Sunday, November 19, 2006

Welcome Baby Girl!

Something rather unusual (at least in our family) happened yesterday. Our first granddaughter was born! I am a mother to 3 sons and 2 grandsons, but yesterday the first girl born! Her middle name is the same as mine and my mother's (Sue) and her nickname will be my maternal grandmother's first name Lena!

She entered this world just prior to 6 pm, weighing 6 lbs. 8 oz, 19 3/4 inches in length with a head full of hair. I think she's beautiful, so does her other grandmother and her "Paw-Paw", her brother, her daddy, her mother, and anyone else who has seen her.

Yes I've already bought her some books! It was a great way to start the Thanksgiving break!

On a secondary note, the Chap stick kid has transferred out of my class! Two students chose to transfer in (due to an overcrowded class) I've had 3 new students assigned to me. So far my educational miracles for the year have been to see several students who did not like to read, read enough to get their Accelerated Reader points and have carry over! Another student asked if he could be a student aide for me! I was delighted.

Also I am reading Kelly Gallagher's books Deeper Reading & Reading Reasons. Both have given me a shot in the arm especially for my class of apathetic students!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I'll play along too

Found on Mindful Teacher.

Wanna play? It's simple. Copy, paste and if you've done it, bold it.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumpedIt was a reverse bungee, called catapaulting!
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in

Saturday, November 04, 2006

This Week and Other Complications

Friday was not a good day with my last two classes. I was so frustrated I was ready to start swearing! I mean seriously swearing like a drunken sailor. Just the usual, not following directions, coming to class unprepared, kids wanting to be a lump. And then today, I spent an hour and a half trying to track down a med sent through the mail. I had a fit on the phone with about 6 reps from the mail order pharmacy, and the med was here in the house. LB put it in a safe place and didn't tell me it had come. I am so humiliated, I feel ill.

So I've come to confess my sins openly. Oh! And this Friday is my yearly observation, it will be done by our new Asst. Principal. He's the same age as my son! I'm feeling overwhelmed, humiliated, and sick. I might be coming down with a bug. Sometimes I get so frustrated I hyper myself until I become sick. I seriously am feeling "puny" They say confession is good for the soul and I guess I feel better.

No, it's that feeling of wanting to do everything right and good and falling FAR short of the mark. It's not like I'm obsessive-compulsive. I'm not a neat freak. You should see my desk and my living room, kitchen etc. Wait, maybe you shouldn't, I'd rather you think I'm a bit better than that.

I know the holidays are upon us and I have that to deal with. I don't like the changes that will happen with our Language Arts dept next year. I want to feel rested and I don't. Yes I am sleeping, no I am not eating well, because I'm trying to lose weight. It's not that I don't well, I just don't eat much.

What I really feel is powerless, and impotent. I feel my choices are being taken away. Like the pharmacy thing. I have used a local pharmacist for years! I would have remembered filling the prescription. LB was the one who got the mail that day and forgot to tell me. I know it's not a big thing, but I don't like the mail order pharmacy. Sure I could use the local pharmacy, but then I would be paying the full price of the med, which is ridiculous as anyone who has had a prescription filled recently can attest to.

I have one class that frustrates me so much. It's as if some one put all the apathetic kids in one class. Sadly it seems as if all the 6th periods at my school are that way. I've tried everything I can think of, bothered others to get input and finally arranged for the counsellor to talk with them. The bottom line is they don't care. Counsellor offered a movie and popcorn party if they started showing improvement! Right, like that will happen.

Here's another good one. I recently had a conference with both Mum and Daddums, their primary concern was their child be allowed to put on chap stick in class as the "Chap stick Kid" henceforth known as KC, because that child has lips that chap easily! Also the aroma of my class bothers KC. I have a candle warmer in my room and use a cinnamon candle. I read some research stating that cinnamon helped to stimulate the brain.

I told the parents, regular chap stick no problem, but makeup is a problem. Care to guess who had a makeup mirror out to tend to her face??? Mums and Daddums had told her that was okay.

Okay I guess that I have ranted enough. I hope my next blog is much happier. By the way, how was your week?

A big thank you to TMAO of Teaching in the 408 After I read his blog, reality slapped me in the face and maybe my week wasn't as bad as I thought.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Super Teacher

Today I felt like Super Teacher! This is what I did. I spent the morning doing number crunching for a report about how well my classes did on a practice achievement test. I do mean all morning! Then I wrote lesson plans for a sub as I will be attending a workshop tomorrow, actually it's a weekend workshop and I'll be driving 6 hours to get there, and we start after dinner!!

The Alternative Placement Center (for long term placements) emailed me and they allowed my student to take the work home (They are NOT supposed to do that!) so I redid 4 weeks worth of assignments, for said student. I have two students who will be in our on campus APC tomorrow, so I had to prepare assignments for those two.

I also submitted grades for progress reports and placed a book order.

The students? You are wondering what the students did, while I did all that? They did a "cold reading". They had two stories to read and answer questions, but they could not ask for assistance! Just like achievement testing! OY!

After I got home my principal called to tell me I had neglected to write how I intend to address the scholastic short comings of some of my students. We bantered a bit and I spouted off a few ideas I had. And as I was doing that I could clearly see a scene from Norma Rae.

It's that scene where her husband is complaining that nothing is getting done at home. So she throws something in a pot and says, "You want cooking? You got cooking!" Then she throws some clothes in the sink, turns on the water and says "You want washing? You got washing!" Then she runs to the ironing board turns on the iron and begins to iron, and says "You want ironing? You got ironing! Now if you hitch up my nightie, we can make love too!"

I swear I think I met myself coming as I was leaving the building!

I want to teach, not dissect reports about who is what minority, or economic level. I want to teach to get their brains engaged and there is so much paper work to do, I frequently think I'm not a teacher. All this number crunching makes me really grumpy!

Plus the very threatening student, who was sent for 20+ days to APC, returned after successfully serving only 5 days! That Child, aka TC, was disrupting their program. TC REFUSED to enter the assigned class! Seriously pitched a fit and refused to enter the room. TC spent the day sitting in the office waiting for the principal to return. When Principal returned, TC continued to sit. TC will soon be returning to my classroom! I am so thrilled (NOT)

I am feeling so overwhelmed it is not funny! I'm going to start singing "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Nobody knows my sorrows."

That's how my day went, how was yours??

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

School Shooting

I am really bothered by this most recent school shooting. Maybe because 3 in one week is too much to bear. Maybe because this one was so random. Whatever the reason, I am feeling the same type of emotions I felt after Columbine.

I had not owned a cell phone until Columbine. Two days after Columbine I had a cell phone and a plan for my students. Strangely one class asked what we would do in similar circumstances. I told them and they said they felt better knowing something was planned.

My classroom setup at this school, is entirely different, and I don't know what I would do. I know what the district plan is, and what the plan is if someone came on campus. But I don't have a plan for my room. That bothers me.

I am bothered to think that a plan is needed. I am bothered that a peaceful and law abiding people, the Amish, were the victims of such an attack.

If I though a good cry would help, I'd cry.

I became a teacher with hopes of being able to help shape the future. I am now a teacher who hopes a survival plan will not be needed. I've heard that if one is prepared, one should not fear. I don't know how to prepare for this. I DON'T WANT TO PREPARE FOR ANYTHING LIKE THIS. I know I need to be prepared.

So my fellow educators, how do you feel? Maybe if we talk to each other, some of our fears will be dispelled. This blog is my safe place to be open about these fears. I hope that you reading this will feel a safe haven to share your thoughts.

As an after thought I'll post the URL to my classroom blog. Just in case you want to read what the kids are thinking.

Friday, September 29, 2006

It's been a week!

That is really what I meant, it's been one heck of a week. It had it's ups and ended on more of a down note.

My 7th grade class has read the poem IF, by Rudyard Kipling. You know If you can do this you will be a man my son. Yeah that one! They did NOT get it! I was frustrated and they were frustrated. I had an idea. We broke into groups and each group had to "translate" one stanza into "their" language. That went surprisingly well. Next idea, make them write their own version, but use the ending phrase responsible adult. WOW! Most of them blew me away. I read each version aloud to the class and they were impressed with each other.

My 8th graders read Brer Possum's Dilemma, and a brief article about crime scene investigation. They then had to evaluate the crime scene for poor Brer Possum. I was amazed and all but one class did very well. In that class only 1 student came prepared. Of course that was the day we all got emails about the high failure rate.

I emailed my principal about that one class and was basically blown off. Our failure rate should only be 12%. For some students, mine is the only class they are not passing. I'm very old fashioned, I want the kids to think and write and read. I REALLY like to see the work they have done, with their name on the paper! Call me strange.

We had a student OD at school and was taken away by ambulance. We had a student climb onto the roof and into a tree and refuse to come down. I don't know if they had to call in SWAT. One of my students who was sent to another campus because of a behavior problem will be returning early, as THEY cannot handle her. Like I can?? A student stood up in class and said I was a crap teacher. Another student will be placed at the alternative campus, so I get to write up a month's worth of lessons, just for that one. A co-worker's son has gotten in trouble with the law and she is searching for "placement" for her son. "Placement" comes with a heavy price tag!

