Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I have decided that I don't like parts of who I am and really want to create a Creed so that I have something (like a mantra) that I can recite to remind me of who I want to be.

Auburn University has an awesome one.

I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.

I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.

I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.

I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.

I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all.

I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.

I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by "doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God."

And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.
-George Petrie (1945)

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's not my fault!!

Student (who spent 6 weeks incarcerated, I don't know for what) asked me what he was missing and needed to catch up on to bring his grade up "I wasn't here, but it's not like it was my fault."

Another student, complaining about my assigning a test for tomorrow, because he will be retaking a state test (for the 3rd time): "It's not my fault I won't be here."

Student, who has slept through every class for the past several weeks and is not failing. "How do I bring my grade up? It's not my fault."

Student, who finally turns something in (2 weeks after it was due) and needs it graded now so she'll be passing when she goes to court: "You need to grade this - it's not my fault."

Teacher, explaining why she is dumping her work on me after she picked it. "I'm overwhelmed. It's not my fault."

Hey, a little personal responsibility goes a long way.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This Bites

Ms. Fullofherself just emailed me back. With her family, her outside obligations, and her role in the school, she doesn't see how she'll be able to find the time to do any of the planning. But If I will write the plans, she'll be happy to edit them and make corrections.

Yeah, right, we're equals.

Love being a part of the team.

Really? I mean, really?

Just got an email from Ms. Fullofherself asking me to plan the 1st two units. (she didn't volunteer to take either of the ones I have) because she has too much on her plate. And her talent lies in editing and evaluating. (Meddling and backbiting? Second guessing?)

I told her she had to take one of the other two, that I had no interest in doing all of the work.

I wanted to say it is easy to critique someone else's work rather than doing something of your own.

As far as I can tell, she never does the work on her own, just criticizes others.

(We have to do unit plans. They came up with this idea a couple of years ago and we did the plans - then no one read them. The administration was complaining about the quality of the work we give them - well, why bother when it appears that no one does anything with it? Now we're being told to do it again - AAAARRRGGGHHHH! And she just agreed to the part she wanted WHICH WAS THE EASIEST PART 'CAUSE WE JUST TAUGHT IT!!)


I have decided that I don't care to do it on the form her chair wants - that's her problem. I will document in a log, where I can put print screens of the email (showing date and time and content).

I used to have a little statue of a man with a large screw through his middle. "Work diligently and you will be aptly rewarded." Why does it not make me happy that Mr. Hulk keeps saying we should work diligently?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another grand step backwards for Georgia

Georgia has decided to drop the bonus it promised teachers who earned National Board Certification. Every teacher who went through the ringer to earn their National Boards has had a 10% bonus. Nope, gone.

How are you supposed to do your job?

When you team teach, you are supposed to meet together at least once a week, fill out a log which goes to the SPED department chair. This isn't difficult if you have the same planning period. If not, you are supposed to get together before or after school, in addition to duties, department meetings - and, oh yes, tutoring the little darlings who will not pay attention during class.

I have been trying all year (6 weeks) to plan with one of these teachers. Now, I am aware she thinks a lot of herself. She is certified in math (most aren't) and has taught 8 years. And she has taught the subject we are teaching together.

But, it is HER department chair who wants the meetings and logs.

I kept asking, held a meeting with her department chair, and finally emailed Ms. Fullofherself requesting a meeting, and blind copied the chair - who replied to Ms. Fullofherself. There was no love there to begin with, and now that woman is impossible.

We were told we needed common assessment, in a form that will allow us to collect data(so, multiple-choice, my least favorite way of testing in math). Ms. Fullofherself tells the rest of us that she has the common assessments. Great, it means we don't have to do them. I wait. I wait. I finally email her and ask if she is going to share (ok, I was more polite but they aren;t common if only she has them). SHE DOESN'T HAVE THEM. She has chapter tests that we can change to common assessments. Big woop - so do I.

I cannot figure out what drives this woman. I thought she'd taught more than 20 years, because she has that level of rigidity. (POD, not every experienced teacher has it, you don't seem to - but you know what I mean). Turns out not to be true. I wonder what she did before.

