Tuesday, March 30, 2010

References Provided Upon Request... Or Not

As with any field, references are important when applying for a teaching job.  Actually, it depends on the job.  I'm pretty sure I was hired for my first job because I was the only candidate wanting to take over a first grade in the ghetto with no set classroom and six previous teachers/subs.  However, references are usually important when applying for a teaching job.

Obtaining that reference - whether it be in the form of a letter or just contact information - can be easier said than done, especially if you work in a district that chews up employees and spits them out. Even before I needed references to apply for this part-time position, I began the process of trying to collect them.  I knew that I would eventually need letters of recommendation for a position; I just wasn't sure when.  I decided to approach my last four administrators.

One of them, who know works in a neighboring district, and was a wonderful principal, wrote me a glowing recommendation full of personal details and told me that she would be happy to be a reference for me any time I needed.  Sadly, she was the exception.

The other three simply ignored me.

One of them, who has always had a habit of ignoring my emails when they're something she doesn't want to deal with, never got back to me.  I tried her twice, and then I emailed one more time saying that I knew a special needs student who was transferring to her school... nothing.  Awesome.

Another, who was my assistant principal and is now a principal, has also ignored me.  I've emailed her three times.  The last time, I even gave her an out and said that I knew she was very busy and could she just let me know if she didn't have time.  Nothing.  I put her on my application to be a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters and she never answered them either.  Not by phone or by email.  Great.  Thanks for helping me help others.  This person, although I've never felt like she liked me personally, has told me many times that she credits me with the volunteers and resources which have helped out her school, even years after I left.  I know she thinks I'm a good teacher.  She apparently just can't be bothered with me now.

Another one, who I taught with for six years, has also ignored me three times.  This teacher got fired unjustly under one of our worst principals, and I was one of the people (because I was tenured and therefore out of danger) who fought to get him back.  He called me at home for help more than once.  I spent a lot of time and effort helping him in various ways.  But he doesn't even have the decency to return an email.

All three of these people are still in the district, I have the correct email address for all three of them, and all three of them saw me teach well.  I have received emails from all three in the past, so I know that they do use email.  They just couldn't be bothered?  Couldn't find the time to type "I'm sorry, I don't have time?"  Couldn't pick up the phone to tell the Big Brothers woman "Yes, she'd be good?"

Now, I've been asked for letters of recommendation when I didn't have time to write them.  I've always written them anyway.  I've asked people for letters when they didn't have time and they either told me that they didn't have time, asked me if they could do it over the summer, or asked me to write a draft that they could just polish and sign to save them time.  I would have accepted all of these options, and been grateful for any.  But to just ignore someone?  Doesn't that seem awfully unprofessional and just... rude?  Am I wrong in being so irritated by this?  Would this ever work in the business world?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Kids

I recently got an email from a friend that was a reply to me saying that I didn't know how I was so exhausted from adding a 2-hour a day teaching job.  She said that her guess is that I'm giving full-time in those two hours. In some ways, she's right.  I mean, don't get my wrong, I love the part-time thing and am not sticking around until 3 pm to try to be more involved.  However, I definitely do put almost as much time and energy into these kids as I would with kids who I had all day.  In fact, coming from an elementary school background, I forget that these students actually have other teachers I realize that I don't teach them math and PE, but I forget that there are other adults who care about them (at least, I hope they do!) and monitor their study habits, care about their life, think about them, plan for them,etc. 

This can obviously be a great thing or a highly unhealthy thing.  Most of the time, I'd like to think it's the former.  The students I've had in the past need someone to be concerned about them, pray for them, and be involved in their lives.  (Most of these students do too.)  And I really do feel like they're my kids to some extent.  I think that they must know that, because I've had third graders ask me, "Will we still be 'your kids' when we're teenagers?"  The answer, of course, is yes.  If they want to be.

I think this connection with the kids is why I'm good at teaching.  Teaching itself is not necessarily my gift.  I mean, I'm good at it, but I don't have quite the excitement about breaking through on the understanding of a difficult lesson that many teachers do.  I never had trouble with school (especially reading - I don't at all remember learning how to read) so I don't have empathy with students in that way.  In fact, my first year of teaching, I had to keep stopping myself from saying, "What do you mean you don't know how to read?"  But when it comes to connecting with the kids and letting them know that there is at least one adult out there who cares about them and thinks they're worth something... that, I can do well.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

If Geckos Went to School...

First, I'm really truly getting to the NCLB/merit pay post soon.  I wish I had a way to make money off the blog so that I could actually focus on writing it instead of trying to make money.  Sigh.  Here's some interesting thoughts though from a facebook friend.

In the meantime, here are some more journal entries:

  • If geckos went to school there school would be scaley.  I n the cafeteria they would serve nasty bugs.  Instead of sitting on desk, they would each have there own cage.

  • If there was gecko school it would be tiny desks and like a school that was the size of a desk probley and there would be alot of geckos and a principle gecko and a teacher geckos and there lockers would be like little rocks adn they would go to school. at night.

  • If geckos went to school their class would be how to make new skin, and how to grow a new tail, and how to eat bugs.  Most of the time I do all of my homework at school.

