Wednesday, March 24, 2010

love being dean

the phys ed teacher told me this afternoon that the kids are scared of me.

no, that isn't my goal as dean. my current goals are that the kids comply with the school rules for the most part, student frustrations and fights are kept to a minimum, and that detention is restored as a viable threat, sought to be avoided.

in gym class today, the students were discussing that i suspend them just for saying "okay." bwahahahahaha. i'm really not that evil but i have very little tolerance for the students disregarding rules. there are certain students i'm willing to give an extra chance, but overall i have been suspending for simple offenses.

my feeling is if the students see they can push the boundaries with basic rules, it will only get worse. next year we are adding another 80 students to the school and i want to set a precedent for behavior.

i have already noticed a big attitude change in a couple of my repeat offenders. they're following the rules more and being more respectful in general. i'm also "insane" with my detention policy but this week uniform compliance has been at an all time (96% ) high since we first instituted the policy in 2008.

i also noticed that now i can walk into advisories in the middle of the day and get the whole class' attention within seconds of standing there. they are becoming so respectful, and it only took about a month!

in terms of my other goal, minimizing fights and frustrations, i try to pull kids out of class and talk to them when i notice or hear of the first hint of an issue. when i hear a child's name mentioned with a certain issue, even if only as a periphery figure, i still pull them to talk. i check in often and try to have many personal conversations with the kids. while i am known as being "super strict," at the same time i don't want to lose my softer edge and sacrifice the personalization most students need.

just as i'm still tweaking the way i balance my personality and teaching style, it will take time for me to find the perfect balance outside the classroom.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

awesome observation

i decided at 2:30am that today i would have the students design their own theme park rides.

i came up with a project proposal form in a matter of minutes and wrote up a lesson plan in less than 5.

why is it that my best ideas come to me at the worst possible times, and only take me minutes to write up and plan for? i should just sit down for 15 minutes a night and do what i need to do at normal hours.

so my class learned about disjointed inequalities today and practiced. then they proposed and sketched theme park rides of their own. they needed to impose height restrictions on their rides and make an inequality to represent it (and justify their reasoning as well.) tomorrow they will put their plans to chart paper and draw them up.

my kids had sooooo much fun with it, and i really got to see their personalities shine. they came up with some interesting and crazy ideas too. i look forward to seeing them finish tomorrow.

during my observation, i used 40 minutes for the warm up, mini lesson, practice, and discussions before group work. the kids were excited and engaged. two kids put there heads down and i woke them up with a bang. they debated the math, as well as semantics and meanings of words. they were raising their hands for every question. even my of the boat ELL student answered a question using her hands to simulate inequalities because she couldn't answer in english just yet.

from bell to bell i used every second and once we moved on to group work, the kids went right to it without any prodding. they did everything asked of them and i was able to wrap up with a couple of summary questions.

when i finished, the first word my professor said was "wow." i thought he was wowing the kids (they're a bit attitude-filled and feisty) but now, he was wowing that lesson. then he said "that lesson hit on everything i could ever want a teacher to do."

he went on to go through the lesson piece by piece and praise it. but i realized why it ended up being so good... the motivational hook. i never think too much about the motivations but my professor emailed me earlier this week reminding me that he would be looking at how i handle motivating my students. so yesterday and today i used the amusement park theme and drew in the kids from the first step.

i know that i need to really think hard so i can hook my kids with every lesson because it clearly works wonders. i just only wish my AP had stepped in, because he promised me he would pop in either today or tomorrow to observe.!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

i rocked out interdisciplinary studies

today i walked into school at 7:58 am with little idea of what i was going to be doing. we're learning inequalities and my kids are already good at solving multi-step ones so i couldn't exactly give them a whole period of practice.

i was reading about some of the best roller coasters in the world last night, and in a split second, a fantastic idea came to me.

i grabbed a few tape measures out of my closet and borrowed my neighbor's yard stick and proceeded to tell my class about an amazingly fast, tall, and intense ride called the "extreme horror coaster" in japan. of course i made up the name and pretty much all the details.

my kids were totally hooked, either they wanted to learn more and were listening intently, or they were horrified and completely silent while they took in the details.

little did i know this would be an awesome lesson which reviewed not only math with them, but some global studies, literacy, and biology as well.

i told them that because of the intensity of the horror coaster, riders had to be at least 66" tall. I armed them with measuring equipment and told them to determine whether they would be allowed on.

while they were measuring away (which is a skill they really needed the practice in) a colleague of mine happened to stop in to see what we were doing. when i told her, she mentioned he pingping, the shortest man in the world who recently passed away. she said she even had some copies of an article about him and she got them for me.

after they measured, came to conclusions, and drew up some inequalities, i handed out the article. we read and discussed it briefly. it even had a picture of both the shortest and tallest men together.

the class, who is currently in living environment, made the connection to the endocrine system and hormonal defects that cause dwarfism and gigantism!!!

then we came up with a ride that only pingping could go on (the choo choo train) and made an inequality for it.

then we decided the bumper cars would exclude both pingping and the tallest man for safety and comfort reasons and learned how to build a compound inequality with this information.

i'm getting observed tomorrow, and i want to come up with a good idea on how to continue with our amusement park inequalities (and perhaps some candy game,) preferably BEFORE i get into school to teach my first class tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

better week and tales from the darkside

sexual innuendo boy was suspended. after a conference with him, myself, and the guidance counselor, i think he's clear on the issue and extremely apologetic. i'm somewhat confident this won't happen again.

