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Showing posts from April, 2007

Tired.

But I can't sleep. This has been happening a lot more lately, and I'm not sure why. I'm sure it's connected to school though. Tonight's particularly bad, and I'd call in sick tomorrow except that I need to get the crickets to the gecko. So I'm settling for calling in sick on Tuesday.

I think that a lot of this insomnia has to do with a vague feeling of dread about school. It's been that way for a while. It's sort of a fear of being "in trouble" that is really a little irrational but built upon by administrators and the district. I'm tenured - they can't fire me unless I really really mess up. They can give me an involuntary transfer, but not until the end of a school year, and as Warren says, "What are they going to do, move you to a hard school?" But still, the feeling of being about to be in trouble persists.

I'm not the only one either. I have a co-worker who is taking leave for the rest of the school year be…

Payday?

No idea why, but the district accidentally paid me (direct deposit) three days early. They're supposed to pay me on the last day of the month but I got paid on April 27th. I'm not going to complain about this one!

Scientific Proof for My Burnout

The San Francisco Chronicle ran severalarticles about why teachers quit. Again, I could have told them all of these answers, but they didn't ask me. They preferred instead to spend God-knows how much money on a study.

The second article particularly interests me. Among the important points:
"Nicolle Miller could handle the overcrowded classrooms, the lack of supplies and even the shortage of books for her seventh- and eighth-grade students at an Anaheim middle school. What she found most discouraging was the lack of support. "I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to help these kids. A lot of times I would feel that I wasn't allowed to do certain things," to teach her mostly poor, non-English-speaking students at South Junior High.
"It was this constant, 'If you don't do better, you're going to lose your job.'"
Those who quit overwhelmingly cited bureaucratic impediments to teaching, such as excessive paperwork, too much classro…

Too Many Children

When teachers are absent and subs don't sign up (or show up), the "solution" is to divide said children up among other teachers. I think we get something like $5 or $6 per kid per day. It's really not worth it.

The kids come with no desks and no chairs; sometimes no work. Sometimes they're of the same grade level and sometimes not. I've had my own class of third graders, along with a first grader and 4 fourth graders. That was on a day I was being observed!

Today I had five extra. That might not sound like a lot, but every single one of my own students were present, so there was not a desk to be found. I had one kid working at the really low table the gecko cage sits on, one at the counter by the sink... They didn't have the workbooks we were working on, so they had to do different work, which, of course, they needed help with.

I'm tired. Too many children. Definitely not worth the $25-$30 I made from it.

Guns

I hate guns. I hate them.

I know that we have the Second Amendment in this country, and that there are many people who would shoot me for their freedom to carry guns. I don't know the statistics to argue for gun control or tougher background checks. I don't know why the US has such a high percentage of homicides by firearms compared to other developed nations. I just know that I hate them.

With all this talk about the shooting at Virginia Tech, it's been interesting - and disheartening - to hear what the kids have to say. None of them seem shocked. Instead of shock, their reaction seemed to be a deep empathy and sadness. In fact, one little girl told me in the same sentence that she had seen the VT shooting on the news and that her neighbors (other kids at the school) almost got caught in a shooting that injured another student's cousin. (The cousin, who is about 15 years old, was shot in the stomach but is recovering). The girl telling me about it had a resigne…

Blackie the Horse

Our incredible volunteer, Kathy Dwyer, did it again! Along with Ann Katz of the Children's Book Project, she set up a wonderful field trip for us. And the kids got to see Marin County for the first time in their lives.

Meet Blackie the horse: (from www.blackiethehorse.org)

Who was Blackie?
For 28 years you couldn’t leave or return to Belvedere or Tiburon, California, without passing a swaybacked horse named Blackie. A cavalry horse in his youth, Blackie later became a cutting horse at rodeos, appearing in the Salinas, California, rodeo although his owner, Anthony Connell, doesn’t remember the year. He was retired to a private pasture at the corner of Tiburon Boulevard and Trestle Glen Road when he was 12 years old. Mr. Connell visited him daily, as did children and adults alike who could be seen regularly feeding Blackie apples, carrots, and sugar cubes.

Those who lived in the area when Blackie was alive considered him as belonging to everyone. In spite of his age and swaybacked cond…

Stuck In My Head

I have two things stuck in my head from school. One is the latest song that the kids have learned on their song flutes - it's a very simple variation on "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." And the way it's stuck in my head is the rather shrill way they play it on their song flutes. (That's not a criticism, just an observation).