But I did have a student stay after class to tell me she understands what I mean when I say reading takes place behind the eyes. And a faculty member's daughter asked me what bus I ride. A student whom I have never taught, shared her book of poems with me. I knew she was hurting, and now I have a better understanding of her pain. It's nothing out of the ordinary, but it was poignant and I remembered those feelings I had at that age.

Like I said it's been a week. I'm feeling fairly low. I was ready to throw all my stuff into a huge pile and have a bonfire. I read a lot of blogs tonight and that helped. It seems to have been a rough week for lots of us. How was your week?

Friday, September 22, 2006

It wasn't bad enough the first time?

We sat through a (ho hum) boring inservice prior to school beginning. Our district bought copies of the book for each one of us. The presenter had us follow along as he read the book to us! Now we have to form small groups and write up chapter summaries. We came, we saw and listened, and now we get to write book report?!

Our CTA rep is blowing a gasket and may get upclose and personal with our super.

I believe it is important for us to say on top of our craft. I read the research and glean what I can use and what I can't use. I also spend humondo amounts of time reading YA Literature so that I know what to push them into as they explore the world of literature.

Why do I feel punished and down trodden?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I Feel Like a Real Teacher

Today I felt like a real teacher! I know it may sound strange that as a teacher I don't always feel like a real teacher. Sometimes all the other stuff that a teacher has to deal with gets in the way of teaching, but today, was like a gift!

I taught the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken". The kids paid attention. They focused, the comments were pertinent, and they were able to "dig deep" as I tell them to see what Frost was writing about, about choices and how the choices they make effect their life.

They understood! I was amazed. I felt like for once I had connected in a very real way with them and they with the poem. It was wondrous! The questions they asked were good, and I feel great about the day.

Funny that something so simple would be so profound. But just the poetry of Frost, what appears simple can be so much more complex. How it happened, I really can't say. Why it happened, I don't know. I know that days like this should happen, and I'm glad they do.

Today I am so grateful to be a teacher. I saw a miracle, the miracle of learning.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Evening Ramblings

I can't believe I haven't written in a month! School in back in full swing. My classes are pretty good, just the usual stuff to deal with. We've had a couple of pep rallies & I really don't understand the whole cheerleader thing.

I remember cheerleaders from my days in school and they actually got the crowd to cheer instead of being entertainment. Call me strange, but I enjoyed participating at games and yelling with the cheerleaders.

Maybe it's living in the south that makes people believe that cheerleading is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in a young lady's life. Perhaps it's sour grapes on my part for not being a cheerleader in my youth. I did run for mascot and lost, but then again I didn't need to qualify for the Olympics to participate. I really don't get it.

I went to a meeting about a "special" student today and I'm not sure why we all met. Lumpia has problems, everyone knows it, Lumpia does not want to change at this point in the game and is mad that she is in a meeting with all these adults who ask nosy questions and expect answers. I saw enough eye rolling to last me all year. I felt sorry for Lumpia's gran who attended the meeting. It was obvious Gran wanted to help , but Lumpia is the one calling the shots.

My students read silently (yeah right) as they prepare to take Accelerated Reading tests over the novels they have selected or ignored and are now desperately trying to cram it all in.

We're bracing for the first round of practice exams (gag). It was suggested in a recent faculty meeting that we find the person who decided that THE TEST was the end all be all and shoot that person. Of course I wonder how do I even attempt to meet the needs of students who are reading at such a variety of levels. I"m hanging in there and doing my best, but. . . .

Maragrita Prairie Rose went to a workshop called MAX teaching and has raved about it to me, so she is sending me the book and I sent her lots of great reads to try with her kids. It's a fair trade I'd say.

We're also coming up on Renaissance Festival time and I am looking forward to putting on the hoop skirt and dragging my Cossack with as we have a day or two in another time period.

I guess that is it for now. Let me know how you are doing. I'm going to sleep at 6 pm any more, but I sure am dragging, I think age is catching up with me!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Getting Back in the Saddle

Once again as an educator I am trapped in the whirlwind of back to school inservices. As an educator I wonder why administrators place us in poor settings for learning to occur. I've been through two all day inservices,this week, where I was cramped, and uncomfortable.

I don't do any better than the kids at sitting quietly for long periods of time. I fidgeted, tried to take notes and pay attention, but to no avail. I got up between the sanctioned "breaks" to move, and ease my cramped tired body.

It is not that the workshops weren't good, or helpful, in an abstract way. Some stuff I can use, some is not applicable. I brought a book, my palm pilot, loaded with games, and a bag of candy. Well I bought the candy during our lunch break, and it came in handy for the rest of that workshop and again today.

I am annoyed that there is no time to start practicing and applying those things that might really be helpful. I am annoyed that I feel rushed through these workshops at a faster pace than I am comfortable with. There is NO chance or opportunity to ask questions. This is the time of year I feel just like another animal in the herd.

I feel that way because no one at my district has ever (to my knowledge) asked us, the teachers in the trenches, what we feel we really need. It's all about the numbers and the testing and the breaking down in to specific groups. Is it any wonder, that at least in my mind, the educational system looks like a Picasso?

I love what I do. I know that teaching is an art. I am crafting individuals. Yes that stretches me pretty thin with a pupil load of 140 per day. I won't even go into what happens when I have at risk, or special ed kids in class. Yes, I have a bunch!

I teach reading. My goal is to make reading more palatable for those who dislike it. For those who like it, to begin to love it. For those who love to read, help them to find new authors and to stretch themselves.

Okay I realize I've really rambled, but then again I am just getting back in the saddle of the school year.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I go back to work at the end of this week. I did not have the summer I had planned. Somethings were great and others less than happy. Tonight I just felt a need to write.

I read a lot of books, and I love doing that. I enjoyed watching DVD's, something I rarely do during the school year. I've picked up two new shows to watch. I'm watching a BBC show called Life on Mars. It's quite interesting. I've finally discovered the show Without a Trace and have thoroughly enjoyed that.

I've spent quality time with friends. The road trip that I posted about earlier with Margarita Prairie Rose, was one I shall never forget! I spent a week with my sister in the BIG city. I was sent to a fabulous workshop called Capturing Kids Hearts, and got to stay in a nice hotel.

I've listened to my son and his soon to be ex-wife as they have gone through separating and moving out. Kids, who knew that being the parent of adult children would be such a challenge??

I've found out I am going to be the grandmother of a GIRL!! A rarity in the family and that she will have the same middle name as my mother and I! Yes I have been buying pink clothes and having fun!

I have watched and helped a friend as his wife has dealt with some mind altering side effects to a prescription drug. Not pretty, not pretty at all, and I learned that if you spend enough time listening to someone else's irrational fears of conspiracy, you may start to think that way yourself!

I've discovered the joys of massage and have begun my own addiction to getting massages! I've found a new haircut, and tomorrow will get my "greys" covered up.

Sadly, I did not get to the beach once this summer, nor did I go home to visit friends and my mother. I also did not begin that diet and exercise program,and did not get all the closets cleaned out, but I did go through and get rid of a lot of stuff.

I'd say it's been a pretty full summer. What did you do for your summer vacation??

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Names, or a Rose by any Other Name

I think that Shakespeare may have been wrong, when he had Romeo say that a rose by another name would smell as sweet. Okay only partially wrong, it would smell as sweet, but with the wrong name would we even bend down to smell it? Names and words are important.

I'm back from my trip and want to write about the many adventures we had, but I'm having a hard time coming up with a name for my friend. Screen names or blog names are unique, and reflect the individuality of the person. I had no problem with my screen name, or my husband's screen name, or the screen "identifiers" of the students I write about. Heck, I even came up with two screen names for my friend's husband; but for this special friend it has been so hard!

I tried anagrams of her name, and they were not flattering! One thing about this friend is that she is ALWAYS RIGHT (except on rare occasions, when she is not) so I tried to have that phrase translated into Latin, because Latin is a classic language, but it just didn't fit, somehow semper rectus, did not bring up the best picture. We both have undergraduate degrees in English, so words mean a lot to us. I tried the anagram of always right and the two that were "possible" Gail Tsar Way and Galaway Shirt, weren't right either.

So we tried her favorite gem, Garnet, but that didn't fit, although we pondered Argent an anagram of garnet, and did some research on the word,but that wasn't it either. She liked the concept, Argenta wasn't too bad, and we felt we were closer, but still not there. We've chatted on the phone, and looked up a gazillion things that she fancies, but still we weren't quite on target.

I've been thinking about her screen name and it important to me for her to have a good screen because she has been such a good friend. We met because our children became friends. We both have sons, only sons. We did cub scouts together, helped each other raise the boys, stood by each other through a variety of life's challenges. We've been through so much together that to try and list it, would fill the Internet.

Our relationship has grown over the years to be more like sisters, and since neither one of us have sisters, only brothers, we've formed a "club". We are the founding charter members of "The Sisterhood of the Cheese Breadsticks".

We would go shopping or run errands and need to talk, but there wasn't a place to sit and talk in the grocery store or wherever, so we would go to a local pizza parlor, order cheese breadsticks and a coke, and could sit and talk. It became a tradition. Now that our sons are married we have extended the membership to include our daughters-in-law.

The initiation is simple, it takes two of us, we take the daughter-in-law out for cheese breadsticks, at any pizza parlor. We each hold up a cheese breadstick and one of us recites our ritual, "To the men who brought us together". After that we eat the cheese breadsticks. We also share the sum of our wisdom about marriage. That can be stated in two sentences. First, it takes two people to make a marriage work and second, one cannot choose the mother-in-law they will have, only the mother-in-law they will be. We've also added a third piece of advice and that is that short women should not wear strappy sandals.

