Only in a public school

See below.

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A picture is worth 1,000 words – if only they used their powers for good rather than evil….

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Ah the dreaded upcoming school year….

     Well there are only 7 more class days of summer school left.  Thank goodness.  I wish I had more than one week off inbetween summer school and the first day that staff members are required to report for duty on August 8th.  Of course all of my lofty goals for planning my 12th graders’ curriculum and having time to myself this summer haven’t even come close to happening.  Instead, I’ve been wasting 25 hours a week on this project of our CEO’s.  Whatever – I’ll do anything for an extra buck.  Speaking of extra bucks, normally I get all excited at this time of the year because once I go back to school I get my first check of the school year & get to see at least a little bit of a raise.  Due to the income tax raise & the miniscule ‘raise’ I was offered this year – I’ll be making the exact same amount for another full year.  Yay – I guess I can’t quit my second job.  Hopefully this year I won’t have to work a 3rd job again – because that really did make me homicidal.

     Things that I’m worried about for the upcoming school year:

  1. Does my school have a dean or a principal yet?  Last I heard – the answer was totally up in the air on both issues.  Without leadership – the whole ship sinks.
  2. Time/Schedule – if my preliminary schedule is correct (which I can only assume it is) I will be teaching 7, 45-minute class periods and have a 20 MINUTE BREAK – with a 30 MINUTE lunch.  20 minutes is no where close to what I need.  I have already quit all of my after-school clubs, etc because I will have a nervous breakdown by Christmas if this is truly my schedule. 
  3. Classroom dilemnas – I got told a week ago that I would have to switch classrooms.  AWESOME – because I totally hot-glue-gunned all of my stuff to the walls last year to keep everything fro perpetually falling off after I was told I wouldn’t have to move.  YAY!!!!  I’m going to have to call some ex-students and have them come in and help me.  This will be my 5th classroom is 10 years.  At least I’ll be across the hall from my BFF.
  4. Teaching a whole new curriculum to 12th graders – that I haven’t even remotely had time to begin getting together.  My goal was to write all of my unit plans & have my stuff together by August so I could use my planning time (all 20 minutes of it) effectively.

Oh well – yet another overworked, underpaid teacher.  See here for the argument that Congress should worry less about class size and more about teacher time to truly improve the education of America:  http://www.nettally.com/palmk/TeacherHours.html

     So after listening to kids in Chicago gripe about how “its too hot in here to work” and whining and crying about how “its torture to keep us in this hot little room”  during our most recent heatwave – apparently CPS has been getting a lot of angry phone calls from parents bitching a blue streak about how hot thier children are & how dangerous it is.  They’re claiming that school starts too soon in August for un-airconditioned schools, etc.  (One parent talked to me for 25 minutes yesterday about all the angry phone calls she planned on making about the issue).  I told her to please call, as mobs of angry parents are the only thing that will change the situation, as mobs of angry teachers complaining about fair working conditions are merely called selfish.  Today – I saw this awesome update from our brillant new fearless leader telling us all not to worry – that he bought us 1,500 fans.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-18/news/ct-met-cps-heat-20110718_1_heat-wave-summer-school-programs-cps

Thank goodness!  CPS actually has like a million classrooms so I’d like to see how those fans get divided up.  If any of them even end up in classrooms and not conference rooms or offices or administrators.  I brought my own A/C unit for summer school and it barely helps (as it isn’t really meant for a room that is as big as the room that I’m currently teaching in).  I have it ghetto rigged up with 2 fans in front of it blowing the cold air out of it as fast as possible.  It keeps you from passing out if you stand in front of it for a minute or so.  Truthfully though, aside from this week – with its’ record-breaking heat, summer school hasn’t been THAT hot.  I’m grateful because being in a room with 30 sweaty adolescents can wear on even those of us with no sense of smell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hilarious things that kids do/say:  This child decided she needed to respond to the title of our quiz:

   I may sound bitter – but I love my job.  And it’d be awesome if the economy got better – so that if I stopped loving it I could find something else to do with my Master’s degree from a top university.  In the meantime, I’m going to continue laughing hysterically at the  funny and weird things kids do.  (Including but not limited to being a 12-year old boy who comes to class with a huge hole in the crotch of his pants and refers to it as ‘the snake den’).