The other is a song from a video we have called Dance Along- it's Sesame Street characters leading songs and dances and I sometimes let the kids listen to it/dance to it on rainy day recesses or at the end of school. This particular song is called "The Batty Bat" and it involves Big Bird pretending to be a bat with a bath towel cape, while the Counts along. I have the chorus stuck - very STRONGLY - in my head. The lyrics for the chorus go something like this:

Batty batty batty batty batty batty batty bat.
One two three, count,
Batty batty batty batty batty batty batty bat.
One two three count,
Batty batty batty batty batty batty b…

Thing Number 47 I Won't Miss About Teaching Here

Being hungry.

Again, a 30 minute lunch - after you factor in walking the kids to lunch and dealing with the lunch lady, and having the first opportunity all day to use the bathroom - is just not enough time to do anything about getting food if one happens to have forgotten one's lunch. It's going to be a LONG afternoon...

Post from Lindsay

Dear B's Readers,

I was very flattered when B asked me to guest blog on her site. As you read this narrative, I ask that you keep in mind that there are three sides to every story, and this is my side. If you want benefit of the doubt, best intentions or any of that hooey, go read something else.

She fired me without ever having seen me teach.

I was hired by aforementioned Principal Three. I had exactly six weeks of teacher education, in an intensive summer program, and I hadn't actually been in a fifth grade classroom since I was ten years old. In an attempt to make my first teaching job possible, he gave me a reduced class size (20 instead of 35), and allowed me to partner with a colleague from my credential program who also had a reduced class size.

I had a supervisor from my credential program who made weekly visits and evaluations of my progress. I taught full-time and spent nine hours every Saturday learning how to be an effective teacher in an urban setting. (As an as…

Robin Got Paid!

Well, she got paid half of what she was owed, anyway. For some unknown reason, the district is splitting up the payment into two checks. But she got half! And promptly ran to the bank to deposit the check because at this rate, we're honestly not sure the district isn't going to come take it back!

I will keep you all posted on if she gets paid the other half of her payment. It's now been 16 months, I think, since she did the job she's been half paid for!

To quote our president: (and I got a Bushisms poster, which is providing hours of entertainment, so you'll be seeing more of these. Hey, you've got to laugh, cry, or emigrate to Canada is what I figure)

"I hope we get to the bottom of the answer. It's what I'm interested to know."

-George W. Bush


Social Skills

It's funny, because we're encouraged to teach social skills, conflict resolution skills, and empathy. Well, SOME of us (no evaluator's name mentioned) seem to not have these skills our own selves! Maybe it's not funny.

Here's a little story that sadly, sums up how said administrator interacts with people.

There's a wonderful fourth grade teacher upstairs; let's call her "Nicole." She's GOOD. She's a young, well-educated, obviously very intelligent and talented black woman - exactly the sort of role model our kids need (and I'm not quite sure how we got her, she's above the normal caliber of teachers in our area). She's probably about 29 years old, but she manages a group of thirty fourth-graders - who are arguably one of the more difficult classes in the school - better than I've seen from most career teachers. They were walking down the hall and she stopped to talk to me - all the kids started saying hi and talking and…

No Caption Needed.

If anyone wants to get me a present, I'm looking at this mug here. (I like the tote bag too - a matching set?)

I also like this, this, and especially this.

Updates

We spotted a truck next to the playground this morning that said Tot Turf - the Leader in Playground Surfacing Safety! Yay! I think this must mean that our playground is getting fixed! Either that or they're just spending more money on tearing it all up. I wouldn't put that past my district.

The other update is that Robin has STILL not been paid for the beautiful, wonderful, colorful, inspiring mural painted on our wall. I'd prefer not to use my name because my life can still be made miserable for a couple more months, but does anyone want to write in to ChronicleWatch for me? You just email chroniclewatch@sfchronicle.com. Lindsay and I had success with it in the past. More or less. Who wants to help Robin get her money? Email ChronicleWatch, talk to reporter friends, or talk to me and I'll tell you who to write to at the district. This is unreasonable, not to mention embarrassing.

It's not even like Robin's waiting for the money to buy a new car or ta…

Counting Down

There are 44 more school days left. Last year I didn't even start counting until 45 days left. This year, I think I started counting at 110 days left. I told a friend when there were 80 days left and he said , "Just enough time for a trip around the world." It seems to be going very very slowly...