She wants to take the kids with small group testing to the library. Does the school not realize what a liability that is for them? THE LIBRARY IS NOT A SMALL GROUP - IT IS A MAJOR DISTRACTION. But, you want to know something - I am past protecting her. Or the school.

She has earned her reputation and I just want to do mu job without her messing the kids up.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nervous tic

Teachers went to school yesterday. Mr. Hulk called a meeting - to tell us we had a meeting in 2 hours. (I thought that was what email was for)

During the meeting meeting, I was merrily ticking off his "now is the time" comments ( when the teacher next to me leaned over, pointed at the tickmarks and mouthed "now is the time?" Busted!!

He must not have been as nervous. It was only 52 this time.

I hadn't noticed before, but he malaprops. "This is a crucible time" I will definitely have to pay attention because that was too fun!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clarkdale Elementary

The elementary school had water to its roof. It is about 50 years old and will probably be demolished. Many of the houses in its neighborhood were flooded as well.

The slideshow above gives you an idea of one building.

What I thought was really sad/interesting was that the point was made on the tv when they showed these pictures that many of the supplies were purchased by the teachers - and lost to the flood.

Grades 3-5 will go to an intermediate school, k-2 to another elementary. Bus routes are going to get interesting.

The sun will come out tomorrow

Actually it's been out since yesterday and most of the wet has dried up. There are still sections of three (or more) counties flooded and one school is completely gone (see be a hero for Clarkdale Elementary).

Several counties have boil water restrictions which limit when students can go back, but all the interstates are open again, so things are looking up.

Back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The roads are REALLY bad

We have another day without school tomorrow.

They had trouble rescuing kids from an elementary school and high school in a nearby county yesterday ( and so it puts a lot in perspective.

I am working on data.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Schools are closed!

We haven't had a snow day or ice day in years - but the school's are closed today. We have had so much rain that roads are flooded.

Woopee! Back to bed!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mr. Ego, team teaching, following the rules

Mr. Ego continues to bury himself. He has now told his students that they should come to him and he will tell them, confidentially, why they don't want to visit the rest of us for tutoring. I guess he doesn't realize they are telling the other teachers what he says - or he thinks he can turn it into a he said, she said situation. Unfortunately, he has been asked to stop saying these things and persists, so the administration will have to get involved.

I had to meet with the admin over the special ed teachers because one of the ones I have will not meet with me and will not honor the accommodations we have for special ed students. Apparently I had a reputation with the admin for being unreasonable, because I watched her change her opinion as I talked with her. Last year, I kept trying to explain that they had given me a social studies teacher who didn't know math and kept trying to teach anyway. A really sweet woman, grandmotherly type, but she'd teach them wrong and it is almost impossible, without completely undermining her effectiveness, to reteach it correctly. And I think I succeeded in undermining her as a teacher in that class.

Did you know that (2x + 4)/3 = 2? I didn't, but that is how she taught things. I kept asking her to do administrative stuff (like the roll) or discipline and leave the teaching to me, but she kept teaching them wrong.

Now the teacher knows the material (I think - I have kids telling me she is telling them to add the checks and subtract the deposits on a check register) but will not meet with me and thinks the kids don't need to be pulled out for a test EVEN THOUGH THEIR IEP SAYS THEY HAVE TO BE because she doesn't want to walk them to her room. And I usually pull half the class so as not to single anyone out.

So now, we have to have real meetings with real agendas and documented, because she was unwilling to meet with me for 2 minutes a day and do her job.

I was told that she seems to be more interested in the curriculum than in the students. I can appreciate that, but I am not a special ed teacher and don't want to switch roles for this class.

I try to do the best for each student and differentiate, but I have a general ed position NOT the special ed one and I shouldn't have to be the one to leave my room to take kids Godknowswhere in order to fulfill their IEP.

It's going to be a long year. Thank goodness the other 2 are reasonable, decent professionals.

Friday, September 18, 2009

out of the mouths of babes

What a week.

Mr. Ego continues to dig his hole, promising the students that the rest of us cannot do the math he teaches. It;s Advanced Algebra and Trig. Wow - that really helps anyone.