If you have some money (which neither I nor my school district does)  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider donating to my donorschoose project.  I’m only $358 away from a way to help my students.  I’d buy them everything that we need myself – but I’ve already spent $500 on students that I haven’t even met yet for next year. 

http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=587075

Someone out there – other than my mom – must be willing to donate a few bucks!  I’ll love you forever and thank you publically.

Yet MORE reasons teaching summer school sucks….

So – not to brag, but when it comes to King Arthur, I’m sort of an authority. I’ve always loved King Arthur, Robin Hood, and any other ‘legend’ type of story. So when I found out that I needed to teach different types of literary genres at some point during summer school, I started looking for worksheets on the topic that would be easy to print and go over together in class. (Keep in mind it’s a 5th grade lesson & they are 7th graders) Lo and behold – I found this awesome website: http://www.ereadingworksheets.com/genre/genre-worksheets/

So while browsing through said awesome website – I see one that has an example about Robin Hood – score! Everyone loves Robin Hood! Print, copy, assign as a question on their Summer School Midterm. Well I just finished grading their midterms and the overwhelming majority of students got the question wrong. What’s hilarious is that they all put the same wrong answer: The Story of Robin Hood is a Non-Fiction Autobiography.

REALLY!!!! HOLY SHIT THAT IS AWESOME!!!! I WISH I HAD ALWAYS KNOWN THAT ONE OF MY CHILDHOOD HEROES WASN’T ACTUALLY EXAGGERATED INTO LEGEND – BUT WAS AN ACTUAL
FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT WRITTEN BY THE MAN HIMSELF!!! AWESOME!

Which brings me to really get to thinking – which version is the real one, that according to my students – actually wrote down the tales of himself and his Merry Men?

Is it:

A. Kevin Costner in ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’

B. Animated Fox in Walt Disney Film

C. Errol Flynn in good ole black & white

D. Did they think it was ‘robbin’intha’hood’ & was some random dude in their neighborhood?

My personal favorite point – The actual correct answer (fiction, legend) was on the study guide that they were allowed to use on the test – IN BOLD PRINT. But hey – that’s cool. Breaking news – Robin Hood is real and wrote down his story himself. Then he hired Kevin Costner to play him. I always knew Allan Rickman was old, but geez he was casted by Robin himself in the year 1250 AD. He looks good for his age. And I have to laugh about this because if I don’t laugh it makes me want to cry – or cut out my heart – WITH A SPOON!!!!

I must be the best teacher ever. They also all thought that the example about human clones teleporting through space was Historical Fiction. But we won’t get into how sad I am that our culture has somehow forgotten how to teleport or how to build the technology to do so. Beam me up before I get too delerious….

Why teaching summer school sucks

Where I work – summer school isn’t some optional enrichment thing for kids that are bored or looking to learn – its basically a 6-week long detention. You get assigned summer school if you’ve received 3 or more F’s in a single subject on your yearly report cards, have too many absences or tardies, or fail the 8th grade required research paper project. Since our school has 5 campuses, all of the summer school classes are at one particular campus. Therefore, I have kids from 3 different schools in each one of my summer school classes. On the one hand, its nice because I don’t have to deal with only the same old kids – I get to meet some new ones. On the other hand, since some of them don’t really know me they don’t take me seriously. So summer school lasts from 8:30-11:30. During that time I have 2, 90-minute Humanities classes (they combine History/English so as to only pay one teacher and only have one summer school class). From 8:30-10:00 I teach the class of 6th graders, and from 10-11:30, the 7th graders. I was actually really dreading the 6th grade class, since I taught most of those little cherubs all year long. Oddly enough, the kids that I know are basically behaving perfectly. The 6th grade class is a dream. They’re all really sad and embarassed that they have to go to summer school – they’re terrified because they’ll repeat 6th grade if they fail my class – and are getting the work done without much complaint.

Now for the 7th graders. HOLY ASSHOLES IN A HANDBASKET BATMAN – THEY ARE THE BIGGEST PRICKS I’VE EVER TAUGHT – IN MY ENTIRE 10 YEARS!!!!!

