Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Courage of Teachers

LZ Granderson wrote an editorial entitled The Courage of Teachers on CNN.COM. The editorial is about the teachers in Moore, Oklahoma, and has a great couple of lines:
So yes, it is fiscally responsible for a community to talk about loss of tax revenue and budget deficits. But we ought to be careful not to vilify this profession while doing so. Teachers are not glorified babysitters with summers off. Their profession fuels all others, and on a normal day that is amazing enough in and of itself.

But on a day that's not so normal, we hope and pray that they are willing to do much more. And time and time again, in the face of terrible tragedies, we have learned that many of them do.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Six Word Saturday

(This year) I lost my sense of humor.

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Graduation was today and there was about 2 hours of just waiting around time. We had to be there but there was nothing for most of us to do.

Two of my hellions (nemesises - is that a WORD?, banes of my existence) kept bothering me. They wanted their grade. I wasn't going to give it to them. They asked me a dozen times each, they asked other teachers to look in the system (it wasn't there - I saved them for last), they asked teachers they didn't know to ask me. Everyone said no. Ricochet does not have to tell you.

They weren't doing this together (beats me why) but would come to me separately to ask. One started by calling the office and demanding that THEY make me tell. (The staff laughed) It wasn't constant but it was persistent.

They even called their mommies to come to school and make me tell.

Two moms said (basically) "Are you nuts? Leave Ricochet alone and come home." (Uh, students had already been sent home and only these piranhas were still circling the halls.

The third one came to the school at quitting time. Somehow I missed her. (Wasn't hiding, wasn't looking for her either)

I repeat. It is not a sign of maturity if you call mommy when you don't get your way.

My point?

This year I lost my sense of humor. The ability to laugh at them. As we stood around twiddling our thumbs, another victim, teacher of theirs explained you only have to be more annoying and then they lose it.

One can't stand it if you write anything down. I have written my grocery list when he was annoying me (in initials so he thinks I am writing in code.) She wrote down every protestation that came out of his mouth, especially when he started getting angry, and laughed.

I forgot to laugh.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My rights, your rights, our rights - and where are we headed?

A million years ago, as a new parent with a toddler, I went to a church class on parenting. Don't remember a whole lot about it, except for the issue of rights.

This was the late 1980s. The person leading the class started talking about rights. About how in the 1950s and 1960s the fight was for Civil Rights - ok, that fight started a lot earlier and lasted for a long time. (And isn't over.)

Then came the fight for women's rights (employment, sex, abortion - all those parts of the women's rights).

Then, right on the heels of that, gay rights. (Again - not done).

So, the children who grew up in the 1980s have that as a history: seeing all of these groups fight for their rights. The person leading this group, talking about my toddler and the other toddlers, said we should prepare ourselves for the idea that these children will grow up demanding their rights - without understanding what it means to the groups that came before them.

And we are there. I have kids tell me they have rights - the right to go to the restroom whenever they want (even when we both know it isn't the bathroom but wandering the halls that they want.) Or they have the right to text whoever, whenever. Or they have the right to be entertained in class. ("You need to make games, We need a fun project to do. When will I ever use this? Find something more relevant. You need to address my learning style.")

And no where in the discussion is responsibility. I can't do a project if you do not have the skills to do the project. When I do a game, only some participate.

And the talking. You cannot hear what is said if you are talking. And the responsibility for passing - why is it mine, not yours?

There is an upsurge now in talks about more vocational training and less of a push toward college. And there is an upsurge in the talk about increased length of adolescence.

But we can hand off things - until the people we are handing them to accept the responsibility - where do we end up?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Calling mommy isn't sign of maturity.

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Do not try to tell me that you are my most mature student when you pick up your phone and call mommy to complain about every slight.

On a side note, does this article show that our priorities are skewed?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jeff Bliss

I am sure by now you have all seen the video of Jeff Bliss as he lectures his teacher about how he is not engaged and she shouldn't hand out packets. of work.

We have not heard the teacher's side, but every parent around here is chiming in (again) with the idea that the horrible, lazy teachers need to be fired.

We don't know a whole lot about either side except that Jeff had dropped out and then returned to school and is older than the other members of the class. His mother is a teacher.