my lessons have been going well since friday. i'm practically going broke purchasing candy for the students, but this is the self dubbed "candy unit." the kids are eagerly spending the first 45 minutes of each class learning and working out problems, just for 10 minutes of the candy inequality game in which they hold up a number in the solution set of a given inequality. if they are correct, they get a piece of candy tossed to them and if they are incorrect, they get a paper ball thrown at them. they all see to enjoy the game, especially when kids get hit with flying paper balls.

so last week was really bad and this week is better. that's the nature of this profession...

my principal nominated me for the teaching fellows ACE award again this year. my second application essay was rushed, as I submitted it at 11:59pm on the due date. but my resume is significantly more extensive and i'm much more involved in my school this year, so it might help. i could really use the money, i don't even care about the faux prestige!

and now for tales from the dark side (aka dean's office):
-today, after inappropriately touching two girls, a male student grabbed an iron bar in science lab and modeled it as his own penis and thrusted into the air telling the science teacher "isn't this what you do when you go home at night?"
-another student threatened a teacher and tried to throw punches at him, only to be intercepted by security just in time.
- yesterday two female students got into a fight in the main hallway over facebook comments. one girl was pulling the other's hair and when a teacher tried to intervene, the other girl literally climbed over the teacher, bashing her face in.

i have an insane number of kids currently on suspension or removal from class, about 10% of the school right now. my AP told me it gets very bad in the spring and if we crack down in march, it will be easier buckle down and the kids on board with their regent's work in april and may.

i'm also completely revolutionizing the detention system with a ton of resistance from the students. they don't want to serve their time because they hate it, which is leading to multiple suspensions. the administration is fully behind me and feels that students will adapt to the new system with time, which will ultimately lead to less detentions and suspensions in general.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

how i know i'm *really* hated

i attended an inquiry meeting today instead of teaching (woohoo.) after a long day, i had to come back into work to catch up on some paperwork.

i walked into my classroom and almost started crying.

my box of crayons and markers was laying open and empty on a desk and the floor was covered with my uncapped markers, plus broken up little bits of crayons. and my floor was flooded with torn up little bits of paper, all coming from detention letters.

the kicker was that i know it couldn't have happened during advisory because the teacher that took over my advisory class would NEVER let the students leave the room looking like that. so i was able to identify that it was my 5th period class that did it-- which means they saved their detention letters for 2 hours in order to trash my room with them.

the sub isn't at fault at all. from what i can tell, she did a great job. i had her actually teaching my class something, at it seems that many of the students learned. something else i noticed when i walked in is that there were explanations and answers up on the board and textbooks all over so my classes were somewhat productive today.

but back to my trashed room... the initial shock wore off after about a minute and i started cleaning up. then a 10th grader (boy do i miss teaching those kids!) came in and when he saw the mess, he offered to clean my room in exchange for me knocking an hour off his detention, which i gladly accepted. (note to self: think of more duties i can have kids help me with in exchange for detention hours.)

lucky for this boy the janitor walked in about 3 minutes later so the job was easy. i profusely apologized to the janitor for the mess, but he was pretty rude to me. i understand why, but it still bothers me.

oh then my day got even worse. there's a relatively new boy in my school who has been completely disrespectful to me. i pulled him into the office to talk to him, tell him he's getting on my last nerve, that i'm willing to start anew with him, but next time he bothers me i'm not even going to give him a chance and i'll just suspend him...

so he seemed ok with everything. an hour later, when i left work he was waiting outside. he told me he wanted me to take him home with me and he wanted to be with me. asked if i had a husband, and other assorted nonsense. too bad he didn't do this in the school building because i would have sat him down, had him call his father and explain what he did, and suspended him for sexual innuendos.

i was nervous the boy was going to follow me home but he didn't.

i am calling his home tomorrow but i feel so goddamn defeated. EVERYTHING is getting to me! i think i'm more of a mess this week than i have ever ever been in my teaching career (all 18 months of it.) i am realizing though that my AP gets nearly as much crap from the kids as i do, but he lets it roll right off of him to the point where it amuses him-- and that discourages the kids. so i think i'll develop thicker skin from this, because i know myself and i always succeed at everything i try. i'll just have to adapt.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

i feel like running away

the students hate me this year. i went from most loved to most hated very quickly. i suppose that means i can be loved again but right now it's bugging me.

i'm under so much pressure at work. i feel like i'm letting things slip past me and maybe i shouldn't care so much but i'm used to being 100% on top of things and in control.

something i haven't discussed thus far in this blog is my personal life. i won't go into detail, but my marriage has been in turmoil for a long time and it very well might be ending. but right now i'm feeling tortured and scared.

every week it seems a new babysitter cancels on me and i'm now in jeopardy of failing my grad school class because of attendance issues, even though i have the highest scores in the class.

i want to stay home and cry and hide. seriously.

but i cant.

spring break is coming but it's no vacation. it just means getting up early and taking care of my children, all the while fighting with my husband. i'd rather be at work than on break.

i need to manage my time better and get in control. i'm feeling extremely on edge and vulnerable right now. and i know i'm probably biting off more than i can chew at work, but to make matters worse i'm desperate for the money. i gave up one per session posting (only 4 hours a month) but i can't afford to take on less at this point.