Ok so now that that’s out of the way – their behavior is a nightmare. Instead of realizing that if they don’t pass – they repeat – They are using every excuse in the book to not work, be disrespectful, get in trouble, and be stupid. Within the past week I have kicked at least 15 students out at one point or another for things as banal as talking during a quiz (they never ever shup up – ever – test or not), throwing things, fighting, name-calling, talking back, saying the student-teacher has a “a nice fat apple bottom ass”, telling me my class is a “bogus-ass slaveship”, threatening me, or my personal favorite – insulting my hair. Like I really care about the opinion of a 15-year old 7th grader who needs quite a bit more conditioner herself.

Think back to when you were in school. There’s always that ONE or TWO kids in a class that is a total asshole. They’re defiant, rude, distracting, irritating, etc. Imagine 32 kids like that in the same room at the same time. They almost don’t know what the Hell to do with themselves. They aren’t used to having to compete with bigger assholes than themselves – so they’re really flying their brightest colors during summer school. Wow.

Thankfully, I’m not a parent. I don’t think I could come home and deal with seeing a child for a few hours after dealing with that hour and half of torture from those kids. They haven’t made me cry yet – mostly because I know that most of them will fail my class and repeat the 7th grade – and I don’t teach 7th grade so I won’t have to deal with their attitudes next year.

It makes me SO ANGRY how old some of these children are too. How are you 15 years old and still in the 6th or 7th grade? You are supposed to be a sophmore in high school when you’re 15 years old. I was finished with driver’s ed and driving my mom’s van on a permit for the majority of my sophomore year.

I feel that kids that are held back even ONCE are mostly a result of poor parenting. How can your child FAIL A GRADE unless you did nothing to help them all year long? WHY are you not sitting there checking his/her homework? Why are you not PUNISHING THE HELL OUT OF THEM when they get into trouble? Why are you being their friend? UGH! I think that if you/your child suck that you should be REQUIRED BY LAW to attend parenting/conduct workshops WITH YOUR CHILD. But no – instead we allow parents to be crappy, blame the schools, hold them back, send them to summer school – and let them all hang out together in the same room – taking turns picking on & threatening each other & their teachers – and learning new teachniques on how to be an asshole.

Your child should not have perfectly manicured nails and designer jeans if they don’t do their homework. Your kid should not get their hair done in $200 microbraids if they got suspended from school, your kid should not have an xbox if they are disrespectful to you, your kid should not have a cellular phone that YOU pay for – period – unless they drive a car. When your kid screws up – and you do nothing about it – ALL of your child’s future screw ups are your fault as a parent. When did parents become such wimps? If my teacher called my mother at work and told her “Your daughter told me that my classroom is like a slave ship and that she hates me” – my mother would have taken away any possibility of me enjoying my life until I had apologized – then punished me a little more – so I never did it again. She certainly wouldn’t have asked the teacher, “So what did you do that made him so mad at you?” I just don’t understand what has happened to parenting. Many people now treat their pets like children and their children like accessories. Gwyneth Paltrow named her child APPLE and her DOG JAKE for goodness sakes.

There’s a reason that South Korea and China are kicking our asses academically. They treat their teachers like respected professionals – not enemies that are merely babysitters – and their children like CHILDREN.

You get what you pay for America. And we’re going to be paying for these lax attitudes in about 20 years when our kids can’t read, spell, be responsible, live on their own, hold down jobs, or be respectful. And we’ll see how awesome it is when bratty, entitled, illeterate people are the ones responsible for caring for us while we’re in our nursing homes. Better get used to sitting/laying in your poop now – because we haven’t taught this generation how to care for themselves well – not to mention others.

Summer time – for Chicago teachers the living’s not easy….

     So sadly, I’ve been too busy to get around to this little blog.  But now that another school year is behind me I feel like there’s tons going on.

     So at work – the last day of school was bittersweet.  Most of my amazingly awesome team is leaving for other/better positions at better schools, or better-paying schools.  As a founding teacher, its hard to see my teammates leave – especially when I wished so hard to join them in the exit this year.  Unfortunately, I had 3 really huge hiring let-downs this year – meaning that unless I want to be homeless – I am stuck where I am.  Oh well – c’est la vie.  So what am I doing this summer?  That’s right – since I desperately need money and my boyfriend is still not working (yay economic crash), I’m teaching summer school.  FUN!!!!