I wrote two kids up for skipping. I love their reasons for not being in my class. One said "I was in the library doing work for Miss A and Mrs. B. Technically, that's not skipping." My reply: you weren't in my room, you didn't ask for permission, I had no idea where you were. Technically, that is the definition of skipping.

Two: looking at the paper I take role on. "How could you tell I was skipping if that's how you take role?" I explained I take a paper copy - then enter it in the computer where I can see whether he has checked out or was present in his other classes. "I am never cutting your class again."

Wrote up a boy for taking his phone out and texting. He said it's my fault.

Wrote another up in the same class for the same thing. Then I look up and he has it hidden in his hat and is texting again. I asked if he really thought I was that stupid. He was both the third and 4th I caught today - I finally got fed up (since they are getting worse) and wrote them up. I will now get yelled out for having too many write ups.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another Jerky Colleague

One of the members in the department is telling his students that they should only go to him for tutoring as the rest of us are incompetent. I have tutored his kids before - he is very rigid in the way he teaches and only accepts certain ways of working problems.

The rest of the department is turning his kids back when they come for help and telling them they need to go see Mr. Ego.

I rather enjoy helping them (as I have in the past) and having them yell down the hall (oh, we are so subtle in my school): "I passed because of you!

Kids don't like him (because of his rigidity) - does he honestly think they won't tell teachers they like better? Not me, but there are some sweet (and competent) people in the department.

One of the joys of team teaching is teaching with someone you respect. My Buddy taught a problem in a way I wouldn't have (but got the right answer). Then I worked it - and we talked about our rationale for choosing the way we had. And that this gave them a way to check the answers. That was unplanned but fun!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Teachers as inconsiderate as students

We have to work football games - 5 athletic events during the year, so football, wrestling, swim team, take your pick. I did the football game. One of my peers (and I use the term in lieu of others that come to mind)spent the ENTIRE time on the phone. She made major errors adding her portion of the till up and then refused to recount, leaving it to the rest of us. And she stayed on the phone. I finally had to tell her to get off the phone or leave because I couldn't count with her TALKING constantly. She left rather than say to her friend that she had something to do.

And no, it wasn't an emergency - it was planning which movie she was going to watch with the friends the next day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday or full moon?

When is the full moon?

Had one kids get up and tell another teacher to get out of my room, another throw an airplane at a boy while I'm watching, and a third start talking about his death list - which contained the names of most of the kids in my 2nd period class.

My co=teacher announced what she was teaching and what I could do (how nice of her) and has changed several of my rules without any discussion. This is going to get old fast.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dialogue with a student

Klaus came in today, completely bent out of shape and said :I am disappointed in you!" "Why?"
K: You keep writing me up for having my pants low!!
R: So - pull them up.
K: It's not the 1940s!!
R: It is the dress code.

He then preceded to say he was writing the Board of Education. Fine. I wrote the addresss on the board and said spell all the words right. He said - I'm going to write it in slang. "OK - they will ignore you. He thought for awhile.

Then he said "I have a typewriter."

Really? I was quite impressed.

Yep, I have a computer.

Oh, you have a keyboard. (I guess I am still impressed that he had ever heard of a typewriter.)

He then had the following conversation with a friend in the class:

K: I am drinking a quart of water an hour.
Other Boy: When is your court date?
K: Tomorrow.
OB: When did you last inhale?
K: Two days ago.

Methinks that isn't enough water.

the boogers strike again

They took my notebook. They did it earlier than last year, but the boogers took my binder. The one with the work all worked out. Crap. Now I have to do it again.

The class that would not pay attention when I reviewed for a quiz had to review for a test. I told them that this should be an easy math class - and I love taxes - but if they want to talk and read books instead of listening to me, I have no problem with it. But they might have a problem with their grade. (Average grade on the quiz - 60)

They actually got quiet.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One ringy dingy

One of my students has been assigned 5 days suspension. I asked her why - for my phone, she says. I asked her if that was the same cell phone she'd been playing with for the past 15 minutes. (She blushed).

OK I could write her up and it would be another day or so - but why? That doesn't change her beavior or her learning.......

Another girl fight

And of course it has to happen at my door - again.