I haven't quite resolved the name issue, but I'm leaning toward Margarita Prairie Rose. It has meaning and I think fits her.

Let me know what ya think. How did y'all pick some of your screen names? By the way Margarita Prairie Rose is also an educator. By the way cheese fries can be substituted for the cheese breadsicks.

Road Trip

I've returned from my trip. It was not exactly the vacation my friend and I had planned. At this point I won't go into details about the problems, but let me say this we put 4,000 miles on the car in about 9 days. I'm now autophobic. PLEASE don't ask me to get into a car and drive more than 30 minutes. However since the trip ended up the way it did I am glad that this friend and I could endure it together.

Originally we had planned to see Vicksburg, drive the Natchez Trace, see Chicamauga, the Biltmore Mansion, go to the Great Smokey Mountains, visit Breaks Interstate Park, and of course visit with a few friends along the way. Well that didn't quite happen. The Sunday morning Margarita Prairie-Rose flew into town was complicated by a few things.

We had planned to pick my #2 son up at the airport when Margarita flew in, but there was a change in plans, (the first of many). Before I left to pick up Margarita Prairie-Rose, my son called to say the friends who had picked him up the day before, where throwing a party for him and they would bring him home. Meanwhile, MPR's parents had called to say they would not be taking the trip after all. This made for massive amounts of frustration on both our parts. MPR and I were both starting this "adventure" out, but not with the best of circumstances.

MPR has a saying "things usually work out if you let them", and as usual she was right, mostly. First MPR"s dad called to say that his doctor did not think it was a good idea for him to tramping around in the mountains of Kentucky and Virginia meeting with other distant members of the family, to lay a wreath on great great, great (I don't know how many greats) grandfather's grave. See back in the early 1800's this particular grandpa had been murdered and buried way up in the hills. I've seen and now driven those hills & I would not have carried him back . So MPR had everything dumped in her lap to take over at virtually the last minute.

My #2 son made a brief appearance at the house. He came in about midnight, we forced him to take us to breakfast, after he arose the next morning, and then he was off with his buds and we didn't see him until just before we pulled out early the following morning. If I'd known he wasn't going to stick around, I'd have left earlier.

We drove ALL day and barely stopped, but made it to Alabama to visit a friend of MPR's. We had fun, went out to eat great Mexican food. Who knew the Mexican food in Alabama would be so good?? The next morning I had to buy new sandal's as mine had broken. I was only in the shoe store 30 minutes, which is very quick for me!

Then it was off to the mountains of Virginia. Now I have been on mountain roads before and these were quite the roads. 10% grades, 30 miles an hour, and the whole time the Dueling Banjo's song from Deliverance was running through my head! I notice many mobile homes in the area and pondered how those were brought up the mountains? When that happens they close the road down.

I could just imagine asking Johnny why he hadn't been to school only to find out that everyday a new mobile home had come up the mountain. Great excuse right. "Um the road was closed 'cuz Cousin Bertha Bob got her new mobile home, and the next day Uncle Jerry Ray got his, put in. Then my granny got hers, after that the people that bought Granny's old trailer had to move it over to their place. It could go on for weeks!"

Eventually we made it to Breaks Interstate Park, got out room literally two minutes before the front desk closed.

Maragrita Prairie Rose had breakfast with the extend family members and I slept! The we loaded up in vehicles to visit the gravesite. It was up in the hills, and was a unique experience to see all these distant relatives. Flowers were placed on the grave and Margarita spent lots of time with her extended family as they showed her many local family tie ins.

Eventually we left and drove to Asheville NC where we stayed and the next day toured the Biltmore Mansion. WOW! I want a summer house like that! We went and spent the night with more old friends and then began the long trek to be home by Father's Day. We made it! But I whimpered every time I got in the car. Eventually we drove back south to my place. And then I drove back to the BIG city so MPR could catch her plane. Due to road work it an hour to go the first 15 miles! But after that it was smooth sailing.

Since we spent most of the time in the car we had lots of time to talk and talk we did. First Margarita would talk about a problem I listened and gave advice, then I would talk, she would listen and give advice. It went back and forth like that the whole trip. I think either one of us could driven other people nuts, but our friendship has always been very give and take and we seem to naturally take turns when dealing with the frustrations of life and dealing with adult children, their spouses and our husbands.

So if you ever need to make a trip and know it will be harried call Margarita Prairie Rose she is the best! She gives sage and sound advice!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Strange Bedfellows

It's always been said that politics make strange bedfellows. I've never been able to disagree with that, but I think we should add that Internet chat sites or posting places makes for strange bedfellows too.

Tonight I was chatting with a friend, we met at a TV show website. I've never seen her or the rest of the crew that I chat with regularly. We've been chatting for about a year now. Our little group just moved from one site to another because of some of the strange conversations we encountered.

There are a couple of interesting guys, who shall remain nameless, that were always giving the "noobs" (new people) a hard time. It was not fun to be at the end of their verbal swords, but once you stood your ground, they were accepting and at different times defended my honor when I was attacked by a "troll". I always considered them a rite of passage if you will.

Some people and I use the term loosely here, came to post, and begin a verbal riot! They were usually successful and if not would attack your weight, lack of social life or gender orientation. For those trolls there were a few defenses, correcting the spelling and grammar was always a good one. To embrace whatever insults they threw out was also fun, "So do ya want that deep fried twinkie with whipped cream or dipped in chocolate?"

There are also some wonderful people who post to such places. Last summer a friend's grandbaby was born with many physical complications. Those sweet people kept a prayer thread about the baby on the front page for everyday of the baby's all too short life.

So where am I going with this? Well a book title caught my eye, it was reviewed by Dave Barry Doing Nothing
There are people in my life who feel like I am doing nothing when I am chatting with my online pals, reading the blogs of others or posting to here to my blog, but it is much more than nothing!

I am reminded that my problems are smaller than some, and not too uncommon. I have a chance to respond, exchange ideas, and laugh. So many times I just have to smile at what I read. I think it helps to keep me a saner and more balanced person. What do you think?

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Joys of No School

I've made my first trip of the summer and have begun my summer reading. Yes, Virginia there is a summer! (And I hope to make it to Virginia on one of my trips)

My husband and I went to the Blues Fest in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We were with people we truly enjoy spending time with, we were able to enjoy one of our favorite bands, the Beat Daddys, and we relaxed. It was a little slice of heaven! The venue was not too crowded, actually it was undercrowded, but made for a very relaxed listening atmosphere.

I'm reading, what else would a reading teacher be doing on vacation? I actually read a grown up book! It was Jeffrey Deaver's Cold Moon and enjoyed it! Other than Deaver's book I've been reading books I can recommend to kids, like the Alex Rider series, by Anthony Horowitz, I'm on the 3rd one in the series. Pete Hautman's book Rash was a wonderful read. Hautman's book No Limit was so good, that I just had to read more. James Patterson's book Maximum Ride: School's Out Forever, was fun also.

I'm not sure where I'll go next on my reading adventure, but since I received a gift certificate from a student and her mom, to Barnes & Noble no less, so I know the adventure will continue. That is one of my favorite things about summer is reading all day! That is 6 books so far, and I've only just begun!

Happy Reading to all. I'd love to know what you are reading out there in cyber-world. Have a great summer. I'll keep ya posted on my reading and my adventures!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Elvis has Left the Building

That's right. The kids are gone, G-O-N-E! They are outta here! The classroom has been packed up ready for the janitors to do their "deep" cleaning, probably two days before we return. My grades are turned in, I've checked out and have already attended a workshop to help me prepare for the fall. Who said teacher's get a summer vacation?

I've started my summer reading, and have finished 3 books! I can sleep as late as I want and stay up until I really feel tired. No alarm to rudely rouse me from my slumber. I can take a nap at 2 o'clock.

The best class I have ever worked with has graduated. I've gotten teary eyed as I have seen them and wished them well. I've gone broke buying them gift cards to a book store for graduation. Only rarely have I sent graduation gifts to students. I've gotten writer's cramp from writing notes in graduation cards. As I wrote to each of them "I feel so blessed to have been your teacher". I meant it. So as I complain, know that I do it with a smile on my face, and a tear in my eye.

As for the students I had this year, I watched most of them mature and learn. Some of them were a trial and some a joy. It was a challenging year (aren't they all?). Hurricanes came into our lives and we showed what we were made of. Some of those students I will have again next year, as I teach multiple grades. I do enjoy being able to work students for more than one year. So kids have a great summer!

As for the parents, too many have forgotten what their kids are like and need to be reminded. Let me remind the parents, I don't want your job. Please be a parent to your child. Your children need you to be the parent. Kids need parents and friends. But their friends can never be their parent. Don't give up the unique role you play in their lives!

I tell kids I am not their friend, I am their teacher. That is the role I want. I will never lie to them and will always tell them the truth, that is something their friends don't do. I can be their friend when they have graduated from high school.

Back to that class that graduated this year. The last year I taught them they tried so hard to get around that rule of mine. But when they gathered at my house after the funeral of their friend, I gave them permission to call me by my first name, and they would not! They said it wasn't respectful. I was surprised, but not surprised. One of my good friends was once my teacher and it took years for me to call her by her first name.