  • If I were Tiger I wouldn't want to be in a cage.  It's kind of hard to choose the wild has animies [enemies] and if your in a cage alday your cooped up but safe in the wold your free but unsafe.  I don't know witch one to choose wild or cage.  I would rather be a kid not a Gecko. [we're going to call this kid "Ricky" - watch for his writing; he's got some serious imagination.

  • If geckos went to school it would be in the woods or jungles.  It would be as high as 4 feet and wide as 5.  It would be made out of wood.  Then the floor will be covered in sand.  It would be made or design as a human school.  there would be a playground made of sand and the fences will be made out of toothpicks and strings.  The rocks will be chairs and seats.  They wil. teach about how to survive humans.

In response to "What will it be like to have a class pet?"

  • I think it will make bad kids good because if you take care of something it kind of changes you.  When you have a pet you have to nurture it so I think tiger will be a great class pet.  If I could have any pet I wanted I would have a horse.  I love horses because I think their graceful and playful.

  • I think that it is nice to have a lizard as a class pet and I like having a class pet, I would want to feed him and give him water, I would have a komodo dragon that is trained and dosent bite and that is very friendly or I would have a killer whale as a pet and swim with him and I would teach him tricks and other stuff and I would also have a bull as a pet a little on with horns and I would want to ride it and train it.  Also a baby horse to ride and train.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Suspension Form

I suspended a kid today - let's call her "Alexis" - and these are the reasons I gave on her suspension form:
  • Erasing the lesson on the board
  • Ripping up the list of who hadn't done their homework
  • Giving another kid a wet willy
  • Taking pencils away from kids and taunting them as the kids tried to get them back
  • Taking things off my desk
  • Putting Purell on kids' heads
  • Taking stickers off my desk, sticking them on her crotch, and dancing around thrusting her pelvis out
  • Screaming
  • Refusing to go to the office
  • Threatening to "slap the f--- out of" another kid
  • A lot of other threats that ended with "with your ugly old self"
I think there might have been more.  She wouldn't leave when the assistant principal came up and the rest of my class had to go to the computer lab to do their work because we're not allowed to pick up children and drag them to the office (stupid laws).  Also, she could beat up the assistant principal.

She also told her mom that I scream at her, that I'm lying, and that she "hates this old school."  The assistant principal pointed out that she has 7 teachers who all say the same thing and they can't all be lying, but logic was not working.''

The amazing thing was that the rest of the class ignored her pretty effectively.  There was the one kid who laughed in her face, but he always teases other kids (his new thing is to make fun of the boys for having "girly" names which is pretty funny because he actually has a unisex name so he's just asking for trouble).  The rest of the kids, including her usual posse, just ignored her.  They kind of rolled their eyes but they kept working. One of her usual friends started to join in and I asked him if he wanted Alexis to decide his grade or if he wanted to decide his own and he actually made the right decision!  (This is the kid who told me how much he hated me on the first two days I was there).

Also, I felt good because I didn't raise my voice once.  I didn't have to because it was only one kid going crazy and the rest kept working.  Also because the administration came when I called.

This girl really is not all right though.  This is one of our usual conversations:

Me: Hi, Alexis, how are you doing?
Alexis: Don't you scream at me!  You always be screaming at people with your ugly old self!

Me: You're doing a good job today.
Alexis: Ooh, I swear to God!  You always be screaming and lying!  I hate you with your ugly old self!

Something is very wrong.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Journal Entries: The Pledge of Allegiance

My new students answer a journal prompt every day at the beginning of class.  And they are hilarious.  Here are some examples:

Do you think it is important to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day?

  • We say the pledge because well I don't know maybe its also a prayer or something but I really dont care about the pledge why do we even say it every morning of school!  It's OK but its cool to learn because I can say it heckafast.
  • No I think we should do it on holidays or veterinarians day, M,L,K birthday and other stuff like that.  I dont think we should do it evory day is just waisting time when it shoud be on important days.  thats why I say no
  • I think that some people should not go so fast and listen to each other.  I also think its importnat that we do the Pledge because we are onering the country and its important to do that.  Like when we say the Cadet Code in Cadet Core [Cadet Corps, some kind of drum line] we cant move or talk or sneeze or cof or any think that invalves noise or movement.  If you messup the Code you have to do ten push-ups.
  • Yes I do think we should do the pledge every day.  It's to show are respect to our four father's.  And to show we are about were we live and the country we stay at.  This is the best country ever.  If an alien took my sister.  I would call the police.  the army.  and I'll get a shot gun and shoot the alien in the head so he will come down so the police can get him.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Part-Time Teaching

The things I like better about part-time teaching (over full-time)
  1. By the time I start to get frustrated with the kids, my time with them is over.
  2. I can put up with a lot more for 103 minutes than for 6 1/2 hours.
  3. I have less planning to do.
  4. I have less work to take home.
  5. I don't have to go to staff meetings.
  6. This way, I can stay out of school politics.
  7. Since I'm not at staff meetings, I can claim ignorance when convenient.  
  8. I spend less money on copies and supplies.
  9. I am less tired (although still tired).
  10. I am less stressed out.
  11. I am a better teacher because I am less tired and less stressed out.

The things I do not like better about part-time teaching.

  1. I get paid less.  Yeah, that's pretty much it.