There’s nothing like getting 30 kids who all have behavior problems and putting them into one hot, sparse classroom all summer long.  I planned it to be as easy as possible for them to pass – so what happens?  Most of them have failed the first 2 quizzes.  I haven’t started putting the grades into the gradebook yet – but I plan on doing all of that tomorrow.   So far 3 kids have been expelled.  I’m hoping by the end of this week the numbers will be down even further so its more manageable.  (They only get to mess up a couple of times before they’re expelled – if expelled they have to repeat the grade they failed).  So let’s talk about expulsions.  Here’s what happened to the first kid.  1)  He rides his bike to school & forgets his lock – so he asks the school office if he can store it there until the end of the day & is obliged.  2)  He forgets that he rode the bike to school & wants to ride a bike home.  3)  He steals someone else’s bike outside of the school & gets caught.  (You don’t get assigned to summer school for being a genius.  The second kid to get expelled was talking back in class, & sent to the summer school principal’s office – where she talked back to him while he called her mom.  When mom came up to the school she refused to leave or speak normally & ran off – then when the security guard brought her back to the front she screamed in the security guard’s face and called her “hey goofy don’t touch me”.  You give a kid a second chance to pass a grade – they take a mile….

I’m trying to spend my summer losing weight since I have little time during the school year to get in the hours that I actually need at the gym during the school year. 

I try to not watch the news at all – since teachers are getting slammed in the news all over the place.  For those of you who don’t live in Chicago – the new CPS CEO (who is totally unqualified & was fired from his last job – and isn’t even a product of the American educational system) is totally insane.  He cut the 4% raise Chicago Public School Teachers were told they were getting – 2 days after giving all the higher-ups a raise.  If you’re saying that you had to cut teachers’ raises because of the budget crisis – most teachers would have understood.  They would have taken the hit lying down for the betterment of our students – but then you raise the salaries of the people that sit in offices making schools suck more?  In front of them?  And expect teachers not to be pissed off?  RIGHT.

So check out this great idea – he wants to take away teachers’ professional development days & put kids in the classroom on those days – which would be OK.  If I wasn’t required by law to accumulate 120 hours of professional development every 5 years to keep my teaching certification.  Are you going to pay me to go get my PD somewhere else?  Are you going to give me more days off per year to get those hours taken care of?  Of course not.  Because it’s greedy of me to expect that.

Get ready for the best part.  He wants teachers to do MANDATORY home visits.  Really?  Because a lot of the parents of students that I have refuse to come to parent teacher conferences.  Or they make appointments and don’t show up.  Or they live in neighborhoods that I wouldn’t go to even if I was being paid (which I assume that I wouldn’t be since this is supposed to take place on my own time?)  I’m not saying I’m totally against the home visit thing – IF I’M WANTED.  Many of my students’ parents are confrontational about education.  Or they are absent.  Or they are too disengaged from their child’s lives to even remember my name.  Safety issues aside (everyone loves walking into strange buildings in gang-ridden neighborhoods right?), let’s talk about just being respected.  Am I going by myself?  Will an administrator be with me?  What’s the point of just showing up?  At least at the school I have the ability to end a conversation when the things that I need to cover are taken care of.  In someone’s private home, you have little to no control over the situation.  You can be interrupted by any number of things (hold on my phone is ringing, hold on my kid is puking, hold on the neighbors are screaming, etc).  Plus, if the family feels even for an instant ashamed of their home or belongings or neighborhoods, etc  it could actually DAMAGE the professional relationship that you’ve already had and maintained with them for half of the school year.  People are proud.  Anywho – check this douche and his ridiculous ideas out:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/24/brizard-emanuel-suggest-c_n_883976.html

That being said – I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most phenomenal, talented, caring, amazing teachers that are in the entire business of education.  And it’s crap like THIS that is making them leave the profession – go on to jobs where they get a modicum of respect and make double the money.  We need to realize that the crappier that we treat the people who see our children more than their parents, we need to realize that the people who are the best in the business need to be held onto – treated with the professional respect they deserve, make a living wage, and do whatever we can to KEEP THEM IN THE PROFESSION.  Not do as much as possible to chase them out of the profession.  In no other profession can you work 60+ hours a week, have a masters degree, and be treated like absolute garbage on a daily basis. 

To all of the teachers who are great at their jobs who are dealing with all this crap that has NOTHING to do with teaching your students – I feel you.  And to all of the crappy teachers who have the good jobs in the good districts – PLEASE GOD RETIRE SO I CAN GET A DECENT JOB!!!!!!