Teaching is the career I chose. I decided I wanted to teach at a young age, and while it took me a while to get here, I enjoyed the journey and treasure the experiences I had before I had a classroom. Sometimes I think teaching chooses us. Perhaps someday we'll find out it's in our DNA. I am truly blessed and humbled to be a teacher.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Teachers Such

Yes, you read that right. That was recently scrawled on the door to the teacher's stall in the restroom. I found it and I had to wonder was this a sentence fragment or bad spelling? If I were in charge I would have gotten on the intercom and said something like this:

"Boys and girls, we've had something sad happen. There is graffiti in the girls restroom. I want to read it to you. It says teachers such. Now I don't know who would do such a thing. But please remember to spell your graffiti correctly." In my imagination in some class all eyes would turn to the offending person, and some kid would remark "Gee, you can't even spell suck?"

In my mind I wondered, golly you can all spell the F word, don't yah know the two rhyme? Whatever happened to teaching word families? Somebody is falling down on the job! But on the other hand perhaps it was some youngster who admires the educational staff and was interrupted while writing "Teachers such wonderful people".

On another note, I had phone calls from my son and daughter in law today. They called each independent of the other. They have separated. I am heart broken. I am hoping they will work things out. My son will be coming to visit for a few days next month. My daughter in law wants to stay married, my son wants to find himself. I have no answers for either of them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Plot Thickens

Yes as with all good stories the plot thickens. There is more on SOB. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be, school has not ended.

The next day at lunch SOB's momma was the topic of discussion! A few of my lunch buddies and fellow educators had also spoke with momma that morning. Her attitude had not changed and the most polite description of her attitude was terse. Like all bad commercials, there was more! Momma told another educator about her sick and dying parent. Momma was just so concerned that she might have to leave her baby here, to go to summer school, while she was in a different state tending to her ailing parent.

I almost bought that except my principal had stopped me on my way to lunch to give me a heads up about having end of the year tests done a few days early as Useless Bag of Flesh (I had that one last year) will be going to a major amusement park before school has ended, during our "finals" and guess who is going with Useless?? Yes SOB! When I shared that info at lunch; all conversation ceased. Yes, that is the feeling of being sucker punched. Today we got the official memo about giving the tests early to the previously named Useless and SOB aka the Dynamic Duo. I will give SOB the grade earned, but I would REALLY, REALLYlike to fail momma! On the other hand I may give a party that they have left the building early!

I, for the first time in my career took a student to the Assistant Principal and requested they not come back. Lumpy, spent quite a bit of time defacing the textbook. Lumpy had a piece of junk, and kept scraping it across the cover of the book. Yes, books are supposed to be covered. I asked Lumpy to stop, and I could not exactly figure out what was going on. Lumpy did not stop. It was not the motion, but the subtle noise that it made that really clued me in. I got a very close look at Lumpy's book, and could how it had been deeply scraped. The books are only two years old. So I escorted Lumpy to the AP's office, showed him what Lumpy had done and requested that Lumpy not return. My wish was granted. Lumpy has only turned in about 5 assignments this year, and had not been a major behavior problem; hence the name Lumpy.

The "assembly" this afternoon put the frosting on the cake. The Athletic Director for the high school we feed into came to speak to the classes. He was late. I can deal with late, it happens. His message bothered me. Basically he said if you aren't on a sports team you are a loser. He gave lip service to a couple of round ball sports and talked FOOTBALL! Nothing was said about sports for girls, no mention of tennis, or golf, sports people use for years. He did "advertise" about how track helps you play better football. What I have repeated here is what my students shared with me. That is the message the kids heard. That is the message I heard. I could really rant about all of it, but the man shot himself in the foot. Kids that had been interested were turned off.

Finally I'll share how I started my day, I think I broke the law. Lil' Bro came into class early to tell me he had not done his assignment. Gramps had been injured and so they had spent all their time at the ER and ICU. Lil' Bro was in tears. He is a spirited kid, but not given to deep displays of emotion. I asked if he needed a hug and he nodded. I hugged him. We walked down to the administrative wing and I got him into the counselor's office. On my way back I let the rest of his teachers who are in my building know what happened.

Lil' Bro came back to class, put his head down and quietly was emotional. I escorted him to the library, saying he could finish his assignment there, while we graded it. Before I left is when I think I broke the law. I asked if he wanted a prayer said for Gramps. He did, so we bowed our heads and prayed for the doctors and nurses to know what to do, and for Gramps to recover quickly.

On top of all this it was also group picture day! Teaching, ya gotta love it; it's never dull, never boring and never the same two days (make that classes) in a row.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Still hanging in there

It's Tuesday. I didn't sleep well last night. I finally fell asleep about 2 am and the alarm goes off at 6. I felt groggy all day and told the kids. They asked why I couldn't sleep so I told them. My brain would not be quiet. It happens to them sometimes too!

I have what I call busy brain syndrome. I doubt that any medical professional would know what I mean. Sometimes my brain has a party and it doesn't invite me. It's like living with a noisy upstairs neighbor, except it doesn't help to pound on the ceiling.

I thought about what I need to pack into our hurricane evacuation suitcase and made a mental list. Yep it's that time again. Then I thought about new furniture, and rearranging. My brain sang a few songs and tap danced and then I decided to come upstairs and read blogs. I do that sometimes. It helps, I realize that my experiences are like a lot of others but somehow seeing it in print and reading about squirrel boy (now who does not have one of those?) helps me to feel connected, and not alone.

I thought about the two kids who had been busted Friday. Seeing their faces, I can't forget it, or the mom who threatened to beat the _____ out of her kid. I totally understood her emotion! The administrators looked exhausted, mostly out of sadness for kids who have made some bad choices. I don't know either one of the kids except by reputation.

Today we had another fight. One girl pushed another up against a locker and proceeded to pound away. It took 3 teachers to get the two separated and deal with crowd control. What was it about? Girl A like the boys who eat lunch with girl B, so girl A decided to teach girl B a lesson. Yeah right like that will work. One teacher got punched a couple of times, and may press charges.

I did finish all my end of the year tests, and they are in the copy room waiting to be run off. I did it different this year! I made the kids turn in a list of 10 questions they expected to see on a test, and provide answers. I got some great questions! So my finals came from student generated questions, and I didn't pick just the stupid questions or the hard questions, but a measure of both. I also added 5 short essay questions about what they had learned and enjoyed and want to see changed. I get the best feedback from those questions and they help me to do a better job.

I am so tired! I did walk 1 1/2 miles last night 'cuz I bought new walking shoes and did another 3/4 mile this morning to try and wake up. I signed up for 3 days of summer workshops, so hopefully I will get some extra technology out of this. Started piling up my list of summer reads as I compile the lists the kids gave me of books they would recommend.

I view myself a bridge for these kids. (Yeah they would like to walk all over me) but as the school year progresses each class becomes like a family , some functional and others dysfunctional. We do a lot of sharing about life in general. It's hard to teach reading without sharing the real life stories . We've all learned a lot about each other. For 4 of my classes these next few days will be my last ones with them, and for others they will probably have me again for another subject next year. I like having kids for more than one year (most of the time). I get to see a lot of growth and change.

Down here, there is the end of the year battle of the kids who have all their credits to graduate, but they cannot pass a portion of the state test. Do we let them walk in the ceremony or not? I say let them walk, and send the diploma in the mail.

Our sister district across the Interstate has decided to apparently void all contracts at a specific school and make all the teachers re-apply for jobs. This is for ONE campus only, and is due to the low scores on the state test. I am not applying over there. First they got rid of the principal. Yeah let's blame the guy in the office. Now this. I don't want to work in that district. It couldn't possibly be the students who didn't do much that caused scores to be low. Nope it had to be the principal and when they got rid of him the teachers went nuts. It's a conspiracy! Nope it's the Blame Game!

Gets out soap box, steps up and clears throat:
Ladies and gentlemen, mothers, fathers, mommies and daddies. Blame can be spread around thickly. But rather than point at everyone else, evaluate what you personally could do, should do and are doing to improve the academic life of your child. Let's try some traditional stuff, like a regular bed time, no computer or phones after a decent hour. Basic conversation, and compassion. Maybe all eat together for a meal that is not fast food. Now for the more challenging, parents drop the attitude your darling can do no wrong. You know that's a lie, you've been watching them. If you don't allow them their failures, they cannot own their success. Parents stop doing your kids homework, we can tell, your writing is neater and has better spelling. Part of learning is learning how not to do something, as well as learning how to.

Anyway that's what I have to say today. Nothing major or profound, just another day at school, and they are winding down quickly. As am I. I'll end this while I can still see and get some much needed sleep. My friends hang in there! Take it one day at a time. Yes there is much that can make one feel so frustrated in this business, but don't forget the aha moments that we see and almost no one else does. The moments that make it all worthwhile. Here's hoping to a good nights sleep. I need it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ranting Demon Parent(s)

It happened, a ranting demon parent has called. (We have about 2 weeks of school left.) I was told today, by the momma of SOB, (I admit that I enjoy that alias for the kid) it was MY responsibility to make sure her child didn't fail. I was in trouble for not contacting her sooner. What did I mean there is an assignment due tomorrow? EVERYBODY up at school knew her. Her child was NOT going to repeat a grade and was NOT going to take summer school. She had already called the principal and he had agreed. Why hadn't I called her and told her I had moved SOB's seat in class? She didn't care about what I had to say, because if I was a CARING teacher I would have contacted her.

