Friday, March 27, 2009

8th Graders

I really like teaching 8th graders. They're more mature than 7th graders and I've been able to give them more challenging lessons successfully than 7th graders. Plus, they're not 7th graders. Don't get me wrong, Ive had some great 7th grade students and classes, but they're just wacked out as a rule. It's all those hormones raging through their bodies, they discover the opposite sex in a big way. They're happy one second and mad the next. Grown up one minute and a 3rd grader the next. And don't get me started on the drama, er D-R-A-M-A. It makes Desperate Housewives look like Dora The Explorer. Spare me, please.

Now 6th graders are just too immature for me, they're too clingy and needy. Plus it takes them pretty much a whole quarter before they even get the hang of middle school, and generally speaking you can't challenge them with lessons like you can 8th graders. Thanks but no thanks.

I'll take 8th graders any day of the week. The hormones have settled down some and they have a better sense of self, not to mention they really want to get out of middle school, especially here in NV where middle school is 6th-8th grade.

Next week I am going to start doing some teaching in my English classes. We're doing "To Kill A Mockingbird" and it's going pretty well so far. We'll see if it lasts.

Finally I got my confirmation from NSC for graduation. After 6 long years, I'll finally have a four year degree. And if I get an A in my Lit Theory class, I'll graduate Magna Cum Laude. Go me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


After literally a week, I'm finally back in a classroom. I'll be dealing strictly with 8th graders this time which I can deal with. But here is the ironic part. Two of my new students know two of my old students, in fact one of my new students is related to an old one. Wait until I tell my friend at the old school that one!

There is one thing that I really miss though, and that's the laptop. It sucks not being able to sit in bed and work while my better half is relaxing, and it really sucks having to share a computer with the family.

But hopefully I'll be able to afford my own laptop this year.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Waiting Game

So it's been almost a week since I've been inside a classroom interacting with kids, and I'm really ready to start teaching again. This enforced vacation that I have been on is not relaxing in the least. However, my professor told me that he was merely waiting on news as to which teacher I'd be pestering, er torturing, er working with for the next several weeks. The school is about the same distance from my house as my previous school although I have to backtrack a little bit due to the location of daycare but it's not a huge deal. At least I'll be teaching again and not sitting around the house feeling sorry for myself.

Also can someone please explain why 'Crime & Punishment' is considered to be such a great novel?


Friday, March 20, 2009

A Fresh Start

So I thought that last week was a challenge, boy was I wrong. Monday morning I had a verbal confrontation with a student that turned ugly. This student butted in where he was not wanted and totally lost his temper when I told him to go away. Eventually he managed to push the big red button and I lost my temper as well. I had a meeting later with my principal about what happened and figured that it was resolved as did the principal.

Tuesday afternoon I get a call from the chancellor of the school telling me that she had heard of the incident and that until her investigation was complete I was banned from the campus. So I go from getting ready to graduate and lesson planning and all that to looking at a teacher career that was about to come to a screeching halt. To say I was shocked would be the understatement of the year. And it wasn't just me, my cooperating teacher and the principal were both shocked and in the case of the principal, really angry that the chancellor felt the need to investigate what had happened. I think he was also angry that she was usurping his authority in what he thought was a private, not to mention closed matter.

So Wednesday passed and I found out that my inquisition er interview would take place Thursday at 1pm, at which point I would be able to tell my side of the story, then finally learn my fate.

So after a 2nd sleepness night, I arrived at the school to tell my tale and attempt to save 6 years of work. I arrived at the school and flanked by my principal (who fought very hard for me) and my adviser from Nevada State College, I told my side of the story as honestly and accurately as possible. I explained what led up to the incident and as much of the incident as I could, because most of it was a blur.

After that was over, I got a call from my advisor who explained that my career was not in jepordy and that I would finish my 'student' teaching at another school. I put the '' around student because in reality I had been teaching there since the first day of school, and in no way shape or form was I a typical student teacher because I took over a class that had no teacher until a replacement could be found so my 8 weeks was more like a semester and a half, literally. The reason that I am going to switch schools is to give me a frest start. To say I was stressed would be another large understatment, try teaching two subjects, go to school and try to be a dad and husband all at once. So going to a school were I could just observe and help out is going to be nice, even if it will be unpaid. We do have a bit of money saved up so we should (with God's help) be OK until the summer.

So today after school I went to turn in my laptop, badge, key, etc and collect my belongings. I arrived right after school let out to talk to the chancellor and get my fingerprint reports and I got mobbed by my (sadly) former students. They all came to say goodbye and to wish me luck at my new school. The chacellor was very nice and told me what a hard decision it was for her to make and that if there was anything she could do for me to let her know. She then told me she could see how much I cared for the kids and that my next school would be lucky to have me.

I also got to see some of my colleges on the way to my room. The principal and some of my students (funny how I can't bring myself to say former) had boxed up my belongings to make it easier for me. Some of my students also wrote me letters saying how unfair it was that I was leaving because they were misbehaving. (Hopefully that lesson will stick, mess with the good teachers enough and they may leave for greener pastures!) One asked me for my lava lamp (It's at home) and reading them brought tears to my eyes. They'll go on the wall by my computer with the letters from previous teaching stops.