It isn't so bad that they have to cuss each other out first. I just wish they had a larger vocabulary. They seem to know one adverb - at least I think they are using the f word as an adverb.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Repeater class

I have 15 kids in a class who have been unable to pass Algebra 1 despite several attempts.

I have 3 who have passed it - in middle school - and passed geometry and algebra 2 since.

Since they passed it in Middle School, they don't have high school credit and have to retake it. I have been unable to come up with alternatives which would allow these three to succeed in a better environment. Like doing it on line. No go.

I am giving them the option of taking the chapter tests in the book at home in addition to what I do in class in order to earn better than a C. I am aiming the rest for a C.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"I'm not ready for this quiz"

Really? As a Junior, that is the appropriate thing to write on a quiz that was announced for a week?

There were two of them who wrote this.

When did this become appropriate?

Kids who don't come to school

I have 2 I haven't seen or have seen once in the past 3 weeks. It shouldn't surprise me (but it does) that I cannot reach their parents by phone. Maybe they moved and forgot to tell the school.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Students and choices

We've had a lot of kids out. Some have the flu (some are told it's swine flu), but at least two of mine are incarcerated. I noticed one has fallen off my roll and when I look at he enrollment history, he has been incarcerated some part of each of the last 4 years. I don't know what he did, but he obviously has made choices that will affect his life forever.

Another is on his second incarceration in his third year as a 9th grader.

Had a girl tell me she'll never pass because of the change in co-teachers. She is in her third year as a ninth grader as well. Her response to having a new teacher? Instead of working on a project in class it was to color advertisements for some band gig of her baby-daddy - something at least two other teachers have told her to stop doing this week.

I have three people in one class who choose to be late to class, skip - or just not come - this is for my repeater course. There is another boy in that class that I haven't even seen in 3 weeks.

And another who I have only seen once.

I will focus on the ones who come and the ones who try. But I will try to reach all of them.

Like POD has said - how do I teach them if they aren't there?

Ain't it wunderful?

I love it when you can introduce two of your friends and help one of them. (Both would be better, but that doesn't always happen).

One friend just got a job teaching at an alternative school - and I have another friend who has had a similar job for 4 years. Introducing them allows the one with experience to advise the other. And I love that!!

Especially when they are both great people who would enjoy each other under any circumstance!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yep Yep Yep

I still have 4 co-taught classes with two teachers, but they both are certified in math, and (more to the point) act like real adults with a job!! No more classroom discussions about babies and boyfriends (as in unwed mother) and tattoos led by the teacher.

The kids weren't thrilled but they'll get over it.

Loved the comment from one that now she won't pass because Ms. X isn't there to help her (do her work). Then she refused to do the project today, insisting on coloring something until I had to open the door because the sharpie was giving me a headache.

A boy came in late yesterday saying it was easy to skip with no administrators in the hall = and then was escorted into my class by the AP today (guess he found one).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

rumor mill

Rumor has it that they will rearrange classes AGAIN (we are at the end of the first month) so that the special education teachers teaching math classes will be the ones who are certified in math. Oh, pray that it is so!

I have two students in jail - hard to believe.

Today 2 skippers, yesterday 2 skippers. Something new for me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ups and downs

I truly believe that once you hit 50 you become invisible. Students don't see me or hear me - and my voice carries.

Today. one of my darlings was acting like a toad. He pulled out a phone, told me it was none of my business, not my turn to talk, etc. I called his mother and told her he is bright, capable of so much. He's a senior whose grades tanked last semester so he has to get back on track - and that if he does what I ask him to do, he'll have a high grade. And this is what he did today.

She wants what I want (good behavior and good grades). Old age and treachery beat youth and ingenuity.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to the drawing board.

Today I reviewed for a test on Chapter 1. Of the ones that tried, they struggle with order of operations and inequalities and solving equations. They could read bar graphs.

Talking to the department chair, I am thinking about changing direction/focus (sort of). Still do mostly graphing and solving equations but lower my expectations and see if I can jump start an interest in math. Who knows, maybe they will then start to learn some of things they've been offered and not accepted.

Maybe graphing pictures for a while - discussing slope, intercepts, etc while they color.

I say this after a day of drama (fight, accusations, arrest) so it seems reasonable now. I was complemented for not giving up - how is that for lowered expectations?