The momma also continued to rant about the FEDERALLY required testing that the states do. I'm not a fan of No Child Left Behind. I have real problems with the testing and all the pressure that goes with it. She kept telling me how teachers had pushed for all this testing stuff. That should have been my big clue that the woman had no clue. I don't know of any teacher who pushed for the testing, or even a teacher who likes it.

I am not writing about a little student, but a student in their early teens. I left school after talking with my principal, feeling frustrated. My principal listened and told me that what SOB's momma had told me was not accurate. His version of their conversation was quite different from hers. My principal told me it is my call as to whether or not SOB passes. It is SOB's responsibility to do the work and turn it in.

Let me tell you about my classroom. First of all it is user friendly. Upcoming assignments are posted in more than one prominent place. For example, my school uses a computer reading program and student are required to read a specific number of points within each grading period. Those dates are posted and discussed the first day of class. The upcoming date is also posted beneath the clock and next to the schedule. They are posted there because students always look at the clock and wonder how many minutes of class are left. I call attention to the dates at least once a week.

I have a large classroom library of probably 1,000 books. Students have access to these books on a daily basis. All the books are clearly marked as to whether or not they have a test for the computer reading program. By the way this program is used district wide and from grade 1 on up!

I write the daily assignment on the board, I have a make up calendar in the classroom and I have assignments posted on my class web page. I have tried to make it hard to fail my class. My principal commented on that and said, "How can this kid fail your class? It's difficult to fail your class." That made me feel better.

I deal with over 100 children daily. I have a fair number for whom I am required to make academic adjustments. Her child is not one who has "special" needs. Her child is IMHO lazy, does not turn in assignments and is hanging around with kids who are not a good influence. Her child is bright. Bright enough that I have talked with SOB, and tried to figure out what the problem is. Watching this kid do nothing is like watching money burn. SOB went from A's & B's to F's.
I did call the momma, I talked with her in January about SOB's dropping grades. She wasn't concerned. She did not email me, or contact me after progress reports and report cards went home. When I heard nothing from her, I figured it wasn't important to her. There are parents who don't care about the grades.

I do understand that momma is panicked. The school year is ending and SOB isn't doing well. She feels like she needs to blame someone, and I am handy. I found out SOB's not doing well in other classes and for the same reasons. I've had one of my own kids pull the same stunts. It's a frustrating place to be.

I hope there are not a lot more ranting demon parents out there just waiting to ambush teachers who have worked very hard at a difficult job. Making do with low pay, lack of respect and an increasing level of responsibility. Let me make this clear to all the ranting parents who might read this. I am not your child's parent. That is your job. I am not a babysitter, I don't get paid enough. I am not here to entertain your child. My job is the tough one to make your child think and I hope learn. It is your job ask to see their work. If there is a problem, let me know. I have access to a school phone only during my lunch time and planning period, if I leave my room. I do have email that I check as frequently as I can. That is the easiest and fastest way to communicate with me.

If I call you after school hours it will be on my time, time that I would like to spend with my own family. Stop and think, am I asking this teacher to do more than I am willing to do at my job? If you are not willing to take phone calls after hours, have a business conference anytime you run into a client, or patient, why do you expect that from teachers?

Yes education is my business, my profession. Yes I get off a couple of months during the summer. But I also pay for my own continuing education courses required for me to maintain my certification. I spend far too much of my own money on supplemental material for the classroom. I work long days, attend student performances, help with school activities, show up at school dances, assist with clubs, and the list could go on.

There, I 've vented and I feel better. I hope this rant of mine opens the eyes of a few people. I'm all too sure that the other teachers who read this are nodding their heads and saying "Preach it".

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Just Being Myself

School is almost over. I am tired of the kids and they are tired of school. Just the usual is happening. Kids are being goofy, I am a bit crabby and we're all counting down the days.

It's time to pack up the classroom, and beg the janitorial staff to NOT move the computer. There are files to go through, reports to finish up and the top of my desk to find once again. We're having fire drills, weather drills and intruder drills. There are field trips out the wazoo and teacher appreciation luncheons, at least once a week.

I am looking forward to sleeping in, reading all day if I want to, traveling, sewing, and in general relaxing. Speaking of reading I have a stack of books to read, and I am looking forward to driving to a beach and sitting and reading. I'll have a cooler of soda, junk food and a portable radio to listen to an oldies station.

I don't have anything to rant about. My state probably won't fund a raise and the much needed changes on campus and in the district probably won't happen. I've done my job. I've tried to be a good teacher.

I guess that's it. I've almost made it through another year of teaching and I plan to go back. But I really need this summer break!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Making Peace

After stewing over the entire fight thing and NOT wanting to see JJ for a while I decided to make peace. After all I am the adult, or at least I like to think that I am. Last week we were involved in federally mandated state testing, so the schedule was bizarre to say the least.

Thursday I had a great lesson planned one of my favorite short stories. I had also rearranged all the desks and was putting everyone in alphabetical order. JJ proceeded to make comments about how put upon he was. He would be the last student seated blah, blah, blah. Seats were assigned, he didn't like his and make noise about it.

I asked him to step into the hallway so that I could speak to him. He was still talking trash (a new move for him) he thought I didn't treat him fairly. I told him he was right. I hadn't counted him tardy many times, I should have. I did not write him up for disciplinary action when he was not in his seat or distracting others. I reminded him of everything I could remember doing for him that was above and beyond the call. I told him that would stop and I would treat him like everyone else.

I was mad and there was no question about it. He had two options to return to the class and behave or to see the counselor and transfer. I then returned to class, left him in the hallway and taught my lesson. The rest of us had fun. It's a story I read every year and every year they love it! About 10 minutes before class ended JJ walked back in, sat down and was quiet.

I asked JJ to stay after class, we shook hands and hugged. I was glad to see the real JJ return. He had some attitude on Friday, but basically the student I have enjoyed all year has returned and the alien that was masquerading in his body is gone, I hope.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Fight

There was a fight at school yesterday. One boy made comments about another's apparel, and then the second boy retaliated with a name. It happened on school property, both boys were disciplined, and it destroyed one of my classes today.

I don't teach either of the fighters. I don't know either of them very well, although I can identify one of the boys. He has a beautiful smile and a chip on his shoulder. My before lunch class came in agitated and before I could take attendance one angry girl, "Penny", left the classroom to be quietly angry in the hallway. I went out to speak to her and while I was there for those few moments, it happened.

A male student "JJ" was out of his seat and doing his usual singing and dancing and playing around. It's a daily occurrence and since he usually settles down in a few moments, I haven't made a big deal out of it. It can be annoying, but it's not worth the hassle of alienating a bright kid with a lot of potential. "Z" a female student was tired of JJ's behavior and asked him to stop. He didn't she asked him again, he still didn't. Finally she quietly said "I'd like to hurt him". Some one told JJ, Z had said she'd like to kill him. That's when it hit the fan.

JJ demanded that I do something about the threat on his life. JJ has played football and is not a small young man. Z is a petite young lady. My initial feeling was and still is she said what she said out of frustration. I'll confess I've said those words myself when frustrated. I listened and made a decision that Z posed no threat to JJ and there was no real problem. I was wrong. Ever been wrong? I was wrong. JJ would not let the situation go. Z apologized repeatedly and JJ wasn't accepting of that. He informed me I always favored the girls. At that point Kay who is constantly talking told him that I sure got onto her case, and if she had said those words she would be sitting in the principal's office .

Let me tell you about Kay, not an A student, but could pull B's if she did her work and turned in her assignments. She talks, a lot. She talks loudly, distracts other students and keeps them from doing their work. She giggles and flirts and can drive you up the wall. She is not easy to ignore. I probably do get on her a bit more, she's much easier to see and hear with her very animated conversations and giggles.

While this was going on Walter loudly declares that he has been stabbed, with a pen, by the girl who sits behind him. Walter is another "active" student. Why do I always get the active ones just before lunch? I check his hand I see a dot of ink. That is it, a dot of ink, no swelling, no no blood, nothing to make me believe he has been stabbed. I have Walter sitting in the front and center of the room at his parent's request. It helps him to focus. He's a good kid from a nice family, but today I have become unfairness personified.

Meanwhile, Penny is in the hall writing about her emotions. She wanted to scream I suggested she write that way she could scream, and not disturb anyone. JJ is on a tirade about how unfair I am as a teacher, Z, has begun to cry, Kay is continuing with the nonstop diatribe, Walter is pissed I don't call on him as he has his hand raise, for once, but has continued to talk. I am about to lose it.

This is the class period when I don't really have the option of calling in our Director of Disciplinary Action as he is trying to maintain control of the lunch room, and sending a kid to him during lunch is a treat for the kid. I feel manipulated.

I rarely write up kids for disciplinary action. I feel that I should be able to handle the majority of what comes up. Usually as a class we talk things through and deal with situations. That didn't happened today.

Last semester JJ got very mad at a flippant comment made by another student. We went in the hall to talk while the kids worked. I listened and suggested that perhaps the other student had seen it differently from his vantage point. JJ thought that might be possible. He was upset so I sent him to the restroom to regain composure. I called other student into the hallway and filled him on the background info. JJ returned the two talked and everything was fine.

