with a crisis with 2 students from the 1st-3rd grade behavior disorder class, and the school is 4 aides short of being in compliance, so there was no one to pull to supervise him.

I of course wrote up the incident immediately, but couldn't send it to the principal immediately because my classroom aide was MIA (like usual) and all of my students were too scared to deliver the note, claiming "whenever I talk to her I get in trouble, and I don't need anymore trouble." Lucky for me it was near the end of the day, so when school got out I delivered the note to the principal. This itself was a feat, but even worse was trying to get her to read it. I don't think that she did or will, and she wouldn't discuss the situation with me, or even listen to hear what it was about. She just said to me; "Remi? What does Remi have to do with your class. He should be no where near you or your students, since when was this an issue?"

"Since today, and it is very important that we deal with this right away...." I replied as she walked away and shoved the note in her pocket, without ever hearing about what happened.

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Am I a REAL ware-wolf?

Lemme see your hand Ms. G! ...See, you're no ware-wolf!! You don't have the mark of the beast!

Yes, she is a ware-wolf, look at her teeth.

Ms. G, do you like full moons?

Of course she likes full moons, stupid! She's a ware-wolf...

Do you really think she's a ware-wolf? She didn't seem any different to me on 6-6-06.

Yeah, but we didn't see her after school, and she changes so fast, and she has little hairs on her chin, and when she gets mad it looks like her eyes are turning colors or something.

But she looks nice right now, maybe she's only a ware-wolf when it's night time.

You're so dumb! Ha! You don't know anything about ware-wolves at all, do you? Ms. G, lemme see your hand! See, there is no mark, if you were a real ware-wolf you would have a mark!

She does have a mark, just look closer...

I don't see anything!

I know that you're not a ware-wolf because if you were you would've eaten us all by now... You're not a ware-wolf, for real, are you... Ms. G??

"I'm not getting into this one, it's up to you to decide."

What does she mean?? I mean, she's not REALLY a ware-wolf, right??

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"Hi, This is Ms. G from school, Jorge's teacher, is this his stepfather?.... Oh, yes, yes, I'm fine, but I have some unsettling news about Jorge's behavior.... oh, yes, I realize that he has come a long way this year... yes, but that still doesn't excuse his recent behavior....."

"Hi, is this Tyler's mother?... yes, umm, this is her teacher, Ms. G.... Well, yes, I DO have some bad news for you... Well, this time .... Yes, she DID say that to me"

"Hello, this is Ms. G, Jay's teacher, can I please speak with your grandma?......{click} .... Hello? Hello? (did he just hang up on me?)"

Teaching is hard. Calling parents can be harder.

{{ yes!! your kid did that! he has been doing it all year, and i have a feeling that he is not going to stop unless we do something about it! }}

No one ever has a child that does something wrong, and if they do, they don't want to hear the details of what happened in school, which is just as frustrating because then you feel as if they are just LETTING their kid get away with anything.

"Well, I just don't understand where she got that language from, because I can assure you that she doesn't use it in MY home!" -- well, sorry to hear that lady, but she must have gotten it somewhere, and she IS using it in my classroom, so what are we going to do about it because I am sick and tired of YOUR little brat cussing me out!

"But he's not a fighter, I just don't understand why he's always in so much trouble, my son is not a fighter" -- when was the last time you saw your son, because the last time I saw him (about 5 minutes ago) he was a fighter, and since I met him, he has been a fighter, so maybe you have a little bit of catching up to do, because ma'am, your son's a fighter!

"But you said that he was doing well!" -- yes, he WAS, that's why I'm calling you.

"She's just not like that usually, she's an angel" -- I'm sure that it was her angelic smile that got her placed in a Behavior Disorders classroom and got her classified as emotionally disturbed, I mean, you can't honestly continue to tell me that she is perfect, we will never be able to help her if we can't admit that she needs help.

'YES, I kinda knew that she would have a rough day today, I mean she left the house upset this morning, and I tried to tell her that she had to get her attitude in check before she went into the school.... yes, I understand, but you know, I try my best, but I just didn't get up early enough in the morning to make her pancakes, so she had to have cereal, and that's just not what she wanted.... and I'm really sorry about all of this..." -- You're kidding, right? Most of the kids in this school don't have food at home at all, they come to school hungryand wouldn't have any nurishment at all if it weren't for the school, and your kid is terrorizing the school because you didn't have time to make her some pancakes? Who the hell ARE you?

"No, no, he needs to stay in the behavior disorders classroom, he is progressing so much, and he is doing much better this year... We would like him to stay in your class..." -- If he is doing so much better now, I would HATE to see what he was like before because your child is a little hell-raiser!! I mean... Great!! Can't wait to have him again next year, he's been such a joy to work with!

Basically, if you couldn't tell... I feel frustrated, and I don't want to call another parent in my life, but as we all know, I will continue to call.

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Sweaty Kids are Smelly Kids

My school is so hot I can still feel the sweat roll down my spine by just thinking about having to go back in that building tomorrow. The fourth floor = the sauna. I like to think that this is all a part of my "lifestyle change," but it's hard to believe that when I'm climbing all 97 stairs. It can't be a good idea to sweat out every last morsel of your energy before the bell even rings when you are supposed to be a teacher. Stale air and smelly kids, combined with a generalized hatred/fear of learning make school a very hard place to be at... But the good news is that tomorrow is "Fun Day!"

As it seems, every day for the past 2 weeks has been themed:

Mon: Movie Day (Akeelah and the Bee)
Tues: Field Trip Day (holocaust Play)
Wed: Spelling Bee Day (Akeelah Style)
Thur: Career Day (Go Army National Guard, Recruit ''em real young!)
Fri: America Day (God Bless)
Mon: Memorial Day (= Beach Day for me!)
Tues: Finally take a seat, sweat on yourself, and get to work Day
Wed: Workshop Day for me (= Torture the sub Day for students)
Thur: Ice Cream Awards Day (I heart ice cream)
Fri: Fun Day! (= sweat on the asphalt errr... I mean "playground")

This seems to make the end of the school year move a little faster-- and makes the students a little more motivated, for the most part anyway.

I can't wait until Monday comes around again, I think it might be "Gather around the Fan at the Circle Table Day."

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