It may not be a huge leap that Jeff is gifted and under-preforms and hence is bored. We do know that he has already found public school not his cup of tea (he dropped out).

So, why is he getting all this press? Is it dump on teachers again?

I am really doubting myself this year. I have a group who regularly threaten me and disrupt the class. I can spend most of the class teaching - preparing them for the state tests and for the math ahead - only to have a group start yelling that I am not teaching THEM, I am not teaching. I am too old. I am evil - or hateful - or whatever.

They badger me if they disagree with a decision.

They threaten to go to the school board (oh, please - would you?).

Georgia is going to start basing a part of the teacher evaluation on student surveys. Do you believe you get an adequate evaluation of my ability by listening to the opinions of this group?

Do you think you get an idea of what I can teach looking at their test scores when they are willing to throw a temper tantrum during a test? Or they fall asleep during the state test, wake up, and answer B to every question? (Do your students tell you that if you don't know the answer you should answer B? Mine do. Wonder where they heard that. Probably the same place where they were told that x = 1. So 3x^3 + 2x^2 + 5 = 10.)

The video gives me more questions than answers. Personally I think Jeff Bliss is a jerk who should be in time out.

Algebra 2 not required?

Michigan is taking itself out of the they-must-take-algebra-2 track.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Six Word Saturday - early

When they bother you - think iron.

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And what is the symbol for iron? Fe. For forget 'em. (or words to that effect.)

How did these kids get the idea that whining, threatening, insulting will get you what you want? I told them that it is the fastest way for me to dig in my heels and get to Hell-No - and stay there. And right beyond Hell-No is I'll-be-blessed-if-I-ever-change-it-to-passing.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Talking at students

I sometimes (sometimes?) think students don't listen, regardless of how many times you repeat something that is important. That you TELL them is important.

Georgia changed its math curriculum AGAIN this year. So the decision was made to put the students who failed the (old) 9th grade math into the (new) 9th grade math. This way, if they didn't succeed at some later point, there will be a class for them to take. The old classes are phasing out. The 9th grade class is gone. The 10th grade class will be over by Christmas etc.

But Georgia is phasing it in the way it did the GPS classes. 9th grade this year. 10th grade in fall 2013. 11th grade in fall 2014. 12th in fall 2015.

So, these repeaters cannot take a course over the summer and catch up to their friends. There will be a 10th grade class in the fall - not an 11th grade course. (well, the 11th grade class will be the old program, and they are not compatible. Confused yet?)

We told them this almost every day the beginning of school, several times a month since - and I had the same discussion today.

What I really liked was when the kid enunciated each word carefully and used air quotes because I was too stupid to understand what he wanted.

I finally got him to understand that the 10th grade class will not be available this summer and the 11th grade class will not be available in the fall (whether you use air quotes or not).


He could double up in social studies or English and then have room for the math his Senior year.

(He could always listen to what I am saying the first dozen times.)

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Don't you hate it when you know what the the right thing is. And you know, just as strongly, that if you do the right thing, it just makes everyone's life harder?

I have a student, I will call her the Bad Seed. She is awful. Well, she may be ok. I will never know because her behavior poisons everything around her.

I love being lectured by her that I am incapable of managing a classroom when she is unable to be quiet and learn. I have written her up and she disappears for a day (maybe) and comes back worse.

She talks over me, threatens my job, interrupts tests, I cannot possibly give you an idea of what it is like to teach with her in the room.

She treats all of her teachers this way.

When I look at it objectively I think she has a learning disorder and she is attempting to cover it by being an asshole.

If I suggest she be tested, I know people will go along. I know if anyone looks at her and the results and her behavior it isn't a big leap that this child needs to be in special ed.

Here's the rub. She is incorrigible now. Under special education, there are real limitations on how much time the child can be given for out of class punishment.

Do I do what is right for this child at the expense of every other child in the classroom? Or do I leave this one behind?

One of the largest counties is backpeddling on Common Core

Cobb County, on of Georgia's largest counties, is now backpeddling on Common Core

I think we rushed into things because the resources aren't there but this is nuts.

But then I am still figuring out how a school says it wants rigor when it refuses to remove disruptive students from a class and allows students who are failing a majority of their classes to participate in a field day.

But I must be the one with delusions.

Six Word Saturday

May the Fourth be with you!

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