Today JJ would not look at Z as she apologized for about the 5th or 6th time. He would not look at me, because I was "guilty". I finally figured out that it had not been a great morning for JJ, so I suggested that perhaps because of those frustrations he was being unreasonable. Nope he wasn't buying into that. He was the victim, he would tell his mamma and she would be after me, because he was her baby.

I'm not afraid of the mamma, but I knew the moment he played the mamma card winning this situation was his goal. I'll discuss the situation with the mamma, and I'll bet she is not happy with JJ. I'm trying to go back and forth between the hallway and my classroom, and then Raj comes out of the room and he wants to leave. It was an anarchy moment. My husband is a proponent of anarchy, but I am not a proponent of anarchy, so I struggled to regain my control and composure as I finished the class time. Once everyone was back in the classroom I snarled at all of them to write about this situation, and then as if angels had been present, mercifully the bells rang to dismiss class. Students turned in their writing to me face down along with the other assignment that had been done. Then there had to be one more thing tattle tale told on gum chewing girl. I gathered up papers and took Z to the counselor's office and asked the principal to step in the room with us, while the story was retold. I cried, Z cried, the principal and the counselor both hugged Z, sent for her lunch and let her call her mom. I went to my room to bring back what the students had written to give to the councilor, I kept a copy for myself. Then I went to my room closed the door and played mindless games instead of eating lunch.

Luckily I have a planning time after lunch, I finished the day and was emotionally exhausted. The counselor said I handled the situation will. I don't feel like I did. I'm hoping that tempers will cool over the weekend.

I haven't mentioned race at all, and I won't. Race should not change the story in any way.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Loss of One of My Kids

I attended the visitation of the deceased student. It was hard. There were so many people there. I waited outside the funeral home in a long line for about 40 minutes before getting in the building. Once inside I saw many of my former colleagues and students. We mourned together at the loss of this young man. We hugged and cried and talked. I was able to extend my condolences to his parents, not only from me, but also on behalf of a teacher who has left the area. As hard as it was I felt I had to go.

I took the day of the funeral off. I knew I would not be in any shape to attend to my classes let alone teach that day. So many of his classmates attend the funeral. The church was packed and many people stood outside for the entire service. About 2/3 of the class that I had taught was there. They wanted to be together afterwards and so it was agreed we would meet at my house after the grave side service. I thought only one or two would really come, but almost all did.

This was a special group of students, the class that I taught when 9/11 happened. We held hands and prayed together. We talked, hugged, shared stories and memories. We in our own way celebrated this young man's life. He had such a wonderful sense of humor, how he would have enjoyed it, if only he had been there.

Getting to see so many of my former students helped me. I hope it helped them as well. They will graduate in a few weeks and be off with the rest of their lives. Prom is coming up, I hope they all make good choices and that we don't go through this again. I wish them all well. I am grateful they humored me and spent some time with me, and let me spend time with them.

I'll say it again. They are the best group of kids I have ever worked with. They still are.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bad News

Today was a first for me. I received via email information that a former student had committed suicide. I doubt that anybody knew that I had taught the young man. He was my student for three years when I taught at a private school. His class was the best group of students I have ever worked with.

I read the email as my 2nd period class came in. I couldn't speak. I couldn't move. They know what to do, so they just started with the bell work. I started crying and some one noticed. They asked me if I was alright. The answer was no.

I've never lost a student to suicide before. I cannot imagine how much this young man must have been hurting. Sadly a couple of years ago his older brother died in a car crash. As I write I am numb, and I write because it keeps me from crying.

I want to shout why!? I want the world to stop for a moment. This is the second death of a young person in three weeks that I have known. It hurts. The first one was the daughter of a life long friend and now this one. Somehow the car accident is easier to deal with.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Letter to the boss

This is the letter I have written to my boss about the proposed change in our curriculum from Reading and Language Arts classes to a combined class due to problems with student scores on the state mandated Math test.

Dear Sir:

You have always been willing to listen to me whenever I have had concerns or questions. I greatly appreciate working with you for that reason. I have two ideas that may help improve our students’ ability to perfom on the State test without combining English and Reading. I hope that in the renewed spirit of camaraderie and support for one another after our hurricane experiences that these ideas could and would be seriously considered.

I've tried to think of what could be done with a minimum of change for all parties concerned, and tried to think of what the specifics of the problem are and how to simply and effectively address those problems.

My first idea would be to shave 2-3 minutes from each class and put that at the beginning of the day as a home room, and this would be the time we do announcements, pledge etc, and the all classes do 10 minutes of remedial math. I cite this as an idea that has worked at Local Private School. Granted they do Kumon, but we could something that meets our specific needs. In some ways it would be similar to a D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read program;) a program that has done wonders for reading across the country.

My second idea is for all teachers to do a math bell ringer activity. A simple reviewing of the basics as a bell ringer activity. I've been told that a while back all teachers were doing more writing so that writing scores could improve, it is apparent that idea worked. I know that if we all work together we can make major differences with minimum adjustments.

Why do I feel these ideas will work? Because I am convinced that a basic cause of the low scores is a student weakness in the basic fundamentals of mathematics. Students must have a strong foundation in the basics of any learning field in order to build upon them and progress to the higher level skills. We also know from research, that in small doses we frequently get a greater return and lower student “tune out”.

As I have started working with my 6th grade students to help them with math, I have noticed that it is the basic facts they do not know. They do not know what you and I would call common sense information, like the number of square inches in a square foot, the number of minutes in an hour, a basic decimal to fraction equivalence, such as .25 =1/4. I have noticed for all of the years that I have taught here that many students have trouble doing basic mathematics, and cannot figure out what their grade is even in simple ratio form such as 18/20. Because of these observations, I feel strongly that adding more minutes of the current curriculum will not solve this dilemma. I believe that improving upon the basic skills will go a long way toward improving the math scores at our school.

Let me review what I have observed and felt for the last four years as the math department has experienced frustrations about the test scores:
Year 1- We were on block schedule, and double blocked students for math, apparently that did not work and so we made a change.
Year 2- We had smaller math classes, and made yet another change to
Years 3 & 4- acceleration classes; and are those not working?

It is apparent to me that simply adding time to extend math a few more minutes is not going to fix this problem. We have students that currently take two math classes because of acceleration, so I fail to see how an additional eight minutes per class (or whatever the actual breakdown is) will change this situation. The issue is more complicated than simply adding extra time for math.

Now my emotional part. I feel great frustration at the thought of combining English and Reading into one class period. I do not want to see the successful Reading and Writing program that we have built here lose anything. When the seesaw tips the other way and we are dropping in Reading and Writing, will we make the time adjustments back? I very much doubt it.

It feels to me as if it does not matter that the department that has the most to lose has much say in this.I do not feel that any one subject should control the curriculum of the school. I am willing to help out teachers who are struggling to prepare students to take a test that in my opinion is not age appropriate nor testing on what matters in the real world. As we as an educational community look for solutions we should not forget the training teachers on campus have received from those who have researched this problem. Let us look to their knowledge and training for better answers.

I have been doing some Internet research on this problem and found that sometimes schools focus so strongly on test scores that many options are taken away from students such as fine arts and physical education programs. By taking away these programs from targeted students, those programs, as well as the students, lose. Often these programs are the most successful portion of these students’ school day. Currently, a district in Maryland has their remedial students taking three Reading courses, two Math courses, Science and Social Studies. For their remedial students there will be no P.E., no art, no choir, no band.

The current discussion regarding the combining of Reading and English makes me feel as though Reading and Language Arts are not considered to be as important as Math, simply because we have this discussion every year! I know your heart is with Math because of your background, as mine is with Reading and that you want what is best for all concerned. As you can see I have very strong feelings about this, only because I want what is best for the kids, as do you. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I hope you will consider these options I have proposed.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Ramblings

In most things I am a conservative, but I am quite liberal in others which usually surprises people who have made assumptions about me based on my religious beliefs.

Marriage is more than a piece of paper and "I do's". It is about commitment, respect, and trust. I am married and have been for many years. Without trust, there is no relationship. I am not opposed to "gay" marriage. I am opposed to the term marriage. But having said that I wish there was a legally recognized commitment that gay couples could enter in to. I am not opposed to gays adopting children, or single parent adoption. It goes back to that idea of commitment.

Abortion. In the cases of rape, incest, birth defect and to preserve a mother's health I believe a woman should have a choice. As simply a form of birth control, no. When does life begin? At conception, when an egg is fertilized. That change is the beginning of life. I believe in adoption.

Having written the above paragraph, I am not opposed to assisted suicide in the cases of the terminally ill, or not using medical machinery to extend life. Death is a part of life and there comes a time in all lives when we die. I do not think that being hooked up to machines for the long term is a life. I am not opposed to those machines assisting lives, as in dialysis, or oxygen, or other things, so please have a living will. Make your choices known while you can express your opinions, and share those thoughts with your loved ones.

There are three types of family in my book. First is the family that one is born into or adopted into, second is the family that one marries or commits into, and third is the family that one chooses. These are the people who cross the line from friend to family, and fulfill the same roles and responsibilities one would expect family members to be involved in. I have family in all three categories

Fashion, I am more conservative about fashion. I am not a fan of the current male fad of busting a sag. I do not want to see what underwear others are wearing. If I can tell you what the boxers look like, hitch up them britches. I have also seen too much skin on people who ought not show so much skin. Imagination is not a bad thing

Education. It is a life skill and is needed by all. I don't think one can argue with that statement. Motivation is not there for too many of today's students. I see kids who cannot add, subtract, multiply and divide. I see kids who choose not to learn. I see learned helplessness and that frightens me.