What I could not believe was how much stuff I brought home with me. 1 packback, 1 office depot bag and 4 paper boxes worrth of books, lessons, posters, coffee cups and more. And that was just from the middle of August to today! I did leave a few books for three students who need to be reminded to put the books away until they finish their work. A good problem for an English teacher!

I will find out early next week were my next school will be. I'm sad that I won't be able to finish the year where I was but I am thankful I can still teach. Which brings me to why I won't finish at the same school. There are two reasons actually. The first is that I'd be second guessing myself everytime I try to correct a student's misbehavior. After all I'd been suspended once, the second time I'd be done both there and as a teacher. Secondly, for the rest of the year I'd be 'the teacher who got suspended'. And when there are only 190 middle school students everyone would know who I was and it would seriously inhibit my ability to teach.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Too many balls in the air, to many things going wrong at the same time, to many stupid mistakes on my part, be back later.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Worst. Day. Ever.

Somebody remind me why the f*** I became a teacher would you? It's a good thing I have a co-teacher because I would have gotten myself fired today because of the way I was treated by my students. I tried from 8:00 to 8:07 to get my first class settled down so they could watch a movie and they refused so I said no movie. Then they got all indignant and asked for a class discussion, which went nowhere. They were telling ME that I had to be more respectful to THEM, as if I were the student and they were the teacher. I did my best to answer them, but of course they reverted to form and it was so bad the principal had to come and talk to them. I am so sick of getting rescued by my principal I could throw up.

Plus the kids actually got a treat today, they got to watch a movie to celebrate the end of the CRT tests and they screwed that one up as well. I was so mad that I literally had to leave the room for about 20 minutes and vent.

I refuse REFUSE to kiss the backside of a seventh grader just to get them to sit down and shut the hell up. Boy are they in a for a surprise on Monday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

131 million and counting....

That's how much non gaming money my city has lost in the last 90 days. As the Las Vegas Review Journal reports "Forget apology-seeking letters. Maybe Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman should send President Barak Obama a bill."

A couple of notes to the 'enlightened' one:

1. Spitting in the face of a state that voted for you in the last election, especially one that relies heavily on tourism and the convention trade is very very stupid, especially considering that the same state voted for Bush the last two elections. You're costing the state jobs and once the GOP rightfully pins the blame on you for this, good luck in 2012...

2. Conventions help both businesses and customers, not to mention the cities and states that host them. I should know, I've been on all three sides of the equation and it's a great way for companies to get new products and services in front of customers.

Of course I'm sure it's much easier blaming Rush Limbaugh for your issues than looking in the mirror, but you may want to think about things like this before you speak without your teleprompter.

Monday, March 09, 2009

CRTs: AKA Uber High Stakes Tests

The CRTs (Criterion Referenced Tests) are what the Silver State uses to see if the schools are making AYP (adequate yearly progress) in regards to NCLB (No Child Left Behind). Today was our first of 4 days (6 for the 8th graders) of fun testing. Today and tomorrow are the math tests, Wednesday and Thursday are the English tests and next Monday and Tuesday are the science tests.

Now the nice thing was that our students didn't seem super stressed by them, probably because they've already taken so many tests similar to this one, and because although we've told them the CRTs were coming, we as a staff didn't freak out about the tests and this was passed on to our students. We did have them review one from 2006 so they would be used to the wording, and we did make sure our lessons applied to the standards the CRTs were going to be testing, but freaking out was not in the plans.

I have mixed feelings about NCLB. I like the fact that schools are accountable for all of their students regardless of grade or ability, but I don't like the all or nothing tone of the law, nor do I like the fact that eventually all schools will fail to make AYP, especially once you get a vast majority of your students making AYP, because there is no way 100% of your students will make AYP no matter how much the school rocks. Imagine being in a school were you have 75% or more of your students making AYP and yet getting put on the watch list because you didn't improve from the year before or that your scores went down a bit. And spare me the righteous BS about educating everyone. That assumes (a BIG assumption) that your students are ready and capable of learning, and that (an even bigger assumption) those parents are on board with you as well. I'm all for accountability but at some point reason has to prevail, but like so many other things the federal government does, reason never entered the equation.

I'll keep you posted on the rest of the week. Maybe I'll be able to finish my unit on Letter From a Birmingham Jail, now that the copier has toner AND staples. I swear the kids eat the handouts when I'm not looking. No wonder their backpacks weigh 800 pounds...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Calling home

It's one of my least favorite things to do as a teacher. I really dread the thought of ruining some kids week, but at the same time these same kids need to know that I am in charge and that when you don't do as I ask that consequences follow. So yesterday and today I made phone calls, lots of them. I hate to admit it but some of them are LONG overdue but hopefully the kids will show up on Monday with a better attitude, because I am sick and tired of the whole 'persecution complex' where the student thinks that they're somehow being persecuted because I asked them to face the front (gasp), tuck in their shirts (the horror!), and actually stop talking (OMG!) so I can conduct a lesson.

Now it was not all bad, I did get to make a few of the 'good calls' where I got to tell a parent how hard their kid was working on their behavior, or their missing work, or both. Those calls I love and I wish I could make them more often, my fear is that the kids will start to backslide and I'll have to get their TVs pulled from their room, their cell phones yanked and the switch pulled off the tree.

I just wish some of these kids were a bit faster on the uptake...