Movies and Television. I love a good story, and those are harder and harder to find. I want to use my imagination, but too many movies and television shows leave nothing to the imagination.

Israel, I am pro-Israel. I've been there and loved it.

Tolerance is a good thing and we ought to be more tolerant and less violent. We have the right to express our opinions, and sadly it seems that only the radicals are heard. A friend teaches social studies and does a class activity in which groups of students have to "create" a set a government. The students learned that the loud ones are the ones that gain leadership, not the ones with the best ideas.

Public servants, like police, firefighters, nurses, teachers, and a few others are taken for granted and shown more disrespect than anyone should have to tolerate. These are hard working people who chosen difficult professions. Yes it may be their job to do, fill in the blank, but show some respect for where would our society be without those hard working people? As my mother had said "in a mell of a hess".

Well those are my thoughts, you can agree or disagree; these are my opinions that I have reached through the experiences of my life.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Understanding Others

Prayer is something I have done since I was a little child, the now I lay me down to sleep kind; I learned specific prayers as a teacher at a Catholic school, and of course the prayers of my heart. So what is prayer? It is communication with a higher power. The idea of communication is a two way street so to speak. I've been to Israel and was deeply influenced. I just finished listening to Walking the Bible.

As a result of many things I've made a decision to study about Islam. I see what is going on all around me and I want to have a better understanding. I've been reading The Everything Koran Book by Anwar. As I have read that I have found much to agree with, and some that I do not agree with. I have gained a bit of a better understanding of another culture.

As I read I see they have many ideas we would do well to learn from and incorporate the appropriate attitude about those of other faiths. We should learn and study and look for the commonalities. I have not read the Koran, at this point I still need more background knowledge. At this point it is still easier to read about.

I can easily agree with the concept of prayer, the frequency of prayer and the need for prayer. I agree with many of the concepts about marriage and family. I agree with much that I have read. I find that according to the philosophy of Islam I am to be treated as a believer, not a Muslim, but a believer. A believer is a person who believes in one God, and is a part of the judeo-christian philosophy. There are more things, but those two are basic.

Ramblings of an insomniac

It chaps my hide to be tired and yet the brain will not go to sleep so I'll ramble

I just saw Whale Rider and really loved that movie. I highly recommend it.
I also watch King Arthur which I also enjoyed, and then did some serious research into the Sarmatian culture. Really neat stuff.

I've also decided that in a world that seems to have little religious tolerance for others I will do some serious studying of the Islamic culture and religious philosophy. I've read two books so far and have learned a lot. I was not aware the Muslims believe that Abraham built the Kaaba as a house of worship. That is just one piece of information that comes to my sleep-deprived consciousness.

I found far more things to agree with or even ponder than I thought I would. Muslims are supposed to honor Christians and Jews as people of the book, but we do not honor them by learning of their book. It will not convert me to Islam, but so far is helping me understand my own branch of Christianity .

I'm also reading the His Dark Materials trilogy and have found that to be fascinating as well. I wish I had more time for reading and research.

I have a wonderful husband, who loves me and I feel so very blessed. I work at a job I enjoy (most days) My children are healthy and happy and married. I have friends who will drive 6 hours to spend a couple of days together, I have other friends who I have never met, that are also a great support.

I just finished Inexcusable by Chris Lynch. Quite a good book, but sad, to see how this young man thinks he's a good guy and has a great family, but it starts falling apart. Good read and reach your own conclusions.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Joy of teaching and working with good kids

Today was a great day! In the grand scheme of things it was not memorable for most people; but for a group of students who competed in a Dramatic Arts Festival, it was a great day!

I coach the students who chose to do poetic readings. My kids did a good job. Each one progressed and matured as a reader and competitor. One half of my team received top honors, the other half received the 3rd level honors. I remember how they started and how they progressed. Most importantly they were proud of their performances . After they had finished they knew what they could have done to enhance their performance, but they felt satisfied with their performance.

It was especially touching to have them discuss what the other competitors did or did not do. I heard echoes of what I had used in coaching them. I heard things like "all you could hear was the sing song rhythm and not the words" or "they never looked up at anybody" or I didn't believe what they were saying it was just words". I wonder if kids listen to the right things and this group did!

I know that I really did very little, a suggestion here, a reminder there, a nudge to practice, but the hard work was theirs and theirs alone. I was impressed with all of the young people I saw compete. I was grateful I wasn't a judge, so many kids who had worked very hard to participate in this. So many hopes and dreams, and these were just first steps into their future.

The sacrifices made by so many for a small portion of the population, but it was worth it! To see the glow of a young girl's face as she received her ribbon for her performance. To know that she had achieved it, with help and support yes, but she did the hard work. It was glorious.

When I work with kids who are not afraid to try, to do something different, I feel optimistic for the future. These young people will grow up and make something of themselves, they will build their own roads of life and not follow an over-worn path. They reminded me again why I do what I do. It really was a great day!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Trip to the dentist

I had to have a crown replaced. Now as I tell this story, please remember that I grew up in California during the 60's, but, my dad worked for the California Youth Authority and threatened my brother and I with the worst reform school in the state if we ever got in trouble. I was a good girl and stayed away from experimenting with drugs. I'm glad I did, but I have wondered at times what did I miss?

Well the last few trips to the dentist I've found out. I love nitrous, laughing gas. I feel safe, I am monitored by the dentist and am never alone. I feel like I have been digitalized, pixilated, segmented and yet at one and connected to the universe. Two feelings that are oddly in contrast and yet unifying.

Today as I sat in the dentist's chair, feeling pixilated and digitalized, I struggled to analyze what I was "seeing" with closed eyes the colors; how I was reacting to requests, open your mouth, how does that feel, bite down, what I could hear, the music flowed and yet was pixilated and digitalized. I also felt a loss of self control and realized that I was easily influenced. I responded almost without thinking. I felt very grateful to have a dentist I have known a long time and trust. I taught his daughter as well as the children of two of his employees.

I concluded I hadn't missed much by choosing to not experiment with a variety of substances. I dislike feeling out of control. I'll still choose to use the gas at the dentist's office, I'm never comfortable knowing my teeth are going to be worked on. I've had a couple of bad experiences with dentists. I'll settle for good dental hygiene and the gas when I need it. I can understand why people choose to alter their perceptions of the world; it was relaxing as long as no one had their hand in my mouth. I felt angry when disturbed, but also a little bored. I'm still a designated driver at heart and always will be.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

When the Guests have Gone

My guests have left the building. I was so happy that I baked two loaves of bread for them to wish them well in their new dwelling. I went through my pantry and gave them some basics to get started up with again. I have my home back again.

I've been thinking a lot about Kid. I see him as someone who knows no boundaries, because no one has been strongly consistent enough. I observed his parents, and heard why they weren't able to do thus and such, but, Kid is out there floundering. Perhaps when they are once again in their own space without needing to share it he will do better.

It is always a challenge to share ones living space with others, and in this case more challenging because I "shot first and aimed later". I'm not going to invite anybody but long time friends and family to stay for awhile. I love the stillness and calm that has returned. I feel like I can talk openly without worrying who is in the house to hear.

I am looking forward to playing the music I like LOUDLY! To running around the house in whatever I want to wear, or not wear, and have no worries about who will see. I feel safe again in my own home. I am sure the Guests would be mortified to have heard what I have vented here, but, that is how I feel.

I have my house back!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Educational Front

Well I survived another week of life at public school. I think I made some progress with a couple of my African-American students. Both are boys who have such a great potential, but the "ghetto" lifestyle seduces them. "Jamal" at one point had accused me of siding with white students, my white students were very quick to point out that I defend all students regardless of color.

That incident alone is one reason I am having National Geographic do a deep analysis of my DNA, to point out that we are all a part of the family of man. I don't care about the color of a person's epidermis, it is who they are that matters.

"JC" the other student is not I teach, but he walks past my room daily and has decided I am okay for a teacher. Pretty good. I enforce the rules with him as much as anybody else, and he's seen that, JC is bright and tried hard about 70 percent of the time. The other 30 percent of the time he tries us. But he is a forgiving kid and has figured out if he mutters about doing bad behavior, like fighting one of us will hear him and take 30 seconds to talk to him, and at this point reinforce the appropriate response as opposed to fighting. JC tries, so does Jamal. The odds are not in their favor, but a few of us plan of keeping contact after these young men have left our campus, We keep saying things to them about being invited when they graduate from high school and college.

Another at risk student is "Randy" he is gift, truly gifted, not just smart, but scary gifted! I read an essay he wrote and was so blown away about what he had written. Randy wrote about while we have advanced technologically we was regressed as a people. It was amazing and he thought it was just scribblings. We discussed his ideas for awhile and I was sooo impressed.

I am grateful I do what I do and that I have the students I have. I genuinely love these kids. All of them are so special, I just wish I could reach and help all of them, but that is not realistic. I shall continue to try and hope for the best for each one of these students.

More Ramblings about Guests

In the continuing saga of the Guests, they have found a place and will be moving out tomorrow. LB and I have GRACIOUSLY said we would watch Kid. I think we will take him to a local park and let him run.

LB & I spent a lot of time with Kid today. Kid really hacked me off. He was rude and disrespectful to his mother, LB and to me. What finally got to me was to find out he had been stealing candy and lying. I know it seems small when written so plainly like that. LB was teaching Kid about wrestling moves, we have a tickle war and all of a sudden candy is coming from his pockets. LOTS of candy. Once most of the candy had been taken away Kid got REALLY disrespectful and nyah nyahed. Then Kid went on the defensive with a closed fist. That was it for me. He went stomping up the stairs muttering rudeness and I went up after him, scooped him up and would not let him go.

I am really stubborn at times and no Kid was going to treat anybody that way in my house. He accused me of lying. I hadn't. Got smart about who earned the money, his dad, and that everything must be dad's. I've dealt with this philosophy before. As I am holding him in a controlled fashion I reminded him that the clothes on his body and his new shoes had been paid for with dad's money. So had the TV, his video games etc... Kid was speechless for a few seconds anyway.

LB came up and we held this kid together. Kid whined and I told him clearly that in order for him to gain release he had to follow the rules, which he naturally could not remember. My rules are real hard (yeah right) He would be respectful to all people at my house. That is where we started. Kid again whined he wanted up. Not until he could tell me the rule. This set him off!

Seriously for about an hour LB and I held this kid, his mom could see and did not ask either of us to stop. I kept repeating in order to be released he had to first ask politely, and second tell me the rules. Kid twisted and turned and fought, tried to bite, I told him I bite back, and I wasn't kidding! Kid said he hated me, I said fine. You don't get up until you ask politely, and second tell me the rules. Kid went into major whining and fake crying. I told him I wasn't buying, and I wasn't letting go. This went on and on. LB was great, he was perfect and that is not a compliment I give lightly. Eventually kid called me a name, not profanity, but rude nevertheless. I got in Kid's face, I mean drill sergeant close, like two inches away and yelled "Nobody calls me names in my own house" He would open his eyes and look at me when I spoke to him. LB told Kid, now you've really got her mad, not good, not good at all.

Once again he wanted up, once again it was explained what he needed to do, and finally he admitted he couldn't remember the rule. I got in his face again, but quieter and explained them. He asked humbly, and repeated the rules about respect and what respect meant, then LB and I let go. I hadn't been angry, just frustrated beyond reason.

After all this I hugged Kid, told I loved him (I even meant it) Then I went downstairs and listened to why Mom and Dad cannot do the same, physical problems, her heart, his back. I feel certain Kid acts out because he knows no boundaries, quite literally. I've seen Kid's mom and dad, just back down. They always talk softly and never get his attention. I don't meant to sound cruel, but with some kids a loud voice is needed to get attention.

I went and showered, LB and I had plans, and in the shower I was overwhelmed with what I had done. It was arduous, and exhausting and Kid knows I mean business and that LB will back me up .

I know I wrote earlier that I'm trying to be like Jesus, well Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple and I don't think He was polite about it, I think He was direct. I was trying to be like Jesus and be direct. I didn't feel Christ-like at that moment, but I wasn't consumed with anger either. I don't feel guilty, but I do want to remember this experience. It was freaky whenever LB or I would mention telling the truth to him kid would squirm. For a moment or two I thought Kid might be possessed. It was freaky, LB and I talked about that at dinner.

I did give Mrs. Guest a daily scripture devotion book, and book journal. I wasn't using either and it wasn't a sacrifice to do so. Of course I made more chocolate chips cookies, just to be a brat. I tried, and pray they will be in their own space quickly!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I'm trying

There is a children's song that has as a phrase of it's lyrics, "I'm trying to be like Jesus". I'm trying, and it is a challenge. As I try I often wonder would the Savior have worried about this?

Here's another ramble. We have had extra people stay us many times over the years. Our last guest was the fiance of a friend who was struggling to recover financially after a devastating divorce. His stay lasted about 4 months. He was a delight to have, probably because we rarely saw him, but enjoyed his company when we were able to spend time with him. In those 4 months I did not feel put upon or like I was being conned. He was always straight forward and direct. When he had a setback, he communicated that to us.

We have more "guests". This time I am not feeling as gracious. Recently a woman at church was saying she and her husband had no place to go, would have to sleep in their vehicle, etc... I invited them to stay. I should have consulted with some of the locals folks first. I had seen this woman at church for a couple of months and assumed they had relocated due to one of the hurricanes that ravaged the gulf coast this past year. I assumed they were not local, and I was WRONG.

She has shared with me, some of her life, and yes it's sad, but they have lived in the area for years! I know when one assumes it makes an ass out of "u" and me. The more she tells me the more I want her and her husband and kid to go. I would not have extended the invitation had I known there was a kid. More on the kid later.

I thought it would be for a few days, but those days have turned into weeks. I should have established an exit date when I extended the invitation, I didn't, so now I have to back peddle.

The kid. Mrs. "Guest" has shared that the kid is bipolar and ADHD. Kid is NOT medicated, but on a "formula" that she receives from a "Dr." via the postal service. I don't even know if the "Dr." has ever examined Kid. Kid is also home schooled. I've seen good home schooling and bad home schooling and non-existent home schooling. This falls into the later category.

Kid has very poor social skills with peers. I suspect a hearing loss, and hear a definite speech impediment. Kid has a high laugh that is like fingernails on a chalkboard. As for the ADHD, I suspect poor parenting. Kid sat and watched a 90 minute DVD with us and barely said a word. ADHD kids rarely can do that.

Mrs. Guest has also shared that Kid has been abusive towards her. All the bells in my educator brain are ringing loud and clear, this is not a good situation. My kind and patient and long-suffering husband is not too concerned. I'm writing this as a form of therapy for myself.

Will I develop a backbone? Yes! I don't like to purposely hurt someone's feelings, it's not in my nature most of the time. I know I am being used, I know it needs to stop and I know I'm enabling. I don't like the idea of being an enabler and being manipulated. It all sounds very petty when I see this in print, but I cannot deny what my gut is telling me, but. . .

As long as I'm complaining, I feel as though I'm losing control of my refrigerator! There is more and more of the Guest's stuff and not much room for mine. I think of the story about the Bedouin and his camel in the desert during a dust storm. First the camel asked to have his nose in the tent, then his eyes, followed by his ears, until eventually the Bedouin was in the dust storm and the camel was in the tent.

well, I'm trying to be like Jesus. I've thought of the verse that talks about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Would Jesus have grumbled, probably not.

An Educator Rambles

Welcome to my world

I am educator. Daily I face down 120 plus pubescent people and try to maintain control and assist them in learning. It's a war. My weapons are as follows: my voice, a piece of paper for documenting misbehavior, a walkie-talkie to use in times of emergency, the telephone, email and a face to face discussion. The odds daily are 20+ to one.

Most days I win. Although I tell the students that I always get my way, it's easy for them or hard for them; it's their choice, as a class. I do my best to be fair and honest, to listen and understand, even if I cannot change the situation. I am one of thousands who fight this battle daily, and we're not all winning.

For the most part I have been quite fortunate and have the respect of most of my students. It's that small minority of students who distress not only me, but the majority of others. It is the student with a label who has become the controlling force in the world of public education. The student who has far more legal rights to an education than anyone else. These are the students who because of their labels face few if any consequences for their actions.

Let me clarify I am not opposed to educating students with special needs. In my career I have worked with some wonderful young people who work incredibly hard, and yet just barely pass. Students who come to class, have done their work to the best of their ability, and it falls far short of the expected mark. These hard working young people are phenomenal. These are not the ones of whom I speak .

I am speaking of the student who is a constant disruption to class and yet because this person has "special needs" receives no consequence for their actions. The student who is "mainstreamed" into a regular education class, but cannot read or write. Why? Popular opinion says that I as an educator have not done my job. Let me share a real story about a real student in a real class somewhere here in the US

Adam (not his real name) is in 7th grade, for the second time. Last year he was expelled for bringing weapons to school. He has transferred to my school, in a more upscale neighborhood. He rarely comes to school. When he comes he is late, not 5 or 10 minutes, but 30. He does not bring supplies or books to class. He does not do work. He sleeps or if he is awake steals from the others close by, their pencils, pens, whatever he can get his hands one. He is blatant about it. When caught literally red handed will deny that he took the item he is holding and accuse everyone else of lying.

He will go on to his next class where he on a regular basis verbally abuses the teacher with language a polite person does not use in public. He is removed from class goes for a short alternative placement within the district. In a day or two he may return to begin his behavior again.

Our school is limited in what consequences can be applied to this student because of his educational label. So he remains free to return to class which he does with more freedom, to harass and terrorize more students.

Adam has completed only 4 or 5 assignments this school year, and I am one of the lucky ones for some teachers he has turned in nothing. He will pass this year simply because we don't want to deal with him, any longer.

I pose this question to you the reader, how long should he be retained in a specific grade? Should he be 16 or 17 on a junior high campus? Should he have been retained earlier? How many times should we retain a student who is not learning?

I realize I have rambled, but let me close with this thought. No Child Left Behind is wonderful idea on paper; but I tell you there are students who CHOOSE not to learn. I cannot force them, I can only do my best. My tools are my creativity, knowledge of my subject and my personality. My weapons of defense are my voice, paper, a walkie-talkie.